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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Precautionary Principle in Atlanta, Georgia

Sou | 10:27 PM Go to the first of 14 comments. Add a comment

By now many people will have heard of the snow in Atlanta this week, which brought the city to a messy standstill.  My sympathies to anyone caught up in it.

Source: via NBC Charlotte @wcnc

The main problem by various accounts was that none of the authorities took action in advance of the storm.  I say a storm, but I gather it was only a couple of inches of snow, which melted then froze on the roads - making driving a tad tricky for people not prepared for iced roads.

It appears that what happened was that ahead of the event, there were no requests for people to stay home. When the storm hit, lots of people tried to go home and got stranded on the roads.  Children were stranded at school overnight. Road maintenance people couldn't get onto the roads to salt them or whatever they might have done if they didn't have salt handy, because they were gridlocked with cars.  The end result was general chaos plus a bit of the blame game.

Judith Curry has an article about the storm (archived here).  According to her accounts, the weather bureaux gave the odds at 30% that the snow would hit Atlanta.  I gather that she and most of the people commenting there agree that even though the odds were less than one in three, the powers that be should have adopted the precautionary principle.  Judith wrote:
Ah . . . so the kind of risk management that elected officials are good at is political risk management.  What are the political downsides of making proactive decisions, and then the weather event fails to materialize?  Two such examples come immediately to my mind:
  • Does anyone recall the pre-emptive closing of federal offices in Washington DC last April, owing to a forecast of snow?  I remember this, since I was in DC for congressional testimony (a tweet at 2 a.m. told me the Hearing was cancelled).  Well, it rained in DC (didn’t snow).  A bunch of flights into and out of DC were cancelled (including mine), but other than that I think the consequences of this pre-emptive closing were pretty minor, and that the right call was made by the government officials.
  • Another example with a more complex outcome was the evacuation of Houston in 2005 in anticipation of Hurricane Rita.  Following on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, sensitivity was high.  Rita weakened and turned north, having almost no impact on Houston. Several people died in evacuation traffic accidents.

When the consequences of not acting are worse than the downsides of acting, it makes sense to act. However Judith has in the past said:

On the other hand, like with the 30% chance of snow in Atlanta, or when it otherwise suits her she goes for it. For example - from Judith's attachment that John Christy submitted to a House Committee hearing:

Now it's a dead cert that bad things will happen to good, bad and indifferent people alike if we don't make enough progress in cutting CO2 emissions (using the HotWhopper probability scale, dead cert means >99% likelihood!). And given that some of those bad things are likely to be very, very bad for a lot of people, the precautionary principle makes sense, regardless of modalities and uncertainties and whether or not the IPCC is put down.  (Putting down the IPCC won't stop the climate from changing.  All it will do is make it a bit harder for people to keep up with climate science, with the impacts, with how people are adapting to it and with what societies are doing to mitigate climate change.)

HotWhopper gets its odds from the IPCC and the science.  For example, from the AR5 WG1 Summary for Policy Makers:
Limiting the warming caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions alone with a probability of  >33%, >50%, and >66% to less than 2°C since the period 1861–1880, will require cumulative CO2 emissions from all anthropogenic sources to stay between 0 and about 1560 GtC, 0 and about 1210 GtC, and 0 and about 1000 GtC since that period respectively. These upper amounts are reduced to about 880 GtC, 840 GtC, and 800 GtC respectively, when accounting for non-CO2 forcings as in RCP2.6. An amount of 531 [446 to 616] GtC, was already emitted by 2011. {12.5}

Combine that with what a two degree or hotter world will be like and it makes a lot of sense to reduce emissions.  Since the longer we leave it the bigger the cut will need to be, it also makes sense to start switching in earnest sooner rather than later. At least to create an environment that encourages the shift to clean energy.  At the very least to remove barriers to shifting to clean energy.

On the HotWhopper scale of no cert to dead cert, the dead cert of bad things happening if we don't cut CO2 emissions is a far surer bet than the chance of a snow storm in Atlanta.  Thing is, I expect a lot of people find it more pleasant to take a day or two off work (providing they still get paid) than finding out that their electricity comes from geothermal power or wind power or solar power. The latter notion makes some people go bananas.  "What?" they shriek. "You mean this electricity didn't come from black-lunged paupers taking the tops off mountains?" They cry. "It's a travesty! What is the world coming to!"

Exploring the mind of a climate science denier is fruitless.  Nut-full and fruitless.

PS From now on I'll be allowed to do what I've been doing - cite the IPCC report and quote from it.  The final version is up on the website.  H/t Stoat - who has been having fun trawling through the comments to it and the IPCC responses.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How Expert is Arctic Climate Expert Judith Curry?

Sou | 11:52 PM Go to the first of 16 comments. Add a comment

Judith Curry has a blog post (archived here) in which she tries to justify this statement she made in her written testimony to a recent US Senate Committee Hearing.

Further, Arctic surface temperature anomalies in the 1930’s were as large as the recent temperature anomalies.

The Arctic and Antarctica

Judith made the statement in a section of her testimony about sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctica.  Judith included the following sentences in her written testimony, relating to Arctic sea ice and Antarctic sea ice.  Unlike other science I've read and despite the gross differences between the two regions, Judith packaged the Arctic and Antarctica together.  She wrote:
The increase in Antarctic sea ice is not understood and is not simulated correctly by climate models. Further, Arctic surface temperature anomalies in the 1930’s were as large as the recent temperature anomalies. Notwithstanding the simulations by climate models that reproduce the decline in Arctic sea ice, more convincing arguments regarding causes of sea ice variations requires understanding and ability to simulate sea ice variations in both hemispheres.

Her first sentence is more definite than the science I've read suggests.  If she'd written "is not completely understood" or even "not well understood" it would be a more accurate representation of the state of science.

Her second sentence is most likely incorrect, as we'll see below.  (I've emphasised that sentence in bold italics because it is going to be the main focus of this article.)  But while we're here, let me just ask the question - if the Arctic was as warm in the 1930s as it is now, how is it there was so much more ice in the Arctic region back then than there is today? On land and sea.

Her third sentence is out of the blue and as far as I can make out, doesn't link directly to anything else in her testimony (except it fits her general theme of "scientists don't know nuffin' so forget-about-it").

The differences between the Arctic and Antarctica are vast.  About the only similarity they share is they are both cold places with lots of ice. I'd be interested in what readers think about the "more convincing arguments" comment and just what Judith might mean by that.  Sure it applies to Antarctica, but I can't see that the Arctic and Antarctica are linked as closely as Judith seems to be suggesting.  I'm not arguing that what happens in Antarctica is divorced from the rest of the world or that it could not possibly have any impact on the Arctic.  Merely that what happens in Antarctica is unlikely to have any greater impact on the Arctic than it has on anywhere else in the world.  Similarly, what happens in the Arctic would not necessarily affect Antarctica any more than it would affect other regions in the world. And being in different hemispheres, they'd both arguably have less impact on each other rather than more.

So while it will be nice when all the different forces acting in the high latitudes of the southern hemisphere are better understood, I don't understand why Judith links Arctic sea ice with sea ice in the southern oceans.

However in this article I particularly want to discuss the recent blog article of Judith's in which she tries to justify her statement and respond to Tamino's criticism of Judith's writing:
Further, Arctic surface temperature anomalies in the 1930’s were as large as the recent temperature anomalies. 
(Tamino has also written a response, so I'll try to keep this short.)

Judith Curry is an expert on the climate of the Arctic

Now Judith introduced herself to the US Senate Committee as an expert on the climate of the Arctic.  The first two sentences of her written testimony show how she presented herself:
I am Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I have devoted 30 years to conducting research on topics including climate of the Arctic, the role of clouds and aerosols in the climate system, and the climate dynamics of extreme weather events.

