Anthony Watts is on a roll wheeling out one greenhouse effect denier after another. Yesterday it was Dr Lu who reckons that CO2 isn't working anymore. Now it's Jim Steele (archived here).
This article is quite long. It's not a bad example of denialism in action - from the WUWT article itself through to the idiotic comments that followed it. As well as relying on the very same scientific papers (and scientists) he scoffs at, Jim misrepresents them. Jim uses cherry picking mixed with disinformation. If Anthony Watts really wanted to be taken seriously, he wouldn't be promoting greenhouse effect deniers like Jim Steele. But Anthony doesn't want to be taken seriously, except as a true blue disinformer and fake sceptic. His first priority is to impress all his science-rejecting fans who willingly send him their hard-earned cash, and patrons like the Heartland Institute.
Jim Steele fails Logic 101
I don't know if Jim is lacking in the intellect department or if he's just pretending to be dumb, but he doesn't start off his article too well. He begins by attacking an article at SkepticalScience.com, without linking to it of course. He wrote:
At the website deceptively named SkepticalScience, they list “Climate Changed Before” as the skeptics’ #1 “mythical” argument. But the website’s authors have fabricated a straw man argument writing, “The ‘climate changed naturally in the past’ argument is a logical fallacy known as non sequitur, in which the conclusion doesn’t follow from the arguments. It’s equivalent to seeing a dead body with a knife sticking out the back, then arguing the death must be natural because people died naturally in the past. It fails to even consider the available evidence.”Jim doesn't say what he finds to be the strawman in that passage that he quotes. I can't see one. Perhaps a reader can explain it. All I see is an explanation of why the notion that climates having changed in the past from other causes is no reason to reject the notion that it's human activities that are causing the current climate change. Pretty straightforward, I'd have thought.
Jim goes on and writes:
Then after wading through theoretical gish-gallop, the Skeptical Science author concludes their argument with a non-sequitur of their own-“Past climate change actually provides evidence that humans can affect climate now.”Jim thinks the SkepticalScience article is a gish-gallop. Jim doesn't know what a gish gallop is. He is also mixing up two articles. SkepticalScience.com has two responses to the denier illogic: "climate changed naturally in the past [therefore it must be changing naturally in the present]". There is a short basic version and a longer intermediate version. Jim has taken the last sentence of the intermediate version out of context and wrongly labelled it a non-sequitur. (Jim isn't an expert in climate and evidence shows that neither is he competent at logic.) The statement is factual, accurate and stands on its own in any case. Past climate change does indeed provide evidence that humans can affect climate now.
Click "read more" if you want to read lots more nonsense from Jim Steele.
Jim Steele misrepresents climate models
Early on Jim writes that "The models grossly underestimated the mid century warming by as much a 0.5° C.". (H/t Dave.) He provides not one jot of evidence for that. He's way wrong. Does he think no-one would have noticed a model output being half way DOWN a chart with the observations left far above? Think how deniers screech that all the models are wrong when the observations are still within the band of models.
I've plotted CMIP5 against observations before. They are pretty darned close, especially since about 1930, and certainly during the middle of last century. Have a look for yourself:
|Data sources: GISTemp and KNMI|
Jim Steele goes to the Arctic and demonstrates his lack of logic
After setting the scene, Jim goes ahead to demonstrate the non-sequitur. His main argument seems to be that because the Arctic has warmed in the past then humans can't be causing global warming.
Yeah. Dumb as.
Jim has called upon Lennart Bengtsson (yes, the chap who had a short dalliance with the GWPF) to bolster his fantasies. Problem is that the paper he cites doesn't support what Jim wants to have you believe. Jim isn't much good with links - he didn't provide one. It appears to be a highly regarded paper, cited 250 times according to Google Scholar. The paper was co-authored by Lennart Bengtsson, Vladimir A. Semenov and Ola Johannessen and first published in 2003 as a report of the Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie before being slightly revised and published in the Journal of Climate - a top notch climate science journal.
