Questing Into The New Year

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

It’s a cold clear night here along the north Pacific coast where I live, with a waxing moon surveying the scene. As befits New Years Day, I’ve been thinking about the past and the future … and I always do my best thinking down by the ocean. I live near the coast, and on a clear day, beyond the nearby forest and the far hills you can see a tiny bit of the Pacific from our house.

coastwalk 1

So this morning the gorgeous ex-fiancee and I took a walk along the coast. We’ve finally gotten some rain, and the land between our place and the coast has performed its annual green miracle …

coastwalk 2We drove up the coast to Goat Rock. Whenever I get to the coast, I am always surprised by the stunning immensity of the land and sea scape. The cliffs and the rocks and waves seem to go on forever. It gives a person an honest and very valuable sense of insignificance …

coastwalk 3As we walked, I got to considering where I stand in this great game of climate science. In addition to it being a New Year, a few posts ago I hit a milestone of another kind—I’ve now had over five hundred posts published here on WUWT. I certainly had no expectation when I began writing for the web that it would end up so all-consuming.

And reflecting on that accomplishment, I realized that I owe some thanks to the people who made it possible. First, to Anthony Watts. He has taken immense amounts of heat based on the mistaken idea that he approves of my writings in advance. He has been incredibly generous in giving me carte blanche to publish anything within reason, including stories from my past and present, without the slightest editorial interference. And despite the fact that we only communicate occasionally, he has become a very good friend. I also need to mention the incredible amount of time that Anthony has put in and continues to put in on the website. It doesn’t run itself, and it takes its toll, so I invite everyone to cut him some slack, his email box is always too full.

Next on the list are the WUWT moderators, who keep everyone (including myself from time to time) in line. Like Anthony, they make no money, they are all volunteers.

While I pondered my debts, we continued walking down the coast, where we had the pleasure of coming across some sea lions enjoying the New Year’s Day sunshine, hauled out on a rock not far offshore. They are much bigger and more dangerous than they look from a distance, with very large and very sharp teeth. Having been up close and personal with a couple of them in the past, I can also testify that they have halitosis that would blister paint, but we were too far away to catch even a hint of that. It was great seeing them, I like being where the wild things are …

coastwalk 4Having thanked the sea lions, I’d like to thank some other folks. First on the list are all of the folks who pointed out my errors to me. I prefer those folks who do so humanely and politely, but I’ll take correction wherever and however I can find it—it prevents me from spending weeks, months, or years going down the wrong path.

Another group of folks who get my thanks are people like Leif Svalgaard and Robert Brown and others, people who pick up an idea and take it further, add to it, provide links to more information, and the like. There are many more than those two who do not enter the conversation to drag it down, but to move it forwards. You know who you are, my sincere thanks to you for the time and effort that you put into your comments.

Then there are the other guest authors, who make WUWT so much more than just another climate news aggregation site. They put large amounts of time and effort into their posts, and even when I disagree with them I respect their contributions.

Next, I want to thank those folks who disagreed with me not because they dislike me, but because in their honest scientific opinion I was wrong. Whether or not I was wrong, and whether or not I disagree with them, I appreciate folks like Steven Mosher and Joel Shore taking the time and effort to put their views forwards and defend their ideas. Science is an adversarial system, it depends on people trying to find fault with other people’s claims, and so their part is essential.

The next group of folks who get my thanks are the people who spend time abusing me all over the web, like Poptech, and the lady in the Batcave over at HotWhopper, and the like. Quite often when I publish something, within a day or two my thoughts are being discussed (and often roundly abused) around the climate blogosphere. This gives my ideas a reach that they would never have otherwise, and ensures that my thoughts are read by people who wouldn’t come to WUWT otherwise. It also drives traffic to this site, as people want to find out why the heck those folk have their knickers in such a twist over what I’ve written.

We walked on … the coast where I live is primordial, elemental. It was a pleasure to be out in the sunshine on such a clear and lovely day. How can one not be awed and thankful when walking in such a place?

coastwalk 5The final group of folks that I want to thank are the “lurkers” who read and read and read but never comment. The lurkers are the group that I actually write for. When I’m in a passionate dispute with someone, I may know that my chances of changing my adversary’s mind is miniscule … but I’m writing for the lurkers, and they may not have made up their minds. So I advance my case even in the face of obstinate refusal.

And we drifted on south down the coast, that good lady and I, and she gets my profound thanks as well. She puts up with my climate obsession even though she doesn’t understand what drives me, I can’t imagine doing this without her. As she and I walked, I got to thinking about what I want to do over the next five hundred posts or so. Of course I want to continue to learn more and more, and I naturally want to keep on pointing out and disassembling the bad science that pours in an endless stream from what should be reputable scientific journals. But mostly what I’ve been thinking about is just what we don’t know about the climate. In many ways, what we don’t know is much more important than what we do know.

Let me start the investigation of what we don’t know by giving a description of the system that we are studying. The climate is a driven, damped, resonant, planet-scale heat engine. It has at least six major subsystems—the hydrosphere, which encompasses all the liquid stuff; the atmosphere, all the gases and vapors and particles and chemicals floating around us; the cryosphere, all the frozen stuff; the lithosphere, all the solid stuff; the biosphere, all the living stuff; and the electrosphere, all of the electromagnetic interactions.

