WSJ: Matt Ridley Replies to Jeff Sachs and Bob Ward, cleans up their 'intellectual mess'


Jeffrey D. Sachs @JeffDSachs Director of the @EarthInstitute and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (@unsdsn) Columbia University, New York

Matt Ridley Replies to His Climate-Change Critics

Jeffrey Sachs blows a gasket, and our contributor cleans up the intellectual mess.Sept. 9, 2014 9:56 a.m. ET THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Editor’s note: Matt Ridley’s Sept. 4 op-ed, “Whatever Happened to Global Warming?,” stirred a strong response, not least among the enforcers of climate-change orthodoxy.

Here is Mr. Ridley’s reply to his critics, adapted from his blog: Post-script. After the article was published, an astonishing tweet was sent by the prominent economist Jeffrey Sachs saying:

Curious to know how I had lied or “totally misrepresented” the science, I asked Sachs to explain. There was a deafening silence.There then appeared at the Huffington Post an article under Sachs’s name. Its style was quite unlike that of Sachs. The piece purported to—in a spin doctor’s words—expose:

However, it does nothing of the sort. It’s all bluster and careful misdirection, and contradicts nothing in my article, let alone producing evidence of lies. The sheer inaccuracy of the riposte in its descriptions of what I said or what I think are breathtaking, as are its failure to address any of the issues I raise, let alone contradict them. I had respect for Jeffrey Sachs as a scholar before reading this. Here are some key passages:

“Ridley’s “smoking gun” is a paper last week in Science Magazine by two scientists Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung . . .”

Notice the quote marks around “smoking gun,” implying that I used the phrase. I did not. In any case, the Chen and Tung paper was only one of the pieces of evidence I cited.

“. . . which Ridley somehow believes refutes all previous climate science.”

I said nothing of the sort and I believe nothing of the sort. Chen and Tung is about currents in the Atlantic, not about “all climate science”!

“The Wall Street Journal editors don’t give a hoot about the nonsense they publish if it serves their cause of fighting measures to limit human-induced climate change. If they had simply gone online to read the actual paper, they would have found that the paper’s conclusions are the very opposite of Ridley’s.”

In his writing the real Mr. Sachs does not often use phrases like “don’t give a hoot.”

In any case, he’s plain wrong about the contradiction. The quote I gave from the press release is accurate. And I have read the paper and can assure Mr. “Sachs” that its conclusions are not the opposite of what I have said. As further confirmation, how about asking the paper’s lead author himself? This is what he wrote to Prof. Judith Curry in response to her questions:

“Dear Judy,The argument on the roughly 50-50 attribution of the forced vs unforced warming for the last two and half decades of the 20th century is actually quite simple. If one is blaming internal variability for canceling out the anthropogenically forced warming during the current hiatus, one must admit that the former is not negligible compared to the latter, and the two are probably roughly of the same magnitude. Then when the internal cycle is of the different sign in the latter part of the 20th century, it must have added to the forced response. Assuming the rate of forced warming has not changed during the period concerned, then the two combined must be roughly twice the forced warming during the last two and half decades of the 20th century.”

In other words, as I said, the warming of 1975-2000 was only half caused by man-made emissions and half by natural causes, according to their conclusions, and natural causes were enough to cancel man-made forcing in the years after 2000.

To continue with the “Sachs” article:

“First, the paper makes perfectly clear that the Earth is warming in line with standard climate science, and that the Earth’s warming is unabated in recent years. In the scientific lingo of the paper (it’s very first line, so Ridley didn’t have far to read!), “Increasing anthropogenic greenhouse-gas-emissions perturb Earth’s radiative equilibrium, leading to a persistent imbalance at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) despite some long-wave radiative adjustment.” In short, we humans are filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel use, and we are warming the planet.”

Mr. “Sachs” did not have far to read in my own article to find this is in complete agreement with what I wrote also:

“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.”

Instead of using words like “unabated” why not give numbers? I did.

The warming during 1975-2000, even if you cherry-pick the end points, was about 0.4 degrees C if you average the five main global data sets, and if half of that was natural, then man-made forcing was going at the rate of less than 1 degree per century, rather less than what I said.

“Second, the total warming is distributed between the land and ocean surface on the one hand and the ocean deep water on the other. The total rise of ocean heat content has continued unabated, while the proportion of heat absorbed at the surface and in the deeper ocean varies over time. Again, in the scientific lingo of the paper, “[T]his forced total OHC [ocean heat content] should be increasing monotonically over longer periods even through the current period of slowed warming. In fact, that expectation is verified by observation . . . ” In other words, the ocean has continued to warm in line with predictions of just such a phenomenon seen in climate models.”

This is highly misleading. The quote from the paper does not contradict me at all. In any case, remember, the data on ocean heat content is highly ambiguous. As Judith Curry summarized it recently:

“The main issue of interest is to what extent can ocean heat sequestration explain the hiatus since 1998. The only data set that appears to provide support for ocean sequestration is the ocean reanalysis, with the Palmer and Domingues 0-700 m OHC climatology providing support for continued warming in the upper ocean.All in all, I don’t see a very convincing case for deep ocean sequestration of heat. And even if the heat from surface heating of the ocean did make it into the deep ocean, presumably the only way for this to happen involves mixing (rather than adiabatic processes), so it is very difficult to imagine how this heat could reappear at the surface in light of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.”

Back to the “Sachs” article:

“Third, it is the ‘vertical distribution’ of the warming, between the surface and deep water, which affects the warming observed on land and at the sea surface. The point of the paper is that the allocation of the warming vertically varies over time, sometimes warming the surface rapidly, other times warming the deeper ocean to a great extent and the surface water less rapidly. According to the paper, the period of the late 20th century was a period in which the surface was warmed relative to the deeper ocean. The period since 2000 is the opposite, with more warming of the deeper ocean. How do the scientists know? They measure the ocean temperature at varying depths with a sophisticated system of ‘Argo profiling floats,’ which periodically dive into the ocean depths to take temperature readings and resurface to transmit them to the data centers.”

I have no problem with this paragraph, which merely reiterates what I said about the Chen and Tung paper, with a bit more detail about the Argo floats, etc. It finds no evidence of my misrepresentation, let alone total misrepresentation.

“So, what is Ridley’s ‘smoking gun’ when you strip away his absurd version of the paper? It goes like this. The Earth is continuing to warm just as greenhouse gas theory holds.”

Check, I agree—over the long term and slowly, just as greenhouse gas theory holds. But the atmosphere is not continuing to warm right now.

“The warming heats the land and the ocean. The ocean distributes some of the warming to the surface waters and some to the deeper waters, depending on the complex circulation of ocean waters.”

Check. Could not have said it better myself, though remember this is still speculation and was not predicted.

“The shares of warming of the surface and deeper ocean vary over time, in fluctuations that can last a few years or a few decades.”

Check.Where’s the contradiction with what I wrote? There is none. If Mr. “Sachs” had bothered to read my article properly, he would find that his description of what is happening is pretty well exactly the same as mine. Except that he gives no numbers. What I did was to show that if Chen and Tung are right, and half the warming in the last part of the last century was natural, then the “rapid” warming of those three decades was still too slow for the predictions made by the models. It will if it resumes give us a not very alarming future. And if it does not resume for some time, as Chen and Tung speculate that it might not, then the future is even less alarming.And no, again, I did not use the phrase “smoking gun.” I used several other arguments, all of which Mr. “Sachs” fails to address at all, so presumably he agrees that there has been a “pause,” that it was denied for many years by the climate establishment, that there was general agreement among them that a pause of more than 15 years would invalidate their models, and so on.He goes on:

“If the surface warming is somewhat less in recent years than in the last part of the 20th century, is that reason for complacency? Hardly. The warming is continuing, and the consequences of our current trajectory will be devastating unless greenhouse gas emissions (mainly carbon dioxide) are stopped during this century. As Chen and Tung conclude in their Science paper, ‘When the internal variability [of the ocean] that is responsible for the current hiatus [in warming] switches sign, as it inevitably will, another episode of accelerated global warming should ensue.’ “

I hardly think it was complacent of me to ask world leaders to address the much more urgent issues of war, terror, disease, poverty, habitat loss and the 1.3 billion people with no electricity.

The only disagreement is whether future warming will be “devastating,” and that is a prediction not an empirical fact. I cannot yet be “wrong” about it.

When will Mr. “Sachs” get around to including a number? He surely cannot be under the impression that lukewarmers like me think there is no greenhouse effect? He surely knows that the argument is not about whether there is warming, but how fast.

And where did I lie, or misrepresent? Where did he “destroy” me, pray? He did not.

Mr. “Sachs,” who is usually a careful academic, has published a lot of wild accusations against me and “totally” (his word) failed to stand them up. How did this come about? Perhaps, being a busy man, he asked somebody else to ghost-write much of the piece for him and did not check it very thoroughly. Perhaps he wrote it himself. Either way, no problem, a quick tweet apologising to me and admitting that nothing in his article contradicts anything in mine, that we merely disagree on the predictions of dangerous warming, and I will consider the matter closed.

I published most of this riposte to Mr. Sachs’s article on my blog post on Sunday and drew his attention to it on Twitter.

