Techniques of climate denial

Steve Koonin, who I’ve written about before, had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago claiming that Greenland’s melting ice is no cause for climate-change panic. The article uses a graph of mass loss rate to argue that the rate now is the same as it was in the 1930s, that it has actually been decreasing recently, and that natural influences are much more important than human influences.

I’ve just come across a seminar that was essentially a debate between Steve Koonin and David Romps, who is a Professor of Climate Physics at Berkeley. I’ve posted the video below and it should start when David Romps presents his rebuttal to Steve Koonin’s Wall Street Journal article.

I thought David Romp’s presentation was very interesting, especially given that Steve Koonin was in the room. He didn’t pull any punches. He showed how you could cherry-pick the region you focus on, how you could cherry-pick the data set you use, how you could choose what analysis to present, and how you could then underplay uncertainties, and ignore periods that don’t suit your narrative.

Steve Koonin, of course, disputed that he’d made any suspicious choices, but that’s hardly a surprise. I don’t know if David Romps’ presentation will convince any of those who find Steve Koonin’s presentation appealing, but it was well done nonetheless.

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89 Responses to Techniques of climate denial

  1. This can only work for people who want to believe that climate change(or corona, or the war in the Ukraine etc) does not exist. It only works for people who don’t care to deny facts(and science and common sense). These people do exist and they can’t keep thier mouth shut. Best to ignore them. They heve nothing to say that is worth our precious time.

  2. I added a comment to that YouTube discussion. YT never tells you whether the comment goes into a moderation queue or just disappears into a back hole.

  3. Raymond,
    I mostly disagree. I think what Steve Koonin presents can sound convincing. He has credibility. He’s using data and presenting figures and numbers. I think it’s important to respond to this, even if it doesn’t convince those who are pre-disposed to accept what he presents.

  4. JCH says:

    OT – used to follow a skeptic blog hosted by a lady from, I think, the Chicago area. She posted some old family photos of a cruise ship that just happened to dock at Havana’s harbor on the day Castro and his revolutionaries took over. Castro and Che attended a dinner on the ship that night: guests in black tie and ball gowns and Castro and Che in their utilities. Does anybody remember the name of that blog?

    on T – Koonin can’t be ignored.

  5. Chubbs says:

    My problem is calling that a scientific discussion. I am supposed to feel better about the future because Greenland loss spiked briefly in the 1930s. Hello – its a tipping point system and we don’t know if it has tipped or not. .

  6. JCH,
    Are you thinking of Lucia Liljegren’s blog, The Blackboard?

  7. Chubbs,
    Indeed, I thought that David Romps did well, but I didn’t think the overall discussion was great. I think one of the audience members applauded the fact that two scientists with opposing views were able to have a civil discussion. My immediate thought was that this ignored that one of them actually actively did relevant research, while the other was a rather over-confident physicist who has done little relevant research and seems to think that because they can manipulate numbers and plot some graphs that this gives them some special insights that numerous relevant experts have somehow missed. It was also slightly ironic that Koonin implied that climate scientists suffered from some kind of bias, but seem unwilling to consider that this applied also to himself.

  8. I have thought a bit about how physicists may be particularly prone to missing the complexity of the climate system. Given that, they may then use their training and physicist perspective to focus on trees and miss the forest. I think there are quite often very healthy trees in very unhealthy forests. In that sense, I think an over-confident physicist might be a redundant term when we are talking about physicists attempting to understand and explain the global climate system.

    I also wonder what it would take to make a person like Koonin admit that they had made suspicious choices. I would guess that they simply looks at graphs/data and certain things jumped out at them. An analysis based on that kind of impression might be badly flawed, but doesn’t require an evil intent, or a systematic decision to use suspicious data because the impression arises spontaneously from simple observation. I wonder if you could persuade such a scientist to do the same analysis with a randomly selected number of time periods whether they would have an “aha” moment where they understood how a significant error was inserted in their process? Probably not if the process is sufficiently bound up in motivated reasoning or in the expectations of the groups who fund the research of scientists who have a history of producing results and analysis that skews to produce results in line with the desires of the funding group. Most of the tobacco industry scientists were consistently unable to conclude that tobacco was very addictive or very harmful. That systematic skew in scientific studies always needs to be considered. Mark Twain would simply say, cornpone opinions.


  9. Small,
    You comment reminded me of this response by Andy Lacis, to a previous Steve Koonin article, which starts with Physicists should take the time to understand their physics better .

  10. I’m curious about the title of your post. Are you calling Koonin a denier? What part of climate science is he denying?

  11. Tom,
    If you watch the video, the techniques are explicitly introduced as techniques used by the climate science denial community, hence the title of the post.

  12. Yes, that physicist cartoon captures some of what I think about physicists being prone to missing the complexity of systems. I think it’s a variation on the “everything looks like a nail when you only have a hammer” trope. Newtonian physics seems like a bit of a hammer to me. I thought the same about BF Skinner’s work on human behavior a few decades ago. I appreciate and enjoy complexity and nuance. Newtonian physics was created in a laboratory with certain special characteristics and the scientists working in that kind of space might not recognize the simplifications imposed by their lab equipment. I think Newton might have been pretty surprised by Minkowski space, but maybe I underestimate the guy. Who knows?

