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Sunday, March 31, 2013

More denier weirdness for light relief

Sou | 7:07 AM Feel free to comment!

You don't have to go further than WUWT for denier weirdness:

From Nik Marshall-Blank: The arctic melted more in the Little Ice Age...

I read so many alarmist stories about the arctic melting etc. When the arctic melts more than normal it seems to be because of a -ve arctic oscillation. The arctic also appeared to have melted more in the LIA.

From @njsnowfan: Man-made static is distorting the data...and more gems...
I feel we are already in a Mini Ice that started in 2008. Man made static is distorting the data and Man made BTU Heat emmisions is keeping flat temps.

From Tallbloke:'s the sun stupid...
But doesn’t mention the adjustments Anthony has covered or that big yellow nuclear furnace up in the sky…

This "NASA faked the moon landing" from Andor (Poe?) was just a bit too much for Anthony Watts:
And while Europe and North America has deep winter, coldest since 18h00′s..hellooo does this ring a bell?…. now and will continue into April….it has to be global warming? The same idiots believing they landed on the moon are the same believing in AGW.
Go talk to Lewandowsky, your rants have no place here. – Anthony
From Chad Wozniak: Temperature has been dropping for 80 years...
Also, the FACT is that not only are 1998-2013 temps lower than 1980-1998, but 1980-1998 were considerably lower than the 1930s. The downward trend extends back 80 years, not 15 or 16 or 20.
Maybe Chad is suffering from upside down vision, seeing this:

Instead of this:


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Willis' Motivated Rejection of Science

Sou | 4:26 PM Feel free to comment!

Today I saw an article by Willis Eschenbach on WUWT about a recent paper by James Hansen, Pushker Kharecha and Makiko Sato*.

Willis' article is full of errors as is usual (eg for DKE comedic relief see this article on Willis 'hypothesising thunderstorms' | Warning: head vice recommended.).

I'll only highlight one curious aspect, where for some inexplicable reason Willis is motivated to reject the impact of Pinatubo (just like Anthony denied the findings of his own and others).

Motivated Rejection of Pinatubo

Willis writes:
So to start with, from both his graph and mine I’m saying absolutely no way to Hansen’s claim that there was a “decreased airborne fraction after the Pinatubo eruption”.
This is the chart he provides, where the blue vertical line marks 1991, when Pinatubo erupted (click chart for larger version):

Look at the red line, which is "Annual Airborne Fraction" - note the further sharp decrease immediately after Pinatubo.  (Is this a case of Willis thinking "if I say it often enough it will become true"?)

The drop in the ΔCO2 is even more sharply illustrated in the following two charts.

The first is Figure 2 from Hansen et al (2013) showing the atmospheric ΔCO2 from the late 1950s to present.  Note how ΔCO2 starts to rise again in the late 1980s followed by a sharp drop in 1991 after Pinatubo.

Figure 2. Annual increase of CO2 based on data from the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL 2012). CO2 change and global temperature change are 12-month running means of differences for the same month of consecutive years. Nino index (Nino3.4 area) is 12-month running mean. Both temperature indices use data from Hansen et al (2010). Annual mean CO2 amount in 1958 was 315 ppm (Mauna Loa) and in 2012 was 394 ppm (Mauna Loa) and 393 ppm (Global).

The second is a chart I drew up from these global CO2 data, where I calculated the difference in atmospheric CO2 between successive January's and added these data of CO2 emissions to the chart.  I've extended the lines of ΔCO2 before and after 1991 to illustrate the sharp change in direction at 1991.

As you can clearly see, the emissions rise while the ΔCO2 drops sharply immediately after Pinatubo (1991 marked by the yellow vertical line).  (The emissions data do not include land use changes, but these would not have a huge impact over the short period in question.) (click chart for larger version).

Willis' flawed 'justification'

Willis justifies his false notion about Pinatubo by this short statement:
The majority of the drop he seems to be pointing to occurred well before Pinatubo occurred … 
However, the astute person will have noticed the flattening of emissions 'before Pinatubo occurred' and the rise in emissions afterwards, while the ΔCO2 drops.

Willis adds the following sentence (tinged with a military expression) to goad his fans (my bold):
In passing, let me comment that any reviewer who let any of that Pinatubo nonsense past them should resign their commission. It was the first thing I noticed when I looked at the paper.
It appears that the word "Pinatubo" is like a red rag to a bull with Willis ("it was the first thing I noticed").

The mystery is what motivates Willis to reject the effect of large volcanos in particular.  That's the part I have yet to fathom.

Postscript: Opening line of another Willis article just posted:
People sometimes ask why I don’t publish in the so-called scientific journals.
Well, duh...!

*James Hansen et al 2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 011006 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/011006

Thursday, March 28, 2013

On Plain Denial: Watts Dismisses His Own Evidence That is Counter to His Viewpoint

MobyT | 5:20 PM Go to the first of 2 comments. Add a comment

Blogger Anthony Watts is boasting that his denial shenanigans finally got some attention from normal people who aim to educate others about climate change. For some unknown reason he was interviewed by James Stafford for  There have been a number of articles commenting about that interview, so I'll just post some links rather than repeat the points:

Plain Denial: How Anthony Watts Smears Himself

What I'm writing about is how Anthony subsequently proves that what he regards as a 'smear' is spot on.

Anthony is particularly thrilled because not only did he (briefly) feature on RealityDrops for spreading disinformation, he managed to catch the attention of Professor John Abraham, who with  Professor Scott Mandia and Dr Ray Weymann set up the Climate Science Rapid Response Team.

In James Stafford's follow up interview for, John Abraham mentioned Watts more than once - he mentioned him many times.

Anthony was incensed as well as thrilled to be noticed, and seems to think he is posting a rebuttal to Abraham's take-down.  He quotes this passage from the Abraham interview (my bold):
The fact is that Mr. Watts is not a pragmatic sceptic. Real scientists are sceptical by nature. We don’t believe what our colleagues tell us until we verify it for ourselves. Scientists honestly develop views of how the world works and they test those views by experimentation. As a result of approximately 150 years of climate science, the vast majority of scientists are convinced that humans are a major cause of climate change. Mr. Watts, on the other hand, dismisses evidence that is counter to his viewpoint. That is not scepticism–that is plain denial.
Anthony says the above statement is a smear.  Then proceeds to do exactly that - dismissing evidence that is counter to his viewpoint.

How Anthony Watts Dismisses Evidence that is Counter to His Viewpoint - Even His Own Evidence

Look at the part I've highlighted in bold, which is probably the bit that Anthony objected to the most.  Now consider what Anthony does next in his own article.

What he does next, in the very same blog article, is "dismiss evidence that is counter to his viewpoint" Not only that, the evidence he dismisses is from his very own research, a paper on which he is listed as co-author, Fall et al (2011).

 Fall et al (2011) looked at whether siting of weather stations in the USA introduces a bias in the temperature record.  The paper suggests there is a measurable difference in diurnal variation but that station siting has no impact on the trend of average temperatures.  Other published research, by Menne et al (2010) also found that station siting does not introduce any warming bias in the temperature record.  A different but somewhat related more recent study found that the effect of urban heat islands has been factored into the US temperature record and does not distort the trend.

