How a lay climate skeptic's view can count on global warming

Putting Sir Isaac Newton on the right path

Short story by Christopher Bowring

When lay global warming skeptics point out to alarmists that the recent seventeen year period of steady global temperatures invalidates their climate models which predicted runaway global warming, there is often a standard response.

‘How can you, global warming (or climate change) denier, who have no experience of climatology, dare to argue with me, a renowned expert in my field of science?’  Let us return to the England of the seventeenth century to see what is wrong with this rebuttal.

I am in Grantham in Lincolnshire.  It is a sunny day.  A respectable looking man in a wig is sitting under an apple tree.  It is Sir Isaac Newton.  I greet him.  He smiles back, but looks agitated.  ‘What is wrong?’ I ask.  ‘I have made a wonderful discovery,’ he replies.  ‘I call is my Law of Gravitation’.  ‘What does it say?’ I enquire.

‘It says that any two bodies in the universe repel each other with a force proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of their distance apart’.  ‘Really?’ I respond.  ‘But that is nonsense!’  ‘Nonsense?’ explodes the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.  ‘Nonsense?  How can you, a nobody, a nonentity, dare to question the mind of the greatest living scientist in the world?’

‘Sir, I refute your law quite simply’.  And with that I take an apple from the tree and drop it on Sir Isaac’s head.


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Lew Skannen

Argument from authority is the first line of defence for these people.
We need to draw more attention to the asymmetry between Proposing a theory and Refuting one.
To propose a theory about climate you need to cobble together a vast number of different disciplines and produce a consistent result.
To destroy such a theory you can be as ignorant as you like about most of the theory but simple be able to produce a single flaw.
This is something that does not get emphasised enough.

Mike Bromley the Kurd

The climate scientists are a particularly smug and narcissistic lot….characteristics seemingly confined to that ‘discipline’. Characteristics strange as they are distasteful, give the GIGO that they espouse.

gopal panicker

refute ?? how does dropping an apple on his head do it ?

Jeff Alberts

When lay global warming skeptics point out to alarmists that the recent seventeen year period of steady global temperatures

That phrase really irks me. There is no “global temperature”, and there certainly aren’t multiple “global temperatures”. Yet we’re always presented with a single, meaningless metric. Why can’t we get away from this??


Precisely. A swift unscientific common-sense solution is often the best way.
“This sir, is how much CO2 we make, which isn’t a lot.”
“What only that much in all that sky up there, blimey”.

Adrian O

At the point where the models are all with 95% confidence wrong, it is not clear at all that it should be called a science.
It is a failed attempt to figure out climate behavior.


I have an acquaintance that beliefs that planet is warming at the rate preached by the most extreme of green dogmas. Every summer he drags himself around, convinced in his heart that it is hotter than ever before. Years back, I tried to tell him that it doesn’t work that way and he barked back his learned nonsense. Since then, I just let him suffer in peace. And suffer he does.


So why did Newton look agitated? Perhaps deep down he knew he had got a sign wrong?
So why are not global warmists agitated instead of agitators? They can see they have got a sign wrong surely? It is cooling.
I suppose there is some data they can’t change and so they must try to change peoples perceptions of that data to maintain their belief system and thereby income streams.
Otherwise I am struggling to see how the circus is still on the road divorced from reality and now divorcing from political “reality”. The whole business is very sad.

@gopal panicker November 29, 2013 at 10:45 pm: “refute ?? how does dropping an apple on his head do it ?”
Re-read that part about “repel”. As eco-geek noted, there was a little sign problem.
Peer review would be a lot more interesting if it generally involved projectiles.


The words “straw man” come to mind as Newton never held such a supposition.
Forget imagining catching him making a completely ridiculous mistake. Instead imagine trying to persuade him that his real theories were incomplete; that the speed of light is constant in every inertial frame or that clocks run slower in a gravitational field.
The reason the AGW people are so hard to argue with is that what they believe ISN’T a mistake. It is indeed quite plausible that changing the composition of the atmosphere might change its radiative properties and lead to warming. There is an aspect of truth to this, just as there is truth in Newtonian mechanics. It is not an error. It is a plausible initial conclusion.
One then needs to go beyond this initial conclusion and look at questions of magnitide and other factors. It is no use getting your knickers in a knot over an effect which is insignificantly small or which is obliviated by other much larger influences and controlling factors on the state of the climate. And if you are willing to take that deeper look you will find (with a sigh of relief) that this is indeed the case.
The problem with the alarmists is that they are unwilling to take that next step. They are so mesmerised by the frightening (wonderful?) possibilities of their initial conclusion that they are are unable to move beyond it. What they believe is actually a piece of the truth. But it is only a piece. Unfortunately they are completely fixated on this piece. They are unable or unwilling to go beyond it and look at the larger picture. Persuading them of their mistake is not a simple matter of demonstrating some gross error.


