SAR, the Turning Point

By Andy May
SAR is an abbreviation for the second IPCC assessment report, Climate Change 1995 (IPCC, 1996). As explained in my new book, Politics and Climate Change: A History, this IPCC report was a turning point in the debate over catastrophic human-caused climate change. The first IPCC report, “FAR,” was written under the chairmanship of Bert Bolin. At the time FAR was completed and published, circa 1990, Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady,” was Prime Minister of the U.K. and a fervent climate change alarmist. Bert Bolin thought she was “seriously misinformed.” The conclusion of FAR was:

“global-mean surface air temperature has increased by 0.3°C to 0.6°C over the last 100 years … The size of this warming is broadly consistent with predictions of climate models, but it is also of the same magnitude as natural climate variability. … The unequivocal detection of the enhanced greenhouse effect from observations is not likely for a decade or more.” (IPCC, 1992, p. 6)

As we saw in the earlier post on Roger Revelle, he said the same thing in 1988 to Senator Tim Wirth. Revelle, Fred Singer and Chauncey Starr also said a decade was needed to determine if humans were involved in warming (Singer, Revelle, & Starr, 1991). A decade later, in 2002, temperatures were falling from their peak during the 1998 El Niño. They continued to fall until 2010, as seen in Figure 1. In Figure 1, we smoothed the UAH tropospheric temperature anomalies with a five-year moving average to reduce the ENSO (La Niña and El Niño) anomalies and emphasize the longer-term climatic trends. The full range of data is from December 1978 to September 2020, but due to the smoothing we can only plot 1981 to 2018.

Figure 1. UAH Lower Troposphere temperature anomalies, smoothed. Data source:

In Figure 1 we see that the five-year smoothed tropospheric temperatures rise 0.17 degrees per decade from 1979 to 2000, then they decline at 0.05 degrees per decade from 2000 to 2010, and then rise again from 2010 to 2018 at 0.4 degrees per decade.

While temperatures have risen and fallen over the past 40 years, CO2 increased steadily the whole time. We can easily see that Bert Bolin, Fred Singer, Chauncey Starr, and Roger Revelle were correct to be cautious about attributing most of global warming to CO2. If CO2 is warming the planet, Figure 1 shows there are other forces that are powerful enough to reverse the warming for up to ten years. Is the underlying, longer-term, warming trend of 0.14°C/decade, mostly natural or mostly human? With a rate that small does it matter?

The cream of the scientific community saw no need for urgent action or for alarm in the early 1990s. Many politicians disagreed, they wanted action now. The public, from 1998 to 2019 has remained unconvinced that global warming or climate change is dangerous in their lifetime. Since 1997, polls have shown that between 60% and 75% of the U.S. public do not believe that global warming poses a threat within their lifetime (Nisbet & Myers, 2007). The Washington Post breathlessly proclaims that “Americans increasingly see climate change as a crisis,” in 2019, and then presents a poll that says 62% of the public don’t believe it. This is approximately what the public has said since 1997 (Dennis, Mufson, & Clement, 2019). Figure 1 below shows how steady public opinion has been:

Figure 2. Gallup polls showing that between 25% and 36% think that global warming will threaten their way of life.

Nobody watches the polls like a politician, and they desperately wanted to change them. As H. L. Mencken wrote in 1918, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with a series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” (Mencken, 1918). Another way of putting it, if you frighten a free and democratic public enough, they will give up their individual rights and even their country for safety and security. Lucky for us it hasn’t worked yet.

The scientists who wrote FAR, said they could not see any direct evidence of a human contribution to global warming or climate change. This did not help the political cause, which was to use climate change as an excuse to redistribute the wealth of the western countries to the rest of the world. They nearly achieved this goal with the Kyoto treaty, signed by Al Gore in 1997, but that is another story. Let us just say we are lucky that the Senate did not ratify that treaty and that President Bush pulled the U.S. out of the agreement.

The politicians lost to the scientists in FAR, but they didn’t give up. The second report (“SAR”) barely stepped over the threshold with the following conclusion:

“The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” (IPCC, 1996, p. 4)

Ronan Connolly and Michael Connolly (Connolly, 2019) explain that this statement was included in SAR because Benjamin Santer, a lead author of the SAR chapter on the attribution of climate change, presented some unpublished and non-peer-reviewed work that claimed he had identified a “fingerprint” of the human influence on global warming. His evidence consisted of measurements that showed lower atmospheric (tropospheric) warming and upper atmospheric (stratospheric) cooling from 1963-1988. This closely resembled a prediction made by the climate models used for SAR. He did not connect these measurements to human emissions of CO2, or to CO2 at all, he simply said that they showed something like what the models predicted. From the paper, published the following year:

“Our results suggest that the similarities between observed and model-predicted changes in the zonal-mean vertical patterns of temperature change over 1963-87 are unlikely to have resulted from natural internally generated variability of the climate system.” (Santer B. , et al., 1996a)

Pretty weak evidence, and it was evidence that had not been peer-reviewed or even submitted for publication in 1995, when the decision to include it in SAR was made. Benjamin Santer and Tom Wigley wanted the conclusion to read “appreciable human influence,” but Bert Bolin proposed “discernible” instead of “appreciable.” Bolin’s suggestion was adopted without objection (Darwall, 2013).

Santer’s paper was eventually published in Nature, on July 4, 1996, it was first received by Nature April 9, 1996. SAR, Climate Change 1995, The Science of Climate Change, Contribution of Working Group 1 to the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC, 1996) was in final form and sent to the Cambridge University publishers in December 1995.

The fifth and final meeting of the IPCC SAR Working Group I was in Madrid, Spain from November 27 to 29, 1995, and was very contentious. They were debating, at the last minute, whether to change the already agreed underlying scientific reports in SAR so they matched the political Summary for Policymakers and “Technical Summary” as drafted by John Houghton, the senior editor and co-chairman of the volume with Gylvan Filho. According to Bernie Lewin, in his book Searching for the Catastrophe Signal (Lewin, 2017) the argument was largely between Dr. Mohammad Al-Sabban of Saudi Arabia and Dr. Benjamin Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States.

