Mike Jonas recently wrote a four part series of articles for Anthony Watts denier blog WUWT. I don't think it's meant as a parody of deniers, but that's how it reads. It's like a caricature of classic denialism. I'm almost surprised Anthony Watts decided to host it - it was that bad. Mike brought up all the denial oldies, which he might as well have got from the list of most used climate myths at SkepticalScience.com:- medieval warm period (myth 27), little ice age (myth 47), CO2 lags temperature (myth 12), climate models and equilibrium climate sensitivity. If Mike was trying to demonstrate that Dunning and Kruger were right, then he did a great job of it. His series was in four parts:
- His first article (archived here) was a lot of arithmetic around climate sensitivity and attribution, which I won't bother with.
- It wasn't CO2 before therefore... - in his second in the series (archived here) he resurrected the ancient denier meme about the medieval warm period (or medieval climate anomaly) and the little ice age. This calls on the logical fallacy that if CO2 wasn't the cause of warming in the past then it can't be causing warming now. Which is a non sequitur (it doesn't follow).
- CO2 doesn't lag temperature as much as deniers think - the third article (archived here) was the denier meme "CO2 lags temperature".
- Equilibrium climate sensitivity - in his fourth article (archived here), Mike sets out to demonstrate how little he knows about ECS, climate models and climate science in general.
It wasn't CO2 before therefore...(MWP and LIA)
Evidence of past climates supports the fact that atmospheric CO2 is the "control knob" of climate. Turn it up and the world gets warmer. Turn it down and the world cools. Over time, CO2 was probably more often a feedback than a forcing, but not always. For example the Siberian Traps spewed massive amounts of CO2 into the air in a geologically short period of time (around 60,000 years), and caused the earth to heat up.
However CO2 is not the only thing that can force climate change. When something else happens to cool (or warm) the planet, then CO2 becomes a feedback rather than a forcing, and exacerbates the forcing. For example, when there is orbital forcing that triggers an ice age, the world cools, the oceans absorb more CO2 and the world cools even more. Things settle down when as much energy is emitted from earth as comes in from the sun, the oceans stop absorbing excess CO2 and equilibrium is restored - until there's a trigger in the other direction. Earth warms, the oceans give up CO2 and the earth warms more until the balance is restored again...etc etc.
There is more than one problem with Mike's second article. It's not just that his conclusion relies on a logical fallacy (Telltale Sign No. 2). In his second article, Mike all but ignores all the scientific research of the past fifty years or more - since around 1964. He posted a schematic that isn't what he says it is. An old drawing from the very first IPCC report, which was an older drawing based on much earlier schematic musings of Hubert Lamb.
What Mike apparently set out to do was prove that the greenhouse theory is all wrong because CO2 didn't cause the earth to warm in what some call the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) or cause it to cool during the Little Ice Age (LIA). I know you'll all recognise that his conclusion doesn't follow. Just because your car didn't start this morning because the battery was flat, doesn't mean that next week, after you've put a new battery in, it will start even when the petrol tank is empty.
There's another logical fallacy in his article - a strawman. Mike set out to show that he fails logic, as well as that he doesn't know anything about climate models. He wrote:
So … why does it matter so much whether the MWP existed, and whether it was global?The medieval warm period wasn't global, and it wasn't warmer than it is now. Even if it was, what Mike wrote above is doubly wrong:
The problem that a global MWP poses is that it is incompatible with the climate models, which focus almost exclusively on CO2.
- Past global warming wouldn't necessarily be incompatible with climate models. Global warming can be triggered by orbital forcing for example.
- Climate models involve a lot more than atmospheric carbon dioxide. They don't "focus almost exclusively on CO2". Climate models (the ones that he's thinking of) build in all the factors that affect climate, including changes in solar radiation, volcanic eruptions, changes in CO2, changes in aerosols and more. The more complex models even build in changes in the biosphere. You can read more in the excellent article by Scott K. Johnson at Ars Technica.
Mike put up this schematic from the first IPCC report way back in 1990 (FAR):
The above chart is referred to in FAR as a schematic. Its origins were traced back by a team of luminaries led by Professor Phil Jones, and described in some detail in Appendix A of the major review article on the last 1,000 years of climate by Jones et al (2009) (h/t Lars Karlsson). They wrote:
So where did the schematic diagram come from and who drew it? It can be traced back to a UK Department of the Environment publication entitled Global climate change published in 1989 (UKDoE, 1989), but no source for the record was given. Using various published diagrams from the 1970s and 1980s, the source can be isolated to a series used by H.H. Lamb, representative of central England, last published (as figure 30 on p. 84) by Lamb (1982)....The IPCC diagram comes from the 1982 publication as the vertical resolution of the annual plot is greater. The data behind the 1977 version are given in table app. V.3 in Lamb (1977), but these are essentially the same as previously given in Lamb (1965)....
