A former White House science advisor speaks out about “settled science”

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Climate Science Is Not Settled

We are very far from the knowledge needed to make good climate policy, writes leading scientist Steven E. Koonin

The idea that “Climate science is settled” runs through today’s popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided. It has not only distorted our public and policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse-gas emissions and the environment. But it also has inhibited the scientific and policy discussions that we need to have about our climate future.

My training as a computational physicist—together with a 40-year career of scientific research, advising and management in academia, government and the private sector—has afforded me an extended, up-close perspective on climate science. Detailed technical discussions during the past year with leading climate scientists have given me an even better sense of what we know, and don’t know, about climate. I have come to appreciate the daunting scientific challenge of answering the questions that policy makers and the public are asking.

The crucial scientific question for policy isn’t whether the climate is changing. That is a settled matter: The climate has always changed and always will. Geological and historical records show the occurrence of major climate shifts, sometimes over only a few decades. We know, for instance, that during the 20th century the Earth’s global average surface temperature rose 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nor is the crucial question whether humans are influencing the climate. That is no hoax: There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. There is also little doubt that the carbon dioxide will persist in the atmosphere for several centuries. The impact today of human activity appears to be comparable to the intrinsic, natural variability of the climate system itself.

Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, “How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?” Answers to that question at the global and regional levels, as well as to equally complex questions of how ecosystems and human activities will be affected, should inform our choices about energy and infrastructure.

But—here’s the catch—those questions are the hardest ones to answer. They challenge, in a fundamental way, what science can tell us about future climates.

Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole. For example, human additions to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the middle of the 21st century are expected to directly shift the atmosphere’s natural greenhouse effect by only 1% to 2%. Since the climate system is highly variable on its own, that smallness sets a very high bar for confidently projecting the consequences of human influences.

A second challenge to “knowing” future climate is today’s poor understanding of the oceans. The oceans, which change over decades and centuries, hold most of the climate’s heat and strongly influence the atmosphere. Unfortunately, precise, comprehensive observations of the oceans are available only for the past few decades; the reliable record is still far too short to adequately understand how the oceans will change and how that will affect climate.

A third fundamental challenge arises from feedbacks that can dramatically amplify or mute the climate’s response to human and natural influences. One important feedback, which is thought to approximately double the direct heating effect of carbon dioxide, involves water vapor, clouds and temperature.

We often hear that there is a “scientific consensus” about climate change. But as far as the computer models go, there isn’t a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences. Since 1990, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, has periodically surveyed the state of climate science. Each successive report from that endeavor, with contributions from thousands of scientists around the world, has come to be seen as the definitive assessment of climate science at the time of its issue.

For the latest IPCC report (September 2013), its Working Group I, which focuses on physical science, uses an ensemble of some 55 different models. Although most of these models are tuned to reproduce the gross features of the Earth’s climate, the marked differences in their details and projections reflect all of the limitations that I have described. For example:

• The models differ in their descriptions of the past century’s global average surface temperature by more than three times the entire warming recorded during that time. Such mismatches are also present in many other basic climate factors, including rainfall, which is fundamental to the atmosphere’s energy balance. As a result, the models give widely varying descriptions of the climate’s inner workings. Since they disagree so markedly, no more than one of them can be right.

• Although the Earth’s average surface temperature rose sharply by 0.9 degree Fahrenheit during the last quarter of the 20th century, it has increased much more slowly for the past 16 years, even as the human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen by some 25%. This surprising fact demonstrates directly that natural influences and variability are powerful enough to counteract the present warming influence exerted by human activity.

Yet the models famously fail to capture this slowing in the temperature rise. Several dozen different explanations for this failure have been offered, with ocean variability most likely playing a major role. But the whole episode continues to highlight the limits of our modeling.

• The models roughly describe the shrinking extent of Arctic sea ice observed over the past two decades, but they fail to describe the comparable growth of Antarctic sea ice, which is now at a record high.

• The models predict that the lower atmosphere in the tropics will absorb much of the heat of the warming atmosphere. But that “hot spot” has not been confidently observed, casting doubt on our understanding of the crucial feedback of water vapor on temperature.

• Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today—about one foot per century.

• A crucial measure of our knowledge of feedbacks is climate sensitivity—that is, the warming induced by a hypothetical doubling of carbon-dioxide concentration. Today’s best estimate of the sensitivity (between 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) is no different, and no more certain, than it was 30 years ago. And this is despite an heroic research effort costing billions of dollars.


Read the entire essay here: http://online.wsj.com/articles/climate-science-is-not-settled-1411143565

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147 thoughts on “A former White House science advisor speaks out about “settled science”

  1. Wow! – Well done the WSJ for allowing this. Are we at last seeing a shift in attitude?

    What with the (UK) Times publishing an article openly critical of the Royal Society regarding its appalling breach of ethics over the snail that was supposed to be extinct due to Climate Change (and this article has gone viral) – are we at last seeing proper investigative journalism from our media?

    • I say Wow! – we see something in the press that is rare and you idiots jump on the “Wow”.

      Bizarre……

      • “The Times and the WSJ are your fellow travellers in the climate debate.”

        Not the Times, despite its ownership. It’s been following the party line, with a few exceptions, like this one.

      • Oh yeah – I can really see the Guardian having a significant change of heart! I bet Monbiot is penning his response right now – but I will not hold my breath!

        The article in the Times was a change – the WSJ article was a good one that I doubt would have seen the light of day some years ago.

  2. If ocean variability can create a hiatus in global warming it can also create the global warming that caused the panic in the first place. None but an idiot or idiologue would act politically (policy) on climate matters given what we understand today. We’re hopelessly ignorant as to the source of the cooling/warming/hiatus that has been a part of half my lifetime.

    This I know for a fact – the people of the future will look back on the imperious asses of our time and say thank you but we’ll decide which is right and and appropriate for our time. We have no chance to direct the future, and through flawed contemporary policy we can only inflect chaos on the present.

    • dp, the “rise hidden buy natural variability” argument is the barn door, the Pandora’s box, of the warmistas. If the cooling is due to natural variability, prove the warming is not.

  3. Another scientist “comes out” about the high uncertainty precluding costly regulatory and tax “cures”. He only gets a few facts wrong like saying it warmed more slowly over the last 16 years when it hasn’t measurably warmed at all, but he’s got it mostly right. Saying “the science is settled” and labeling scientists with reasonable, evidence-based positions as “deniers” is counter-productive.

  4. He raises the question, if there is a 97% consensus in climate science why does it not show up in IPCC reports 55 different models projections for the future? Those spaghetti charts show in fact the opposite that there is less than a 2 % consensus?

    • The only evidence for an anthropogenic component to recent warming must come from climate models, Peter, and from climate models alone. Climate models represent the best understanding of climate physics. All the meaning of data in science comes from explanations grounded in a falsifiable physical theory.

