Matt Ridley’s lecture

I thought I might make some points about Matt Ridley’s recent lecture. There are two general points I want to make. Matt Ridley might have a PhD (DPhil technically) and he might have published some papers in the 1980s, but his expertise is really in business, the banking sector, journalism and politics. He has no obvious expertise that suggests that he is capable of interpreting the evidence associated with climate science himself. And, yet, that is what he does and appears to stick with his interpretations even if the authors of the studies he’s using disagree with what he is saying. Climate science is actually a very complex topic that includes many different research areas. The idea that one person is capable of independently interpreting all this evidence is rather remarkable.

The other point I was going to make is that if someone has to tell you what they aren’t, or what they are (for example, “I’m not a science denier, I’m a lukewarmer”) then either they aren’t conducting themselves in a manner that makes this obvious, or the people labelling them are simply wrong. In my view, they should either consider behaving in a manner that makes it more obvious, or they should largely ignore those doing the labelling; telling people is unlikely to have much impact.

As far as Matt Ridley’s actual lecture, it’s a bit of a gish gallop of “skeptic” talking points. Dana’s already covered some of it in his Guardian article, and Mat Hope has an article on DESMOGUK. The lecture starts with a discussion of the benefits of global greening due to enhanced CO2. The author of the study – who Ridley accuses of delaying publication to avoid it being in the recent IPCC report – has already responded. He disagrees with Ridley’s interpretation, but according to Richard Tol, Ridley has somehow been vindicated. Quite how Tol would know is beyond me.

He then discusses the consensus, saying

The supposed 97% consensus, based on a hilariously bogus study by John Cook, refers only to the proposition that climate change is real and partly man-made.

I presume the “hilariously bogus study” is also Tol as is – probably – the completely incorrect interpretation of the study. It is quite remarkable that someone who has spent so much time responding to this study, still doesn’t understand it. The consensus was not “real and partly man-made”, it was “humans are causing global warming”. When there are two possible causes (humans and not humans) a conclusion that one of them is causing global warming would seem to be somewhat stronger than simply partly causing it.

Ridley then claims that

James Hansen in 1988 said that by the year 2000, “the West Side Highway will be under water.

Well, this is simply not true. In an interview James Hansen was asked, in 1988, what the view out of his office window would be like in 40 years time if CO2 had doubled. Not only is 2000 not 40 years after 1988, the question was also based on the hypothetical scenario of CO2 having doubled.

Ridley moves on to claim that “The climate models have failed to get global warming right”, and illustrates this by showing two figures comparing models and observations. He, however, fails to discuss that the forcings have not been updated, that one should ensure that the models and observations are baselined properly, and that one should ensure that the comparison is actually like-for-like (by accounting for coverage bias and that the observations mix sea surface temperatures and air temperatures). If you do that, then you get quite a reasonable comparison between the models and the observations.

Ridley also claims that the best evidence indicates that climate sensitivity is relatively low. Well, this is obviously subjective and there are many reasons to be cautious of the studies that return low climate sensitivities. Also, these studies still return 5 – 95% ranges of around 0.8oC to 3.1oC. Additionally, if you account for coverage bias and that observational temperatures are a mix of sea surface temperatures and air temperatures, these apparently low estimates turn out to be consistent with most other estimates.

I probably don’t need to say very much more. It’s clear that this was not simply Ridley giving a lecture about climate policy, it was him giving a lecture about his interpretation of climate science, and – in the process – insulting scientists individually (Ranga Myeni and Richard Betts, for example) and collectively, suggesting that

the climate science establishment has a vested interest in alarm.

I’m very interested to see how the Royal Society will respond to this. My guess is that they’ll either do nothing or, if they do respond, it will be completely ineffective; it’s not easy to effectively respond to something quite this off the wall.

Update: Daily Kos has also covered the lecture, and some of the articles about it.  Delingpole’s response is so remarkable, that I can’t bring myself to link to it.

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132 Responses to Matt Ridley’s lecture

  1. Dave says:

    “his expertise is really in business, the banking sector, journalism and politics”
    I suspect that anyone who banked with Northern Rock, for which he was Chair when it suffered a catastrophic run, and had to be nationalised, might disagree. He was a boardmember from 1994, so was there through much of the period of the disastrous decisions that led to its faiure.

  2. To be fair, their are people who one might regard as both having extensive expertise in some scientific field and still not regard as being very good at what they do 😉

  3. dana1981 says:

    It really is a Gish Gallup of Moncktonian proportions. Out of the 5,600 words comprising the lecture, there aren’t many that are entirely factually correct. I would of course have liked to get into Ridley’s misrepresentation of the 97% consensus (just for starters, he neglects our follow-up paper), but it took me too long just to debunk his 4 key points/myths.

    The argument that climate change is of no concern because all past predictions of environmental dangers failed to materialize is particularly absurd, especially coming from a science writer who really ought to be much less ignorant than that.

  4. I also found it hard to decide what to focus on, as there is so much that is worthy of comment. I really thought that Ridley drift towards being closer to the consensus position, but he seems to have gone the other way. I think that’s a bit disappointing.

  5. dana1981 says:

    Ridley and co. strike me as much more like lawyers than scientists, looking for evidence they can present to make their preferred case rather than evaluating all the available evidence in an unbiased fashion. His climate sensitivity cherry picking is a prime example.

  6. Dana,
    I think that is probably a reasonable way to look at how they conduct themselves. Look for the evidence that supports their views, and present that; ignore, or dismiss, anything that would challenge their preferred position.

  7. The problem with the Matt Ridleys’s of this world is that they repeat bogus and inaccurate slurs, such as the one against Hansen, which is dealt with comprehensivel here >>

    https://www.skepticalscience.com/Hansen-West-Side-Highway.htm

    But these faux fans of science rarely expose the roots of their scientific illiteracy. The mask occasionally drops, as in this interview with EconTalk in 2015:

    http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2015/06/matt_ridley_on.html

    This demonstrated Ridley’s obdurate ignorance surrounding the role of water vapour in global warming, that no amount of hand-waving in front of Powerpoint would ever reveal.

    Here is what he said, which so clearly reveals his misunderstanding of the subject:

    “So, why do they say that their estimate of climate sensitivity, which is the amount of warming from a doubling, is 3 degrees? Not 1 degree? And the answer is because the models have an amplifying factor in there. They are saying that that small amount of warming will trigger a furtherwarming, through the effect mainly of water vapor and clouds. In other words, if you warm up the earth by 1 degree, you will get more water vapor in the atmosphere, and that water vapor is itself a greenhouse gas and will cause you to treble the amount of warming you are getting. Now, that’s the bit that lukewarmers like me challenge. Because we say, ‘Look, the evidence would not seem the same, the increases in water vapor in the right parts of the atmosphere–you have to know which parts of the atmosphere you are looking at–to justify that. And nor are you seeing the changes in cloud cover that justify these positive-feedback assumptions. Some clouds amplify warming; some clouds do the opposite–they would actually dampen warming. And most of the evidence would seem to suggest, to date, that clouds are actually having a dampening effect on warming. So, you know, we are getting a little bit of warming as a result of carbon dioxide. The clouds are making sure that warming isn’t very fast. And they’re certainly not exaggerating or amplifying it. So there’s very, very weak science to support that assumption of a trebling.”

    There a three factors alluded to here (1) CO2 as the primary driver (2) Water in its gaseous form, that is water vapour is briefly alluded to (invisible vapour acting as a GHG) but then ignored, and (3) Water in a condensed form in the form of clouds. But in this part of the discussion Ridley succeeds in completely losing sight of factor (2), and while recognising that (3) equates to something small (if not zero), he concludes that the overall warming should be 1°C.

    Well no, Matt!

    The models used fundamental physics, not “amplifying factors” added as parameters. The effects emerge from this basic physics. Ignoring (2) does not make it go away, it just reveals your obduracy.

    It is worrying when someone with as much influence as Matt Ridley (and whose biography of Francis Crick is testament of his qualities as a science writer in another field where he commands respect) seems not to be able to grasp something so basic and well established as this.

    The history of climate change in the first half of the 21st Century will include a number of bad eggs, of which Matt Ridley is the worst of the worst. Not because he is the most extreme, but because he has the abilities and temperament to know better, but chooses not to. That is unforgivable.

  8. Richard,
    Like you, I have less sympathy for those who should know better. He clearly has the ability to explain our scientific understaning extremely well; he just seems to be choosing not to do so when it comes to climate science.

  9. RickA says:

    ATTP:

    Thank you for covering this.

    Does anybody know if there was any question and answer portion?

    I wold be really interested in what questions were asked (if any) and what the answers were.

  10. Rick,
    I don’t know if there was, or not.

  11. jsam says:

    Gove Syndrome is incurable.

  12. Magma says:

    Technically, Hansen was looking out his office window at the Henry Hudson Parkway. Its Midtown and Lower Manhattan extension is the West Side Highway. For the record, parts of the highway in Lower Manhattan did flood during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and some of the subway stations near Battery Park are still closed.

    I think that gets chalked up as a ‘win’ for Hansen, even if it’s not the sort he’d enjoy.

