Burt Rutan on Schooling the Rogues

Burt Rutan writes in via email about an exchange he had with the proprietor of the website Scholars and Rogues, Brian Angliss. Burt writes:

I recently read a treatise showing that CAGW theory is a fraud. I thought it was a good summary and agreed to have my name used as a supporter of the facts when it was published by the Wall Street Journal.  You can find it here:


Then, shortly after publication, an alarmist engineer wrote and “open letter to Burt”.


I usually ignore these diatribes, but found a few moments to respond:

Scroll down to comment #4 for my answer.

I’ve reproduced Burt’s answer here for all to see:


In my background of 46 years in aerospace flight testing and design I have seen many examples of data presentation fraud. That is what prompted my interest in seeing how the scientists have processed the climate data, presented it and promoted their theories to policy makers and the media.

What I found shocked me and prompted me to do further research. I researched data presentation fraud in climate science from 1999 to 2010.

I do not have time here to define the details; if interested in my research, a PPT or PDF can be downloaded at:


In general, if you as an engineer with normal ethics, study the subject you will conclude that the theory that man’s addition of CO2 to the atmosphere (a trace amount to an already trace gas content) cannot cause the observed warming unless you assume a large positive feedback from water vapor. You will also find that the real feedback is negative, not positive!

Specifically, the theory of CAGW is not supported by any of the climate data and none of the predictions of IPCC since their first report in 1991 have been supported by measured data. The scare is merely a computer modeled theory that has been flawed from the beginning, and in spite of its failure to predict, many of the climate scientists cling to it. They applauded the correlation of surface temperatures with CO2 content from 1960 to 1998 as proof, but fail to admit that the planet has cooled after 1998 in spite of the CO2 content increasing.

The failure of the IPCC machine is especially evident in the use of “models” to justify claims, so it might be worthwhile to just look at modeling and science.

Modeling is more correctly a branch of Engineering and there are some basic rules that have been flouted by CAGW _ CO2 modelers.

Firstly there has to be a problem analysis which identifies relevant factors and the physical, chemical and thermodynamic behaviors of those factors within the system.

Any claim that this has been done in the CO2 warming problem is PREPOSTEROUS.

There are perhaps a thousand PhD topics there waiting to be taken up by researchers.

We could start with work on understanding heat transfer between the main interfaces; eg Core to surface / surface to ocean depths/ ocean depths to ocean surface / ocean surface to atmosphere and so on, not having yet reached the depth of space at just slightly above absolute zero.

To claim that the entire system of atmospheric temperature moderation has been described by the fluctuations of atmospheric CO2 content while excluding the other obvious factors such as atmospheric water vapour content, solar flux and orbital mechanics is just nonsense.

The whole point of modelling when done correctly is that it links accurately measured input of the main factors and accurately measure target output. Where you have major input factors that are not considered and poor and uncertain measurement of all factors then all you have is a joke or more seriously Public Fraud based on science.

You do not have science.

CO2 is not a pollutant. When the Dinosaurs roamed, the CO2 content was 6 to 9 times current and the planet was green from pole to pole; almost no deserts. If we doubled the atmospheric content of CO2, young pine trees would grow at twice the rate and nearly every crop yield would go up 30 to 40%. We, the animals and all land plant life would be healthier if CO2 content were to increase.

Do the study yourself. Look at how and why the data are manipulated, cherry-picked and promoted. I will bet if you did, you too would be shocked.

The mark of a good theory is its ability to be falsified by new data. The mark of a good scientist is the ability to accept that.


The Difference between an Environmentalist and a Denier.

You can easily tell if someone is a true environmentalist, i.e. an advocate for a healthy planet – he is one who is happy to hear the news that the arctic ice content has stabilized.  He is one who celebrates when the recent climate data show the alarmist’s predictions of catastrophic warming might be wrong.  The denier, if he is an eco/political activist, always denies new data that show the planet may be healthy after all. The Media usually defines deniers as those who deny the scientist’s computer model predictions.  However, denying the measured climate data meets a better definition in the world of science.


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Bill Jamison

My issue with CAGW has always been the dire predictions based almost solely on computer model projections. In all of my research on the subject I’ve never seen someone lay out the issues with climate modeling better than Burt Rutan did in his reply. That was AWESOME.
My respect and admiration for Burt Rutan just went up another notch or two and it was extremely high to begin with. Hats off to Burt Rutan!

