Posts tagged ‘Climate Skeptic’

IFTTT and Zapier

The other day you may have seen some test posts here on trying to cross-post between blogs.  It turns out there are surprisingly few wordpress apps for this, and those that exist are not being maintained.  I have a ManageWP account where I can simultaneously post to multiple accounts with the same post, but that was not exactly what I was looking for.  So I thought of my IFTTT account, which I had not played around with for a while.

I am not really an expert on this space, but I have used a site / program called "If This Then That" (IFTTT.com) for several years.  What it does is set up simple rules to fire off certain actions based on triggers.  For example, I cannot stand iphoto and the absolute mess of duplicates that icloud and iphoto make, so I now have an IFTTT rule that every time my iphone takes a picture, it automatically puts it in a folder on my Google Drive account.  I have IFTTT rules based on everything from my Nest thermostat at home to highlighting items in my feed reader.

IFTTT is really easy to use, but part of that is that there are limited options.  One limitation is that for each object - eg Twitter account or WordPress Account - you can only have one version.  In other words, if I have 3 WordPress accounts, IFTTT can only recognize one so, obviously, IFTTT is not going to be able to trigger based on a post at one blog and then do something on another blog.  Which is exactly what I wanted to do.  Whenever I make a climate post at Coyote Blog, I wanted to cross-post it at Climate Skeptic.

So I tried a similar site called Zapier.  Zapier allows me to do exactly what I wanted with WordPress accounts, and for each trigger and action it seems to give me, from my limited poking around, a lot more choices than IFTTT.  For example, a lot more different WordPress events can act as a trigger.  So I am now using it to cross-post, and we will see how it works.

Overall, IFTTT is a bit more mature, it has more choices of integrations, and probably most important has both iphone and android apps that give it a lot of integration options with your phone.  The limitation to one instance of each sort of trigger or action is a limitation they have been promising to fix for years, but still have not addressed.   Zapier is more complicated to use, but for the triggers and actions it has, gives a lot more options.  Unfortunately, it does not have much, if any, iphone or android integration which I think is a huge limitation for this type of functionality.

Both are worth checking out.  They are free (up to a point) and you can create a rule without programming in less than five minutes on either, so you can see if it is something you find useful.

Again, I am not an expert on this space and if there is a third, better choice, let me know in the comments.

 

The Thought Experiment That First Made Me A Climate Skeptic

Please check out my Forbes post today.  Here is how it begins:

Last night, the accumulated years of being called an evil-Koch-funded-anti-science-tobacco-lawyer-Holocaust-Denier finally caught up with me.  I wrote something like 3000 words of indignation about climate alarmists corrupting the very definition of science by declaring their work “settled”, answering difficult scientific questions with the equivalent of voting, and telling everyone the way to be pro-science is to listen to self-designated authorities and shut up.  I looked at the draft this morning and while I agreed with everything written, I decided not to publish a whiny ode of victimization.  There are plenty of those floating around already.

And then, out of the blue, I received an email from a stranger.  Last year I had helped to sponsor a proposal to legalize gay marriage in Arizona.  I was doing some outreach to folks in the libertarian community who had no problem with gay marriage (after all, they are libertarians) but were concerned that marriage licensing should not be a government activity at all and were therefore lukewarm about our proposition.  I suppose I could have called them bigots, or homophobic, or in the pay of Big Hetero — but instead I gathered and presented data on the number of different laws, such as inheritance, where rights and privileges were tied to marriage.  I argued that the government was already deeply involved with marriage, and fairness therefore demanded that more people have access to these rights and privileges.  Just yesterday I had a reader send me an email that said, simply, “you changed my mind on gay marriage.”  It made my day.  If only climate discussion could work this way.

So I decided the right way to drive change in the climate debate is not to rant about it but instead to continue to model what I consider good behavior — fact-based discussion and a recognition that reasonable people can disagree without that disagreement implying one or the other has evil intentions or is mean-spirited.

This analysis was originally published about 8 years ago, and there is no longer an online version.  So for fun, I thought I would reproduce my original thought experiment on climate models that led me to the climate dark side.

I have been flattered over time that folks like Matt Ridley have picked up on bits and pieces of this analysis.  See it all here.

Comments: Disqus Coming

Well, this has been a while in coming, but for a variety of reasons I am switching to Disqus comments on this site.  Essentially this means commenters will have to register, though I feel like the registration is pretty un-intrusive as Internet things go.  Active commenters in the blogosphere likely already have a Disqus account.   And there are some definite benefits in terms of comment ranking and such that I hope will offset any hassle.  I have been testing Disqus on Climate Skeptic, along with the security updates I have been slowly porting over here, and I am pretty happy with the result.

What this means is that for several days, comments will disappear here as Disqus imports them.   Though they they promise a day turnaround, on Climate Skeptic it took them nearly a week.  With all the comments on this site, it may take a while.  New comments will still work, but the old ones will go away, and then magically return a few days later.  Hopefully.

By the way, this is a mild illustration of what started the security lockdowns at the climate blog.  These are actually minor spikes compared to some in the past, and so far I have seen no similar patterns at any of the other blogs I run.  A number of folks active in the climate debate have been hacked of late.

