May 172010

While catching up on things this morning, a link at Bishop Hill took me to one of the most penetrating and concise commentaries on the Hockey Stick controversy that I have seen, and it comes from a rather surprising source.

I’m not going to attempt to summarise what it says, mainly because if I did so it would probably give the impression that the author - Sam Norton, a philosopher and country parson - is reiterating arguments that most of us have often heard before, and to some extent this is the case. The power of his post comes not from covering new ground, but from the clarity and rigour with which it brings together issues that are often discussed in isolation: the political influences that contaminate climate science, reliance on arguments from authority, and the insights that applying dispassionate philosophical analysis to a scientific controversy can provide.

If you are commenting here on what Sam has to say then please, please, lets not have yet another discussion of what Michael Mann’s work may or may not tell us about climate over the last millennium. That is not what the article is about. The Hockey Stick saga has far more interesting things to tell us about the relationship between politics, science and belief at the beginning of the 21st century than whether the 1990′s were the warmest decade for a thousand years - if that matters - and that 1998 was the warmest year.

If you consider commenting at Sam Norton’s blog, then I advise you to get all your ducks in a row first. He seems to be a very pleasant and courteous chap, but note his reply to ‘Tess’, third comment down.

Kudos to Andrew Montford (aka Bishop Hill) whose book The Hockey Stick Illusion is helping to bring what appears to be a rather grubby scandal to the attention of a far wider circle of people whose views are valuable.

176 Responses to “The Hockey Stick – what would Martin Luther do?”

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  1. 1
    John A Says:

    Can I be the first to find mirth in the fact that Sam Norton warns against “arguments from authority”?

  2. 2
    manacker Says:


    The Sam Norton essay compares the corruption of climate science with that of the Catholic Church at the time of Martin Luther, with Steve McIntyre unwittingly playing the same role in exposing this corruption as Luther did.

    Norton points out that, just as the Church tried to obscure its basic corruption at the time, “the response of the establishment to McIntyre’s questioning has been to close ranks and stonewall”.

    The “appeal to authority” used by mainstream climate science today is in effect “the equivalent of the church saying ‘trust us’ to Luther”.

    Where Montford’s book, “The Hockey Stick Illusion” explains the “what” and “how” behind the Hockey Stick scandal in great detail, Norton’s post explains the “why” in an powerful, but easy-to-understand philosophical way.


  3. 3
    manacker Says:

    John A

    Sam Norton does not claim to be an “authority” on climate science (or even paleo-climatology), so his argument is not an “appeal to authority”.

    This is in contrast to climate scientist, Andrew Dessler’s essay on the Grist site some months ago, in which he expressed an elitist view on who is qualified to have a relevant opinion in the current debate surrounding the hypothesis of potentially alarming anthropogenic greenhouse warming.

    Dessler compared this to a medical diagnosis, stating that just as one would be foolish not to go to a qualified expert for such a diagnosis one should go to the established climate scientists for a climate change prognosis.

    That is an “appeal to authority”, similar to that apparently used by Church theologians at the time against Martin Luther, according to Norton.


  4. 4
    peter geany Says:


    This is a very interesting article and backs up what many people from a wide variety of backgrounds are saying. At some point mainstream political leaders will come to say the same thing.

    But more than anything I think that science has become almost totally corrupted in the West, perhaps because of the way it is funded by central governments. Science has this reputation for being open and following the scientific method and we in the sceptic community have often thought that this corruption has in the main been Climate Science problem.

    I however have begun to think there is a more deep seated problem of complacency and comfort throughout science. Many scientists it appears are resistant to any change whatever it maybe, and there are some fundamental theories that may have to be modified over the next few years or decades as we learn more.

    Just as an example one such theory is Newton’s Law of Gravity. This has been cast in stone and on earth it works perfectly. Out in the Solar system it begins to deviate, and the big experiment to prove Newton’s Law with the Voyager spacecraft finds them both off course. Other spacecraft have missed their targets by feet or inches, and a craft to mercury was metres off course. Reading about how scientists handle this is a rerun of how Steve McIntyre and others get blanked.

    And here again we have to point the finger at the (Church) Royal Society who rather than protect the best traditions of science are destroying its reputation, for they are ultimately powerless to suppress discovery and endeavour.

    One thing that was pointed out to me was that the vast majority of scientific breakthroughs are discovered by young people or those that have bashed away for years to discover something. Seldom are breakthrough achieved by those who currently occupy the Royal Society. Perhaps its time for some better representation?

  5. 5
    tempterrain Says:

    Max & JohnA,

    As with all logical fallacies, the fact that an argument is an appeal to authority does not necessarily make its conclusion untrue. This line of thought is known as the logical fallacy fallacy!! Furthermore, it does not make it unreasonable to believe the truth of the argument.

