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?”

  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).


  51. 51
    manacker Says:


    PS The raw data for the CET graphs in my post #37 also came from

    (as noted on the graphs).

    The linear trend lines (as used by IPCC) for the two 50-year periods came from Excel, based on the raw annual data as reported (no “10-year moving average adjustment” or other manipulation made beforehand).


  52. 52
    tonyb Says:

    Hello Peter

    Why would you use a polynomial trend when we have a sufficient time span and data points for a linear trend to adequately show the overall picture?

    As this and other climatic research data illustrates, the slope of a linear trend can still represent ‘the most compact and convenient method of describing the overall change in some data over a given period of time.’

    As we are looking at the entire trend not a part of it the linear regression remains an effective tool.

    The problem with a polynomial trend is that it has the disadvantage that it behaves unstably at the end points.

    Steve Mcintyre and William S Briggs and VS are all interested in the statistical niceties of using methods that force the data into a trend that isn’t apparent when the entire data base is examined as a whole.


  53. 53
    tempterrain Says:


    You’ve got it the wrong way around when you say “As we are looking at the entire trend not a part of it the linear regression remains an effective tool.”

    A linear regression is the first approximation when faced with a collection of data points. If you only have two points then only a straight line is possible – so that’s all you can do. As the number of points increases the correlation between the points is often better if second order terms are allowed.

    For example, if you plotted out the price of a loaf of bread over a short timescale, say a few years, a linear fit would be pretty good. However, if you were to look for, as you put it, “an entire trend” over several hundred years then a linear regression would give a poor fit to the data.

  54. 54
    manacker Says:

    PeterM and TonyB

    IPCC uses the linear trend approach for medium-term temperature data series (30 to 100 years). This makes good sense. In this manner it established that there were two distinct multi-decadal warming periods in the 20th century of approximately equal duration and warming, with a multi-decadal period of slight cooling in between.

    Where IPCC makes a basic mistake is in those instances where it compares trends of different time lengths in order to show “acceleration” in warming (Ch.3 FAQ section has a glaring example of this).

    In a slightly tilted quasi-sinusoidal curve (like the observed temperature record), one can always find shorter-term periods with a higher slope than longer-term periods.

    IPCC falls into the same trap in SPM 2007 where it tells us that the rate of warming over the last 50 years is almost twice the rate over the last 100 years, implying an acceleration, which does not exist in actual fact. [The rate over the first 40 years is almost twice that for the entire 100 years, but this does not prove a deceleration in warming either, either.]

    The linear trend gives a good comparison for medium- to long-term time periods of equal length, such as the 50-year CET periods from 1690 to 1739 (pre-industrial) and the most recent period from 1960 to 2009 (maximum CO2 increase).

    This comparison shows no apparent acceleration in warming due to the anthropogenic CO2 increase (even a slightly lower rate of warming than for the equivalent pre-industrial period).

    This is a much better way to see if CO2 has been a primary cause for an acceleration than drawing a polynomial trend line over the entire record or simply smoothing it out with 10-year averages.

    Drawing a linear trend line over the entire CET record tells us that we have seen a slight warming since this record started. The same is true for the HadCRUT global record, with all its known “warts and blemishes”.

    Linear trend line comparisons make sense, but only if the time periods being measured are equal in length.


  55. 55
    manacker Says:

    PeterM and TonyB

    We discussed the use of linear regression to determine warming trends over multi-decadal cycles, as we have seen in the CET or HadCRUT records, for example.

    HadCRUT 1850-2009 with Multi-decadal Cycles

    This type of analysis shows the observed multi-decadal warming cooling cycles and provides a linear trend analysis for each of these cycles. IPCC has used this approach in describing the two warming cycles in the 20th century, as well as the slight cooling cycle in between.

    The HadCRUT record shows that these warming and cooling periods occurred in a quasi sinusoidal curve with a half-cycle of around 30 years and a slightly tilted axis and no real statistical correlation with GHGs (primarily CO2).

    The past record is one thing, but similar analyses can be made for future projections (although it is quite obvious that the past will not automatically repeat itself).

    HadCRUT record with “best fit” sine curve and IPCC projection

    If we use the past record to project the future, we see that the warming expected by year 2100 (the next 91 years) will be around 0.4C, whereas the IPCC model simulations project warming of 1.3C to 6.5C over this same period, with a mid-range projection of 3.9C, or 10 times the warming rate we have seen so far.

    The first 9 years of the 21st century have shown cooling of almost 0.1C per decade, although IPCC had projected warming at 0.2C per decade. The Met Office tells us that this cooling was caused by unexpected “natural variability” (which apparently more than offset the effect of record CO2 increase over the period).

    So what will happen between now and year 2100 is anyone’s guess.

    IPCC tells us it will warm more rapidly than seen in the past, due to AGW.

    Studies by several solar scientists project a prolonged cooling trend before the underlying slight warming trend takes over again later in the century.

    Who knows who is right? Only time will tell.


  56. 56
    tonyb Says:

    Max and Peter

    Max thanks for your two posts

    In this following link the author examines CET through a wide variety of graphs.

    Graph 3 shows particularly well that the cold winters have been reducing for many years (the trend since 1690) as would be expected as the climatic minimum of the LIA was left behind.

    The next link graphically shows that winters are much more variable than summers (as is common worldwide) with a much greater temperature differential range. For example in the 350 year CET record Summers have a maximum extreme range of 3.5c whilst Winters have a maximum extreme range of up to 8c.

    Summer temperatures have shown little signs of rising to any particular extent, whilst winters have become notably less cold(as observed by Phil Jones in my #23)

    The many cold winters during the LIA-say up to 2 Degrees C colder than ‘average’- would severely depress the mean average for that entire year, even though the temperatures during the rest of the year may have been similar to modern day values.

    So we are gradually becoming less cold due to the overall warming of winters -thereby affecting the mean average-rather than becoming warmer through an increase in summer heat.

    The variability of winter/summer can be seen in this link which shows this gently warming trend

    Temperatures are not rising in a hockey stick manner as Peters graph attempts to demonstrate. All the old datasets on my site display similar characteristics to CET

    Where there is a ‘twist’ at the end it is often clearly attributable to UHI as noted in my article citing the UHI studies of Uppsala/Stockholm carried out by the local University.

    Warming has not suddenly taken off since 1880-Hansen merely plugged into the end of a well established trend.


  57. 57
    tempterrain Says:

    Peter Geany,

    You say “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.”

    “reasoned argument”? Mmmm! Why do you need that? It looks like this quote was from no less an authoritive source than Conservapedia!

    Its not a mystery at all. Conservapedia, and “creationist scientist” Dr. D. Russell Humphreys explains it as follows:

    “The only non-standard assumption I used was that the matter of the cosmos is limited in extent, with a fair amount of empty space beyond the matter—an assumption supported by the Bible. With those relatively modest beginnings, I was able to explain the Pioneer anomaly — it’s due to a change in the ‘fabric’ of space.”

    So there you go. Who needs Newton or Einstein when you’ve got the Bible?

  58. 58
    manacker Says:


    Not to split hairs here, but you berate Peter Geany (57) for allegedly citing a quotation from Conservapedia (an assumption on your part, to start off with).

    If you look closer, however, you will see that the article you cited refers to two papers, both from reputable scientific sources:
    William F. Hall (Science Direct), 2007: “Can charge drag explain the Pioneer anomaly?”

    “Pioneer spacecraft a step closer to being boring”, (Symmetry Breaking), (APS Meeting, April 2008)

    Just to set the record straight (although this is not my discussion).


    PS You have an unfortunate tendency to jump to unsubstantiated conclusions and to discredit articles, which you personally believe come from sources, whose scientific qualifications you personally find lacking. In view of all the revelations of sloppy or agenda-driven science, exaggerations of potential hazards, and outright untruths in the latest IPCC reports, one could do exactly the same here. But it is always best to attack the substance, Peter, not just make a blanket attack of the source.

    Just a tip for making your debating logic a bit more credible.

  59. 59
    manacker Says:


    In looking through all the historical charts you posted, I have found the dreaded hockey-stick!

    It’s not a “temperature” hockey-stick, however (this does not exist in the record), but a CO2 hockey-stick.

    Human CO2 emissions have gone up almost exponentially since WWII (although the latest 5 years have been at a slightly lower CAGR than the previous 5 or 10 years).

    But strangely, despite this “hockey-stick” in the “pincipal driver of our planet’s climate, according to IPCC, temperature does not seem to follow.

    Wonder why? Could IPCC have it all wrong? Is the Met Office onto something with its “natural variability” explanation for the current cooling?

    Shhh. Don’t tell PeterM – he’ll be devastated.


  60. 60
    manacker Says:

    PeterM and Peter Geany

    [Tried sending this earlier, but the spam filter didn’t like all the links, so am sending these separately.]

    The “Pioneer anomaly” intrigued me, so started checking it out.

    Wiki also discusses the “Pioneer anomaly”, stating that the cause is unknown:
    [See Link 1]

    Here under “13 things that do not make sense” from New Scientist (number 8)
    [See Link 2]

    This article also states that the cause is unknown, but then speculates:

    If the cause is some gravitational effect, it is not one we know anything about. In fact, physicists are so completely at a loss that some have resorted to linking this mystery with other inexplicable phenomena.

    Here is another study, which speculates on causes:
    [See Link 3]

    And yet another:
    [See Link 4]

    Lots of stuff out there on this phenomenon in respected journals plus Wiki.


  61. 61
    manacker Says:

    Link 1

  62. 62
    manacker Says:

    Link 2

  63. 63
    manacker Says:

    Link 3

  64. 64
    manacker Says:

    Link 4

  65. 65
    tonyb Says:

    Max #59

    Can I make what should be a blindingly obvious statement?

    It is very difficult to detect any man made element superimposed on the gently warming trend we can observe over the last 350 years, despite spending Billions on the search.

    That upward trend is likely to continue-although as the natural cause of it seems completely unknown, that is speculation.

    Where man has a definite and clearly defined input on climate however is through UHI, as shown by nmerous studies and our own first hand observations.

    It was an effect first observed by the Romans who took measures to build their ‘streets narrow and buildings high’ in order to mitigate it.

    I do not believe that UHi will warm a city in an exponential manner, as urban development tends to spread and the heat will therefore become dissipated over an ever wider area rather than become concentrated.

    In many cities UHI might be welcomed as the means to make life more tolerable-especially in the winter in Northern Latitudes.

    In some cities UHI will impose a very uncomfortable footprint and in turn require increased use of energy to mitigate it.

    So man controls the local climate by the very nature of clustering together. This UHI difference can be readily up to 3-5 Degrees C-as the Victorians measured it-an amount far greater than any known or likely CO2 warming over the next hundreds of years.

    So we need to concentrate on mitigating the much greater effects of UHI- where that will be a problem-rather than attempt to control a gas whose impact is still highly debatable.

    What do you think?


  66. 66
    tempterrain Says:

    Can anyone explain why so-called climate sceptics are arguing that the CET record, which shows a warming of approximately 1.3 degC ( measured on a roling 10 year average) since the middle of the 15th Century, is evidence of a very slow natural change in climate, but on the other hand very similar amounts of warming, and maybe even less:

    but measured over a much greater area are dismissed as “alarmist” when reported by mainstream science?

  67. 67
    tempterrain Says:

    Correction: Should be “….middle of the 17th Century”

  68. 68
    tonyb Says:

    So that sorted then, we both agree that a slow gentle natural rise of around 1 Degree C since the depths of the LIA 320 years ago-or a fraction of that if measured from the warm period that immediately folowed it-is nothing to get concerned about.

    I suppose the only thing left to discuss are the reasons for this natural warming trend, but unfortunately that pre-supposes that climate science is much more advanced than it currently is.