Climate Bait and Switch

Cross posted from Climate Skeptic

This quote from Michael Mann [of Hockey Stick fame] is a great example of two common rhetorical tactics of climate alarmists:

And so I think we have to get away from this idea that in matters of science, it's, you know, that we should treat discussions of climate change as if there are two equal sides, like we often do in the political discourse. In matters of science, there is an equal merit to those who are denying the reality of climate change who area few marginal individuals largely affiliated with special interests versus the, you know, thousands of scientists around the world. U.S. National Academy of Sciences founded by Abraham Lincoln back in the 19th century, all the national academies of all of the major industrial nations around the world have all gone on record as stating clearly that humans are warming the planet and changing the climate through our continued burning of fossil fuels.

Here are the two tactics at play here:

  1. He is attempting to marginalize skeptics so that debating their criticisms is not necessary.  He argues that skeptics are not people of goodwill; or that they say what they say because they are paid by nefarious interests to do so; or that they are vastly outnumbered by real scientists ("real" being defined as those who agree with Dr. Mann).  This is an oddly self-defeating argument, though the media never calls folks like Mann on it.  If skeptics' arguments are indeed so threadbare, then one would imagine that throwing as much sunlight on them as possible would reveal their bankruptcy to everyone, but instead most alarmists are begging the media, as in this quote, to bury and hide skeptics' arguments.  I LOVE to debate people when I know I am right, and have pre-debate trepidation only when I know my position to be weak.
  2. There is an enormous bait and switch going on in the last sentence.  Note the proposition is stated as "humans are warming the planet and changing the climate through our continued burning of fossil fuels."  I, and many other skeptics, don't doubt the first part and would quibble with the second only because so much poor science occurs in attributing specific instances of climate change to human action.  What most skeptics disagree with is an entirely different proposition, that humans are warming the planet to catastrophic levels that justify immensely expensive and coercive government actions to correct.  Skeptics generally accept a degree or so of warming from each doubling of CO2 concentrations but reject the separate theory that the climate is dominated by positive feedback effects that multiple this warming 3x or more.   Mann would never be caught dead in public trying to debate this second theory of positive feedback, despite the fact that most of the warming in IPCC forecasts is from this second theory, because it is FAR from settled.  Again, the media is either uninterested or intellectually unable to call him on this.
I explained the latter points in much more detail at Forbes.com

A Really Bad Idea

Regular readers will have no doubts about my skepticism of the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming.  In particular, in these pages and at Climate Skeptic, I have repeatedly criticized the details of Michael Mann's work on the hockey stick.  I won't repeat those issues today, though some of the past articles are indexed here.

That being said, efforts by Republicans in Virginia to bring legislative or even criminal action against Mann for his work when he was at the University of Virginia is about the worst idea I have heard in quite some time.  Though nominally about forcing public disclosure (something I am always in favor of from state entities) the ultimate goal is to drag Mann into court

Cuccinelli has said he wants to see whether a fraud investigation would be warranted into Mann's work, which showed that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming

[As an aside, this is actually NOT what Mann's hockey stick work purports to show.  The point of the hockey stick is to make the case that historic temperatures before 1850 were incredibly stable and flat, and thus recent increases of 0.6-0.8C over the last 150 years are unprecedented in comparison.   His research added nothing to our knowledge about recent warming, it was on focused on pre-industrial warming.   The same folks that say with confidence the science is settled don't even understand it].

For those frustrated with just how bad Mann's work is and upset at the incredible effort to protect this work from criticism or scrutiny by hiding key data (as documented in the East Anglia climategate emails), I know it must feel good to get some sort of public retribution.  But the potential precedent here of bringing up scientists on charges essentially for sloppy or incorrect work is awful.

Bad science happens all the time, completely absent any evil conspiracies.  Human nature is to see only the data that confirms ones hypotheses and, if possible, to resists scrutiny and criticism.  This happens all the time in science and if we started hauling everyone into court or into a Senate committee, we have half of academia there  (and then likely the other half when the party in power changed).  Team politics are a terrible disease and the last thing we need is to drag them any further into science and academia.

Science will eventually right itself, and what is needed is simply the time and openness to allow adversarial scrutiny and replication within academia to run its course.  Seriously, are we next going to drag the cold fusion guys in to court?  How about all the folks in the geology field that resisted plate tectonics for so long.  Will we call to account the losers in the string theory debate?

If legislators want to help, they can

  • Make sure there are standards in place for archiving and public availability of any data and code associated with government funded research
  • Improve the governments own climate data management
  • Ensure that state funding is distributed in a way to support a rich dialog on multiple sides of contested scientific issues.

The Crux of the Climate Debate

Cross-posted from Climate Skeptic

I wanted to link to Richard Lindzen's Congressional testimony.  For slides, they are pretty easy to follow as they are mostly text.  I want to particularly point out slide 4, which I think on one page outlines the single most important point to understand about anthropogenic global warming theory.  When given just one minute to discuss climate, this slide embodies the message I give.

Here are two statements that are completely agreed on by the IPCC. It is crucial to be aware of their implications.

1. A doubling of CO2, by itself, contributes only about 1C to greenhouse warming. All models project more warming, because, within models, there are positive feedbacks from water vapor and clouds, and these feedbacks are considered by the IPCC to be uncertain.

2. If one assumes all warming over the past century is due to anthropogenic greenhouse forcing, then the derived sensitivity of the climate to a doubling of CO2is less than 1C. The higher sensitivity of existing models is made consistent with observed warming by invoking unknown additional negative forcings from aerosols and solar variability as arbitrary adjustments.

Given the above, the notion that alarming warming is "˜settled science' should be offensive to any sentient individual, though to be sure, the above is hardly emphasized by the IPCC. 4

My most recent climate video, which discusses this issue and more, is here.  I also have an older, shorter video focusing on just the issues in Lindzen's fourth slide here.