  13. Enjoy the greening says:

    ‘The author of the study – who Ridley accuses of delaying publication to avoid it being in the recent IPCC report – has already responded. He disagrees with Ridley’s interpretation’

    Myneni hasn’t pointed out a single number or fact about his research that Ridley has misrepresented or misinterpreted.

    Come on. Name one.

  14. Ridley says

    These are huge benefits for the earth and for people.

    Myeni responds

    We do not fully understand the CO2 fertilization effect. Experiments do indicate a fertilization effect and higher water use efficiency. The same experiments also indicate diminishing effects over time. Moreover, we do not know how much of what we observe in experiments translates in to the real world. Much of this has to do with how nutrient limitations would play out when CO2 becomes abundant. In short, there is no evidence to count on CO2 fertilization benefit.

  15. Enjoy the greening says:

    That is not a statement from Myneni’s research. You will not find anything like that in one of his papers. That is his personal opinion, which btw is pure denial.

    We do not fully understand the CO2 fertilization effect, but we do understand it helps plants grow more. Uncertainty is not ignorance.

  16. Willard says:

    > Come on. Name one.

    Done.

    Thanks for playing.

  17. Willard says:

    > That is not a statement from Myneni’s research.

    I thought you were asking for a single number or fact about his research that Ridley has misrepresented or misinterpreted, Enjoy.

    I hope you enjoy this nick. You’re now stuck with it.

  18. Enjoy the greening says:

    This is the paragraph that according to Willard shows (proves?) Ridley misinterpreted Myneni.

    ‘Much of this is based on my (+colleagues) unpublished studies – the satellite data of the past 30+ years do show a “greener” vegetation over about 30% of the global vegetated land area and this translates to about 11-13% increase in gross carbon fixation by vegetation. Our analyses showed that about 42% of this greening can be attributed to climatic changes in temperature, precipitation and solar radiation and the rest to anthropogenic factors (CO2 fertilization, Nitrogen deposition, land use management history, etc.). This, [Matt King Coal] does not mention, although they are contained in the same sources from which he falsely claims that CO2 fertilisation is responsible for the greening of the Earth.’

    Well, these are two paragraphs from… Ridley’s own WSJ article.

    ‘What explains this trend? Man-made nitrogen fertilizer causes crops to grow faster, but it is having little effect on forests. There are essentially two possibilities: climate and carbon dioxide itself. Warmer, wetter weather should cause more vegetation to grow. But even without warming, an increase in carbon dioxide should itself accelerate growth rates of plants. CO2 is a scarce resource that plants have trouble scavenging from the air, and plants grow faster with higher levels of CO2 to inhale.

    Dr. Myneni reckons that it is now possible to distinguish between these two effects in the satellite data, and he concludes that 50% is due to “relaxation of climate constraints,” i.e., warming or rainfall, and roughly 50% is due to carbon dioxide fertilization itself. In practice, the two interact. A series of experiments has found that plants tolerate heat better when CO2 levels are higher.’

    Roughly 50% is due to climate change, and roughly the other 50 due to other man-made factors – of which CO2 is by far the biggest. Surely even you can understand they are saying the same thing.

    PS: that’s all about unpublished work. The eventually published paper argued CO2 caused 70% of greening, not 50%. Nitrogen fertilizer was only responsible for 9%, and land use for 4%. According to Myneni, anyway.

  19. Willard says:

    > Well, these are two paragraphs from… Ridley’s own WSJ article.

    They actually are annotations from an interview, Enjoy.

    It refers to a quote. Which quote was that?

  20. Enjoy the greening,
    Maybe try reading Myeni’s comments here. For example

    This is an inaccurate statement. Nearly all the CO2 enrichment experiments show enhanced plant growth only in the first few years after which the plants acclimatise. The fertilisation effect disappears because other factors (mainly nutrients) become limiting.

  21. Apparently, now that the “pause” is over, we can turn our attention to Liebing’s law, etc. (cherry-pick edition).

    Slow. Clap.

  22. Willard says:

    Searching for Matt King Coal in the WSJ, I stumbled upon this:

    Using the NDVI, one team this year reported that “over the last few decades of the 20th century, terrestrial ecosystems acted as net carbon sinks,” i.e., they absorbed more carbon than they were emitting, and “net greening was reported in all biomes,” though the effect had slowed down in recent years.

    The latest and most detailed satellite data, which is yet to be published but was summarized in an online lecture last July by Ranga Myneni of Boston University, confirms that the greening of the Earth has now been going on for 30 years. Between 1982 and 2011, 20.5% of the world’s vegetated area got greener, while just 3% grew browner; the rest showed no change.

    [Insert Enjoy’s quote.]

    The inescapable if unfashionable conclusion is that the human use of fossil fuels has been causing the greening of the planet in three separate ways: first, by displacing firewood as a fuel; second, by warming the climate; and third, by raising carbon dioxide levels, which raise plant growth rates.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323374504578217621593679506

    Vintage 2013-01-04.

    Seems that our Lord does not always look for evidence, but when he does, he comes back with the greatest evidence there is, and that he does not always propose an inference, but when he does, it is inescapable if unfashionable.

  23. Enjoy the greening says:

    Ridley’s ‘inaccurate’ statement is: based on multiple thousands of experiments, that if you add CO2 to the air, you increase the growth rate of plants.

    A completely correct statement that Myneni amazingly tries to dismiss by saying, basically, that CO2 fertilization will peter out at some point.

    It is Myneni’s statement that’s misleading: he says the plants acclimatise after a few years but what matters is the *level* of CO2 at which growth peters out. Hint: we won’t see it in our lifetime.

    And yes, additional CO2 won’t have an effect when other factors become limiting. That’s just a truism. It’s a statement without content. The ‘other factors’ haven’t kept the planet from greening so far. When will they become limiting, exactly? In a hundred years?

  24. Let’s get this clear. We have Ridley (someone who hasn’t actually conducted any research on this topic) and you (an anonymous blog commenter) claiming that someone who conducts research in this area is the one who is wrong.

  25. Rather than going into the depths of whether greening is beneficial, or not, let me clarify the point I was making. Ridley has no expertise in this area. He is making strong claims that the author of the study he is using disputes. Ridley still thinks he is right. Maybe he is; I don’t actually know for sure. However, I find it remarkable that someone can have such confidence that they will take a position that is at odds with that held by the very experts whose research he is using to supposedly back up his claims.

  26. Willard says:

    > Ridley’s ‘inaccurate’ statement is: based on multiple thousands of experiments, that if you add CO2 to the air, you increase the growth rate of plants.

    The annotation I quoted pertained to Matt King Coal’s claim that:

    we’ve got about 11% more green vegetation on the planet than 30 years ago, much of which is down to the CO2 fertilization effect

    The quote is on page 9.

    I rather like R Allan’s coda just a bit above: It’s worth noting that without uptake of some of the C02 emitted by human activities by vegetation the atmospheric concentrations would be even higher.

    ***

    Pea and thimble games between evidence and inferences are my favorite ClimateBall episodes.

    Please, do continue.

  27. izen says:

    The only good thing about rising CO2 causing a Greening is that as a small proportion of that within the biological cycle gets sequestered, the increased growth takes some of the extra CO2 out of the atmosphere and into long-term storage.

    C3 crops Wheat, Barley, Oats, may have an advantage, able to grow faster with more CO2 they can compete better with C4 weeds. But at the expense of reduced nutritional value.

    C4 crops maize, sorghum, millet, may lose out to the C3 weeds. Again any increase in yield seen in open field enhancement experiments indicates that the accelerated growth leads to a reduction in nutritional content. Nitrogen and other chemicals are the limiting factor so the extra growth is predominately cellulose. In the wild almost all of that extra greening is just turned over in the seasonal biological cycle. extra leaves become thicker humus every fall.

    the simplistic notion that ‘More growth Good, Less growth Bad’ seems to be an appeal to Gaia-like reverence for Green Nature that sits strangely from an open cast coal mine owner.

    The ‘Greening’ of the oceans by comparison is difficult to spin as a great boon. There CO2 has less effect on photosynthesis, and so far only a small effect on hard shell formation. But other human inputs have resulted in massive increases in the amount of biological growth in local areas. Unfortunately reducing the ocean ecology to algae blooms and jellyfish is not of any great value to human society.
    Perhaps we will have to adapt.

  28. Mal Adapted says:

    Dr. Myneni acknowledges that “Experiments do indicate a fertilization effect and higher water use efficiency. ” As we all know, increased CO2 not only has a fertilization effect, it has a warming effect. Ceteris paribus, warming = drying for plants in the real world, because evapotranspiration rate is a function of ambient temperature. Assuming no changes in precipitation, the CO2 fertilization effect will have to cancel out the effect of higher evapotranspiration if productivity is to be maintained. While projections for changes in precipitation have wider confidence limits than those for temperature, declines in precipitation are expected in many areas at lower latitudes.

    Thus, it seems unwise to count on the CO2 fertilization effect to make up for warming’s negative impacts on global food production, for a hundred years or for 20.

  29. Steven Mosher says:

    “We do not fully understand the CO2 fertilization effect. Experiments do indicate a fertilization effect and higher water use efficiency. The same experiments also indicate diminishing effects over time. Moreover, we do not know how much of what we observe in experiments translates in to the real world. Much of this has to do with how nutrient limitations would play out when CO2 becomes abundant. In short, there is no evidence to count on CO2 fertilization benefit.”

    read this again.

