Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Firing or fizzing? More Greenhouse Effect Denial from John Coleman at WUWT

Sou | 11:29 PM Go to the first of 16 comments. Add a comment

John Coleman is flush with the (ahem) success of his open letter to science deniers and the fame that's brought him, and is now "firing back" at the IPCC.

Never mind that almost no-one who writes for the IPCC would have ever heard of this weather comedian from the USA. Maybe some of the US-based climate scientists have heard of him, in the way one hears about creationists and flat earthers from time to time.

John Coleman isn't ready to hang up his boots just yet. He's still doing his comedy routines, it's just that he does them at WUWT now (archived here). And on CNN if he's ever invited back. And as one of the few remaining deniers who might be recognised in the USA, he will probably get a few spots on Fox television - the denier channel in the USA.

It's a fizzer not a fire!

Today's comedy routine is called:
John Coleman fires back on the IPCC Synthesis Report
It's really a bit of a fizzer. It didn't get the acclaim from WUWT-ers that he probably hoped for. For one thing, John Coleman has given no indication that he's actually read the IPCC Synthesis Report. His article is about an article by Associated Press, which I found here. And he probably wouldn't have even come across that except that it was featured on the Fox News website. I expect that news report is the extent of his "scientific" reading. That and WUWT.

John reels off one jaded denier meme after another:

"The climate of planet Earth has been constantly changing for 4.5 billion years." He says. Well, woopy doo. How does he know that? Because climate scientists and geologists have figured that out! John acts as if we humans were around for some of the most extreme changes in geological history, and talks about 4.5 billion years. Doesn't he know that we've only been around for 200,000 years or so? Civilisation only began around 10,000 years ago. We didn't see those dramatic changes in the long ago. John poo-poos the idea that since human civilisation the climate has been fairly stable. Perhaps he's not aware of that. Maybe he doesn't know that one of the main reasons human civilisations have flourished is because of the relatively stable climate of the Holocene.

He writes that "people think there is a "normal" climate". Well, there used to be.  It's only now that we're causing it to change so much and so quickly:

Adapted from Jos Hagelaars

He claims that global temperatures have "plateaued" for 18 years - Oh yeah? Look at this. He has a weird definition of "plateau" doesn't he.

Data Source: NASA GISS

John confuses Antarctic sea ice with ice on the continent, wrongly claiming that the polar ice caps aren't melting. They are. He wrongly asserts that Arctic ice is "within its normal range", by which I think he probably means Arctic sea ice. Here's what's been happening in the Arctic, courtesy of Andy Lee Robinson:

John Coleman reckons the oceans aren't rising significantly. They are rising quickly enough, but just wait till later this century when the melt from WAIS kicks in. (John's 80, so he probably won't be around to see it.)

From U Colorado

John Coleman is no different to a sky dragon slayer - rejecting the greenhouse effect

What really gets on his goat though, is the knowledge that it's we who are causing global warming. John just wants to deny, deny, deny. John comes right out and says that the greenhouse effect has been "debunked". He reckons he's:
"read several papers by Ph.D. Climate Skeptics that totally debunk the carbon dioxide greenhouse gas theory". 

John doesn't go so far as to confessing which "papers" he's read. He might be stupid but he's not that stupid.

Now one might ask why Anthony Watts, who professes to accept climate science to a point, or at least that the greenhouse effect is real. Why, when he bans people from WUWT who write nonsense like that; why does he give a platform to utter nutter notions like John Coleman is putting forth.

And why aren't WUWT readers clamouring for these PhD Climate Skeptics' papers? I guess they know it's not real.

Climate science is a hoax because Al Gore is fat

Would you believe that John Coleman mentioned Al Gore's name seven times in his article? How quaint. He's really showing his age, isn't he.

From the WUWT comments

John's article got a mixed reception at WUWT. Some people didn't understand it but thought it was brilliant :) Some were a mite concerned that it was a bit too, too "fake sceptic". A few of the regular fake sceptics picked some nits, thinking he went overboard in his denial. There were a also one or two climate hawks who slipped through the moderator net.

This is good. One commenter, icouldnthelpit , wrote:
November 4, 2014 at 12:37 am
He’s claiming that co2 is not a greenhouse gas. No further comment is required.

Only to have Non Nomen get all caught up in knots denying John Coleman's denial while admitting his denial (extract only) (Non Nomen's bold italics):
November 4, 2014 at 12:57 am
...He did NOT claim that CO² is not a greenhouse gas.
He correctly states that the theory, that CO² is responsible for global warming has proven wrong: 18 years of increasing CO²-level without increasing temperature.
Lots of people rush to defend John Coleman, trying to make out that he didn't really say that the carbon dioxide greenhouse gas theory has been debunked. They are twisting themselves into a real tangled knot.

