Happy New Year

So, it’s almost the end of 2013 and, for me at least, it’s been quite a year. I started this blog on the spur of the moment and didn’t really expect anyone to take it all that seriously. I’ve had many more views, and many more comments, than I was expecting. It’s been quite fascinating; I’ve learned a lot, encountered some exceptional people and, hopefully, contributed positively to what is a complex but very important topic.

I’ve also learned quite a lot about myself, partly that I don’t particularly enjoy blogging about a controversial topic. It may not seem that way, but part of me wishes I’d never started. As may be clear – although maybe not – I don’t particularly enjoy confrontation, and that’s something that’s hard to avoid given the focus of this blog. I’ve also learned that I was naive to think that trying to be civil, and trying to present the evidence as honestly and clearly as I could, would have any impact on those who doubt anthropogenic global warming. Maybe there are some third-parties who’ve learned something new, but I don’t think I’ve actually engaged in a discussion with someone who eventually said : “Oh, I see. I didn’t realise that. Thanks.”. I think my optimism was completely destroyed when I discovered that some couldn’t even be convinced that Murry Salby was wrong, despite the overwhelming evidence against his hypotheses.

However, having started, this is one of these things that’s hard to stop. I’ve tried to have a few self-imposed “hiatuses”, but they turned out to be slowdowns, rather than actual pauses (see what I did there 🙂 ). One reason I thought I might quickly write this is that I’m about to have an enforced “hiatus”. I’m off tomorrow with the family for a few days away. When they head home, I’m leaving on a research trip and will only be back home in mid-January. I will probably be unable to post or respond to comments for the next few days and will be somewhat limited after that. I may only be really be fully back online when I’m back in mid-January.

Anyway, I’m going to finish this post by simply wishing everyone all the best for the New Year.

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66 Responses to Happy New Year

  1. Bobby says:

    Have a Happy New Year. Although you didn’t change my mind about AGW (because I already understood and therefore accepted the basic science), I have learned a lot here about climate science that I most probably would not have learned otherwise. I appreciate your posts and the comments from other scientists.

  2. Tom Curtis says:

    The celebration of January first as “new year” is a mere cultural convention. Even our own calendar shows how abstract such traditions are, we having just finished the “Tenth Month” (December) of 2013. The Roman’s celebrated New Year two months after us (Romulan Calendar). However, there New Years day was approximately the day after December 30th. That is because they had only ten months, with the first month containing the Spring Equinox. Though called January, it therefore coincides better with March. To make things worse, not all extent calendars are solar calendars, with various with New Years in the Jain Calendar being typically separated by 353,354, or 355 days, for example, except on leap years when they are separated by 383,384, or 385 days.

    Confusion obviously abounds as to which day to celebrate if you are not to be bound by convention. Particularly if you do not want to follow a religious convention, or a political convention to which I hold no allegiance; these being the basis of most Calendars. Admittedly the Positivist Calendar is tempting, on which, it now being two days since the 28th of Bichat, and hence now the first of Moses, it would indeed by new year. Yet I think it is better for consistency to merely treat all days as the start of a new year, which convention has the added bonus that I can make a new (and different) new years resolution every day 😉

    Happy New Year!

  3. Rachel says:

    I follow the birthday convention. My daughter was born on New Year’s Eve so we have a party every year on the 31st.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  4. Arthur Smith says:

    Hey Tom – the December etc naming comes from very early in Roman history; apparently the Julian calendar (from at least 42 BC) did have January 1st as the start of the New Year. That was then abandoned again by medieval Europe around AD 500 (possibly due to the pagan celebrations that were associated with the date?) and most settled on March 25th instead – which continued until the Gregorian calendar was adopted and again fixed January 1st as the start. This is very confusing when looking at genealogical records from the 1700’s and earlier – the year change in the middle of March seems very odd. I guess people were just used to it – or didn’t care about the year so much most of the time?

    Wikipedia is pretty thorough – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year

  5. John Mashey says:

    SInce Arthur has shown up here, I am happily reminded of his nice essay, The Arrogance of Physicists, followed by Eli Rabett’s addition. From knowing many physicists, and from past analyses of odd happenings in physics, such as the APS 2009 petition, I think most physicists are pretty sensible when approaching an area new to them, so I am glad to see our host exemplifying that and avoidng pitfalls that Arthur explained.

    Sadly, there are a tiny number of physicists who decide they know why climate science is wrong, rather than digging in and learning about it, and sometimes finding interesting problems. It was a bit of a struggle, but APS GPC seems to made good progress. Steve Schneider and I used to talk about the outreach he was doing to physicists in mid-2010, to help them better understand the nature of the problems, buit sadly, this was not long before his sudden death.

    Have a good New Year, and if you ever get a chance to attend EGU, try it, Vienna is a nice city. OF coruse, AGU in San Francisco is always fun.

  6. John, thanks, and a good New Year to you too.

    Arthur, I started reading the essay that John mentioned, but it is a little too late on New Year’s eve for the necessary concentration. I shall endeavour to read it when I get a chance. Have a good New Year.

  7. Joshua says:

    “I’ve tried to have a few self-imposed “hiatuses”, but they turned out to be slowdowns, rather than actual pauses (see what I did there 🙂 “

    It may be misleading that the surface measurements (number of posts) might support a conclusion that there were some hiatuses . The deeper energy mechanics may have likely have continued unabated, or even increased in level of activity, with the added output going into harder to measure phenomena such as increased annoyance or frustration with “skeptical” nonsense.