      Your comment distinguishing between acknowledgement of an anthropogenic influence and climate modeling is clear evidence that you don’t understand science, or how it works, or how to derive scientific meaning.

      The entire effect of human GHG emissions is an increase in tropospheric forcing of about 35 milliWatts per year. Climate models are completely unable to resolve the effects of a forcing change that small. There are therefore no scientific grounds for what you call “cknowledgement of anthropogenic climate change.”

      All your scientific authorities — and argue from authority is all you invariably do, Peter — don’t know what they’re talking about. That’s not stopped them talking, though. Your consensus, if it exists at all, is a consensus of incompetence. And that’s putting the best face on it.

    • It’s phrased like a contradiction, but actually the two statements are completely compatible.

      – 97% believe ‘something’.
      – the product of this same group is 98% wrong.

      Almost perfectly consistent! :-)

    • Pat I started a rebuttal to Peters point, then saw you did it much better than i. I will only add the fact, that the rise of CO2 has always, every time, without fail, followed a rise in temperature, and thus can not cause but only reflect a temperature rise.
      If 97% disagree with that, then 97% are wrong….unless they can show a time when the effects of the very weak greenhouse gas CO2 preceded temperature.

    • But Peter, their belief is rooted in the “evidence” found in the climate models….or made up completely since there is no observational evidence.

    • Peter the 97% acknowledgement argument goes nowhere when modeling is so deficient. Cook would have known that if he understood anything about meaning in science. That he wrote the paper at all shows an abysmal ignorance.

      You defended Cook’s thesis by distinguishing it from modeling, when an appropriately critical observation would have been that he had no scientific grounds to write his paper at all.

    • The important question is if and then when and how much. None of the models make any kind of consensus on when and how much. In the light of this fact it’s utterly strange to claim a 97% consensus?

    • Yeah come on Santa baby … as Peter the alarmist sez the models can be 97% wrong and they get a free ride just because it is climate science ;-)

  5. We know, for instance, that during the 20th century the Earth’s global average surface temperature rose 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Such a learned man, and he still thinks there is something meaningful called “global average surface temperature”. Why do we still play this silly game??

    • Well, to play Devil’s Advocate, it’s because this is the rules of the game as we allowed the alarmists to set them. Eventually, and hopefully soon, we’ll be able to make people realize that:
      1. the claims of 100th-degree precision for the last 100 years are laughably naive
      2. GAST is impossible to compute in a meaningful way
      3. GAST as we’ve been able to estimate it is remarkably stable and shows no reason to worry
      4. 1.4F is still a scary number, compared to the °C equivalent

      Next up, fighting against the deliberate shell games of sea ice extent, CO2 concentration, and CO2 cause/effect confusion.

      • Doubtless to the choir, if the estimated GAST was quoted with the range (and σ) it would of course help place it in context, along with the vaunted rise of 0.8°C of the late twentieth century, eg. 15°C (range: −89.2 °C – +70.7°C). Of course it never is that I have seen, for the usual array of tiresome expedient reasons.

    • Jeff,

      I agree. Regarding the “We know,” how about “we’re fairly certain” or ‘we’re pretty confident”.

      • I wasn’t talking about the “we know”, I was talking about the meaningless single metric of a fictional surface temperature.

  6. This is essentially a “slow walk back” article in which the author is desperately trying to engineer a “soft landing” for the hoax. The idea is to keep the idea of a net radiative GHE alive while downplaying the effects of CO2 so as to keep the reputations of the individuals and organisations involved intact so they can continue to damage our society with new scams in the future.

    The immediate give away or “tell” is that the author uses the propaganda term “greenhouse gases” instead of the scientific term “radiative gases”.

    Then we have this –

    That is no hoax: There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate.

    This is the fiction this author and others are trying to maintain while handwaving about other complexities in an attempt to excuse their failed predictions. The reality of the hoax is that it is the very “basic physics” of the formerly “settled science” that is in error.

    All AGW claims depend on the foundation claims that the surface of the planet without atmosphere would be at 255K and that this is being raised 33K by a radiative GHE. However the simplest empirical experiments show that for the oceans covering 71% of the planets surface, that 255K figure is in error by over 90K. That is to say our radiative atmosphere is cooling the oceans not warming them. The atmosphere in turn needs radiative gases to cool itself. This means that there is no net radiative GHE on our planet. AGW due to radiative gas emissions is therefore a physical impossibility.

    While some sceptics may welcome “slow walk back” articles such as this, there is nothing to be gained. You would be just accepting new propaganda from old propagandists. While the “Realpolitik” solution may be appealing in the short term, all a soft landing will achieve is is stalling atmospheric science for decades and allowing the AGW fellow travellers to slink off to start more trouble with a UN engineered “bio-crisis” or “fresh water crisis”.

    Climastrologists did not just get the magnitude of the effect of radiative gases wrong, they got the sign wrong. These gases act to cool at all concentrations above 0.0ppm. Every attempt to excuse the failure of climastrologists without admitting this fact damages science. A hard landing for the hoax will be painful for many, but the world needs this teachable moment.

    • You first sentence summarizes my thoughts while I was reading it to. We see it clearly here:

      “Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is “How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?””

      Uh huh. That never was the crucial question before, nor is it the crucial question now. This is just attempting to create a ‘soft failure’ i.e. blame natural variability for future failure.

    • Exactly. I get an impression of a slick presentation of the same misconceived science that has brought the field of climatology to its present state

      • I’d like to read more about the points you bring up. Can you please point me to who is doing research on this? Thank you.

        Who’s doing research? Wake up. It’s meant to be you sunshine! –



        Did you think I ran these experiments, refined their design and published build instructions on the web for my own amusement?

        Tom, there is an ancient Chinese proverb –
        “tell me, I’ll forget. Show me I’ll understand. Let me do it, I will Know.

        Tom, I want you to know.

        Do you want to know? Then there is only one way forward…do the bloody experiments!

    • I read the article in print and couldn’t get past the first 3 paragraphs before having the same reaction to this alarmist turned luke-warmist that you had.

      Basic numeracy should indicate to anyone the absurdity of the climate alarmists’ conclusions.

      Alas, we live in an America where no one teaches numeracy.

    • I once tried and failed to solder a copper pin back onto the copper badge it broke off of. I assumed it was because the copper badge conducted the heat from the soldering iron to the air so well that the temp of the area of the pin could not be raised to the temperature required to melt the solder. I just bought a new instructor badge.

      Is this similar to the effect you are describing?

      Jim

  7. But he is still stating certain things as fact that are not proven as facts and need to be challenged not accepted. He is still warmist/alarmist to the core

    • Agreed. He’s a warmist trying to insert a natural variability ‘escape clause’ after an 18 year pause.

  8. “We know, for instance, that during the 20th century the Earth’s global average surface temperature rose 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.”