    For example, the fact that nearly all medical scientists have reached the consensus that HIV infection causes AIDS does make it very reasonable for a person without knowledge in the field to believe that HIV does indeed cause AIDS.

    Of course AIDS/HIV denialists would claim that the link is nothing more than an argument from authority with the heavy implication that therefore it was untrue. Just as Sam Norton is doing with the link between increased GHG concentrations in the atmosphere and global warming!

  6. 6
    tempterrain Says:

    Max You write “Just as an example one such theory is Newton’s Law of Gravity. This has been cast in stone and on earth it works perfectly.”

    Well no it doesn’t. It is just the same on earth as out in the solar system. In reality, on earth, all deviations are very very small and in most cases it is not worth applying Einstein’s relativistic corrections which do fix up the theory as perfectly as can be measured. One exception is the operation of GPS using low orbital satellites. Relativistic corrections do have to be made to avoid appreciable innacuracy.

    You are barking up the wrong tree if you are trying to use Newton’s Law to further your agenda of how scientists are resistant to change. It was all worked out by Einstein early last century and there has been no lack of effort in looking for any further discrepancies between theory and measurement.

  7. 7
    manacker Says:


    As usual, you have missed the point of Sam Norton’s blog.

    Read it again (if necessary, a few times) to let the meaning sink in.

    The “appeal to authority” was made in context with the established authority on Christian dogma (and hence Church practices) at the time of Martin Luther, i.e. the theologians of the Catholic Church.

    The “peer-reviewed mainstream climate scientists” now claim that mantle of authority with regard to climate science (and hence the predictions of serious problems resulting from AGW).

    The “trust us” advice of today’s “mainstream climate scientists” is just as hollow as the same “trust us” advice of the Church theologians to Luther at the time, and Norton’s analogy is valid, as is his comparison of Luther to McIntyre as exposers of the inherent corruption of the establishment.

    Your blather on HIV/AIDS or gravity is OT here and has contributed nothing except obfuscation (as it was probably intended to do).


  8. 8
    peter geany Says:


    You are barking up the wrong tree if you are trying to use Newton’s Law to further your agenda of how scientists are resistant to change. It was all worked out by Einstein early last century and there has been no lack of effort in looking for any further discrepancies between theory and measurement.

    This gets boring at times, but here is a quote

    “The Pioneer anomaly refers to deviations from projected courses for several spacecraft sent to the outer solar system. The data sent back from both Pioneer spacecraft, Galileo, and Ulysses, represent one of the first meaningful tests of the precision of gravitation predictions over long distances. The spacecraft have deviated from the courses which scientists predicted using general relativity, as well as Newtonian mechanics, indicating that both theories may be fundamentally flawed.”

    Peter, just for once in your life don’t assume we are idiots and that you can chuck back any bit of rubbish and assume we’ll roll over. I’m very sorry I mixed up pioneer and voyager though, not that it makes a scrap of difference to my point

  9. 9
    manacker Says:


    Just to carry the thought by Peter Geany on the Royal Society one step further in context with Sam Norton’s essay.

    To make the statement: “The Royal Society is in agreement with the “mainstream” view on AGW, therefore it must be correct”, is a classical “appeal to authority”.

    To say, “Hundreds of actual case studies and laboratory analyses have enabled medical science to establish a clear link between the HIV virus and AIDS”, is NOT an “appeal to authority”, but a statement of fact.

    Get the difference?

    You may find it to be subtle, but it is there.


  10. 10
    manacker Says:


    One of the comments to the Norton blog on Bishop Hill (from a poster named P. Gosselin) caught my eye as particularly pertinent, so I have copied it below:

    Referring to Norton’s statement:

    “Of course, I could be completely wrong, but in my view, just as Luther triggered the Reformation, and in due course the Protestant church, I suspect that what McIntyre has done is trigger a new and Reformed style of science – one in which openness and transparency are the hallmarks, and which is faster, more dynamic, more creative – and more accurate – than the existing magisterium.”

    Gosselin commented:

    I wouldn’t call it a reformed style of science. I’d say he contributed in redirecting the train back towards the tracks. But that train is still far from being back on track.

    I think the AGW religion will be around for a long time – at least until the next ice age. People are attracted to it because it’s a religion where despising people and success are virtues. Face it, it’s much easier, and for many people it’s even fun, to despise people and success. Really, it is. Loving people is really hard sometimes – just think of the neighbour next door.

    No, AGW makes a lot of people feel superior to others, and that it’s okay for them to look for ways to punish and dictate them. All in the name of saving the planet, you see.


  11. 11
    manacker Says:


    You wrote (5) about

    the link between increased GHG concentrations in the atmosphere and global warming

    Let’s examine that link more closely.

    First, let’s concentrate on CO2, the principal trace GHG preferred by IPCC.

