Quote of the Week – models, climate sensitivity, the pause, and psychology

There’s a saying that “even a blind squirrel will find a nut occasionally”, and while I don’t think of Steven Mosher as anywhere close to a blind squirrel, he does have the habit of posting comments on climate blogs that appear sometimes as staccato and drive by style incomplete. I attribute that to trying to use a smartphone when a desktop and keyboard is really needed. This time, he’s produced a comment that is in my opinion, a home-run, because it cleanly and linearly sums up the issue of models, climate sensitivity, and “the pause”, along with a  dash of psychology thrown in about the value of model based approaches to climate sensitivity compared to observational based approaches.

He writes on Judith Curry’s blog:


it [the new Lewis and Curry paper] wont change much.. But the longer the pause goes the smaller

the ECS becomes

A longer pause means dT doesnt change.

But dF ( change in forcing) goes up.

dO can also go up if heat is stored.

So. to narrow the range we need better measures of dO and better measures of dF. The uncertainty in dF is dominated by aerosols.

If we believe that observationally based estimates are the best ( an assumption with uncertainty ) then we really should be

A) resolve the uncertainty in aerosols.

B) measure the ocean better.

If we believe that paleo approaches are best ( an assumption with uncertainty) then we need to spend a lot more on Paleo work.

If we believe that model based approaches are best, then we need to have our heads examined.

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September 25, 2014 12:07 pm

Don’t pretend to understand the post, but fwiw I just want to say that I have the greatest respect for Steve Mosher. I think he sees the world at times through an almost idealistic haze, but that says only good things about the man’s character. He’s tough on warmists and skeptics alike, always prodding us….mostly but not always gently…to do better. We need more like him.

Reply to  pokerguy
September 25, 2014 12:51 pm


September 25, 2014 12:07 pm

+1 Watts and Mosh. The place clarity is needed more than anywhere – except I suppose for policy.

September 25, 2014 12:08 pm

Even a blind squirrel . . . . !

Reply to  bones
September 25, 2014 1:38 pm

The saying I recall is “Even a blind pig finds a truffle now and again”. Which is ironic, since in fact all pigs find truffles by scent – they’re underground.

Reply to  brians356
September 25, 2014 3:31 pm

Man, there was this blind pig down in Corpus. Booze all night long. No truffles.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
Reply to  brians356
September 26, 2014 12:06 am

It’s not ironic.

September 25, 2014 12:15 pm

As I’ve read Mosher’s comments over the years he seems to have become snarkier and snarkier. His smugness has certainly detracted from any information I can usually glean from his short missives.

Ian Schumacher
Reply to  Bear
September 25, 2014 1:15 pm

Every time a see a Mosher comment it comes across as extremely arrogant and condescending, but maybe that’s just my interpretation. I mean I also think the same thing about “I’m a genius and everyone else is an idiot” Willis whose posts I avoid like the plague.

Reply to  Ian Schumacher
September 25, 2014 1:47 pm

You aren’t the only one.

Reply to  Ian Schumacher
September 25, 2014 1:57 pm

Ian, to get a better idea of what Mosher’s about, I suggest hanging out at Climate Etc. for a while.

Reply to  Bear
September 25, 2014 7:44 pm

Have some mercy, fellows. The Climate Wars have belted the heck out of guys who don’t know everything, but insist upon honesty. Maybe Mosher has been hit especially hard, and shows a symptom or two of being punch-drunk, but please remember he was out there raising a ruckus when some of you whippersnappers were playing little league ball.

September 25, 2014 12:17 pm

dF goes up? I thought dF goes down w/ longer pause.

Reply to  DrTorch
September 25, 2014 2:27 pm

“dF goes up? I thought dF goes down w/ longer pause.”
That’s the problem in a nutshell. That is why the desperate efforts to explain away the pause – even going so far as to claim there has been no pause by revising history through suspect, and often ill documented, adjustments.

Owen in GA
Reply to  DrTorch
September 25, 2014 3:04 pm

dF is change in forcing which in the world of climate science boils down to “there is more CO2 in the atmosphere”

Mario Lento
Reply to  DrTorch
September 25, 2014 10:25 pm

I’m with you. That’s totally backwards. dF would go down the longer the pause, of course.

Alan McIntire
Reply to  Mario Lento
September 26, 2014 9:43 am

I think the confusion here is in terminology rather than actual meaning.. The actual forcing would be a constant K = (delta Temp/delta (log ( CO2/CO2 original)), which is what the Lewis and Curry paper is trying to measure. Whatever the actual forcing is, the forcing would increase with increases in CO2.
As temps continue not to increase much, the estimated value of K will continue to drop.
As the log of CO2 continues to increase, T would have to also increase to maintain that constant K.,

Reply to  DrTorch
September 26, 2014 10:29 am

CO2 has a specific capacity to absorb LWIR. If CO2 increases in the atmosphere, the latent capacity to absorb LWIR should increase. If atmospheric CO2 levels are regarded as a “forcing,” then, as they increase without correlated increases in temperature, the sensitivity of the climate to increases in that specific forcing (whatever “climate” really is) must be revised downward.
My understanding of various Mosher posts on Judy Curry’s blog regarding the new paper was that he was making an argument that to win these kinds of debates, it is critical to do so using the internal logic of the opposition. So, while many posters were complaining that the new paper didn’t go “far enough,” Mosher argued that the key point, which is emphasized in the positioning of the paper, was that using the IPCC’s own numbers, the estimated value of TCS should be reduced. No new data was mangled in producing the reduced estimates. It does lead to a question of whether the failure of the IPCC to publish new estimates of TCS was due to the fact that the best numbers were smaller. That is a far stronger rhetorical point than arguing that “my data” is better than “your data.” After all, the conclusion of the paper is that “your (the IPCC’s) own data” contradicts your (the IPCC’s) position. Mosher’s approach to drive-by commenting though tends to obscure his points.

Reply to  Duster
September 26, 2014 11:05 am

Thanks for your comment, Duster. I believe that I speak for many when I say that such elucidations are appreciated.

September 25, 2014 12:18 pm

Yes, more light, please, Steve.

Man Bearpig
September 25, 2014 12:20 pm

Just an observation really, there is nothing in ‘quote of the week’ about the Koch bros divesting in oil and going for renewables.
How does this pan out for those renewable companies that are in the pay of the Koch brothers now ? are they evil?