So the first area of expertise she listed was that of the climate of the Arctic.  So if anyone knows about the climate of the Arctic then she should.  I am aware Judith has had quite a few papers about the Arctic published, her most recent being as co-author of one of Marcia Wyatt's "stadium wave" papers I believe.

However, rather than cite any of her own work on the Arctic to support her statement that the Arctic was as hot in the 1930s as it is now, what Judith does in her blog article is select three passages from the IPCC AR5 report in the section on Arctic sea ice (plus some other material).  These are the sections she quotes - note they are not sequential in the IPCC report and are not adjacent to each other, though in her blog article Judith runs them all together as if they were a single segment.  All are from Chapter 10, "Detection and Attribution of Climate Change: from Global to Regional".

The first segment is from page 10-27 of AR5 WG1, in Section 10.3 Atmosphere and Surface:
Gillett et al. (2008b) detect anthropogenic influence on near-surface Arctic temperatures over land, with a consistent magnitude in simulations and observations. Wang et al. (2007) also find that observed Arctic warming is inconsistent with simulated internal variability. Both studies ascribe Arctic warmth in the 1930s and 1940s largely to internal variability. Shindell and Faluvegi (2009) infer a large contribution to both midcentury Arctic cooling and late century warming from aerosol forcing changes, with greenhouse gases the dominant driver of long-term warming, though they infer aerosol forcing changes from temperature changes using an inverse approach which may lead to some changes associated with internal variability being attributed to aerosol forcing. We therefore conclude that despite the uncertainties introduced by limited observational coverage, high internal variability, modelling uncertainties (Crook et al., 2011) and poorly understood local forcings, such as the effect of black carbon on snow, there is sufficiently strong evidence to conclude that it is likely that there has been an anthropogenic contribution to the very substantial warming in Arctic land surface temperatures over the past 50 years.

The above does not support or refute her contention that the Arctic was as warm in the 1930s as it is now. It's mainly blog padding.

The second segment is from page 10-43, except that Judith left out the first sentence of the paragraph, which I'll include as italics enclosed in square brackets.

[A question as recently as six years ago was whether the recent Arctic warming and sea ice loss was unique in the instrumental record and whether the observed trend would continue (Serreze et al., 2007).] Arctic temperature anomalies in the 1930s were apparently as large as those in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still considerable discussion of the ultimate causes of the warm temperature anomalies that occurred in the Arctic in the 1920s and 1930s (Ahlmann, 1948; Veryard, 1963; Hegerl et al., 2007a; Hegerl et al., 2007b). The early 20th century warm period, while reflected in the hemispheric average air temperature record (Brohan et al., 2006), did not appear consistently in the mid-latitudes nor on the Pacific side of the Arctic (Johannessen et al., 2004; Wood and Overland, 2010). Polyakov et al. (2003) argued that the Arctic air temperature records reflected a natural cycle of about 50–80 years. However, many authors (Bengtsson et al., 2004; Grant et al., 2009; Wood and Overland, 2010; Brönnimann et al., 2012) instead link the 1930s temperatures to internal  variability in the North Atlantic atmospheric and ocean circulation as a single episode that was sustained by ocean and sea ice processes in the Arctic and north Atlantic. The Arctic wide temperature increases in the last decade contrast with the episodic regional increases in the early 20th century, suggesting that it is unlikely that recent increases are due to the same primary climate process as the early 20th century.

Judith bolded the second sentence in the above passage and omitted the first.  A couple of people have made much of this, and I agree that it is ambiguous.  The second sentence could be read as a continuation of the first with the meaning: "As recently as six years ago it appeared as if Arctic anomalies in the 1930s were as high as those of the 1990s and 2000s".  Or it could be read as a standalone separate sentence, meaning that "today it appears as if Arctic anomalies in the 1930s were as high as those of the 1990s and 2000s".

If you choose the second interpretation then that second sentence is the only bit of Judith's IPCC quotes that supports her contention that the Arctic was as warm in the 1930s as it is today.  However it isn't consistent with anything else I've read in the IPCC report and I found no other statement of that nature in the report.

Not only that, but the very last sentence in the above passage should have been enough to alert Judith to the inconsistency - that the recent warming is Arctic-wide, unlike the warming in the early twentieth century, which was described as "episodic regional increases".

What is most concerning for people who might still harbour hope that Judith Curry has a bit of the scientist left in her, is that in talking about Arctic temperatures, Judith selected that particular passage and ignored conflicting passages.

The third passage Judith quoted is from page 10-42, still in the Arctic ice section of the report.  The sentence in square brackets and italics was not quoted by Judith but is part of the same paragraph so I've included it for completeness.
Turning to model based attribution studies, Min et al. (2008b) compared the seasonal evolution of Arctic sea ice extent from observations with those simulated by multiple GCMs for 1953–2006. Comparing changes in both the amplitude and shape of the annual cycle of the sea ice extent reduces the chance of spurious detection due to coincidental agreement between the response to anthropogenic forcing and other factors, such as slow internal variability. They found that human influence on the sea ice extent changes has been robustly detected since the early 1990s. The anthropogenic signal is also detectable for individual months from May to December, suggesting that human influence, strongest in late summer, now also extends into colder seasons. Kay et al. (2011b), Jahn et al. (2012) and Schweiger et al. (2011) used the climate model (CCSM4) to investigate the influence of anthropogenic forcing on late 20th century and early 21st century Arctic sea ice extent and volume trends. On all timescales examined (2–50+ years), the most extreme negative extent trends observed in the late 20th century cannot be explained by modeled internal variability alone. Comparing trends from the CCSM4 ensemble to observed trends suggests that internal variability could account for approximately half of the observed 1979–2005 September Arctic sea ice extent loss. [Attribution of anthropogenic forcing is also shown by comparing September sea ice extent as projected by seven models from the set of CMIP5 models’ hindcasts to control runs without anthropogenic forcing (Figure 10.16a; Wang and Overland, 2009). The mean of sea ice extents in seven models’ ensemble members are below the level of their control runs by ~1995, similar to the result of Min et al. (2008b).]

The above should have been a signal to Judith to look further to make sure her claim of 1930s warming was correct.  While it doesn't directly conflict with her claim, it states that recent warming is outside the bounds of natural variability, whereas the second passage she quoted above stated that the 1930s warming could be explained by natural variability.  Anyone with half a brain would be asking themselves if that might mean that it was hotter recently than in the 1930s.

To sum up then, of all those passages, there is only one sentence that relates directly to Judith's claim.  That's the sentence in the second passage that reads:
Arctic temperature anomalies in the 1930s were apparently as large as those in the 1990s and 2000s. 
Thing is, that sentence is, as we've seen, ambiguous in the context of the paragraph.  Not only that it is well and truly contradicted elsewhere in the IPCC report.  I don't know who wrote it or why it slipped through when it could be read as conflicting with findings described elsewhere in the report.  It could be an oversight.  Yes, it could be a difference of opinion among scientists.  If so then normally it would have been described as such in the report.  So I'm thinking it's an ambiguous statement that no-one picked up on to remove the ambiguity.  Maybe because the actual meaning was obvious to the IPCC authors and they didn't see any ambiguity.

To recap, Judith is attempting to justify her own statement to the US Senate Committee that:
Further, Arctic surface temperature anomalies in the 1930’s were as large as the recent temperature anomalies.
The above isn't an IPCC quote, it's Judith's own considered opinion as an expert on the Arctic climate.  Like I said, in her blog justification she picked three passages from the IPCC section on Arctic sea ice, of which only one sentence of one passage could be argued as being supportive of her claim.