The Government Responds

The author of one of the charts I criticized in the recent government climate report has responded directly to my post.    Generally unimpressed, I counter in this post at Climate Skeptic.

New Climate Presentation (From the RCRC Climate Debate)

I have finally been able to publish a video of my presentation at the climate debate held by the Regional Council of Rural Counties last September.  The entire video is about an hour long.  As usual, I am offering several ways to view it.  First, it has been posted on YouTube but had to be broken into seven parts.  The playlist of all seven parts is below:

The playlist link is here:  RCRC Climate Debate (Skeptic's Side)

Unfortunately, YouTube crushes the resolution so many of the charts are hard to read.  You can download the full resolution windows media version (about 96MB) as long as my bandwidth holds out by right-clicking and downloading form this link:  Download RCRC Climate Debate (wmv)

Also, you can stream higher resolution version of this film (and all my other climate films) at this site.  The resolution is not as good as the downloadable version but is much better than YouTube.  Again, bandwidth pending.

Finally, you can download the actual powerpoint presentation shown in this video here or you can view the presentation online here.

In the future, all of my videos and presentations will be available via the links just under the banner at Climate Skeptic.

Global Warming Eye Test

I have an interesting global warming eye test up at Climate-Skeptic.   The two graphs below are both scaled exactly the same, and are each 51-year periods from the global temperature record of the last 150 years.  The only difference is that one period of warming is described by scientists as "natural" (1895 to 1946) and the other is described as "man-made" (1957 to present).

  Periodb       Perioda_3

Which is which?  Which is man, and which is mother nature?

Kind of makes the claim that "current warming is unprecedented" ring kind of hollow, huh?

Some Thoughts on Peer Review

Some thoughts on the obsession with peer review as the gold standard guarantee of climate science goodness, from Climate Skeptic:



One of the weird aspects of climate science is the over-emphasis on peer
review as the ne plus ultra guarantor of believable results.  This is absurd. 
At best, peer review is a screen for whether a study is worthy of occupying
limited publication space, not for whether it is correct.  Peer review, again at
best, focuses on whether a study has some minimum level of rigor and coherence
and whether it offers up findings that are new or somehow advance the ball on an
important topic. 

In "big
boy sciences
" like physics, study findings are not considered vetted simply
because they are peer-reviewed.  They are vetted only after numerous other
scientists have been able to replicate the results, or have at least failed to
tear the original results down.  Often, this vetting process is undertaken by
people who may even be openly hostile to the original study group.  For some
reason, climate scientists cry foul when this occurs in their profession, but
mathematicians and physicists accept it, because they know that findings need to
be able to survive the scrutiny of enemies, not just of friends.  To this end,
an important part of peer review is to make sure the publication of the study
includes all the detail on methodology and data that others might need to
replicate the results  (which is something climate reviewers are particularly bad at).

In fact, there are good arguments to be made that strong peer review may even
be counter-productive to scientific advancement.  The reason is that peer
review, by the nature of human beings and the incentives they tend to have, is
often inherently conservative.  Studies that produce results the community
expects often receive only cursory scrutiny doled out by insiders chummy with
the authors.  Studies that show wildly unexpected results sometimes have trouble
getting published at all.


 As I read this, it strikes me that one way to describe
climate is that it acts like a social science, like sociology or gender studies,
rather than like a physical science.  I will ahve to think about this -- it
would be an interesting hypothesis to expand on in more depth.  Some quick
parallels of why I think it is more like a social science:

  • Bad statistical methodology  (a hallmark, unfortunately, of much of social
    science)
  • Emphasis on peer review over replication
  • Reliance on computer models rather than observation
  • Belief there is a "right" answer for society with subsequent bias to study
    results towards that answer  (example,
    and another
    example
    )

More Attacks of Free Speech

This is cross-posted from Climate-Skeptic, but it is very much in the spirit of the Canadian tribunals and University speech codes.  There are increasing efforts, mainly on the left, to make the world a better place by limiting speech of those who don't agree with them.

 

I am not sure this even needs comment:  (HT:  Maggies Farm)

I'm
preparing a paper for an upcoming conference on this, so please comment
if you can! Thanks. Many people have urged for there to be some legal
or moral consequence for denying climate change. This urge generally
comes from a number of places. Foremost is the belief that the science
of anthropogenic climate change is proven beyond reasonable doubt and
that climate change is an ethical issue. Those quotes from Mahorasy's
blog are interesting. I'll include one here:

Perhaps
there is a case for making climate change denial an offence. It is a
crime against humanity, after all. "“Margo Kingston, 21 November 2005

The
urge also comes from frustration with a "˜denial' lobby: the furthest
and more extreme talkers on the subject who call global warming a
"˜hoax' (following James Inhofe's now infamous quote). Of course there
would be frustration with this position"“a "˜hoax' is purposeful and
immoral. And those who either conduct the science or trust the science
do not enjoy being told they are perpetrating a "˜hoax', generating a myth, or committing a fraud....

I'm an advocate for something stronger. Call it regulation, law, or
influence. Whatever name we give it, it should not be seen as
regulation vs. freedom, but as a balancing of different freedoms. In
the same way that to enjoy the freedom of a car you need insurance to
protect the freedom of other drivers and pedestrians; in the same way
that you enjoy the freedom to publish your views, you need a regulatory
code to ensure the freedoms of those who can either disagree with or
disprove your views. Either way. While I dislike Brendan O'Neill and
know he's wrong, I can't stop him. But we need a body with teeth to be
able to say, "actually Brendan, you can't publish that unless you can
prove it." A body which can also say to me, and to James Hansen, and to
the IPCC, the same....

