Saturday, April 18, 2015

Is climate science denial going out of fashion? Recycling Fred Singer and his predictions

Sou | 2:11 AM Go to the first of 8 comments. Add a comment

Update: I've added another chart to illustrate the size of Fred Singer's big Little Ice Age bounce :)

Are climate science deniers taking tentative steps away from denial? Lindsay Abrams wrote at Salon recently:
...it’s no longer fashionable to be a climate denier, or to promote climate denial. And it’s proving to be a rather unprofitable position as well. This has put the group in the rather awkward position of having to defend its belief in climate change.
She was writing an article about how, after lots of prominent companies quit, ALEC (the private sector "regulator") decided to come out and try to paint itself as not really rejecting climate science. Or not all of it.

Fred Singer takes one step forward

Today at WUWT (archived here) Anthony's dredged up and recycled an article from another science denier, Fred Singer. Harrytwinotter noticed that Anthony first posted this article more than three years ago - or part of it (archived here).  He's recycling again. How green can you get :)

In the article, Fred is trying to dissociate himself from the wackier end of climate science denial and paint himself more as a luke warmer. Or is he?

Compare and contrast these two statements:
Now let me turn to the “deniers”. One of their favorite arguments is that the greenhouse effect does not exist at all — because it violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics; i.e., one cannot transfer energy from a cold atmosphere to a warmer surface. It is surprising that this simplistic argument is used by physicists, and even by professors who teach thermodynamics. One can show them data of downwelling infrared radiation from CO2, water vapor and clouds, which clearly impinge on the surface. But their minds are closed to any such evidence. Fred Singer 16 April 2015 - WUWT, though apparently written in February 2012.
We are certainly putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. However there is no evidence that this high CO2 is making a detectable difference. It should in principle, however the atmosphere is very complicated and one cannot simply argue that just because CO2 is a greenhouse gas is causes warming," Fred Singer as quoted in The Telegraph, 18 Nov 2009

Fred is writing about "warmistas", "skeptics" and "deniers" - and seems to be trying to say he is in the "skeptics" camp.

Fred's first step back to denial

Don't be deceived though. At one point Fred wrote - talking about what he claims are "problems" with the IPCC reports:
The third problem may be the most important and likely also the most contested one. But first let me parse the IPCC conclusion, which depends crucially on the reported global surface warming between 1978 and 2000. As stated in their Summary for Policymakers (IPCC-AR4, vol 1, page 10): “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”
But what if there is little to no warming between 1978 and 2000? What if the data from thousands of poorly distributed weather stations do not represent a true global warming? The atmospheric temperature record between 1978 and 2000 (both from satellites and, independently, from radiosondes) doesn’t show a warming. Neither does the ocean. And even the so-called proxy record — from tree rings, ice cores, ocean sediments, corals, stalagmites, etc. — shows mostly no warming during the same period.

Why does he pick out the period 1978 to 2000? Why not take the entire period since the middle of last century - consistent with his IPCC quote?

In any case, he's wrong. Here are animated charts from 1979, when the satellite data starts. The short one is from 1979 to 2000. The other one is the full period from 1979 to 2014:

Data sources: NASA, HadCRUT, UAH, RSS

In fact the rate of warming in the lower troposphere was a bit higher for the period from 1979 to 2000 than it was for the period from 1979 to 2014.

Rates of warming 1979 to 2014 - surface and lower troposphere C/decade
Data source
GISTemp surface
HadCRUT surface
UAH lower troposphere
RSS lower troposphere

What did Fred say about the ocean? He claimed it didn't warm from 1978 to 2000. He's wrong again.

Data source: NODC - NOAA

The only ocean that didn't warm appreciably over that period was the Indian Ocean - but look at what has happened since around the mid-1990s - to all the oceans. They can't get enough of the heat!

And since deniers have a tendency to pick the cherries they like, here a full set of data from the beginning from GISTemp.

Data source: GISS NASA

Fred's second step back to denial - a giant leap backward to "an ice age cometh"!

In another article published a day or so later at WUWT (archived here), Fred Singer reaffirms that he didn't really mean to forsake climate science denial. He was writing about how he thinks nothing will be achieved at the meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in 2015. He wrote:

Meanwhile, the climate continues to plateau; no significant warming has occurred in nearly 20 years — in spite of a greater than 10% increase in CO2.
Scientists, both alarmists and skeptics, are still trying to explain this “pause” — as it is sometimes called. The word Pause denotes an expectation that the climate will again warm — although no one has any acceptable hypothesis as to when the warming might resume, if ever.

Fred isn't as shy about making predictions as he reckons other people are. He contradicts himself in his next paragraphs:
But since climate has historically moved in cycles, and since we expect a recovery from the Little Ice Age of 1400-1850, we expect to see some natural warming in the next hundred to two hundred years. On the other hand, since the present interglacial (“Holocene”) period has now lasted 12,000 years, longer than the average interglacial within the last million years or so, many predict the onset of another full glaciation.
It would be extremely ironic if another such a glaciation were to start shortly after a Paris agreement that is trying to prevent a global warming.

So - he says that it will warm for the next "100 to 200 years" - after complaining about a decade or so of a so-called "pause"! Talk about double standards and wishy washy "predictions".

That's not all. It might not warm for another "100 to 200 years" after all, claims Fred. An ice age might cometh, straight after the Paris meeting this year.