  13. russellseitz says:

    “one… who has done little relevant research and seems to think that because they can manipulate numbers and plot some graphs that this gives them some special insights”

    Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded for less.

  14. Climate denial? I thought climate change denial is silly (and a projection), but climate denial?

  15. If you don’t get the point, you have but just to ask.

  16. Willard says:

    It’s Edim, AT. Click on the name.

  17. Dave_Geologist says:

    Tom, in the sense that a Young Earth Creationist who accepts evolution within Kinds, and Newton’s Laws, is a science denier.

  18. Dave_Geologist, your comment is either politics or religion, I’m not sure which. Saying Koonin denies science is like saying a Catholic Cardinal denies religion.

  19. Willard says:

    “But Denier” was to be expected:

    “But Denier”

    Less so was “But Galileo” and “But Religion”:

    “But Religion”

    Even less so by someone who wrote a political hit job against climate scientists based on various religulous themes, starting with the title.

  20. Thanks, willard! C.S. Lewis thanks you too. Care to propose a toast?

  21. Dave_Geologist says:

    Neither Tom.

    And no, it’s like saying a Catholic Cardinal rejects the proposition that Protestants are the true inheritors of Peter, or that Jesus was only a prophet. Obviously with the difference that all three propositions are scientifically untestable and therefore untested. Unlike, for example, AGW or evolution.

    No-one denies all science. Just the bits they don’t like. Even the ancient druids, who I’m sure put their religion above all else, got some astronomy right. And in general usage “science denier” refers to denying the bits of science you don’t like, not to denying all of science. As in “yes microevolution, but sandboxed by Special Creation and Kinds”. I can feel a climate change analogy coming on there.

    Often it is indeed for religious reasons (the YECs, and the “but God told Noah there wouldn’t be another Flood” crowd), but also for political or economic reasons. Sometimes the driver is subconscious, aided by hubris among those who’ve had a prominent career and think they know better than everyone else.

  22. Chubbs says:

    Koonin’s analysis isn’t targeted at a scientific audience. Scientists find it cringe worthy (see link below). The target audience is the skeptics and deniers that read the Wall Street Journal. Per Tom it is finding a receptive audience.

  23. Well, this has been going on for a decade, so I’ll just end my participation in this thread that when disagreement with policy equals denial of science, we are not really discussing anything.

  24. I agree that disagreements about policy doesn’t equal science denial. However, neither the video, nor any of the comments (as far as I can see) suggested that it was.

  25. Joshua says:

    I did find Romps’ treatment of the data interesting, but it’s a bit hard to assess without knowing how Koonin integrated that graph into his article (can’t get past the WSJ paywall).

    Unfortunately, Koonin didn’t actually respond to the critique (imo).

    That said, I thought he did make a valid point in saying that Romps left out important context by not making it clear that the loss of ice in Greenland thus far, that Romps described in a way to highlight the loss of ice volume, resulted in a relatively minor increase in sea level. How does the ice volume loss thus far compare to the total ice volume of Greenland, or the amount of melted ice compare to the amount of water in the oceans?

    Once again, this becomes a problem of scale, and that there’s a structural problem whereby the non-abstracted, and instead perceived impact (on an everyday basis), will seem small until it doesn’t seem small anymore.

  26. Joshua,
    Possibly, but he did later do a very good job of highlighting what level of sea level rise we’re commiting ourselves to. There’s fairly good evidence that a sustained warming of 1oC commits us (eventually) to about 6 metres of sea level rise. Given the linear relationship between emissions and warming (2C per 1000GtC) this means that roughly every 500 GtC of emissions will commit us to about 6m of sea level rise. We’re currently emitting about 10GtC/yr, so every ~8 years at current emissions is commiting us to an additional ~1m of sea level rise. This will take some time, but unless we can artificially draw down atmospheric CO2, it will eventually happen. I’ll add that there are uncertainties, so it could be slightly more, or slightly less, but the numbers are probably roughly right.

  27. as to loss of ice volume in Greenland, here is a prediction: it will happen faster than expected. The speed of change that we have created does not match with any warming events in the record and most volume loss projections are likely based on events in the record. Like the “surprising” speed at which change is happening at the poles, change in the Greenland ice sheet is going to happen at speed and scale that will create occasional headlines. Even though it will be very fast in comparison to previous warming periods in the record, it will be slow enough to allow for lots of debate as to whether it is happening and whether it poses a serious risk. Folks like Koonin will have time to build reasonably affluent lifestyles and live in comfort while drawing funding from powerful interests who would rather not absorb the losses of stranded petro assets.

    I have read that it’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future, but on climate change, it is a safe bet to predict that change will happen faster than expected. I think it also continues to be a safe bet and prediction that human extinction is unlikely. I think we ought to give up on human extinction as a marker and focus on civilization collapse, but that’s just me.



  28. Joshua says:

    Yes, he explained that quite well. Ana’s if course, that’s the elephant in the room that Koonin wants to ignore.

    And of course, outside of that there’s much in Koonin’s take on the economics that is rhetorically dubious. I thought that Romps’ focus on the values tied to discount rate highlighted a key issue there where Koonin just elides the uncertainties.

