Seven Years Ago, An IPCC Lead Author Exposed Critical Weaknesses of the IPCC Foretelling Tools

Guest Post by Bob Tisdale

NCAR’s Dr. Kevin Trenberth was a lead author of the IPCC’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th Assessment Reports.  Near to the publication of the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report 7 years ago, Dr. Trenberth penned a blog post at Predictions of climate—a blog post that exposed many critical weaknesses in the climate models used by the IPCC for divining the future of climate on Earth.  The post was filled with extraordinary quotes, including:

  • …none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate.
  • In particular, the state of the oceans, sea ice, and soil moisture has no relationship to the observed state at any recent time in any of the IPCC models.
  • Moreover, the starting climate state in several of the models may depart significantly from the real climate owing to model errors.
  • … if the current state is one of drought then it is unlikely to get drier, but unrealistic model states and model biases can easily violate such constraints and project drier conditions.
  • However, the science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate.
  • So the science is just beginning.
  • We will adapt to climate change. The question is whether it will be planned or not?

Those are powerful statements.  Please read Trenberth’s blog post in its entirety.  You’ll find those quotes were reinforced by much of the remaining text.   Occasionally, Trenberth interjected what could be considered global warming dogma to temper the critical aspects of the remainder.

One of Trenberth’s statements stands out as self-deception, plain and simple:

The current projection method works to the extent it does because it utilizes differences from one time to another and the main model bias and systematic errors are thereby subtracted out. This assumes linearity.

Seven years later everyone knows the “current projection method” does not work.  The climate science community has known all along that Earth’s climate is chaotic and non-linear.  It was only a matter of time until their “current projection method” failed, and it didn’t take long.

Additionally, if the “current projection method” had worked, the climate-science community would presently not be scrambling to come up with excuses for the slow-down (hiatus) in global surface temperature warming. And they’ve come up with so many excuses, I’ve lost count.

I reminded people of this Trenberth blog post in a comment on the WattsUpWithThat cross post of one of my recent blog posts On the Elusive Absolute Global Mean Surface Temperature – A Model-Data Comparison.  In the WUWT comment, I quoted the Trenbeth blog post:

None of the models used by IPCC are initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate.

Then I noted:  In other words, the models used by the IPCC were never intended to replicate Earth’s climate. They, therefore, cannot be validated or invalidated.

At this time in a blog post, I normally go on to illustrate and discuss numerous climate model failings.  I’m going to deviate from my normal course and only provide a link to one post and it’s cross post.  It was published soon after the release of the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report last year.  That post was Questions the Media Should Be Asking the IPCC – The Hiatus in Warming.  It was cross posted at Joanne Nova’s website as Six questions the media should be asking the IPCC.

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M Courtney
November 13, 2014 3:49 am

Trenberth in Climategate;

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.

He’s always known but he hasn’t stopped the gravy train to get off.

Reply to  M Courtney
November 13, 2014 5:23 am

In the interests of “piling-on” let me add another example of Trenbreth’s refreshing candor:
Trenbreth, too, has criticized the bureaucratic nature of the IPCC process, suggesting that it may have outgrown its usefulness. “I do think we should have declared success and moved on, after the last report,” he said. “There are too many scientists involved who are not leading researchers–owing to the demands for new people, and geographical, national, and gender equity.” (Google: “huffington post tom zeller 12/14/2012 leaked ipcc report excites skeptics”).
Uh-oh! So did Kevin say what I thought he said? Hotwhopper’s gonna have fun with this one, I’m thinkin’.

Reply to  mike
November 13, 2014 6:42 am

Prof. Lindzen said something very similar last January in his testimony before the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee.
“You look at the credentials of some of these people [on the IPCC] and you realise that the world doesn’t have that many experts, that many ‘leading climate scientists'”.
Was Lindzen suggesting, asked Tim Yeo at this point, that scientists in the field of climate were academically inferior.
“Oh yeah,” said Lindzen. “I don’t think there’s any question that the brightest minds went into physics, math, chemistry…”

Reply to  mike
November 13, 2014 7:12 am

Thanks, Mike. Another excellent quote.

Reply to  mike
November 13, 2014 8:21 am

Lindzen needs to take that one back.
The very problem of climate science today is the fact that it was hijacked by geophysicists and mathematicians who have little ability to assimilate observations into their thinking. Thus these self appointed experts rule and ruin the science.

Reply to  mike
November 13, 2014 10:32 am

“I don’t think there’s any question that the brightest minds went into physics, math, chemistry…”

Reply to  mike
November 13, 2014 8:31 pm

What does gender equity have to do with science? Or national equity? These people are mad.

Reply to  M Courtney
November 13, 2014 9:06 am

He can’t. If he wants to work in the field, he has to work within the system.
I’m in the oil and gas business. There is so much BS, due in part to the egos of and ignorance of technical issues by the corporate officers, but largely due to the reality that short-term perception by investment companies is what makes a share rise or fall. If it weren’t for the smoke and mirrors, it were purely fact-based, there would be no passion, and passion is what makes the market work. So when you get a project, you can’t ask too many questions about the excitement. The excitement is what keeps the business – and your project and your job, going. You have to learn to grit your teeth and work on the belief that what you are doing is intrinsically good and will work out for the best. Because, from experience, when a project works out as profitable, it doesn’t have to be wildly profitable as per initial arm-waving, it just has to be profitable. Let the great wave of over-enthusiasm wash over you; the end result will be just fine. Object to the exaggeration, and everything is doomed.
Same, I think, for Trenberth. He is trying to do good work within a hyped environment. If he objects to the hype too much, he is out, doing nothing. And you can’t just stay neutral. Neutrality in a hyped environmment is considered negative. Human nature: you don’t talk about my flaws if you truly love me (sad, but there you are).
The IPCC is a huge investment “opportunity”. The biggest gold mine to be discovered. If you ask for the assays to be retested (think BreX back in the ’80s), you are a naysayer and troublemaker. There are those like Mann, Hansen et al whom I believe understand the optics of CAGW is far, far more important to their personal agendas than the “truth”. Then there are otherrs who are – like naive investors – fully captured, fully conflating image for substance. Then there are those, perrhaps Trenberth is one, who understand the mirage portion, but are working under it. This shows itself in contradicttory statements: he supports the IPCC but says there must be “missing heat” to reconcile observation with models, and notes fairly that modeling is inadequate for 30-year periods of time, but that yearly observations (or single storms) are used to justify CAGW claims.
Der Spiegel, in Germany, has gone on the anti-CAGW warpath. El Dorado eventually gets its detractors because El Dorado is, whatever results, an exaggerated fantasy. If the “pause” continues for a year or more, some MSM in the English world is going to hedge its bet. That is how the fantasy investment comes down (andd when it does, it comes down hard and fast).
Without an El Nino spike this year, global temperatures will fall. If El Ninos really are cycle-related, we’ll have several years without a surprise boot. The words between Obama and China today are meaningless except as political posturing. That in itself may be meaningful: the world leaders say they have to say something to save face, but have found a way to say something that has no lasting requirement to do anything. Perhaps they are looking at the endpoint, when the current Tulip Mania collapses. Best if you haven’t many shares in the market when that happens.

Reply to  Doug Proctor
November 13, 2014 9:35 am

I would agree with you, except the most egregious part of the quote was left out M. Courtney. Trenberth explicitly blames the failure on data quality. He says, following the “travesty” statement, that “the data must … be wrong.” [my emphases]. He might have “good work” somewhere on his mind, but he (not the sceptics) is in full-blown denial there. He cannot accept that a beautiful theory might have run aground on the reef of reality.

Non Nomen
Reply to  Doug Proctor
November 13, 2014 10:38 am

>>Der Spiegel, in Germany, has gone on the anti-CAGW warpath.<<
NO. The censors there are eager to suppress any opinion other than the IPCCs. That is what you will experience when you try to post criticism in responses to CAGW-related articles. These climate quack deskmen will ban you on the quick. Once, Der Spiegel earned the title “Assault gun of democracy.” Now, that “Assault gun” deserves the scrap yard. They will never learn what in WUWT is a good tradition: freedom of speech and freedom of opinion.

Reply to  Doug Proctor
November 13, 2014 3:20 pm

Idi Amin, Big Daddy, Father of The Peoples of Uganda, is rumored to have said words to the effect, “Freedom of speech, we can guarantee you that. Afterwards we can’t guarantee you anything.”

Reply to  M Courtney
November 13, 2014 10:34 pm

Has Trenberth given birth to a trend other than linear and ever-increasing?

November 13, 2014 3:50 am

“Cannot be validated or invalidated”. Kind of like religion.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
Reply to  philjourdan
November 13, 2014 4:47 am

Absolutely, and this is why the current state of climate science isn’t a science at all. It’s a huge shame that climate scientists (if they love science, and who doesn’t?) just won’t speak the truth about how much we know, how much we don’t know, and why the growth in global warming stopped after 2001. I REALLY want just one very well known scientist (who previously believed in this stuff) to come out and say it’s wrong. It plainly IS wrong.

Reply to  The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
November 13, 2014 11:27 am

James Lovelock didn’t pass that threshold?

Reply to  philjourdan
November 13, 2014 5:46 am

Sorry Phil the line “Let there be light” kinda rings true when you look around.

Reply to  mkelly
November 13, 2014 5:59 am

What is your point? The fact that we have eyes and see light does what?

Tom O
Reply to  mkelly
November 13, 2014 7:25 am

This really is for Eric – if you put a flashlight in your backside, will you see light? Answer, only if your head is there first.

Reply to  mkelly
November 13, 2014 7:32 am

Agreed. It’s one thing to respond photosynthetically and another to appreciate color. The evolution of sentience is hard to explain through Darwin alone. –AGF

Reply to  mkelly
November 13, 2014 11:05 am

Eric if you have to ask “What’s your point?” you would not understand when I explained it.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  philjourdan
November 13, 2014 7:22 am

Seems like if something can’t BE validated, then it’s invalid.

M Courtney
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
November 13, 2014 7:33 am

Well, it is invalid for the purpose for which it can’t be validated.
But they may have other uses.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
November 13, 2014 11:11 am

Just because you don’t have enough data or the know-how to validate something, doesn’t mean it’s invalid. There are a lot of things in science that have not been validated, but that doesn’t mean they are invalid. Of course, it doesn’t mean they are valid, either.

Reply to  Louis
November 13, 2014 11:43 am

If a model is insusceptible to being validated the claims that are made by it are non-falsifiable hence unscientific.

average joe
Reply to  philjourdan
November 13, 2014 4:53 pm

The USA became great by adhering to a few principles, two of which are freedom of religion and separation of church and state. This warmist movement has done great damage to these principles, under the guise of science and saving the planet, when it is just another set of religious beliefs. It needs to be recognized for what it is, a few more years of cooling planet should help.
The results are in. Cognitive Dissonance is real, it’s man-made, and it’s dangerous!