The evidence Judith Curry ignored

What Judith chose not to quote was this passage on Arctic temperatures in Chapter 14, pp 14-39 and 14-40 (my bold italics):
The surface and lower troposphere in the Arctic and surrounding land areas show regional warming over the past three decades of about 1°C/decade—significantly greater than the global mean trend (Figures 2.22 and 2.25). According to temperature reconstructions, this signal is highly unusual: Temperatures averaged over the Arctic over the past few decades are significantly higher than any seen over the past 2000 years (Kaufman et al., 2009). Temperatures 11,000 years ago were greater than the 20th century mean, but this is likely a strongly-forced signal, since summer solar radiation was 9% greater than present (Miller et al.,
2010). Finally, warmer temperatures have been sustained in pan-Arctic land areas where a declining NAO over the past decade ought to have caused cooling (Semenov, 2007; Turner et al., 2007b).

Now there are two conflicting statements in different chapters of the IPCC report (assuming Judith's interpretation of the ambiguous sentence). The one a sentence that Judith quoted from Chapter 10, and the above paragraph from Chapter 14.

I looked further to see what else was in the IPCC report that Judith may have chosen to omit from her testimony.  Here is a passage from page 5-33 of Chapter 5 of the IPCC report.
Since AR4, regional temperature reconstructions have been produced for the last 2 kyr (Figure 5.12; PAGES 2k Consortium, 2013). A recent multi-proxy 2000-year Arctic temperature reconstruction shows that temperatures during the first centuries were comparable or even higher than during the 20th century (Hanhijärvi et al., 2013; PAGES 2k Consortium, 2013). During the MCA, portions of the Arctic and sub-Arctic experienced periods warmer than any subsequent period, except for the most recent 50 years (Figure 5.12) (Kaufman et al., 2009; Kobashi et al., 2010; Vinther et al., 2010; Kobashi et al., 2011; Spielhagen et al., 2011). Tingley and Huybers (2013) provided a statistical analysis of northern high-latitude temperature reconstructions back to 1400 and found that recent extreme hot summers are unprecedented over this time span. Marine proxy records indicate anomalously high SSTs north of Iceland and the Norwegian Sea from 900 to 1300, followed by a generally colder period that ended in the early 20th century. Modern SSTs in this region may still be lower than the warmest intervals of the 900–1300 period (Cunningham et al., 2013). 
Further north, in Fram Strait, modern SSTs from Atlantic Water appear warmer than those reconstructed from foraminifera for any prior period of the last 2000 years (Spielhagen et al., 2011). However, different results are obtained using dinocysts from the same sediment core (Bonnet et al. (2010) showing a cooling trend over the last 2000 years without a 20th century rise, and warmest intervals entered at years 100 and 600.

The words in the above passage do not by themselves directly refute Judith's one sentence claim that the Arctic was as hot in the 1930s as it is now.  Nor does it lend any support to her claim.  According to my reading of the above, the Arctic reconstruction suggests that recent temperatures in the Arctic are the highest they've been since the Medieval Climate Anomaly at least and probably the highest they've been in nearly 2000 years (at least).  The "last fifty years" is not the 1930s but the period since the 1960s. We can leave aside the "portions of the Arctic" sentence because the issue is around the Arctic as a whole.  The "recent extreme hot summers" is likely more relevant, but I haven't read the cited paper to see if it's "whole of Arctic".

Anyway, here is figure 5.12 which was referenced in the first paragraph of the above quote, which Judith chose to not divulge to the US Senate Committee:
Figure 5.12 IPCC AR5 WG1 [Arctic only] Regional temperature reconstructions, comparison with model simulations over the past millennium (950–2010). Temperature anomalies (thick black line), and uncertainty estimated provided by each individual reconstruction (grey envelope). Uncertainties: Arctic: 90% confidence bands. ...Simulations are separated into 2 groups: High solar forcing (red thick line), and weak solar forcing (blue thick line). For each model subgroup, uncertainty is shown as 1.645 times sigma level (light red and blue lines). For comparison with instrumental record, the CRUTEM4 dataset is shown (yellow line). Green bars in rectangles on top of each panel indicate the 30 warmest years in the 950–1250 period (left rectangle) and 1800–2010 period (right rectangle). All lines are smoothed by applying a 30 year moving average. ... Reconstructions: from PAGES 2k Consortium (2013). Models used: simulations with strong solar forcing (mostly pre-PMIP3 simulations): CCSM3 (1), CNRM-CM3.3 (1), CSM1.4 (1), CSIROMK3L-1-2 (3), ECHAM5/MPIOM (3), ECHO-G (1) IPSLCM4 (1), FGOALS-gl (1). Simulations with weak solar forcing (mostly PMIP3/CMIP5 simulations): BCC-csm1-1 (1), CCSM4 (1), CSIRO-MK3L-1-2 (1), GISS-E2-R (3, ensemble members 121, 124, 127), HadCM3 (1), MPI-ESM, ECHAM5/MPIOM (5), IPSL-CM5A-LR (1). In parenthesis are the number of simulations used for each model. All simulations are treated individually, in the timeseries as well as in the MCA–LIA bars. More information about forcings used in simulations and corresponding references are given in Table 5.A.1.

Now given that Judith is a self-professed expert on the Arctic climate and has the publication history to prove it, there is no excuse in my mind for her to not divulge this to the US Senate Committee.  She can't complain that she didn't know about it.  It's in the very same document from which she selected her own quote.

Even if she disagreed with the latest research, she was being irresponsible at best, given that the above research is what is presented as being the current state of knowledge.  Had Judith been acting as a scientist rather than a political stooge for the denialist party (Republicans), Judith would have presented the full spectrum of research and explained why she disputes the more recent findings.

In her blog article she didn't refer to the above either.  She focused on material to support her claim (Wondering Willis style) while ignoring conflicting evidence.  And it's especially damning that she put forward some guff from a blogger/denier (not a climate scientist) who thinks we're on the verge of an ice age and who can't read a simple chart of the Central England temperature (in which he ludicrously claims fame and expertise). (Another main bit of "evidence" Judith drew on in her blog article was some unpublished "work" one of her pet fake sceptics, Tony "ice age cometh" Brown who barracks for the Central England team of deniers. So if you needed more evidence that she was searching for material to support her claim rather than reporting the science no matter what it showed, there you have it.)

Since I started this article, Tamino has written his second blog article about the matter with more evidence against Judith.  I might as well add this contribution to the mix since I've gone to the trouble of pulling it together.

The other reason I decided to go ahead and publish this is that Judith is flinching a bit and any bit of encouragement to act like a scientist could be worth it.  I don't think Judith enjoys being shown up as just another ordinary fake sceptic blogger.  I doubt she will change now, she's made her bed, chosen her path, whatever.  Still, it's not too late for her to put aside her denier garb and don her white lab coat again, should she change her mind.

I'll leave it at that.

How to improve Alexa Rankings, or not: An Alexa Rankings Experiment

Sou | 3:50 PM Go to the first of 7 comments. Add a comment

Collin Maesson at has written a couple of  articles about the value, or lack thereof, of using Alexa rankings to monitor blog popularity.  You can read them here and here. Since Collin is in the business of software development, he knows about such things as statistical monitoring and web page ranking services and about how best to monitor readership.  Knowing something about readership is important if you care about your readers.  If you know your blog is losing readership, you can do something about it (if you care).

