Matt Ridley in the WSJ: Whatever Happened to Global Warming?

Now come climate scientists’ implausible explanations for why the ‘hiatus’ has passed the 15-year mark.By MATT RIDLEY

WSJ-Logo[1]Sept. 4, 2014 7:20 p.m. ET    THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

On Sept. 23 the United Nations will host a party for world leaders in New York to pledge urgent action against climate change. Yet leaders from China, India and Germany have already announced that they won’t attend the summit and others are likely to follow, leaving President Obama looking a bit lonely. Could it be that they no longer regard it as an urgent threat that some time later in this century the air may get a bit warmer?

In effect, this is all that’s left of the global-warming emergency the U.N. declared in its first report on the subject in 1990. The U.N. no longer claims that there will be dangerous or rapid climate change in the next two decades. Last September, between the second and final draft of its fifth assessment report, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change quietly downgraded the warming it expected in the 30 years following 1995, to about 0.5 degrees Celsius from 0.7 (or, in Fahrenheit, to about 0.9 degrees, from 1.3).

Even that is likely to be too high. The climate-research establishment has finally admitted openly what skeptic scientists have been saying for nearly a decade: Global warming has stopped since shortly before this century began.

First the climate-research establishment denied that a pause existed, noting that if there was a pause, it would invalidate their theories. Now they say there is a pause (or “hiatus”), but that it doesn’t after all invalidate their theories.

Alas, their explanations have made their predicament worse by implying that man-made climate change is so slow and tentative that it can be easily overwhelmed by natural variation in temperature—a possibility that they had previously all but ruled out.

When the climate scientist and geologist Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia wrote an article in 2006 saying that there had been no global warming since 1998 according to the most widely used measure of average global air temperatures, there was an outcry. A year later, when David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London made the same point, the environmentalist and journalist Mark Lynas said in the New Statesman that Mr. Whitehouse was “wrong, completely wrong,” and was “deliberately, or otherwise, misleading the public.”

We know now that it was Mr. Lynas who was wrong. Two years before Mr. Whitehouse’s article, climate scientists were already admitting in emails among themselves that there had been no warming since the late 1990s. “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998,” wrote Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia in Britain in 2005. He went on: “Okay it has but it is only seven years of data and it isn’t statistically significant.”

If the pause lasted 15 years, they conceded, then it would be so significant that it would invalidate the climate-change models upon which policy was being built. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) written in 2008 made this clear: “The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more.”

Well, the pause has now lasted for 16, 19 or 26 years—depending on whether you choose the surface temperature record or one of two satellite records of the lower atmosphere. That’s according to a new statisticalcalculation by Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada.

It has been roughly two decades since there was a trend in temperature significantly different from zero. The burst of warming that preceded the millennium lasted about 20 years and was preceded by 30 years of slight cooling after 1940.

This has taken me by surprise. I was among those who thought the pause was a blip. As a “lukewarmer,” I’ve long thought that man-made carbon-dioxide emissions will raise global temperatures, but that this effect will not be amplified much by feedbacks from extra water vapor and clouds, so the world will probably be only a bit more than one degree Celsius warmer in 2100 than today. By contrast, the assumption built into the average climate model is that water-vapor feedback will treble the effect of carbon dioxide.

But now I worry that I am exaggerating, rather than underplaying, the likely warming.

Full story here.


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parochial old windbag

Please form a neat orderly queue at the humble pie counter.

joelobryan allows comments. My favorite was:
“Global warming is caused by the desire for more tax money.”


It’s nice that its in the WSJ but the WSJ doesn’t make policy. The unelected EPA gets free reign to do whatever it pleases and they want to pretend everything is worse than we thought.


According to media gospel, California is national leader on environmental regulation, if we defund the federal EPA, then California and other States can still choose to be the national leader in environmental regulation, or they could also choose to lead from behind.
It seems the federal EPA which could be said to already abused it’s authority, and as consequence it could in coming months find it’s funding reduced, but the more EPA abuses it’s authority, it seems it faces an even greater chance of cutting it’s budget being cut and or have it completely eliminated as federal agency.
It also seems likely that further EPA abuses it’s authority, therefore encourage the possibility that agency is terminated, that this cause domino effect upon other federal agencies which are also poorly serving the American public.


I agree with your analysis, but I am not too worried about individual states continuing the EPA’s reign of terror.
True, if the EPA is declawed states could still issue draconian regulations. But if a state does so and its neighbors don’t then that state will likely see the effected businesses move to one of those neighbors. Without the EPA issuing country wide regulations any state that does so on its own will likely see an exodus of jobs and population.

Owen in GA

See California for an example. Before all the environmental zealotry, it had one of the largest economies in the world (#5 in the 80s), after all the zealotry, they have fallen greatly, still one of the largest, but moving well down the list (somewhere between #8 and #10 inclusive – they’ve been playing leap-frog with Italy and the Russian Federation). While their natural beauty and generally benign (if a bit dry) environment will keep them popular, many businesses will head for greener pastures as the regulations begin to make profitability impossible. The thing that is really crazy is that California’s government will take a modest idea that may do some good and turn it into a Frankenstein’s monster of regulations and penalties, and they do it EVERY TIME. Sacramento is a place where good ideas go to die. I really hope other states do not look to them as a positive example.

Paul in Sweden

LOL with Owen in GA September 5, 2014 at 6:16 am
many businesses will head for greener pastures

I, for one, would LOVE to see California continue is Reign of Environmental Terror! It won’t take much more incentive for the last few manufacturing plants left there to pack up and move to Texas – wait, here comes another one!!!


Defunding the EPA is a great idea. Given that the Department of Education has a negative effect on K-12 education it would be logical to defund that too. Then there is the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy……….the list goes on and on.
Let’s keep the Department of Defense and increase its budget.

What was that other department you want to get rid of, Governor Perry? Hmmmm. Oops.


The WSJ is the number one read paper in the country. Decision makers do read this paper, maybe not lefties much.


Free reign.
Or free rein?

Only in Standard English. In 21st century American it can be rein, reign, rain, or rane.

En Passant

The next thing we will hear is ‘that’s what I always thought/suspected, so now it just goes to show I was right all along” (enter professor, pseudo-climate ‘scientist’ name here) Try not to list too many.
Now can we start cutting the g$avy t$ain money or do we need to redouble the grants to find out why and prevent global cooling?

George Lawson

The AGW scientists, greens, environmentalists, charities, government leaders, pressure groups etc. etc. who still like to use the ‘Global Warming’ and ‘Climate Change’ phrases to support their views regardless of the emphatic and hard empirical evidence that abounds to the contrary, would be advised when discussing the weather, farming, health and animal species etc., to quietly drop the phrases from their everyday public language, as many of their colleagues have already done, otherwise they will increasingly become the laughing stock of the wider sceptic public who have not seen any change in their living environment since the scare was first propagated over twenty years ago.


Open a gap between Panama and South America 🙂
Hey it’s not like anyone is using the Darién Gap anyway. That or spew soot all over the ice as it forms over the Northwest Territories and Siberia.


No professional engineer or scientist taught standard physics accepts the absurd IR and Radiative physics used by IPCC modellers to justify ‘positive feedback’. The fact that organisations like the Royal Society claim Radiative Emittance (aka Exitance) is a real energy flux, the basis of the claim, is a major embarrassment because it is so easily disproved by experiment.
In night vision equipment; the detector at the same temperature as the surroundings shows an image that shimmers, alternating light and dark at any position. What is really being detected is the thermal incoherence about zero mean flux, thus proving net energy flux is the vector sum of opposing emittances.
Thus ‘back radiation’ does not exist except as an artificial construct from the measured temperature, a null point measurement. The no feedback ‘1.2 K CO2 Climate Sensitivity’ is reduced to zero by strongly negative feedback atmospheric processes. There is on average zero warming from any well-mixed greenhouse gas. For so many professional science organisations not to know basic physics is deeply embarrassing.


I totally agree. The laws of thermodynamics must be applied to this problem, not so called radiative physics. This problem cannot be framed or defined in such terms otherwise you end up with the nonsense that cold bodies can heat up warmer bodies, or water flowing up hill & the like.


Anything‘s possible in cartoons and climate models. And statistics, I suppose.