    Then let’s look at the physical record.

    We are limited to the period after 1958 for physical observations of atmospheric CO2 (Mauna Loa), but we have estimates based on ice core reconstructions for earlier values. Let’s assume these estimates (as cited by IPCC) are “correct”, despite some conflicting analytical values (as cited earlier by TonyB).

    We have a modern surface temperature record (HadCRUT) that goes back to 1850. Curiously, it keeps getting “corrected” and “adjusted” after the fact, but let’s take the latest version as the “correct” record.

    If we look at this record in detail we see a very poor “link between increased GHG concentrations in the atmosphere and global warming”.

    In fact, we see three distinct multi-decadal periods of warming (of about 30 years each), with two multi-decadal periods of cooling in between (of also about 30 years each).

    The first two warming periods, as well as the first cooling period, occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before there was any substantial increase in CO2.

    The second cooling period occurred after WWII, as CO2 concentrations began to increase rapidly as a result of the post-war boom years.

    And finally we have the third warming period (starting around 1976), which has been used by IPCC as the “poster period” for most of its latest AR4 report on GH warming, and which occurred at the same time as atmospheric CO2 increased rapidly.

    So out of the five 30-year periods, we really only have one where temperature and CO2 both rose at the same time.

    This is a very poor statistical correlation, Peter, no matter how you try to turn it.

    In addition, temperature has been cooling after 2000, despite record increase in CO2, which raises even more doubt concerning the robustness of the observed correlation between CO2 and temperature.

    And we all know that if the observed statistical correlation between CO2 and temperature is not robust, the observed case for causation is extremely weak.

    Peter, if you want to talk about “the link between increased GHG concentrations in the atmosphere and global warming”, you’ve got to come with something a bit more substantial than that.

    Basic GH theory and model-derived “positive feedback” assumptions (which allegedly triple the GH effect of CO2 alone) are one thing, but the observed data do not support your statement at all.


  12. 12
    Robin Guenier Says:

    I suggest everyone (especially Max) is misunderstanding the reason for John A’s mirth re Sam Norton warning against “arguments from authority”. Sam Norton is a clergyman. Presumably he believes in God.

    Get it?

    And PeterM: the reason why medical scientists are convinced that HIV infection causes AIDS is (as Max pointed out) because the hypothesis is verified by empirical evidence. Appeal to authority is neither here nor there.

    Get it?

    Max: re the Gosselin comment, I’m in correspondence with an “ecopsychologist” – and do they feel superior to those wretched deniers!

  13. 13
    tonyb Says:

    Max #11

    I think it is important to put the known climate data into its proper perspective. This is CET to 1659.

    As you can see, throughout the record the temperatures have been warming-centuries before the input of Co2 by man. The period around 1700-1730 shows a particularly notable upturn in temperatures.

    This instrumental record is backed up by various other records, such as this one from Uppsalla.

    We are fortunate with this record- from our friend Arrhenius’s home town- to have the botanical garden records as well. These take us back to around 1695. Around 1710 they talk about planting outside some quite exotic plants-together with mulberries.

    So the temperature rise can be traced back to at least 1690, and if we look further back, before the English Civil War, we can know that the coldest part of this second phase of the LIA ocurred in the early part of the 17th Century, so we can actually trace that rise from around 1620.

    The modern GISS record merely ‘plugs’ into the end of this well documented slow and gentle rise. The Giss record curiously started from a known trough in temperatures around 1880-If Hansen had taken the previous decades records, when there was a notable peak, the slope would not be as high as is commonly shown.

    This all suggests to me that CO2 is a very weak climate driver that is overwhelmed by natural variability.


  14. 14
    manacker Says:


    Re 12 – appeal to (supreme and omniscient) authority.

    Got it.


  15. 15
    Robin Guenier Says:


    Re central England temperatures since 1659 / CO2 emissions, I like this chart.

  16. 16
    manacker Says:


    Your reference (13) to pre-1850 climate changes (when there was no AGW) further corroborate the premise (as you say) that CO2 is, at best, a weak driver of climate, and that natural variability is much more important.

    This is hard for Peter to see, not because he cannot grasp it, but because he has difficulty accepting it, as it conflicts with his preconceived notion that CO2 is the principal driver of our planet’s climate.

    But, even leaving the pre-1850 record aside, it is clear that only one of the five multi-decadal temperature swings observed since 1850 show any correlation with atmospheric CO2, while the other four do not.

    This is an extremely weak correlation, and certainly not a robust basis for causation, as even Peter must admit if he is honest about it.


    PS There was an interesting exchange on Bart Verheggen’s blog, where a blogger named “VS”, who is apparently well versed in statistical analysis, demonstrated that the correlation between CO2 and temperature was not statistically robust, and that the case for causation was, therefore, weak. Defenders of the AGW paradigm were not convincing, as they could not invalidate the analysis by VS. The thread is now closed, but it is worth checking out.

