The Greatest Climate Myths of All – Part 1

Guest essay by Jim Steele,

Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

At the website deceptively named SkepticalScience, they list “Climate Changed Before” as the skeptics’ #1 “mythical” argument. But the website’s authors have fabricated a straw man argument writing, “The ‘climate changed naturally in the past’ argument is a logical fallacy known as non sequitur, in which the conclusion doesn’t follow from the arguments.  It’s equivalent to seeing a dead body with a knife sticking out the back, then arguing the death must be natural because people died naturally in the past. 

It fails to even consider the available evidence.” Then after wading through theoretical gish-gallop, the Skeptical Science author concludes their argument with a non-sequitur of their own-“Past climate change actually provides evidence that humans can affect climate now.”

It would be more accurate if they concluded, “past climate change provides evidence of how human models have totally distorted recent climate change.” SkepticalScience misdirects our attention away from the evidence such as the natural warming cycle that happened in the 1920s-40s; a natural warming that occurred before any theoretical energy imbalance was detected. And more importantly, a warming that climate models have failed to accurtely reproduce. The Greatest Climate Myth of All argues we can confidently blame CO2 for the warming of the 80s and 90s because models of “natural climate change” cannot simulate the most recent warming unless more heat is added proportional to rising CO2. But their models of how “Climate Changed Before” have been horrendously incomplete, and have never generated enough warmth to explain the higher temperatures that occurred naturally in the 1920s-40s.

The Greatest Climate Myth of All was quickly popularized by David Attenborough and England’s climate scientist Peter Cox in the video seen below. Attenborough accurately introduced the climate debate’s key question. “How do we distinguish between climate variations due to natural causes versus those induced by human activity?” But they then provided a mythical answer. Dr. Cox walks along a graph with an orange line depicting 150 years of reconstructed global temperatures. (Lets put aside the argument that data homogenization nearly doubled the temperature rise in the 80s and 90s.) He then compares that reconstructed global average temperature to temperatures modeled from just natural factors (the green line) and, like a clever magician induces you believe the Greatest Climate Myth saying, “the green curve can reproduce reasonably well mid century warming.” But the models did no such thing. The models grossly underestimated the mid century warming by as much a 0.5° C. Even their modeled temperatures from the 1860s were warmer than 1940s. So the real question remains. How much of the increasing divergence between modeled and observed temperatures after the 1970s is simply due to bad modeling of “natural climate change”?

In the simplest of terms every study that has attributed the recent warming of the 1980s and 90s to rising CO2 has been based on the difference between their models’ reconstruction of “natural climate change” with their models’ output of “natural climate change plus CO2.” However the persistent failure of their models to reproduce how “climate changed before,” means any attribution of warming due to CO2, is at best unreliable and at worse a graphic fairy tale. And as we will see in the figures below, climate models not only failed to capture the 1920s to 40s warming, but when CO2 and sulfates were added to better approximate warming during the 80s and 90s in the extra-tropical northern hemisphere, the models transformed the warming period of the 20 to 40s into an imaginary cold period.

In 2004 a European team of climate scientists led by IPCC’s Dr. Lenart Bengtsson wrote:

“The huge warming of the Arctic that started in the early 1920s and lasted for almost two decades is one of the most spectacular climate events of the twentieth century. During the peak period 1930–40, the annually averaged temperature anomaly for the area 60°–90°N amounted to some 1.7°C. Whether this event is an example of an internal climate mode or is externally forced, such as by enhanced solar effects, is presently under debate. This study suggests that natural variability is a likely cause, with reduced sea ice cover being crucial for the warming.”1



“As can be seen from Fig. 1, it was a long-lasting event commencing in the early 1920s and reaching its maximum some 20 years later. The decades after were much colder, although not as cold as in the early years of the last century. It is interesting to note that the ongoing present warming has just reached the peak value of the 1940s, and this has underpinned some views that even the present Arctic warming is dominated by factors other than increasing greenhouse gases. However, other authors concluded that the present warming in the Arctic is dominated by anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing”.[emphasis added]

The authors who believed the recent warming was due to rising CO2, presented their arguments in a separate 2004 paper Arctic Climate Change: Observed And Modeled Temperature And Sea-Ice Variability2, and their diagrams of modeled output provide a vivid illustration of how poorly natural climate change is modeled and how adding CO2 distorts observed climate reality.

Below I have broken the 4 panels of their Figure 1 into separate panels to facilitate comparisons and discussion. Northern hemisphere extra-tropical temperature anomalies are indicated by color, with temperatures down to 1 degree below average colored blue, and up to 1 degree above average colored red. Figure 1a depicts the 20th century reconstruction of observed temperatures


In their “control run” below (Figure 1d), they included all the known physics believed to affect climate change except anthropogenic greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols to produce their representation of “natural climate change.” The result as seen in Figure 1d, was a relatively warmer period that lasted for about 15 years. However more importantly, the simulated warming was produced only after 150 years of integration and never corresponded to either of the warm periods between 1920 and 1950, or between 1980 and 2000. So the authors randomly placed the modeled warming on the timeline. In other words their models failed to reproduce the observed climate change – whether it was natural or anthropogenic. However assuming that models can accurately recreate natural climate change in the past, they argued “no comprehensive numerical-model integrations [Fig. 1d] have produced the present global warm anomaly [Fig. 1a] without including observed anthropogenic forcing.”