I’m not disagreeing with you, but while cold bodies can’t heat up warmer bodies, they can slow down the cooling of the warmer body, which I think is the basis of the AGW hypothesis. It’s not that CO2 heats up the planet – it’s that CO2 putatively slows the cooling. Personally, I think a moment’s reflection on the overwhelming heat transport of convection vs the relatively weak thermal properties of IR absorbtion/re-emission would have put this silly theory to rest.


For so many professional science organisations not to know basic physics is deeply embarrassing

Others like me feel embarrased whenever we see people unable to understand back radiation instead.

So explain how back-radiation from the cold atmosphere adds net energy to the warmer surface!


I have explained it very simply: an emittance (aka exitance) is a potential energy flux to a sink at absolute zero, not a real energy flux. This mistake, deeply embedded in atmospheric science, is ~50 years old and comes from Sagan who because he had made a humongous mistake in aerosol optical physics, thought he had proved Arrhenius’ claim of ‘black body’ surface emission from the Venusian surface.
‘Back radiation’ does not exist as a real flux. The Earth’s surface emits net IR at one sixth the black body level. There is zero surface IR emission in all self absorbed GHG bands, including 15 micron CO2. Climate Alchemists have been taught incorrect physics. The textbooks have to be changed back to standard physics. Climate researchers need to be retained. All the literature needs to be junked.
Do I make myself clear?

You ask

So explain how back-radiation from the cold atmosphere adds net energy to the warmer surface!

It doesn’t.
Back-radiation from the cold atmosphere inhibits net energy loss from the warmer surface to very cold space.
Your question displays failure to understand what you are talking about.
You could ask with equal validity,
‘So explain how coverage by a cold duvet adds net energy to your warmer body!’


The back radiation scam is best explained in conjunction with the other major false claim, originating from 1981_Hansen_etal.pdf of a single -18 deg.C OLR emitter. That in turn creates in the two-stream approximation a down flux = |OLR|. Met Office modellers spuriously justify this on the basis of Kirchhoff’s law of Radiation by a radiative physics’ trick. There is no such zone.
The end result is an energy budget of 238.5 W/m^2 thermalised SW + 333 W/m^2 ‘back radiation’ (reversing at the surface) – 238.5 W/m^2 = 333 W/m^2. This perpetual motion machine of the second creates 40% more energy than reality, used in conjunction with the false GHE = 33 K lapse rate warming, to justify increased latent heat.
It’s a scam; the clever bit is how well it has been hidden by the modelling complexity and Sagan’s wrong aerosol physics (the sign of the AIE is reversed).


As non-science guy I don’t understand. So if you point a thermal camera at the underside of the duvet, does it look cold?

That depends on what you mean by “look cold”. Everything is warmer than absolute zero.
And I cannot here help you if you cannot understand that a a duvet keeps you warm by inhibiting heat loss. Take an elementary in primary school physics.


I was using your words, “a cold duvet” so feel free to explain it how you mean it. I was asking what does the camera see when pointed at the inside of the duvet.

Please stop trying to pretend you are an idiot.
I wrote

Your question displays failure to understand what you are talking about.
You could ask with equal validity,
‘So explain how coverage by a cold duvet adds net energy to your warmer body!’

Clearly, in that statement the word “cold” means not as warm as “your warmer body”.


“As non-science guy I don’t understand. So if you point a thermal camera at the underside of the duvet, does it look cold?”
Stefan, please read again what AlecM wrote. The answer is there.


Sorry to waste your time. I’m not a warmer nor an idiot. I simply don’t know the jargon. Plain English would help us “non-science guys”. Thing is, if it can’t be put into plain English, how do you know your colleagues here who disagree, know that they understand their own jargon either?


AlecM ” Climate researchers need to be retained.”
Climate researchers need to be retrained.
Fixed it for ya. No charge 🙂

Sun Spot

and people like me get embarrassed when people like you are somehow using bad physics to model CO2’s effect on climate. If your existing CO2 physics was correct we would not have an existing 17 stop in climate warming we would have an accelerated rate of climate warming. Something is wrong with your back radiation and other aspects of CO2 as a green house gas !!!


In night vision equipment; the detector at the same temperature as the surroundings shows an image that shimmers, alternating light and dark at any position. What is really being detected is the thermal incoherence about zero mean flux, thus proving net energy flux is the vector sum of opposing emittances

No, it merely shows that any “back” radiation received at the surface from an insulating blanket above has the effect of creating a slightly higher equilibrium temperature for all of the objects under the blanket, just as the First Law of thermodynamics would predict. Perfect equilibrium is never quite achieved, of course, but the Earth’s surface is warmer than it would be without its atmospheric ‘blanket’. I think all engineers and scientists would agree on that.
The elephant in the room here is that H2O and aerosols, not CO2, dominate this effect and are the real agents responsible for climate change. Aerosols, unlike CO2, absorb incoming sunlight. Aerosols also contribute to albedo and reflect incoming sunlight, so have cooling properties as well as warming. A more complex equation, which current climate models do not adequately address.
The only “triumph” that the IPCC, and their MSM fellow travelers, can brag about is that they’ve succeeded in convincing virtually everyone, including many lukewarm skeptics, that manmade CO2 is main culprit behind CAGW, a false notion. In reality it is a minor factor compared to H2O and aerosols.

Ian W

And water vapor is not a ‘green house gas’ in the same way as CO2 which is a radiative gas. CO2 when given sufficient energy by collision with other atmospheric molecules most likely N2 will emit that energy as an infrared photon in a random direction. If a CO2 molecule is hit by an IR photon of the right frequency it will start to vibrate and either almost immediately re-emit an IR photon (of a slightly different frequency) in a random direction, or if a collision takes place before remitting the IR, pass the vibrational energy onto another atmospheric molecule again most likely N2.
Water holds heat as latent heat of phase change. So as cloud water molecules in droplets change phase to water vapor they absorb the latent heat of vaporization but do not change temperature. Similarly, when an ice crystal melts to become a water droplet its molecules emit the latent heat of fusion and do not change temperature.
Conflating water vapor and carbon dioxide as ‘green house gases’ is not accurate as their behavior is totally different.

Ian W
You are spouting rubbish.
Both CO2 and H2O are radiative greenhouse gases. It is a function of their molecular shapes.

Ian W:
H2O is indeed a GHG in the same way as CO2. Both are compound molecules composed of two different atoms, unlike N2 or O2 but like CH4 or NOx. Water and carbon dioxide gas even share some overlap in their absorption bands.


There is no ‘back radiation’, defined as a real energy flux. It is a radiation field isolated by placing a solid shield behind the detector. That radiation field, its power over a multi-wavelength detector or the integral of the ‘Poynting Vectors’ of individual wavelengths, is scaled with respect to the Planck Irradiation Function, the Radiation Field that he calculated would be emitted by a back body cavity emitter for a particular temperature.
Only the vector sum of the opposing PIFs, called emittances or exitances, over the shared wavelength range, can do thermodynamic work. This is a result of Maxwell’s Equations. The real behaviour of the atmosphere is defined by self-absorption of the various GHG bands.

Leonard Weinstein

For those who make statements about back radiation and it’s effect on surface temperature, and also how optically absorbing gases on a planet cause a temperature rise, see the following:
If you don’t understand the analysis, please keep you uninformed comments to yourself.


Yup; a good analysis. However, ‘back radiation’ is used by Climate Alchemists to claim feedback via the extra ‘forcing’ causing extra surface emittance. This is ludicrous, not even High School physics because it leads to 40% increase of energy from nowhere.
The scintillation experiment shows the +/- 4x peaking individual amplitude for the thermal noise from various IR wavelengths. Increase IR ‘forcing’ and you get less net surface IR so it has to warm up to increase convection and evaporation.
Never in science has so many mistakes been made by so many, and the dumb politicians like Obama paid for it!


Leonard laments: “If you don’t understand the analysis, please keep you uninformed comments to yourself.”
Such dangerous arrogance is the first sign of quackery. How did the Sky Dragons sneak back in here? You know, the ones who coauthored a book with the registered child rapist who is an iron sun crackpot? Yeah, *those* guys are telling us to shut up because we don’t understand their mere technical word games that amount to pure nonsense, noted too by string theorist Motl. Iron sun guy is on Goddard’s blog this week, invoking the singular ancient god of the Egyptions to invoke the beauty of neutron repulsion, spiritual center of all life in the solar system. Al Gore is lovin’ it, giggling on his way to the bank.
-=NikFromNYC=-, Ph.D. in chemistry (Columbia/Harvard)


To NikFromNYC: don’t ever imagine that I am a dragonslayer. They asked me to join but I prefer to be independent.
If you claim you know physics, explain night-vision science. If the device measured the exitance of the source, the image would not shimmer back to zero amplitude.
I have measured coupled convection and radiation for many decades and created process plant involving GHG heating and cooling. What I say goes because otherwise those production plants would not work.
The Climate Alchemists can blame Carl Sagan and Goody who taught people like Lindzen incorrect physics. Any physicists who imagine exitance is a real energy flux need to go back to school. Only the vector sum of exitances at a plane give real net flux.