What do you think? Perhaps a starting point is a draft point in the
codes for governing how the media represent climate change, and a
method for enforcing that code. And that code needs to extend out to
cover new media, including blogs. And perhaps taking a lesson from the Obama campaign's micro-response strategy:
a team empowered with responding to complaints specifically dealing
with online inaccuracy, to which all press and blogs have to respond.
And so whatever Jennifer Mahorasy, or Wattsupwiththat, or Tom Nelson, or Climate Sceptic, or OnEarth, or La Marguerite, or the Sans Pretence, or DeSmog Blog, or Monckton or me, say, then we're all bound by the same freedoms of publishing.

He asked for comments.  I really did not have much energy to refute something so wrong-headed, but I left a few thoughts:

Wow,
as proprietor of Climate-Skeptic.com, I am sure flattered to be listed
as one of the first up against the wall come the great green-fascist
revolution.  I found it particularly ironic that you linked my post
skewering a climate alarmist for claiming that heavier objects fall
faster than lighter objects.  Gee, I thought the fact that objects of
different masses fall at the same rate had been "settled science" since
the late 1500s.

But I don't think you need a lecture on science, you need
a lecture on civics.  Everyone always wants free speech for
themselves.  The tough part is to support free speech for others, even
if they are horribly, terribly wrong-headed.  That is the miracle of
the first amendment, that we have stuck by this principle for over 200
years.

You see, technocrats like yourself are always assuming the
perfect government official with perfect knowledge and perfect
incentives to administer your little censorship body.  But the fact is,
such groups are populated with real people, and eventually, the odds
are they will be populated by knaves.  And even if folks are
well-intentioned, incentives kill such government efforts every time.
What if, for example, your speech regulation bureaucrats felt that
their job security depended on a continued climate crisis, and evidence
of no crisis might cause their job to go away?  Would they really be
unbiased with such an incentive?

Here is a parallel example to consider.  It strikes me
that the laws of economics are better understood than the activity of
greenhouse gasses.  I wonder if the author would support limits on
speech for supporters of such things like minimum wages and trade
protectionism that economists routinely say make no sense in the
science of economics.  Should Barack Obama be enjoined from discussing
his gasoline rebate plan because most all economists say that it won't
work the way he says?  There is an economist consensus, should that be
enough to silence Obama?

Update:  His proposed system is sort of a government mandated peer-review backed with prison terms.  For some reason, climate science is obsessed with peer review.  A few thoughts:

At best, peer review is a screen for whether a study is worthy of occupying
limited publication space, not for whether it is correct.  Peer review, again at
best, focuses on whether a study has some minimum level of rigor and coherence
and whether it offers up findings that are new or somehow advance the ball on an
important topic. 

In "big
boy sciences
" like physics, study findings are not considered vetted simply
because they are peer-reviewed.  They are vetted only after numerous other
scientists have been able to replicate the results, or have at least failed to
tear the original results down.

More here.

So Lawrence Summers Was Fired For Being Correct?

So, apparently Lawrence Summers was correct:

Wall Street Journal -- Girls
and boys have roughly the same average scores on state math tests, but
boys more often excelled or failed, researchers reported. The fresh
research adds to the debate about gender difference in aptitude for
mathematics, including efforts to explain the relative scarcity of
women among professors of science, math and engineering.

The
latest study, in this week's journal Science, examined scores from
seven million students who took statewide mathematics tests from grades
two through 11 in 10 states between 2005 and 2007.
The
researchers, from the University of Wisconsin and the University of
California, Berkeley, didn't find a significant overall difference
between girls' and boys' scores. But the study also found that boys'
scores were more variable than those of girls. More boys scored
extremely well -- or extremely poorly -- than girls, who were more
likely to earn scores closer to the average for all students. The study found that boys are consistently more variable than girls, in every grade and in every state studied
(see crude diagram above - showing distributions where mean
intelligence is the same, but the standard deviation of male
intelligence is greater than female intelligence).

In Minnesota, for example, 1.85% of white boys in the 11th grade hit the 99th percentile, compared with 0.9% of girls -- meaning there were more than twice as many boys among the top scorers than girls.

Of course, Summers did not get in trouble for being incorrect.  He got in trouble for saying something he was not supposed to say.  And it seems that the media are trying to avoid the same mistake, reporting what they want to believe, and not what the study actually says.

As I write in a post at Climate Skeptic, this is part and parcel of a new post-modernist science, where (as MaxedOutMamma writes) "If a
research finding could harm a class of persons, the theory is that
scientists should change the way they talk about that finding".

Savonarola Is At NASA Now

Cross-Posted From Climate Skeptic. 

In
1497, Savonarola tried to end the Italian Renaissance in a massive pyre
of books and artwork (the Bonfire of the Vanities).  The Renaissance
was about inquiry and optimism, neither of which had much appeal to
Savonarola, who thought he had all the answers he needed in his
apocalyptic vision of man.  For him, how the world worked, and
particularly the coming apocalypse, was "settled science" and any
questioning of his world view was not only superfluous, it was evil.

Fortunately, while the enlightenment was perhaps delayed (as much by
the French King and the Holy Roman Emperor as by Savonarola), it mans
questing nature was not to be denied.