...At no place in any of the Lamb publications is there any discussion of an explicit calibration against instrumental data, just Lamb’s qualitative judgement and interpretation of what he refers to as the ‘evidence’. Variants of the curves also appear in other Lamb publications (see, eg, Lamb, 1969).
...In summary, we show that the curve used by IPCC (1990) was locally representative (nominally of Central England) and not global, and was referred to at the time with the word ‘schematic’.Deniers love to resurrect this schematic as if it's for real and global. Its origins are fifty years old this year! A lot has happened in the interim. It's not global - it's local to Central England. Not only that, but there is no calibration with any instrumental record.
Anyway, Mike managed to turn the Lamb schematic into the chart below. There was no rhyme or reason for the scaling used on each vertical axis. Nor was there any source provided for the temperature data, other than the schematic above. Here's his chart with my "not comparable" annotation - signifying that there is no justification for the mismatched scales on the two vertical axes:
All his chart shows, if anything, is that CO2 didn't start going up until recently.
Below I've put together some more charts based on Marcott et al (2013) and the instrumental record (GISTemp), looking over a longer period of time - around 11,000 years in fact. This is to put the medieval warming and the little ice age into perspective. Click to enlarge as always.
The present is to the left of the chart. The variability over most of the Holocene was not down to CO2. That was fairly steady around 280 ppm up until the industrial revolution. Temperature variations were caused by other factors.
Below are the latest global surface temperature reconstructions from the IPCC AR5 report, showing the last 2,000 years of surface temperature changes. The northern hemisphere has a lot more records than the southern:
|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.|
This is what was written in the IPCC AR5 report about how globally it's warmer now than it was during medieval times (my bold italics):
For average annual Northern Hemisphere temperatures, the period 1983–2012 was very likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 800 years (high confidence) and likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years (medium confidence). This is supported by comparison of instrumental temperatures with multiple reconstructions from a variety of proxy data and statistical methods, and is consistent with AR4. Continental-scale surface temperature reconstructions show, with high confidence, multidecadal intervals during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (950 to 1250) that were in some regions as warm as in the mid-20th century and in others as warm as in the late 20th century. With high confidence, these intervals were not as synchronous across seasons and regions as the warming since the mid-20th century.
The next chart shows the temperature rise over the instrumental period (since 1880) with CO2. The temperature has been rising as CO2 has been increasing:
Finally, if Mike thinks that the Little Ice Age contradicts the fact that CO2 causes global warming, then he's wrong. He doesn't say much about the Little Ice Age - he did write:
The idea that CO2 has been an important driver of global temperature is not supported by the evidence from the MWP and LIA (905 to 1977).I don't know what he's trying to say with his "905 to 1977". Does he think the medieval warm period lasted till 1977? Or perhaps he thinks the Little Ice Age lasted until 1977. He'd be wrong on both counts. As far as the Little Ice Age goes, that is thought to have been triggered by a rapid succession of volcanic eruptions.
CO2 didn't lag as much as deniers think
Mike's third article (archived here) was about the lag between temperature change and the change in CO2. Science deniers don't keep up with science. They find something they think supports their denial and won't let go. It doesn't matter that new research sheds new light on things. If scientific research doesn't support what they want to believe then the typical denier will either reject it or ignore it. In this case Mike ignores it.
To cut a long story short, it's now known that what was previously thought to be a lag of several hundred years between a warming trigger and a CO2 response is wrong. In March 2013 Edward J. Brook had an article in Science mag about two papers, which show that CO2 is tightly coupled with temperature changes. He wrote:
Their analysis [Perenin et al 2013] indicates that CO2 concentrations and Antarctic temperature were tightly coupled throughout the deglaciation, within a quoted uncertainty of less than 200 years (see the figure).
Support for this conclusion comes from recent independent work of Pedro et al. ( 4). They used existing CO2 and temperature proxies from coastal Antarctic cores with smaller gas age–ice age differences, but somewhat noisier CO2 data and complex climate histories. They concluded that CO2 lagged temperature by less than 400 years on average over the entire deglaciation and could not exclude the possibility of a slight lead.