Reply to  average joe
November 14, 2014 8:41 am

It is also damaging another – freedom of speech. Those who disagree are threatened with imprisonment, mutilation and even death. Their livelihoods are threatened or actually damaged. All because they disagree with the new state religion.

Reply to  philjourdan
November 15, 2014 8:10 am

I suppose the smart-alec response to a smart-alec comment is to say that atheism can neither be validated nor invalidated. However, I’ll use a situation with which WUWT readers are familiar to make a more substantial response. WUWT readers are familiar with the fact that there has been no global warming for 18 years and that this is a cause of consternation for our CAGW friends. However, they have an explanation. Well, actually, there are currently 52 of them. It’s the same with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Atheists try to deny it. They don’t have as many as 52 ways of trying to “explain” it but they have a few. Like, Jesus did not really die on the Cross so there was no resurrection. Or, his followers stole the body. Or, his followers were all suffering from an hallucination. These ‘explanations’ are about as convincing as the 52 mentioned above.

Reply to  Alba
November 15, 2014 9:37 am

The strength of the conclusion that there has been no global warming for 18 years is limited by the fact that global warming climatologists have yet to identify what they mean by “global warming.”

Vince Causey
November 13, 2014 3:56 am

That’s it – the models were never intended to simulate the Earth’s climate. They represent a bunch of theoretical models, and it is hoped that the average of the averages will somehow correspond to Earth’s climate in the future.
However, the bizarre thing is that they believe you can predict the climate of a real planet by averaging outputs that on their own, don’t.

Brian H
Reply to  Vince Causey
November 14, 2014 6:44 pm

Most (all?) of the models are variants on one, different parameter settings by grad students. I hear there is silence about the 3% that come within shouting distance of observations because their ECS settings are so low.

November 13, 2014 3:57 am

A paper published in Climate Research titled State-of-the-Art Climate Models and Extreme Meteorological Events and Consequences (Volume 14, Number 30: 27 July 2011) compared the projections of state-of-the-art climate models with what was known about the real world with respect to extreme meteorological events related to atmospheric moisture, such as precipitation and various types of storm systems, as well as subsequent extreme consequences such as droughts, floods, and wind damage. Kevin Trenberth is one of the authors. Consider these extracts from that paper:-
[A]ll models contain large errors in precipitation simulations, both in terms of mean fields and their annual cycle (such as the spurious migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone into the other hemisphere), as well as their characteristics: the intensity, frequency, and duration of precipitation, plus the amount (e.g. IPCC, 2007; Bosilovich et al., 2008; Liepert and Previdi, 2009).
[I]t appears that many, perhaps all, global climate and numerical weather prediction models and even many high-resolution regional models have a premature onset of convection and overly frequent precipitation with insufficient intensity, (citing the work of Yang and Slingo (2001) and Dai and Trenberth (2004)).
[C]onfidence in model results for changes in extremes is tempered by the large scatter among the extremes in modeling today’’s climate, especially in the tropics and subtropics (Kharin et al., 2007), which relates to poor depiction of transient tropical disturbances, including easterly waves, Madden-Julian Oscillations, tropical storms, and hurricanes (Lin et al., 2006).
[M]odels produce precipitation that is too frequent and with insufficient intensity (Yang and Slingo, 2001; Trenberth et al., 2003; Dai and Trenberth, 2004; Dai, 2006).
[M]ajor challenges remain to improve model simulations of the hydrological cycle.

Reply to  Mervyn
November 13, 2014 7:20 am

Thanks, Mervyn. Trenberth knows.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Mervyn
November 13, 2014 7:25 am

“[M]odels produce precipitation that is too frequent and with insufficient intensity”
Sounds like Seattle 😉

November 13, 2014 3:59 am

Well he still pretends to be a Nobel Laureate, so is anyone surprised by his contradictory position?
“Nobel Laureate (shared) for Nobel Peace Prize 2007 (as part of IPCC) Oct 2007”
What a sad person

Reply to  ConfusedPhoton
November 13, 2014 7:26 am

No need to be Confused, Photon. This is a scam.
This is what happens to scammers.

November 13, 2014 4:00 am

Here is what Naomi Oreskes finds on validation in a paper published back in 1994.

Abstract – 1994
Naomi Oreskes et al
Verification, validation, and confirmation of numerical models in the earth sciences
Verification and validation of numerical models of natural systems is impossible. This is because natural systems are never closed and because model results are always non-unique. Models can be confirmed by the demonstration of agreement between observation and prediction, but confirmation is inherently partial. Complete confirmation is logically precluded by the fallacy of affirming the consequent and by incomplete access to natural phenomena. Models can only be evaluated in relative terms, and their predictive value is always open to question. The primary value of models is heuristic…….
In some cases, the predictions generated by these models are considered as a basis for public policy decisions: Global circulation models are being used to predict the behavior of the Earth’s climate in response to increased CO2 concentrations;…….
Finally, we must admit that
a model may confirm our biases and support incorrect intuitions. Therefore, models are most useful when they are used to challenge existing formulations, rather than to validate or verify them. Any scientist who is asked to use a model to verify or validate a predetermined result should be suspicious.

Reply to  Jimbo
November 13, 2014 6:25 am

She sounds like a merchant of doubt.
Seriously, though, what a load of baloney. “Verification and validation of numerical models of natural systems is impossible.” This is either trite — theories about the physical world can never be proved, only disproved — or plain wrong, if we translate “validation” as testing by experiment or observation. Also, there is no law that exempts “open systems” from quantitative analysis. It is planet Earth’s complexity that makes it difficult to study, not its openness.
As to model results being always “non-unique”, another howler. Each combination of a given model with a complete set of values for its variable input parameters is a separate hypothesis that can pass or fail the observational test. If no plausible set of parameter values can be found that enables the model to produce a successful prediction, then the model as a whole can be said to have failed.
I didn’t think highly of her so far, but here she really reveals herself as shallow and sloppy.

Reply to  Jimbo
November 13, 2014 7:34 am

Thanks, Jimbo.
Any scientist who uses a model to verify or validate a predetermined result is not only suspicious, but wrong, from a scientific point of view.
Reality-validated models just show that they contain the relevant physics.
That is, reality-invalidated models just show that they do not contain the relevant physics.

Chris Schoneveld
November 13, 2014 4:07 am

Typo: “for divining the future of climate on Earth”

David Schofield
November 13, 2014 4:10 am

“ConfusedPhoton November 13, 2014 at 3:59 am
Well he still pretends to be a Nobel Laureate, so is anyone surprised by his contradictory position?
“Nobel Laureate (shared) for Nobel Peace Prize 2007 (as part of IPCC) Oct 2007″
What a sad person”
He’s not allowed to do that. Report him to the IPCC and the Nobel Committee and his press office.
See the IPCC’s own website, fourth paragraph.
I’m already on someone else’s case.

November 13, 2014 4:12 am

Are the climate computer models [GCMs] central central to climate policy? In the Summary for Policy Makers 2013 I counted the word ‘model’ and ‘models’ just over 105 times. [PDF – SPM].
According to Dr. Richard Betts of the Met Office the GCMs are not “so central to climate policy” despite over 100 mentions in the POLICY MAKERS SUMMARY!

Richard Betts – at 5:38 PM
climate modeller – Met Office – 22 August 2014
“Bish, as always I am slightly bemused over why you think GCMs are so central to climate policy.
Everyone* agrees that the greenhouse effect is real, and that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
Everyone* agrees that CO2 rise is anthropogenic
Everyone** agrees that we can’t predict the long-term response of the climate to ongoing CO2 rise with great accuracy. It could be large, it could be small. We don’t know. The old-style energy balance models got us this far. We can’t be certain of large changes in future, but can’t rule them out either.
*OK so not quite everyone, but everyone who has thought about it to any reasonable extent
**Apart from a few who think that observations of a decade or three of small forcing can be extrapolated to indicate the response to long-term larger forcing with confidence”

Siberian Husky
November 13, 2014 4:31 am

In an interview, Trenberth said “The planet is warming”, but “the warmth just isn’t being manifested at the surface.” He said his research showed that there had been a significant increase in deep ocean absorption of heat, particularly after 1998.[7] He told Nature that “The 1997 to ’98 El Niño event was a trigger for the changes in the Pacific, and I think that’s very probably the beginning of the hiatus”. He said that, eventually, “it will switch back in the other direction.”[8] Trenberth’s explanation attracted wide attention in the press.[8] [9] [10]
7^ Global Warming ‘Pause’ Isn’t What Climate Change Skeptics Say It Is by Terrell Johnson, The Weather Channel, Jan 13, 2014
8.^ Jump up to: a b Climate change: The case of the missing heat, Nature (journal) , Jan. 15, 2014
9.Jump up ^ Oceans continue to warm, especially the deeps, Ars Technica, Apr 1 2013
10.Jump up ^ Mystery of the ‘Missing’ Global Warming , Bloomberg News, Oct 23, 2013

M Courtney
Reply to  Siberian Husky
November 13, 2014 4:49 am

Of course, as this post shows Trenberth has known for a long time that the models were wrong.
He has had more time to try and find an excuse.
But he hasn’t found the heat.
He just guesses that it’s down there where the Sun don’t shine and we can’t see it.

david eisenstadt
Reply to  Siberian Husky
November 13, 2014 5:36 am

yet we now know that the deep ocean is cooling.

Reply to  Siberian Husky
November 13, 2014 11:02 am

Essentially, Trenberth claims that the extra heat [that no one can find] is hiding in the deep ocean under cooler layers of water above it. No such hidden heat has ever been detected, and thermodynamics would require that warmer water must rise.
Does Trenberth make sense to you?

James Harlock
Reply to  dbstealey
November 13, 2014 2:48 pm

I’m beginning to think this “missing” heat is inscrutable. Maybe it’s stealthy, Ninja heat, slinking around the shadows and keeping out of Argos’ sight.

November 13, 2014 4:31 am

Here is Trenberth back in 1997. Do the GCMs now offer the kind of certainties that policy-makers would like?

Nature – 1997
Kevin E. Trenberth
The use and abuse of climate models
Projections of future climate change depend largely on the results of computer models. Such models are becoming increasingly sophisticated, but they do not offer the certainties that policy-makers would like….
All models are of course wrong because, by design, they depict a simplified view of the system being modelled. Never-theless, many – but not all – models are very useful……
The burden of proof that a model result is not valid should be on the critic, not the modeller……
Nature, Volume 386, Issue 6621, pp. 131-133 (1997)

Reply to  Jimbo
November 13, 2014 5:12 am

“The burden of proof that a model result is not valid should be on the critic, not the modeller……”

Reply to  Christopher
November 13, 2014 8:34 am

The public is already doing enough work (time) trying to discern the truth to accept the onus of burden of proof, and I’m sure scientifically qualified critics hardly need another job without income to take on that responsibility as well.