Jim wrote: "In 2004 a European team of climate scientists led by IPCC’s Dr. Lenart Bengtsson wrote:" (The IPCC reference is because Dr Bengtsson was a contributing author to the first IPCC assessment report, FAR. He's not listed as contributing to any other IPCC reports.) Jim then quotes from the paper:
“The huge warming of the Arctic that started in the early 1920s and lasted for almost two decades is one of the most spectacular climate events of the twentieth century. During the peak period 1930–40, the annually averaged temperature anomaly for the area 60°–90°N amounted to some 1.7°C. Whether this event is an example of an internal climate mode or is externally forced, such as by enhanced solar effects, is presently under debate. This study suggests that natural variability is a likely cause, with reduced sea ice cover being crucial for the warming.”
“As can be seen from Fig. 1, it was a long-lasting event commencing in the early 1920s and reaching its maximum some 20 years later. The decades after were much colder, although not as cold as in the early years of the last century. It is interesting to note that the ongoing present warming has just reached the peak value of the 1940s, and this has underpinned some views that even the present Arctic warming is dominated by factors other than increasing greenhouse gases. However, other authors concluded that the present warming in the Arctic is dominated by anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing”.[emphasis added]
Remember, this is just the Arctic being discussed. Not the whole world. Jim neglected to include Figure 1. Here it is so you can judge for yourself how close the late twentieth century surface air temperature was to that of 1940. I added some red lines to help :)
Notice how that Figure 1 chart only goes to the late twentieth century. Now, fourteen or fifteen years later, the Arctic continues to warm as is readily seen in Andy Lee Robinson's video of disappearing sea ice:
In the above extract, Jim includes the passage:
It is interesting to note that the ongoing present warming has just reached the peak value of the 1940s, and this has underpinned some views that even the present Arctic warming is dominated by factors other than increasing greenhouse gases. However, other authors concluded that the present warming in the Arctic is dominated by anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing.
Jim then introduces another paper to follow up what the "other authors" say, again with no links. Jim wrote:
The authors who believed the recent warming was due to rising CO2, presented their arguments in a separate 2004 paper Arctic Climate Change: Observed And Modeled Temperature And Sea-Ice Variability2, and their diagrams of modeled output provide a vivid illustration of how poorly natural climate change is modeled and how adding CO2 distorts observed climate reality.
One thing that Jim neglects to mention is that the second paper was by the same three authors (including "IPPC's" Lennart Bengtsson) as the first paper he referred to trying to give the impression that "climate has changed before therefore it's not human activity causing the current warming". These three authors collaborated with nine other scientists in preparing this second paper. This paper was cited even more often than the other (553 citations according to Google Scholar).
There are, of course, multiple factors affecting the current warming of the Arctic. Obviously the greenhouse effect is one major factor, but as the above papers (and others) point out, and as even Jim apparently knows (believe it or not), ocean temperature, wind, currents and ice cover all affect the surface air temperature of the Arctic.
Jim wanders off and castigates his favourite Lennart Bengtsson and his colleagues (without letting anyone know that's who he's castigating) for not being able to model the exact same temperature patterns in the Arctic as observations indicate. What he omits is sentences like the following, which point out one of the differences between Arctic warming in the early twentieth century compared to now:
Figure 1a shows the time evolution of the zonally averaged anomalies in annual mean SAT from 30–90◦N. Two characteristic warming events stand out, the first from the mid 1920s to about 1940 and the second starting about 1980 and still ongoing. Here, we show that the early twentieth-century warming was largely confined to north of 60◦N, whereas the latter warming encompasses the whole Earth (Jones et al., 1999) but is none the less significantly enhanced in the Arctic (Fig. 1a).
Jim posted as separate panels Figure 1 from Johannessen04, which is shown below. I've added some lines so you can more easily line up the warm periods. As always, click for larger view.
(b) modelled, including changes in GHGs only, 1891–1999;
(c) modelled, including changes in GHGs and sulfate aerosols, 1891–1999;
(d) modelled, control run, which generates temporal and spatial scales of variability, although the particular years on the x-axis are, in effect, arbitrary.
