Sunday, September 22, 2019

More twittery nonsense from climate disinformers: In fact, the world is heating up!

Sou | 1:00 PM Go to the first of 17 comments. Add a comment
There are one or two long-running denier conversations on Twitter. Here is another example of how they operate as illustrated by a tweeter called "StenchJudi".

Despite all the evidence showing the world is rapidly heating up, someone will tweet something outrageously wrong, such as "it's been cooling for twenty years". The only way they can rationalise such a ridiculous statement is by fudging the data, and claiming real observations are "fake".

The chart below shows how the global temperature has changed over the past twenty years, from 1999 to 2018:
Figure 1 | Global mean surface temperature anomaly for the last twenty years. The base period is 1951-1980. Data source: GISS NASA

So far @StenchJudi has shown himself not so good. Even if you weren't aware of all the horrific heat waves around the world, the worsening droughts, and the deluges, the network of weather recording instruments shows the world has been getting hotter. (In case anyone has trouble reading the chart, it is a plot of temperature over time. The vertical axis (left hand side) is temperature and the horizontal axis is time. The upward slope shows temperature is increasing over time.)

In fact, every year since has been hotter than 1999.

Dishonest cherry picking

It gets worse. In that same tweet the tweeter who appropriately calls him or herself StenchJudi, has cherry-picked a quote from an article in Nature written by one of the greats of climate science, Dr. Kevin Trenberth.

Dr Trenberth, back twelve years ago (in 2007) was writing about science that is still not "settled". He was talking about how there is still much work to be done. He made it clear that climate science is "settled" in fundamental ways. It's clear we are causing global warming and there is more to come. He wrote:
The IPCC report makes it clear that there is a substantial future commitment to further climate change even if we could stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. And the commitment is even greater given that the best we can realistically hope for in the near term is to perhaps stabilize emissions, which means increases in concentrations of long-lived greenhouse gases indefinitely into the future. Thus future climate change is guaranteed.

So if the science is settled, then what are we planning for and adapting to? A consensus has emerged that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” to quote the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Working Group I Summary for Policy Makers (pdf) and the science is convincing that humans are the cause. Hence mitigation of the problem: stopping or slowing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere is essential. The science is clear in this respect.
What he was writing about was the difficulties of modeling changes in climate at the regional scale and for some particular climate processes. The disinformer cherry-picked a sentence and ignored the article. (I doubt they know where their quote originated, since they'd have picked it up from a disinformation website.) Here is the quote, where I've italicized the parts StenchJudi cherry-picked so you can see the context.
Even if there were, the projections are based on model results that provide differences of the future climate relative to that today. None of the models used by IPCC are initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate. In particular, the state of the oceans, sea ice, and soil moisture has no relationship to the observed state at any recent time in any of the IPCC models. There is neither an El NiƱo sequence nor any Pacific Decadal Oscillation that replicates the recent past; yet these are critical modes of variability that affect Pacific rim countries and beyond. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, that may depend on the thermohaline circulation and thus ocean currents in the Atlantic, is not set up to match today’s state, but it is a critical component of the Atlantic hurricanes and it undoubtedly affects forecasts for the next decade from Brazil to Europe. Moreover, the starting climate state in several of the models may depart significantly from the real climate owing to model errors. I postulate that regional climate change is impossible to deal with properly unless the models are initialized.

Kevin Trenberth goes on to argue that even if models are initialised, they will drift back and will still not be useful for examining in detail many aspects of climate, such as how the water cycle will be affected. Nevertheless the models work for global change because errors cancel each other out when they are all combined.
The current projection method works to the extent it does because it utilizes differences from one time to another and the main model bias and systematic errors are thereby subtracted out. This assumes linearity. It works for global forced variations, but it can not work for many aspects of climate, especially those related to the water cycle. For instance, if the current state is one of drought then it is unlikely to get drier, but unrealistic model states and model biases can easily violate such constraints and project drier conditions. Of course one can initialize a climate model, but a biased model will immediately drift back to the model climate and the predicted trends will then be wrong. Therefore the problem of overcoming this shortcoming, and facing up to initializing climate models means not only obtaining sufficient reliable observations of all aspects of the climate system, but also overcoming model biases. So this is a major challenge. 

That was written twelve years ago. In the meantime scientists have continued in their efforts to work out how climate will change at the regional and local level. Disinformers don't want that to happen for various reasons.