    What BS. The one thing we do know, without a doubt, is that climate agencies controlling the datasets have *adjusted* the temperatures to appear that it is now warmer by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (actually by lowering records as you go further backwards in time). These agencies even admit it, they have published these upward sloped adjustments on the web. Nothing hidden yet people supposedly intelligent avoid that fact like the plague.

    With that one lone statement I can throw away all else he had to say. Untrustworthy.

    • Agree with Wayne, he’s wrong on all his “facts”. 7 inches is not a foot. We don’t know 1.4 F is correct. He implies that natural variability and human caused is 50%/50%. Global temperature hasn’t increased over the last 16 years. “…that (tropical) “hot spot” has not been confidently observed” – it hasn’t been observed at all.
      I agree that his “slow walk back” is still major propaganda.

  9. “Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, “How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?””

    Ummmm no. That is not the crucial question at all. Not even close. This is global-warming pseudo-science with a natural variability ‘escape clause’ done after-the-fact of a known and embarrassing 18 year hiatus.

    The crucial question is “Is the negative effects of possible warming more damaging that the positive effects of warming PLUS the positive effects of energy use?” From a policy perspective, THAT is the question that matters. Put in that context the answer is “very very unlikely”. Since it’s quite unclear (except to believers) that slight warming is actually damaging on the whole at all, combined with the fact that energy use is extremely beneficial to mankind; it would take an absolutely HUGE negative effect from global warming to negate the positive effects. We have already the benefit seeing what 150 years of unrestrained CO2 output can do, which is – “nothing of significant negative effect whatsoever above background noise and measurement uncertainty, and nothing short of spectacular on the positive benefits to humanity side”. An alarmist would bring up ‘tipping points’ and such nonsense, but no ‘serious scientist’ (a label the consensus crowd is so found of using) supports the idea of a tipping point.

  10. It’s interesting to note that in this comment, “There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate.

    … juxtaposed with this one, “But as far as the computer models go, there isn’t a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences.

    … Steven Koonin is contradicting himself.

    If climate models are unable to resolve “the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences,” then there is no way to know that humans “are influencing the climate.”

    We see this mistake over and over again. Scientists who should know better improperly making an inductive inference, jumping from CO2 is a greenhouse gas, to human emissions are influencing the climate.

    Science is about quantitative deductions from falsifiable theory. It’s not about inductive jumps into conclusionary non-sequiturs.

    • Totally agree and very good point. There is no way to give attribution without the models, and the models have failed. Any statement of attribution then is just an opinion.

      I actually believe that a lot of skeptics say “Yes there is warming and yes it is partly due to man”, because they just want to skip that part of the argument and get on to what they believe the more important issue i.e. is warming dangerous? If we were truthful and objective we would have to say, it may have been warming (some reasonable evidence there) and it may be due to man (really no evidence there whats-so-ever), but we don’t know for sure because it within the bounds of measurement uncertainty (and very suspicious one-way ‘corrections’ I would add).

      Even if we examine the supposedly ‘solid’ idea that there has been warming, we see that corrections are on the same order of magnitude and the signal we are supposed to be measuring, never mind instrument uncertainty on top of that! Who can have faith in that?

      • Ian, I believe you are correct when you say –

        I actually believe that a lot of skeptics say “Yes there is warming and yes it is partly due to man”, because they just want to skip that part of the argument and get on to what they believe the more important issue i.e. is warming dangerous?

        While some may be loath to admit it, many sceptics are adding to the problem and prolonging the hoax. For fear of looking foolish they do not question the underlying assumptions behind the “CO2 causes warming” theme. There is a failure to understand and accept that both the idea of a net radiative GHE and AGW are both unproven hypotheses.

        When faced with hard sceptic statements like “the oceans are not a near blackbody they are a selective surface”, unable to understand or find a quick easy answer on the web, rather than do the empirical experiments they choose the lazy option of accepting the warmulonian initial assumptions and arguing instead about feedbacks or other peripheral issues.

        This has been the greatest mistake of the sceptics, not empirically investigating the core assumptions in the “basic physics” of the “settled science”.

      • Konrad

        I concur. That CO2 is responsible for the late warming trend is a mere assumption. In fact, it has been shown that late trend was due to reduced cloud albedo. Skeptics accept the “consensus” out of a sort of intellectual laziness.

      • mpainter, I’m not even convinced it’s intellectual laziness, often it’s because you HAVE to make some concession to have alarmists even consider that anything you say has any merit whatsoever. IMO, to most people it’s a slam-dunk drop-dead certainty that there was a lot of warming in the 20th century and that there is no debate that humans caused some or most of it.

        From what I’ve seen, in comments here and other places, the instant you question any of the big 3 axioms, you’re easy to dismiss as a flake.
        1. Warming in the 20th c,
        2. Human caused,
        3. CO2 levels result of human activity.

        Even right now, someone is reading this and thinking, “Of course CO2 levels are human, you can’t burn so many fossil fuels without…” yadda yadda. Well, it’s NOT a slam-dunk, and no matter how much you try to prove it, you can’t. It’s conjecture.

    • Yes these people have much difficulty if they wish to sound reasonable and yet adhere to the standard formulas. Their dubious science leads to these sort of contradictions. Their measure as scientists is that they seem oblivious to these contradictions

      • A common sceptic approach for getting something into the ‘debate’ that gets read is to take the data, no matter how fiddled, as given and show that the science as described by the warmers is still wrong. This isn’t a bad approach for trimming the hysteria level. It certainly has slashed the ‘sensitivity’ estimates by half or more. Also, when a pariah to the settled science succeeds in stemming the rhetoric somewhat in this way, it opens the doors for further real investigation. Nearly all the most influential sceptical papers have been written in the last 4 or 5 years. Also, before that time the team could write whatever bogus tripe they wanted and get it published.

        Sceptics are now causing at least the worst of it to be retracted. This has caused hesitancy and caution in these authors – they know the slipshod will be trashed by vigilant sceptics like McIntyre, arguably the most vilified and feared sceptic of all. That he is fair, honest and respectful and doesn’t even present an opinion on warming or cooling, but deals only with the statistics, methods used and the logic is what makes him so formidable. I haven’t had to do a statistical analysis to say that the once prolific ‘clime syndicate’ (thanks Mark Steyn) has been fairly quiet in the publishing sphere in the last several years. No 10,000 papers a decade, these days! Now the demoralized team is waxing strongly about the once odious idea of natural variability, NAO, PDO, ENSO and all the things they refused to look at a few short years ago.

      • No doubt, Steve McIntyre has done much useful work. Too bad his science B/G is limited to statistics. He seems distinctly uncomfortable with anything outside his expertise, which is understandable considering his dedication to precision. This sometimes leads to a sort of heavy handedness, however. I sometimes wonder why in this regard. He has not tried to correct this deficiency so perhaps he is close to retiring.