Chris Nelli
Reply to  Man Bearpig
September 25, 2014 12:52 pm

That would be the Rockefeller foundation.

Reply to  Chris Nelli
September 26, 2014 3:53 pm

The Post indicated the Rockefeller Brothers, not the Foundation. There may be some connection but that did not come up in a Google of the two foundations. I never hard of the Brothers before but probably a good thing as it seems as though they are squandering the values of Rockefeller who one of the several men who changed the way we lived for the better.
An incredible series on the history channel documents this
(betscha this is not taught in our schools)
The Men Who Built America – Episodes, Video & Schedule …
John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and J.P. Morgan rose from obscurity and in the process built modern America. Find out …
‎Video – ‎Episode Guide – ‎About the Series – ‎Andrew Carnegie

Reply to  Man Bearpig
September 25, 2014 1:11 pm

You did not earn your BigBird paycheck today and will consequently be less of a millionaire tomorrow.
*I meant, BigOil.

September 25, 2014 12:28 pm

Isn’t this a case of a nut finding a blind squirrel occasionally?

Reply to  tz
September 25, 2014 4:51 pm

Happens at sks regularly

michael hart
Reply to  tz
September 26, 2014 2:51 am

Who would want a blind nut?
…another blind nut?

Reply to  tz
September 26, 2014 11:16 am

+1…Best comment on the thread…thus far….

Joel O'Bryan
September 25, 2014 12:30 pm

‘If we believe that model based approaches are best, then we need to have our heads examined.”
So many other peer-reviewed papers have been published over the years whereby the model outputs have been the inputs to another model to produce a new prediction.
– West Antarctic ice sheet collapse.
– Sea level rise accelerations.
– Calamitous Precipitation changes.
– Societal collapses, mass migrations.
Some may happen just by sheer probability. Then those authors will look like savants in a crowd of fools. Pure luck. It’s all garbage. And the main stream science community is now waking up to that reality.
The All in all: Billions of dollars worth of studies from models, all wasted money, all worthless results.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 25, 2014 1:16 pm

Chemists would love to get their poor hands on those massive supercomputers! Quantum stuff, molecular dynamics, protein folding, drug interactions, materials simulation, all very directly relevant to everyday medicine and nanotechnology.

Reply to  NikFromNYC
September 25, 2014 3:14 pm

Good point. The opportunity costs are just staggering.

Mark T
Reply to  NikFromNYC
September 25, 2014 5:38 pm

Nvidia CUDA, on many desktops already. For about $15k you can have access to around 9 TFLOPs of processing capability (2 Kepler K10s on a Supermicro server). Ya gotta know to to use them horsies, however. 😉

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 25, 2014 3:16 pm

“Some may happen just by sheer probability.”
Yet, none have. So, evidently, they’re not just randomly guessing, they are actively and systematically moving in the wrong direction.

Mark T
Reply to  Bart
September 25, 2014 5:40 pm

Not sure I have ever disagreed with you on these matters, Bart. Continuing the trend, IMO.

michael hart
Reply to  Bart
September 26, 2014 2:58 am

It is not just opportunity cost as you mention above. As a result of these models, economic policies are being put in place that cause negative economic growth by making energy more expensive. They are much worse than useless.

September 25, 2014 12:31 pm

Cannot not stop just at the aerosols and measuring the oceans better. Looking only at these two things is making the assumption you already have everything else figured out… i.e…. “We climate scientists KNOW that if it weren’t for those darned aerosols and the “ocean just know started eating our warming”, CO2 would have a TCS or 3C or greater.”
I don’t believe the climate scientists have all of the convection processes worked out sufficiently yet… have accurately taken into account all the heat being moved around by evaporative processes yet, how much energy is getting tied up in generating additional plants/algae due to increase CO2 fertilization. Certainly don’t have all the effects of clouds accounted for accurately enough or the effect of cosmic rays on cloud formation amongst a host of other things as well. Also, even if you could measure the current Ocean heating/cooling with absolutely 100% accuracy to 7 decimal places and STILL NOT HAVE the answer required, because unless you KNOW exactly how the oceans have been heating and cooling to extreme accuracy over the past several thousand years at least, you will not be able to attribute any changes to natural versus anthropogenic cause. You MUST know the natural variation quite well before you can attribute any small temperature excursions with any degree of confidence to AGW.

Reply to  alcheson
September 25, 2014 12:39 pm

Drats! Sorry all, please forgive the numerous typos…. they never seem to be visible until after I post…. guess I will have to start typing up my responses in word and paste them on the blog afterwards. Maybe then I will have better fortunes.

Reply to  alcheson
September 25, 2014 1:03 pm

It’s the phase change convection, stupid. The troposphere is not a radiant heat transfer problem.

September 25, 2014 12:31 pm

Pray tell, for the ignorant like me, what is dO? . . . change is radiation output. . . I’m clueless.

M Courtney
Reply to  DanMet'al
September 25, 2014 12:36 pm

Seconded. I was about to ask the exact same question but Mr Met’al got there first.

Mario Lento
Reply to  M Courtney
September 25, 2014 10:30 pm

radiation is the only way the upper atmosphere can get rid of heat to space. There is no convection in a vacuum, so only radiant energy can travel in a vacuum. Convection requires mass.

Mario Lento
Reply to  M Courtney
September 25, 2014 10:32 pm

Oh – sorry I misread and thought the question was about radiation blah blah. Please ignore.

Reply to  DanMet'al
September 25, 2014 12:41 pm

I assumed it was ocean heat uptake…

Mark Bofill
Reply to  DanMet'al
September 25, 2014 12:43 pm

ECS = Fco2 * dT/(dF-dO)
where Fco2 = forcing due to c02 doubling
dT = delta temp from begining period to ending period
dF = change in Forcing
dO = change on OHC

Steve’s comment here.

Reply to  Mark Bofill
September 25, 2014 1:00 pm

Mark . . . thanks for the clarification. . . it’s very helpful!

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Mark Bofill
September 25, 2014 1:49 pm

If the pause, which is a change in temperature anomaly wrt time, is approaching zero, then ECS must approach zero too.
If that is not the case, then hand waving on Fco2 and dF is at work to arrive at some non-zero number for ECS.
Overall, that formula to me says, “It’s turtle’s all the way down” logic.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  DanMet'al
September 25, 2014 3:04 pm

It’s a typo. Should have been d’OH, which is the change in Simpson units.