He ignored it but posted a single tweet as follows:

Actually, the word the scientists use is “rapid” warming and they use it also to describe the warming of the 1980s and 1990s, which as I showed was not nearly as rapid as predicted by the models. So, even when the Atlantic currents are boosting the man-made warming, it is not as fast as the models predict.


Clearly Mr. Sachs and I disagree about how dangerous man-made global warming is likely to be in the future. I think all the explanations for the pause, including the Chen and Tung one, only make my case stronger that man-made warming is not being enhanced by feedbacks and is proceeding according to the greenhouse effect of CO2 alone. I may of course be wrong. But it is ludicrous, nasty and false to accuse me of lying or “totally misrepresenting the science.” I have asked Mr. Sachs to withdraw the charges more than once now on Twitter. He has refused to do so, though he has been tweeting freely during the time.

Soon after my article was published, another peer-reviewed paper appeared in the Journal Nature Climate Change, about as mainstream a climate science publication as you can find. It is entitled: “Climate model simulations of the observed early-2000s hiatus of global warming.” The respected commentator and academic Roger Pielke Jr. tweeted:


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Welcome to the world of the skeptics, Matt Ridley. We are constantly misquoted and misrepresented by those who wish to mislead and misinform.


The vitriol is indeed surprising.

No its not. Where have you been?


Your reaction surprises me too. I find strange how some people are eager to accept as normal the unacceptable, no matter how frequent.


He new.

Henry Galt

Quite. I like Matt’s stuff but he along with most other luke-warmers is pandering to the loonies. You can’t just come out and say ‘CS due to man’s CO2 is zero’ because the clowns will swarm all over you and they have the MSM, gov and their rich backers to cover their sorry aspects. Same with just plain laughing in the faces of anyone who claims the heat suddenly decided to sink into the deep ocean at the turn of the century. Or ‘it’s a pause, not a halt’ or ‘warming makes it snow more often’ and all the other junk that just plays into their arena whenever its agreed with in order to appease them. It’s not PC. So what? They are shafting us giddy.


Jeff Sachs managed to stay out of jail for selling Russia to the Oligarchs, but that doesn’t mean he understands science or cares…

Owen in GA

I would say if an economist is trashing skepticism of CAGW, look closely at his portfolio and you will likely find that he unwisely went long in renewables. Those investments will only be lucrative if CAGW can be psychologically imposed on the the world’s psyche.


But it is ludicrous, nasty and false to accuse me of lying or “totally misrepresenting the science.”

What science? Jeffrey Sachs is an economist, not a hard physical scientist. Don’t forget, this is the man responsible for 1.5 million suicide deaths of older Russians who could not make it in the overnight privatization of Russian industries that Sachs and Clinton foisted on the Russian public.
Now he’s the head of an environmental center of some sort at my alma mater? Who appointed him? Moreover, why? Or was it some tribal decision?

Jeff Alberts

Re: economist. I suppose then that we can ignore anything Ross McKitrick has to say about climate change.


Not at all, Jeff. I wouldn’t put Sachs in the same league as McKitrick. I have never seen Sachs present his environmental info with the clarity or data that McKitrick did on WUWT-TV last year.

Slander should be punished. Slander against a large group of people should be class action punished.

Evan Jones

I don’t like that word “punished”. Today we punish them, tomorrow they punish us.
Some people consider what I do to be slander against a large group of people, and if they had their way I would be typing this from behind bars. I am unable and unwilling to return the compliment.

Bill Parsons

Good response.
If “nasty rhetoric” is proscribed from free speech, we all lose. Save the big guns for the law breakers – there have been plenty of them. If there are adequate laws on the books to eventually squelch a Ponzi schemer like Madoff, it ought to be possible to bring the graft, lying and cheating, misappropriation of public funds, and fraud of global warming schemers to justice. Meanwhile I’ll trust Matt Ridley to mete out judicious retribution by verbally dismembering a mediocre, unsupported argument.

The last thing this world needs is more lawsuits, and the very last thing we need are more class action lawsuits.

Moral cowards and pacifists against seasoned PR firm tutored and billionaire funded activists? No wonder liberals keep winning elections. They fight to win.


I Googled “don’t give a hoot+climate change” seems those terms appear quite often recently on both sides of the debate…interesting…


And I wasn’t counting this article or its reprints, etc.

Mumbles McGuirck

Owlie Skywarn, the jig is up.’Twas you that forged the Sachs’ article!

To spit the warming into “natural” and “anthropogenic” components is a mistake that is rooted in misapplication of a principle of telecommunications engineering wherein the received signal is the sum of the transmitted signal and noise.

Mike Bromley the Kurd

A+B=10. The Warming split purports to solve this equation.


Same pattern that Pointman saw with Prof. Lennart Bengtsson’s trial for heresy:
” the day finally arrives when someone else demonstrates that the results of applying your grand theory simply don’t match up to the real world data.
When that happens, all you’ve got left is to attack them for threatening your theory with real world data. That’s the terminal madness, the final naked abandonment of any lingering threadbare pretence of being a scientist. Go after the man, and simply ignore whatever it is he’s saying. Threaten him, destroy him, eviscerate him, smash him down into the ground, stamp on his face and somehow all will be well again.”

Joe Crawford

Thanks for the reference… and excellent essay by Pointman.


Whenever X tries to tell me that Y ‘believes’ such-and-such, I always suspect a straw man is marching towards me. In this I am almost never mistaken.
Only Y knows what Y believes. I believe that X may *believe* he knows what Y believes, but X is either deluding himself in his arrogance, or X is using a ploy of rhetoric to try to convince me to believe the lies he believes. In either case, X is not addressing the substance of the issue but rather the persona of Y.

Peter Pearson

Indeed, when X purports to tell you what Y is thinking, you’re learning more about X than about Y.

Gary Hladik

Which is why Willis Eschenbach always ends his more controversial WUWT essays with the admonition to quote his words, not paraphrase them.


Reminds me of the ever-excellent P.J O’Rourke (from his ‘All the Trouble in the World…’ book):
‘If X confiscates Y’s money under the pretext of helping Z, then X is a crook.’

Evan Jones

Then when the internal cycle is of the different sign in the latter part of the 20th century, it must have added to the forced response. Assuming the rate of forced warming has not changed during the period concerned, then the two combined must be roughly twice the forced warming during the last two and half decades of the 20th century
A number of us have been saying this for years, now.

Ian W

And what a huge and extremely unlikely coincidence that the ‘natural’ effects are of exactly the right quantity and effect to balance the ‘forced response’ over a period now of more than 17 years.


Not really. In an over damped feedback control system, operating within a broad range of local minima states, naturally arising phenomena (subtle changes in clouds, changes in polar ice (albedo) changes in hydrologic cycles, ocean currents) operating on different time scales provide negative feedbacks, and thus can act as a regulator. A regulator combined with the massive thermal inertia of the oceans sets the homeostasis of a stable climate we enjoy. The local minima states would be the LIA, the MWP, HTM, etc within our current interglacial.
Then only when truly large forcing evolve (Milankovitch cycles), does climate get shifted to a new regime, i.e. a glacial period.

Neglecting the negative logarithmic relationship between increasing levels of CO2 and warming…

Brian H

And remember that “forcing” is an un-physical concept invented by climate pseudo-science for its own convenience, in the first place. Ask a physicist for a definition of it! Prediction: amused outrage.

I was arguing this at DotEarth six or seven years ago.
It will be interesting to watch the next two or three decades to see if the planet actually cools. If so then 50/50 is incorrect.

David Wells

Ridley the fence sitter versus Sachs the AGW attack dog both dancing on the head of a pin.
All of this tosh is as Ridley effectively admits is based upon belief. What this episode makes abundantly clear is that there is not one single person across the universe that really does have a clue exactly how our climate functions, but huge numbers of individuals are accruing large pots of cash by very cleverly giving the illusion that they do, including economists with no scientific capability whatsoever.
There remains no evidence that Co2 has ever or will ever cause any demonstrable degree of warming that is measurable. If it is having any effect then it is lost in the fog that is our climate, and Ridley’s article just encourages more people to pontificate using cherry picked articles to support their own personal belief.
Having taken note of this website for sometime now the overwhelming conclusion is that a very large number of people – including me – really should find something better to do with their lives. 1940 to 1970 it warmed when Co2 was lower than today, then it cooled and then warmed again, and there is no evidence that Co2 caused either, and now temperature has plateaued whilst Co2 rises yet illustrious and well qualified individuals continue to get deranged about the how and why and take cash from their labours but remain unable to provide evidence. Just more speculation based upon what they believe to be true. It is a farce of catatonic proportions.

Your remarks show good common sense…. exept one point is incorrect: ” Not a single
person knows how our climate functions….”
How climate functions can be read at: and the proves for this are demonstrated
for over 20,000 years of climate (opposite to AGW short-termism which bases the CO2 nonsense
onto the minuscule 150 year time span since 1850…..) Cheers….


“it is a farce of catatonic proportions”
Very well said.

You are sharp. Your logic and facts are beyond reproof. However, a large solid block of words chases mere mortals away. Try using paragraphs. They are easier on the eyes and far more likely to be read and remembered if you do.
[Note: his single paragraph is now broken into more readable form. ~mod.]