I propose a theory that says we don’t control the climate; IT controls US…;)


@Jeff Alberts “That phrase really irks me. There is no “global temperature”, and there certainly aren’t multiple “global temperatures”. Yet we’re always presented with a single, meaningless metric. Why can’t we get away from this??”
Precisely – !!! And it doesn’t take a scientist to figure that out – just good old common sense.

Disko Troop

The science is settled. It’s wrong, but that is not the point. It is settled and now we are only allowed to dispute the politics. The solution to the settled science is communism. That is wrong, but that is not the point either. The solution is to take any one who disagrees and put them to work in the fields, (Pol Pot and Mao) or to kill them off in a frozen wasteland somewhere (Stalin) . The tools to put in place are a compliant Press and media, (Kim Jong Il, Obama, Hedegaard, Camerloon) and an army of indoctrinated sheep to break windows and daub slogans and terrorize the non-compliant ( Agenda 21 via Greenpeace, FOe, WWF)
Watch your backs. We may think history cannot repeat itself again, but show me an era where it did not…..
Ivor Ward


Jeff Alberts says: “…There is no “global temperature”, and there certainly aren’t multiple “global temperatures”. Yet we’re always presented with a single, meaningless metric. Why can’t we get away from this??”
Because AGW zealots like to pretend there is such a thing. If there were, we’d have no means of measuring it, lacking a place to put a global-scale thermometer. I’ve thought of such a place, but Al Gore doesn’t return my Tweets.


@jeff Alberts & 4TimesAYear
I agree there are no “global temperatures”. There at least difficulties in measuring a global temperature and I don’t know whether a global temperatur makes sense, but in my opinion there IS a global temperature. What is Your argument?

Lloyd Martin Hendaye

Another classic example posits a post-1905 visitor to the famed Max Planck in December 1900. “Give me a sphere of gray metal the size of a tennis ball,” says the visitor. “When I cut the sphere into two halves and slam them forcefully together, the result will be a crater two miles wide and one thousand feet deep, that will smoke-and-steam for years.”
“Impossible!” replies der grosse Herr Professor Planck. “We may not know much, but settled thermodynamic principles do specify that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Your tennis-ball cannot possibly liberate sufficient energy for this effect.”
The problem here is that Prof. Planck’s 19th Century view assumes that “energy” is chemical: Even granted his discovery of quantized photoelectric processes that very month, no classical (Newtonian) effect could generate a “tennis-ball” outcome. But prior to Special Relativity, neither Planck nor anyone else can know that “energy” is in fact not chemical but nuclear, proportional to mass times a gigantic conversion factor = 186,282^2, the universally constant rate-of-propagation of electromagnetic radiation (“light”) in vacuo.
“Science” is a Philosophy of the natural world; an empirical, objective, above all rational Method; and in Practice a “social enterprise” subjecting all positive, null, and negative experimental outcomes to strict replication of results. “Nullius in verba” as Galileo put it, or as Feynman admonished: Nature cares nothing for what you may believe, nor for any “mere opinion” you may hold.
Conjecture a contingent, material, rational projection (no inverse causation, miracles, perpetual motion, need apply); formulate a testable hypothesis; conduct rigorous experiments designed specifically not to prove but to invalidate your premises; finally, submit detailed, explicit results for replication by knowledgeable experts (“peers”). Only so is any Theory provisionally verified, ever pending one single contrary result.
Granted classical assumptions, Max Planck in 1900 would not be so much wrong as necessarily mistaken. Meantime, as geodesics in 4-D Riemannian hyperspace, gravitation’s probabilistic trajectories become factorial: Converting not mass-to-energy but space/time to energy would explode the solar system “like a stick of dynamite in a rotten apple.”