    We do not fully understand the CO2 warming effect. Experiments do indicate a warming effect The same experiments also indicate diminishing effects (log c02) over time. Moreover, we do not know how much of what we observe in experiments translates in to the real world. Much of this has to do with how feedbacks would play out when CO2 becomes abundant. In short, there is no evidence to count on CO2 warming harm.

    For the longest time I thought it was funny to use the c02 feterlization argument back at the skeptics who had played the “trace gas” card.

    now, we can see the “fully understand” argument being used in a way at odds with its normal use.

    That said, Ridley is a hack.

  30. angech says:

    izen says: October 19, 2016 at 11:13 pm
    “the simplistic notion that ‘More growth Good, Less growth Bad’ seems to be an appeal to Gaia-like reverence for Green Nature that sits strangely from an open cast coal mine owner.”
    Well there will be more coal in 100 million years.
    Mal Adapted says: October 19, 2016 at 11:16 pm
    ” As we all know, increased CO2 not only has a fertilization effect, it has a warming effect. Ceteris paribus, warming = drying for plants in the real world, because evapotranspiration rate is a function of ambient temperature.”
    I believe that the amount of water vapor able to be held in the atmosphere increases tremendously with increased temperature, so, everything else being equa,l the plants would not have to dry out after all. because the transportoaqueous rate is higher.
    Willard says: October 19, 2016 at 11:00 pm
    “Ridley’s ‘inaccurate’ statement is: based on multiple thousands of experiments, that if you add CO2 to the air, you increase the growth rate of plants.”

  31. Willard says:

    > Willard says […] “Ridley’s ‘inaccurate’ statement is: […]

    Wrong guy, Doc.

    Matt King Coal’s problems can’t be sold short by a wild squirrel chase such as Enjoy’s. Perhaps you did not notice that under his victim-playing “apparently deserve to be kicked nonetheless,” there’s a link at Judy’s, where we can see Judy and Richie misrepresenting a press release:

    [I]f you could acknowledge that Judy has chopped the press release in half, like Richie did a bit later in the comment thread, that would be even nicer.

    Here’s the claim:

    The beneficial aspect of CO2 fertilization in promoting plant growth has been used by contrarians, notably [Matt King Coal] and Mr. Rupert Murdoch, to argue against cuts in carbon emissions to mitigate climate change, similar to those agreed at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Paris last year under the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

    Is there anything in the paper that “supports” the emphasized bit?

    https://judithcurry.com/2016/04/26/rise-in-co2-has-greened-planet-earth/#comment-781082

    Again, it’s not science, but it’s important.

  32. Marco says:

    “I believe that the amount of water vapor able to be held in the atmosphere increases tremendously with increased temperature, so, everything else being equa,l the plants would not have to dry out after all. because the transportoaqueous rate is higher.”

    Angech: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vapour_Pressure_Deficit
    The relevance here is that relative humidity will likely not change much as the temperature increases.

  33. izen says:

    @-“Well there will be more coal in 100 million years.”

    No there wont. coal formed during the millions years that wood, lignin, was indestructible before fungi evolved the peroxidase enzymes to decompose it in the paleozoic.

  34. Enjoy the greening says:

    ‘The annotation I quoted pertained to Matt King Coal’s claim that:

    we’ve got about 11% more green vegetation on the planet than 30 years ago, much of which is down to the CO2 fertilization effect’

    So what? I already showed Myneni’s annotation says the same thing Ridley said in this WSJ article, and indeed the same thing he said later in the Harrabin interview.

    And the problem you have with that Ridley quote is… ?

    PS: the whole ‘rebuttal’ paragraph is ridiculous. Ridley ‘does not mention’ that there are other greening factors IN THAT PARTICULAR SENTENCE OF THE INTERVIEW, but if he does say that ‘much’ of the greening is due to CO2, the existence of the other factors is a given. As indeed he said explicitly in WSJ and elsewhere (where he was writing, not speaking). Hell, if I say much or most of the warming is due to CO2, what’s the problem?

    PPS: all of this is even more ridiculous considering the final paper argued CO2 in fact caused 70% of greening. And you and Myneni are complaining because Ridley ‘falsely’ said ‘much’ of the greening is caused by CO2?

  35. Enjoy the greening says:

    This one is also a gem:

    ‘The beneficial aspect of CO2 fertilization in promoting plant growth has been used by contrarians, notably [Matt King Coal] and Mr. Rupert Murdoch, to argue against cuts in carbon emissions to mitigate climate change, similar to those agreed at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Paris last year under the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC).’

    The problem, supposedly, is the part about using plant growth ‘to argue against cuts in carbon emissions’.

    Why? What does Myneni have to say about how you use his research? Facts are facts. He has no authority whatsoever on whether the facts discovered in his research are used this or that way.

    Imagine if the opposite were true: anti-minimum wage economist sets out to ‘prove’ the min wage destroys jobs –> publishes research that fails to confirm this –> says one should not use his research to support the minimum wage anyway. And you would side with that guy?

    But the quote really gets to the core of the issue: Ridley didn’t misrepresent any part of Myneni’s research and didn’t make any mistake re greening. Rather, Myneni’s issue with Ridley is that the latter framed greening as good news. That’s why he deserved to be kicked anyway.

  36. Facts are facts.

    That it will be beneficial in the future is not a fact. That’s essentially the point. Using his research to suggest that it will be beneficial in the future is the reason I suspect that Myeni is complaining; and the fact that Ridley is accusing him of suppressing his research.

  37. FWIW, I think we’re pretty much covered the greening issue, so maybe we could move on to other things.

  38. Philip Clarke says:

    Here’s an extract from a mini-Fisking I donated to Bishop Hill

    Next, how about a spectacularly selective quotation…?

    The climate models have failed to get global warming right. As the IPCC has confirmed, for the period since 1998,
    “111 of the 114 available climate-model simulations show a surface warming trend larger than the observations”. [IPCC Synthesis report 2014, p 43]

    Let’s just restore the context that Ridley carefully edited away

    For the period from 1998 to 2012, 111 of the 114 available climate-model simulations show a surface warming trend larger than the observations. There is medium confidence that this difference between models and observations is to a substantial degree caused by natural internal climate variability, which sometimes enhances and sometimes counteracts the long-term externally forced warming trend (during the period from 1984 to 1998, most model simulations show a smaller warming trend than observed). Natural internal variability thus diminishes the relevance of short trends for long-term climate change. The difference between models and observations may also contain contributions from inadequacies in the solar, volcanic and aerosol forcings used by the models and, in some models, from an overestimate of the response to increasing greenhouse gas and other anthropogenic forcing (the latter dominated by the effects of aerosols). For the longer period from 1951 to 2012, simulated surface warming trends are consistent with the observed trend

    So, in 2016 Ridley pretends the period under discussion is ‘since 1998’, quietly adding an extra 4 years (of record-breaking warmth), he ignores the counterbalancing period when the divergence was in the opposite direction and discards the inconvenient truth that over the long term, the models and observations agree. Quality journalism there!

    Moving on, a half-truth, here’s Matt up on the high horse of outrage about academic freedom

    “We will not, at any time, debate the science of climate change,” said three professors at the University of Colorado in an email to their students recently.

    Um, but the Professors in question are not climate experts, they are Professors of English, Sociology and Chemistry, teaching a course on Medical Humanities, telling their students that they are to take climate change as a ‘given’ for the purposes of the course, much as a Biology course would not entertain debate about natural selection.

    Champion of Science!

  39. Philip,
    Thanks. I saw some of your comments on BH. I’ve rather given up there, although maybe I’ll get bored enough at some point to comment there again.

  40. Marco says:

    Phil, I think a better example would be that a course on treatment of bacterial infections using antibiotics would not entertain a debate about natural selection, even though they would very likely discuss the development of antibiotics resistance in said course.

  41. I should add that I kind of agree with this

    What does Myneni have to say about how you use his research?

    I agree that once someone has published something, then it’s in the public domain and they don’t have any right to stop others from using it to justify something. On the other hand, they’re perfectly entitled to object if they feel it is being misrepresented. For example, we regularly see complaints about the 97% studies if anyone claims that they show that 97% of scientists say that climate change is dangerous (the studies don’t say anything about whether it is dangerous, or not). Here, as I understand it, the issue is really that Myeni’s research doesn’t really say anything about what will happen with respect to greening if we continue to emit CO2 into the atmosphere and doesn’t say anything about whether or not greening will be beneficial and, even if so, if this will outweigh all the other factors that could be very damaging.

  42. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    I have mentioned this before but I believe it is relevant to this discussion. From AR5 WG2 summary:

    “Many species will be unable to move fast enough during the 21st century to track suitable climates under mid- and high-range rates of climate change (i.e., RCP4.5, RCP6.0, and RCP8.5 scenarios) (medium confidence).”

    “Species with low dispersal capacity will also be especially vulnerable: examples include many plants (especially trees), many amphibians, and some small mammals. For example, the maximum observed and modeled dispersal and establishment rates for mid- and late-successional tree species are insufficient to track climate change except in mountainous areas, even at moderate projected rates of climate change.”

    So while greening maybe a short term benefit there is research to suggest in the longer term climate change will be detrimental to tree species.