I don’t think Ridley is a fence sitter in this sense of the word.
I think he is a very precise thinker, well educated in science and the appropriate uses of scientific skepticism. Ridley understands that CO2 does cause warming, and at the same time he understands that the amount of warming that has and will occur is about half or less than the models and the IPCC and western governments predict. He believes in data as the proper way to ground scientific theory.
That isn’t fence sitting, which seems in your use to be a pejorative.
No, what Ridley is attempting to understand science, at its best.


“1940 to 1970 it warmed when Co2 was lower than today”
check your facts.

“1940 to 1970 it warmed …” should be
“1910 to 1940 it warmed when CO2 was much lower than today” … Followed by
“And from 1940 to 1970 it cooled while CO2 was increasing much like it is today.”

Alberta Slim

I agree, and I have.[done something different]
CO2 in atmosphere = 0.04% = 0.0004
Man-made CO2 =3% of that thus man-made CO2 = 0.0004 x 0.03 = 0.000012
Fossil fuels are about 40% of that.
SO: Burning fossil fuels is adding 0.0000048 to the atmosphere.[worldwide]
And, I am to believe that this is causing ice ages; polar bear deaths; 8 metre sea level rises?
AND, the sun, Milankovitch cycles, volcanism, plate techtonics; etc., have nothing to do with it whatsoever?
Not likely, IMO.
I am painting and watching sports on tv.

Dave Peters

Slim — 3% ? All your stats are tribal-bad, but 3% is WAY wrong. Holocene CO2 is ~ 275 ppm, for ten millennia, then jumps ~125 to today’s ~400 ppm, post steam engine. Ice age ppm = ~ 180. Add rate, last decade, about 2 ppm/year. Also in the news, the terrestrial surface is now assessed at equipoise, so all build in the air is now exhaust.And, ice ages? About 1/2 CO2 driven.

Dave Peters
All your data are wrong. They assume ice core data are accurate and precise. They are neither.

Dave Peters

Richard — Thank you for the reply. I “believed” the Earth was wildly sensitive to perturbing influences since 1977. It was quite a mystery at the time, since we “knew” that tiny (> 0.3 wt/m^2) orbital variations both kicked off, and ended glaciation cycles. Vostok’s elevated CO2 content, once they reached Eemian ice, eliminated the mystery. Poof!
The analysis of chemical composition via spectroscopy is probably the most “precise” quantitative assessment in all of human science. So, my “faith” in the “precision” part is so near to being absolute, I’d wager my life on that. Which gets to the fate of entrapped molecules in ancient ice. And, the Milamkovich paced increases and decreases across two million years were cleverly placed in those strata, so as to yield correlation with ice mass of r = 0.78, how?
Descartes turned to pinning his notion of certitude upon the fact of his contemplation of his own existence, only after a futile search for other limitations in God’s capacity to deceive him. Einstein, after sensing a “pop” in his head once he realized that the Mercury orbit idiosyncrasies would be resolved by his generalization of relativity, but with no other empirical test– when asked how he knew he was on the right trail, said: “Because God is subtle, but not malicious.” Any agent who could contrive to place those hints just so, out of whimsy, so terrifies me that I would promptly shift off coal to nuclear out of deference alone. Which is all i favor in any case.


The post that I wanted to write.


I don’t even need to go that deep – when a “scientist” resorts to “your moma wears army boots” to prop up his argument, he has none. Sachs has disgraced himself.


It’s called character assassination and argumentum ad hominem. It’s standard operating procedure.


A fatal flaw in Ridley’s simplistic math — atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing, and GHG emissions are increasing exponentially; we can’t just extrapolate trends from last century.

No, there is no such “fatal flaw”.
In reality Ridley’s “simplistic math” is conservative. He assumes linearity but the additional radiative effect of increase to atmospheric CO2 reduces logarithmically. Hence, the effect of CO2 is LESS than the Ridley estimate.


I’m familiar with the old “logarithmic growth” argument (myth). Fact is, over practical ranges that are possible in the next century, the T-CO2 relationship is approximately linear, meaning exponential growth in emissions will cause temperature increases to accelerate (feedbacks aside). See
Now I’ve opened the feedbacks argument, which I also tire of…

The logarithmic effect is experimental physics and is accepted by e.g. the IPCC.
However, you were the one who said

A fatal flaw in Ridley’s simplistic math — atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing, and GHG emissions are increasing exponentially; we can’t just extrapolate trends from last century.

I pointed out that the effect of increased atmospheric CO2 concentration was also not linear.
You now say

Fact is, over practical ranges that are possible in the next century, the T-CO2 relationship is approximately linear, meaning exponential growth in emissions will cause temperature increases to accelerate (feedbacks aside).

But Ridley was talking about the period of warming from ~1970 to ~1995 and the period of temperature plateau since ~1995. The rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration was – to use your words – “approximately linear” over those periods.
You are now trying to weasel out of admitting you were plain wrong.
And you are trying to do it by changing the subject to “practical ranges that are possible in the next century”.
Ridley talked about the trend at the end of the last century and extrapolated it to assess the maximum amount of man-made warming then and so far this century. His assessment is correct.


Barry says: “I’m familiar with the old “logarithmic growth” argument (myth).”
Well not that familiar it would seem. If there is a logarithmic response and an exponential growth that gives a linear rise in temperature: ln ( exp (x) ) = x
If you say the rise in CO2 is “roughly” linear, then the rise in temps will be “roughly” logarithmic, ie slowing down as time goes on.

Yes, you are right. Thankyou for saying that.
It is why I initially replied to Barry by saying

In reality Ridley’s “simplistic math” is conservative. He assumes linearity but the additional radiative effect of increase to atmospheric CO2 reduces logarithmically. Hence, the effect of CO2 is LESS than the Ridley estimate.

However, Barry’s reply to that demonstrated he did not understand it. Hence, it seemed sensible to discuss the matter in non-mathematical terms that he could comprehend. But I accept your point that the mathematical issue is simple, and it should be explained for onlookers, but I failed to explain it.
Again, thankyou.

Bill Illis

The Log warming relationship depends entirely on what you are assuming for the doubled CO2 temperature increase.
If it is 3.0C per doubling, the rate of warming starts to slow down around 2065 and then starts to really flatten out in the mid-2100s.
If it is 1.5C per doubling, (which the current trendlines indicate is the true CO2 sensitivity), then the warming line has already started to flatten out and nothing at all important happens after the year 2100.
You have to work with the numbers to see this impact.


Wouldn’t exponential growth in emissions result in linear progression of relative concentration in solution?
In other words, it takes more effort to redouble a doubling in terms of effect on climate. So the linear progression will be linear at best, logarithmic in all likelihood (it is very difficult for us to exponentially grow our CO2 emissions considering what it takes to increase those emissions at all).

more soylent green!

“GHG emissions are increasing exponentially”


Well, they are increasing super-linearly, i.e., accelerating. Atmospheric concentration, however, is not.


There are three separate rates of growth that can be approximated as exponential , with different rates of growth;
pre-1860; 1900-1950 and post 1960.
There is at least one paper that suggested recent growth was “super-exponential”. This was not an alarmist idea but a precise mathematical use meaning having a growth rate greater than an exponential. ( ie not “super” as in really mega-big, just its literal meaning greater than ). The paper suggested a quadratic may be a better model, though it does not make much differerence for a few hundred years. Let’s stick to exponential.
However, what needs to be noted is that it is not exponential from zero, it is exponential from the preindustrial base-line, which is estimated to be around 280 ppmv.
My analysis gave a somewhat higher base-line of 295ppmv


As above, note the exponential rate in first half of 20th c. was far lower than now yet the rate of global warming was virtually identical.
That is a major problem for anyone wishing to suggest CO2 is a “dominant” cause of the warming as IPCC does. In fact it shows that it is a minor or even irrelevant factor.

more soylent green!

I think we have different understanding as to what the word exponentially means.
The graphs Bart and Greg linked look pretty linear.


My graph is the rate of change.
But, that brings up a notable point – the derivative of an exponential is… an exponential.The emissions plot looks pretty linear, so the virtual accumulation of emissions is more quadratic than exponential.
The important point, though, is that the concentration curve is diverging. On could argue that the emissions curve has a slight positive curvature. The concentration curve is decidedly concave. Just like temperatures.

David L. Hagen

The approximately linear increase in warming (log of exponential CO2 per Gary) will be dominated by blackbody radiation of T^4th power NEGATIVE feedback.
Increasing CO2 will beneficially increase agricultural productivity – critically needed in developing countries.
Global cooling into the next glaciation is a far greater danger than the short term welcome CO2 warming.

Dave Peters

David — That one cuts two ways. That blackbody bleed is nearly 1/2% greater now, than in 1907, when our surface measurements quit falling, attained equilibrium (across a 35 yr. crawling average), and started to warm. Rather like trying to inflate an old fashioned inner tube with a half inch gash in it. And yet, it warms! Also, were the negative feedbacks dominant, how come there are glacial cycles?

David L. Hagen

Dave Peters
Blackbody T^4 cooling
Suggest checking your assumptions & math on T^4 cooling.
NASA states 0.8C since 1880 with 1/3 before 1951-1980, 2/3 after, and 14 C during 1951-1980 baseline.
That suggests T^4 blackbody cooling has increased by 1.1% since 1880.
Adding another 0.8C will increase T^4 blackbody cooling by another 1.1%.
On glaciation, suggest Milankovich cycles plus Hurst-Kolmogorov dynamics.
See Markonis, Y., and D. Koutsoyiannis,  Climatic variability over time scales spanning nine orders of magnitude: Connecting Milankovitch cycles with Hurst–Kolmogorov dynamics, Surveys in Geophysics, 34 (2), 181–207, 2013.