  69. 69
    tempterrain Says:


    If you are saying that the CET record shows a “slow gentle rise” which is “nothing to get concerned about” you’d have to say the same thing about Mann’s graph and all the other hockey sticks which you guys have got so worked up about in recent years. If you plot the CET record on top of these you can see that there is really very little disagreement.

  70. 70
    manacker Says:

    Getting back to the basics of this thread, TonyN wrote:

    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.

    “Science” (in particular what has come to be known as “climate science”) has become so intertwined with “politics” that it is now inseparable. This can be traced back to the formation of the IPCC, a political organization dedicated to taxpayer- funded research of anthropogenic climate change and its potential impact on our society. The key justification for this effort is (and was from the very beginning) to support the political agenda of levying worldwide taxes on carbon emissions, allegedly in order to stop or slow down anthropogenic greenhouse warming (AGW).

    The “science” behind the AGW premise is thus, by definition, “agenda-driven science”. It is not “science” in the classical sense, i.e. “the search for truth”, but rather “the search for proof” of the pre-conceived hypothesis, which supports the political agenda.

    If the scientific studies cannot establish a serious potential threat from AGW, there is no need for the IPCC to continue to exist as a body, and there is no justification for the political goal of levying a worldwide tax on carbon emissions.

    Climate scientists are fully aware of this fact. Those studies, which conclude that there may be a serious potential risk from AGW, are welcomed and embraced by the politicians who are responsible for providing funding for climate research. Those studies that conclude that there is no real danger or that climate changes are largely natural are less welcome and their authors will have a more difficult time getting new research grants. This fact has been pointed out by many, although some “insider” climatologists still try to deny it.

    Now to the topic of “belief”. This is actually a religious, rather than a scientific, concept. It has, however, become an integral part of the “climate science consensus”. There are the obvious comparisons with other pseudo-religious “doomsday cults”: human guilt (for burning fossil fuels in order to become affluent) and retribution (by “Mother Nature” or planet Earth for the transgressions committed). The pseudo-religious aspect has become a basic part of the AGW premise. It has even gone so far as to ignore or reject any evidence, which does not support the “belief” (for example, the recent cooling of both the atmosphere and the upper ocean, despite record increase in CO2). Just like the “doomsday” prophet, whose prophecy does not come about, the AGW-believer comes up with all sorts of rationalizations to explain why the world has stopped warming, ensuring us all the time that the predicted warming is “hidden in the pipeline” somewhere and will “come back with a vengeance” in a matter of time.

    The similarities to the Catholic Church of pre-Reformation days are there.

    Christian theologians of the time were all part of the “consensus” (as are a majority of the climate scientists today). That a lowly priest, like Martin Luther (in other words, an “outsider” to the “established theological consensus”), would have the audacity to point out the corruption of the Church dogma at that time is comparable to the audacity of the two outsiders, McIntyre and McKitrick in pointing out the corrupted science supporting the “hockey stick” dogma of unprecedented 20th century warming, caused by AGW. The reaction by the “establishment” was also very similar.

    I predict that the result will be similar, as well. Just as the “stonewalling” of the Church theologians at the time finally caused the rupture of the Church and the end of its monopoly on Christian religion, so will the current “stonewalling” of IPCC and the “climate consensus” cause a rupture, which will end up making IPCC and the “consensus climatologists” irrelevant.

    The Reformation was helped by the invention of the printing press, the resulting gradual increase in literacy and the crumbling of the feudal system, following centuries of war and plagues under this old system. This will happen much more quickly this time around in this age of “instant information”, with blog sites like this one, WUWT, CA, etc. helping to spread this information.

    A few more cooler than normal years won’t hurt, either.


  71. 71
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Careful, Max. You say that there’s a consensus comprising “a majority of the climate scientists today”. Do you really mean that? If so, I have two questions: (1) do you have any evidence of this consensus? And (2), if so, precisely what is the consensus about?

  72. 72
    manacker Says:


    Careful, Max. You say that there’s a consensus comprising “a majority of the climate scientists today”. Do you really mean that? If so, I have two questions: (1) do you have any evidence of this consensus? And (2), if so, precisely what is the consensus about?

    No doubt there is a “consensus” among at least a “majority of climate scientists” that:
    · CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which theoretically absorbs and re-radiates LW radiation from Earth’s surface, thereby resulting in warming.
    · Humans (primarily in affluent, industrialized societies) emit CO2 from fossil fuel combustion.
    · Atmospheric CO2 has increased by 23.8% since the Mauna Loa record started in 1958, from 315 ppmv to 390 ppmv today.
    · Globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature has increased since the modern record started in the mid-19th century.
    · This has occurred in roughly 30-year warming cycles, with roughly 30-year cycles of slight cooling in between, an underlying linear warming trend of 0.041C per decade and total warming over the 160-year period of 0.7C.
    · Arctic sea ice has receded since satellite records started in 1979, while Antarctic sea ice grew over the same period, at a slightly lower rate.
    · Tide gauge records show us that sea level has risen since records started in the 19th century.
    · This has occurred at a rate of around 17 cm per century, with a slightly higher rate of rise in the first half of the 20th century than in the second half.

    With the exception of the greenhouse theory, the above are all observed facts, within the limitations of the accuracy of the observations.

    But now we come to the questionable part, where I have to agree with you that there is no real evidence of “consensus” (we can write off the Oreskes study as basically flawed, as was shown subsequently, or Pachauri’s claims as simple bluster).

    But is “perception” equal to “reality”?

    And is there a “perceived consensus” of the premises that
    · The surface temperature record gives a representative picture of the average global temperature of our planet without any major distortions resulting from urbanization, changes in land use, changes in measurement locations, elimination of a majority of the measurement stations around 1990, etc.?
    · Increased atmospheric CO2 has been a significant contributor to the observed 20th century warming?
    · Model simulated “positive feedbacks” will triple or quadruple the GH effect of CO2 alone?
    · This projected warming will be more harmful than beneficial to human society, and that AGW thus represents a serious potential threat?

    I have not seen any compelling evidence to show that there is anything near to “consensus” on the latter premises, although this represents the “party line”, as defined by IPCC.

    And it is the “IPCC party line” which we are comparing to the prevalent Church dogma at the time of the Reformation, and which we are calling the “consensus opinion”.


  73. 73
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Yes, Max – that’s all good stuff. I’d also be very surprised if there were not consensus about the observed facts you itemise. But beyond that to agreement that, if we continue to emit GHGs, we face catastrophe? I don’t think so. Yet it’s “consensus” on that point (especially the items you mention) we keep hearing about – without any evidence to support the claim. Plainly you agree. But, in the case of the pre-Reformation Church, I suspect there was a consensus amongst churchmen about the dogma. But that was religion – we’re concerned with science. There’s supposed to be a vast difference. Although sometimes I fear that climate “science” gets dangerously close to becoming dogma.

  74. 74
    manacker Says:


    I believe you have hit the nail on the head: the premise that AGW has caused most of the past warming and will represent a serious potential threat has become “dogma” rather than “science”.

    But I would like to carry this reasoning a step further and leave out the purely political and financial aspects for now.

    This “dogma” required the elimination of the Medieval Warm Period, in order to claim “unprecedented 20th century warmth, due to AGW” (the theme of this thread).

    It required a minimalization of the Little Ice Age, or (for that matter) of any past temperature fluctuations, which could not have been caused by AGW (refer to TonyB’s excellent “Dickens” summary).

    It required “manipulated”, ”homogenized” and ex post facto “corrected” temperature data of the more recent record, in order to support the “dogma”.

    As we have both pointed out to Peter repeatedly, the AGW premise is not supported by empirical data from actual physical observations (i.e. scientific evidence according to the basic principles of science).

    Instead, it is supported by theoretical deliberations and model simulations and summarized in the IPCC reports, the “Bible” for AGW-believers as opposed to prophets, holy scripture or Church theologians, as was the case of religious dogma in Luther’s time, but this difference is minor.

    The frequently invoked “appeal to authority” (of the “establishment”) is also not much different from the argumentation used by the Church theologians in Luther’s time.

    Just as “intelligent design” proponents attempt to cloak their belief in “science”, so do AGW-believers, on the other end of the dogmatic spectrum. But in both cases the key weakness is the lack of empirical data supporting the “belief”.

    So far the AGW “dogma” has not been able to stand up to this test. And, until it does, it remains “dogma” and not “science”.

    And it is the mission of rational skeptics (such as McIntyre and McKitrick) to expose any corruption in the dogma, as it was Luther’s mission in his time (TonyN’s theme).


  75. 75
    Robin Guenier Says:


    Back to consensus. To the extent that it’s important (not very – science is not determined by consensus), the research done by Dr Klaus-Martin Schulte is interesting (see this article: Survey: Less Than Half of all Published Scientists Endorse Global Warming Theory).

  76. 76
    manacker Says:


    Yes. I have seen the Schulte study, which (expectedly) brought “howls of outrage” among the believers of the AGW dogma. Did this represent a “shift” since the earlier Oreskes study, or was it simply a correction of a faulty study? (I am personally convinced that the latter is correct.)

    I fully agree with you that “science is not determined by consensus”, but unfortunately a significant part of the general public is unaware of this fact.

    I have challenged Peter on the “consensus” story, as well, citing a list of 200 scientists (the list has now grown to 219) plus 60 meteorologists, who have openly stated that they do not support the premise that AGW has caused most of the past warming or is a serious threat.

    As Peter claimed the consensus among scientists was overwhelming, I asked him to provide a list of at least three times this many qualified individuals who support this premise (of course he could not do so).

    It is very clear to me that the “consensus” story is a mythological part of the AGW dogma, going into the direction of an “appeal to authority” (if so many scientists and scientific organizations support the dangerous AGW premise, it must be right).

    I am also convinced that it is an attempt to detract attention from the fact that there are no empirical data, based on actual physical observations or experiments, to support the dangerous AGW premise, as would be required following the normal scientific method.


  77. 77 Says:


    You may remember the history of the smoking controversy from the 1960′s onwards. There were endless list of doctors and surgeons (20000 was it?) who recommended such nonsense as filter tipped or menthol cigarettes as being the answer to any related health problems. They were all medically qualified – they must have known what they were talking about surely?

    Your list of 200 scientists, 60 meteorologists, 2000 geologists, or whatever, is just an attempt to play the same game. Sure, in the 1970′s you could find plenty of PhDs who were expressing opinions favourable to the tobacco industry, and sounded very convincing to the general public.

    However you needed to look at what mainstream science was really saying to know the reality.

    The reality, again, is that the AGW denialist agenda isn’t being pushed by dissident scientists but by large numbers of conservative politicians, and their supporters, for reasons which I have already outlined.

  78. 78
    tempterrain Says:


    I should probably have included you in my last post.

    This article is a good description of what the so-called ‘AGW debate’ is all about:

    Defeating Kyoto: The Conservative Movement’s Impact on U.S. Climate Change

  79. 79
    Robin Guenier Says:

    So PeterM (78) you really still think – despite years of intelligent, informed discussion on this excellent site – that the debate here is “all about” such catch phrases as “denial of global warming” and “affiliations with the fossil fuels industry” on the one hand and “the growing worldwide consensus on the seriousness of global warming” on the other. As I’ve said many times before, you’re not paying attention.

    Groan – do I really have to tell you this again? The link between smoking and cancer was established by clear testable empirical evidence (evidence the tobacco industry disgracefully tried to hide). As Max says above, there is no such evidence establishing a link between the emission of GHGs and dangerous climate change. Counting the heads of scientists is completely irrelevant – science is not a democratic process.

