.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Climate science denial dismissed - Judge finds Tim Ball too wacky to be believed

Sou | 9:52 AM Go to the first of 8 comments. Add a comment
Over at WUWT, Anthony Watts has gleefully announced to his climate conspiracy mob that a Canadian judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Tim Ball. What Anthony didn't (and probably won't) tell his readers, is that the judge dismissed the complaint because:
Simply put, a reasonably thoughtful and informed person who reads the Article is unlikely to place any stock in Dr. Ball’s views, including his views of Dr. Weaver as a supporter of conventional climate science.

Now we know that no-one who is a fan of WUWT is a "reasonably thoughtful" or "informed person". And we also know that about 99% of them won't bother reading any judgement, and most don't read DeSmogBlog (or HotWhopper) either. Still, I thought it might be useful to spread the word, thanks to Richard Littlemore - who wrote about this first.

If the argument put by the judge is extended, it means that he regards most fans of Anthony Watts' wattsupwiththat blog as unreasonable, lacking in thinking power, and distinctly uninformed. He also holds a large minority of the US population in contempt, the ones who still believe anything their authoritarian idols tell them to believe.

Another key quote was how the Judge found Tim Ball intended to harm then climate scientist Andrew Weaver:
The judge agreed, saying, first of all that Ball’s intent to injure was adequately established in the evidence:
These allegations are directed at Dr. Weaver’s professional competence and are clearly derogatory of him. Indeed, it is quite apparent that this was Dr. Ball’s intent.
That's why I think Andrew Weaver stands a chance if he chooses to appeal. Even though I agree with the judgement in its essence, it's also not unreasonable to argue that something like 30% of the US population might be "reasonably thoughtful" despite being wrong about climate science, and are instead merely "uninformed". (That's not the case for probably most WUWT commenters. The long term fans can only be considered as unscrupulous disinformers who deliberately spread lies, or are wilfully ignorant, because they've had ample time and means to find out the facts for themselves.)

Now will Anthony keep his promise and perhaps post the judgement (pdf) or not. Any bets?

By the way - I did predict that Tim Ball was trying for the insanity defense, back in April last year. He must be very pleased his efforts have come to this!

As an aside, sorry for being tardy in getting back to blogging. Other commitments mean articles will be a bit slow coming for a little while yet. Sorry about that. I shall return in full swing shortly.


Further reading


Is Tim Ball wanting to try the "insane" defense in his court cases, with the help of Anthony Watts? - HotWhopper article from April 2017

More about Tim Ball from HotWhopper

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The spectacular failure of the 2007 climate "bet" by denier J. Scott Armstrong

Sou | 1:20 AM Go to the first of 20 comments. Add a comment
Today at WUWT there's a rambling, indecipherable article about some bet that a science denier called J. Scott Armstrong unsuccessfully tried to make with Al Gore way back in 2007. It's a tale of a failed denier prediction, and worse. Having failed so spectacularly, J. Scott Armstrong is doubling down and betting on a drop of up to 4.5 °C in global temperature over the next decade.

Armstrong was wanting to bet that there'd be no change in global average surface temperatures between 2008 and 2017. He figured, wrongly, that Al Gore would bet there would be warming. Al Gore didn't take the bet. Why would he deal with a nincompoop denier like J Scott Armstrong.

Armstrong's first draft of the bet was a bit weird. The essence of it was this:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Anthony Watts gets over-excited by a meaningless weather (not climate) "award"

Sou | 2:39 PM Go to the first of 15 comments. Add a comment
For HotWhopper, not WUWT
This reminds me of Donald Trump, always wanting to magnify his magnificence and making a fool of himself in the process.

Anthony Watts is over the moon with excitement that he came top of the class in the weather blog category of some award. The "award" looks to be a way of getting clicks to a content reader/gatherer called Feedspot, which was set up a few years ago - back in 2013 from the look of things.

It's weather, not climate, Anthony!


Well, I've got news for Anthony Watts. He probably didn't know that Feedspot also has a top 40 global warming and climate change category. That's because WUWT isn't in the top 40. It didn't make the list, as of this writing. The top website in that category is SkepticalScience.com.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

When 97% becomes 99.6% - climate change in 2017

Sou | 6:37 AM Go to the first of 12 comments. Add a comment
Anthony Watts has kindly pointed out that the scientific consensus on climate change is changing. He wrote the very strange headline: "‘The 97% climate consensus’starts to crumble with 485 new papers in 2017 that question it". Apparently some drongo (who does this every year IIRC) has only managed to dig up 485 "papers" that he claims " in some way questioned the supposed consensus regarding the perils of human CO2 emissions or the efficacy of climate models to predict the future."