  17. 17
    tonyb Says:

    Robin #15

    Could you post that graph as a named link? Thanks.

    Max #16

    Yes, I followed that very long thread with great interest. Statistically, or from instrumental and observational records, it is very difficult to discern that Co2 is a powerful climate driver as natural variabilty overwhelms it.

    Modern temperature records from 1880 merely demonstrate that Hansen captured the rising trend observed for centuries.


  18. 18
    tempterrain Says:

    Max, You say “here is the quote” but where is the quote from? It sounds like you’ve been wasting your time reading psuedo-scientific websites again. Neither Newton’s laws, nor Einstein’s modifications to them, are “fundamentally flawed”. No-one who knew what they were talking about would ever refer to them way even if it does turn out that further modifications may be necessary.

    Have you ever considered taking up gardening to occupy your time in retirement?

  19. 19
    Brute Says:

    I wasn’t going to bring this up Pete; however, you incorrectly attributed a quote to Max (your #6) whereas Mr Geany was the author (#4).

    Perhaps you should be tending the garden.

  20. 20
    Brute Says:

    Good chart Robin (Tonyb)……….Wonderful expanse of time that accurately reflects the scales and the inept prophecies of the IPCC models.

    I’m going to pass that one around at work tomorrow.

    That is your chart, right Tonyb?


  21. 21
    tempterrain Says:


    Yes you’re right. That’s not a sentence I use very often! Peter Geany should be packed off to dig his garden! Mind you, there are plenty of other posts from Max which would merit a similar sentence.

    There is plenty to say about the CET chart. The most obvious is that we are talking about Global warming. The English, like the Americans, can be very inward looking at times, and sometimes give the impression they think that the world ends at the English Channel.

    Also the IPCC are saying 2-4.5 degC for the temperature rise by the end of the century. 7 degF is a possible figure. It looks like you have mixed up your Centigrade and Fahrenheit with the dotted line for your “Climate Model Prediction”.

  22. 22
    Robin Guenier Says:

    The CET chart to which I referred is based, I believe, on this original:
    It’s particularly interesting as it’s probably the longest instrument-based temperature in the world. But, as for it not being global (PeterM), well, yes, that’s obviously true. But, of course, temperature as actually experienced is never global; global temperatures are an artificial (and controversial) artefact. But the CET chart is but one of a myriad of charts on the John L Daly (sadly deceased) site – here. These records are most certainly global – and fascinating.

    BTW a remarkable feature of the CET chart is the extraordinary temperature increase between 1700 and 1740. In England at least it would seem to have been nearly as warm at the beginning of the eighteenth century as it was at the end of the twentieth, having climbed from the coldest period in the entire record.

  23. 23
    tonyb Says:

    Brute, Peter and Robin


    My link is #13. Robin then posted an interesting graph in #15 which showed the trend line AND Emissions. I posted numerous graphs showing the emissions here last year but not with the trend line as well. The climate model prediction -dotted red line-appears to be mixing global temperatures and CET temperatures.

    Robin #22

    I am still hoping for the original source-the John Daly one is not the same at all. I refer to the extraordinary warming at the start of the 18th century in my #13

    Peter #21

    The thing about CET is that it is real-not a simulated computer program or one derived from tree rings. Why use tree rings when you have thermometers?

    The trends shown here, and in a variety of other instrumental records that I have alluded to numerous times here, and which are collected on my web site, clearly demonstrate that there are peaks and troughs, but a steadily warming world was established from at least 1690.

    This instrumental data is backed up by numerous observational records.

    So perhaps CET and a variety of others are completely contrary to what is happening everywhere else in the world? Or perhaps they merely demonstrate that modern warming is just part of a well established trend that was accepted as the norm pre hockey stick?

    Places are warming and places are cooling and due to the uhi influence on a major part of our temperature data base, the warming signal out performs the cooling signal when it is all tossed together into that nonsensical ever changing mish mash of figures known as ‘global temperatures’.

    As an example in 2009 there were 2333 stations Max; 1 per 248178 sq miles
    Max in 1979 decade 9191 1 per 62996 sq miles

    Of course there are a preponderance of thermometers in some places, but simplistically these days there is one thermometer for each area of land the size of France. In 1979 there were more like four. France has various distinct climatic zones and large numbers of micro climates within these, so the information being recorded is by no means representative and has become much less so over the years. Do you seriously believe this constant changing of the goal posts whilst at the same time mixing apples and oranges, is a proper way of measuring?