  8. Tom, thanks, I was aware of that one. I shall read Arthur’s essay with a suitable awareness 🙂 Have a good New Year.

    Joshua, very good, thanks. Have a good New Year.

  9. Rob Nicholls says:

    All the best for 2014. I very much enjoy this blog and its thoughtful contributions. I really appreciate the civility which is often lacking elsewhere, and which I think must not be easy to maintain.

  10. I have learned much here and really appreciated your information in responses to my questions. I think the civility of the blog makes it a special place, and if you cannot convince someone with fixed views, so what? That’s their problem, it should not reflect on your skills as a communicator or an expert resource.

  11. BBD says:

    Happy New Year to all!

  12. John Garrett says:

    I too have have been reading all your posts and have learned a lot. Thank you, and happy new year.

  13. That's MR Ball to you. says:

    Happy New Year from here as well. I’m another one who has learned a lot from reading this blog. Just knowing that it’s possible to have a civil discussion is encouraging. Thanks especially to Tom Curtis and BBD for helpful clarifications and good questions!

  14. OPatrick says:

    Anders, measuring your output based only on what you post on this blog is clearly going to give an incomplete picture – but where is the other 97% going? Is Twitter sufficient to account for the bulk of it?

    More seriously, I think it is worth you considering the indirect effect you may be having. I’m sure there are some with genuine sceptical tendencies who have found their way here and may be better informed as a result. But many of us will also have been involved in conversations elsewhere which have been informed by what we have learnt in discussions here and which may also have improved understanding. I know I’ve learnt a lot in a short time here and I hope that may have been reflected in conversations I’ve had.

  15. Skeptikal says:

    I know I’m a little bit late here, but still…

    Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

  16. Mike Fayette says:

    Happy New Year as well!

    As the new year begins, I have followed you over from your previous Blog in hopes of finding reasonable responses to the posts and stories on WUWT, among other sites. I think the name change is a good idea, but don’t quite understand why you wouldn’t write it under your own name.

    Can you summarize the case against the “skeptics” of the Human-Caused Global Warming theory? I am not a scientist, but they seem to have some compelling data and interpretations of data that I just can’t make fit into the data I see posted here and elsewhere in the “alarmist” camp.

    Is their data wrong?

  17. Rachel says:

    Hi Mike,
    The blog author is away at the moment and so will be unable to answer your question for a little while. But your question is rather broad anyway. Is there something specific that you are referring to when you say, “they seem to have some compelling data and interpretations of data that I just can’t make fit into the data I see posted here”? I am not a scientist but some of the other commentators here might be able to answer your question. My personal view is that it’s not necessarily the data that is wrong on contrarian blogs but the interpretation of it.

    If you want evidence for climate change without computer models and without the IPCC, then here’s a good video:

  18. Mike Fayette says:

    Hi Rachel;

    Thanks for the rapid reply and the link to the video, which is interesting but does not seem to address some of the specific issues being raised lately. You are correct that i was WAY too general in my initial post, so here are just 2-3 issues that have my curiousity peaked about what is being written on WUWT and other sites: I would appreciate ANY rational discussion about these points.

    1 – Is it true that the satellite data currently shows no increase in global warming for about the last 13 years or so?
    2 – Is it true that the land data currently shows only a tiny increase in average global surface temperatures over the past 16-17 years or so?

    I understand that there is only sketchy data on deep sea temperatures, so a “theory” that those have increased instead of air and surface temperatures with little supporting data to actually back it up seems like a weak argument. Am I wrong?

    Since there is no doubt that CO2 continues to increase, and that almost all past forecast models (including some referred to in his video) expected surface and air temperatures to increase drmatically in the past 13-16 years – then how can we explain it if they didn’t? Can we trust ANY of the models?

    It seems at least possible to a lay-person that climate science may not have factored all of the influences that tend to keep Earth’s average temperature relatively constant.

    Please help me understand.


  19. BBD says:

    Mike Fayette

    You could start with this discussion at Skeptical Science.

    Please note that the implication that the OHC reconstructions are flawed to the point of uselessness is, to put it mildly, both contentious and entirely unsupported.

  20. Rachel says:

    There’s a post on this blog which addresses your question, Has there been a pause?

  21. BBD says:

    Since there is no doubt that CO2 continues to increase, and that almost all past forecast models (including some referred to in his video) expected surface and air temperatures to increase drmatically in the past 13-16 years – then how can we explain it if they didn’t? Can we trust ANY of the models?

    Most models produce periods when there is little or no warming. But they are not designed to predict global average temperatures accurately for the next decade. They are designed to improve understanding of what will happen over many decades, even centuries, under various different “forcing scenarios”. So the fact that “the models” didn’t predict a slowdown in the rate of surface warming exactly coincident with the one we *may* have got (short trends are uninformative, remember) is not a coherent criticism of “the models” in general. It is, however, a popular “sceptic” misrepresentation.