  80. 80
    Robin Guenier Says:

    BTW PeterM, the fact that “large numbers of conservative politicians and their supporters” may be critical of the dangerous AGW hypothesis is wholly irrelevant. Hitler was critical of smoking (link) – does that make any difference to the science? Obviously not: evidence is evidence, no matter who supports or opposes it.

  81. 81
    manacker Says:


    Regarding your 77/78, I believe Robin has responded to your silly comparison (déjà vu, all over again) between cigarette smoking/cancer and CO2/disastrous climate change.

    The point about “large numbers of conservative politicians” being responsible for the recent trend away from AGW-hysteria (rather than “dissident scientists”) is also totally absurd.

    It is really neither of the two, Peter, but rather a gradual awakening of the general public to a faulty doomsday prediction based on poor science, exaggerated claims based on GIGO model simulations and pseudo-scientific argumentation (plus an observed current cooling of the planet despite record CO2 increase).

    Up until now, every single “doomsday prediction” throughout history has proven to be false, and there is no valid reason to believe that this one is any different.

    For more on this and other “doomsday premises” see my post 564 on the other thread. I’m sure you will find it interesting (and you may even learn something new).


  82. 82
    tempterrain Says:


    Once again you say “I’ve said many times before, you’re not paying attention”. Well my first thought is that it’s you should be doing that, but my second thought is that you probably are, but you just don’t understand what you are talking about.


    If you thinking of buying yourself a present you might want to take a look at Nancy Oreskes new book:

    <a href=”″

    Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

    I wondering whatever gives her the strange idea that there is a link between the two? She probably thinks that the Heartland Institute and other right-wing pro-corporate interest ‘think tanks’ are behind it all too.

  83. 83
    tempterrain Says:

    I thought I’d got the hang of putting in these links. I’ll try again:

    Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

  84. 84
    tempterrain Says:

    3rd time lucky?
    Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

  85. 85
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Well PeterM so you insist on banging on with your absurd conspiracy theories and ludicrous parallels with the tobacco industry and the smoking/cancer link. Moreover, you still seem to think that “consensus” has something to do with scientific enquiry. Somehow, I suppose, you think all this may detract from your total inability to produce empirical data supporting the dangerous AGW hypothesis. Well it doesn’t. Get used to it.

  86. 86
    manacker Says:


    Think I’ll skip Oreske’s latest op-ed book and wait for the sequel (still in print, by a “yet unnamed scientist”):

    Merchants of Fear: How a Handful of Scientists Fabricated the Doomsday Prediction of Global Warming

    Sounds a bit more interesting than another sci-fi treatise by Oreske.


  87. 87
    manacker Says:


    Just watched Naomi’s youtube sales blurb for her book (which you cited).

    She tells us:

    People have to be careful about what they tread in the media.


    The media do not do their homework.

    I can second that. What she fails to tell us is that the media have, by and large, swallowed and regurgitated the AGW story without really doing their homework.

    She goes on with the consensus myth:

    IPCC includes thousands of scientists from all over the world who all agree versus “one guy” who does not.

    Thousands? Names please.

    To exactly “what” do these “thousands” agree?

    Specific facts please.

    Which one of the over 200 scientists (who have publicly stated that they do not support the dangerous AGW premise) is this “one guy”. Pick a name – any name, Naomi.

    Obviously Naomi’s second book on AGW is just as big a pile of rubbish as the first.

    After watching the youtube, I am sure I do not want to pay close to 20 francs for Naomi’s new book.

    I’d rather slip my 20 franc bill to the Salvation Army, who will at least do something worthwhile with it.


  88. 88
    tempterrain Says:

    Robin Guenier,

    I wouldn’t say that it was a ‘conspiracy theory’ per se. It’s mainly a tendency of people, like yourself, to believe that anything to do with environmental considerations is part of some ‘loony left’ agenda. Incidentally, they aren’t immune from anti-science sentiments either when science clashes with their ideology. People aren’t logical – they tend to believe what fits into their existing world view and reject anything that doesn’t.

    We don’t hear so much about HIV denial simply because it doesn’t rate on the agendas of large corporate interests with their front organisations, such as the Heartland Institute. Their battle on tobacco has largely been lost, so we don’t hear quite so much about that these days so they’ve moved on. You may not like them but the parallels are certainly there. The personnel are often the same. The right wing think tanks are the same. The tactics of promoting delay and uncertainty are almost exactly the same.

    Trying to dismiss them as “ludicrous” doesn’t make them go away!

  89. 89
    manacker Says:


    Robin will surely add his thoughts on your #88 where you wrote

    I wouldn’t say that it was a ‘conspiracy theory’ per se. It’s mainly a tendency of people, like yourself, to believe that anything to do with environmental considerations is part of some ‘loony left’ agenda. I wouldn’t say that it was a ‘conspiracy theory’ per se. It’s mainly a tendency of people, like yourself, to believe that anything to do with environmental considerations is part of some ‘loony left’ agenda.

    I would agree with you, Peter, that the much-ballyhooed AGW “conspiracy theory” is fiction, but that there is probably more of a loose “collusion of interests” between several groups who all stand to benefit from AGW hysteria, as Peter Taylor described it.

    You must realize, Peter, that AGW has become a multi-billion dollar big business, with many different groups hoping to get a piece of the action (you probably read the article on Tony Blair, which Brute posted on the other thread). If carbon taxes (direct or indirect) are universally implemented, AGW will become a multi-trillion dollar business.

    There are “big bucks” to be made and many of the wealthy and powerful of this world hope to benefit from the wave of doomsday hysteria before it dies down (as all previous doomsday panics have done and this one also inevitably will).

    I do not believe that there is any “tendency of people… to believe that anything to do with environmental considerations is part of some ‘loony left’ agenda”. This is too oversimplified, Peter.

    Sure, the powerful “do-gooders” of this world, who feel they need to control the lives of the “common people” for the “common good”, are often on the “left side” of the political spectrum, but there are also examples where this is not the case.

    As C.S. Lewis wrote:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    These are powerful words.

    If Tony Blair, for example needs £5 million annually to finance his life style, that is all well and good. If he does this by jumping on the AGW gravy train and advising the wealthy and powerful how to also get a piece of the pie that is also great. But if he (like Al Gore) fools his conscience into thinking that he is helping to “save humanity or the planet” by doing so, that is hypocritical self-delusion.

    True “environmentalism” involves undertaking specific actions in order to reduce pollution and waste (which really has nothing to do with CO2 or the perceived threat from AGW at all). Many true environmentalists are dismayed that the environmental movement has effectively been hijacked by a “loony” AGW agenda (regardless of whether it is “left” or not).

    But Peter, as interesting as this political discussion surrounding AGW may be, these are all side issues.

    The fundamental issue is that the premise of dangerous AGW is not supported by sound empirical scientific data, a problem which both Robin and I have brought to your attention, and which you have been unable to refute and have therefore danced around.

    As the “bard’s” Hamlet said: “Aye, there’s the rub”.


  90. 90
    Robin Guenier Says:


    Your analysis is accurate, but I think poor old Peter’s problem is very simple: shaken and demoralised by his abject failure to produce any empirical evidence to support the hypothesis he loves, he is casting around to blame his discomforting embarrassment on the evil machinations of nasty bad guys (big oil = the tobacco industry etc: same people, same “right wing think tanks” etc.), hoping also that all this will somehow divert attention from the real issue.


    Unfortunately for you, Peter, it doesn’t divert attention: none of this babyish stuff has the slightest relevance to the science. I suggest you forget all that nonsense, start thinking like the scientists you profess to admire and consider the hypothesis in the light of the scientific method. And, in doing so, I suggest you open your mind to the possibility that it (the hypothesis that mankind’s emissions of GHGs will cause dangerous climate change) may very simply be without foundation. Try it – you’ll find it’s not too difficult.

  91. 91
    peter geany Says:


    I hope you have availed yourself of better information about the Pioneer Anomaly. And thank you Max for helping to guild Peter in his efforts to become more informed.

    All I was trying to illustrate was that there is a seedy side to science where vested interests and money combine to squash enquiry that runs the risk of diverting funds. As a society we the west are going to have to watch out closely for this as it could hinder progress and allow us to be overtaken as the technological leaders in the world.

    Getting back to climate science where this distortion of the scientific method has been at its worst we now see at long last there has been a revolt in the Royal Society, and they are being forced to revise their words on climate change on their website. This is good news, if but a first step, and in conjunction with the fact we have no money means any expenditure on some of the stupid schemes the last administration had put in place will come in for further scrutiny. This will coincide with a change of advice from science and a gradual realisation that the whole CO2 thing was wrong. Peter what are you going to do when the Royal Society is no longer there to fall back on and who will you appeal to then

    Their will never be any great apology for all the wasted money though, but at least our precious resources may turn to technology that has a better chance of success without destroying our visual environment that all the wind farms and tidal barrages threaten to do.

    One of the most exciting technologies is the Thorium Reactor that promises low cost nuclear power without the waste and no chance for weapons grade material as a by-product

    Exciting times ahead.

  92. 92
    temperrain Says:


    Its a curious thing about climate deniers that they do seem to get certain bees in their bonnet and there’s just no shifting them. Your little stinging insect is “empirical evidence” often using phrases like “abject failure to produce any emp……” Empirical evidence is evidence obtained by measurement and observation in the real world.

    I don’t know if you have been hibernating, but you might have noticed graphs, although I notice you haven’t shown any capability yourself in that direction, of such empirical parameters as Arctic ice, rising sea levels, historical temperature records. Now you could argue that the empirical evidence is inconclusive, and it certainly isn’t proof in any sense of the word but, it is evidence. Its just nonsense to say that there isn’t any at all. But I suppose you’ll carry on like a stuck record.

  93. 93
    tempterrain Says:

    Peter Geany,

    Oh yes the “pioneer anomaly”. Max ticked me off for accusing you falsely. “Jumping to the conclusion” (was that the phrase?) that you’d quoted some nonsense out of Conservapedia.

    Well here’s an opportunity for you. If you can show that you didn’t I’ll grovel and apologise! There you go, I don’t make that sort of offer every day!

  94. 94
    tempterrain Says:

    “Royal Society…..they are being forced to revise their words on climate change on their website”

    This is news to me. Mind you, all websites need to be kept up to date and that can’t be done unless words are indeed revised.

    What have they changed?

  95. 95
    peter geany Says:

    It just gets worse for those hoping for more money for climate projects.

    1. For those who share a perceptive bent there is a lot of information in this article. For Chris Huhne to defend the cuts and not rule out others means there really is no money, (something I have been warning about and to be honest I think we all knew), and for the Labour Party people to continuously offer the new government numerous opportunities to remind the public of their spendthrift behaviour suggests that Gordon et al kept hidden the true nature of the problem from other ministers.
    This may be yet another indication that history will show that Gordon’s Legacy will be his disastrous stewardship of the UK’s economy and his attempts to spend his way out of problems when he should have done the opposite.

  96. 96
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Oh dear, poor old PeterM: either you still don’t get it or you’re once again trying to divert attention from an issue you are unwilling to face. Not one contributor to this site disputes the plain fact that the climate changes. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there’s plenty of empirical evidence demonstrating that obvious fact – it would be a surprise if there were not. What you have abjectly failed to do, however, is refer us to any such evidence supporting the view (a) that mankind’s GHG emissions, and not natural influences, were the principal cause of recent such change and (b) that, if so and if such emissions are not reduced, the consequence will be dangerous climate change. The issue is simple enough, Peter – even you should be able to understand it.

