I think Anthony Watts must be getting rattled by what Sou is writing on her blog. Not only did he – very kindly – out her a while ago, he and Bob Tisdale now insist on using her proper name (rather than her chosen pseudonym), and Bob Tisdale has now written two posts about why she is wrong and he is right (here and here). There’s nothing fundamentally immoral or illegal about deciding not to respect someone’s decision to remain pseudonymous, but it’s not great. Given that all you typically discover is someone’s name, where they work, and something of where they live, it would seem to be more an intimidation tactic, than anything else.
I haven’t gone through Bob Tisdale’s recent posts about Sou to see precisely what he thinks she’s getting wrong, but I have read a number of his earlier posts, that present his views on global warming. I’ve also read many of Sou’s posts. Bob’s are typically wrong, and Sou’s are – typically – not wrong. The main problem with Bob’s principle argument is that he is suggesting that global warming is a consequence of ENSO events. He does this by looking at temperature records and associating changes in temperature with ENSO events. Nothing fundamentally wrong with this, as it is clear that ENSO events are significant contributor to variability in the temperature record. However, this does not mean that they are the cause of our long-term warming.
The problem with Bob’s basic idea is that if we are in equilibrium and an ENSO event produces a change in surface temperature, this will either push temperatures above equilibrium, and we will then be losing more energy than we’re gaining and will then cool, or it will do the reverse. The heat content of the atmosphere is quite low, so we should then return to equilibrium quite quickly. This isn’t what we’re seeing. On long timescales we see a continual rise in surface temperatures. Is there a way that this could simply be a consequence of ENSO events?
Well, we could have started out of equilibrium and we’re simply recovering, with the ENSO events simply modulating the recovery. The problem with this is that the temperature profile is wrong. We should have warmed faster in the beginning than now. Also, paleo evidence suggests that we’re warmer today than we’ve probably been for more than a thousand years. If so, how are we still out of energy balance and warming, if we’re already warmer than we been for more than 1000 years? Alternatively, ENSO events are pumping so much energy out of the oceans into the atmosphere that we’re continuing to warm despite being above the equilibrium temperature. The obvious problem here is that if that were the case, the ocean heat content should be decreasing, not increasing – as it very obviously is. We’re very clearly currently gaining more energy than we’re losing. How can this be due to ENSO events?
So, what could it actually be? Well, the most likely reason for our current warming is the significant increase in atmospheric CO2, driven by anthropogenic emissions, that then acts as a greenhouse gas. This means that it traps some of the outgoing long-wavelength radiation, moving us out of energy balance, and causing the energy in the climate system to increase until surface temperatures have risen to the point where the outgoing flux matches the incoming flux.
So, I can understand that Bob might be slightly ticked off that Sou refers to him as perennially puzzled, but maybe he should consider the possibility that he actually is, rather than using what appears to be an intimidation tactic. Also, although he may not be actually encouraging misogynistic comments on his posts, he’s doing little to discourage them. I also think that if there is any real desire to improve the dialogue about climate science, a first step is to eliminate those ideas that are clearly wrong. Bob’s it’s all ENSO very clearly is, and while Anthony Watts continues to promote Bob and his ideas on his blog, I don’t see the point of trying to engage constructively.