I understand that the first sentence in the article linked to is wrong. Hence a straw man. As such, there is no need to read further. Your ignorance of the science is clear and I’ve got better things to do with my time. I’m guessing you don’t agree with this sentence (from the “Heat Transfer Handbook”).
“All materials continuously emit and absorb electromagnetic waves, or photons, by changing their internal energy on a molecular level.”
If you agree with that statement, you know how a cold body radiates energy to a warm body. If you think this violates the second law of thermodynamics, you don’t understand the second law.
Enough about this. I’ll not respond further.

Leonard Weinstein

NikFrom NYC,
I have rejected the Sky Dragons positions, not supported it. Please read my analysis, as it explains the physics of backradiation, its actual effects, and what actually causes the atmospheric greenhouse effect. Until you read it and have real comments specifically on the material, you are just as bad as the sky dragons. My comment was not arrogance, it was a response to the many comments that were made by people that do not understand the basic physics, and was an appeal to not comment when you do not understand basic radiation physics..


Sure, I don’t disagree with this. However, one obvious component of that net resistance between the surface and 3K outer space is the radiative absorptivity of the atmosphere. Nobody I know seriously asserts that a single layer model is a particularly good one as in it will lead to good quantitative agreement with atmospheric radiative warming as it does indeed neglect things like active heat transport in convection and latent heat (which short circuit some fraction of the “bare” absorptive resistance), the thermal lapse rate, and so on. That doesn’t in any way negate the statement that there is almost certainly a positive, nonzero, \partial T/\partial P_{CO_2} in the dynamical response of the climate to more CO_2. Nonlinear complex behavior could confound it (with difficulty), and the derivative could be small enough to be utterly lost in noise and natural processes, and it could be (and I think, probably is) partially cancelled in the total derivative by negative feedbacks from other parts of the climate system, but it simply isn’t sensible to think that the “bare” linear response to more CO_2 is not increased average temperature. Beers-Lambert and almost any sensible model you like are going to predict a positive response, not a negative or neutral one.
There is certainly nothing about this warming due to increased net resistance between surface and sink that violates the first or second law, however (an often-stated Slayer position) and at the end of the day, one can simply look at the figures in Petty’s book A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation”, which are direct observations of the greenhouse effect in action, fractionated by the lapsed temperature of the emitting layer per band in the relevant parts of the spectrum. I don’t know how anybody who understands electrodynamics could ever look at these graphs and not go hmm, yup, there is a greenhouse effect all right.
The details of the many processes involved don’t make this good evidence that we should believe any of the “obvious” linearized single layer models, and sadly computing a detailed solution is basically impossible by twenty or thirty orders of magnitude (where we have no particularly good reason to think that nonlinear partial differential systems will suddenly become computable for this most difficult problem in the history of nonlinear partial differential systems at the scales we can afford to reach).
In truth, what we are is far, far more ignorant about the climate than we think we are. Beyond the obvious autocorrelation times of the short range behavior, the one thing we learn about the climate from looking it its past (poorly known!) record is that it is not a stationary process. Modelling it with a stationary projective dynamical theory is just silly, and bound to fail. IMO.
That means that we really don’t know what the climate will do in response to increased CO_2, any more than we know what it would have done if CO_2 hadn’t changed. But humans seem to really hate admitting that there is something that we don’t know.

Uncle Gus

I too have been scammed by almost-believable no-back-radiation arguments before now. Luckily, I remembered my basic physics just in time! It’s just necessary to remember that EVERYTHING radiates ALL the time, regardless of whether or not it is colder or hotter than another body. That’s the basic difference between radiative and conductive thermodynamics.
AlecM is not confused – he just won’t bloody listen!


To Uncle Gus and anyone else who has tried to take me on about basic physics. There is a serious problem with radiative heat transfer understanding. It comes from the earliest Law of Radiation, Prévost’s Theory of Exchanges. August Prévost in 1791 put forward the proposition that this was a continuous process, the net transfer between two bodies being the difference of the continuous fluxes, assumed to be at the S-B rate. This has confused generations of scientists.
It’s because it conflicts with Maxwell’s Laws. John Henry Poynting in 1886 worked out the concept of the Poynting Vector; for a plane monochromatic wave this has a mean value of ε.c.E^2/2 where ε is the relative permittivity of free space, c the velocity of light and E the magnitude of the electric Vector. Poynting Vectors sum as vectors. Therefore if you have two equal temperature plates, insulated backs in a vacuum, a short distance apart, on average there is zero net radiative flux.
This is not the S-B flux from one plate to the other minus the same in the other direction, with equal numbers of ‘photons’ in different directions. The photons do not exist until the instant they are transferred from matter to the ‘aether’ or vice-versa and on average, for zero net radiant heat flux, there are no photons created or destroyed.
However, you do get thermal incoherence, and this is centred about zero but randomly goes to +/- 4x the amplitude of any monochromatic wave, hence the shimmering of night vision goggles or camera image. If anyone can find fault with this, please explain using correct physics. DO NOT make assumptions which you haven’t thought out and can’t prove by reference to experiment.


Sky Dragons are banned here for the best of reasons. Not only are they crazy but their paper tiger back of the envelope slaying of the greenhouse effect allows alarmists to *hide* their positive feedbacks from the public eye by having Al Gore train activists to slander all climate model skeptics as being outright deniers of the greenhouse effect itself. And by now you and everybody here is very much well aware of this, and thus your motives are also suspect as you mix feedback arguments with Sky Dragon denial of the greenhouse effect itself, purposefully confusing the two, loudly, in a public forum.
The difference between the textbook greenhouse effect and computer model assumptions is the central whistleblowing duty of any seasoned skeptic. Here, you help defeat that effort, or try to at least.

Leonard Weinstein

NikFrom NYC,
You continue to make statements when you do not even know what my position is and what I say. Read my writeup (the site I gave), and comment. Your preaching about the Sky Dragons is not relevant to me, I have disagreed with them.

Leonard Weinstein

NikFrom NYC,
Don’t quote your degrees to me. I have degrees in Physics (Florida State) and a ScD in Aerospace Engineering (GWU), and have given talks to Princeton, Cambridge, and many others. I do not like to throw my degrees around like you but need to respond here.


What is really being detected is the thermal incoherence about zero mean flux, thus proving net energy flux is the vector sum of opposing emittances.

No. Two opposing “energy vectors” do not cancel each out. That would be a violation of the energy conservation principle.
Energy is a scalar quantity, not a vector. Electromagnetic energy is carried by photons. Yes, a photon could be characterized as a vector, propagating in a specific direction with speed c. But photons are bosons. They don’t follow the Pauli exclusion principle, so they don’t ‘collide’ with each other like ordinary particles (fermions). So unlimited numbers of bosons can occupy the same space without any interaction.
At the molecular level, energy transfer caused by IR absorption takes place when a molecule absorbs an incoming IR photon, with a resultant increase in its scalar internal energy. What you’re suggesting is that when a molecule absorbs two photons coming from opposite directions, it says to itself: “Hey, I just hit by opposing photons, so I’m ignoring both of them”. But that can’t happen because the increase in internal energy is scalar, not dependent on the direction of the incoming photon. It all adds up because the scalar energy traveling in an electromagnetic wave can be modeled precisely by the scalar wave equation, a linear system.