    Separate out these individual strands of temperature spaghetti and the raw data can be clearly seen. These old individual records have been examined ad infinitum by such as Phil Jones who was apparently fascinated by the temperature data sets preceding the 1850 cut off point that he chose in 1993. He subsequently identified seven as being of particular interest and in 2002- together with Dr D Camuffo- wrote a fascinating book on early (pre 1850) climate as measured by seven data sets.

    The link to the book/dvd is towards the bottom of the article. The caveats expressed about the longer data sets are worth reading. In it he mentions;

    ‘The actual warming rate has been proven to be at such a slow rate that temperature changes, over years (i.e. 0.006°C/yr) and even decades (i.e. 0.06°C/decade), are in most cases smaller than the instrumental resolution and can hardly be directly detected.’

    There was an additional study of old weather records carried out in Europe. As CRU was the UK partner Phil Jones seems to have been involved in this also;

    Both papers are well worth reading, not only because they are fascinating, but they also provide a better understanding of current interpretation of past recorded climate.

    I have collected many of the pre 1850 sets on my site;

    Phil Jones concluded;

    “Globally, minimum temperatures appear to be warming at a faster rate than
    Maximum temperatures (Karl et al., 1993), particularly since the 1950s (IPCC,
    2001), possibly associated with a change in cloud cover. Jones et al. (1999)
    found no significant increase in very warm days in the Central England Temperature series in recent years, but there was a marked decrease in the frequency of very cold days. A decrease in the diurnal temperature range has
    also been found in Northern and Central Europe (Heino et al., 1999)”

    Can I reiterate the obvious point that the world is becoming less cold rather than notably warming-as a result the low temperatures during the LIA interludes brought down the mean average. We should hardly be surprised as we move away from the LIA, that low temperatures will recede which will impact on the overall mean average temperatures.

    Perhaps you can tell us what you believe Peter? Do you seriously argue that the temperature trend was downwards or constant until 1880 when all of a sudden it shot up?

    Your thoughts are awaited as is the evidence.


  24. 24
    manacker Says:


    You wrote to Brute (21):

    Also the IPCC are saying 2-4.5 degC for the temperature rise by the end of the century. 7 degF is a possible figure. It looks like you have mixed up your Centigrade and Fahrenheit with the dotted line for your “Climate Model Prediction”.

    Actually, to be more precise, IPCC are saying between 1.1 and 6.4C temperature increase from 1980-1999 average to the year 2090-2099 average, with a “best estimate” for the scenarios ranging from 1.8 to 4.0C.

    In other words, IPCC is projecting a maximum increase of 6.4C over 9 decades or 0.71C per decade.

    Over a complete century (10 decades) this would be 7.1C increase

    The CET chart shows the “climate model prediction” “100 years from now” (= year 2110).

    The actual end 2009 temperature appears to be 10C.

    The “Climate Model Prediction” for year 2110 appears to be 17C, or 7C higher than the 2009 level.

    So the CET chart shows the maximum “Climate Model Prediction” of IPCC in degrees C (not F, as you assumed).

    When you make statements, Peter, do not simply “shoot from the hip”. Otherwise you may end up “shooting yourself in the foot”, as you have done here.


  25. 25
    Robin Guenier Says:


    Re your (illuminating) #23, my apologies for not providing the original source of my chart at #15. Here it is:

    It’s interesting that this shows an temperature increase for central England (a part of your “steadily warming world”) of only 0.26C per century. That’s surprisingly little and were it to continue to 2100 (as I’d be inclined to expect) would, far from being a concern, be quite welcome.

    BTW there’s an error in the reference to your own (very useful) site. It should read: (you included “wwww”).

  26. 26
    tempterrain Says:


    Where does it say “maximum” on the graph? It looks to me that its says “recent climate model predictions”.

    So which predictions do you mean, exactly?

  27. 27
    Brute Says:

    There is plenty to say about the CET chart. The most obvious is that we are talking about Global warming. The English, like the Americans, can be very inward looking at times, and sometimes give the impression they think that the world ends at the English Channel.


    I see……..human induced global warming is occuring everywhere except Central England……….got it.

  28. 28
    tempterrain Says:


    “Everywhere except Central England?”. No, of course not, but Central England is only a tiny part of the globe so any observable temperature trend is not so conclusive.

    If you do the graphing properly though, you can still see the same warming trend.

    I have use exactly the link quoted in post #20

  29. 29
    manacker Says:


    Where does it say “maximum” on the graph?

    It doesn’t, Peter.

    IPCC’s “predictions” (SPM 2007) for next century range from a minimum of 1.1C to a maximum of 6.4C for the various “scenario” and “storyline” assumptions fed into the models.

    Nobody pays much attention to the “minimum” figure, do they? (It’s a yawner.) But the “maximum” figure gets trumpeted all over the place as a “preview of coming disaster”.

    The CET graph (with a different scope and different start/end dates) gives only one figure of around 7C (17C – 10C), which corresponds closely to IPCC’s “maximum”.

