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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Another (recycled) cacophony from Anthony Watts. No, it's NOT the sun stupid!

Sou | 10:01 PM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts is running short of guest posters.  He was reduced to greenhouse effect denier and arch-conspiracy theorist Tim Ball and coal company advocate Viv Forbes to fill his daily quota yesterday. So today he decided to try and write an article all by himself (a risky tactic) and take a shot at Gavin Schmidt. (Archived here.)

The thing is, all Anthony did was demonstrate once again that he's a complete nincompoop when it comes to climate science.  He can't write a coherent or logical article and doesn't know the first thing about the subject.  And this is despite the fact that he's been (ostensibly) blogging about weather and climate for six years or so.

The headline for Anthony's latest article (archived here) is:
Gavin was for solar forcing of climate before he was against it
As Gavin Schmidt tweeted:

Cowardly? Not on your life!

Anthony started off badly, calling Gavin Schmidt "cowardly" for appearing on Fox television but declining the request to "debate" with Roy Spencer.  Cowardly is not even the last word that any sane person would think of to describe Gavin Schmidt - respected climate scientist, Deputy Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, climate champion, climate hawk, pioneer in blogging about climate science - bringing science to the people, recognised by the scientific community for his contribution to science communication, courteous and polite even in the face of provocation etc etc.  Many people would regard Gavin Schmidt as a hero, not afraid to speak out on behalf of humanity. Cowardly - never.

As Gavin explains in part his decision to not take part in any debate with Roy Spencer (who rejects climate science apparently on pseudo-religious grounds) in this series of tweets:
Television is performance art, not scientific debate. We shouldn't confuse the two. 

"It's just a cacophony...I'm not interested in adding to noise..."

And in response to a question from the audience in his AGU13 Stephen Schneider Lecture (around 44:24), Gavin Schmidt explains more:
There are fora in which you can have a serious conversation. And there are fora in which it's almost impossible. 
Debate situations where you have "no no no no" "yes yes yes yes" - it's just a cacophony and often is just literally people talking over each other. It serves nobody's purpose other than the producer who thinks they had a fiery segment on their TV show. 
I don't do those kind of things. I was on Fox Business News a few months ago and they tried to set it up as a debate with Roy Spencer and I said, "Look, I don't want to, I'm not going to, I'm not here to make good TV for you.  If you want to ask me questions, if you want to understand what we as a community understand about the science then I'm happy to talk to you." And I did. And I talked to him and I explained things. 
And then he said: "Oh well, you know what. I've got Roy Spencer over here in the wings. I'll bring him on and now you can have a debate." And I said: "No. I don't want to have a debate with people. Because it's just noise. And I'm not interested in adding to noise."
Right. Now some people are. Right? Some people want to add noise to the discussion. And if that's what you're advocating - more noise, and there are people who are doing that,  nobody here. Then, you know, go ahead. But you know the things that I advocate for basically are a higher level of conversation. Right? And that means avoiding noise in order to have serious conversation.

Standing up for your principles on camera on a widely viewed television show is the absolute opposite of "cowardly". If only more people would have that sort of courage.

Anyway, that's how Anthony Watts set the scene - positing that this renowned climate scientist and award-winning climate communicator, who speaks out to inform the public about climate science, is somehow "cowardly".  And Anthony labels Dr Schmidt "cowardly" because he refused to put aside his principles and stood up to a popular television entertainer/presenter, John Stossel.

To Anthony Watts - (yawn) - it's not the sun, stupid!

Then Anthony Watts wrote:
After listing the known causes for climate change aka global warming, Gavin Schmidt said:
“We’ve looked at the sun; it’s not the sun. We’ve looked at volcanoes; it’s not volcanoes. We’ve looked at the orbit; it’s not the orbit.”
Interestingly, Gavin lists solar forcing as  primary cause of colder temperatures during the Maunder Minimum and “little ice age” in this 2001 paper co-authored with Mike Mann: 
Science 7 December 2001: Vol. 294 no. 5549 pp. 2149-2152 DOI: 10.1126/science.1064363 Solar Forcing of Regional Climate Change During the Maunder Minimum Drew T. Shindell1, Gavin A. Schmidt1, Michael E. Mann2, David Rind1, Anne Waple3

Yes, it is interesting to think that the sun may have played a role in the Northern Hemisphere cold spell during the Maunder Minimum (see Leif Svalgaard's cautionary comment below), but not in the way that Anthony Watts wants his readers to think.  Here is an chart from the IPCC AR5 WG1 report, which I've animated to illustrate all the above. As always, click to enlarge.

Source: Box TS-5 Figure 1 IPCC AR5 WG1

I note in the comments that Leif Svalgaard says that the Shindell paper is based on information about solar activity that is now seen as erroneous.  I don't know to what extent the IPCC chart above reflects current thinking about TSI.