By superimposing the climacograms of the different series we obtain an impressive overview of the variability for time scales spanning almost 9 orders of magnitude—from 1 month to 50 million years. An overall climacogram slope of –0.08 supports the presence of HK dynamics with Hurst coefficient of at least 0.92. The orbital forcing (Milankovitch cycles) is also evident in the combined climacogram at time scales between 10 and 100 thousand years. While orbital forcing favours predictability at the scales it acts, the overview of climate variability at all scales suggests a big picture of irregular change and uncertainty of Earth’s climate.

For another view on variations, see Shaun Lovejoy e.g., A voyage through scales, a missing quadrillion and why the climate is not what you expect.

Dave Peters

David — Thanks. I was spouting off the top with that “1/2%,” and incorrect. I try to keep track mainly via Hadley. So, I get a “first order” 1.18% hike in the surface IR, from an observed increase of 1.5 F. between the five year mean centered upon 2011, and the broad 35 year average centered upon 1907. Some of that flows through the “window.” Pure bleed, and negative. But I think of this as someone placing more and more bricks on my back, while I attempt push ups. How does the surface keep warming, with ever greater “negative” feedback?
I am backed up, but promise to seek your Hurst-K defensive reading. Greatly appreciate that.
If I am not imposing, I put a few months into an essay on warming, in 2000. I settled on a five year average, at the end of the century, as a fair measure of the then, contemporary temperature. I vaguely “got” the El Nino, back then, but did not appreciate what a huge fraction of the “blade” of the MBH graphic, was but that ephemeral spike. So, when I compare the 91 year interval (ending @ 1998, the 5-yr. avg. which straddles the El Nino Grande), to the 13 subsequent years, the warming rate increases 33%. If you press this glimpse, to the noisy, most recent 12 months, the post-Grande warming rate hikes to 67% above that which prevailed across the great bulk of the Twentieth Century. My chance writing has made me impervious to any claim about a “pause” or “hiatus,” though I appreciate that a trend from 1977 to 1998 has inflected downwards very substantially. Hadley’s 9/97 thru 8/98 year over year gain was 0.53 F., or ~38 year’s worth of trend warming, creating a playpen for endless mischief. Am I missing the minimalist take on these notions?

Sachs has a monthly feature in Scientific American. That didn’t used to be character assassination…


I cancelled a 30+ year subscription history to SciAm way back in 1994(?) when they printed a bald character assassination of Bjorn Lomborg by four leading “climate scientists”, so this has been a favorite rhetorical trick of the alarmists for a long time now. That incident was a major red flag pushing me into increasing skepticism.


Canceled my subscription in the ’90’s as well. Take away the funding of socialistic politically driven science.


ANY politically driven science.


Greg is correct. There should no political influence (or ideologically-biased funding) to science. There are no party barriers to the effects of political influence, and the influence is never benign over the long term. Francis Bacon, who thought that large nationally funded scientific research would come to dominate science, also thought it would have a benign influence. He must be spinning in his grave.


Interestingly, I also canceled Scientific American sometime in the 90’s because what seemed to be press releases from advocacy groups was presented as science. I recall one article on terrorism that failed to discussed domestic ecoterrorism. I also dropped Science News for the same reason.


I remember that article, and date the decline of SciAm from about that period as well. I still subscribe because of the pretty pictures.


World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Geneva & has Washington, D.C. office
Origins date back to the 1992 Rio Summit which included Maurice Strong.
Members include:
New York Times

I’m not renewing Scientific American after it expires. Might keep reading the Spanish version. It has different editors. However I’ve come to distrust the Nature publishing house after I read their False Hope earlier this year.


All us deniers are going to very stupid on the day climate scientists finally catch the unicorns in the act of flipping the big switch that controls heat sequestration at the bottom of the ocean. But to cover myself for that eventuality I am not quite certain whether to “half believe” in unicorns or believe in half unicorns? Any suggestions?


Maybe you believe in halfcorns?






Yeah, I realized it should have been Demicorns about five seconds after hitting ‘post’.

David A

hemi demi semicorns


Not sure how to calculate the possible truth level of whole or partial unicorns, but on a more serious note you raise an issue I have thought about quite often.
What if the AGW crowd is right and the Earth is veering towards climate disaster? Frankly I don’t believe it, and (I think) for good reason. But let’s say it turns out to be true. When the subject first started to become public I was more than willing to believe the predictions of doom. I’m a child of the ’60s and although I’m far more conservative than I was at 18, the idea that corporations are willing to plunge the Earth into a climate catastrophe out of simple greed is still not much of a stretch for me. And so I listened to the warnings and the scientific evidence, and worried.
Alongside the rising tide of Cassandras and Jeremiahs, however, were opposing voices. At first they didn’t concern me: after all, it seemed that the entire scientific community was in agreement, and nutcases could always be found to argue the other side. Unlike most nutcases, however, a lot of these opposing voices seemed amazingly reasonable and their evidence, at least to my layman’s mind, quite convincing. And so I waited for the real experts to counter what I assumed was faulty science with solid evidence. But instead of solid evidence, the “experts” countered with ad hominem attacks, unsubstantiated blanket statements, and often outright misrepresentations of what the opposing side had actually said.
It was at this point that I started to look more carefully into the question of whether or not global warming (which is what we were still calling it back then) was even true, a journey that eventually led to me taking up residence in the skeptic camp. Over the years, I’ve seen no change in tactics. From the skeptics I get reasoned arguments and an overall commitment to civil discourse based upon solid evidence. From the other side I get clear misrepresentation of opposing arguments, escalating ad hominem attacks, obscene television commercials in which self-righteous world-reformers blow up skeptics, and hundreds of thousands of leaked documents showing a concerted effort to hide evidence and malign opponents.
So what I’m saying is this: it’s true that these ass-hats will have a lot to answer for if the climate disaster turns out to be a bust and we’ve spent trillions of dollars and invaded the rights and privacy of virtually every person on the planet for no reason other than than to subsidize the luxurious lifestyles of a batch of megalomaniacs living off of government grants. But although this scenario could set us back years, it is not ultimately catastrophic. However, if the planet does undergo irreparable climate change leading to wide-spread famines, deaths, species extinctions and plagues, then I consider they will have even more to answer for through having turned so many of us away in disgust at their childish antics and schoolyard-level debates.

Joel O'Bryan

Your essay makes good sense right up to the end whereby you presume “if the planet does undergo irreparable climate change leading to wide-spread famines, deaths, species extinctions and plagues,” that somehow man’s hand, through our fossil-fuel burning, was on that control knob in any meaningful way. The more magnitudes of natural climate variabilities (global and regional) comes into focus (paleo reconstructions, studies of solar grand minimums, etc), the more its seems we may have a little knob, while nature controls the big knobs.

Joel: I have no doubt that the deliciously-horrendous doomsday scenarios predicted by the AGW crowd, which include plagues, famines, droughts, floods, killer squirrels and increased acne are nothing more than puerile and strangely-unsophisticated scare tactics. My point is simply that if the scenarios in which they claim to believe actually were to be true, then their refusal to meet skepticism with honest arguments and their reliance upon sub-juvenile “debate” tactics would be largely responsible for our refusal to act upon their warnings. They bear a tragic responsibility, then, no matter how things turn out: if, as is almost assuredly the case, there never was a crisis, then they are fanatic luddites who set back progress for decades to come, and in the unlikely event that their warnings were valid, then they are egotistical maniacs so wrapped up in defaming their critics that they turned their message into a laughing stock.
I guess my takeaway point is that I don’t much like them.


We know from the climate record that in the deep past the CO2 levels were as high as 7000 to 8000 ppm. The temperature was warmer than today, yes, but Earth did not become Venus. On the contrary, the earth was lush and green, with enough plant life to support enormous herds of sauropods from pole to pole.
There is no danger from emitting CO2. It is a temporary phase, and man will eventually move beyond it. Meanwhile, the biosphere will enjoy the added fertilization.

Frank Lee MeiDere: You expertly expressed EXACTLY what I went through as I searched for the scientific argument that made the most sense. I spent some time “commenting/asking questions” on MSM articles- thinking that SOMEONE would be able to point out why the skeptics argumentsI repeated, were scientifically or logically wrong. I asked a lot of questions, but instead was called some very unpleasant names. No one reading the MSM articles had a clue what the debate was even about- let alone how to present any kind of argument against the skeptic viewpoint. It didn’t take long to realize that much more intelligent debate was taking place here on WUWT- (And other blogs, such as Judith Curry’s) I’m depressed that there are so many people who still blindly follow the consensus theory – because they are too lazy to read up on the science on BOTH sides. I unfortunately took a long time to come around, and do some research, because the “environmentalist” in me always assumed that even if the “doom” was wrong, perhaps making humans actually energy conscious may not be such a bad thing. However, I realize now that basing public policy, and spending decisions on bad information, can only lead to bad results. Just one example: I am so thankful for Anthony for creating/maintaining this blog to help guide those of us who didn’t know who to believe in the right direction.
And I EVEN if the warmists are right- that the earth will be castrophically warm, it won’t happen overnight- and man will adapt to the challenges the we face as we face them. Personally, I’d rather see us putting money/energy into figuring out how to divert large asteroids away from earth. We KNOW that historically those have had a big impact on extinction.