David A
Reply to  Christopher
November 15, 2014 8:24 am

“The burden of proof that a model result is not valid should be on the critic, not the modeler
Non scientific, but if they must have it that way, OK

Reply to  Christopher
November 15, 2014 8:47 am

David A,
They always seem to be turning the Scientific Method on it’s head like that. Trenberth attempts it by trying to force skeptics to prove that the Null Hypothesis hasn’t been falsified, instead of showing that it has. [That’s because Trenberth has never been able to falsify the Null Hypothesis].
Putting the onus on the skeptic forces skeptics to, in effect, prove a negative. Since that is ipso facto impossible, they win!
But then there’s that pesky reality…

Reply to  Jimbo
November 13, 2014 5:52 am

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the same “burden of proof” rule that applies to crystal ball readings, tea leaf readings, entrail readings, and other “analog” methods of predicting the future?
How could someone even write that? It’s like saying the burden of proof that you murdered someone should be the responsibility of the murder victim.

Reply to  CodeTech
November 13, 2014 7:39 am

And he’s saying nothing!

Reply to  Jimbo
November 13, 2014 7:57 am

The burden of proof that a model result is not valid should be on the critic, not the modeller……

Say what?
a) Models are uncertain.
b) No, that’s not strong enough. Models are wrong, but some can be useful.
c) But it isn’t the responsibility of the modeller to validate their own model. That job is left up to the “critic”. Otherwise, we should simply uncritically accept model results as being wrong but useful.
The problem with this is simple. What do you do if there are no critics? How do you maintain the honesty required for science to work at all? To quote Feynman:

… But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school–we never say explicitly what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.
Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.
In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.

It seems that Feynman would disagree with Trenberth that the onus of proof is on the “critics” to disprove a model, or to be even less obtrusive and merely request that the model be validated in some way against reality before using it to dispose of a hundred billion dollars or so a year for the indefinite future at the expense of fixing all of the other problems in the world that could be fixed for 8 billion dollars a month). Y’know, like curing malaria. Vaccinating all the children in the world against common childhood diseases. Building supplies of clean, safe, and plentiful water to prevent the transmission of water-born fecal-oral illnesses. Installing sewage treatment systems to prevent the contamination of water supplies in the first place. Building schools worldwide. Bringing about world peace by creating world prosperity.
Back in my day, people hated the Viet Nam war because:
a) We were supporting an incredibly corrupt government that basically perpetuated the system of de facto slavery and economic suppression practiced by the colonial French. From an ethical point of view, we were fighting for the wrong side.
b) Old guys voted for the war. Young guys had to go fight it, and (for most of the duration of the war) couldn’t even vote.
c) The war was never declared, and indeed was fought with rules that prohibited us from actually invading North Viet Nam, systematically eliminating its military assets, and winning. We literally could not win as long as North Viet Nam refused to give up and could not be invaded, while they could invade South Viet Nam at will.
d) The war was ultimately supported by a mix of the large multinational corporations and organized crime! It (like the Gulf wars) was a money launderer’s dream. It is estimated that $0.50 of every $1.00 spent on Viet Nam by congress was skimmed or stolen. The “military-industrial complex” that Eisenhower warned us about sucked that teat dry. (And wept when it finally went away, to be sustained only by the cold war for sixteen increasingly desolate years, when even that went away.)
e) Was justified by an esoteric “domino theory” that said that if we didn’t oppose the spread of communism with military force, one nation after another would become communist. Viet Nam, of course, was direct evidence that this theory was simply not correct. Not to mention the complete collapse of militarized global communism 16-18 years later.
Notice the similarities. An esoteric theory. An infinite money sink endorsed by congress to support a “cause”. A nation’s worth of productive power perfectly happy to line up with satchels open for each to receive its helping of manna from heaven to prevent the imagined horrendous consequences of failing to act on the basis of the theory. Money laundering, support of the military-industrial complex, graft to be skimmed, pork to be barrelled, and all supported by a bit of wink wink nod nod, you know what I mean you know what I mean when even the proponents of the theory refuse to look at it too hard lest the entire thing dry up and blow away when the political climate changes.
At least we aren’t sending our children to be killed over it.
No, instead we are simply ensuring that somebody else’s children will, as a direct consequence of the gravy train so carefully erected to divert tax money and disposable income into a boondoggle, die of preventable illnesses, while their parents and surviving siblings will spend yet another generation living in 17th century pre-industrial poverty waiting for the cheap energy that might make them prosperous and free.
Honesty really is the best policy. There is (in my opinion) absolutely no doubt that there is some anthropogenic contribution to the generally observed global warming. Indeed, I can and have personally fit carbon dioxide concentration to HadCRUT4 data and determined a truly excellent fit across all 164 years with the single formula:
\Delta T = \lambda F = 0.49 (5.35 \log(C/C_0) = 2.62\log(C/C_0)
The residual standard error of the resulting fit (built using R) is 0.121 on 163 degrees of freedom with a two parameter, purely physics-based fit, and one of those two parameters is merely matching the mutual scales, since an anomaly has no absolute origin. To the extent that the carbon dioxide increase can be attributed to human activity (which may be arguable but almost certainly isn’t zero) there is literally zero statistical doubt in the reality of anthropogenic global warming. One is fitting a formula derived from basic physics to observational data and obtaining agreement with parameters that have a p-value of zero (less than 10^{-16}) in a two parameter fit, one of which is mere alignment of the scales and could be eliminated by a suitable transformation of the data (e.g. by taking a derivative and fitting that instead).
The only problem is that this fit predicts 2.3 K of additional warming by 2100 if the worst case scenario of increasing carbon dioxide is realized, one that carries us to around 900 ppm by 2100 (call it RCP9.5 from AR5). That scenario requires CO_2 to increase like the exponential of the date displacement cubed for the next 85 years. It is difficult to imagine any future growth scenario that leaves this rate (which fits Mauna Loa data adequately) intact, if indeed it is the correct but non-unique description of ML data. If one fits the Mauna Loa data optimally with an extrapolable exponential of a power form, one obtains the exponential of roughly the date displacement to the 1.3 power, which leads to between 600 and 700 ppm CO_2 in 2100. That results in only 1.4 K of additional warming by 2100.
Even this scenario (roughly their RCP6.5) is probably unduly pessimistic. Solar power unsubsidized is coming into its own and will almost certainly continue being implemented both at the private and the public utility level simply because there is acceptable ROI in many parts of the world and fuel is expensive and likely to become more so over time. Lockheed-Martin is publicly claiming that they have a working fusion reactor design and are starting to build a working prototype that they expect to demonstrate in five years. A number of other groups are similarly claiming (perhaps with less credibility but that doesn’t make their claims untrue) that they either have a solution or are within an ace of one, functional prototypes if not patents pending. There are literally mountains of Thorium in the world (including a whole range of them in western North Carolina) and LFTR is another potential game-changing technology. Batteries continue to improve. There isn’t one single reason to believe that we will still be building coal burning power plants in fifty years even if we do nothing to artificially increase the cost of carbon based energy now, even if we do nothing by way of artificially subsidizing renewable resources with a poor ROI and major unsolved not-ready-for-prime-time technological problems.
I really should do one final carbon scenario — the logistic scenario where one fits Mauna Loa to a symmetric logistic function that has its inflection point around 2050. Carbon would then peak at around 500 ppm. That would produce 2.62*log(1.2) = 0.47 K of additional warming. It assumes that we’ve already built around 1/3 of the carbon-based generation facilities that will ever be built, and that by 2050 (after two full more decades of frenetic building by the Chinese and India and African countries) one or more of the technologies that would make burning carbon for energy utterly obsolete will mature and have such an enormous comparative ROI that coal burning plants are allowed to age out (if stored solar ultimately is cost-effective) or are converted if e.g. fusion really is made feasible anytime in the next thirty years! as it will instantly make coal not only obsolete, but so obsolete that the last coal burning plant in the world will be decommissioned within a decade or at most two of commercially productive fusion.
Honesty! We are betting the certain and immediate demise of millions of people a year that we could save with one tenth of what we are pissing away panicking over carbon dioxide against warming that a sane, one parameter fit that works nearly perfectly historically extrapolates to be anywhere from 0.5 to 2.5 degrees kelvin, with the latter a very unlikely worst case scenario and the former the most plausible one!
It is difficult even assess the expectation cost of the current policy fully amortized to 2100 against the worst case scenario given the enormous and certain cost steadily accumulating today.
If you gave the proponents of severe measures to stop an imagined “catastrophic” anthropogenic global warming a knife and a child in the third world, and told them that they could prevent the possible catastrophe with complete certainty if only they take the knife and cut out the heart of the child, I suspect that you would have very few takers. Even fewer if you were told that you would have to repeat this sacrifice every ten seconds and rip the still beating heart out of some 3 million children a year, every year, for the indefinite future, adding another quarter of a billion children to the pile of 20 or 30 million we’ve stacked up already by the year 2100. Yet they do not hesitate to just as certainly condemn those children to death by simultaneously making energy more expensive worldwide and by diverting most of the elective wealth in the world away from the simple measures that would prevent those utterly preventable deaths.
Perhaps the voters of the world would appreciate an opportunity to honestly appraise the honest self-assessments of the model builders, the ones where they bend over backwards to point out the flaws in their own models and the reasons they should not be trusted as a basis for public policy, instead of deliberately concealing those flaws in the misapplication of statistics and deceptive language that currently forms the basis of the Summary for Policy Makers in the various AR’s of the IPCC.
In the meantime, the (frankly) unexpected success I’ve had in fitting a pure null-hypothesis carbon-dioxide only model to past data demonstrates that a simple two parameter physics-based model blows the pants off of the collective MME mean of all of the models in CMIP5. That doesn’t make it predictive — for one thing, no model simple or otherwise can easily fit the Holocene, or even the last 2000 years, in no small part because we have only a terribly inaccurate idea derived from multiple, inconsistent proxies of what global temperatures and climate were like outside of the modern historical instrumental era. For another, the model ignores all sorts of local phenomena that affect short term climate trends (e.g. big volcanoes), all sorts of nonlinear feedback that the system could at some point express even though for 164 years there is no statistical reason to reject the carbon-dioxide only null hypothesis, all of the longer time scale climate dynamics, and hence could work well but have lousy predictive skill.
Even so, it could hardly do worse in the future than the CMIP5 MME mean, which is already showing no predictive skill and is lousy at hindcasting HadCRUT4, as well, let alone any of the component models that contribute to it.

M Courtney
Reply to  rgbatduke
November 13, 2014 8:16 am

In summary:
-Trenberth is warping the scientific method and so is not really engaged in science.
-Big money expenditures are addictive and often unethical.
-We’re betting that coal becomes obsolete by 2030 but aren’t investing in an Apollo programme to get fusion.
-The models don’t work.
RGB, I ‘m a big fan but this wasn’t your best comment. It was verbose and disorganised.
If you’re stressed don’t waste time on here. You’re the sort of scientist we want sciencing . Many of us can point out Trenberth’s perversion of the null hypothesis.
As an example I totally agree with theses sentences but it could do with some more punctuation.