  43. Something I meant to put in the post, but didn’t, was that just above a graph showing the RCP8.5 scenario and the RCP2.6 scenario, Ridley says

    Even the IPCC says there is a range of possible outcomes, from harmless to catastrophic. I’m in that range: I think the top of that range is very unlikely. But the IPCC also thinks the top of its range is very unlikely.

    Yes, but the range of outcomes depends on which emission pathway we follow, and the emission pathway we follow will depend on the choices/decisions we make. We’re not going to follow a low one simply by chance; we’ll follow a low one if we end up emitting less CO2 than we might do otherwise. If we follow Ridley’s argument that global greening is good, possible even greening is a bigger effect than warming (as he has suggested in his Spectator article) then we are more likely to follow a high emission pathway and then, as the IPCC suggests, there is an increased probability of the outcome being catastrophic (to use Ridley’s chosen word).

  44. angech says:

    Willard says: October 20, 2016 at 5:42 am
    “[I]f you could acknowledge that Judy has chopped the press release in half, like Richie did a bit later in the comment thread, that would be even nicer.
    Sure, The press released was chopped.
    In half?, if you say so.
    was it important? not really.
    I just admired the sangfroid you showed in linking to a statement
    “Ridley’s ‘inaccurate’ statement is that if you add CO2 to the air, you increase the growth rate of plants.”
    [Sorry if I have chopped a bit out of it but it reads even better this way, inaccurate as it is]

  45. verytallguy says:

    For me there’s something about the sheer boneheaded hubris of Ridley which is almost admirable.

    I mean, here is a guy who was instrumental in taking unnecessary risks that caused the biggest bank failure in a century. He’s a highly privileged, rich individual with a social network reaching to the top of government.

    Does he do a Fred the Shred and quietly step aside from public life? No.

    Does he reflect on his failure, attempt to learn from it and use it to improve the world like Jonathan Aitken? No.

    He gets himself nepotistically appointed to parliament.
    He picks an area of policy where, as a coal mine owner he as personal financial interests.
    He not only dismisses the views of all experts in the area, he tells them he understands better than they do what their own work shows.
    He gets a weekly column in the most famous newspaper in the land and uses that pulpit to pontificate his expertise in this area.
    He transparently misrepresents and cherrypicks the evidence.
    He accuses the actual experts of conspiring to conceal the truth.

    It is simply astonishing that he has the brass neck to behave in such a manner. It’s quite beyond my comprehension how he can do this with a straight face.

  46. vtg,
    Yup, that pretty much sums up my views too.

  47. vtg

    Ridley surely has a lot to be modest about.

    If you had so comprehensively trashed the economy and the prospects of many people poorer than yourself you would I hope, slink away into a corner.

    How he has the brass neck to remain in public life and pontificate from popular and influential pulpits is completely beyond me. Because of his past I find it very difficult to read anything Ridley writes.

    tonyb

  48. Willard says:

    > And the problem you have with that Ridley quote is… ?

    The main problem Mylani has with that Ridley quote is shown in the tidbit Judy chopped from the press release she was criticizing: to argue against cuts in carbon emissions to mitigate climate change.

    That CO2 is plant food and more CO2 gets more plant food, even if true (which it is not exactly – see below), misrepresents the facts of the AGW matter. That Judy chops it from his victim playing and that Doc dismisses this as unimportant without much futher ado should provide the tell.

    You’re wrong about misrepresentation, BTW:

    A representor may make a statement which prima facie is technically true; however this may tell only half the story. If a statement of fact is made but the representor fails to exclude [sic] information which would significantly alter the interpretation of this fact, then a misrepresentation may have occurred.

    There are omitted facts. As the published article says:

    None of these driving factors can be taken in isolation, given their strong interaction with one another.

    As co-author Philippe Ciais says:

    The fallacy of the contrarian argument is two-fold. First, the many negative aspects of climate change, namely global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and sea ice, more severe tropical storms, etc. are not acknowledged. Second, studies have shown that plants acclimatize, or adjust, to rising CO2 concentration and the fertilization effect diminishes over time,

    So while CO2 is indeed plant food, the relationship between the two and more importantly AGW may be more complex than Matt King Coal still suggests.

  49. Willard says:

    This one is also a gem:

    Ridley ‘does not mention’ that there are other greening factors IN THAT PARTICULAR SENTENCE OF THE INTERVIEW, but if he does say that ‘much’ of the greening is due to CO2, the existence of the other factors is a given.

    Let’s try it: much of Enjoy’s defense of Matt King Coal is crap.

    Do you feel the existence of the non-crap in Enjoy’s defense as given?

  50. OT, but:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/slct.201601169/full
    is this for real? any thoughts on nanotechnology capture of CO2 and conversion to ethanol fuel? Seems to good to be true, there must be issues with scaling up, etc.

    A carbon neutral fuel for ICE engines would be a good thing, but I think the ICE engines are giving way to electric propulsion, so this would appear to be more useful for creating electricity for all the things that we plug in and use, including cars.

    Mike

  51. Mal Adapted says:

    Angech:

    I believe that the amount of water vapor able to be held in the atmosphere increases tremendously with increased temperature, so, everything else being equa,l the plants would not have to dry out after all. because the transportoaqueous rate is higher.

    Wait, wut? “transportoaqueous”?

    Never mind, this Nature Scientific Reports paper applies: Vegetation Greening and Climate Change Promote Multidecadal Rises of Global Land Evapotranspiration.

  52. “according to Richard Tol, Ridley has somehow been vindicated. Quite how Tol would know is beyond me”

    The Zhu paper appeared long after Ridley first raised global greening.

    “I presume the “hilariously bogus study” is also Tol”

    I have never described Cook’s work as hilarious.

  53. Richard,
    Just wondering why you thought you were in a position to comment on a topic outside of your general area of expertise.

    I have never described Cook’s work as hilarious.

    You were just the bogus bit, then? Still amazed that someone can write two responses to a paper they clearly do not understand.

  54. “I mean, here is a guy who was instrumental in taking unnecessary risks that caused the biggest bank failure in a century. He’s a highly privileged, rich individual with a social network reaching to the top of government.”

    the ever rational vtg.

    You know when stoopid skeptics blah blah blah about Al Gore and his personal failings, and somehow insinuate that it has any bearing on his views about the climate..

    ah never mind.

    carry on and thanks for your concerns about Ridley.

  55. BBD says:

    But generally speaking, AG is broadly correct whereas Ridley is not.

  56. BBD says:

    Ridley’s wrongness and his willingness to leverage it into the public discourse is a problem in the way AG’s endorsement of the scientific evidence is not.

  57. Windchaser says:

    You know when stoopid skeptics blah blah blah about Al Gore and his personal failings, and somehow insinuate that it has any bearing on his views about the climate..

    We do not look at Matt Ridley’s failings and then conclude that he is wrong about climate science; we look at the climate science to do that. The science shows that he’s wrong on the science.

    However, his past failings are helpful in explaining why he take the incorrect view on the science. He regularly overestimates his own competence.

    Make sense? The science shows that he’s wrong; his history explains why he takes wrong positions.

  58. Bwana_Mrefu says:

    How MR has a believable reputation for anything is a mystery to me. In terms of economics, he is a free-market, small government libertarian, who is forever banging on about market solutions, the genius of wealth creators, and the evils of public sector being involved in anything – even research science. And yet, much of his career is built around privilege, family connections, and inherited money. His business record is famously one of wealth destruction.

    As a scientist, his Zoology PhD (sorry DPhil) research – 40 years ago – was on pheasants. Why is he given any kind of platform on climate? And why is anyone listening to him? Why not ask “Sir” Philip Green to give the world his take on carbon capture, eh?

  59. Willard says:

    The idea that Matt King Coal has been vindicated deserves due diligence.

    Let’s commit some facts:

    First, “Matt King Coal has been vindicated” is an incomplete sentence.

    Second, to complete it, we need to know about what Matt King Coal has been vindicated.

    Third, through a press release, scientists accuse Matt King Coal of using their research to argue against cuts in carbon emissions to mitigate climate change.

    Fourth, both Judy and Richie chopped the part from the press release where Matt King Coal was accused of spinning their research to argue against cuts in carbon emissions to mitigate climate change.

    Fifth, that Matt King Coal use “but greening” to argue against cuts in carbon emissions to mitigate climate change is well documented, e.g.:

    Dr Randall Donohue and colleagues of the CSIRO Land and Water department in Australia also analysed satellite data and found greening to be clearly attributable in part to the carbon dioxide fertilisation effect. Greening is especially pronounced in dry areas like the Sahel region of Africa, where satellites show a big increase in green vegetation since the 1970s.

    […]

    That’s the thing about climate change — we will probably pocket the benefits and mitigate at least some of the harm by adapting.

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/2013/10/carry-on-warming/

    Sixth, besides the facts that greening factors are interconnected, that potential benefits needs to be weighted with potential risks, and that plants acclimatize, Matt King Coal omits to mention that the 70% number is based on a stoopid modul, as co-author Joseph Canadell reminds us:

    While the detection of greening is based on measurements, the attribution to various drivers is based on models, and these models have known deficiencies. Future works will undoubtedly question and refine our results

    Seventh, Matt King Coal’s second point in his lecture is that the models have been consistently wrong, and there was no mention of teh stoopid modulz in the first point about global greening and other black helicopters.