    • “Science is about quantitative deductions from falsifiable theory. It’s not about inductive jumps into conclusionary non-sequiturs.”

      This needs to be screamed from on high at every university and government research unit across the world!!

  11. I beg your pardon, but being an educated European, I find it difficult to assign credibility to a text which still resorts to Degrees Fahrenheit, Inches and Foot. In the world of science, the metric system rules. As a minimum base, we should at least agree to that, before we go any further.

    • I beg your pardon but there is nothing wrong with a system of measure that has been in use for centuries and is understood around the world.

      • You make me smile, Davidtron. Is that Sierra Leone that I see peeping from the edge of Africa? And Burma? I suppose that I am meant to feel ashamed and backward. But I don’t. We are a diverse country. Just look at the diverse nincompoopz that Potus has gathered around himself.
        Thanks for demonstrating my point
        “around the world”, but you left out a few places.

    • Do you also find it educationally difficult to assign credibility to a text which still resorts to the use of the American dollar and/or the British pound rather than the European euro?

      90% of the American populace doesn’t know or have a “feeling” of hot or cold something is when the temperature is stated in degrees Centigrade. And 99.8% won’t know iffen the temperature is stated in degrees Kelvin.

    • I am european-educated engineer, and I see absolutely nothing wrong with using different units of measure. You, yourself can easily convert from meters to millimeters, I assume? How about kilometers to light years or parsecs? Those are not metric, but they are all used in science.

      I bet you still use kilowatt-hours as measure of energy – are you aware that metric one is joules? Do you, if you are aware, find that anyone who uses KWH are not credible?

      Even among Europeans, non-metric units are in use all the time. Don’t even get me started on 60 sec to a min or 24 hours to a day – nothing metric about time measurements.

      As to another point you were trying to make, this article was not written for scientists but for general american audience, which does not use metric measures. You came off as incredibly arrogant and, frankly, stupid, in your objections.

      • Plus you can easily change some metric equivalents into english ones. For example, speed in kph: multiply by 4 and add 4 zeros, and you have (almost exactly) inches per hour. I leave it to the ordinary user of English units to turn inches per hour into miles per hour in their heads…

    • Passive / aggressive snottiness from an educated European? What a surprise.

      Well, … can’t let this pass, so, a little history, with the bark on – being European is the problem we have with the metric system. For the most part, Europe is what America was invented to get away from. This is why so many of us loathe, viscerally, people like John Kerry, who insist we need to become more like Europe -especially the French. The metric system “rules” state-broken peoples – we are not, yet, that far gone. There is an excellent book that explains why the Anglo-sphere (America especially) has been so resistant to the conformist, French-ified, and dehumanizing metric system:

      http://www.amazon.com/Measuring-America-United-Greatest-History/dp/1400130905

      For the short version, you can read this review.

      http://www.brothersjudd.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/reviews.detail/book_id/1248/Measuring%20Am.htm

      … from which I quote:

      “… nor can it be a coincidence that, while the French worship the civil service, the Anglo-Saxon: loathes bureaucracy– Ezra Pound: “What, gentle reader, are bureaucrats? Hired janitors who think they own the whole building” – despises easy quantification–Hillaire Belloc: “Statistics are the triumph of the quantitative method, and the quantitative method is the victory of sterility and death” – and maintains an “[a]ffection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems”–Russell Kirk.

      … the fact that so many owned plots of land that had already been measured by a different system must have helped to make an already skeptical folk even more disdainful of the new-fangled metric system. Thereby did Edmund Gunter, whose [measuring] chain had already done so much to secure American democracy, coincidentally help keep us free from that alternative device, the meter stick, tool of the centralizers and statists:

      “The American style has never been to impose radical changes after state commissions decide on their superiority,” observed Edward Tenner, a visiting researcher in the history of science and technology at Princeton University. “Americans even hate seeing dual mile and kilometer road signs. The metric system has been a casualty of its identification with political authority.”

      Amen, brother. And if we could stop New Coke, we can stop the Frenchified rationalists and their metric scam.

      (End Quote)

      • Computers handle the dreary arithmetic, so any units are fine in engineering work. For our next exercise, we’ll re-do the math in spherical and cylindrical coordinate systems. Show your work.

  12. FYI, Steve Koonin is chair of the American Physical Society’s committee reviewing the Society’s official statement on AGW/climate change. The question is: Why has he chosen to speak out alone at this time?

  13. Too many emotive words in this report to a useful scientific document. He has left ajar too many doors but the use of these emotive words.

    EX:
    Earth’s average surface temperature rose sharply by 0.9 degree Fahrenheit (really, sharply?). Most evidence shows that the rise was statistically the same as any other recent cycle.

    “during the 20th century the Earth’s global average surface temperature rose 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit” : Whose manipulation is he quoting there ?

    It’s a great shame, This could have been a definitive statement, from an influential person, that would have started a useful debate.

    Dagfinn

    September 21, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate in 2009:

    That’s because Gavin hasn’t yet finished torturing the data enough to prove GW.

  14. Thank you, Dr Koonin, for simply being a scientist.
    There is interesting materal in the 576 pages of the transcript of your meeting with 6 invited scientists in January last, for the American Physical Society. Your competence in chairing gave hope that a thorough outcome would result.
    There would be another good outcome if other learned societies would follow your example of leadership and acquaint themselves with the several major ‘wicked problems’. Many of us are disappointed by the shallow efforts of others, like the Royal Society of London. Decision makers have too easy a task when they cite lazy climate statements from such bodies, as they do. Poor policies result.
    You know that your stance is important. Thank you.

  15. Frank

    September 21, 2014 at 1:02 am

    FYI, Steve Koonin is chair of the American Physical Society’s committee reviewing the Society’s official statement on AGW/climate change. The question is: Why has he chosen to speak out alone at this time?

    Probably because he has lost the debate in that commitee.

  16. White House Science Adviser?
    Is this the Steven Koonin who was Second Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy?
    Did he have some other role?
    He has a very respectable CV, but I do not know that it’s appropriate to refer to him as ‘White House Science Adviser.” I am professing my ignorance, I’d be happy to be told authoritatively that I’m wrong- but I don’t think we should inflate the credentials of those on ‘our side’, any more than Mann should have claimed the Nobel Prize.

  17. It is very nice to see someone come out and admit that the science of understanding the climate is still in its infancy. We know very little, and I am afraid what little we “know” is wrong. But still, I have to disagree with parts of this message by Dr. Steven E. Koonin as he clearly understands that we have a long way to go but does not understand that some of the “facts” that he thinks we now know are still controversial to the extreme. I’ll give a few examples.