I expect that, as in past collections, many of findings of those 485 don't dispute climate change, and many probably support the fact that human activity is causing global warming, but I haven't bothered checking (because that's not the point of this little article).  What struck me was that 485 was a pretty small number given the vast number of peer-reviewed publications on climate change these days.

If you go to Google Scholar and search for the term "climate change" and select "2017-2017", you'll find there were "About 115,000 results". Now 485 is 0.4% of 115,000, so even if all those 485 papers disputed the greenhouse effect (which they don't), it would still mean that one could argue that 97% has become 99.6% :D

Now that even beats the 98.4% of WUWT-ers who deny straightforward science. Who'd have thought!

Thanks, Anthony Watts, Breitbart, Pierre Gosselin and Kenneth Richard.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The latest conspiracy theory from WUWT science deniers - losing their grip on ice

Sou | 2:52 AM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment
The latest conspiracy theory from science deniers at WUWT is that the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is up to something nefarious. (Seeing nefarious intent in the most innocuous actions is one of the hallmarks of conspiratorial thinking.)

All the fuss was about a new version of NSIDC's Sea Ice Index. It's gone from version 2 to version 3. In the latest version, monthly averages are calculated in a different way. The new version only affects monthly averages, not anything else. From the analysis report:
The Sea Ice Index has been updated to Version 3 (V3). The key update in V3 is a change in the method for calculating the numerical monthly averages of sea ice extent and sea ice area data values; that is, the data distributed in .csv and .xlsx format. This change impacts only the monthly data values in the Sea Ice Index time series and not monthly sea ice extent and concentration maps that accompany the data product, that is, the .png, .tif, and shapefile archives. Daily data are also not impacted, nor are any current conclusions drawn from the Sea Ice Index data set about the state of sea ice in either the Arctic or the Antarctic. This change is being made in response to questions raised by users of the product concerning how the monthly average ice extent and areas are calculated.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Getting rid of the spurious blips - another look at global sea surface temperatures

Sou | 3:34 PM Go to the first of 11 comments. Add a comment
Kevin Cowtan | Source: U York
Once again, Kevin Cowtan has brought his skills to climate science, working with Robert Rohde and Zeke Hausfather. They decided to explore those pesky ups and downs in the temperature record, which a lot of people (scientists mostly) have expressed concerns about. This new paper is largely addressing bucket bias in sea surface temperature and is very detailed. Taken with his other work on temperature records, this has to cement Kevin Cowtan's place among the "serious climate nerds" (h/t ykw!)


A hybrid check on sea surface temperature bias corrections


The authors analysed sea surface temperature, the main source of the temperature blips, from a new perspective. Their analysis can be seen mainly as a check of the bias corrections used in other sea surface temperature records. Instead of reanalysing data from ships and buoys, they compared weather stations on the coast and on islands with the measurements taken on ships when they passed close to the coast. They subjected this to further analysis and called the result a hybrid SST (sea surface temperature).



I can only imagine how much work this must have entailed. There are hints in the paper. Not only did they get the temperature records from land and nearby sea, they made adjustments in their analysis to compensate for the fact that with global warming, the land surface is warming faster than the sea surface, plus more.

They used their results to assess the bias correction that needs to be made when the sources for sea surface temperature changed, such as from buckets to engine intake, and to buoys (see below). The end result was a different check on sea surface temperatures and additional evidence that:
  • Some of the odd blips in the temperature records were not what actually happened - particularly the upward WWII blip and the drop down around 1910
  • The NOAA sea surface temperature record from 1997 onwards is probably closest to reality. On the other hand, the Cowtan17 analysis indicates ERSST v4 is too warm in the earliest years (1860 to 1900 or so) and too cool in the early 20th century (1910 to late 1930s).
  • Climate models reflect reality even more closely than previous records suggest. 
There's an excellent article on Kevin Cowtan's website which explains the research, and accompanying provisos. The paper and supporting information contain a lot more detail, including all the ifs and buts and maybes. Co-author Zeke Hausfather has a  Twitter thread about the paper, too.