Jim didn't understand the paper. Figure 1d was described by the authors as a control run "which generates temporal and spatial scales of variability, although the particular years on the x-axis are, in effect, arbitrary". Jim was leading his readers astray when he wrote:
In their “control run” below (Figure 1d), they included all the known physics believed to affect climate change except anthropogenic greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols to produce their representation of “natural climate change.” The result as seen in Figure 1d, was a relatively warmer period that lasted for about 15 years. However more importantly, the simulated warming was produced only after 150 years of integration and never corresponded to either of the warm periods between 1920 and 1950, or between 1980 and 2000. So the authors randomly placed the modeled warming on the timeline.What a nutter. That's not what 1d is about. Figure 1d was described by the authors as:
Here, a similar high-latitude anomaly, although less extreme and of a shorter duration, is found in a 300-yr control run (without increasing anthropogenic forcings) with the ECHAM4model—100 yr are shown in Fig. 1d.What Figure 1d demonstrated is that without anthropogenic influences, it is possible to get the sort of warming that occurred in the 1930s for a short period of time. The scientists put an arbitrary time scale on the x axis because when it happened wasn't important. What was important was if it happened and for how long. It was to see if such a warming could happen from natural variation not when it would happen. The authors concluded that a short period of Arctic warming can occur purely by natural variation. Moreover they suggested that the 1930s warming was primarily from natural variability within the system, not anthropogenic forcing, writing (my bold):
This anomaly occurred after 150 yr of integration and lasted for some 15 yr. This simulation without increasing anthropogenic forcing is able to produce an anomaly similar to the observed high-latitude warming in the 1920s–1930s. Therefore, we strongly support the contention of Delworth and Knutson (2000) that this high-latitude warming event represents primarily natural variability within the climate system, rather than being caused primarily by external forcings, whether solar forcing alone (Thejll and Lassen, 2000) or a combination of increasing solar irradiance, increasing anthropogenic trace gases, and decreasing volcanic aerosols, as suggested from an analysis of 400 yr of temperature proxy data from the Arctic (Overpeck et al., 1997). Changes in solar forcing have been suggested (e.g. Lean and Rind, 1998) as the cause of the warming....
Jim either didn't comprehend the paper or he was being deliberately deceitful. I'll opt for the former because previous experience with the chap suggests he suffers a cognitive disorder when it comes to climate science.
Looking at the other panels above, Figure 1b was a model run with greenhouse gases only and Figure 1c was a model run with greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols. Compare those panels with the observations in 1a. What panels 1b and 1c demonstrate is that the modern warming can most likely be attributed to the increase in greenhouse gases, though in the main the 1930s warming probably can't be. Obviously Jim was very wrong when he wrote:
In other words their models failed to reproduce the observed climate change – whether it was natural or anthropogenic.As you can see, both 1b and 1c do produce the modern warming, reasonably closely with, though not exactly the same as, the observations. Figure 1b produced some, but very little of the 1930s warming. Figure 1c produced no 1930s warming at all, which is why the authors decided that the 1930s warming was from natural variability not anthropogenic forcing.
Looking at Figure 1a, the observed surface air temperature, you can see quite clearly the contrast between the Arctic warming in the 1930s and since 1990. The recent warming affects all the way down to 30 North (and below) whereas in the 1930s there was no warming below about 60 North. What this suggests is that the modern warming can largely be attributed to greenhouse gas forcing. The authors wrote (my bold):
In contrast, no comprehensive numerical-model integrations have produced the present global warm anomaly (Fig. 1a) without including observed anthropogenic forcing. Figure 1b shows the ECHAM4 model simulation with anthropogenic GHG forcing. The patterns compare well with the last two decades of observed warming, although the modelled warming occurs slightly earlier and also encompasses lower latitudes than observed (Fig. 1a). The patterns from a simulation including GHGs and sulfate aerosols (GSD) (Fig. 1c) show that, although the recent midlatitude warming is underestimated, the high-latitude enhancement is in agreement with the observations and other modelling results (Raisanen, 2001). Therefore, anthropogenic forcing is the dominant cause of the recent pronounced warming in the Arctic.Contrast that with Jim's idiotic comment:
In order to “prove” CO2 has caused the recent warming, they added the historical rise in CO2 to their models. And voila! They reported massive warming in the 80s and 90s. Simultaneously however their models did something quite revealing.Yes, that's exactly right. Without any anthropogenic forcings the warming isn't evident.
