Top Ten Skeptical Arguments that Don’t Hold Water

(Note: this originally published on Dr. Spencer’s blog on April 25th, and I asked if I could reproduce it here. While I know some readers might argue the finer points of some items in the list, I think it is important to keep sight of these. – Anthony)

by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

There are some very good arguments for being skeptical of global warming predictions. But the proliferation of bad arguments is becoming almost dizzying.

I understand and appreciate that many of the things we think we know in science end up being wrong. I get that. But some of the alternative explanations I’m seeing border on the ludicrous.

So, here’s my Top 10 list of stupid skeptic arguments. I’m sure there are more, and maybe I missed a couple important ones. Oh well.

My obvious goal here is not to change minds that are already made up, which is impossible (by definition), but to reach 1,000+ (mostly nasty) comments in response to this post. So, help me out here!

1. THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT. Despite the fact that downwelling IR from the sky can be measured, and amounts to a level (~300 W/m2) that can be scarcely be ignored; the neglect of which would totally screw up weather forecast model runs if it was not included; and would lead to VERY cold nights if it didn’t exist; and can be easily measured directly with a handheld IR thermometer pointed at the sky (because an IR thermometer measures the IR-induced temperature change of the surface of a thermopile, QED)… Please stop the “no greenhouse effect” stuff. It’s making us skeptics look bad. I’ve blogged on this numerous times…maybe start here.

2. THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT VIOLATES THE 2ND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS. The second law can be stated in several ways, but one way is that the net flow of energy must be from higher temperature to lower temperature. This is not violated by the greenhouse effect. The apparent violation of the 2nd Law seems to be traced to the fact that all bodies emit IR radiation…including cooler bodies toward warmer bodies. But the NET flow of thermal radiation is still from the warmer body to the cooler body. Even if you don’t believe there is 2-way flow, and only 1-way flow…the rate of flow depends upon the temperature of both bodies, and changing the cooler body’s temperature will change the cooling rate (and thus the temperature) of the warmer body. So, yes, a cooler body can make a warm body even warmer still…as evidenced by putting your clothes on.

3. CO2 CANT CAUSE WARMING BECAUSE CO2 EMITS IR AS FAST AS IT ABSORBS. No. When a CO2 molecule absorbs an IR photon, the mean free path within the atmosphere is so short that the molecule gives up its energy to surrounding molecules before it can (on average) emit an IR photon in its temporarily excited state. See more here. Also important is the fact that the rate at which a CO2 molecule absorbs IR is mostly independent of temperature, but the rate at which it emits IR increases strongly with temperature. There is no requirement that a layer of air emits as much IR as it absorbs…in fact, in general, the the rates of IR emission and absorption are pretty far from equal.

4. CO2 COOLS, NOT WARMS, THE ATMOSPHERE. This one is a little more subtle because the net effect of greenhouse gases is to cool the upper atmosphere, and warm the lower atmosphere, compared to if no greenhouse gases were present. Since any IR absorber is also an IR emitter, a CO2 molecule can both cool and warm, because it both absorbs and emits IR photons.

5. ADDING CO2 TO THE ATMOSPHERE HAS NO EFFECT BECAUSE THE CO2 ABSORPTION BANDS ARE ALREADY 100% OPAQUE. First, no they are not, and that’s because of pressure broadening. Second, even if the atmosphere was 100% opaque, it doesn’t matter. Here’s why.

6. LOWER ATMOSPHERIC WARMTH IS DUE TO THE LAPSE RATE/ADIABATIC COMPRESSION. No, the lapse rate describes how the temperature of a parcel of air changes from adiabatic compression/expansion of air as it sinks/rises. So, it can explain how the temperature changes during convective overturning, but not what the absolute temperature is. Explaining absolute air temperature is an energy budget question. You cannot write a physics-based equation to obtain the average temperature at any altitude without using the energy budget. If adiabatic compression explains temperature, why is the atmospheric temperature at 100 mb is nearly the same as the temperature at 1 mb, despite 100x as much atmospheric pressure? More about all this here.

7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast! So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise? C’mon people, think. But not to worry…CO2 is the elixir of life…let’s embrace more of it!

8. THE IPCC MODELS ARE FOR A FLAT EARTH I have no explanation where this little tidbit of misinformation comes from. Climate models address a spherical, rotating, Earth with a day-night (diurnal) cycle in solar illumination and atmospheric Coriolis force (due to both Earth curvature and rotation). Yes, you can do a global average of energy flows and show them in a flat-earth cartoon, like the Kiehl-Trenberth energy budget diagram which is a useful learning tool, but I hope most thinking people can distinguish between a handful of global-average average numbers in a conceptual diagram, and a full-blown 3D global climate model.

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE Really?! Is there an average temperature of your bathtub full of water? Or of a room in your house? Now, we might argue over how to do the averaging (Spatial? Mass-weighted?), but you can compute an average, and you can monitor it over time, and see if it changes. The exercise is only futile if your sampling isn’t good enough to realistically monitor changes over time. Just because we don’t know the average surface temperature of the Earth to better than, say 1 deg. C, doesn’t mean we can’t monitor changes in the average over time. We have never known exactly how many people are in the U.S., but we have useful estimates of how the number has increased in the last 50-100 years. Why is “temperature” so important? Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space.

10. THE EARTH ISN’T A BLACK BODY. Well, duh. No one said it was. In the broadband IR, though, it’s close to a blackbody, with an average emissivity of around 0.95. But whether a climate model uses 0.95 or 1.0 for surface emissivity isn’t going to change the conclusions we make about the sensitivity of the climate system to increasing carbon dioxide.

I’m sure I could come up with a longer list than this, but these were the main issues that came to mind.

So why am I trying to stir up a hornets nest (again)? Because when skeptics embrace “science” that is worse that the IPCC’s science, we hurt our credibility.

NOTE: Because of the large number of negative comments this post will generate, please excuse me if I don’t respond to every one. Or even very many of them. But if I see a new point being made I haven’t addressed before, I’ll be more likely to respond.

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May 1, 2014 6:05 am

Actually, I think it’s a very useful post, and I have no substantial disagreement with any of it.

PaulH
May 1, 2014 6:11 am

Re. #9, I have no problem with the idea of calculating a global average temperature. My question is, what is the “correct” average (target) temperature, and who decides?

May 1, 2014 6:12 am

1. THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT.
Greenhouses warm by limiting vertical circulation, not by blocking outgoing IR. This can be verified by opening a small window in the roof of a greenhouse, or building a greenhouse out of material transparent to outgoing IR.
Does CO2 warm the planet by limiting vertical circulation? If not, then how can it be a greenhouse effect?

Editor
May 1, 2014 6:13 am

My [Spencer’s] obvious goal here is not to change minds that are already made up, which is impossible (by definition), but to reach 1,000+ (mostly nasty) comments in response to this post. So, help me out here!

It’s nice to have achievable goals!
I could quibble with some of the one-liners, but the accompanying text explains the context. Good post, though it does seem to be aimed at people who are certain their thinking is the right thinking. Just like Roy said!

Claude Harvey
May 1, 2014 6:15 am

Bravo! It’s often embarrassing to see so many skeptics destroy their own credibility by engaging in the poop-slinging contest originated by AGW theory advocates. (“Sling enough on the wall and some of it will stick.”)
“Truth for its own sake” should be the banner under which we march.

James Ard
May 1, 2014 6:15 am

If we ever get that Skeptic organization going, I nominate Dr. Spencer to be Anthony’s Vice President.

Raymond
May 1, 2014 6:16 am

I’ll 2nd Paul’s question.

May 1, 2014 6:17 am

Could Dr Spencer complement this valuable article with its analogue
ie Ten Skeptical Arguments that do hold water?

Liberal Skeptic
May 1, 2014 6:18 am

Here here. I know you can’t control the comments without getting all draconian but the sort of misinformation debunked above is the worst part of trying to a positive experience out of this website. And what makes it an easy target for alarmists. “Just read the comments, it’s nuts”

May 1, 2014 6:19 am

There’s a lot of ground to cover here, but the point is taken. You shouldn’t resort to fallacies when fighting fallacies.

Mark Bofill
May 1, 2014 6:21 am

Excellent post Dr. Spencer. Thank you.

Monckton of Brenchley
May 1, 2014 6:22 am

Roy Spencer has done us all a service in his clear and forthright style by clearing away some of the thicket of anti-scientific nonsense that emanates from those who have ceased to be truly skeptical – some of whom may perhaps be paid to come out with rubbish in the hope of discrediting all of us.

Bruce Cobb
May 1, 2014 6:22 am

This is a pointless exercise, and uses strawman arguments. The quality (or lack thereof) of whatever arguments skeptics make is easily discernible.
The key point is that reality itself is showing that the effect of man’s additional CO2 is minimal. The reason appears to be negative feedbacks. Those pesky clouds have a nasty habit of wrecking climate models.

John West
May 1, 2014 6:24 am

Bravo!
This was way overdue IMO.
I’d just like to point out that #7 is most likely true pre-anthropogenic influence.

Rich Carman
May 1, 2014 6:24 am

My response is all positive.

son of mulder
May 1, 2014 6:24 am

The only bit I disagree with is in No. 9 (but I may have misunderstood your wording).
“Why is “temperature” so important? Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space.”
As essentially the only source of heat is the sun and at any temperature, with the system in equilibrium the amount of energy leaving the earth will equal the amount arriving from the sun and since the amount arriving is fixed, so is the amount leaving. If more left for outer space the earth would cool. When less leaves the earth warms.

May 1, 2014 6:28 am

What effect does adding CO2 to the atmosphere have on water vapor? All things being equal, doesn’t increasing the partial pressure of CO2 by necessity make it harder for water to evaporate, reducing atmospheric moisture and thus reducing the GHG effect of water in the atmosphere?
Isn’t the reduction in atmospheric moisture consistent with long term observations? As CO2 is increasing, isn’t atmospheric H2O is decreasing? Otherwise, wouldn’t atmospheric pressure need to increase as per partial pressure law? Wouldn’t the increase in atmospheric pressure itself lead to warming?

Juergen MIchele
May 1, 2014 6:28 am

Looking at your point 4. :
CO2 in the upper atmosphere blocks outgoing radiation from the earth surface.
But the incoming radiation from the sun in the relevant frequency range is hundredfold compared to the back radiation from earth.
As a consequence more CO2 cools!

Bob B
May 1, 2014 6:31 am

Roy, I think your #7 is a strawman argument. I have seen it stated by skeptics that the temperature leads the rise in CO2 in the Vostok ice core records and not the other way around. I believe the data does indeed show that.

Mike M
May 1, 2014 6:31 am

“7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. ”
I take issue with comparing proxy data to direct instrument measurements in general but would also suspect that the farther you go back in time in the ice record – the more molecular migration there will have bled over from one time period to another thus damping the actual rate of change that occurred over any narrow segment of time.
Additionally, stomata count of plant leaf fossils show more or less a slightly but consistently higher level of CO2 than what ice core data suggests. More importantly, stomata count shows a dramatic change in CO2 during the Younger Dryas period as would be expected and is absent/muzzled/diluted in the ice core record. http://geocraft.com/WVFossils/stomata.html
So I don’t agree that #7 belongs on the list.

Tom Stone
May 1, 2014 6:32 am

Thank you Dr. Spencer. Until today, I was a proponent of fallacy #7. Science is at its best when it challenges itself with observational evidence.

kevin kilty
May 1, 2014 6:32 am

I expected to see this one on Spencer’s list: CO2 cannot warm the surface from a colder atmosphere because heat does not flow from a colder place to a hotter one.
Spencer’s number nine is a complex one. Certainly one can always measure an average, but in such a complex situation as the one we speak of it is difficult to ensure that two instances of the “average” are truly equivalent–think surfacestations dot org.

May 1, 2014 6:32 am

First, thanks for No. 3. I’d never heard the contention you’re thereby countering, but the discussion if helpful to me.
As to No. 9, though, there are a great many ways in which the global average temperature is misused, so my guess is that many people who make the statement are correct in the context they’re making it in. In other words, we shouldn’t automatically dismiss someone’s criticizing the global-average-temperature concept just because Dr. Spencer says (correctly) that arguments based on its shortcomings are sometimes wrong.

Tom Stone
May 1, 2014 6:34 am

Some of the more recent posts indicate that I was not so wrong. Even better.

May 1, 2014 6:36 am

I agree with Bruce Cobb, a pointless exercise. The reality that I see is that warming has stopped. Let the warmists postulate new theories. As a side note: has anyone replicated the numbers from Vostok? Steve Goddard’s exposure of government manipulation of temperature records makes me question any measurement.

Mike M
May 1, 2014 6:40 am

Bob B says: May 1, 2014 at 6:31 am “Roy, I think your #7 is a strawman argument. I have seen it stated by skeptics that the temperature leads the rise in CO2 in the Vostok ice core records and not the other way around. I believe the data does indeed show that.”
Yes and I use that all the time while emphasizing the alarmist claim that “CO2 took over to push temperature even higher”. So if CO2 pushed it higher then how in the world did it manage to come back while CO2 remained higher? No one seems to give a palpable answer to that question outside of “natural variability”. So then I’ve got them – if “natural variability” was solely responsible for bringing temperature down when CO2 was at or near its highest concentration – WHY should I believe that “natural variability” could not have been solely responsible for the rise of temperature when CO2 was at a lower concentration ?

May 1, 2014 6:40 am

In science, what happens if you take two different processes and give them the same name? For example, what if you took addition and subtraction and called them both addition. What effect would this have on the mathematics? Wouldn’t this lead to arguments and disagreements over whose answer was correct?
Isn’t this what we see in climate science? Two different physical processes both called “the greenhouse effect”. One involves radiation, the other involves convection. Both using the same name without distinction, yet completely different. Wouldn’t this lead to arguments and disagreements over whose answer was correct?

Len
May 1, 2014 6:46 am

i third- fourth, whatever the “average” question. with a CO2 caveat.
what IS the “BEST” average temp for humans/the planet?
what is the “Ideal” PPM for CO2 in the atmosphere for Plants.
where -supposedly- did humans Evolve, would not that general climate be “ideal” for us-after all we evolved there…
so that would be -africa-around kenya to be precise according to Berkeley’s evolution website…average temp in kenya is what.. about 23c or so? or about 8c warmer than the earth’s average temp…hmm…..
ideal ppm for plants. well most commercial greenhouses say the plants grow faster and stronger with more co2 in their greenhouses, and they keep it at around 1000ppm of co2 in the greenhouse…so would it be safe to say that doubling or even tripling the amount of co2 in the atmosphere would be better for the plants?
see that is the issue, all the “experts” are saying “CO2 BAD!”…but is it.

dp
May 1, 2014 6:47 am

I can’t tell you how happy I am that none of the things I’ve ever said are covered in the list.

Peter Miller
May 1, 2014 6:48 am

I do not have any problem with any of these points
My biggest gripe is some sceptics’ disbelief in AGW – such a belief is total rubbish, what sceptics should be saying is:
1. AGW exists, but its effects are grossly overstated by alarmists, and
2. CAGW is an alarmist myth, without any evidence – especially in the geological record – to support it.

Jaakko Kateenkorva
May 1, 2014 6:49 am

Let’s see how long it takes for SkS et al to publish a screenshot on their website and construct straw men around them.
For the number 7, It would be interesting to learn more about the mistakes in the charts where the temperature goes up first and then the CO2 follows.

kevin kilty
May 1, 2014 6:54 am

Oops. My pet peeve is on the list, but I missed it.

David in Cal
May 1, 2014 6:54 am

Thanks for this, Dr. Spencer.
I have seen it claimed that the climate sensitivity of CO2 (impact of doubling) is something like 1.2 degrees C, in the absence of positive or negative feedback. Three questions:
— Is this correct?
— Does it follow from principles of thermodynamics?
— Has it been experimentally verified?

JimS
May 1, 2014 6:55 am

Another bad skeptic argument is stating that just one volcanoe eruption can spew out more CO2 than all the CO2 that mankind has ever produced throughout industrial history. This is simply NOT true and I see it being used much too much.

michael hart
May 1, 2014 6:57 am

Re #9
By a quick-and-dirty SB radiative energy calculation, there are multiple possible combinations (of areas and temperatures) of regions of the Earth which can collectively can posess identical aggregate energy balance. That is, there are multiple possible “average earth-temperature”s for the same energy input-output.
So “What does it mean?”, is certainly a valid question.
Another one is: “What is its use?”

May 1, 2014 6:58 am

In response to number 4. “CO2 COOLS, NOT WARMS, THE ATMOSPHERE.” I agree with the doctor but if increased CO2 replaces other more effective greenhouse gases such as water vapor or Methane wouldn’t that cause cooling?
If CO2 is going up something else in the atmosphere has to be going down. You can’t have more than a million parts per million. Also you’d think increased CO2 would also cause oxygen to increase due to more plant growth and more photosynthesis. Is there any institution that tracks the makeup of the entire atmosphere?

AlecM
May 1, 2014 6:58 am

My Dear Roy, you are still so wrong despite my efforts to educate you!
1. Downwelling is a Thermal Radiation Field, the potential energy flux of the Atmosphere to a sink at absolute zero. This is basic Radiative Physics: there is no downwards energy transmission for a normal temperature distribution. The IR thermometer measures temperature because it measures the difference of its Thermal Radiation Field and that of the Atmosphere, and the result is calibrated vs a black body.
2. The imaginary ‘Enhanced GHE’ is a Perpetual Motion Machine of the 2nd Kind; the atmosphere using its own heat to cause itself to expand.
3. Oh Dear! The Tyndall experiment has been badly misinterpreted. There can be no ‘thermalisation’ of the GHG-absorbed energy because that would breach The Law of Equipartition of Energy, as basic a physical principle as quantum theory.
4. CO2 does not warm or cool because it lis the working fluid of the Heat Engine that stabilises surface temperature: more later!
5. See 3 and 4.
6. The Trenberth Energy Budget is juvenile physics. MODTRAN, based on replicating real observations, shows there is ~63 W/m^2 net IR energy flux from the surface to the Atmosphere consistent with 238.5 W/m^2 OLR. The rest of the mean 160 W/m^2 leaves as convection and evapo-transpiration!
7. The dissolution of CO2 in ice has smoothed out the real Vostok data.
8. The IPCC models are deeply flawed in many ways so they cheat to get the political result. Leave it at that for the time being.
9. Ditto……
10. A black body radiating to Space can have an operational emissivity near unity. The Earth has an operational emissivity of about a sixth of a black body. We engineers know this for a fact!
My comments are not negative, simply an attempt to correct the false physics you were taught, originating from Sagan!

Nick Adams
May 1, 2014 6:59 am

“Re. #9, I have no problem with the idea of calculating a global average temperature. My question is, what is the “correct” average (target) temperature, and who decides?”
Ditto.

May 1, 2014 6:59 am

Thanks roy.

ThinkingScientist
May 1, 2014 6:59 am

I think Roy’s argument on No7 is very weak. It is clearly the case that using the Vostok ice core there is a lag of approximately 800 years in the peak cross-correlation between the temperature and CO2 data, with temperature leading CO2. Its a simple point to demonstrate using the downloaded data and a spreadsheet. For that reason, Al Gore’s inclusion of it as irrefutable evidence of globbal warming caused by CO2 is entirely without foundation.
The second point about the rate of increase in CO2 is a non-sequitur. Given the resolution of the Vostok ice core data it is unlikely to “see” rapid changes over short periods.
What we can say about the Vostok ice core data is that there is evidence that there may be a long term, low frequency response where CO2 lags temperature.
Its only by looking at a modern, short term response and corresponding lag that we might identifiy cause and effect between CO2 and temperature on the time scalesof AGW. One hypothesis has been proposed by Murry Salby, as yet interesting but needs developing or refuting.

more soylent green!
May 1, 2014 6:59 am

5. ADDING CO2 TO THE ATMOSPHERE HAS NO EFFECT BECAUSE THE CO2 ABSORPTION BANDS ARE ALREADY 100% OPAQUE — I have always been curious about this and I appreciate learning why it’s wrong.
9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE — You can average anything if you have the data. However, we really don’t know the global average temperature for the simple reason we don’t have the data — we measure too few data points and interpolate too many data points, extrapolate too many data points and too much of the data is junk because of poor station placement. The global average temperature is an estimate.