    If one reads the fine print of IPCC, it appears that the temperature increase projected for higher latitudes is somewhat greater than that projected for the tropics, so it would be reasonable to assume that the UK would see a slightly higher warming than the global average, since over half of Earth’s surface area lies at latitudes lower than the UK.

    It’s all a bunch of “hokum” anyway, Peter (as we both know), but the graph does check with the maximum case projected by IPCC (and fed to us by the alarmist media).

    Now to your “warming trend line” (28). You show what appears optically to be a much higher “trend line” for the period 1979-2009 than that for 1700-1730, although the raw data show a smaller temperature increase (1.2C for 1979-2009 versus 1.8C for 1700-1730).

    Can you explain this? (Your “trend line” looks fishy to me.)


  30. 30
    tonyb Says:


    The original CET trend line is here

    and the compression of the scale by Peter and the selective short term data points used can not disguise the longer term overall trend lines detailed on the link just given (from Jonathan Drake).

    Indeed, this may resolve the question mark over the climate model prediction red dotted line we can see here on the screen at #20.

    Taking fewer data reference points distorts the trend line (and the shorter the period used the more this will occur)

    If we check the 1700 to 1735 period (i.e. a similar period to the one quoted by Peter) we end up with the trend equation:

    y = 0.02375 – 31.487

    In other words the temperature is increasing by 0.24°C per decade or 2.4°C per century an increase in temperature rate very similar to todays.(Recent CET is however known to not properly reflect uhi as the 1974 adjustments were inadequate)

    If we continue that trendline from 1730 (an absurd thing to do but a technique beloved of modellers) it can be seen that the predicted mean average CET temperature around now should be of the order of 16.5C. (which is what is shown on #20) Perhaps that is the origin of the ‘climate model prediction’ phrase?

    In reality the real mean is very substantially lower.

    The overall rise in temperature throughout this 1700 period is substantially greater than the modern period, as it ranged from very cold to very warm in a few decades, so the current rate of warming is hardly unprecedented.


  31. 31
    peter geany Says:


    Max, You say “here is the quote” but where is the quote from? It sounds like you’ve been wasting your time reading psuedo-scientific websites again. Neither Newton’s laws, nor Einstein’s modifications to them, are “fundamentally flawed”. No-one who knew what they were talking about would ever refer to them way even if it does turn out that further modifications may be necessary.

    Have you ever considered taking up gardening to occupy your time in retirement?

    I thought you had more savvy than you are demonstrating here. You are dismissing something you know nothing about just as you dismiss sceptical views of the climate. This was the point of the original post and you have demonstrated this perfectly.

    I cut and pasted a Quote, I won’t say from where because we will have 10 posts about the waco tendencies of the poster from you, rather than any reasoned argument about the science. I had hoped this quote would better illustrated the point I was trying to make, which you dismissed with a mention of Einstein theory of relativity, further demonstrating you didn’t check your facts. Is this how you conduct your discussions in climate science?

    To get back the point which is that there is much we think we know that often turns out to be incorrect. I was not agreeing or disagreeing with the quote. I don’t know enough about it, but the very first time man conducts an experiment to test 2 theories we have an unexplained deviation that could invalidate everything we think we know. Or put another way our model didn’t work.

    Now on earth we have a long history of measuring things to prove that what we think we know is correct. That has been thrown out when it come to climate science, and we now model things and dismiss the measurement when they don’t fit our model. I think I can spot something wrong here, how about you Peter, can you?

  32. 32
    manacker Says:


    Referring to your CET “trend line” (28)

    A more detailed look at the CET record confirms my suspicion that the trend line you have shown (with the rapid acceleration toward the end) is “fishy”.

    I have taken two 50-year periods:

    From 1960 (when human CO2 emissions were in full swing) to 2009.

    From 1690 to 1739 (when there was essentially no human CO2).

    The older period shows a linear rate of warming of 0.0361C/year or 1.8C over the 50-year period.

    The most recent period shows a linear rate of warming of 0.0265C/year or 1.3C over the 50-year period.

    This is what I suspected earlier, based on just eyeballing the overall curve, but now I have confirmed it.

    There is no apparent accelerating trend as you have shown.


    PS I can post the curves for the two periods, if you’d like.

  33. 33
    TonyN Says:

    I was away for all of yesterday, so I’m only catching up with this thread now.

    Peter G #9:

    I’m sure that your point about science being corrupted by government funding is sound. The Climategate emails are testimony to that, if nothing else.

    The nineteenth century was, arguably, the golden age of scientific research. The previously laid foundations of the main disciplines were systematically built on to feed through into industrial, technological, social, and philosophical changes that impacted every aspect of daily life. The ground breakers were not government funded institutes, but freethinking individuals (usually of independent means) who in spite of being subject to some peer pressure and the constraints of contemporary ethical mores were, to a great extent, in a position to ignore both if they chose. Political pressures were, so far as I am aware, insignificant or non-existent.