Well put, and my story as well!

Dave Peters

Frank — I am both a warmist, and an anti-“green” advocate of a prompt shift to nuclear. I don’t see the asymmetry you do, respecting either debate. The elevation of the discussion, towards the “reasoned arguments” and “civil discourse” you champion in paragraph two, cannot be furthered by the invective you turn to in paragraph three (viz., “ass-hats” & “megalomaniacs.”)


oh noes, the pretty unicorn fallacy again.


Well no.. it is either a half-unicorn fallacy or a unicorn half fallacy. Doesn’t matter though, I’ve already decided that Demi Moore was the best answer.

Alberta Slim

Demi Moore



Richard M

All of these activists are facing a moral dilemma. Most of them have outright lied over and over again. They have justified their actions as being for the “greater good”. The world would eventually be better off. But, what if they were wrong? What if there is no “greater good”? What if the world is now worse off due to their lies? That means their lies have been evil and not good.
There is no way their egos can accept such an outcome so they are in complete denial. This becomes clear in situations like this where the activist cannot even see straight to read an article and understand it. Their denial overpowers any sense of logic or comprehension. Sadly, this is only going to get worse as reality continues to falsify their fantasy world.

LKMiller (aka treegyn1)

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” Thomas Jefferson


Noble cause corruption is endemic among the progressives. Henry Adams once said, “It’s always the good men who do the most harm in the world.” It’s a devastating observation imvho.


“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.”
Louis Brandeis, in Olmstead v. United States (1928)
“Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”
Daniel Webster
“Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of the government. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it”.
Woodrow Wilson in a moment of clarity 1912 (before he actually had power)


The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
H. L. Mencken

Eugene WR Gallun

Since when did this idea that “missing heat” is disappearing into the deep oceans become accepted as gospel?
All this talk is based on the premise that “heat is missing”.
Climate models predict higher temperatures than the data shows are occurring. Isn’t it far more likely that the climate models are wrong — AND THAT THERE IS NO HEAT TO GO MISSING?
We know the climate model are falsified — so why are you even discussing this crazy idea that “missing heat” is hiding in the deep ocean waiting to resurface and destroy the world?
(see the courtroom scene from The Caine Mutiny)
As greenhouse gases still accrete
This captain of the climate wars
Is searching for the missing heat
That he believes the ocean stores
He’ll prove to all humanity
That danger in the deep resides
The Kraken that he knows to be
That Davy Jones’s Locker hides
The soul’s more heavy than we think
A truth that everyone one must face
And to what depths a soul may sink!
Oh! To what dark and dismal place
Does Captain Trenberth understand
That data offers no appeal?
He tumbles in his restless hand
Three clacking balls of stainless steel
When silent faces stare at you
It’s always best to shut your jaw
But Trenberth is without a clue
As he believes they stare in awe


I have always strenuously objected to the use of the term “heat is being sequestered in the deep ocean”. Mr Ridley in his rebuttal on Sachs makes the point of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, which is Entropy increases.
-CO2 can be “sequestered” into storage locations, locked away for millenia, and it could be released in the future, and still be CO2 with all its intensive properties intact. This is an example of the proper use of the word “sequester.”
– Heat though has a temperature. Once warmer water gets mixed with a vastly larger amount of very cold water, it is not sequestered. It can never come back at a temperature close to the pre-mixed state. The deep ocean will be minutely warmer. If I leave the door to my home open on a cold winter night, the heat from my furnance warmed air rushes out and mixes with the outside near-freezing night air. My costly heat is gone forever, and it will not come back some day. That is Entropy in action.
Skeptics must not let the warmists get away with using the term “sequestering heat” in the deep oceans. The scientifically naive public then has this false vision that that heat will rise up out of the ocean like Godzilla, to smite mankind.

Joel it does have implications for sea level rise. If we were to keep warming deep water the sea level rise will force us to build very expensive sea defenses. On the other hand we are running out of oil. I think it’s going to be a close call unless we get some sort of viable solar power or turn to nuclear.
By the way, I think many of you guys and gals are pretty glib about nuclear power safety. I suspect that’s because you didn’t have to build and operate a really complex plant in the middle of nowhere in a third world country. The idea of having spent fuel rods in some countries I’ve worked in gives me the creeps.

Joel O'Bryan

Two points Fernando,
First, we need to fund and build better sea walls and coastal protections anyway. Due to the fact many more people and infrastructure now reside in coastal areas, it has nothing to do with Climate Change. Storms and floods happen, they always have and always will. That has nothing to do with a 10-20 cm/century of sea rise.
Second, liquid fueled thorium reactors do not have the safety or weapon proliferation dangers of conventional pressurized steam, uranium pellet-fueled reactors. Research them on online.


We’ve been “running out of oil” in every decade, without exception, since the 1920s.
However, we can a rough calculation on total sequestered hydrocarbon by using the widely held fact that our primeval atmosphere was a CO2 atmosphere, and that we acquired a O2 atmosphere due to carbon sequestration by plants. By that measure, in the past 100 years we have returned to the atmosphere somewhere on the order of 0.1% of all the sequestered carbon.
That means 99.9% of the carbon, more or less, is still in the ground. No doubt remaining fossil fuel will become harder to extract as we use more of it, but the barrier to further extraction is a soft one. As prices go up, ever larger deposits become economically viable. We’ve just seen this process in action with the advent of fracking.

Eugene WR Gallun

Some wonderful poems have made use of the Kraken. I am not aware that Godzilla has ever received any such poetic validation. Perhaps it was because you were speaking of the “scientifically naive public” that you choose to use such a cheesy image instead of the accoladed Kraken?


Joel, you make a very good point.

TJoel, I don’t need to pay for sea walls where I live, because the building is located on a rise about 4-5 meters above sea level facing the Mediterranean. If somebody has to build sea walls because they built foolishly low or too close to the beach that’s their problem. However, if in 300 years sea level rose 60 cm due to rising temperature that could lead to construction of beach defenses all over the world. The point isn’t that the problem is intractable. The point is that if the energy is banked in deep water it does have a subtle impact.
Regarding the we are running out of oil comment….the cornucopians seem to forget we know a hell of a lot more about rocks and how to produce oil than we did 100 years ago. Those of us who are involved in this business know much better what’s going on. And if somebody in the business tells you it’s fine they may be just trying to protect their stock options.
I can offer you a very simple fact you can use to check: revise the sec filings for major oil companies, separate the gas from the oil (in other words don’t let them fool you with Equivalents), and take note of their ACTUAL production figures over the last 5 years. You will see OIL production has peaked for the major oils. This is disguised throwing in liquids such as gas condensates into the stream. However gas condensates aren’t oil.
I wrote an analysis of chevron’s position as an example, but maybe I’ll write for you a deeper analysis of current major oil company performance?

Here is the Chevron analysis. I wrote it back in July after I got into another debate with people who thought oil production will keep on rising for a long time and we’ll be just fine….


When I see Jeffrey Sachs and Bob Ward together like this, the theme tune to Laurel and Hardy enters my mind.
No surprise to see these pleasant bishops of the climate religion accusing the heretics of lying – and they wonder why the public does not believe them!

Jeff Alberts

Please, no. Laurel and Hardy were comic geniuses. Sachs and Ward are just comical, no genius involved.

Neal Kaye

CO2 makes up .04% (for you folks in Rio Linda, CA that 4/100ths of one percent) of the Earth’s atmosphere. How that can effect “global warming” is beyond me.


Well Neal, that same .04% CO2 is what drives all plant photosynthesis on the entire planet. It should not be a surprise that it COULD effect the global climate also. The question is does it and how much. You know the really easy questions. LOL.

Ian W

That 0.04% CO2 is only just enough to keep the photosynthesis going plants would be a great deal happier at closer to 0.1% as gardeners with glasshouse plants will attest. A drop back down to the level of 0.025% or less that the Sachs and Ward’s of the world seem to want would result in significant reduction in plant growth and food. Much less than that and plants start dying.


Since plant communities DO influence climate on local to regional scales, you can reasonably argue that CO2 does influence climate – indirectly, through the level to which it supports plant fertility and primary production.

Eugene WR Gallun

Employing your type of logic I could say —
Since .04% CO2 is what drives all plant photosynthesis on the entire planet — it should not be a surprise that it COULD effect the rate of genetic plant evolution also. The question is does it and how much. You know the really easy questions. LOL.
Writing two statements next to one another does not create any relationship between them — though you seem to think it does..

Eugene WR Gallun

You know i like that idea. Global warming causes everything else so why not wild plant mutations? We could soon be set upon by giant Venus Flytraps that have developed legs and run like the wind chasing down their prey. Its logical isn’t it — more CO2 means a changed environment which means faster plant evolution to adapt. The plants take over the world. Mankind dies — not from heatstroke but as dinner for plants. This needs a book perhaps titled — The Climate Wars: Rise Of The Plants

Neal Kaye,
It can, though. It took me a significant amount of study to understand how, thusly: 400 ppm is enough to be opaque to the 15-micron Infrared Radiation CO2 can absorb. Since it absorbs all of it, the atmosphere must radiate to space at a higher cooler altitude, and radiating from a cooler altitude cannot release as much heat to space than as it was previously. This happens several miles up, above the tropopause.
This raises two important questions, still unanswered to everyone’s satisfaction: One, how much of this extra heat is able to make it back to the Earth’s surface? And, two, just exactly how much extra heat are we talking about?