  29. I think reversing the loss of the Greenland ice sheet once we’ve passed a “tipping point” is also very tricky. It has a mean altitude of ~2000m. As the ice sheet loses mass the surface will move to lower altitudes, where it will be warmer, irrespective of global warming. So, even if we could reverse some anthropogenically-driven warming, if the surface of the ice sheet has already dropped to a lower altitude, it may now be too warm at the surface to reverse, or even stop, the loss of ice mass.

  30. Willard says:

    I would need to split my toast in two.

    The first part would be to teh Auditor’s new specific interests, which words fail me to describe. The second part would be to Revelation 3:16:

    But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.

    Sometimes I think Douay-Rheims just nails it.

  31. Willard says:

    Oh, and I would never encourage anyone to search for “Show me a 10ft paywall, I’ll show you a 12ft ladder.”

  32. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard, I’m here to thank you once again for building the ClimateBall resource. Not least, because it makes Truculent Tom’s rhetorical tactics transparent 8^D!

  33. Willard says:

    Most obliged, Mal. Don’t forget to give to Clowns Without Borders:

    No, not the Auditor’s tip jar. Real clowns.

  34. willard, if you’re going to steal biblical quotes from the subhead of my weblog, you could at least get the quotes correct. Oh, yeah–you don’t do that. Sorry.

  35. russellseitz says:

    “As the ice sheet loses mass the surface will move to lower altitudes, where it will be warmer, irrespective of global warming.”

    In the long run this gets paradoxical, as the bottom of the ice in north central Greenland is about a kilometer below ( present ) sea level

  36. Russell,
    IIRC, the other paradox is that if we were to lose the Greenland ice sheet, sea levels near Greenland would actually go down slightly due to the loss of the gravitational attraction of the ice sheet itself.

  37. Joshua says:

    > curryja | February 9, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    you are lumping a huge number of people coming from different perspectives into one group “deniers”, and then attributing what some of them say to the entire group (I forget what that particular logical fallacy is called). I haven’t carefully considered the “evidence” re Mann and even if I had, i would see no reason to personally sit in judgment on this. I am not going to defend someone just because the belong to the same professional societies that I do, nor am I going to attack that person based on what others say about him.

    Remakable. At many levels.

  38. gator says:

    Willard: “The first part would be to teh Auditor’s new specific interests, which words fail me to describe.”
    5 retweets, 10 likes. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

  39. russellseitz says:

    I’m surprised dystopian SF writers haven’t gotten on the Greenland meltdown case.
    After the coasts dissolve into a mountainous fjordland archipelago(, the Vey Far Western Isles) the inland seabed ice plug will detach from the isostatic depression that holds it, like a floating bar of Ivory Soap.

    Will it linger there nine tenths submerged for the centuries until it thins sufficiently to clear the rim, and wanders off downwind as a lenticular Atlantis the size of Britain ?

  40. Joshua says:

    War crimes in quotes:

  41. Joshua says:

    Just to be clear, I share concern about the lack of focus on diplomacy.

    But consider that this is probably the leading intellectual light in the “skeptic” community.

    Such a fascinating development.

  42. anoilman says:

    I always find if funny when they bounce between “Its not happening at all…” and “We should do it this way….” Logically, if nothing is happening, then there’s no need to do anything.

    I did enjoy how David Romps clearly explained how Steve Koonin Cherry Picked a data set, and then mathturbated it to say what he wanted. In response… Koonin didn’t say much, but you know… its only 2cm of sea level rise from that so far..

  43. Joshua,
    Wasn’t McIntyre also a bit of an apologist for what was happening in Syria? Seems to be a bit of a pattern.

  44. Chubbs says:

    Greenland lost 0.7 centimeters between April 2011 and April 2020, roughly 35% of quoted loss in last 9 years of data.

  45. Dave_Geologist says:

    Russell, you also have to allow for isostatic rebound from the removed ice load, which is slower than melting (or rather, as with earthquakes, there’s a near-instantaneous elastic response then a much slower inelastic response, which has slowed down to almost nothing but is still happening today). Needless to say both have been modelled, at least at a coarse scale which is all you need, given that the scale length for the flexural rigidity of the lithosphere is hundreds of kilometres.

    ATTP, the non-intuitive bit about the missing gravitational attraction of the missing ice sheet gives me an excuse to re-recommend Hoffman’s lecture about the history of knowledge about climate change and glaciations: Fermor 2012: The Neoproterozoic era; evolution, glaciation and oxygenation (although I don’t think he covers that particular detail).

    The Victorians were puzzled by the observation in ice-unloaded areas like Scotland and Greenland that (local) relative sea level fell when the ice melted, after rising when the ice-sheet formed. Some probably claimed it as scientific evidence for the Flood – huge volumes of water seemed to have been magicked into and out of existence. Fun fact: boulder clay etc. is called Drift, because they thought it had been deposited during the Flood from melting icebergs that had literally drifted south, and that glacial erratics were ice-rafted boulders which sank when the berg melted and embedded themselves in the rock flour which had settled earlier. Of course it was confined to temperate latitudes because the icebergs melted long before they could reach the tropics. I don’t know if anyone went to the length of joining the dots and arguing that the rise in sea level during the Flood drowned the ice sheets in 4°C seawater and caused large-scale melting and calving.

  46. Dave_Geologist says:

    Joshua, I’m also struck by JC’s scare quotes around “evidence”, and how she would “see no reason to personally sit in judgement on this”. Hot-diggety-dog. So why then did she spend two decades sitting in judgement, despite now confessing to not having looked at the actual evidence?