The key portion of the report that Santer wanted to change was Chapter 8. Santer was one of the lead authors of the chapter and had written the first draft of the chapter in April, but now wanted to change it. The original April draft of the chapter is available, thanks to Bernie Lewin, and it concludes in part:

“…no study to date has both detected a significant climate change and positively attributed all or part of that change to anthropogenic causes.” (Lewin, 2017, p. 277)

Santer’s original draft of Chapter 8 relied heavily on another unpublished paper that he and Tim Barnett wrote with Phil Jones, Raymond Bradley, and Keith Briffa. The paper is entitled “Estimates of low frequency natural variability in near-surface air temperature.” It was later published in The Holocene (Barnett, Santer, Jones, Bradley, & Briffa, 1996). The paper forcefully makes the argument that long-term (i.e. low frequency) natural climate variability is not known accurately enough to detect the human climate change contribution with any confidence. The Holocene received this article July 17, 1995 and it was not approved and published until January 1996. In the conclusions of the paper the authors write:

The key message of this paper is that, if the palaeo [paleontological] data are reasonably correct and representative of large regions of the planet, then the current model estimates of natural variability cannot be used in rigorous tests aimed at detecting anthropogenic signals in the real world. (Barnett, Santer, Jones, Bradley, & Briffa, 1996), italics in the original.

Thus, they do not think that model estimates can detect human influence on climate. This conclusion was published a month after Santer, Wigley, and Houghton changed SAR to say that comparing a model to observations did just that. The conclusion of the final draft of Chapter 8, agreed to by all 36 authors, contained the following:

“we have no yardstick against which to measure the manmade effect. If long-range natural variability cannot be established, then we are back with the critique of Callendar in 1938, and we are no better off than Wigley in 1990.” (Lewin, 2017, p. 277)

They compare where they are, in July of 1995, to Guy Callendar’s classic 1938 paper (Callendar, 1938) and Tom Wigley’s chapter on Detecting the Greenhouse Effect in FAR (IPCC, 1990, p. 244). In FAR, on page 244, Wigley and the other authors of Chapter 8 write, “Natural variability of the climate system could be as large as the changes observed to date, but there are insufficient data to be able to estimate its magnitude or its sign.” Thus, they didn’t know how large the natural forces are, or whether they are working to warm the planet or cool it.

When the authors agreed to the wording of SAR’s Chapter 8 (page 409) in July, on the same subject, they still did not think they could detect a human influence on climate. John Houghton, the lead editor of the entire IPCC WG1 second assessment didn’t care what the authors concluded. He insisted that the young Benjamin Santer change the chapter and bring it into agreement with his summary.

So, the agreed statement saying “we have no yardstick” quoted above, was removed and the statement below added, without consulting the other 35 authors of Chapter 8.

“The body of statistical evidence in Chapter 8, when examined in the context of our physical understanding of the climate system, now points towards a discernable human influence on global climate.” (IPCC, 1996, p. 439)

The agreement of all chapter authors had been reached in July of 1995 to say the opposite. Another paper of Santer’s, published in Climate Dynamics in 1995, “Towards the detection and attribution of an anthropogenic effect on climate” (Santer B. , et al., 1995), states, “This analysis supports but does not prove the hypothesis that we have detected an anthropogenic climate change signal.”

Santer’s 1996 “fingerprint” paper, published after SAR came out, admits that they did not quantify the relative magnitude of natural and human influences on climate. They simply showed a statistically significant similarity between some observations and their model’s predictions. As weak, and as new, as this unpublished study was, it was accepted as proof of a “discernable human influence” on climate change.

They made the last-minute change to SAR a month before Barnett and Santer’s paper came out explicitly saying, “current model estimates of natural variability cannot be used in rigorous tests aimed at detecting anthropogenic signals.” (Barnett, Santer, Jones, Bradley, & Briffa, 1996). The contradictions were glaring.

The political pressure from John Houghton, a Welsh atmospheric physicist, who was the lead editor of the first three IPCC reports, was unrelenting. Santer and the other attendees at the November 1995 final meeting in Madrid on SAR felt they had to do something. The group settled on the yet-unpublished “fingerprint” work that Santer had nearly finished (Santer B. , et al., 1996a).

On November 27, 1995 Santer presented his work to the assembled group and John Houghton. Houghton formed an ad hoc committee to review Santer’s work. The hand-picked committee voted to change Chapter 8 and bring it into line with the drafted Summary for Policymakers.

On the last day of the meeting, November 29th, the group debated the changes to the already agreed Chapter. The Saudis and the Kuwaitis were insistent that the unpublished findings should be presented as preliminary. This had the advantage of being true, the statements hinged on an unpublished study.

The debate went on for many hours. The Saudis, led by Dr. Mohammad Al-Sabban, wanted the summary to revert to the agreed text and conclusions of the original agreed chapter. Most of the others disagreed. The majority prevailed and at 10:30PM, November 29th, the group settled on the final wording, “The balance of evidence suggests a discernable human influence on climate.”

Word that unpublished and non-peer-reviewed work had caused the IPCC editors to change the agreed text of Chapter 8 got out. The changes turned critical statements on the detection of human influence on climate change 180 degrees. The statements went from (paraphrasing) “impossible to tell if it exists” to a “discernable influence.”

Frederick Seitz, who was the 17th president of the United States National Academy of Sciences from 1962-1969, was horrified by this action and wrote about it in the Wall Street Journal (Seitz, 1996), under the headline “A Major Deception On Global Warming.” The late Seitz was a hugely influential scientist, but the IPCC lost his support and the support of hundreds of other influential scientists by caving to the politicians.

Bernie Lewin identified this 1995 meeting in Madrid as a key turning point in the climate change debate. Judith Curry agrees with his conclusion (Curry J. , 2018). The removal of agreed statements from a technical chapter to agree with unsubstantiated political opinions greatly hurt John Houghton’s cause and reputation.

