Monday, May 4, 2015

Rud Istvan goes on a Gish gallop at WUWT

Sou | 3:00 PM Go to the first of 8 comments. Add a comment
Rud Istvan is a climate science denier who hangs out at various denialist haunts. Today he's got a silly article at the anti-science blog of Anthony Watts at WUWT (archived here). He's trying to sell a dumb book he wrote to the deniers at WUWT. (Just how much did he pay to get his "book" vanity-published and marketed as an ebook!) His article has the word "truth" in the title: "Talking Truth to the Climate Consensus". This is a big red flag, alerting the wary that what follows is likely to be a lie. Particularly as the article is on a blog that is known as a climate disinformation blog.

Rud says that Bjorn Lomborg is a denier because he doesn't promote mitigation of climate change (by reducing CO2 emissions). Bjorn is more in favour of letting the lucky survive - those who can afford to adapt and recover, and letting the rest go to pot. In other words, Bjorn ignores the fact that we all rely on each other. If the USA can afford to recover from floods and fire and drought, it won't be much help when the goods it has got used to can't be produced any because more vulnerable nations sink under rising seas or are caught up in conflict after famine and drought.

Rud also says that Judith Curry is a denier because she disputes the underlying science. I don't know that he's correct in that. In her scientific papers, Judith doesn't seem to dispute the underlying science. In her public pronouncements, without the science, she denies science, and waves an uncertain flag of uncertainty. But that seems to me just so she can stay on the Republicans' list of denier scientists.

Let's do a denier 101 analysis of Rud's denial. It doesn't take long for him to misrepresent both deniers and science.

Where Rud's pronouncements agree with science

Rud agrees that the Holocene is not as cold as what immediately preceded it. So far so good. But that's about as far as he gets.

What follows are a host of wrong or irrelevant claims. There is no point in going through the lot of them. As with any Gish gallop, his aim is to jump from one wrong claim to another so quickly that it would take a book, or an IPCC report, to refute the lot of them. A blog article isn't the right format. So I'll just tackle a couple of his bits of silliness.

Rud Istvan - a little ice age bouncer

Rud is a "little ice age" bouncer. He claims we are "warming out of the LIA" - that is, the Little Ice Age. He doesn't say what has caused this "warming". The earth only warms when something forces it to warm. It doesn't warm by magic. Below is a chart I drew showing Fred Singer's Little Ice Age bounce. Fred said that this bounce could continue for "100 to 200 years". Rud doesn't say for how long his magical bounce will continue.

Data Sources: Mann(07), HadCRUT4, WUWT

Rud wrongly claimed that "We are not yet back to the MWP; farmers in Greenland still cannot grow barley as the Vikings did then." Is he arguing that "we are not yet back to the MWP because farmers in Greenland "cannot grow barley as the Vikings did then" - for a very short while? Is Rud serious, that although you can now grow strawberries in the south western corner of Greenland, but maybe it isn't yet quite as warm as it was in the year 900 AD or so, the world as a whole isn't as warm either?

I would describe Rud as a disinformer rather than a denier. You can tell by his writing. I believe he knows that he's telling fibs, but for various motivated reasons, he deliberately tells them. And he knows that Anthony Watts has a preference for disinformation over information on his blog.

Rud tries to backtrack and fudge, which wouldn't please a lot of Anthony Watts' fans. He claims that most (97%) of deniers agree:
Yes, burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric CO2.
Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas (GHG), and doubling would by itself cause temperatures to rise between 1C and 1.2C (the Planck effect).
Yes, water vapor and clouds (to note two) provide natural feedbacks, which in the case of water vapor is positive.

I'd say he's wrong, if you judge by deniers at WUWT. Most of them don't even accept the greenhouse effect. A large number deny that burning hydrocarbons produces CO2.

Rud himself does admit that the reason the world is warming is because of the greenhouse effect. It's because we are pouring huge quantities of greenhouse gases into the air. Here's a chart that Rud didn't show - with surface temperature rising as atmospheric CO2 increases:

Data sources: Scripps and GISS/NASA

But then he jumps off into dumb denier land - claiming that:
Much more of the consensus cannot be scientifically correct.
Rud launches his gish gallop after that. He claims that the consensus attributes all the warming from "1978 to 1998" to the rise in greenhouse gases and says that can't be so. But he's wrong on lots of counts. He's built a strawman.

First of all, the science shows that it is extremely likely that it's human activities that have caused most of the warming since the middle of last century - that is, since the 1950s - - not just the short period that Rud cherry picks.

Secondly, while there is internal variability, the only reason Rud stopped at 1998 was because of the super El Nino of 1997-98. And guess where he learnt about that? It was from scientists. He would never have known it was an El Nino year, nor that it was very warm, if not for climate scientists. So to turn around and say that these same scientists are wrong, when he's using what they themselves say to prove his wrong point, is denialist truth torture at its extreme.

Thirdly, the science itself shows that the PDO had an influence on global surface temperatures over the period he cherry-picked. Yet it obviously wasn't the main influence or surface temperatures wouldn't have kept on rising and rising. And it's not having a huge influence any more - perhaps a slight muting but certainly not a cooling. Global surface temperatures are as high as they've ever been in the modern record. The PDO index has been quite low, but surface temperatures haven't dropped. Last year was the hottest on record.