Anthony then goes on to explain that he dismisses his own findings reported in Fall et al and is working on finding a way to get a different result - one presumably that will not be "counter to his viewpoint".  He writes:
We know why the first effort (Fall et al) didn’t see much of a siting signal, so the second effort used a different method endorsed by the WMO, and found a strong signal. We built on the flaws of the first work, and we are preparing a paper for submission that includes dealing with the useful criticisms we learned from the discussion of the preliminary release. 

(I couldn't see Anthony getting his next paper published if he really had identified flaws and is "building on the flaws of the first work"!)

Denial by Omission

In addition, Watts selectively quotes from the abstract of Fall et al, leaving out the fact that the research found no impact on average temperature trends in his effort to dismiss evidence (even his own) that is counter to his viewpoint:

Here is Watts excerpt from the abstract, which Anthony chose to feature in his blog article:
Comparison of observed temperatures with NARR shows that the most poorly sited stations are warmer compared to NARR than are other stations, and a major portion of this bias is associated with the siting classification rather than the geographical distribution of stations. According to the best‐sited stations, the diurnal temperature range in the lower 48 states has no century‐scale trend. 
What Watts omitted was this part of the abstract, that states quite clearly that station siting in the USA doesn't affect the average temperature trends, the pluses are balanced by the minuses (my bold):
The opposite‐signed differences of maximum and minimum temperature trends are similar in magnitude, so that the overall mean temperature trends are nearly identical across site classifications.

Rebutting Watts Rebutting Watts

Deniers are still waiting with bated breath for the Watts rebuttal of Watts after it's shock and awe announcement in July last year.  (Nine months is a long time in denierland, probably requiring nebulisers).

Among the blog rebuttals of the Watts rebuttal of Watts, one comes from disinformer Steve McIntyre, who seemed a tad surprised to be listed as co-author of the Watts rebutting Watts draft paper.  Other blog rebuttals can be found below:

(It's probably not a good idea to hold your breath waiting for the publication of Watts rebuts Watts.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Watt a whopper of religious fervour

MobyT | 6:11 PM Go to the first of 21 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts criticises Michael Mann for refusing to 'debate' Roy Spencer because not only is Spencer a climate science denier, he is an evolution denier.

Anthony Watts can't tell the difference between science and religion as evidenced by the fact that he thinks this tweet, which is about science, is a comment on religion:

Prof Mann mentions only science and expresses the normal reaction from any scientist when asked to 'debate' a science denier.  (Nowhere does Mann mention religion.)

Real Scientists Don't Debate Creationists or Climate Science Deniers

You can just as easily substitute climate science denier for creationist in the following excerpt from an article by Richard Dawkins: (my paragraph breaks and emphasis)
Some time in the 1980s when I was on a visit to the United States, a television station wanted to stage a debate between me and a prominent creationist called, I think, Duane P Gish. I telephoned Stephen Gould for advice.
He was friendly and decisive: "Don't do it."
The point is not, he said, whether or not you would 'win' the debate. Winning is not what the creationists realistically aspire to. For them, it is sufficient that the debate happens at all.
They need the publicity. We don't.
To the gullible public which is their natural constituency, it is enough that their man is seen sharing a platform with a real scientist. "There must be something in creationism, or Dr So-and-So would not have agreed to debate it on equal terms."
Inevitably, when you turn down the invitation you will be accused of cowardice, or of inability to defend your own beliefs. But that is better than supplying the creationists with what they crave: the oxygen of respectability in the world of real science.

Does Anthony Watts deny evolution?

Anthony's knee-jerk reaction to Mann's tweet raises some interesting questions.  It is well known that Anthony Watts denies climate science.  Now we can legitimately ask if he also denies biological science?  I guess so, based on his reaction to the tweet.

Mixed Reaction from the Deniosaurs

There are some quaint comments on Anthony's shock horror article, including quite a few from people who said they can see the point that Mann is making, and others who wonder why Anthony jumped straight to religion when Mann didn't mention religion. (Good question.)

There are, of course, lots of comments from people who didn't bother to evaluate the article and just saw it as an excuse for more Mann-bashing.  One of the weirdest comments came from the 'Good Lord!' Monckton who wants to find some scientific papers on 'intelligent design':
My one question about intelligent design is why there seem to be no scientific papers about it in the reviewed literature. I should be grateful if anyone can help here.

233 comments later, Anthony decided to close the thread because it exposed too many seriously warped ideas held by the members of his nutty fan club.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Green with Envy

MobyT | 1:59 PM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts proclaims his Greend Credentials

Anthony Watts has put up a post about his solar installations.  Just in case any of his readers thought he was becoming altruistic, he assures them that his reasons for adopting clean energy are the same as his reasons for opposing clean energy:


The price of electricity in California rivals the prices charged in Australia and, where there is a reasonable feed-in tariff, installing grid-connected solar PV is a no-brainer.

Anthony reassures his readers that he still holds the same values as the rest of the 8% Dismissives (the Almighty Dollar is the sole reason for doing anything) and makes it clear that it's greed not green that drove his decision.

(Anyone interested in comparing PV installations at different locations Click Here.  The data is mainly from PV householders in Australia but looks as if people from other countries are now contributing data as well.)

Greend with Envy

"My PV is bigger than your PV, so there!"

Anthony reveals his insecurity and green envy as he wonders if climate hawks Joe Romm, Bill McKibben, Michael Mann and James Hansen have a solar PV installation.  Since Anthony can't hold a candle to them when it comes to science and advocacy, he knows the best he can long for is to hold a solar panel :D

Behaviour more important that beliefs

In the end, it is not so much the beliefs, attitudes, values or world view of individuals that will make the difference, it's behaviour.  It matters less what baser motives led Anthony to install solar PV, the effect is the same - clean energy replaced dirty energy.

Most decisions we make are driven by a mix of motives.  Except for very few very wealthy individuals, cost is a factor as well as values.  I'll bet somewhere in there even Anthony Watts had an altruistic thought creep into his brain, that he may be doing some good for the world, not just his hip-pocket.

Ultimately household installations aren't enough.  We need to replace all fossil-fuel electricity generators with clean renewable energy generation, fed by solar, wind, wave, geo-thermal or other source.

With people like Watts saying to his luddite followers that 'going green' doesn't mean 'going soft', it might help lower their resistance such that clean energy becomes if not desirable at least acceptable in their little minds.  (On his blog, Watts still pushes for oil and coal and promotes 'we're heading for an ice age' articles, so there's a long way to go.)

Climate Hawks - keep working on Businesses and Governments

As long as there are enough Joe Romms and James Hansens and Michael Manns and Bill McKibbens and David Karolys and Tim Flannerys and Will Steffens in the world, and enough big and small companies all around the world doing the R&D and mass production, the price of clean energy will continue to fall and the shift to clean energy will continue.

Although clean energy (eg wind and solar) is growing exponentially, we're not yet making the shift quickly enough.

This is the Critical Decade.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Anthony Watts tries for world's dumbest blog

MobyT | 2:42 AM Go to the first of 7 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has posted some dumb things in his time, and his latest article is right up there with the best of them.

Watts confuses local with global - yes, again!

Watts once again confuses average global temperature with local temperature.  Now you might say, what's new about that.  This time he writes about a video mix including some of a Ted talk, in which David Roberts points out that if we don't cut CO2 emissions enough soon enough, more places will get too hot for people to survive there.