None of these subsystems are particularly well understood from a climate perspective. In addition, they each have internal cycles, resonances, and feedbacks. To add to the complexity, the systems all interact in a host of ways, exchanging matter and energy at all scales. And even the range of spatial and temporal scales is daunting, from molecular to planet-wide and from pico-seconds to millennia.

This complexity means that for someone to consider themselves a “climate expert” they would have to be an expert in all of the following fields from A to Z and more—atmospheric physics; bacteriology; biochemistry; biogeochemistry; biostatistics; botany; chaos theory; climatology; computer science; constructal science; crop science; cryology; dendrochronology; electrometeorology; environmental bacteriology; environmental chemistry; evolutionary biology; geography; geology; geophysics; glaciology and hydrometeorology.; helioseismology; high-energy physics; history of the climate; hydroclimatology; limnology; marine biology; marine chemistry; mathematical modelling; meteorology; microbiology; oceanography; paleoclimatology; parasitology; physical chemistry; plant biology; plate tectonics; population dynamics; soil science; solar astronomy; solar physics; statistics; stratospheric and tropospheric chemistry; volcanology; and zoology. (With thanks to the folks at the Global Warming Policy Foundation for portions of that list.)

As a result, there’s no way any of us could possibly know what most of climate is about, there are no climate experts. But even with all of us together, there are still huge gaps in our knowledge.

With that as a prologue, let me give at least a partial list of what we don’t know about the climate. Now, bear in mind that I’m not saying we don’t have theories about any number of these questions. Everyone has theories about some or all of these unanswered puzzles, including myself. But there is no agreement, no so-called “consensus”, about the following matters:


Why the earth has been generally cooling since we came out of the last ice age.

Why the earth generally cooled from earlier in the millennium to the “Little Ice Age” in the 1600-1700s

Why the earth generally warmed from the “Little Ice Age” in the 1600-1700s to the present.

Why the warming of 1910-1940 was as large and as fast as the warming of 1975-1998.

Why the warming that started in 1975 plateaued in the last couple decades.

What the current generation of climate models are missing that made them all wrong about the current plateau.

Why there has been no increase in extreme weather events despite a couple of centuries of warming.

Why the albedo of the northern hemisphere is the same as the albedo of the southern hemisphere, year after year, despite radically different amounts of ocean and land in the two hemispheres.

Why there has been no acceleration of sea level rise despite numerous predictions that it would occur.


Whether the earth will warm over the next decade.

Whether the earth will warm over the next century.

What the climate of 2050 or 2100 will be like. Wetter? More windy? More droughts? Calmer? More hurricanes? Fewer tornadoes? We don’t have a clue.

Whether a couple of degrees of warming would be a net bonus, a net loss, or a catastrophic Thermageddon.

Whether predicting future climate is a “boundary problem”.

If predicting future climate is a boundary problem, what the boundaries might be and what their future values might be.

Whether the evolution of the climate is predictable even in theory over anything but the short term.


Why the system is so stable in the very short term (decadal), e.g. the net top-of-atmosphere (TOA) imbalance hasn’t varied by much more than half a watt per square metre over the last 14 years of the CERES records.

Why the system is so stable in the short term (centuries), e.g. a variation in surface temperature of only ± 0.1% over the 20th century.

Why the system is so stable in the longer term (millennia), e.g. a variation in surface temperature of only ± 0.5% over the Holocene.

Why the system is so stable in the even longer term (a million years), e.g. a variation in surface temperature over the period of the ice ages of only ± 1% over the last million years.

Why the system is so stable in the longest term (a half billion years), e.g. the sun has increased in strength by ~5% over that period, an increase of about 16 W/m2. According to the accepted theory, such an increase in forcing should have led to a surface temperature increase of 13°C over that period … why didn’t that increase happen.

Why we are no closer to getting a value for the so-called “climate sensitivity” than we were thirty years ago. After uncountable hours of human labor, after huge increases in the size and complexity of our models, after unprecedented increases in computer power, after millions and millions of dollars spent on the problem, the error bounds on the answer have not narrowed at all … why not?

Anyhow, my plan for a reasonable number of the next five hundred posts is to put forward and explain what I think are the answers to the important questions listed above. Not that the other questions are unimportant, but for me those questions go to the heart of the problem with climate science. I think that the underlying paradigm of climate science, which is that the changes in surface temperature are a linear function of the changes in forcing, is simply not true. I think that the whole concept of “climate sensitivity” does NOT describe how the climate works.

So those are my thoughts for this New Years Day—to concentrate on the mysteries, to look at the questions whose answers are still over the horizon, hidden somewhere beyond that mysterious line in the distance that implores us to sail off and investigate the unknown …

PreviewScreenSnapz003My best to everyone, my thanks to anyone else I should have thanked and forgot about, and may all of your New Years be filled with sunlight far-reaching on the sea, with wild animals visiting your dreams, with your eyes seeking far beyond your own personal horizons, and with the goals of your lives supported and nourished by the rocky bones of the earth itself …


PS-New Years resolutions? … well, mine is to maintain my sense of awe at the marvelous climate system that so entrances and ensorcels us all … and to be more Canadian in my responses to people who specialize in ad homina. Wish me the best, it’s an uphill swim.

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Timo Kuusela
January 2, 2015 12:04 am

This post is like a very beautiful cake.But unlike most beautiful cakes, when you start eating it, it is even more delicious than the first look.By the time you get to the core, there is something so wonderful and so tasty that you wonder why all cakes are not made the same way; the final spoonfulls just blow your mind..
Timo Kuusela Finland

John Peter
January 2, 2015 12:29 am

I am one of Willis Eschenbach’s “lurkers”. I read all his posts and find them revealing. I like his agenda for the next 500 posts and look forward to reading them. I would have appreciated if the above had included a suggestion to Mosher to make his contributions as clear as those made by Willis Eschenbach himself. The cryptic nature of most of Mosher’s contributions simply confuse me.