CaligulaJones
May 1, 2014 6:59 am

Clear, concise, useful, but perhaps futile: the warmists will demand a list of hundreds of points, until every speck of “gray” becomes black, or white depending on your view.
As mentioned above, #9 is perhaps the most important one, and would be a complete post, or even a complete website, all its own.
I work in health data, and whenever I discuss climate with any of my colleagues, and whenever they point out how clear the warmist argument is, I point out the hours, and hours….and hours of meetings, emails and discussions (often bordering on arguments) about how we measure things. All done by competent, experienced people, and often, totally contradicting each other.

May 1, 2014 7:00 am

point 7. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast!
===============
I don’t understand this sentence. 200 times as fast as what?

Charles Hart
May 1, 2014 7:00 am

“by Ferd:
1. THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT.
Greenhouses warm by limiting vertical circulation, not by blocking outgoing IR. This can be verified by opening a small window in the roof of a greenhouse, or building a greenhouse out of material transparent to outgoing IR.
Does CO2 warm the planet by limiting vertical circulation? If not, then how can it be a greenhouse effect?”
I believe the effect is a a) warmer earth surface or b) a warmer inside greenhouse than would otherwise be the case. The physical mechanism may be different but the effect is the same. Thus it is called a “greenhouse” effect.

steveta_uk
May 1, 2014 7:02 am

Roy is well short of his 1000 daft responces on his own blog – I assume that the daft responses on WUWT (which oddly haven’t really started yet) can be added to his count.

Jimbo
May 1, 2014 7:02 am

I don’t actually DISAGREE with any of Spencer’s points. I think it’s important to note that there are varying degrees of sceptics. From Lukewarmers to Dragon Slayers and everything else between.
Look, even if you disagree strongly with Spencer this is no way to fight the battle. They will simply call you the ‘D’ word if you say: “THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT”. The debate gets bogged down. Assume the points given above are correct and fight from there and only there.
Vostok ice cores show co2 follows temperature rise but that doesn’t mean it’s the cause of today’s relatively rapid rise of co2. I get it.

Girma
May 1, 2014 7:04 am

WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND

Roy, gere is what the IPCC says, not skeptics:
CO2 is more soluble in colder than in warmer waters; therefore, changes in surface and deep ocean temperature have the potential to alter atmospheric CO2.
https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch6s6-4.html

Jimbo
May 1, 2014 7:05 am

Spencer needs to follow his post with
Top Ten Warmist Arguments that Don’t Hold Water
EG
Co2 is the most important greenhouse gas.

IPCC – Climate Change 2007: Working Group I
Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, and carbon dioxide (CO2) is the second-most important one. ”

Girma
May 1, 2014 7:05 am

WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND

Roy, here is what the IPCC says, not skeptics:
CO2 is more soluble in colder than in warmer waters; therefore, changes in surface and deep ocean temperature have the potential to alter atmospheric CO2.
https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch6s6-4.html

Marc77
May 1, 2014 7:05 am

The only problem that I have is the certainty that the greenhouse effect warms the nights more than the days. A lot of people feel it it is clear, but no one makes a good proof.

John West
May 1, 2014 7:08 am

John West says:
” #7 is most likely true pre-anthropogenic influence”
Now that I’m on a real keyboard I can clarify why I think that’s important. Estimates of climate sensitivity based on proxy data are confounded by atmospheric CO2 concentration increase being a feedback to warming from whatever cause. So when Mann et al say something to the effect of low climate sensitivity is precluded by proxy data they’re claiming to be able to separate forcing from feedbacks in the proxy data. I’m skeptical that’s possible. The crux of the whole debate rests on just how sensitive is the climate at current state to a doubling or quadrupling of atmospheric CO2 concentration.

May 1, 2014 7:08 am

Excellent list, and I’m in agreement with almost all of it.
But like other commenters, I have a problem with #7. There is clear empirical evidence that ∆T causes ∆CO2.
Also, I enjoyed the comment that CO2 is the “elixir of life”. Very true. The whole global warming debate revolves around the demonization of “carbon”.

Angech
May 1, 2014 7:09 am

Point 3.0 needs some clarity.
Yes the molecule absorbs the IR and moves faster increasing the temp of the CO2 containing air . But it does bump into other particles which might give them the energy to emit IR. This is happening all the time with the other particles as well so the response time is not instantaneous but is very short. The extra momentum given to the particles by the IR before they can generate IR out I s what causes a temperature rise which stabilises when the new temp causes the IR to be emitted at the same rate as the incoming IR. The fact that the rates of emission and absorption can be different would surely not apply to an air sample in a container at a stable temperature with regard to a stable energy (IR) input would it?
Unless there are other forms on energy going out ??
Which would be twisting the gist of your statement somewhat.

May 1, 2014 7:11 am

“7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record.”
Or your reading the ice core record 100 times slower than you should. Tree rings are annual rings ice core rings aren’t.

May 1, 2014 7:11 am

I’m sorry the title is really stupid.
Because if they don’t hold water then they are not skeptical arguments.

Julien
May 1, 2014 7:13 am

Thanks for this good article, although there isn’t any surprise there. Sometimes I’ve doubted point #8, but now I think it’s ok. There are still some obscure areas:
– About point #2, when a photon hits a CO2 molecule, it can be as well transformed into cinetic energy (same as heat at the atomic level), and therefore it can generate convection (and therefore winds). Globaly it concludes that energy is either transformed into heat or wind, but that doesn’t really change anything.
The real argument behind the fact that climate models might break the second law of thermodynamics is because the climate models may neglect convection.

barry
May 1, 2014 7:14 am

Bravo!
I am what most people here would call a “warmist.” Having duked it out for years with critics, I am well familiar with the flub that propagates the skeptical side of the debate (I’m sure regulars here would say the same of proponents), and the above is all too familiar. This post is way overdue, and congratulations to WUWT for posting it.
Can I make a request? Can the clear-thinking critics correct others on points such as the above, rather than letting them pass because they support the messaging? I know it does happen, but you will strenghten the position of the skeptical movement in general if you self-correct amongst yourselves with vigour, every time. Because the debate is so polarised and hostile, proponents have little traction, even on matters that Spencer sorts out in the article. Let the skeptical movement be truly skeptical.
To obviate the inevitable tit-for-tat, yes, I try to correct my fellows when I think they err (EG, sea level acceleration/deceleration is not certain from 1900, it is not likely that methane release presents a big problem with current understanding, high CS is not certain, the range of future possibilites is broad, the recent hiatus in surface temperatures is not easily explained away and deserves frank and open discussion). Some may disagree with my implied take on these matters, but the point is – I don’t let comments from my kith pass just because they are in roughly the same direction as my own opinions.
While I am not of the milieu posting regularly here – except that we are all passionate about the debate – I hope like hell there are enough of us who put facts over agenda and politics that we can actually converse and make progress on understanding things, including each other. We do not have to agree, but I hope we can at least agree on some basics and improve the signal to noise ratio in these debates. The ubiquitous guff and reflex pugilism that we all wade through does none of us any good, and I, for one, am heartily sick of it. There are alarmists out there who oversell one side of the story, and there are deniers out there who refuse to acknowledge basic facts. They are the extremists. Let’s not be them.
Again, bravo, Dr Spencer.

David A
May 1, 2014 7:15 am

There is more then one straw man in Dr. Spencer’s overall OK post. Basically the CAGW enthusiast all agree, so it is natural that skeptics fall into every other possible camp. This means it will be natural for skeptic’s to have disparate views. It would have been best to call those considering a different view wrong because… The use of the word stupid is antagonizing and counter productive.
Just one example for now is number 4. Very few skeptics claim CO2 ONLY causes cooling. However the question of the net affect is debated rationally and constructively, as the radiation of energy from the top of the atmosphere being the earths only effective way to dissipate energy to space. Questions on the interaction of convection, conduction, evaporation and radiation, which all interact in complicated manners, are very legitimate, and the net affect is not known in any kind of engineering style analysis, such as what Steven McIntyre has consistently called for.

Gregory
May 1, 2014 7:16 am

I thought it was all about sensitivity

Angech
May 1, 2014 7:17 am

Point 4.0 is a very difficult concept. One take on it would be that the greenhouse gases including CO2 increase in concentration and hence absorb and emit some of the IR back to space immediately. Hence less gets down in the first place. Now what is down there is slowed in its passage out all the way back to the top layer which is now cooler because it has less total energy in the system to heat it up(having reflected/emitted that portion of heat earlier).
The lower layers are hotter despite having less total heat because they are trapping the outgoing heat as extra motion energy(temperature) as per point 3.

Jeremy Das
May 1, 2014 7:18 am

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE

Why is “temperature” so important? Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space.

Please excuse my ignorance, but I’d be grateful if you would explain why taking the global average of temperature measurements at a height of ~2m [or whatever is the right figure] above ground level is useful for this.

kowalk
May 1, 2014 7:19 am

Thanks for that collection of arguments.
There is something I don’t understand. I always wonder, why an IR-photon on its way from sun to earth surface can be caught by CO2, and if, what is the difference according to its energy for atmosphere, if instead of this CO2 the IR-photon hits the ground, changes to warmth and heats the atmosphere, as well. From a simple point of total energy, it should be the same, or? So why is CO2 in atmosphere worse, since otherwise the IR-photon hits the ground and becomes energy as well (and causes probably the same temperature)? This is what I don’t understand.
Also, for me a ‘greenhouse’ hinders convection and cooling from wind, and keeps therefore its surrounding warmer, not because of any special gas inside. But this is probably only a question of naming, not functionality of CO2 in atmosphere.

May 1, 2014 7:19 am

@Thomas Hogg at 6:17 am
Could Dr Spencer complement this valuable article with its analogue
ie Ten Skeptical Arguments that do hold water?

Absolutely necessary and should immediately follow this post.

May 1, 2014 7:20 am

The physical mechanism may be different but the effect is the same. Thus it is called a “greenhouse” effect.
=============
flying and driving both have the same effect. they transport you from one place to another. yet imagine the confusion it would cause if we gave them the same name, the “transport effect”.
good science is about accuracy. it starts with accurate labels. if you call a horse and a dog a dog, pretty soon you can’t tell if what you have is a horse or a dog.

Frank K.
May 1, 2014 7:20 am

I’m a big fan of Dr. Roy Spencer, and agree generally with all of his points. Thanks!

Jimbo
May 1, 2014 7:22 am

There are going to be a lot of comments by the Slayers on this thread so this is my last. Good luck if you can stomach the persistence.

Judith Curry
Sent via email:
Here is one comment that I have received via email, that I have permission to post:
“It is exasperating that results easily demonstrable by simple laboratory experiment continue to be challenged by some members of this group. However superficially ingenious their arguments, they fly in the face of experiments that even children can perform with readily-available materials, as well as contradicting proven results in astrophysical theory. I do not propose to contribute further to this group: it is not a sensible deployment of my time. -”
Monckton of Brenchley

mpainter
May 1, 2014 7:22 am

Roy,
It looks like you are getting clobbered on #7. Better prop that one up a bit, if you can. My personal understanding is that warmer SST emits higher CO2. Am I wrong?
mpainter

Leon0112
May 1, 2014 7:22 am

While I agree with your anaylsis of #9, I believe the measurement of variables used in climate models is a serious one. In particular, useful chaotic, nonlinear systems require a level of accuracy of initial conditions beyond our ability to measure. This makes constructing climate models that accurately forecast the future difficult, if not impossible. Therefore, the usage of these models by politicians such as Mann displays immense hubris or deceit.

May 1, 2014 7:23 am

Paul and Raymond, I would say there is no “correct” temperature. There are different temperature metrics which are imperfect, but still useful to monitor. The temperature sensors in my refrigerator and freezer only sample a tiny portion of the interior, are probably biased warm or cold compared to the average interior temperature, but still are extremely useful metrics to monitor and keep the fridge running at a useful temperature.

Resourceguy
May 1, 2014 7:23 am

I see this as confirmation of my addiction to WUWT as a source for climate science information because I don’t recognize any of these items on the list and I certainly am not aware of “proliferation” of them anywhere. Does the author have some agenda here. More information on where the “proliferation” is coming from would be more insightful than the list itself. I suppose if all blogs were counted equally you could come up with a list like this and call it proliferation.

kim
May 1, 2014 7:25 am

Re: The elixir of life. Paleontology clearly(heh) shows that warmer and more CO2 sustains greater total life and greater diversity of life. We’ve not seen that phenomenon halted at any level of warmth or of risen CO2. We’ve certainly seen the devastation to the biome when temps and/or CO2 fall.
We carbon based bits of cosmic dust. Salud!
===========

Editor
May 1, 2014 7:25 am

Nothing I would particularly disagree with except I would quibble with no 9
9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE
My main disagreement would be is it a useful measure? It disguises the other things going on, whereby parts of the globe warm, cool, or stay static whilst others are going in the opposite direction.. Its more important to know what regions aren’t conforming to ‘global warming’ and to know why. A belief in one global temperature obviates the need to look at the detail
Also, I would agree with several other comments who asked what was the ideal temperature and WHEN was it reached in the past that we are trying so hard to get back to it.
IMHO this would be a useful list to have as one of the permanent sidebar links and also that it would be useful to have the top 10 stupid warmist points. Good stuff Dr spencer
tonyb

May 1, 2014 7:25 am

I submit that climate science is bad science because it labels “greenhouse effect” by its effect, not by its cause. this leads to scientific confusion and ambiguity, because multiple causes can have the same effect.

May 1, 2014 7:26 am

mpainter, Yes, warmer emits more CO2. Even the IPCC admitted that in an earlier report….they showed a plot of how atmospheric CO2 goes up after a warm El Nino, down after a La Nina. But that does not mean that when we pump CO2 into the atmosphere (at 100x the rate we see in the ice core record), that it won’t cause warming. Both directions of causation can happen….it’s not just one or the other.

May 1, 2014 7:27 am

@Scottish Sceptic at 7:11 am
I’m sorry the title is really stupid.
Because if they don’t hold water then they are not skeptical arguments.

A good point. The title sets up a strawman and paints too broad a brush. My I suggest:
Top Ten Skeptical Anti-CAGW Arguments that Don’t Hold Water
That properly separates the ideas from those who hold them.

May 1, 2014 7:28 am

Here’s something I’d like answered: is there such a thing as a ‘global’ climate? Isn’t climate regional by definition? Mind you, Earth is a region in the solar system. But still, this question bugs me.

May 1, 2014 7:28 am

“greenhouse effect” specifically refers to the net temperature-increasing effect on the lower atmosphere of IR absorbing/emitting gases in the atmosphere. If there is a pop culture definition of the term, I’m not referring to that.

May 1, 2014 7:29 am

what is the formal scientific definition of the term “the greenhouse effect”?

May 1, 2014 7:31 am

Resourceguy, my “agenda” is to take over the world. But shhhh…that’s just between you and me.

LamontT
May 1, 2014 7:31 am

Very useful article. I think the problem that some skeptics have is that they know there is something wrong with the CO2 is warming the earth argument and don’t have enough knowledge of either the actual CAGW arguement or what is wrong so they try to explain the problem.
They don’t realize that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that warms the earth is a perfectly reasonable thing and it is the magic multiplier they add with no proof of such a thing that is the problem.

richardscourtney
May 1, 2014 7:33 am

Roy W. Spencer:
Thankyou for this excellent list. And I applaud your statement saying

when skeptics embrace “science” that is worse that the IPCC’s science, we hurt our credibility.

All such untruths need to be refuted, and the most damaging of such untruths is the blatantly untrue assertion that IPCC ‘science’ is a left-wing political ploy.
As for your list, I agree them all except that two need clarification.
Your point 9 rightly disputes the assertion that
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE.
But the real problem is that THERE IS NO AGREED DEFINITION OF GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE (GAT).

This means that each team (including yours) which determines GAT provides a different datum from the datum provided by each other team. Indeed, individual teams often change the definition they use so they alter their time series of GAT; see e.g. http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/graphs/giss/hansen-giss-1940-1980.gif
An undefined parameter has no accuracy, no precision, and no reliability.
A much more full assessment of this real problem is provided by Appendix B of this item
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc0102.htm
Also, your point 7 rightly disputes the assertion that
WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND
However, you go on from that to wrongly assert

The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast! So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise? C’mon people, think. {snip}

I have “thought” and I know your certainty is misplaced.
As Mike M says at May 1, 2014 at 6:31 am, there are reasons to doubt the ice core data and the stomata data refutes the ice core data.
The existing data is such that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration can be modeled as being entirely natural, entirely anthropogenic, or some combination of the two. And there is no data which resolves the matter.
(ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005) ).
However, with those clarifications, I strongly support your article.
Richard

May 1, 2014 7:34 am

This is another defence of the greenhouse effect theory.
There have been a number of posts (some very plausible) about why there must be an increase in the Earth near surface temperature with increased atmospheric CO2.
This they say is due to the greenhouse effect.
They all fail to see the enormous elephant in the room!
Atmospheric CO2 has varied widely historically and in the recent past.
Yet apparently there is no link to surface temperatures.
The recent ‘pause’ in the last 17 years is well documented.
Is it not time to move on and reject the greenhouse theory as a failed conjecture without any link to reality?

Julien
May 1, 2014 7:35 am

So it’s mostly about the asumption that may be made that CO2 is an ideal gas.. I do have problems with that.

Angech
May 1, 2014 7:36 am

Point 7 yes but warming does increase CO2 production from the sea and in turn the seabed puts more CO2 into the water. It must be valid to say that the increased temp over the last 40 years has increased some of the CO2 load.
This makes the argument that humans have put CO2 up at 200 times the rate of the last 300,000 years which should be 4 ppm/year a little specious as you do say that it has only gone up at 100 times the rate (2 ppm/year) Where did the other 100 times (2ppm/year) go and why has it not caused more warming.
300,000 years is very short in the context of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and ice measurements do not go back much further. Other techniques suggest that CO2 may have risen as fast or much faster at other times in the more distant past and of course without human involvement.
A valid point is where did it come from then?

Jaakko Kateenkorva
May 1, 2014 7:36 am

Roy Spencer says: May 1, 2014 at 7:26 am
“Yes, warmer emits more CO2.”
Da. Could you please complete assertion no 7 with it’s explanation accordingly.?

Jim s
May 1, 2014 7:38 am

re 9, somebody rat’ed me out!
I supposed, in the abstract there might be such a thing as a Global Mean Temperature but I doubt we will ever be able to accurately compute it. My experience with temperature is that it can change in a few seconds (in changing weather conditions) or in a few meters (in stable weather conditions). So one would have to be able to sample every few hundred cubic meters of atmosphere every few seconds to get an accurate measurement of Global Mean Temperature.
I also question it’s value should we one day be able to compute it. If Antarctica warms by 10C then Global Mean Temperatures would go up, indicating a warming Earth. Antarctica would still be frozen and the rest of the Earth largely unaffected. Dido a colder Antarctica, dedicating a cooling Earth but topics and mid latitudes are unaffected. I think a better approach would be to identify crucial climate regions, regions such as the topics, that drive global weather and monitor their temperature by region to determine if we are in danger of falling into some sort of runaway cycle (either warming or cooling).
What we are really interested in, is the Earth warming, cooling or stable? Is not sea level an excellent proxy for that? Would not it make more sense to look at sea level rise fall to determent a temperature delta and long range temperature trends?

John Boles
May 1, 2014 7:40 am

I agree with the article, but still, there are plenty of skeptical arguments that DO hold water.