Go back to Planck and then work out the bit he missed out. He hated the idea of a photon. They do not exist except at the moment of energy transfer to or from Planck’s quantised dissipative oscillator at the ‘cavity’ in a surface of condensed matter or other energy transformation process.
So, you must go to Maxwell’s Laws: conservation of energy requires that monochromatic heat transfer rate per unit volume of matter = – ∇.Fv where Fv is the monochromatic radiation flux density. Integrate this over all wavelengths and at a plane and you get Qdot = – ∆exitance at the plane. Add in thermal incoherence and for equal temperature emitters you have for each wavelength a standing wave of amplitude 2x each wavelength amplitude with a superimposed oscillation about zero peaking at +/- 4x each wavelength, hence the shimmering in the night vision goggles. For unequal temperatures you also have a travelling wave of amplitude equal to the difference of source amplitudes; only this energy flux exists.
At the Earth’s surface, for equal temperature of surface and atmosphere, there is net zero IR emission in all the self-absorbed atmospheric GHG bands. The only mean net IR emission is 40 W/m^2 in the atmospheric window plus 23 W/m^2 in the weakly absorbed H2O bands with a few km emission/absorption depth.
GHG absorption of IR is very different from absorption at a solid in that you cannot have thermalisation of the energy in the gas phase. If you did so, the absorptivity would exceed emissivity; can’t do that at local thermodynamic equilibrium, a breach of Kirchhoff’s Law of Radiation. So, you have to consider the gas phase and all heterogeneous boundaries; the excess energy only thermalises at those boundaries! Hence Tyndall’s experiment does not prove gas phase thermalisation – it happens at the inside surface of the brass tube!
So, now you can see why Climate Alchemy’s ‘back radiation’ and ‘positive feedback’ is juvenile physics!


I’m right with Nylo on this one.
Look, the real problem here is that you do not really know these laws of thermodynamics of which you speak. There is absolutely no violation of either the first or second law in the fact that interpolating an absorptive layer between a heated object with finite heat capacity and an infinite capacity cold reservoir like the 3 K of outer space will cause the heated object’s temperature to go up. Not because it is being “warmed” by the absorptive layer — because the flow of heat from the heated object to the cold reservoir is slowed by the interpolated layer, and its temperature has to go up for it to stay in detailed balance. This is an open system with an external heat source, not a stationary problem in passive heat flow from one infinite reservoir to another as in an intro physics text book.
The single layer model is readily available to look at, and can be solved by hand for the steady state in the limiting case of a perfect absorber. One can then analyze entropy changes and conclude that no processes involved violate the first or second law — quite the contrary, they are derived from a statement of the first law (which is energy conservation, after all) and the net entropy change involved is the transfer of heat from the original energy source, e.g the Sun, to the cold reservoir, e.g. outer space, via the intermediate steps of absorption and reradiation by the planet and absorption and reradiation by the interpolated layer.
It is fine to argue that overall atmospheric feedbacks may — or even probably do — cancel out most of the differential warming caused by marginal increases in CO_2 at this point, if only because for the Earth to have approximately stable temperatures at all the stable temperature has to be a crossover point for water vapor feedback — water vapor (or if you prefer, the entire collective water cycle) has to respond to a positive temperature fluctuation by increasing cooling to push the system back towards equilibrium, and it has to respond to a negative temperature fluctuation by increading warming. Otherwise, the first time a warming fluctuation occurred, it would increase water vapor in the atmosphere, which would warm it further, which would increase water vapor still more, and the system would run away on the hot side. Note that I’m not asserting that it is only water vapor involved — the collective nonlinear feedback behavior of the system will be at the crossover in order for any temperature to be locally stable, so one always expects that the overall sign of the response to a “warming perturbation” to be negative cooling and to a “cooling perturbation” to be positive warming. This really is elementary physics — taught in any intro course when stable vs unstable equilibrium is considered. It can be confounded, of course, in nonlinear multivariate systems, but the simple linearized argument for positive feedback from water vapor makes little sense given the empirical lack of a irreversible runaway warming triggered by any particularly warm year. A random walk cannot stabilize it — there must be net negative feedback for long term stability.
But to argue that there is no greenhouse effect at all, or even that there is no marginal warming at all from increased CO_2 — that’s just crazy talk. The latter is just barely possible, but if it is true it would be due to some truly crazy internal multivariate nonlinearities in the system that cannot be described at all in linearized terms.
My credentials — in case you want to throw back a no true scotsman argument or impugn my knowledge of physics — I’m a physics Ph.D., currently teaching intermediate electrodynamics to physics majors (with a bunch of grad students sitting in) and introductory mechanics and introductory E&M to undergraduate life science and engineering students respectively, and have written my own physics textbooks after having taught physics at all levels (and done research in theoretical physics in various subjects) since roughly 1977. That doesn’t mean that I’m right, of course — that would be a logical fallacy — but it damn skippy means that I’m a lot more likely to be right than nearly anyone you are likely to ever meet and if nothing else you ought to take what I say above very seriously and not reply with some trivially mistaken argument.
The skeptical argument against catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is not helped politically by individuals who assert that there is no such thing as the greenhouse effect or that laws of thermodynamics are violated by “back radiation”, etc. That’s sheer nonsense — they are no such thing — and besides, it is absolutely bone simple to go outside and measure downwelling thermal radiation from the atmosphere, any night of the week. This downwelling radiation would be absent if there were no atmosphere, right? This downwelling radiation is part of the energy flow budget of the surface. The surface is going to radiatively cool faster with no atmosphere than it is going to cool with one that absorbs its outgoing radiation and re-radiates part of it back. It really is as simple as that.


You cannot claim there is zero CO2-AGW unless you cover all possible control systems in the atmosphere. And climate Alchemy has made so many mistakes in the physics, there is no chance of that.
Re: ‘downwelling radiation’, a pyrgeometer measures the apparent temperature. This is then converted by the S-B equation to the notional emittance (aka exitance) of the atmosphere in the view angle of the instrument.
That view angle is set by two parts of the apparatus; the box which shields the back of the detector from the emittance of the emitters in the opposite direction and the hole in the front. Have back to back pyrgeometers in the atmosphere and with no temperature gradient, the net signal is zero. This is because it is the vector sum of emittances. Therefore the only IR heat transfer at any plane in the atmosphere, including the surface plane, is the difference of opposing emittances.
In other words, ‘ downwelling radiation’ for equal surface and local atmosphere temperatures transfers zero energy. To claim otherwise is to participate in the biggest scientific cock up in history.
Put it another way, just because a pyrgeometer is calibrated in W/m^2, the potential energy flux of the emitter(s) in its view angle to a sink at absolute zero, doesn’t mean it’s real. Only part of it can be real if it is from a body with a higher net emittance in the overlapping wavelengths than the radiation sink.
This is Radiative Physics 101, proven by experiment. No-one has ever proved that back radiation is real, defined as doing it by calorimetry.
“The surface is going to radiatively cool faster with no atmosphere than it is going to cool with one that absorbs its outgoing radiation and re-radiates part of it back. It really is as simple as that.”
TRUE, but Climate Alchemy has completely failed to understand why! More at another time!


Here goes a risk of asking a couple of dumb questions. But first I should point out I understand the insulating nature of the atmosphere and that if the insulation effect is increased (i.e. with more CO2), then (all other things being equal) the surface temperature of the earth will most likely increase.
So, first, how much of a temperature increase would the changes in CO2 levels (since, say 1900) account for, purely on the basis of the increased insulating effect of the increased CO2?
Second, what effect would those same CO2 increases have on insulating the earth from the sun’s warming? (Clearly, insulation works both ways, except whilst the earth may warm, the sun most surely will not). In other words, which has the bigger effect?
Third, are the above insulating effects consistent with the majority of the GCMs?
Sorry to drag this back to basics, but I sometimes wonder if we don’t lose sight of the forest while we debate about the trees.


I’m not referring to the device of which you speak. I’m talking about spectrographs taken of the atmosphere, looking up. These show nothing like the thermalized radiation you are talking about. They show the actual spectrum being radiated by the greenhouse gases in particular. Top of atmosphere spectrographs, looking down, show matching/inverted patterns where the GHGs have taken a “bite” out of high temperature surface emissions and replaced them with much cooler emissions at a temperature that corresponds to the height at which the atmosphere starts to be transparent to radiation in those bands. Taken together, they aren’t just convincing, they are a slam dunk.
I have no idea — really — what you mean when you talk about the vector sum of emittances. Are you trying to refer to the Poynting vector? The flux of the Poynting vector through some particular surface? I also don’t understand your point when you say:

In other words, ‘ downwelling radiation’ for equal surface and local atmosphere temperatures transfers zero energy. To claim otherwise is to participate in the biggest scientific cock up in history.