  97. 97
    peter geany Says:

    PeterM There has been a revolt in the Royal Society, the first in 350 years. I guess you have a filter on your browser that filters out bad news. Its on the BBC

    As for the Pioneer Anomoly I just cut and pasted those words, that contained no science one way or the other but susinctly conveyed that there is a problem with our understanding of either gravity, relativity, both, or none. To deny this is bunkum and proves my point. This was the first attempt to prove these theories and a problem has appeared. You obviously know the answer so tomorrow you will be rich and famous

  98. 98
    manacker Says:


    You mention

    empirical parameters as Arctic ice, rising sea levels, historical temperature records

    supposedly as empirical evidence a) that AGW (caused primarily by human CO2 emissions) has been the principal cause of observed warming and b) that this represents a serious threat for the future.

    It is, of course, nothing of the sort. It is simply empirical evidence a) that Arctic sea ice (unlike that of the Antarctic) has receded since satellite measurements started in 1979, b) that sea level has risen by about 17 cm per century since tide gauge records started in the 19th century, with several multi-decadal swings in the rate of rise and slightly higher average rate of rise in the first half of the 20th century (1904-1953) than in the second half (1954-2003) and c) that “globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature” has risen in multi-decadal warming and cooling cycles with an underlying warming trend of 0.04C per decade since we have been emerging from the LIA in the mid-19th century.

    This all has nothing to do directly with the AGW premise, as I am sure you will have to agree (if you are truly objective).

    And that, Peter, is exactly the “missing link” in your argumentation.


  99. 99
    manacker Says:


    Regarding your #94 here is link to BBC report on Royal Society by (AGW-friendly) Roger Harrabin entitled: The UK’s Royal Society is reviewing its public statements on climate change after 43 Fellows complained that it had oversimplified its messages.

    But I don’t expect drastic changes just yet, the “big bucks” are still on the AGW side for now.


  100. 100
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Re the Royal Society and its “review” (99), I agree with Max that drastic changes soon are unlikely. Nonetheless, this is a very interesting development – although PeterM would doubtless claim that the “43 Fellows [who] complained that it had oversimplified its messages” were obviously evil “deniers” in the pay of big oil. Changes are unlikely not least because we learn that the Society is “setting up a panel to produce a consensus document”: all we need is another consensus from another panel! But it’s encouraging to hear of one Fellow saying, ” … in science everything is there to be questioned – that should be the very essence of the Royal Society. Some of us were very upset about that”.

    It’s particularly interesting that the BBC’s Roger Harrabin, who wrote the report, is beginning to show signs of objectivity – although he still trots out nostrums such as “Lobbyists funded by the fossil fuel industry … fighting to undermine [the] consensus …” Nonetheless, he gives a lot of prominence to the “feedback” issue, specifically quoting Richard Lindzen. I doubt is Jo Abbess is likely to be happy about that (link).

    Unsurprisingly, this development is reported by Bishop Hill (here and here) and WUWT (here). The comments are worth reading. Also I was intrigued by the BBC Today programme’s interview with Harrabin this morning (link – after 54 minutes). He agreed that, after the EAU debacle, IPCC report questions etc., there are increasingly “grey” areas in climate science and especially re climate models about which there was, he said, “massive, massive uncertainty”. Poor Jo Abbess must have choked over her muesli.

  101. 101
    Robin Guenier Says:

    I just caught the end of another interview with Roger Harrabin on the BBC’s PM programme. It seems that the RS is trying to back pedal somewhat on the story being reported this morning. He said that, in his Reith Lecture shortly, the RS President Lord Rees will choose measured language – specifically referring to “poorly understood feedback”. Harrabin went on to interview Bob Ward (previously responsible for RS public communications) who is far from being an objective commentator. Ward assured Harrabin that all the computer projections were clear: increased GHGs meant the world would get warmer. He agreed there was some uncertainty about the amount of warming, effectively saying that it ranged from dangerous to catastrophic. When Harrabin suggested that some scientists thought warming would be slight, Ward said that, yes, there were such extreme views (at both ends of the spectrum) but the RS, in advising policymakers had to strike a sensible balance – after all, it’s all about risk. And that was it: no contribution from a sceptic of course.

  102. 102
    tempterrain Says:

    So the Royal Society haven’t changed anything yet but 43 fellows think they should? A quick look on there website tells me that they have over 1400 fellows – so that’s about 3% of the total? I’d expect a few more sceptics than that.

    Robin obviously doesn’t read my comments on the politics and psychology of the AGW issue. Unless he was in the business of deliberate misrepresentation he wouldn’t say things like “PeterM would doubtless claim that the 43 Fellows [who] complained that it had oversimplified its messages were obviously evil deniers in the pay of big oil”

    Human psychology in this respect is quite predictable – people will argue the case as it best fits their existing world view. For example, a well known Australian Liberal politician argued recently that the Labor government was wrong to accuse the Israelis of forging Australian passports. She said there was “no proof” that they had done it. She sounded quite sincere and probably does believe that to be the case. In a way she is correct, there isn’t any absolute proof but there is certainly a lot of evidence. Maybe she just requires a higher standard of proof than most people? Maybe if she were on a jury she would be arguing for an acquittal when faced with a similar level of evidence. Maybe it’s nothing to do with her being a strong supporter of Israel and she would be saying exactly the same thing if it were the Chinese who were being accused.

    I don’t think so. And its the same process with AGW. These 43 fellows, incidentally almost certainly not climate scientists themselves, aren’t immune from a human tendency to decide on issues according to a pre-existing world view. Difficult political implications arise, especially for those of a right-wing viewpoint, with an acceptance of the science of AGW. It’s just so much easier to pretend that AGW is incorrect, or ‘unproven’, and therefore reject it.

  103. 103
    Bob_FJ Says:

    Over at RealClimate, I’ve made three on-topic hockey-stick enquiries that were deleted in moderation without any footprint or explanation. The thread was: “What can we learn from the last millennium…?”
    My screen copies from that thread follow.
    Not wishing to be naughty, but can anyone offer an opinion as to why they were deleted?

    [1] BobFJ says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    23 May 2010 at 8:04 PM
    I’ve joined the discussion late, but upon a quick look through, I notice that Mike [Mann] and others here have stressed that whilst the MWP/MCA is said to exhibit regional warm and cold periods, the net claim is that the MWP was flat.
    However, this calls into question any millennial proxy study based on tree rings, since as I understand it, the regions in which MOST trees were sampled were in the high latitudes and/or altitudes in the NH. (where presumably it is assumed that snow cover and a few other things were constant over the millennia)
    It could hardly be more regional than that, like not many people live there, so if regionality is important and that issue is not resolved, what is the point in drawing any conclusions from it?

    [2] BobFJ says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    24 May 2010 at 8:04 PM
    [Same text as above]

    [3] BobFJ says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    28 May 2010 at 5:22 PM
    There were comments earlier that the MWP/MCA exhibits regional warm and cold periods, and the consequence was that the so-called MWP was flat.
    However, as I understand it, the regions in which most trees have been proxy-sampled were in the high latitudes and/or altitudes in the NH.
    If this is so, why does this not pose a regionality issue of its own?

  104. 104
    tempterrain Says:


    You say “43 Fellows complained that it [the Royal Society] had oversimplified its messages.”

    I wonder how many fellows might be thinking just the opposite? That the Royal Society had undersimplified its messages. Especially when they were aimed at ‘cimate sceptics? And even more especially at mid-western American climate sceptics :-) ?

  105. 105
    tempterrain Says:


    Instead of saying there is no “empirical evidence” to support the theory that AGW exists you might want to use the term “attribution”.

    There is a timely article, it’s just appeared, on the Realclimate website.

    You could perhaps give us the benefit of your uninformed opinion afterwards.

    Incidentally, if I so have one slight criticism to make about Realclimate, it is that they too tend to undersimplify their arguments. However, I can well understand that, with your great intellect, you may not agree, and will fully comprehend every sentence at the first reading!

  106. 106
    geoffchambers Says:

    BobFJ #103
    On the subject of measuring historial temperatures at the tree-line, I’ve got a question which I’d never dare to raise on the specialist blogs. Maybe you or someone else here can answer it.
    I understand why tree ring data is collected at the upper limit (in terms of altitude or latitude) of the region where the trees are found, since it’s at the extremity of their survival possibility that tree rings are thought to measure temperature.
    But if temperatures change, so will the position of the tree line, so how can you know where the treeline was centuries ago, unless you know what the temperature was centuries ago?
    To give a concrete example, a longterm cold spell in the past will have killed off all the trees at the original treeline, leaving none to be sampled in the present, so no record of the cold spell.
    So isn’t the reasoning circular (more circular than the average bristlecone pine tree ring, at least)? And doesn’t that explain the millenium-long flat handle of thehockeystick?

  107. 107
    Robin Guenier Says:

    PeterM (105):

    You say, “Instead of saying there is no “empirical evidence” to support the theory that AGW exists you might want to use the term “attribution””.

    No, I wouldn’t: the words have different meanings – and the difference is critical. Thus, if an art expert says that a painting is “attributed” to Leonardo, he means that he is not sure who was the artist, but it might have been Leonardo. Were he sure – from, say, an analysis of the signature or brushwork, documented provenance, etc. (i.e. empirical evidence)- he would have said that it was “by” Leonardo. See the difference?

    Nonetheless, I read the RealClimate article with interest. You’re right, it does rather oversimplify the arguments but I suggest that’s acceptable for a blog as opposed to a scientific paper. But, even so, it’s well presented and makes an important contribution to understanding the construction of climate models and the problems associated with their interpretation. So thanks for the reference.

    There are two problems about the article however. The first (and least important) is that it’s published on RealClimate which, as many here know from personal experience, can be intolerant of conflicting views (see e.g. Bob_FJ at 103). Therefore, it’s impossible to be sure that the follow-up comments are properly representative of alternative takes on the issues being considered. The second problem is that it’s concerned with computer models.

    Now I don’t intend yet again to set out why computer models are no substitute for empirical evidence. Nor should I have to remind you that, in any case, the models used are subject to considerable uncertainty. Only yesterday, we had Roger Harrabin telling the BBC’s Today programme that there was “massive, massive uncertainty” about climate models and Lord Rees (the Royal Society’s President) talking of the “poorly understood feedback” assumptions used for the models. And you might also wish to refer again to IPCC AR4 WG I, chapter 8 (see especially 8.6.3 and 8.6.4) where we learn, for example, that ” … a set of model metrics that might be used to narrow the range of plausible climate change feedbacks and climate sensitivity has yet to be developed.”

    So, yes, the RS article is interesting. But, as it’s concerned with attribution and with models, it doesn’t help you a great deal.

  108. 108
    tempterrain Says:


    If you had been ‘paying attention’, you would have noticed that I wrote that Realclimate tended to undersimplify the argument!

    Your argument about attribution of paintings is an interesting one, but one which doesn’t really support your case at all. If an expert was 90% confident that a particular painting was ‘largely’ ( at least 90%) the work of Da Vinci, who would have had many apprentices or assistants who would have applied at least some of the paint, how would he call it? If just an ‘attribution’, what level of certainty would he need to be ‘sure’? Don’t tell me 100%! That is just impossible.

  109. 109
    Robin Guenier Says:


    Well, I’m pleased you read my post: you’re right, you did say undersimplify. Sorry about that – but I stick by my comment even so. BTW, unlike “oversimplify” which is a commonly used word, “undersimplify” is very unusual. I don’t think I’ve encountered it before. Presumably you meant that the article had been made too complicated – see this. Is that what you meant?

    But you’re wrong about “attribution”. Roget’s Thesaurus gives “theory, hypothesis, assumption, conjecture” as synonyms. Er … says it all really: evidence is a different concept entirely.