Seitz’s allegations were contested (Avery, Try, Anthes, & Hallgren, 1996). An open letter to Benjamin Santer was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) supporting him. The letter explicitly mentions the article by Frederick Seitz in the Wall Street Journal. It states that the proper place to debate scientific issues is in peer-reviewed journals and not in the media where Seitz published his critical essay. This seems quite hypocritical to this author, as peer-reviewed material was removed by the managing committee of the IPCC and replaced with the unpublished opinions of John Houghton and Benjamin Santer. In any case, the facts are the facts, the original approved draft of Chapter 8 exists, and it was changed by Houghton’s supervising committee after review and without consulting most of the authors of the chapter. The facts are clear.

Benjamin Santer admitted changing the draft chapter eight at the behest of the governments but tried to insist that the changes didn’t matter (Santer B. , 1996c). Rupert Darwall argues that if they didn’t matter why did the governments want them changed? (Darwall, 2013, Kindle 6319). John Houghton reports in Nature (Houghton, 1996) that one of the governments that pressured him to change Chapter 8 was the United States. He wrote that the U.S. found several inconsistencies and “that the chapter authors be prevailed upon to modify their text in an appropriate manner following the discussion in Madrid.”

John Houghton wrote that “the IPCC is a scientific body charged with producing scientific assessments.” (Houghton, 1996). It clearly is not. The governments funding the IPCC have the right to force these changes, but they can’t change what the scientists write and claim the document is scientific. It is either a political document or a scientific document, it cannot be both.

Unfortunately, when Santer’s fingerprint paper (Santer B. , et al., 1996) was finally published it ran into a firestorm of criticism. In particular, Dr. Patrick Michaels and Dr. Paul Knappenberger (Michaels & Knappenberger, 1996) pointed out that the tropospheric “hot spot” that comprised Santer et al.’s “fingerprint” of human influence disappeared if the 1963-1987 range was expanded to the full range of available data, 1958-1995. In other words, it appeared Santer, et al. had cherry-picked their “fingerprint.”

There were other problems with Santer et al.’s interpretation. The warming and cooling trends that they identified may have been natural, as explained by Dr. Gerd R. Weber (Daly, 1997). The beginning of Santer, et al.’s selected period was characterized by volcanism and the end of the period by strong El Niños. The SAR Chapter 8 scandal left a lasting stain on the reputations of the IPCC, Benjamin Santer, and John Houghton. The whole episode is an example of politics corrupting science.

This is a condensed excerpt from my new book, Politics and Climate Change: A History.
To download the bibliography, click here.

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November 9, 2020 2:35 pm

“The scientists who wrote FAR, said they could not see any direct evidence of a human contribution to global warming or climate change.”
They said the warming was still in the range of natural variation, and might take a decade or so to be clearly separate. But they had no doubt that it was happening: (their bold)
“<b<We are certain of the following:

These [GHG] increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface The main greenhouse gas, water vapour, will increase in response to global warming and further enhance it”

I can’t see the point of haggling over the SAR. It was five years later (out of the decade) and they had better methods. Even if their conclusion were premature, it would be amply established by the time of the TAR in 2001. They got it right.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 3:02 pm

Answer, because Santer single handedly changed the final attribution language in SAR AFTER final IPCC review yet before his trashable bogus cherrypicked ‘fingerprint’ attribution paper appeared. That indelibly dates the first revealed dishonest ‘science’ politics of ‘climate change’.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 9, 2020 3:31 pm

It’s a bit like haggling over whether Fox called the election in Arizona prematurely. It’s arguable, but as more counting passes it really isn’t the major issue. They got it right.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 4:35 pm

It’s a bit like ants haggling over a puddle of water when a mile away lies Lake Michigan.

Mark Pawelek
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 10, 2020 1:28 am

It’s haggling over whether you should believe the man trying to sell you a bridge.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 3:06 pm

Nick, you concluded your comment with “I can’t see the point of haggling over the SAR. It was five years later (out of the decade) and they had better methods. Even if their conclusion were premature, it would be amply established by the time of the TAR in 2001. They got it right.”

The modelers “got it right” by creating models that supported the political agendas of the United Nations…thus creating the “scientific consensus” that was forced upon the researchers by the climate-science-funding bureaucrats.


Reply to  Bob Tisdale
November 9, 2020 3:23 pm

“getting it right” means getting it right. The models got it right, whatever your opining about who it may have supported.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 3:35 pm

For very limited values of “getting it right.” That is, only if you consider a warming rate that’s too high by 2X as “right.”

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 3:40 pm

The models only got it right if you ignore the fact that they produce multiple times too much warming, compared to the real-world data.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 4:09 pm

Gee, Nick the models could not have been right because the very most recent IPCC offering says they had greatly underestimated the projected warming from CO2.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 5:42 pm

The Climate Modelers are like 19th Century Dowsers for water.
19th Century Dowsers used simple carved wooden or steels sticks. The only difference is the enormous costs. Modern day climate dowsers use Rube Goldberg complex computer codes run on ungodly expensive supercomputers as job programs for government engineers not quite up to the level of nuclear reaction physics simulations. Do enough divinations and statistically speaking at least a few will be correct (find water, hit the correct tempo curve) after the fact. Just ignore (and toss out before the public sees them) the hundreds of model run output failures.

Thus Santer and all their lot, with all their 30+ models and hundreds of outputs, are modern day climate dowsers, divinations and all.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 10:13 pm

Yes Nick , “getting it right” means getting it right.

It means having a model which reproduces the early 20th c. warming and subsequent cooling which none of them do. It means getting the degree of warming right , not overestimating by 100%.

It means changing the model to fit the data, not changing the data to fit the model.

Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady,” was Prime Minister of the U.K. and a fervent climate change alarmist.