  22. Phil L says:

    I discovered this blog in the year just passed and have enjoyed lurking here. I really appreciate the civil tone.
    Re the calendar discussion, I have no hesitation wishing all a Happy New Year on the 1st of January. The Gregorian Calendar is a global standard, and if one dislikes the fact that Gregory was a monk and the 1st year was intended to commence at the birth of Jesus Christ (albeit probably out by 4-ish years), one can always refer to the date as Common Era (CE) rather than Anno Domini (AD). I tend to need a good reason to reject a consensus.

  23. AnOilMan says:

    Mike Fayette: Before you start asking questions you might try reading the literature on the subject at hand. I recommend the IPCC reports as a starting point.

    Question 1: I’d first ask who told you that there would in some way be constant linear increases in surface (only) temperatures? I have never ever seen that statement in any literature. (I will require you to provide an actual citation from literature in order to be taken seriously by me.) The ‘rough’ notion is that doubling CO2 will double surface temperatures. The details are much more complicated. And this fact has been known right from the get go. (Read the first IPCC report.)

    Question 2: Here’s the trend calculator; http://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php Satellite data hasn’t been around long enough to really be proven out, but its all there.

    If there is any confusion about oceans, you will find considerable discussion since the 90s on ocean measurement. ‘Sketchy’ ocean data has been used for some 30 years to accurately track and sink submarines. The same science is applied here. (ASW Sonar does not function, at all, without accurate temperature\salinity profiles. We can generate such data accurately from sparse data sets. This is old school reliable science that you can pick up text books on.)

    Total energy has been increasing relatively linearly if you include all energy stores (i.e. like oceans). There is no hiatus of any kind that I am aware of.

    I am very curious as to who told you to focus only on short term trends. Climate science doesn’t do that, and it never has. What are you reading, and where are you reading it from?

  24. Phil L says:

    Re my previous comment … Gregory was the pope for whom the Gregorian calendar was named (not a monk). Oops.

  25. Tom Curtis says:

    Phil, the comments on calendars was just a bit of self mockery re my comments on Christmas on another thread (which were serious). Possibly the problem is that my humour has never followed the consensus 😉

  26. John Mashey says:

    I suggest a different tack: figure out someone’s level of knowledge and then suggest something appropriate. I would never, ever recommend a 3000-page volume set as a starting point.
    I might recommended David Archer’s “the Long Thaw” for some. or send them over to SkS for specific arguments, because if that’s what they have been exposed to, leaping into the IPCC documents may not be helpful.
    Of course, after they’ve learned some basics, they should get there.

  27. John Mashey says:

    Oops more, years ago, I drew this chart, as a model for levels of knowledge.

    Some day I may return to the second part, which was a model that included “negative” knowledge, i.e. ,the following are all different:
    a) Know littl, and knows that, so can learn.
    b) “knows”: many wrong and/or cherry-picked things
    c) Knows better, but feeds those in b).

  28. AnOilMan says:

    Thanks John! (You read my mind. Your negative model wouldn’t have any similarities to CMM Negative Levels? http://www.smartmatix.com/Resources/CMMIexplained/Minuslevels.aspx)

    I think this person is non-technical. Possibly university educated. Never uses papers. I really have no idea how you clearly explain something this technical to that level when a Gish Gallop would bury your response.

    [I guess… For me I kinda wish I started with the IPCC. I’d absolutely devour the intros and it would easily help me locate more citations. I’ve wasted a lot of time looking up answers to questions posed by people. I’ve met very few that were genuinely interesting in any sort of response.]

    I do feel that there is a distinct gap between the science and communicating it on the web. I really feel that we need a one stop shop to explain it, rather than a hodge podge of bloggers full of “he said, she said”.

  29. John Mashey says:

    CMMM: yes, somewhat.

    I’ve been on radio call-in shows, where time was limited.
    I told people upfront that to make the most of the time, I’d try to spend the time answering questions that hadn’t been answered and cataloged long before. I gave the SkS website, and said I’d just give #. First guy did a Gish gallop of 3 of them, all in the list. Easy.

    One does not want to turn off and honest questioner.

  30. Mike Fayette says:

    Thanks for all of the replies!

    The “snarkiness” level was low (except possibly for AnOilMan’s assumption that I haven’t read anything about the topic, but even he sounded more annoyed than angry – so no worries from my end.) You folks are polite and that is a rare treasure when discussing a controversial topic.

    The assumptions about my education and on my previous knowledge level are close, but probably miss the point, I think. (I am a senior manager in a media-related industry with LOTS of data analysis and communications experience, with some programming and engineering experience as well. I am also a pilot, so my knowledge of weather issues – not climate! – is stronger than many folks I talk to.)

    The problem is that we all live in a world where trusting the “experts” on almost anything – especially where public policy is concerned – is increasingly suspect by almost everyone, including me. That’s why I want to take the time – ask questions – and see if I can form a personal opinion about this topic.

    Far too frequently – the experts have either been wrong on the science – wrong on the policy – or have had hidden agenda’s that cloud their judgment and lead to unintended consequences for everyone.

    What I wish I could find is a resource where each of the key issues are debated by smart, reasonable people on BOTH sides of the issue, instead of just making pronouncements based on their “expert” opinions, without having to troll through thousands of posts and articles.

    I’ve read the IPCC summaries and I’ve watched Al Gore’s videos. And I’ve read some of the criticisms of them as well – on WUWT and at other sites.