Roberts speculates that if average surface temperature rose by 12°C, places that today average around 80°F would then average 180°F. (I don't know if that's correct or not.  I do know that humans would find it impossible to survive in more and more places if we pushed global surface temperature up by 12°C.)

Anthony misrepresents the segment, acting as if Roberts is talking about a global average surface temperature of 180°F.  In fact Roberts was talking about a global rise of 12°C leading to some places getting as hot as 180°F.  Anthony even puts up a chart of global temperatures with a spike going up to 95.5°F - yeah, really!

Did he understand that Roberts was talking about local temperatures?  It depends on whether he has a brain and is a professional disinformer, or if he's as clueless as he pretends to be and is one of the 8%.  So far none of his commenters have picked him up on his 'mistake'.

My advice to Anthony: run your articles by your dog Kenji before you post them.

How hot does it get today?

I went exploring to see just how hot some places get today and found this page, where temperatures at Flaming Mountain in China are thought (by some) to have reached 175°F.  That's nearly 80°C.  As the NASA article points out, there aren't too many weather stations in the world's most inhospitable places.

In Australia, the hottest official temperature ever recorded is 50.7°C at Oodnadatta.

When is hot too hot?

There are limits to what humans can cope with as Steve Sherwood and Matthew Huber explain.  We and other mammals cannot tolerate temperatures higher than wet bulb temperature of 35°C for extended periods.  That means that if global average temperatures rise by 7°C we will see large areas become uninhabitable.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Monkey Takes the Mickey

MobyT | 11:55 PM Feel free to comment!

A humorous diversion courtesy HotCopper...fluffymonkey taking the mickey...
(Click image for larger version)

What fluffynymph really meant ...(click here for translation)

Calculating the cost of climate change

Sou | 6:54 PM One comment so far. Add a comment

Deniers are all in a tizzy because apparently last summer wasn't the worst ever for insured losses in Australia.  (Note that some Australian deniers are so blind to reality that they think the world is about to enter an ice age, so I wouldn't take them seriously.)

Apparently the insured value of lives lost, properties flooded (many repeatedly), public roads destroyed and homes and businesses burnt to the ground across Australia this past summer was not as high (or maybe not as many were insured) as the insured losses when 24,000 properties and thousands of vehicles were damaged by the freak hail storm in Sydney in 1999.  (Click here for the government's estimated costs for flood recovery in just Queensland, not Australia as a whole.)

Sydney real estate is among the most expensive in the world.  I'm not convinced that it is very meaningful to compare insured losses for a one-off event that predominately affected Sydney with the loss of life and livestock and the widespread damage to public infrastructure, homes and businesses across the country over the whole of last summer.

As far as I know, there are some potentially big costs that are not reflected in 'insured losses' (not counting the uninsured losses).  One example is the cost of business interruption (as a result of power outages, destroyed rail, road and communications infrastructure, damaged and destroyed property of suppliers / customers, closure of ports etc).  Businesses can incur ongoing extra costs for many months when, for example, the destruction of railways, roads and bridges means that normal transport routes are not available and alternative longer routes are the only option.  'Insured losses' would not adequately account for the broader impact on regions affected, such as how it affects tourism. Nor are they an adequate measure of the social toll, on people who have lost family members or who are trying to recover from trauma as well as property loss.

This past year wasn't as disastrous as 2010-11, during which much of the continent was inundated with water as were several other places in the world.  So much so that there was a measurable drop in sea level.  But that was a La Nina year.  2012-13 was neither La Nina or El Nino.  Heaven help us when the next strong ENSO event comes.

Seems to me we need another type of socio-economic valuation if we are to properly work out the cost to Australians of all the damage from adverse weather events as the climate changes.


Sou | 4:02 AM Go to the first of 7 comments. Add a comment

There are some interesting searches that lead people to HotWhopper.  I can't (and nor would want to) track individuals (or see IP addresses) of anyone who lands here or makes a comment, but I can see some of the search terms.

Today there was someone looking for "communism socialism and climate change" and I guess they found this post.

There have also been a couple of searches for: "anthony watts" -cowboys.  Must be more than one cowboy out there called Anthony Watts :)

Wondering if I should be offended that someone else landed here when searching for "bleeding whopper".

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Another WUWT Fail! What is Willis Missing?

Sou | 8:56 PM Go to the first of 4 comments. Add a comment

Willis Eschenbach has written an article about a recent PNAS paper, Homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923 by Grinsted et al, which finds:

that warm years in general were more active in all cyclone size ranges than cold years. The largest cyclones are most affected by warmer conditions and we detect a statistically significant trend in the frequency of large surge events (roughly corresponding to tropical storm size) since 1923. In particular, we estimate that Katrina-magnitude events have been twice as frequent in warm years compared with cold years (P < 0.02).
Click here to download the paper and supporting info.

What is Willis missing?

In a strong surge in overconfidence, Willis makes up two charts of the surge indices listed Table S2 in the supporting info (he didn't get the paper itself).  He says he sees no trend, and asks:
What am I missing?
The Emperor has no clothes

The emperor has no clothes...

I wonder how long it will take before someone tells him what he's missing - like he should have seen already if he'd bother to read the supporting info that he got his data from.  Or even if anyone goes to the paper and supplementary info that the fourth WUWT commenter kindly links to, and reads it. (So far ignored by the next 35 47 commenters.)

Here is what Willis was missing, staring him right in the face in the middle of page 1 of the supporting paper he downloaded, under the heading S2. Events with the Largest Surge Index: (my bold and italics)
...In Table S2 we have also calculated accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) and USACE over the week centered on the date shown. We caution against comparing the relative rank of individual events. The surge index ranking reflects the impact at the specific tide-gauge locations and therefore should not be interpreted as a storm ranking. The purpose of this list is to demonstrate that the surge index truly captures cyclone activity, rather than providing a storm severity ranking.

Still, Willis got what he was looking for...

No worries, Willis got his pseudo-analysis wrong, but he is generating the comments he's looking for - including some completely unrelated to storm surges in the Atlantic: "Arctic ice recovery continues" (huh?), "grant money", "they just make it up", "How can they claim the opposite??", "where's the hockey stick".  

Mike M is particularly hot and bothered, demanding the Governments of China, Finland, Sweden and the UK appear before the US Congress and refund his tax dollars, writing "If they are lying on our tax dollars then haul the responsible gov agency in front of Congress and demand they either back up their claim or forfeit anymore funding for 10 years."

Willis shows just how easy it is to fool fake skeptics.  (Willis has always suffered from Surges in Overconfidence.)

Update: Apparently Pielke Jr has been taking potshots as usual.

Congrats to WUWT and Poptech

MobyT | 5:50 PM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment

I've been poking fun at all the pseudo-science, conspiracy nuttery and fake scepticism that goes on at WUWT.  Now I'll give some credit where credit is due:


Congratulations to WUWT for garnering 1 million 'I don't understand it but it's brilliant ... that proves we are heading for an ice age ... climate science is a hoax' comments from the tin foil hat brigade.

And special congrats to Poptech, who arch-denier and moderator DB Stealey (aka Smokey aka D Boehm aka dbs) selected as posting the one millionth comment.

The dubious honour couldn't have gone to a more suitable person.  Poptech typifies what WUWT is all about.