This bit's even better. Jim wrote:
According to many climate scientists like the IPCC’s Dr Lenart Bengtsson, the warming that began in the 20s was, “one of the most spectacular climate events of the twentieth century”; yet the models obliterated that observed warming and slightly warmed the cooler 60s and 70s. Although their absurd inconsistency is obvious, the authors ignored the eradication of earlier warming, yet took great pride in the models representation of the most recent warming writing, “The patterns compare well with the last two decades of observed warming, although the modeled warming occurs slightly earlier and also encompasses lower latitudes than observed.”
Jim, that is wrong. Lennart Bengtsson and his co-authors on their second paper did not ignore the "eradication of earlier warming". What they concluded was that the earlier warming was not from greenhouse gas forcing but from natural variation. The current warming, by contrast, can be attributed to greenhouse gas forcing.
And what was that about non-sequiters? Jim is basically trying to argue that because, as the scientists themselves demonstrated, the 1930s warming wasn't attributable to human activities then the current warming can't be either.
Jim Steele needs to read up on the meaning of non-sequitur and re-read the articles at SkepticalScience.com.
Jim Steele gets more wrong, too
Jim got other stuff wrong, but this article is already very long so I'll just mention one thing. Jim wrote:
Nor can rising CO2 explain why the U.S. Climate Reference Network’s (USCRN) land surface data, the upper 700 meters of Argo’s ocean data and satellite data all show a cooling trend since 2003What's with the "since 2003"? That's only eleven years ago. Not much of a time span to consider climate shifts. In any case, the USCRN data only goes back ten years and there is no clear trend yet. The R2 value of the linear regression is 0.0024, which means that the decadal trend of minus 0.1°C a decade is inconclusive at best. As for ocean heat, contrary to Jim's claim, the top 700 m are warming. So is the top 2000m. The oceans are heating up because of human activity. Global surface temperatures are rising. All the surface temperature and tropospheric temperature data series show warming over the past few decades. As for "since 2003", the UAH satellite data is also inconclusive with the R2 of the linear trend line being only 0.0066 on the monthly chart. RSS shows a slight downward trend since 2003, but again with a very low R2. Here's is a five-chart animation to show what I mean.
|Data sources: Ocean/NOAA; USCRN/NOAA; UAH; GISTemp; HadCRUT; RSS|
Bonus from old Australian newspapers
If you're interested in what people from past decades thought about Arctic warming, you might like to read some of the newspaper articles I've collected.
From the WUWT comments
As expected, there's a lot of "'rah, 'rah-ing" going on. Anyone who rejects climate science gets a loud cheer at WUWT. That's why deniers flock there. I'm not sure how many WUWT-ers picked up that a lot of Jim's article was about climate change in the Arctic, not about global warming. Only one person challenged him and Jim jumped down his throat quick smart.
The Other Phil tries to re-invent what the fake sceptics say in a very convoluted (and illogical) fashion, but Jim's article is evidence that SkepticalScience is correct for at least some deniers. The Other Phil says:
June 19, 2014 at 12:32 pm
Skeptical Science is making the error of confusing positive arguments with rebuttal arguments.
Yes, skeptics point out historical variability, but not, as skepticalscience.com tries to claim , that skeptics assert “this somehow tells us that humans can’t be the main cause of the current global warming”
The reason skeptic bring it up is because the warmists assert the opposite. How many times has some article breathlessly talked about temperature increases unparalleled in history? The warmist make the assertion, because their direct arguments are weak, but if they can demonstrate that something like this has never happened before, their audience will be sympathetic to the view that there must be human involvement this time.