Recently HotWhopper's Alexa rankings began to drop off from a low of around 382,000 late last year (lower is better) to the current 1,003,243 (as at Feb 4 2014) - which is where it was back in the first week of July last year.  Thing is, back in June last year, HotWhopper was only six months old and, according to Google Analytics got 29,358 page views for the month.  In January this year it got 59,800 or double June's page views.  So it seems rather strange that HotWhopper's Alexa ranking went down so much while its page views doubled.

Collin noticed the improvement in Alexa ratings of his own blog and was curious as to why HotWhopper appeared to be dropping in popularity.  He asked if I'd allow him to analyse our stats, which I was more than happy for him to do.  He wrote the results up on his blog here.  After Collin approached me I did a Google search and came across this article, which had almost identical results.

Alexa doesn't monitor readership directly.  It doesn't use cookies and it doesn't have access to the servers on which websites are hosted.  It can only guess the popularity of a website.  As I understand it, Alexa 'guesses' the visits to any website via the number of hits counted by people who have the Alexa toolbar installed.  So if a site doesn't get visitors from people with the Alexa toolbar installed, it won't rank very highly.  In other words, Alexa doesn't rate the popularity of websites at all.  It only measure the tendency of websites to get visits from browsers with the Alexa toolbar installed.  Collin explains this in his first blog article on the subject here.  (Other site statistics services use different direct and indirect ways to count visitors.  It could be cookies, javascript, server logs or a page element or any combination of these.)

I'm guessing that the sort of people who use the Alexa toolbar are not the same people who visit sites like HotWhopper.  The people who use the Alexa toolbar don't care (or maybe don't know) about the spyware that gets installed with the toolbar. Anyway, Collin speculated that Alexa may have got HotWhopper's ranking wrong compared to his blog, writing in part:

...It’s probably because I’ve written about Alexa a couple of times and I have a high ranking for my Alexa content in Google searches. My website is often displayed on the first page in Google, I can see that with the statistics I have in Google Webmaster Tools. What you need to realize about this is that people who search for information about Alexa rankings tend to be Alexa users, which means that there’s a good chance that they also have the Alexa toolbar installed.

So this article is a little experiment.  It's about Alexa, so it might pop up in web searches for Alexa or Alexa ratings or Alexa toolbar or Alexa popularity.  If it does then maybe, as Collin surmises, HotWhopper will get a few visits from people who have the Alexa toolbar installed.  If that's the case, then HotWhopper's ranking on Alexa should rise.  We'll see.

PS I'm burying this by pre-dating it by a few days, so most normal HotWhopper readers probably won't see it.  It's just an experiment after all.

3 February 2014

Denier weirdness: Anthony Watts is working through SkepticalScience denier memes

Sou | 5:50 AM Go to the first of 52 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts is running out of material again.  He's been working his way through the denier memes at

His latest is "the climate's always changing" or, as is currently Number One on the list of "Most Used Climate Myths" - "Climate's changed before".

What he wrote was (archived here):

Last night in the SOTU address, Obama made this pronouncement about climate change:
But the debate is settled.  Climate change is a fact.
To that, I say this:
There’s never been any assertion that climate didn’t change, the idea that somehow this is something new to the 21st century is absurd. For example, this graph illustrates just that fact:

Anthony thinks he's on a winner because he knows one thing about his unruly mob of science deniers, they don't just reject the science, most of them are also extreme right-wingers who really don't like President Obama.  Anthony's argument is that because, more than a century ago, Lord Kelvin underestimated how much more there was to learn about particle physics, then there's a big chance that the greenhouse effect isn't real today - or some such silliness.

Anthony Watts has an Asperger-like tendency to take things literally, when it suits him to do so.  In this case it does suit him to do so.  You'll notice that his literal intepretations don't apply when he describes his own blog as "The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change".  Most people would initially think that meant his blog was about global warming and the associated changes to climate that we're starting to experience already.  (Once a person starts reading the articles they soon realise that WUWT is just another anti-science blog.)

In his blog article Anthony included a whole heap of charts showing past temperatures from ice cores in Central Greenland and in Antarctica.  Since he's being so literal we can assume that he thinks Earth has an average surface temperature around minus 30 degrees and more.  His deniers really are a gullible lot to fall for that old denier trick.  (Way down the bottom of his multiple charts is the only reference to the current rapid warming.  It doesn't look as if any of his readers noticed.)

I've already written about his recent blog article on the denier meme "it's not bad", which Wondering Willis wrote (currently No. 3); and the recent blog article on the denier meme "it's just a trace gas" which Ryan Scott Welch wrote (currenly No. 75) - both in just the last couple of days.

Recycling denier memes from the list.  Given how much Anthony dislikes, he must be really hard up!

From the WUWT comments

As you can imagine, the comments are just as dumb as Anthony's article.  (Archived here.)

Rud Istvan, in a surprising display of self-awareness says (excerpt):
January 29, 2014 at 9:55 am
It is very difficult for POTUS right now. He is bright and knows he is right. We are all just dumb unwashed for not getting it and agreeing with him.

Then there is this one from Tim Obrien  who doesn't seem to know about hot air balloons in the 1700s or dirigibles in the 1800s or all the other achievements right up to the Wright Brothers. Nor that "academics" in 1491 knew well that Earth isn't flat.  He says:
January 29, 2014 at 9:59 am
Science is never settled; only dogma is settled. Reference the consensus of scholars in 1902 who insisted Man would never fly or the academics in 1491 who maintained the world was flat…

cnxtim says:
January 29, 2014 at 10:04 am
Allow me to put this in religious context, since that is the most logical description of the warmist brethren, “Anyone, or any organisation that prophesies with faith and certainty, is by their very nature – FRAUDULENT”.

TRG says:
January 29, 2014 at 10:09 am
I think Obama can be forgiven for his position on this. I’ll bet that if you polled the CEO’s of the Fortune 500 the majority would tell you AGW is a fact, and a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. Why do you think we are having a Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium in NJ. It’s because people thought winter was history.

More denier weirdness @wattsupwiththat - How much CO2 have we put in the air?

Sou | 3:52 AM Go to the first of 5 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has reverted to form with a silly article by someone called Ryan Scott Welch (archived here, updated here).  Ryan's social circle of acquaintances are scientifically illiterate when it comes to climate and Earth's atmosphere.  He wrote:

...when questioned about how much CO2 is in our atmosphere most people give me a guess of somewhere between 30% and 70%.  When I tell them that CO2 is only 0.04% or really about 395 ppm (parts per million) they generally look at me as if I was speaking some kind of foreign language.

There would be a lot of people who don't know how much carbon dioxide is in the air.  We who inhabit the blogosphere can easily overestimate the level of climate knowledge in the general populace.  Science education is pretty poor in some school systems.  Even where it's done well, lots of people would have no use for the information.  So even if they once learnt about the air we breathe, they've probably forgotten what they were taught.

However, we who inhabit the climate blogosphere don't make the mistake of overestimating the level of climate knowledge at WUWT, that boasts (incorrectly I'd say) of being "The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change".   That blog is known for posting utter nuttery on global warming and climate change and today's article is no exception.

Ryan Scott Welch started off with an analogy that he felt suited his acquaintances and the readers of WUWT.  He suggested people think of The Dallas Cowboys Stadium, which he said seats 100,000 for special events.  (I'll skip over the obvious that nitrogen, oxygen and argon between them take up almost all of the seats, provided you are talking about dry air.) He said that if all the molecules in the air were represented by the 100,000 seats then CO2 would comprise 40 of those seats.  So far so good.

Then he said that before industrialisation, 25 seats would have been occupied by CO2 but that now that's risen to 40 seats.  Again, so far so good.