Pwned. 🙂


I love the fact that Michael Tobis is the follow up post to Burt Rutan….if you all do not remember:

Did you see the first comment at that post?

the existent scientific data clearly shows the negative impact by humans upon the planetary climate. Remove humans from the mix and the sum of oil, coal, forests and methane we’ve burned to date would still be in the ground.

So that pretty much sums up my problem with AGW alarmism. They’re clearly anti-human. In short, they want us all to die (but not them, of course).

On the “scholarsandrogues” site, if you scroll down, you’ll see one of the bloggers takes naturpathic like “Michael’s Naturopathic, Cholesterol Metabolism Factors” that have no basis in science.


“It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said. “

Samuel Clemens writing as Mark Twain; “The War Prayer”

Werner Brozek

The open letter to Burt has this: In the case of human-caused climate disruption
It used to be global warming. But according to RSS and HadCrut3, there has been no warming for about 15 years. The only conclusion I can therefore come to is that somehow the additional 0.01% CO2 must be the culprit to cause climate disruption without the warming. I am well aware of the reasoning behind ocean level rise due to warming such as ice melting and hotter water expanding. But it is a total mystery to me why CO2 alone should have any huge effect on climate disruption. In the absence of warming, how did CO2 alone cause frosts in Florida in a previous winter; how does CO2 alone cause ocean levels to rise; how does CO2 alone cause hurricanes to be more severe? Etc.

I expected to read more about data presentation fraud in this thread. I am interested in that especially because that was the first thing that came to my mind when I read IPCC AR4WG1 report several years ago.
Manipulative data presentation is a norm in climate science. Graphs show expanded Y-axis which make small variations look more meaningful. Zero point something in temperatures is nothing. Think about signal to noise ratio and our skill to measure temperature. To show even smaller changes they use W/m2 in Y axis.
Timescale, X axis, is cherrypicked to advance the “Cause” and then there is the trick. They combine a smoothed history at a peak with another time series at a low to get an illusion of increase.

Dr Burns

Did Rutan jump ships ? I thought he used to be a true believer ?

Good on ya Burt. The problem analysis is so clearly lacking that I am astounded that scientists are taking alarmist positions. But then look at the scientists who brief the politicians. Geologists and geophysicists. Guys with PhDs in dirt science. Or biologists; guys who cut up squishy things and, to the benefit of all, cure diseases. Climate science? Look up the local university’s curriculum and see if you find climate modeling. And remember, PhD guys know more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing. Where’s the thermal free body diagram? Part of it is tossed out. 6 billion people breathing out generates the same order of magnitude CO2 production as the industrial output of the US; so it’s ignored. And then there are the ‘solutions.’ For goodness sake, don’t take a thermodynamic approach. That would require a full systems analysis of the production of all the heat generated by inefficiencies in the solutions. Zero emission electric cars? Add in the line losses and power production thermodynamic costs. Get serious and do some serious engineering. Thank you Burt Rutan.


I don’t know that I have the energy for such arguments anymore. I always just want to ask, “what predictions have you made that have proven true? Show your work.”
I do not find “if you won’t take drastic measures to prevent something that is not clearly happening, you are a rotten old egg” sufficient motivation.
I have to see the work, not just affirmations. So many subject areas (medicine as well as climatology) have suffered from not only a coarsening of debate but a lowering of standards (of significance for one thing) so awful as to render abstracts and summaries entirely untrustworthy.
And (ahem) if someone is hiding the work, I will reject the conclusion out of hand. I can only assume it’s because the work doesn’t support the conclusion.

Mac the Knife

To the point… very good synopsis!


In all fairness, Burt, as a now several year follower of WUWT, a strong supporter of scientific transparency and a highly skeptical thinker, I can’t really justify letting the NPK comment slip through without being addressed.
Studies showing that growth rates are limited by the least available factor are extremely robust, common, and applicable. While it’s very reasonable to assume that crop yields in first world countries, who can afford nearly endless supplies of high quality fertilizers, poorer countries and undeveloped areas will run out of natural sources of phosphorous long before they are going to utilize all the added CO2 that they can now pull down from the atmosphere. I’m pretty sure we are going to hit a wall on total available biomass, based on regional shortages of nutrients, at which point CO2 increases will not significantly affect growth rates outside of areas where the limiting factor is water availability and then only because the higher CO2 means less stomata opening and slower transpiration (see the greening of the Sahel).
In general, I’ve been thinking about the role of nutrient availability on aspects like the size of fauna and flora, growth limiting factors, and global biomass, and one of the things that consistantly keeps popping up in my mind is that if we assume that oil/gas/coal are the remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago, then isn’t all of the fossil fuels effectively trapped potential biomass? Given that it contains high percentages of NPK (making it a major source of fertilizers) when we collect the oil from being trapped deep underground, aren’t we allowing the planet to return to a high natural biomass level? I’d like to see someone find a way to try and accurately describe how much biomass must have existed concurrently during the Carboniferous period, for example. It may be that as a species, we’re unintentionally increasing the total planetary capability to support life, even as the enviro-nuts are arguing the exact opposite. Not arguing that it will be “life as we know it”, it may be that we’re going to dramatically increase the biomass of a species most adept at rapidly adapting to the changes and taking advantage of that spare capacity (like the dramatic increase in the number of jellyfish we’re seeing… less predators + more food = population explosion) but over time it may balance out to an overall more robust planetary ecosystem.