Now it will be no surprise to HotWhopper readers that Anthony would ignore the forcing from greenhouse gases this past few decades while pretending to his followers that the earth is about to get very cold.  Which of course is just what he does when he writes about the possibility of the "smallest solar cycle for over 300 years":
Livingston and Penn provided the first hard estimate of Solar Cycle 25 amplitude based on a physical model. That estimate is 7, which would make it the smallest solar cycle for over 300 years. Yet according to Gavin in his recent television interview,
“We’ve looked at the sun; it’s not the sun.”
Right, apparently the sun can only force climate one-way.

Yet neither Gavin nor any reputable climate scientists would argue that "the sun can only force the climate one-way" (nor that "the sun can only force the climate one way").

If Anthony stopped to think for a second he'd realise that if there were no solar irradiance then earth would be frozen solid - that's if there were any water on Earth in that situation.  It's because of solar forcing that Earth is warm.  That plus greenhouse gases of course.

And in the chart above you can see how when there is higher solar irradiance the temperature goes up and when there is less the temperature drops.  The solar forcing works both ways.  But when there is another forcing, like from a volcanic eruption, that acts on top of the solar forcing.  And when there is yet another forcing like adding more greenhouse gases, that adds to any solar and volcanic forcing.

Anthony seems to be trying on the old "it's the sun".  If one took Anthony's article to its logical conclusion and ignored any forcing except incoming solar irradiance, then earth should be quite cold instead of being as hot or maybe even hotter than it's been since the Holocene Optimum.

Anthony finishes up with this bit of pseudo-scientific nonsense:
So in the upcoming two decades, as solar activity wanes, if it becomes globally cooler, will Gavin and Mike blame the sun, or will the disavow their previous work, pointing to studies like this one?

Because Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann are scientists, not nincompoop fake sceptics who talk through their proverbial hats, if the earth cooled down in the next two decades I've no doubt they would be able to explain what caused it.  It won't be the sun unless it somehow reduced it's radiant output to levels not seen in millions of years.  And that's unlikely from a scientific perspective.  A supervolcano or two would probably do the trick.  Or a major nuclear war.  Or someone playing god by some massive geoengineering venture.

Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann are way ahead of Anthony Watts

In fact, Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann are way ahead of Anthony Watts. Two and a half years ago they posted an article on their website, discussing what would happen if there were a Grand Minimum.  They understand climate forcings a bit better than Anthony does.

In the article, Georg Feulner wrote:
The Maunder Minimum falls within the climatically cooler period of the “Little Ice Age”, during which temperatures were particularly low over continents in the Northern hemisphere (especially in winter). It has long been suspected that the low solar activity during the Maunder Minimum was one of the causes of the Little Ice Age, although other factors like a small drop in greenhouse gas concentrations around 1600 and strong volcanic eruptions during that time likely played a role as well.
Solar physicists do not yet understand how an extended solar-activity low like the Maunder Minimum arises. Yet there is recent observational evidence for an unusual behavior of the Sun during the current cycle 24, including a missing zonal wind flow within the Sun, decreasing magnetic field strength of sunspots and lower activity around the poles of the Sun. These observations prompted Frank Hill and colleagues to suggest that the Sun might enter a new Maunder-like minimum after the current 11-year cycle ends (i.e. after 2020 or so).

Georg Feulner referred to a paper he and Stefan Rahmstorf had published in GRL back in 2010, called On the effect of a new grand minimum of solar activity on the future climate on Earth.  (I'd be very surprised if Anthony didn't know of this paper but not surprised that he doesn't refer to it.) What they found was that the impact would be no more than -0.3°C, which is considerably less than is projected for greenhouse gas forcing:

Figure 2. (top) Global mean temperature anomalies 1900–2100 relative to the period 1961–1990 for the A1B (red lines) and A2 (magenta lines) scenarios and for three different solar forcings corresponding to a typical 11‐year cycle (solid line) and to a new grand minimum with solar irradiance corresponding to recent reconstructions of Maunder‐minimum irradiance (dashed line) and a lower irradiance (dotted line), respectively. Observed temperatures until 2009 are also shown (NASA GISS [Hansen et al., 2006], blue line and shaded 1s and 2s error ranges). (bottom) Radiative forcings used in the simulation experiments, with observed values until 2008 marked by thick lines. Volcanic radiative forcing has been shifted by +8.25 W m−2 for clarity.
Source: Feulner and Rahmstorf (2010)

The upshot is that if there were a Grand Minimum, global surface temperatures may rise by, for example, 3.7°C by 2100 instead of 4°C if we keep emitting vast quantities of CO2.

Anthony Watts is simply recycling old noise

Anthony is finding it hard to come up with new denier memes, although yesterday he came up with a variation of a classic climate conspiracy that I hadn't come across before.