Reply to  John Peter
January 2, 2015 3:11 am

I’m another “lurker”,
Thanks to Willis (& all other contributors), but I’d really like to thank the likes of Gore, Hanson, Mann etc, for with out them I would never have got interested in ‘climate’ & the politics behind the climate scam.
Over the last 5 yrs it’s been a very steep learning curve (a hockey stick !!!), but what a fantastic voyage of discovery, better than any university course
But we mustn’t keep our knowledge to ourselves…spread it far & wide where ever we can, ..physics, science & nature is proving the alarmists & their predictions wrong. Their prophet of doom Al Gore has abandoned them & retired to his multi-million $$ home by the sea (that he predicted would rise to engulf us all ) The alarmists are now like sheep that have gone astray & can only sit & practice the masturbatory arts !!!
Happy new year

Reply to  John Peter
January 3, 2015 7:36 pm

And, as another ‘Willis Lurker’, I would very much like to say that I can’t wait to read his next 500 posts. However, I have now reached an age at which ‘can’t wait’ has taken on a whole new meaning. So I’ll just say that I eagerly anticipate your next post – and all the others that I’ll be allowed to read. Your words convey knowledge, beauty and pleasure. I am grateful and thank you. Happy New Year to all!

Mario Lento iPhone
January 2, 2015 12:41 am

Willis; try as I may, I could not find a single skeptical thing to write in response to your well written post. Mario AKA fanboy.

Scottish Sceptic
January 2, 2015 12:52 am

A great post. I wasn’t aware that the albedo of the northern and southern hemisphere remained the same.
The only thing I might add is “we don’t know why hurricane levels have decreased”. Indeed I once said “the only apparent affects are melting Himalayan glaciers, polar ice & decreasing hurricanes (just to be inclusive). Then Himalayan glaciers refroze, then polar ice came back to normal, and now one of the very few “adverse” indicators are the reduction in hurricanes.

Curious George
Reply to  Scottish Sceptic
January 2, 2015 1:27 pm

Nor was I. But I am unaware of a reliable way to measure albedo – moonlight, maybe – or a moonshine, if you prefer? Anyway, the angular distribution of the energy radiated by our planet is not yet known to my satisfaction. How many satellites would it take to measure it? Maybe only one, Terra or Aqua, but Ceres has its problems.
Willis, all the best for 2015 and beyond, and thank you for your hard work (when you are not resting as a lazy sailor, fisherman, tour guide,…)

Don Easterbrook
January 2, 2015 1:00 am

And let us thank YOU for shedding so much light in so many dark places and for using your amazing mathematical ability to analyze and share with us data that we otherwise would never see.

Steve (Paris)
Reply to  Don Easterbrook
January 2, 2015 6:26 am

I second that

January 2, 2015 1:03 am

As always, I am inspired by your thoughts you post here. I am a better man for it.
As always, I’ll be ‘lurking’.

Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)
January 2, 2015 1:07 am

‘Why we are no closer to getting a value for the so-called “climate sensitivity” than we were thirty years ago.’
And why is it that the 40-Plus papers already out there, all come up with a fairly close range of numbers, all of which are BELOW what the IPCC and others want us to believe?
We’re closer to that number than the alarmists want the public to know, IMO.

Reply to  Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)
January 2, 2015 9:31 am

The fact that the uncertainty in “climate sensitivity” hasn’t reduced in the last thirty years actually does tell us something that we do know.
Our understanding of “climate sensitivity”, and thus the cAGW hypothesis, isn’t limited by computing power.
We know this as computing power has advanced greatly over the last 30 years. But our understanding of the climate hasn’t.
Which is interesting when you think about it.

Reply to  MCourtney
January 4, 2015 9:37 am

I’d just like to note that computing power is not the only variable in modeling. The model itself is the issue. The ways by which models are run on computers these days is via massive parallelization, and there are many, many problems which cannot be split up to run in parallel.
One question I’ve always had is whether the ongoing lack of success in model-based climate science is possibly because the field has gone down the parallel path when the problem is fundamentally not parallelizable. Or in other words, the consensus is a parallel hammer, and sees all climate problems as nails.

Reply to  Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)
January 2, 2015 12:35 pm

Could you provide us laymen a literature review on climate sensitivity? What are the values suggested by different papers and how the numbers have been evolving?
Thank you!

Joe Public
January 2, 2015 1:29 am

Just “thanks” Willis, for providing so much science & maths enlightenment.

Harry Passfield
January 2, 2015 1:31 am

Willis: Happy New Year!
“Six (at least) major subsystems” Is gravity in there somewhere?

John Andrews
Reply to  Harry Passfield
January 3, 2015 9:57 pm

No, but the mantle and the earth’s core are. Just for the record, I am a lurker, too and read every post every day. Especially those by Willis.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 3, 2015 10:15 pm

the mantle and the earth’s core are part of the lithosphere
“A lithosphere (Ancient Greek: λίθος [lithos] for “rocky”, and σφαῖρα [sphaira] for “sphere”) is the rigid outermost shell of a rocky planet”

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 3, 2015 11:42 pm
Bair Polaire
January 2, 2015 2:54 am

Lurking, enjoying, thinking, talking, getting other people to reconsidering…
Many thanks to you!