In order to “prove” CO2 has caused the recent warming, they added the historical rise in CO2 to their models. And voila! They reported massive warming in the 80s and 90s. Simultaneously however their models did something quite revealing.

According to many climate scientists like the IPCC’s Dr Lenart Bengtsson, the warming that began in the 20s was, “one of the most spectacular climate events of the twentieth century”; yet the models obliterated that observed warming and slightly warmed the cooler 60s and 70s. Although their absurd inconsistency is obvious, the authors ignored the eradication of earlier warming, yet took great pride in the models representation of the most recent warming writing, “The patterns compare well with the last two decades of observed warming, although the modeled warming occurs slightly earlier and also encompasses lower latitudes than observed.”



Models driven by heat attributed to rising CO2 have always run hotter than observed temperatures. So the fudge factor of choice has been to add the cooling effect of sulfates. Sulfates are useful because they can be attributed to either volcanoes or human industrial waste, even though reliable data is lacking. But to constrain the excessive heating in models driven by rising CO2, they added sulfates. But in so doing they turned the spectacular warming of the 20s and 40s, into a cold period. When all was said and done, the model produced a colorful but mythical “hockey stick” (Figure 1c) that looked nothing like observed temperatures (Figure 1a).


So it becomes apparent why alarmists like SkepticalScience push “Climate Changed Before” as their #1 climate myth. By downplaying the previously observed warming earlier this century, the public is less likely to be aware that climate models can only produce a mythical representation of climate change for the century (Figure 1c).

It is also becomes clear why models driven by rising CO2 and sulfates have persistently failed to capture the natural cycles of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The warm phase of the PDO ventilates heat stored in the ocean via more frequent El Niños. The rapid warming in the 80s and 90s corresponds with a warm PDO cycles as did the observed warming in the 1920s and 1940s. But their climate models eradicate that earlier cycle. As Dr. Pierrehumbert admitted in his 2012 AGU lecture, Ocean heat uptake has decadal fluctuations and “Models do not do the multi-decadal ocean heat uptake fluctuations well at all.

The failure to model how climate has changed naturally in the recent past, and the failure to model the tremendous impact of ocean oscillations explains why those same models have failed to predict the ongoing 17-year hiatus in warming once the PDO re-entered its recent cooling phase. Nor can rising CO2 explain why the U.S. Climate Reference Network’s (USCRN) land surface data, the upper 700 meters of Argo’s ocean data and satellite data all show a cooling trend since 2003. It is also explains why alarmists fail to comprehend the cyclic changes in Arctic sea ice that was discussed in the essay Why Antarctic Sea Ice Is the Better Climate Change Indicator. The oceans store and re-distribute solar heat and unlike CO2, ocean oscillations can explain both the recent cooling trend and the past warming events.

In part 2, I will demonstrate how alarmists have misconstrued the change in the ranges of marine organisms to argue that those range changes provide evidence that is “consistent with CO2 warming”. But that is the second greatest climate myth. Those range changes most assuredly correlate best with natural ocean oscillations.

Literature Cited

  1. Bengtsson, L., et al., (2004) The Early Twentieth-Century Warming in the Arctic—A Possible Mechanism. Journal of Climate, vol. 445-458.
  2. Johannessen, O., et al. (2004) Arctic climate change: observed and modeled temperature and sea-ice variability. Tellus, vol. 56A, p. 328–341.
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June 19, 2014 12:05 pm

Key facts about “climate change” which are ignored by true believers.
1. The concentration of CO2 in the global atmosphere is lower today, even including human emissions, than it has been during most of the existence of life on Earth.
2. The global climate has been much warmer than it is today during most of the existence of life on Earth. Today we are in an interglacial period of the Pleistocene Ice Age that began 2.5 million years ago and has not ended.
3. There was an Ice Age 450 million years ago when CO2 was about 10 times higher than it is today.
4. Humans evolved in the tropics near the equator. We are a tropical species and can only survive in colder climates due to fire, clothing and shelter.
5. CO2 is the most important food for all life on earth. All green plants use CO2 to produce the sugars that provide energy for their growth and our growth. Without CO2 in the atmosphere carbon-based life could never have evolved.
6. The optimum CO2 level for most plants is about 1600 parts per million, four times higher than the level today. This is why greenhouse growers purposely inject the CO2-rich exhaust from their gas and wood-fired heaters into the greenhouse, resulting in a 40-80 per cent increase in growth.
7. If human emissions of CO2 do end up causing significant warming (which is not certain) it may be possible to grow food crops in northern Canada and Russia, vast areas that are now too cold for agriculture.
8. Whether increased CO2 levels cause significant warming or not, the increased CO2 levels themselves will result in considerable increases in the growth rate of plants, including our food crops and forests.
9. There has been no further global warming for nearly 18 years during which time about 25 per cent of all the CO2 ever emitted by humans has been added to the atmosphere. How long will it remain flat and will it next go up or back down? Now we are out of the realm of facts and back into the game of predictions.

