“No Need to Panic about Global Warming”, revisited

Concerned Scientists Reply on Global Warming

The authors of the Jan. 27 Wall Street Journal op-ed, ‘No Need to Panic about Global Warming,’ respond to their critics.


I was sent a copy of the original letter, which allows me to reproduce it in entirety here.

The interest generated by our OpEd of January 27, “No Need to Panic about Global Warming,” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204301404577171531838421366.html is gratifying but so extensive that we will limit our response to the letter of February 1, 2012 by Kevin Trenberth and 37 other signatories, and to the letter by Robert Byer, President of the American Physical Society of February 6.

We agree with Trenberth et al. that expertise is important in medical care, as it is in any matter of importance to humans or our environment. Consider then that by eliminating fossil fuels, the recipient of medical care (all of us in the world) is being asked to submit to what amounts to an economic heart transplant. According to most patient bills of rights, the patient has a strong say in the treatment decision. Natural questions from the patient are whether a heart transplant is really needed, and how successful the diagnostic team has been in the past.

In this respect, an important gauge of scientific expertise is the ability to make successful predictions. When predictions fail, we say the theory is “falsified” and we should look for the reasons for the failure. Shown in the nearby graph is the measured annual temperature of the earth since 1989, just before the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Also shown are the projections of the likely increase of temperature, as published in the Summaries of each of the four IPCC reports, the

first in the year 1990 and the last in the year 2007. These projections were based on IPCC computer models of how increased atmospheric CO2 should warm the earth. Some of the models predict higher or lower rates of warming, but the projections shown in the graph and their extensions into the distant future are the basis of most studies of environmental effects and mitigation policy options. Year to year fluctuations and discrepancies are unimportant; longer term trends are significant.

From the graph it appears that the projections exaggerate, substantially, the response of the earth’s temperature to CO2 which increased by about 11% from 1989 through 2011. Furthermore, when one examines the historical temperature record throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, the data strongly suggest a much lower CO2 effect than almost all models calculate.

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Steve Keohane
February 23, 2012 8:08 am

We could be doing a lot to provide food and clean water for millions instead of wasting it on the politics of CO2.

rob m.
February 23, 2012 8:11 am

I like the medical analogy. Climate Scientists are like primary care physicians. They know a little bit about everything but are not an expert at anything.

February 23, 2012 8:22 am

It is obvious from the temperature graph that CO2 is not performing as projected. As in any business, when lack of performance is observed, even after repeatedly lowering expectations, that employee should be fired. Only logical that CO2, due to its lack of perfomance needs to be fired as well.
It is time for a new employee don’t ya think?

Scottish Sceptic
February 23, 2012 8:34 am

Estimates suggest around a quarter of Scotland’s population died in the 1690s due to cold in the last Maunder Minimum. Today some 23,000 die each winter in the UK due to winter cold.
In the worst summer in record, in the UK 2,300 died – presumably 10% of the number that died the next winter, but it is the one-of death of a few people that has obsessed our politicians and not the 2.3million who will die in the next century at current levels of winter deaths, and who knows how many more because fuel prices are being ever pushed up to fund wind energy.
If the NHS were responsible for 23,000 deaths each year, it would cause a major crisis in the UK. But when the climate is responsible for it …. they try to stop it getting warmer.
By that logic doctors would be handing out cigarettes.

February 23, 2012 8:52 am

Being given “credibility” again! Hey, as I understand it, you can get a LIST of executive officers, a list of C.V., and some “academic backing” for Peter G.’s former hang out, the AGU.
UCS? Poppenjays who NEED TO BE IGNORED.

February 23, 2012 8:59 am

Its been warm today in the UK. a mild spring and they will be claiming we are doomed again.

G. Karst
February 23, 2012 9:01 am

Please add the referenced graph to the bottom of the article, so we don’t have to flip all over the place. Shouldn’t have to ask. GK

February 23, 2012 9:14 am

The parapets of the CAGW/DAGW crowd are crumbling. Next we’ll see the roof coming down on the heads of these clowns. It can’t happen too soon.

February 23, 2012 9:20 am

G. Karst says:
February 23, 2012 at 9:01 am

Please add the referenced graph to the bottom of the article, so we don’t have to flip all over the place. Shouldn’t have to ask. GK

Correct, G. But I’m betting by AR6 or AR7, temperatures will have moderated (or perhaps even dropped) to the point that the IPCC’s temperature projection will be a horizontal line. At best. It may even be a negative line, which makes me wonder is they will either:
1) Opt for more burning of fossil fuels to warm things up, or
2) Switch to the position that CO2 is COOLING the planet, thereby continuing to tighent their grip on energy production.