Hmmm …
I would hardly call the open letter from Brian a `diatribe’!!
Sure, he disagrees and his reasoning is a bit familiar, not to say thin. But, so what?
Are we developing a slightly thin skin, here? Or some sort of addiction to a `take-down’ of all CAGWers and their sympathisers?
I say we stick to debating them with facts, logic, well presented analysis and the occasional, engaging opinion piece.
As to the overall required political effect, it will take some time to form up and will largely come about through convincing more and more credible scientists to speak out against the excesses of the Warmanistas …

It promises to be an interesting exchange if the usual warmist comments deletion policies don’t apply. I’ve just asked Angliss and Tobis to tell the world if they subscribe to CAGW rather than simple AGW and what kind of observation would change their mind. In the case of Tobis I suspect the answers be Yes and None.

Keith W.

Burt Rutan is a true engineer, and true engineers will pick a bad hypothesis apart when the data does not support it. In engineering, there is no ignoring of the data, because when you do that, people can die. We need more engineers in climate science.

F. Ross

Fine, common sense critique Mr. Rutan


QED Burt.
That’s the difference between some one who fly’s kites and someone who designs and engineers flying machines that transport living humans safely.

Eyal Porat

A strong voice of reason,
We need many more of these people for the public to realize the truth.

wes george

Will the real denialists please stand up!
I use to argue with Creationists back in the day and they have a lot in common with Warmists.
You see, Warmists don’t actually believe in Climate Change, they believe in Climate Stasis. That’s what the hockey stick fraud was all about. A failed effort to prove that climate didn’t change at all in the last 2,000 years, no MWP, no LIAs.
The idea seems to be that we lived in a climate Garden of Eden and only when we bit into the forbidden fruit of Knowledge during the Scottish Enlightenment were we cast out to live in sin as a capitalist industrial civilisation based upon techo-cultural evolution. Naturally, the Warmists have their prophets (Gore, Mann, Hansen, Karl Marx, Mao, et al) and, of course, a fire-and-brimstone apocalypse sermon.
Modern climate was created by Man in his own image, the Warmist gospel reads. The Warmists acolytes don’t believe in natural climate evolution because they are Climate Creationists in deep denial of rational evidence to the contrary.
It’s time to enforce separation of Church and State.

Burt, the fundamental sticking point is political/functional, not a failure of scientific or modelling process per se.
The politicians benefit hugely, as Mencken opined, from having the public alarmed and willing to give up money and control to them; climastrologers benefit greatly from having politicians pay them to keep the alarm bells tolling. It’s a partnership made in Hell.

Thank you for visiting our planet, Mr. Rutan.
It gives us some small hope, despite all the nonsense we are drowning in.

Arfur Bryant

Burt’s right.
Eventually, the most ardent supporter of the cAGW ‘theory’ will have to accept that the amount of evidence falsifying the notion – that 0.04% of the atmosphere has the ability to exert a significant effect on global temperature – is inexorably increasing.
Its all about evidence.

It never ceases to amaze me that the warmists argument always carry the same frugal claims as well as direct attacks on the individual. They claim the high road when in reality, they always exceed in demonstrating their ignorance and bias. Here is one of the best examples of a warmists being bbq’d, quartered and basted on their own petard..

Thank you for this Burt.
Bottom line: the intersection between climate science and economics needs an engineering level of precision. At the moment we have a batch of unverified assertions, a bit of data running the other way and a lot of sheer arrogance from the modelers and their enablers.
I would not fly into space if these boys were designing the vehicle; I am saving my pennies to fly in yours.

Thank you Burt. The quality of your writing matches the excellence of your light air craft designs.