Poptech's winning comment didn't include the word 'scam' or 'hoax'.  However it was  in the conspiracy ideation ballpark (linking 'fiat money' and government 'threat' and 'coercion') and it was one of the 800+ comments on the "someone stole some emails therefore climate science is a hoax" thread, so close enough.

Update: 20/6/13 Poptech in the comments has kindly provided a link to a link to another take down of his list at the Carbon Brief - Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 and a link to his rebuttal of the rebuttals in the comments.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A short note on stolen emails

Sou | 3:23 PM Go to the first of 2 comments. Add a comment

The remaining 220,000? stolen emails from CRU have been made available to various disinformation merchants, including Anthony Watts.

Mainstream media ignores it completely.

In the same spirit as Stoat, here is a summary. So far, after more than three days of collective 'digging' by the anti-science propagandists:

  • Watts apparently endorses Delingpole's view that to care about natural world equates to being misanthropic.
  • Dr Wigley tried out "Web of Knowledge" for citations.
  • Watts finds out that scientists have been aware for some time that there are people (like Watts) who deny facts.
  • Scientists object when journalists peddle disinformation about their field of scientific research and provide journalists with the correct information.
  • Professor Mann says including all CMIP3 model runs cannot be considered 'deceitful' (and Anthony Watts is not always good at peddling disinformation.  He is unable to deceive all 'skeptics' when he cherry picks words from the email to try to imply that Mann said something different).
  • Dr Briffa finds that global warming may have affected tree growth, making dendrochronology less reliable when applied to the most recent decades.
  • The fake skeptics are getting restless, "Still waiting for some actual damning info or at least something that will be a game changer … will this ever happen?".  And since the disinformation merchants are unable to find anything that's not consistent with the science, they call for the release of personal emails: "Let crowd sourcing the work while it is meaningful. If there is personal information in the emails, they should have known better."  Watts says, No. (Giving the reason that FOIA said not to, not any other reason like Watts himself wouldn't want to).
  • Scanning the hundreds of comments, fake skeptics mostly agree that the fact that scientists use email to informally communicate with their colleagues is "proof" enough that "climate science is a hoax".

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Still more denier weirdness from WUWT on Marcott et al 2013

Sou | 3:54 PM Feel free to comment!

Anyone who's ever written a paper or used academic journals for research (any research, not just scientific research) will realise that Willis Eschenbach has done neither or he's deliberately targeting the Dunning Kruger set.  (Going by the rest of his article probably both.)

Courtesy Willis E in Protest No. 7 from WUWT re the Marcott et al Holocene temperature reconstruction, recently published in Science:

Nowhere in the paper do they show you the raw data...
... although it’s available in their Supplement. I hate it when people don’t show me their starting point.

Is it any wonder that, as Willis Anthony says:
Steve McIntyre is also quite baffled ... 

(Come on, who could resist that :D)

Another revelation about fake skeptics - many don't understand how earth managed to maintain a relatively stable global climate during the Holocene

A lack of familiarity with academic publications isn't sufficient to explain why Willis E (and most of those commenting on his article) thinks that every location on earth should warm and cool in synchrony.  Especially not during the Holocene, when the global average temperature changed very little.  Most people would deduce that in a relatively stable global climate like that of the past 10,000 years or so, when one part of the earth warmed another part must have cooled.  After all, the average global temperature for the past 10,000 years or so has probably only varied by less than one degree celsius (plus and minus approx 0.4 degrees Celsius around the zero line).

Even now when the world as a whole is warming up so quickly, there are places cooling or not getting hotter.  In fact WUWT, when it's not protesting the science, arguably focuses as much if not more on the (few) locations that are cooling or not getting as warm as it does on all the places that are warming.

A Lesson in the Art of Science

Since they can't follow the science, let's give Steve and Willis a hand by showing them the Art (of the Anthropocene), courtesy Tom Yulsman, Discover, Shaun Marcott and Jeremy Shakun.

Update: Option 3: Marcott et al for Dummies

The researchers are being a lot more courteous than The Auditor.  One of the authors, Prof Peter Clarke has written that they are preparing a "Marcott el al for Dummies" (like McIntyre) -
After further discussion, we’ve decided that the best tack to take now is to prepare a FAQ document that will explain, in some detail but at a level that should be understandable by most, how we derived our conclusions. Once we complete this, we will let you know where it can be accessed, and you (and others) can refer to this in any further discussion. We appreciate your taking the time and interest to try to clarify what has happened in our correspondence with McIntyre.
Looks as if the research team has come up with an option 3!

NOTE: The FAQ is now available on RealClimate.

The paper and supplementary material already elegantly describes in immense detail how the data was handled.  So it will be interesting to see if McIntyre will understand it better after he's read the FAQ.

(It's no surprise that McIntyre hops straight to mathturbating the data in the spreadsheet before digesting the description of data handling (or even reading it?). Nor is it any surprise that he isn't the least bit interested in the discussion of climate variations and possible influences, which to my mind give most food for thought.)

HotWhopper Odious Quote of the Day

MobyT | 12:51 PM Go to the first of 2 comments. Add a comment

Just how low can he go? 

(Apologies to Chubby Checker)

Interesting to watch Anthony Watts disintegrate. Immediately after a link to Delingpole's blog, Anthony provides his readers with this choice quote, removing the mask he sometimes dons (that of the 'reasonable man').  He's not even bothering to pretend any more.
I hope one day that FOIA’s true identity can be revealed so that he can be properly applauded and rewarded for his signal service to mankind. He is a true hero, who deserves to go on the same roll of honour as Norman Borlaug, Julian Simon and Steve McIntyre: people who put truth, integrity and the human race first and ideology second. Unlike the misanthropic greenies who do exactly the opposite.
Watts has firmly aligned himself with the likes of James Delingpole, Tim Ball and Christopher Monckton who suffer extreme denialism of the most odious kind.

Watts Delingpole* despises 'greenies' calling them 'misanthropic'.  Presumably that covers by far the majority of the human race who accept science and recognise the importance of looking after the world's natural environment - plants, animals and other organisms; forests, grasslands, deserts, marshlands, waterways, lakes and oceans (which are all essential to our survival).

I don't disagree with Delingpole (and Watts) about putting the email thief on par with McIntyre, given McIntyre's orchestration of a relentless campaign to harass scientists.  I don't know the other two he mentions.  The roll could be titled "List of the petty and vindictive people who tried to prevent the public from understanding that burning fossil fuels is causing dangerous global warming."

How much lower can Anthony sink?  How many more people will he alienate?

*I initially thought the above quote was written by Watts himself.  He is quoting, and presumably endorsing, James Delingpole.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

On Denier Doublethink

Sou | 7:55 PM Go to the first of 4 comments. Add a comment

Today, while I should really have been doing more productive stuff, I let myself get distracted by some arch-deniers.  You know the kind.  Supremely confident of what they say while regurgitating contradictory and illogical statements from various pseudo-science blogs.  

(I did say that one of the topics I'll explore here is the conservative brain.  If that doesn't interest you, read no further.)

One place on earth is just the same as any other?

One thing stood out above all else.  Deniers' capacity to hold two or more opposing notions at the same time.

How can a rational person believe that if I took the temperature in Melbourne for one year, 10 years, 100 years or 10,000 years - it would be identical to the average surface temperature of the entire world over those same periods.  That's right.  That's an example of the sort of thinking that I've come across with not one but two people on different websites today.