Data sources: GISS and Nate Mantua

Rud claims that climate science "neglects natural variability". But it doesn't. Look at the chart above. That's from climate science. The main way that scientists can differentiate "natural" variability from human caused variability, is by knowing which is which. That they have done. Scientists can distinguish between the impact of changes in solar radiation, the impact of volcanic eruptions and the impact of greenhouse gases. It can even distinguish between the various human-caused forcings as the following chart from the IPCC report shows:

Figure TS.7 Radiative forcing of climate change during the industrial era shown by emitted components from 1750 to 2011. Source: IPCC AR5 WG1

Rud's Gish gallop includes everything from thunderstorms to sea level rise and ocean acidification. He makes a lot of bald statements without any evidence to support them. You'd have thought he'd make a show of effort. But no. In true denier fashion he just makes statements of denial. "It's not happening" he shrieks. "it's not it's not it's not". (If he yelled any louder someone would arrange for him to be locked up.)

Is Rud Istvan a flat earther? An evolution denier?

Rud might as well claim the earth is flat, because he has never known anyone to climb back up over the edge. Or that evolution isn't real because he's never seen a fossil of every missing link, and anyway "the bible".

From the WUWT comments

Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter) would have liked Rud to provide some hard evidence for his denialist claims - or even some soft evidence, or any evidence. But he didn't.
May 3, 2015 at 4:24 pm
While I agree with the above, it would be useful for arguments with alarmists elsewhere if there were papers cited to go with some of these items, such as the Greenland and Antarctic ice paragraph.

Mike Jonas would have liked some evidence, too.
May 3, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Joe Born excuses Rud on the basis that he is just promoting his denier book. No evidence is required, as long as you are a science denier.
May 3, 2015 at 7:07 pm
It’s a plug for his books, which presumably contain the cites.
Although we’re accustomed to getting this information for free (from other skeptics, not from the high priests of global-warming catastrophe), it’s understandable that a worker may want some compensation for his efforts. It is devoutly to be hoped that some will do well by doing good. (I just doubt that it will happen to any great extent in the global-warming context.)

Max Photon argues that no-one is obliged to act to try to ensure the survival of our (or any) species:
May 3, 2015 at 4:40 pm
Even if all of the ‘consensus’ claptrap were scientifically correct, there is still no legal or moral basis — beyond the arbitrary exercise of coercion — for imposing mitigation measures on whole populations.
If YOU think CO2 is a problem, then YOU cut back on YOUR output.
Beyond that, get the f*** out of my face.

kokoda points out that Ben Santer's study did not claim that a "pause" of 18 years falsified global warming. It was that a period of "at least" seventeen years was necessary to detect a warming signal. That's an important distinction. The Santer paper found that: "On the 32-year timescale, however, S/N exceeded 3.9 in all three observational TLT data sets."
May 3, 2015 at 5:00 pm
“Climate models are now falsified by the 18 year UAH and RSS ‘pause’, using Santer’s consensus criterion published 2011.”
Link to Santer = http://judithcurry.com/2011/09/12/santer-on-timescales-of-temperature-trends/
= Trends >17 yrs are required for identifying human effects on tropospheric temp.


  1. Another denier book that belongs on the fiction shelf along with Noddy Goes To Toyland. What a shame he didn't have time to write a 'scientific paper' for Anthony's OAS.

  2. That "no legal or moral basis" thing is a new piece of bullshit that I had never read before.

    I guess it follows directly from fundamentalist neoliberalism: if unregulated individual greed is the axiomatic good, then there can be no moral basis for any regulation of the commons. But neither can there be any moral basis for any regulation whatsoever.

    1. From today's post over at William Briggs:

      Here’s another indisputable scientific truth: short of a planetary ejection, there is no way to minimize man’s influence on the climate. The minimum would be no influence, and that is impossible so long as man exists. The best we can hope for is to ascertain what might happen given we were to do this or we were to do that.

      He doesn't really believe that last is possible ... or I should say, he almost always argues that it isn't. I say it follows from rationalization by way of semantic pedantry.

  3. You see it around wingnut magnets like Watts. Masters of the parallel universe...if you feel offended by inconvenient, intrusive physical reality, you can reject it. They know their rights!!

    Don't expect anything coherent from these clowns, unwitting anarcho-narcissists to the last.

  4. From someone outside the US, it seems to be from far-right conservative-libertarian US wingnutters who are all about God/Guns/Money- "I've got mine and stuff the rest of you! You ain't taking my guns or money from me and the gubbint ain't tellin me what to do, cause they're all lying to us and wanna take over the world and redistribute my money!" and "All the evil libtard/commie/fascist gay/evolutionist/warmist Nazis should be locked up and stop persecuting us normal God-fearin' traditional family folk!"

  5. > A large number deny that burning hydrocarbons produces CO2.

    Wait. What?
    Is that diamond dust they're shoveling out of the power plant ash pits?

    1. It's what happens when the words "equilibrium" and "parsimony" do not exist in one's vocabulary.


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