  110. 110
    Robin Guenier Says:


    Hold on – I’ve just read your 104 and see you’ve used “undersimplify” there too! You love that word don’t you? Incidentally, re the 43 RS Fellows (there may well be more who are sceptical – these are merely those who were asked), I see you assume that they are “almost certainly not climate scientists themselves”. Three questions:

    1. What’s your basis for making that assumption?

    2. Do you consider the views of Fellows who are not “climate scientists” to be of no account?

    3. How do you define a “climate scientist”?

    BTW, one of the 43 is Sir Alan Rudge, who is an engineer. That’s interesting. In engineering, the standard of evidence required is far higher than would seem to be the case in “climate science”. Even for an engineering project that was unlikely to kill anyone if things went wrong, an engineer would not consider results from unvalidated computer models as an adequate basis for proceeding with a project. Real world testing to verify the model would be expected first. Engineering is a particularly demanding and practical discipline.

  111. 111
    manacker Says:


    With all your twisting and turning about the 43 RS fellows who are skeptical of the official political stance of the RS on AGW, I think you missed the part where I predicted that the RS would be unlikely to make any drastic changes, as long as the “big bucks” still support the AGW premise.

    So don’t look for any drastic changes.

    BTW: 43 fellows who took the effort (and risk) to challenge the society, while over 1,000 did not proves nothing.

    Maybe the 1,000+ were cowards, maybe they were lazy, maybe they were not in the “climate” business and felt they were not qualified to comment, maybe they were in the “climate” business and benefiting from a AGW government grant, or maybe they simply did not think of adding their names to the list of challengers.

    Who knows?

    But I think the safe thing to do is “follow the money trail” for an answer.


  112. 112
    manacker Says:


    As an engineer, myself, I can fully agree with your assessment.

    Scientists involved in basic research often lose touch with reality, while engineers (or applied scientists) cannot afford to do so.

    For the computer scientists who are developing and running GCMs, the computer model outputs begin to sound like “absolute truth”, and, of course, the GIGO temptation is also great. Engineers always have to face actual observed reality. This is humbling.

    I believe that this may be a reason why many of those who are skeptical of the dangerous AGW premise are engineers (or applied scientists), rather than climatologists, computer modelers or theoretical scientists.


  113. 113
    tempterrain Says:


    There is really no difference if you look at the AGW problem from an engineering or scientific perspective. If there were such a position as “Earth Chief Engineer” he would look at rising CO2 levels with some concern and have to make an engineering call on how high and at what rate they should be allowed to rise.

    Scotty’s (the engineer) catch phrase from Star Trek was “The engines just won’t take it, Captain”. He was always concerned that the more Gung-Ho members of the crew shouldn’t test the Star Ship to destruction. You wouldn’t hear him say “Sure just do what you like Captain. She’ll be right”.

  114. 114
    tempterrain Says:


    Are you saying that there is no evidence at all that Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa or the Last Supper” These and other paintings have just been ‘attributed’ to him? You seem to know a bit about this – how is authenticity measured in the artistic world on a scale of 1-10?

  115. 115
    manacker Says:


    Again you come with fiction (this time Star Trek).

    But to use your fictive analogy: I’m sure that Scotty, once he observed an event like the Copenhagen fiasco, would say:

    Beam me up, there’s no intelligent life down here.


  116. 116
    manacker Says:


    Seriously (leaving Scotty aside), there is a major difference whether one looks at AGW from a purely hypothetical scientific standpoint using theoretical deliberations and modeling techniques to arrive at postulated projections for the future or a more engineering-minded standpoint of insisting on empirical data from actual physical observations (for example to support design calculations).

    One skeptic has stated that the “drudge work” of gathering actual data has taken second place to the more exciting “model manipulation” efforts in climate science, and this appears to be true. Physical observations are even cast in doubt or rejected outright when they do not support the theoretical model outputs.

    This lack of supporting empirical evidence is one of the key weaknesses of the dangerous AGW postulation, as both Robin and I have pointed out to you repeatedly.

    And it may be one of the key reasons that several engineers (and applied scientists) are rationally skeptical of the dangerous AGW premise.


  117. 117
    Robin Guenier Says:

    PeterM (114):

    What I am saying is that “attribution”, synonymous with “theory, hypothesis, assumption, conjecture”, is an entirely different concept from “evidence”. The latter is needed to verify/validate the former.

    Now please answer the three questions I asked you at 110. Thanks.

    BTW, Max, my understanding is that the organisers of the request that the RS reconsider its position on AGW only approached these 43. There may well be other Fellows who are equally unhappy about it.

  118. 118
    Bob_FJ Says:

    Geoff Chambers Reur 106;
    On the subject of measuring historical temperatures at the tree-line etc

    I can’t really help much in the can of worms that you open. I suspect that the sampling of tree rings is probably not at the upper limit of the current tree-line, but is more cautious and driven by an assumption that at the latitude/altitudes selected the conditions there (other than temperature) will have remained constant over the millennia. (ho hum). Whilst the recent living tree samples will display an apparently valid chronology, because they have survived say some hundreds of years, the situation for deceased trees that are required to extend the time series may be a bit more sus’. They have to have partly overlapping matching chronology patterns, which I suspect is more of an art to establish, rather than any precise correlation. Bear in mind that no two trees yield identical results. Furthermore, where do the older dead tree samples come from? We know for instance that such well preserved specimens can be found above the current tree-lines, especially in the mountains where snow and ice have receded, but that may not be relevant.

    I was amused when back around 2000, Bradley or Hughes, one of those guys from MBH 99 wrote a letter to Nature or Science, (I’ve lost the details), positing that the convergence problem, (hide the decline), was caused by recent prolonged snow seasons reducing summer growth. How silly can you get? These were Manna-Man’s co-authors. They suggested culprit recent extended snow seasons, but not at any time in the past millennia? Sheez!

    Of course the silliest part about it, (on top of the regionality problem, if that is not silly enough), is that as far as I’m aware, there is no chlorophyll-photosynthesis growth in tree-rings at nighttime and during the winter. Global average T’s should of course include these rather important temporal periods!

    I actually feel that although Mc & Mc did excellent work on debunking the methodology etc of MBH 99, it is so complicated that few people really understand it, and it has become a distraction. It would have been much simpler and understandable to debunk it on issues such as the above, but there is much even more if one cares to look at the basics. Bugger the statistics etc.

  119. 119
    geoffchambers Says:

    Thanks Bob #118
    There are a lot of related questions one might ask, and I could no doubt find some of the answers on Wikipaedia. I wondered if anyone else had been thinking about the obvious problems with dendrothermometry, beyond the extremely abstruse statistical shenagigans used by Mann et al, revealed by McIntyre, and explained by Mountford. Your point about growth being limited to summer is a good example. I see points like this mentioned on blogs, but no scientifically respectable criticism. I suspect that there’s a gentlemen’s agreement among dendros not to rock the boat and thus deprive this obscure branch of science of its best client. (Until recently, dendrochronology was used essentially by archaeologists for dating wooden artefacts, I believe).
    On Tony N’s original question, I’m not at all sure that the Luther comparison is useful, paticularly as McIntyre clearly hates being labelled as any kind of rebel (he even refuses the label ‘sceptic’). The most interesting point in Norton’s article, I found, was his partial acceptance of the argument from authority, which, though it has no logical validity, is a useful rule of thumb in everyday life: if you know nothing about a subject, ask someone who does.
    It’s odd I should find this persuasive, since I’m continually being challenged on global warming threads with questions like “So you think you’re clever than the Royal Society, do you?” To which I answer modestly “In some ways, yes”. I’m uncomfortable with this state of affairs, since my natural tendency is to listen to experts, whether the subject is the origin or the universe or how to grow tomatoes.
    The fact that all the scientific societies in the world, plus almost all the political parties, have forfeited their legitimacy on the subject of global warming is to me a source of amazement. When you announce your opposition to the consensus view, the first reaction is often that you’re unbelievably big-headed, and the second that you’re accusing the whole politico-scientific establishment of being part of a conspiracy. The latter accusation is certainly not true.
    If a Luther does appear to lead some kind of crusade against global warming, I suspect that he or she will be a social scientist rather than a statistician, since what we need is some indication of how we (scientists, politicians and voters) got into this mess.

  120. 120
    Alex Cull Says:

    A couple of extra pertinent quotes from Star Trek’s Scotty.

    On self-defeating complexity (could he have been thinking about computer models??): “The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.”

    And: “A good Engineer is always a wee bit conservative, at least on paper.”

  121. 121
    tempterrain Says:


    You aren’t correct in saying that “attribution” is synonymous with “theory, hypothesis, assumption, conjecture”. Certainly, in the scientific sense, ‘theory’ has quite a different meaning to ‘conjecture’. You don’t get Darwin’s Conjecture of Evolution for instance! Although the Creationists do play on the looser popular meaning of the word ‘theory’ for their own purposes.

    Neither are you correct in saying that the usage of the word ‘attribution’ implies a lack of evidence. In this case, the scientific, artistic and popular meanings of the word are synonymous. For example, there may be a certain amount of evidence, which may be more or less conclusive, on both subjective and scientific levels, that a particular work should be attributed to a particular artist. It could range from a mere ‘probably the work of’, which would mean that the chances are just slightly more than 50% to ‘almost certainly the work of’ which would imply close to , but not equal to, 100% certainty.

    Its exactly the same in science. The 20th century warming has been attributed to anthropogenic causes to at least a 90% level of certainty.

    Alex Cull,

    I agree that engineers should be conservative. It doesn’t look good when bridges fall down and, in may case, smoke starts to appear from a PCB!

    However, it is curious that the Conservatives (in the political sense) are not being conservative with the atmosphere and climate. Its not them who are saying “You’ve got to hold back on those CO2 and other GHG emissions, Captain! The atmosphere just won’t take it!”

  122. 122
    Robin Guenier Says:


    I am wholly correct in saying that “attribution” is synonymous with “theory, hypothesis, assumption, conjecture”. Once again, you are demonstrating an inadequate understanding of the English language. “Synonymous” does not simply mean “the same as”. It means having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or being closely associated with or suggestive of something. Therefore, the words with which one word is synonymous do not necessarily have exactly the same meaning as each other, as you appear to think from your reference to Darwin.

    Nor did I say, “the usage of the word ‘attribution’ implies a lack of evidence”. Read my post again: I said it is “an entirely different concept from “evidence”. The latter is needed to verify/validate the former”. That’s true whether that former be a theory, a hypothesis, an assumption or a conjecture. Thus, although you are right to say that “20th century warming has been attributed to anthropogenic causes to at least a 90% level of certainty”, your problem is that there is insufficient empirical evidence to validate that attribution. And it’s such validation that is required by the Scientific Method.

    Get it now?

  123. 123
    Robin Guenier Says:

    And PeterM:

    Now please answer the three questions I asked you at 110. Thanks.

  124. 124
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Regarding the Royal Society, I was amused by the relevance of these observations of William Hazlitt (1778-1830):

    Public bodies are so far worse than the individuals composing them, because the official takes place of the moral sense.

    Age does not improve the morality of public bodies. They grow more and more tenacious of their idle privileges and senseless self-consequence. They get weak and obstinate at the same time. Those who belong to them have all the upstart pride and pettifogging spirit of their present character ingrafted on the venerableness and superstitious sanctity of ancient institutions.

    Corporate bodies are more corrupt and profligate than individuals, because they have more power to do mischief, and are less amenable to disgrace or punishment. They feel neither shame, remorse, gratitude, nor goodwill. The principle of private or natural conscience is extinguished in each individual (we have no moral sense in the breasts of others), and nothing is considered but how the united efforts of the whole (released from idle scruples) may be best directed to the obtaining of political advantages and privileges to be shared as common spoil.