Thatcher’s enthusiasm for AGW was based on her desire to eradicate the coal industry in the UK. She defeated the miners strike in 1984 and with it the powerbase of oraganised labour Britain. She then proceeded to decimate and then totally destroy the remaining coal mining industry. The LAST deep mine Kellingley colliery closed in 2015. There are three open sky mining operations remaining.

She was the original “war on coal”, the original ” keep it in the ground”.

She also personally opened the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research.

Her “fervent alarmism” was, like all she did, a carefully calculated Machiavellian political maneourvre. Anyone surprised about her being a “warmist”, is simply ignorant of the real political context of that time in Britain.

Reply to  Greg
November 10, 2020 1:07 am

So some 25 years passed between Thatcher’s resignation and the last deep mine closing. 14 of those years were under Labour governments, 6 under Tory and 5 under Tory/Lib Dem coalition. Any one of those governments could have halted the dash for gas that was the primary reason for the demise of coal, but they chose not to. The demise of coal had the support of the entire political establishment over several decades. At least there is plenty of the stuff still in the ground for future generations to benefit from when they need it.

A C Osborn
Reply to  Greg
November 10, 2020 1:48 am

She then turned her back on the way Climate Change was being used and denounced it.

John Tillman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 10, 2020 7:50 am

Models can’t even theoretically get it right, except by accident.

For starters, they lack the grid resolution to model clouds. Having to parameterize clouds makes them meaningless.

Computer power will have to increase at least a billion-fold before clouds can be modeled. Probably ten billion times, if then.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 10, 2020 11:57 am

Nick writes

The models got it right

That is literally yet to be seen. Hindcasting is not getting it right when they’re tuned from that data. What we know about their predictions is that they’re all over the shop and all too hor. As far as I’m concerned they aren’t projecting warming, they’re projecting expected warming.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 3:37 pm


They absolutely did not get it right. If anyone is looking for an effect in the range of the ECS claimed by the IPCC, that signal is not there and never will be there. They have the sensitivity factor (1/alpha) so wrong, at about 0.8C +/- 0.4C per W/m^2, it’s an embarrassment to legitimate science.

There’s no possible way that 1 W/m^2 of forcing, for example, an increase in solar forcing from 240 W/m^2 to 241 W/m^2, can increase the surface temperature from about 288K to 288.8k, increasing the surface emissions by 4.4 W/m^2 while the first 240 W/m^2 results in only about 1.62 W/m^2 of surface emissions each. There’s no possible way for the climate to tell the next W/m^2 from the average W/m^2, so how can you explain how the next W/m^2 can perform so much more work at maintaining a higher surface temperature than the average W/m^2? I presume you know that Joules are the units of work and 1 Watt is 1 Joule per second and that the work required to maintain a higher temperature is proportional to T^4.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 3:38 pm

If they got it right, why does everybody need to rewrite history to create a warming trend that doesn’t exist in the real data? People like NASA GIS, UK MET Office, Australian
BOM? That pretty much proves that they didn’t ‘get it right’.

Reply to  Hivemind
November 9, 2020 4:16 pm

“a warming trend that doesn’t exist in the real data?”
The warming trend is almost the same in the unadjusted data.

Reply to  Andy May
November 9, 2020 6:15 pm

Global trend?

Reply to  Andy May
November 10, 2020 8:24 am

“Subtract raw from final and you will see a trend.”
I did that once for USHCN here. There is indeed a trend, of which a large prt is TOBS.

I also showed here a histogram distribution of trends, and a Google Maps app which shows the spatial distribution. Here is a post comparing adjustments in the US and rest of world. Because of TOBS, US adjustments actually add to a significant fraction of world in total effect.

Gerald Machnee
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 8:25 pm

NOBODY has measured the human effect.

Dennis G Sandberg
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 10:24 pm

what’s wrong what co2isnotevil says about equilibrium sensitivity? Please respond!

Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
November 10, 2020 11:14 am

Can you explain what he is saying?

Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
November 10, 2020 12:56 pm


You need to understand the implications of basic first principles like COE and the Stefan-Boltzmann Law.

It’s real simple. Either explain how the next W/m^2 of solar forcing can be so much more powerful at warming the surface than the average W/m^2, or explain why this isn’t the case which requires that that you don’t accept the T^4 dependence of W/m^2 of NET surface emissions, in which case, what law(s) of physics do you think applies? What law of physics can change the 4 in T^4 to something else?

Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
November 10, 2020 2:12 pm

Don’t expect a response from Nick. If he’s half the scientist he claims to be, he knows I’m right and can’t admit it as it undermines everything he stands for. You would think that someone who’s so concerned about climate change would celebrate the knowledge that what’s so feared about CO2 emissions is precluded by first principles physics. For some reason, most likely political, this truth is just too uncomfortable for him to acknowldge.

John Tillman
Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
November 11, 2020 9:50 am

co2isnotevil November 10, 2020 at 2:12 pm

An inconvenient truth, as it were.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Andy May
November 9, 2020 6:20 pm

“No one argues that GHG cause no warming. Human GHG emissions contribute to the warming. The amount and the impact is what is debated. The fact that the human contribution could not be detected in 1995 and still cannot be detected, 25 years later, is telling.”

That is correct.

The Alarmists didn’t have any evidence of Human-caused Climate Change in 1995, and they still don’t have any evidence today. The Alarmists can’t even tell us how much warmth a certain amount of CO2 will add to the Earth’s atmosphere. The estimates are all over the map and have been for decades.

Settled Science? Not even close, when it comes to climate science.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
November 10, 2020 2:57 pm

Only the Sun causes warming and only outer space causes cooling. CO2 slows down cooling which some confuse with CAUSING warming. The same people fail to recognize that higher temperatures speed up the cooling. The misconceptions are th result of ignoring the relevance of the T^4 dependence on W/m^2 of emissions.

Reply to  Andy May
November 9, 2020 8:01 pm

Is there any actual proof of that?

Reply to  Lrp
November 9, 2020 11:15 pm

No, there isn’t.