February 23, 2012 10:13 am

rob m. says:
‘February 23, 2012 at 8:11 am
I like the medical analogy. Climate Scientists are like’ witch doctors. ‘They know a little bit about everything but are not an expert at anything’
Fixed that for me(and the rest of us). A physician is a subset of scientist and follows evidence. Witch doctors get to make up their own evidence

John West
February 23, 2012 10:20 am

Camburn says:
Only logical that CO2, due to its lack of perfomance needs to be fired as well.
This has been extensively discussed at TPPS (Tropics from Pole to Pole Society) meetings. We had hoped CO2 would have been able to do more but we’ve been disappointed. Anyway, we are currently looking for a replacement. Solar Activity has turned us down due to being miffed over not being credited with 20th century warming. We are currently in discussions with the tropical thermostats, if we can get them to cooperate we believe we’ll have it made. Thunderstorms, however, are notorious for spontaneous behavior, so we’re not sure if they’ll follow through with any agreements we make.

February 23, 2012 10:49 am

Thanks for this post. I missed the response of the “Concerned Scientists” to Trenberth et al comments on their original article- “No Need to Panic about Global Warming” in the WSJ.
As the concerned scientists discussed the importance of evaluating a theory, or the expected output of it, to the real world it might be nice in say 15 to 30 years to see how well our state (CA) is doing to Meeting our GHG Goals especially for ZEV’s. ZEVs over time are noted here- http://www.energy.ca.gov/2012_energypolicy/documents/2012-02-23_workshop/presentations/02_Bevan_ARB_ZEV_Forecasts.pdf
The 15.4% of Annual Sales in 2025 being ZEV’s (the proposed ZEV requirement) is a metric that we could track a bit sooner.

February 23, 2012 10:50 am

Medical patient asks for a second opinion. We are the ‘medical patients’ and we just want to hear another opinion on CAGW.

Peter Miller
February 23, 2012 11:00 am

Kevin Trenberth is one of the high priests of the CAGW cult.
You cannot expect reason, decency, accuracy or rational debate from any cult leader.
You can however expect shrill protestations, unfounded claims, exaggeration and distorted facts.
And that is exactly what you can always rely on Kevin Trenberth and those other 37 sad sacks to deliver.

February 23, 2012 11:07 am

@Scottish Sceptic
I do not understend.
You say :
Today some 23,000 die each winter in the UK due to winter cold.
Really !?
I kannt belive.

February 23, 2012 11:15 am

RockyRoad says: …

Switch to the position that CO2 is COOLING the planet, thereby continuing to tighent their grip on energy production.

I already have a bet with a neighbor that this is exactly what will happen. We’ve already moved from Global Warming to Climate Change. Cooling is just another form of change, right?

February 23, 2012 12:04 pm

I like the potential depth of our arguments. But this depth should be part of our “deep bench” that we go to when needed… in support of essentially only 2 basic fundamental points. This WSJ letter is not guilty of it, but sometimes I see lengthy (say: 45 pages) 218 point rebuttals of AGW. We must anchor such a laudable but word-heavy rebuttal to the 1 or 2 key points, and not let such a meandering treatise flail out there like it’s floating in space. Why? Because a casual independent type will glance at the seemingly verbose rebuttal, and dismiss the skeptic position simply because of the long length of the rebuttal. True.
It’s obvious to everyday Joes: either the globe is warming unusually, or it’s not. Either CO2 is causing it, or it isn’t. If a “treatise” doesn’t concisely and up front address these 2 main points, but seems to digress into endless banter about secondary points, it’s lengthiness will, in itself, sadly, provide corroboration for the warmist position! It’s fine if we always anchor the extended passages to the main themes, like in a high school essay. You need a theme statement up front.
In short, we always need to make this clear because it’s not self-evident to everyone that: 1) there’s nothing wrong with climate [h stick debunked], and 2) CO2 has nothing, or effectively nothing, to do with it. Lengthy arguments should be raised in the context of support of these 2 main points somehow.
(By the way, most people don’t have the faintest idea about what’s up with the AGW debate, and by and large they just accept at face value the short sound bites offered by the leftist MSM. There is a 3 minute video on CO2, that the warmists will try to rebut but fail in process, that everybody should see. I entreat all of us to promote this video [I think it could be reduced to less than a minute for an anti-AGW ad, so think about doing that also]. The video catches Al Gore in the fundamental deception: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK_WyvfcJyg )
There are subsidiary points. Like about net ice melt (even if so, we are coming out of the Little Ice Age), the deceptive / political nature of the Chicken Littles, and more of course. But, for the most part, always try to present things under the umbrage of the two concise main points.