May 1, 2014 7:41 am

Roy Spencer says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:28 am
“greenhouse effect” specifically refers to the net temperature-increasing effect on the lower atmosphere of IR absorbing/emitting gases in the atmosphere
==========
Dr Spencer, thank you for your reply. You anticipated my next question. In science is it normal to label a physical process by its effect? Isn’t it more correct to label it by its cause? For example, I could label addition by the term “sum” or “summation”, but this could well lead to confusion once I introduce negative numbers. Similarly, using “greenhouse effect” for IR warming could lead to confusion when discussing the role of convection in man made greenhouses.

Latitude
May 1, 2014 7:41 am

Top warmest argument that doesn’t hold water….
We know what we’re talking about and it is not based on wonky science and wonky measurements.

Angech
May 1, 2014 7:42 am

Whoops fell into 3 of the top 10 traps there but agree with all your other points. Does this make me 7/10ths a true skeptic?
Hope some of the regulars here can point out my errors and save Dr Spencer wasting any valuable time.

Tom J
May 1, 2014 7:43 am

I do not wish to quibble with Dr. Spencer’s statement in Number 9 where he states that:
‘Why is “temperature” so important? Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space.’
However, I wonder if the concept of an average temperature presents such an infinite number of ways in which to measure, and interpret that average, that it may be so meaningless that a statement that there is no such thing could be valid. For instance, we all know that a room temperature will go up slightly when it’s full of people, or drop slightly when they leave. This small temperature change is largely irrelevant. But, while they are occupying that room, the individual body temperatures of the people within it are also part of the average temperature that is measured of that room. And, if their body temperatures change, either individually, or en mass, just a few degrees, while it will have an almost unmeasurable difference in the room’s overall temperature it will still be hugely consequential to those people. It will indicate whether they are alive, dead, healthy, or sick. How does one, then, interpret a change in temperature measurement, up or down, of that room?

May 1, 2014 7:45 am

Richard, I like that last quote from your article. The uncertainty you state is similar to what I conclude about climate sensitivity, the cause of recent warming, and other matters.

Jeff Alberts
May 1, 2014 7:47 am

Sure you can calculate an average, but it won’t have any physical meaning, only mathematical. It doesn’t represent the energy in the system. It also gives the false impression, to those who don’t know better, that all points on the surface of the planet warm and cool at the same rate. Global Average Temperature (Or anomaly or whatever) is simply a fiction used by both sides to beat each other over the head.

Dung
May 1, 2014 7:47 am

Daft response number 1 ^.^
Mr Spencer makes a mistake common to many on both sides of this argument, he assumes that current scientific theories (i.e. theories emanating from qualified scientists) are correct.
Mr Spencer understands the currently accepted science and uses it to back his position.
Scientific knowledge is transient, today it is state of the art but tomorrow it is disproved.
I am sure there will be a time when our knowledge gets close to perfect but right now we are in the foothills of knowledge abut climate.
Logic is a far better guide than science for the foreseeable future.
As someone already pointed out, The ice core records show that over long periods temperature rises before levels of CO2. We do not not know how or why but that is what the ice core records show. The figures are questioned only by the true (it seems to me) need to take into account the period when ice is not totally frozen solid and molecules are still able to move up. However that process takes decades not thousands of years and therefore does not change the basic observations.
The world has done a real experiment and in that experiment CO2 levels rise after temperature; I trust that experimental result far more than any theories.
What we are all getting excited about is a very very short term record of events that we do not fully understand, However the Earth has given you experimental proof of what the relationship is.

May 1, 2014 7:48 am

If there’s one average temperature, then there are at least two of them. Temperature on its own is a meaningless thing to average, you can only do so relative to some standard, so:
1) The temperature that will tell you a body’s total heat content: heat content average, if you like. This is not the same as:
2) The temperature that will tell you the rate at which the body radiates. This differs from (1) because radiation is proportional to T^4.

pokerguy
May 1, 2014 7:49 am

One that really annoys me is the “trace gas” argument, as in “how could a trace gas necessary for life etc etc…?” It’s a favorite of Joe Bastardi for one, who should know better.

John Whitman
May 1, 2014 7:50 am

Roy Spencer,
I think your positions do debunk those skeptical positions, but was your use of the unprofessional ‘stupid’ and ‘ludicrous’ words necessary? Oh, yes, I see they were because your goal was to get 1,000+ nasty comments. You could have just used professional scientific words like; contrary to observation,, incorrect, unsupported, etc.
My esteem for you is lowered somewhat today. Personally, Lindzen’s approach of never taunting and always low key polite behavior serves science incomparably better than your approach with this article’s unbecoming unprofessionalism.
John

May 1, 2014 7:51 am

ferdberple: An “Effect” given a name in science can imply a specific cause, e.g.:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leidenfrost_effect

May 1, 2014 7:52 am

John: No question that Dick’s tolerance for frustration is much higher than mine. I am who I am.

mpainter
May 1, 2014 7:53 am

Thanks to Roy Spencer for the airing of these issues. Also thanks to Richard Courtney for a well-considered comment. This is a very worthwhile posting.

May 1, 2014 7:55 am

…actually, the way Dick handles this is to avoid engaging people. My downfall is engaging them, repeatedly, hoping they can at least understand what they are talking about before trying to debunk it. This leads to frustration, and then to bad manners.

Ima
May 1, 2014 7:56 am

I was a “true believer” in #5. Thank you for the clarification.

JimS
May 1, 2014 8:03 am

I think you wrote an excellent article, Dr. Spencer. We should now be looking for a follow up article, entitled the 10 top valid skeptic arguments against AGW.

May 1, 2014 8:04 am

Dr Spencer,
I still have a problem with #7. There are numerous charts showing that ∆T is the cause of ∆CO2. Can you please post a similar chart, showing that ∆CO2 is the cause of ∆T?
Causation is central to your #7 argument. If there is empirical evidence that the added CO2 causes a rise in temperature, then there should certainly be a chart showing that. I’ve looked, but I can’t find one. It would help my understanding if I could view such a chart. As someone upthread said:
The world has done a real experiment and in that experiment CO2 levels rise after temperature; I trust that experimental result far more than any theories. What we are all getting excited about is a very very short term record of events that we do not fully understand, However the Earth has given you experimental proof of what the relationship is.
CO2 causes global warming. But not much at current concentrations. And there appears to be no evidence that CO2 causes measurable warming. Please correct me if that is wrong. A chart like this would be very helpful.

May 1, 2014 8:09 am

It’s all driven by the sun and Earths orbital parameters, except for human CO2 production, which is a benefit to the planet.
If human CO2 production was compared to a volcano in terms of CO2 production , What scale would this hypothetical “human volcano” be, would it be equivalent to a large or small active volcano?
I’ve been thinking about this sort of comparison for awhile… Any Ideas?

Jon Jewett
May 1, 2014 8:09 am

Dear Dr. Roy and Anthony,
I am a Hero of the Workers Soviet (i.e. Simple Red Neck Union Worker, now retired) and don’t have the education to comment on the technical side. However, I enjoyed your post and think that it is a valuable addition. The only way I have to let you know how I feel is to make a reply although it adds little to the discourse. I would find it a convenience if Anthony re-instated the “Like” button. Besides, it would save your gentle readers the time of reading a reply that adds little.
Regards,
Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

Latitude
May 1, 2014 8:12 am

engage us with #7……causation vs correlation
I’m not going to be convinced with a say so….
When you can pump CO2 into a greenhouse, in the thousands ppm, without oceans and everything else, and watch CO2 levels drop to limiting in one day….
When you have to constantly pump CO2 into tanks to grow aquatic plants….or they strip all of the CO2 out in minutes
Both of those simple real life examples….show how fast CO2 levels can drop
…and we are not pumping no where near that much CO2 into the atmosphere

SDB
May 1, 2014 8:13 am

“9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE”
Ok, well “there is no such thing” as any average. Taking an average is a statistical tool. Assuming we can caluclate it accurately, the question is: does an average tell us something meaningful or useful?
Does global average temperature tell us any meanginful or useful information?
Maybe, maybe not. I’m not sure. It’s something I’ve been pondering.

Latitude
May 1, 2014 8:16 am

BTW……..just so we’re all clear on where our money is going
This is what all the screaming is about…….this is what all of global warming looks like…plotted on a red line alcohol thermometer
http://suyts.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/how-the-earths-temperature-looks-on-a-mercury-thermometer/

Editor
May 1, 2014 8:18 am

Agree with Mosh.

May 1, 2014 8:18 am

Well
If you don’t want a response
Why post highly contested statements?

May 1, 2014 8:19 am

Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space.
Not strictly true, the energy lost to outer state is equal to the energy received from the sun, if that doesn’t increase then the loss doesn’t change. What changes is the temperature distribution in the atmosphere and where the energy is lost from.

spen
May 1, 2014 8:20 am

But temperature as a metric on its own is not a measure of heat. Even from a simple basis surely humidity is a vital factor. Unless it is assumed that humidity is constant at each measuring point over the years, the record of temperature does not necessarily mirror changes in heat. The data is incomplete.

Dung
May 1, 2014 8:20 am

ups I realise my error
I should have shown respect and used Dr and not Mr when describing Roy Spencer, I do apologise and no disrespect was intended 🙁

Robert W Turner
May 1, 2014 8:21 am

My only problem with this post is that I haven’t considered anyone making these arguments to be a skeptic; I think there are more appropriate terms for them. Good post though, we don’t need people claiming to be skeptical saying these things. Now how about a top 10 list of debated hypotheses that the AGW cultists confuse as facts.

Julien
May 1, 2014 8:23 am

If someone on this planet shall see the contradiction in seeing CO2 causing ocean acidification and CO2 being an ideal gas.. Or explain if i’m wrong?

G. Karst
May 1, 2014 8:25 am

Picking at scabs only makes the condition worse.
Are there no hypothesis previously considered “ludicrous” which later became mainstream and accepted thought?!
In climate science, I would be careful, at which glass houses… I throw stones at. GK

Jaakko Kateenkorva
May 1, 2014 8:26 am

“pokerguy says: May 1, 2014 at 7:49 am
One that really annoys me is the “trace gas” argument, as in “how could a trace gas necessary for life etc etc…?”
Your sentiment on that point is regrettable. Is there a better argument to protect the fundamental rights and democracy in this era of anti-CO2 (=anti-life)? After all, CO2 is not the only thing we (=skeptics and alarmists alike) are blamed for, but it’s the first we can falsify.

Editor
May 1, 2014 8:26 am

I’m sorry, but I can’t agree with this list. It “has issues”. Some large, some small.
Largest, IMHO, is the notion that the temperature of a bath tub means an average of 1000 thermometers “has meaning”. It doesn’t. Temperature is an intrinsic property. As such, averaging it loses meaning.
https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/intrinsic-extrinsic-intensive-extensive/
So measuring “a bathtub” is measuring one thing, not an average of 1000 different things. The Global average of thermometers is devoid of meaning. It may still have some (very limited) use, in that there will be some correlations with some other things; but that is not the same as a temperature. Just isn’t.
For others, my quibbles are smaller. Take “no greenhouse effect”. Two quibbles. A real greenhouse is a convection block, not an IR effect. There is no greenhouse effect from CO2, though there might be an IR effect. Then, in the IR effect, the interactions rapidly have complexity that exceeds the ability to compute. It ends up in philosophical hand waving. So lower CO2 warms, then convection moves the air up and dumps heat at altitude, where CO2 cools. Net? More mass flow not higher temperatures. Hand wave away…
For #2 and #3, your argument depends on that heat transmission to non-CO2 to have no subsequent heat dump. We know convection will move it away rapidly. Other modes? How about water evaporation? Air is NOT a dry medium. So is there NO possibility for CO2 absorbed heat to be removed via some other molecule radiating? In other bands and perhaps at other altitudes? I know, not quite the same as the CO2 itself doing the deed, but your dismissal also dismisses the question of what DOES happen. It doesn’t just heat up and lay there…
BTW, your argument per the 2nd law (clothing) is also confounding convection blocking with IR. Bogus example, IMHO. Instead, stand naked in an Alaskan winter surrounded by IR mirrors 2 meters away. Surely all that reflected IR will keep you warmer… (Maybe a smidge, but it will be hard to measure with all that convection freezing your bottom…) So aside from the example of clothes being bogus, it ignores the magnitude relative to convection / conduction… Looking at the bits in isolation isn’t very useful. So yeah, IR goes both ways, but clothing it isn’t…
On #4 the missing word is net. That’s the whole question. Is it a NET warmer or cooler? IMHO it is a net cooler. In the stratosphere is radiates away heat. Below that point, it just changes the rate of evaporation / convection and the IR behaviour is not relevant. See the graph here:
https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/tropopause-rules/stratosphere-radiation-by-species-1460/
Note that CO2 is radiating like crazy in the stratosphere but below that, in the troposphere, it is near zero. Notice that water does the deed in the troposphere. The simple fact is that H2O drives tropophere physics, CO2 works in the stratosphere, where it is a NET cooler. (No idea if that net cooling matters in the long run, though…) That graph from this posting that contains the attribution:
https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/tropopause-rules/
For #5, you ignore altitude. A critical flaw. See the diagram just above. At troposphere altitudes, the CO2 IR is not relevant, broadened or not. At stratosphere altitudes, it is not pressure broadened. Another example of using a hypothetical argument based on physics principles instead of looking at the actual activity (see chart…)
In general, my “complaint” about this kind of “put this discussion off limits” mandate is that it hides more than it illuminates. Yes, in many cases folks make a broken form of argument from the points you raised, and things would be better off if they didn’t. But, no, that does not mean those arguments are void and empty of use or interest. Frankly, the Global Average Temperature one is a great example. How many of you really realize / understand the difference between an intrinsic and extrinsic property? How many know that an average of temperatures is devoid of meaning? Yes, you can average them. Yes, it MAY correlate with some things. But a temperature it isn’t… Like the average of phone numbers by State will have an artifact of Area Code that vaguely correlates with geography, but is meaningless as a phone number…
I do agree it would be good to make a “best arguments” list, and even a “weak arguments” list (where the defects in some of the things you listed could be laid out); but calling them off limits is, IMHO, over the top. It’s too easy to substitute one appeal to authority for another and miss things like intrinsic / extrinsic or actual behaviour of CO2 IR with altitude…

Don Easterbrook
May 1, 2014 8:27 am

Roy,
I am a big fan of yours—in fact you might say I’m a very big fan of yours. I pore over your regular postings of satellite temperatures and read your blog regularly—all really good stuff. But the logic in your #7 seems to be way off base so I’m hoping you will amend it appropriately. #7 says:
“7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast! So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise? C’mon people, think. “ The logic here seems to be that if warming causes CO2 to rise and CO2 is rising rapidly, we need a 100 times faster rise in temperature to account for the elevated CO2. What’s wrong with this logic? Think about it. No one is saying that today’s elevated CO2 was caused by warming because there is a totally unrelated cause of higher CO2 that has nothing to do with warming as a cause!! IT’S CLEAR THAT THE TODAY’S HIGHER CO2 LEVELS ARE DUE TO INCREASED HUMAN EMISSIONS, NOT GLOBAL WARMING so we don’t need to look for 100 times global warming. Your argument seems to say that warming does NOT cause CO2 to rise and that is clearly not correct. The chemistry of CO2 equilibrium in sea water clearly shows that warming of sea water releases CO2 into the atmosphere and since three fourths of the globe consists of oceans, that means warming causes a lot of oceanic CO2 to be released into the atmosphere. This is confirmed in ice cores where CO2 lags temperature by hundreds of years as interglacial climates warmed from ice ages (see Jo Nova’s post on this). Here is what I wrote in Chap 5 of the NIPCC 2013 report (Easterbrook, Ollier, and Carter, 2013):
“Changes in carbon dioxide content lag their equivalent temperature events by between several hundred and 2,000 years in Antarctic ice cores (see Figures 5.7.1 and 5.7.2). Changes in carbon dioxide level cannot be the proximate cause of the warmings and coolings seen. Fischer et al. (1999) established CO2 lagged temperature by 600 ± 400 years as the climate warmed from an ice age. Monnin et al. (2001) found warming from the last major ice age preceded rise in CO2 by 800 ± 600 years. Caillon et al. (2003) documented that rise in temperature preceded rise in CO2 in the Vostok core by 800 ± 200 years. Mudelsee (2001) recognized temperature over the past 420,000 years preceded changes in CO2 by 1,300 years ± 1,000 in the Vostok core. Petit et al. (1999) analyzed 420,000 years of the Vostok core and found as the climate cooled into an ice age, the CO2 decrease lagged by several thousand years. Measurements of recent and modern temperature and CO2 changes show the same lead-lag effect (Figure 5.7.3).” Humlum, Stordahl, and Solheim, J. (2012) showed that even short warming intervals from 1982-2012 were followed by increased atmospheric CO2.
So, Roy, I hope you will amend your statement #7 to acknowledge that your argument there would be true only if warming was the ONLY cause of elevated CO2 (which is clearly not the case), and to add that both ice core and recent evidence indicates that warming does indeed cause increased atmospheric CO2, but it isn’t the only cause of increased CO2.
With best regards.

The other Phil
May 1, 2014 8:28 am

I see pokerguy beat me to it, but can I go all Spinal Tap and suggest a #11?
The claim that because CO2 is a trace gas, comprising only 400 ppm in the atmosphere, so therefore cannot do all the things it is claimed to do, is an argument that drive me bonkers.
If you really believe that, would you mind drinking this water, laced with 400 ppm of arsenic? After all, how can it possibly be enough to do anything to you?

Konrad
May 1, 2014 8:28 am

Dr. Spencer has done a great job of stabbing strawmen. I have challenged on points 1, 4 & 10 at his site. I would not expect him to respond. After all his error in point 10 is a 98C error with regard to the oceans totally destroys both the warmist and lukewarmer arguments. Without atmospheric cooling or DWLWIR, our oceans would be at +80C not -18C.
Instead of repeating my full rebuttal of points 1,4 & 10 I will post my top 9 list of games and tricks used by AGW believers and lukewarmers to show CO2 causing warming instead of cooling of the atmosphere –
1. THE TWO LAYER GAME.
The claim – SW heated sphere surrounded by a SW transparent shell of lower emissivity will be driven to a higher temperature by IR exchange between the shells.
The tricks – Conductive coupling between the shells never solved simultaneously. Tmean for the inner shell in absence of the outer always incorrectly calculated.
2. THE EEH / ERL GAME
The claim – Atmospheric OLR can be assumed to be being radiated from an Effective Emission Height or level and the temperature of this can be determined and surface temperature back calculated via lapse rate.
The tricks – EEH is a mathematical fiction with no basis in reality and no supporting empirical measurement. (NO, satellites looking down and ground looking up won’t do.) The atmosphere is provably not radiating 255 w/m2 from a shell or layer. It is radiating in 3D from different altitudes, in differing amounts at different times. Radiative gases present a far greater surface area that vertical dimension only IR opacity assumptions indicate.
3. IR OPACITY ABSORPTION/EMISSION LEVEL GAME.
The claim – Due to IR opacity radiative gases warm at low altitude and cool at high attitude.
The trick – Speed of vertical circulation held constant for increasing concentration of radiative gases to show surface warming.
4. THE FROZEN OCEANS GAME.
The claim – black body calcs show a -18C Tmean for the oceans without DWLWIR to warm them or atmospheric cooling.
The tricks – black body calcs are out by 98C. DWLWIR cannot heat or slow the cooling rate of liquid water that is free to evaporatively cool. Empirical experiment shows SW heated water reaches >80C in the absence of atmospheric cooling or DWLWIR.
5. THE NON-RADIATIVE ATMOSPHERE GAMES.
The claims – A non-radiative atmosphere would have its temperature set by surface Tmean
The tricks – Diurnal cycle and atmospheric circulation ignored (surface Tmax would drive the temp of such an atmosphere not Tav). Conductive cooling and heating of the atmosphere by the surface held equal despite gravity. Loss of effective conductive cooling ignored in calculating surface temp.
6. THE CLOUDS DON’T COOL GAME.
The claim – clouds reduce incoming solar SW but increase DWLWIR for no net effect.
The trick – DWLWIR has no effect on ocean temps, therefore no effect over 71% of the planet.
7. THE “AVERAGES” GAME
The claim – calculating incoming solar as constant 240 w/m2 is just fine.
The trick – It only works for superconducting materials of zero volume. Incoming solar peaks at ~1000 w/m2 and not using the correct figure or diurnal cycle for the heating of transparent materials with slow internal non-radiative energy transports will always give the wrong answer. That would be 71% of the planets surface.
8. THE “CHOKED RADIATOR” GAME.
The claim – Initially radiative gases cause cooling and drive convective circulation, but after a “certain concentration” they start to become less effective radiators. (yes, Pierrehumbert actually tried this one).
The tricks – there is no fixed ERL in the atmosphere. Gases cannot be treated as solid in terms of a radiator re-radiating its own fins.
9. THE TRENBERTHIAN POLE-WISE ENERGY FLOW GAME.
The claim – Atmospheric circulation is primarily driven by equator to pole energy flow, with OLR being just a feedback from adiabatic compression in the descending leg of circulation cells.
The tricks – Massive buoyancy changes due to evaporation ignored. Vertical circulation is the shortest route for energy escape to space from the surface. Empirical evidence shows IR emission from ascending translating and descending air masses in Hadley circulation.
Ultimately it is Dr. Spencers fist-biting mistake in his point 10 that invalidates not just AGW but the entire radiative GHE hypothesis itself. Using IR emissivity alone and treating the oceans as a near blackbody instead of a SW selective coating results in a 98C error for the surface of the oceans in absence of atmospheric cooling and DWLWIR. The physics behind this is old news. Researchers at Texas A&M found that black covers on solar ponds worked far worse than clear covers in 1965. But I suppose the basic physics of selective coatings is just a little too basic to be included in the “settled science” 😉

barry
May 1, 2014 8:28 am

kowalk @ here,

There is something I don’t understand. I always wonder, why an IR-photon on its way from sun to earth surface can be caught by CO2, and if, what is the difference according to its energy for atmosphere, if instead of this CO2 the IR-photon hits the ground, changes to warmth and heats the atmosphere, as well. From a simple point of total energy, it should be the same, or?