Ian W

Well CO2 is guarding 3 narrow bands – like a gate standing alone in a field. Most of the heat goes sailing past as latent heat carried by water being convected upward which is then released higher in the atmosphere as latent heat on state change to liquid then to ice. The amount of latent heat released on phase change is not affected by the surrounding air temperature.

Neal: In terms of heat transfer, it is a lot.
If you are performing calculations of CO2 impacts, you look at how much CO2 there is in any one bit of air (concentration) and how far it is from heat source to cool thing (distance). The product of these two things determines how much radiant energy is absorbed by the CO2. This is done in combustion engineering, heat balances for blast furnaces, etc., etc.
We will start with normal air, 80% N2, 20% O2.
First, displace air with CO2 until the mixture becomes 50% CO2, 40% N2, 10% O2. Let’s all agree that a 50% atmosphere of CO2 is a lot of CO2. In a blast furnace heat balance, this would have a significant impact on your fuel requirement.
4 meters of this mixture will have a “Path Length” of 200 bar cm.
Now only displace 10% of the air, so 10% CO2, 72% N2, 18% O2
20 meters of this mixture will have a “Path Length” of 200 bar cm and absorb as much radiation as 4 meters of the 50% concentration.
Now only displace 0.039% of the air. Thus about 80% N2, 20% O2, 390 ppm CO2.
5,128 meters of this mixture (at the surface of the earth) will have a “Path Length” of 200 bar cm and absorb as much radiation as 4 meters of the original mixture that was 50% CO2. So over a very long length, 390 ppm is a LOT of CO2.
The atmospheric pressure drops as elevation increases. For the total atmosphere (40 kilometers for calculation purposes), at 100 ppm CO2 throughout, the path length will be somewhere around 67 bar cm (using the ‘standard atmosphere’ equation for change in pressure with elevation). At 390 ppm, the path length is somewhere around 261 bar cm, or more than a 50% CO2 atmosphere over 4 meters. That’s how 400 ppm affects global climate.


that analysis tells us nothing about how a doubling of pCO2 will affect the equilibrium temperature of the climate system. it doesnt even inform as to whether the resulting response is linear or logarithmic. We only know from the Arrhenius relationship the forcing is logarithmic. But the question for climate science, and likely the reasons for GCM failures, is their incorrect treatment of feedbacks on the predicted temperature rise as atmospheric pCO2 doubles.

John Eggert,
That is correct, as far as it goes. But adding more CO2 at current concentrations will have no measurable effect:

Owen in GA

But once the CO2 absorbs that heat, it is transferred to kinetic energy through collisions and is eventually radiated in the other bands by other molecules. Of course some of it is immediately re-emitted at a random direction. This doesn’t say what will happen to temperature overall. This is part of the problem with the radiative model: there are too many paths for the energy to take to accurately model. The simplified model might be a decent first order model, but what are the secondary and tertiary effects and what are their relative sizes based on the multiple paths the energy has to choose from?

Joelobryan: “We only know from the Arrhenius relationship the forcing is logarithmic.” Actually, we know from a nice chap at MIT by the name of Hottell that the relationship is somewhat logarithmic. Hottell was studying combustion, so his work looked at temperatures from 0 F up. Another nice chap called Leckner in 1972 wrote a paper called “Spectral and Total Emissivity of Water Vapor and Carbon Dioxide”. where he showed a parametric equation with 9+ correlation constants that vary depending on conditions. If you want something related to the atmosphere, you can use MODTRAN or HIGHTRAN. From these you get q in W/m². From this you can calculate temperature. Feel free to go ahead and do those calcs. The analysis is not intended to show the relation between CO2 and temperature. It is intended to show that 400 ppm is a lot of CO2.

Joel O'Bryan

To Owen in GA,
Yes there are too many paths to model deterministically. But statistically, there comes an elevation in the atmosphere where, due to diminishing water vapor and a lowering of pressure, that the probability of radiative escape to space becomes likely. Thus that altitude, which is constantly changing due to vapor changes and clouds, combines with the adiabatic lapse rate, and gives an effective radiative altitude and radiative blackbody temp. The higher the altitude, the lower the effective temperature (due to lapse rate) and thus lowers the energy (Stefan-Boltzmann) loss, thus temperatures can rise at the surface in response.

Dave Peters

Neal — The fuel which an airliner burns in one minute, is only partly turned to water vapor, and is spread across ten linear miles of sky. Compressed to water’s density, we are at the bottom of thirty feet worth, of very “clear” stuff, generally. The contrail’s vapor is probably less than half a part per thousand, of the total air column, yet it starkly blocks sunlight by scattering it. (And, my first junior high bucket was scored against visiiting Rio Linda, and Rush’s comedic license aside, many of those folks were the people who maintained aircraft engines during the second and cold wars.)


Anthony, as per my usual practise I followed the link to the original blog posting by Mat Ridley, but found that the new format of your blog has made reading so much easier that at first is was hard to believe I was reading the same posting! I read the rest on WUWT as it was much easier on my poor old eyes.
So mucho kudos for the new format!

chris moffatt

@Fen: Please be kind to those less fortunate. Sachs is not a scientist. He is an economist. As such, the development or confirmation of scientific hypothesis and theory from objective data may not lie within his experience.


Then he should keep his friggin mouth shut instead of libelling those who do understand science.

Joe Bastardi

In the end it comes down to this: Does anyone seriously believe the US contribution of molecule of co2 per 5,000,000 molecules of air.. ( for each of you that is 1 molecule of co2 for every 1.5 QUADRILLION molecules of air) is worth the 165 billion dollars we have spent to prevent the unforecasted by Sachs and Ilk of no temp rise. In addition , given the NCEP temps over the past 10 years, the shift of the PDO and soon AMO is likely to lead to a long term continuation of the trend clearly seen here
with the PDO/MEI spikes at times leading to the rises you see, followed by bigger drop offs.
They are seeing their lives flashing before their eyes… as everything they have pushed and believed goes the way of a vapor in the wind.. water vapor, the number one GHG and A control knob


That’s right Joe, CO2 is an insignificant percentage of our atmosphere. I contend if anything, that increasing CO2 concentration will actually lower the heat index of the atmosphere as a whole. If the atmosphere expands and is denser, then the air at the surface would be warmer. Thicker the blanket.


everything they believe re:CAGW is dissipating like a stinky fart. We just have to hold our noses until it goes away.

Dave Peters

Joe — The astronomical dimensions work both ways in our tug of war—our planet is, after all, an astronomical body. Across its quarter-millennium “apparent” life in the air, each pound of carbon will radiatively heat over two and a half million square feet of ocean to one inch depth by one degree F., from the direct forcing alone. That is six-hundred sixty-six times the energy liberated by its combustion, and it is assessed with very precisely known line by line spectroscopy and incontrovertible physics. A lifetime’s combustion of a million pounds would heat a similar square 300 miles on edge. A single family could heat The Great Salt Lake, to depth, by a Fahrenheit degree. This direct, unamplified thermal endowment, dividing the world’s oceans only amongst Americans, would heat each of our shares to a five hundred foot mixing depth, by 32 degrees; Fourteen years ago, when I did this tabulation with only six billion humans, that cubic mile and a half of one degree F. water had to fit into a personal ocean share making a square 820 on edge. Merging the two quantities yielded a boiling depth of 2100 feet. Our thermal endowment to posterity.


Stop the idiotic tweeting — the equivalent of a spitball war — and call Jeffrey Sachs on the phone. Ask him point blank: 1) did he write the whole text of his rebuttal, 2) if not, how much, 3) if it was ghost-written, did he read and approve every word? Come back and report his answers.

Harry Passfield

Spot on, Gary! It’s as if the more means of communication we have the less we communicate – that is, it becomes asynchronous.


Twits don’t talk … that’s why Twitter grows … the world is becoming dehumanised.


Some folks go from prolonged adolescence to premature senility with no mature adulthood in between. Hard to find a better example than Jeffrey Sachs. His juvenile ranting reminds me of Vic from “The Young Ones”, a BBC sitcom parody of radical left students in a squalid bedsit.


“Rick”comment image


You’re right, it was Rik:


The “smoking gun” quote marks don’t represent attribution. They’re merely an example of sophomoric scholarship. Like this:


There’s a need for a figurative quotation mark, which would also enclose sneer quotes. I suggest using the carat (caret?) symbol: ^quoted material^

The point of the Sachs article was not to refute Matt Ridley. The point was to create a pretext for alarmists to say that Ridley had been thoroughly refuted, to people who will never read either article, and never know what a waste of print the Sachs piece was. This is akin to the process by which politicians do not read the letters from constituents on both sides of an issue; they count them. It’s about keeping score, even if it is a false one.
By the way, Sachs is a big part of why I discontinued my Scientific American subscription, after being a regular reader since the late 1960s. They have lost their way.


When science can explain the mechanism that initiates interglacial warm periods and then initiates glaciations perhaps we will be able to control climate change to some degree.
Until that time I shall be on the fence waiting on my daily dose of new data to determine my angle of leaning. In my opinion the level of Alarm seems to be currently receding with a shallow exponential.