February 23, 2012 12:14 pm

Many major professional societies and NGOs have been captured and dominated by non scientist advocates. I researched the leadership of two such organizations that were in the news during the Fall of 2010. I wrote “Concerned about Concerned Scientists” in Oct 2010 and “Warmist Monk Immolates at the AGU Temple” in Dec 2010, both posted in archive at Canada Free Press. These two organizations are back in the news today, with little change in leadership. The UCS is an NGO with little pretence of objectivity, but the 61,000 members of AGU are being poorly served by this current administraive group of Eco-egalitarians. Every member appointed to serve with Dr Gleick on the Task Force on Scientific Ethics is now tainted and must also resign. This committee first convened in Dec 2011 so there is no measurable ‘work product’ that must be saved.
Here is the AGU article link http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/31394
Thanks, Joseph A Olson [aka Faux Science Slayer]

February 23, 2012 12:54 pm

rob m. says: February 23, 2012 at 8:11 am

I like the medical analogy. Climate Scientists are like primary care physicians. They know a little bit about everything but are not an expert at anything.

I think that a more apropos analogy would be that that Climate Scientists™ are like homeopaths. They claim to understand a lot about how somethings work, but in actuality all they really know is bupkis.

Werner Brozek
February 23, 2012 1:34 pm

What are we to make of the letter’s claim: “Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record.” We don’t see any warming trend after the year 2000 in the graph. It is true that the years 2000-2010 were perhaps 0.2 C warmer than the preceding 10 years.
Now if Trenberth had made that claim regarding the last 30 years, that would be one thing, but to single out the “past decade” seems very odd and easily disproven. As for confusing a “warming trend” with being warm, that seems odd. I can have a stove at 425 F and turn it off. As soon as I turn it off, it starts cooling so just because it is still hot does NOT mean the warming trend is not abated.
I also believe the reply could be stronger. Neglecting significant digits for now, according to HadCrut3, the average anomaly from 2002 to 2006 inclusive was 0.4588. However the average anomaly from 2007 to 2011 inclusive was only 0.3976. In my opinion, it is these numbers that clearly show that the long-term warming trend HAS abated in the past decade.

Joel Shore
February 23, 2012 2:37 pm

In other places, the predictions have been compared to data more carefully, meaning using a consistent baseline and including error ranges for the predictions: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/02/2011-updates-to-model-data-comparisons/ (Error bars for the measured values are not shown but obviously the year-to-year fluctuations give an indication of how much weight to put in the exact value for any given year.)

February 23, 2012 2:56 pm

geomarz on February 23, 2012 at 11:07 am said:
@Scottish Sceptic
I do not understend.
You say :
Today some 23,000 die each winter in the UK due to winter cold.
Really !?
I kannt belive.
I think you will find that most of those deaths are due to the flue and not a direct result of cold temperatures.

February 23, 2012 4:48 pm

@Joel Shore says:
February 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm
In other places, the predictions have been compared to data more carefully, meaning using a consistent baseline and including error ranges for the predictions: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/02/2011-updates-to-model-data-comparisons/
The RC website model mean spread is too large. More accurate trends shown here:
Joel, you have to be careful when you read graphs put together by climate modelers evaluating the accuracy of their own work. It’s better to look at an independent analysis to get a fairer balance.

Milwaukee Bob
February 23, 2012 5:39 pm

Here was is my issue with the 37 scientists response:
Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work. …
And computer models have recently shown that …

Sooo, how many peer-reviewed papers on COMPUTER MODELING has any of these “Climate Experts” published? No, I do not go to my dentist for my heart condition and I’m sure not going to consult a “Climate expert” on computer modeling or vice versa.
Thus, climate experts also know… Mr. Trenberth was lamenting the inadequacy of observing systems … Wait! Above they said: Observations show … Sorry, they can’t have it both ways. It’s ONE system and we either have the technology to observe EVERY facet of it or we don’t – and we don’t!
The world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible. Impacts are already apparent and will increase.By “impact” one would assume they mean of a serious (life ending?) nature. NAME ONE! Seriously. Name one that is provably “apparent,” (using science) that has ended a life.
Oh, and students- you cannot use the word “climate” or “computer” in your proof.
Reducing future impacts will require significant reductions in emissions of heat-trapping gases. NAME ONE! Future impact, that is and the specific “heat-trapping gas” that if reduced will reduce THAT specific impact. And what % in reduction of that gas will cause what % in reduction of said impact.
There, 37 scientists. I just gave the foundation for your next grant request. Should you choose to except and get caught in more falsehoods, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your existence. This posting will self-destruct in 15 seconds….