CO2 is virtually transparent to short-wave radiation from the sun, but opaque to infrared radiation upwelling from the Earth’s surface. Little incoming solar radiation is “caught” (absorbed) by CO2, the bulk of absorption occurs from the Earth radiating heat it has accumulated from the sun.

Gregory
May 1, 2014 8:29 am

A helpful process of debate would not be to refer to them as “Top 10 list of stupid skeptic arguments”

HK
May 1, 2014 8:29 am

#9 “Is there an average temperature of your bathtub full of water? Or of a room in your house?”
I agree with others that this could do with a lot more explanation. You might be able to calculate an average temperature for a room, or a bathtub, but what about a bathroom, when the tub is filled with water? And how meaningful is the “average temperature” when a hot dry room would be affected by the introduction of water, which would absorb energy by becoming water vapour, thereby reducing average temperature?
Is it meaningful to average temperatures that have totally different energy contents? For example, sub-freezing air will be much drier, and so have much less energy. Can we just average that with other temperatures?
That is to say nothing about the issues of measurement precision, accuracy and comparability, especially when the records are adjusted, including over many decades.

Dung
May 1, 2014 8:32 am

What we are entitled to say about CO2 is “We think that CO2 has a warming effect but we do not know how big or how small”
We are not entitled to say that CO2 causes warming; the last 17 years proves that beyond doubt.
“There is an unknown quantity of factors that affect temperature, we do not even know what they all are but we think CO2 would tend to be a warming factor”.

Ralph Kramden
May 1, 2014 8:34 am

A minor point on item 2, the 2nd law of thermodynamics deals with entropy and reversibility. The 0th law of thermodynamics says heat always flows from a higher temperature to a lower temperature. Overall I like the paper it makes some good points.

May 1, 2014 8:35 am

Stephen Rasey says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:19 am
“@Thomas Hogg at 6:17 am
Could Dr Spencer complement this valuable article with its analogue
ie Ten Skeptical Arguments that do hold water?
Absolutely necessary and should immediately follow this post.”
I agree with Stephan and Thomas. I have never used any of these 10 arguments (thankfully), but what are the top 10 best skeptical arguments??
I never read the Skeptics Handbook, but maybe Jo Nova could help on this. I really like her 50 to 1 YouTube interview – there are 4 major points that the warmists cannot answer…

Gregory
May 1, 2014 8:36 am

@The other Phil
We all know that 400 ppm of CO2 is different than 400 ppm arsenic. This is a poor analogy.

Peter
May 1, 2014 8:38 am

Regarding #5; This is the “CO2 logarithmic’ argument, yes? However, does the pressure broadening effect have any meaningful effect for a trace gas in Earth’s atmosphere? Perhaps if we had CO2 as 10, 20, or 30% of the atmosphere the pressure broadening effect would be meaningful … but would it not be correct to say that “in the context of the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere, the effect of adding more CO2 to the atmosphere is essentially zero since at the current pressure, the absorption bands are saturated.”? Just wondering….

May 1, 2014 8:47 am

[SNIP – DO NOT ASSUME YOU KNOW WHAT WE (ROY AND I) THINK OR KNOW. I DO NOT LIKE HAVING WORDS PUT IN MY MOUTH – ANTHONY]

Wyatt
May 1, 2014 8:48 am

Dr Spencer,
Wonderful post.
However, I haven’t heard some of these “arguments” until today and have been unsuccessful in finding articles, posts, or youtube clips for a couple of the items on your list. To put the “melting icing on the cake” would be if the title of each argument was a link to an example of that argument being used in context.

barry
May 1, 2014 8:48 am

Resourceguy @ here,

I see this as confirmation of my addiction to WUWT as a source for climate science information because I don’t recognize any of these items on the list and I certainly am not aware of “proliferation” of them anywhere. Does the author have some agenda here. More information on where the “proliferation” is coming from would be more insightful than the list itself. I suppose if all blogs were counted equally you could come up with a list like this and call it proliferation.

Read through the thread. Points 4, 7 and 9 are being contested by plenty of people. This is because those views are proliferated in the climate blogs articles and comments sections.
Eg, a few posts upthread of yours,

It looks like you are getting clobbered on #7. Better prop that one up a bit, if you can. My personal understanding is that warmer SST emits higher CO2. Am I wrong?

Transposing the ice age lead/lag relationship between temperature/CO2 onto the modern age is an extremely prolific trope in the climate blogosphere. I’m genuinely surprised you are not aware of it.
For those “clobbering” number 7, yes, ocean outgassing of CO2 lagged warming transitions from glacial periods in the geologic records. But that is not what is happening now. The evidence is conclusive. Simple arithmetic is all it takes. Human industry has emitted twice as much as the increase in atmospheric concentrations. It can’t be coming from the oceans, because CO2 in the oceans has been increasing at the same time. Oceans are absorbing about half of the CO2 human industry has omitted. These are not the only evidence, by a long shot, but they are hard to refute. Where is all the anthro CO2 going? And how is the system squirreling it away while pumping out the supposedly natural CO2?
This is an argument that sincere critics definitely need to let go of.

DirkH
May 1, 2014 8:49 am

“9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE Really?! Is there an average temperature of your bathtub full of water? Or of a room in your house? Now, we might argue over how to do the averaging (Spatial? Mass-weighted?), but you can compute an average, and you can monitor it over time, and see if it changes. The exercise is only futile if your sampling isn’t good enough to realistically monitor changes over time.”
The surface temperature measurement with thermometers is therefore futile. (violates Shannon’s theorem)

accordionsrule
May 1, 2014 8:51 am

I’m a little confused by #5.
“THE CO2 ABSORPTION BANDS ARE ALREADY 100% OPAQUE. First, no they are not,”
Makes it sound like absorption bands come in shades of gray. Would it be more accurate to say slayers believe absorption in the CO2 wavelengths is already 100% complete?
“and that’s because of pressure broadening.”
Does a higher percentage of CO2 make the air more dense?
“Second, even if the atmosphere was 100% opaque, it doesn’t matter.”
The slayers don’t say the atmosphere is opaque. Maybe some CAGWs do.

barry
May 1, 2014 8:55 am

The article has inspired some excellent questions, even if they seem basic. Like how climate is defined, or how the greenhouse effect is defined. Good critical analysis returns to the basics as understanding evolves, to clarify issues, or to see if the basics require modification. A warmist could not have inspired this kind of genuine inquiry, and I remain admiring of Spencer’s article for promoting such investigation.

Brian
May 1, 2014 8:57 am

#9 – Of course there’s a calculable average global temperature. How useful that is to establishing past long term trends in the face of inconsistent instrument records, comparative proxies and varying grids is a a very real question.

rgbatduke
May 1, 2014 8:58 am

I actually have a couple of questions generated from the list above — serious ones I hope.
First, pressure broadening. Yes, I understand exactly where pressure broadening comes from — it is associated with the phase interruption brought about by collisions that alter the shape/width of the IIRC Lorentzian associated with any given emission line. The collisions don’t add energy (on average) but the phase interruption ensures that the fourier transform of the emission line gets fatter. No problem.
My problem is that I cannot for the life of me understand why pressure broadening should depend in any way on the partial pressure of CO_2. It should depend on the pressure, to be sure, and the density, without any doubt and the temperature — basically on the mean free time between collisions. Collisions with anything, not just CO_2 – CO_2 collisions.
Now is somebody asserting the increasing atmospheric CO_2 from 300 ppm to 600 ppm is going to increase the absolute pressure of the atmosphere anywhere in any measurable way? Or am I very confused about pressure broadening and does it in fact depend on partial pressure of particular species? Because this is one thing I just don’t get…
A second nit to pick might be the discussion of global average temperature. The problem isn’t that one cannot define a global average temperature — the problem is that global average temperature is a poor, and enormously variable, metric for energy balance. Temperature is useful in e.g. 1st law discussions as it represents internal energy via the equipartion theorem (or more sophisticated stat mech sums). It isn’t a perfect tool even there, as one has various constraints on any “system” that one wishes to assign a temperature (as it is already an average quantity!). One requires some sort of coarse graining — chunks of matter large enough that they have a reasonably uniform average internal energy — and a “quasi-static” approximation where that average internal energy isn’t changing too fast. This becomes apparent when one actually writes down differential equations derived from first law concepts for dynamical evolution — one perforce has to include things like the heat capacity for the materials/objects (possibly the differential specific heats for extended media) in order to discuss how heat flowing into an otherwise closed system changes its temperature, and even elementary treatments quickly lead one to write down things like the heat equation. Generalizing the reasoning associated with the heat equation to include convection, generalizing it still further to include radiation, generalizing it one last time (in the context of the actual planetary climate) to include latent heat — all of which are highly NON-linear phenomena where the initial discussion of “temperature” as a valid context was highly linearized — one ends up with a really, really hard problem, one where “average temperature” isn’t a terribly useful construct. Compare, for example, 1 kilogram of water at 100C in liquid form to 1 kilogram of water at 100C in vapor form. Yeouch! Not exactly the same amount of internal energy…
This is hardly an irrelevant example in climate science. If Trenberth’s “missing heat” has gone into the ocean, it raises the average temperature of the ocean by an amount so small that it is probably not resolvable with current instrumentation (as I am “skeptical” that we can measure the average temperature of the oceans to millidegree resolution). If that same heat goes into the atmosphere, it raises the temperature enormously — or rather, it doesn’t because the atmosphere cools faster as it warms so temperature increases are self-limited (and predictable only by solving a very difficult nonlinear system). If the missing heat goes into latent heat at the ocean’s surface, it is then mobilized for comparatively rapid transport vertically to heights where, as you note, GHGs actively cool. Predicting the nonlinear dynamics again involves solving complex systems of PDEs in a context where “average temperature” is utterly useless as a metric. It isn’t even clear if “average enthalpy” — the quantity average temperature is supposed in some sense to mirror — is useful.
The problem is that “the Earth” can heat at constant average temperature within our ability to resolve it. It can cool (as in lower its total internal energy) as average temperature rises the ways we currently try to measure it. Our ability to precisely measure energy flow in and out even at the TOA is still highly limited. And everything is nonlinear and complex to the point where — in my opinion — it is still basically incomputable as a meaningful solution to a well-posed problem in physics.
So I agree with you that global average temperature is — something. It is what it is, even though it keeps “changing” as people keep changing the algorithms and data sets used to compute it, especially in the remote past where the errors in measurement and method probably exceed the difference in the current metric and the past estimates. It isn’t irrelevant to discussions of climate, but neither is it the single parameter that it has been turned into supposedly reflecting anthropogenic warming. It is also a quantity that has — in my opinion — countless thumbs on the supposedly objective scales. And then we can discuss the problems with kriging the data, especially kriging with highly sparse lat/long grids mapped into the surface of a sphere with its polar divergence in the spherical-polar Jacobean (one of many reasons I don’t take estimates of temperature in 1890 seriously, even given a very sparse land surface record in parts of the world — the oceans at 70% and whole continents like Antarctica are essentiall unrepresented AT ALL).
Honestly, it is one or the reasons I like RSS and UAH LTT. Very nearly global in extent, reasonably consistent in measurement technology, not horribly sparse, and largely resistant to human confirmation bias and influence, it isn’t “the average temperature” of Earth, but it is what it is, and one can reasonably expect climate changes to be reflected in it over sufficient time. It is also a boundary condition, of sorts, on surface temperature estimates and helps keep them honest when they are far more easily manipulated by data selection and adjustement, sparse, heavily kriged, and STILL undersample vast surface areas of the globe while heavily oversampling others.
rgb

gnomish
May 1, 2014 9:02 am

i find fallacy here:
” So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise?”
who said you need to boil the beer to release the dissolved co2? have a look at al gore’s famous chart while you’re at it. and 100 times almost nothing is still almost nothing.
and global temperature average? puhleeze. you got one testicle and one ovary? i don’t think there’s any point in this sort of numerology.

Resourceguy
May 1, 2014 9:06 am

@author
Touchy touchy, and cheery picked comment at that

mpainter
May 1, 2014 9:12 am

Konrad
Your comment makes me wish that I had a better foundation in physics. Some of your points seem very cogent. Your comments on the assumed black-body character of the earth is a revelation and rings true. It seems that a lot of re-thinking is needed on this business of radiation physics. For example, it has always seemed to me that the so-called “effective radiation level” (ERL) is a contrivance that cannot be supported and is well refuted by other considerations.
Good to have your comments.

barry
May 1, 2014 9:15 am

Hi Richard S Courtney,

But the real problem is that THERE IS NO AGREED DEFINITION OF GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE (GAT).
This means that each team (including yours) which determines GAT provides a different datum from the datum provided by each other team.

I see the differing approaches as a strength allowing for cross-verification (or not). If everyone was doing exactly the same thing, and making the same errors, how would we know the difference without other methods to check against? The UAH record was improved by having another group (RSS) processing the same data differently.

pokerguy
May 1, 2014 9:15 am

. “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE”
It’s an abstraction, like any average. It exists of course, but ultimately in the mind. The real question it seems to me is, is it useful?

Coach Springer
May 1, 2014 9:22 am

I went to the post when it was first referenced and have seen most of Dr. Spencer’s points before that . #7 puzzles me most.
All I can ascertain from #7 (Temperature controls CO2, not the other way) and its explanations is that both are true and neither are true – that neither is the primary controlling factor for the other on this planet and it’s a mistake in approach to think that it’s got to be one thing or the other when it’s very, very likely (99% by my own IPCC-styled deterministic approach) a combination of many, many, many factors known, known to be unknown, and of unknown unknowns.
“Is it CO2 or isn’t it” helps eliminate all other considerations and makes indiscriminant exercise of the precautionary principle in the face of an unproven and totally imagined horrific disaster seem reasonable.

Reg Nelson
May 1, 2014 9:22 am

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE Really?! Is there an average temperature of your bathtub full of water?
—–
Yes, but what is it?
Let’s say you fill the bathtub with hot water and measure the temperature of 100 F. An hour later it is 85 F, another hour it has dropped to room temperature of 72F, where it remains.
So what is the average temperature for the water in the tub that day? If you use Min\Max the answer is 86 F. If you measure the temperature every hour the weighted average is 73.71 F.
Let’s say you repeat the experiment the next day, but take the first measurement an hour after the tub has been filled (Time of observation bias). The Min\Max average then becomes 78.5F.
Years later, after installing a new water heater (Urban Heat Island effect) you repeat the experiment and discover the average bathtub water temp has risen.
You expand the experiment to determine the GABT (Global Average Bathtub Temperature), but two thirds of the households (representing the oceans) don’t have tubs, they have showers, so no data from them. And of the remaining third, in many parts of the world they don’t have thermometers (weather stations), so no data from those areas.
Despite these issues, you massage\extrapolate the data and come up with a GABT number and claim it is rising because of some X factor. And the Bathtub Water Science is settled.
PS Where’s my grant money?

Dan W.
May 1, 2014 9:24 am

I also dispute #9 and find Dr. Spencer’s room analogy sorely lacking. The average temperature of a single room might be useful, but would it be useful to take a temperature of all rooms in a house, from basement to attic, and average them? Not only does each room have a different utility but the statistical properties of each room are very different. For example, rooms directly exposed to the sun will show a much wider temperature change then rooms that are not. Put simply, no one would make a decision about how to control the temperature in all the rooms of a house by considering the average temperature of all rooms in the house. Rather one would consider the temperature range in each room of the house.
Another issue with a global average temperature is it promotes ignorance of the complexity of the global climate. For example, what does it mean when the pattern of changes in the global average temperature differ from the pattern of changes in continent average temperatures. Or what does it mean if the long temperature record in a given city shows little evidence of “global warming” but the global average does?
I suggest if one wants to talk about a “global average” then one be careful about presenting all of the regional measurements that make up the average. This way one can have a much better idea of what temperature measurements are contributing most to changes in the average.

Steven Burnett
May 1, 2014 9:28 am

To be fair to those whose feathers have been ruffled, Dr. Spencer replied in the comments section of his blog to many of these concerns. Particularly to some of the more nuanced arguments such as 7. For those who are upset I suggest you head over and actually read the responses. I do agree with what many have said better phrasing could have prevented the untimely deaths of many a straw man.

Carrick
May 1, 2014 9:29 am

It’s probably worth tweaking the language to address the fact that the atmospheric greenhouse gas effect is different than greenhouse effect seen in an actual greenhouse.
rgbatduke, probably global mean temperature isn’t the most useful metric (anomalized or absolute) for the physical measurement of the impact of anthropogenic activity on the Earth’s climate system. But it is one of the most economically important metrics, which is why there is so much focus on it: We live near the surface of the Earth, the temperature matters for us, so it is discussed. Whether the deep sea increases by 0.01°C matters less than whether the surface air temperature increases by 1°C.
Ironically, Nick Stokes, hardly a climate sciences skeptic, was one of the people making the absurd argument you couldn’t measure the absolute temperature of the Earth.

Rob
May 1, 2014 9:31 am

Well, apart from the No.9 (which seems to come down on whether there is any utility on calculating a average global temp), it seems the biggest arguments are about whether warming causes CO2 to rise (No.7). and it seems to me that people are arguing about different issues.
The ice cores show increase in T prior to increase in CO2 (there is no argument about this is there?). As this was used the other way round by Al Gore and many others in the initial scares, refuting it has been an important skeptic argument. However, what Dr Spencer is referring to is the recent increases in CO2 (50-100 years) and pointing out that out-gassing of ocean-dissolved CO2 does not account for the increases in atmospheric CO2, but anthropogenic sources do account for these. As such, his point 7 is addressing the argument that recentwarming is the cause of current CO2 increases and not anthropogenic emissions.
The geological record and the direct measurements of recent (50-100 years) are such different sources of information that I really don’t think we can talk about them in the same breath, let alone use explanations from one to argue causal effects on the other. The resolution of the ice cores is such that we would not even see the current increase in CO2 for another 2-300 years, let alone the temperature change. Using one argument for them both is wrong and I support Dr Spencer in his explanation since he is talking about just the recent changes in CO2.