(As an aside but not irrelevant, last night while I was lying awake sweltering through a record-breaking hot autumn evening and occasionally engaging in light-hearted nonsense on the internet with other insomniacs, David popped on to Tim Lambert's site at Deltoid and snickered:

Hello, my little Deltoids, how are you enjoying all this global warming? Sweating, are you, underneath all those thermals and sweaters and overcoats and fur hats?
I notice Sou@3 has informed us of an increase in CO2 last year so no wonder it’s so, er, well, freezing, actually! (To paraphrase: ‘Something wrong with our bloody forecasts today!’)

David was experiencing a cold spell in the UK (I think) and assumed we, some of whom were sweating from the hottest March night ever during the longest heat wave in any month on record, were just as cold!)

What follows is an example, but close to what I experienced today and pretty well covers what you'd read on pseudo-science websites.  I'll lay it out for you to save you the headache of going there yourself.  (Since you've landed here you probably know the sort of blogs I'm talking about.)

Pick a single site, somewhere like Central Greenland, insist on the temperature series being in degrees Celsius (or maybe even degrees Kelvin) and then say it equates to the average surface temperature series of the entire world for the same time period (usually several thousand years).

Now I'm not talking about the oxygen isotope and other analysis using ice cores to derive global average temperature anomalies.  I'm referring to the likes of Anthony Watts and Don Easterbrook's using the GISP2 data series of local temperatures on an ice sheet in Central Greenland to try to dismiss a global temperature reconstruction.

Really and truly people, over that entire period recorded by GISP2, the average global surface temperature was considerably higher than minus 50 to minus 30 degrees Celsius.  And during the Holocene the average global surface temperature was higher than minus 30 degrees Celsius.

I will swear to that.

Compartmentalised brain

Those same people will be the first to tell you that people farmed in southern Greenland a thousand years ago - and were reasonably successful or at least survived there for a couple of centuries or more.  It's compartmentalised thinking.  Contradictory and completely illogical.  Icelandic migrants could hardly be expected to grow anything in south western Greenland if the average global temperature was of the order of minus 30 degrees Celsius.

Take a look at it. (Click the chart to enlarge.)

One site is enough

In today's two discussions, people were convinced that a single proxy (no, they were not talking about global reconstructions from ice core analyses), whether it was planktonic foraminifera, pollen, other microfossils or even tree rings from a single site is a reliable proxy for global temperature.

Seventy three sites are not enough, 1209 data sets are 'cherry picking'

Now at the same time, those exact same people proclaim that Marcott, Mann and others who have used multiple proxies from locations around the world to give us a picture of global temperature trends, aren't using enough proxies.

Everywhere was warming at the same time even when it wasn't

These are the sort of people who will send you to this rather neat-looking website and say - 'look, the medieval warm period was hotter than now and global'.  You'll take a moment to ask yourself what the medieval period has to do with CO2 emissions of the past 150 years and the association rapid global warming.  Then, like a true skeptic you'll go to the website, click on a few links and discover that some places were warming sometimes, others were warm at other quite different times, and others cooled or didn't warm at all during the medieval period.  If you are really interested you'll check the reliability of the charts and what's there vs what might have been omitted.  And you'll also read up on global reconstructions.  (I can't vouch for the site, but it is kind of neat.  Even though it doesn't have the evidence supporting a piping hot world-wide medieval warm period that it purports to do.)

Remember, the people who sent you there are fake sceptics.  Either they didn't check for themselves or they decided that a warm spell between 900 and 950 CE was the same as a slightly warm spell between 1200 and 1300 and ignore the places where it didn't get warm and places that got cooler.  And they will swear it's not as hot now as it was 1000 years ago.  (In doublethink, temperature records (?) kept 1000 years ago are more reliable than the current worldwide modern thermometers and satellites!  And in doublethink scientists who collected samples and prepared single site proxy reconstructions are correct, but those same scientists when they interpret their results or compile them into a global reconstruction are incorrect!)

Another aside.  How many times have you heard deniers moan that Professor Mann got rid of the MWP.  Even while staring at one of his reconstructions, particularly his NH reconstructions, where one reconstruction in particular (EIV) shows a definite rise around the medieval period.  (Not admitting what is staring you in the face is not doublethink, that's dogmatism.  "You won't persuade me otherwise no matter what you put in front of me!") (Click to enlarge.)

Figure 3. Composite NH temperature reconstructions & published NH reconstructions from Mann ME et al (2008) Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 105, No. 36, pp. 13252-13257, September 9, 2008. doi:10.1073/pnas.0805721105

Compartmentalised, contradictory and illogical thinking

Think about it.  How can an otherwise functioning individual hold opposing notions in their head at the same time and not recognise the contradiction? How can they think the entire world, in 1855, had an average surface temperature of minus 30 degrees?  How can they at the same time say "one proxy set is enough" and "seventy three proxy sets are not enough".

That's what I find interesting about Bob Altemeyer's work.  His years of research described in his popular book, The Authoritarians, confirms that some people are so afflicted.  (Don't worry, I'll move onto another text soon enough!)

The only reason one might engage with such muddle-headed people (they are beyond all reason on the subject at hand at least) is for the benefit of the casual lurker who stumbles on the discussion by accident.

Feel free to post other examples.  It might be illuminating in a strange way...

One Big Scary Hot Whopper to Come - More from Marcott et al 2013

MobyT | 2:04 AM Feel free to comment!

I wanted to put this figure into my previous post on Marcott et al (2013), but the article was already too long.  I think it's the best of the lot.  It was probably a bit too complex for mainstream media so hasn't been given much attention.

Take your time to digest it.  The authors have tried to fit a lot into the one diagram and there are lots of stories in it.  See how the distribution has now shifted to the right, for example.  Look how far it's shifted between 1900 to 2000 - in just 100 years!

It's not the "once upon a time long, long ago" part that is a concern.  That's fascinating in its own right.  It's the future story that is truly worrisome.

Look at the scenarios to see what could happen if we don't begin to sharply cut CO2 emissions this decade. Heck, its bad enough even if we could get CO2 back to the 2000 level. (Click on the diagram for larger version.)

The emissions scenarios (B1...A1F1) are taken from the IPCC AR4 Working Group 1 report (same scenarios as for TAR), and are described in this IPCC Special Report.

We've been promised a discussion of Markott et al on  Worth watching out for.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fooling the Bottom 8%? Oh, It's Just Another Nutter

Sou | 1:17 PM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment

It is interesting to see the lengths Denial Merchants will go to try to fool people.  Take Anthony Watts for example.  He used to have a battle between what he knows to be the case with climate change and what he 'wishes' to be the case, and most of the time let what he 'wished' determine what he presented and how he presented it.

Lately Watts seems to have swung into full-on Disinformation Mode.

This coincides with the rise in extreme weather events and the continued stream of new information coming from climate scientists, providing ever more convincing evidence that we are on a path to dangerous global warming.

Spot the Differences

Today Watts puts up a deliberately distorted drawing by arch-denier Christopher Booker to try to fool his readers into thinking that global warming is not happening.  (This is contrary to what Watts himself thinks, which makes it doubly heinous.)

What Watts neglected to point out was that 13 of the hottest 15 years on record occurred since 1997, and all of the 15 hottest years on record were in the period 1995 to 2012 (based on these data from NASA).