It assumes that we’ve already built around 1/3 of the carbon-based generation facilities that will ever be built, and that by 2050 (after two full more decades of frenetic building by the Chinese and India and African countries) one or more of the technologies that would make burning carbon for energy utterly obsolete will mature and have such an enormous comparative ROI that coal burning plants are allowed to age out (if stored solar ultimately is cost-effective) or are converted if e.g. fusion really is made feasible anytime in the next thirty years! as it will instantly make coal not only obsolete, but so obsolete that the last coal burning plant in the world will be decommissioned within a decade or at most two of commercially productive fusion.

Reply to  rgbatduke
November 13, 2014 8:21 am

I think Feynman would have given Trenberth and the rest of ‘the Team’ a good metaphorical kicking and spat out the IPCC for lunch, it’s a shame his not around to do so.

Reply to  rgbatduke
November 13, 2014 8:47 am

The National Ignition Facility is indeed trying just as hard as the Manhattan Project did. The Manhattan Project was not analogous though, as Fermi had already shown that fission was possible. No one has shown that controlled fusion is possible on any scale less grand than that big white ball in the sky. 10-15 million degrees, inside something that does not immediately melt? Sounds easy doesn’t it?

Reply to  rgbatduke
November 13, 2014 11:54 am

M Courtney,

RGB, I ‘m a big fan but this wasn’t your best comment. It was verbose and disorganised.

Wow. I completely disagree.

Reply to  rgbatduke
November 13, 2014 1:28 pm

I can put climate science into a Vietnam context briefly:
“In order to save our civilization, we have to destroy it”

Reply to  rgbatduke
November 13, 2014 1:49 pm

I’m mystified by RGB’s claim. In the equation
Delta T = 2.62log(C/C0)
Delta T is the change in the equilibrium temperature. As the equilibrium temperature is not an observable the degree of fit of this equation to the HadCRUT4 is indeterminable.

Reply to  rgbatduke
November 15, 2014 12:36 pm

The regression you cite is similar to that provided in a recent paper by Lovejoy.
The one in which warming as a result of natural variability was rejected with >99% certainty! His regression begins at 1880, uses temperature aggregates from 3 sources, and actually reports a smaller slope (2.33 versus 2.62). I mention this because that paper displays the regression residuals. They are clearly not consistent with white noise as required to invoke standard regression (ANOVA) analysis. That is, one may obtain a seemingly good linear fit, but statistical analysis of its significance will require care.

Reply to  rgbatduke
November 15, 2014 5:02 pm

I read Lovejoy’s paper at Lovejoy’s conclusions are based upon a fit of an equation (the paper’s Equation (1)) to a global temperature time series. According to this equation, the global warming is the sum of the “natural” warming and the “anthropogenic” warming. The latter is proportional to the change in the CO2 concentration. As the natural warming is the difference between the global warming and the anthopogenic warming the fit of Lovejoy’s equation to the time series is necessarily perfect.
At first glance one might think Lovejoy was on to something important. However, there is a fly in the ointment. If we wished to use Lovejoy’s equation to predict the global warming of the future and to compare it to the observed warming we would be unable to do so for we would not know the natural warming. It may be concluded that the claims made by Lovejoy’s model are non-falsifiable thus being unscientific.

Bruce Cobb
November 13, 2014 4:34 am

As a supposed scientist, Trenberth is a travesty.

Bloke down the pub
November 13, 2014 4:36 am

‘The current projection method works to the extent it does because it utilizes differences from one time to another and the main model bias and systematic errors are thereby subtracted out. This assumes linearity.’
That assumption is so clearly unsupportable as to make you wonder why he wrote the preceding sentence.

November 13, 2014 5:36 am

Cherry-picking quotes here. The whole point of Trenberth’s post was that climate models are not weather models (which are initialized with observed climate “states”), and therefore they do not attempt to make predictions (like, will 2015 be a cold year, which would be meaningless given this little thing called “chaos”). Rather, they project long-term trends, like how can we expect climate in 2050 to differ from climate today.

Reply to  Barry
November 13, 2014 5:54 am

And since they’re ALL completely wrong, what’s your point?

Reply to  Barry
November 13, 2014 5:55 am

long-term meaning after they died or stopped working so they cannot be asked why they were so very wrong !
Meanwhile how does that work with the constant calls for ‘immediate action’ and how is this any different to 101 snake oils salesman who claim that although it not happed has they said it would , it will ‘in the future’ anyway ?

Reply to  Barry
November 13, 2014 11:27 am

It is not cherry picked, the quote points to a core premise in climate science. It does not produce daily temperatures but instead a trend relative to a baseline. Speaking of cherry picked, a cherry-picked baseline, sometimes starting in 1950, sometimes 1850 to whatever year that works for any given hypothesis. The rest of earth’s history is ignored, I conclude to ensure humanity is viewed as not just the principle driver of global temperature, but the principle destroyer of global temperature.
I could buy the idea of determining temperature trend, even if for only the last 100 Years, but only as a point of knowledge. Knowledge is a good thing, even if big mis-steps are made along the way. However there are 2 major problems.
1 The data and the algorithms for building the trends are poor. And even when pointed out by members within the rank of gaps and flaws, it’s ho-hum that’s ok, the boat is leaky but good enough for a lifeboat on the Titanic – what could happen. When an outsider asks what is the point of a leaky boat, they are ostracized and marginlized.
2. IPCC is not publishing knowledge, not publishing a trend going out decades for the advancement of knowledge. It is publishing prophesy; prophetic proclamations of doom. Repent sinners, or meet your fate! The UN and the IPCC are the equivalent of the long haired guy, barely clothed, ringing a bell, and wearing sandwich boards proclaiming the end of the earth. Even if the global warming trend was much better defined, was tied explicitly only to CO2, and had a tangible exclusive link to human generated CO2, there is ZERO evidence it would be catastrophic for the earth or it’s inhabitants.
In the end, AGW is not about gaining knowledge, it is about gaining power. Climate science, the UN, the IPCC has completely abandoned scientific integrity and morality. Excluding wars, I consider climate science the single greatest human failing so far this century.

DC Cowboy
November 13, 2014 5:39 am

So they are predictions if they are correct, if not, then they aren’t predicitons and were never intended to be.

November 13, 2014 5:52 am

Dr. Kevin Trenberth the person that wanted to reverse the null hypothesises because otherwise his claims failed and the person that started the whole ‘hidden ocean heat ‘ BS because the claims he and the Team made have proved to be a false.
Let us be honest he is one of the Teams chiefs that have shot to fame and fortune on the back of AGW , no matter their actual ability , and one who when ‘the cause ‘ falls whowill find it hard to get a job teaching at a third rate high school.
So his all in otherwise his got nothing , can I say hope he lives long enough to see his life’s work taught has the way to produce ‘scientific juke ‘ has warning to undergraduates has what not to do.

H. van Loon
Reply to  knr
November 13, 2014 7:58 am

Trenberth is actually a good and effective scientist with a doctoral degree from MIT. He has written several excellent papers.and has not “shot to fame” because of his stand on a possible CO2 warming of the atmosphere. If you don’t know him you should not defame him.

Reply to  H. van Loon
November 13, 2014 10:09 am

H. van Loon,
knr is right, and a degree means nothing in and of itself. Dr. Trenberth tried to turn the Scientific Method on its head by insisting that scientific skeptics must prove that AGW does not exist. That would require skeptics to prove a negative.
If Trenberth is truly honest, he will confine his science to testability per the Scientific Method. The results would be interesting. He would have to choose between being lionized by the warmist cult, or admitting that he’s got nothin’.
Fame and fortune, or truth? Decisions, decisions…

Gordon Ford
Reply to  H. van Loon
November 13, 2014 10:23 am

[Snip. ~mod.]

Reply to  Gordon Ford
November 14, 2014 4:30 am

Sorry Gordon, A Doctorate from ANYWHERE only proves you have learned. It does not confer any accomplishments.

Reply to  H. van Loon
November 13, 2014 12:01 pm

I agree with H. van Loon. Defame the ideas, not the man. I’m thankful that Trenberth published that Nature letter in 2007 while Gore was roaming the country with his Inconvenient Truth movie. I’ve printed the original off and am going to carry it around with me. He told the truth. What do you expect him to do? Resign his job?

Reply to  H. van Loon
November 13, 2014 1:54 pm

He defames himself , meanwhile high levels of qualification are no guarantee of a persons’ honest only of their academic ability in one sometimes very limited area , and there are more than enough fools with PHd’s to show why PHd can also stand for ‘piled higher and deeper’ Bottom line , AGW has ‘made ‘ Trenberth without it its back to scrabbling around for funded , no more media adoration and a lot less invents to conferences etc . Mann may be a case study in how the personal overcomes the professional in climate ‘science’ , but his by no means the only one of ‘the Team ‘ to have that issue.

Reply to  knr
November 13, 2014 8:21 am

Funny. I tend to think of Trenberth as being comparatively honest. In fact, I think he is well on his way to becoming a lukewarmist, simply because he is comparatively honest and data doth make honest men out of all but fools and charlatans. The “into the ocean” hypothesis is certainly a plausible one, and appears to have at least weak support from the data. As more, better data comes in, that hypothesis may end up either being rejected or left unproven (not easy to measure the tiny temperature variations associated with it either way). However, either way it represents an enormous challenge for the climate models and Trenberth gets this! After all, if the ocean can eat the heat for decades and not substantively change temperature by a whole tenth of a degree, where does that leave models that don’t allow for a heat-eating ocean? In the crapper, of course. He also understands the enormous uncertainty of model based results at this point and I honestly think that he is very uncomfortable with the emphasis being placed on e.g. CMIP5 and the MME, because he isn’t an idiot. He can look at figure 9.8a in AR5 the same as you or I and see trouble in river city for CMIP5, and every year that the pause continues makes the trouble only worse.
Personally, I can’t predict the pause or derive the pause, but I can damn well explain the pause with a three parameter correction to the physics based and derived log fit mentioned above. Add a harmonic with amplitude 0.1K and period of 67.3 years and you come very near interpolating 164 years’ worth of data including all of the long time scale variation of HadCRUT4 and perfectly match the pause in the present, which isn’t (if the model is correct) a pause at all, merely the turnover of the harmonic term against the continuously rising background. But this term is pure numerology and I played with it “just for fun” as I can think of absolutely no good physical reason for their to be a sixty-seven year climate harmonic. And no, it is NOT well fit by the actual PDO data (which is available) or anything else sane.
But then, a chaotic system needs little excuse for a transient quasiperiodic structure to emerge as a long term cycle in some subspace of the system phase space, just as it needs little excuse to change attractors and jump to some different transient quasiperiodic structure. So it could be perfectly real, had good (if non-computable) reasons for it in the past and change to something completely different tomorrow.
Anyway, don’t bad-mouth Trenberth. Personally, I wish they’d make him head of NASA GISS. I think he’d clean the place up from the mess Hansen made, which is not happening at any time soon the way things are now.