May 1, 2014 9:32 am

Roy, regarding #9, are you perhaps referring to Essex et al. – and you can call me al)? I don’t know of anyone who’s argued you can’t construct an average from temperature data, and if anyone did then I would add my Duh to yours. But your example shows you haven’t grasped the real point. Your straw man should be phrased: There is no general theory of how to reduce the temperature field of a non-equilibrium thermodynamic system to a scalar in such a way that the laws governing the dynamics of the field also provide a theory governing the dynamics of the scalar. But phrased thus, it’s not a straw man. In fact I’d say it would be pretty hard to dispute. There might be examples where it is true, but it is not generally true.
You refer to bathtubs and freezers, both of which are isolated systems in equilibrium, where a single number works to represent the temperature field of the whole. But to make it relevant to the actual issue, try to define “the” temperature of the [water in your bath + the air in your freezer]? Not the average of the two, “the” one temperature of the items in the brackets. Obviously there isn’t one, there are two (or more). You and I both could write down an infinite number of ways of combining them into a single number. But that one number is not the temperature of your freezer or your bath, and it isn’t necessarily the temperature that would result if you put your bathwater in your freezer or vice versa, or came up with some other mechanism to bring them into equilibrium with each other.
There are valid grounds for saying this issue doesn’t matter much or ad hoc averages seem to do just fine for most purposes. But stock market analysts are also fond of ad hoc averages. They at least bear in mind the rule “it works until it doesn’t.” Don’t confuse an ad hoc averaging rule with a theory that the world is obliged to follow.

May 1, 2014 9:39 am

Well, point 7. has several negative comments. As a big fan of point 7, here my comment:
Warming causes CO2 to rise
Temperature changes cause CO2 changes. That is true over short time and very long periods:
– The seasonal temperature variation of ~1°C global average causes a variation of +/- 5 ppmv global average. The change is much larger in the NH than in the SH and mainly caused by vegetation with a lag of a few months.
– The year by year temperature variations caused by ocean oscillations like ENSO or caused by volcanic eruptions like the Pinatubo cause a change of 4-5 ppmv/°C with a lag of several months.
– The multi-decadal to multi-millennia changes give a quite fixed change of 8 ppmv/°C over the past 800,000 pre-industrial years. The lags varies from ~50 years (MWP-LIA) to 800 +/- 600 years (deglaciations) to several thousands of years (glaciations).
Based on the ice cores, the maximum change from a temperature change is 8 ppmv/°C. The MWP-LIA change of ~0.8°C shows a drop of ~6 ppmv, or ~8 ppmv/°C with ~50 years lag after the drop in temperature:
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/law_dome_1000yr.jpg
graph from the Law Dome ice cores, Etheridge e.a. 1996.
Besides that, the equilibrium of seawater only shifts ~17 ppmv/°C. But as vegetation in general takes more CO2 away with higher temperatures, the 8 ppmv/°C is how the equilibium between atmosphere, oceans and the biosphere shifts with temperature.
If we may assume that the increase in temperature since the LIA was maximum 1°C, then the maximum increase of CO2 caused by temperature was 8 ppmv… The rest of the 100+ ppmv increase is from the 200+ ppmv that humans emitted in the recent past.
Not the other way around
There is no physical reason that a modest influence of temperature on CO2 levels (8 ppmv/°C) excludes a modest influence of an excess amount of CO2 on temperature (0.9°C for 2xCO2). All what happens then is that temperature as well as CO2 get somewhat higher with a feedback on each other, no matter if there is a lag or not:
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/feedback.jpg
As long as the fortifying factor is modest, there is no runaway effect.

Walter
May 1, 2014 9:40 am

As always, I use the Lipid Hypothesis as historical point of reference for government funded philosophy/religion. Unhealthy animal fat causes heart disease, so eat healthy plant food. That is the company line/dogma – easy, to the point and backed up with thousands of peer reviewed papers of confirmation bias. Skeptics, on the other hand, are all over the place (paleo, low carb, very low carb, no carb, no wheat, no grain, no sugar, some starch, resistant starch …). What they all agree on, even those who are “out there”, is that government threw fear into our kitchens in the 1970s when there was no scientific basis for doing so.
It is the same with the Human Carbon Dioxide Hypothesis. Human carbon dioxide causes warming and is bad for the planet – easy, to the point and backed by thousands of papers of peer reviewed confirmation bias. Government has thrown fear into the geology class with no scientific basis for doing so. As with nutrition, skeptics are all over the place, with government backed theologians ignoring all of what they say.

Charlie
May 1, 2014 9:41 am

Thank you Dr. Spencer. Very timely, informative post for those of us geologists that are less informed on this topic, and are endeavouring to separate the wheat from the chaff. If there is not one already available, I would gladly buy your future book containing expanded versions of all 10 points.

richardscourtney
May 1, 2014 9:41 am

pokerguy:
At May 1, 2014 at 9:15 am you write

“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE”
It’s an abstraction, like any average. It exists of course, but ultimately in the mind. The real question it seems to me is, is it useful? .

This goes to the heart of the issue as I raised it in my above post here.
As I said to Dr Spencer in that post

But the real problem is that THERE IS NO AGREED DEFINITION OF GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE (GAT).
This means that each team (including yours) which determines GAT provides a different datum from the datum provided by each other team. Indeed, individual teams often change the definition they use so they alter their time series of GAT; see e.g. http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/graphs/giss/hansen-giss-1940-1980.gif
An undefined parameter has no accuracy, no precision, and no reliability.
A much more full assessment of this real problem is provided by Appendix B of this item
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc0102.htm.

A parameter has no usefulness to science when it has no accuracy, no precision, and no reliability but can be altered at will. However, such a mutable parameter can be useful (misused?) for political purposes and politicians use them (e.g. various definitions of GDP).
Hence, I do not entirely agree with rgbatduke when he argues herethat

A second nit to pick might be the discussion of global average temperature. The problem isn’t that one cannot define a global average temperature — the problem is that global average temperature is a poor, and enormously variable, metric for energy balance.

Yes, “global average temperature is a poor, and enormously variable, metric for energy balance” and that is said in the Appendix B which I linked and cited. And average global temperature has no scientific usefulness but much political usefulness because it has no agreed definition, and I think that is very important.
Richard

Ivan
May 1, 2014 9:42 am

NO 7 is arguing against prominent scientists who know the problems of CO2 measurements and ice cores much better than Roy Spencer: Zbignev Jaworowski and Tom Segalstad.

The other Phil
May 1, 2014 9:44 am

Gregory, mere assertion is not an argument. Note that measured effects of arsenic exist for concentrations 1000 times smaller than that of CO2, so if you are making a picky point about how to measure concentration, adjust the metric and the point holds. If you do not like the example of arsenic, there are many other such examples, where a concentration far below that of CO@ is definitely meaningful.
Phil

richardscourtney
May 1, 2014 9:47 am

barry:
Thankyou for your post addressed to me at May 1, 2014 at 9:15 am. It is answered by my post addressed to pokerguy but is stuck in moderation.
If my post does appear it should be here
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/01/top-ten-skeptical-arguments-that-dont-hold-water/#comment-1626340
For now, I suggest that you read the post from Ross McKitrick at May 1, 2014 at 9:32 am.
Richard

Henry Galt
May 1, 2014 9:49 am

The other Phil – sure I’ll down it in one, if it’s a thimbleful.

Solomon Green
May 1, 2014 9:51 am

Thanks for an informative post. I am happy to go along with all Dr. Spencer’s 10 points.
My questions arise from “Climate models address a spherical, rotating, Earth with a day-night (diurnal) cycle in solar illumination and atmospheric Coriolis force (due to both Earth curvature and rotation)”. So far as I recollect the earth is not perfectly spherical, neither has it a smooth surface. How do the models allow for such imperfections? How many parameters are used in climate models just to cover those points – or are they deemed constant over time or ignored as trivial.
Incidentally, I once reckoned that there were as many as forty factors affecting global temperatures, including at least six greenhouse gases of which, as Jimbo has posted the IPCC statement “Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide (CO2) is the second-most important one.”
How do the models allow for these other greenhouse gases? How do they allow for all the other thirty or so factors affecting global temperature? Are all these factors independent? And if not how many affect others? And if some do, do they do so to an extent that they would render all linear models mathematically unsound?
There is a lot about which to be sceptical without doubting that CO2 is a greenhouse gas which plays a part in global warming.

Mark Bofill
May 1, 2014 9:53 am

Dr. Spencer has a top ten skeptical arguments list up.
You answered ‘…’ And our survey said: DING!

May 1, 2014 9:53 am

CG, point taken. Ludicrous was too strong a word.

Mark Bofill
May 1, 2014 9:55 am

Er, I meant a top ten good skeptical arguments list.

Ivan
May 1, 2014 9:56 am

No. 5 seems to be directed against Ferenc Miskolczi who claims that the greenhouse effect is constant, i.e adding CO2 would not change global temperature at all.
What all those people have in common is the following: if they are right, Roy Spencer’s work on cloud feedback and climate sensitivity would be far less important. Nobody would care. So, basic thrust of his text is to attack the dangerous competition.

Eric Anderson
May 1, 2014 9:57 am

Unfortunately, not too impressed.
Although there is value in pushing back on most of these 10 issues, saying that they are all “skeptical” arguments and saying that none of them “hold water,” is much too broad of a brush. Worse, it does the disservice of masking some of the more nuanced issues that are related to — if not always described exactly in the words of — the 10 items listed.
Substantively, several posters have already given good reasons why some of the items (maybe 4, 7 and 9) are issues that deserve careful discussion. It doesn’t serve anybody (and will certainly be trumpeted by the CAGW’ers) to simply dismiss them with the waive of the hand as bad arguments — and, therefore, the natural implication is, issues that aren’t worthy of discussion.
Additionally, there are some terminology clarifications (say, in #1), that are germane to the debate and that are also worthy of discussion, even if the underlying substance is as Dr. Spencer says it is.
So, unfortunately, while this had the opportunity of being a very helpful article, the tenor and approach give it the potential of doing as much harm as good. Not enough acknowledgement of open and reasonable issues. Too much baby thrown out with the bathwater.

May 1, 2014 9:57 am

If you ignore all the quibbles, then everything the good doctor says is true. However, is ignoring the quibbles the right thing to do? I think not. The quibbles are very important and should not be dismissed as irrelevant details.
For example, I long have quibbled over the use of the term “Greenhouse Effect” simply and exactly because the earth has no glass ceiling. The putative effect is supposedly that the earth’s surface is at a higher temperature with an atmosphere than without. This even though such a state has never been measured but only calculated using the (wait….you guessed it) “Greenhouse Effect” theory. This circular reasoning is used as proof that the effect exists. In the words of the SNL Church Lady, “Isn’t that special”.
Assuming what must be proved is invalid reasoning from the get go. The alternative I offered a long time ago is why not call it the “Atmospheric Effect”? At least that would neither be misleading nor counter factual to an actual atmosphere having no glass ceiling. Then we could get on with the process of actually identifying what the effect is and, in particular, measuring it.
I strongly suspect that the motive behind the use of the term “Greenhouse Effect” is less than honest and honorable as all kinds of mischief has and can be had from its use. Not the least of which is that CO2 “traps” heat as if it were a molecular thermos bottle. Yet, at the same time, it is presumed that increased CO2 will cause catastrophic global warming. Apparently, the thermos bottle molecule pops and releases its heat when the level of CO2 gets too high. Thereby facilitating being used to justify global taxes, global regulations, and dictatorial global governance.
The good doctor’s motivation may not be as pernicious as this but I am still skeptical of the honesty and honorableness of his responses to any question of his position. Especially when he insists that there is nothing wrong with using a false to fact term in his discussions.

Ivan
May 1, 2014 10:00 am

I was surprised that Lord Mockton supported Spencer, but then I saw that SPPI “disappeared” from their website a paper by Mikols Zagoni, published in 2009 which elaborated Miskolczy’s theory. Sapienti sat.

May 1, 2014 10:00 am

Dr Roy Spencer;
What an excellent list. A couple of turnips showing up trying to prove that 2+2=5, but that was to be expected. I suspect that the majority of the readership will figure out which ones can be safely ignored. Two of them have made appearances upthread already, I’ve debated them so many times I see no use in naming them. On the other hand….
I was about to raise a similar point to rgbatduke and richardscourtney. They not only beat me to it, but did so in eloquent detail, of which I am simply incapable. Bottom line though is that while I think the “average temperature” as calculated by yourself and others has value, I think it obscures the real discussion, which regards both energy balance as a whole, and changes in distribution of the energy fluxes across the globe. If the tropics cool and the temperate zones warm and the over all average is the same, then the average temperature provides us rather little information as to what is happening in the system and why.

neillusion
May 1, 2014 10:00 am

Warming does cause CO2 to rise, by however much or little, that is evident, beyond reasonable doubt, from the records. It has not been proven that CO2 causes warming – that it does is not evident, beyond reasonable doubt, anywhere. Only in a minimalistic, none (world)complex thought experiment, does the potential ‘greenhouse effect’ from a molecule of CO2 operate – so to speak ‘in theory’ and logically. Application of this to the hugely complex world dynamic, especially with levels of CO2 in parts per million and water vapour parts per thousand, is not consistent with good scientific practice. So what if humans are making CO2 rise faster, the original premise is still valid, just not the reason for the whole increase we are seeing.

John West
May 1, 2014 10:01 am

AlecM says:
”3. Oh Dear! The Tyndall experiment has been badly misinterpreted. There can be no ‘thermalisation’ of the GHG-absorbed energy because that would breach The Law of Equipartition of Energy, as basic a physical principle as quantum theory. “
What?!?
So, if a CO2 molecule absorbs IR causing it to vibrate and happens to collide with a nitrogen molecule in just such a way as to impart that vibrational energy into translational motion of the nitrogen molecule that wouldn’t cause the temperature of the volume of gas to be higher? (Of course it would.)
Temperature of a gas is a measure of translational motion ONLY, vibrational energy stored in molecules in a gas (unlike in solids and liquids) has no effect on temperature (as normally measured).
Equipartition of energy means that energy will spread out among all available degrees of freedom. There is no “violation” of equipartition of energy for energy to be converted from vibrational to translational and vice versa so long as on average each degree of freedom has the same amount of energy at equilibrium. The flow of energy is from highly utilized degrees of freedom to lower utilized degrees of freedom; in that way it’s akin to diffusion of matter and could be thought of as diffusion of energy from high energy concentration “areas” (energy storage forms: vibration, rotation, translation, etc.) to low concentration energy storage “areas”.
But really all that is beside the point that an increase in GHG absorption is likely to increase its emission therefore on whole the “backradiation” increases thereby decreasing the net transfer of energy by radiation from the surface to the atmosphere i.e. has an insulating effect. There’s no “thermilization” required for a GHE increase to increase the surface temperature.

May 1, 2014 10:01 am

Rob says:
May 1, 2014 at 9:31 am
The resolution of the ice cores is such that we would not even see the current increase in CO2 for another 2-300 years, let alone the temperature change.
The resolution of the ice cores strongly depends of the snow accumulation rate, which is extremely high near the coast and very small more inland Antarctica. 2 out of 3 Law Dome ice cores have a resolution of a decade, the 3rd of ~2 decades.
There is even a 20-year overlap between the Law Dome ice cores and direct CO2 measurements at the South Pole:
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/law_dome_sp_co2.jpg
The drawback is that the high resolution cores go only 150 years back in time before rock bottom was hit and the third core, taken more downslope, only 1,000 years. But anyway, one can stack the different ice cores on each other giving a lower resolution back in time. Here for the past 1,000 years:
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/antarctic_cores_001kyr_large.jpg
or 10,000 years:
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/antarctic_cores_010kyr.jpg
Anyway, even the worst resolution ice cores like Vostok (~600 years over 420 kyr) or Dome C (~560 years over 800 kyr) would show the current 100+ ppmv rise in 150 years. The repeatability of ice core CO2 measurements is +/- 1.2 ppmv – 1 sigma for the same core, +/- 5 ppmv between different cores.
Temperature is a proxy from dD and d18O changes, the resolution is even better than for CO2, as there is no years of mixing during accumulation, which is the case for air/CO2. For the inland ice cores, that represents the ocean temperatures of most of the SH oceans.

milodonharlani
May 1, 2014 10:03 am

Solomon Green says:
May 1, 2014 at 9:51 am
Water vapor concentration of course varies greatly (high in the moist tropics & low over the polar deserts), but averages about 30,000 ppm in the troposphere. Carbon dioxide is currently around 400 ppm. The three next most common GHG levels are measured in parts per billion: methane at around 1800 ppb (or 1.8 ppm), nitrous oxide at ~325 ppb & tropospheric ozone at 337 ppm. The many halocarbons are measured in parts per trillion.
http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/current_ghg.html

Matthew R Marler
May 1, 2014 10:06 am

That’s a good list, well presented.
I have comments on two of the items:
8. THE IPCC MODELS ARE FOR A FLAT EARTH I have no explanation where this little tidbit of misinformation comes from.
The “flat Earth” models (so-called, hence the quotes), with uniform surface and uniform input, are what underlie the “equilibrium” calculations such as those that appear in the book “Atmosphere, Clouds and Climate” by David Randall, pp 45-49. Raymond T. Pierrehumbert’s book “Principles of Planetary Climate” addresses the inaccuracy of the equilibrium assumption right at the start, and addresses the shape of the Earth fairly late, but basically by stretching/compressing the “flat Earth” model via trig functions. So I think it fair to say that “some” IPCC models are for a “flat Earth”, even though “other” IPCC models are for a spherical, rotating Earth. I can’t tell which models dominate anyone’s thinking.
2. THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT VIOLATES THE 2ND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS.
Besides what you wrote, people need to remember that the temperature of a parcel of mass is proportional to the average kinetic energy of the molecules in the parcel, and the molecules do not all have the same kinetic energy. Thus it is possible for the highest energy molecules in a relatively cool parcel to radiate energy toward the molecules in a relatively warm parcel, wherein some of the molecules have below average energy; even as the net flow of radiant energy is from relatively warm to relatively cool.

May 1, 2014 10:10 am

Ivan, you assume too much. #5 doesn’t contradict Miskolczi’s theory, which was that the increased greenhouse effect from more CO2 was OFFSET by decreasing vapor, keeping a net constant effect. This is entirely possible, although it’s speculative, and does not contradict the point I’m making. Please don’t create a new controversy where none exists.

May 1, 2014 10:11 am

Ivan says:
May 1, 2014 at 9:42 am
NO 7 is arguing against prominent scientists who know the problems of CO2 measurements and ice cores much better than Roy Spencer: Zbignev Jaworowski and Tom Segalstad.
I had a quite heated discussions with Tom Segalstad some time ago as several of his arguments don’t hold water. And sorry to say, the arguments of the late Jaworowski were already refuted in 1996 by the drilling of the 3 ice cores at Law Dome by Etheridge e.a.:
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/jaworowski.html

May 1, 2014 10:12 am

Good post, Dr. Spencer.
I cringe when I here skeptics say crazy things, because the reputation for “crazy” gets pasted on all of us. One of the nice things about WUWT is that when crazy ideas are put forth there is usually somebody around to squash them.
On your point #7: “Warming causes CO2 to rise, no the other way around.” It is a no-brainer that CO2 increases for the last 150 years are due to burning fossil fuels. But what about the evidence for CO2 leading temperature during the transitions from glacials to interglacials?