Fred Singer's Predictions: Something for everyone

I've plotted Fred's two "predictions" and see if you can make any sense of them:

The "heating by magic" is because Fred thinks it's not greenhouse warming, it's just a "natural" Little Ice Age bounce - and he did say for "100 or 200 years". I just extrapolated the trend from 1951.

I was kind to Fred with his ice age prediction - spreading the introduction to the ice age over two centuries, starting next year (after Paris15). If the temperature dropped to 3C below the 1951-1980 average, it would probably be enough to precipitate a deeper glaciation.

Update: Fred's Big Little Ice Age Bounce

To illustrate Fred's Little Ice Age bounce more forcefully, here it is for the northern hemisphere - with the Little Ice Age surface temperatures added.

Data Sources: Mann(07), HadCRUT4, WUWT

Some bounce, eh! (We're going to get there in probably less than half the time shown above, and it won't be because of any bounce from any ice age, little or big.)

Added by Sou - some time later.

Given the wide range of predictions from Fred, you'd have thought the WUWT-ers would be up in arms, wanting him to be more precise. After all, deniers complain that climate scientists didn't "predict" the surface temperature of the past decade. (Actually they did - but deniers deny that. The surface temperatures have been within the range of climate model projections.) I didn't see anyone complaining about the very wide latitude Fred allowed himself in his prediction.

Deliberate fudgery banking on confirmation bias at WUWT

I don't think Fred Singer is quite as stupid as he appears to be. Even though he contradicts himself, I think it's probably just a technique he uses. He'd know that science deniers are prone to confirmation bias, so he writes something for everyone. His readers will gloss over the bits they don't like. The ice age comethers will just see the bit about the ice age. The lukewarmers will ignore that part and relate to him slinging off at the greenhouse effect deniers.

From the WUWT comments

Fred's first article, labelling people who reject the greenhouse effect as deniers did lose him a few friends at WUWT. He also pleased quite a few people - because they discovered something he wrote they could agree with.

wickedwenchfan is one of the resident greenhouse effect deniers who was put off by the label of denier:
April 16, 2015 at 7:47 am
I’m sorry people like myself are making you look bad. Actually no Im not. Your so called proof of a greenhouse effect shows nothing more than a change in the frequencies of radiation as energy passes through different mediums not a redirection of heat flow.
Atmospheric pressure is what causes the surface of our planet to have a higher mean temperature than that of our moon. If you find people like me to be insulting, well, tough luck on that too. Quite frankly us deniers get kind of fed up trying to open the eyes of warmists and skeptics to something that should be blaringly obvious to anyone who hasn’t had them sewn shut!

Johan decided he could use some of what Fred wrote. He didn't say which bits - maybe he'll take the lot, contradictions, deceptions and all.
April 16, 2015 at 5:22 am
Thank you, prof. em. Singer. Whether nature abhors a vacuum or not, I don’t know, but I do know I abhor extremists at whatever side.
Your arguments are the kind I as a skeptic need to reasonaby argue with what you call “warmistas”. That in itself is difficult enough. But then come along what I will call (after dr. Spencer) the “Dragonslayers” (I wish to avoid the D word), and that of course gives the “warmistas” all the opportunities they need to invoke the straw man argument. 

Paul is one of the multitude of WUWT conspiracy theorists, and wrote:
April 16, 2015 at 8:20 am
“What do we call the warmistas anyone who are adjusting the basic climate data in order to keep their warming belief system on the table.”
My preference is liar. But fraud, fake, and charlatan also apply. 

It's just more of the same old deniers saying the same old things at WUWT.


  1. ... no significant warming has occurred in nearly 20 years ...
    I fear we will hear more of this denial talking point in the near future because it helps the deniers weasel-word their way out of their cherry-picked single year benchmark. -- Dennis

    1. The possibility of El Nino developing later this year could have a large impact on global tempuratures.

      While they conveniently ignore the fact that the 1998 sudden increase is an outlier, they will deliberately exclude any heat increase caused by this el nino as an extreme naturally varying event.

      Cherry picking abounds, its just how they cook it up and serve it.

  2. The various cooling predictions of Fred Singer, Don Easterbrook and (especially) David Archibald look increasingly ludicrous. NOAA just reported that March 2015 was the warmest March on record. Seven new warmest monthly records have now been set within just the past 11 months, according to NOAA.

    By contrast, global temperatures are back within the 5-95% range of the CMIP5 models; albeit on the low side (though that could quickly change if things continue in the direction they currently appear to be heading): http://www.climate-lab-book.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/fig-nearterm_all_UPDATE_2014.png

    We can be sure of one thing though: the views of Fred, Don and David will continue to be hosted at WUWT and will no doubt continue to be received with great enthusiasm and applause by its esteemed clientèle.

  3. S. Fred is not a stupid man. He's other things, but he's not stupid.

    wickedwenchfan's grasp of physics does leave a bit to be desired.

  4. Our Fred needs to read Ruddiman on the unlikelihood of a slide back into glacial conditions.

    It's frightening that people this ludicrously wrong have managed to do so much damage over the last few decades.

  5. I've added another chart to illustrate the size of Fred Singer's big Little Ice Age bounce.

    It's got to be the biggest and most unnatural "natural" bounce in human history, by a very long way :)

  6. My impression is the Fred Singer article is a "concern troll". He starts out by saying the diversion into warmists and deniers is not a good thing, then proceeds to backhand global warming.


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