I really think that you need to take a look at the energy flow in the single layer model. It’s really pretty simply, especially if you consider a perfect absorber layer and pure Stefan-Boltzmann. It’s less simple for a more realistic model like that which Petty presents and discusses in Chapter 6 of his book, but it is hardly a “cock up”, and in both cases the ground layer has to reject the sum of the external heat source (which is much hotter, e.g. the Sun) and the back radiation. Part of this outgoing radiation does indeed get absorbed by the absorber at the same rate that the absorber returns it, but that doesn’t stop the ground from having to warm up to maintain a total outward directed flow of energy equal to the sum of the solar heating and the back radiation. In other words, even though in detailed balance, of course the net flow between the atmosphere and ground is zero, the ground is still stuck warming enough to reject BOTH the energy that it bounces back and forth between it and the atmosphere and the energy it receives from the sun and ultimately has to lose to space.
This is really obvious with the single layer model, where the Earth receives heat at rate
Q_s + Q_b (sun plus back radiation), it radiates heat at the rate Q_s + Q_b (otherwise it isn’t in balance, it is warming or cooling), the surrounding shell receives radiation at rate Q_s + Q_b (perfect absorber) and radiates Q_s outward (so the whole system is in balance) and Q_b back inward, completing the the model so that it is consistent. Total flow in is Q_s, from the sun only. Total flow out is Q_s, radiated into the outward direction from the absorber layer only. But the temperature the Earth has to be to radiate Q_s + Q_b for any nonzero Q_b is strictly greater than the temperature it would have if Q_b were zero, that is, if there were no atmosphere/absorptive layer interpolated between it and some presumed absolute zero surrounding absorber (where 3 K is an excellent approximation).
In this model, of course, the interpolating shell (if it has roughly the same radius as the Earth, only a bit larger) acquires the temperature the Earth would have had if there were no layer, as it has to radiate Q_s outward, just like the Earth would have had to do. In the atmosphere, it isn’t a perfect absorber, it isn’t a perfect conductor perfectly insulated from the Earth’s surface, there is convection etc, and the entire atmosphere has a lapse rate. However, the back radiation in the coupled channel at the surface equilibrium temperature basically ensures that the surface does not cool from radiation emitted in this channel (or band — the comparatively narrow range of frequencies where e.g. CO_2 is a strong absorber). Again, the surface has to be warmer to reject enough heat through the unblocked part of the spectrum at its blackbody temperature.
I’m sure we can make up some lovely stories about somebody receiving basketballs from their coach at the rate of one every five seconds and having to pass them to someone at the other end of the court before the next one arrives. Part of the drill is run with no opposition, and it is pretty easy — the player catches the ball and throws it, preventing balls from building up in his end of the court. Then an opposing player gets in the way. One ball in five the opposition intercepts the ball and immediately passes it back. Now the player has to throw six balls every twenty five seconds instead of five, and has to work harder and gets hotter even though hey, there is no net transfer of basketballs between him and the opposition and balls never build up in his hands or the hands of the opposition. It doesn’t even matter if the opposition returns all of the balls to the player. They could return every other ball to the player, and throw the other on down the court themselves (a better metaphor). The player still has to throw more balls per second when there is opposition than when there isn’t even if the opposition doesn’t ever accumulate balls and hence hold more balls than the player.
Obviously, the rate at which the Earth throws these “balls” is proportional to T^4. That’s why the temperature goes up in a way related to the rate at which the atmosphere returns part of the radiation, even though in the end there isn’t necessarily any net transfer of radiation in the blocked channel.


Answer to John H.
For the present Earth’s atmosphere there is zero CO2-AGW. The GHE is set by clouds and ice.
Ice ages are the result of a change in cloud albedo as biofeedback changes, mostly phytoplankton, but this requires a thermohaline circulation. If there is no thermohaline circulation, caused by no ice caps, you get another 10 K or so mean temperature rise, the other stable atmosphere mode.

RGB Is correct. Using a standard infrared thermometer like I have and used by many technicians use in the HVAC industry, the downwelling radiation (AKA “back radiation”) can be easily observed.
In clear skies the observed temperature is not correct because the atmosphere greenhouse gases do not radiate over the full spectrum of a black body. But clouds do, and one can even estimate their altitude by their temperature difference with the surface and an assumed approximate lapse rate. The thermometer is observing and receiving radiation from a colder area. If it is pointed at a wall in a room at the same temperature of the device, it will correctly read the temperature even though the net heat transfer is zero.
According to the Stefan-Boltzmann law radiation, a body emits radiation proportional to T^4. It does not look around for a warmer body and stop radiating if it finds one.
I noticed the equations in one of the ASHRAE handbooks (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) when estimating heat loss and transfer in a room include (among other things) calculation of the radiation of all the surfaces, walls and windows in the room, even the cold ones. These are practical people who make a living by being right most of the time.
When the content of a greenhouse gas increases, the effective photon escape to the surface altitude drops to a lower and warmer level which increases the downwelling radiation and reduces the net heat leaving the surface, forcing it to warm. Knowing the increase in radiation from spectral tools such SpectralCalc or Modtran, my three level global energy balance model can estimate the surface temperature change. (

Thank you.. that’s all I can say. That 238.5 watts/m^2 was made when co2 levels were 370 – 380 ppm. I wonder what the new rates would be based on a 400 ppm of co2.


Gravy trains are difficult to stop. The climate apparatchiks in the various government institutions, politicians milking the renewable subsidies and the attacks by environmentalists, will make sure the AGW meme continues for some time to come.
Let’s face it, if you are desparate enough to pretend to be a Nobel laureate, there will be nothing you will not stoop to.


“It has been roughly two decades since there was a trend in temperature significantly different from zero”
And the powers that be that hand out taxpayer’s monies need to amplify this every time there is another handout demanded.

Peter Miller

In reality, as the Pause continues unabated, plus more and more blackouts occur in parts of the western world during winter due to over-reliance on renewables, so the funding for ‘climate science’ will contract.
A smart ‘climate scientist’ will conclude that it is now time to come clean and say it as it really is, that way there may be a chance of surviving the inevitable cull of pseudo-scientists spouting the official alarmist line.
I have to admit that the thought of an army of unemployed ‘climate scientists’ gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Unfortunately, these clowns will never be prosecuted for economic crimes against humanity.


Obviously there are not many “smart climate scientists” willing to kill the cash cow. I feel sorry for some who know the truth, but need to lie to keep their jobs. What a degradation from the principles that likely were held when they first entered this profession .

Colin Porter

It is good to see a lukewarmer admitting he may be exaggerating a climate sensitivity of even 1 degree C. Good on you Matt Ridley. Take note Lord Monckton and Nigel Lawson also.

Martin A

This is a real problem for the scaremongers – there is no obvious replacement. In a few years biotech or nano tech will be producing scare stories, but for now its looking increasingly likely there will be a hiatus in funding.


Current “pause” will likely last at least another 15 years. But global warming will start again afterwards.What we are seeing is just an oceanic modulation of the warming induced by increased GHGs, which reduce it in some periods (like 1945-75, or now) and exagerate it in others (like 1975-98). Climate models will keep exagerating the warming until they admit that at least half of the warming we saw in 75-98 was natural in origin, and not caused by CO2, i.e. until they reduce their climate sensibility.

Poor old Nylo!

He must be on the g$avy t$ain!

George Lawson

Amazing how some people can forecast the weather in 15 years time!


@George Lawson, only profets forecast the weather (and they often miss). I was only talking about global average temperatures, not weather. And rather than forecasting, I was extrapolating observed past cyclical behaviour. The only implicit assumption is that everything will behave as it always has, but yes, it is a rather strong assumption. That’s why I only said “likely”, which in IPCC language just means 67% certainty.


Heh, pretty standard skepticism by Nylo, were there such a thing. The question is whether or not the recovery from the LIA continues or not. Since that recovery is a millennial scale phenomenon, presently not understood, we must be agnostic.
Not terribly cool to knee-jerk over ‘global warming will start again afterwards’. We don’t really know, now, do we?


You must hone your climate sensibility, heh.


Dang, ‘refine’ instead of ‘hone’.


(I meant, only profets forecast the weather THAT FAR into the future).

Alberta Slim

Nylo……. prophets not profets. All the CAGW scammers are making profits. ;^D

While the theoretical, laboratory “climate sensitivity” of doubling CO2 from 280 to 560 ppm in dry air might be a gain of 1.2 degrees C near earth’s surface, it’s quite possible IMO that the effective “equilibrium CS” of such an increase in the actual atmosphere could be around zero degrees C, thanks to negative water vapor, cloud and other feedbacks. Climatology is still in its infancy and valuable research resources have been wasted on meaningless, GIGO models, when what has been and still is needed are more and better observational data.