    Contrast that with a recent statement by Rajendra Pachauri concerning the Inter-Academy review of IPCC procedures:

    I’m afraid these allegations of corruption and malfeasance are completely misplaced and distorted,” he told BBC News.
    “But we have to make sure we do our best and live up to the expectations of the public and of governments, which are basically our masters.”

    Once scientists have ‘masters’, in the sense that Pachauri implies, then the link with the golden age of science is well and truly broken. Corrupted science becomes inevitable.

    Max, #10:

    P. Gosselin usually has something interesting to say, but on this occasion I am sure that he is taking a rather superficial view of what is a very complex issue.

    Since the middle of the last century, the close bond that even the developed nations had with the natural world has been broken as the agrarian component of their economies and cultures has steadily eroded. And there is no questioning that CAGW is entirely the brainchild of the developed world.

    This has created perfect conditions in which hubristic notions about being in control of the climate can flourish unchallenged. Gosselin’s notion that the present situation will be perpetuated primarily by the baser motive to which we are all subject seems simplistic to me.

  34. 34
    manacker Says:


    Our posts apparently crossed, but they are in agreement.

    To avoid the “short term” versus “longer term” comparison (an IPCC specialty), I have taken two 50-year periods:

    The most recent 50 years and a period covering the late 17th to early 18th century warming, to which you have referred earlier.

    This comparison shows, indeed, that there has been no acceleration in the rate of temperature increase as a result of CO2 emissions, but (as you have written) that natural variability overshadows any GH effect from CO2.

    So we are on the same wave length.


  35. 35
    tonyb Says:

    Max #34

    The main point is that we have these historic instrumental records and a wealth of observational material to back up the generality of the trends.

    These records were hijacked by much of climate science who ignored history and chose to concentrate on computer models which even the IPCC have admitted are flawed (as we have both commented on numerous times)

    I am currently writing a major article on the Little Ice age and attempting to go back to the Roman Optimum. We are on a gently rising trend from probably about 1620-maybe a little earlier- which followed a sharp drop from the MWP that gathered pace from around 1320.

    If people want to make a case for the effect of radiative physics from around 1970 that is a reasonable argument to make, but the fact that so much time is spent trying to rubbish the climate variability of earlier ages makes me increasingly suspect that they realise their case is not as secure as they claim.

    Clouds, solar, currents, ocean temperatures, jet streams, winds, and all the other factors that act as a driver or thermostat are barely understood as yet, but a variety of people try to claim the science is settled and that positive feedbacks will greatly amplify the effects of Co2.

    Peter is welcome to make a case for radiative physics over the last 40 years, but he should not rely on Dr Manns increasingly threadbare reconstructions.


  36. 36
    Brute Says:

    PS I can post the curves for the two periods, if you’d like.


    A pre-industrial, thermometer measured warming trend?

    I’d like to see that!

  37. 37
    manacker Says:


    The two CET graphs for the most recent 50-year period and the 50-year period at the end of the 17th and early 18th century are:

    CET 1690-1739

    CET 1960-2009

    These show that the earlier period had a faster warming rate (despite no human CO2 emissions) than the most recent period (despite accelerated human CO2 emissions).

    And the data for the first period did not get the same amount of “variance adjustment”, “homogenization” and “ex post facto correction” as the current period, plus (as TonyB wrote) there was no “urban heat island” distortion back then.

    So much for “rampant AGW”…


  38. 38
    tonyb Says:

    Max and Brute

    Here are linear regressions for some of the oldest data sets in the world-all show the same slight warming trend over centuries.


  39. 39
    Alex Cull Says:

    TonyN: “The ground breakers were not government funded institutes, but freethinking individuals (usually of independent means) who in spite of being subject to some peer pressure and the constraints of contemporary ethical mores were, to a great extent, in a position to ignore both if they chose.”

    Tony, I think that description could also apply to the bloggers of today. Apart from the “independent means”, I suppose, although as publication on the internet is completely free, this is not an obstacle, arguably.

  40. 40
    TonyN Says:


    You can also relate it to the fact that many sceptical scientists who made their mark in mainstream research are close to, or past, retirement.

  41. 41
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Sorry, TonyN, but they’re old (as you admit) and they’re white – and, gulp, they’re male. Clearly not to be taken seriously.

  42. 42
    manacker Says:


    Your “oldest data sets in the world” all seem to confirm the conclusions reached from examining the CET record more closely: there has been a gradual warming trend over the centuries, as we have recovered from the LIA, which has nothing to do with human CO2 emissions. Observed warming rates were greater in the late 17th and early 18th century than they have been over the most recent warming period.