    In a sane world of course those scare quotes would have been embedded in an expression of regret, for letting herself be fooled by fake or misleading “evidence” and incompetent and misleading attempts at “replication”, and for not taking the time herself to evaluate the evidence carefully gathered in enquiries, and the consilience of dozens of subsequent independent replications of the hockey stick.

  47. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I think “apologist” is a bit strong – if only because of plausible deniability. He credulously posts clips of people “proving” the victims in Bucha got up and started walking after the cameras passed, but will hide under the cover of something like “just asking questions.”

    He’s big on saying the chemical weapons attack in Douma was 100% certain a false flag. His certainty about that is a part of the big picture that brings the climate change advocacy into sharper focus, imo. He thinks he can weigh all the evidence in a context of huge uncertainty, and reach conclusions that are 100% certain. It’s more of the pattern of some strange confidence in his own brilliance and ability to see the “truth” from behind the “consensus” smokescreen of corrupt “experts.”

    He did the same kind of thing with the poisoning of Sergei Skripal:

    And of course, he’s spent years uncovering the “deep state” conspiracy to attack Trump.

    The frequent connection to Russia is certainly bizarre, but if you go to “apologist” you’re always going to be vulnerable to charges of motive impugning.

    Thing is, I don’t entirely disagree, at all, with some of the political rhetoric he mixes in, particularly with respect to Ukraine (e.g., there should be more emphasis on diplomacy, or noting the hypocrisy of American exceptionalism regarding “war crimes,” etc.). And it’s not like there is no such thing as over-reach on Trump due to Trump Derangement Syndrome. As always, there’s an element of validity.

    But it’s all mixed in with a just bizarre narcissistic contrarianism.

  48. Joshua says:

    Dave –

    > So why then did she spend two decades sitting in judgement, despite now confessing to not having looked at the actual evidence?

    So let’s take what she said at face value. Back in the day, she really didn’t want to “sit in judgement.” She really didn’t want to lump people with diverse views into one group for the purpose of demonization, or attack people on the basis of what other people said, etc.

    But subsequently she got sucked into years of doing exactly what it was she said she didn’t want to do.

    It’s all rather banal. So she did what is so common. She got strongly identified on the topic and got sucked into typical identity-protective and identity-defensive cognition, along with all the associated biases and fallacies, like motive-impugning and guilt by association.

    And I don’t really have a problem with all of that in a sense. Like I said, it’s banal and commonplace. The issue I have is with the sense of entitlement and exceptionalism. And not because those features distinguish her either.

    Those features, also, are banal and commonplace – but because they are such a glaring error with respect to evidence-based reasoning. Why would someone who speaks so much of the importance of uncertainty be unable to incorporate uncertainty in her own thinking? Why would someone so focused on politicization of science and biased reasoning and the pitfalls of “advocacy,” be so unable to even try to interrogate her own advocacy?

    It loops back to McIntyre, actually. And I think it loops back to Bret Weinstein and Jordan Peterson and Glenn Greenwald and Joe Rogan and Sam Harris and that British talk show dude who was the topic of a post here and a wide phenomenon regarding “science” and bias. If we looked through the history of this blog alone we’d see so many linkages (maybe not with Greenwald, per se).

    The question for me is mostly with respect to the role of social media. Has it exacerbated existing phenomena or is it merely a window through which it’s easier to see what’s always been there?

    Judith’s blog was basically my entry into this world, so her arc is particularly interesting to me.

  49. Joshua says:

    re Stevie-Mac –

    Here’s a great example:

    Just asking questions. And sure, undoubtedly it’s hypocritical at some level to sanction Russia for Skripal but basically look the other way on Kashoggi. And it’s entirely legit to ask questions about why there’s that contrast.

    But put this together with the 100% certainty on overlapping issues (Russia/Trump, Douma attack), and the themes tying together the “questions,” and you get a form of stealth advocacy wrapped up in an aggressive from of plausible deniability.

    He could easily avoid this nebulous footsie-playing with the WUWT crowd or Trump loyalists or Putin, or whatever. If he were interested he could easily interrogate the same issues without the passive-aggressiveness, the invitation to enhance his sense of grievance, to reinforce his stance of victimhood. All he’d need to do is do serious, good-faith investigation, that actually embraces full uncertainty, not fake uncertainty – as in “Why not Keshoggi?” as if that’s a real question.

    This was really good from yesterday.

    > if standard now proposed by US is that every civilian death in a war, even if it is collateral or accidental, is a war crime simply because war itself is illegal,

    He moves from putting quotes around “war crimes” in Bucha to burdening me with the responsibility of defending civilian deaths in Iraq at the hands of Americans, as if I every supported the war in Iraq. Now I’m a hypocrite because I criticize his exploitation of uncertainty and “just asking questions” re Bucha. Exactly like going from sanctioning Russia re Skripal to Keshoggi’s murder. So if someone thinks it’s valid to question the sanctioning of Russia on Skripal must defend looking the other way on Keshoggi. (To be clear, the value of sanctions is far from certain).

    Again, you go from a perfectly legitimate issue – investigating the background of what happened in Bucha – to this bizarre form of responding to civilians lying dead in streets and posting misinformation on that topic. And of course, if you call that being an “apologist” all you’ll get is victim-whining and hidden behind plausible deniability.