Lady Life Grows

It’s called “Le Chatelier’s Principle” in basic chemistry–any change in concentrations of a chemical system will produce feedbacks that partially counteract that change.
Example: add CO2 to the atmosphere, whether by ocean outgassing, by fossil fuels, or by killing soil organisms–will produce negative feedbacks, such as increased plant growth to absorb the carbon dioxide, ocean absorption, etc.
One key is offset–the feedback must be negative. The other key is partial–the change is not reduced to zero.


The third is “equilibrium”. That is, you meant “equilibrium concentration” in a chemical system. The earth’s climate system is in a less well-defined state of free energy balance than a chemical equilibrium, because it is an open, nonlinear, chaotic, multivariate system. It therefore can violate this principle. However, there are good reasons in the theory of nonlinear chaotic multivariate systems to think that it does not — in particular the long term quasi-stability of the climate system.
This is precisely why I am puzzled when climate scientists assert strong positive feedback from water vapor. That isn’t the default assumption by any means. Indeed, it is the least likely assumption, one that would need to be carefully and extensively proven. Positive water vapor feedback at equilibrium violates the concept of stability — it is difficult to explain how the feedback could be positive and yet the system is nevertheless stable.

Thanks for your well-reasoned, rational and competent comments unlike the fanatical, histerical and histrionic venom spewing forth from RACook1978. Yours is the type of useful information that can lead climate scientists to reconsider their assumptions and tune their models accordingly. This should be an on-going process as more climate data comes online, and I am sure that it is.


I’m puzzled. How do you arrive at the number “15 years”? By consulting a Ouija board? Your local gypsy? Tarot? What exactly does the word “likely” mean in this assertion? How does the ocean “modulate” the warming induced by increased GHGs, and how exactly are you solving the coupled Navier-Stokes equations (including all latent heat terms and integration over all of the wavelengths involved across all of the line absorptivities involved, accounting fully for things like precession, obliquity, eccentricity, solar variability, the unpredictability of decadal oscillations and volcanic activity) that actually describe this process?
I mean Jeeze, you take a problem that is (apparently) not accurately computable by smart people working very hard with the world’s largest computers and you solve it in your head and make a positive pronouncement with an air of absolute certainty.
Why not just say that we have no bloody idea what the climate will “likely” do over the next 15 years because we utterly lack a predictive understanding of the underlying dynamics on any sort of macroscopic scale with any sort of demonstrated predictive skill and the microscopic dynamics is not computable. Why use the word “likely” at all? How likely? How would you compute likelihood?
I know that what you mean to say is that you think it plausible that the ocean is — somehow — preventing CO_2 from warming the planet as much as it is supposed to according to the models, and that you think it probable that such warming as we have seen in recent years was from natural causes, interpreted as “warming that would have occurred anyway, maybe, even without CO_2”. But if you are going to be that specific — 15 years — support the assertion, please, with something more than “I think that”. I’m betting that you will invoke the PDO and the apparent periodicity in the temperature record from the last 150 years. Then explain why that pattern — that does not persist into the past earlier than 150 years ago (and fails absurdly to describe 500, 1000, 2000 years) “should” persist for the next 15 years, or 50 years, or 500 years.
In fact, explain that “pattern” at all. Not as a fit to a model, but in terms of computable physics.


Meh, 15 years is a pretty good guess by a lot of people and it has to do with the end of the concatenation of the cooling phases of the oceanic oscillations. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with your critique.
I’m a little amused that Nylo has been so attacked for what is fundamentally a reasonable skeptical speculation.


Let me put it this way. If the temperature starts back up in 15 years, it will be Right On Time, and if the rise is at the same slope as the last three times, it will again demonstrate, for the second time, that AnthroCO2 has little effect, ie, a demonstration of low climate sensitivity. It’s one we’ve seen already, in the last quarter of the last century.

Paul Hanlon

I think Nylo’s assumptions are reasonable. That’s about the way I’m thinking, and straight off the bat I’d say it’s linked to the PDO “phenomenon”. And I call it that because I haven’t a clue what actually causes it. Nobody does. In fact I’d go further and say if we only got the underlying cause of it out of this climate debacle, it will have gone some way to nearly being worth it.
I don’t think it is the shifting of a body of heat from one zone to another, rather it is whatever is causing that body of heat to shift is also doing subtle things to the rest of the climate that results in very roughly thirty year warm-cool cycles, and because some other phenomena has us in a longer term warming cycle, the warm periods warm more than the cool periods cool.
Trends always break down eventually, but given that we are, millenially speaking, in a very benign state at present, I think it’s safer to assume that temperatures will continue moving down slowly, and that it will likely last 15 or so years. This century we will have two cooling cycles and one warming one, so temps will be at or around the peak in 1998 by the end. That’s my hunch, based on an aggregation of all I’ve learnt here.


That’s my hunch, based on an aggregation of all I’ve learnt here.

And hunch’s are all well and good, as long as they aren’t presented as science to either politicians or the public so they can vote on them under the impression that they are voting on the basis of a scientifically known fact. Indeed, the word “hunch” is about perfect. It implies intuition and the continuation of a possible pattern, without trying to argue that the pattern has any known reason to continue because we cannot really establish why it has held in the recent past where it has held but no further back (as far as we can tell).
Overall, hunch’s are bets that the future will be like the past, and (autocorrelation in physical processes being what it is) sometimes that’s a good bet. Other times (autocorrelation being what it is in chaotic nonlinear systems, physical or not) it isn’t. Today is a day I’d have lost the standard “hunch” bet that the weather today is like the weather yesterday. I’d have lost it yesterday as well. However, it looks like a good bet for the next three or four days (according to much more sophisticated forecasting models). Five or six or seven days out, even the sophisticated forecasting models are reduced to the weather this year is likely to be like the weather was last year — or better yet an average over a decade of years. And nobody has any idea what the weather will be like the next decade, because it is no better than even odds that it will be like the weather was last decade, and less than even odds like the decade before.
Based, of course, on the ill-defined notion that the past, statistically speaking, is a decent predictor of the future.


Current “pause” will likely last at least another 15 years. But global warming will start again afterwards.What we are seeing is just an oceanic modulation of the warming induced by increased GHGs, which reduce it in some periods (like 1945-75, or now) and exagerate it in others (like 1975-98). Climate models will keep exagerating the warming until they admit that at least half of the warming we saw in 75-98 was natural in origin, and not caused by CO2, i.e. until they reduce their climate sensibility.
I think you are exactly right. If you look at the temperature anomaly chart and attempt to correct for the PD0, the temperature curve looks different. Remove .4 degrees for each of the cycles and you get something that looks like a temp rise of .3 degrees from 1910 to 1945, then .3 degrees from 1945 to 1975, then .2 degrees from 1975 to 1998. The PDO is now in a cooling phase and effectively canceling any rise in temp from C02. It appears that the sensitivity to C02 is dropping. So I am of the opinion that in about 60 years, we will find our temperatures at .5 degrees hotter. That’s my WAG. All rationalization, nothing empirical.


Once more for the collection…
Where’s global warming?
By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist | March 8, 2009
What happened to global warming?
By Paul Hudson, BBC | October 9, 2009
Whatever Happened to Global Warming?
Matt Ridley, WSJ | September 4, 2014
Here’s the Conversation finally acknowledging “the pause” in a begrudgingly written perfunctory piece:
The alarmists at The Con collectively refused to acknowledge “the pause” …. hence why there are no comments! ☺

And that is why “Global Warming” was changed to “Climate Change”.
Everyone understood what Global Warming meant/was, so when it wasn’t happening, there was a problem for the CAGW crowd. However, Climate Change can easily be blurred into the everyday changing weather. In this context, there will never be a “pause” in Climate Change.
And so it goes.


There is no alternative political narrative to “climate change” so it will live on, no matter how scientifically unsound. It was never about science anyway. The fact is that the political “left” has nothing better to push and neither has the “right”. We’re locked and inertia means the establishment will remain “liberal” even when the meaning of the word liberal is a literal mystery to those that claim to be so.