Anyway , here's a video that potholer54 put up back in June two years ago that Anthony might enjoy :)

A mini-ice age? Not from the sun. Cooling? If so, it won't be because of greenhouse gases.  And I'll bet you that scientists are able explain variations in the global surface temperature and that Anthony Watts will reject them - since he rejects almost all climate science.

That's why, despite his objections, Anthony Watts is known, if he's known at all, as one of that ratty mob of climate science deniers.

From the WUWT comments

There is a lot of name-calling going on in the comments (I'll make a blanket "name-call" - they are dull lot at WUWT), which is in keeping with WUWT policies.  I'll not bother repeating them. (The comments are archived here with the WUWT article.)

However, this first comment from lsvalgaard is worth mentioning, he refers to a paper Anthony linked to and says:
December 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm
The old Shidell et al. paper from 2001 was based on the erroneous Hoyt-Schatten reconstruction of TSI, so cannot be used anymore. The notion that solar activity in the 20th century was at an all-time high is also incorrect. When the data used to infer relationships are in doubt, anything goes, and no valid conclusions can be reached. My own reasoning is here:

Pamela Gray ignores where Anthony quoted Gavin Schmidt as saying: “We’ve looked at the sun; it’s not the sun. We’ve looked at volcanoes; it’s not volcanoes. We’ve looked at the orbit; it’s not the orbit.” Either that or she thinks there is a new forcing to consider, outside of the sun, volcanoes, orbital variation and greenhouse gases:
December 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm
Gavin engaged in wriggle matching without serious attention to mechanism. As he currently also does. In both cases Gavin fails to consider other more probable mechanisms with the energy necessary to bring about, sustain and deepen weather pattern variations shifts. If he now agrees to consider other non-solar causes of historical shifts, he must consider other such causes for the modern one he is so focused on.

Anthony gets frustrated a lot by Stephen Mosher, who he used to regard as an ally against the evil forces of climate science.   Steven Mosher says - and Anthony mumbles an incoherent response:
December 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm
Global versus regional.
There is no modern maximum in TSI.
REPLY: Oh yea of narrow possibilities. Not one mention of TSI. There are other mechanisms – Anthony

What did Gavin say about cacophony?  RAH doesn't understand climate science but does understand recycling, and goes for the "money" and "religion" memes (excerpt):
December 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm
...After all their beliefs have nothing to do with science and everything to do with money and faith.
markstoval doesn't have any other explanation for this global warming, nor does he have a clue about climate science (see his "burn us to a crisp").  However, he is convinced that all the scientists in the world who research any aspect of the earth system are "dishonest" and says (excerpt):
December 28, 2013 at 3:44 pm
I truly think that it is honesty that is missing in the climatology realm more than there being a lack of common sense. I am not being cynical or snide with this comment; I can not explain the alarmist’s position that anthropogenic CO2 drives the climate and will burn us to a crisp other than to believe they are dishonest. 

Jimbo seems to have just discovered that Michael Mann has published quite a bit of research on the Medieval climate anomaly in his own right and with other scientists. He hasn't yet connected that revelation with the fact that Michael Mann and others have made a fair bit of progress in being able to describe and explain the climate of that period.  Before quoting from this 2001 paper by Briffa et al, Jimbo says (excerpt):
December 28, 2013 at 4:22 pm
Think about this little observation by Michael Mann on the Medieval Warm Period that he says he can’t explain? Can someone else explain the following observation by Michael Mann about FIGS AND OLIVES IN GERMANY????


  1. "if the earth cooled down in the next two decades I've no doubt they would be able to explain what caused it."

    A cooling earth would be consistent with global warming!

  2. I know it's not relevant necessarily to this post (and since I've been dissecting Monckton's latest drivel on morality) I note this quote from a comment on his own post, in response to a non-denier called Warren:

    "Talking of which, “Warren” says 99.8% of scientific papers “support” anthropogenic global warming. Well, I support it myself."

    So, Monckton supports anthropogenic global warming. Could have fooled me. Actually, he did. And I think he fooled most of the people who take even the slightest notice of him. His comment is archived in this It's a long way down.

  3. Anthony Watts is in the middle of a tweet frenzy. He's been tweeting madly to all and sundry. At one stage he asked a University of Victoria scientist from BC something about Australian taxpayers! (He's mixed up Victoria BC with Victoria Australia before, but there was absolutely no excuse this time around. The twitter profile and the scientist's home page are as clear as can be about who he is and where he works. Canada is writ in large letters all over.)

    Then Anthony started flinging insults at random to anyone he happened to come across, whether they included him in a tweet or not. At the same time he complained about being insulted.

    As part of his tweet mania Anthony also tweeted Gavin Schmidt, saying his headline (as shown above) was "political humour" and suggesting climate scientists should get a sense of humour! This after spending much time calling Gavin "cowardly" in this very same article.

    Is Anthony's constant denial of reality when it comes to climate science making him lose his grip on reality altogether I wonder?


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