Furthermore, actual data supports rather an opposite assumption. since we observe a negative (even if weak) cross-correlation between CO2 concentration variation and global temperatures with a lag of some 16 months (see left side of the diagram) :

An observed positive correlation between two parameters does not mean that the assumption of a causal link between those two parameters is right.
An observed negative correlation does not even support such assumption.

Reply to  Andy May
November 10, 2020 6:33 am

CO2 causes no warming.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 5:37 pm

I am not convinced they got it right. Properly detrended analysis doesn’t show any correlation between CO2 and temperature. And they certainly got the part of it about the human cause wrong because they incorrectly assumed the increasing CO2 was caused by human emissions.

Robert of Texas
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 9, 2020 6:05 pm

If you cannot see that what they did was wrong, then you clearly lie in the camp “the end justifies the means”.

It doesn’t matter whether I agree with TAR or not, a scientist who changes the language of a “scientific summary” without the knowledge or consent of the other authors is clearly not moral nor truthful. This does harm to the entire field and everyone practicing real science.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Robert of Texas
November 10, 2020 9:54 am

Perhaps even more importantly, it proves that the IPCC is a political organization first and foremost, and all of the reports it generates are forced to comply with the per-ordained conclusions (the SPM) which is written before the technical chapters are even complete. Since none of the principals have changed since the SAR, there is no reason to believe this has changed to this day. From the second report forward, none of them have any credibility.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 10, 2020 7:46 am

I can’t see the point of haggling over the SAR. It was five years later (out of the decade) and they had better methods.

Yet the ECS is still as wide a range as it was 30+ years ago. Better methods of fudging is what you meant to say.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 10, 2020 11:49 am

Nick writes

But they had no doubt that it was happening: (their bold)
“<b<We are certain of the following:

These [GHG] increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface The main greenhouse gas, water vapour, will increase in response to global warming and further enhance it”

But scientifically how could they know? How is this not a clear example of bias and advocacy?

Reply to  TimTheToolMan
November 10, 2020 12:49 pm

“How is this not a clear example of bias and advocacy?”
I quoted it to counter this narrative:
“The cream of the scientific community saw no need for urgent action or for alarm in the early 1990s.”
The FAR (1990,1992) clearly understood that the GHE was real and the Earth was warming. The parts quoted in this article refer to the issue of when the signal would clearly emerge from the noise of the data. That does not reflect doubt about warming. They thought it might take a decade or more. The SAR thought that signs had become clear in 1995. Maybe they were wrong at that point in time, but they are certainly clear now, and in fact would have undoubtedly been so by the time of the TAR.

That is the point about the interaction between physics and observation. Scientists were saying since before Hansen that it was going to get warmer. Indeed, it continued to get warmer. At some stage you have to put two and two together.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 11, 2020 9:39 am

“The FAR (1990,1992) clearly understood that the GHE was real and the Earth was warming.”

Please explain how some places have warmed, some have cooled, and some have remained relatively static, since the “Earth” was warming.

Ethan Brand
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 10, 2020 1:50 pm

Andy May:
“The whole episode is an example of politics corrupting science.”

Nick Stokes:
“I can’t see the point of haggling over the SAR. It was five years later (out of the decade) and they had better methods. Even if their conclusion were premature, it would be amply established by the time of the TAR in 2001. They got it right.”

Thus Nick Stokes essentially supports “politics corrupting science”, just so long as the ends justifies the means.

Nick neatly and concisely reveals the basic reason why many of us skeptical, critical thinking, heretical, scientific method supporting folks find the AGW community essentially corrupt.

So, Nick, based on your agreement with Andy, which parts of the IPCC reports are not contaminated with ” politics corrupting science” editing? Since (according to you) it does not matter if what they say at the time is true or not, only how things play out in the future. There’s a concept for that…its called “faith”, and there are at least a few of us that recognize that “faith” and “science” are mutually exclusive concepts in the exploration of the physical world. The sad truth is that it appears that many AGW “scientists” simply don’t care how they present their argument, they are “right” and therefore any deception, omission, over simplification, and some times outright lies are not a problem for them. The good news is that, over time, that strategy ultimately fails, as folks eventually (albeit very slowly) see that the future forecast by the priests doesn’t come about very often….

Ethan Brand

November 9, 2020 2:48 pm

“The balance of evidence suggests a discernable human influence on climate.”

Let’s take the viewpoint of a historian 100 years from now. Since we know that CO2’s 15 micron radiation absorption/emission wavelength of 15 microns has a Planck radiation temperature of -80C (like dry ice) and can’t melt an ice cube, the only discernible human influence is by the leftist environmentalists in the IPCC to kowtow to their program of framing CO2 emissions as evil in order to shut down the fossil fuel industry to soften up the West for a Marxist takeover.

Now in 2020 we have science ignoramus “President” Joe Biden and his promise to do it by 2050. The politicization of science by the leftist-run U.N. IPCC octopus has steamrolled the truth into the mud so bad that we can only dream of a counter-revolution saving the fossil fuel industry for our grandchildren while ramping up the construction of nuclear power plants for the 2100s. At least we can be sure that solar and wind power will prove a gigantic boondoggle and cause some kind of backlash that could stop if not reverse the steamroller. Truth crushed to Earth will rise again.

Steve CASE
Reply to  TL Winslow
November 9, 2020 6:18 pm

TL Winslow November 9, 2020 at 2:48 pm:

Since we know that CO2’s 15 micron radiation absorption/emission wavelength of 15 microns has a Planck radiation temperature of -80C (like dry ice) and can’t melt an ice cube, …

That’s where I came in on this insanity over ten years ago. The back radiation from CO2 is the same as what you would get from a brick of dry ice. Well yes a blanket of dry ice would provide some insulation from the nearly absolute zero of space, but one has to wonder how much that translates into warming compared to all the other ways heat leaks out of our atmosphere.