I couldn’t agree more, they have become fixated on the tail of the dog rather than the body.


It all depends on your mindset.
Some, Newton was one, always question and want to know more – he would say, “we have not pushed the boundaries far enough and man must strive to learn more about the Universe” – he would have marvelled at and with Quantum theory.
Then, there is the ‘other lot’, they are one’s who would have us back in the dark ages before the great enlightenment because that suits their purpose.
Only good men reach out to the firmament, the only thing holding us [the human race] back are the naysayers and deniers of: pure science and the glory of mathematics.
We’ve only dipped our toes and the ‘ocean of space’ is vast.


cynical_scientist says:
November 29, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Jean Meeus

Of course there is no “global temperature”. That’s the reason why we consider, instead, the temperature “anomaly”. For example, we can compare the mean temperature of November 2013 AT A GIVEN PLACE to the mean temperature of December of the years 1980-2010 at the same place. And do the same for other places.

@ Lew Skannen : correctumundo.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley

The word that really gets me is ‘pause’. It IS NOT a pause – and even sceptics sometimes use the word! A ‘pause’ is a temporary cessation. It implies that you know the future state of events. If you are banging a hammer on a piece of wood, then you pause, it means you KNOW that you are going to carry on hitting the wood with the hammer. If you have finished hitting the wood then it isn’t a pause – it is stopped. Knowing the future state is clear here. If you cannot know the future state (as is the case with climate science) then it is not a ‘pause’. A ‘pause’ implies that the state that existed before will continue – and that simply isn’t knowable!

Geoff Sherrington

It’s possible that I’m wrong here, but I’m worried about people who write that Arrhenius measured heat when light was passed through CO2 gas or air with CO2 in it.
The early experiments by Arrhenius, Tyndall et al used a rock salt crystal to refract the visible and particularly the invisible Infra Red part of the spectrum. They did not rely on heat measurements for their theories. They detected wavelength and hence energy, as at absorption bands, using a bolometer. This could have been a thin walled glass sphere filled with a gas, the sphere expanding when heated and the approximate wavelength of the emission measured from its position relative to the crystal. Think Pink Floyd CD covers.
If you go to Web sites and search derivation of Stefan Boltzmann or derivation of Planck equation, you will find that the much publicised energy dependence on the 4th power of temperature arises from mathematical integration of geometric terms such as those taking you from a plane to a sphere.
There might be later papers in which the actual heat production is measured, but I am not aware of any from my fairly broad reading. So you have to place your trust in a theory of quantum electrodynamics.
That said, I do not argue that passage of IR light though a gas mixture containing CO2 will produce heat. It will. I have melted & cut 1 inch steel plate with IR light from a CO2 laser that has been focussed to a very small diameter. In the atmospheric context, while I agree that heat will be produced, I am uncertain about how long the heat will remain in the natural system. Heat that is fleeting, or heat that induces a cooling feedback will not do the job so often claimed by GHG enthusiasts.
There is still no single, quantitative, replicated paper that links GHG concentration with a temperature change in the atmosphere.


Lloyd Martin Hendaye says:
November 29, 2013 at 11:44 pm
“like a stick of dynamite in a rotten apple.”
Hee hee. Reminds me of the story of the Hollywood director who, on hearing of the first atomic bomb attack on Japan, rushed up to his leading actor and breathlessly blurted “This atomic bomb, man, it’s… it’s.. DYNAMITE!!”
(OK, it’s Saturday night here and by now I’m frivolously amused…)

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley

Jean Meeus, I take your point, but there actually is a ‘global temperature’. It’s an average of all locations, all times of day, and all days of the year. I think it’s 14.5-15 C. The anomaly is a reading above or below a set period of time of temps taken from the 1961-1990 average.

lemiere jacques

The point is not about being a lay climatologist or not it is about dealing with the results of computer simulations.
It is very paradoxical on one hand , some say simulations can be trusted, on the other hand it is said that discrepancy between models and data are irrelevant …
so it is said one must trust simulation because they can hindcast some patterns of the past climate….
I used to believe the opposite, hindcast ability is a weak evidence compare to prediction skills to test a model…especially when some unknown parameters of models have been adjusted first to fit the data!