Looking at the scale of Booker's drawing, imagine if the global average temperature suddenly dropped 3 degrees to less than 12 degrees Celsius (rapid glaciation), or 6 degrees Celsius (major glaciation), or zero degrees Celsius (without other forcing, this could plummet further into a snowball earth as the ice and snow radiated most incident sunlight back to space).

Booker and Anthony could have picked any start date from the beginning of the Holocene and the above drawing would have looked almost exactly the same.

Anthony contrasts the above with a chart from Climate Progress, on which I've put a red rectangle:

Let's look at the two drawings.  The astute reader will notice:

  • They are of vastly different periods of time.  The top one spans a mere fifteen years, the bottom one spans more than 11,000 years.
  • They are using different temperature scales.  The top one is in degrees Celsius, the bottom one is in degrees Fahrenheit.
  • They are using a different baseline.  The top one has a baseline of zero degrees Celsius.  The bottom drawing is based on an anomaly from the 1961-1990 mean.

If one converted the temperature scale of the bottom one to degrees Celsius, adjusted the baselines to match and superimposed what is in the red rectangle onto the top drawing, it would be almost indistinguishable from what is there already.  In other words, the current global temperature is now about the same as the maximum during the entire Holocene (the  area covered by the red rectangle).

When it comes to statistics I'm not a match for Tamino. (Who is?).  However like anyone, I can prepare a rough comparison.  Here is the Marcott et al Holocene reconstruction on a similar scale to the Booker drawing, with the zero line being the 1961-1990 mean.  (Source data here.) This period spans more than 11,000 years and includes the Holocene Optimum as well as the Little Ice Age.

(If after looking at this, you are not concerned by the virtually certain prospect of a very rapid rise in the global surface temperature of two degrees Celsius or more, spiking way above the top of the chart, then you will probably never be concerned about it and we can consider you part of the bottom 8% "Dismissive" and ignore you from here on in.)

Disinformation Merchant

Watts goes to great lengths to distort the facts.  If anyone ever doubted it, this demonstrates that Anthony Watts is not merely an on-seller of the Merchants of Doubt, he is a full-blown disinformation merchant.

Target Audience of the Disinformation Merchants

The target audience of the disinformation merchants is not the bottom 8% of the population (The Dismissives - see next section below).  They are already in the 'complete nut-jobs' category and don't need any help to stay there.  It is the 'Doubtful' and maybe the 'Disengaged' (although the 'Disengaged' have other more immediate problems on their mind, like managing despite their dire poverty and low education).  The disinformation merchants also hope to snag a few of the 'Cautious'.

Here is a comment from one of the 8% cranks (The Dismissives):

Pamela is referring to the ClimateProgress chart.  She accepts the distortion from Booker and Watts, but mocks a chart derived from peer-reviewed literature (ie Marcott et al).

A look at opinions prevailing in the USA

According to recent research from the Yale Project on Climate Communication, only 8% of people from the USA dismiss climate science out of hand (The Dismissives).  Here is a breakdown of the 'Six Americas' (click image for larger version):

The Yale Group "Six Americas" report collates the six groups as follows:
the Alarmed, Concerned and Cautious – currently comprise 70 percent of the American public. Although they range in certainty about the reality and dangers of climate change, they are similarly inclined to believe it is a real threat that should be addressed. Thus, some level of support for action is the predominant view among the majority of Americans.
The Doubtful (13%) – the fourth largest group – are uncertain whether global warming is occurring or not, but believe that if it is happening, it is attributable to natural causes, not human activities. They tend to be politically conservative and to hold traditional religious views.
The Disengaged (9%) have given the issue of global warming little to no thought. They have no strongly held beliefs about global warming, know little about it, and do not view it as having any personal relevance. They tend to have the lowest education and income levels of the six groups.
The smallest audience segment is the Dismissive (8%), who are very certain that global warming is not occurring. Many regard the issue as a hoax and are strongly opposed to action to reduce the threat. About one in nine have contacted an elected representative to argue against action on global warming.

Here is the breakdown as above:

Conspiracy Theorists: The Dismissive comprise only 8% of Americans.  Given that "many regard the issue as a hoax", this group has a tendency to believe whacky conspiracy theories as described by Lewandowsky et al in the paper "NASA faked the moon landing therefore (climate) science is a hoax - An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science."
Right Wing Authoritarians: Together with The Doubtful, this small group of Dismissives exhibit at least some characteristics in common with Bob Altemeyer's Right Wing Authoritarians.

  1. Illogical thinking
  2. Highly compartmentalised minds
  3. Double standards
  4. Hypocrisy
  5. Blindness to themselves
  6. A profound ethnocentrism
  7. Dogmatism: The Authoritarians last ditch defense.
Dismissives (8%) are "sure" global warming is not happening despite all the evidence that it is happening.  Doubtfuls (13%) think it might be happening but think "it's natural", again despite all the evidence to the contrary.  This demonstrates illogical thinking as well as dogmatism (no amount of evidence will persuade them otherwise).

The Dismissives (8%) are the least informed of the lot and prone to conspiracy ideation (global warming is a hoax).  Only 10% of this 8% acknowledge the fact that "most scientists think global warming is happening".  In fact 17% of the 8% even say they think "most scientists think global warming is not happening".   This group has "highly compartmentalised minds" and "profound ethnocentrism" - only mixing with those who share their distorted view of the world.

Watts is cementing his position as "Just Another Nutter"!

Will Watts' shift to pandering to the bottom 8% (The Dismissives) alienate him further from the mainstream? I believe it will as it should.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

More Denier Weirdness - Somebody Tell Trenberth

MobyT | 11:46 PM One comment so far. Add a comment

Mankind has been had!

Today I noticed this comment on the "most visited anti-science website". You cannot heat water from above on this planet:

I wonder if robert barclay has ever asked himself how the atmosphere gets warm?

Conspiracist ideation - WUWT just can't let it go!

MobyT | 4:58 PM Go to the first of 2 comments. Add a comment

Updated with screenshots of comments about "human subjects".

On WUWT today, there's a guest post by Brandon Shollenberger about the paper "Recursive Fury" by Lewandowsky et al (2013) (accepted for publication).

This brings to 25 the number of WUWT 'protest' articles (tagged "Stephan Lewandowsky") since September last year, after his first paper became public.

It's a conspiracy, a hoax, a nefarious plot!

After some digging, Brandon has concluded that Foxgoose's conspiracy theory was not that he thought the respondents to the survey were not "Human Subjects".  His theory was that the 'skeptic' blog owners were not "Human Subjects".

Here are screenshots of the exchange.  (Click the screenshots to enlarge.) Eli Rabett refers to a tweet exchange and indicates the Ethics Committee (Human Subjects folk)** would have concerns about revealing identities without the permission of said identities.  Foxgoose responds:

To which Eli Rabett wryly notes:

Whatever, Brandon goes to some length to support his finding that Foxgoose's conspiracy theory was that skeptic blog owners weren't "human subjects" - that, despite all the evidence including from said blog owners themselves, Foxgoose didn't believe any 'skeptic' blogs were approached to take part in the initial survey for the paper "NASA faked the moon landing therefore (climate) science is a hoax - An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science".

Some conspiracy theorists can't let go of their theory - despite evidence to the contrary

In the comments section, Foxgoose agrees that Brandon interpreted his conspiracy theory correctly.  He also demonstrates that, despite the 'skeptic' blogs being subsequently named and the blog owners acknowledging they'd been invited, Foxgoose still hasn't let go of this particular conspiracy theory of his, referring to "improbable defence" (of first contacting the Ethics Committee) and "hypothetical sceptic blog proprietors".