    Facts are facts, attribution is not a fact, and vindication is always a vindication of someone about something.

  60. RickA says:

    BBD says “But generally speaking, AG is broadly correct whereas Ridley is not.”

    We don’t know this.

    We do not know the value of ECS (equilibrium climate sensitivity) yet.

    We do not know the value of TCR yet (transient climate response) yet.

    You cannot say Ridley is wrong until we know he is wrong – and we do not know he is wrong yet.

    What you really mean is that in your opinion Ridley is not correct.

    I say – we shall see.

    I am waiting until CO2 hits 560 ppm, and then we can at least measure TCR and estimate ECS.

  61. Willard says:

    > You know when stoopid skeptics blah blah blah about Al Gore and his personal failings […]

    Indeed, Very Tall. You forgot to add a fat disclaimer: none of this changes the science.

    If you need to remind yourself of that fat disclaimer, think of Al Gore.

  62. It is interesting how much discussion is created by Matt Ridley’s misreading of ONE paper in the field of impacts on plants with rising CO2. On the specifics of feeding the planet in a warming world, how about another paper, which assesses a 6% reduction in wheat yields for each 1C rise in aver. global temperature. Welcome to a greener, starving world!

  63. Willard says:

  64. BBD says:

    We don’t know this.

    But it’s probably more likely to be regolith than green cheese.

  65. Enjoy the greening says:

    Some recommendations for Mr Erskine.
    1. Actually try to read the paper.
    2. Get to the part where they very clearly say these experiments only measured temperature effects. Yes really, they ignore CO2 (how ironic)
    3. Ask yourself how much sense it would make for yields to decline even as the world greens. Aren’t agricultural yields the output of, er, plants?
    4. Even talking about temperature alone ask yourself if this supposed 6%-per-degree decline has been verified in the real world. Surely the ‘hottest year ever’ should provide some opportunity, right?

    Btw, you capitalize ONE paper, as if two million papers stating the same thing were needed to establish a fact. They aren’t. Indeed, some facts are so obvious that 0 papers may be needed to establish them; I don’t need a paper saying yields are breaking every record this year because it’s in the news every day.

    The world is getting greener, CO2 is helping yields, temperature is not hurting yields, and you’re grasping at straws to deny or dismiss these facts.

  66. BBD says:

    The world is getting greener, CO2 is helping yields, temperature is not hurting yields

    Yet.

  67. Rick,

    You cannot say Ridley is wrong until we know he is wrong – and we do not know he is wrong yet.

    Yes, if we have a distribution and someone chooses a number, or a narrow range, from within that distribution, they may well turn out to be correct (otherwise we’d assign zero probability to that outcome), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a guess and doesn’t mean that it is somehow more valid than an alternative choice.

  68. Ridley, Tol, et al are merely Punch Clock Villains. Bearing that in mind, it’s difficult to generate much outrage at anything they say.

  69. Willard says:

    > you capitalize ONE paper, as if two million papers stating the same thing were needed to establish a fact.

    And yet:

    I’ve written here before about what I call “single-study syndrome,” the habit of the more aggressive camps of advocates surrounding hot issues (e.g., climate, chemical exposure, fracking) to latch onto and push studies supporting an agenda, no matter how tenuous — or dubious — the research might be.

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/the-gmo-food-fight-rats-cancer-and-single-study-syndrome/

    The fact that the world has been getting greener may not abide by the rule of three.

    Reciting the fact that the world is getting greener over and over again may abide by a different rule of three.

  70. Dear Mr. Green, I capitalise ONE because it is rarely the case that one paper will alone establish a new consensus (there are exceptions, Einstein 1905, Crick & Watson 1953, …). Normally, in complex fields like Climate Change, each piece of work has a focus, and quelle surprise, does not include every aspect of an area of research in equal measure. Clearly this is a complex topic, which you can trivialize if you like. CO2, Temperature, Moisture, Nutrients, Pests, etc. all impact plants. As the Colorado forests, and increasing desertification in Mongolial give testimony to. You can spin it however you like, if it makes you feel better. But don’t confuse your smugness and disdain for veracity.
    Yours, not anonymous.

  71. BBD says:

    Is greening saving the world?

    Greening would reduce surface albedo and so be a positive feedback to warming.

    Greening doesn’t seem to be grabbing CO2 by the low hanging fruit either:

  72. Mal Adapted says:

    Enjoy the greening:

    The world is getting greener, CO2 is helping yields, temperature is not hurting yields, and you’re grasping at straws to deny or dismiss these facts.

    Your arguments would be more convincing if your “facts” were true. Saying they are doesn’t make them so, though.

    Entering “global warming crop yields” into Google Scholar generated a bunch of hits that contradict your assertions. Try Rice yields decline with higher night temperature from global warming. From the abstract:

    This report provides a direct evidence of decreased rice yields from increased nighttime temperature associated with global warming.

    Then there’s Nonlinear temperature effects indicate severe damages to U.S. crop yields under climate change:

    We find that yields increase with temperature up to 29° C for corn, 30° C for soybeans, and 32° C for cotton but that temperatures above these thresholds are very harmful. The slope of the decline above the optimum is significantly steeper than the incline below it.

    Enjoy the denial, but do your homework before posting nonsense, please.

  73. izen says:

    @-greening
    “Ask yourself how much sense it would make for yields to decline even as the world greens. Aren’t agricultural yields the output of, er, plants?”

    No, for most food production the yield is the amount of seeds produced and the nutritional content of the seeds. Extra CO2 does not cause more seeds to be produced or greater nutritional content in the seeds. It is found from open field experiments it reduces the nutritional content of seeds.

    @”Even talking about temperature alone ask yourself if this supposed 6%-per-degree decline has been verified in the real world. Surely the ‘hottest year ever’ should provide some opportunity, right?”

    It did.
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/06/19/early-june-heat-wave-to-reduce-oregon-wheat-yields/28988917/
    “Production will be down significantly,” Steiner said. He estimated a 20 percent yield drop overall from the statewide average of about 60 bushels an acre.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-06/sach-jock-mcneil-mallee-crops/6831374
    Grain growers in the South Australian Mallee believe the weekend’s heatwave has stripped their yields just weeks before harvest.

    @-“The world is getting greener, CO2 is helping yields, temperature is not hurting yields, and you’re grasping at straws to deny or dismiss these facts.”

    That increased biomass is not evenly distributed.
    Straw is one thing that IS increased by CO2. Wheat grows more stem faster, but puts less protien and carbohydrate into the seeds. If we were ruminants and could digest straw…

  74. angech says:

    Willard says: October 20, 2016 at 2:45 pm
    “That CO2 is plant food and more CO2 gets more plant food, even if true (which it is not exactly”
    -This is a given to all here.
    except Enjoy the greening and skeptics who have no basis to support that conclusion.

    Mal Adapted says: October 20, 2016 at 5:01 pm
    “Wait, wut? “transportoaqueous”?” made up word variation in contrast to evapotranspiration rate pertaining to the humidity of the air, sorry about that.
    Richard Erskine ( @EssaysConcern ) says: “October 20, 2016 at 9:24 pm ”
    how about another paper, which assesses a 6% reduction in wheat yields for each 1C rise in aver. global temperature. Welcome to a greener, starving world!
    Rising temperatures can cause wheat yields to fall off due to the fact that the growing season becomes shorter.
    But the study quoted, all models, model mean used, only took into effect the temperature rise in known areas of wheat production. No effort was mad to enlist new areas that would become available for wheat production due to warming of previously too cold land.
    Fatal flaw.
    With dint of looking I was able to find one cherrypicked study to match yours.
    “The duration and rate of grain growth, and harvest index, of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in response to temperature and CO2”. Grain yield was reduced by warmer temperatures, but increased by CO2 enrichment at all temperatures.
    1996 and they only used 2 temps but what the heck, it was an experiment, not a model.

  75. angech – you like Mr Green also miss the point. I was making the point that the experts (i.e. not you two or me) must look at multiple studies to assess the balance of evidence. Take this one, and this, and this, and … and indeed that is what the IPCC does in relation to CC. On the current ‘debate’, the Met Office blog nicely summarizes where we are …
    https://blog.metoffice.gov.uk/2016/10/20/discussion-of-land-ecosystem-changes-in-the-ipcc-5th-assessment-report/
    Oh, and if you are keen to test your hypothesis that wheat production will be ok globally, because of new areas opening up that are ideal for wheat production, then do the research; grande assertions are worthless.

  76. izen says:

    One of the fingerprints of AGW is an increase in minimum temperatures as CO2 reduces the rate of cooling in comparison to an increase in solar input or a decrease in albedo that increases maximum temperatures more.
    Countering the effects of extra CO2 on growth is the effect of decreased vernalisation of fruit plants which need a certain amount of cold winter weather to set the fruit buds.
    Moving the orchards northward is possible of course, if the agricultural land and infrastructure are present or can be cheaply constructed.

  77. pete best says:

    come on everyone you all knew what to expect, sad though it is. Its a world where some people just cant see science for what it really is and have to try and swing it to suit their world view, their vision and their idea of where the western world should be going. Fortunately and regardless of what he says science does better than he will and the GWPF and Paris is signed and maybe, just maybe 3 C and over wont happen even if 2C is unavoidable.

