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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Speaking of fossil fuel funding...

Sou | 5:49 PM Go to the first of 6 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has been loudly protesting that he doesn't get funding from fossil fuels interests.  Or more accurately, he may or may not have had such funding in the past but he doesn't at present.

Within the same 24 hours, with no apparent sense of the irony, Anthony puts up an article co-authored by the discredited Willie Soon, who reportedly is paid by fossil fuel interests.  It's a tired list of denier memes going way back in time. Nothing new at all.  Anthony is digging deep in his denial of science and still failing to come up with any fresh ideas.

In the article (archived here) by the denialist trio Green, Armstrong and Soon, Anthony Watts promotes:

  1. The abysmal effort by science deniers to get a populist vote on climate change through a fraudulent "petition" known as the Oregon Petition.  This is doubly ironic, given all the protests about the scientific consensus, with Anthony trying to argue that even though almost all scientific papers on the subject attribute global warming to human actions, it doesn't mean squat.
  2. A paper that claims to be a "scientific" forecast of global surface temperatures.  The paper is listed by Google Scholar as being cited 27 times.  Of those citations, sixteen are from the authors of the original paper; four are from the denialist organisation eike-klima-energie; one is from science disinformer Marc Morano at ClimateDepot; one is the discredited McShane and Wyner paper; one is from science denier David Stockwell.
  3. A supposed "scientific" forecast, which isn't based on climate science at all.  It's based on nothing more than mathturbation.
  4. A supposed "scientific" forecast that the global surface temperature this century will remain within +/- 0.5 degrees of that in 2008.  That's a two bob each way bet of "no change" with a hedging margin.

I don't know what Green, Armstrong and Soon mean by this statement:
Most importantly, computer models and scenarios are not evidence—and validation does not consist of adding up votes
They seem to believe that adding up fake votes on a fake petition is "validation" while known physics and chemistry is not evidence. Weird, huh!

The Green, Armstrong and Soon Forecast

This is what the Green, Armstrong, Soon so-called "scientific" forecast looks like:

Data source: NASA and Green, Armstrong & Soon (2009)

Compare that with the IPCC projections from the AR5 WG1 Summary for Policy Makers (page SPM-36), which unlike the above, are based on climate science, calculating the impact of carbon emissions on surface temperature:

Source: Adapted from IPCC Summary for Policy Makers
And this one from page SPM-33 of the Summary for Policy Makers, looking at the surface temperature projections from another angle:

Source: IPCC Summary for Policy Makers
Who is willing to bet that Green, Armstrong and Soon are correct in their forecast, which is effectively that the world will at worst stick close to the RCP 2.6 pathway and take very strong steps to mitigate?  And at best will manage to remove all the extra CO2 we've added in the last 150 years or so!

WUWT builds another straw man

Green, Armstrong and Soon state:
The modelers have correctly stated that they produce scenarios, not forecasts. Scenarios are stories constructed from a collection of assumptions. Well-constructed scenarios can be very convincing, in the same way that a well-crafted book or film can be.
The IPCC and its supporters promote these scary scenarios as if they were forecasts. However, scenarios are neither forecasts nor the product of a validated forecasting method.
First of all they acknowledge that the IPCC report produces scenarios not forecasts, then they say that the scenarios are promoted "as if they were forecasts".  Green, Armstrong and Soon are consistent only in their double-speak.

In any case, they are not quite correct.  When Green, Armstrong and Soon write that the the IPCC produces scenarios, what I believe they mean is that the IPCC reports projections for different given scenarios, or in the case of AR5, for different pathways (RCPs).

Principles from the Unprincipled

Green, Armstrong and Soon allege that, despite the IPCC not making forecasts, in the forecasts they don't make they manage to violate "72 of 89 relevant scientific forecasting principles".  These science deniers don't link to any list of the so-called "scientific forecasting principles" developed by Armstrong (of Green, Armstrong and Soon), so here it is.  (It takes no more than a glance to realise why they decided not to link to it.) Nor do they indicate which of the principles the IPCC violates in the forecasts it doesn't make.