Here's the figure that Edward Brook referred to, with CO2 plotted with temperature from both of the studies he wrote about. Look at how closely CO2 aligns with temperature over time. (Click to enlarge).
|Lead and lag. Carbon dioxide concentrations and averages of temperature proxy records for last deglaciation, as compiled by Parrenin et al. ( 3) and Pedro et al. ( 4). Pedro et al. used existing CO2 and temperature proxy data from coastal Antarctic cores and the temperature anomaly is presented in standard deviation units (the number of standard deviations from the mean of the record) to illustrate the average timing of temperature change. Parrenin et al.’s record is the average temperature anomaly for all the records they combine (in °C), relative to modern conditions. Using largely independent methods and data, both studies indicate a very tight coupling between regional Antarctic temperatures and CO2 Source: Brook13|
Equilibrium climate sensitivity
In his fourth and last article of the series (archived here), Mike Jonas demonstrates that he knows very little about climate science in general or how equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) is estimated. Mike wrote that "ECS is estimated by running climate computer models". That's true. However the climate models used to estimate climate sensitivity vary from the sophisticated coupled models down to very simple models, using Bayesian or other statistical methods. And models are not the only way that ECS is estimated. It can also be estimated by looking at past climate change.
In other words, there are numerous ways of estimating how much warmer it will get when atmospheric CO2 is doubled. Mike seems to think there is only one way, because he then wrote that he thinks there is a problem with using climate models to estimate climate sensitivity. He thinks that there is a circular argument:
Climate models’ estimations of ECS are implicitly based on the assumption that the 20th century warming was caused by CO2. Therefore any assertion that the models show that the 20th century warming was caused by CO2 is invalid (circular logic).He's wrong. Climate models are based on physics. It is known from physics that an increase in greenhouse gases warms the earth. Models are used to indicate what will happen as we add more greenhouse gases. They are not used to show that that CO2 causes warming, that's already known. There is no circular logic involved. What Mike is arguing in essence is similar to this:
- Adding money to your bank account results in more money in your bank account
- A model of your bank account includes the interest earned on your capital plus the additions to your capital less the withdrawals
- Therefore it's circular logic to argue that based on the model, adding money to your bank account increases the amount you have in the bank.
One final point; a delicious irony (mathematically speaking) :Huh? Using the words "delicious irony" doesn't mean there is any irony, let alone delicious irony. Except perhaps that Mike's denial is itself ironic, because in claiming a logical fallacy Mike relies on his own logic fail.
- As shown above, there is an implied assumption in the models that CO2 is the principal driver of global temperature. That assumption is demonstrated very clearly in Part 1, where all of the post-industrial warming is assumed to be caused by CO2.
- But when the results of the models are then compared to past surface temperatures, as was done in Part 2 and Part 3, it is found that CO2 plays little part in temperature change.
- So, the assumption that CO2 is the principal driver of global temperature leads to the finding that it isn’t.
The problem started in his second dot point above. Mike argued that the past shows that other things can also force climate change, therefore CO2 cannot be the "principal driver". It's Mike who is illogical. Just because orbital forcing can trigger climate change doesn't mean that CO2 is not the principal driver of the current global warming. Any more than it proves that the Siberian Traps didn't cause global warming 252 million years ago.
From the WUWT comments
The "thoughts" below are all from the fourth and final article in the series by Mike Jonas. There was much discussion about radiation, convection, black boxes and the water cycle. The comments were, as expected, much more wrong than right.
Menicholas sums up what Mike Jonas wrote, or well enough for the denialati:
August 1, 2015 at 10:20 am
So to summarize parts 1 through 4:
CAGW is almost, but not completely, 100% a bunch of malarkey.
Does that about capture it?
Thanks for the hard work and informative series, Mr. Jonas.
Bill H thinks that climate scientists have missed the fact that it rains - seriously!
August 1, 2015 at 11:08 am
In my opinion the biggest thing these people missed was the increase of water vapor also increases the convection cycle. Something that CO2 is powerless to stop.
pochas says that Bill is wrong - that more water evaporating won't lead to more water condensing. I don't know where he thinks it will go:
August 1, 2015 at 11:13 am
When you boil water, its temperature rises to 100 C, then stops rising until all of the water is gone. If you condense the steam and return it to the pot, it stays at 100 C forever, no matter how much you turn up the heat. That is the situation we have on earth. The water vapor in the atmosphere is mixed with inert gas, mostly nitrogen, so instead of “boiling” warm water humidifies the air. The warm humid air gains buoyancy and rises until the laws of nature cause it to again form liquid water and rain out. And, the surface equilibrium is that of water boiling at reduced pressure. What happens if the sun’s radiation increases? It rains more. What happens if we add more CO2 to the atmosphere? Nothing.