Robert B
Reply to  DanMet'al
September 25, 2014 3:27 pm

What’s meant by dT.?
Bear with me. The SD for the the 10 year moving average is 0.1-0.15, or are dF and dO really in sync with the surface temperatures as dCO2 is?

Mario Lento
Reply to  Robert B
September 25, 2014 10:33 pm

delta Temperature – or change in temperature. It’s calculus if it’s dT/dt where little t is time, or rate of change.

September 25, 2014 12:35 pm

I would argue that measuring the ocean heat uptake while accounting for geothermal heat flux will give a much better bang for the buck. The way geothermal heat flux is left out is puzzling. Why do they avoid it? Or do they?

Reply to  Fernando Leanme
September 25, 2014 1:31 pm

I agree with you. New geothermal vents and full blown underwater volcanoes are be discovered all the time. To not consider their contributions to the energy balance of the oceans and the planet is wrong. Recently the largest chain of volcanoes were discovered off of Iceland in the Arctic and no one takes that into account when talking about sea ice. It makes no sense to me.

Reply to  Ted Getzel
September 25, 2014 1:32 pm

Should be “being”

Dave Wendt
Reply to  Ted Getzel
September 25, 2014 2:08 pm

The canonical calculation of geothermal heat flux entirely excludes areas of of active volcanism from consideration. The value given, about 90mW/m2 as I recall, is from the longterm, i.e geologic, cooling rate of the planet. It is generally considered negligible, but these guys suggest otherwise
Geothermal heating, diapycnal mixing and the abyssal circulation
J. Emile-Geay1 and G. Madec2,*

Reply to  Ted Getzel
September 26, 2014 10:41 am

Dave Wendt, thanks for posting that link. I imagine that Bod Tisdale would be interested in the implications with respect to phenomena such as ENSO. Trenberth would hate it, since it indicates there is even more “missing energy” in his budget than he thought.

Adam Gallon
Reply to  Fernando Leanme
September 25, 2014 2:00 pm

The contribution, in the great scheme of things, would be negligable. The temperature of the deep ocean is only a few degrees C above zero.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Adam Gallon
September 25, 2014 3:26 pm

Adam, about 4C. That is because saltwater is densest at that temperature, and the densest stuff works it way to the bottom (gravity). Oversimplification, of course, because there is no even bottom and that results in upwellings, plus there is not some even salinity gradient. The thermohaline circulation is a fascinating topic, not well modeled by GCMs.

Robert B
Reply to  Adam Gallon
September 25, 2014 3:41 pm

Sea water density increases until close to freezing. (almost wrote decreases again)

Reply to  Adam Gallon
September 25, 2014 6:03 pm

Didn’t Bill Nye have the thermohaline thingy all figured out?

Reply to  Fernando Leanme
September 25, 2014 2:14 pm

If someone does take an educated guess, please make the estimate in Hiroshima bombs.

Reply to  PiperPaul
September 25, 2014 3:38 pm

Billions and billions in Sagan units.

Robert B
Reply to  PiperPaul
September 25, 2014 3:48 pm

1600 for Mt St Helens was the estimate (wild guess?). About 2 million rather than 2 billion Hiroshima bombs, from 70 volcanic eruptions per year since 1998 (on the surface). There is probably an order of magnitude more under the oceans but the extra heat on the surface is not important, its what it does to ocean currents,

Joel O'Bryan
September 25, 2014 12:38 pm

On the issue of ECS, are any of the lukewarmer scientists discussing the impact of what a declining global temp does to that value? What happens to ECS if temp anomaly declines 0.2-0.3 deg C by 2024?
If it means ECS is not reliable due to overwhelming natural variability swamping CO2 forcing, then what makes anyone think an ECS determination with a Pause is a reliable number?

Gary Hladik
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 25, 2014 1:07 pm

If ECS is the climate’s sensitivity to all forcing (not just CO2), then a drop in temp would only mean that forcing has gone down (e.g. from less solar input, more clouds, etc). In fact, if you know the magnitude of the drop in forcing, I suppose you could also estimate ECS that way, too.
The problem with calculating ECS is the uncertainty in the inputs, which is presumably why the Lewis & Curry paper has such a broad estimate.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Gary Hladik
September 25, 2014 1:18 pm

I thought ECS and TCR were exclusively functions of 2 x pCO2?

Gary Hladik
Reply to  Gary Hladik
September 25, 2014 5:31 pm

Joel, more generally ECS and TCR refer to doubling of a given climate “forcing”. It all other forcings are negligible, as the IPCC has apparently concluded, then the only forcing left is CO2. With the so-called “pause” in global warming lengthening by the day, that conclusion should be revisited.

Dave Peters
Reply to  Gary Hladik
September 26, 2014 9:23 am

Gary — re: “lengthening by the day…” Could you clarify that for me? I thot temps were strongly heating this year.

Mario Lento
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 25, 2014 10:37 pm

I think the problem with this, is that many assume ECS means CO2 forcing sensitivity. I think we can not assume that temperature of the atmosphere is directly proportional to CO2 forcing.

Ralph Kramden
September 25, 2014 12:49 pm

I was watching a show on television called Monumental Mysteries and they mentioned that in July 1901 a heat wave hit New York City that killed over 700 people. Can you imagine what the alarmists would be saying if that happed today.

Mike Lewis
Reply to  Ralph Kramden
September 25, 2014 1:03 pm

They would be on that news like ducks on a June bug but they conveniently ignore the fact that more people die during cold months than warm ones..

Reply to  Ralph Kramden
September 25, 2014 1:10 pm

Meh… I’m guessing that I could count the number of buildings in NYC that had air conditioning in 1901 without even having to remove my shoes and socks.

Reply to  Ralph Kramden
September 25, 2014 2:32 pm

during the 2003 grid failure weren’t there a bunch of heat related deaths too?
I forget for sure.
IMO this really shows why we need stable grids and renewables do not provide that.
I usually deal with these issues in the winter (in Maine) so am very cognizant of power failures then, I have a portable (9500 surge 7500 base) gen AND a smaller (5500 surge 4500 base) backup portable gen in case the main one goes out. I loves me some redundancies 🙂
I have power failures OFTEN here,

Reply to  dmacleo
September 25, 2014 2:34 pm

ok I was wrong, was 10 deaths and as far as I can see only 1 (heart attack) could be heat related.
sorry should have checked first before posting/asking.