Reply to  rgbatduke
November 13, 2014 12:09 pm

Glad about this comment. Lukewarming is good replacement for CAGW and lukewarmist is a good replacement for alarmist.
rgb, have you written or seen somewhere a clear proof on the chaotic nature of climate? It is one of the most common claims by alarmists that climate is not chaotic and can be predicted with model ensembles. For me this chaotic behaviour is clear in an intuitive way, but mathematically speaking, my intuition is just handwaving with no rigour. Why should I be certain?

David Chappell
Reply to  rgbatduke
November 15, 2014 7:25 am

He is certainly not honest with regard to his personal achievements – he is still claiming to be a Nobel Prize winner and unfortunately has not yet attracted to ridicule that attaches to Mann. Such personal dishonesty does tend to imply a general lack of integrity.

Bruce Cobb
November 13, 2014 5:55 am

So, the 18+ year and counting warming halt is “just weather”. Got it.

Peter Foster
November 13, 2014 5:57 am

Some years ago there was a statement at some conference, made I think by Trenberth, that was along the lines of, “If the data does not fit the model then we adjust the data”
Can anyone point me to the post that contained this gem ?

Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 6:42 am

As Bob says, Trenberth is a prominent climate scientist, and was writing in a prominent forum. So did all hell break loose? No. Because what he said was simply true, and well known.
Models do not predict. The IPCC keeps saying so. They model. I have a recent post here emphasising that distinction. Think of people designing, say, the Titanic. They would make and test an actual model – probably several. They’d subject the model to forcings (thrust etc) and observe the response. They’d try various scenarios (storms, headwinds). They would learn a lot about the performance of the boat. To continue the analogy, you can create a scenario of a likely voyage, and see how it responds to the various forcings.
But the model won’t predict. It won’t tell you if the boat will hit an iceberg. It won’t even tell you where it will go.
There is in fact a recent move to initialize GCMs to provide decadal predictions. It has mostly happened since Trenberth wrote, and he may have been trying to help it along. Success is uncertain. It comes up against a frequently repeated observation here – weather, real or modelled, is chaotic. You can’t predict all of it, for long, from initial conditions. Maybe not very much at all. But we have a climate, and it is reasonably benign. It doesn’t depend on initial conditions. Running models without good initialization helps us to find out about that climate. Because of chaos, good initialization won’t likely do better. More important is physical consistency. That’s why they give models a long run-up period, from an initial state known much worse than today’s.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 7:05 am

“Running models without good initialization helps us to find out about that climate.”
Find out what, for instance?

Reg Nelson
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 7:13 am

But they are being sold to the public by the media and politicians as predictions. Therein lies the problem.
And when everyone single one of them has successfully modeled the past and every single one of them has failed to come close to modelling the future (from the time they were written), why would anyone place any confidence in them that they have some value, or increase our understanding of climate.
You state that the IPCC says models don’t predict. Well then how can they publish confidence numbers? If that isn’t a prediction, I don’t know what is (and I say that with 97% confidence).

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 7:52 am

Nick this is disingenuous. Yes they say all this somewhere and then tell the public we’ll all be fried or drowned. Changing the global warming to climate change was the same thing. Because there wasn’t much global warming going on and we were getting a run of damn cold winters, they changed the name – then still told us we were going to be fried or drowned. This whole discipline is a terrible blot on all of science. Tell me I’m wrong if I say you guys just don’t know what is in the offing a hot or a cold future over the next century.
I don’t criticize climate science for not knowing, I do, however for saying you do know for policy purposes. Shame, shame. I actually have a small (but diminishing) bit of respect for Trenberth, Jones and Briffa because they were among the very few who did express some doubts and anguish over observations not reflecting the theory after all. Jones and Briffa seem like decent guys who were weak, not among the brightest, but let themselves be bullied along by the narrative to an extent. Their candor and push back against Mann are saving graces. But really, Nick, tell me you were not privately dumbstruck by the one-two punch of climategate and the pause like all the “leading” climate scientists were. Trenberth’s tenuous desperate search for a home for the heat is taking away respect I mentioned. Come clean and we will love ya.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
November 13, 2014 9:21 am

I don’t criticize climate science for not knowing, I do, however for saying you do know for policy purposes. Shame, shame. I actually have a small (but diminishing) bit of respect for Trenberth, Jones and Briffa because they were among the very few who did express some doubts and anguish over observations not reflecting the theory after all. Jones and Briffa seem like decent guys who were weak, not among the brightest, but let themselves be bullied along by the narrative to an extent. Their candor and push back against Mann are saving graces. But really, Nick, tell me you were not privately dumbstruck by the one-two punch of climategate and the pause like all the “leading” climate scientists were. Trenberth’s tenuous desperate search for a home for the heat is taking away respect I mentioned.

Also well said, sir, and I concur. Jones even laments his own personal weakness — he clearly knows perfectly well that because they caved to the Mann-attack IPCC cover art they were utterly discredited as of years ago. At this point the best that can be said is that HadCRUT4 is argualy dragging its heels about tweaking the model yet again to show still more shameless “warming” that isn’t substantiated by well-measured lower troposphere temperature.
I don’t think Trenberth’s search for a home for the heat is “desperate”, I think it is reasonable, given his prior beliefs. If you believe that there is a radiation imbalance, but the temperature isn’t rising, how can you not look for a home for the missing heat! Trenberth, Nick, and I, and probably you as well, we all believe in conservation of energy and the first law of thermodynamics and such stuff. This means that if ins don’t equal outs, they must be building up in betweens. There is some issue with whether or not there is a measured energy imbalance, of course. For one thing it is damned difficult to measure or infer from the satellite data. For another, it is small. For a third, its existence is predicated upon the time it reaches the earth to reach equilibrium as its forcing changes.
Personally, I think that the evidence is overwhelming that the response to carbon dioxide variation is essentially instantaneous, with a time scale little different from the time scale over which it varies in the first place. The year to year, month to month natural variation is orders of magnitude greater than the marginal expected change due to any reasonable shift in the forcing with any reasonable climate sensitivity. If this is the case, of course, the Earth is basically almost never more than second-order disequilibrated, out of balance by a tiny fraction of a degree that is utterly lost in the noise and probably impossible to resolve even via integration.
But still, if you think otherwise, you come up with a hypothesis and try to prove or disprove it! That is science!
Time alone will tell whether or not it is proven or disproven. At the moment it is a highly marginal result by any standards, and even if true all it means is that Trenberth has proven that yes, the existing GCMs really suck because they completely omit this effect and it is kinda key to getting the right answer. And it establishes a simple inequality — the GCMs that omit it will run too hot because they do not correctly account for the heat flow into the ocean. Which is for whatever it is worth in agreement with observation — they all do run too hot. Maybe this is the answer.
But we already knew that they suck. So does/did he, for that matter. Really, so does everybody. You can’t look at figure 9.8a of AR5 and not go “Wow, the climate models collectively suck!” at least not if you understand modelling.
Too bad nobody wants to tell the politicians that. Not that I blame them.
Contempt of congress hearings and congressional investigations are never pretty.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
November 13, 2014 10:17 am

Now’s about the time that someone chimes-in and says that the term ‘climate change’ was used back in the seventies, so the recent backing away from ‘global warming’ is in no way an attempt at obfuscation.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 8:22 am

It is good to acknowledge, at least by way of anecdote, that climate models are not “actual” models. But, as others have noted, that’s not how they are represented to the public.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 8:34 am

I’ll excuse the typo.

But the model won’t predict…..
You can’t predict all of it, for long, from initial conditions. Maybe not very much at all….

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 8:50 am

This is more of the “we can tell you summer will be warmer than winter” rubbish.
“It won’t tell you if it will hit an iceberg”! I defy anyone to come up with a more inane analogy.
The IPCC is full of projections and the blogs are full of caviling that they’re completely different from predictions. Ironically, many of the luminaries of climate alarm wind up using both words interchangeably.
Playing along with the forcing; up went CO2 but not temperatures. That was just a 99% probability, not a prediction.
Quote from IPCC in 2007; “Models’ ability to represent these and other important climate features increases our confidence that they represent the essential physical processes important for the simulation of future climate change. (Note that the limitations in climate models’ ability to forecast weather beyond a few days do not limit their ability to predict long-term climate changes, as these are very different types of prediction”
Funny that! Models are nouns and their verbs are “forecast” and “PREDICT”

Reply to  mebbe
November 13, 2014 9:05 am

When “predict” is conflated with “project” in making an argument this argument is an example of an “equivocation.” One cannot logically draw a conclusion from an equivocation. To draw such a conclusion is an “equivocation fallacy.” Applications of the equivocation fallacy have been popular among warmists and skeptics alike. Warmists use it in arguing that the value of the equilibrium climate sensitivity (TECS) is dangerously high. Skeptics use it in arguing that value of TECS is not dangerously high. The logically valid conclusion regarding TECS is that its value is non-falsifiable thus being unscientific. To state this conclusion in a different way, assignment of a value to TECS provides a policy maker with no information. If a policy maker thinks he has information this is a consequence of an application of the equivocation fallacy.

Billy Liar
Reply to  mebbe
November 13, 2014 2:58 pm

Here’s Vicky Pope of the UK Met Office using ‘projections’ and ‘predictions’ interchangeably throughout the video. She starts talking about ‘projections’ and within 30 seconds there is a slide talking about ‘predictions’.

Reply to  mebbe
November 13, 2014 9:15 pm

You appear to misunderstand equivocation. And conflate.
Conflate is not a synonym for confuse; rather, combine.
I know it’s your hobby-horse but that’s all the patience I have for it!

Reply to  mebbe
November 13, 2014 9:21 pm

Sounds like you’ve staged a hit and run attack. You present allegations and announce in advance that you will not respond to counter arguments. That’s not the way one acts in legitimate science.

Reply to  mebbe
November 13, 2014 10:37 pm

Ok Terry,
It was a bit hit-and-run. I did actually feel weary at that moment ‘cos I’ve seen you flogging this dead horse before.
Also, it’s not science, it’s language and meaning.
Equivocation is not insisting that two words are synonyms of each other. It is taking a word with two or more distinct meanings and ascribing to that word the meaning that is not the one intended.
Conflate, as I said, is not a synonym for confuse, it means to merge issues.
Climate models predict. Poorly. Their predictions are not accurate. The IPCC says they predict better than they forecast.
They say lots of stuff.