Sachs tweets: “WSJ ignores science conclusion that another episode of accelerated warming should ensue as ocean variability “inevitably” switches sign.”
Wow. When did “science” “conclude” that that “should” “inevitably” occur?
I thought that that particular untested hypothesis was one of the multitude that are currently seeking to explain the failure of the all the CAGW models. Maybe I’m wrong. When “science” devolves to throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks to justify its failures, it’s hard to keep track.

@Chris Moffat t:
Please don’t disparage Economists. I am one, as are many of the Skeptics. We have a certain amount of specialized training in dealing with lousy statistical analysis of sparse, dirty, and missing time series data subject to political manipulation; and that background often makes use MORE skeptical about the statistical hand waving.
(See the ongoing need to ‘undo’ to various politically driven definition changes to things like the unemployment rate and GDP by all political parties as examples of the crud Economists have to ‘back out’ of the data on a regular basis… Both Reagan and various Democrats have fudged GDP / Inflation and other government statisitics. So much so that now hundreds of folks are employed keeping real statistics and un-doing the government ones….)
Frankly, it was my (mandatory) statistics training as an Economist that was one of the first hackle rasing moments when I ran into the AGW ‘methods’. That whole “average a bunch of intensive properties and get a intesive property out to 3 decimal digits of precision” is just so entirely bogus.
Then there is the use of time series plots with various start / end point cherry picks without any awareness of the impact of endpoints.
Then there is the fit of linear trends to cyclical data (shades of the 10 ish year business cycle… )
So much of my Econ background caused an immediate “WTF?” moment when looking at what was done in ‘climate science’, that it is hard to immagine a better background for knowing how to spot the errors.
That some of my ilk (fellow economists) are less than adept students (even with Ph.D.s) ought not to color all of us… Yes, one of the sections in my Stats class was titled “How to lie with statistics”, but at least at my school it was intended to teach how to expose it, not as suggested practice.

Billy Liar

Please don’t disparage Economists. I am one …
I’m disappointed; I thought you were an engineer … 😉

I’ve always felt Economists were extremely useful. They are very good team players and come out of the box wearing a suit and tie. I wouldn’t go into a business deal without at least one economist. However you do have to understand and program tax law and follow legal accounting practices in your models. Given that caveat I think economists are indispensable. Marxist economists are excluded, of course.


… It will if it resumes give us a not very alarming future. And if it does not resume for some time, as Chen and Tung speculate that it might not, then the future is even less alarming …

But if it cools a lot, as some predict, we could be in for a truly miserable time.

William Astley

Svensmark’s comment in his and Nigel Calder’s book “The Cooling Stars: A Cosmic View of Climate Change, Svensmark’s is that we are the first people to complain about warming. Significant cooling will bring crop failures and the risk of world famine.
All of the recent solar observations, the fact that both poles have started to cool, the latitudinal warming paradox, the tropical troposphere lack of warming paradox, the fact that there are cycles of warming and cooling in the paleo record where the same regions of the planet that warmed in the last 50 years warmed when there was a solar grand maximum supports the assertion that the planet will significantly cool due to the solar magnetic cycle 24 abrupt change to the solar magnetic cycle.
It will be interesting to hear the imaginative warmists’ first attempts to explain away planetary cooling.


Sachs is simply defending his religion and faith from blasphemers.


Sachs pontificates and has always been tendentious. His column is one of the many reasons I cancelled my Scientific American subscription 10 years ago.


“smoking gun” does not have to indicate a quote. It may also indicate that what is being said is not meant literally. E.g. My mother’s “pizza” looks more like an omlette.
He said you did not have a real ‘smoking gun’…


That’s why we need a new punctuation mark for such figurative quotes; I suggest the carat: ^

Iggy Slanter

The Warmalistas are only able to fight off an army of straw men. They cannot deal with real arguments, data, or debate.

Bill Illis

So how did a wooden sailing ship make it to this location in 1845 or 1846.
Even today, as in 2014, it would not get within 1000 kms of this location unless they were extremely, extremely lucky in timing the movement of the ice etc. As in ridiculous luck because it was only possible over the last week if you have all the best satellite tracking and a very fast boat with ice-breaker support waiting in the wings.
If the historic sea ice extent was anywhere near what has been estimated before, not a chance a wooden sailing ship would get anywhere near this location.
Which means that all of the historic sea ice reconstructions are way, way off and the numbers should be much, much closer to today’s numbers.

more soylent green!

I’m sure the WSJ would have gladly printed a well-reasoned rebuttal as either and opinion piece or a letter to the editor. Instead with get this nonsense posted on a site with an audience highly receptive to this kind of sophistry.

Henry Galt

OK. I’ll bite.
You either didn’t read the article or didn’t understand it. Or both. You certainly don’t comprehend the provenance.
Your surety regarding the WSJ is naive. At least that matches your perception of Matt’s readership.

Owen in GA

I’m not sure, but I think he was referring to Sachs’ article in the Huffington Post, with the Huffington Post as the “site with an audience highly…”, and that WSJ would have given Sachs space to rebut in a letter. I think you took offense by inferring that MSG was referring to either us here at WattsUpWithThat or WSJ as the “highly receptive to this kind of sophistry” group.


Each time I look at the charts in the Reference Page of this site I am , as a complete layperson, struck by 2 facts : the linearity of the CO2 growth rate in the last 15 years and the flatness of the temperature anomalies (except for the 0-700 m Ocean Heat content) .
Is the global temperature in recent years flat and steady not , DESPITE, the growth in CO2 (implying an opposing effect which ,coincidentally, exactly cancels out radiative forcing ) , but BECAUSE OF the LINEAR growth rate of CO2.
ie over a limited ppm range Temperature anomaly is proportional , not to absolute CO2 concentration, but depends on changes in the rate of growth . So global temperatures rise (after allowing for super El Ninos and large volcanic events ) as a result of increases in the rate of growth , but following that initial period a steady , consistent growth results in a plateau of temperature.
Now the average CO2 growth rate for each decade from 1960 has been provided for us on the Ref Pages and varies from 0.83 ppmCO2/year to 1.95 for 2000-2010. If you plot against these values your temperature anomaly of choice (land sea or atmosphere) there is a sort of trend , which suggests that if we want to keep the temperatures at their present level we should maintain a CO2 growth rate of at least 1 ppm/year – which no doubt the Chinese will be happy to provide.
Reduce the growth rate and the global temperatures will fall. Reduce them so sharply that the absolute CO2 concentrations fall, growth rate is negative, and you will need to stock up on FairIsle sweaters.
The only temperature data that did not fit this , admittedly wacky, idea , was the Ocean Heat content.


“…Temperature anomaly is proportional , not to absolute CO2 concentration, but depends on changes in the rate of growth .”
You’re almost there. Temperature and rate of change of CO2 concentration are affinely related. No doubt about it.
However, the idea that the rate of change of CO2 drives temperature implies that temperature does not depend on the absolute concentration of CO2 – we could pump it up to 1000 ppmv and, once we stopped, temperatures would go back down. That doesn’t make sense, and it is certainly counter to the GHE theory.
Much more reasonable instead to interpret this as temperature driving the rate of change of CO2.

Michael Wassil

Correct. It has been well established that CO2 follows temperature. Over the course of geologic time, as best it can be reconstructed, there have been many periods when temperatures were high and CO2 low, as well as when temperatures were low and CO2 high. Not once has the evidence ever indicated that temperature rose following CO2 increase. On the geologic time scale, the present period (~10k years into the Holocene interglacial) the earth is at the low end of the range of both temperature and CO2.
The last Pleistocene glacial max ‘sequestered’ most of the atmospheric CO2 in the oceans. It has taken more than 10,000 years for enough to ‘boil’ back out to start regreening the planet. It is now estimated that over the last 25 years or so, plant biomass has increased by at least 13-15% worldwide. Anyone who thinks this is bad news needs professional help.

With the exception of the industrial era when Homo sapiens started burning coal and then oil in ever increasing amounts. Think of us as a large group of monkeys who figured out how to light a fire and later learned how to burn old rocks.
I do believe we have the ability to change the planet. It will be rather short lived in the grand scheme of things. Eventually we will either figure our newer technologies or we will run out of fuel and be forced to embrace our inner caveman.

Michael Wassil

Fernando Leanme September 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm
Burning fossil fuels contributes 3.27% of the total of atmospheric CO2 according to:
Unless we discover that abiotic carbohydrates are real and extractable, I agree that eventually we’ll run out of ‘fossil fuels’. However, that’s not going to happen any time soon:
That’s just the USA. Shale extraction has written a new book on energy. I think we’ve got enough lead time to figure out something renewable and reliable that actually produces more energy than it consumes. The only things that can force us to embrace our inner cave man are stupid politics and self-loathing environmentalism.


Fernando Leanme
September 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm
“I do believe we have the ability to change the planet.”
There is no “belief” involved. If we exploded the entire arsenal of nuclear weapons, we would have a definite and immediate impact on the planet.
And, in specific locations, humans have decidedly changed local conditions, both for the better, and the worse.
However, as to the question of whether we are affecting global weather patterns, there is no evidence of it, so believing it is a matter of faith.