Reply to  Ralph Kramden
September 25, 2014 3:40 pm

The year after Galveston was leveled by a hurricane! Sooo much global warming at the turn of the twentieth century. Too many Sports Utility Choo-choos.

Mario Lento
Reply to  Ralph Kramden
September 25, 2014 10:41 pm

Good point – and ironically because we have more cheap fossil fuel energy that runs air conditioners to keep us cool, a heat wave would have much less of an effect on deaths. Ironically to the CAGW crowd, with a similar heat wave, fossil fuel energy will save the day.

Dave Peters
Reply to  Ralph Kramden
September 26, 2014 9:51 am

Mike — I just “came out” over at Dr. Curry’s site this am, as a “hysteric,” but recall making a point, contra yours some weeks back, that a heat wave with no precedent that occurred in north-west India probably killed multiples of the known Chernobyl deaths, utterly without notice.

john robertson
September 25, 2014 12:52 pm

Define your terms?
Makes sense to me , if the temperatures continue to flatline (never mind cool) and CO2 emissions continue to grow.
The sensitivity of climate to emission, the heart of the CAGW scheme, approaches zero.
When the temperatures go down, as I believe the cycle will, this sensitivity will go negative.
The theory of Thermagedon brought upon us by the magic gas, outgassed by evil humanity is about as dead as Monty Python’s parrot.
The other causes of thermal sensitivity are handwaving.We do not know.
Because the Concensus folk already dismissed natural systems and other pollutants as insignificant when the natural cycle was passing through the upper LH quadrant of the cycle, they have no credibility left.
The cause?
I do not know, however given the past stability of our climate, the null hypothesis stands.
Climate doing what it has always done, mans contribution unmeasurable.
Next Team IPCC ™ proclamation:CO2 caused planet to cool, give up your wealth and freedoms, surrender to our omnipotence.

Mario Lento
Reply to  john robertson
September 25, 2014 10:42 pm

Yeah – but the heat must have gone somewhere – yeah, the oceans, that’s the ticket… It’s waiting to pounce on us catastrophically, just you wait.

September 25, 2014 12:59 pm

Staccato? I hear the Swedish Chef every time I see a Mosher comment.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Harold
September 25, 2014 3:29 pm

Harold, go to climate Etc and access the Mosher post prior to the shorter one cited here. It really was quite good. Very un-Swedish Chef like.
BTW, I am a proud owner of a complete set of the Muppet Show.

September 25, 2014 1:10 pm

As I asked in the Curry paper thread, how can models be taken at all seriously given that there is earlier near perfect precedence for postwar variation but a near complete lack of input forcing data to be had back then? And what might that forcing *be*? Why is it never specified?! A model has to pick from a wide range of possible forcings, so there isn’t some gold standard out there, given the unknowns. And if the earlier half of the model run lacks input data other than insignificant prewar greenhouse gasses, how is it modeling at all rather than just wiggle matching by parameter tweaking? Do they input temperature itself and also output it too? That’s not modeling either.
-=NikFromNYC=-, Ph.D. in chemistry (Columbia/Harvard)

Adam Gallon
Reply to  NikFromNYC
September 25, 2014 2:03 pm

I believe that all the models use different initial conditions. Remember, they’re only “Scenarios” and can’t be used for “Predictions”!

Reply to  NikFromNYC
September 25, 2014 3:33 pm

Nice chart! I hadn’t looked at it in a while, but HADCRUT4 is decidedly moving down now. Even GISTEMP is looking a might peaked (pun intended).

Reply to  Bart
September 25, 2014 3:36 pm

Especially in the NH.

Mario Lento
Reply to  NikFromNYC
September 25, 2014 10:44 pm

You nailed it. It’s all based on an assumption that CO2 must be the control knob during the cherry picked time periods of the modelling.

Curious George
September 25, 2014 1:13 pm

ECS, dF, dO, dT – what model does Steven Mosher use?

Reply to  Curious George
September 25, 2014 1:50 pm

A very simple one.

Karl kruse
Reply to  Curious George
September 25, 2014 3:55 pm

Why don’t you read the Lewis and Curry paper all of this about?

Gary Hladik
September 25, 2014 1:14 pm

“A longer pause means dT doesnt change.
But dF ( change in forcing) goes up.”
OR overall forcing may actually be flat, meaning we don’t know all the components of dF. Right?
Do we know what dF caused the Medieval Warm Period? The Little Ice Age? The recovery from the Little Ice Age? The Roman Warm Period? The Minoan Warm Period?

Reply to  Gary Hladik
September 25, 2014 1:23 pm

Your final questions round out my own. It’s amusing that it was model pusher Mosher himself who coauthored a book bashing the Orwellian hockey stick revision of climate history, in effect helping to restore those earlier warm spells.

Gunga Din
September 25, 2014 1:41 pm

An honest person who disagrees with you is of more value than a dishonest one who does.
You stay honest and then you both benefit.

Charles Nelson
September 25, 2014 1:55 pm

Even the paid PR wing of the Warmist party is now openly admitting that their observations to date are worthless. I think that’s something to cheer about.

Alexandra Kahler
September 25, 2014 2:26 pm

Hello WUWT,
OT for this post, but I have just come across this news story and now hope the readership here can shed some light. WUWT has become my number 1 place to fond intelligent science discussion, hope this is ok.
The story is actually that Dr Mersini, an apparently well respected physicist, has done a mathematical proof showing black holes are impossible. The link above is to the source article at UNC. There is another more sensational article at the Daily Mail.
So far I’ve been unable to find discussions of this on the internet. Any reaction to the article, or redirection to a good place to discuss astrophysics, would be much appreciated!!

Reply to  Alexandra Kahler
September 25, 2014 3:50 pm

I recommend Luboš Motl’s blog The Reference Frame :

Alexandra Kahler
Reply to  garymount
September 25, 2014 4:05 pm

Thank you for the reference!

Reply to  Alexandra Kahler
September 25, 2014 3:53 pm

Did some looking up at “Astronomy Magazine.” While there is a large number of articles on black holes, the name Mersini didn’t even show up. Yes, it’s a popular publication, but she didn’t appear. Good hunting.