    “… We know, for instance, that during the 20th century the Earth’s global average surface temperature rose 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit. …”

    How do we “know” that? I believe that the climate has been warming for natural reasons ever since the end of the Little Ice Age that ended sometime around 1850 to 1870 and that we have good evidence for saying that. But we don’t even know what the global temperature is now much less that the “global temperature” has risen exactly 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit. What an arrogant statement that tosses out all ideas of how we were able to measure temperatures in the past. To a tenth of a degree no less!

    ” … There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. There is also little doubt that the carbon dioxide will persist in the atmosphere for several centuries. The impact today of human activity appears to be comparable to the intrinsic, natural variability of the climate system itself. …”

    We do not know that the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is anthropogenic. Perhaps mankind’s emissions contribute a small portion and the natural warming causes much of the CO2 rise. We do not know that our tiny contribution (compared to Mother Nature) are influencing the climate. I think all of mankind’s various activities have some affect on the climate, but I wager that land use far outweighs burning coal and oil. The fact is that these items are still under investigation and we have a long, long way to go before we have any real knowledge of the situation.

    And what is up with the claims that man-released CO2 will “persist for centuries”? How do we know that? We don’t even know what percentage of the increase is anthropogenic much less how long the human released CO2 will persist in the atmosphere. If the present inter-glacial age ends, we may see CO2 levels plummet to dangerously low levels.

    ” … Today’s best estimate of the sensitivity (between 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) is no different, and no more certain, than it was 30 years ago. And this is despite an heroic research effort costing billions of dollars. …”

    I don’t think that is the “best estimate”. That guess will turn out to be wildly off target if we ever overturn the religion of climate science and get back to science. There is no conclusive evidence that CO2 added much of anything to the present temps which were already warming coming out of the little ice age.

    The climate system of planet earth is very, very complex and is chaotic in its behavior. I wager that the simple-minded model hammered out by Sagan and Hansen will turn out to be a long way from the truth.

    • Excellent comment, markstoval! Very well thought out.

      +1

      Sensitivity is always mentioned as if they know what the number is. They don’t. The sensitivity # is always a SWAG. If they could reliably quantify that number alone, the debate would be over. But they don’t know if sensitivity is plus, or minus, or zero — or if it varies depending on other factors.

      I suspect the latter. But I don’t know, either.

    • Excellent comment, markstoval!
      You got the most important problems in the Koonin WSJ article.
      I think its most important part is the headline: “Climate Science Is Not Settled”.
      But, actually, science is never settled. And when some aspect of science settles, it’s like a calm before the storm situation; some outsider comes in with a new view that shakes the old view off it’s throne.

    • Yes, excellent commentary, markstoval.

      And in actuality, the only known and/or measurable human affect associated with “warming” is the “Heat Island” effect on localized near-surface “daily” thermometer readings/recordings.

    • Several studies have shown that the half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere is between 2 and 16 years, with the average of the studies at ~5 years. The same for methane. Ao, WE DO KNOW THIS is not hundreds of years. We also can see that there is a seasonal up and down to the rising curve of CO2 in the atmosphere. This indicates that CO2 is being scarfed up and then released in large enough amounts to alter the atmospheric content on a regular and short term basis. It is clear that the half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere is relatively short, which is the last thing that the global warmists need, as their junk science needs to have a huge half-life for CO2.

      • higley7: September 21, 2014 at 9:25 am

        We also can see that there is a seasonal up and down to the rising curve of CO2 in the atmosphere.
        —————

        Yup, and that “seasonal up” portion of the bi-yearly cycling of CO2 ppm is per se “triggered” by tomorrow’s celestial event, ….. the September Equinox, in Universal Coordinated Time is on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 02:29 UTC.

        And it will continue its “seasonal upswing” (average 6 ppm) until mid-May of 2015 following the Spring equinox on March 20, 2015. And then the “seasonal downswing” will begin, …. repeating the “cycle” that it has steadily and consistently been doing for the past 56 years as per Mauna Loa measurements.


      • Day over Day Max temp change 1950-2010, Stations north of 23.5 Lat
        You can see how surface temp is in sync with the Equinoxes. Now interestingly when you look at this for the Tropical Latitudes you get two smaller cycles because the Sun crosses the equator twice. And then the Southern Hemisphere would just have the opposite phase as the North does.

      • Now compare the “annual temperature cycle” sine wave on the above graph ….. to the “annual CO2 ppm cycle” sine wave on the below (inset) graph.

        A remarkable correlation is it not? Which makes it extremely difficult for anyone to disassociate the annual or bi-yearly “cycling” of near-surface temperatures ….. from the annual or bi-yearly “cycling” of atmospheric CO2 ppm quantities.

      • A remarkable correlation is it not? Which makes it extremely difficult for anyone to disassociate the annual or bi-yearly “cycling” of near-surface temperatures ….. from the annual or bi-yearly “cycling” of atmospheric CO2 ppm quantities.

        That graph is a rate of change in temp, or anomaly, it can be viewed as either. So that’s at the peak of the rate of increasing daylight hours. Hawaii being at ~19 lat, will have a slightly more tropical cycle than that graph, I’m running it right now to see, I’ll graph it once it’s done to see if it’s more NH or Tropical cycling. But I will graph only a couple years, that graph took a lot of time to make. I’m planning on automating the process, but haven’t gotten there yet.

        So this could be a response to the rapid increase in daylight by plants. I am glad you posted this though, I’d not noticed this correlation before, and it does look like a strong correlation.

      • Mi Cro: September 23, 2014 at 10:00 am

        So this could be a response to the rapid increase in daylight by plants.
        ——————

        One might be pre-biased to think that ….. but in actuality, “Not so”.

        A Spring time increase in Sunlight in the NH will prompt the start of a decrease in atmospheric CO2 ppm ….. as well as an increase in temperatures, which prompts an increase in plant growth, which necessitates a massive increase in CO2 absorption.

        But, that same increase in temperatures will prompt a massive increase in the biological decomposition of dead plant biomass which will prompt the emission of massive quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. Sufficient emissions to supply the absorptions. But the atmpspheric CO2 ppm keeps on decreasing.

        And an Autumn time decrease in Sunlight in the NH will prompt the start of an increase in atmospheric CO2 ppm ….. as well as a decrease in temperatures, which prompts a decrease in plant growth, which inhibits any further CO2 absorption. And that same decrease in temperatures will prompt a massive decrease in the biological decomposition of dead plant biomass which will prompt a massive reduction in the emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere. But the atmospheric CO2 ppm keeps on increasing.

        Thus, NH daylight hours not culprit causing variances in CO2 ppm.
        ==============

        But, it is definitely far more erratic, but that still makes some sense, NH Co2 is based on the rate light increases over the entire hemisphere, and it isn’t local to Hawaii Co2.
        ——————

        The signature of the CO2 sine wave on the Keeling Curve graph remains “steady and consistent” because the atmospheric CO2 is pretty much evenly distributed throughout the earth’s atmosphere due to the Gas Laws such as Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures. The amplitude of the CO2 sine wave will vary according to the rate of atmospheric emission/absorption of CO2.