Curious George
June 19, 2014 12:07 pm

Warmist interpretation of facts always reminds me of an old Russian joke: – Is it true that Ivan Ivanovich did win a racing car in Moscow? – Yes, it is true. Only it was not in Moscow, but in Novosibirsk; it was a bike, not a racing car; and he did not win, but someone stole it from him.

The Other Phil
June 19, 2014 12:32 pm

Skeptical Science is making the error of confusing positive arguments with rebuttal arguments.
Yes, skeptics point out historical variability, but not, as tries to claim , that skeptics assert “this somehow tells us that humans can’t be the main cause of the current global warming”
The reason skeptic bring it up is because the warmists assert the opposite. How many times has some article breathlessly talked about temperature increases unparalleled in history? The warmist make the assertion, because their direct arguments are weak, but if they can demonstrate that something like this has never happened before, their audience will be sympathetic to the view that there must be human involvement this time.
Skeptics do not raise the rebuttal to prove that warming must be natural, skeptics raise the argument to demonstrate that warmist are wrong!
And why is it a common argument? Because despite the evidence, the warmists keep making the claims.

June 19, 2014 12:42 pm

Really nice article.

June 19, 2014 12:47 pm

biology certainly will reduce a nutrient to limiting levels….
280ppm is limiting

June 19, 2014 1:03 pm

Mother nature keeps calling the alarmist liars. Which probably makes them even more angry since they cannot sue her in court.

Arno Arrak
June 19, 2014 1:12 pm

Just a couple of notes about the Arctic. Both you and the warmists simply don’t bother to learn about what is happening there. The warmists lump Arctic warming with global greenhouse warming and are happy that they found that warming. And you have no idea that Arctic warming started suddenly at the turn of the twentieth century. Prior to that there was nothing there but slow, linear cooling for two thousand years. The start of the warming was sudden and there was no parallel increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide which rules out the greenhouse effect as its cause. Bengtsson did note the start of the warming correctly but did not get the follow-up. It is highly likely that the sudden start of warming was caused by a rearrangement of the North Atlantic current system that started carrying warm Gulf Stream water into the Arctic Ocean. Record shows that this warming was interrupted by a thirty year cooling period in mid-century, then resumed, and is still going strong. It is quite impossible for greenhouse warming to switch from warming to cooling and back again. All that warming is still counted as greenhouse warming by global warming activists when in fact it is nothing of the sort. Direct temperature measurements near Svalbard indicate that the warm water reaching the Arctic today is warmer than anything seen there within the previous two thousand years. You hear much speculation about why Antarctica is cooler than the Arctic is today but the vital fact that it is because of the warm Gulf Stream water carried north by currents is simply buried in their ignorant speculation. Fact is, if this warm water did not get carried north both poles would be at the same temperature today. Here is your homework on the subject: read E&E (22)8:1069-1083 (2011).

Reply to  Arno Arrak
June 19, 2014 1:41 pm

All this argument is silly. We have no records that go back far enough to evaluate a single Hypothesis – it is like trying to evaluate your entire education and life all in one nanosecond. It just becomes nothing by extrapolated OPINIONS dressed up as science.
Billions of years of climate change and universe change can not be understood in looking at 20,000 or 200,000 years of records. Which we do not have anyway, We have maybe 100 years of history and it is sketchy at best. The ice cores are local not global, same with tree rings – even geological rocks are relatively young in most areas.
WE can look at current events and observe change of direction but that is WEATHER NOT LONG TERM CLIMATE.

June 19, 2014 1:24 pm

Arno Arrak says:
June 19, 2014 at 1:12 pm
I’d like to see your evidence for slow, linear cooling in the Arctic for 2000 years prior to AD 1900. My reading of proxy data is a cooling trend for over 3000 years, but not linear. There have been major ups and downs on decennial, centennial and millennial time frames, IMO. For example, there was less ice in the Davis Strait and Labrador Sea in AD 1000 than in AD 2000, both during warm intervals.