    Victim-whining hidden behind plausible deniability.

    Remind you of anyone?

    Sorry for venting.

  50. Dave_Geologist says:

    I must admit I’d missed the date of the Tweet, Joshua. But still, by 2011 the cards were on the table and had fallen where they fell. Game, set and match to the Hockey Stick. Or Hockey Stick scoops up the pot, to stay on-analogy. There’s no excuse for passing judgement without making an effort to learn the facts, especially when said facts were clearly laid out and didn’t require a massive search effort and head-scratching interpretation of a contradictory bundle. The only contradictions were between the facts and the conspiracy theories.

    And if the use of inappropriate scare quotes is not passing judgement I don’t know what is. Especially coming from a Culture Warrior who knows exactly what side of the war she is on and who her core audience is.

  51. gator says:

    Re Stephen McI – that’s called “almost there…” Indeed, why did the Saudis and MBS get off scot-free for murdering and dismembering Jamal Khashoggi? Why did the USA get a free pass on causing the deaths of *at least* 150K civilians with the Iraq invasion clearly started under false pretense?

    The answer is not to give Putin a free pass. The answer is to do better holding governments accountable. Putin is an easy target for a USA or EU critic – hit him, then demand similar treatment of others doing the same things.

  52. Willard says:

    FWIW, the classic tu quoque is eerily relevant:

    “And you are lynching Negroes” (Russian: “А у вас негров линчуют”, A u vas negrov linchuyut; which also means “Yet, in your [country], [they] lynch Negroes”) is a catchphrases that describes or satirizes Soviet Union responses to United States criticisms of Soviet human rights violations.

    “Greenwaldian” concern trolling is not new. Neither is associating Quebecers to people we portray as Nazis.

  53. Michael Hauber says:

    Well I would tend to agree that from some sense that Greenland’s melting ice isn’t particularly cause for concern, other than its status as a canary in the coal mine. The sea level rise from Greenland might be spectacular when you think about how much of our civilization will be eventually drowned by 7 meters of sea level rise, but this will take centuries and I believe that we should be able to easily rebuild fast enough to not notice any real problems – which is a question of economics and not climate science. I suppose given human nature we will have problems with waiting too late to relocate stuff and large chunks will be drowned all at once with storm surges or similar. Personally I am far more concerned about implications of climate change for farming productivity, and possible eco-system disruption.

  54. russellseitz says:

    Joshua, I think we can number The Washington Spectator among McIntyre’s Must Not Reads.

  55. Willard says:

    Well done, Russell!

    Hard to out-Noam teh Noam:

    AGW gets a cameo mention near the end.

  56. Joshua says:

    Impressive, Russell.

    Who knew?

  57. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    > AGW gets a cameo mention near the end.

    Certainly it would present a conundrum for Stevie-Mac were he to listen.

    Ah, who am I kidding? Consistency is never an issue. Noam is 100% right for the first 30 minutes and 100% wrong for the last 5.

  58. russellseitz says:

    Willard, I fear Putin is turning into a low budget Stalin, without the mitigating interest in philosophy of language.

    It’s droll to hear teh grand old Noam thunder against fossil fuel recidivism: his last, best power boat was in the mile per gallon bracket

  59. Willard says:

    Lawnmowers and snow machines are the wurst, Russell:

    Each weekend, about 54 million Americans mow their lawns, using 800 million gallons of gas per year and producing tons of air pollutants. Garden equipment engines, which have had unregulated emissions until the late 1990’s, emit high levels of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, producing up to 5% of the nation’s air pollution and a good deal more in metropolitan areas.

    And don’t start me on snowmobiles!

    Not sure the Auditor realizes that Canada has the third biggest Ukrainian population. But then it is public knowledge that he does not watch hockey. So chances are he does not know the Dales Hawerchuk:

  60. russellseitz says:

    Are you wait listed for Tesla’s silicon roofed Solar Scythe Surrey?

  61. The stuff that McIntyre tweets boggles the mind — it all seems designed to convince his readers that nothing you see should be believed. That everything is a conspiracy — Ukrainians being bombed into the stone age may be at their own hands according to McIntyre. Totally bizarre, and telling of the political agenda he’s been pushing all these years.

  62. Once it is apparent that a person has attained the status that PP describes, we need to employ shorthand, like peanut gallery, or wingnut, or troll and simply disregard what they have to say until they change their “spots” and start posting in good faith and employing solid reasoning. TWF walks the border on such a classification for my purposes. He occasionally says something that makes sense, but only rarely… so it is pretty easy to just keep him in my blocked mode on this website.

    I think it is generally a waste of time to expend much time and effort on folks like JC or RPjr etc. they are bad faith actors in the discussion per my evaluation. Just note that and discount everything they say until/unless they start to offer something of value and reason. I guess mcintyre is another one of those.

  63. Joshua says:

    Paul –

    He just posted that it’s “conclusive” that the missile that hit the train station was fired by Ukrainians.

    Same thing happened with him with Douma and the Skripal poisoning. He goes onto Twitter and Google Earth photos and claims he’s figured it all out. It’s fascinating to watch.

    The amazing aspect of this is to work backwards from his casual attitude towards uncertainty on these contexts to his attitude towards uncertainty in the climate change context.

    And this is probably the leading light of technical analysis in the “skeptic” community.