But now, the spirit of Savonarola has returned, in the guise of
James Hansen, a man who incredibly calls himself a scientist.  Mr.
Hansen has decided that he is the secular Savonarola, complete with apocalyptic predictions and a righteousness that allows no dissent:

"James
Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call
for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on
trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of
actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that
tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his
groundbreaking speech to the US Congress - in which he was among the
first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue
that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the "perfect storm"
of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive
officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being
fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are
spreading."

It will be interesting to see
if any champions of free speech on the left can work up the energy to
criticize Hansen here.  What we have is a government official
threatening prosecution and jail time for Americans who exercise their
free speech rights.  GWB, rightly, would never get a pass on this.  Why
does Hansen?

Today's Science Experiment

(Cross posted from Climate Skeptic)

Using this chart from the NOAA:

Marchmay2008conus

Explain how larger than average midwestern flooding in 2008 is due to global warming.  For those
who wish to make the argument that global temperatures, not just US
temperatures, matter because the world is one big interelated climate system,
you may use this chart of global temperatures instead in your explanation:

Rss_may_08520

For extra credit, also blame 2008 spike in tornadoes on global warming.  Don't forget to explain how global warming caused the late onset of Spring this year and the especially heavy snowfalls over the winter. 
Thanks for charts to Anthony
Watt
.

I'm Not Sure the Data Means What You Think It Means

Over at Climate Skeptic, I discuss a recent claim by ABC that year-to-date tornado frequency has nearly doubled vs. 2007, and that this is because of global warming.  I will take their word for it that tornado frequency is up, but there is one tiny problem:  The US in Jan-Apr of this year was almost a full degree cooler than last year.  So if tornado frequency is up, and ABC is correct that yearly changes in this metric are due to changes in global temperature, then it can only mean that global warming reduces, rather than increases, tornadoes.

Why You Seldom See Me In My Own Comment Threads

A reader asks:

I enjoy reading your Coyote and Climate Skeptic blogs, thanks for hosting
them! I am curious why you don't take part in the comments that rage
over many of your postings.

There are several reasons.  First, I usually feel that I have said what I have to say in a particular post.  I enjoy reading the comments, but don't have a strong need to correct or combat those who misinterpret or disagree with me.  I learn from comments and try to make my arguments more bullet-proof in the future.  Second, I find it infinitely more powerful if my reader base makes the rebuttals for me.

Third, and most importantly, I just don't have the time.  Way back when, I used to get sucked into all kinds of chat-room flame wars.  It is just way to time-consuming.  Even blogging itself takes more time than I really should commit to an activity that does nothing to advance the well-being of my family or my business.  There is a person I consider an online friend (I have never met him in person) who writes a climate blog and gets sucked into the flame wars on his blog, and it seems to cause him all kinds of stress. 

This cartoon from XKCD seems appropriate as a summation:

Duty_calls

So, if I do not respond to your critiques in the comment thread, do not assume that your wit and eloquence have silenced me.  I am probably waiting to re-post on the subject in the future.  Just because you don't yet feel anything nibbling on your legs does not mean that the fin swimming around you in the water is going to go away peacefully.

The Keystone Issue of Global Warming

Cross-posted from Climate Skeptic.  I believe this to be an extremely important issue.  Catastrophic global warming forecasts are driven not by greenhouse gas theory, but by the theory that the Earth's climate is dominated by positive feedback.  This post discusses these issues:

It is silly to argue whether CO2 in the atmosphere can cause global warming: It clearly does.  The issue is not "if" but "how much".  The warming from man's CO2 might be 8 degrees in a century, as Al Gore might argue, in which case man's CO2 would be incredibly disruptive.  Or it might cause just a few tenths of a degree of warming, which might be unnoticeable within the noise of natural climate variation.

Interestingly, the key to understanding this issue of the amount of warming does not actually lie in greenhouse gas theory.  Most scientists, skeptics and alarmists alike, peg the warming directly from CO2 at between 0.3 and 1.0 degrees Celsius for a doubling in CO2 levels  (this notion of how much temperatures would increase for a doubling of CO2 levels is called climate sensitivity).  If this greenhouse gas warming was the only phenomenon at work, we would expect man-made warming over the next century even using the most dire assumptions to be less than 1C, or about the same amount we have seen (non-catastrophically) over the last century.  Warming forecasts of this magnitude would not in any way, shape, or form justify the draconian economic impacts of many current government carbon reduction proposals.

The key, as I have written before (and here), lies not in greenhouse gas theory itself but in the theory that the earth's climate is dominated by positive feedback.  This theory hypothesizes that small changes in temperature from greenhouse gas increases would be multiplied 3,4,5 times or more by positive feedback effects, from changes in atmospheric water vapor to changing surface albedo.

Let me emphasize again:  The catastrophe results not from greenhouse gas theory, but from the theory of extreme climactic positive feedback.  In a large sense, all the debate in the media is about the wrong thing!  When was the last time you saw the words "positive feedback" in a media article about climate?

Christopher Monckton has an absolutely dead-on post at Roger Pielke's blog about this feedback theory that I want to excerpt in depth.

This chart is a good place to start.  It shows the changes in the IPCC's estimate for climate sensitivity to CO2 and how it has changed over the course of the reports.  More importantly, he splits the forecast between the amount due directly to Co2, and the amount due to the multiplicative effect of positive feedback.  The green bar is the direct contribution of Co2, and the pink is the feedback.

Fig3

We can observe a couple of things.  First, the IPCC's estimate of the amount of warming due to CO2 directly via the greenhouse gas effect has actually been going down over time.  (Note that there are those, like Richard Lindzen, who suggest these numbers are still three times too high given that we have not observed a difference in surface and lower troposphere warming that greenhouse gas theory seems to predict).