Alexandra Kahler
Reply to  inMAGICn
September 25, 2014 4:09 pm

Thank you for recommending another good source. I will see if I can find any forum or comment sections I can engage in.

Alexandra Kahler
Reply to  Alexandra Kahler
September 25, 2014 5:07 pm

Hello Again,
I found the original paper by Dr. Mersinin here: http://arxiv.org/abs/arXiv:1409.1837
And a good refutation of the salacious spin here:
Again, apologies for the OT nature. When I read the original article, my first thought was, “Whats Up With That?!?”

September 25, 2014 2:27 pm

not a fan of him (due to his (IMO) smugness) but I also am man enough to say when someone is right they deserve people to know. I am also willing to say my impressions may be due to my own failings.
and I think he was dead on right here and stated it in a manner that was succinct and needs to be repeated.
so fwiw I say good job.

September 25, 2014 2:30 pm

Mosh can bring useful things on the table. However, the quoted comment is a little irksome because, IIRC, over the years, his defense of ‘models’ has been seen to be pathologically devout! Does this last comment mean he has finally seen sense and accept that climate models are not all they are cracked up to be (something we have all been saying for years!).

Mark Bofill
Reply to  Kev-in-Uk
September 25, 2014 2:40 pm

I might have this wrong, but I don’t think Steven’s defense of models makes him ‘devout’. My impression is that Steven is a general purpose pain in the @$$ to everybody on all sides of the issue. When people overstep the bounds of logic bitching about models, there’s Steven to rub their noses in their mistake. Usually he takes it a lot farther than I think is reasonable, but I don’t think for a minute he doesn’t understand the failings of the models. Probably better than most of us do, actually. From what I’ve gathered, Steven can bring a sharper intelligence to bear by marshalling the nerves in his left buttcheek than I can by focusing every neuron in my skull, but maybe that’s just my crush talking.
Anybody notice Doug still peddling the same ole hoke on that thread as ‘Climate Scientist’?

Reply to  Mark Bofill
September 26, 2014 2:31 am

Yeah – we missed him for a while, gald he’s OK.

Reply to  Kev-in-Uk
September 25, 2014 6:08 pm

Mosher argues that we all use models of various kinds and complexities in trying to validate our theories. To use them correctly we have to admit they’re simulations of reality and not reality itself. We also have to show our work (parameters, data, and code) if we expect them to be taken seriously. Otherwise nobody can test our assumptions. Without the testing we’re just spinning fantasies. All that is eminently sensible and the honest practice of science.

Mario Lento
Reply to  Gary
September 25, 2014 10:51 pm

Sure – but the models Mosher speaks of do not attempt to model reality. They attempt to model CO2 as a control knob which sets off other feedbacks, which are presumed to be in a certain direction. It excludes other feedbacks intentionally and therefore attributes presumed effect on CO2 as a climate driver. They do not model the climate on planet earth. So – they’re bunk.

slow to follow
September 25, 2014 2:38 pm

Kev-in-UK – I agree but it does cross my mind that Anthony might be having a little play at Mosher’s expense here…

September 25, 2014 2:49 pm

As Steven Mosher says : “the longer the pause goes the smaller the ECS becomes”.
Does anyone have any idea how stupid that makes the IPCC[*]? They use ECS to predict temperature, and now it turns out that they have to wait and see what the temperature does, in order to find out what ECS has changed to.
[*]Cynical rhetorical question. Most people here do indeed have a very good idea.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Mike Jonas
September 25, 2014 3:35 pm

Mike, was a travel day so slow to reply. YUP.
So the issue sceptics here and elsewhere need to grapple with is, ow to get the message out. uNFCCC has IPCC. oBama has EPA, NOAA, NCA, his own bully pulpit.
What can we do? That is not rhetorical, as I am doing something.

Charles Nelson
September 25, 2014 2:50 pm

Although this was recorded back in Feb, I think this should be quote of the week….
According to the State Department’s web site, here is what Secretary Kerry said about the greenhouse effect in Jakarta on 16th February:
“Try and picture a very thin layer of gases – a quarter-inch, half an inch, somewhere in that vicinity – that’s how thick it is. It’s in our atmosphere. It’s way up there at the edge of the atmosphere. And for millions of years – literally millions of years – we know that layer has acted like a thermal blanket for the planet – trapping the sun’s heat and warming the surface of the Earth to the ideal, life-sustaining temperature. Average temperature of the Earth has been about 57 degrees Fahrenheit, which keeps life going. Life itself on Earth exists because of the so-called greenhouse effect. But in modern times, as human beings have emitted gases into the air that come from all the things we do, that blanket has grown thicker and it traps more and more heat beneath it, raising the temperature of the planet. It’s called the greenhouse effect because it works exactly like a greenhouse in which you grow a lot of the fruit that you eat here.
This is what’s causing climate change. It’s a huge irony that the very same layer of gases that has made life possible on Earth from the beginning now makes possible the greatest threat that the planet has ever seen.”

Reply to  Charles Nelson
September 25, 2014 3:58 pm

Please tell me that Kerry’s remarks was /sarc or a misquote. Please. This guy is in government? He should be in a padded cell.

Mark T
Reply to  inMAGICn
September 25, 2014 5:59 pm

Our current Secretary of State, formerly a US Senator and candidate for the presidency. SoS is the most powerful cabinet position, 4th on the list of succession to the President, the first of unelected officials on that list.

Reply to  inMAGICn
September 25, 2014 8:27 pm

Thanks Mark
No sleep tonight after that.

Gunga Din
September 25, 2014 3:22 pm

This is what’s causing climate change. It’s a huge irony that the very same layer of gases that has made life possible on Earth from the beginning now makes possible the greatest threat that the planet has ever seen.”

“the greatest threat that the planet has ever seen”. I’ll read that as “the people of the planet”. One of the greatest threats to “the people of the planet” is what those who want to save it propose to do.

September 25, 2014 3:30 pm

Unfortunately, numbers given as the ECS and TCR (TCS) and also given on their presumed forcing elements rely mostly on judgment in the process to be used to ‘estimate’ them.
Fortunately, on the other hand regarding measured climate focused ‘observational’ data . . . . well . . . nature is honest because there are no neat little sticky notes attached to any elemental piece of surface temp data in any of the GASTA or LTTA datasets saying “I was forced to change by changes in CO2 from fossil fuel”.