Alan McIntire

If temperature is correlated with ” changes in the rate of growth” of CO2, rather than to the log of the changes in CO2, it’s probably changes in industrial waste heat that’s causing temperature change rather than changes in greenhouse gases.
That’s what McKitrick argued here

Michael, let me lay out the problem: as we produce oil from a reservoir class we deplete the oil reserves. Because we know reserves will be depleted we seek new technologies and test new rocks and environments. This means that over time we get a lot better at it, and we also run through the inventory of available targets.
As time goes by we fall behind demand, prices rise and this gives us legs to be more aggressive and move to more expensive projects.
You posted a table showing increasing reserves. But take note those reserves are oil and condensates. The gas and condensate set of targets is broader…but it also has limits. And to those who think the inventory is endless I wish to remind you of what happened to the silver in Greece, the iron mines in Spain, Indonesian and North Sea oil, and what’s happening to the Dutch gas industry. In other words the planet does have a limited amount of extractable minerals.
My forecast for the USA production pak is about 10 million barrels of oil per day. After that it’s downhill with minor wiggles but the good tines are over. And this is one reason the ipcc’s so called business as usual case is vaporware. Not only are their models in need of better tuning they also need much better underlying inputs.
Finally, when we put CO2 in the air we do have an impact. The question in my mind isn’t whether the impact is there or not. The question is what’s the amount? Matt Ridley put it very well, he gives a number. Sachs didn’t give one because he knows very well his position lies in avoiding a debate over the numbers. Obama and the rest rely now on imperial dictates and an incredibly intolerant disregard for the opposition. But Obama did turn out to be quite disappointing.
As for Sachs, I was also in and out of Russia when he and his friends advised Yeltsin. Lets just say we thought he was naive, didn’t understand their culture and politics. And it seems he didn’t learn much since his debacle in Russia, because he’s demonstrating to me he doesn’t understand the culture and political nature of the American people. Pandering to the extreme left on Tweeter isn’t going to work.

Michael Wassil

Fernando Leanme September 10, 2014 at 1:29 am
1. I already agreed with you that eventually we’ll run out of ‘fossil’ fuels unless we discover abiotic is real and extractable. So I have no argument about that. What we seem to disagree about is how soon we will deplete and move to something else. You may recall that ‘peak oil’ was first predicted to arrive in the 1970s. Didn’t happen. You seem to be predicting ‘peak oil’ in the immediate future. I don’t think so. Alarmists have been predicting the imminent arrival of ‘peak oil’ for 40 years. Hasn’t happened. Sans abiotic, it will happen eventually, but I’m not worried about it. Humans have a way of innovating when motivated sufficiently.
2. I also agree with you that human activities are adding CO2 to the atmosphere. My first link showed the exact percentage (3.27%). Your contention is that it has “an impact”. My response is “so what?” The ONLY impact that has been documented so far is an increase of plant biomass by about 15% world wide in the past 25 years or so and steadily increasing domestic crop yields. CO2 is plant food and the more of it the better. The GCM models that portray CO2 as a catastrophic pollutant have all failed. Outside of all the failed models there is NO EVIDENCE that CO2 causes any detrimental effects on anything. You have some evidence to the contrary? If so, let’s see it.


“‘When the internal variability [of the ocean] that is responsible for the current hiatus [in warming] switches sign, as it inevitably will, another episode of accelerated global warming should ensue.’ “
Sachs seems to believe that, when this happens, it will continue on indefinitely. But, the very nature of a cycle is that it cycles. It will accelerate for a time, then it will decelerate. Net result over the long term: zero.
The thing is, once you take away this acceleration/deceleration cycle, you are left with a long term trend, which even Ridley seems to concede is due to AGW. But, that trend was in place by the end of the LIA, and it has not accelerated or decelerated. There is no indication whatever that this trend is human caused.
Take away the trend and the cycle, both of which have been around since before major industrialization, and you have: not a whole lot which could reasonably be laid to the feet of human forces.

Regarding the ‘missing heat’ in the oceans:
As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today;
I wish to heck he’d go away.

Jim Ryan

The models have correctly predicted that rapid AGW “should” begin soon! This is a “science conclusion”! We have already correctly predicted that AGW will happen! This prediction flows from the models and has already been verified by them!

Joel O'Bryan

you forgot the /sarc tag.


“… the Earth’s warming is unabated in recent years.” – Sachs
Unabated? Sachs obviously missed the memo on the pause. Also he is trying to imply the equivalent of an unabated torrential thunder storm when it is so far more similar to a light rain that lasts for a few days.
Recent years? Like what, the last 1,000 recent years the last 100, the last 20 or is it the last 2?
Was a more ambiguous statement ever made. I guess the ambiguity is unimportant because the content of the sachs article is not important. what is important is the message.
In typical knuckle dragging style, the message is, “Me smart, you dumb.”


@ Matt Ridley,
Just keep doing what you’re currently doing so well. No need to panic or start throwing expensive lawsuits about because your latest protagonist is angry. He’s upset because your bullets are hitting their targets and as ever your fair-mindedness cruelly amplifies his own side’s illogical flaws. Revel in it, Matt, because evidence is on your side. Just as history will be.


Sachtimonious (sic)

Alberta Slim

Good one…. ;^D


The spittle flecked climate obsessed kooks are outraged that anyone would step out of line with their apocalyptic claptrap.

sleepingbear dunes

I saw a Sachs interview immediately after Climategate broke. He was asked directly if there was something significant about the emails. He denied there was but his body language and facial expression exposed what he was really thinking. I knew instantly he knew something was wrong but he couldn’t admit it. The whole facade is crumbling one brick at a time.


…increasingly, the ignorant ones on climate are clearly the extremists. They seem unaware that the catastrophe has been called off, that things are not in a crisis mode, that the climate is changing in reasonable, historical precedented ways.


No, they are fully aware. That is why they have abandoned any pretence at a scientific argument and are just concentrating on ad hom attacks like this and frawdulent claims like Cook’s 97% fisco.
They are still hoping that if they shout their lies and propaganda loud enough for just a little bit longer maybe, just maybe they can spin it out long enough to get an international agreement signed before the rest of the world catches on.
They will get more desperate and more extreme as their “cause” falls apart and fades into history.
They will finally come to realise that there are far bigger and more important things for people to worry about than a hypothetical warming a hundred years from now.
War and disease are killing NOW. And now trumps “maybe as much as” in 2100.

Moon battery has an interesting view of the insanity among the climate science extremists. Click on the pics to see the evidence.

Chip Javert

Well this is just lovely – yet another economist (albeit with BA, MA and PhD) pretending to be a real scientist.
If this is what he want to be, why not a BS, MS and PhD in something like, say, physics?


He’s already got a BS in Physics, it’s on full display. Maybe you meant a BSc.


It’s an oddity of religions that they always harder on those they see has heretics for refusing to believe in the ‘right way ‘, then they are on those that don’t believe at all. Ridley has just learnt the lesson, that ‘belief’ in AGW is not enough , this belief must be total and unquestioning in regards to the dogma . His not the first he will not be the last.
And has ‘the cause ‘ falls it will turn on itself to ‘root out the heretics ‘ , which be fun for everyone else to watch has ‘the Team ‘ tearing itself apart in an attempt to by each member to save themselves can only ever be good news which cannot come soon enough . We can say that when Mann does get through under the bus , it will after be a big one to cope with his ‘ego’

Tom in Florida

“Second, the total warming is distributed between the land and ocean surface on the one hand and the ocean deep water on the other. The total rise of ocean heat content has continued unabated, while the proportion of heat absorbed at the surface and in the deeper ocean varies over time. Again, in the scientific lingo of the paper, “[T]his forced total OHC [ocean heat content] should be increasing monotonically over longer periods even through the current period of slowed warming. In fact, that expectation is verified by observation . . . ” In other words, the ocean has continued to warm in line with predictions of just such a phenomenon seen in climate models.”
OK, I know I must be missing something here. Are they saying that the air temperature is what warms the oceans?

The sun warms everything. Sometimes water has a little bit higher salinity and it sinks even if it’s warmer than the water underneath. Nature has really nifty tricks it uses to move heat around.

Tom in Florida

I know the Sun warms oceans. My question was are they saying air does also?

If the air is warmer than the ocean the air warms the ocean, if the air is colder than the ocean then it goes the other way. I know the answer is bit dumb sounding. But think about it. Overall the ocean tends to be the controlling factor because water has a really nice heat capacity and it covers more area. As Tisdale points out the elephant is the Pacific. If you want my draw the whole thing starts with water warming in the Western Pacific. I like to think of Funafuti as the center of the universe.

David A

Basically yes. An engineering diagram of how this LWIR missing weapon of mass destruction is getting to the deep oceans without heating the first 700 m is notably absent. In addition the poorly measured heat content increase of the deep oceans, and indeed overall oceans, is less then 1/2 of what is predicted by CAGW theory. so saying “the ocean has continued to warm in line with predictions” is a lie. And finally, as others have noted, there is no mechanism for how this heat will escape the deep oceans and cause global disaster.

charles nelson

Rupert Murdoch built his vast media empire by being right about stuff years before his opponents.
Whether you like him or approve of him is irrelevant, he’s good at picking winners.
The fear and loathing detectable in Warmist diatribes against him, is born of the certainty that Murdoch’s open questioning of CAGW, surely marks the beginning of the end for them!

James Ard

Not always, Myspace was a bust.