Reply to  mebbe
November 14, 2014 8:43 am

Thanks for taking the time to reply and for sharing your views. My “dead horse” is the topic of peer-reviewed article ( ) whose argument stands unrefuted a year after its publication. If you’d like to try to be the first, be my guest. Questions and comments including critical ones are always welcome. Courtesy and avoidance of deliberately fallacious counter arguments are both appreciated.
Your criticism of my use of “conflate” is unwarranted. In the fallacy under discussion the words “predict” and “project” are conflated by assigning their separate meanings to the single word “predict.”
An “equivocation” is an argument in which a word changes meaning in the midst of an argument. A logical conclusion may not be drawn from an equivocation. To draw such a conclusion is an “equivocation fallacy.”
The potential for a word to change meaning may be eliminated by a disambiguation of the language of an argument in which each word of this argument aquires a single meaning. To disambiguate has no logical downside but there are bloggers who fight it tooth and nail. I take their behavior to signify that these bloggers need to apply the equivocation fallacy to reach the conclusions that they favor. Often this conclusion is that the equilibrium climate sensitivity is either high or low.
One of the words of climatological arguments that is ordinarly polysemic is “predict.” If we confine “predict” to the single meaning that is assigned to it by Trenberth’s disambiguation and use “project” for its alternate meaning then we learn that every one of the “predictions” of the IPCC climate models of AR4 was a projection. As they provide a policy maker with no information about the outcomes of the events of the future, models that make projections are completely unsuitable for the purpose of regulating the climate yet in the wake of publication of AR4 the EPA concluded that it was necessary to regulate the climate. It drew this conclusion from an equivocation, an application of the equivocation fallacy.

Reply to  mebbe
November 15, 2014 5:10 am

Regarding Billy Liar’s video link of Vicky Pope (UK Met Office)… note how she talks of projections and acknowledges uncertainty, yet she has the audacity to state the projections show “… what will happen in the future to climate in the UK.”
What will happen??? Really?
She says this as a matter of fact, as though it is a certain truth. And that’s the problem with these climate change charlatans and you can also see this in this following article by so called expert climatologists in the 1980s telling the world what the year 2000 would be like:
“The conclusion, conveyed with great authority by several big-league climatologists from government and private research organizations, is terrible: by the year 2000, the atmosphere and weather will grow warmer by several degrees and life – animal, plant, human – will be threatened. The experts say that melting ice caps, flooded cities, droughts in the corn belt and famine in the third world could result if the earth’s mean temperature rises by a mere two or three degrees.”

Reply to  mebbe
November 15, 2014 6:27 pm

I don’t doubt that you are thoroughly convinced by your own arguments and that you have sustained nothing more than Monty Python “flesh wounds”.
You have not been sedulous in your struggle; you have not revealed to us the numerous meanings of the word “predict” that you claim to exist. Equally you have not, ironically, noted that “project” is unmistakeably polysemic. This is unsurprising, since the Latin ‘jacere’ has much more potential for semantic expansion than ‘dicere’.
You have, perversely, declared that Kevin Trenberth’s “disambiguation” should somehow be taken as the definitive word on these terms, as though he were the pope of Global Warming. Meanwhile, the real (Vicky) Pope of that orthodoxy is blithely interchanging the two words with great abandon and, indeed, the IPCC, that most august body, has failed to conform to the distinction that you and Kevin are insisting upon.
You said; “When “predict” is conflated with “project” in making an argument this argument is an example of an “equivocation.”
To conflate these two words would require combining the meanings of the two. Nobody’s done that. It’s not possible to make a statement that is both conditional and unconditional at the same time.
You have misapplied the word ‘conflate’ just as you misapply the term ‘equivocate’.
The biggest mistake is in thinking that the immutable gods of science will condemn the unfalsifiable claims of CAGW modelers. Those gods, like all others, are dreamed up by humans and can’t even muster a derisive snort.

Reply to  mebbe
November 15, 2014 11:00 pm

Logical discourse features arguments and counter-arguments. In a peer-reviewed article I’ve argued that applications of the equivocation fallacy plague global warming arguments. Is this argument incorrect? If so, let us see your counter-argument.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 9:02 am

Whoops! It’s Agree With Nick day again! Well said, sir!
And if those models weren’t used to divert $100 billion a year or so of public moneys when they are used as if they were certain of success, I’d be all for them, great fun, reasonable science, etc. When the model output of 36 or so different (but memetically related with shared code and more) models are first averaged over many runs (per model) and then those averages superaveraged into an average of averages, and when that average of average is presented as if it has some predictive merit in spite of the fact that it sucks at matching the data either when run to hindcast the past or forecast the data anywhere outside of the reference period (training set), that’s where I take issue.
You cannot assume that a statistical abomination like that has the slightest predictive merit. It not only cannot be proven using the axioms or methods of statistics, it is almost certainly not true based on the axioms and methods of statistics. When the model runs aren’t just quantitatively inaccurate, they are qualitatively inaccurate, inaccurate on a gross, massive scale, not even close to reality on a run by run basis for nearly all of the models, so that it takes a superaverage of averages simply to reduce the variance of the predictions and the model autocorrelation times to where the aren’t obviously inconsistent with the data, one is basically praying for a statistical miracle to happen when one computes the superaverage.
It certainly isn’t surprising if it doesn’t.
Be nice if they would acknowledge this simple fact and move on, wouldn’t it? Then we could start looking to see if any particular models don’t do a terrible job, and — I dunno — weight them more heavily in our consideration of climate futures? Sort of like rewarding the successful with sober consideration and pitching the successful into the dustbin (or at least, sending them back to the ol’ drawing board)?
The one other thing that would be simply lovely is determining just how necessary all of that complicated arithmetic really is. I think we both agree that CO_2 is a greenhouse gas that is likely to cause radiative forcing F = 5.35\log(C/C_0) or thereabouts (with the values of the leading piece and the reference constant open to some tweaking as the computations aren’t that exact). The big question is, if all things are equal (that is, if we assume our ignorance of all other forcings and their possible connection to CO_2), what is the climate sensitivity lambda such that \Delta T = \lambda F accurately describes the temperature anomaly (scale set by C_0) (and of course, there is the question of whether or not it fits past data for that value of \lambda).
When I do the fit to HadCRUT4 it fits 164 years of data damn well for \lambda = 0.49 \pm 0.04 (that’s using 2\sigma for the error bounds) with a two parameter fit.
There is almost nothing left to explain in the long term variation. If other things are varying that substantively matter, they apparently on average cancel over almost the entire record, and the one remaining source of variability is a single discrete harmonic with an amplitude of 0.1K and period of 67 years, which is not implausibly a solar cycle of some sort or a long term decadal oscillation of some sort or something nobody understands yet of some sort. This model outperforms all of the models in CMIP5, singly or collectively, with or without the just-for-grins harmonic.
Maybe the first goal of the GCM modellers ought to be: “We have to beat a two parameter CO_2-only physics-based model for global warming before we tell even our own parents about our results, let alone try to publish them…”? Ya think?
Of course then, without Hansen’s extravagantly exaggerated and unproven feedbacks, we would predict \Delta T = 2.63\log(1.5) = 1.07 K of additional warming at 600 ppm, a doubling of “pre-industrial CO_2 concentration”. One whole degree. It’s difficult to argue that one whole degree of additional warming wouldn’t be actively net beneficial, or at least neutral in terms of risks and benefits. What is certain is that we are misdirecting the resources of an entire civilization at great cost in human life and misery because of the model based predictions of \lambda \approx 1 or even \lambda \approx 2 (in the fevered recesses of James Hansen’s mind, this seems to be the “probable” one as he confesses on national television that he expects SLR of 5 meters by 2100 — and this as the head of NASA GISS!)
I truly don’t think we disagree that doing climate science is useful and potentially valuable. Where we may part ways is in an assessment of the quality and utility of the attempt to extend weather models that fail in a couple of weeks run time into tools that are supposed to predict on a timescale of decades, the unbelievable statistical exaggeration of the results they have obtained so far and their as far as I can tell totally deliberate political amplification into a save-the-world religious jihad crusade against CO_2 panic that has served no useful purpose so far but to line the pockets of the very corporations that are supposed to be causing the problem (plus many, many side pockets along the way).

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
November 14, 2014 1:13 pm

Absolutely, Bob Tisdale. The general public didn’t get the message; moreover, climate models were not on the national radar in July 2007, neither was Global Warming: it was a peripheral issue only gathering steam then.

JD Ohio
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 14, 2014 7:24 am

If models can’t predict, then there are no policy reasons to limit CO2. The only possible justification for the drastic reductions in CO2 proposed by warmists is that we have substantial grounds to expect that temperatures will rise substantially if CO2 emissions are not reduced.

November 13, 2014 6:42 am

Bob . I have been saying for several years that unless we know where we are relative to the natural cycles we can’t begin to estimate the small effect of anthropogenic CO2.
The temperature projections of the IPCC forecasts have no foundation in empirical science being derived from inherently useless and specifically structurally flawed models. They provide no basis for the discussion of future climate trends As a foundation for Governmental climate and energy policy their forecasts are already seen to be grossly in error and are therefore worse than useless. A new forecasting paradigm needs to be adopted. See
This post provides forecasts of the probable 650 years of coming cooling based on the 60 and 1000 year natural periodicities ( Figs 5 and 15 in the link) clearly seen in the temperature data and using the 10 Be and neutron record as the most useful proxy for solar “activity” on recent millennial time scales . We are just past the peak of the latest 1000 year cycle The simplest working hypothesis is that we are about to repeat the general temperature trends from 1000 AD on.
The climate conversation needs to move away from the useless reductionist IPCC approach towards discussion of the timing and amplitude of the natural cycles and an understanding of the important regional differences in we might expect on a cooling world .The linked post concludes:
“As to the future, the object of forecasting is to provide practical guidance for policy makers. The rate, amplitude and timing of climate change varies substantially from region to region so that, after accounting for the long term quasi-millennial periodicity, I would then estimate the modulation of this trend by providing multi-decadal climate forecasts for specific regions. This would be accomplished with particular reference to the phase relationships of the major oceanic and atmospheric systems PDO AMO, NAO, ENSO etc, a la Aleo and Easterbrook linked to in section 2.4 above. The earth has been subdivided into tectonic plates. It would be useful to have, as a guide to adaptation to climate change, multi-decadal regional forecasts for the following suggested climate plates, which are in reality closely linked to global geography.
1 North America and Western Europe.
2 Russia
3 China
4 India and SE Asia
5 Australasia and Indonesia
6 South America
7 N Africa
8 Sub Saharan Africa
9 The Arctic
10 The Antarctic
11 The intra tropical Pacific Ocean. Detailed analysis of the energy exchanges and processes at the ocean /atmosphere interface in this area is especially vital because its energy budget provides the key to the earth’s thermostat.”

Reply to  Dr Norman Page
November 13, 2014 3:08 pm

And if only I thought the climate were simple enough I would agree with you, maybe. However, I just don’t think we have that accurate an idea of past climate, a particularly accurate idea of the comparatively recent climate, and I’m not that confident that we are yet set up to accurately measure the global state of our future climate. It’s not that simple.
Even my own fits (which I’m getting ready to present, the figures are about ready) are things I present only to illustrate that if you are going to try to model the climate using physics, a very simple model works remarkably well on HadCRUT4 (1850-present) thermometer-based remodelled data. There is almost nothing leftover that needs to be explained from a statistical or physical point of view, which leaves us with the usual problem. The model won’t work worth a damn outside of the range back to maybe 1800 at the earliest. The LIA, MWP, and so on, IF our beliefs about them are even CLOSE to accurate — not so much.