        Whereas the signature of the near-surface temperature sine wave on your graph remains “steady and consistent” because of the “changes of the seasons” (equinoxes) due to the Sun’s zenith as it moves back and forth across the equator. But now the amplitude of the near-surface temperature sine wave will vary according to the distance from the equator said near-surface temperatures are recorded. Thus said, then your “near-surface temperature sine wave” is …. latitude dependent. If you include multiple latitudes the “sine wave” will get lost in the “noise”.

        But anyway, the NH atmospheric CO2 ppm will be approximately the same as the SH atmospheric CO2 ppm.

        And the NH atmospheric CO2 ppm will decrease throughout its “summer” months of May thru September …. and then increase throughout its “winter” months of October thru April. And conversely, the SH atmospheric CO2 ppm will decrease throughout its “winter” months of May thru September …. and then increase throughout its “summer” months of October thru April.

        Thus, the SH CO2 is still “on track” with the NH CO2.

        But the greatest CO2 “sink” is the ocean …. and the SH has a far greater ocean surface area for the transfer of CO2 from and to the atmosphere. A temperature/pressure dependent transfer. (Henry’s Law)

      • Samuel C Cogar commented on

        Thus, NH daylight hours not culprit causing variances in CO2 ppm.

        I have no argument to this.

        A Spring time increase in Sunlight in the NH will prompt the start of a decrease in atmospheric CO2 ppm ….. as well as an increase in temperatures, which prompts an increase in plant growth, which necessitates a massive increase in CO2 absorption.

        This is a better explanation than what I suggested.

        Thus said, then your “near-surface temperature sine wave” is …. latitude dependent. If you include multiple latitudes the “sine wave” will get lost in the “noise”.

        The temp graph is all stations North of 23.5 Lat, so it is more than a single Latitude, and has a strong signal due to the equinoxes. Tropical stations has a double sine, and SH stations have a inverted sine, but it’s signal isn’t as strong because there are far fewer stations in the SH. If I mix these in, you are right, it changes considerably, but because I’m not normalizing temps to make up for missing stations, the NH signal is still visible. IMO that is one of the key differentiators my analysis brings, I don’t make up data, and when you rely only on actual measurements, 20th century warming is far smaller than the more popular “brands”.
        But the Mauna Loa Co2 signal seems to be tightly coupled to the NH rate of temp increase, but not the SH, or Tropical. The Hawaii station temps are erratic, and not in sync the the rest of the stations in the NH, I believe this is because it is surrounded by ocean, and it’s temps are probably tied to ocean temps.

      • Oh, I did want to add, if that is the cause of the swing in mauna loa Co2, we should see a double sine, and an inverted sine when measured further south. Does anyone know if there are other Co2 measurement stations there?

  18. I have an open question to ask…

    If the past anomaly basis for GISS , 1951 to 1980, is being changed, ( and they do continue to retroactively change the past, including this period ) then current maps are being based against a different anomaly, EVEN IF IT IS THE SAME TIME PERIOD. (Indeed, if you were to retroactively cool that past ANOMALY BASE PERIOD, then new maps based on a different anomaly would appear warmer.)

    So, does anyone know if NASA GISS always uses the same 1951 to 1980 anomaly with all post 1980 data sets. (We know for certain that the early data sets post 1980 were against the original 1951 to 1980 mean anomaly but I do not know if they kept that mean as a comparison throughout all charts up to the current time, as the mean for that 1951 to 1980 period changed and cooled, post adjustments.)

  19. “We know, for instance, that during the 20th century the Earth’s global average surface temperature rose 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.”
    Is that with or without peer reviewed world’s best practice adjustments?
    It does not matter one iota what these global warmists fraudsters do or say.
    The simple fact is they have altered historical temperature records around the world.
    For no other reason than to further their collective fraud for personal gain.
    It would be no different than me altering the odometer on my car to enhance it’s sale ability.
    I really am over them and simply cannot wait to have some of their butts hauled into court and kicked.
    Here in Australia our BOM is using this worlds best practice in homogenisation of temperature records by using other stations data some six hundred kilometers away.
    Turning cooling trends at the original stations into warming trends.
    No, I’m over all these fraudsters and all who defend them.

  20. {bold emphasis mine – JW}

    In his WSJ essay entitled ‘Science Is Not Settled – We are very far from the knowledge needed to make good climate policy’ scientist Steven E. Koonin writes,

    “. . .

    Nor is the crucial question whether humans are influencing the climate. That is no hoax: There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. There is also little doubt that the carbon dioxide will persist in the atmosphere for several centuries. The impact today of human activity appears to be comparable to the intrinsic, natural variability of the climate system itself.

    . . .”

    – – – – – – – –

    I disagree with that bold part of Steven E. Koonin’s above quote.

    I say instead that the “scientific community” of which Koonin speaks has not emphasized the need to show all research / data, both pro or con, involving the central question of what is the observation based importance in the real climate of AGW theory and hypothesis. Because the “scientific community” he speaks of has not been inclusive of the significant body of critical scientist’s research then claims of AGW theory and hypothesizes as being important are biased. The broader view if all science is included is AGW theory or hypotheses importance has not been unambiguously observed in the real climate.

    John

    • I really liked this part:

      —–

      If you’re a climate scientist, look away now. It came from something called the scientific method. A phenomenon was observed several times. Certain recurring patterns were noticed. A hypothesis was put forward. It was checked against the previous studies to see if it accurately reflected the results already known. In the main it did but where it diverged, amendments were made to the hypothesis so it would reflect the real world. Note, the hypothesis was changed not the data.

      The next step was to see if it could accurately describe what would happen when the phenomenon next occurred. When this was done, where it diverged, the hypothesis was amended and again rechecked against the historical data. It went around this loop until it was thought robust enough to be advanced as a theory. This was done by submitting it for peer review and publication. The peer reviewers (are you climate guys still looking away?) were not cronies of the authors. After some debate, it got through and a theory was born. But it would never and could never be anything more than a theory.

      A theory stays a theory until ONE person proves it wrong or it is supplanted by a better one. The Ptolemaic theory was used for 1500 years to accurately predict the moon, seasons and planetary movements, among many things, but it had a central flaw. The Earth moved around the Sun, not the other way round. And that’s why, when it comes to theories, the science is never “settled”.

      A well done post worth everyone’s time to read or re-read.

      ~ Mark

    • You are perceptive. IMO it is the temp. record of this century that has prompted this statement. As this trend continues we will see more and more of your scheme of reaction.

  21. I upvoted this only because of who the author is. With anyone else, I would have argued with several of his statements.

    But a guy like Koonin needs all the encouragement we can give him. Can you imagine the hatred and discontent his comments are causing within the climate alarmist crowd? No doubt he will be ostracized for this, like Dr. Tol and others.