May 1, 2014 10:14 am

Rob says:
The ice cores show increase in T prior to increase in CO2… However, what Dr Spencer is referring to is the recent increases in CO2…
That is not the issue. The issue is causation. Does ∆T cause ∆CO2? Or does ∆CO2 cause ∆T? All the available evidence shows that ∆T causes ∆CO2, on time scales from years, to hundreds of millennia.
I am willing to be proven wrong. But I’ve been requesting empirical evidence, and so far, none has been posted showing that CO2 causes global T changes — on any time scale. All the evidence shows that T changes cause CO2 changes.
=========================
barry says:
Points … 7 … are being contested by plenty of people. This is because those views are proliferated in the climate blogs articles and comments sections.
Hand waving. Base your argument on measurable evidence, then we’ll see. Next:
Transposing the ice age lead/lag relationship between temperature/CO2 onto the modern age is an extremely prolific trope in the climate blogosphere. I’m genuinely surprised you are not aware of it.
It is prolific because it is fun to bash the alarmist crowd with verifiable facts that deconstruct their narrative. Next:
For those “clobbering” number 7, yes, ocean outgassing of CO2 lagged warming transitions from glacial periods in the geologic records. But that is not what is happening now.
Yes, it is.
Next:
The evidence is conclusive. Simple arithmetic is all it takes. Human industry has emitted twice as much as the increase in atmospheric concentrations. It can’t be coming from the oceans, because CO2 in the oceans has been increasing at the same time. Oceans are absorbing about half of the CO2 human industry has omitted. These are not the only evidence, by a long shot, but they are hard to refute. Where is all the anthro CO2 going? And how is the system squirreling it away while pumping out the supposedly natural CO2? This is an argument that sincere critics definitely need to let go of.
barry dislikes the causation argument, because it deconstructs his belief in catastrophic AGW. Yes, the rise in CO2 is due to human emissions. But so what? It does not follow that the ≈40% rise has caused any measurable rise in T. That is what Planet Earth is clearly telling us.
Alarmists love to point to the rise in harmless, beneficial CO2 as their “Look! A kitten!” argument. But the real issue is causation: T is the cause of ∆CO2. Prove me wrong, my feelings won’t get hurt. Just post a chart showing that changes in CO2 cause changes in temperature. Make sure it’s based on reliable, empirical measurements. TIA.

Jaakko Kateenkorva
May 1, 2014 10:17 am

An idle, naked human being emits CO2 in addition to water vapor. For this reason it doesn’t feel right to look down on anyone voicing their opinions about the AGW-hoax – even if we don’t always agree with them.

Bob F
May 1, 2014 10:17 am

Sorry, didn’t find this at all helpful. Most of these points are far too subtle to have such trite explanations/rebuttals. For me in particular #2 makes little sense.

John McClure
May 1, 2014 10:21 am

Fun post, I got a chuckle out of several of your comments Dr. Spencer.
“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE”
My best response, simply because one can do a thing doesn’t make it appropriate or insightful.
Can you give me some examples where Global Average Temp. is useful. The only purpose I can think of is to scare children.

Ian
May 1, 2014 10:28 am

Roy,
Great article. Thank you.
If you have time, could you please address Prof Brown’s question “rgbatduke says: May 1, 2014 at 8:58 am” about pressure broadening and partial pressures?

bw
May 1, 2014 10:29 am

Some good responses to keep Roy on his toes.
Regarding averages, there is no “average global climate”
Land biology does not average with marine biology.
There are distinct climates, tropical land and water, temperate land and water, polar North and South. You don’t combine “rainforest” with “desert” and get any meaningful average.
You don’t combine trees and termites into an average.
Every day, sunlight is not “dim” for 24 hours, except at the poles. 240 watts per square meter for 24 hours is not the same as the average of 480 watts for 12 hours with 0 watts for 12 hours.
The atmosphere has evolved for the last billion years. In response, the atmosphere has become 100 percent biological, except Argon. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is a response to biological activity, the amount of that global biogeochemical flux due to fossil fuel burning is about 3 percent. This is because CO2 never “accumulates” in the atmosphere. Without biological respiration, CO2 would fall exponentially by about 20 percent per year.
Your number 7 ignores biology, but keep up the good work

Resourceguy
May 1, 2014 10:31 am

Before dismissing the trace gas argument of 400 ppm CO2, could you please provide the CO2 concentration numbers associated with recently revived moss occurrence in Antarctica and boreal forest-type occurrence in recent Greenland bore hole analysis? These were ice-free times under those ice sheets. I need to the CO2 numbers now, not comments and claims. Just the facts.

Matthew R Marler
May 1, 2014 10:35 am

Richard S. Courtney: The existing data is such that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration can be modeled as being entirely natural, entirely anthropogenic, or some combination of the two. And there is no data which resolves the matter.
Well said.
I think the same is true of temperature rise since the end of the Little Ice Age: it can be modeled as a function of CO2, and as a function without CO2 in the argument list. It is very difficult to tell how much effect anthropogenic CO2 has had. imo

May 1, 2014 10:38 am

ferdberple: “For example, what if you took addition and subtraction and called them both addition.”
This isn’t much to the point, just a fun fact: I’ve been told by people who use that kind of thing that addition and subtraction do end up being the same in some orders of Galois-field arithmetic.

May 1, 2014 10:40 am

This reminds me of reading some screed at Huffington on conservatives. All of their supposed reasoned refutations of conservative beliefs are based on – what they think conservatives believe. They have no idea what conservatives believe or think. No matter how many times they say something, or how convincingly they try to say it – they will never get to determine what I believe. Most of these appear to be refutations of arguments I’ve never made and are rarely – if ever – made here. Though I disagree about the global average temperature mental masturbation. I’ve seen their charts, graphs, and figures calculating temperatures to fractions of a degree fahrenheit when I question if we have measurement accuracy to within a single degree centigrade.

The other Phil
May 1, 2014 10:40 am

Henry Galt.
It’s a tall glass.
Are you disagreeing with the fundamental point, or merely my imperfect presentation?

Trevor
May 1, 2014 10:41 am

1. Juergen MIchele says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:28 am
Looking at your point 4. :
CO2 in the upper atmosphere blocks outgoing radiation from the earth surface.
But the incoming radiation from the sun in the relevant frequency range is hundredfold compared to the back radiation from earth.
As a consequence more CO2 cools!
You didn’t quite finish your thought here, Juergean, but I THINK you’re trying to say that the solar radiation blocked from entering the atmosphere by CO2 far outweighs the radiation blocked from leaving the atmosphere by CO2. If so, your error here is in assuming that the radiation coming from the sun is identical to the radiation coming from the surface. That assumption is incorrect. The vast majority of the radiation coming from the sun is in the visible light portion of the spectrum. CO2 (and other “greenhouse gasses”) don’t do a very good job of absorbing that radiation, so a large percentage of it reaches the earth, where it is absorbed, and then re-radiated, but mostly in the infrared portion of the spectrum. CO2 (and other greenhouse gasses) DO do a good job of absorbing certain wavelengths within this portion of the spectrum.
If the incoming and outgoing radiation had the same distribution across the spectrum, then there would be no greenhouse effect at all, put instead a “parasol effect” that would reduce our temperature far below even what we would have without the greenhouse effect. Of course, there wouldn’t be anyone around to CALL it a “parasol effect”, because it would be far too cold for life (as we know it) to exist.
Regards,
Trevor

kim
May 1, 2014 10:44 am

The nice thing, Richard C. & Matthew M., is that however much AnthroCO2 has warmed us, it is just by that much that we are not colder.
==========================

Louis LeBlanc
May 1, 2014 10:54 am

In regard to #9: I agree with Dr. Spencer. I am a CAGW skeptic, in particular of the accuracy and balance of the data supporting the hockey stick, and especially of the high levels of statistical probability published by the IPCC and its acolytes supposedly computed from this data. And it is good to be reminded to stay factual, logical, and reasonable in this truly serious battle not only to counteract the CAGW hypothesis, but to save Science as we have known it. As an engineer with a fair amount of experience in atmospheric sensing and transmitting devices, and interaction with professional scientific and technical people for over 50 years, I have a couple of observations: Without really frequent and technically competent maintenance and calibration, even high quality NIST traceable industrial sensors will quickly become unreliable, giving rise to justifiable doubts about the accuracy of the recorded data. Also, the well-known problems with sensing station location and condition and the lack of geographic balance of data points add to the problems with absolute raw data. However, as inaccurate as the individual readings may be, with ethical recording and a long history of data accumulation, wouldn’t errors be “averaged out,” and general increases or decreases in the averaged temperature over time be valuable for comparative purposes, such as “global warming” and “the pause?”

milodonharlani
May 1, 2014 10:57 am

Tom Moriarty says:
May 1, 2014 at 10:12 am
CO2 does not lead T during transitions from glacial to interglacial conditions. It follows.

Josik
May 1, 2014 11:01 am

Sad to observe that WUWT has turned it’s back to real science and became more and more a “consensus” and “science is settled” blog, only marginally different from the rest.

Bob Kutz
May 1, 2014 11:04 am

Roy,
Good read, good information. Always appreciate your work.
I’m afraid I don’t know that you’re 100% on all points, in my opinion.
2) How do you account for the fact that an atmosphere, warmed by whatever means (not warmed by itself), would necessarily expand in accordance with the Ideal Gas Law to reach a new equilibrium density at something less than the temperature increase that would occur in a sealed container? I’m not saying there isn’t a greenhouse effect, but it seems that, sans a sealed two liter bottle, it isn’t nearly the boogeyman they make it out to be. But no, the 2nd law of thermodynamics doesn’t actually preclude warming, in and of itself.
#9) If your bath tube were the size of an Olympic swimming pool punctuated with grass islands of varying sized and heights, heated externally via radiative energy from a point source several hundred meters away and with strong fans above, constantly circulating the atmospheric boundary, how many thermometers would you need in order to accurately measure the temperature, not of the water in the pool, but the atmospheric gases immediately above the surface? Could you do so with very few of the thermometers placed above the surface of the water? What if, for the first 50 or 75 years of data, you were only allowed to look at your thermometers once per day and rounded all measurements to the nearest degree?
Just curious. Because that’s what I mean when I point out that our notions of ‘average’ AND our notions of precision are greatly challenged by these issues. Now, go replace 1 square inch of the grassy islands, particularly in the areas where your thermometers are located, with asphalt or concrete every minute. Now, about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through the expirement start taking thermometers out of your data set, but mostly only on one end of the pool.
Then, at the very end, you get to climb up on a catwalk and install an infrared beam thermometer on a device that methodically scans the surface.
Do you have a data set, or do you have a hodge podge?
Next, go back and recalibrate your early readings, based on TOBS adjustments for metadata you don’t actually have, and do this every 4 or 5 years, but only adjusting the older data down and the more recent data upward.
Finally, explain to me again about the ‘average’ temperature of your ‘bathtub’.
Or, to explain this in yet another way; This would be akin to trying to measure the average velocity of an automobile by taking random snapshots of the speedometer.
Sometimes the car would be moving very fast, sometimes it would move more slowly or not at all. Of course, the tendency would be to take photos when someone was actually driving the car, which would tend to coincide with a moving car, so your calculated ‘average speed’ wouldn’t correlate to the ‘average speed’ of the car very well. As the car gets older it gets handed down to younger drivers with even less propensity to photograph the speedometer when the car isn’t moving and a much higher predilection for fast driving . . . you might start warning everyone about ‘global acceleration’. And then, of course, with GPS, you could finally get an accurate average speed . . . and you might then proclaim that automobiles used to be much faster in past. Such is the nature of your ‘global average’.
In short; a lot of what passes for CAGW may in fact be statistical artifacts of things we did not intend to measure. Increased population, the fall of communism, more accurate measurements today vs. a tendency to not measure the temp in the hottest part of the day in the past.
And no; before satellite records became available we have very little idea what the ‘average’ temperature of this particular bathtub was. We do not have enough data.
Good read none the less.

Paul Westhaver
May 1, 2014 11:05 am

Dr Spenser,
Some of your “10” are canards. I am a AGW skeptic.
I think your post would have been better if you also included 10 reasons there is no stat sig AGW.
Also:
1) THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT
I have not heard any skeptics say that one to me. So?
2) THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT VIOLATES THE 2ND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS.
I have not heard any skeptics say that one to me. So? Also the issue maybe the use of the overused term “greenhouse”, but I am speculating.
3) CO2 CANT CAUSE WARMING BECAUSE CO2 EMITS IR AS FAST AS IT ABSORBS.
Again, I have not heard this specifically. I have heard that CO2 is much less effective a GHG than H2O but not this.
4) CO2 COOLS, NOT WARMS, THE ATMOSPHERE.
This is the first time I heard this.
5) ADDING CO2 TO THE ATMOSPHERE HAS NO EFFECT BECAUSE THE CO2 ABSORPTION BANDS ARE ALREADY 100% OPAQUE.
I have never heard or repeated such a claim. Am I alone?
6. LOWER ATMOSPHERIC WARMTH IS DUE TO THE LAPSE RATE/ADIABATIC COMPRESSION.
I am not in this academic circle so I will pass as ignorant on this one.
7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND
Technically Roy, as well you know, CO2 vapor pressure increases with increased temp of the solution. You have chosen a narrow application of the concept to knock down. On the 1,000,000 year time scale CO2 concentration follows warming. Maybe in your narrow application you are correct, but what most people are talking about, you are wrong. CO2 vapor pressure/ solubility is a property one can look up.
8. THE IPCC MODELS ARE FOR A FLAT EARTH
???? What?
9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE
I agree that one can try to arrive at a number but it is a meaningless figure and can’t be compared to anything in the past with any precision that bear relevance to the small changes in modern measurements, especially considering the suggested PRECISION of the IPCC…. So I disagree with you.
10. THE EARTH ISN’T A BLACK BODY.
Well it isn’t black. Snow is white. Water is shiny. Any attempt to pick a number is outside the precision of the claimed global temperature rise is suspect as well.
I don’t know why you made this post because you are a smart guy. Were you drinking? I would, as a skeptic made most of these claims of nuanced the remainders in the way you have.
It will make for a very popular post nevertheless.

Paul Westhaver
May 1, 2014 11:09 am

oops,
I don’t know why you made this post because you are a smart guy. Were you drinking? I would, as a skeptic made most of these claims of nuanced the remainders in the way you have.
should be:
I don’t know why you made this post because you are a smart guy. Were you drinking? I would, as a skeptic, NOT have made most of these claims. Of the nuanced remainders, I would not have parsed the ideas in the way you have.

David Ramsay Steele
May 1, 2014 11:15 am

Like several other people here, I am puzzled by one thing. Where can I witness this alleged dizzying proliferation of examples of these ten mistakes? How come I almost never encounter them, but on the contrary, routinely encounter cases where Skeptics point out that they do not accept one or another of these ten arguments?
There are hundreds of websites and blogs putting a Skeptical case. Can Dr. Spencer give ten examples of websites or blogs which propagate even one of these ten erroneous arguments? I very much doubt it.
It has become almost a formal ritual for Skeptics arguing their case to point out early on: “No one disputes that there is a greenhouse effect, no one disputes that there has been some warming over the past two hundred years, no one disputes that human CO2 emissions have made some contribution to that, . . .” and so on. I have spoken these words hundreds of times.
After years of uttering this kind of disclaimer, I recently came across a site that does seem to deny that there is a greenhouse effect (It’s run out of Edinburgh, called something like Scottish Skeptic). I actually got in touch with a catastrophist I had been arguing with and said: “You were right after all. There are people who deny the greenhouse effect. But they must be far fewer than 0.1 percent of Skeptics.” I made a note to go back and try to figure out just what argument the
Scottish Skeptics had, but so far haven’t done so.
A few of the ten arguments are sufficiently technical that they rarely crop up. A few of them might just conceivably be defended if parsed in a certain contorted way. But most of the ten are arguments I just never hear (and I hear or read dozens of arguments on global warming every week, if not every day).
In some cases, people may be arguing for something that Dr. Spencer has misunderstood. For example, in response to Al Gore, Skeptics might point out that a past correlation between temperature and CO2 is due to rises in temperature causing increased CO2. This doesn’t mean the current increase in CO2 is due entirely to prior increases in temperature. In my experience, Skeptics nearly always hold that industry is entirely or mainly responsible for current increases, and that the effects of these increases are predominantly benign.
I used to say that “No one has ever denied that the current increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to human industrial activity.” Then I watched Murry Salby’s Hamburg lecture (available at many places online). I was absolutely flabbergasted. Here was an atmospheric physicist who had written a textbook on the subject, apparently saying that current increases in CO2 are entirely due to warming! I was so amazed that, having watched this lecture once, I immediately watched it again, to make sure I had got it right. It still seemed to me that this was what Salby was saying. So now I routinely say, “No one has ever disputed that the current increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to human industrial activity, except Murry Salby. He’s a brilliant man, but generally Skeptics don’t agree with him on this.”
While I have almost never encountered people who propound these ten arguments, I have frequently encountered people who talk as though such people do actually exist. My theory to account for why they do this is that catastrophists like to keep off the real points of disagreement (sensitivity, feedbacks, clouds, cosmic rays, the net welfare repercussions of a few degrees’ warming) while Skeptics sometimes feel embarrassed to appear extreme and think that they can appear more middle-of-the-road by intimating that they take a judiciously moderate position between that of the catastrophists and the silly people who deny there is a greenhouse effect. Me, I’m an extremist by nature and it never embarrasses me.

Political Junkie
May 1, 2014 11:17 am

The results are in!!!!
97% of WUWT posters agree with Dr. Roy’s list.
This finding should be cited as frequently as possible.

John Whitman
May 1, 2014 11:19 am

This comment is about #1 and #2 explicitly and also #3 thru #10 implicitly.
Simple things in climate science communications to the public can cause legitimate doubt about the science.
For example; The bizarrely unscientific and seriously misleading term ‘greenhouse effect’ used to represent the theoretical effect (all other things being equal) on the Earth-Atmosphere System (EAS) of the well-known IR absorbing/emitting properties of some gases such as; water vapor (&clouds), methane, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and a few others.
All laymen see the ‘greenhouse gas effect’ doom extolled in the MSM by some very vocal scientists. All laymen know that an actual greenhouse on a farm or in a garden is a strictly man-made thing. To call what happens in our atmosphere unscientifically and inaccurately after an irrelevant man-made thing is just setting up laymen to think with derision, “That’s professional objective science?”
A way to be more precise scientifically in the terminology would be first the make a concept called the Planetary Atmosphere Effect (PAE) on surface temperature. The PAE can then be identified as a net effect of the individual various effects of each of the ~12 gases (or so) in the EAS. The effect of each gas on the EAS can just be called the affect the gas itself. For example: Atmospheric Oxygen Effect, Atmospheric Nitrogen Effect, Atmospheric Water Vapor Effect, Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Effect, etc. If you need a common name for the effect of gases who have IR absorb/emit properties then just call it scientifically something like the Radiatively Active Gas Effect.
Seriously, climate science needs to get more scientifically clear in its public communications.
John

sabretruthtiger
May 1, 2014 11:19 am

7 is wrong, “where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise?”
A causes B. B is true therefore A must be true is a logical fallacy.
Really Mr Spencer, i would expect more from you.

JP
May 1, 2014 11:22 am

Hi Roy, great points. However, I think your bullet point concerning the Global Average Surface (or near surface)Temperature is the weakest. A bathtub full of water is homogenous. Global temperatures as measured over a 24 hour period are not. Yes, we can and do measure such a parameter. However, it is more of an abstraction than anything else – a human construct. This is especially true when measuring the average global temperature over long periods of time. It is such an abstraction that we must construct 30 year intervals and measure departures from that interval.
In effect we are using a proxy (global average surface temperatures) to reflect changes across and within the lower 1/3 troposphere.