Gareth Phillips isn't too happy with John Coleman either. He pulls him up over his statement about accurate temperature measurements:
November 4, 2014 at 12:45 am
” First of all, 200 years ago we could hardly measure temperature accurately” Perhaps this article published on WUWT will help Mr.Coleman realise that we certainly could, and did, measure temperature surprising well in the UK over the last 200 years. The resultant CETs datasets are an invaluable asset in climate science.
 This time I'm with John Coleman, assuming he was referring to putting together records around the globe. Instrumental records were sparse 200 years ago. We rely on proxies to figure out what temperature was doing at the global level.

cesium62 didn't get as far as I did. He gave up when John started on about "4.5 billion years" of climate change. And I can't say I blame him.
November 4, 2014 at 1:01 am
“The climate of planet Earth has been constantly changing for 4.5 billion years. Earth has been frozen into a sort of ice ball at least four times in its history (the Ice Ages) and has been as warm or warmer than it is today at least three times (Interglacial Periods) during its history.”
How many of those ice ages and interglacial periods occurred in the last 8,000 years which pretty much covers the rise of human civilization?
If that’s where you’re going to start, I see no reason to continue reading.

Robin Hewitt says how much he likes "prol" fake sceptics, because they say all the things he wishes he could remember - like "climate is always changing" I suppose :)
November 4, 2014 at 1:21 am
Speaking as a prol this is my kind of scepticism. There are four kinds of sceptic and here they are in reverse order of prol appeal. 1: The scientist who comes on TV but is incapable of coming down to prol level. He can’t even understand what he is being asked by the prol interviewer, comes across as distinctly nutty. 2: The celebrity sceptic who confesses he is not convinced so as to forward his cool rebel persona. He probably also believes in the healing power of crystals and raspberry ketones so all prol credibility could collapse at any moment. 3: The political sceptic who concedes too much to the other side, Always on the verge of saying something controversial with prol appeal, but never quite making it. 4: The TV scientist sceptic, as seen here. This is the man who can speak prol and says all the stuff sceptic prols wish they could remember when the conversation turns to global warming. This is a new kind of sceptic because up until recently such behaviour would result in “doing a Bellamy”.

Nylo says John's denialist rave is all a bit much for his taste. Too "skeptical".
November 4, 2014 at 1:25 am
Jon Coleman is too skeptical for me. Denies too much. We should be focussing on climate sensitivity. There’s no point on debating who caused what in the past, when everything that we have seen in the past was, regarding the warming, much smaller than what it should have been if the alarmists’ estimates of the climate sensitivity were corrrect, and its consequences, if anything, positive so far.

Peter Miller makes up a whole heap of stuff just so he can reject it. One strawman after another:
November 4, 2014 at 1:37 am
There are a great number of inaccuracies and stupidities in alarmist theory, but none in my opinion beats these:
Natural climate cycles which have been around many hundreds of years suddenly ceased in the 1950s – I always find that one so amazing that anyone could be so stupid as to actually believe this.
I find it amazing that Peter Miller could be so stupid as to think that anyone could believe that there were people who believed this. Then again, people at WUWT will believe practically anything.
The current global temperatures are unprecedented – well, we are circa 10,000 years into the Holocene, the current inter-glacial period, which has mostly been warmer than today and previous inter-glacial periods have been warmer than this one.
I find it amazing that Peter Miller could be so stupid to not understand the context in which "unprecedented" may be used. For example, only yesterday WUWT had an article about the earliest snowfall ever recorded in parts of the USA. Unprecedented!
The idea that 1952, or 1937, or 1944 is the year of natural, normal temperatures at which we should fix the Earth for all eternity is so laughable, if it was not so sad and ludicrous.
Poor Peter's got that all twisted about. Thing is it's just not considered safe to let the global temperature rise more than two degrees above the pre-industrial temperature in a very very short space of time. It's probably not safe to get to one degree above for a lot of people. But we will, and soon.
CO2 is an evil gas, when in reality it is essential for life on Earth.
Peter is anthropomorphising CO2. Deniers have a habit of doing that sort of thing. It's as if they think that the reputation of CO2 needs to be protected. He won't accept that you can have too much of a good thing. If he wants to anthropomorphise, why doesn't he stick up for buried hydrocarbons. They must be in agony with all that burning. What have they done to deserve the treatment we're dishing out to them? And what about poor little oxygen? Doesn't he care that we're burning it out of the sky? No sense of equity and fair play, has Peter.

I don't know why the mods are asleep at WUWT. Here's another person who scoffs at John's denialism. Siberian Husky wrote:
November 4, 2014 at 2:47 am
No degree in meteorology. No degree in climatology. No credibility. Quick get him on Fox News to get his “expert” opinion.


  1. That's a pretty hostile reception in what Coleman might have expected to be friendly territory. I am surprised that Watts doesn't order dbstealey to do a Tiananmen Square on all the protestors.