…we can be sure that solar and wind power will prove a gigantic boondoggle…

It’s noteworthy that when George Orwell wrote “Animal Farm” he chose the wind mill to represent the boondoggles that oppressive governments engage in to create an appearance of actually accomplishing something.

Steve Keppel-Jones
Reply to  Steve CASE
November 11, 2020 11:15 am

Also back radiation does not occur the way the GHE radiationists want you to think it does. Radiation transfers energy from warmer objects to cooler ones, not the other way around. Since the atmospheric lapse rate has warmer air (and ground) lower down, and cooler air (and space) above, radiation generally flows upward, not downward, within the atmosphere. (There are exceptions because the lapse rate is not a strict vertical sorting of molecules by temperature. I don’t think the exceptions make any noticeable difference.)

November 9, 2020 2:50 pm

Andy, best of luck on the sales of your new book “Politics and Climate Change: A History”.


Rud Istvan
November 9, 2020 2:52 pm

Andy, I will be buying your book as an ebook (no room for the real things anymore in either of my two homes).
I knew all this (esp. the Santer SAR attribution ‘scam’), but you give a nice condensed synopsis. Regards.

November 9, 2020 2:53 pm

And the hotspot is still missing

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Redge
November 9, 2020 3:04 pm

Except in the climate models, proving them wrong. WE has many times explained here why.

November 9, 2020 2:55 pm

Thatcher couldn’t have cared less about global warming. She latched onto the politics of global warming in the mid-80s as a means to help break the coal-miner union.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Nik
November 9, 2020 4:13 pm

Yes that was my understanding. Make coal and coal mining redundant. Unfortunately she created a monster.

Reply to  Nik
November 9, 2020 5:32 pm

If I remember correctly, Christopher Monckton has a great deal to say about that. It seems to me that he has denied that Margaret Thatcher had anything to do with the Global Warming scam.

Reply to  commieBob
November 10, 2020 12:22 am

Didn’t she (although I do admire her as one of the better post-WW2 politicians) use a 2-pronged (global warming) attack: destroy the mining UNIONS (👍) and create a tax-raising vehicle at the same time? Although I do seem to remember she very quickly turned on the AGW scam once her true scientific advisers managed to get her ear?

November 9, 2020 3:03 pm

This is why a lot of us commenting here talk of fraud .
Will this politicizing of science ever stop ?
Thankyou Andy May.

Nick Schroeder
November 9, 2020 3:17 pm

“Lucky for us it hasn’t worked yet.”

Seems to me that is exactly what just happened.

If the press box was stealing your signs for the opposing team would you concede the game quietly?

Donald Trump did not lose a second term to Joe Biden.

Trump lost to the lying, fact free, fake news, scumbag media.

How democratic is that?

November 9, 2020 3:22 pm

I thought the “turning point” was 1988 when, after 4.5 billion years of climate change from natural causes, all natural causes were dismissed as unimportant and the IPCC was directed to blame climate change on hums. Real climate science stopped when the IPCC began it’s confirmation biased junk science.

Reply to  Richard Greene
November 9, 2020 4:03 pm

IPCC blames climate change on humans, not “hums”.
The hums had nothing to do with this.
I typed slow, even using two fingers.
The $#@&% confuser ruins my comments.
I type in brilliant Ph.D level comments, and then the spell correct program garbles everything, so the actual posted comment seems like it was from a deranged child ranting and raving after drinking his father’s scotch, not hidden well enough in the unlocked basement bar liquor cabinet. Either that, or Russians are responsible. I’m turning the #@$% spell check off and living dangerously from now on.

Reply to  Richard Greene
November 9, 2020 6:19 pm

Hums are Humans who don’t know the words. 😉 And it is their fault.

November 9, 2020 3:51 pm

Origin of discernible
1555–65; <Latin discernibilis (see discern, -ible); replacing earlier discernable<Middle French, equivalent to discern(er) to discern + -able-able

November 9, 2020 4:00 pm

@Andy May
“if you frighten a free and democratic public enough, they will give up their individual rights and even their country for safety and security. Lucky for us it hasn’t worked yet.”

I beg to differ, it has worked all to well.
Just in my lifetime politicians have kept the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with a series of hobgoblins … Reds under the bed, New ice age, Global famine, Immigration, Global warming (useful after the Nuclear winter) , Sea level rise, Oil Crisis, Terrorism, Climate change, Global pandemic…to name but a few.
Each one has resulted in more people willingly giving up their individual rights & the executive taking more power (in the UK recently, parliament has been almost sidelined by the executive, draconian laws have been slipped on to the statute books & few people bat an eyelid); as they say ‘Never let a crisis go to waste’.

November 9, 2020 4:16 pm

This is a useful reminder.
I have some vague recollections from the time – a time when I knew nothing about the subject and was totally reliant on the media and hearsay. It was summarised for me as:
1/ The best the scientists in the previous AR could come up with was to say they had good reason to suspect an anthropogenic global warming, but to date they had not been able to provide any definite signal.
2/ Now everything had changed – and a definite signal had now been found.
I asked what the signal “looked like” – but didn’t get a sensible reply. (The fraudulent “hockey stick” didn’t appear until the 3rd AR.)
So it’s interesting to be reminded of why nobody could show me what the signal “looked like”.

Joel O'Bryan
November 9, 2020 4:32 pm

” John Houghton reports in Nature (Houghton, 1996) that one of the governments that pressured him to change Chapter 8 was the United States.

The “United States” here (above) is of course VP Al Gore who was put in charge of the Clinton Admin’s Climate/Global Warming agenda via the West Wing running the operation and the OSTP, which Al Gore effectively controlled on climate issues.
Ben Santer (who was and still employed at LLNL-DOE in California as a Climate Dowser) was doing Al Gore’s bidding in his Chapter 8 chicanery, and thus Veep Al Gore had both Benji’s “six” covered from any retribution from within government scientist circles and as high-level Top Cover to ensure no one in the DOE, NASA, or NOAA climate science areas objected without risk of their jobs.