    Is there a site that takes these topics and arranges them into a “debate” structured almost the trial lawyer would present their cases to a jury?

  31. Ian Forrester says:

    Mike Fayette said:

    Far too frequently – the experts have either been wrong on the science – wrong on the policy


    Please give examples where the experts have been wrong with the science (note: disagreeing between 2C and 3C is not being wrong). Also the “experts”, as you call them, do not set policy, that is the job of the politicians and they do a horrible job of doing that since they refuse to accept what the scientists are saying.

    Also, science is not conducted as ” trial lawyer would present their cases to a jury”, the science debate takes place in the peer reviewed scientific literature and at conferences run by scientists not fossil fuel shills such as Heartland.

  32. > The “snarkiness” level was low […]

    This indicates a high level of incoming smarminess:


    Snark c. Smarm: the eternal struggle for the Internet.

  33. Rachel says:

    I am sure there must be something in between snark and smarm, Willard. It may just be polite (or boring) conversation, but I’m sure it exists. Smarm just sounds sooooo fake and I hate fake.

  34. > Is there a site that takes these topics and arranges them into a “debate” structured almost the trial lawyer would present their cases to a jury?



    The subsidized project met an unsurpassed success, with thousands of comments one has not to troll through.

  35. Joshua says:

    “Fleischer is ostensibly remarking on a failure of “civility”—a central theme of smarm—while in fact delivering a smear against the writer of the op-ed (to which he does not link).”

    Geez. Imagine that! Never seen that before.

  36. Rachel says:


    On the topic of surface temperature data for the past 10-20 years, my understanding is that surface temperatures have risen more slowly over the last decade or so compared to the one prior. You can check for yourself using the Skeptical Science trend calculator which OilMan also linked to.

    As is explained by the blog owner here, this slow-down relates to surface temperature data only. Evidence of continued accumulation of energy in the climate system can be seen in melting ice and rising sea levels from thermal expansion and melting ice.

    There was also a paper published very recently which found a bias in the global temperature reconstructions due to inadequate distribution of instruments throughout the globe. In particular, the Arctic, which is warming faster than anywhere else (I think), is absent from the surface temperature trends. This means that temperature trends are showing a cool bias and when this is accounted for the global temperature trend increases.

    On the topic of climate models, some have proved remarkably accurate. This one, for instance. Ed Hawkins also has an update to temperature projections which includes the recent paper I mention above.

  37. AnOilMan says:

    Mike Fayette: I am by no means an expert. I’m an engineer in good standing with experience from a variety of industries. My first exposure to climate science was the Canadian Navy.

    Your words are homing in on negative and manipulative language espoused by WUWT and a few others. Going down the up escalator is almost a meme in the Climate Change community. The trick is to use really short time lines which no one anywhere has said climate science does. The logic works like this, “This month was colder than last month so all of physics is wrong.”

    Your statement that there are somehow 2 sides to Global Warming seems misguided to me. When you dig into ‘their’ side of Global Warming, you find some pretty crazy stuff that is patently incorrect. First, they use (vanishingly few) fake experts, and blogs. Science is done in journals, and no where else. Period. Always has, and always will. (Why are these supposed ‘experts’ uninterested in submitting journal articles? And since they aren’t why are they going to the public and the internet first?)

    I was presenting with this link on this blog and told there was no concern about ocean acidification;

    Did you notice how the article is incomplete? No mention of deep ocean heating? Its convenient to do that, right? Talk about heat, but leave half out? A mighty convenient mistake.

    Step 1: Look at the qualifications of the supposed expert; Brice Bosnich. (He doesn’t do ocean work, so this is all new to him. Easy to make mistakes, but hey its a blog, its not like this will tarnish his actual reputation especially in such a different field.)

    Step 2: Look at the papers cited. Google ‘caldeira wickett 2003’: Wow… 1400+ citations. That means that 1400 more papers were written using the information presented in that one paper (and many others of course).

    Step 3: In google, select ‘Cited XXXX’. Notice all the papers, and notice all their citations. Did you notice that Caldeira and Wickett have a newer paper? (So why did Jo go to the older one? An expert would know wouldn’t they?)

    Step 4: Here’s a great paper one that subject;
    “Here, we perform the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date by synthesizing the results of 228 studies examining biological responses to ocean acidification. The results reveal decreased survival, calcification, growth, development and abundance in response to acidification when the broad range of marine organisms is pooled together. However, the magnitude of these responses varies among taxonomic groups, suggesting there is some predictable trait-based variation in sensitivity, despite the investigation of approximately 100 new species in recent research.”

    ” Last, the results highlight a trend towards enhanced sensitivity to acidification when taxa are concurrently exposed to elevated seawater temperature.”

    I can’t tell you how many times statements from the contrarian side end this way. Bogus, wrong, incorrect. Impossible to publish in a journal in fact.

  38. John Mashey says:

    1) you might try reading RealClimate, where topnotch scientists post and answer questions, and try very hard to communicate what is known and what is not. I know some of them, see them at American Geophysical Union meetings.