Here is a sample from Armstrong's "scientific principles":
  1. Use brainstorming and other processes. 
  2. The strength of evidence cited by Armstrong as underpinning his "scientific principles" includes: "Received wisdom", "some empirical evidence", "Strong empirical support from research in personnel selection", and "common sense".  All sounds very scientific doesn't it!
  3. Principles include: "Make sure forecasts are independent of politics".  It's a pity they didn't include "make sure forecasts are independent of ideological denial"!
Going through the "principles", I failed to see any that the IPCC violated in making its projections not "forecasts".  I did see an awful lot of "principles" though.  Many of them are Mickey Mouse "principles", like "avoid the collection of irrelevant data" and "obtain the most recent data".

I reckon Green, Armstrong and Soon probably sat down together and did a little brainstorming to decide how best to try to hoodwink the public into believing that climate science is a hoax.

My advice to Anthony Watts, J. Scott Armstrong, Kesten C. Green and Willie Soon?  Leave brainstorming climate to people knowledgeable about climate science.

My advice to J. Scott Armstrong?  Learn the difference between "principles" and a step-by-step (and very basic) "how to" manual.  Maybe one of his colleagues at Wharton will help out.  (He's actually employed at Wharton? Good grief.  I thought that in the corporate world, Wharton still had an reputation for quality. Still, I guess if MIT can keep Lindzen on the books then Wharton can have some duds too.  Leaving aside the fact that they are step-by-step instructions rather than "principles", J. Scott Armstrong's effort at enunciating forecasting principles seems amateurish and awkward.  And as far as marketing skills goes, J. Scott Armstrong is not crash hot when it comes to marketing science denial, is he.)


Way back in 2007, Gavin Schmidt suggest some "principles" for Green and Armstrong to follow.  It's funny and worth reading.  Nothing much has changed.  H/t Gavin Schmidt.  (Added 7:42 pm AEDST)


  1. I had look at the reference list for those Principles. 7 of those that were authored by J. S. Armstrong are in a book - edited by J. S. Armstrong! And it's same book that this "paper" appeared in. My head hurts.

    1. It's Pielkes all the way down!:


  2. Terrific stuff Sou. You have debunking these turkeys down to a fine art.

    At The Conversation, I had a guy from the UNSW business school quoting Armstrong's looney principles as evidence for why the IPCC projections were wrong.

    I probably wore out Gavin's link in responding to him. Eventually he lost his temper, abused me and was banned. ;-)

  3. Did you see this part?

    "We tested the no-trend model, using the same data that the IPCC uses. To do this, we produced annual forecasts from one to 100 years ahead, starting from 1851 and stepping forward year-by-year until 1975, the year before the current warming alarm was raised. (This is also the year when Newsweek and other magazines reported that scientists were “almost unanimous” that Earth faced a new period of global cooling.) We conducted the same analysis for the IPCC scenario of temperatures increasing at a rate of 0.03 degrees Celsius (0.05 degrees Fahrenheit) per year in response to increasing human carbon dioxide emissions."

    Yes, this is what they are saying. I repeat: 3 degrees C per century since 1851. The "IPCC forecast" from 1851 would be a warming rate of 3 degrees C per century!

    And once more: According to Green, Amstrong and Soon, the "IPCC forecast" from 1851 would be a warming rate of 3 degrees C per century.

    This is truly amazing! These people are apparently being serious. They believe this is a reasonable way to evaluate the IPCC projections. They have even published this in a journal.

    1. Yes, Lars, it's nuts. Just as weird is their "stepping forward year by year". Goodness knows what they think they were doing. And why stop at 1975?

      Plus their reference to Newsweek - a current affairs magazine, not a scientific paper. Once again no link provided on the off chance that someone would find out they misquoted it. The actual sentence was (see here):

      Meteorologists...are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural output for the rest of the century.

      Not "scientists were “almost unanimous” that Earth faced a new period of global cooling".

      Not that Gwynne (author of the Newsweek article) provided any direct quote from any meteorologist or other scientist saying either of those things. Gwynne was making all that stuff up.

      Peterson et al (2008) showed that 'global cooling' papers were less than 10% of climate papers between 1965 and 1979 and citations show that papers on global warming were given much more credence than the ones on global cooling.

    2. That Newsweek article uses the the term "climatic change". In 1975!

      But...but... we all know they had to change "global warming" to "climate change" around 1998, because it stopped warming...I'm sure I read that on WTFIUWWibble.

      Skeptic consistency...



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