June 19, 2014 1:29 pm

@ Arno- Your self-righteous snippiness is a tad off topic. The essay focuses on how warmist’s models do not accurately represent past climate. I indeed understand how much of the Arctic warming was caused by intrusions of warm water and linked to an earlier essay Why Antarctic Sea Ice Is the Better Climate Change Indicator. You simply repeated my old argument and revealed that you did not do your homework.
Here is the first point that essay
Sea ice melts deep inside the Arctic Circle during the coldest of winters because warm water from the Atlantic and the Pacific intrude and melt the ice from below. During the past two decades scientists have observed an increase in the volume of warm water penetrating deep inside the Arctic Circle, which then preconditioned the polar ice cap for a greater loss of summer ice.3,8 Changes in the North Atlantic/Arctic Oscillation affect how much heated water is driven into the Arctic, which then causes the widespread melt seen in the Barents Sea and adjoining Kara Sea. Similarly the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation drives more warm water through the Bering Strait into the Chukchi Sea.2,5,8
In contrast for millions of years the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) has created a formidable barrier that prevents any similar warm water intrusions. (The ACC is discussed further at the end of this essay). Therefore changes in Antarctic sea ice are not confounded by warm water intrusions, making Antarctic sea ice a better indicator of the effects of rising CO2 concentrations.

June 19, 2014 1:34 pm

A 0.5° C change is not a change in climate. It warms 0.5° C while I eat my breakfast.
“Climate change” is a reification fallacy.

rod leman
June 19, 2014 1:41 pm

The comments above are chock full of scientific error.
[Examples, please. ~mod.]

June 19, 2014 1:43 pm

sturgishooper says:
June 19, 2014 at 1:24 pm
Greenland and the North Atlantic c. AD 1000, from before paleoclimatology was poisoned, perverted and polluted by intergovernmental corruption, conspiracy and collusion:

June 19, 2014 2:02 pm

The example is silly because we have firm evidence what killed the man, IE, the knife in the back.
On the other hand we have nothing but suppositions as to what has caused the warming of the last century. The warmists assert that it must be CO2, because that is what their models tell them.
We point out that there has been warming in the past without an increase in CO2, and their models can’t account for this

June 19, 2014 2:05 pm

@Arno Arrak says: June 19, 2014 at 1:12 pm
Here is your homework on the subject: read E&E (22)8:1069-1083 (2011).
Give us a link to this and I will.

tm willemse
June 19, 2014 2:21 pm

“Models do not do the multi-decadal ocean heat uptake fluctuations well at all.”
What are they going to do when the *AMO* flips?

June 19, 2014 2:29 pm

Another thing that is irksome about “climate myth #1” on SkS is that they offer no real explanation about major climatic events from the past. Could they tell you exactly what caused previous ice ages? Or why the earth came out of them? Of course not. If you want to tell people that climate change now is different than in the past you need to explain the past and demonstrate why the present is different. You can’t just say “humans are putting more CO2 in the atmosphere so it’s different now” because you have an imprecise understanding of the major historical drivers of climate and how the present CO2 situation affects them, if at all.

Gunga Din
June 19, 2014 2:39 pm

At the website deceptively named SkepticalScience, they list “Climate Changed Before” as the skeptics’ #1 “mythical” argument. But the website’s authors have fabricated a straw man argument writing, “The ‘climate changed naturally in the past’ argument is a logical fallacy known as non sequitur, in which the conclusion doesn’t follow from the arguments. It’s equivalent to seeing a dead body with a knife sticking out the back, then arguing the death must be natural because people died naturally in the past.

And CAGW is equivalent to finding someone asleep and assuming they are dead then concluding that they must have been knifed and then attempting to shut down steel plants since knives are made usually made of steel.

June 19, 2014 2:50 pm

Great article.
I have read articles about climate models that fairly accurately track the past for at least the last past 200 years and also predict the end to the late 20th century cooling cycle. These models depend on total solar activity and the effects of the oceans. They do not include any CO2 effects. In reality there is no real evidence in the paleoclimate record that CO2 has any effect on climate, just conjecture. If greenhouse gases have been involved in climate change then the lionsharere must have been caused by H2O.
The idea that Man’s adding CO2 to the atmosphere can cause catastrophic climate change depends on the idea that H2O provides positive feedbacks that amplify any effect that CO2 might have but the opposite is really the case. Let me explain.
The Idea that adding CO2 to the atmosphere causes climate change is based on the idea that added CO2, because of its LWIR absorption bands, increaseradiantadient, thermal insulation properties of the atmosphere, causing a reduction in LWIR absorptionradiantadient energy transfer up through the atmosphere. The insulation effect causes warming at the Earth’s surface and lower atmosphere but cooling in the upper atmosphere where Earth radiates to space in LWIR absorption bands. That is how insulation works. Accordigreenhousehnouse effect theory, from space, in LWIR absorption bands, the Earth looks like a 0 degree F black body, radiating at an equivalent average altitude of 17K feet. The 17K feet is set by the lapse rate that is not significantly affected by Man’s contribution of CO2. In reality, there is no black body at 17K feet. Themissivitysivity of the atmosphere means that the actual radiation takes place at a significantly lower altitude and a higher temperature. We are talking about typical cloud deck altitudes. A good absorber is also a good radiator, so adding greenhouse gases tatmospherespehre causes the Earth to radiate to space more efficiently in LWIR absorption bands.
The warming in the lower atmosphere causes more H2O to enter the atmosphere which further enhances the atmosradiant radient, thermal insulation properties because H2O isgreenhouseeehhouse gas with LWIR absorption bands. This is the positive feedback that AGW theory depends on. But that is not all what happens.
Besides being a greenhouse gas, H2O is a major coolant in the Earth’s atmosphere moving heat from the Earth’s surface to where clouds form via the heat of vaporization. More heat is moved by this mechanism then by both convection and LWIR absorption band radiation combined. More H2O in the atmosphere means that more heat energy is moved from the Earth’s surface to where clouds form. Where clouds form is where Earth radiates to space for the most part in LWIR absorption bands. This mechanism represents a very negative feedback.
More clouds means that more solar energy is reflected back to space. Clouds also radiate to space more efficiently in the LWIR then the clear atmosphere they replace. More clouds provide another negative feedback.
The insulation effect causes warming in the lower atmosphere but cooling in the upper atmosphere. The cooling in the upper atmosphere causes less H2O to appear which counteracts the effect of more CO2. This mechanism represents another negative feedback.
All of these negative feedbacks combine to make the Earth’s climate relative stable to changes in CO2. The Earth’s climate has been relative stable for at least the past 500 million years, stable enough for life to evolve. We are here.
There are many good reasons to be conserving on the use of fossil fuels but climate change is not one of them.