How can McIntyre a mere statistician refute Michael Mann’s hokey stick? I don’t know but he did.
Does it take a child to point out that the Emperor has now clothes?
If it’s your money (taxes) they want to defraud then you MUST look at what they are saying and dissent if you want. If they leave your pockets and energy infrastructure alone then they can say that pink elephants can fly and I wouldn’t give a crap.
They often refute themselves by claiming many silly things. 🙂
Fight these con artists with every last breath, they are attempting the biggest defraud ever perpetrated on the planet. How do we know the ozone hole hasn’t always been there?


Does it take a child to point out that the Emperor has NO clothes?

King of Cool

Wonder if Sir Isaac Newton ever observed hail stones as big as apples?
Heard on the radio driving home to-day (not word for word):
BBC LONDON – We love to talk about the weather but over in South Africa they have just experienced a massive hailstorm that has hit Johannesburg and created all sorts of chaos on the roads and damage. Tell us all about it Joe Bloggs in Joburg.
JOE BLOGGS IN JOBURG – Yes it was terrible, it was awful, it was chaotic, etc etc, we have had heavy storms before but never seen anything like this etc etc:
BBC LONDON – And tell me Joe Bloggs in Joburg do you think that global warming is to blame?
JOE BLOGGS IN JOBURG – Well it must have something to do with it because we have NEVER EVER seen anything like it etc etc.
What a shame the BBC does not bother to check history:
Although 26 natives are known to have been killed in Sunday’s [Feb. 2 1936] terrific hailstorm near Settlers, Transvaal, the full death-toll, it is believed, will be greater. The storm was one of the worst and most remarkable within living memory. It approached as a black cloud. Then, with a roar like gun-fire, it seemed that a gigantic iceberg in the sky had shattered. Fragments of ice, as big as coconuts, rained down for half an hour, piling to a height of three feet. Natives endeavored to rescue stricken neighbors, relatives and womenfolk, but all who were unable to gain shelter were killed.
Check also Pretoria 17 Nov 1949 and 1 November 1985.
I am sure that Sir Isaac Newton would have been suitably repelled by the BBC report.

David L.

Aristotle claimed objects fall with a speed proportional to their weight. This was accepted for a thousand years until Galeileo disproved it with a simple experiment. Anyone could do the experiment, so why did the world believe Aristotle for do long? I assume it’s the “taboo” of arguing with the authority. Even Galileo got himself into trouble with the authority of the Catholic Church, and it took them 500 years to admit Galileo was right.


As a layperson what am I to make of this? Should I listen to what climate scientists tell me? OK I will. If I were a politician I will start formulating policy based on the following piece of horseshit.

Abstract – 19 February 2013
Between these conflicting tendencies, 12 projections show drier annual conditions by the 2060s and 13 show wetter. These results are obtained from sixteen global general circulation models downscaled with different combinations of dynamical methods……

If I were a politician formulating policy how much confidence should I place on the models?

Science – Perspective – 31 May 2013
What Are Climate Models Missing?
Bjorn Stevens, Sandrine Bony
Fifty years ago, Joseph Smagorinsky published a landmark paper (1) describing numerical experiments using the primitive equations (a set of fluid equations that describe global atmospheric flows). In so doing, he introduced what later became known as a General Circulation Model (GCM). GCMs have come to provide a compelling framework for coupling the atmospheric circulation to a great variety of processes. Although early GCMs could only consider a small subset of these processes, it was widely appreciated that a more comprehensive treatment was necessary to adequately represent the drivers of the circulation. But how comprehensive this treatment must be was unclear and, as Smagorinsky realized (2), could only be determined through numerical experimentation. These types of experiments have since shown that an adequate description of basic processes like cloud formation, moist convection, and mixing is what climate models miss most.

Should I be concerned? You betcha.

Abstract – 22 June 2012
Santer et. al.
“The multimodel average tropospheric temperature trends are outside the 5–95 percentile range of RSS results at most latitudes. The likely causes of these biases include forcing errors in the historical simulations (40–42), model response errors (43), remaining errors in satellite temperature estimates (26, 44), and an unusual manifestation of internal variability in the observations (35, 45). These explanations are not mutually exclusive. Our results suggest that forcing errors are a serious concern.”

