I've spent a bit of time last night and today on twitter. I don't make a habit of engaging with wackos on twitter because science deniers are nuts when it comes to science (by definition). Also, because Twitter isn't the ideal forum for discussing science - though it's excellent for finding out about new papers and articles. It's like jumping from horse to horse on a whirling carousel. Fake sceptics can make your head spin while they leap from topic to topic without taking a breath.
If you thought that WUWT was full of utter nutters, WUWT articles appear almost sane when compared to the weird out there in cyberspace.
Cold hobby horse
As I recall, my foray into tweet-weird started with one of the nuttier nuts, "SteveSGoddard", who replied to my tweet about the new paper by Gavin Schmidt and colleagues. Steve (not his real name) claimed:
Look, I agree the 70s were pretty cool. I spent some time in London hobnobbing with some muso's and artists who were pretty cool. That was after spending time in the USA and Canada, meeting some really cool people as well.
However I was easily able to show he was wrong about the 1970s. Strictly speaking you could argue that the seventies were one of the eight coldest decades of the twentieth century. In fact they were the eighth coldest of ten decades in the twentieth century, being beaten by seven colder decades before them and only being colder than two decades - the eighties and nineties. I was able to show this by generating a chart from GISTemp, which took only a few seconds:
|Data source: NASA|
Steve didn't dispute my chart, but he followed up his silliness by tweeting this "chart":
I have no idea where he dug it up from. You'll no doubt have noticed that his chart stops in 1970 for some reason. It looks like it's meant to be global surface temperature anomalies. You'll also notice that doesn't show the rise in the rate of global warming after 1970. And it was nothing like any surface temperature chart that I'd ever seen.
The USSR hobby horse
Steve then resurrected an old chart. Steve didn't say where it came from but it turns out that he copied it from a 1982 paper by Alan Robock, based on data collated by scientists in the USSR up to the late 1970s (see below for the reference to Vinnikof - I can't find the paper online).
|Source: Robock (1982)|
The problem was that Steve's chart was based on northern hemisphere only, extrapolated from land to sea surface and even then the records only covered less than 60% of the NH land at best, (and only between 17.5N and 87.5N), with early records only covering about 8% of the surface according to Bradley and Jones 1985 . It was a good effort for the time and studied by others who were putting together a set of global temperature records. Compared to what is available today - well all I can say is that The Auditor would be in clover if a climate scientist today put it forward for serious consideration today. (The Auditor doesn't usually bother taking down science deniers like SteveSGoddard as far as I can tell.)
|Data source: NASA|
Sky dragon hobby horse
Steve Goddard eventually got bored and stopped responding. I guess he didn't like his silliness being broadcast beyond his normal audience of science deniers. However another wacky science denier took over. This one goes by the name of hockeyschtick1. Now hockeyschtick1 is another a gish galloper and wandered all over the place in his/her denial of science. Over time it became apparent that s/he is a "slayer" and doesn't accept the greenhouse effect. Hockeyschtick1 at one point tweeted:
@SouBundanga @SteveSGoddard Only simpletons don't know about Henry's Law and that CO2 lags T on short, intermediate, & long-term timescales
— hockey schtick (@hockeyschtick1) February 28, 2014
Given that hockeyschtick1 has heard of Henry's Law, you'd have thought s/he would be asking themselves why the oceans continue to absorb a lot of the extra CO2 we are emitting, what with the partial pressure from CO2 increasing. But no. Hockeyschtick1 couldn't manage to concentrate long enough for that, quickly moving to arguing that nitrogen is causing global warming. At least that's what it appeared to be.
The nitrogen hobby horse
The argument moved along the lines that nitrogen has built up so much that its pressing on the hard wall surrounding Earth. I say this, because hockeyschtick1 suddenly started tweeting about nitrogen with this:
The pressure hobby horse
Then jumped to pV=nRT as if our atmosphere is surrounded by a dome made of some impermeable substance close enough to the surface of Earth that it's causing an increase in pressure.