September 25, 2014 3:40 pm

Everything “climate” in the past has revolved almost exclusively around “climate sensitivity”, the amount of atmospheric / global warming to be expected from a doubling of pre-industrial CO2.
Twenty five years and a couple of hundred billions of dollars of so called climate research later, the only hypothesized outcomes so far from all that research effort is that still unknown, unproven “climate sensitivity number” is within extremely wide error bands that are much, much lower than needed to support the Catastrophic Warming meme and are much, much lower than was originally modeled and expected.
Therefore if climate sensitivity is much lower than anticipated as is being predicted in the latest research we can assume from that, that the effects of CO2 on the global atmosphere and the claimed warming effects arising there from will be of a far less effect, a minimal consequence, to the planet and life.
So from that it seems it is about time for climate researchers to abandon the premise of a predominantly CO2 climate controlling factor, a proposition which ALL of climate research seems to revolve around to this day and which as the predicted climate sensitivity numbers continue to decline indicates that CO2 is a assuming the role of a minor influence on the global climate compared to many other much more significant and entirely natural influences.
It is time for climate researchers to completely abandon the effects of increasing CO2 as the central theme of their research and instead start to concentrate on what are all the other highly significant climate controlling factors involved.
In the end though, to what point is all this immense outlay and effort expended on trying to predict the future global climate, directed?
There seems to be no point at all in trying to predict a global climate decades ahead as so many other factors are involved.
We have to in effect also predict all the other equally complex as climate, human political and demographic as well as natural events ie; earthquakes, volcanoes, solar, space weather events and etc. We have to predict all those other changes ahead of us if we are in any way to make some use of climate predictions as all these factors are closely and inextricably interrelated with climate being only one factor involved..
Predicting regional climates which the models are even worse at than predicting the global climate which they have totally failed to do in any meaningful way, does have advantages for regional food production and hydrological planning but that is about it.
But beyond that time span of a decade or so ahead there is no rational rhyme or reason for expending immense resources on something which has minimal impact on the present and / or the immediate future a couple of decades ahead at the most.
Most of all expending immense but limited resources on something which we know deep down we can’t do anything much about in any case .
And that is the global “Climate”.

Mario Lento
Reply to  ROM
September 25, 2014 10:57 pm

CO2 is something we can attempt to control, and that can shift money into peoples’ hands who offer solutions towards controlling CO2. There is no funding for people to try to find out if there is nothing we can change.

September 25, 2014 3:43 pm

I like Steven Mosher. In person he explains things with no loss of words. But on screen sometimes it seems like he’s being charged per pixel. On Curry’s blog he says:
If we believe that model based approaches are best, then we need to have our heads examined.
Well, knock me over with a feather!

Reply to  dbstealey
September 25, 2014 6:12 pm

The key word here is “best.” But given Mosher’s work with BEST and it’s break-point model of parsing the observed temperature record, I believe I’ve made a rather sly pun.

Pat Frank
September 25, 2014 3:51 pm

SM “But the longer the pause goes the smaller the ECS becomes…
An insupportable statement because there is no falsifiable theory of climate. No one knows whether the current cessation of warming is episodic or part of some underlying longer term deterministic process. In that state of ignorance, nothing can be said of its impact upon the size of the “ECS.” In fact, in the absence of a good theory, no one even knows if there is such a thing as an ECS.
The physics of climate are not well enough understood to validate a single one of Steve’s statements. No one actually knows whether the ocean is ‘storing heat,’ for example; in fact, no one actually knows what ‘storing heat” even means in the context of the global ocean.
It’s all just consensus modeling bushwah.

David Ball
Reply to  Pat Frank
September 25, 2014 4:44 pm

Needs to bone up on existing literature. ( How is that for a Mosher-esque comment? )

Reply to  Pat Frank
September 25, 2014 6:44 pm

Huh? Next thing, you’re gonna tell me there are no Sasquatches.

September 25, 2014 4:12 pm

Steve Mosher,
Well, this thread has partly turned into something like a vote for highschool senior prom king and queen.
I rather enjoy your intellectual input, whether I agree with it or not. I find myself agreeing with the avenue your thought fairly often when even not agreeing with your premise or conclusion.
Limerick for you:

Limerick Title: ‘Is Occam Alive in San Francisco?’
There is a man nicknamed Moshpit
Whose meanings were oft sparse wit
Then he commented one day
In an unusual illuminated way
Which kept me thinking all night


September 25, 2014 4:27 pm

There’s a lot of heads out there in need of examination. Mostly at the UN

September 25, 2014 4:56 pm

it [the new Lewis and Curry paper] wont change much.. But the longer the pause goes the smaller
the ECS becomes

I’m not sure if this is exactly what Mosher meant, but as written, it is wrong. The ECS is whatever the ECS is. The length of the pause doesn’t change it one bit. What a longer pause does is constrain plausible estimates of ECS to a lower range.

Mario Lento
Reply to  davidmhoffer
September 25, 2014 11:01 pm

+2 davidmhoffer
Thank you for writing this. I could not gather my thoughts about what was wrong with this simplistic ASSUMPTION of a statement until you so eloquently stated it!

Alberta Slim
September 25, 2014 5:17 pm

I have tried and tried to understand Mosh, but he needs a course on “The art of plain talk”.
He doesn’t come across as a person who is not easy to understand.
This trait is on purpose I am guessing.
Supposedly, he must think it makes him appear super smart.

Alberta Slim
September 25, 2014 5:18 pm

He doesn’t come across as a person who is easy to understand.

September 25, 2014 5:57 pm

The comment in the lead post on this thread reminds me of a comment on another thread at WUWT by rgbatduke,

rgbatduke on September 24, 2014 at 9:41 am
“So we’re down to roughly 1.64 C TCS (but with a long tail), which suggests that feedback from all sources is nearly neutral as this is easily with the error estimates of CO_2-only forcing. It is also solidly less than 2 C, almost a full degree less than the claims in the first drafts of AR5.
And this is not yet finished. Every year that the climate remains essentially neutral forces a recomputation of this number, by forcing a recomputation of the fraction of any observed past warming that was likely to be natural instead of CO_2 linked. TCS is still in freefall and will remain there until the climate decides to actually warm some more. At the moment, its pace in the 2000s is well under a single degree C extrapolated to 2100. If there are any nonlinear caps in the climate system — strong negative feedbacks that kick in once temperatures exceed some value — we could already have reached one.
Or not. All that this result fundamentally shows is that we don’t really have a very good idea of what the TCS is likely to be. Otherwise, it wouldn’t keep changing as we get more data. It is likely very premature to conclude anything at all about it, either way.
But yeah, a cat among the pigeons. Especially coming out right now, with climate marches and UN inspector-generals complaining that nobody takes the climate seriously any more (maybe because more people are dying because of amelioration every year than have ever died from “climate change” itself? ya think?).
. . .”