  78. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “come on everyone you all knew what to expect”

    The Royal Society ought to have known (better) as well, if it were just another GWPF talk, it would attract less attention (just deja vu all over again).

  79. Willard says:

    From the Met Office blog you cite, RichardE:

    As well as being highlighted in the SPM, these changes and the processes behind them – including carbon dioxide fertilisation – are also discussed in several chapters of the main report. This includes the chapters on Terrestrial and Inland Water Systems (Chapter 4); Food Security and Food Production (Chapter 7); Detection and Attribution of Observed Impacts (Chapter 18); and most of the chapters on individual regions (Chapters 21-30).

    This contrasts from what Matt King Coal suggested in his presentation:

    Myneni’s results, however, remained unpublished. I was puzzled by this. Then I realized that one of the IPCC’s periodic assessment reports was in preparation, and that probably Dr Myneni and colleagues might delay the publication of their results until after that report was published, lest “the skeptics have a field day” with it.

    The truth is out there.

  80. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    So – to summarize: Matt Ridley gave a GWPF talk that contained outright falsehoods, specious accusations, paranoid ramblings, and blatant misrepresentations of science.

    Meanwhile, some other folks are actually behaving like… rational optimists:

    http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2016/10/263170.htm

    http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/10/15/un-agrees-historic-deal-to-cut-hfc-greenhouse-gases/

  81. Steven Mosher says:

    “Meanwhile, some other folks are actually behaving like… rational optimists:”

    Awesome agreement on HFC

    Looks like RCP 8.5 is a clear impossibility now

  82. Willard says:

    > This is a given to all here.

    The Given is an interesting myth.

    ***

    > except Enjoy the greening and [contrarians] who have no basis to support that conclusion.

    I’m not sure they don’t, Doc:

    [S]tudies have shown that plants acclimatize, or adjust, to rising CO2 concentration and the fertilization effect diminishes over time,

    http://phys.org/news/2016-04-co2-fertilization-greening-earth.html

    Perhaps contrarians only ought to read harder.

  83. Steven Mosher says:

    Thanks Willard.

    This is just beautiful

    ‘One seems forced to choose between the picture of an elephant which rests on a tortoise (What supports the tortoise?) and the picture of a great Hegelian serpent of knowledge with its tail in its mouth (Where does it begin?). Neither will do. For empirical knowledge, like its sophisticated extension, science, is rational, not because it has a foundation but because it is a self-correcting enterprise which can put any claim in jeopardy, though not all at once”

  84. > I am waiting until CO2 hits 560 ppm, and then we can at least measure TCR and estimate ECS.

    Wherein RickA volunteers to be a crash test dummy in the name of science, and simultaneously raises the question whether he understands the meaning of the words …

    > We don’t know this.

    … or if in typical luckwarmer fashion, is just paying them lip service.

    Here’s what we *do* know: CO2 somewhere between 280 and 400 is entirely compatible with supporting 7.125 billion human lives.

    Next.

  85. anoilman says:

    How green is California getting with all that extra CO2? Are crop yields going up? No?
    http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/in-the-news/california-drought-farm-and-food-impacts/california-drought-food-prices-and-consumers.aspx

    I really don’t think I can afford for it to get a lot ‘greener’. 🙂

  86. > Yet.

    Try Mourtzinis et al. (2015), BBD.

    As a knee-jerk response will surely be something like this …

    … read carefully this bit of the abstract:

    Averaging across the United States, we show that soybean yields fell by around 2.4% for every 1 °C rise in growing season temperature. However, the response varied significantly among individual states, ranging from −22% to +9%, and also with the month of the year in which the warming occurred. We estimate that year-to-year changes in precipitation and temperature combined suppressed the US average yield gain by around 30% over the measurement period, leading to a loss of US$11 billion.

    I’m reading that as a second derivative argument.

  87. John Mashey says:

    “Greening” has long been an Idso meme, and for the last year or so, Will Happer (atomic physicist, emeritus & fellow GWPF advisor) has been its champion, and referenced Myneni.

    I looked at this in great detail (inclduing the dubious citation practices) in writing:
    http://www.desmogblog.com/2016/06/07/peabodys-outlier-gang-couldnt-shoot-straight
    since it was the keystone of the Peabody gang’s claims.
    Direct: Spencer Lindzen Happer etc
    http://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/D.SpeLinHapMen.etc_.20156-111054-01.pdf
    Search for Greening,
    p. *103* uses an image that is more or less a false citation, with some weasel wording

    R. Gurney Rebuttal READ THIS, VERY GOOD REBUTTAL TO THE GREENING CLAIM,
    http://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/R.Gurney.20159-114195-01.pdf
    pp.22-26, especially p.25 on poorly-sourced image

    Happer Surrebuttal
    http://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/S.Happer.20159-113912-03.pdf
    pp.20-21, 27-30 show problem with greening Figure and misrepresentation
    I added pp.27-30. p.28 mentions the Ranga Myneni presentation.

    Kudzu likes CO2 and one generally needs cold spells to kill it off, so it is spreading northwards, has been seen in Ontario. Anyone who thinks “greening” is automatically good should start by saying “more kudzu will be greener, and so I think it is a good thing if the whole US gets covered with kudzu.”

  88. Enjoy the greening says:

    Presumably maladapted didn’t read the paper he linked to:
    An important caveat concerns our inability to account for CO2 concentrations… We cannot account for CO2 effects in regression analysis of observed yields

    Yes yet another paper that ignores CO2 fertilization, assumes retarded farmers will not switch cultivars in the face of rising temps, and ignores newly available areas for growing (that were formerly too cold). Garbage in = garbage out

    PS: Brandon…. that soybean paper could use an update. New record in 2015:
    http://www.usda.gov/nass/PUBS/TODAYRPT/cropan16.pdf
    And again in 2016:
    https://www.nass.usda.gov/Newsroom/2016/08_12_2016.php

    Now 49 bushels, essentially twice what it was 40 years ago. Presumably without warming we’d be doing 60 bushels?

  89. Steven Mosher says:

    “How green is California getting with all that extra CO2? Are crop yields going up? No?”

    too funny.

    Kinda like those skeptics who look out the window and say its cold in my backyard.

  90. Steven Mosher says:

    “Kudzu likes CO2 and one generally needs cold spells to kill it off, so it is spreading northwards, has been seen in Ontario. Anyone who thinks “greening” is automatically good should start by saying “more kudzu will be greener, and so I think it is a good thing if the whole US gets covered with kudzu.”

    too funny . you see skeptics make similar arguments with respect to warming.

    the whole greening versus warming dance is to funny as each side ends up playing bad versions of the other side..

    hey its brown in my back yard !!
    hey, some greening is good, and some is not so good
    hey cold is bad, warming good, no wait, some warming is good.

    I saw Kudzu in Ontario. It was cold in England.

    you can’t make this stuff up.Of course the scientists who found the Kudzu in Ontario said it was pure speculation in how it got there. Science says the great lakes by 2040.. except for the small bit found on small plot next to Lake Erie.. to which the forestry experts.. say..don’t speculate..

  91. Foodcrops which are impervious to water shortages and temperature extremes would be a hilarious Unicorn hunt, Steven.

  92. BBD says:

    Just as every man has his price, every organism has its thermal envelope. Push major food crops rapidly out of their rather narrow comfort zone and yields will fall, no matter how much CO2 is floating about on the breeze.

  93. > But the study quoted, all models, model mean used, only took into effect the temperature rise in known areas of wheat production. No effort was mad to enlist new areas that would become available for wheat production due to warming of previously too cold land.

    Making effort to enlist new areas that *would become* available for wheat production due to warming of previously too cold land would *necessarily* require modelling, angech.

    You were saying something about fatal flaws?

  94. BBD says:

    brandon g

    I’m reading that as a second derivative argument.

    The shape of things to come.

  95. > An important caveat concerns our inability to account for CO2 concentrations… We cannot account for CO2 effects in regression analysis of observed yields

    Enjoy reading that argument again, greening. Particularly enjoy comparing to your previous:

    > The world is getting greener, CO2 is helping yields, temperature is not hurting yields, and you’re grasping at straws to deny or dismiss these facts.

    I love the sound of dissonance in the afternoon.

    > Yes yet another paper that ignores CO2 fertilization, assumes retarded farmers will not switch cultivars in the face of rising temps, and ignores newly available areas for growing (that were formerly too cold).

    I look forward to your more complete analysis. You know, one which takes into account the future weather patterns not only of land presently under agricultural production, but the that of the newly viable lands due to higher latitude warming. Bonus points if no Stoopid Modulz are invoked in the writing of your all-encompassing prognostication. Best of luck.

    In the meantime, those of us living in the real world will recall that one can only reasonably model the future by first modelling the past and present. Thus a study which “ignores” various future unknowns (such as, but not limited to, as-yet developed crop cultivars) is entirely appropriate scientific practise.

    > PS: Brandon…. that soybean paper could use an update.

    See again this plot I already provided in anticipation of this knee-jerk “rebuttal” …

    … and as I already warned, read *carefully* this sentence from the abstract:

    We estimate that year-to-year changes in precipitation and temperature combined suppressed the US average yield gain by around 30% over the measurement period, leading to a loss of US$11 billion.