Once the SAR was adulterated with politicized science and climate change skeptics squelched, the TAR was easy pickings for the Hockey team 4 years later. It’s been downhill ever since. Nothing like it had been seen since the Inquisition against Galileo and his geocentrism 400 years earlier.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 9, 2020 4:56 pm

Orwell of course penned this famous observation about totalitarian regimes and censorship:

“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
– George Orwell, novel: 1984.

So in a reverse order, the Red Guard Foot Soldier Ben Santer, via the SAR Chapter 8 edit, took control of the “present” and recent past with his “discernible human influence” attribution sleight of hand. Then 4 years later the Hockey Team took control of the past in the TAR by using Treemometers and specious PCA-statistics to flatten the temps of the LIA and MWP. Together their efforts on the SAR and TAR completed the Orwellian situation we have today with the Climate Scam.

“The Party has complete political power in the present, enabling it to control the way in which its subjects think about and interpret the past: every history book reflects Party ideology, and individuals are forbidden from keeping mementos of their own pasts, such as photographs and documents. As a result, the citizens of Oceania have a very short, fuzzy memory, and are willing to believe anything that the Party tells them. In the second appearance of this quote, O’Brien tells Winston that the past has no concrete existence and that it is real only in the minds of human beings. O’Brien is essentially arguing that because the Party’s version of the past is what people believe, that past, though it has no basis in real events, has become the truth.”

In the US, this what the Democrats are striving to achieve. Just replace “citizens of Oceania” with US citizens and we’ll be there in a few years if the US Democrats can acquire total political power (via a feeble-minded, dementia-ridden President Joe Biden, soon to replaced by a neo-Marxist Harris) to run the climate scam.

Dennis G Sandberg
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 9, 2020 10:47 pm

Joel, well said. Based on the results of the current election over 50% of voters have arrived and are in, as you report, “completed the Orwellian situation we have today with the Climate Scam”. An American travesty in the making, savable only by the pending senatorial runoff in Georgia. Not just because of what it will be, but what it could have been.

Rich Davis
November 9, 2020 4:59 pm

Senator Worthless’ name is spelled Wirth

Tom Abbott
November 9, 2020 6:04 pm

From the article: “So, the agreed statement saying “we have no yardstick” quoted above, was removed and the statement below added, without consulting the other 35 authors of Chapter 8.

“The body of statistical evidence in Chapter 8, when examined in the context of our physical understanding of the climate system, now points towards a discernable human influence on global climate.” (IPCC, 1996, p. 439)”

See, the Alarmists just made it all up out of whole cloth. They don’t have any evidence of human-caused climate change, but they claim they do.

This Human-caused Climate Change scam is what the spending of Trillions of dollars is based on.

Santer ought to be billed for the damage his lies have caused to the world.

November 9, 2020 6:29 pm

If I am not mistaken there are over 100 Global Climate Models that differ by a factor of 3 or more. Could those who say the models got it right, please tell us which models they are talking about?

Reply to  PMHinSC
November 10, 2020 12:28 am

It is the same with any of these systems – eg, the Elliot wave Theory: it can predict the past beautifully but, even with the brightest minds in fractal mathematics, cannot predict the immediate future.

EdA the New Yorker
November 9, 2020 8:28 pm


I was sort of hoping that the pugnacious programmer would chime in with his side of the story. You seem to present three different lines of evidence for his scientific sleight of hand.

The Tropospheric Hot Spot borders on being a necessary and sufficient condition for attributing observed global warming to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, and tantamount to a discernable human impact. The dynamic duo at UAH, using a far better “yardstick” than Santer had available, has not found convincing evidence for its existence. Thus, Santer could not have been justified in drawing his published SAR conclusion.

So, was he i) a young, naive upstart intimidated into making the change, ii) an opportunist ready to enjoy the lifestyle provided by his 30 pieces of silver, or iii) a pragmatist unwilling to fight city hall, and deciding not to die on that hill?

Chris Hanley
Reply to  EdA the New Yorker
November 9, 2020 11:00 pm

A mid- to upper-tropospheric ‘hot spot’ over the tropics would be evidence of positive water vapor feedback as a result of increased evaporation from the oceans due to surface warming, whatever the cause:

Vincent Causey
November 9, 2020 11:28 pm

If anyone still has any faith that computer models can adequately model all the complex factors that create climate, then I suggest they take a look at the total fiasco that is the much, much simpler model for covid-19 infections.

Reply to  Vincent Causey
November 10, 2020 12:48 am

I don’t look at the models: I look at the observed evidence for temperature, sea ice, ice caps, ocean temperatures, extreme weather events, changing weather patterns etc.

and for covid, the deaths where covid features on the death certificate – the of, not with, death stats.

Physical evidence shows it is warming and that covid is killing people at a high rate

Reply to  griff
November 10, 2020 7:10 am


May I ask why you don’t look at the models and what evidence do you have for the current warming being abnormal and dangerous?

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Redge
November 10, 2020 7:50 am

He/she/it won’t answer.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
November 10, 2020 9:12 am

I know

Reply to  griff
November 10, 2020 8:33 am

Misleading comment at best, griff. These things (except extreme weather which is an alarmist fabrication) all started to change as far back as the end of the Little Ice Age (about 1850), well before CO2 started to rise. We still can’t say what fraction of the slight rate of change of these things is anthropomorphic. Claim you can and you’re lying. In any case, if you believe that these small changes constitute a crisis, then you are in the minority.

Andrew Hamilton
Reply to  griff
November 10, 2020 1:32 pm

Griff, If that’s your real name. When you look at the ice caps, do you notice the ice at Antarctica is not melting? You know, the 90% of all ice on the planet. Do you notice that the major temperature index graphs look entirely different from the CO2 graph? Do you look at the studies on “extreme weather” showing there is no increase? Can you explain the Little Ice Age, Medieval Warm Period, Dark Ages Cool Period, Roman Warm Period, or the Holocene Climate Optimum, all occurring without the CO2 changes that global warming proponents expect? Can you explain the previous interglacial that was 2°C warmer than this one, but that had lower CO2?