January 2, 2015 3:11 am

Mostly, I lurk, occasionally I comment, seldom do I have time to come back and actually engage in discussion – but I always appreciate your posts, Willis, even though you set me back a lot on issues of solar cycles! I have a number of qualifications from your list – as I am a generalist (ecological sciences), but statistics is not a strong point. Thus, I rely upon the sense of integrity I get from your posts and now treat all claims of correlation to solar cycles as suspect. Sometime, I would like to send some recent references: for example, Miocene sediment data from an ancient central European lake, that thinks it has found a 500 year cycle, among others – in both sediments and solar proxies.
The reasons for this interest are what I would label ‘intuitive’ in the sense that as an ecologist I am used to complex and hardly predictable systems – where many specialists lose themselves in minute detail, but where the generalist gets a ‘feel’ for the system. Over my 40 years of engagement with policy issues – mostly related to pollutants, I have not so far been wrong in areas where my intuition has led. Of course, detailed analytical work is necessary once the nose has pointed the brain. And my intuition tells me that elements of solar activity that we currently have a very poor understanding of, will eventually be seen to account for the variabilities you list – though the picture is complicated by resonances and oscillations internal to the system. Thus, a solar trigger may occur when the internal system is in a relatively immune state – or at another time when it is primed and sensitive.
And I do stay open, thanks largely to your efforts, to the possibility of being wrong – and finding that it is mostly all indeed a complex internal set of oscillations, with solar variability of minor significance.
I wish you happy days on the North Pacific coast – I have only been to northern California once, along the coast road from Reyes Point up to – if I recall, Russian River, to walk with my good friend, the marine biologist Jackson Davis. We smoked a pipe in the hollow of a burnt-out giant redwood and sat for hours in wonder at the cathedral forests. Returning along that road to San Francisco I saw a lynx hunting out open in the meadows by the sea!
Permit me some dew in the eyes – but I do love America, both the people and the country, and especially the integrity of its scientists (well, the ones I have met!)

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Peter Taylor
January 2, 2015 8:23 am

“…though the picture is complicated by resonances and oscillations internal to the system.”
Yet if ENSO and the AMO are in fact negative feedbacks to solar variability, assuming them to be internal would be a circular reasoning that would never solve the nature of climate change.

January 2, 2015 3:17 am

To your list of required fields I would add Telepathy – sometimes it is hard to work out what folk like M. Mann are really thinking; or even if they are thinking at all.
Best to all your family, Willis, and lang may yer lum reek.

January 2, 2015 3:24 am

One question on my list of many:
Until late 1930’s the earth was calm docile ‘creature’
then the earth lost its temper in 1940, why ?
it took about 30 years for it to return to the ‘normal’ itself.
(alter “1940” in the link above in 5 year steps from 1900-2005)

January 2, 2015 4:09 am

Thanks, w, for yet another great post. I could nitpick (“ice age” for “glacial”) but I would have to check it carefully first which would take too long. You ask what’s missing from the models : well you have supplied a long list of them in your post, yet you have hardly scratched the surface. And that’s what makes the certainty displayed by AGW activists so disgraceful.
Here’s to a great 2015 for AW, w, and everyone else here.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 2, 2015 11:13 pm

I comment on a couple of Alarmist/Skeptic Facebook groups and you are SO right, as is Willis, about the corroding effect of the Alarmists’ consistent and shrill certainty – they are so very certain about so many mysteries that engaging them in any reasonable discussion is pretty much a lost cause…
Nevertheless, I am weak – I cannot help but point out the gaping holes in their crazy quilt of guesswork, their favorite talisman to ward off the evil of contrary thought…

Ivor Ward
January 2, 2015 4:14 am

With reference to the lists of what we don’t know from the past and cannot possibly know about the future I am reminded of the good advice from my better half after I have spent an hour or so stomping around and growling because I cannot find something important to me. ” If you have spent all that time and can’t find it then you are looking in the wrong place.” Maybe the catastrophists need to look elsewhere for their demons.

A C Osborn
January 2, 2015 4:15 am

Willis, a really good post and I wish you a happy new year and success in your new endevours to “understand”.
Should your list of System also include “Space”?
ie Solar, Cosmic, Space Dust etc

Rick Morcom
January 2, 2015 4:27 am

Thanks from me too, Willis. I am primarily a lurker – rarely a commenter, but I read every one of your posts with great pleasure. What I appreciate so much about you and your posts is your honesty, and your willingness to consider viewpoints from anywhere and everywhere without seeming to have any inner bias or agenda. I love the way you dissect figures and data in a way that leaves me in awe – and come up with a sensible common-sense result at the end. I’m looking forward to the next 500 posts. Best wishes to you and to your very lucky ex-fiance.

January 2, 2015 4:41 am

5% over that period…such an increase in forcing should have led to a surface temperature increase of 13°C over that period
More like 3.6°C…

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 2, 2015 10:02 am

Solar flux S. Outgoing flux = incoming flux. Temperature T.
S = a T^4. dS/S = 4 dT/T. dT/T = dS/S/4. dS/S = 0.05. dT/T = 0.0125. T = 288K. dT = 3.6K or °C if you will.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 2, 2015 10:25 am

Use your forcing model on the fact that solar luminosity 3.5 billion years was 30% lower than today…

January 2, 2015 4:46 am
January 2, 2015 5:27 am

Willis, you wonder why we are not closer to determiming a climate sensitivity, and I assume that you mean a verified CS.
Well, Climate sensitivity is a hypothetical concept that is impossible to observe or otherwise verify. CS derivations all involve erroneous assumptions and the derived figures are all over the wall, ranging from 0.5 K per CO2 doubling to over 8K per doubling, these figures all derived according to the lights of those who did the figuring, and none of them verified or verifiable.
In other words, Willis, climate sensitivity, the very heart and soul of AGW, is invention.
Everything else flows from that invention.