    The myopic fixation of IPCC on the past 30-year “blip” in our planet’s climate at the same time as CO2 increased exponentially represents a basic weakness in the science supporting the AGW premise (which is apparent in the argumentation of PeterM).

    It is also apparent that we are seeing “agenda driven science” here, which has very little to do with true science, as is being exposed by the recent revelations.

    Keep up your good work of exposing this weakness by going back into the long-term record.


  43. 43
    manacker Says:


    You wrote to TonyN about dangerous AGW skeptics:

    Sorry, TonyN, but they’re old (as you admit) and they’re white – and, gulp, they’re male. Clearly not to be taken seriously

    Now we all know that there are many “non-white” male scientists who are skeptical of the dangerous AGW premise (many from China, Japan or India), but here are a few “non-male” scientists, who also share this skepticism:

    Dr. Sallie Baliunas, astrophysicist and climate researcher, Boston, Mass.

    Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, Reader, Department of Geography, University of Hull, UK, Editor, Energy & Environment.

    Dr. Susan Crockford, PhD (Zoology/Evolutionary Biology/Archaeozoology), Adjunct Professor (Anthropology/Faculty of Graduate Studies), University of Victoria, Victoria, British Colombia, Canada

    Dr. Joanne Simpson, Atmospheric Scientist and PhD in meteorology and formerly of NASA

    I cannot vouch for the “age” of these ladies (but “age” is obviously not a topic one discusses with ladies, anyhow).


  44. 44
    tempterrain Says:


    The raw data for the CET graph in my post #28 came from

    as referenced in the graph of Brute’s post #20

    If anyone thinks I cheated or massaged the graph in any way I’d be happy to email the Excel spreadsheet for your perusal.

    The red line is a polynomial fit to the raw data, the thick black line in a 10 year rolling average, which I prefer, but you can take your pick. The thin black line is the linear regression going back to 1659. This does show an linear warming of 0.26 degC per century but the point to be observed is that both the 10 year rolling average and the polynomial fit for the data are showing temperatures between 0.75degC and 1degC warmer than would be expected from the simpler linear fit.

    Tony Geany,

    Come , don’t be shy, tell us where you got the sentence about Newton and Einstein being fundamentally flawed? You know that good science requires you to give references.

    Some creationists seem to have a bit of a problem with Einstein, finite universes and big bangs etc. It wouldn’t be them would it?

  45. 45
    tempterrain Says:

    sorry Peter Geany

  46. 46
    tempterrain Says:

    PS I’ve just noticed that the red line in my graph of post #28 looks a bit like a hockey stick!
    The handle is a bit wavy but the blade is clearly visible!

  47. 47
    Brute Says:

    This is absolutely the greatest……………

    The fruitcakes in the Los Angeles City Council threaten to boycott Arizona because of Arizona’s policy regarding ILLEGAL immigration. (which is exactly the Federal law).

    The Arizona Commissioner of Utilities is counter threatening to turn of the electricity (generated in Arizona) to the city of Los Angeles if they go through with it.

    Oh how I’d love to see all of those California liberals whine when they are sitting in the dark…………maybe Arizona could tell them that Los Angeles needs to “go green” (forcibly).

    Let’s see how dedicated the Leftist Eco-Chondriacs are to the non-existent drowning polar bears while they sit in the dark………………

    How sweet it is!

    Arizona threatens to pull plug on LA’s power if city goes through with boycott…

  48. 48
    Alex Cull Says:

    Peter M: “I’ve just noticed that the red line in my graph of post #28 looks a bit like a hockey stick!”

    Ah, that would account for the almost supernatural feeling of unease and dread I felt when glancing at it. ;o)

    Like Dracula, the Hockey Stick never truly dies…

  49. 49
    manacker Says:


    I’ve just noticed that the red line in my graph of post #28 looks a bit like a hockey stick!
    The handle is a bit wavy but the blade is clearly visible!

    Yep. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. They can be drawn without even having any underlying data, if you use the right statistical machinations (as Mann proved).


    PS As I pointed out, the (unsmoothed) CET data show that the pre-industrial 50-year period 1690-1739 had a more rapid linear rate of warming than the most recent 50-year period 1960-2009, with record CO2 emissions.

    Pretty clear evidence, Peter, that there is something more powerful than human CO2 at work here.

    Otherwise, how can you explain this?


  50. 50
    manacker Says:


    Looks like LA-LA-land is in for some dark nights (47).

    But, worse than that, Arizona may soon start cutting back on their (Colorado River) water supply .

    Don’t know what JZSmith thinks of all this, but if that happens the Angelinos will have to give up their green lawns and plant cacti (or other desert flora) instead.

    A business opportunity beckons: the Arizona folks could supply them some of their surplus saguaros (along with the Mexican workers to plant them).


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