It is all so interesting – but we don’t really know anything for certain. We little humans can utter no trustworthy opinions about how the chaotic manifestations of the world climate will develop in our time. Just wait – I will tell you all about it in 500 years’ time!
But at least the IPCC should come down from their hubris-ridden horse of sublime knowing-it-all.


That attitude is all they have, so admitting that they really know nothing would mean they would have to fold their tents and move on…..never going to happen! Like a bad tenant, they will need to be evicted.


Advancing insight in a settled science. Next they want a debate! *keeps on dreaming*

And back in 2012, the UK Met Office resonded to David Rose’s article, pointing out the standstill.
Today the Mail on Sunday published a story written by David Rose entitled “Forget global warming – it’s Cycle 25 we need to worry about”.
This article includes numerous errors in the reporting of published peer reviewed science undertaken by the Met Office Hadley Centre and for Mr. Rose to suggest that the latest global temperatures available show no warming in the last 15 years is entirely misleading.

Clovis Marcus

The evidence of the past 26/19/16 years is that there is some self regulation going on somewhere in the form of negative feed back. Instead of trying to explain this the scientists are finding more positive feedbacks to make it seem “it’s worse than we thought.” A new study seems to suggest the soil is the source of yet more positive feedback. I’m not sure where this is being manifested but if it is a real effect it is being masked by other processes of hiding the heat, it not being there, or other negative feedbacks that are not apparent and don’t attract research resources.
The arrogance of policymakers (and I think it is a qualification for the job) is that they can control the climate. I have been castigated by a scientist for using the control knob analogy as it being over simplistic. I suggested he communicate that with the policy makers as that is certainly how they view it. I was told that what policy makers wish to believe is not the business of scientists…so if governments was to interpret information wrongly or pick information that reinforces their agenda, the scientists will let them. More than that they will incentivise the finding of reinforcing information.
Aa turnaround is starting. Increasingly science is distancing itself from policy decisions. It cannot directly upset government. The teat still has milk. Stand by, when democratic process says “enough of this” for the scientists to point at their papers and say “we were misunderstood/misrepresented”. We don’t make policy. No of course not. But you stood by and allowed your findings to be misrepresented it the media without screaming in return for 5 minutes of fame.
It really is worse than we thought.


Sooner or later, the science will acknowledge reality, the scare has been exaggerated.

Tim in Florida

Look in the mirror.


Too many of you alarmists deliberately conflate skepticism about catastrophe with skepticism of the basic science. You are transparent in your ignorance or disingenuousness. Why do you think that is good communication?


Welcome to the Dark Side, Mr. Ridley. We’ve been expecting you.


I’m shocked!


What this layman acknowledges is the raw observational data and that which has been “homogenized” without bias, because “the science” is all over the damned place. Fact is that the claims of those that have been crying CAGW from the roof tops has been and is still being falsified by the data. In short those scientists and their disciples that failed to acknowledge the data for years now are not worth listening to because their “science” is just plain bad.


And who exactly is Matt Ridley? Oh, I guess he thinks his background in zoology makes him a climate expert. Why not ask, why have we seen no temperature decreases in the last two decades (as we’ve seen oscillations during the 20th century)? Why is the last decade the warmest on record, warmer than the previous warmest the decade before? Why do the oceans continue to warm, and global ice levels keep dropping… and why does the WSJ continue its irresponsible journalism of printing only one-sided Opinion pieces?

“And who exactly is Matt Ridley?”
Made me laugh.
He is a journalist writing something based on actual factual data.
Apparently this is not a combination that meets your approval.
LOL some more.


Which easy question to debunk? There are several choices.
Warmest decade? That easy…it was slight of hand. The 30’s likely were despite the “adjustments”.
The oceans continue to warm? That is cyclical, if only poorly understood ,and “continue” is based on a very short temp record most likely adjusted as the land temp has been.
Why is the global ice measurement dropping? It isn’t.
And to discredit the writer because his science is peripheral to the central debate is the hubris of one who considers his specialty as, well more special than others. I believe climate and it constant change is best understood by a generalist, but best examined, within their scope by a specialist.
As I recall Ridley was once in your camp….how do you like him now?


Could you please pick a couple temp reconstruction curves and put in your extrapolation of exactly how you think the temp is going to go? Say 100k ya, 10k ya, 100 ya? My take is that we are STILL WARMING from the last interglacial, just like we have many times before, warmer oceans, more CO2. Ice levels at the poles will soon provide a tipping point. Your point is that recent high frequency, high resolution data points to the Holocene temperature trend to reverse?

If indeed the WSJ “irresponsibly” only publishes one-sided opinion pieces, it is far from alone in this — the same applies to most other newspapers as well. There isn’t anything irresponsible about it, either — it is called freedom of the press. It is your responsibility, not theirs, to avail yourself with the balance of viewpoints you deem appropriate.
Furthermore, whether Matt Ridley is a climate expert is not germane to the issue. Everybody with half a brain can compare the temperatures, which have not risen, to the climate models, which predicted otherwise, and conclude that the models have failed. It may take a climate expert to explain exactly why they have failed, but it does not take one to observe that they have failed.
To use a simile: I’m not a car expert, but I’m perfectly able to conclude from observing my car making grinding noises and stalling that it is broken. I will then take it to a car expert to fix it. Should that car expert advise me that the car is indeed fine, I will go with my judgement, not his. Because, you know, I really want it fixed.
This whole “you’re not an expert, so you can’t have an opinion” thing is a red herring. It’s popularity among the warmers shows their sore lack of common sense.

Jeff Alberts

Unfortunately, some folks here make the same mistake, against those alarmists with non-climate experience, such as Tim Flannery or David Suzuki.


Barry pushes the old misleading claim about “warmest on record” as though that actually
has some relevance. His “record period ” covers all of about 150 years an carefully ignores the obvious recent warm periods : we know that dozen of decades were warmer during both the Medieval Warm Period and the Roman Warm Period, during neither of which were significant numbers of SUVs driving around. So much for the ignorant “warmest on record” claim.
Ice levels are not dropping any more than they have been in our historical past, if at all – the lack of sea level increases should convince anyone that this claim is bogus. And the oceans aren’t globally warming either. Shredding ignorant claims like Barry’s is just too easy….

“… and why does the WSJ continue its irresponsible journalism of printing only one-sided Opinion pieces?”
Setting aside your other errors and lapses in logic, you are mistaken about the WSJ. They have at least one columnist who very frequently writes articles supporting climate alarmism and attacking skeptics. His name is Paul Farrell. Whatever made you assume otherwise?
Okay, one more comment on your lack of logic. You attack a skeptic author as not being a ‘climate scientist.’ Do you also attack columnists who support climate alarmism who are not ‘climate scientists?’


“Global warming is caused by the desire for more tax money.”
Governments should defund climate science leaving climate scientists to elicit funds door-to-door. Save the clock tower, er, planet!
How much would you be willing to pay for their models and prognostications? How much would you pay to know the Arctic will be ice-free by 2014 and snowfall a rare and wondrous event?

David A

The WSJ published an article about a fact. Global warming has stopped. What is recorded in the oceans is less then 1/2 of predicted and somehow bypassed the first 700 meters, and below that the data error margins make any conclusion meaningless.
So Peter, are you in denial of this? Why should a journal suppress the truth?


Regardless of what you think of Murdoch Snr. and his propaganda network, you should try to address every argument on its merits, otherwise you are probably committing one kind of fallacy or another. Attacking the source of an argument, the publisher for example, is an ad hominem fallacy.
Whatever happened to global warming? What’s your favorite excuse for the failure of the models?

Reblogged this on I Didn't Ask To Be a Blog and commented:
“It has been roughly two decades since there was a trend in temperature significantly different from zero. “


Most understand the science, as explained by alarmists is not robust. Most scientists understand it is wrong. No amount of obfuscation will force nature out of its self regulating ways. If climate was so easily and drastically controlled by one of its parameters, we would have long ago had a planet that would not support life. The question is, why did we not have runaway warming when CO2 was at much higher levels? The answer seems to be that like today, CO2 followed temperature with a substantial time lag, and the self regulating ability of natural variations easily overwhelm any climate effect caused by humans.
No one has proven that warmer and more CO2 is not a beneficial thing today when it has always been that way in the past. Were it not for hubris we would not be having this debate.