June 19, 2014 3:04 pm

Reblogged this on wwlee4411 and commented:
Learn the truth. Please.

June 19, 2014 3:27 pm

However assuming that models can accurately recreate natural climate change in the past, they argued “no comprehensive numerical-model integrations [Fig. 1d] have produced the present global warm anomaly [Fig. 1a] without including observed anthropogenic forcing.”

But Q.B. Lu’s hypothesis of CFG-induced warming in the 22-year warm period does produce it very nicely.

more soylent green!
June 19, 2014 3:27 pm

Another great myth is that the climate models were built based upon a solid, scientific understanding of how the climate works.
Instead, the models were built on a premise — that greenhouse gases, specifically human CO2 emissions, are driving global warming. We are only beginning to understand how the climate works and how the multitude of factors interact.
Repeat, the climate models are not built upon that limited scientific understanding of how the climate works, but upon a theoretical belief that greenhouse gas emissions drive climate change.

June 19, 2014 3:45 pm

‘The Greatest Climate Myth of All argues we can confidently blame CO2 for the warming of the 80s and 90s because models of “natural climate change” cannot simulate the most recent warming unless more heat is added proportional to rising CO2’
Argumentum ad ignorantiam. That their models don’t explain it without CO2 is not proof that CO2 caused it. It is an assumption of guilt.

June 19, 2014 4:00 pm

SkepticalScience is sooo fake. how can Uni of Queensland continue its association with them? the least the Uni could do is insist Cook & Co use the correct spelling – “sceptical” – that is in use in Australia
universities are losing credibility over their CAGW advocacy, & over the number of their FB “likes” as well! LOL.
17 June: AnotherScienceBlog: Facebook’s Most Popular University
So, it is not surprising that the recent report “Where are the most popular universities on Facebook?” did not impress me much. A toxic combination of rankings and Facebook popularity, particularly in light of my editorial on fake Facebook “likes” that plague companies …
I found it peculiar how erratic and unpredictable the top 15 list was. Why weren’t Princeton and Berkeley in that list? This inspired me to look up the sources of the “likes” for the different top colleges. Turns out that similarly to life science companies and pharmaceuticals, many colleges are paying Facebook to acquire fake likes…
But the schools that made it to the “most popular” list have “likes” from Dhaka, Bangladesh (Cambridge, Oxford, UofPeople, Harvard) and Addis Abeba, Ethiopia (Yale)…
The most stunning example here is Harvard with 3.3 million “likes”. Probably about three million of these are fakes…

Pamela Gray
June 19, 2014 4:02 pm

Wonderful graphics. Well labeled and demonstrative to even lay persons. It is nice to see someone attack a proposed hypothesis with data. In my opinion, of those that speak to climate in this blog, Bob Tisdale does a great job of this. Leif also. Anthony and Willis are in that group. Now you are in that roll call group at wattsupwiththat who are capable of lucid communication with the general public.

June 19, 2014 6:26 pm

How much of the increasing divergence between modeled and observed temperatures after the 1970s is simply due to bad modeling of “natural climate change”?

Excuse me for a second while I step outside and scream for a moment.

Much better. Now I can no longer claim “I’ll scream if I hear one more vague reference to natural climate change.” 🙂
Just here to state the obvious – it sure would be nice if some of the money being spent to study the effect of CO2 on our climate were redirected to the many possibilities behind natural climate change. One of the things the warming, then plateau of 1978 – 1998 – 2014 shows is that factors other than CO2 are as significant as CO2. We really ought to get serious studying that climate change.