Richard Lawson

You can easily tell that Brian Angliss is not a true ‘planet caring’ environmentalist as he seems rather delighted by his own very strange theory that increased CO2 will not lead to more food, and greater plenty, for all the inhabitants of this wonderful planet.
Thank you Mr Rutan. You clear headed logic has got you far in life and deservedly so.

hide the incline

“he is one who is happy to hear the news that the arctic ice content has stabilized.”

Andrew Harding

Excellent article, the fact that CO2 levels were once 6-9 times higher than they are today proves that a positive feedback mechanism does not happen as the warmists predict. AGW is the biggest scam to have been perpetrated on mankind. It has spoiled our landscape with hideous, useless windmills and diverted valuable resources to liars and cheats who call themselves scientists. The economies of the First World are in a very precarious state and the cost of combatting this fictitious threat are likely to impoverish those nations stupid enough to believe these liars and cheats. The fact that any scientist who publicly questions AGW is in danger of losing his/her job, shows that the “science” is nothing of the kind, it is bigotry.


The difference between Burt Rutan and the average climate modeller is that Burt has a lifetime record of calculating, modelling, and then actually producing a multitude of end products which work exactly as calculated and designed.


hide, you believe that? You believe that the Arctic yearly minimum sea ice volume decreased 38% since 2007? 67% since 2002?

William M. Connolley

> http://rps3.com/Pages/Burt_Rutan_on_Climate_Change.htm
I think it is great that BR is attempting to provide a coherent theory – not something many do. But, his own slides are not self-consistent. On p 20, he can’t bring himself to believe the ice core CO2 record, preferring the Beck-type stuff. But by p 29, the ice core CO2 record has become exact and accurate (you can’t see the effect he wants to see from that chart, of course, if anyone looking is puzzled by what the funny arrows are for).
To pick up some other obvious errors: the pic on p 12 (human CO2 is 3.4% of natural) is emissions, not (emissions-takeup), and so is irrelevant. People, you need to give up on the idea that the CO2 rise isn’t caused by fossil fuels, and move on to the real questions. If you get stuck on that stuff you become irrelevant and funny.
p 30: CO2 increases affect the radiative balance logarithmically, this is well known. Since CO2 is increasing nearly exponentially, the radiative effect is nearly linear.
The rest is wrong too, but in more complex ways.

I’m looking through an experimental aircraft book that I bought in 1982 and first learned about Burt Rutan. I took flight lessons a few years later and was close to going solo before finances, and practicing stalls did me in (I’m not fond of roller coasters ). I even have a poster of the “Quickie” on my wall “A bold new Burt Rutan concept…” So yeah I’m a fan of Burt Rutan.


“People, you need to give up on the idea that the CO2 rise isn’t caused by fossil fuels, and move on to the real questions. If you get stuck on that stuff you become irrelevant and funny.”
William, how much of the rise is caused by “fossil” fuels? 100%? 99%? How do you explain correlations between temperature and atmospheric CO2 annual change?


The climate science we speak of here, soon, will have no ear.
Markus Fitzhenry.

Oh the irony of Brian Angliss’ closing suggestion to “discuss why I think your opinions are based upon incorrect and incomplete data.”
Brian should check what is being measured, how it’s being measured and how the data are processed to support the alarmist case. It’s the reverse of measure with micrometer; mark with chalk; cut with axe.
Engineers solve problems. Real problems. Not imaginary or fictitious ones. The first step that an Engineer must take in problem solving is to confirm that the problem exists. If the problem is intangible, it cannot be fixed by engineering measures.
Still wonder why the CAGW “problem” is being “fixed” by imposing taxes?

cui bono

hide the incline says (January 29, 2012 at 1:31 am) re arctic ice volume.
Wow, incredible graph! No, truly *incredible*.
Source: http://psc.apl.washington.edu/wordpress/research/projects/arctic-sea-ice-volume-anomaly/
Surprise. It’s another model, at the U. of Washington: “Sea Ice Volume is calculated using the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS, Zhang and Rothrock, 2003) developed at APL/PSC.”
From the commentary on validation:
“It is difficult to validate total Arctic sea ice volume directly. There are no true measurements of total ice volume that can be compared to model-derived estimates.”
Incredible graph! Incredible credulity!


William M. Connolley says:
January 29, 2012 at 2:04 am
Mr. Connolley, have you taken time off from your sensorship-quest over at wikipedia? Job done there, is it? Starting to be afraid of the impact from WUWT now, are you?
Lucky for us you cannot hide what people write here then.
Regarding what we should focus on;

@ hide the incline:
Why did the global warming alarmists in 1990 say that you shouldn’t look to the arctic to tell you anything about climate change?