Second, you will see that the IPCC's overall forecasts of climate sensitivity have been going up only because their estimates of positive feedback effects have gone way up.  The IPCC assumes that feedback effects multiply warming from CO2 by three.  And note that the IPCC's forecasts of feedback effects trail those of folks like James Hansen and Al Gore. 

So how confident are we in these feedback effects?  Well, it turns out we are not even sure of the sign!  As Monckton writes:

The feedback factor f accounts for at least two-thirds of all radiative forcing in IPCC (2007); yet it is not expressly quantified, and no "Level Of Scientific Understanding" is assigned either to f or to the two variables b and κ upon which it is dependent....

Indeed, in IPCC (2007) the stated values for the feedbacks that account for more than two-thirds of humankind's imagined effect on global temperatures are taken from a single paper. The value of the coefficient z in the CO2 forcing equation likewise depends on only one paper. The implicit value of the crucial parameter κ depends upon only two papers, one of which had been written by a lead author of the chapter in question, and neither of which provides any theoretical or empirical justification for the IPCC's chosen value. The notion that the IPCC has drawn on thousands of published, peer-reviewed papers to support its central estimates for the variables from which climate sensitivity is calculated is not supported by the evidence.

Given the importance of feedback to their forecasts, the treatment in the latest IPCC report of feedback borders on the criminal.  I have read the relevant sections and it is nearly impossible to find any kind of discussion of these issues.  A cynical mind might describe the thousands of pages of the IPCC report as the magician grabbing your attention with his left hand to hide what is in his right hand.  And what is being hidden is that ... there is nothing there!  Feedback is the pivotal point on which the whole discussion of drastic carbon abatement should turn and there is nothing there. 

Monckton goes further, to point out that hidden in the IPCC numbers lies an absurdity:

if the upper estimates of each of the climate-relevant feedbacks listed in IPCC (2007) are summed, an instability arises. The maxima are -

Water vapor 1.98, lapse rate -0.58, surface albedo 0.34, cloud albedo 1.07, CO2 0.57, total 3.38 W m-2 K-1.

The equation f = (1 - bκ)-1 becomes unstable as b → κ-1 = 3.2 W m-2 K-1. Yet, if each of the individual feedbacks imagined by the IPCC is increased to less than the IPCC's maximum, an instability or "runaway greenhouse effect" is reached.

Yet it is reliably inferred from palaeoclimatological data that no "runaway greenhouse effect" has occurred in the half billion years since the Cambrian era, when atmospheric CO2 concentration peaked at almost 20 times today's value

Positive feedback can be weird and unstable.  If there is enough of it, processes tend to run away (e.g. nuclear fission), which is what Monckton is arguing that some of the IPCC assumptions lead to.  Even when feedback is less positive, it still can cause processes to fluctuate wildly.  In fact, it is fairly unusual for long-term stable processes like climate to be dominated by positive feedback.  Most scientists, when then meet a new process, would probably assume negative feedback until proven otherwise.  This is a particular issue in climate, where folks like Michael Mann have gone out of their way to argue that the world temperature history over the last 1000 years before man began burning fossil fuels is incredibly stable and unchanging.  If so, how can this be consistent with strong positive feedback?

Anyway, there is a lot more numerical detail in Monckton's post if you want to dig into the equations.

I would add one thing to his analysis:  If you look at the last 100 years of history, the change in temperature given the observed change in CO2 levels comes no where close to a climate sensitivity of 3 or more, even when you assign all historical warming to CO2 rather than other effects like the sun.  In fact, as I showed in this analysis, climate sensitivity appears to be 1.2 when one assigns all past warming to CO2, and something well less than that if one accepts the sun and other effects also play a role.  These historical analyses would point to feedback that is either zero or negative rather than positive, more in line with what one would expect from complex natural systems.

You can see a discussion of many of these topics in the video below:

Climate Thought for the Day

Via Climate Skeptic:

The catastrophe that Al Gore and others prophesy as a result of greenhouse
gases is actually not, even by their admission, a direct result of greenhouse
gas emissions.  Even the IPCC believes that warming directly resulting from
manmade CO2 emissions is on the order of 1 degree C for a doubling of CO2 levels
in the atmosphere (and many think it to be less). 

The catastrophe comes, not from a mere 1 degree of warming, but from the
multiplication for this warming 3,4,5 times or more by hypothesized positive
feedback effects in the climate.   Greenhouse gas theory gives us warming
numbers we might not even be able to find amidst the natural variations of our
climate;  it is the theory of strong positive climate feedback that gives us the
apocalypse.

So, In a large sense, the proposition that we face environmental armageddon
due to CO2 rests not on greenhouse gas theory, which is pretty well understood,
but on the theory that our climate system is dominated by strong positive
feedbacks.  This theory of positive feedback is almost never discussed publicly,
in part because it is far shakier and less understood than greenhouse gas
theory.  In fact, it is very probable that we have the sign, much less the magnitude,
of major feedback effects wrong.  But if we are considering legislation to gut
our economies in order to avoid a hypothesized climate catastrophe, we should be
spending a lot more time putting scrutiny on this theory of positive feedback,
rather than just greenhouse gas theory.

Measuring Urban Heat Islands

My son finished his science fair project to measure the Phoenix urban heat island, the effect the IPCC swears is too small to have an effect on surface temperature measurements.  See all his results at Climate Skeptic.