  125. 125
    tempterrain Says:


    You now say that there is “insufficient empirical evidence to validate that attribution” whereas before you were claiming a “failure to produce any empirical evidence to support…”

    Its a slow process but I do seem to be getting you slightly closer to some sort of logical argument. You aren’t quite there yet though. We can never get to 100% certainty, that is synonymous with proof and, at least, we both agree that science doesn’t work on absolute proofs. So if, as you say, we have enough for the 90% level, how much do we need for ‘validation’?

  126. 126
    manacker Says:


    Some advice.

    DO NOT get into arguments about semantics with Robin.

    I did so some years ago on another thread, and learned (to my dismay) that his grasp of the English language is vastly superior to that of most English speakers (most likely due to a “déformation professionelle”).

    You (or I) may be better at plotting an Excel graph with trend lines, etc. than he is, but he has us both beat hands down when it comes to the fine points of the English language.


  127. 127
    manacker Says:


    To go back to your exchange with Robin and the apparent “disconnects” in comprehension and semantics:

    Robin writes:

    Thus, although you are right to say that “20th century warming has been attributed to anthropogenic causes to at least a 90% level of certainty”, your problem is that there is insufficient empirical evidence to validate that attribution. And it’s such validation that is required by the Scientific Method.

    IOW Robin is saying that “attribution certainty” may be at 90%, but that this does not provide any level of scientific “validation”, as this requires totally different standards of evidence than simple “attribution”.

    You miss this point entirely when you respond with:

    So if, as you say, we have enough for the 90% level, how much do we need for ‘validation’?

    Scientific validation of a premise requires empirical data based on actual physical observations as support, while attribution requires, at best, an educated guess based on theoretical deliberations as determined (for example) by computer model simulations.

    A “90% certain educated guess” is a long way from a “100% validation”.

    Do you get the difference here, Peter?


    PS Robin, I may have “oversimplified” here (at least I am not guilty of “undersimplifying”).

  128. 128
    tempterrain Says:


    To answer your 3 questions in 110 which I hope you won’t use as an opportunity to avoid the ‘validation’issue.

    1) I must admit I don’t know who the 43 are. I could be wrong in my prediction that they won’t turn out be climate scientists themselves. We’ll see.

    2) Are their views of “no account”? I wouldn’t say no account. Each will, no doubt, have their own speciality. I’d just ask the question of how much account they themselves would be willing to allow, if publicly challenged by others outside that speciality?

    3) How do I define a climate scientist? Everyone on this blog has used the term so many times, including yourself, and so it seems a bit late to start quibbling about definitions. I seem to remember that you once said that “Few if any climate scientists” support the view that the early 20th century warming was largely anthropogenic. Who did you have in mind yourself?

  129. 129
    manacker Says:


    Back to the RS survey.

    43 RS members responded that they do not support the RS official policy stand on AGW.

    There are over 1000 members.

    How many members were asked for their opinion? Were these members specifically asked to give an opinion or was this simply an anonymous opinion poll?

    If only 43 were asked, then one could say that the respondents unanimously rejected the official policy stand on GW.

    If it was 172, then one could conclude that a significant minority (25%) of those questioned rejected the official policy stand on AGW.

    Does anyone really know how many were asked?

    On the other hand how many respondents specifically stated that they endorse the official policy stand on AGW?

    A meaningful survey would list:

    a) the number of respondents who stated that they specifically reject the RS policy position

    b) the number of respondents who stated that they specifically endorse the RS policy position

    c) the number of respondents who did not state a position or did not return the survey form

    If a) is greater than b), one could conclude that a greater number of members reject rather than endorse the official policy position on AGW.

    Does anyone know how this poll was conducted and what it really means?


  130. 130
    Alex Cull Says:

    Peter M, re your #121, I think I know what you mean about the PCBs; no personal experience in my case, but widely reported PCB failure is one of the reasons why I’m still hesitating to buy an energy-saving gas boiler – the technology isn’t exactly at Star Trek levels yet!

    Back on the subject of physics (as in “ye cannae change the laws of”) I’d be curious to know your reactions (and those of anyone else here, come to that) to a recent article (link here) regarding the Stefan-Boltzmann formula and the greenhouse effect. As far as I know, the authors have just published this on the internet, rather than via Nature or a similar journal, so whether it passes muster, scientifically speaking, I’m not sure at all. I’ve forgotten much of my secondary-school physics, so don’t have much to say about it that would be useful. (TonyN, please shift this comment to the main thread, if you consider it belongs there instead.)

  131. 131
    tempterrain Says:


    Yes maybe Robin is good at playing with words but he doesn’t clearly understand the scientific, or even the artistic, meaning of ‘attribution’.

    An art historian, or scientist might say that it is “just possible” that object, or event X, was caused by person or influence Y.

    Level of certainty – Less than about 25%

    “possible” – Between 25% and 50%
    “probable” – Between 50% and 75%
    “very probable” – Between 75% and 90%
    “very likely” -90% and 95%
    “almost certain” above 95%

    The word “attribution” would also start to be used withe the word “probable”. At first tentatively but then with increasing confidence.
    Robin is implying that “validation” is also necessary and requires nearly, if not actually, 100% certainty. That’s a requirement for absolute proof! And you can’t have that with any historical art-work or over the science of historical climate, which of course is crucially important for the understanding of future climate, either.

  132. 132
    Robin Guenier Says:

    PeterM (#125):

    It’s strange that, after all this time and despite all your professed focus on the science, you still seem not to understand how the Scientific Method works. Here’s a simple summary:

    A problem is identified, a testable (i.e. refutable) hypothesis explaining it is published and the hypothesis is thoroughly tested against empirical (physically observed, not theoretical) evidence. If the evidence supports the hypothesis, the hypothesis is validated. But even that validation fails if the hypothesis is subsequently proved (usually by independent scientists) to be false: as Popper (and Einstein) showed, a scientific theory can never be finally confirmed by experimental testing whereas a single counterexample (commonly a failure to make accurate prediction) is logically decisive, showing the hypothesis to be false.

    So you see, “proof” is never possible – as you acknowledge. But what you fail to understand is that, because proof is never possible, the concept of 90% certainty is meaningless in the context of the Scientific Method: evidence either survives the process outlined above or it doesn’t. And, even if it survives, new evidence may subsequently show the hypothesis to be false.

    (In #127, Max explains clearly how “attribution certainty” differs from “scientific validation”: it’s the difference between an educated guess and actual physical observation. He neither oversimplified nor, wait for it … “undersimplified”.)

    So “sufficient evidence” is, quite simply, evidence that has successfully survived the process outlined above, thereby verifying the hypothesis. “Insufficient evidence” is evidence that has failed to survive that process. And obviously not producing any evidence doesn’t even get to the starting block. Both are failures.

  133. 133
    Robin Guenier Says:


    My #132 applies as much to your #131 as your #125: for the reasons explained, percentages are meaningless in the context of the Scientific Method.

  134. 134
    manacker Says:


    You are missing the point.

    It is not about “playing with words”.

    It is about “understanding” them.

    I think I explained the difference between “attribution” and “validation” (127).

    Your discussion of “levels of certainty” is interesting, but these are totally subjective. Richard Lindzen might assign a totally different “level of certainty” to a projected future climate event than, for example James E. Hansen. Whose “level of certainty” is correct, and why?

    IPCC uses this type of categorization, calling it the “assumed likelihood, using expert judgment, of an outcome or a result”, and assigning numerical “probability” estimates (in percentages) to different past or projected events.

    In its assessment of “human influence on past weather phenomena and trends and on projections for future extreme weather events” (Table SPM.2, SPM 2007), IPCC lists the assumed “likelihoods” for these, with the footnote that the “magnitude of anthropogenic contributions not assessed” and “attribution for these phenomena based on expert judgment rather than formal attribution studies”.

    This boils down to qualitative (as opposed to quantitative) “attribution” by “educated guess”.

    In science, “validation” of a hypothesis is something totally different. It is not based on “expert judgment”, “educated guess”, “theoretical deliberations supported by model simulations”, etc., but on “empirical data, derived from actual physical observations”.

    This is what is lacking for the premise that AGW has caused most of the past warming and represents a serious potential threat.

    And no matter how much you beat around the bush, you have so far been unable to refute this by citing such empirical evidence.


  135. 135
    geoffchambers Says:

    Max #129
    The RS survey wasn’t a “poll”. It was just a number of members asking around among their acquaintances. About a third of those asked refused to sign.
    Information from a commentator at Bishop Hill (I think)

  136. 136
    manacker Says:

    Robin and PeterM

    Looks like Robin’s posts and mine crossed, so may be a bit repetitive.

    Are we thus “undersimplifying”?

    (I hope not.)


    PS I personally like the word “undercomplicating” (with opposite meaning, of course, better.

  137. 137
    manacker Says:

    geoffchambers (135)

    Thanks for clearing up the RS survey.

    Looks like 43 members (who actually went out of their way to state opposition to the official RS “party line”) is a pretty strong indicator.

    Had there been significantly more that 43, who specifically endorsed in writing the RS policy statement, this would have indicated that the 43 were just a (possibly disgruntled) minority.

    But since there were no specific “pro” votes, and the abstainers may have had all sorts of reasons for abstaining, it appears that the 43 “nay” votes to the RS “party line” will have to be taken seriously by RS management.

    Let’s see how they revise the official RS blurb on AGW (if at all).


  138. 138
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Max (re your #129 – BTW arguably this, the “validation” discussion and Alex’s comment should be on the main thread):

    I understand (from Harrabin’s article) that there was no survey involved in the RS development. Harrabin quotes one Fellow as saying:

    We sent an e-mail round our friends, mainly in physical sciences. Then when we had got 43 names we approached the Council in January asking for the website entry on climate to be re-written. I don’t think they were very pleased. I don’t think this sort of thing has been done before in the history of the Society. But we won the day, and the work is under way to re-write it. I am very hopeful that we will find a form of words on which we can agree.

    So it would seem to be impossible, at this stage, to answer your questions. It’s interesting however that, according to this report, “a third of those [approached] declined to sign the petition”. But I don’t think it’s possible to draw any useful conclusion from that.

  139. 139
    manacker Says:


    In your 128 you questioned whether the 43 RS members who stated that they did not endorse the official RS “party line” on AGW were “climate scientists”.

    I do not believe that this makes any difference, Peter. There may actually be a better chance of getting an objective opinion from scientists who are not “climatologists”.

    The study entitled “Seductive Simulations”, by Myanna Lahsen,, which I cited on the other thread, “challenges the assumption that knowledge producers always are the best judges of the accuracy of their models”, in other words the climate scientists who produce model simulations may actually be worse judges of how accurate or meaningful their model results actually are than others, who use or analyze the model results.

    This phenomenon has been explained earlier (in a more general sense) by Thomas Kuhn, in his treatise on paradigms in science. Data points lying outside the prevailing paradigm are ignored or rejected. In some cases, they are actually physically not seen, according to Kuhn.

    Lahsen does not go into a discussion of “agenda driven science”, a second reason why climate scientists might be less objective than others is assessing the accuracy or validity of model-based climate projections. I personally believe that the many recent revelations (Climategate, IPCC exaggerations and fabrications on glacier loss, African droughts, etc.) show that this reason is just as important as the ones discussed by Lahsen.


  140. 140
    Robin Guenier Says:

    geoffchambers (135):

    Sorry Geoff – you got there first.

    And, Max, it seems from Harrabin’s article (see my extract above) that RS management are indeed taking it seriously.

  141. 141
    Robin Guenier Says:

    PeterM (#128):

    Re the three questions:

    1. Yes, your prediction may be wrong. It seems (see #138) that they are “mainly in physical sciences”. But it rather depends on the definition of “climate scientist” – see 3. below.