William Connolley: Since CO2 is increasing nearly exponentially….
I’m puzzled by this. I assume you are referring only to the human contribution to ambient CO2.


Mr William Connolley:
Ya know…there is a reason why I can’t use Wikipedia or Real Climate for my homework references, – Can you guess why?

I fully agree with Bert Rutan’s philosophy that the data are of critical importance. However, as I’m sure he and others have found, the data are often provided in an undigested form. To remedy this I and a colleague set up a site few years ago with a wide range of climate data reformatted as CSV files. It is at:
We’d welcome any comments on the accuracy of what is there and on its content.


William, your claim of exponential rise in CO2 combining with logarithmic effect of CO2 to produce a linear rise in temoerature requires proof. Can you provide? A strongly logarithmic effect combined with a weak exponential growth.?
I agree with your comment about CO2 rise. The evidence that the rise is related to fossil fuels is strong and unless evidence to the contrary becomes available most scientist will accept this. That is how the scientific method works. Ferdinand Engelbeem has an excellent discussion of this on his site.
Can you explain why the planet is not warming as the GCM models predict?


Absolute and utter demolition! Thanks, Burt!
(But, please, can you try to explain it to your buddy Richard Branson? His “Carbon War Room” antics and public appearances with Rajendra K. Pachauri go on everyone’s nerves.)

cui bono

Burt is a hero of mine. Engineers cannot triumph by assuming spherical cows.

William M. Connolley

> I assume you are referring only to the human contribution to ambient CO2.
Nope, I’m referring to the overall CO2 level in the atmosphere.
> how much of the rise is caused by “fossil” fuels?
From memory, human emissions of CO2 are about twice the observed rise in atmospheric CO2. The other 50% is absorbed by land+ocean.
There are some helpful graphs at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/07/some-people-claim-that-theres-a-human-to-blame/


Mr Connolley, your words.
If you have a planet with a radiatively non-active atmosphere, and make the usual assumption that you can consider it a point and forget about rotation and geometry.
If the atmosphere is radiatively inactive (as O2 and N2 nearly are), then whatever its pressure, the atmosphere acquires energy-as-heat by conduction from the surface. In equilibrium (and this is important; it is why all the tyre-pumping-up stuff is irrelevant) it must be in balance with the surface (inevitably, since it is in equilibrium) hence there can be no conductive flux at the surface, hence th surface temperature cannot be affected at all by a radiatively inactive atmosphere (again, assuming a point-planet type of idea).
Is not your efforts merely tyre-pumping-stuff, when you left that place without answering.
What energy is need to stop a atmosphere from shearing off in your theoretical planet with a radiatively non-active atmosphere argument. Bolts?
Markus Fitzhenry.


William M. Connolley says:
January 29, 2012 at 2:04 am
“The rest is wrong too, but in more complex ways.”
Hello, Winston.
1.) You did not refute Burt’s critique of the insufficient accounting of the inputs and outputs; his critique of the models stays valid.
2.) “The rest is wrong too, but in more complex ways.” – How about this : We will give you warmists all the time you need to work out exactly how Burt is wrong, and in the meantime we as a civilization will do exactly NOTHING about CO2. (Oh, BTW, you will need quite some time for that; so please, do it in a self-funded way; it’s a bit much to ask for public funding for solving a non-problem…)


“Since CO2 is increasing nearly exponentially….” oh really ??
Anyway, isn’t it good that plants have so much more CO2 to grow with.
Luvly BENEFICIAL CO2 !!!!!


Burt (lifelong great guy) is right of course but, if they were honest, the people running the climate scare would tell you it’s nothing to do with the climate. Who’s driving policy? The European Union (EU). Why? Take a look at the BP statistical review of world energy (use search as URL is long).
When Americans talk about oil and gas they often talk about the industry – even Mann and Hansen do all the time. The EU on the other hand doesn’t have one, and is the biggest importer of energy in the world. Large countries like Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland have little or no oil & gas. Only the UK has significant amounts and that’s in decline. In 20 years there will be nothing left. The current annual EU import bill for oil alone is over $400 billion. Add to that the huge quantities of Russian gas. They have to find other countries (suckers?) willing to take about $600 billion of exports just so they can pay for oil & gas imports. They are terrified. The resentment against the US is easy to understand – less for you is more for me. The EU is willing to pay a premium (via carbon credits) to any country that ships oil and gas to it rather than anywhere else.
Science never drove policy. The climate scientists are just spouting what they are paid to say and the useful idiots of the world – environmentalists and others – sing along it tune.