  64. Joshua says:

    I remember you were a fan of Coast to Coast, right?

  65. russellseitz says:

    Willard, your Dales Hawerchuk clip is awesome— totalment tiguidou !
    The Quebecois is so thick that I mistook it for a riff in French Ukrainian on using hockey sticks as tools of diplomacy.

  66. “He just posted that it’s “conclusive” that the missile that hit the train station was fired by Ukrainians.”

    McIntyre based that on the orientation of the booster portion of the missile that landed on the ground. As others have pointed out, the booster will tumble after it releases it’s payload so whatever orientation it ends up is random and therefore meaningless. McIntyre spews this stuff out constantly with a whiff of plausibility so that his followers will eat it up. I noticed today that he is getting tagged in tweets that are promoting various Ukraine conflict conspiracies, so his reach may be growing. Scary because he has had years of practice in pushing buttons.

  67. Willard says:

    > The Quebecois is so thick

    That’s the Saguenéen accent, Russell. They’re from Roberval, on the other side of the Lac St-Jean when looking from Alma.

    Dale Hawerchuk was one of the greatest:

    A true one-man army like Wayne Gretzky, Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman, and Bernie Federko. All Canadian names.

  68. russellseitz says:

    Dave: “Russell, you also have to allow for isostatic rebound from the removed ice load, which is slower than melting”

    I did- that’s why sea level will continue to rise for millennia after the icecap vanishes, just as it is in part presently rising from post-glacial rebound of the Hudson’s Bay and Baltic seabed.

  69. Bob Loblaw says:

    Say what. Russel? Isostatic rebound in places such as Hudson’s Bay causes local sea level to drop, not rise. Land goes up, sea looks like it is going down. I’ve spent summers doing geological work in the Keewatin, and the dates of shells in the raised beaches (now well above sea level) gives you the uplift rate.

    Away from the ice covered area, the crust will move downward to compensate for the uplift where the rise is occuring, so those areas see rising sea level.

  70. russellseitz says:

    Bob, the rebound shoaling of Hudsons Bay and the Baltic displaces water into the ocean adding to globalaverage sea level rise. On a decadal sale, the effects on crustal tectonic deformation and the geoid are orders of magnitude smaller

  71. Susan Anderson says:

    It is shocking that climate distractionalists are so predictable in finding excuses for the inexcusable in other arenas. It’s easy to find fault, but two wrongs don’t make a right, and lies are not truths.

    Moving on, about Greenland, though it’s out of date: Elizabeth Kolbert’s treatment is imnsho useful, and includes a map from 2016, which I hope will reproduce here. Russell is knowledgeable about rebound vs. melt vs. other effects (and proportions); when is he ever not acute? (glad I showed up here and found the acute Spectator letter he linked)

    the problem with global warming—and the reason it continues to resist illustration, even as the streets flood and the forests die and the mussels rot on the shores—is that experience is an inadequate guide to what’s going on. The climate operates on a time delay. When carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere, it takes decades—in a technical sense, millennia—for the earth to equilibrate. This summer’s fish kill was a product of warming that had become inevitable twenty or thirty years ago, and the warming that’s being locked in today won’t be fully felt until today’s toddlers reach middle age. In effect, we are living in the climate of the past, but already we’ve determined the climate’s future.

    Global warming’s back-loaded temporality makes all the warnings—from scientists, government agencies, and, especially, journalists—seem hysterical, Cassandra-like—Ototototoi!—even when they are understated. Once feedbacks take over, the climate can change quickly, and it can change radically. At the end of the last ice age, during an event known as meltwater pulse 1A, sea levels rose at the rate of more than a foot a decade. It’s likely that the “floodgates” are already open, and that large sections of Greenland and Antarctica are fated to melt. It’s just the ice in front of us that’s still frozen.

  72. Dave_Geologist says:

    Russell, because the solid Earth has a constant volume on the timescale of interest (10ks of years), material balance requires that something rising up above the geoid has to be compensated by something somewhere else falling below the geoid (although not necessarily in the oceans of course). For that you need to consider flexural isostasy, which can lead to counter-intuitive results tens or hundreds of kilometres away. Something I spent decades considering professionally. Indeed I was the first to publish on one of those counter-intuitive results, back in the 1980s (albeit using a simplified, “spherical-cow” model).

    IIRC southern England is subsiding slightly to compensate for Scotland rising, but more slowly because the flexural wavelength is large* compared to the size of the last Scottish ice cap. The reverse probably applies in the case of large continental ice caps like the North American one. Although you also have to consider the longer flexural wavelength of cratons (excluding marginal bits like Labrador which will be more influenced by the nearby Labrador Sea Ridge and Iceland hot-spot – early on in plume impingement, Baffin Island was ground zero).

    You may also have to consider asthenospheric flow, which I neglected because all the places I worked had a “jelly sandwich” strength profile, so the stuff we were interested in was doubly decoupled from the asthenosphere. That’s not true of cratons.

    Like most things in life, it’s complicated. That’s why people like Koonin can deceive people (perhaps even deceive themselves) by cherry-picking a location that suits their narrative

    * To the south. Towards the NW it very quickly reduces by an order of magnitude, although that was proprietary work which I never got round to publishing or even requesting permission. It’s not commercially valuable information, because no-one these days would run with a library or global-average value. The first thing you do is look for places where you can invert observations and find the local value.