    Ponder the difference in meaning between “yield” and “yield gain”.

    > Presumably without warming we’d be doing 60 bushels?

    We’ll never know for sure. That’s the downside of having only one realization of actual events from which to work.

  96. Jim Eager says:

    “and ignores newly available areas for growing (that were formerly too cold)”

    You mean like the Canadian Shield? Or the Hudson Bay lowlands?
    Meanwhile, never mind the saline intrusion of the Ganges, Irrawaddy, Mekong and Red deltas.

    Thanks, Enjoyed the laugh.

  97. > The shape of things to come.

    Hopefully it doesn’t come to that for Greening & Co. to get the message, BBD. But even at that, I’m perhaps being overly optimistic.

  98. > Presumably without warming we’d be doing 60 bushels?

    The same rule of three as above, but for an inverse rhetorical effect.

    ***

    > Yes yet another paper that ignores CO2 fertilization […]

    Right on:

    The factorial analysis of variance to the ET estimates show that changes in vegetation greenness, air temperature and vapor pressure, and the two-way interactive effect of air temperature and vapor pressure are the dominant factors contributing to the multi-decadal changes in global ET (Fig. 3a). The direct effects of varying air temperature and vapor pressure have opposite impacts on ET relative to their two-way interactive effect (Fig.  3a), leading to a small net effect on ET. Changes in solar radiation impose a slight positive effect on ET, while wind speed and atmospheric CO2 exert slight negative effects on ET due to CO2 fertilization and recent declining wind speed20, respectively; however, these effects are predominantly outweighed by the impact of vegetation change (Fig. 3a). As a result, the net effect of climate change and CO2 fertilization is positive but much smaller than the effect of vegetation change (Fig. 3b), indicating that vegetation change is the primary driver of the global ET trend over the study period. Considering that vegetation change is also a response of the Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems to climate change, climate change imposes an indirect impact on ET by influencing global vegetation.

    Would you like to see figures 3a and 3b?

  99. John Mashey says:

    Jim: yes, Canadian Shield will be great farm country … after we move back the topsoil it kindly provided to the US midwest.

  100. > I saw Kudzu in Ontario.

    The point was rather “Anyone who thinks “greening” is automatically good should start by saying “more kudzu will be greener, and so I think it is a good thing if the whole US gets covered with kudzu.”

    The point can be generalized to any possibility P and evaluation E:

    [Anti Rule-of-Three] Anyone who thinks P is automatically E should start by considering that P also implies more non-E (in the sense of anti-E) stuff.

    No wonder this argument gets used by just about every ClimateBall player – most interesting phenomena are a bit more complex than any rule of three can portray. That contrarians use an argument doesn’t imply it’s bad, BTW. That an AGW proponent uses an argument doesn’t mean it’s good either.

    Most of the time, the crux of the matter when evaluating an argument is to check for its relevance to establish its conclusion. That there’s Kudzu in Ontario can be relevant in establishing that yes, Willard Tony, kudzu spreads with warmth. OTOH, that it snowed in your backyard may only be relevant for Willard Tony’s usual whataboutism.

    Matt King Coal’s “but greening” argument does not seem that relevant to his overall argument against cuts in carbon emissions to mitigate climate change. It’s at best an illustration that the future is bright:

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/future-is-bright/

    The same diagnostic applies to Enjoy’s “but facts are facts” – it fails to establish that Matt King Coal can’t be misrepresenting his favorite pet study when he goes from “there will be greening” (without much caveats) to “the future is bright” (paraphrasing). He did omit the fact that his pet number is model-based, which is understandable considering that his very next point was to bash teh stoopid modulz. He did omit the fact that fertilization is not linear. He simply fails to show how greening will lead to a brighter future.

    While paying due diligence to the fertilization point may be worthwhile, it is important to bear in mind that following through it falls for Enjoy’s (and Richie’s and Judy’s) head fake.

    The ball should be Matt King Coal’s lukewarm conclusions, not his silly “but greening” squirrel.

  101. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky says:

    I’m not exactly sure about that, John, the luxurious topsoil that I am looking at appears to have originated from deciduous trees from Holocene times. I’m looking at a lot of those leaves right now. That being said, the vast Canadian and American grain belts aren’t really filled with trees.

    The bedrock of the Canadian Shield certainly provided lots of mineral nutrients conveniently powderized by glacial action, but APPEARS it did not provide a great deal of primary nitrogen or phosphorus, at least not on the scale of recent agriculture. This question could be a PhD thesis.

  102. > That contrarians use an argument doesn’t imply it’s bad, BTW. That an AGW proponent uses an argument doesn’t mean it’s good either.

    CO2 is global. Crops are local.

    Of course, that one argument is better than another doesn’t make the better argument good.

  103. Steven Mosher says:

    “That there’s Kudzu in Ontario can be relevant in establishing that yes, Willard Tony, kudzu spreads with warmth. OTOH, that it snowed in your backyard may only be relevant for Willard Tony’s usual whataboutism.”

    That Kudzu was observed on a small plot on the shores of Lake Erie, when the consensus of the science says it wont spread to the great Lakes until 2040, is the issue you must have missed.

    Were a silly contrarian, say Ridley, found making such an argument, I think your response may have been different.

    Especially when the forestry experts argued that it was pure speculation explaining how it got there.

    So ya, here is a picture of subs at the north pole.

  104. > That Kudzu was observed on a small plot on the shores of Lake Erie, when the consensus of the science says it wont spread to the great Lakes until 2040, is the issue you must have missed.

    Global warming doesn’t plant wheat fields, Steven.

  105. > Were a silly contrarian, say Ridley, found making such an argument, I think […]

    One does not simply say in one comment “don’t speculate” and on the next throws in a counterfactual like that.

    That’d be too funny.

    Just like there’s no need to attack Matt King Coal’s claim that there’s more greening to undermine his conclusion, there’s no need to attack the kudzu argument directly.

    Think of it as a game between Nature and Man. Nature has all the facts, Man all the logic. I seldom play Nature’s part. That’s scientists’ job.

    ***

    Comments only about the exchange indicate that it may be reaching diminishing returns.

  106. Jim Eager says:

    “after we move back the topsoil it kindly provided to the US”

    Right John, Canada’s first and still largest export to the US.

  107. anoilman says:

    Yeah… I want to third that bit about Canada. We get longer dimmer days. This isn’t just a problem for solar panels.

    Its not that warmer weather won’t help. It will, but there are limits to the kind of benefits you’ll see. Much of the soil here is crap. We also don’t have the same sunshine as you would in, say, California. I’m not certain whether we’ll get dryer or wetter, but dry would be really bad. (North America suffered mega droughts in previous warm periods, so I can’t think that’ll be a good thing.)

    Currently during peak summer, Asparagus farmers here only get 20% of the yields yet we have the right soil. There’s just not enough sun.

    Meanwhile Californians can always take raincations…

  108. John Mashey says:

    Comments on this 201 RC thread included some on kudzu.,

    Here is a 2008 presentation, well worth reading, especially for those who didn’t grow up on farms.
    Kudzu p.8, 18-26
    p.25 has map “where will kudzu be 10-15 years from now (2008), thinks lower Ontario = 2021.
    Then they look at other invasive weeds … which seem favored by increased CO2.

    Sadly the presentation I often cited ~2010 http://www.stewardshipcentre.on.ca/files/scnON/3501_Sage_Bioinvasives_and_Global_Change.pdf
    Global Change and Invasive Plants in Canada
    Rowan Sage and Heather CoinerDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of Toronto
    doesn’t seem to be around any more, and not in Wayback.
    But Kudzu – p.26- “To what extent can temperature explain the range limits of kudzu in North America?”
    p.30 moving North, 1971 – current
    Then they extensive freezing experiments..
    p.45 2015-2022 map: 40$ of MN, 50% WI, most of lower MI, lower Ontario.
    “With warming winters, kudzu should survive in the northern US and Canada in 10-15 years”

    Kudzu spreads in various ways, but the key issue is that however it got to Ontario, it was already there in 2009, and still seems to be there, and the ground has not gotten cold enough to kill it.
    Ontario has a web page on it.

    The presence of temperature-limited invasive species like this are strong biomarkers of global warming, because somewhat unlike crops that people want to grow further North (like grape cultivars for wine), by now, no one in their right mind would introduce things like kudzu.

  109. pete best says:

    Dikran, Its in the article really about the royal society being naïve about such things and sending in its own people to keep a lid on things. Now its all over the media – typical really but to be expected considering her in the UK we have quite a lot of right wing leaning media.

    How knows what the Royal Society were thinking but obviously they are not reading sites such as real climate, here, desmogblog, skepticalscience, climate progress and central etc. Its kind of tragic really that they don’t but its a 18th century organisation in a 21st century world.

  110. Does anyone know if this is true? Did it actually happen and – if it did – was it really the RS, or was it simply a RS Fellow who happens to support the GWPF?