Deniers worry capitalist societies cannot protect humanity from itself

Some disinformers have said they oppose science because they believe the only way to get the world to stop emitting carbon is to adopt socialism. That is, they don't believe capitalist economies are capable of protecting humanity from itself. They may be right. Some capitalist economies that have adopted environmental protection policies have not shown themselves willing (or able) to mitigate climate change.

I don't agree that protecting some idealised version of capitalism (which exists nowhere) is worth destroying civilisation, but maybe that's just me.


  1. you are good at this sou, how about giving craig kelly a few articles , rgds john byatt, i am blocked but write on his review page

    1. Thanks John :)

      I've been thinking about having a go at some of the Australian politicians who are more enthused about drought, floods and heat waves than is good for the country. Maybe. No promises.

    2. yes craig is a serial offender and mostly lies he has stopped reviews now but mine are still there

    3. Looking at the stats for the electorate, it's clear that boomers can't be blamed for electing him. It's on GenX and Millennials.

      I'll keep digging - still not making any promises though :)

    4. it is the SHIRE where us hobbits grew up, it saddens me that he was elected there

    5. cop this childish poly


  2. Perth is the Australian city which has warmed the most, since 1880.

    Perth has warmed by 1.65 degrees Celsius, since 1880.

    That is nearly twice the amount that Darwin has warmed, since 1880.

    In Australia, if any city had a good case for declaring a climate emergency, then surely it would have to be Perth.

    But wait. We have been talking about temperature anomalies, not real absolute temperatures.

    Are you brave enough to look at the real absolute temperatures that Perth has been enduring (timid people should not read this article – you have been warned).


    1. Sheldon, I expect you'll argue that the temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic aren't a problem either. Although they are causing an acceleration in sea level rise (melting ice), it's very cold in the arctic, much colder than Brisbane, so it can't be a problem. Right?

      (That's just to save anyone who's not familiar with Sheldon's brand of denial.)

      More from Sheldon here at HotWhopper:


      Or use the search bar at the top right of this page.

    2. I guess Sheldon doesn't know many Inuit.

    3. It was dry at one end of the Titanic as it was sinking...

  3. My oldest friend in the world -- we met in the 7th grade almost 60 years ago -- now lives in Perth which is almost antipodal from where I am. She's tough and rarely mentions the weather except in general terms like "terribly hot".

    1. Is there anywhere in Australia that is not "terribly hot"?

      Was there anywhere in Australia in 1880, that was not "terribly hot"?

      70% of the Australian mainland is classified as semi-arid, arid or desert; making it the driest inhabited continent on Earth.

      If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    2. Most people live within a few hundred km of the coast. The southern parts can have much hotter days than you'll get up north. Perth and Melbourne will have hotter days than Brisbane, for example, but is drier. In cold Tasmania, people have had to buy air-conditioners in recent years because of the rising temperatures.

      The temperatures are rising pretty well everywhere across Australia, including extremely high temperatures. Most of the world is the same. It's because of global warming.

      There are other changes, too, that are affecting weather across Australia, like the shifting rain belts.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. n Tasmania frosts have become novelties in some areas, winter snow falls have disappeared, chill hours have decreased significantly, and the waters have warmed alarmingly.

      The Gondwana conifer associations (Huon pine, King Billy pine, pencil pine, and their associates) are pretty much locked into extinction over the coming century or several. Alpine skinks quite possibly are too, as are many other fauna that depend on the particular vegetation communities for habitat. Since 2011 I've been predicting that the Southwest Wilderness Heritage Area will be burned into button grass and other pyrophyllic bushland/grassland. Back in 2011 though I thought that it would take a century or more to realise the shift, but given the wildfires that have already occurred in the last several years I now suspect that I might have been conservative by half a century or more.

      For the plants and animals that live in Tasmania, as well as for the humans who call it home, they never were in the kitchen, but now they find themselves on fire and there's nowhere south to go...

      My fieldwork haunts in the northern half of coastal NSW are in the same boat but latitude and connection to the rest of the Australian landmass will make the change here a little less stark in its march, but that change will come.

      Any sociopath who glibly says "get out of the kitchen" is simply saying "I want to fuck up the planet, and I don't give a shit if it hurts anyone else." Nothing less than that.

    5. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

      What a crass thing to say. I'm alright Jack personified.

  4. The economists keep poking their ever lengthening noses into the discussion. The current "Nobel" prizewinners are real prizes. They are dissected here by Steve Keen.


    Hope this isn't too skewed from the topic.

    There is a "Not the Nobel" prize as well, for reasons that may occur to you. :-)


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