Then he went off the rails claiming that of the extra 15 seats that CO2 has occupied, only three were filled because of human activities.  He wrote:
And since humans only contribute 3% of all CO2 emitted into the atmosphere each year (97% is from nature), the human contribution is 3% of the 15 remaining seats in our sample.  3% of 15 is 0.45.
Now that's a good example of arithmetic failure and scientific failure.  The arithmetic failure is obvious.  Ryan wrote humans contribute 3% of all CO2 emitted into the atmosphere each year, but then decided to use that number as the total human contribution over all the years.

The scientific failure is implied, because Ryan didn't address the question of how long all this extra CO2 remains in the air. What he should have written, to save him going into all that, is that until industrialisation, the CO2 in the atmosphere didn't change a great deal.  Whatever came off the surface into the air was balanced by what came out of the air into the surface.  What we're doing is adding huge amounts of CO2 to the air.  So much so that even though it's warming up, oceans are absorbing CO2.  (Usually when oceans warms up CO2 is released. But the pressure of atmospheric CO2 is so great the reverse is happening.)

And, of course, Ryan's 15 extra seats are only occupied by CO2 because human activity has increased atmospheric CO2 by 40%.

Anthony Watts didn't pick up this big mistake when he posted Ryan's article.  Why would he?  The article had lots of pretty pictures and large coloured text repeating this nonsense for a few more lines for the hard of reading.  All of which suited Anthony's blog perfectly.  (The only thing missing was a Josh cartoon.)

It was only after the comments started coming in that Anthony Watts figured maybe something was amiss.  The batty duke was the second person to comment and he wrote this:

rgbatduke says (excerpt):
January 27, 2014 at 10:46 am
The half-seat analogy is selling something, not a fair appraisal. The real question is, of the fifteen seats, how much of the are human produced CO_2 that has hung around from the half-seat contributed PER YEAR. That would be all of it, so the presentation should have stopped at 15 seats. A second objection is that this has nothing to do with whether or not the first 25 seats are an important component of the overall GHE, or whether or not the addition of 15 more seats produces a measurable, possibly significant, increase in greenhouse trapping of heat. It’s all about helping people to visualize small numbers which is just fine but obscures the simple fact that the GHE is real and that the 0.04% atmospheric concentration contributes a lot more than 0.04% of it. Sure, it isn’t as important overall as water vapor, but water vapor is highly variable and CO_2 is more or less well-mixed and hence provides a widespread and consistent base to the overall GHE.

HW readers know rgbatduke is not usually quite as canny and has written some very silly things in the past.  So it's comforting to know (because he teaches undergrad physics at Duke) that he's not completely ignorant about the atmosphere.

A few others joined in, for example:

davidmhoffer says:
January 27, 2014 at 10:53 am
I was about to go an on rant, but RGB beat me to it.

Willis Eschenbach sent a mixed message, showing why the article was wrong, but with a proviso - putting in a plug for his "emergent phenomena" hypothesis and ending up saying the article was well written with good graphics - I'll just post an excerpt:
January 27, 2014 at 10:59 am
I agree with Robert Brown. You were doing great until you got to the end. Yes, humans only contribute a small percentage PER YEAR, but over time that addition builds up. For an illustrative example, if you were to save a small percentage of your salary every year, soon it would end up as a large percentage of your savings …
Second, I don’t see the point of the analogy. Your argument seems to be, CO2 is only a trivially small part of the atmosphere, so we can ignore it.
However, compare it with something like say cyanide. ...
...Thanks for an interesting post, however, well written, good graphics.
Joel O'Bryan was one of the people who argued for Anthony to remove the article:
January 27, 2014 at 11:08 am
For the reasons RGBATDUKE outline above (which I wholeheartedly concur with), WUWT should this take down completely or in a comment from Andrew, WUWT should strongly distance itself from this piece by Welch. Once Welch introduced the time factor (CO2 per year) into his argument, he was lost.

Eventually Anthony added the following to the article:
[NOTE: per Dr. Robert Brown's comment pointing out an oversight, this half-seat visualization analogy is on a PER YEAR basis, not a total basis - Anthony]

Except that's not correct either, is it. We've been adding 0.45 of a seat a year?  Divide the 15 extra "seats" by 0.45 and you'd conclude that we have only been adding CO2 to the atmosphere in the past 33 years. That is, since 1980.

There are quite a few comments of the usual calibre of WUWT.  For example, Martin says:
January 27, 2014 at 11:01 am
It’s not Argon that is 0.9% of the atmosphere, its water (H2O) that is around 1%.

And here are some of Ryan's own responses. He's not shy about demonstrating his ignorance and I bet he's thrilled to bits to get his article published on the world's most visited anti-science blog.

Ryan Scott Welch says:
January 27, 2014 at 12:26 pm
I don’t think the human contribtion to CO2 is .5 seats per year. According to the Mauna Loa record, atmospheric CO2 rose from 394.28 ppm in December 2012, to 396.81 ppm in December 2013, and increase of 2.53 ppm in a year. If the human contribibution was to atmospheric CO2 is 3% of the yearly output, then 3% of 2.53 ppm is 0.0759 ppm.
Ryan's obviously not aware that for thousands of years CO2 was pretty much in balance with only a small addition from human activities until we started burning vast amounts of fossil fuels.  He's got stuck on his magic number of 3%.  He doesn't say where he got this number from but I think it's now getting closer to 4% of the total annual exchange between the atmosphere and the surface.  Also, he's multiplying the 3% with the wrong number.  In fact the additional CO2 from human activity is more than double his 2.53 ppm, 55% of emissions are being absorbed by the oceans and biosphere.

There's a chart in the IPCC AR5 report, but it's complicated and I don't have time to work out all the pluses and minuses or percentages.  Here it is - with descriptive text on page 6-8 of the full report (click to enlarge).
Source: IPCC AR5 WG1 Figure 6.1

Ryan Scott Welch is wrong when he says:
January 27, 2014 at 12:37 pm
I submit that most of the rise in atmospheric CO2 is from oceanic outgassing as the earth has warmed from the last Ice Age and the LIA. As the eath warms CO2 rises regardless of any human factor.

If earth was warming naturally and humans weren't adding CO2 to the air, then yes, the oceans would release CO2 as they got hotter.  However, we've added so much CO2 that the oceans are a net sink not a net source right now.  Oceans are absorbing something like 30% of all the extra CO2 we're adding to the air and another 25% or so is being taken up by plants etc.

Willis Eschenbach wonders how bad is global warming & soothes the scaredy cats @wattsupwiththat

Sou | 2:46 AM Go to the first of 7 comments. Add a comment

Wondering Willis Eschenbach has signed up to the "it's not bad" denier meme (archived here).  His article has the title: Should We Be Worried? and is aimed at quelling the fears of all the scaredy cats at WUWT.

To do so he decided to call up the monthly UAH charts.  Now monthly charts aren't that easy to read because the noise of the seasons and general fluctuations can make it hard to see the longer term warming signal.

Here is what Wondering Willis concluded from his examination of the data.  I've included the same data as Willis except that I've shown the anomalies as annual averages rather than monthly averages.

The tropics

Here is a chart of UAH lower troposphere temperature in the tropics together with global lower troposphere temperature.

Data Source: UAH

Willis wrote:
To start with, the tropics have no trend, that’s 40% of the planet. So all you folks who have been forecasting doom and gloom for the billions of poor people in the tropics? Sorry … no apparent threat there in the slightest. Well, actually there is a threat, which is the threat of increased energy prices from the futile war on carbon—rising energy prices hit the poor the hardest. But I digress …
Willis is one of those deniers who thinks that burning fossil fuels is the only way that "billions of poor people in the tropics" can produce all those goods that the wealthy people in the mid-latitudes want those "billions of poor people in the tropics" to make for them on the cheap. He is also one of those deniers who thinks the only thing that counts is surface temperature changes.