Reply to  mpainter
January 2, 2015 9:39 am

Yes, I have wondered about all the attention to a clearly hypothetical construct, ‘climate sensitivity’ (to CO2). Of course an ‘invention’ can be of intense interest and worth searching for, like an elusive elementary particle, because it plays a role in a body of theory. And the natural tendency of science is to attempt to reduce natural processes to essentials, in order to talk about them at all. But in dealing with such complex phenomena as ‘climate’, one has to wonder if the great danger is oversimplification.
There is not one climate over the whole planet; there are many ‘climates’, which themselves are abstractions from more immediate and local phenomena. Does it even make sense to talk about a global ‘temperature’? I have the sense that, despite all the enormously complex analyses of statistical data one reads about here, that we are no further past simplistic ‘inventions’ than the medieval students of medicine were in postulating the ‘humors’ as causes of illness. If, as mpainter says, “Climate sensitivity is a hypothetical concept that is impossible to observe or otherwise verify,” then could all these arguments over the significance of measurements be little more than frothing about how many elements within and without the body could determine the balance of one’s humors? The analyses could lead nowhere until new ideas about the human body could be developed from new observations.
Maybe it’s time to forget about the ‘sensitivity’ of the models and get back to observations.
/Mr Lynn

Curious George
Reply to  mpainter
January 2, 2015 1:48 pm

This shows you how deeply the official climate “science” depends on models: it is a modeler’s quantity, not a physicist’s quantity; impossible to measure, but very central. Phooey.

January 2, 2015 5:55 am

Happy New Year to all. I am looking forward to reading the next 500 posts. I know I will learn something each and every time.

Matt Collins
January 2, 2015 6:54 am

Happy New Year, Willis! And to Anthony, too! Thanks for your ideas backed by the work.
– From a lurking engineer.

Hans Henrik Hansen
Reply to  Matt Collins
January 2, 2015 9:46 am

I fully second that! 🙂
– From a (semi)lurking Dane

Fred Souder
January 2, 2015 6:58 am

This item: “Why there has been no increase in extreme weather events…”
I believe this is well understood. Basic meteorology. The weather is driven by temperature contrasts between the poles and the equator. Warming = smaller temperature difference, = less wind and energy gradients. This = less severe weather.

Richard Bell
January 2, 2015 7:02 am

Thank you AGAIN ……. for another thought provoking essay …… I would like to agree with your words :
” Whenever I get to the coast, I am always surprised by the stunning immensity of the land and sea scape.”
I am very lucky to be able to visit some remote parts of the BAJA Pacific coastline and the feeling of how small we are compared to such bodies of water as the Pacific is extraordinary. This is enhanced by the outstanding night sky which is very humbling in it’s enormity. At this part of the Baja coast we are out on a point and one can look north and south for approximately 100 miles and see complete darkness, not a single electric light …….. A real treat !!!
Happy New Year to you and yours

Rick K
January 2, 2015 7:28 am

Willis, I am more of a lurker than anything else. But I usually comment with a note of thanks for your wonderful posts.
You don’t “talk down” to your readers, yet you do challenge any and all readers with your point of view and conclusions, always accompanied by the admonition to all to discover and politely discuss any issues with your data, your methodology or conclusions. Would that modern day “science” followed your lead!
I learn from your posts, Willis. You explain your data, your thinking and how your reached your conclusions — if there are any to be drawn.
I love the fact that you enjoy looking everywhere for inspiration! I never know what topic you’ll cover in any post, Willis, but I know I will learn something.
So, thank you, Willis (and the lovely ex-fiancée) for your posts and your refulgent view of life and existence!
(Yeah, I get a lot of new vocabulary words from you as well!).
Your posts don’t just make me smarter — they make me better. That’s saying a lot.
My best to you and yours…

Steve Keohane
January 2, 2015 7:43 am

Willis, I appreciate your articles and their thoughtful progressions. The best part of all this examination of nature’s processes are those times of awe and wonderment at the beauty, whether the amazing stability of a system in time or the grazing of light across some scene. May the view be with you.

January 2, 2015 8:01 am

What I appreciate most about your posts, Willis, are the clarity, humanity, and serenity. No frothing or bafflegab from you! And we always get a sense of the person making the observations.