Joel Shore
February 23, 2012 6:33 pm

@Will Nitsche
February 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm
I think Lucia’s and RC’s plots look pretty similar once you take into account that what Lucia shows are one sigma spread for the models and what RC shows is 95% confidence, which is about a 2*sigma spread. Typically, going outside the 95% confidence boundary is sort of the de-facto standard for statistical significance, although these things are somewhat arbitrary.

February 23, 2012 7:13 pm

Looks to me like no warming since 2002 Joel. Maybe even a slight cooling although GISTEMP seems higher than the others.
So the model ensemble (averages of integrated random noise) shows to 95 % confidence either no warming at all or 1.2 Deg C warming.
WTF good is it?

February 23, 2012 8:00 pm

That’s a fair point to make, but what a lot of people may not realise is that the AR4 projections shown are based on a 1980-1999 baseline. Basically the modelers knew what happened from 1980-2000 so their projection actually starts from 2001 or so. The fit looks impressive but they basically already knew *what had happened* for most of their graph. No surprises it looks like a good fit. Your Average Joe would not know this and assume that the models have been remarkably prescient for 30 years or so. Although the other side of the coin is that we don’t have 30 years of forecasts from the IPCC to compare AR4 projections against and a decade or so of data is a little too short to say anything too definitive about their accuracy.

February 23, 2012 8:15 pm

@rob m. says:
February 23, 2012 at 8:11 am
I like the medical analogy. Climate Scientists are like primary care physicians. They know a little bit about everything but are not an expert at anything.

CRS replies: Hey, don’t compare a bunch of rent-seeking make-believe academics to good physicians! Medicine dates back to the ancient Egyptians, but I’m not even sure that “climatology” is a legitimate branch of science.

February 23, 2012 8:29 pm

“the data strongly suggest a much lower CO2 effect than almost all models calculate.”
Of course – no apparent effect at all since we have had level or slightly declining temperatures since 1998 which was the maximum of the superimposed natural 60 year cycle, now declining, but nearly offset by the long-term natural trend which is increasing at about 0.05 deg.C / decade until its likely maximum within 200 years or so.
Why no effect? Because absorptivity measurements are done with incident visible light, even though it is well known that they drop off rapidly when the source has much lower frequencies.
It is thus totally incorrect to assume high absorptivity for the Earth’s surface when the source is very low frequency radiation from the atmosphere. In fact, the absorbtivity has to drop to zero when the temperaure of the source is less than that of the target. Otherwise the Second Law of Thermodynamics would be violated as explained here: http://climate-change-theory.com/RadiationAbsorption.html

Dr Gregory Young
February 24, 2012 6:04 am

You know it’s strange…. all along, amongst all the other data that “warmers” have ignored and fabricated, that “big-yellow-thingie” in the sky still changing the ambient temperature in the world for as much as 40 F. degrees every 24 hours. Yet the climate whoozes still errect their clever and secret models while playing in the dark inside their blanket-forts, fouled by their own gas, in the windowless basement of their hourse, while denying the reality of sunlight, or perhaps truly being afraid of the Light altogether. Are they not the result and the true factor of “instability” due to their own incessant navel-gazing?

Ken Harvey
February 24, 2012 8:26 am

Perversely, you might think, I am at long last convinced that CO2 has this extraordinary ability to back radiate. Following my conversion on the way to Damascus, I now have an overpowering sense of foreboding. I note that we have this giant planet sized cloud of CO2 circulating in the solar system all too close to the sun. (You might refer to it as planet Venus, but effectively it is a giant gas cloud). Clearly, since CO2 back radiation has the power to warm the surface of the earth, there can be no doubt whatever that by this same mechanism this gas cloud is warming the surface of the sun! If one bears in mind that the damned thing is spinning backwards, the cloud that is, not the sun, then who knows what the evil consequences may be in store for planet earth. It would give me some reassurance if I could establish that its atoms, at least, are spinning in the right direction. We don’t even know whence it came nor when, although I distinctly remember that it was lurking there last Thursday.
Clearly the matter needs further study which raises the matter of financing. Sadly I am not personally conversant with the accepted means of seeking this and armed only with my nineteen forties General Science text book acquired before I dropped out of high school in the same decade, I may just lack a little in appeal for those who make these very vital funding decisions. I am thus looking for a partner who should have a good degree, in almost anything, and who has some experience of approaching decision makers in the funding field. Anyone interested can advise me by comment almost anywhere on this site.