He's not far off with the trend - 0.06 degrees a decade but with a very low R squared.  At most a slight warming trend over the period since 1979.

Extra Tropics

Here is a chart of UAH lower troposphere temperature in the extra tropics together with global lower troposphere temperature.

Data Source: UAH

Willis wrote:

Southern Extratropics? No trend....Northern Extratropics? A barely visible trend, and no trend since 2000.
Barely visible? There is a marked trend in the northern extratropics (R squared = 0.71), of 0.25 degrees a decade. In the southern extratropics the trend is a less definite 0.09 degrees a decade.

South Pole

Here is a chart of what UAH calls South Pole temperature anomalies together with global lower troposphere temperature.

Data Source: UAH

This is what Willis had to say about it:
South of the Antarctic Circle? No trend, it cooled slightly then warmed slightly back to where it started.
This time he's pretty well right.  I don't think I've ever noticed that remarkable temperature anomaly in 1980, which was 0.86 above the 1981-2010 average.  Now that's an anomaly if ever there was one.

Addendum: There may be inaccuracies in the lower troposphere readings at high latitudes - see this paper by Richard E. Swanson - h/t Robert Grumbine in the comments.

North Pole

Here is a chart of what UAH calls North Pole temperature anomalies together with global lower troposphere temperature.

Data Source: UAH

This is what Willis wrote:

It cooled slightly over the first decade and a half. Then it warmed for a decade, and it has stayed even for a decade …

Clearly the Arctic is where there has been most warming of the lower troposphere. The trend is 0.45 degrees a decade. That's huge by any measure. And I wouldn't call the 2010 anomaly of 1.21 degrees above the 1981-2010 average as "staying even", would you?

Wondering Willis' Conclusion

Willis provides the required level of comfort to soothe the fears of the scaredy cat deniers:
My conclusion? I don’t see anything at all that is worrisome there. To me the surprising thing once again is the amazing stability of the planet’s temperature. A third of a century, and the temperature of the tropics hasn’t budged even the width of a hairline. That is an extremely stable system.

Now why does Willis decide that the world isn't warming to any great extent? Because he is choosing and selectively interpreting data to try to prove his hypothesis that the Earth doesn't have ice ages and interglacials.  He wrote:
I explain that as being the result of the thermoregulatory effect of emergent climate phenomena … you have a better explanation?

What data does Willis ignore?  All the temperature records prior to 1979, dating back to 1880 and before.  For example the land and ocean surface temperature anomalies.  The chart below shows UAH and GISTemp anomalies.  The surface temperature has gone up by one degree since the lows of the early twentieth century and by 0.8 degrees since 1880.  The lower troposphere has pretty well tracked the surface temperature, spanning minus 0.2 to plus 0.4, with an eyeballed rise of around 0.3 degrees since 1979.

Data Source: UAH and NASA

What Willis also did to pretend it isn't warming is present the data in a particular way to make it look (to uninformed deniers) as if it's barely warming.  He put up the following chart:

Source: WUWT
As if a change of plus or minus 3 degrees over three decades wouldn't be "catastrophic" to use a denier term!  And deniers insist on using monthly data because it helps to hide the signal from prying denier eyes.

A better explanation is the greenhouse effect ...

You may recall that Willis rejects the long term rise in global temperatures and has on more than one occasion claimed that temperatures have been +/- 0.3 degrees over the past century or so.  That's obviously not the case.  The global temperature has been going up, up, up much more than 0.3 degrees Celsius.

Willis asks for a "better explanation" than his "emergent climate phenomena".  How about the greenhouse effect!  That's the mainstream view of what is happening.

With more and more CO2 the temperature goes up. This results in various feedback mechanisms coming into play, such as more water evaporating so even more greenhouse gases causing Earth to warm up, and ice melt plus less spring snow cover so less reflected sunlight meaning more energy accumulating for longer.

From the WUWT comments

There aren't that many comments so far.  Here's a sample (archived here).

TimC doesn't seem to be aware that the land and ocean surface instruments are remarkably close to the satellite measures of temperature (as seen in the chart above) and says:
January 29, 2014 at 3:15 am
My answer to your question: No – and best now to ditch the surface thermometers entirely (with all their problems), and rely on the satellites instead for accurate measurement.
But shouldn’t it have been “What me worry”? …!

jim karock is a fake sceptic and blindly takes Wondering Willis at his word and says:
January 29, 2014 at 3:18 am
Willis wrote: “So that’s 70% of the planet with no appreciable temperature trend over the last third of a century
JK – I’d love to see how the “experts” turn this into warming with their gridding of the Earth. Is there some trick that makes warming like Mann made hocky sticks from red noise?
What happens if you merely sum those 5 graphs with proper areas weighting?

LT says:
January 29, 2014 at 4:30 am
Why is there such a difference between UAH and RSS ?

UAH covers a bit more of Earth. Wikipedia says UAH covers 85 north to 85 south. The RSS data show that RSS only goes from 82.5 North to 70 South.  In any case, they aren't so different as this chart shows:

Data Source: UAH and RSS

A couple of years ago Roy Spencer speculated that the recent discrepancy between UAH and RSS may be in part because RSS is using an older satellite and may not be applying the correct correction for diurnal cycle drift.  Or it could be just the different coverage of the globe.  If anyone else knows more about this, please let us know.

Addendum: I'll repeat here - there may be inaccuracies in the lower troposphere readings at high latitudes - see this paper by Richard E. Swanson - h/t Robert Grumbine in the comments.

This looks like a live one - has anyone come across this chap before?  harrydhuffman (@harrydhuffman) says:
January 29, 2014 at 5:58 am
“Emergent phenomenon” is an argument from incompetent, third-rate thinkers like Richard Dawkins, determined to push Darwinian, or undirected, evolution upon students of science, despite its by now obvious failings; back in the 1980′s, it was called “order out of chaos”, elevated to the airy status of a “meme”, and “chaos theory” was misapplied to support it (for the latter really only supports “order behind the apparent chaos”, not order produced–”surprisingly”, as Eschenbach himself emphasizes–BY chaos, or randomly-working physical processes).
But the idea fails, and fails here on a very basic level. “Emergent phenomenon” does not “explain” the “extremely stable system”–and the outstanding stability SHOULD be emphasized, as I have also done–it cannot, it is in fact logically opposed to it (“emergent phenomenon” is change, as Eschenbach’s examples well show, while “extreme stability” MEANS unchanging).
The truth, as I mentioned when Eschenbach first brought out this recycled idea here, is much simpler (but more surprising, of course, in the tattered intellectual atmosphere of current, officially unquestionable, scientific dogma), and should have been obvious by now, if science had not gone so determinedly wrong following Darwin:
“Emergent Phenomenon”, Or Design?
“Emergent phenomenon” is a desperate renaming of the observable truth, in order to avoid that truth. It is anti-scientific nonsense, which science will have to reject before real progress can be made. It is, in short, the same as saying “magic”, which science once so proudly scorned, and by which it lifted itself up out of the ancient pit of superstition and “sacred writ”.
Here's an archive of Harry's blog.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bob Tisdale's perspective on baselines

Sou | 1:13 AM Go to the first of 33 comments. Add a comment

Perennially Puzzled Bob Tisdale is trying to teach the utter nutters at WUWT about anomalies (archived here).  He's got an uphill battle.  He doesn't do too badly copying and pasting text from other sources.  But then he goes and spoils it all.