Bill Illis
June 19, 2014 7:04 pm

Natural climate cycles are by far the biggest component of the climate.
Do you know what the historical CO2 sensitivity is? It is actually +/- 40.0C per doubling. As in completely random.
Chart of the CO2 sensitivity over the last 50 million using as many datapoints as possible with temperature and CO2 measured at exactly the same time (something approaching the equilibrium CO2 sensitivity). Climate science likes to pretend to itself that these numbers are all in a nice tight band between 1.5C to 4.0C per doubling but the non-cherry-picked data says there is no correlation since it is really +/- 40.0C per doubling.

Gunga Din
June 19, 2014 7:09 pm

When I was a kid, I built a model of a Japanese Zero and of a Flying Tiger’s P-40. Neither could shoot down the other unless my imagination allowed it to. My imagination determined the winner depending on which would provide the most fun at the moment, “fun” being the imaginary goal I wanted to achieve at the moment.
Forty years later I’m still proud of those models, but whatever I imaged they did or could do is far from the reality of what actually happened. (Or is happening?)

June 19, 2014 7:23 pm

The man with the knife in his back was first shot in the head. Only after he was dead was the knife shoved into his back. Don’t come to conclusions without first looking at all the facts.

Jimmy Finley
June 19, 2014 7:37 pm

Great article, Dr. Steele, and I LOVED your slap down of Arno. Look forward to Installment 2.
profitup10 says:
June 19, 2014 at 1:41 pm
Mr. profit: The oldest rocks are about 4.0 billion years old. Not much of those, but the amount increases as we go forward in time, so that beginning about 0.5 billion years ago, we have much data. Out of those rocks, geoscientists have extracted much information regarding such things as the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, the climate in which the rocks formed, etc. We know a great deal for about half a billion years, and can make good guesses for another two or three billion years. The modern “climate scientists” who ignore this information are merely pretend scientists – they are scam artists and crooks, or hooked on some esoteric flavor of Marxism.

Pamela Gray
June 19, 2014 7:42 pm

If the AMO flips to negative I am betting the anthropogenic explanation has already been penned and waiting for the day (I believe it has already been used back in the 70’s). I would lay odds on it being trotted out like this: “There has been a slowing down of the overturning circulation leading to global cooling, witnessed by the negative AMO and killing cold weather, all caused by anthropogenic CO2. The skeptics are killing people for real now.”
Que: “The Day After Tomorrow”.

4 eyes
June 19, 2014 8:27 pm

No – one can remember 1920 so it is convenient for models to fail to history match at that time. It is much harder to dismiss a model that seems to match living memory which is the only thing most catastrophists rely on for their limited arguments.

June 19, 2014 8:31 pm

And I can find a complete, “mathematical basis”, including classic programming FLOW CHARTS for these “climate models”. Until that is publically available, NO MATTER WHAT RESULT they produce, they are FICTIONS, not real science.
[Rather, “And [until] I can find a complete … ” ?? .mod]

June 19, 2014 10:00 pm

The Other Phil June 19, 2014 at 12:32 pm tries the worst Fallacie of all on us. Had he been a real scientist true to Theories of Science, and not only a scientist by name and degree, he wouldn’t have missed that Circle reasoning, also called Circle proof, never ever can prove anything worth mentioning at all!
First you better look at the definition for Circle reasoinig in latin called petitio principii: Definition of petitio principii in English,
It’s also essential to understand the logical difference between a premisses and an argument. Any argument presented has to have all needing the premisses to be proven true for the argument to be a valid sound argument.
Everytime and in any form of argumentation in which the conclusion somewhere in the argumentation is used as one of the premisses, the person argumenting uses Circle proof/Circle conclusion/Circle reasoinig in latin called petitio principi.
The fact that said person presents “pro”-s or “con”-s doesn’t prove anything other than a straw man skill in Theories of Science.
Many Alarmists forgotten that a chain of arguments in which the final conclusion is a premisses of one of the earlier arguments in the chain, only prove lack of valid arguments.

June 19, 2014 10:46 pm

I disagree with your first statement. If we saw a man dead in the street and we knew that never before in history had a human killed someone, then we would have a situation that is analogous to what we saying when we say there has been warming in the past.
We know with quite good confidence that human activity has never before raised the temperature of the earth, and we know that the temperature has risen before. So while it is possible that for the first time in history humans have had an effect on the climate it is not nearly as obvious a conclusion as it might be if humans had caused climate change in the past.
What we are saying when we say climate has changed naturally before, is that there is no good reason to believe it is changing now because of humans, especially since it has never happened before. Because it has never happened before the claim that it is happening now is extraordinary and the burden of proof is on those who say that for the first time ever humans are changing the climate.
To go back to your dead man analogy, if we knew there had never been a murder in history, then, it would be extraordinary to assume this man was murdered, and the burden of proof would be on those who say that he was murdered. Now you presented facts that make proving that he was murdered quite easy, the knife in the back makes it highly likely that he was murdered, but not every other possibly can be totally ruled out. He might have fallen backwards onto a knife. In our world this is very,very unlikely, but in world where there had never been a murder, it is somewhat more likely. But it evidence that will decide, the evidence for humans causing global warming is very weak and the fact that it has never happened before means the evidence for it need to be stronger than if it had happened before.