MikeUK
May 1, 2014 11:23 am

With regard to item 6, part of my scepticism is the belief that a Watt of warming in the upper atmosphere will have a much lower effect on surface temperature than a Watt of warming applied at the surface. Heating something always produces a temperature (or effect) gradient, less temperature change as you move away from the place of warming.
Should I be deprived of this part of my scepticism?

May 1, 2014 11:30 am

[snip ]
REPLY: Mr. Wilde we’ve already covered this in a previous essay. I’m not going to start a food fight here again. Take this notion elsewhere. – Anthony

phlogiston
May 1, 2014 11:34 am

The thermodynamics 2 and entropy problem for CO2 “greenhouse” warming goes far beyond just cold and hot objects. The Russian-Belgian scientist Ilya Prigogine established the field of nonlinear thermodynamics and “dissipative structures”:
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissipative_system
The term “dissipative” is where the fundamental problem lies for CO2 warming since it entails loss of heat. Essentially nonequilibrium dissipative systems acquire emergent structure (thunderstorms, circulation cells, depressions etc. ) or asymmetry. This means a loss of entropy – dissipative systems export entropy. And the atmosphere as a whole can only export entropy by heat loss to space.
CO2 backradiation warming is modest and declines logarithmically. Thus CAGW requires it to be amplified by positive feedbacks. It is in this question of feedback that the biggest problem lies for CO2 catastrophism. Prigogine’ dissipative structures are the underlying principle why the feedbacks to CO2 warming are negative.

Mark Bofill
May 1, 2014 11:35 am

Political Junkie says:
May 1, 2014 at 11:17 am

The results are in!!!!
97% of WUWT posters agree with Dr. Roy’s list.
This finding should be cited as frequently as possible.

Waiting for the congratulatory Presidential tweet! Should be up any time now!

Ken R.
May 1, 2014 11:45 am

The problem I have with point 9 is that the global average temperature needs to be calculated in a consistent manner for it to used for any meaningful results. Is there a method that all groups/scientists use? Every group seems to use different methods of statistical analysis with different variables “allowed for”.
Watching the consistent reduction of heating in the past and “adjustments” made to current temperature readings I get the feeling that many calculations are modified to best support the worst possible outcome.
My grandfather recorded temperatures at a weather station in southern Oregon. I looked at his log books in 2005 and compared them to what is listed for the the decade of the 30’s in the current official temperature record. His station is now shown to be an average of 2 degrees lower than what he recorded. 20 years ago it was an average of 1 degree different. From the 30’s to the 70’s his records matched. If you told him that scientists today thought his measurements were consistently off by 2 degrees he would have flipped out.

May 1, 2014 11:52 am

Excellent article
It wouldn’t have hurt to make the list a little bit longer, here are my suggestions:
11. “There is no global warming. The increasing temperature records are caused by urban heat island effect”
The urban heat island effect is real, but it cannot explain increased sea temperature, increasing satellite and balloon measurements and melting glaciers.
12. “There is no increase in the sea level. It is not possible to measure sea level to such accuracy from a satellite”
The satellite measurements have been confirmed by lots of buoyancy measurements.
13. “There is no increase in the CO2 level. The Mauna Loa measurements are erroneous and influenced by gas from the volcano.”
There are a lot of measurement stations all over the globe, and all are agreeing on the increase.
14. CO2 has so short lifetime in the atmosphere
It is right that each CO2 molecule has a short lifetime, but that is irrelevant. What’s count is that an elevated level of CO2 has a very long lifetime in the atmosphere.
/Jan

Beta Blocker
May 1, 2014 11:55 am

The other Phil says: May 1, 2014 at 8:28 am
The claim that because CO2 is a trace gas, comprising only 400 ppm in the atmosphere, so therefore cannot do all the things it is claimed to do, is an argument that drive me bonkers. …… If you really believe that, would you mind drinking this water, laced with 400 ppm of arsenic? After all, how can it possibly be enough to do anything to you?

Phil’s imperfect analogy does raise a useful point — if you continue to breath air containing 400 ppm CO2, eventually you’ll be dead.

justaknitter
May 1, 2014 11:55 am

Dr. Roy,
Thank you!
I especially want to thank you for correcting my thinking on point #5.
Most people (not the ones who hang out here, but normal people 🙂 get hung up on point #1. They will deny the greenhouse effect when they mean to deny catastrophic AGW. They aren’t up to speed on the subject and confuse the terms.
Conversely, the ardent warmist will say that the greenhouse effect was caused by man. They will assert that if we had not invented the combustion engine the CO2 level in the atmosphere would be “pure” at 0 PPM.
Both extremes are ignorant. I would guesstamate that 80+% of Americans would be in one camp or the other.
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” – Winston Churchill

May 1, 2014 11:56 am

sabretruthtiger says:
May 1, 2014 at 11:19 am
7 is wrong, “where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise?”
The historical increase/decrease of CO2 was 8 ppmv/°C. The transition from a glacial periode to an interglacial did take ~5000 years for a temperature change of ~12°C and a change of ~100 ppmv CO2, or 0.0024°C/year and 0.02 ppmv/year. The temperature change over the past 150 years was around 0.8°C or 0.005°C/year and decreasing, but the CO2 change was average 1.5 ppmv/year and still accellerating…
Thus where nature needed 5,000 years for the CO2 buildup, we are doing that in only 150 years…

Joe G
May 1, 2014 11:56 am

In my house it is warmest in the rooms that have pellet stoves that are fired up. The rooms farthest away are cold in comparison. I could possibly do an average temp for the entire house but my point is there are hot spots and there are cold spots. And they ain’t changing. Call it regional warming and cooling- pretty much what we have on Earth.

milodonharlani
May 1, 2014 12:00 pm

Ken R. says:
May 1, 2014 at 11:45 am
Same with T records in NE Oregon. NASA GISS, NOAA, HadCRU & IPCC are shameless, bold-faced liars.

May 1, 2014 12:00 pm

Beta Blocker: Now THAT’S funny!!!

Trevor
May 1, 2014 12:01 pm

1. Len says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:46 am
i third- fourth, whatever the “average” question. with a CO2 caveat.
what IS the “BEST” average temp for humans/the planet?
what is the “Ideal” PPM for CO2 in the atmosphere for Plants.
where -supposedly- did humans Evolve, would not that general climate be “ideal” for us-after all we evolved there…
so that would be -africa-around kenya to be precise according to Berkeley’s evolution website…average temp in kenya is what.. about 23c or so? or about 8c warmer than the earth’s average temp…hmm…..
Just because humans evolved at a particular level of CO2 and a particular temperature does not mean that particular environment is “ideal” for humans. Undoubtedly, evolution works toward making organisms better suited to their particular environment. But it’s a gradual process, taking hundreds of thousands, even millions of years. And temperatures (and CO2 to a lesser extent, at least pre-industrial era) can change a lot, in both directions, during the evolutionary timescale. In fact temperature itself is so variable, at the daily, yearly, multi-decadal, and millenial time scales, it seems to me that natural selection would favor an organism which could better tolerate a WIDE RANGE of temperatures as opposed to an organism that is ideally suited for the exact temperature that existed at any specific point in time, or even an average temperature over say a millenium. Just look at cold-blooded vs warm-blooded species. Warm-blooded vertebrates are considered an evolutionary advancement over cold-blooded veterbrates. Why? Because they can tolerate a wider range of temperatures.
Moreover, I’d be careful about using evolution to prove anything about ideal environments for “life”, for humans or in general. Almost by definition, what is good for “evolution” is NOT good for “life”. Though random mutations happen all the time, the ones that result in true evolution are those that happen at a time when survival is threatened. If there was no environmental crisis, i.e., conditions were “ideal” for life, then an individual with a particular mutation would be, at best, no more likely to survive than the general population. And in fact, the mutated individual would be considerably LESS likely to BREED than other members of the species, because it would probably violate the species’s standards of desirability in a mate (and even if it did find a mate, the mate would most likely be closer to “normal” since the mutated individual would still share its species standards of desirability, and thus the mutated genes would be successively watered down over the generations). And so, in times of favorable environments, evolution occurs slowly, if at all. It is only when the environment becomes harsh and intolerable that evolution really takes off. In these times, mutations occur both ways, making some individuals more likely to survive than their ancestors, and others less likely, but the ones that are more likely to survive are … well, more likely to survive. And it might take a few generations to change hundreds of thousands of years of a species’s “desirability standards” but at some point, eventually the drive to survive in harsh conditions would trump those standards for long enough to rewrite them. And so, during periods of harsh and inhospitable climates, evolution occurs far more rapidly. And that same harsh and inhospitable climate causes the unevolved members of the species to die off. And so any time someone points to a period of time that was “good” for evolution, you can presume, with near certainty, that that period was BAD for “life”, and that it was only through evolution that life managed to survive at all. And to the extent that the evolution of a specific new species can be pinpointed, you can say that, at least for the species that preceded and gave birth to that new species, the conditions at that point in time were intolerable and unsurvivable, and most likely just BARELY tolerable survivable for the new species.
That said, I do believe that warmer temperatures would be better for humankind, and for life in general. History, anthropology, and paleontology all prove that life flourishes more in warmer weather, with no “diminishing returns” on the life/temperature relationship, at least not at any temperature that ever existed on earth. Sure, as one alarmist pointed out a few years ago, we evolved during a cooler climate than what we are experiencing now, and never in the history of the species were temperatures as warm as they will be a century from now. But the impication of that statement is that those cooler conditions were “ideal” for human life, and warmer temperatures would be “less than ideal”, if not completely intolerable, and that’s just not true. We did not evolve into humans because the specific genome that comprises humanity was “ideally suited” for the climate that existed 300,000 years ago. We evolved into humans because our specific genome made us better able to TOLERATE and SURVIVE those HARSH conditions than the Cro Magnons or Neanderthals were. But that does not at all mean that we can’t tolerate a warmer climate than that in which we evolved, nor even that a warmer climate wouldn’t be even MORE tolerable, even IDEAL for the species.
However, I do believe it is safe to say that a warmer climate would be bad for evolution. We are not very likely to advance, as a species, beyond what we are now, because there will be NO NEED to do so.

May 1, 2014 12:04 pm

The only one of those I ever heard was number 7, and historically, it’s true.

Jimbo
May 1, 2014 12:04 pm

JimS says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:55 am
Another bad skeptic argument is stating that just one volcanoe eruption can spew out more CO2 than all the CO2 that mankind has ever produced throughout industrial history. This is simply NOT true and I see it being used much too much.

Agreed. But not just one. All volcanoes including undersea. I don’t know how these ideas spread.
I have often heard that this creature or that creature releases more co2. So what? The total ppm in the atmosphere IS going up and we are causing it. We may argue about Mona Loa et al but it does not change the facts.
WUWT seriously needs to think about creating one page called ‘MYTH BUSTERS’ with the volcano nonsense put to rest. It does not help our position to have people spewing [no pun intended] this garbage.
EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
Vol. 92, No. 24, 14 June 2011
http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/climate.php
http://www.agu.org/pubs/pdf/2011EO240001.pdf
http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm

May 1, 2014 12:09 pm

There is 6,000 ppm of CO2 in Martian atmosphere, but its theoretical and practical temperature is the same /see NASA Planetary fact sheets/. How come that 1/120th of that supposedly warms Earth, but does not warm Mars at all?
Is that 300W downwelling coming from GHG only? How is nitrogen and oxygen losing its heat?

thegriss
May 1, 2014 12:11 pm

The GOSPEL, according to Roy,
BELIEVE !!!

May 1, 2014 12:13 pm

[snip sorry Tim, not interested in starting this food fight – Anthony]

The other Phil
May 1, 2014 12:15 pm

I see some are challenging some of the items, not because they are wrong, but because they haven’t heard them
I hope many of them never get repeated, but some have been used, and do bring disrepute to honest skeptics.
For those who have never seen anyone challenge the very existence of the Greenhouse effect, read:
http://johnosullivan.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/breaking-u-s-national-academies-find-greenhouse-effect-doesnt-exist/
If you don’t read the whole thing,, read the title “Breaking: U.S. National Academies Find Greenhouse Effect Doesn’t Exist”

May 1, 2014 12:15 pm

RE:
milodonharlani says:
May 1, 2014 at 10:57 am
milodonharlani,
Thanks for the correction. I meant to say what you said.

May 1, 2014 12:19 pm

RE: Volcanoes
There is also the myth that underwater volcanoes are melting the arctic ice. Not true…
http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/2008/07/10/volcanos-in-gakkel-ridge-not-responsible-melting-the-arctic-ice/

The other Phil
May 1, 2014 12:25 pm

Those who doubt that anyone is making the second argument (violation of the second law of thermodynamics) out to read
http://www.counterpunch.org/2009/12/18/turning-tricks-cashing-in-on-fear/
This admission edges close to acknowledgement of a huge core problem – that “greenhouse” theory and the vaunted greenhouse models violate the second law of thermodynamics which says that a cooler body cannot warm a hotter body XX. Greenhouse gasses in the cold upper atmosphere, even when warmed a bit by absorbed infrared, cannot possibly transfer heat to the warmer earth, and in fact radiate their absorbed heat into outer space. Readers interested in the science can read mathematical physicist Gerhard Gerlich’s and Ralf Tscheuchner’s detailed paper published in The International Journal of Modern Physics, updated in January , 2009, “Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics”.

Don Easterbrook
May 1, 2014 12:26 pm

ROY’S #7 STATEMENT IS BADLY FLAWED AND NEEDS FIXING.
Roy says “WHERE IS THE 100X AS FAST RISE IN TODAY’S TEMPERATURE CAUSING THIS CO2 RISE?” His point here seems to be that because we don’t see warming “100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record” that means warming doesn’t cause CO2 to rise. As I pointed out in an earlier comment, that argument would only apply if warming was the ONLY cause of increased CO2 and that clearly isn’t true. As written, the logic in #7 is badly flawed and violates the basic tenet that Roy is talking about in his 10 issues. So what can we do to fix #7?
First let’s agree that there are at least two causes of rising CO2:
1. ATMOSPHERIC WARMING, as shown in ice cores where CO2 always lags rising temperatures by several hundred years. (I know of no ice cores where CO2 precedes rising temperature) and more recent short warming intervals from 1982-2012 that were followed by increased atmospheric CO2.
2. HUMAN CO2 EMISSIONS.
How can we separate these two causes? One way is to look at times when CO2 rose when one of them couldn’t have been a factor. CO2 emissions began to rise sharply after 1945, so any warming prior to then cannot have been caused by CO2. After 1945, CO2 could have risen by either warming or human emissions. Warming during interglacials in the ice cores falls in the category of non-CO2 caused warming and clearly shows that warming caused rise in CO2 NOT the other way around.
How about post 1945 when both warming and human emissions could have caused rising CO2? How can we separate out these two possible causes? The problem is that we can’t really do that very well quantitatively. We know roughly the amount of CO2 emissions, but separating out how much of the rise in CO2 is due to warming and how much to emissions is difficult. Humlum et al. (2012) showed that short periods of warming from 1982 to 2012 were always followed by spikes in CO2 levels so we know that some of the modern CO2 rise is being caused by warming.
So I propose rewording of Roy’s #7 as follows:
7. Warming AND HUMAN EMISSIONS cause CO2 to rise. The rise of CO2 levels during past interglacials was caused by global warming, not by CO2. Rise in CO2 levels since 1945 could be caused either by global warming or by human emissions.
How about it, Roy? Do you agree?

The other Phil
May 1, 2014 12:26 pm

Sorry, “ought to read” not :”out to read”

May 1, 2014 12:26 pm

* If you read the thread at Roy’s blog, you will find people arguing against pretty much all 10 of these point.
* If you read the “Steel Greenhouse” thread here at WUWT, you will see many of these arguments. (or in pretty much any other thread here at WUWT that deals with the physics of the GHE).
* If you read pretty much anything at “Principia Scientific International” you will see these. (But I would not suggest it since it will drive more traffic there).
* A blog which will remain nameless just posted a ‘rebuttal’ of all 10 of Roy’s points!
So yes these arguments DO materialize in many climate blogs. It may be a small total number of posters, but they are prolific!

Trevor
May 1, 2014 12:27 pm

1. elmer says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:58 am
In response to number 4. “CO2 COOLS, NOT WARMS, THE ATMOSPHERE.” I agree with the doctor but if increased CO2 replaces other more effective greenhouse gases such as water vapor or Methane wouldn’t that cause cooling?
Molecule for molecule, water vapor is NOT a more effective greenhouse gas than CO2. In fact, molecule per molecule, CO2 is 30 times as effective a greenhouse gas as H2O. The only reason water vapor carries most of the greenhouse effect is that there’s a whole lot more of it, several hundred times more, than CO2. But if you’re talking about one “replacing” the other in the atmosphere, then you’re talking molecule for molecule (or at least gram for gram or liter per liter, I don’t know which unit you would use, but it wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference either way). You’d be replacing one unit (molecule, gram, liter?) of a gas with a low greenhouse potential with the same unit of a gas with 30 times as much greenhouse potential. So molecule for molecule, 29 times more warming.
Now, methane IS a more effective greenhouse gas (molecule for molecule, gram for gram, liter for liter) than CO2, so if you could specifically replace only the methane with CO2, then yes, more CO2 would cause cooling. But you don’t get to pick and choose; it’s all random. And given that there is several million times as much water vapor in the atmosphere as methane, chances are it’s water vapor you’re replacing.
Futhermore, over 95% of our atmosphere is not greenhouse gasses at all. It’s Nitrogen and Oxygen. If the CO2 replaces anything, it’s more likely to replace Nitrogen than anything else, with Oxygen a close second and water vapor a distant third. Since Nitrogen and Oxygen are not greenhouse gasses at all, 95% of the CO2 molecules would be replacing molecules that didn’t have any greenhouse potential at all, and 4+% would be replacing molecules (water vapor) with a positive but much lower greenhouse potential than the CO2. So, altogether, over 99% of the CO2 would be replacing gasses with LESS greenhouse potential than the CO2 itself (and most of the remaining CO2 molecules would be replacing other CO2 molecules, for no difference). Only a small fraction of a percent of the CO2 would replace gasses (like methane) with more greenhouse potential than the CO2 itself.
Moreover, I’m not entirely sure that CO2 “replaces” other gasses in the atmosphere like that. I mean it’s not like there’s some limit on how many molecules, grams, or liters of gas our atmosphere can contain. Seems to me any additional CO2 just gets ADDED to the gasses already there. Oh sure, burning fossil fuels, while putting CO2 into the atmosphere, removes O2 from the atmosphere (though as shown in the last paragraph, that’s not a good thing). But the total weight of the CO2 produced is more than the weight of the O2 consumed, so without question, burning fossile fuels adds mass to the atmosphere, and I don’t think there’s some built-in process to remove something else to keep the total atmospheric mass constant.
Regards,
Trevor

Bart
May 1, 2014 12:30 pm

Don Easterbrook says:
May 1, 2014 at 8:27 am
“…but it isn’t the only cause of increased CO2.”
True. It is not temperature alone. But, it is a temperature dependent process. The slope of the rate of change of CO2 curve at that link is fully accounted for by the temperature relationship. However, the rate of emissions also has a slope. There is little to no room for it. The slope is already accounted for by the temperature relationship. Hence, human induced emissions cannot be the controlling factor in atmospheric CO2.
My currently preferred explanation is that it is an elevated concentration of CO2 emerging in upwelling ocean waters, whose outgassing is being modulated by changing temperatures.