There is a common theme between the two comments.

Mark T
Reply to  John Whitman
September 25, 2014 6:03 pm

RGB is quite bright, and, as usual, quite on target.

September 25, 2014 6:26 pm

Excellent comment Steve!
Though it is very unlike your normal two to five line ‘off to the races’ drop shot comments; then again it is also unlike some of your longer rather dry explanations.
It is one of your finest summations and you have contributed quite a few of those (here, there and your blog).

Jeff Alberts
September 25, 2014 7:25 pm

I attribute that to trying to use a smartphone…

It helps to be smarter than the phone.

Steve Oregon
September 25, 2014 7:55 pm

“If we believe that model based approaches are best, then we need to have our heads examined.”
That’s swell.
But climate modelers are not going to voluntarily have their heads examined.
Will Mosher hold an intervention at his place?
Or is his furniture too non-confrontational?
Seinfeld Quotes. … Jerry and Elaine, in “The Pez Dispenser”; “I don’t have a good apartment for an intervention. The furniture, it’s very non-confrontational.

September 25, 2014 9:54 pm

Could someone explain why Mosher’s thoughts, guesses and speculations seem to have such special status?

Mario Lento
Reply to  willnitschke
September 25, 2014 11:05 pm

Because he slammed the models. At least that’s why I think he’s gained praise today. And he ain’t no dummy either 😉

Pete Brown
September 26, 2014 4:29 am

This is a blog post with comments about someone who comments on blog posts…

Reply to  Pete Brown
September 26, 2014 6:11 pm

…and you just commented….

September 26, 2014 4:44 am

Strangely enough I’ve found myself warming up to Mosher as well. He must be doing something wrong.

September 26, 2014 8:24 am

I don’t find it particularly surprising that Steven said this, because it is true and he’s not stupid. Especially the final comment. This is where the action is going to be over the next few years, assuming that warming doesn’t resume and pop the temperature up a half a degree in two years (which it could, I don’t pretend to understand the climate well enough to solve for its future behavior in my head either). Or if it actually cools a tenth of a degree or two. People are finally twigging to just how hard it is to computationally model the climate in a quantitatively meaningful manner out decades.
Here’s a nice metaphor. At state fairs in the fall, they have an event called a “turkey shoot”. Anybody can play. You take a shotgun with basically no choke, loaded with tiny shot, e.g. number 8 or so. A fairly long ways away (25-35 yards), you have a paper target with a small dot in the middle. You point the gun in that general direction, pull the trigger, and a few zillion small holes appear in the paper. You measure the distance from the closest hole to the target, per shooter. The one who comes closest wins a frozen turkey.
The point of this game is that there is basically very little skill involved. A half-blind teenager in a wheelchair can, if they can manage to point the gun downrange in the general direction of the target, get at least some pellets onto the paper, and if they the paper at all, they might come closest to the turkey’s-eye in the middle. An Olympic gold medal sharpshooter can’t do better than center their spread on the target and have more pellets that hit the paper, but they have no control over the individual pellets and the distribution of pellets is very broad, a meter or so wide and nearly flat within its width. I could aim at a point that would miss the target paper altogether with a rifle and still get almost as many pellets onto the paper as a central shot, in other words.
Modern models are basically a turkey shoot. Instead of relying on turbulence and chaos to spread out the tiny pellets of shot, they use the “perturbed parameter ensemble” — different random number seeds, small perturbations of the initial conditions and/or variable settings drawn from presumed distribution around equally presumed central values. The nonlinear chaotic dynamics inherent in the models does the rest. The result is that each model produces a staggeringly wide “bundle” of possible future climates from what should be more or less equivalent starting points.
This really does make them Anthony’s blind squirrels (one of my favorite metaphors as well) as much as a turkey shoot. Every blind squirrel finds an acorn, every blind squirrel in a turkey shoot gets at least a few pellets on the target paper and who knows, might even have “a winnah” and take home a frozen turkey to bowl with.
Now, how can we really compare the olympic sharpshooter to the 20/200 vision teenager with palsy? If we had a really big piece of paper, we could do things like find the centroid of the pellet distribution and the width of that distribution. One would expect that the sharpshooter would allow for ballistics and fairly consistently place their centroid dead on the target spot, while the poor teenager, who can barely lift the gun, might shoot consistently a half meter low and absolutely anywhere side to side. Either one could get a respectable number of pellets on the target paper per se, but a broader examination of the distribution of results would reveal that one of them truly is a metaphorical blind squirrel while the other one has some skill, even if the skill is largely defeated by the crude imprecision of the shotgun spread.
It is this latter analysis that the climate modelling community has steadfastly refused to do. Well over half of the models in CMIP5 as reported in AR5 are no better than our blind palsied squirrel participating in a turkey shoot. Sure, they get enough pellets onto the actual target that the participants can feel good about themselves and say “We could have won the turkey, c’mon Dad, buy me another ticket so I can try again, look, I had one run that was the third closest, c’mon Dad tickets are only five million dollars for three more years puh-leeze?” But even a cursory examination of the centroid of their “shots” compared to the actual target indicates that they are aiming consistently well above the target and it’s only because they are firing a bloody shotgun with a huge spread that they got any pellets at all near the turkey-eye.
Other models — a very few — actually look like might be produced by somebody developing some skill at shooting. I don’t think any of the models qualify as “Olympic sharpshooting” — all of the guns seem to shoot somewhat high and none of the shooters have figured out how to correct the sights to compensate — but some centroids aren’t absurdly high relative to the target and they consistently get pellets to cover the target zone pretty well.
If “Dad” really wants to win the turkey, it’s time to send the really bad shooters off to try their luck at ring the bottle or whack-a-mole, and concentrate the remainder of the shots he funds on the small handful of shooters with respectable skill, admonishing them to analyze their misses and get their sights adjusted before trying again.
The one thing that the shooters cannot at this time accomplish, however, is to do the one thing that really needs to be done. Tighten the choke right on down to where the pattern is no longer a meter plus wide. As it is, it is difficult to reject a poor shooter because the blindest of squirrels still can get 5% of their pellets onto the target, and we have this silly notion that 5% is “the” critical number for determining shooter incompetence instead of just ranking the shooters and sending the bottom half or bottom two thirds on (which would take around five minutes to do once the data were loaded into R and a suitable R routine written — it is the latter that are the “barrier” to the process such as it is).
If we tightened the choke, however, the patterns might end up no wider than the target sheet. A miss would be a miss, plain and simple, and any sort of accurate hit would drop many, many pellets very close to the turkey-eye of climate reality.
Sadly, there are very good reasons to think that we cannot expect to tighten the choke much, if at all. For one thing, there is a certain amount of irreducible spread because the dynamics are truly chaotic. For another, we are many, many orders of magnitude shy of being able to actually compute the models at the granularity of the fundamental true dynamics of the system being modelled. For a third, we do not know the actual initial state of the system at all accurately. For a fourth, we do not know the actual parameters input to the system dynamics at all accurately. For a fifth, in order to be able to do the computation at all, even at the terrible granularity we can currently afford, we have to use coarse grained approximations to the dynamics per cell. These approximations are supposedly representing the “mean” behavior of entire Navier-Stokes solutions for the cell on all smaller spatiotemporal scales.
They are therefore themselves at best turkey shoots within the turkey shoot, only they don’t even produce a turkey shoot with the range of internal noise and variability of nature at scale, they feed the centroid of a turkey shoot with some presumed dynamic into the next step of each cell’s computation at even coarser dynamics. My metaphor fails me — describing coarse grain averaging and renormalization in stat mech as a stack of sequentially reaveraged turkey shoots, each layer used to do supposedly physics based dynamics at a coarser layer above it even though all that gets passed up are the crudest of semi-empirical averages with a few wild-guess parameters controlling the interaction both ways — it just doesn’t do it justice. A Monte Carlo of Monte Carlos, a turkey shoot of turkey shoots, models of squirrel-blindness in particular acorn-laden forests used to model blind squirrel based acorn finding worldwide.
But the real sin, the unforgivable statistical sin, is when they take all of the results of these turkey shoots of turkey shoots, most of which are made by palsied teenager blind squirrels who always shoot high, and then average them all together as blindly as any squirrel might to claim that reality is really where the collective centroid of this bloody turkey shoot of turkey shoots of turkey shoots lies. The multimodel ensemble mean as an evil of the Universe that needs to simply disappear forever and without a trace, never to be referred to again in any assessment report.
We can, with some care, assess the skill of individuals even when they are participating in a turkey shoot with an unchoked shotgun with tiny pellets on a breezy October afternoon, especially if we get to look at the distribution of holes they produce in the sheet behind the target and not just at how many pellets they get “close” to the target. We have no good axiomatic statistical basis for expecting the collective to have any skill at all, and empirically it is clear at a glance that the collective centroid lies well above the target and has no skill, reflecting the lack of skill of most of the shooters.
Metaphorically yours,
rgb (who is at worst a presbyopic squirrel who is actually a pretty good shot and has been known to find the occasional acorn:-)