Reply to  rgbatduke
November 13, 2014 4:51 pm

I’m not depending on any physical model – just like the Stonehenge builders and the Babylonians just looking at observable cycles and projecting forwards. – very simple and practical
For the 1000 year periodicity just look at Figs 5,6,7,8,9, at
Fig 9 shows that we are about at the peak of the last 1000 year cycle. The recent drop in solar activity
Figs 13 ,14 is a good indication that we are past the peak. I’m a great believer in Ockhams razor- we should do the simple and obvious in the first instance. ie suppose that the general trends 1000-2000 will repeat from 2000 – 3000.
As to the processes I say

NOTE!! The connection between solar “activity” and climate is poorly understood and highly controversial. Solar “activity” encompasses changes in solar magnetic field strength, IMF, CRF, TSI, EUV, solar wind density and velocity, CMEs, proton events etc. The idea of using the neutron count and the 10Be record as the most useful proxy for changing solar activity and temperature forecasting is agnostic as to the physical mechanisms involved.
Having said that, however, it is reasonable to suggest that the three main solar activity related climate drivers are:
a) the changing GCR flux – via the changes in cloud cover and natural aerosols (optical depth)
b) the changing EUV radiation – top down effects via the Ozone layer
c) the changing TSI – especially on millennial and centennial scales.
The effect on climate of the combination of these solar drivers will vary non-linearly depending on the particular phases of the eccentricity, obliquity and precession orbital cycles at any particular time.
Of particular interest is whether the perihelion of the precession falls in the northern or southern summer at times of higher or lower obliquity.”
That is about as good as we can do for now.
At least we should operate on the basis of multiple working hypotheses – and the climate community would be well advised to estimate the impact of the suggested coming cooling so we might be fore armed when or if it occurs. Regards Norman

Reply to  rgbatduke
November 13, 2014 5:54 pm

Do you really have enough confidence in HadCRUT’s data quality to base your efforts on it?
Also, HadCRUT or not, as you point out, your model does not match historic natural variability, so you already know it is false, however wonderful the fit may be for a more limited time period. This is the same difficulty that persuaded Mann to “get rid of” the MWP. We have no quantitative theory of natural variation, therefore we can’t measure human contribution. It really is as simple as that.
From my professional interactions with physicists, I find that they often are brilliant. I also find that they have a predilection for dealing with obstinate difficulties by piling on assumptions of linearity, homogeneity, invariance, or negligibility until the cows come home (I recently had a biophysics paper to review that was a perfect example of both brilliance and reckless simplification, but this was by no means the only example; and BTW the editor, also a physicist, overruled my objections). I’m not surprised that the physics and math brigade in climate science have made such a dog’s breakfast of it. Don’t join them.

Reply to  rgbatduke
November 14, 2014 6:53 am

I’m not depending on any physical model – just like the Stonehenge builders and the Babylonians just looking at observable cycles and projecting forwards.

And that’s part of the problem. You are assuming that the future will be like the past, without understanding why the past is like the past. You are also assuming that our knowledge of the past is sufficiently accurate to be able to “fit” even the past timeseries with a purely abstract statistical model. All of these things are reasonable games that can help one understand data and imagine causal connections, but one doesn’t even know how to begin to attach a statistical probability to the extrapolation of any such fit. An absolutely trivial example is fitting a straight line to the average height of young men in the age range of 4 to 18 and using it to extrapolate their height at age 36. Oops. But examples like this exist in abundance.
The point being that you could be absolutely right, the data could be sufficiently accurate and might show some sort of climate cycle with a 1000 year period over the last five 1000 year intervals. Now tell me, what is the actual probability that the cycle will continue? Well, if one looks further into the past (in the relevant figure on your own page) the three or four peaks over the last several thousand years a) drift about a bit; b) tend to disappear without warning for five or six thousand years (or disappear into the noise) and then maybe reappear, phase shifted a bit, maybe not and then — oops, we’re no longer in the Holocene and everything changes. We have no related high resolution data for the Eemian, and have no idea if there was a similar phenomenon there (and we have some extremely high temperature peaks in the Eemian without the help of CO_2 that are yet another part of the global puzzle.
That’s the problem. You could be right, but without a plausible physical model to support the numerology, it isn’t even possible to estimate a reasonable probability that you are! Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are right, and we are peaking on a thousand year cycle and about to turn down. However, neither would I be surprised if you are wrong! Also, just because there is a natural cycle that is about to turn down (conditioned on the unknown prior probability that you are right) doesn’t suddenly stop CO_2 from being a greenhouse gas and doesn’t stop the Earth’s temperature from being altered by the sudden presence of a lot more of it. The absolutely simplest physical null hypothesis, one which throws your numerological models along with the all of the GCM side-models of feedback and changes in other stuff into the same dust-bin as “unknown/uncomputable, so let’s leave it out”, suggests that we will get $F = latex 5.35 \log(C/C_0)$ watts per square meter additional surface forcing as CO2 changes. Maybe this is right, maybe this is wrong, but it probably isn’t completely wrong, because simple observations confirm key parts of it. I don’t know that I believe in 1000 year metacycles in the climate revealed from ice core data that are there when they are there but not there all of the time, but I damn well believe in spectrographs of the atmosphere that show the same things all of the time.
Fitting this model to the thermometric temperature works. That’s really all there is to say. It works damn well, at least over the last 164 years of reasonably accurate thermometric data. It ignores lots of other physics. Thousand year cycles. 67 year cycles. Orbital stuff. Possible feedback from clouds etc. Changes in oceanic circulation. Space aliens turning their planetary heating ray on and off. I profess ignorance of all of these complex causes and hence omit them. But omitting them, the model has nearly completely explanatory power and is based on physics.
So while we might argue about the size of the warming produced by additional CO_2, and acknowledge that we cannot really compute it from first principles or extract it from the data more than conditionally with all the other stuff going on, it is really very difficult to argue that there is no CO_2 based warming occurring (although that will not stop a few intrepid souls from doing so, sigh:-). It might — or might not — be enough to completely cancel your hypothetical millennial cooling. Who knows, we may have just saved the planet in our own bumbling way by dumping extra CO2 into the air just in time to delay or prevent the next glacial era and give Earth a perfect climate for the next 100,000 years. Or not.
I will take issue with one last thing in your reply below:
NOTE!! The connection between solar “activity” and climate is poorly understood and highly controversial. Solar “activity” encompasses changes in solar magnetic field strength, IMF, CRF, TSI, EUV, solar wind density and velocity, CMEs, proton events etc. The idea of using the neutron count and the 10Be record as the most useful proxy for changing solar activity and temperature forecasting is agnostic as to the physical mechanisms involved.
Having said that, however, it is reasonable to suggest that the three main solar activity related climate drivers are:
a) the changing GCR flux – via the changes in cloud cover and natural aerosols (optical depth)
b) the changing EUV radiation – top down effects via the Ozone layer
c) the changing TSI – especially on millennial and centennial scales.
The effect on climate of the combination of these solar drivers will vary non-linearly depending on the particular phases of the eccentricity, obliquity and precession orbital cycles at any particular time.

And this is exactly the problem. You use a lot of words. You do have — on your website article — a nice collection of very persuasive graphs. What you don’t have is a physical argument that can be tested or (AFAIK) any sort of explanation of the many, many exceptions to your thousand year rule in even the ice core data, where it is also not clear that the ice core data is indicative of actual global temperatures. Antarctica and Greenland are not necessarily representative of the Sahara, the bulk of the Pacific, the Brazilian rainforest, south central Africa, or most of Asia. Maybe they are, dunno. But our knowledge of past climate is highly limited and highly localized where it exists at all.
Turn your hypothesis into a testable physical model. Heck, turn it into a concrete numerical model that can fit the Holocene as well as the last 2000 years at higher resolution as well as the last 500 years at decent resolution as well as the thermometric record over the last 164 years at least as well as CO_2 alone fits it. Then we’ll talk.

Reply to  rgbatduke
November 14, 2014 7:52 am

Thanks for your reply – I’m just leaving on a short trip and would like to comment further on Monday. Your remarks raise interesting epistemological questions re proof and uncertainty in science in general. The main problem I see in your approach as you yourself admit is it doesn’t work if you look back beyond 200 years. Whereas I believe models that don’t tune back at least 2000 years don’t tell us much of interest- hence my interest in the 1000 year cycle ( 960 – 1050) which turns up quite frequently in wavelet and spectral analysis from time series from millions of years ago and throughout the Holocene. Numerical calculation of the statistical probability of 2000 – 3000 being more or less a repeat of 1000 – 2000 is not really possible – and would be based on assumptions each of which would have its own unknown uncertainty. But this is the way complex systems work – they cant be handled by the idealized and limited bounds of the usual systems physicists play with. My working hypothesis just looks like a very reasonable proposition which we would do well to consider when looking at the possible range of climate change impacts.

Reply to  Dr Norman Page
November 17, 2014 11:06 am

Much of this present discussion was covered in great length in your guest post and accompanying comments on WUWT on 6th October this year which I have taken the trouble to review. I find myself in almost total agreement with everything you say there and in particular your view that the IPCC Model outputs provide no good scientific basis for climate and energy policy
On a comment there 10/8/2:20 you say
“. That is, the total warming from CO_2 including feedbacks but not including natural variation and noise could be as little as 0 C — flat out neutral, insensitive altogether — to 2 to 2.5 C — the warming “should” have been twice as great including all feedbacks but natural variation cancelled it. To put it another way, almost all of the late 20th century warming could have nothing to do with CO_2, or the warming we observe there could have been even greater if it weren’t for partial cancellation due to natural cooling.
But there is little evidence for either one of these — certainly no evidence so compelling that I should feel it necessary to make a choice between them. ”
Having spent some time looking at various NH temperature reconstructions covering the last 2000 year and the Holocene see eg the links and discussion in section 4 at
I would suggest that the evidence for the natural 1000 year quasi-periodicity is strong and certainly sufficient to suggest that the 20th century warming ,more likely than not, has nothing – or at best very little to do with CO2. I would go further and suggest that unless you want to, like Herod, avoid having an opinion on the earths climate future the time has indeed come when that choice should be made.
I’m also surprised after your anti-modelling diatribe ( with which I find myself in total agreement) that you seem to revert to your early training as a physicist ( which you describe in your guest post) and suggest that you will only pay attention to mathematical physical models as a basis for discussion. You say
“Turn your hypothesis into a testable physical model. Heck, turn it into a concrete numerical model that can fit the Holocene as well as the last 2000 years at higher resolution as well as the last 500 years at decent resolution as well as the thermometric record over the last 164 years at least as well as CO_2 alone fits it. Then we’ll talk.”
I find it further surprising since the model you suggest incorporates all the faults of the IPCC models you spent a long time so rightly denigrating . The main fault is obviously making linear projections over a short term data base with a few variables selected from a complex system when the periodicity of most interest for climate forecasting is the 1000 year one. I guess physicists by training long for and tend to revert to neat little classical equations such as the CS equation which is simply inappropriate for complex systems in which outputs for any variable depend on the state of the system as a whole. In other words other things are never equal – physical equations are always idealized and are useful in variably limited time space cubes- and. in the particular case of climate . the IPCC modelling method is analogous to measuring the temperature trend from say Feb – July and projecting it ahead linearly for several decades. Your CS model would essentially do the same thing.
Looking back at your October post you obviously have given considerable time to thinking about these epistemological questions and again I would heartily agree with almost all your views as presented there.
I am inclined therefore to take your request for a concrete numerical model as a momentary aberration
such as anyone may be subject to on no doubt rare occasions.