    2. I would expect that, whatever their specialty, they would be open to reasonable and courteous criticism from colleagues outside that specialty. That’s how good scientists operate: as Max points out, it can be possible to get a more objective view from someone outside the field in question.

    3. “Quibble” is the wrong word. I’m really interested to know what you mean when you refer to a “climate scientist”. Let me know and I’ll comment – referring no doubt to my view of the matter. I look forward to your answer. Thanks.

  142. 142
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Further to my #124 it seems that, for most of its history, the Royal Society may have tried to avoid the characteristics of a public body identified by Hazlitt. Its Philosophical Transactions (the Society’s journal) used to forbid pronouncements by the Society as a whole on any scientific or practical matter:

    … it is an established rule of the Society, to which they will always adhere, never to give their opinion, as a Body, upon any subject, either of Nature or Art, that comes before them.

    In my view, it would have been wise to stick to that. As it would have been wise to stick its original motto, Nullius in verba – usually defined as “Take no one’s word for it”. (And not, as once suggested, “never put anything in writing”.)

  143. 143
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Er – I didn’t mean “stick its original motto” (that’s what it did). I meant “stick to its original motto”.

  144. 144
    temperature Says:


    I seem to remember pointing out to before that there isn’t a single scientific method. For example, experimentation is of course desirable and should be included in the method wherever possible, but sometimes, and not just with climate science, it isn’t.

    You brought up the comparison between climate science and art attribution which is a good one. But, are you saying that there is a fundamental difference in methodology between a 90% attribution from a climate scientist and an art historian? Yes/No answer please?

  145. 145
    manacker Says:


    Sorry. There is a single scientific method, regardless of what you may have “pointed out” previously.

    “Attribution” is fundamentally not equal to “validation”.


  146. 146
    Bob_FJ Says:

    Alex, Reur 130, part 2 on S-B law.
    I’m about to make a comment on the NS thread

  147. 147
    tempterrain Says:


    Of course there isn’t a single scientific method. A major difference would involve experimentation. This is clearly sometimes possible and sometimes not.

    Can’t you see that?

    If you can’t you might want to read in the sceptics dictionary (where better?)

    “There is no single scientific method. Some of the methods of science involve logic, e.g., drawing inferences or deductions from hypotheses, or thinking out the logical implications of causal relationships in terms of necessary…..”

  148. 148
    tempterrain Says:

    Link to sceptics dictionary

  149. 149
    manacker Says:


    Not everything done in science is done following exactly the same methodology or procedures, of course.

    But the “scientific method” has a fairly restricted definition. This is one of the key differentiators between “science” and “pseudo-science” (or as Carl Sagan called it: “bamboozle”).

    Wiki gives a fairly good summary of the “Scientific Method”:

    Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

    Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methodologies of knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses. These steps must be repeatable in order to dependably predict any future results. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many independently-derived hypotheses together in a coherent, supportive structure. This in turn may help form new hypotheses or place groups of hypotheses into context.

    Among other facets shared by the various fields of inquiry is the conviction that the process must be objective to reduce biased interpretations of the results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of th reliability of these data to be established.

    A key point is expressed in the sentences repeated here:

    To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

    It seems pretty clear to me, Peter.


  150. 150
    Robin Guenier Says:

    PeterM (your #144 and #147):

    In my #132, I set out a summary of the Scientific Method. Note the word “summary”: the practice of the Method is complex and varies depending on the field of investigation (e.g. Darwin observes the natural world and particle physicists set up the complex experiment at CERN) – perhaps that’s what “the sceptics dictionary” had in mind. Thus Wikipedia refers to “a body of techniques”. It goes on to say:

    To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. … procedures vary from one field of enquiry to another

    [My emphasis.]

    Hmm … no reference here to “attribution”, I see. It does, however, add something that some “climate scientists” seem to have forgotten – i.e. that there is a

    basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established

    You ask me about art historians. Well, it may be regrettable but, so far as I can see, they do not pursue a code as rigorous as do scientists – indeed the Scientific Method is a factor that differentiates science from other fields of enquiry. Or at least it does when science is properly conducted. Re your question – as already pointed out by Max and myself – for a “climate scientist” to make an attribution is essentially meaningless (see in particular Max’s #134). Therefore, so is your question.

  151. 151
    tempterrain Says:

    Robin and Max

    I can understand that you won’t believe me that there is no single precisely defined scientific method. Perhaps you might listen to what Berkley University has to say on it’s website:

    “Misconception: There is a single Scientific Method that all scientists follow.”

    Your tactic is a similar one used by Creationists to deny that Evolution is a ‘validated’ scientific theory. As far is they are concerned it would go something like:

    In order for a hypothesis to become a theory, it must first be validated by the scientific method. Step Two of this method states that a hypothesis must be subjected to many repeatable, verifiable, controlled experiments before it can proceed to steps three, four and five. When did the evolutionary hypothesis ever go through Step Two? In what controlled environment was pond slime ever observed to evolve into homo sapiens?
    Therefore, the so-called “Theory” of Evolution is nothing more than speculation or hypothesis.

  152. 152
    manacker Says:

    Alex Cull

    The Hertzberg et al. study you cited on actually observed versus theoretically “blackbody estimated” lunar temperatures is interesting.

    While I had always though that the blackbody estimate is an approximation, which ignores such things as sub-surface warming and heat retention/release, I did not think that the simplification errors were as great as suggested with the lunar example.

    If, indeed, these physical observations show that the blackbody estimates are based on faulty assumptions, the practical application of Stefan-Boltzmann and the resulting quantification of the greenhouse effect are basically flawed and need rethinking.

    I’m looking forward to reading both Bob_FJ’s as well as PeterM’s take on all this.


  153. 153
    Robin Guenier Says:


    As so often recently I hadn’t seen your #149 when I posted my #150. Still – we made much the same point & repetition does no harm.

  154. 154
    Robin Guenier Says:

    PeterM (#151):

    You really don’t pay attention do you? Read #149 and #150 again (carefully this time) and you’ll see that we are not saying there is a “single precisely defined scientific method”. What do you think my comment that “the practice of the Method is complex and varies depending on the field of investigation” means? Certainly nothing about precise definition – and wholly in keeping with your Berkley link. And that, it should be noted, includes the key observation that

    the core logic of science [is] testing ideas with evidence.

    And subsequently expanding that as follows:

    Testing hypotheses and theories is at the core of the process of science. Any aspect of the natural world could be explained in many different ways. It is the job of science to collect all those plausible explanations and to use scientific testing to filter through them, retaining ideas that are supported by the evidence and discarding the others


    Nothing about “attribution” there.

  155. 155
    Bob_FJ Says:

    Max, Reur 152 & Alex Reur 130,
    S-B stuff:
    I’ve commented with a quickie on the NS thread at 593, and intend to add to that.

  156. 156
    tempterrain Says:


    Whenever you accuse me of not paying attention I know you’re throwing up flak and that I must be making some progress!

    Now you are saying “we are not saying there is a single precisely defined scientific method” .
    Is that you and Max, or a royal “we”? :-)

    Maybe it is a royal ‘we’ because Max said in his posting #145 “Sorry. There is a single scientific method, regardless of what you may have ‘pointed out’ previously.”

    I suppose that all you can say now is that there is a single scientific method but it isn’t precisely defined! Whereas the Berkley Uni website clearly says that there isn’t even that and Wiki lists the notion as a common scientific misconception.

    You need to get your story straight between you!

  157. 157
    manacker Says:


    Wiki is pretty clear on the scientific method. Read it again, slowly. Take notes, if necessary, to make sure that the salient points will sink in.


  158. 158
    manacker Says:


    You appear to still be confused when you write (156):

    I suppose that all you can say now is that there is a single scientific method but it isn’t precisely defined! Whereas the Berkley Uni website clearly says that there isn’t even that and Wiki lists the notion as a common scientific misconception.

    To make sure you are no longer confused on this, Peter, I have repeated what I wrote in 149:

    Not everything done in science is done following exactly the same methodology or procedures, of course.

    But the “scientific method” has a fairly restricted definition. This is one of the key differentiators between “science” and “pseudo-science” (or as Carl Sagan called it: “bamboozle”).

    To avoid further confusion, follow the instructions in my 157.

    Hope this helps.


  159. 159
    tempterrain Says:


    You mean this Wiki link? It calls the single scientific method a “common misconception”

    The difficulty that you and Robin have is that you are claiming a disqualification on the grounds that climate science hasn’t ticked the right boxes or followed the classical method. The classical method is, as the Berkley websites, explains heavily dependent of experimentation. And also as it further explains several branches of science, for example the ‘classical’ and oldest branch called astronomy, don’t follow the classical method! Are you saying astronomy isn’t science?

    To put it another way you need to try to see a little further instead of saying:
    ” so far as I can see, they [Art specialists] do not pursue a code as rigorous as do scientists – indeed the Scientific Method is a factor that differentiates science from other fields of…”

    If you’d read the Berkley link properly, you wouldn’t say that. True there is a subjective element in any art historian’s interpretation of scientific results, such as pigment analysis, carbon dating of canvas etc, but so there is with all science. Fundamentally, there is no difference in the way that they work and the way that archeologist would date an ancient artifact. Are you saying that archeology isn’t science either?

  160. 160
    Barelysane Says:


    I’ve just read the Berkley link, and all it really says is that the linear scientific method model has a lot of loops in it, some tangents, but essentially follows the same pattern.

    One interesting quote from the page wrt scientific method, that you would do well to read until its burned into your brain (along with many other people) is:

    It captures the core logic of science: testing ideas with evidence.

  161. 161
    manacker Says:


    You still appear confused (159) regarding the meaning of the “scientific method”.

    Check the Wiki section entitled “scientific method”, which I cited and quoted earlier. This will clear it up for you. As indicated, there are many different procedures and methodologies for getting there, depending on the field of science involved and as Wiki says in the reference you quote:

    There is no single, strict scientific method used by all scientists, a misconception popularized by elementary science textbooks. The rigidhypothesis?experiment?conclusion model of science is an important part of many fields, particularly basic sciences like physics and chemistry, but is not the only way to perform genuine science. Many sciences do not fit well into this mold (astronomy, paleontology, mathematics), and much important scientific work has come from curiosity and unguided exploration, for example the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, or the development of the atomic force microscope.

    The rigid model of science is important in basic sciences, such as physics or chemistry.

    You are trying to exclude the physics of climatology from the rigors of the “scientific method” for an obvious reason, Peter. It is because the premise of dangerous AGW does not pass the rigorous scrutiny of this “scientific method”.

    This is completely different from the fields mentioned (astronomy, paleontology, mathematics) or from the scientific discoveries, which have come from “curiosity and unguided exploration”.

    This discussion is leading us nowhere, Peter. Come with scientific evidence (i.e. empirical data) to support your premise rather than looking for a “copout”. (You are beginning to sound like a defender of “intelligent design” hypotheses.)


  162. 162
    tempterrain Says:


    Yes, it is getting a bit tedious. I’ll just sum up the conclusion I’ve come to a briefly as possible.

    Firstly, neither you nor Robin have any real interest in the scientific method, or empirical evidence of any sort come to that. Robin, by his own admission, is asking for something which he is sure is just impossible to provide. And then when he doesn’t get it, he can say the science on AGW has not been properly conducted and therefore we can all stop worrying about GHG emissions!

    That’s not too smart when you think about it. Its just classic denialism.

  163. 163
    manacker Says:


    You wrote (your idea of a summary):

    Firstly, neither you nor Robin have any real interest in the scientific method, or empirical evidence of any sort come to that. Robin, by his own admission, is asking for something which he is sure is just impossible to provide. And then when he doesn’t get it, he can say the science on AGW has not been properly conducted and therefore we can all stop worrying about GHG emissions!