Walter Allensworth
September 26, 2014 8:36 am

Have you all not noticed that temperatures are on the march again, and according to NOAA August was our hottest month EVER!
So please help me out here…
Many of the other temperature records (UAH, RSS) for example don’t show the same dramatic spike in June, July, August. Why the difference?

Reply to  Walter Allensworth
September 26, 2014 9:40 am

Because it isn’t really there? Because they really needed a spike to energize the political masses in their big Climate March and to scare the politicians at the UN summit so they manufactured one? Because there was a blocking high in the pacific northwest that let them twist SSTs for once to their advantage, however transiently and however little it was reflected in actual atmospheric temperature changes “worldwide”? The Pacific, recall, is close to half of the planet all by itself.
In NC, OTOH, the maples started turning in August and there are trees in my neighborhood that have almost completely turned already, even though fall proper is just starting to get underway. I’m feeling that it is around two weeks early compared to the last 20-30 years. The high temperatures this week have been in the 60’s and low 70’s (it’s 68 outside right now) which is VERY unusual to be sustained in September, which is usually still pretty hot. The whole summer, August included, was if anything unusually cool — it got hot, sure, but hot was around 90 or high 80s, not the mid to upper 90s we routinely had in the 70s and 80s and 90s.
I know longer pretend to know what the actual global temperature is in any meaningful way that can be compared back over decades. The temperature records are a) too sparse; b) overtly biased by siting and UHI and much more in uncontrolled and non-correctable ways; c) really sparse in the 70% of the surface called “the Ocean”; and d) sparser and less reliable as one goes back in the past, so that one truly cannot fairly compare temperatures in the early 1900’s or mid 1800s to the present based on thermometers, not without including an error bar to the older curves that is almost as large as the difference. And let’s not forget the many, many thumbs that are on the scales and how easy it is to “tweak” a particular result by simply deciding that some “unusually cold” data entries are rejectable as “measurement errors” while retaining the equally unusually hot ones as “reliable”. It’s not like anybody is really auditing this stuff or like the models are truly peer reviewed. Hadley in particular has been enormously resistant over the years to requests to see their data and algorithms. NASA GISS has to publish them by law, but they don’t have to change them even if somebody points out that their UHI correction actually manages to warm the present compared to the past, on average, rather than vice versa (which makes less than no sense, it is actually negative sense, the opposite of sense, worse than the “senseless” HADCRUT practice of ignoring UHI altogether).

The definition guy
September 26, 2014 9:41 am

I find it very interesting that when four raw temperature databases show that August was not the hottest August ever and one database that has been “adjusted” shows it was the hottest, NOAA chooses the single database on which to base it’s findings.
Since the entire foundation of the argument for AGW is consensus, shouldn’t NOAA base the official temperature on the results of the majority of databases?
The majority (4 of 5) databases agree, August was not the hottest. We have a consensus. The science is settled. Al Gore says so.

Reply to  The definition guy
September 28, 2014 8:57 pm

“Ever” is either the satellite era or the surface temperature record. In the case of the satellites all of the Augusts since 1997 should vie for the record. The surface temperature record just continues to demonstrate its fallacy by contradicting the far more global satellite data.

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