June 19, 2014 11:38 pm

Jim Steele,
Why even bother replying to yet more balony from SkepticalScience.
You are giving them the oxygen of publicity that they crave?

June 20, 2014 12:10 am

The sun heats the surface first. Then the warmer surface heats the air above.
Ocean surface heat capacity is 4 times the mass specific heat capacity of the air, and is also 800 times more dense, thus has a total of 3200 times the thermal energy of the air.
For example
2 cubic meters at the ocean/atmosphere interface, one square meter of ocean to a depth of one meter, and the one meter of air above it. To change the temperature of those two cubic meters by one degree, then you would need 3201 kilojoules of energy. One kilojoule for the atmosphere and 3200 kilojoules for the ocean.
Is it so surprising to see a slight shift in the direction of the gulf stream current causing a huge change in the air temperatures of the arctic??

June 20, 2014 5:33 am

Mr. Steele,
Cheers on the ongoing good work.

Ulric Lyons
June 20, 2014 6:23 am

“The huge warming of the Arctic that started in the early 1920s and lasted for almost two decades is one of the most spectacular climate events of the twentieth century. During the peak period 1930–40, the annually averaged temperature anomaly for the area 60°–90°N amounted to some 1.7°C. Whether this event is an example of an internal climate mode or is externally forced, such as by enhanced solar effects, is presently under debate. This study suggests that natural variability is a likely cause, with reduced sea ice cover being crucial for the warming.”
Reduced sea ice cover is a result not a cause. The warming is due to increased poleward oceanic and atmospheric transport. That happens when the NAO/AO is negative. Critically, it takes a drop in forcing for the NAO/AO to go negative, so GHG forcing in theory should be cooling the Arctic, by increasing positive NAO/AO conditions. The logical thing to do would be to look for declines in solar forcing from 1995 when the AMO and Arctic started warming:

Evan Jones
June 20, 2014 7:09 am

There may be an explanation lurking to explain the 1920s-1940s. (Not just positive PDO.) The data itself. Perhaps HadCRUt2, with its shallower warming to 1940, is more accurate than Haddy3 or 4?

Jeff Alberts
June 20, 2014 7:24 am

evanmjones says:
June 20, 2014 at 7:09 am
There may be an explanation lurking to explain the 1920s-1940s. (Not just positive PDO.) The data itself. Perhaps HadCRUt2, with its shallower warming to 1940, is more accurate than Haddy3 or 4?

Umm, sure. They went back in time and took new measurements…

June 20, 2014 8:07 am

As a statistician (MS level), the “knife in the body” argument is disturbing. What it means is that 1. there has been temperature variability in the past for various reasons perhaps including but not limited to excess CO2. 2. In the 1940′s we have determined that this natural variability is now gone and temperature is solely determined by CO2 level. This is consistent with the argument that there have been dead bodies before for various reasons but now death is only the result of knife wounds.
This requires that a fundamental change in earth processes occurred in the 20th century that erased natural variation and substituted CO2 as the only input variable. Although the Hockey Stick reports that temperature has varied only 0.1 degree over 1000 years there were times when the surface temperature was below zero under a mile of ice, and also, warmer, so our present temperature is likely still within historical variability.

June 20, 2014 1:09 pm

The Attenborough/Cox temperature graph and video were mistakenly not posted. The link here to the refrenced graph show clearly how the model’s graphic representation of natural temperatures differs from observed.

old construction worker
June 20, 2014 3:53 pm

I bet not many people know that a computer model helped cause the housing crash. Some math genius using a computer figured, on average, a person buys a house but only lives in it for 5 years before his or hers next house. So our government along with the builders and banker ran with it. It was the “on average” that cause the problem. Down the road the market ran out of “qualified” buyers. the rest is history.

June 20, 2014 5:00 pm

Skeptical Science
What does that mean for today? Over the past 150 years greenhouse gas levels have increased 40 percent mainly from burning of fossil fuels. This additional “forcing” is warming the planet more than it has in thousands of years.

40 percent increase and the pause is 17+ years. What kind of ‘greenhouse gases’ are these? Does the plural ‘thousands’ here include the Roman Warm Period? The Minoan? If not, why not?
SkS also says that co2 is now the main driver of the climate. Thus the 17+ year standstill. You gotta laugh.

Last updated on 11 September 2010 by Michael Searcy.
While natural processes continue to introduce short term variability, the unremitting rise of CO2 from industrial activities has become the dominant factor in determining our planet’s climate now and in the years to come.

June 20, 2014 5:07 pm

A common argument made by warmists is that climate change is happening faster than X number of years. Sometimes it’s millions of years. Here is unScientific American almost one year ago.

Scientific American – Aug 2, 2013
Today’s Climate Change Proves Much Faster Than Changes in Past 65 Million Years

Is this supposed to be comedy? Are they trying to mislead? Have they been taking something funny? We want to know.