The point being?

Brandon also brought up the conspiracy theory circulating at the time that IP addresses were being blocked.

I guess Brandon was hoping to bring out yet more evidence to show that while some conspiracy theorists will adapt their theories as facts emerge, some cling onto their 'theories' despite evidence to the contrary.

Looking through the comments to his article, his efforts were not in vain. He's even managed to generate at least one new 'conspiracy ideation'.  Update: in relation to that new 'conspiracy ideation':

(One commenter even calls for more letters of protest to UWA.  So the University will probably have to deal with still more emails from rabid conspiracy theorists.  Will UWA's responses amplify the theory documented in Lewandowsky et al, in which UWA is involved in a broad-based nefarious conspiracy with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and possibly the Australian Government?)

**Note: In Eli Rabett's first comment above, he is referring to the Ethics Committee when he refers to Human Subjects folk (ie the committee that determines ethics when it comes to research involving human subjects).  Foxgoose responds with: "The current premise is that there are no "Human Subjects".  There are apparently differing interpretations of just what he meant by that. Was it conspiracy theory 1 or conspiracy theory 2?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Watts is Whopping Mad (Crazy) after Marcott et al - Must be the Heat!

MobyT | 8:39 AM Go to the first of 18 comments. Add a comment

NOTE: The Marcott et al (2013) paper and supplementary material is available at Science and an FAQ is now available on RealClimate.

Comment: 1 April 2013Marcott for Dummies is out.  However, Anthony Watts (in his seventeenth protest article) and the Auditor demonstrate that even after all this time and all their protests they still haven't even read the paper, claiming that Marcott et al "finally concede" something that was stated at the outset in the paper itself (page 1198).

The Auditor and his brigade are not at all grateful for the extra effort made by the researchers to explain their work to the layperson, and appear to be still trying to claim we are in the middle of the Little Ice Age and focusing on core tops instead of the core!

They obviously do not understand the connect between the modern record and the paleo record, even after years of nit-picking climate research.  And I wonder will the 8% Dismissives heed this part of the FAQ:

Just as it would not be reasonable to use the recent instrumental temperature history from Greenland (for example) as being representative of the planet as a whole...
The Auditor's cronies continue to make wild unfounded accusations. Conspiracy ideation most definitely (no wonder they don't like Lewandowsky and others showing them up in their true colours).

Click here for an expanded version of this comment.

Update 2+  So far there are now three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty twenty-one twenty-two twenty-three twenty-four twenty-five twenty-six twenty-seven twenty-eight WUWT protest articles not counting the sleazeball's (approaching this might even beat the number of protests against the Lewandowsky et al paper).  The first few are touched on in this article.

(Comment 20 March 2013: I have looked through the WUWT articles and a lot of the comments.  Anthony Watts, his guest posters and commenters provide an excellent illustration of warped mental models, ignorance, illogical thinking, dogmatism, conspiracy ideation, a preference for coloured pictures and avoidance of text, and the Dunning Kruger effect as well as the lynch mob mentality.  It is also apparent that he has successfully rid his blog of all but maybe one person who is willing to consider scientific research.  Watts' blog is aimed squarely at the bottom 8%.)

Of the rest, as with all the early protests, none of the protesters has indicated they understand the paper.  Neither are the protesters interested in the overall reconstruction.  It's the early part of the reconstruction that has filled in the gaps.  There are already several reconstructions of the last several centuries, some even going back 1500 to 2000 years.  In fact the protesters seem to be focusing not on the main substance of the paper but on the past 100 years or so.  Odd, don't you think?

Now they are focusing entirely on this century rather than the entirety of the Holocene.  If I understand Watts/McIntyre correctly, they are saying that there is an "error" in Marcott et al, which means earth hasn't been warming after all and we are actually still in the Little Ice Age.

  • Protest 6 is almost identical to Protest Number 4. 
  • In Protest Number 7, Willis Eschenbach wants the raw data in the published paper, not satisfied with it being provided as a supplement.  Steve McIntyre is, as usual, "baffled".  
  • In Protest Number 8, Fred Singer misquotes Marcott so he can shoot him down.  Singer 'suspects what they did was' without appearing to be in the least interested in looking at the paper to see if what he 'suspects' was fact. 
  • Watts returns with Protest Number 9. Watts cannot figure out how anyone could know that the world has got a lot hotter over the past few decades, forgetting about the thermometers that were giving him so much grief only a few weeks ago, the melting arctic and all the other signals of our warming world.  Neither can he understand how a paper jointly authored by four people and published in 2013 could differ in the slightest degree (sic) from the lead author's PhD thesis published two years earlier.
  • Watts' Protest Number 10 is based on The Auditor's obsessive 'speculation' despite his being 'unable to replicate some of the recent features of the Marcott zonal reconstructions', though he admits it 'may be a difference in methodology'.
  • In Watts' Protest Number 11, Anthony shows that The Auditor has been fiddling with numbers (ignoring the substance of the paper) and posits he has found a 'statistical processing error (selection bias)'.  Makes me think of the saying: "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread'!
  • In Watts' Protest Number 12, Anthony proclaims that The Auditor has found an 'error'.  In fact he seems to be saying we have not yet emerged from the Little Ice Age!!!  (Fools rush in!)  Prof Peter Clark, co-author of the Marcott et al paper, has said they will prepare and provide an FAQ (a Marcott et al for dummies) which may (or may not) help McIntyre's 'bafflement'.

Near enough is good enough if it fools enough! (see below)

A paper published in the current issue of Science is getting some publicity.  According to this recent research, in just a few decades we have managed to extricate ourselves from one of the coldest periods since civilisation began to begin the hottest period.  And who knows when it will stop getting hotter.

The authors, Shaun A. Marcott, Jeremy D. Shakun, Peter U. Clark and Alan C. Mix have done a reconstruction of Holocene temperatures in a paper titled "A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years".  You can get the paper and supplementary data here (subs required).

Here are two diagrams from the paper, showing one of their analyses.  A shows the past 2,000 years compared with Mann et al (2008). B shows the same but going back 11,500 years before present (1950). (Click on any of the images in this article to see a larger version.)

Globally stacked temperature anomalies for the 5° × 5° area-weighted mean calculation (purple line) with its 1σ uncertainty (blue band) and Mann et al.'s global CRU-EIV composite mean temperature (dark gray line) with their uncertainty (light gray band).

The findings are not earth-shattering in that the research accords with what is already known.  It is a very valuable contribution because it adds to and greatly refines existing knowledge.  The beauty of the research is that it uses proxies from 73 sites around the globe, whereas previously much of what was known about temperatures in the early Holocene was based on ice cores or other more limited data.

What the Papers Say

Justin Gillis of the New York Times has a written short article on their findings.  Other articles can be found Dot Earth (NY Times), Mother Jones, New Scientist, CNN and the LA Times, among other places.