January 2, 2015 8:16 am

Nicely done Willis, and Congrat’s.
I have often pondered the potential roles of compensating controls in a climate system. Not clouds or sunshine, but microbes or plankton as an example.
Upon assisting someone on a paper about the lifecycle of a Cicada (17 years and almost completely out of sight) I wondered about how many other yet unobserved natural cycles are out there right in front of us that we can’t see or understand. Heck, I was astounded to find out that some termite queens could be older than me, as a side note.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if the recent OCO observations were attributable to mass bacterial belching during the onset of the Southern Hemisphere Summer?
My thanks to all that read this blog site, as you are the reason it is here. A special thanks to Anthony, the mods, and the authors who keep it going. The world is a better place because of you!
A happy and healthy 2015 to all!
Regards, Ed

Reply to  ossqss
January 2, 2015 8:49 am

You have asked many intelligent questions in your column.
However there are no answers.
Everyone knows that really intelligent people can answer EVERY question asked of them.
And how is it possible that you do not know the future climate?
I will tell you why.
You don’t have a PhD. And you don’t have a really big computer.
Anyone with a PhD and a really big computer can forecast the future climate.
Actually, if you had those two things, you wouldn’t even have to bother with a climate forecast every year, just change a few words from the last year’s forecast, and re-issue it.
Of course the forecast should say an environmental disaster is coming and you need a government grant to “refine” your predictions (pretty much what every clever environmentalist has said since the 1960s for DDT, acid rain, hole in the ozone layer, etc).
Then you get free money from the goobermint and you can play computer games for another year.
The computer games on a really big computer, I have heard, are much better than the games everyone else plays on ordinary computers.
If you have a PhD, of course, then you deserve to have a really big computer, and better computer games.
But seriously, for many people who present climate-related anomaly charts, especially if they claim the charts prove something … well … I think they are viewing random variations of difficult to measure variables and jumping to conclusions.
Time spent studying random climate variations is time wasted.
A lot of time and money is wasted on random climate variations.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Richard Greene
January 2, 2015 11:51 am

Richard Greene,
The “You” at your beginning seems not to refer to ossqss @ 8:16 but is located so it appears that way. The post by Willis does not have “climate-related anomaly charts” and Willis does have “a really big computer” named Abacus. Okay, that last is a rumor. Actually, I made it up.

January 2, 2015 8:36 am

Thank you for your thoughts and well wishes.
May you and your ex-fiancé walk on in peace, harmony, wonder and long life!

Danny Thomas
January 2, 2015 9:01 am

Thank you for your work, and mostly for the sharing. When one such as you puts so much effort out, one such as I am motivated to put in more effort to think about that which you offer..
Nice yard, by the way! HNY.

January 2, 2015 9:15 am

[Having been up close and personal with a couple of them in the past, I can also testify that they have halitosis that would blister paint,, ] Oh my that is putting it mildly. I was hoop netting lobster in San Diego bay last year near a bait dock where the sea lions LOVE to hang out and haul out. You can literally be just a few feet from these very large critters. I don’t know if this one sea lion defecated or passed gas or was just supremely odorous but the smell was just horrendous like gag reaction. We had to get up wind in a hurry. Cheers to you Willis from a lurker.

Rich Lambert
January 2, 2015 10:32 am

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and some of your life experiences. I’m looking forward to reading your book. Best wishes in the New Year.

John F. Hultquist
January 2, 2015 11:37 am

Thanks Willis.
You wrote “Goat Rock” but I almost never get to CA and only infrequently to the coast of Washington State. WA does have some interesting rock formations along the coast and we have a Goats Rock Wilderness in the Cascades. I spent a week there a few years ago working on trails, so that’s what I thought of. Mountains work for “questing” and sometimes one also sees goats.
Cheers, John

January 2, 2015 1:15 pm

“… the problem with climate science. I think that the underlying paradigm of climate science, which is that the changes in surface temperature are a linear function of the changes in forcing, is simply not true. I think that the whole concept of ‘climate sensitivity’ does NOT describe how the climate works.”
Some kind of natural Global thermostat as you have suggested. Yes, Global Warming over the past century or so is Real, and some moderate percentage is undoubtedly due to human activities (as the “97%” attest) but it is Not a Big Deal. No one really knows how much warming has occurred because data uncertainty and local variations are a significant percentage of the actual warming. Climate Sensitivity (to CO2), for what it is worth as a clumsy measure, is closer to 1 K, or perhaps a fraction of that, than it is to the current IPCC range of 1.5 to 4.5 K.
WUWT in general, and you Willis in particular, have made the Skeptic case clear to all who are interested in whatever approximation we humans may make of the “Truth”. The catastrophic predictions of the Warmists and hysteria of the Alarmists have been soundly undermined, yet their blather continues, and so must our rational Skeptic response.
Happy New Year and I look forward to the pleasure of reading your next 500 WUWT topic postings.

Gary Pearse
January 2, 2015 1:44 pm

Thank you for the colossal education in climate science through your detailed, colorful, thought-provoking posts that, in addition, attracts the best and smartest scientists and mathematicians to criticize and embellish your ideas and put my education in overdrive.
I believe you have identified the nodes of the science in the climate’s incredible stability on all scales. Whatever else there is out there, your earth’s temperature governor is the crux of the matter. Hey, I even learned today from you that both polar regions have the same albedo. I learned from you the maximum SST in the Tropical Convergence Zone is ~31C!! These constants are the guideposts to the whole science. You have a climate science textbook nearly wrapped up in your first five hundred posts and you threw in a sterling autobiography along with it (a guy who even was part of the hostage taking of a POTUS to be!!!).
I do have one beef, though. It is that you and Anthony gave me an addiction to WUWT, one I’m not likely to be able to kick knowing you have another 500 posts to present. Oh, and I’m a Canadian and I too have been trying to be more Canadian in my responses but a rant escapes me too often when something too egregious comes out of mainstream climate science or from other sources.
All the best in the New Year to you and your beautiful ex-fiance whom I’ve come to know as a great person through words on pages.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
January 3, 2015 4:30 am