  22. Essay published in the WSJ entitled ‘Science Is Not Settled – We are very far from the knowledge needed to make good climate policy’ by scientist Steven E. Koonin

    – – – – – – –

    Koonin’s essay is, even with some of his points having quite arguable formulations, a seriously critical statement. A critical statement against all claims by alarming activists of CAGW who are supportive of the IPCC exaggerations made possible by its ideologically adjusted assessment processes.

    Thanks to Koonin for his outreach to critical intellectuals.

    John

  23. I gave up at the early point that CO2 may last for years in the atmosphere. Koonin should stich with his IT.

    Average atmospheric CO2 content over the past 500Ga is 2500ppmv. CO2 is vital for life on the planet. It does NOT drive climate, never has, never will.

    Human output of CO2 is 3% of the total annual CO2 budget, dwarfed by the oceans, volcanoes and insects.

    We certainly have a lot to learn about climate.

  24. Well stated, Steven.

    Meet the real consensus. Those who support that other ‘settled’ one are on the side of ignorance and fear. Far better to be on the enlightenment side where seeking new knowledge is the paramount goal, in any subject.

    How many times must we watch and listen to the unfounded worries of unscientific types who feel there is a problem? The lack of science-based education lies at the heart of our countries’ difficulties. Climate alarmism is the result!

  25. The last two examples on the top row are not good examples of settled science that was wrong. The Earth is not the center of the universe, this is an assumption made in many current cosmological models but is not a result of them. Many believe these models accurately describe the state of the universe and thus the earth is not in the center but they have not been proven. There are cosmological models that have the earth at or near the center of the universe, although the consensus of modern cosmologist is that these are wrong, but not settle science yet. Heavier objects have slightly higher acceleration than light objects so would fall slightly faster in vacuum. In air the drag and ballistic properties play a bigger role than mass.

  26. As the AGW hoax unravels, the enormous cost of misguided policies and regulations over the past 30 years is dawning on the public. Politicians must hold public hearings to understand how they have been mislead by false science and try to establish procedural safeguards against it ever happening again.

    • Surely it is the CAGW hoax that is unravelling not the AGW hypothesis. Is it not possible that man is contributing, even in such a manner that it is not measurable, to global warming – if it really is warming? Why, with so many other possible man-made influences, does it have to be assumed that it is the burning of fossil fuels that is responsible. AGW does not depend upon CAGW.

      I agree that politicians should try and learn how they have been fooled but I don’t hold my breath. Ever heard of a politician confessing to having followed a false religion?

    • I think you just might have understated the reality. If the big bang theory is correct, then any point would be at the center of the entire universe, including the earth. Actually, it was a little bang. At the start there was nothing big.
      And I used the word universe, just as you did.

      I’m not into multiverse nonsense. If it exists, it’s part of the universe; if not, it’s not a part of science.

      • I think you just might have understated the reality. If the big bang theory is correct, then any point would be at the center of the entire universe, including the earth. Actually, it was a little bang. At the start there was nothing big.
        And I used the word universe, just as you did.

        That is a very good point, though I’d note that they would be at the center of their visible Universe. At this point we know the Universe is much larger than our visible Universe. Since we don’t yet know the shape and topology of the entire Universe, we can’t say where this holds overall or not.

        I’m not sure about MultiVerses, while there are some theories that predict various sorts, they are still only hypotheses, and may remain so.

  27. From the post:
    • The models predict that the lower atmosphere in the tropics will absorb much of the heat of the warming atmosphere. But that “hot spot” has not been confidently observed, casting doubt on our understanding of the crucial feedback of water vapor on temperature.

    • Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today—about one foot per century.

    • A crucial measure of our knowledge of feedbacks is climate sensitivity—that is, the warming induced by a hypothetical doubling of carbon-dioxide concentration. Today’s best estimate of the sensitivity (between 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) is no different, and no more certain, than it was 30 years ago. And this is despite an heroic research effort costing billions of dollars.

    If you cannot observe the distinctive footprint of fossil fuel sourced additions to CO2 driving warming, why continue to spend billions of dollars to study it? The only possible reason I can fathom is that the billions being spent is a cash investment hoping for greater dollar returns. And the only way that can happen is if the world is induced to pay taxes for producing CO2 beyond what nature without the presence of humans produces.

    To indebt, tax, direct, control, and force servitude upon the people is what caused past revolutions, in spite of government assurances dressed as the false shroud of benevolent care taking. How much longer will we suffer this serfdom before enough voters wake up and end this spiral back into the dark ages? I am inclined to resurrect the Declaration of Independence, changing the wording to reflect grievance against our own government. All races, colors, and kinds of people surely can find common ground against such overlords as outlined in our Declaration.

    • Well said Pamela.

      In fact there is no empirical evidence showing CO2 drives climate or temperature. In fact the reverse is true.

  28. The Earth is at the center of the visible universe.

    And according to the actual measured surface temps, it doesn’t appear that any of the warming if from CO2. Follow the url in my name to see unmolested temperature series.

    Sorry if this is a repost.

  29. “Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole.”

    “Serious consequences” that are “physically small”? Huh?

    Also, while it may be true that “human influences” could have an effect on the climate, it has not been shown that human CO2 emissions are and this is the real crux of the discussion. No one has shown, conclusively, that human CO2 emissions into the atmosphere are having an observable, measureable warming effect. There’s a likelihood that it may – CO2 being one of the “green house” gasses – but as the Koonin article points out, we haven’t been able to show it as a certainty.

    One thing about the article: it would lead one to believe that the “science” is not settled and that also upsets the “the debate is over” idea as well.

  30. Thanks, Dr. Koonin, for writing this WSJ article.
    Even though I disagree with many points you make, I agree with your main point that “Climate Science Is Not Settled”. Nor should it be; we know too little.

  31. Konrad

    The atmosphere in turn needs radiative gases to cool itself.

    CAGW argues that the trace gas CO2 dominates atmosphere thermodynamics due to IR properties.

    You argue that the atmosphere cannot cool without radiative gasses such as CO2 – if anything an even grander role for the trace gas.

    I don’t believe there are any nonradiative gasses. A hot gas will radiate. I also suspect convection is more important than radiation in atmosphere thermodynamics – and that chaotic turbulent mixing is an important part of the mix.

    • I agree. The climate models assign a role to water vapor that does not reflect reality. But without this misattribution of role, there is no AGW theory because CO2 makes an insignificant contribution to the GHE.

  32. A slight correction. Koonin was not a “WH Science Advisor.” He was Undersecretary for Science in the DOE. He was indeed a very significant figure in the executive’s since establishment, perhaps second in status to John Holdren, the Presidential Science Adviser. Unlike the loony Holdren, Koonin is a real scientist, an accomplished physicist.