Climate Rorschach Test

Over at Climate Skeptic, I have what could be called a climate Rorschach test.  Look at these two images below.  The left is the temperature plot for Lampasas, Texas, a station in the NASA GISS global warming data base.  On the right is the location of the temperature station since the year 2000 (the instrument is in the while cylinder in the middle of the picture under the dish).  Click either picture to expand

Lampasas_tx_ushcn_plot_2

 

Lampasas_tx_ushcn

So here is the eye test:  Do you read the warming since 2000 as man-made global warming due to CO2, or do you read it as a move of the temperature instrument to a totally inappropriate urban site to which the instrument was moved in 2000, contaminated with hot asphalt, car radiators, nearby buildings, air conditioning exhaust, etc?

You should know that NASA's GISS reads this as man-made global warming, and reports it as such.  Further, NASA actually takes the raw data above and in their computer model lowers temperatures in 1900 and 1920, actually increasing the apparent warming trend.  For the record, the GISS opposes this kind of photo survey as worthless and argues that their computer algorithms, which correct for urban warming at this site in 1900 but not in 2007, work just fine with no knowledge of the specific site location.

A Junior High Science Project That Actually Contributes A Small Bit to Science

Cross-posted from Climate Skeptic

Tired of build-a-volcano junior high science fair projects, my son and I tried to identify something he could easily do himself (well, mostly, you know how kids science projects are) but that would actually contribute a small bit to science.  This year, he is doing a project on urban heat islands and urban biases on temperature measurement.   The project has two parts:  1) drive across Phoenix taking temperature measurements at night, to see if there is a variation and 2) participate in the surfacestations.org survey of US Historical Climate Network temperature measurement sites, analyzing a couple of sites for urban heat biases. 

The results of #1 are really cool (warm?) but I will save posting them until my son has his data in order.  Here is a teaser:  While the IPCC claims that urban heat islands have a negligible effect on surface temperature measurement, we found a nearly linear 5 degree F temperature gradient in the early evening between downtown Phoenix and the countryside 25 miles away.  I can't wait to try this for myself near a USHCN site, say from the Tucson site out to the countryside.

For #2, he has posted two USHCN temperature measurement site surveys here and here.  The fun part for him is that his survey of the Miami, AZ site has already led to a post in response at Climate Audit.  It turns out his survey adds data to an ongoing discussion there about GISS temperature "corrections."

Miami_az_mmts

Out-of-the-mouth-of-babes moment:  My son says, "gee, dad, doesn't that metal building reflect a lot of heat on the thermometer-thing."  You can bet it does.  This is so obvious even a 14-year-old can see it, but don't tell the RealClimate folks who continue to argue that they can adjust the data for station quality without ever seeing the station.

This has been a very good science project, and I would encourage others to try it.  There are lots of US temperature stations left to survey, particularly in the middle of the country.  In a later post I will show you how we did the driving temperature transects of Phoenix.

Warmer and Richer

Over at Climate Skeptic, I discuss a Cato study that finally gets at an issue I have tried to press for years:  That even if one accepts the worst of the IPCC warming scenarios (which I do not) the
cost of CO2 abatement, particularly in terms of lost economic growth, is far
higher than the cost of rising temperatures -- ESPECIALLY for the poor. 

Hurricanes are a great example.  The world is probably warming a bit due to man's CO2, but likely less than the catastrophic rates one sees in the press.  This warming may or may not increase hurricane severity.  But let's assume it does.  Let's say Asia faces an extra cyclone or two each year from global warming. 

Over time, trends in deaths from hurricanes and severe deaths have shown no correlation with storm frequency or severity.  Death rates from storms track nearly perfectly with wealth:  As wealth has increased in the US, severe storm deaths have dropped to nearly zero;  Where countries are less wealthy, they experience more death.  Bangladesh is not the site of some of the deadliest storms on record because they get hit by the worst storms, but because they are poor.  (figure source)

Figure1

As a result, if we really face this tradeoff (which I doubt) the world still is better off richer with 10 hurricanes than poorer with 8.

The Critical Flaw with Catastrophic Global Warming Theory

I began with an 85-page book.  I shortened that to a 50-minute film, and then a 9-minute film.  With that experience, I think I can now pull out and summarize in just a few paragraphs why we should not fear catastrophic global warming.  Here goes:

Climate catastrophists often argue that global warming theory is "settled science."  And they are right in one respect:  We have a pretty good understanding of how CO2 can act as a greenhouse gas and cause the earth to warm.  What is well agreed upon, but is not well communicated in the media, is that a doubling of CO2, without other effects that we will discuss in a moment, will heat the earth about 1 degree Celsius (plus or minus a few tenths).  This is not some skeptic's hallucination -- this is straight out of the IPCC third and fourth assessments.  CO2, acting alone, warms the Earth only slowly, and at this rate we would see less than a degree of warming over the next century, more of a nuisance than a catastrophe.

But some scientists do come up with catastrophic warming forecasts.  They do so by assuming that our Earth's climate is dominated by positive feedbacks that multiply the initial warming from CO2 by a factor of three, four, five or more.  This is a key point -- the catastrophe does not come from the science of greenhouse gases, but from separate hypotheses that the earth's climate is dominated by positive feedback.  This is why saying that greenhouse gas theory is "settled" is irrelevant to the
argument about catastrophic forecasts.  Because these positive feedbacks are NOT settled science.  In fact, the IPCC admits it does not even know the sign of the most important effect (water vapor), much less its magnitude.  They assume that the net effect is positive, but they are on very shaky ground doing so, particularly since having long-term stable systems like climate dominated by positive feedback is a highly improbable.