I am just a layperson so I will avert my eyes from the literature and listen to what the Calamastrologists are telling me. I will believe and act now, like a lamb to the slaughter.


Here is a timely lesson about experts and those who are not.

19 April 2013
The student who caught out the profs
This week, economists have been astonished to find that a famous academic paper often used to make the case for austerity cuts contains major errors. Another surprise is that the mistakes, by two eminent Harvard professors, were spotted by a student.

gaelan clark

Your “opinion” needs to be defined before any rebuttal.
What, in your “opinion”(snicker) is the “global temperature” exactly?
Snicker=laughing at you

Russell Seitz

[Snip. persona non grata. ~mod

Russell Seitz

[Snip. PNG. — mod.]


Jean Meeus says: “That’s the reason why we consider, instead, the temperature “anomaly”. For example, we can compare the mean temperature of November 2013 AT A GIVEN PLACE to the mean temperature of December of the years 1980-2010 at the same place.”
No! Climate scietivists like the ‘anomaly’ because it masks the real temperature changes which don’t sound very scary. Also if you compare November 2013 to December of earlier years you will certainly see warming – is that how it’s done?

Dr Burns

@Jeff Alberts says:
“That phrase really irks me. There is no “global temperature” ”
I always ask ‘what is the average temperature of your house, including oven, hot plates, refrigerator, heater ?’ I agree that such averages are meaningless, however the current climate does not seem warmer than that which was described as the Little Ice Age.

Jean Meeus

Sorry, I made a mistake.
“For example, we can compare the mean temperature of November 2013 AT A GIVEN PLACE to the mean temperature of December of the years 1980-2010 at the same place.”
Of course, it should be “to the mean temperature of NOVEMBER of the years…”.
” but there actually is a ‘global temperature’. It’s an average of all locations, all times of day, and all days of the year.” How can you calculate the average of the temperature at London and that on the Mount Everest? Makes not much sense, IMO.

95% certainty, means nothing at all. A Bonobo ape is 99% human in his DNA, I would not like him to be my lawyer, doctor, teacher… he can of course graduate with honors as climatologist and work for the IPCC. From Belgium with love.


Jean Meeus says: “That’s the reason why we consider, instead, the temperature “anomaly”. For example, we can compare the mean temperature of November 2013 AT A GIVEN PLACE to the mean temperature of December of the years 1980-2010 at the same place.”
And if you fail to publish the average of the years 1980-2010 (something that is almost always omitted) as well as the anomaly from that average then you make it impossible to reconstruct the actual temperatures you are dealing with.
Like showing all of your working out, not just part of it.

James Schrumpf

I always liked Tim Allen’s line in “Galaxy Quest”: “You don’t have to be a great actor to spot a bad one.”
Same with science and scientists.

Lumping climate scientists in a single class of political climate scientists is a bit of a glittering generalization. We need to separate the real climate scientists from the political types. The trouble is the latter seem to be making the most noise and serving totally political ends. If it weren’t for the lofty goal of saving the planet, the left would have to find some other reason to try to control all.

Lawrence Todd

I hate to argue with one of the better responders here.
Geoff Sherrington says
“That said, I do not argue that passage of IR light though a gas mixture containing CO2 will produce heat. It will.”
That statement is a given. The argument is that a minor change in the atmosphere composition of gases will result in a measurable change in the heat production,


Maybe if the scientific climate scientists pushed back against the political ones once in a while we’d be able to differentiate. At present it seems that 97% of climate scientists are corrupt, self-serving liars.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley

Jean Meeus, you CAN average out global temperature. Sorry to labour the point, but you can do it in much the same way as an average wealth is arrived at for a nation. You would have extremely rich people who are worth billions, and others worth virtually nothing. It’s still possible to say that the ‘average person has a wealth of…’. The fact is that you could travel much of the world in just a pair of trousers (pants in the US!), a shirt, and a jacket. You could be very comfortable throughout much of the world, withstand the heat in the tropics, and the cold in Scandanavia. Of course, there a few places where you would fry or freeze, but these locations don’t take up an enormous part of the globe. Despite very cold temps in Antarctica, you could walk around in your jacket as far south as the Falkland Islands and as far north as Sweden. So it follows that much of the world (by latitude) has a temperature that varies only a few degrees either way.
I should point out (and I’m sure most here know already) I am very much a climate sceptic, but the FACT is that there CAN be a globally averaged temperature – which I believe is 14.5 to 15 C. I really don’t think that we should start denying that there isn’t an averaged temperature. Let’s stick to what is true – it’s the other side, the warmists, that lie and deny.