The reason the leaders of China, India, and Germany will not attend the meeting is that they, like the Democrats who now do not want to seen with the incompetent, incoherent, “lead from behind” Leader of the Flee World. ( That is not a spelling mistake. Mr Obama flees from responsibility, knowledge and transparency.) They understand that everything he touches turns into chaos and he will evade repercussions from the inevitable disastrous results of his actions or lack of actions.
China and India want US money. Germany now sees that they need coal powered electricity. Who ever would have thought of that/? Their governments are in enough trouble. They don’t want to take a giant step down to Mr Obama’s level.
end of rant.

John Boles

“We call it riding the gravy train” I should rewrite “Have a cigar” with witty global warming lyrics for a laugh.


The U.N. will I’m sure create another cudgel since this one is off the rails. And all the ignorant Euros will swallow the next thing hook line and sinker too. Meanwhile Obama and the democratic party are still beating this dead horse.

Ian W

September 5, 2014 at 6:29 am
Ian W
You are spouting rubbish.
Both CO2 and H2O are radiative greenhouse gases. It is a function of their molecular shapes.

So you are saying that water molecules in a water droplet or ice crystals behave just like a Co2 molecules when they are hit by infrared photons? Do they immediately re-emit that IR in the same way as CO2?

What part of greenhouse “gas” do you not understand?


Water vapor, in the gas phase, is a powerful IR absorber. In fact, it is a much stronger absorber across the IR spectrum than CO2 is. In the liquid phase, the spectrum is considerably distorted and there is a large broad absorption band due to hydrogen bonding. Experimentally, water is quite a nuisance when doing IR work. Samples must be throughly dried lest residual water swamps out the spectrum of your sample of interest. Also, humidity can cause problems with the spectrometers themselves, if left unchecked.
You correctly note that water, with its high heat capacity and large phase change energies, moves large amounts of heat through the atmosphere via convection. But we note that these are quite separate processes.

David A

Not exactly separate, for they deal with the same energy, and that energy cannot multiply on its own. By this I mean that the ratio of how much the same energy is conducted vs radiated, vs. convected etc., varies depending on composition of atmospheric gases, W/L or Light spectrum, and the materials encountered including of course water or oceans.


The Pause
Is Because
of Flaws
In the Cause

Alberta Slim

Good one………………


They won’t run out of catastrophes. The myth of overpopulation is still hangin’ in there. Probably there are many regular WUWT readers who buy into this idea of us White Westerners going over to all of the Dark Continents, with Paul Ehrlich and Bill Gates, so we can put birth control in the water, promote rampant abortion, and conduct secret and coercive sterilizations on women.
The CAGW scam is practically the same, with all of the funded research, NGOs, the UN, and the Jesus-Complex All-Knowing Planet-Saving Good-For-Thee-But-Not-For-Me Marxists saving us from ourselves.

Thanks, Matt Ridley. Sanity and common sense should return.

Karl Havens

The commentary is technically correct if you are focused on the temperature of air, which is just one part of the earth’s biosphere that is warming. Increased temperature can manifest itself in the air, in the surface waters of the ocean, or in deep ocean waters. Please look a bit more carefully into the literature before reaching this conclusion. Ocean currents, which undergo cycles that can last decades, determine to a large extent where increased heat builds up. The earth has been in a multi-decade period where ocean currents have resulted in heating of deep ocean water (below 300 m). The amount of heating corresponds well with what is predicted from climate models based on atmospheric CO2 increases. At some time in the future (known form experience with many past events), the circulation pattern will change and that water will be brought to the surface, at which time surface ocean and air temperatures likely will increase rapidly. Don’t take my comments as valid, and likewise, don’t take the comments of the others who have replied here as valid either. Instead, please take a look at a journal article published in Nature Climate Change (“Recent intensification of wind-driven circulation in the Pacific and the ongoing warming hiatus”) Volume 4, March 2014, pages 222-227. This article clearly explains the phenomenon that I have described. Then you will have a broader context of information on which to base your conclusions.

David A

Karl says, “The earth has been in a multi-decade period where ocean currents have resulted in heating of deep ocean water (below 300 m). The amount of heating corresponds well with what is predicted from climate models based on atmospheric CO2 increases.”
Please but no. From 0 to 700 m virtually no warming within the error bars and less then one third of the CAGW models. From 700m plus, about 1/2 the warming predicted by the models. ( I guess for climate science this is damm good). Now pray tell me, assuming, and scientifically we are inside the error bars so should not assume, how is this fraction of a degree of warming in the deep oceans, with a turnover of about 1000 years, going to manifest as CAGW in the future?

It is always helpful to step back and take a look at the big picture occasionally.
Back radiation, reflected radiation, atmospheric radiation is real and it warms, it doesn’t warm equally though. It warms the land but it doesn’t warm the ocean.
The reason why is that IR radiation (atmospheric radiation) is absorbed and radiated by the top couple of microns of the surface. On land that is the end of the story, the land warms, but on the ocean it merely increases the rate of evaporation, which carries the energy away as latent heat and doesn’t result in any surface warming or warming at depth either.
Incidentally this also helps explain the UHI effect (cities are like deserts in that they inhibit evaporation and convection). This also explains how the real greenhouse effect is because of sunlight penetrating the ocean’s surface.

more soylent green!

There is not one shred of evidence that the earth’s climate system works the way the models have it working. Not one shred of evidence the models are correct. Not one shred of evidence the modelers have a clue.
Here’s what they have: CO2 is a greenhouse gas (true), atmospheric CO2 is increasing (also true), human emissions are causing the rise in atmospheric CO2 (mostly true), therefore the warming in the late 20th century was caused by CO2 (unproven, but likely somewhat true) and if human CO2 emissions continue, it will cause a climate cataclysm (pure speculation).


Alas, their explanations have made their predicament worse by implying that man-made climate change is so slow and tentative that it can be easily overwhelmed by natural variation in temperature—a possibility that they had previously all but ruled out.

This is what sprung out at me when they tried to offer any explanation for the pause. I have been relatedly told by fantasists at the Guardian (quoting SkS) that co2 was now the main driver of climate. I knew this was rubbish as the standstill was around a decade back then.

SkS – September 2010
Theory, models and direct measurement confirm CO2 is currently the main driver of climate change……
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.
Time – Oct. 14, 2010
Why CO2 Is the “Control Knob” for Global Climate Change

Here is the main driver and control knob in action.
“Global Temperature Update – No global warming for 17 years 11 months


I assume there are at this moment climatetistas out scouring the myths and fables, rumors and hints of other remotely possible disasters upon which to build an edifice of profitable hysteria and profit. The media naturally will do what it can and Mother Government will yet again energize it’s merry band of memoranda reading overpaid government louts, every last one counting his days to retirement.

This is our opportunity to beat them to the punch. May I nominate global cooling as the bogeyman — once the world runs out of fossil fuel, CO2 will drop off a cliff, and there will be no way left open to us for preventing the sudden onset of the ice age. Therefore, to prevent this, we must cut down on fossil fuel use now, in order to save it for our grand children! We must store CO2 underground, so that we may release it to avert future disaster!

James Strom

WSJ has been publishing op-eds by Fred Singer for at least 20 years, so your history is incorrect and the implication of some sort of Murdoch coup is incorrect.

kenneth blair

So how do we the taxpayers that have been swindled of our dollars get out money back from the AGW crowd? Who do we sue or what recompense do we have??

John Watts

Global warming is in recession right now….

James Strom

The important comment from Ridley’s article:
“leaders from China, India and Germany have already announced that they won’t attend the summit ”
Things will begin to change as the financing spigot slowly shuts down.


Nothing happened, but nothing was happening.


Thanks. That’s a nice overview and update, especially for casual observers of the topic most susceptible to the policy scam underway.

William Anderson

As we can all see from the above, the Science doesn’t appear to be entirely settled.


Please explain what that has to do with the predictions versus observations made climate scientists regarding temperatures. Some of us will listen if you actually have something to say. Posts like the one you’ve just made, however, make you look like a crazy person.
[To whom are you addressing your question? Those who claim CAGW will be catastrophic despite 18 years of data showing they are wrong? Or the writer/administrator of this blog? .mod]

Clovis Marcus

Moderator: The threading says he is replying to Peter… don’t worry, you’ll get used to it 😉

Why is the US the sole party in charge? We have regulations in place. Put the pressure on Aisa to clean up their acts before we do anything more, sign any more Kyoto protocols.


Yeah put some pressure on Asia; right after you’ve “isolated” Russia, good luck!