Challenges in the historical record of sea surface temperature


The authors begin by pointing out that getting a record of sea surface temperature is more challenging in many ways than putting together land temperature records. The difficulty with sea surface temperature is that information sources change much more than those on land.

On the land, apart from getting as many records together as possible (thank you CRU and other early collectors, and more recently ISTI), the main issues to contend with are adjusting for changes in instrument design and location. Location changes can be identified from station records or inferred from abrupt changes in the record compared with neighbouring records. Technological change hasn't happened all that often in the past 150 years or so. The main ones include the introduction of the Stevenson screen way back, and the more recent shift to automatic weather stations with resistance probes replacing mercury thermometers.

On the sea, the problems include the different sources for temperature readings: buckets of differing materials being dipped into the sea, engine room intakes, sensors on the ships hull and, more recently, drifting buoys and satellites. Within all that, scientists have to account for things like changes in the height of ship decks, interruptions to the consistency of records caused by world wars (where the data source changed from predominately merchant ships to predominately naval vessels), and more. The marvel is that researchers have worked through all these difficulties and developed records of sea surface temperature going back many decades.


Questionable peaks and troughs in the SST records - WWII and all that


One period about which most scientists who've worked on the subject have had most issue with are the years of the second world war (WWII). Some data sets show a peak in temperature that has not been easily explained by weather or climate change phenomena. In addition, previous records show a drop in the temperature around 1910 that looks a bit odd. In this paper, the authors did not find the spike that exists in ERSST v5 and to a lesser extend in HadSST3. Neither did they find the drop in temperature in the early 1900s.

In the top chart below, the hybrid record is shown in blue. The different series are a bit hard to distinguish so you might want to click on the image to enlarge it.
Figure 1 | Comparison of the coastal hybrid temperature reconstruction (using all coastal stations and fitting the global mean of the coastal temperature differences only) to co-located data from HadSST3 and ERSSTv5 for the period 1850-2016. Spatial coverage is that of HadSST3 for all of the records, with coastal cells weighted by ocean fraction.The shaded region is the 95% confidence region for the HadSST3 anomalies including combined bias adjustment and measurement and sampling errors. The lower panel shows the adjustment applied to the raw data in the HadSST3 and coastal hybrid records. A comparison with the ERSSTv4 ensemble is shown in Figure S7. Source: Cowtan 17 Figure 12.

To help see the difference, the chart below compares the Cowtan17 hybrid record with NOAA's ERSST v4 record. As discussed, the two are very similar in the most recent decades, but differ much more in the period prior to the early 1940s.

Figure 2 | Comparison of coastal hybrid temperature reconstruction to the ERSSTv4 ensemble. The dotted line is the ensemble median, while the shaded region is the 95% range of the ERSSTv4 1000 member ensemble from Huang et al (2016). DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0430.1 . Source: Cowtan17 supporting information Figure S7

The table below highlights further that the Cowtan17 analysis is closer to the NOAA data set for the period after WWII since 1997 than it is to the Hadley record (HadSST3). The trend of HadSST3 is lower than that found in Cowtan17 and ERSST v4.

Table 1: Trend in sea surface temperature since 1997. Source: Cowtan17 Supporting Information Table S2.


The analysis supports the CMIP5 models


Another thing the analysis suggests is that there is less of a difference between observations and the blended mean from CMIP5 model runs. This is shown in the chart below, from Kevin Cowtan's briefing paper, where the green line is the CMIP5 blended mean.
Figure 3 | Comparison of global temperature records based on either the UK Met Office sea surface temperature record (HadSST3), or our coastal hybrid record. The smoothed records are compared to the average of climate model simulations from the CMIP5 project. The lower panel shows the differences between each set of observations and the models. Source: Kevin Cowtan's blog article.


Constraints and provisos


The authors of Cowtan17 show a lot of restraint and go into quite a bit of discussion of uncertainties and provisos. They present their findings not as the be all and end all of temperature reconstruction, but as a suggestion of where to investigate further. Kevin Cowtan wrote in his briefing:
However we do not necessarily trust our new record, because of the assumptions we had to make in constructing it. The most important result of our work may therefore be to identify places where extra attention should be given to addressing problems in the existing sea surface temperature records. A secondary result is that caution is required when trying to draw conclusions about any differences between the models and the observations, whether it be to identify internal cycles of the climate system or problems in the models, because the differences that we do see are mostly within the range of uncertainty of the observations.