How many scientists were amateurs? If we consider Alfred Wegener, he was an “untrained” geologist. Who were scientific peers to Newton and Faraday?
We all know the issue with “climate science” is computer models, oh and funding. It is far too easy creating a “scary” model of “climate” in a computer program designed to do just that.


“The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
November 30, 2013 at 5:01 am
Jean Meeus, you CAN average out global temperature.”
Yes, we know we CAN do that. But doing that is completely meaningless because it is made up.


I have been interested in the Polar Bear pop. around Churchill Manitoba, so yesterday I down loaded all the daily temperatures for the month of November from 1943 to 2013 using weather underground as a source. I then averaged the daily November temps for each year, thinking it would probably correlate well with early ice formation. Below is the data. Linear trend line is Zero.Some of the years data was Missing.
Hi Mean Lo
2013 12.5 5.2 -2.2
2012 12.1 5.8 -0.6
2011 20.3 15.5 10.6
2010 22.6 17.7 12.9
2009 24.5 19.1 13.4
2008 20.5 15.2 9.7
2007 13.2 6.3 -0.4
2006 16.7 9.6 2.1
2005 20.1 14.7 9.3
2004 17.6 10.2 3.0
2003 16.6 9.8 3.2
2002 14.2 6.6 -1.3
2001 19.3 12.5 5.6
2000 17.3 12.2 6.8
1999 21.7 15.1 8.2
1998 24.4 18.6 14.1
1997 14.9 8.9 2.9
1996 14.6 8.2 2.0
1995 7.4 2.2 -2.9
1994 20.2 14.3 8.4
1993 12.3 4.7 -3.2
1992 19.4 13.2 6.8
1991 9.2 2.2 -5.0
1990 15.9 9.5 2.9
1989 5.9 0.7 -4.7
1988 16.5 9.5 2.1
1987 18.0 11.6 4.8
1986 3.0 -2.1 -6.8
1985 7.9 1.9 -4.3
1984 15.4 9.1 2.8
1983 24.6 20.2 16.1
1982 6.5 0.5 -5.4
1981 23.6 18.6 13.4
1980 15.1 8.0 0.3
1979 15.6 11.2 6.7
1978 10.0 3.8 -2.4
1977 16.0 11.4 6.3
1976 16.5 10.7 4.4
1975 17.5 12.1 6.6
1974 22.7 17.1 11.4
1973 19.5 13.6 7.7
1966 4.3 -2.5 -9.5
1965 13.8 6.6 -0.6
1964 15.6 10.6 5.6
1963 18.3 13.9 9.5
1962 15.2 8.2 0.9
1961 19.4 11.9 3.9
1960 13.7 7.2 0.2
1959 10.5 4.5 -1.6
1958 18.4 12.9 7.2
1957 13.7 6.9 0.1
1956 15.1 8.3 1.3
1955 20.0 14.1 8.2
1954 20.5 14.2 7.8
1953 27.7 22.7 17.6
1952 15.5 9.6 3.7
1951 13.1 7.4 1.4
1950 14.2 8.1 2.0
1944 19.6 13.8 7.7
1943 20.7 14.7 9.0


Geoff Sherrington November 30 1.05am
There is still no single, quantitative, replicated paper that links GHG concentration with a temperature change in the atmosphere.
That’s the crunch, Geoff, isn’t it?
We all know (or think we know) what CO2 is capable of in theory and in the laboratory. And even some sceptics get a bit short with you if you try to suggest that extrapolating that into the real world doesn’t work.
But it doesn’t work. Nobody has yet produced any empirical evidence that CO2 does what they claim for it and when you hear the likes of Lord May talking about the “greenhouse gas blanket” being made thicker by increased CO2 you wonder just what sort of science these guys have been studying (or possibly what they’ve been smoking!).


I failed to point out the temps are Hi, Mean, and Lo