November 13, 2014 7:04 am

“NASA official says in NYTimes if you question climate models then you must also question Newtonian mechanics”
A headline from over at Junkscience blog.
•…none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate.
Point number 1 from above. So it seems KT is going to do away with Newtonian mechanics.

Richard of NZ
Reply to  mkelly
November 13, 2014 1:45 pm

News Flash
Nasa official says Einstein was wrong NYTimes

November 13, 2014 7:09 am

What we really need is to keep a close eye on the weather for the ‘glacier belt’ land during each Ice Age much of which is in North America. If these places begin to have colder and colder winters plus colder summers with later and later ice melt for the Great Lakes, we are in a proto-Ice Age environment and in grave danger.
NOTHING except the sun exploding or an asteroid hit or a Siberian Trap volcanic event, threatens humanity more than an Ice Age and these are cyclical and ongoing and our brief Interglacial this round of the cycle, is nearing its end, not at its beginning.
The entire ‘global warming’ silliness is highly dangerous, maybe the only thing that can save us is to have more greenhouse gases and such…!

November 13, 2014 7:09 am

Thanks, Bob. An excellent article.
The Trenberth quotes are important. Chaotic and non-linear are the key words.
We can learn from looking at the past reality, but we can not forecast skillfully for more than a few days.

tom s
November 13, 2014 7:23 am

I’ve got a little back and forth going on our local biweekly paper here in STP. I submitted an editorial piece a few weeks ago on debunking the “weather is getting more extreme” meme. John Abrams constantly submits pieces to this paper so I could not resist any longer. I got a lot of thank yous from several of my neighbors, even though I live in DFL CENTRAL. In any event. I am going to piece another one together with some of Trents quotes and keep this party going. We have a lot of believers around here.

November 13, 2014 8:15 am

But, according to Piers J. Sellers “..if you have no faith in the predictive capability of climate models, you should also discard your faith in weather forecasts…”

November 13, 2014 8:35 am

This post by Dr. Trenberth is politically and legally important. The reason for its importance proves illusive to people on both sides of the controversy over AGW..
In his post Trenberth distinguishes between “prediction” and “projection” thus avoiding applications of the equivocation fallacy that are popular among climatologists to this day. He says: “In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been.” He goes on to say that “The IPCC instead proffers “what if” projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios.”
At this point in his post Trenberth could have drawn the conclusion that the climate models provided no scientific basis for regulation of CO2 emissions for unlike predictions, projections were not falsifiable. However, he failed to do so. The EPA then went on to issue its “endangerment” finding regarding CO2 emissions, claiming scientific support for this finding that was not present. When I repeatedly pointed this out to the EPA they ignored me. In ignoring me the EPA violated its own procedure.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Terry Oldberg
November 13, 2014 12:12 pm

Models won’t generally prove that something will happen. But they can show that something can happen. Which is what endangerment means.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 12:20 pm

But they can show that something can happen. Which is what endangerment means.

But the EPA doesn’t tell that to Joe Q Public and school kids, does it?

Reg Nelson
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 12:55 pm

LOL,Well anything can potentially happen, but that’s not Science, is it?
I can potentially win the Power Ball Lottery, can’t I? Should I bet my future on this?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 1:13 pm

In order for a system to be controlled the associated model must provide information about what will happen given that a specified action is taken. In information theory this kind of information is called the “mutual information.” For the models underlying the “endangerment” finding the mutual information is nil. Thus the climate is uncontrollable on the basis of these models. However, the EPA has read its own endangerment finding as supporting attempts at controlling the climate such as Obama’s “war on coal.” Thus regardless of what is meant by “endangerment” the EPA’s finding of it has led to federal policies that are completely inappropriate.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 1:48 pm

Dr. Stokes,
I looked up your background, world-renowned expert in Computational Fluid Dynamics. Climate models Use CFD. Is this why you endlessly defend the indefensible, because these charlatans are using subroutines you developed?
I asked you earlier in the thread, what the models had shown us about climate. Still asking. Lots of us are…

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 3:25 pm

“I asked you earlier in the thread, what the models had shown us about climate.”
The models tell us about many aspects of the ocean and atmosphere. I’ve shown earlier this GFDL animation of a model of El Nino:
I think it’s useful because it shows various aspects of what a GCM can and can’t do. The El Nino it shows is not a prediction. They show months but no year. No El Nino exactly like that will happen. But from this there is a huge amount that can be learnt about El Nino’s. The model has the complete velocities, pressures, temperatures, to much finer resolution than we normally get with Earth observations.
But you might say, that’s an event, not a climate. But if you look elsewhere, you’ll see many other long term phenomena – Gulf stream, Agulhas current etc. These don’t arise from initialization. The model produces them in response to the inputs of topography, fluid properties and forcings.
I’ve shown ocean because we are familiar with its medium and long term patterns. But it works for the atmosphere too.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 13, 2014 3:34 pm

A wonderful question from Michael Moon for Nick Stokes. Here it is again.

I asked you earlier in the thread, what the models had shown us about climate.

Nick is always here defending the models because his livelihood depends on it.

The Key Role of Heavy Precipitation Events in Climate Model Disagreements of Future Annual Precipitation Changes in California
Climate model simulations disagree on whether future precipitation will increase or decrease over California, which has impeded efforts to anticipate and adapt to human-induced climate change……..Between these conflicting tendencies, 12 projections show drier annual conditions by the 2060s and 13 show wetter. These results are obtained from 16 global general circulation models downscaled with different combinations of dynamical methods…

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 14, 2014 6:54 am

The median weekly income in the USA, the world’s largest economy, is $800. You and your ilk contribute to the Left’s attack on energy, which has already resulted in higher costs for people who cannot afford it even here, leaving aside what you are doing to the Third World. For shame…

Reply to  Terry Oldberg
November 13, 2014 1:40 pm

Actual after he made this claim some one went through the IPCC report and pointed out they did indeed make predictions quite a few time , Trenberth like the rest of the Team mistakes the massive size of ego for proof of his claims.

Reply to  KNR
November 13, 2014 4:29 pm

In climatological arguments, the term “prediction” is generally polysemic (has many meanings). In his post, Dr. Trenberth does us the favor of disambiguating the polysemic form of “predict” into the two monosemic terms “predict” and “project.” Use of this disambiguation or its functional equivalent has the effect of avoiding applications of the equivocation fallacy. Often people and organizations use “predict” in its polysemic form thus installing the equivocation fallacy into climatological arguments. Among the organizations doing so has been the IPCC.
If the language of climatological arguments is disambiguated through the use of Trenberth’s disambiguation then the fact emerges that prior to AR5 none of the IPCC climate models made predictions. All of them made projections. Projections differ from predictions in being non-falsifiable and thus unscientific.

November 13, 2014 9:13 am

Six questions the media should ask themselves:
1. Why do you invoke the reputation of the scientific method whilst flagrantly disregarding in your reporting the annoying challenges to climate change orthodoxy that that method continues to throw up?
2. Why do you consider representing the inaccurate propaganda of vested interests to be a higher purpose than representing and defending the interests of those who buy your output through dispassionate, accurate and reflective reporting of the thorny subject of climate science?
3. What loyalty do readers show media titles once their belief in the reliability of that title passes a downward tipping point?
4. Do you calculate that you can get away with spinning climate deceit due to your readers agreeing sufficiently with other political lines you happen to take?
5. Do you believe that the codes of journalism have been irrevocably broken through the 20 year ‘reporting’ of ‘climate change/global warming etc’?
6. Do you think that a fundamental restructuring of the media industry is likely to happen as the full extent of media collusion in the great global warming ‘south sea bubble’ becomes known by the majority of readers?

November 13, 2014 9:21 am

November 13, 2014 at 8:21 am
Lindzen needs to take that one back.
The very problem of climate science today is the fact that it was hijacked by geophysicists and mathematicians who have little ability to assimilate observations into their thinking. Thus these self appointed experts rule and ruin the science.

This comment makes no sense. One of the chief problems with alarmist predictions is the bad statistics. vide the Hockey Stick.

Reply to  oldfossil
November 13, 2014 9:25 am

One of the chief problems with alarmist predictions is the bad statistics.

One last time, Well Said, Sir!
Indeed, it should be graven with a needle into the corners of the eye as a warner to all who would be warned. One day climate science will be held up to world-spanning mockery for its utter disregard of the laws of statistics and its common rules of best practice.
Oh, wait. It already is, at least by such luminaries as William Briggs.
I’m trying to do my bit as well.

Reply to  oldfossil
November 13, 2014 8:22 pm

Old fossil :
Vide the hockey stick.
Hockey stick?
The hockey stick was not a prediction.
And Michael Mann was a geophysicist.

Reply to  mpainter
November 13, 2014 8:29 pm

I’m unable to decrypt your post. Please clarify.

Reply to  oldfossil
November 14, 2014 4:23 am

There is difference bewteen bad as in wrong and bad as wrong but effective in promoting an idea , the later is not a ‘problem’ for climate ‘scientists ‘.

November 13, 2014 8:52 pm

I successfully decrypted your post with the help of old fossil’s post. Sorry for bothering you.

Brett Keane
November 13, 2014 9:11 pm

I remember reading, near the top of AR5 so to speak, their admission that models were useless. So what is the debate? Just ram it home. Brett Keane, from down south where the antarctic is expanding its influence right now.

November 15, 2014 1:15 pm

rgbatduke November 13, 2014 at 9:21 am
he clearly knows perfectly well that because they caved to the Mann-attack IPCC cover art they were utterly discredited as of years ago.

Which cover art are you referring to? The only one I’m aware of that fits your description is the one prepared by Jones for the WMO document. Jones certainly didn’t cave to Mann on that, quite the opposite.

Reply to  Phil.
November 16, 2014 6:34 am

Sorry, not “cover art” — prominently displayed in TAR, as figure 2.3, and subsequently amplified to appear everywhere.

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