Gary, you say . . . .
“I do have one beef, though. It is that you and Anthony gave me an addiction to WUWT . . . .”
Familiar Addiction Symptoms:
1. WUWT is your home page on your PC, Laptop and iPad.
2. Waking up at ‘stupid o’clock’ to check WUWT for updates. Then returning to bed.
3. Other jobs that need to be done around the house become unimportant – including filing your tax return on time.
4. Immersed in a particular AGW concept, you find yourself totally obsessed with researching factual references to promote the sceptic argument. This might take days, if not months.
5. You don’t get paid for this addiction – you do it for love.
6. You feel a sense of belonging – that other regular commenters are all in the same ‘club’ as you.
7. You are astonished how, during a busy period like Christmas and New Year, folk like Willis, Bob Tisdale, Tim Ball and Paul Homewood can still be so devoted to the cause.
That’s most of us then Gary.

Reply to  GeeJam
January 3, 2015 9:52 pm

+10 LOL
I know what you mean. It’s “stupid thirty o’clock” at my house now but I’ll go back to bed soon!

January 2, 2015 1:46 pm

I’d like to thank you Willis, among all others who keep this excellent website running and functioning. Even the trolls, they sometimes produce the most fascinating commentary 🙂
I especially like your humor in your posts refreshing and keeps a smile on my face, despite of the clueless faces, when people around me parrot what they read in the newspapers, and look at me strangely when I ask them to think about what they read.
I have written a few comments in my local newspapers, thanks to You and WUWT, and hopefully i`ll be able to refer to You and WUWT for at least 500 more posts.
Greetings and a great new year for you and your significant, from a lurker in Finland. Roy

Curious George
January 2, 2015 1:55 pm

I have to wonder about you. My day has 24 hours but clearly your day is much longer. Do you ever sleep? Thank you so much for everything.

Joe Civis
January 2, 2015 2:24 pm

Happy New Year!! Thank you Willis for your thoughtful and thought provoking posts both scientific and waxing poetic, they are always a good read. I am mostly a “lurker” , I’ve been lurking at WUWT for quite a while but have more recently eked out a comment or two. Your work is much appreciated.
Thank you!
Joe Civis

Luis Anastasía
January 2, 2015 4:40 pm

Dear Willys
I am one of the lurker of WUWT that never participates in the comments. I really enjoy the articles published, with such intelligence, effort and selfless dedication.
All collaborate in carrying out this blog are very good. However, I confess I look forward with anxiously your thoughts and reflections that you give us. Personally, I think the first place of your stories is for the fascinating Here be Dragons. I’ve read 20 times. Now this one is that which rank second.
Thanks to you and to all contributors of WUWT
Best wishes for the new year from Uruguay
Luis de Uruguay

January 2, 2015 4:59 pm

Speaking of Sea Lions: here is my up close and personal experience with one of the critters. While living near La Paz, Mexico, I would drive every other day along the San Juan de la Costa road, turn right at the abandoned beach resort access trail to jog along miles of unoccupied white sand beach. While jogging on the wet hard sand, I spied a dark object ahead away from the water on the beach.As I closed in on ‘it’, I realized it was a very large Sea Lion. I’m over 6ft, @265lbs. The beast was at least 1 and 1/2. times my size. I slowed to a walk, and assumed it was dead as it was not moving at all. I approached quietly, and thought it odd that the birds hadn’t pecked out the eyeballs.
I cautiously stepped to within 6 to 8 feet when one eyelid opened. The sleeping giant and myself took a couple of seconds to realize that I was between him and the water, which is his safe place. Mr. Big Boy went into high gear and make a bee line to his home base. At the same time I jumped straight up, did a pirouette and got out of his way. After splashing into the water, he swam back and forth along the shore watching me. It was a day I will never forget.

Dodgy Geezer
January 3, 2015 2:45 am

…and I always do my best thinking down by the ocean….
It’s funny how proximity to liquid has this effect on humans. I do most of my best thinking in the pub…
… Why (are) we no closer to getting a value for the so-called “climate sensitivity” than we were thirty years ago… after millions and millions of dollars spent on the problem,…
Perhaps the fact that millions of dollars have been spent, and that millions are still in the pipeline, may have something to do with this. Environmental research scientists didn’t used to get lots of pay – who among them is going to turn off this gushing tap?

stan stendera
January 3, 2015 4:03 am

Willis’ Eagle soars ever higher.

Ulric Lyons
January 3, 2015 4:43 am

“None of these subsystems are particularly well understood from a climate perspective. In addition, they each have internal cycles, resonances, and feedbacks.”
Least understood is whether a given variable is internal, or externally forced. A solar connection to AO/NAO variability would also implicate a linkage to ENSO.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
January 3, 2015 4:44 am

And the AMO.

Peter, Austria
January 3, 2015 8:35 am

Dear Willis,
Being no more than a face in the crowd (i.e. one of a million lurkers), pleeze lemme say how deeply I’m addicted to whatever flows from the nib of your fountain pen. Your approach to climate science has a way of easily upstaging much of the learned, heavily subsidized crowd of scientists molesting our brains, minds and wallets around the world. “Carry On, Jeeves” is what I’d like to tell you. P.G. Wodehouse, God bless his immortal soul, wouldn’t mind following suit.
Thank you, sir.