What Science says

From the Editor's Summary in Science:

Exceptional Now
The climate has been warming since the industrial revolution, but how warm is climate now compared with the rest of the Holocene? Marcott et al. (p. 1198) constructed a record of global mean surface temperature for more than the last 11,000 years, using a variety of land- and marine-based proxy data from all around the world. The pattern of temperatures shows a rise as the world emerged from the last deglaciation, warm conditions until the middle of the Holocene, and a cooling trend over the next 5000 years that culminated around 200 years ago in the Little Ice Age. Temperatures have risen steadily since then, leaving us now with a global temperature higher than those during 90% of the entire Holocene.

The paper's abstract:
Surface temperature reconstructions of the past 1500 years suggest that recent warming is unprecedented in that time. Here we provide a broader perspective by reconstructing regional and global temperature anomalies for the past 11,300 years from 73 globally distributed records. Early Holocene (10,000 to 5000 years ago) warmth is followed by ~0.7°C cooling through the middle to late Holocene (<5000 years ago), culminating in the coolest temperatures of the Holocene during the Little Ice Age, about 200 years ago. This cooling is largely associated with ~2°C change in the North Atlantic. Current global temperatures of the past decade have not yet exceeded peak interglacial values but are warmer than during ~75% of the Holocene temperature history. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change model projections for 2100 exceed the full distribution of Holocene temperature under all plausible greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

What Deniers Say

Deniers really don't like the Marcott et al paper.  Already Anthony Watts has posted five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty twenty-one twenty-two twenty-three twenty-four twenty-five twenty-six twenty-seven twenty-eight articles in protest. (See update below).

Article 1: Watts is Wrong, Wrong and Wrong again!

Watts Wrong !

In Anthony's first article he scoffed at the Mother Jones headline then demonstrated he hadn't read either Mother Jones or the paper itself, writing:
Yes, be afraid, very afraid, of that “unprecedented” (there’s that word again in the abstract) 0.7C temperature rise is the message I suppose.
No Anthony, you suppose wrong.  The take away message of most people is two-fold.

  1. The bigger message (for the general public) is the current rate of change is unprecedented in the Holocene (and probably in millions of years).  
  2. The second message is that if it isn't already, the world will soon be hotter than at any time since the beginning of civilisation.

Watts Wrong 2

Then Anthony adds to his errors, writing:

...One potential problem is that the pollen data median sampling of 120 years, which is 4x the 30 year climate normals periods used today. That’s pretty low resolution for a study that is focusing on 2000 years and leaves lots of opportunity to miss data.
Wrong again, Anthony.  The study does not just focus on 2000 years, it looks at the entire Holocene.  It looks at 11,500 years.  (And what is he on about 'missing data'?  The data is what the data is and is discussed at length in the paper and supplementary materials.)

Watts Wrong 3

Anthony compounds his errors by getting it wrong once again (all these quotes are from a single paragraph, incidentally.)
Further, when they say the last 100 years was the warmest (with higher resolution data) they really aren’t comparing similar data sets when the other data has a 120 year median sampling.
No Anthony.  "they" didn't say the last 100 years was the warmest.  Marcott et al's research suggests that we may only now be approaching the highest temperatures, which according to their research occurred during the Holocene Optimum (between about 9,000 and 5,000 years ago).

Article 2: JustNotTheFactsWUWT

In his second article, guest poster (?) "justthefactswuwt" complains about something in the CNN report of the paper.  I was not able to work out the passage that justthefactswuwt was complaining about.  He said that CNN attributed warming pre-1950 to human causes, but didn't post any passage that actually said that. (In any case, there was undoubtedly some human influence on the temperature rise before 1950, given that CO2 rose from 280 prior to industrialisation to 316 in 1959.)

Article 3: Watts third strike - and he's out (with the fairies)!

Watts reverts to form in his third article.  Do you recall the comment he made in his first article?
...they really aren’t comparing similar data sets...
Not heeding his own "advice", Watts proceeds to tack Marcott's chart onto a denialist's clumsy (and faulty) drawing of past temperatures on Central Greenland's ice sheet:

Too wrong for words

  • Is Watts really that ignorant, even after blogging on climate for several years? Does he really think that global temperatures fluctuated by more than 3 degrees Celsius in the past 9,000 years?  Does he really not know that he was trying to compare temperature trends on Central Greenland's ice sheet with a global reconstruction?
  • How does he justify chopping off 9,500 years of the Marcott et al reconstruction of global surface temperature and superimposing what's left of it onto some denier's drawing of temperatures in Central Greenland?
Not only that, but he claims his drawing is from Alley (2000), which it most certainly is not.  The chart may be derived from GISP2 data, but is incorrectly labelled (before present = before 1950 not before 2000).  The data used is based on this - the temperature in Central Greenland - not global temperature.  

Here is a chart of the Central Greenland (GISP2) temperature for the full period covered by Watts' denialist drawing, based on this data accessed from this site, with the rectangle showing Watt's cutout period above:

For comparison, here is a chart of the full data set of Central Greenland temperatures from the same source as referred to by Alley (2000), with a rectangle showing the above time period:

Neither of the above can be used to indicate global temperatures.  They represent temperatures on the ice sheet in Central Greenland.

It must be the heat

Anthony Watts seems to be getting more and more erratic and silly as time goes by.  Must be the heat.

Update: Two more protest articles on WUWT

You could hear fake skeptic screeches zooming around cyberspace when Marcott et al compared their global reconstruction to the Mann et al global reconstruction.  So what do the fake skeptics do in "protest"?  At WUWT they turn around and say "we'll show you!" and proceed to:

  • tack a single site arctic temperature series onto a global reconstruction and
  • tack a single site modern land based record onto sea surface temperatures of a 15,000+ year paleo proxy series (single site).
Here are the gory details:
1. Don Easterbrook has effectively repeated Watts' third post, comparing a global reconstruction with a single location in the Arctic (using the same flawed drawing of the latter). (Update) Don is persisting with this silliness in yet another post, apparently arguing the average global surface temperature of earth is around minus 30 degrees Celsius /s.
2. David Middleton has selected a single proxy set, Marcott No.2 from Barron et al. 2003 N. Coastal California High Res. Holocene/Pleistocene Oceanographic Data - 41.682 N, 124.930 W, 980 m water depth.
David plots the published sea surface temperature (SST) for Marcott No. 2 (which starts about 210 years ago and goes back 15,000 years or so) and tacks on a temperature series from a land-based location, Grants Pass (42.4 N,123.3 W) which goes back to around 1890 (approx 120 years).  
Then David reduces the nearby land surface temperature record to a single data point for some reason (how/why he selected that temperature data point he didn't say - maybe he took the mid-point of the fast rising series). 

Near enough is good enough if it fools enough! 

David Middleton hasn't clarified why he did what he did, tacking on a single modern land-based surface temperature series to a single paleo series of sea surface temperatures. It could be the same reason that Don Easterbrook and Anthony Watts tacked the Marcott et al global reconstruction onto a reconstruction of temperatures in Central Greenland. A "near enough is good enough if it fools enough" philosophy not uncommon with fake skeptics.

The commenters seem to be concluding that Don and David have discovered 'flaws', but no-one has identified just what those supposed 'flaws' are. (Going by past WUWT performance, the mere fact of having an article on WUWT is enough for the throng to decide the author has proved "all the models are wrong"! Said article doesn't have to make any sense.)

Quick - We've Got to Hide the Incline

The WUWT folk are bending over backward trying to find a flaw in Marcott et al.  Why this study?  They don't like the fact that it's warming rapidly and are looking for ways to hide the incline.