  111. pete best says:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/9/26/1574393/-UK-Deniers-Try-Leeching-Credibility-from-Royal-Society

    LOL, apparently according the RS, GWPF accept the reality of CC. Oddly why would the RS consider them a worthy body to represent what we do about it when obviously denial is denial regardless. Maybe those of us who frequent these sites are just less naïve then the RS

  112. Dikran Marsupial says:

    I’m not surprised if the RS are not paying attention to climate blogs, I’d be surprised if they didn’t pay attention to the IPCC WG1 report. They are scientists. The reason they should have known better is because the GWPF are obviously a political lobbying organisation that is taking a marginal position on climate science. That is more than enough for them to have at least looked into it. I’d think it a bit tragic if the RS did spend a lot of time reading climate blogs, they have the ability to form an informed opinion on the science for themselves.

  113. Dikran,
    Indeed, and it’s not as if they haven’t encountered them before.

  114. ATTP

    This appears to be Stewart Brand who sees himself as some sort of visionary

    https://twitter.com/stewartbrand

    A video link to the Ridley lecture is given a few posts down. As Far as I can see he is not a fellow-although he seems to associate with some influential people. I didn’t come across anything online that suggested that the RS was proud of hosting the event. Of course that might come at the end of the lecture. As you are no doubt dying to hear it, and it will get you our of shopping duties. I will leave it to you to watch the video shall I?

    tonyb

  115. Tony,
    I wasn’t asking who Stewart Brand was. I was asking if what he said was true, or not.

  116. And I thought I did answer that question.

    For what its worth I listened to most of the lecture and as far as I can tell no one at the end of it popped up from the Royal Society to say they were proud to have hosted the event. Mind you the chairman referred to the lively debate and questions which appeared to be missing from the video.

    I will skim through again to see if these were dotted through the talk, as a fellow might have mentioned their pride then. I suspect the claim was invented though

    tonyb

  117. Ok, for me not to have noticed the ‘pride’ and the questions, they would have had to be mentioned during the few seconds of skimming over passages. I am now curious as to what the questions were that prompted the GWPF chair to comment about the debate.

    You might have linked to a transcript here so will check if the video has been edited.

    tonyb

  118. Enjoy the greening says:

    Willard is so confused he picked a paper on EVAPOTRANSPIRATION rather than greening. Yes they’re different things – in fact CO2 fertilization tends to reduce it slightly, while the trend theyre trying to explain is the INCREASE in evapotranspiration in the last decades. Perhaps he didnt realize what the ‘ET’ in the paragraph he parroted stands for

    Btw Brandon, what dissonance are you talking about. The fact that a terrible paper made wrong predictions about wheat, in part bc they didnt account for CO2, doesn’t mean we don’t know – more or less – what CO2 is doing. Its just an indictment of that terrible paper

  119. Willard says:

    > Willard is so confused he picked a paper […]

    I quoted a paragraph from the paper cited by mal, of which you said:

    Yes yet another paper that ignores CO2 fertilization.

    I know it’s just a flesh wound, but your rope-a-dope is getting tedious. Please go hone your ClimateBall skillz at Judy’s, then come back.

    Thank you for your concerns.

  120. > Btw Brandon, what dissonance are you talking about.

    Exactly, greening.

  121. John Mashey says:

    Ridley reused argunents about greening from his buddy Will Happer, an atomic physicist paid by coal company Peabody.
    Happer’s testimony was pathetic, misrepresented research, was refuted by experts… and the judge not only knew who to believe, but adopted the expert overall critiques if the Peabody team deceptions.

    She announced her findings the same week Peabody filed for bankruptcy, and Peabody essentially dropped out, didn’t even file Exceptions.

    They got *crushed*.

    It’s all in Peabody’s Outlier Gang Couldn’t Shoot Straight In Minnesota Carbon Case, Judge Rebuffs Happer, Lindzen, Spencer, Mendelsohn, Bezdek

  122. BBD says:

    Greening is a positive feedback to warming. What’s to enjoy?

  123. Enjoy the greening says:

    Willard may get clue by looking at the part I quote of maladapteds paper: ‘An important caveat concerns our inability to account for CO2 concentrations… We cannot account for CO2 effects in regression analysis of observed yields’

    Hint: if a person has posted more than one link, maybe you should make sure which one you’re talking about. It’s not the paper on evapotranspiration, which is irrelevant for the greening issue, but a terrible paper claiming warming will more or less destroy wheat yields (while acknowledging they can’t account for CO2, or changes in cultivars, or changes in the areas used of wheat growing).

    Just plug the quote into the google thing.

  124. Willard says:

    > It’s not the paper on evapotranspiration, which is irrelevant for the greening issue.

    I thought it was a paper on the relationship between greening and evapotranspiration. A good hint could be its title:

    Vegetation Greening and Climate Change Promote Multidecadal Rises of Global Land Evapotranspiration

    The authors study the relationship between evapotranspiration and greening, not the other way around, if you get my drift.

    Also note that if greening is unrelated in any way to AGW, Matt King Coal’s conclusions will have a hard time to follow from his pet topic.

    ***

    > Willard may get clue by looking at the part I quote […]

    Thanks.

    I can even look at the whole paragraph, with an emphasis on all the bits you chopped:

    An important caveat concerns our inability to account for CO2 concentrations. Plants use CO2 as an input in the photosynthesis process, so increasing CO2 levels might spur plant growth and yields. Yield declines stemming from warmer temperatures therefore may be offset by CO2-fertilization. Although higher CO2 concentrations may boost yields, the magnitude of the effect is still debated. Long, et al. (12, 20) recently stressed that existing laboratory studies and field experiments might overestimate this effect. We cannot account for CO2 effects in regression analysis of observed yields because CO2 concentrations quickly dissipate throughout the atmosphere, leaving only a gently increasing time trend, which is impossible to statistically disentangle from technological change.

    You claimed that this was yet another paper that ignores CO2 fertilization, and yet omit to mention that in the very paragraph you quote there was a sentence where the authors say that “yield declines stemming from warmer temperatures therefore may be offset by CO2-fertilization.”

    This omission may explain why you then go for the counterfactual about “retarded farmers.” Facts are facts, and counterfactuals are counterfactuals.

    Next time, please quote and cite properly, both the claim you address and the source you use to substantiate your claims.

    You’re on borrowed time right now. Make it count.

  125. BBD says:

    Rising temperatures will reduce yields as crops approach or pass their thermal envelopes. If the argument is that CO2 is plant food, then the counter-argument is that the gains will be short-lived because temperature overprints CO2 fertilisation increasingly over time.

    As for adaptation, it’s worth sparing a thought for everybody nearer the equator. Their crop-switch options run out faster than at the temperate mid-latitudes.

    All things considered, it would be nice to avoid a forced, rapid and transfiguring reorganisation of global agriculture as world population continues to increase.

  126. Jim Eager says:

    It’s not only about how higher temps will affect evapotranspiration, it’s also about how higher temps will promote reduced soil moisture. Hard to use the extra CO2 when soil moisture declines. Even harder when increased severe rainfall events, thanks to all that evaporation, wash away the crop (not to mention the soil), but hey, it grew bigger faster, which is what counts to the purveyors of the “plant food” climate ball serve.

    And then, as was pointed out up thread, so far the evidence shows that higher CO2 begets more cellulose and lignin as it mainly promotes faster plant growth, not higher carb and protein content in the fruit and seed, which is what we humans eat. That requires increased nitrogen and phosphorus, not higher CO2. Not surprised Enjoy ignored this point. See above.

  127. John Mashey says:

    Whether by the exlicit name or not, farm kids learn Liebig’s law of the minimum by age 10 or so (at least I did). Serious gardeners know it.
    But Happer, Ridley & co seem not to.

  128. > I can even look at the whole paragraph […]

    The previous paragraph contains all sorts of other things which these studies “ignore”:

    There are, of course, many other possible adaptations that this study cannot address. The simplest form of adaptation would be to change the locations or seasons where and when crops are grown.† Understanding the scope for this kind of change would require more careful analysis of potential yield effects on a global scale. Furthermore, if climate change were anticipated to induce severe yield impacts on a global scale, then anticipated increases in commodity prices would likely encourage greater investments in new seed varieties, irrigation systems, and other technological changes. Thus, although historical data show the same heat tolerance in the first and second half of our sample, greater heat tolerance still may be possible if greater returns for such innovation arise. Recently, a National Science Foundation-funded study completed a draft sequence of the corn genome, which might make it easier to develop new corn varieties with greater heat tolerance (see http://monsanto.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=576 for more information).

    Whuttabout that “horrible” wheat paper Richard Erskine cited earlier? Let’s seeee, reference 10 is a pretty good read: Ewert, F. et al. Effects of elevated CO2 and drought on wheat: Testing crop simulation models for different experimental and climatic conditions. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 93, 249–266 (2002).

    And reference 42 of the supplemental may be of some interest: Müller, C. et al. Effects of changes in CO2, climate, and land use on the carbon balance of the land biosphere during the 21st century. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences 112 489 (2007).

    greening is correct: There’s some definite “ignoring” going on here.

  129. Mal Adapted says:

    BBD:

    All things considered, it would be nice to avoid a forced, rapid and transfiguring reorganisation of global agriculture as world population continues to increase.

    If one were to suggest there’s some probability of a hiatus in the latter ensuing from the former, would that make one a “CAGW alarmist” in the eyes of Enjoy the denial? No doubt.

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