    2) But let me give you some food for thought, especially by analogy.
    If you distrust experts, I assume that you’d be OK to have children/grandchildren/younger relatives all start smoking by the time they are 12. After all:
    a) Tobacco smoke (and even vapor from e-cigs) is really complex chemically, and medical experts claim some of the molecules are carcinogenic, but for many, they do not know the exact mechanisms.
    b) Unlike climate science (whose most fundamental results are based on physics, including inescapable conservation laws, like conservation of energy and mass), the claims by medical experts of damage from smoking are mostly based on statistical epidemiology, not on any properly-controlled.studies on humans. (Such would require taking 2 large groups of 12-year-olds, with proper random selection, and making sure half of them smoked through 18, and then following both groups for the rest of their lives to see what happens, and of course, waiting for 70+ years to see what happens. Needless to say, this study will never be done.) Yes, there are lab experiments on animals, but not humans, and they may be different.
    c) Nobody can predict for a given 12-year-old whether or not becoming a regular smoker will cause them to die eventually, or whether they will be able to quit as an adult if they wish (as ~85-90% do).
    d) Given all that, there is a lot of doubt, so the topic needs further study. There could be debates between medical experts who think there is a problem, and others, such as statisticians paid by tobacco companies, or physicists like Fred Singer. In fact, such debates happen often, in court.
    See Golden Holocaust.pp.439-441, or Andrew Gelman’s commentary on that. Gelman is a top-notch statistician, who was distressed to find how often good statisticians had “helped out.”

    3) Anyway, in the real world, one either has to have the background to study a topic deeply, or one has to figure out who to trust, or both. In this case, it helps to have good knowledge of physics, chemistry and statistics, especially of time-series and variability.

    It is quite plausible to say:
    “I read this argument @ WUWT, and I don’t know enough to know if it’s wrong .”..
    and get an answer like: see SkS #nn.
    or to say:
    “I’ve accumulated a list of concerns, which if resolved, would really convince me.”
    I’d guess most of most people’s would get resolved via SkS.

    For instance, long ago, I read Fred Singer’s old book, “Hot Talk, Cold Science”, enumerated any of the arguments where I didn’t know the answers, then went down the list, reading IPCC, Science, etc. For a while, the only remaining item was the claim that satellites disproved the surface stations, but that got eliminated in 2005 when it was shown the Spencer/Christy had made yet more computation errors. Of course, Signer then published a book in 2007, and although most of the arguments changed, the bottom line was the same: no restrictions on use of fossil fuels, period,

    On the one side, you can read RealClimate, and sometimes Skeptical Science for its catalog of debunked arguments, and tamino’s Open Mind (for fine explanations of stats) or you can read WUWT, JoNova, Bishop Hill, etc, and perhaps follow Viscount Monckton (who often gets published at WUWT, i.e., taken seriously by Watts.)

  39. > 228 studies examining biological responses to ocean acidification […]

    Perhaps, but the word “acidification”.


    Black helicopters.


  40. BBD says:

    @ Mike Fayette

    Could I just ask whether you have yet read through the SkS link I provided for you in response to your first questions here?

  41. Mike Fayette says:

    Much thanks to “Willard”, as his suggestion to visit http://www.climatedialogue.org was an excellent one. I had not found this site before and it is close to the “dialogue” on AGW that I was looking for. Thank you!

    Thanks also to “Rachel” for her links, although I haven’t had time to review them all yet. I feel I am already familiar with the basic concepts in most of these topics, but I am not a scientist, so some of it will probably sail right over my head.

    However, with respect, I must disagree with both “AnOilMan” and “John Marley” in a few ways.

    Here’s one for “AnOilMan”

    Most folks – even AGW skeptics – know the difference between short term changes in weather and potential long-term changes in climate.

    It seems to me, however, that reasonable people may have different perspectives on how long it takes to confirm by measurement that a real change has occurred in regional or global climate. Is 15 years enough time? 30 years? 5?

    And can an undisputed change in one regional climate (the melting of the Arctic Ice) be offset by another? (the increase in the Antarctic ice)

    Over the past 20-30 years, climate scientists and pundits seem to have used many different theories to create climate models that allowed them to make statements and specific predictions that seem (to skeptics and many others) not to be proving correct, ranging from an “ice-free” summer in the Artic to measurable increases in Tornados, Hurricanes and droughts.

    These projections are more than simply idle conversations, since they have driven countries, companies and individuals to spend Billions of dollars that possibly could have been spent on other – more important – things. Certainly, doesn’t there NEED to be “two sides” to this important discussion? I don’t think that this is “misguided.”

    And finally, I just simply don’t believe your statement that “science is done in journals, and no where else. Period. Always has and always will”

    Science existed long before journals existed. It’s based on PEOPLE, not paper.

    People making observations, asking questions, creating theories, making predictions, testing those predictions, and then using the knowledge they have gained to advance our understanding of how the world works to make lives better for everyone.

    An here’s where I disagree with “John Mashey”

    Being “skeptical” of what you are told by experts is often a good thing, right?

    Isn’t that exactly how old theories are tested, found wanting, and then replaced by new ones that more accurately describe the real world?

    And I think your smoking analogy is a false one.

    It is a political argument – not a scientific or even a logical one. Because a person is skeptical of one group of experts, it does not follow that they must be skeptical of all experts.

    I am going to keep searching – I will read some more of the SkS material – and thanks to all for your thoughts. This is an interesting blog as well.

  42. Here’s for you, AnOilMan:

    Belated thanks for the previous citations.