Walter Sobchak hasn't heard of rain or snow or the water cycle:
August 1, 2015 at 1:16 pm
If water vapor were a positive feedback, the system would have been driven to its maximum sustainable temperature (based on solar flux) by some excursion, caused by some random event (e.g. the Chicxulub asteroid impact) long ago. Clearly, the system must have negative feedback, and lots of it, to maintain the stability that it has maintained. I think Willis Eschenbach has remarked on the stability several times.
richard verney wonders how ice can stay frozen in the cold:
August 1, 2015 at 7:01 pm
Why does black ice exist in shaded areas on winter roads if back radiation can warm the ice?
One of Anthony Watts' favourite anonymous cowards, hockeyschtick, thinks that the greenhouse effect is caused by gravity - or should I say "gravito-thermal 'GHE'":
August 1, 2015 at 2:48 pm
Maxwell, Clausius, Carnot, and Feynman all proved the “greenhouse effect” is due to the atmospheric mass/gravity/pressure/heat capacities gravito-thermal “GHE,” NOT radiation/Arrhenius radiative GHE, which also falsely assumes radiation dominates convection; it does not.
markstoval doesn't accept climate science as an authority on climate science, and wrote:
August 1, 2015 at 3:50 pm
“You can find the numbers in IPCC AR5.”
Oh my sweet lord. The IPCC in an appeal to authority. Wow in high heels.
( I can not spell stilts or I would have used that rather than high heels.)
Charlie thinks that technology will limit warming to somewhere between three and six degrees.
August 1, 2015 at 1:08 pm
I can imagine 60 years from now when all this hysteria will most likely be a wash and a the but of an odd joke. Technology will be coming along and we might have a co2 concentration if about 550 to 600 ppm that is leveling out in trend. “You guys remember how bad our flowers grew on 300 ppm? You could barely keep some plants alive.” they will say. Knock knock who’s there Al Gore. I wish that was now.
I'll finish with what passes for "clever" in deniersville. charles nelson had a thought:
August 1, 2015 at 2:42 pm
I’ve started referring to Warmists as Water Vapour Convection ‘Deniers’!
To which markstoval replied:
August 1, 2015 at 3:15 pm
Oh, that is clever.
References and further reading
P.D. Jones, K.R. Briffa, T.J. Osborn, J.M. Lough, T.D. van Ommen, B.M. Vinther, J. Luterbacher, E.R. Wahl, F.W. Zwiers, M.E. Mann, G.A. Schmidt, C.M. Ammann, B.M. Buckley, K.M. Cobb, J. Esper, H. Goosse, N. Graham, E. Jansen, T. Kiefer, C. Kull, M. Küttel, E. Mosley-Thompson, J.T. Overpeck, N. Riedwyl, M. Schulz, A.W. Tudhope, R. Villalba, H. Wanner, E. Wolff and E. Xoplaki. "High-resolution palaeoclimatology of the last millennium: a review of current status and future prospects." The Holocene 19, no. 1 (2009): 3-49. doi: 10.1177/0959683608098952 (pdf here)
Miller, Gifford H., Áslaug Geirsdóttir, Yafang Zhong, Darren J. Larsen, Bette L. Otto‐Bliesner, Marika M. Holland, David A. Bailey et al. "Abrupt onset of the Little Ice Age triggered by volcanism and sustained by sea‐ice/ocean feedbacks." Geophysical Research Letters 39, no. 2 (2012). doi:10.1029/2011GL050168, (open access)
IPCC, 2013: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1535 pp. (download here)
Parrenin, Frédéric, Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Peter Köhler, Dominique Raynaud, Didier Paillard, Jakob Schwander, Carlo Barbante, Amaëlle Landais, Anna Wegner, and Jean Jouzel. "Synchronous change of atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic temperature during the last deglacial warming." Science 339, no. 6123 (2013): 1060-1063. DOI: 10.1126/science.1226368 (pdf here)
Brook, Edward J. "Leads and Lags at the End of the Last Ice Age." Science 339, no. 6123 (2013): 1042-1043. DOI: 10.1126/science.1234239 (pdf here)
Pedro, Joel B., Sune Olander Rasmussen, and Tas D. van Ommen. "Tightened constraints on the time-lag between Antarctic temperature and CO 2 during the last deglaciation." Climate of the Past 8, no. 4 (2012): 1213-1221. doi:10.5194/cp-8-1213-2012 (open access)
Burgess, Seth D., Samuel Bowring, and Shu-zhong Shen. "High-precision timeline for Earth’s most severe extinction." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111, no. 9 (2014): 3316-3321. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1317692111 (open access)
- Giant mass extinction quicker than previously thought: End-Permian extinction happened in 60,000 years - press release at ScienceDaily.com
The 5 telltale techniques of climate change denial - article by John Cook on CNN