Skeptics do not raise the rebuttal to prove that warming must be natural, skeptics raise the argument to demonstrate that warmist are wrong!
And why is it a common argument? Because despite the evidence, the warmists keep making the claims.
Latitude doesn't quite know what to say about it all, so senselessly says:
June 19, 2014 at 12:47 pm
biology certainly will reduce a nutrient to limiting levels….
280ppm is limiting
philjourdan would love to believe what he writes, but writing it doesn't make it so, and says:
June 19, 2014 at 1:03 pm
Mother nature keeps calling the alarmist liars. Which probably makes them even more angry since they cannot sue her in court.
I'll copy Arno Arrak's comment in full. He has wacky theories of his own that he often tries to get people to listen to. This time he proves the point that SkepticalScience made. He's also the only one who challenged Jim Steele. Arno Arrak says:
June 19, 2014 at 1:12 pm
Just a couple of notes about the Arctic. Both you and the warmists simply don’t bother to learn about what is happening there. The warmists lump Arctic warming with global greenhouse warming and are happy that they found that warming. And you have no idea that Arctic warming started suddenly at the turn of the twentieth century. Prior to that there was nothing there but slow, linear cooling for two thousand years. The start of the warming was sudden and there was no parallel increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide which rules out the greenhouse effect as its cause. Bengtsson did note the start of the warming correctly but did not get the follow-up. It is highly likely that the sudden start of warming was caused by a rearrangement of the North Atlantic current system that started carrying warm Gulf Stream water into the Arctic Ocean. Record shows that this warming was interrupted by a thirty year cooling period in mid-century, then resumed, and is still going strong. It is quite impossible for greenhouse warming to switch from warming to cooling and back again. All that warming is still counted as greenhouse warming by global warming activists when in fact it is nothing of the sort. Direct temperature measurements near Svalbard indicate that the warm water reaching the Arctic today is warmer than anything seen there within the previous two thousand years. You hear much speculation about why Antarctica is cooler than the Arctic is today but the vital fact that it is because of the warm Gulf Stream water carried north by currents is simply buried in their ignorant speculation. Fact is, if this warm water did not get carried north both poles would be at the same temperature today. Here is your homework on the subject: read E&E (22)8:1069-1083 (2011).
I don't know if rod leman is talking about Jim Steele's article or Arrak's comment when he says:
June 19, 2014 at 1:41 pmNotice how the mod gives a pass to endless brainless comments but insists on "examples" if they think there's a chance that someone might be criticising a fake sceptic.
The comments above are chock full of scientific error.
[Examples, please. ~mod.]
MarkW is another person who proves the point made by SkepticalScience.com and says:
June 19, 2014 at 2:02 pm
The example is silly because we have firm evidence what killed the man, IE, the knife in the back.
On the other hand we have nothing but suppositions as to what has caused the warming of the last century. The warmists assert that it must be CO2, because that is what their models tell them.
We point out that there has been warming in the past without an increase in CO2, and their models can’t account for this
sinewave hasn't heard about volcanic eruptions or Milankovitch cycles or changes in incoming solar radiation and says:
June 19, 2014 at 2:29 pm
Another thing that is irksome about “climate myth #1″ on SkS is that they offer no real explanation about major climatic events from the past. Could they tell you exactly what caused previous ice ages? Or why the earth came out of them? Of course not. If you want to tell people that climate change now is different than in the past you need to explain the past and demonstrate why the present is different. You can’t just say “humans are putting more CO2 in the atmosphere so it’s different now” because you have an imprecise understanding of the major historical drivers of climate and how the present CO2 situation affects them, if at all.
I dare you to read the "theory" of willhaas who "explains" much more after this little extract:
June 19, 2014 at 2:50 pm
I have read articles about climate models that fairly accurately track the past for at least the last past 200 years and also predict the end to the late 20th century cooling cycle. These models depend on total solar activity and the effects of the oceans. They do not include any CO2 effects. In reality there is no real evidence in the paleoclimate record that CO2 has any effect on climate, just conjecture. If greenhouse gases have been involved in climate change then the lionsharere must have been caused by H2O.