  43. BBD says:

    That’s interesting, Mike, thanks. I value your opinion on the SkS article and links therein.

  44. Rachel says:

    Over the past 20-30 years, climate scientists and pundits seem to have used many different theories to create climate models that allowed them to make statements and specific predictions that seem (to skeptics and many others) not to be proving correct, ranging from an “ice-free” summer in the Artic to measurable increases in Tornados, Hurricanes and droughts.

    I do not want this thread to become a debate about who predicted what x years ago. For future reference, if you want to make accusations like this – provided they are relevant to the topic – then you will need to provide citations.

    Let’s keep the “what is science” and “skepticism” stuff out of this thread, thanks. If we’re going to talk about science though, in relation to temperature trends, I think most reasonable people accept that the longer the time frame you choose, the more accurate the trend. And there is no offsetting of a melting Arctic by growing Antarctic sea ice because Antarctica is losing ice mass overall.

    And finally, please respond to BBD’s question.

  45. AnOilMan says:

    Mike Fayette: You know that short term weather events aren’t present in the climate models, right? El Nino, and La Nina aren’t there. These are multi-year cycles, and they are kinda guesstimated in the models. But not exactly there, right? They also don’t go back in time, and add those events as they happen, right?

    If you want to analyze short term data, you must use data sets and comparison models which represent that. Correct? Soo…. you can’t use climate models as they stand for a short term view, right?

    To address your question, here’s Hansen 2013.

    There is a reason this is a full time job for real scientists. They don’t just sit down and think great thinks. They do a lot of work. Hansen isn’t the expert in the paper listed above. There are literally hundreds of experts and dozens of government organizations contributing.

    Your statement that “old theories are tested, found wanting, and then replaced by new ones” is done in journals by experts and up and coming experts, etc. That is how it is done. Its not done in blogs.

    My last post also points out that you don’t even have to subscribe to global warming to be concerned. Our oceans are dieing.

    If you want to look further, you could ask yourself if CO2 causes plants to grow.

  46. Mike Fayette,

    Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Have been having a few days off. As far as the anonymity goes, it’s been discussed in detail before. I don’t really have a good reason, but I also don’t have a good reason not to. Maybe you’d feel better knowing who I am and knowing that I’ve described myself honestly, but other than that I can’t really see why it would benefit.

    As far as the science goes, a number of people have already responded and you have said things that make me wonder if a genuine discussion would be worthwhile (apologies if that seems unfair and feel free to prove me wrong). Science isn’t adversarial. One doesn’t solve scientific problems through debate. Just because someone produces a nice graph that appears to make sense, doesn’t mean that their interpretation is correct. Energy conservation, for example, is fairly crucial (Bob Tisdale, are you listening).

    So, if you’re genuinely interested in a discussion, maybe we should pick something specific and discuss it. We don’t even have to resolve it, but maybe we can illustrate how a scientific discussion should take place, rather than the norm of it decaying into a series of conspiracy theories.

  47. Mike Fayette says:

    Welcome back!

    As a new visitor to your blog (and since I’m not a climate professional) I don’t have the standing to suggest a format for that discussion (or even whether anyone else would find it informative) but – in my opinion – it is a format that is missing in the generation discussion of Climate Change. The climatedialogue.org site is closest to what I was looking for, but it is heavily curated.

    It’s your site, so you pick the topic if you like.

  48. Mike Fayette,
    Shall I assume that you think climate models have failed because they haven’t managed to match the observed surface warming over the last decade or so? If so, we could have a short discussion about that.

  49. Mike Fayette says:

    Sure, that would be a fine place to start and it was the gist of the question I initially asked of your readers. I might phase it something like this:

    “Earth’s climate is constantly changing for a variety of reasons, many of which are only partially understood. It is a complex system that has maintained a rough equilibrium for millions of years, allowing life to develop and evolve here, even in the face of external influences such as large meteor impacts, huge geological events, and even suspected changes in solar output.

    “Over that time, there have been periods which the historical records suggest were either much warmer or cooler than we live in today. Sometimes this was just on a regional basis, but sometimes it was global.

    “Accurate, widespread scientific measurements of Earth’s climate has only recently (30 to 100 years) become possible, and some – but not all – of that data reports a warming trend in surface temperatures over the course of the last 100 years or so. This trend has not been linear and was concentrated in a 15-20 year period from about 1980 to 1998, which seemed at the time to correlate well to a manmade increase in atmospheric CO2 levels.

    “Based on this observed trend, and the undisputed laboratory evidence (and the theory to back it up) that adding CO2 to the Earth’s atmosphere might cause an increase in retained energy in our worldwide environment, theories were developed and predictions were made.

    “The vast majority of these theories – many summarized in IPPC 1 – predicted surface air warming would increase at a much more rapid level than we have actually measured in the past 15-17 years. In fact, most data shows there has been almost no increase in average surface temperature at all in this period.

    “Were those predictions wrong? And if the predictions were in error, then what remaining evidence do we have to believe that the theory itself is still valid?”

    —— I realize that the person whose gets to ask the question has enormous power to frame the issues and even the answer, so if this question is unfair or biased, I would welcome the thoughts of others…….

  50. Mike Fayette says:

    sorry about the typos. “phase” should be “phrase” and “IPPC” should be “IPCC”. My bad.