May 1, 2014 12:31 pm

rgbatduke says:
May 1, 2014 at 8:58 am
I actually have a couple of questions generated from the list above — serious ones I hope.
First, pressure broadening. Yes, I understand exactly where pressure broadening comes from — it is associated with the phase interruption brought about by collisions that alter the shape/width of the IIRC Lorentzian associated with any given emission line. The collisions don’t add energy (on average) but the phase interruption ensures that the fourier transform of the emission line gets fatter. No problem.
My problem is that I cannot for the life of me understand why pressure broadening should depend in any way on the partial pressure of CO_2. It should depend on the pressure, to be sure, and the density, without any doubt and the temperature — basically on the mean free time between collisions. Collisions with anything, not just CO_2 – CO_2 collisions.
Now is somebody asserting the increasing atmospheric CO_2 from 300 ppm to 600 ppm is going to increase the absolute pressure of the atmosphere anywhere in any measurable way? Or am I very confused about pressure broadening and does it in fact depend on partial pressure of particular species? Because this is one thing I just don’t get…

You are indeed confused about pressure broadening, different gases have different broadening coefficients, in particular the ‘self broadening’, in this case of CO2 by CO2. Check out references on line by line calculations such as HITRAN, Spectracalc covers it I think:
http://www.spectralcalc.com/info/CalculatingSpectra.pdf

thegriss
May 1, 2014 12:35 pm

ps..
A great effort to ENFORCE CONSENSUS among non CAGWer, of Roy’s opinion s about the issue.

Editor
May 1, 2014 12:36 pm

It seems to me that the single individual greatest point of contention is number 9 concerning the global average temperature. Several people have made good analogies and inspired by one of them. I have measured all 10 rooms in my house (which can equate to Koppen climate zones). They ranged from 9.2C to 18.5C (fuel is too expensive to heat every room, whilst solar gain has made a difference to a couple of them)
The average was 14.5C although that was not the actual temperature of any of the rooms.
What does that average tell us? Is it useful? Is it meaningful? Can we learn anything from it?
Is it merely hiding the fact that some of the rooms are distinctly chilly whilst others are just about warm enough?
An average global temperature is merely hiding the nuances that would show that some parts of the world are reacting differently to other parts, in as much some are cooling whilst others warm. Why they are reacting differently is not being examined
I’m still not convinced by any of the arguments that, whilst it may be technically possible to come up with a global average (although that seems debatable due to the lack of consistency) it is necessarily meaningful or helpful.
tonyb

Amatør1
May 1, 2014 12:44 pm

Show us the empirical data proving that a ‘greenhouse effect’ caused by CO2 exists.

Jimbo
May 1, 2014 12:46 pm

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE
Some people are interpreting this as ‘correct temperature’ or ‘ideal temperature.’ That is not the same as ‘average temperature.’ The average temperature today, this year, or the last decade is what it is – average – whether useful or not. During the PETM global temperature rose by 6 °C. Since the end of the Little Ice Age temps have risen by ~0.8C.

DeWitt Payne
May 1, 2014 12:52 pm

I do think it’s useful to give a link to at least one example of someone actually making one of the top ten skeptical arguments. So here’s a comment from someone that argues for No. 6 as well as No. 2: http://rankexploits.com/musings/2014/the-fullness-of-time-doug-cotton-comments-unveiled/#comment-129079 There are many other comments on the linked thread.

Joseph Bastardi
May 1, 2014 12:55 pm

In the end though , given the magnitude of all the other competing factors around it, what do you estimate c02’s addition to the temp at? If its close to 0, then what are we arguing over. The fact is its part of the far bigger blanket ( I think greenhouse is a non descriptive term.. its a blanket of gasses that are most dense near the earths surface and therefore the interaction is something that is up for constant debate. A lowering of 1C of ocean water at 80 has far more effect on the global mixing ratios than a rise of 10 degrees where air is bone dry and is near 0F) I estimate c02 is effectively boxed into a .4 to .7C “responsibility” if you will compared to the other blanket gasses that make up the estimated 33c of warming that make the planet livable. But my point is that in the circular firing squad this has become, next to everything else, anyone wish to estimate exactly how much of disaster this causing. And given the ideas I spouted when the PDO flipped and are clearly seen in the NCEP recreation of temperatures in the past 10 years, is a point here that without co2 we would be descending into an ice age. Which is my point to Dr Spencer. Over the years, everything you have said IMO is spot on. I have changed ideas based on what you teach. However, YOU HAVE TO TELL ME what the result is. I need you to quantify it. Its like any argument I have, okay make your forecast. Tell me what the contribution is. Are you saying without this increase.. and yes its as fast as its ever been but its still tiny compared to all around it, are you saying without it we would be heading down faster than what we see here since the PDO flip
http://models.weatherbell.com/climate/cfsr_t2m_2005.png
The point is not to challenge your points Roy, its to say WHATS THE FORECAST! My neanderthal ideas say weigh everything, assign a value, then make the forecast. Given what I know, the role co2 plays is so tiny that we are like theologians arguing over how many angels can be stuck on the head of the needle. My bottom line from 07 remains. that by 2030 we return to the measurements of sea ice and temps we were at in 1978 the start of the satellite era and start of the warm PDO. When the AMO flips that should tell the tale. The wild card of solar activity and stochastic events form the triple crown of climate. But perhaps its because of my limited education, bs PSU, that I cant grasp the idea that this small amount of gas is going to be of any major consequence in the global climate given the magnitude of all around it . I think that is also the screaming message of the Dr Vincent Grays chart
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/co2_temperature_historical.png
and Dr William Grays Holy Grail (IMO)
http://typhoon.atmos.colostate.edu/Includes/Documents/Publications/gray2012.pdf
All these things you have said, and again I am not as versed as you, look correct to me, But in the realm of the planetary climate and the variance that comes natural to it, does it make a difference and can it be quantified. If not, its effect as close to 0 as it can be, so close that all of us in this fight are just useful tools of an agenda that really couldnt give a hoot about it anyway
[Thank you. Mod]

Louis
May 1, 2014 12:59 pm

Has anyone calculated a margin of error for global average temperature as currently calculated? I suspect the margin of error is greater than 1C, which would mean that the 0.8C of global warming estimated to have occurred over the past century is within the margin of error or very close to it. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t warmed, just that we can’t say for sure based on the data we have.

lb
May 1, 2014 1:01 pm

On averages
Last winter (say 29th of december, I don’t remember) I was sitting in the garden on the southeastern side of my house. Eleven o’clock in the morning. The sun is shining. The thermometer hanging there shows friendly 19 degrees celsius.
The other side of the house, in the shade till afternoon, shows -3 degrees celsius.
So, please, what’s the average temperature of my garden?

Noonan
May 1, 2014 1:02 pm

If the so-called “scientists” of the IPCC could prove their theories, they wouldn’t have to worry about skeptics, would they?

thegriss
May 1, 2014 1:03 pm

Anthony’s site is now heading the same way of most alarmist sites,
Blocking and deleting dissenting views.
This is how CONSENSUS works.

lb
May 1, 2014 1:03 pm

On greenhouse effect
I don’t really understand how the greenhouse effect works. But consider the moon. 100 degrees on the dayside. -100 degrees on the nightside.
So our atmosphere (somehow) cools during the day and keeps warm at night. Even more so when cloudy.

thegriss
May 1, 2014 1:03 pm

This site is now heading the same way of most alarmist sites,
Blocking and deleting dissenting views.
This is how CONSENSUS works.
[?? Mod]

Dodgy Geezer
May 1, 2014 1:04 pm

… So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise? C’mon people, think. But not to worry…CO2 is the elixir of life…let’s embrace more of it!..
I DO like to see this point being made. I have lost count of the number of times someone has said to me: “Even if there’s no Global Warming, cutting CO2 output must surely be good?”
I want to start a “500 PPM” club, dedicated to the improvement of all growing plants…

thegriss
May 1, 2014 1:07 pm

Its simple lb,
This thing they are calling the greenhouse effect is actually an atmospheric gravity effect.
The atmospheric gradient allows the retention of heat in the lower layers.
Moon has no atmosphere.. very little gravity effect
Earth has a semi-tenuous atmosphere, so a variable gravity effect
Venus has a massive atmospheric gravity effect and basically retains the same temp over its whole surface even on the non-sunwards side.

Duster
May 1, 2014 1:08 pm

I think that Dr Roy’s post is quite useful, but maybe overly prone to dichotomizing the debate. For instance warming DOES cause CO2 to rise as oceans warm. Gas solubility, specifically CO2, in water is an inverse function of temperature – so warmer water means less gas in solution, and if it isn’t in aqueous solution it is in the atmosphere. That is as much of laboratory fact as the fact that CO2 absorbs LWIR. Both statements are true. The real question is how important each one is in the climatic scheme of things and what aspects of the system moderate what would otherwise be a positive feedback loop.
Also, while I would agree that arguing that is no average global temperature is foolish, since any numerical data can be averaged, still an average is a mathematical artifact that one hopes will relate meaningfully to reality. Presently what we know about temperatures on a global scale is very limited and biased both in time and in spatial distribution. So, perhaps at present there is simply no useful estimate of global temperature at any high degree of precision. There certainly can’t be prior to satellite data acquisition.

thegriss
May 1, 2014 1:09 pm

@ Dodgy.. “I want to start a “500 PPM” club, dedicated to the improvement of all growing plants…”
nah. just to annoy Weepy McGibben.. Towards 700ppm !! 🙂

Amatør1
May 1, 2014 1:10 pm

lb says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:03 pm
On greenhouse effect
I don’t really understand how the greenhouse effect works. But consider the moon. 100 degrees on the dayside. -100 degrees on the nightside.

The only significant anthropogenic atmospheric effect happened on the Moon. Apollo doubled the mass of the lunar atmosphere. Six times.

Jeff
May 1, 2014 1:13 pm

Dodgy Geezer says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I have lost count of the number of times someone has said to me: “Even if there’s no Global Warming, cutting CO2 output must surely be good?” ”
Anymore I just respond to the CO2 syncophants with “100,000 lemmings can’t be wrong”…
All those folks can do is follow, not think. 500 PPM Club…sounds like a great mug/t-shirt/cartoon….
Paging Josh….

lb
May 1, 2014 1:13 pm

Karim D. Ghantous says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:28 am
Here’s something I’d like answered: is there such a thing as a ‘global’ climate? Isn’t climate regional by definition? Mind you, Earth is a region in the solar system. But still, this question bugs me.
I think yes, there is something like global climate. It’s called ice ages. The global climate seems to have to stable states, either it’s an ice age or an intermediary. The small temperature fluctuations during an intermediary are just ‘weather’, imho.

May 1, 2014 1:19 pm

In agreement with Paul Westhaver at 11:05 am on #9.
9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE
I agree that one can try to arrive at a number but it is a meaningless figure and can’t be compared to anything in the past with any precision that bear relevance to the small changes in modern measurements, especially considering the suggested PRECISION of the IPCC…. So I disagree with you.

I think I would restate the argument as: There is no such thing as a global average temperature that HAS BEEN DERIVED FROM TEMPERATURES CONSISTENTLY RECORDED OVER DECADES. There are individual Global Average Temperatures that are only in general agreement, with bands of uncertainty larger than any signal that is attempted to be detected.
We could derive an average elevation of the earth. We could even derive an average elevation of the earth with 80% of the measurements from mountain tops. Year by year we could repeat the exercise again with 80% of the measurements coming from mountain tops, but different mountain tops. Fiinally, decades after the measurements are made, other researchers apply correction factors to account for erosion. We indeed would have an average elevation of the earth record, but it is biased by sample selection, contaminated by inconsistency and poorly justified historical adjustments. It would be A Global Average Elevation of the earth, but no one could believe it was THE average elevation of the earth.
Now, exchange temperatures for elevations, cities and micrositing issues for mountain tops and you have the ground thermometer A Global Average Temperature of the earth. But we do not have THE Global Average Temperature of the Earth.

milodonharlani
May 1, 2014 1:20 pm

Joseph Bastardi says:
May 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm
A ball park method of quantifying the effect of more CO2 on global average temperature:
1) Ignore all GHGs (or blanket molecules) except for CO2 & H2O, since the others occur in such low concentrations (ie, parts per billion or trillion).
2) Ignore differences in strength of GHG effect between the two gases.
3) Assume little or no increase in H2O concentration from increase in CO2 (at least as justified an estimate as IPCC’s unwarranted assumption of powerful positive feedback effect).
4) Then, using 30,000 parts per million as the average global level of H20 in the air, the increased GHG effect of CO2 gain from ~285 ppm in 1850 to ~400 ppm should be (30,400 / 30,285) = 1.0038, for 0.38% more heating.
5) Given an estimated total heating by the GHE of ~33 degrees C, we can therefore, in this very rough calculation, thank increased CO2 during the past 164 years for ~0.125 degree C of warming. This of course is liable to be a large overestimate, since the GHE is a logarithmic function, with most of the effect occurring at much lower concentrations of GHGs in the atmosphere.
http://ase.tufts.edu/cosmos/view_chapter.asp?id=21&page=1
Please feel free to adjust for the factors which I ignored, if you think adjustments are warranted or supported by theory or better yet observational or experimental data.

lb
May 1, 2014 1:21 pm

thegriss says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:07 pm
[…]
Venus has a massive atmospheric gravity effect and basically retains the same temp over its whole surface even on the non-sunwards side.
Thanks. I just googled Venus atmosphere. It must be much heaviear than our atmospheredue to it’s composition because Venus and Earth are approx the same size and density. So it’s proven: CO2 is guilty 😉

May 1, 2014 1:21 pm

Joseph
“The fact is its part of the far bigger blanket ( I think greenhouse is a non descriptive term.. its a blanket of gasses that are most dense near the earths surface and therefore the interaction is something that is up for constant debate. ”
The confusion continues.
The part of the atmosphere where the concentration is most important is much higher, above the ERL.
Next, The interaction is not “up for debate” the interaction is well understood. It’s beyond science. Its functioning engineering.
You cannot view earth from space in a broadband fashion without understanding the interaction.
The very weather forecast models you use day in and day out contain this physics. Without this physics they are horribly wrong. Without this physics you couldnt build a stealth airplane, a heat seeking missile, or anything that relies on the theory of EM transmission through the atmosphere.

May 1, 2014 1:23 pm

@ Dodgy.. “I want to start a “500 PPM” club, dedicated to the improvement of all growing plants…”
Bumper Sticker:
FREE the Carbon 12

May 1, 2014 1:26 pm

Key thing in this thread is that radiation physics is not a good talking point for a sceptic. At the high school level the theory of warming is solid. You can warm 100% CO2 on pressurised container with a CO2 laser. Theory does not fall even though Al Gore failed in warming 400 ppm CO2 with sunlight. Real life with all the complications of the climate system is not a trivial case for university level physicists. Models fail, but why.
Instead we should be talking about the benefits of CO2 and alleged warming. We should look at the measurements and facts instead of ridiculous threats that alarmists talk about.

TRG
May 1, 2014 1:29 pm

Thank you, Roy. Now, if we could only get the other side to demonstrate a similar degree of open-mindedness.

Latitude
May 1, 2014 1:32 pm

Joseph Bastardi says:
May 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm
, anyone wish to estimate exactly how much of disaster this causing
================
zippo…….nada…..zilch
http://suyts.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/how-the-earths-temperature-looks-on-a-mercury-thermometer/

May 1, 2014 1:33 pm

“The only significant anthropogenic atmospheric effect happened on the Moon. Apollo doubled the mass of the lunar atmosphere. Six times.”
Apparently mass is not relevant, only the radiative capability of the material added 🙂

LT
May 1, 2014 1:34 pm

The question I cannot get answered is: “Why does CO2 not currently increase by more than 2 PPM per year? When considering it has been rising at this pace roughly unchanged for the last few decades. However the amount of CO2 humanity is generating has increased be several factors over the same time period.

milodonharlani
May 1, 2014 1:36 pm

lb says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:21 pm
Inconvenient truths ignored by Jim “Venus Express” Hansen:
The atmosphere of Venus has a mass of 4.8×10^20 kg, about 93 times the mass of earth’s total atmosphere. The density of air at its surface is 67 kg/m^3, or about 6.5% that of liquid water on earth.
Basilevsky, Alexandr T.; Head, James W. (2003). “The surface of Venus”. Rep. Prog. Phys. 66 (10): 1699–1734.
Pressure on Venus’ surface is so high that CO2 is technically not a gas there, but a supercritical fluid. This supercritical CO2 forms a “sea” covering the entire surface of Venus. The supercritical CO2 ocean transfers heat very efficiently, buffering temperature changes between night & day (which last 56 terrestrial days).
Fegley, B. et al. (1997). Geochemistry of Surface-Atmosphere Interactions on Venus (Venus II: Geology, Geophysics, Atmosphere, and Solar Wind Environment). University of Arizona Press.
Just a few of the differences between the two planets which render Hansen’s catastrophism ludicrous.

milodonharlani
May 1, 2014 1:39 pm

Stephen Rasey says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:23 pm
“Free the Carbon 12!” is funny.
My suggestions along the same line:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/25/results-of-my-poll-on-forming-a-skeptic-organization-plus-some-commentary/#comments

Cynical_Scientst
May 1, 2014 1:42 pm

Another annoying falsehood for your list.
11. The greenhouse effect can’t heat the oceans because IR doesn’t penetrate into water and so you can’t heat water with IR from above.

Latitude
May 1, 2014 1:42 pm

LT says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:34 pm
The question I cannot get answered is: “Why does CO2 not currently increase by more than 2 PPM per year?
====
exactly….
The question is not why it increased…..the question should be how was it lowered to where it became limiting…..and why isn’t it doing the exact same thing again
Personally, I find it fascinating that the tiny amount of CO2 that we’ve added to the atmosphere didn’t immediately disappear
/snark

May 1, 2014 1:43 pm

Don Easterbrook says:
May 1, 2014 at 12:26 pm
more recent short warming intervals from 1982-2012 that were followed by increased atmospheric CO2.
No, CO2 levels increased all the time thanks to human emissions. Only the sink rate changed with the temperature changes:
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/dco2_em2.jpg
The dynamic equilibrium between ocean surface and atmosphere increases with 17 microatm for 1 K temperature increase. Vegetation goes the other way out. Average over decades to multi-millennia: 8 ppmv/K.
Temperature increase since 1945: 0.4 K
CO2 increase due to temperature increase: 3.2 ppmv.
Measured CO2 increase since 1945: ~95 ppmv of which 85 ppmv accurate after 1959.
Short term variations (seasonal to 2-3 years) in CO2: 4-5 ppmv/K
Long term variations (multi-decadal to multi-millennia) in CO2: 8 ppmv/K
Current increase in CO2, if it was caused by temperature: > 100 ppmv/K
Temperature variations cause the variations around the rate of change trend, but temperature has zero contribution to the trend, see Wood for Trees.
The trend in rate of change of CO2 is entirely from the emissions, as these increase slightly quadratic over time, so do the sinks and thus the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. That is what gives the slope in the rate of change:
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/temp_emiss_increase.jpg
As there is a pi/2 fase lag of CO2 changes after temperature changes, the derivatives of CO2 changes also lags pi/2 the derivative of temperature changes (and temperature changes exactly time up with the derivative of the CO2 changes, which may lead to false conclusions…).

May 1, 2014 1:43 pm

Roy I’m happy to say I believe you’re right on 9 out of ten.
You’re wrong, however on item #7. The ice core record is subject to huge smoothing error by virtue of temporal sampling limitations an enormous attenuation by virtue of CO2 diffusion between ice layers. Everyone’s intuition says what you assert. The correct argument is below.
See: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/04/an-engineers-take-on-major-climate-change/

May 1, 2014 1:47 pm

@milodonharlani at 1:20 pm
5) Given an estimated total heating by the GHE of ~33 degrees C,
That is not a given. This is one of the CAGW arguments that I don’t think holds water…. because it was derived WITH water.
33 deg C is built from the assumption of 30% albedo. First, the albedo layer has two sides. If it is used to reflect energy away from the earth, it also must trap it. The albedo should not be used as a one-way mirror and it is to get to 33 deg C. Secondly, 30% albedo is largely due to water vapor condensed in the atmosphere. You cannot use a GHG to increase the albedo and decrease the temperature of the earth “without GHGs”.
If you didn’t have water as a GHG, then you wouldn’t have clouds, albedo would be lower than 33% and average surface temperatures would be higher than 255 deg C, and the implied GHG warming would be lower than 33 deg C.