It reminded me of a comment on WUWT by ferd berple, who reckoned that CO2 is causing the 1 atm at sea level to rise so high that it's stopping water from evaporating from the oceans. He wrote:
If you add CO2, then the atmospheric pressure goes up and it is harder to evaporate water, so water vapor decreases, restoring the original pressure. This leads at best 0 warming as you add CO2.
In that case, too, Earth would have to be surrounded by an impermeable dome close to the surface that restricted the movement of gas molecules and caused an increase in atmospheric pressure at all levels as CO2 was added to the air. The fact that CO2 has gone from 280 ppm to a mere 400 ppm, which would hardly make much of a difference in the total number of molecules in the air, isn't a barrier to ferd's theory. The fact by far the bulk of the atmosphere is nitrogen and oxygen didn't dissuade ferd berple. You can see the similarities with hockeyschtick1's theory of pressure from an increase in a trace gas being enough to cause global warming. Here is one of hockeyschtick1's tweets, for example:
Now you'll also notice how ferd berple and hockeyschtick1 depart from the normal fake sceptic's stance of "it's only a trace gas how could it affect Earth's temperature". Not only do they seem to be arguing that a trace gas can't affect earth's temperature while at the same time arguing that it can, they seem to be arguing that an increase in a trace gas can have a huge impact on atmospheric pressure, or at least that's ferd's argument.
The solar hobby horse
The gist of it seems to be that nitrogen is causing global warming. When I asked how nitrogen caused ice ages, I was told that it was the sun that caused ice ages. When I suggested that this would mean very high climate sensitivity, hockeyschtick1 said that s/he argues for low sensitivity. I didn't get to ask what is causing global temperatures to go up now. Hockeyschtick1 doesn't accept that CO2 is a greenhouse gas so maybe s/he is arguing that it's the increase in CO2 pressure - minute though the increase in CO2 is by comparison with other atmospheric gases. Goodness knows what hockeyschtick1 thinks happens when water evaporates. That can cause big shifts in atmospheric pressure!
Anyway, hockeyschtick1 jumped to another argument - that a drop in solar activity can cause global cooling. Which would be fair enough. It could, all other things being equal. But it takes more than a small shift and remember, hockeyschtick1 argued that climate sensitivity is "trivial". And anyway, despite a drop in solar activity, Earth is still warming.
So is it nitrogen? Well, since nitrogen isn't a greenhouse gas and since Earth isn't capped by an impermeable dome and since the sun is less active at the moment while Earth is still heating up - ...
At around this point while I was trying to work through the endless maze of hockeyschtick1's weird thought processes, I was told:
Thing is, hockeyschtick1 didn't block me on twitter, so I don't know what s/he meant by a "permanent ban".
The merry-go-round goes round and around
If your head is spinning by now, just imagine what must be going on in the heads of the "anything but CO2" crowd like the SteveSGoddards, ferd berples and hockeyschtick1s of the world.
Now because I don't follow hockeyschtick1 on twitter, I didn't notice all the other discussions going on between him/her and other people. I've since looked at hockeyschtick1's tweets and see that s/he was having numerous discussions with a whole lot of different people all at the same time.
I've decided that riding a merry-go-round is a similar experience to swapping tweets with a fake sceptic, but riding a real merry-go-round is a lot more fun.
Bradley, R.S. and Jones, P.D., 1985: "Data bases for isolating the effects of the increasing carbon dioxide concentration. Chapter 3, in: Detecting the Climatic Effects of Increasing Carbon Dioxide", MacCracken, M. and Luther, F. (eds.), U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D.C.
Robock, Alan. "The Russian surface temperature data set." Journal of Applied Meteorology 21, no. 12 (1982): 1781-1785.
Vinnikov, K, GV Gruza, VF Sakharov, AA Kirillov, NP Kyvyneva, E Ya Ran'kova (1980) "Modern changes in climate of the Northern Hemisphere", Meteor. Hydrol., No. 6, 5-17