  51. Ian Forrester says:

    Mike Fayette is just repeating denier meme when he says:

    In fact, most data shows there has been almost no increase in average surface temperature at all in this period.

    I challenge him to actually provide data which confirms this. In reality, some thingn deniers know very little about, the temperature has been increasing at a far higher rate than MF’s “almost no increase”.

    If he would only visit sites such as woodfortrees.org he would see that temperature trends for the past 17 years are:

    HadCrut3 – 0.06C per decade
    HadCrut4 – 0.08
    GISS – 0.10
    UAH – 0.11

    That is far removed from “almost no increase”. I suggest that if MF wants to be taken seriously he has to spend more time checking real science rather than reading denier memes which are false.

  52. Mike,
    Let’s do this a little more slowly and so if we can resolve some aspects without necessarily solving everything in one go.

    There are a few things that one should realise about climate models (the ones referred to as GCMs at least). They’re based on basic physics and chemistry but do have some parameters to model processes that they can’t capture properly because the grid spacing is too large. That, however, doesn’t mean that they’re completely tunable because these parameters are typically constrained by either basic physics or by observations. However, not only are these models very complex, the system itself is very complex, and so one wouldn’t necessarily expect them to perfectly model the climate.

    You’ll sometimes hear people suggesting that climate models have been falisified (i.e., Popper). This doesn’t really make sense. What has been falsified? Most of the physics and chemistry is well-tested so just because a climate model turns out to be “wrong” doesn’t falsify this physics and chemistry. The model may indeed be wrong, but that’s not the same as being falsified. Also, when dealing with complex models like this, being “wrong” can be useful as it may tell you something about what you’re missing.

    Another thing to bear in mind is that the surface temperature can be quite variable and this variability can be natural (ENSO cycles for example). So, there can be a long-term trend on top of which there will be variability. This is well known and not disputed. However, predicting this variability is very difficult. Also, when you see results from climate models, they’re typically ensemble averages. Each individual member may have variablity but when averaged this variability will likely be smoothed out leaving the long-term trend dominating. Hence, the mismatch over the last 15 years or so is not all that surprising.

    Another factor is that these models were not specifically designed for decadal predictions. That’s being worked on and may get better, but criticising them for doing something that they were never designed to do is a little unscientific.

    A final point for now is that these are technically projections, not prediction. What they do is project what may happen given certain future emission scenarios. Hence, we can have some idea of how we might warm under a business as usual scenario or under other scenarios in which the emissions are different. So, the mismatch would only really be significant if we knew that what actually happened (in terms of emissions etc) was the same (or very similar to) one of the modelled scenarios. There’s already some suggesting that these models have under-estimated the influence of anthropogenic aerosols, so that could be an explanation.

    Okay, so that was longer than I intended. Let me summarise

    1. Complex models cannot really be falsified. They can be wrong, but that’s not the same as being falsified (in a Popperian sense).

    2. Internal variability is very difficult to predict and that the models presented are typically ensemble averages which means that short-term variability is likely smoothed out anyway.

    3. These models are not specifically intended for decadal predictions. That is becoming more important (because of the issues associated with the mismatch I imagine) but has not always been the case. Climate is longer than a decade and so the modellers weren’t actually trying to understand the next decade. They were trying to understand what might happen over the next few decades/century.

    4. They’re actually projections, not predictions. The allow us to have some idea of what might happen in the future given different possible future scenarios. Given that we don’t actually know how our future emissions will vary, we can’t really expect them to precisely match the future unless one of the modelled scenarios happens to match what actually occurs.

  53. Mike Fayette says:

    Responding to Ian’s post:

    I will look for other data that reports lower, but let’s assume that the HadCrut and GISS data you list is true and not adjusted in any way to skew the results and then take those numbers at face value. If you simply average the 4 numbers together you get an upward trend over the past 16 years of about 0.085 degrees C a decade. Right?

    That is less than 1 degree C in a century! Not all of which may be related to human increases in CO2. Is this a global catastrophe in the making?

    I believe that the ensemble projections/predictions in the initial IPCC reports were WAY higher than that, weren’t they? I seem to remember claims of 4 degrees C by 2100. Am I wrong?

    Since these initial projections are and were used to guide public policy, isn’t it important to understand why they missed so badly (if they did)?

    I do not believe there is a conspiracy or that climate models have been falsified and I don’t wear aluminum foil around my head unless visiting the IRS.

    I DO believe however, that well-intended people on BOTH sides of this debate “pick” their evidence in an attempt to win the public policy debate. And other well-intended people can simply be wrong.

  54. Mike,
    This is kind of going the way I was worried it might.

    You say,

    That is less than 1 degree C in a century! Not all of which may be related to human increases in CO2. Is this a global catastrophe in the making?

    Internal variability should average out over this timescale. The influence of the Sun is very small. Most – if not all – of this warming is anthropogenice. In fact, there is a chance that the anthropogenic influence exceeds this and the natural influence is a slight cooling.

    Also, we have to consider the difference between the TCR and the ECS. If we double CO2 by 2060, then middle of the range TCR estimate would predict another 1 degree of warming by then. However, middle of the range ECS estimates would predict an additional 1 degree of warming to come. The 4 degrees by 2100 comes from assuming an RCP8.5 (emission pathway). Of course, if we emit less then we’ll have less warming. So, 4 degrees by 2100 is quite possible if we continue along that pathway. We’ll have almost double CO2 twice (compared to pre-industrial times) and hence 4 degrees by 2100 is not that unreasonable.