Bob Tisdale says "it's obvious" (my bold italics):
January 26, 2014 at 4:59 am
markstoval says: “One question. Why is there not some agreed upon method or rule for choosing the base period? I always get the feeling that there is bias in the choice of the baseline period no matter who picks it.
You’d have ask the three suppliers.
But the other question is, why aren’t they using 1981 to 2010 for base years as requested by the WMO? The answer to that is obvious: the anomalies wouldn’t look so high using the most recent 30-year window (ending on a multiple of 10). It’s all a matter of perspective.
Credit: Plognark

If any climate newbies are reading this and want to know what it's all about, read this.


This is in response to comments below. It's a chart I did last month, so it doesn't have the very latest data.  Still, it allows comparison of all the different data sets.  They are all computed using the 1981-2010 baseline. Click to enlarge it.

The differences are minute.  You can see the trend lines are almost identical.  Over a longer period differences would most likely disappear altogether. The smallest slope is 1.39 0.139 degrees a decade (UAH) and the steepest is 1.73 0.173 degrees a decade (RSS).  That's because UAH starts off higher than all the others, while RSS has a couple of very low anomalies early on.


This article annoyed Bob Tisdale so much that he wrote a blog article in response, in which he showed he doesn't know anything of my sparse history at WUWT, getting it completely wrong.  (He didn't notice me at WUWT coz I was there so little and so rarely.  He notices HotWhopper though :)

Anyway, in his latest article (which I won't link to) he thought he was having a shot at me.  Instead he proved again the very point I made above, writing:
As shown, when the data are presented using the standard NCDC base years instead of the WMO-preferred base years, the anomalies (the data) are about 0.4 deg higher (warmer).  Thus my comment:
But the other question is, why aren’t they using 1981 to 2010 for base years as requested by the WMO? The answer to that is obvious: the anomalies wouldn’t look so high using the most recent 30-year window (ending on a multiple of 10). It’s all a matter of perspective.
If you were the NOAA/NCDC and you were trying to assure that you continued to receive your share of tax dollars for global warming and climate change research, which statement would you want to present to the public and those who distribute the funds?
The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average…
The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.2°C (0.36°F) above the 1981-2010 average…

Ummm... Bob's probably hoping his "public" are no more cluey than he is.

2 February 2014

Anthony Watts forgot to satire tag justthefactswuwt

Sou | 12:45 AM Go to the first of 6 comments. Add a comment

Justthefactswuwt is back with some satire - at least that's what it looks like to the casual reader (archived here).

There's the schematic from FAR that Fred Singer abused recently, with no numbers on the temperature scale and no indication of what data it is based upon.  In fact there is no description given at all at WUWT.  Here is the description - dunno how I missed it.

The Medieval Warm Period and subsequent Little Ice Age can be seen clearly on the following temperature reconstruction based upon Alexandre, 1987 and Lamb, 1988, found Page 250, Figure 7.1 of IPCC Assessment Report 1:
Funny how science deniers keep yelling for "code and data" but don't ask for data when it suits them and don't even ask for numbering on the axis.

Source: WUWT - from the IPCC First Assessment Report 1990

As Lars Karlssen pointed out, the origin was traced by Jones et al (2009) - see Appendix A page 36.  It's history goes all the way back to this paper by Lamb from 1965.

It is so primitive I'm surprised that even science deniers keep resurrecting it.

Here is an animation comparing the above chart as shown at WUWT with Figure 7.1 from FAR (page 202, not as cited by justthefactswuwt as page 250).

I've added the current anomaly assuming the markings on the scale at the left denote one degree Celsius.  The caption states the "dotted line nominally represents conditions near the beginning of the twentieth century".  Temperatures are now 0.8 degrees above those "near the beginning of the twentieth century" so even on the above schematic, Earth is now approximately 0.2 degrees hotter than the highest temperature in the schematic.

By the way, the sentence in FAR that references the chart is as follows (my bold italics).
The period since the end of the last glaciation has been characterized by small changes in global average temperature with a range of probably less than 2°C (Figure 7 1), though it is still not clear whether all the fluctuations indicated were truly global.

Compare it with this latest set of reconstructions by lots of different independent teams using lots of proxies from all around the world.

Figure 5.7 IPCC AR5 WG1 Reconstructed (a) Northern Hemisphere and (b) Southern Hemisphere, and (c) global annual temperatures during the last 2000 years. Individual reconstructions (see Appendix 5.A.1 for further information about each one) are shown as indicated in the legends, grouped by colour according to their spatial representation (red: land-only all latitudes; orange: land-only extra-tropical latitudes; light blue: land and sea extra-tropical latitudes; dark blue: land and sea all latitudes) and instrumental temperatures shown in black (HadCRUT4 land and sea, and CRUTEM4 land-only; Morice et al., 2012). All series represent anomalies (°C) from the 1881–1980 mean (horizontal dashed line) and have been smoothed with a filter that reduces variations on timescales less than ~50 years.

The other bit of satire, or I presume it's satire, is when justthefactswuwt puts up this chart and directly underneath it writes: In fact it was not until approximately 1975 that temperatures began to rise. As such, one could argue that Global Warming began in approximately 1975.

Apparently if the anomaly is below the baseline it doesn't count with WUWT!

There's more nuttery at the WUWTery - but that's all I have time for.

From the WUWT comments

This article attracted the 8% Dismissives at WUWT.  No-one with more than half a brain bothered to comment. (Archived here.)

Latitude says "the overall trend is down":
January 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm
JTF…thank you for another excellent article
I particularly glad you posted that second chart….everyone should notice two things
The overall trend is down, with a few uptics…
..and….how small the difference is between what we are calling the modern warm period..and the little ice age
The ‘Hysterics” are all about a 1 degree swing in temps….if our climate didn’t bounce around 1 degree.. it wouldn’t be normal…..but the overall trend is still down
This must be what Latitude sees:

George McFly......I'm your density tells Anthony Watts to make an even bigger fool of himself:
January 25, 2014 at 7:28 pm
Anthony, this should be published in every major newspaper in the world as a paid full page advertisement (possibly excluding the first paragraph). I would be happy to make a contribution to this.

Dreadnought talks about the intellectually moribund - ha ha ha:
January 25, 2014 at 5:39 pm
What a truly excellent article, thank you!
It just goes to show how wide-of-the-mark and intellectually moribund those who deploy the ‘denier’ insult actually are. They are lower than a snake’s belly in a gutter.
And that’s before you even take into account their unwitting invocation of Godwin’s Law, by attempting to smear those who are sceptical of the CAGW conjecture as having Holocaust denial tendencies.
Providing you accept the veracity of the data used to create the above graphs, there is no doubt that the CAGW conjecture is pure bunkum. The jig is up, and the hoax is finally over.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Have your say - open thread

Sou | 11:22 AM Go to the first of 17 comments. Add a comment

Feel free to discuss whatever topic you like relating to climate science or policies to address climate change (mitigation and adaptation).

I won't be able to spend as much time here as usual this week, for family reasons, so play nice.

PS Because I am short of time, I may delete comments at my discretion with no explanation.  If anyone wants to query same, send me an email and I'll respond as soon as possible, but not before next week (ie a week from now).  Apologies for being so abrupt about this.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Twisting Patterns of Peer Review

Sou | 11:08 AM Go to the first of 12 comments. Add a comment

Sheesh, it's no wonder I can't keep up with Anthony Watts today.  So far he's posted eight ten articles.  His normal daily quota is three.

Tamino alerted me to the fact that the defunct "journal" Pattern Recognition In Physics could be about to go beyond defunct.  (Not to be confused with Pattern Recognition or the International Journal of Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligence.) Christopher Monckton has announced he's written to Copernicus Publications offering to take it over.