The idea that Man’s adding CO2 to the atmosphere can cause catastrophic climate change depends on the idea that H2O provides positive feedbacks that amplify any effect that CO2 might have but the opposite is really the case. Let me explain....
more soylent green! is a greenhouse effect denier who happens to be correct in much of what she/he says:
June 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm
Another great myth is that the climate models were built based upon a solid, scientific understanding of how the climate works.
Instead, the models were built on a premise — that greenhouse gases, specifically human CO2 emissions, are driving global warming. We are only beginning to understand how the climate works and how the multitude of factors interact.
Repeat, the climate models are not built upon that limited scientific understanding of how the climate works, but upon a theoretical belief that greenhouse gas emissions drive climate change.
Gamecock anthropomorphises anthropogenic factors and gets his/her logical fallacy wrong when he or she says:
June 19, 2014 at 3:45 pm
‘The Greatest Climate Myth of All argues we can confidently blame CO2 for the warming of the 80s and 90s because models of “natural climate change” cannot simulate the most recent warming unless more heat is added proportional to rising CO2′
Argumentum ad ignorantiam. That their models don’t explain it without CO2 is not proof that CO2 caused it. It is an assumption of guilt.
Pamela Gray often pretends to be educated, but comments like this one show she's just another ignorant, uneducated science denier. And a wilfully ignorant one because she's been around climate discussions long enough to have learnt something. She says:
June 19, 2014 at 4:02 pm
Wonderful graphics. Well labeled and demonstrative to even lay persons. It is nice to see someone attack a proposed hypothesis with data. In my opinion, of those that speak to climate in this blog, Bob Tisdale does a great job of this. Leif also. Anthony and Willis are in that group. Now you are in that roll call group at wattsupwiththat who are capable of lucid communication with the general public.
4 eyes must be quite young with no elderly relatives or friends because she/he says:
June 19, 2014 at 8:27 pm
No – one can remember 1920 so it is convenient for models to fail to history match at that time. It is much harder to dismiss a model that seems to match living memory which is the only thing most catastrophists rely on for their limited arguments.
Max Hugoson is so stroppy he shouts his protest that no-one has personally sent him the zillions of lines of code that form complex climate models, and says:
June 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm
And I can find a complete, “mathematical basis”, including classic programming FLOW CHARTS for these “climate models”. Until that is publically available, NO MATTER WHAT RESULT they produce, they are FICTIONS, not real science.
[Rather, "And [until] I can find a complete … ” ?? .mod]
bw has it all figured out and says:
June 20, 2014 at 12:10 am
The sun heats the surface first. Then the warmer surface heats the air above.
Ocean surface heat capacity is 4 times the mass specific heat capacity of the air, and is also 800 times more dense, thus has a total of 3200 times the thermal energy of the air.
2 cubic meters at the ocean/atmosphere interface, one square meter of ocean to a depth of one meter, and the one meter of air above it. To change the temperature of those two cubic meters by one degree, then you would need 3201 kilojoules of energy. One kilojoule for the atmosphere and 3200 kilojoules for the ocean.
Is it so surprising to see a slight shift in the direction of the gulf stream current causing a huge change in the air temperatures of the arctic??
Bengtsson, Lennart, Vladimir A. Semenov, and Ola M. Johannessen. "The early twentieth-century warming in the Arctic-A possible mechanism." Journal of Climate 17, no. 20 (2004): 4045-4057. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/1520-0442(2004)017<4045:TETWIT>2.0.CO;2
Johannessen, Ola M., Lennart Bengtsson, Martin W. Miles, Svetlana I. Kuzmina, Vladimir A. Semenov, Genrikh V. Alekseev, Andrei P. Nagurnyi et al. "Arctic climate change: Observed and modelled temperature and sea‐ice variability." Tellus A 56, no. 4 (2004): 328-341. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0870.2004.00060.x