    • Durango12: you are correct w.r.t. his position during the first Obama Administration. He reported to DOE Secretary Steven Chu. Together they wasted billions of dollars trying to “transform” the energy system. Now it appears he’s second-guessing himself.

  33. He still jumps on the Carbon emissions boat- of course, that should be no surprise. He says it all , “the Scientific Community”, where settled science is alive and well.

  34. Reblogged this on makeaneffort and commented:
    Hogwash! We Know ALL there is Know about Everything that matters. The Age of Questioning is Over… now is the time to ‘Nudge’ the ignorant Masses into Our Enlightened Future. Sorry… An Enlightened Future… The (?) Enlightened Future… whatever. It won’t Hurt as Much if you just Stop Arguing and do what we say!

    As usual, a directly funny and informative post from WUWT. Are you following him? Why Not?

  35. “There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate”

    There is indeed great doubt about this as there is no such thing as a greenhouse gas, and, if it functions the way they claim, then it serves to cool the nightside of the planet quite effectively. The dayside effect is a wash because the CO2 and water vapor would be equally absorbing and emitting IR radiation. Only at night it would be a direct conversion of heat energy to IR radiation and losses to space. THE DOUBT OF WHAT THEY SAY IS HUGE.

    “There is also little doubt that the carbon dioxide will persist in the atmosphere for several centuries.”

    HUGE DOUBT AGAIN HERE, as numerous studies have shown that the half0life of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 5 years, not the completely unfounded, but politically motivated 500 or 1000 years claimed by the IPCC and NASA, respectively. These long half-lives were simply fabricated through political need.

  36. 55 years ago I was asked to be an opponent of a “very promising scientist”. It was an honor and I asked to send me his dissertation. The topic of it was: “Influence of the spots on the Sun on productivity in cotton spinning”. As I did not know how to regulate spots on the Sun I returned the dissertation. However, the guy got his PhD and then became a scientific adviser to the USSR’s government.
    Conclusion: “There are real and fake scientists in every country!”

  37. Reblogged this on Centinel2012 and commented:
    Its very easy to make a model — its not so easy to make one that works! Since the current model did not predict the current cooling period that would seem to indicate that there is a flaw in the model. So far now all I can say is come back when you have something that works.

  38. I think this article is about as critical of mainstream climate science as is possible at the current time. Some may not like it, but think what would have happened had he been super critical. He would simply have been dismissed as a kook, one of the 3%. It’s happened many times already. Think about Ivar Giaever, a Nobel laureate who called climate science “pseudo-science”. He was easily dismissed. As it is some will still try to dismiss Koonin.

    What we need to do is repeat the parts of the article that highlight the doubts, that the science is not settled, that future predictions are questionable. Skeptics can completely refute the catastrophic arguments of the alarmists and isn’t winning this battle a major win?

    • “I think this article is about as critical of mainstream climate science as is possible at the current time.”

      The reputations of far too many politicians, government funded “scientists”, organizations and media outlets are at stake with this issue. We are never going to see apologies from most of these characters. It is a nearly complete lack of historical perspective that is largely responsible for so many jumping on this band wagon. A warming trend was identified and as long as it continued it seemed to confirm the predictions of the self proclaimed “experts” and countless computer models that would predict warming no matter what data was input.

      At this point identifying the “pause” that started nearly 20 years ago does not qualify any of us as geniuses. It has already become a historical fact. The valiant efforts that are being made to fudge the data is nothing more than a stall tactic with hopes that the current trend will reverse itself or some catastrophic event will occur which can be used to explain away why the predictions were so far off. In the mean time the best way the charlatans can hedge their bets is to slowly change their position by pretending not to be pretentious frauds living off billions of dollars of government largess. I would expect to see more and more essays such as this one. I would also expect to hear of more and more meetings such as the one which Anthony attended recently in the UK.

      While millions of people suffer in abject poverty all over the world billions of dollars are currently being squandered on unproductive efforts to “save the world” from climate change. When a burglar robs your house they generally get pennies on the dollar for your stuff it is the same with those perpetrating this fraud for government grants. If it weren’t for the unimaginable suffering taking place I would say give no aid to those “scientists” who have been criminally negligent in their work. But if helping give cover to those who have been enabling politicians to continue this massive waste of resources helps to change this infuriating madness sooner then I do not think that we have much choice. For most of history there has been little justice in the real world.

      • “The reputations of far too many politicians, government funded “scientists”, organizations and media outlets are at stake with this issue.” ? Given the reputations of these entities are so low, why do you state that they care about their reputations??????

  39. It’s the unshielded fusion reactor one trillion times the size of the earth 8 light minutes away. The correlation is almost 1. However, the totalitarians can’t tax and control the sun so….

  40. Nor is the crucial question whether humans are influencing the climate. That is no hoax: There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. There is also little doubt that the carbon dioxide will persist in the atmosphere for several centuries. The impact today of human activity appears to be comparable to the intrinsic, natural variability of the climate system itself.

    Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, “How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?”

    Why cite the scientific commmunity’s consensus, which he disparages for it’s eroneously “settled views” elswhere in his essay? I’m sorry, but even if Dr. Koonin is edging toward a more skeptical (and thus scientific) view of the climate in his conclusion, he starts in the same self-defined realm of dogma. There’s a reason why he does not identify a single study which irrefutably proves anthropogenic effects on temperature from greenhouse – there isn’t one. So, once again, we start with: “My dogma is better than your dogma.” The rest of Dr. Koonin’s arguments are easier to swallow because they have the caveats of uncertainty, which, in my opinion, should be inherent in any discussion of climate science.

    • Very good point. Koonin opens very reasonably on the note that “the science is not settled” but then recites the consensus dogma as fact. His criticism of the GCM’s seems to be a prelude to suggesting that these could be remedied which of course means more billions. My first impression of this remains: he is slick.

  41. This statement: For example, human additions to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the middle of the 21st century are expected to directly shift the atmosphere’s natural greenhouse effect by only 1% to 2%. is one of the best elevator pitch statements I have come across that encapsulates the scale issue of CO2.

    I will definitely use it.

  42. He’s in the lifeboat. He has sympathy, for his colleges. They are sure the “Mighty Cli-Tanic”, will survive. They are not ready to abandon ship, yet.
    His survival instinct has kicked in, and he is engineering a soft landing. One that burns the minimum number of bridges.
    There will be more.

  43. The most damning aspect of the admissions of scientific ignorance that Koonin now makes is that they originated not in the “climate science” establishment, but among the skeptics who were dismissed as ignorant “flat-earthers” and “denialists.”

  44. His (Koonin) survival instinct has kicked in, and he is engineering a soft landing. One that burns the minimum number of bridges.

    There will be more.
    ——————————-

    The next Presidential election is 2016 …… and the Koonin et el “troughfeeders” will all surely be “hedging their bets” in hopes of retaining their “place” at the government trough.

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