Just the same, this paper has a lot of merit, looks at the data differently, and shows that the spurious peaks and troughs from years gone by may indeed be out of whack. It also supports the records in recent times, which seems to me to add weight to their findings.


What deniers are saying about Cowtan17


Nothing. At least nothing at WUWT or anywhere else that I've seen. Either they all missed the paper because it came out in the holidays, or they haven't figured out what to say about it.


References and further reading


Cowtan, K., Robert Rohde, and Zeke Hausfather. "Evaluating biases in Sea Surface Temperature records using coastal weather stations." Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (2017). DOI: 10.1002/qj.3235 (pdf here)





Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy holidays and all that

Sou | 11:49 AM Go to the first of 17 comments. Add a comment
Wishing everyone greetings of the season, whatever the season is for you - winter, summer, Christmas, new year or  just an excuse for a holiday if you are fortunate enough.




If you've noticed I've been a bit distant this past few months, I'll be back in the new year and may even sneak in a couple of blog articles before then.

Thanks for all your support this past year, and best wishes for 2018.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Confirmation bias affects visual perception at WUWT - on carbon trading in China and the LA Times

Sou | 7:45 PM Go to the first of 6 comments. Add a comment
Anthony Watts has posted an article by a bloke called Larry Hamlin, which is a stark example of how confirmation bias affects visual perception. Larry is a climate science denying conspiracy theorist who has the occasional "essay" at WUWT.

He wrote about something he read in the LA Times. It was a recent announcement from the Chinese government that it is preparing to set up what will eventually be a nationwide carbon trading program. The article was by Jonathan Kaiman reporting, from Beijing, a news conference of the National Development and Reform Commission in China.

The article set out the timetable, which stated that it would be three years before transactions begin (my emphasis):
China’s carbon market will initially apply only to the power-generation industry but will later expand to cover seven other sectors, including petrochemicals, chemicals, building materials, and iron and steel.

The Chinese government will spend a year building a nationwide registration system covering all companies participating in the market, the state-run China Daily reported. It will spend another year testing the system, and actual transactions will begin in about three years.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Has Anthony Watts just claimed he's on Scott Pruitt's #climate science denying "Red Team"?

Sou | 10:40 AM Go to the first of 42 comments. Add a comment
Scott Pruitt
Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
You may have heard that the EPA Secretary, Scott Pruitt, keeps promising to put together a "Red Team" to support him in his rejection of climate science. He's getting names from various unsavoury organisations, I gather. I doubt any of those organisations have suggested WUWT owner and promoter of "climate hoax" conspiracy theories, Anthony Watts. However, it looks as if Anthony is hinting he's on the team.

I stumbled across something at WUWT this morning that suggests this. It was in among a lot of self promotion as an AGU member "in good standing", some misogyny, and various other rantings from Anthony. (What are the criteria for good vs bad standing among AGU membership? If it ever decided to draw a line Anthony would never appear on the "good" side.)

Here's what Anthony wrote, implying that he is already on Scott Pruitt's "Red Team". He was writing how he dislikes New Orleans and doesn't think he'd get enough money from his fans to go this year, so he won't try (or something like that :D). (AGU17 is at New Orleans.) Then he wrote how it's not a bad thing he won't be going, saying:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Polar bears, sexism and climate science denial

Sou | 7:21 AM Go to the first of 43 comments. Add a comment
Adult polar bear on the look-out.
Source: Ian Sterling
When a science paper about polar bears generates multiple articles on denier blogs you can see it has hit a nerve. This happened recently when a paper was published, with a classic illustration of how deniers reference each other to make out there is dispute about climate change impacts.

The paper was by Jeffrey A Harvey and a bunch of other leading scientists. When I say a bunch, there were fourteen scientists listed as authors, comprising rising stars and heavyweights in the climate science world.

It's fortunate I wasn't able to write about this paper when it was first released because it allowed time to see the numerous articles about it on denier blogs. However, before looking at deniers' various reactions, how about a quick summary of the paper. It's open access and is easy to read. It may help if you understand the analytical techniques used, though that's not essential.