And, in fact, with the 100 or so years of measurements we have for temperature and CO2, empirical evidence does not support these high positive feedbacks.  Even if we assign all the 20th century warming to CO2, which is unlikely, our current warming rates imply close to zero feedback.  If there are other causes for measured 20th century warming other than CO2, thereby reducing the warming we blame on CO2, then the last century's experience implies negative rather than positive feedback in the system.  As a result, it should not be surprising that high feedback-driven forecasts from the 1990 IPCC reports have proven to be way too high vs. actual experience (something the IPCC has since admitted).

However, climate scientists are unwilling to back down from the thin branch they have crawled out on.  Rather than reduce their feedback assumptions to non-catastrophic levels, they currently hypothesize a second man-made cooling effect that is masking all this feedback-driven warming.  They claim now that man-made sulfate aerosols and black carbon are cooling the earth, and when some day these pollutants are reduced, we will see huge catch-up warming.  If anything, this cooling effect is even less understood than feedback.  What we do know is that, unlike CO2, the effects of these aerosols are short-lived and therefore localized, making it unlikely they are providing sufficient masking to make catastrophic forecasts viable.  I go into several reality checks in my videos, but here is a quick one:  Nearly all the man-made cooling aerosols are in the northern hemisphere, meaning that most all the cooling effect should be there -- but the northern hemisphere has actually exhibited most of the world's warming over the past 30 years, while the south has hardly warmed at all.

In sum, to believe catastrophic warming forecasts, one has to believe both of the following:

  1. The climate is dominated by strong positive feedback, despite our experience with other stable systems that says this is unlikely and despite our measurements over the last 100 years that have seen no such feedback levels.
  2. Substantial warming, of 1C or more, is being masked by aerosols, despite the fact that aerosols really only have strong presence over 5-10% of the globe and despite the fact that the cooler part of the world has been the one without the aerosols.

Here's what this means:  Man will cause, at most, about a degree of warming over the next century.  Most of this warming will be concentrated in raising minimum temperatures at night rather than maximum daytime temperatures  (this is why, despite some measured average warming, the US has not seen an increase of late in maximum temperature records set).  There are many reasons to believe that man's actual effect will be less than 1 degree, and that whatever effect we do have will be lost in the natural cyclical variations the climate experiences, but we are only just now starting to understand.

To keep this relatively short, I have left out all the numbers and such.  To see the graphs and numbers and sources, check out my new climate video, or my longer original video, or download my book for free.

UPDATE: Based on a lot of comment activity to this post at its mirror at Climate Skeptic,
I wanted to add a bit of an update.  It is sometimes hard to summarize
without losing important detail, and I think I had that happen here.

Commenters are correct that positive feedback dominated systems can
be stable as long as the feedback percentage is less than 100%.  By
trying to get too compact in my arguments, I combined a couple of
things.  First, there are many catastrophists that argue that climate
IS in fact dominated by feedback over 100% -- anyone who talks of
"tipping points" is effectively saying this.  The argument about
instability making stable processes impossible certainly applies to
these folks' logic.  Further, even positive feedback <100% makes a
system highly subject to dramatic variations.  But Mann et. al. are
already on the record saying that without man, global temperatures are
unbelievably stable and move in extremely narrow ranges.   It is hard
to imagine this to be true in a climate system dominated by positive
feedback, particularly when it is beset all the time with dramatic
perturbations, from volcanoes to the Maunder Minimum.

To some extent, climate catastrophists are in a bind.  If historic
temperatures show a lot of variance, then a strong argument can be made
that a large portion of 20th century warming is natural occilation.  If
historic temperatures move only in narrow ranges, they have a very
difficult time justifying that the climate is dominated by positive
feedbacks of 60-80%.

The point to remember, though, is that irregardless of likelihood,
the historical temperature record simply does not support assumptions
of feedback much larger than zero.  Yes, time delays and lags make a
small difference, but all one has to do is compare current temperatures
to CO2 levels 12-15 years ago to account for this lag and one still
gets absolutely no empirical support for large positive feedbacks.

Remember this when someone says that greenhouse gas theory is
"Settled."  It may or may not be, but the catastrophe does not come
directly from greenhouse gasses.  Alone, they cause at most nuisance
warming.  The catastrophe comes from substantial positive feedback (it
takes 60-80% levels to get climate sensitivities of 3-5C) which is far
from settled science.

Irony Alert

Over at Climate Skeptic, I take a quick look at the most recent Gavin Schmidt PR piece in the Washington Post, claiming that 2007 was, you know, really hot.

But I wanted to share two funny bits with you.  First, from the climate crowd who claims to have their science so buttoned down that we skeptics should not even be allowed to talk about it any more, comes this:

Taking into account the new data, they said, seven of the eight
warmest years on record have occurred since 2001

What new data?  That another YEAR had been discovered?  Because when
I count on my own fingers, I only can come up with 6 years since 2001.

Second, comes this bit of irony:  There are many reasons why satellites gives us a potentially better measure for world temperatures than surface temperature instruments.  They give us full global coverage (except the poles) and are free of urban and other biases.  So I have always wondered if the only reason that climate scientists defend the surface temperature record over satellites is merely because they don't like the answer satellites are giving (they show less warming than do surface temperature records).

But here is the irony:  The person who is arguably the strongest defender of land-based measurement over satellites, and who maintains what neutral observers feel is the most upwardly-biased surface temperature record, is Gavin Schmidt, who is ... wait for it ... head of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies at NASA.

Another Climate Rorschach Test

Take the 10-second test at Climate Skeptic.