    1. The comments I picked aren't representative. Still, the reception was a lot less enthusiastic than he probably expected, even from the normal deniers at WUWT. The only people who seemed to like it were the real hard core dismissives. The ones who think climate science is a hoax (they think everything is a hoax, not just science) and all scientific research is evil and a Lysenko plot (though I don't expect they know anything about Lysenko) and universities are dens of iniquity.

      I don't think Anthony reads what he puts on his blog. He just copies and pastes. He doesn't even format it properly half the time.

  2. Coelman's ranting is much more politics than hard science. Not unexpected given that the midterm elections are happening today.

  3. The resultant CETs datasets are an invaluable asset in climate science.

    The collectible spoon again! Please, Auntie, we've already heard about the spoon and how you found it during your imaginary vacation in central England-- too many times.

  4. I'd say this was a good example of and acute case of emerititus iratus, but sadly, Mr. Coleman has no formal training in science at all, let alone a Ph.D. and past professorship.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. You are so gifted at the art of misinformation RR. You forget the follow on quote from the co-author, Jeremy Shakun of Harvard, that correctly sets the context. You're taking advantage of scientists' inability to overstate certainty. Here's the quote (last sentence is key):
      "Just a quick point here. I state in the interview that we can’t be sure there aren’t any abrupt global warming blips during the Holocene similar to the current one due to chronological uncertainties and the relatively low time resolution of our global temperature reconstruction. It is worth considering though that we do have several high resolution proxy climate records from various regions around the world (think ice cores), and if abrupt global warming events happened in the past, then we might expect these local records to show them…..but my sense is they don’t. So, this isn’t hard and fast proof that there weren’t any abrupt global events like today during the rest of the Holocene….but if I had to lay down a bet, it might make me place my wager on that side of the argument."

      BTW, I thought you self-banned yourself when BBD showed you made a mistake.

    2. RR: To start with three:

      1) Which data set would you choose for global surface T (GST)? Why?

      2) Thwaites glacier mass loss is *accelerating*, along with many of its Amundsen Sea neighbors. The article you point to just reports a paper describing higher-than-average geothermal heat flux under Thwaites. It does *not* describe accelerated loss due to geothermal heating. read the paper; in fact, start by reading the article you linked to.

      3) Hypotheses have been presented explaining the growth in Antarctic sea ice. If you want to discuss these rationally, including doing some reading, I'll get you started.

    3. @RR - Regarding Marcott et al, I'm afraid I would have to disagree.

      The nature of low frequency filtering such as occurs in the Marcott et al processing is to blur high frequency (fast) data. The low frequency components, however, remain - if temperatures went up 1C for 100 years and then magically back down to previous values, even after low frequency filtering there will be a blurred bump with an area of 1Cx100yrs.

      I've tested the frequency response they describe in their supplemental data against a 200-yr 0.9C spike (the 'unicorn horn' so beloved by Marcott et al detractors) here and under more conservative conditions here, and find that such a spike would remain in the Marcott et al data as a bump of 0.25-0.3C of duration 300-350 years.

      There is no such spike in the Marcott et al data, hence no unicorns - the reconstruction is better than 'skeptics' or even the authors give it credit for.

      In short, the graph Sou presents above is quite reasonable. The current temperature changes are unprecedented in the Holocene.

    4. Other than being a bit of a gish-gallop, I don't think RR's last post deserved removal. Now, if he failed to engage in good faith with people setting him straight, then I'd agree.

    5. Your Point 1 has been "done to death" and the "trick" is not statistically invalid. To ignore the thermometer record is ridiculous and, I could go on but I won't. It appears you are, Shirley-MacLaine-style, channelling McIntyre. If you're not channelling, then you can't have your point 5 as well as this point - they're mutually exclusive concept wise.

      Your Point 2 "with the heaviest upward adjustments" is unsubstantiated by your reference to a Woodfortrees graph. You may mean "with the steepest gradient". If you do, don't stop there. Critique the use of the RSS data and the eschewing of the UAH data to maintain the "pause in warming" gambit used by WUWT-style bloggers. As for the foreshortening of the x-axis, there is a limit to the size of a graph that fits on a 'page'. At least the x-axis hasn't been tilted in a Moncktonesque "trick".

      Your Point 3's 'Antarctica's greatest recorded ice extent' has been "explained" so many times that it's possible that you're not listening or don't have the science background to comprehend it or are locked into a mindset that filters the message.

      Your Point 4 seems to confirm your 'filtering' of information. Your own reference makes the point It is important to note that none of this research suggests that global warming and climate change are not affecting the ice sheets of Antarctica but they do imply that any melting due to global warming is being exacerbated by geothermal heating from beneath the ice cap Note the "being exacerbated by" which is different from "being dominated by" or "mostly due to" or "entirely due to".