I can't see Copernicus Publications accepting Monckton's offer, but it's a grand gesture on Christopher's part.  His magnanimous gesture, even if it doesn't eventuate, will help "prominent scientists" like Nicola Scafetta and Nils Axel Morner and Tallbloke achieve their rightful place in the history of science.

Another plus is that no-one will be able to accuse the editors of not having peer review any longer, if they can get a genuine peer like Christopher Monckton on board.

The fake sceptics' "publishing house" that Monckton graces the door of from time to time, SPPI, has been around for a while but I don't think anyone except fake sceptics (and we few who see what they get up to) would have heard of it.  By now lots of people will have heard of Pattern Recognition in Physics.  It even rated write-ups in Science and Nature!

Hilariously Monckton admits he couldn't get Energy and Environment, the fake sceptics "journal" to publish an article listing him as an author.  He wrote:

When I recently co-authored a paper with professor Fred Singer on the consequences of chaos theory for the predictability of global warming, the editor of Energy & Environment, one of the few journals to allow skeptical science an airing, ordered my name to be taken off the paper on the ground that it would annoy The Borg. Besides, she said, she did not like my politics (of which there was nothing whatsoever in the paper).

To put that into perspective, the "editorial advisory board" of Energy and Environment includes such non-entities as Benny Peiser of the GWPF and Richard S Courtney, a shouty playground monitor at WUWT,

According to Anthony Watts:
In an emotional commentary written for the WorldNetDaily (aka WND) Christopher Monckton has said that he’ll take over the journal and publish a first issue in March 2014. 

Well the article Christopher wrote said nothing about the first issue being published in March 2014, so whether Christopher conveyed that privately to Anthony or whether Anthony got it wrong is anyone's guess.  If he does, and since March is less than six weeks away, as DikranMarsupial points out in the WUWT comments:
dikranmarsupial says:
January 23, 2014 at 9:37 am
If Monckton suggests that he will start with a March 2014 issue. I hope he realises that recruiting action editors, attracting papers, sending them out for review, performing round or two of satisfactory peer review and getting the papers typeset in that timeframe is, errr… somwhat ambitious!

I've got another choice comment from Roger Tallbloke (archived here).  For those who don't know, he is a climate science denying blogger of no repute, and one of the people who authored four papers in the Pattern Recognition journal.  Roger was the second most prolific author after Nicola Scafetta, equal with Nils Axel Morner and JE Solheim.  Roger got very stroppy when people at WUWT got stuck into him for pal review not peer review.  Roger reckons he's going to use Christopher's mighty shoulder to heave the stone of ignorance off the path of knowledge and straighten the road, writing:
Rog Tallbloke • 6 hours ago
Bravo Christopher Monckton. As one of the authors of the PRP special issue: 'Patterns in solar variability, their planetary origin and terrestrial impacts', I am delighted you have come alongside us to put your mighty shoulder to the stone of ignorance. Together we will heave it off the path of knowledge and straighten the road.

Maybe it will win the next literary award.  (Is there an award for worst metaphors?)

I wonder if Anthony is about to throw Christopher to the dogs?  I doubt it.  Christopher has a bit of a fan club of forelock pulling serfs at WUWT.  Still, Anthony did finish his article with this sarcastic remark:
Judging from the comments in the WND article, it looks like Joseph A Olson (aka FauxScienceSlayer of the Slayers/PSI fame) is queuing up to submit some of his writings. I’m sure other like minded individuals will follow in seeking to publish there.
We live in interesting times.

You can read more about Pattern Recognition in Physics in this blog article by librarian Jeffrey Beall from July last year, and in recent articles at ScienceNews, in NatureNews, in a broader context at ClimateProgress, at BigCityLib and at various climate blogs, like Rabett Run and James' Empty Blog.  (There's more than one Pattern Recognition journal that has problems.)

WUWT: Moguls on the Winter Olympics

Sou | 7:47 AM Go to the first of 2 comments. Add a comment

I've gotta stop checking WUWT.  After his "mini-ice age" news, now Anthony is mocking a paper pointing out that it's only going to get tougher trying to find somewhere to hold the Winter Olympics.  (Archived here.) He started out with this:

Where's the snow gone?
A new Vinerism: ‘Climate change threatens Winter Olympics’
Posted on January 23, 2014 by Anthony Watts
From the opportunist headlines department, and the department of Vinerisms “children just won’t know what snow is” comes this press release. Apparently Winter Olympics will be a thing of the past. 

Here's an excerpt from the press release at the University of Waterloo:
Only six of the previous Winter Olympics host cities will be cold enough to reliably host the Games by the end of this century if global warming projections prove accurate, a new Waterloo study has found.
Even with conservative climate projections, only 11 of the previous 19 sites could host the Games in the coming decades, according to the study conducted by the University of Waterloo and the Management Center Innsbruck in Austria.

Under a high emissions pathway, the six locations suitable in 2080 are Abertville, Calgary, Cortina D'Ampezzo, St Moritz, Salt Lake City and Sapporo.  You can download the report here. It's got some good graphics like this one (click to enlarge):

Credit: Daniel Scott, University of Waterloo

Here are a couple of charts I've animated from Berkeley Earth, showing the temperature rise in Sochi and Krasnodar (the region around Sochi), where the current Olympics are to be held, and Vancouver, where the last winter Olympics were held.

Source: Berkeley Earth

The Accuweather forecast is looking a bit iffy, too.  It's just had a nice dump of snow but it may not last.
The weather leading up the Olympics is expected to turn milder which could lead to deteriorating conditions on the slopes used for the Olympic Games.
Whether or not the weather pattern will lead to problems for the Olympics will depend on how mild and how long this pattern lasts, but the concern exists nonetheless.

From the WUWT comments

The moguls at WUWT know a snow job when they see one (or think they do). (Sorry, couldn't help myself. Too punny?)  Here is a sample from the archived article here.

AlecM says:
January 23, 2014 at 9:12 amGawd help us to survive these lunatic claims.

mpainter says:
January 23, 2014 at 9:26 amThis is rank alarmism and in fact is deliberate propaganda. Goebbels would recognize the technique.

Aphan says:
January 23, 2014 at 9:27 amSeriously….a 7.4C average temperature “increase” in temps since the 1920′s?? Except the locations CHANGE? wow

No, mpainter - it's a long way from being the "coldest winter evah" - even in the USA:
January 23, 2014 at 9:30 am
It won’t do them any good- it is the coldest winter evah and people are praying for warmth. Also, the day of climate alarmism has passed and people are either chuckling or yawning at this type of hype.

omnologos says Sochi is almost subtropical in climate, wait for Novaja Zemlja - ha ha:
January 23, 2014 at 9:37 am
Erm…Sochi is almost subtropical in climate. Let’s wait for the Novaja Zemlja Games

JimS also falls back on Sochi having a humid subtropical climate:
January 23, 2014 at 9:56 am
Oh brother! Sochi has humid subtropical climate, and the last winter olympics in Vancouver, Canada is a city with a west coast marine climate (meaning a warm temperate climate where the mean monthly temperature all year round is well above freezing), perhaps the Olympic committee should choose better spots to hold the WINTER Olympics. For pete’s sake, it should be basic that the location of the “winter” Olympics should at least actually have a winter. No?

JimS, I believe the scientists would agree with you.  But that will mean finding a mountainous area with top class tourist facilities and a major international airport nearby. And in a region that will be assured of winter snow and ice conditions suitable for winter sports.  It's not going to get any easier as the world warms. (Maybe omnologos' suggestion could be developed for the occasion.)

 The future of winter olympics in a warmer world, by Daniel Scott, Robert Steiger, Michelle Rutty and Peter Johnson.