  55. Mike Fayette says:


    It seems to even a novice that recent temperature increases have flattened. You can tell that just by LOOKING at the charts…. No math needed…..

    Don’t these three HadCRUT4 charts show a flattening or perhaps an actual decline in temperatures?

    And doesn’t this NOAA chart show the same thing?

    And isn’t this NASA/GISS chart echoing the data above?

    I only claimed in my post that “most data shows there has been almost no increase in average surface temperature at all in this period”

    Isn’t that statement pretty much true?

  56. Mike,

    It seems to even a novice that recent temperature increases have flattened. You can tell that just by LOOKING at the charts…. No math needed…..

    No, you really can’t. There’s far too much variability to eyeball a short period of time and claim it has flattened.

  57. OPatrick says:

    It seems to even a novice that recent temperature increases have flattened. You can tell that just by LOOKING at the charts…. No math needed…..

    But you do need maths to analyse the significance of that and to work out that there has been no statistically significant deviation from the ongoing warming trend. That’s kind of the point.

  58. jsam says:

    November was the warmest November on record. I can tell Mike is wrong by just looking at the data. No math needed.

  59. Ian Forrester says:

    Mike Fayette is changing horses half way through the race. First of all he claims “almost no increase in 17 years”, then when he is shown that that claim is wrong he shows charts which show less increase but over a much shorter period, 6 or 7 years. Such short periods are useless in finding a trend but hey deniers use it all the time. I’m afraid that Mike Fayette is not here to learn but only to spread misinformation.

  60. Mike Fayette says:

    Hey Guys (and Gals!) – I am just being conversational here, since none of us appear to be Climate Scientists.

    I simply said that those 5 original charts (I am using no “denier” source material) that I linked to ALL seem to show a visible “flattening” over the past 10-15 years or so. I didn’t claim that they were perfectly flat. Without the error bars in each chart and depending upon the period selected, you can almost make ANY kind of claim and find a trend line to fit it. And as most of you clearly know, if the trend line is a rolling or trailing average, it gives you even MORE ways to play with the presentation of the raw data.

    OPatrick makes the quite valid point that math is needed to determine whether the change in the curve is statistically significant or not. Since the question at hand is whether the increase in manmade CO2 (not disputed) was the primary CUASE of the most recent 0.6C increase, (but NOT the prior ones) then we have at least one earlier “event” to compare it to.

    The NOAA chart seems to show a 0.6C increase in temperature over a 30 year period ending in the 1940’s. And another almost identical 0.6C increase ending in the 1990’s. With a “pause” in between. Right?

    Or is someone making the claim that we have NOT entered a period of flattened increases in temperatures?

    I am ignoring Jsam because I believe it has been widely reported that November was the FOURTH warmest November on record. Isn’t that true, folks?

  61. AnOilMan says:

    Mike Fayette: Dr. Forrester is coming from a similar perspective to me. Either you appear to set all the denier alarm bells or you are utterly confused. You are also clearly not technical so this will be doubly hard to explain.

    Its been my experience that deniers will go after arguments rather than digest or discuss any information offered, such as in my posts. (They behave like you do.)

    Your argument is predicated on a huge amount of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge. Namely, 1998. It was one of the largest El Ninos in history, and I’ve been hearing it hasn’t warmed since 1999.

    You cannot use simpleton math to make your statements. You need to show error margins in your estimates, and show that estimate + error does not equal measurement + error. (This is Physics 101… a course I can tell you haven’t taken.)

    If you really want to know…

    Stop with the answers and final conclusions, and start with simpler questions.

    People around here will show you what you need to know. At this point you do not know what a climate model is, or what it includes (long term data), and what it doesn’t include (everything in a short term graph). You do not know what a thermometer is, and what its strengths and weaknesses are. (What is covered, what isn’t, and why is that important.) You do no understand the oceans or their heat content. (An issue widely discussed for 25 years. Read the First IPCC report.)

  62. Rachel says:

    I have a couple of questions for you. If the planet is not warming, then why is:
    a) the ice melting?


    And all of it is melting, not just the Arctic.

    ice melting

    and b) why is the sea level rising?


    All images come from here.

  63. Mike Fayette says:

    Thanks all for the time each of you took to respond to my questions.

    I can tell that this conversation has frustrated many of you, so I will say goodbye.

    We just hit the “change the topic” part of the conversation, and this is an intensely political and very frustrating thing to see happen on this blog too.

    Average Sea levels and Mass Ice measurements/reconstructions are very complex, related, but separate topics from the one small issue that I hoped to have a conversation about.

    Good luck all….

  64. Ian Forrester says:

    It is obvious that MF never wanted a discussion of the science:

    We just hit the “change the topic” part of the conversation, and this is an intensely political and very frustrating thing to see happen on this blog too.

    He came here to spread the denier meme “warming has stopped” and when he is shown ample evidence that he is wrong he retreats to the safety of “denier land” where he will be applauded for taking on those “wamist scientists”. He will not be missed.

  65. AnOilMan says:


    Yup. I arrived at the same conclusions.

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