  73. Bob Loblaw says:

    Russell: the rebound shoaling of Hudsons Bay and the Baltic displaces water into the ocean, adding to global average sea level rise.

    …but it also displaces fluid in the crust. The rise of land in those areas needs to get (land) mass from other surrounding areas. In those areas, the crust will be falling. The peripheral bulge associated with this is fairly well known. As those areas fall, they’ll have the opposite effect on global sea level, won’t they? These are competing effects, and at a guess the global sea level trend will be dependent on the amount to which rising and falling land area underlie ocean area.

    Do you have a reference that shows detailed calculations or evidence?

  74. Bob Loblaw says:

    Dave_Geologist posted while I was preparing my response to Russell. What Dave says…

  75. Dave_Geologist says:

    Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Arctic: “Nothing to see here, move along”. Or, sadly, not.

    The Arctic has lost a huge volume of sea ice in just a few years
    Much of the loss is due to thinning of ice that lasts through the summer.

    The Arctic’s sea ice lost around 12.5% of its volume between 2018 and 2021, mostly because the ‘multiyear’ ice that persists through the summer melt is thinning.

    The article and the linked paper are paywalled. However if you lack Nature access the reference is still visible below the fold, and if you click the Article link you get read-only access to the paper. Unlike Nature’s version, which puts a code in the text of the link to give read-only access, JGR just has the bare link so Nature must put a cookie on your browser. If it doesn’t work you may have to relax some cookie restrictions.

  76. russellseitz says:

    BL:”displaces fluid in the crust”
    The Canadian and Fennoscandian shields are made of spongecake? Who knew ?

    DG: ” You may also have to consider asthenospheric flow, which I neglected because all the places I worked had a “jelly sandwich” strength profile,”

    Guys, this is about moving water, not the rheology of the crust or mantle.

    When I said “orders of magnitude” I was referring to the basic disparity of the two, because estimates of aesthenospheric viscosity based on glacial rebound
    ( JGR, VOL. 114, B04405, doi:10.1029/2008JB006077, 2009)
    are in the ten to the 18 to ten to the 19 Pa/s range, while water is ~ ten to the minus 3

    Given the twenty something order of magnitude disparity, I think I have more pressing matters to consider

  77. Bob Loblaw says:

    So, the rising crust where the ice sheet used to be either leaves a void under it as the surface rises, or Scotty beams new mass in from out space to fill the void? I think that void has to be filled somehow….

    Areas beyond the ice margin show the opposite movement from the area directly under the ice. Look at figure 1 of this paper:

    Click to access 171.pdf

    This is all about how the crust and mantle respond. Ignore it if you want, but that won’t make you right.

  78. russellseitz says:

    “This is all about how the crust and mantle respond.”

    Bob,IMHO it is not. Sea level rise is, unlike tectonics, a real time policy problem because of the disparity of the time scales of deformation and erosion, and the decoupling of interior and coastal responses to isostasy. This falls outside the Keynesian “In the long run we are all dead” regime, because ice ages may come and go faster than deformed basement rocks can recover — if Scotty beamed up the Greenland Icecap right down to its abyssal roots tomorrow, the seabed would still take several future ice ages to get back to its starting elevation relative to the Pleistocene geoid

  79. b fagan says:

    I watched the whole video and thought it would be interesting to know what the opinions in the audience were before and after the session. Also, who chose a Nuclear Engineering department as the audience? I suspect a lot of Koonin’s direct and indirect message would appeal to that exact group. His introduction mentioned academic roles and his stint at DOE (possible employment connections for the audience) yet left out the four or five years at BP or his being, as the WSJ mentions, “a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute”. Not that either of those roles would skew his view of climate science.

    Also, the appeal Koonin made to blame “the media” struck a chord as one audience member made very clear – nuclear engineers tend to be aggrieved about how the press often treats their primary industries. And Romps’ demonstration was useful and informative, but I agree with other comments that it might not have been the right approach in that room.

    Koonin’s presentation in the video included another deception – in his slide visible at 14:50 – his “Telephone Game”. He inserts The Media as the filter between IPCC SPM materials and the policymakers. Makes a nice straight line that way, putting policymakers and the general public together down at the bottom, presumably unable to access the real science or summaries directly.

    My hunch is some of the audience may have left that session at least wishing that Koonin was right instead of making things up, since dragging our feet potentially gives nuclear a chance.

    Which is why I’m commenting – today Amory Lovins just put up a rebuttal on UtliityDive to a pro-nuclear opinion piece that had run there, and he lays out his arguments why nuclear is not needed or affordable. Lots of interesting details (a massive quantity of linked references, too, which I haven’t dug into).

    “Nuclear energy should not be part of the global solution to climate change”

    And the April 4th piece he was responding to:
    “The opportunity cost of not using nuclear energy for climate mitigation”

  80. Bob Loblaw says:

    Russel: the seabed would still take several future ice ages to get back to its starting elevation relative to the Pleistocene geoid

    Yes, so the isostatic rebound takes a long time. The same amount of time it takes for areas beyond the ice to subside, as mass (mantle, etc) moves from the subsiding area back to where the ice has been removed.

    So, your claim that the rising land (rebound) pushes water into the ocean, causing global sea level to rise, is happening at the same rate as the subsidence of the peripheral bulge, which will drop sea level (if it is under the ocean).