      Your Point 5 undercuts your Point 1. You don't want 'recent' temperatures added to 'ancient' modelled temperatures but you want 'even more recent' sea level rises added to 'ancient' modelled sea level rises.

      Your own reference to Marcott includes his co-author Shakun's So, this isn’t hard and fast proof that there weren’t any abrupt global events like today during the rest of the Holocene….but if I had to lay down a bet, it might make me place my wager on that side of the argument. and ignores the article's author's final statement Lastly, I want to point that while the graph shows that it has been as warm in the past as it is today, it seems obvious that we will probably be heading soon into unprecedented territory, with no caveats necessary. In a word, you're 'filtering' information to get the argument you want much like barristers typically argue in court i.e. presenting those points that serve their clients' best interests and ignoring those that are unsupportive. Which 'tactic' is so not science-like.

      Apart from doing your homework better, my advice is to stop lecturing (and hectoring), it's unbecoming, unless you're just being provocative for the sake of attention seeking. In a perverse sort of way, I enjoy reading your nonsense - you may have invented a new sub-genre of 'alternative reality' blogging.

    6. RR's not posting here any more. That last comment would have been deleted completely too except that would have meant the replies would have disappeared as well.

    7. @RR:

      1) UAH/RSS are not the same thing, are not surface data sets, and don't have global coverage. Re GST versions, interesting that you don't like mechanisms that objectively interpolate using the satellites (Cowtan and Way).

      Here is HADCRUT 4 vs HADCRUT3: http://tinyurl.com/9jtybu2

      2) A constant geothermal flux (GHF) will not accelerate ice loss. GHF varies around the world, including under Antarctica and Greenland. If that's all it took to remove ice, there wouldn't be any. The ice sheets are a balance between calving and melting at the edges, meltwater production at the base (but some of these freezes back on to the ice sheet), some surface melt (Greenland, not Antarctica) and accumulation.

      3) Seems a bit silly to suggest that "colder = more ice" when there isn't evidence of "colder". Also a bit of a puzzle why only the sea ice is expanding (slightly) while land ice loss from Antarctica accelerates.

      But if you wish to engage: tell me why you discount the "more fresh water" hypothesis.

    8. PL: "if he failed to engage in good faith with people setting him straight, then I'd agree."

      That's all he ever does, so you'll agree very shortly.

    9. @RR

      1a) You volunteered UAH and RSS as more reliable than Gistemp, because of their coverage. However, as I said, they don’t give surface T, they don't have great coverage, aren’t particularly reliable, and they disagree with each other.

      1b) Cowtan and Way is *not* SkS: “Cowtan, Kevin, and Robert G. Way. Coverage bias in the HadCRUT4 temperature series and its impact on recent temperature trends." Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (2014).”

      It appears you have some knee-jerk dislike of SkS. Do you have the same dislike of the RMS? Why?

      2) The article reports on a measurement of geothermal heat flux. There is no reason to assume it is changing. Like others have suggested, *read* the entire article that you yourself cited.

      In the meantime, be a bit more scientific in what you’d like me to look at when comparing from the geothermal heat flux paper with what in the Williams paper. e.g., “Compare fig. x from … with fig. y from …”

      Do you know that, in the IPCC reports, it is assumed that net Antarctic land-ice mass change over the next century is likely to be negligible? Why is that?

      3) Sea ice is *not* increasing around the whole of Antarctica. Maybe what you mean is “sea ice extent, integrated around Antarctica, is increasing”. Not the same thing: which do you mean? Sea ice area in the Bellingshausen and Amundsen is decreasing. Sea ice area in the Ross sector, which receives the freshwater from the Amundsen ice-shelf melt, is increasing rapidly. Satellite measurements of ice thickness, for the generally thin ice around Antarctica, are too inaccurate to know which way the ice thickness and volume are going.

      Re Southern Ocean air temperature, I was wrong and you are correct: it has cooled during the period 1980-present. Interesting, even Gistemp shows this (http://tinyurl.com/q5pwc9d). Given that it agrees with your preferred RSS, I’d wonder why you don’t like Gistemp for other purposes.

      So now, tell us why the Southern Ocean surface T has dropped. Could it be that increasing ice, and increasing cold surface water from glacial melt, are cooling the atmosphere from below?

      I’m happy to discuss this with you, even if your past history at HW makes your integrity suspect. But you have to be skeptical of your own position as well as requiring it from me.

    10. PL

      Now, if he failed to engage in good faith with people setting him straight, then I'd agree.

      Please, review this short exchange on a recent thread. It refers back to a previous comment deletion for extreme bad faith (see HotWhoppery - just scroll down a bit). Then you will see why RR is banned for *exactly* the reason you agree that he should be banned.



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