Disko Troop
February 24, 2012 8:59 am

Gary Mount says::
You say:Today some 23,000 die each winter in the UK due to winter cold.
Really !?
I kannt belive.
I think you will find that most of those deaths are due to the flue and not a direct result of cold temperatures.
Why exactly do you think vulnerable people are given flue jabs in September and not in April?

February 24, 2012 11:08 am

In a recent British Medical Journal a medical editor mentions that he asks prospective authors to submit their data. In one third of cases the author is unable to produce any data. A brief glance through medical journals from a few decades ago will reveal that the medical profession has its fair share of Millenium Bugs and CAGW panics.eg excision of the Carotid Body was a certain cure for asthma-do any of you remember that one. What became of Repetitive Strain Injury or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Dr Trenbeth should choose his physician carefully to avoid a “Global Warmist” equivalent. Historically when the “overwhelming Concensus ” of doctors believe something alarm bells should ring. Geoff Broadbent

February 24, 2012 10:01 pm

Here is a chart of the breakdown of solar insolation. http://climate-change-theory.com/insolation.jpg
Note the reference to most of the infra-red being absorbed by the atmosphere. Clearly that radiation in the visible spectrum is by no means “most” of the energy. For a start, the UV, X-rays etc have much higher energy than light as you all must know. So the atmosphere has a significant cooling effect during daylight hours, and water vapour has a net negative feedback partly because of this absorption and also due to reflection off clouds.
Seeing that backradiation does not affect climate in any way (as proved on my website ‘Radiation’ page), there is no way WV could have a positive feedback as assumed by IPCC, thus amplifying CO2 effects they claim.
There simply cannot be an atmospheric radiative greenhouse effect without violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics, as I have proved on my website, and also because every ray of radiation has to be treated as a separate process.
There is no physical meaning associated with, and no physical entity corresponding to “net” radiation. Radiation rays do not combine like, for example, force vectors.
The concept that this spurious “net radiation” is directed out of the surface cannot be used to excuse what is really a violation of the Second Law resulting from the conjecture that radiation from a cooler atmosphere can increaase the rate of warming of the surface in the morning and decrease the rate of cooling in the evening.
A warm body will not absorb any radiation from a cooler source, no matter how much of such radiation is sent in its direction, as shown in my funnel experiment. And all such radiation has no effect on the normal spontaneous outgoing radiation, let alone the heat loss by evaporation and diffusion followed by convection.

February 25, 2012 6:44 pm

Before we consider what “backradiation” contributes, let’s say that at 11am on the Equator on one side of the Earth the Sun is shining and delivering 900 W/m^2 to the surface, of which 300W/m^2 is leaking out again into the atmosphere, let’s say 120W/m^2 by evaporation and diffusion followed by convection, and the remaining 180W/m^2 of it by radiation. So we have a net overall inward flux of 900 – 300 = 600W/m^2, this being 900 – 180 = 720W/m^2 net radiation inwards less 120W/m^2 outwards by other processes, ie 720 – 120 = 600W/m^2.
Let us suppose this overall net 600W/m^2 has warmed the surface by 6 deg.C since dawn.
Now the models make out that, let’s say an extra 150 W/m^2 of backradiation from the cooler atmosphere also does some extra warming. So perhaps the increase in temperature has been an extra 1.5 deg.C making a total of 7.5 deg.C since dawn. After all, there is certainly net radiation into the surface.
Does anyone really believe this extra 1.5 deg.C of warming from the cold atmosphere would not have been in violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics?
This surely must be the weakest argument and the most blatant travesty of physics in the whole (radiative) greenhouse conjecture..

February 26, 2012 2:14 am

Have you ever considered that proper application of S-B Law would result in no radiation from a cooler atmosphere to a warmer surface, because you would have to subtract a larger value from a smaller one and get a negative result.
But I come to the rescue and say that there will in fact be downward radiation, because after all you would expect radiation to go in all directions within a full spherical angle.
I say about half of the full amount of SBL radiation will head towards the Earth’s surface – but it won’t have any effect and will be rejected and not warm anything that is warmer than its source was. So, after coming back up from the surface, it can only warm cooler air (usually higher up) or get through to warm some object in space one of these years.

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