Simon Aked
November 10, 2020 2:28 am

Margaret Thatcher ceased to be Prime Minister in 1989.

It is of great sadness to many of her supporters that a scientist (Chemistry degree) could be taken in by it. However, at the time, it was politically convenient in her battle against the unions, particularly the coal miners who had instigated highly damaging national strikes in 1973 and again in 1985.

In her memoirs, Margaret Thatcher recanted her belief in man made global warming. Sadly, too late to stop it getting a hold in UK politics.

Reply to  Simon Aked
November 10, 2020 11:41 am

Margaret Thatcher ceased to be Prime Minister in 1990.

I agree with your other comments.


Reply to  auto
November 10, 2020 6:58 pm

Politicians manipulate.
Thatcher manipulated public opinion in her “shouty” hectoring way.

She claimed all sorts of expedients during the miner’s strike, and managed to keep Notts miner at work.
The principle casualty of destroying UK mined coal were Ukrainians working in dirty, unsafe conditions eg. in Donbass region, where 100s have died, many of them children.

She chose to destroy UK jobs, exporting them to Eastern Europe,- simply importing coal cheaper.
Russia has done much the same, exploiting Ukraine by forcing it to sell coal at below cost, in mining conditions similar to the 19th century, using much the same dynamics.
What’s new?

Just Jenn
November 10, 2020 5:29 am

IPCC should stand for International Protection of Cataclysmic Criteria. By line: if we don’t know, we make it up, stayed tuned folks, more human shame at 11.

A warmer Earth is good for everyone. Sea levels change, we know this, we have evidence for civilizations that are now under the sea (for which make some fascinating discoveries). River’s dry up, reform, come back, Lakes too. What was once a thriving civilization experienced drought or glaciers and moved on. People lived during glacial periods, warm periods, and moderate temperatures. We have close to 200K years of history of people moving here, moving there, all around the Earth. We have evidence that the population went through a bottleneck (though not a cause) and rebounded.

So given the archeological record we have now, which is not the full story, why does the idea that humans can not move, must be buried in the sand while the tide rises and not change the freaking basis for such ridiculous claims? Because people don’t want to lose their way of life…right? Well our forebearers didn’t want to lose theirs but they survived. It’s not the end of civilization, of life, of everything. It’s just a way of life. The Earth does not have a stable climate or one that can not fluctuate. We know this, we’ve studied this in our past. So why perpetuate this ridiculous idea that Earth’s climate is something that can be controlled in order to satisfy what someone says is the “right” temperature. The entire premise is ridiculously arrogant.

Oh but the economies of those nations…..BS…the ONLY economy these people are worried about is losing out on the next vacation spot meeting place. If they gave two cents to the people that live in these nations they are proclaiming to protect, then start by creating a market for items that wash up on their beaches. Get in there and provide waste removal, pollution measures, save their water, land and food sources from encroaching global economics that push health trends and see acres of acres of what was once farmland to feed the people into single species to feed an industry.

EdA the New Yorker
November 10, 2020 7:02 am


Thanks for the Dr. Roy link; it is a nice review.

I was trying to be careful with my wording, but maybe didn’t succeed. The absence of a measurable hot spot, even with today’s technology, demonstrates that a claim of observing a discernable human impact on that basis had to be wrong.

If such a hot spot were present, the carbon dioxide increase (with water feedback) would become the leading explanation for its existence.

John Tillman
November 10, 2020 7:31 am

As after 1997-98 Super El Niño, Earth is back to cooling following 2015-16 Super El Niño.

Extending the graph would show this trend. With presen La Niña, it should complete at least a fifth year in February 2021.

Jeff Alberts
November 10, 2020 7:52 am

All the talk in the article about using unpublished work is kind of a red-herring. Kind of.

Just because something is published doesn’t make it correct, or its conclusions correct. MBH 98 and Briffa’s One Tree To Rule Them All are cases in point, among many others.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Andy May
November 11, 2020 9:45 am

But the flaws have not been acknowledged, the papers not retracted.

November 10, 2020 8:19 am

I just love how viruses spread. We’ve gone from “totally unbiased” political arguments over climate data for political reasons for research reports to “totally unbiased” political arguments to avoid doing a correct vote count for major elections.
What could possibly go wrong? Politicians have shown an unremarkable ability to change horses in midstream and disavow anything they said to get votes in an election. The writers of the Constitution thought politics to be the “art of the possible through compromise” Now politics has turned into “anything is possible once you’ve got a lead in an election”

Any discussion of the IPCC. “climate change”, or useful research needs only to go to the UNEP(United Nations Environmental Program”. It documents in quite interesting detail the political machinations started by Maurice Strong in 1972. It was established from the beginning to produce plausible “scientific” evidence that human-caused changes to the climate were occurring. It has gone unchecked ever since.

The above comments in the thread do a good summary of some of the fabricated results that have been used to incorrectly justify a ridiculous premise, and enforce it. Namely that humans are the primary cause of the world climate getting warmer. After 50 years it actually shows that we don’t have enough usable data for a long enough time to make any definitive statements about the climate other than it can and has changed.

November 10, 2020 3:49 pm

“Figure 2. Gallup polls showing that between 25% and 36% think that global warming will threaten their way of life”

Way of life??

Alarmingly manipulative question: There is no doubt that ALLEGDED GW has had a profound impact on most OECD citizens way of life already. Over taxes, subsidies, prices, politics and freedoms.


November 10, 2020 6:06 pm

“John Houghton, a Welsh atmospheric physicist”.

They can’t even get this bit right.
Houghton is not even Welsh, he just had a Dad who was a schoolmaster in Wales.
Physicist? Not any more.
Extreme “biased “lobbyist” is more like it.
Died of complications from Covid on April 15.

Legacy E R and many other lunatics on the fringes such as Charles fake “prince of Wales”.
“failed in Wales” is the new norm.

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