    You can’t have the rebound where ice was removed without having subsidence in the surrounding area.

    Here is your exact quote:

    Bob, the rebound shoaling of Hudsons Bay and the Baltic displaces water into the ocean adding to globalaverage sea level rise. On a decadal sale, the effects on crustal tectonic deformation and the geoid are orders of magnitude smaller

    The rebounding is “crustal tectonic deformation”. And it is associated with an equivalent subsidence elsewhere. You’re playing on only half a see-saw.

  81. russellseitz says:

    I’ve tried to make my meaning plain: as Hudsons Bay and the Baltic Sea decrease in area, average ocean depth is increasing in proportion.

    Fllexural basement displacements ( subsiding North Slope or McKenzie delta shorelines for instance) can’t cancel the volume of water transferred to the oceans by embayment rebound, because the volume of the rebounding rock is proportional to the ratio of the density of ice to the density of the asthenosphere – glacial icecaps are three times as thick as the dents their weight inflicts on the crust beneath them.

    As the volume of the water that drains from rebounding embayments following continental deglaciation cannot therefore be offset by more than 1/3 by adjacent subsidence effects Bob seems to have got the short end of the seesaw , and hope this note will help put his feet back on the ground truth.

  82. Dave_Geologist says:


    Material Balance.

    Of rocks, not water.

    See-saw, not 1-D Airy.

    The melting of the ice load resulted in uplift of the formerly depressed lithosphere in the glaciated areas of northern Britain, at long-term average rates of about 1-2 mm/yr, accompanied by subsidence in southern Britain of the same magnitude

    Well I never! (my bold).

    But I see we’ve reached (passed) the point of diminishing returns, and my own attention has shifted to the albedo impact of that absent (soon-to-be-absent, in the case of the thinned-but-not-quite-gone-yet) sea-ice.

    Unless you’re now just saying that the volume of melted ice is greater than the volume of the rebound, in which case: well, duh. I first sucked that egg in 1981, although not in relation to ice. Actually, 1977, as an undergrad. No, earlier, 1975 or 1976.

  83. Dave_Geologist says:

    Interesting case actually, that dog that didn’t bark in the 80s: a non-isostatically-compensated basin. Flexural rigidity is a marvellous thing. Not just in engineering. Bit of an oddball really – not like the classic intra-cratonic examples in places like Brazil. Turns compensated as you move further offshore. Which links to my earlier comment about the very rapid order-of-magnitude reduction in stiffness as you approach the hyper-extended continental margin, vs. the very uniform (but short enough to allow compensation at the basin scale) North Sea. Which makes me think it’s the rifting wot dun it, even if it was 50-150 million years ago (the same low values are derived from modern admittance studies as from restoring rift basins using sea-level and palaeo-horizontal datums). The crust is broken (jelly-sandwich so only the crust matters) and can’t unbreak. So it has to be treated as a meta-material, in climate-model terms parameterised, or in reservoir engineering terms pseudo-ised. The apparent elastic thickness bears no relation to the depth of the brittle-ductile transition or of the Moho. Annoys the hell out of theoreticians – you just have to shut up and calculate.

    But calculating is hard when the thing you’re trying to measure varies on a length scale that is small compared to the normal ways of measuring it. Everything is local. A more modern-ice-relevant example is in East Antarctica. East Antarctic rifting triggers uplift of the Gamburtsev Mountains. Counter-intuition on top of counter-intuition. That area will respond in a very complicated way to melting and unloading, with lots of opportunities to cherry-pick. See Fig. 10 in the Supplementary Material, which is not paywalled. They’re using a newer method which allows higher spatial resolution, which is probably not feasible at the scale of continent-wide climate models.

    Mostly down to inheritance (contingency as Stephen J. Gould would say) but there’s a plume (relatively) nearby and IIRC there’s a heat flow anomaly in the old rift. Plume heads have a way of finding weak spots and avoiding strong spots. For example, the Iceland plume is deflected east under Greenland, and the best explanation for the lump of underplated material beneath the Irish Sea is that it weaved it’s way past Ireland and found a nice weak area to settle and inflate.

  84. Bob Loblaw says:

    Once again, Russell fails to comprehend the mass balance between the rebounding crust and the subsiding adjacent areas. He is only looking at the water vs. crust issue in the rebounding areas, and simply asserting that nothing else matters.

    The rebounding crust volume is not going to be 1/3 of the subsiding crust volume.

    If your point is, Russell, that the ice that melted from the land raised sea level, then duh. If your point is that isostatic rebound that occurs long after the ice has melted will still raise global sea level because it pushes water away from that area into other ocean basins, then you also need to include the effect of subsidence that will make deeper ocean basins elsewhere, causing a global drop in sea level..

    Of course, if all these rebound/subsidence effects are occurring outside of ocean basins, so that ocean basin do not change shape at all, then the effect will essentially vanish.

  85. The linked video of Romps vs Koonin has disappeared. Interesting that late last year Romps resigned as director of the Cal-Berkeley atmospheric science center because a speaker was cancelled for a controversial viewpoint. Perhaps controversial political viewpoints will then transition to controversial scientific viewpoints and any new research advances will essentially halt. That’s perhaps the implication of Romps decision? Trying to read between the lines.

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