Gerald Machnee
January 3, 2015 10:30 am

Willis, I think you nailed it in your analysis of an “expert”. The more you know, the more you realize how much there is to learn. Some consider themselves experts because they know a little more than the next person, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
Over 20 years ago, we had a seminar at work run by some individuals from headquarters. One of them labelled themselves as experts in statistics. A supervisor stood up and said, “There are no experts”, to the amusement of the attendees.

January 3, 2015 3:00 pm

People in Prince Ruperty and the AK pandhandle may be amused at your definition of “north” Pacific coast.
Yeah, you may mean as opposed to Chile on the South Pacific coast.

January 3, 2015 5:39 pm

Thank you for another fine article, Willis … however, I must take issue with in respect of one of your observations …

[ … ] Steven Mosher … taking the time and effort to put their views forwards and defend their (his) ideas.

This is the antithesis of Mosher … we would wish that Mosher would forego his seagulling and take the time to put forward erudite views and then defend them against considered criticism.

Richard G
January 3, 2015 5:42 pm

Willis, to save you a bunch of agravation, I will tell you that the answer is 42!
(Hat Tip to Douglas Adams)

Richard G
Reply to  Richard G
January 3, 2015 5:48 pm

By the way, Thanks for all the fish.

January 3, 2015 7:21 pm

Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

I always find Willis’ posts encouraging and enlightening.
This one not only pays tribute to WUWT and Anthony Watts, it points out clearly some of the things I find obvious with regard to climate and the study of it. Mostly, we just don’t know much.
My appreciation to Willis, and as he comments about nature, I too often stand in awe and simply feel grateful.

Ulric Lyons
January 4, 2015 9:26 am

• Whether the earth will warm over the next decade.”
The most pertinent post in 2014 on that was this:

January 5, 2015 2:36 am

Happy New Year from a Lurker!
Enjoy Your analyses and apprichiate Your open mind and Your welcoming of criticism.
Perhaps a note about global dimming/global brightening in the future?
We (in Sweden at least) enjoy more sun hours -some 10-15% since 1983. Clean air act?
It is not only temperature that changes.

January 6, 2015 8:41 pm

The next group of folks who get my thanks are the people who spend time abusing me all over the web, like Poptech

Setting the record straight on your background is not “abuse”. Certain people here needed to be informed that you were not a “computer modeler”, “engineer” or a “scientist”. So I did so,

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 7, 2015 8:23 pm

Willis, correcting misinformation is a public service and you still falsely believe I am trying to dissuade people from reading what you write. This is incorrect, what I am doing is giving people the proper context in which to read what you write, which is that of an amateur scientist.
I agree that your peer-reviewed results should stand on their own which is why I continue to include your papers that have passed peer-review in my list and will do so with any future ones as well.
My original reason for posting on you was to deal with your delusional fanboys who appear to have been put in their place now. This way they can focus on your scientific arguments and stop pretending you are a professional scientist.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
January 7, 2015 10:01 pm

Willis, I do not post under my real name for privacy reasons but everything I have written is fully cited and sourced so it can be independently verified.
Maybe you missed your [trimmed] comments when this debate started with Dr. Spencer but it was to the effect of them calling you a “scientist” without the qualifier “amateur” and then rabidly defending that despite all manner of factual evidence to the contrary.
Yes, your comment in Nature was peer-reviewed and no I have not published in scholarly journals though my website has been cited over 250 times including in 5 peer-reviewed journals.
If I was so “trivial” my article on you would not come up in the first page of Google results for a search of your name,
I promised your [trimmed] that. The fact that you specifically mention me in this article also says otherwise.
You seem perpetually confused about my goal with the article (which has already been achieved) and that is applying the proper context to your credentials. Now, as we agree they can focus on your scientific arguments from an amateur scientist.

Arno Arrak
January 13, 2015 5:06 pm

Happy New Year!Great pictures to inspire a landscape artist! And great questions. If you were a professor that is the sort of thing the grad students would appreciate to help them start their projects. I would disagree with one or two but you’ve got the big picture just right. There are two statements I am unhappy with, however. They involve a mythical warming that started in 1975 because you have been misled by warmist propaganda that there was warming from 1975-1998. There was at most a step warming from 1976 to 1979 but there was no warming at all in the eighties and nineties, just a standstill, a hiatus like today. You don’t see it because global warming activists have changed it into an imaginary warming in their data sets. That means GISS, NCDC, and HadCRUT who colluded to create that warming. It is completely absent from satellite data-sets. ENSO was also active in the eighties and nineties and produced five El Nino peaks, with La Nina valleys in between. Contrary to Bob Tisdale, it does not warm the world. Its amplitude is about 0.4 to 0.5 degrees Celsius while that of the super El Nino that follows is a full degree Celsius. Real warming does not actually start until 1999, just after the departure of the super El Nino. It is the only warming we have had since 1979. Depending on what value you put on total twentieth century warming this amounts to one third to one half of the last hundred years of warming. It would not be surprising to find that it has an impact on wildlife habitats. Jim Steele imputes such step-wise warming to changing ocean environments. In line with that the 1976 to 1979 warming would correspond with the PDO phase change from cool to warm in 1976. PDO changed back from warm to cool at the turn of the twenty-first century. Curiously, both PDO phase changes coincide with short periods of warming followed by by a hiatus. There just might be something toJim Steele’s idea. And more than likely, the super El,Nino has to fit in there too but I am not sure how. Right now the only thing certain is that it carried much more warm water than was available to ENSO, judging by the five El Ninos that preceded it. To solve this mystery we need to pin down the source of this extra warm water.

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