IPCC – TAR – 2001
The warming phase, that took place about 11,500 years ago, at the end of the Younger Dryas was also very abrupt and central Greenland temperatures increased by 7°C or more in a few decades (Johnsen et al., 1992; Grootes et al., 1993; Severinghaus et al., 1998).
Systematics and Biodiversity – Volume 8, Issue 1, 2010
Kathy J. Willis et al
4 °C and beyond: what did this mean for biodiversity in the past?
…….temperatures in mid- to high-latitudes increased by greater than 4 °C within 60 years, and sea levels rose by up to 3 m higher than present. For these intervals in time, case studies of past biotic responses are presented to demonstrate the scale and impact of the magnitude and rate of such climate changes on biodiversity. We argue that although the underlying mechanisms responsible for these past changes in climate were very different (i.e. natural processes rather than anthropogenic), the rates and magnitude of climate change are similar to those predicted for the future and therefore potentially relevant to understanding future biotic response. What emerges from these past records is evidence for rapid community turnover, migrations, development of novel ecosystems and thresholds from one stable ecosystem state to another, but there is very little evidence for broad-scale extinctions due to a warming world. Based on this evidence from the fossil record, we make four recommendations for future climate-change integrated conservation strategies.
DOI: 10.1080/14772000903495833
Richard B. Alley
Ice-core evidence of abrupt climate changes
…..As the world slid into and out of the last ice age, the general cooling and warming trends were punctuated by abrupt changes. Climate shifts up to half as large as the entire difference between ice age and modern conditions occurred over hemispheric or broader regions in mere years to decades…….
Pierre Deschamps et al
…Controversy about the amplitude and timing of this meltwater pulse (MWP-1A) has, however, led to uncertainty about the source of the melt water and its temporal and causal relationships with the abrupt climate changes of the deglaciation. Here we show that MWP-1A started no earlier than 14,650 years ago and ended before 14,310 years ago, making it coeval with the Bølling warming. Our results, based on corals drilled offshore from Tahiti during Integrated Ocean Drilling Project Expedition 310, reveal that the increase in sea level at Tahiti was between 12 and 22 metres, with a most probable value between 14 and 18 metres, establishing a significant meltwater contribution from the Southern Hemisphere. This implies that the rate of eustatic sea-level rise exceeded 40 millimetres per year during MWP-1A.
Reef drowning during the last deglaciation: Evidence for catastrophic sea-level rise and ice-sheet collapse
Elevations and ages of drowned Acropora palmata reefs from the Caribbean-Atlanticregion document three catastrophic, metre-scale sea-level-rise events during the last deglaciation…..
…. Such drowning eventsmust have been truly catastrophic, involv-ing—to our knowledge—the fastest rates of glacio-eustatic sea-level rise yet reported…..The exact duration of the CREs is unknown but, given that the mini-mum rate of sea-level rise was >45 mm/yr,the duration of the 14.2 ka event must have been…..

June 21, 2014 1:49 am

Thanks Jim for the Article.
We cannot trust the models as they have smoothed out the multidecadal oscillation. They have replaced the whole of the instrumental record by two lines. One line goes until 1965 at a warming rate of 0.06 deg C per decade and the other from 1965 onwards at a warming rate of about 0.18 deg C per decade as shown here:
Where is the multidecadal oscillation?
As the climate models don’t represent the observed multidecadal oscillation of the global mean temperature, they are useless.

June 21, 2014 2:40 am

Over the past 150 years there are two periods of rising temperature, roughly between 1910 and 1948, and 1978-2003.
It is generally acepted (IPCC) that forcing goes in proportion of the logarithm of the CO2 concentration.
C02 concentrations were:
1910 299 ppm 1948 311 ppm, from which lets calculate a logarithm: ln 311/299 = 0.039
1978 335 ppm 2003 375 ppm, ln 375/335 = 0.113
Thus, assuming that CO2 is the overwhelming culprit for temperature change, the rise in the second period should have been 0.113/0.039 = 2.9 time larger than during the first period.
This is a very simplistic, although generally accepted, model.
Verification of T anomalies (approx. reading from HadCRUT4):
1910 -0.5 °C 1950 +0.1 °C Warming of 0.6 °C
1982 -0.1 °C 2003 +0.5 °C Warming of 0.6 °C
So when between 1978 and 2003 the warming caused by CO2 concentration should have been 2.9×0.6= 1.7 °C it was actually 0.6 °C.
Who can explain why?
An how to explain the lack of warming between 1948 and 1978, and since the early 2000 ?
Somehow there is a homeostatic response of the Earth’s atmospheric and maritime system to all kinds of variations, human emitted CO2 being just one more well damped parameter.
This stabilizing feedback is observed in repeated instances after volcano eruptions (the only randomized lab experience that the Earth makes from time to time).
For nitpickers: more precise and accurate data, if available, will not change this constatation.
For true believers: all data here above come from “consensual sources” and calculations are straightforward.
And skeptics please note: this does not demonstrate that CO2 plays no role. I just take an heretic view of it (opposite to the IPCC gospel).

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