    That’s not too smart when you think about it. Its just classic denialism.

    You are dead wrong, Peter. I am very interested in the “scientific method” and, in particular, in its rigorous application to the relatively new field of “climatology” to eliminate “bamboozle” (or “agenda driven science”), as much as this is possible.

    Where the science is sound, it is not at all “impossible to provide” empirical data which clearly support a premise or hypothesis. In the case of the premise for dangerous AGW, however, these empirical data are missing.

    We have observations, which show that
    - temperature has increased in 30-year (half-cycle) oscillations since 1850, with an underlying warming trend of 0.041C per decade but no statistically robust correlation with atmospheric CO2
    - sea level has increased since the mid 19th century, also in multi-decadal swings, with the first half of the 20th century (1904-1953) showing a slightly faster rate of rise than the second half (1954-2003)
    - Arctic sea ice has receded, while Antarctic sea ice has expanded, since satellite records started in 1979
    - atmospheric CO2 has increased since readings were started in Mauna Loa in 1958; earlier ice core data indicate a somewhat flatter increase prior to 1958 (but as these are based on composite data over many years, it is difficult to establish clear annual values prior to 1958)
    - human CO2 emissions have increased as the standard of living and energy consumption in the developed world have both increased; this is now occurring in the giant developing economies (China, India, etc.)

    We also have a theory, which tells us that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which absorbs and re-radiates LW energy, thereby “warming” our planet. At an assumed “pre-industrial” concentration of 280 ppmv, the natural GH effect of CO2 is estimated to be between 5 and 8C (out of a calculated total natural GHE of 33C), and the warming rate is assumed to be logarithmic based on concentration, so that a doubling of CO2 would result in a theoretical GH warming of around 1C.

    Basta! That’s it folks.

    Then we have computer model simulations, which attempt to make sense out of the theoretical deliberations plus the observed data that we have, and we have a political body (IPCC) dedicated to showing that AGW is a potential threat, which must be dealt with with policy changes, and politicians, many of whom support the concept of a tax on “carbon”, who support climate research with taxpayer funding.

    A heady mix, Peter.

    Can we “stop worrying” about CO2 emissions? There are no empirical data that tell us we should “start worrying” about them.

    I will remain rationally skeptical of the dangerous AGW premise until someone shows me the data and thereby convinces me that we are not being “bamboozled”.

    So far you have been unable to do so.


  164. 164
    tempterrain Says:


    Do you agree with Robin that you are asking for the impossible? And of course you won’t get it. Isn’t that just an easy way to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist?

  165. 165
    manacker Says:


    You ask (164):

    Do you agree with Robin that you are asking for the impossible? And of course you won’t get it. Isn’t that just an easy way to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist?

    No. I do not believe that anything is “impossible”. I just believe that it is “highly unlikely” that you will able to show empirical data based on actual physical observations to validate the (IPCC) premise a) that AGW (caused primarily by human CO2) has been a principal cause for past warming and b) that AGW represents a serious potential threat.

    If you can prove me wrong, please do so.

    For a good reasoning why many people are rationally skeptical of the IPCC AGW premise see this summary by a countryman of yours:

    Face it, Peter. As sad as it may seem for ardent AGW-believers, like yourself, the IPCC “glory days” have passed. There have been too many revelations of sloppy science, fabrications, exaggerations and manipulations of data. No longer does the “world” believe everything that IPCC publishes, just because it comes from IPCC. The AGW postulation now requires a higher level of validation than simple computer model simulations based on theoretical deliberations.

    If you cannot provide empirical scientific data to support your premise, so be it. Don’t try to hide behind statements that, as rational skeptics, we “are asking for the impossible” so that we can “pretend that the problem doesn’t exist”. That’s a cop-out.

    The ”problem doesn’t exist” until you can demonstrate conclusively that it does.


  166. 166
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Max, Barelysane & PeterM:

    I’ve been out all day so have been unable to contribute to the Scientific Method discussion. I have little time now, so I’ll say just this: (1) I liked Max’s 161, 163 and 165 and (especially) Barelysane’s 160; and (2) I do not believe it’s impossible that, one day, empirical evidence supporting the dangerous AGW hypothesis will come to light – just that it hasn’t happened yet, and it’s doing so seems increasingly unlikely. But “impossible”? Most certainly not.

    Barelysane’s Berkley quotation (thanks for the link, Peter) is worth repeating:

    the core logic of science: testing ideas with evidence

    This too:

    Testing hypotheses and theories is at the core of the process of science. Any aspect of the natural world could be explained in many different ways. It is the job of science to collect all those plausible explanations and to use scientific testing to filter through them, retaining ideas that are supported by the evidence and discarding the others

    I’ll be away from my computer for four days. On my return, it will be interesting to see how this develops – if it does.

  167. 167
    tempterrain Says:


    You now say “But ‘impossible’? [empirical evidence for dangerous AGW hypothesis] Most certainly not.”

    You often accuse me of not paying attention but I must have been on the 25th March when you wrote:

    “’s impossible to define, let alone set up, a means of obtaining empirical evidence supporting the dangerous AGW hypothesis.”

    So have you now changed your mind?

  168. 168
    Robin Guenier Says:


    No, I have not changed my mind. What I said in March is completely compatible with what I said above. I suggest you go back and read my earlier post – doing so carefully this time.

  169. 169
    tempterrain Says:

    I would suggest that you should take a good look at yourself! You might just see a level of arrogance in the mirror which is completely unwarranted!

    You need to face the reality that you have been caught out in the simple tactic of demanding the impossible! Its used by all deniers, not just climate change deniers, as a justification for their lack of rational thought.

  170. 170
    Robin Guenier Says:


    Arrogant, moi? What a dreadful calumny.

    But, Peter, you’ve got yourself into an awkward pickle on this, haven’t you? I’m busy today but I’ll expand on this later this afternoon. I look forward to it.

    PS: I see you made another unwise comment on the same issue on the Royal Society thread. To avoid duplication, I’ll post my reply there.

  171. 171
    manacker Says:


    The PeterM 6-step:

    Waffle, waffle, waffle.


    Then waffle, waffle again…

    Bring empirical data rather than meaningless, repetitive blah-blah.

    Otherwise admit that there is no empirical data based on physical observations to support your premise a) that AGW, caused primarily by human CO2 emissions, has been a principal cause of the observed 20th century warming or b) that this represents a serious potential threat.

    Without empirical data your premise remains a hollow hypothesis, with as much scientific validity as the hypotheses of “intelligent design” or “early population of Earth by hyper-intelligent extraterrestrials”.

    In other words, what Carl Sagan would have referred to as a “bamboozle”.


  172. 172
    tempterrain Says:

    Max and Robin,

    You really are both the most incorrigible of deniers. Note not sceptics! A sceptic would change their opinion given a sufficient level of evidence.

    You’ve no intention of accepting any evidence other than what you yourself have decided is just impossible to obtain. Cany you just explain to me again how and why this evidence is “impossible to define…”

  173. 173
    manacker Says:


    Name calling (172) without providing any empirical evidence won’t hack it, Peter.

    You have waffled around the question of empirical data to support your premise a) that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, has been the primary cause of 20th century warming and b) that AGW represents a serious potential threat.

    But you have been unable to provide such empirical data, responding instead with absurd statements such as that this evidence

    is impossible to provide, unless we test the earth to destruction to obtain it

    In effect you are writing that you are unable to provide the empirical evidence requested, therefore it must be impossible to provide this empirical evidence without destroying the earth.

    This is obviously a “cop-out”, Peter.

    But let’s first go back to the “scientific method”

    It is often said in science that hypotheses can never be proved, only disproved. There is always the possibility that a new observation or a new experiment will conflict with a long-standing theory, thereby invalidating it.

    But we are not looking for “proof”, but simply for validation of the dangerous AGW premise based on empirical data derived from physical observations.

    Now I will turn the discussion around and show you empirical data derived from physical observations, which tend to invalidate the above stated “dangerous AGW” premise.

    First of all, the statistical correlation between atmospheric CO2 and global temperature is not robust. There are observed multi-decadal periods of warming and slight cooling while there are no multi-decadal fluctuations in atmospheric CO2. The statistical correlation is thus a “random walk”. While correlation does not provide evidence for causation, it is true that lack of correlation does provide evidence for lack of causation. Therefore, the physically observed temperature and CO2 records provide empirical data, which invalidate the premise that CO2 has been a principal cause of the observed 20th century warming.

    Even if one assumes that the multi-decadal temperature oscillations did not occur (or were irrelevant), the long-term record shows warming of around 0.7C over the 160-year time period. Taking the observed CO2 record since 1958 and the putative record based on ice core studies prior to 1958, this corresponds with a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 1.4C, if we assume (as IPCC does) that all anthropogenic forcing factors are equivalent to that of CO2 alone (other anthropogenic factors cancel one another out) and that natural forcing factors are essentially irrelevant. On this based, we have well under 1C warming to expect from CO2 increase until year 2100, and the premise that AGW represents a serious potential threat has been invalidated.

    Now the AGW logic starts to get “fuzzy”. Since the observed temperature increase does not correlate with the assumed 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 3.2C (derived from model simulations and hypothetical deliberations rather than physical observations), the postulation is made that greenhouse warming takes time to reach “equilibrium” and there must, therefore, be some already experienced but not yet realized warming “hidden in the pipeline” somewhere. Starting with the assumed CS of 3.2C, this “hidden warming” is calculated by “circular logic” (Hansen et al.) to be equivalent to 0.85 W/m^2, in order to confirm the 3.2C assumption. It is further postulated that this “missing energy” is “hidden” in the upper ocean, from where it will some day be released (by some as yet inexplicable mechanism) to cause further warming of the atmosphere.

    The premise that the upper ocean was warming was based on sketchy spot data. As team leader Josh Willis confirmed:

    There have been various difficulties in measuring ocean heat. Expendable bathythermographs, or XBT’s, measured ocean temperatures before the Argo network was deployed. XBT’s have been found to introduce a warming bias.

    Accurate measurements are now possible on a global scale with the Argo system. Argo consists of a world-wide network of over 3000 free-drifting platforms that measure temperature and salinity in the upper 2000m of ocean. Since these measurements were installed in 2003, they have confirmed that the upper ocean is cooling rather than warming, as was previously assumed, based on spot measurements from the less reliable XBT buoys.

    At the same time the atmosphere (both at the surface and in the troposphere) has cooled since 2000.

    The relatively small amount of latent heat in melting ice or net water evaporation is too small to make a difference, so the “hidden energy” is nowhere to be found on our planet and is therefore “missing”

    Kevin Trenberth referred to this “missing heat” as a “travesty, which it certainly is for the validity of the dangerous AGW postulation..

    Of course, some AGW-supporters have “blamed the thermometers” for the current cooling (and the resulting “missing heat”).

    But just how big a “travesty” is this really for the AGW paradigm? Let’s do a quick check.

    From 2000 to 2009, CO2 has increased from 369 to 390 ppmv.

    Using the estimate of 3.2C warming for 2xCO2 (which IPCC claims), this increase should have caused an atmospheric warming of 0.26C.

    In actual fact we saw a cooling of 0.08C at the surface and 0.11C in the troposphere over this period, for a net discrepancy between the observed facts and the AGW theory of 0.35C (or half the amount of total warming observed from 1850 to today!).

    Let’s forget the Argo measurements for now and assume that the theoretical 0.26C atmospheric warming is correct, and that it went into the upper ocean (top 500 meters), where it is hiding to come back out again as added warming some day (as suggested by the “hidden in the pipeline” postulation).

    The upper 500 meters of ocean has 170 times the heat capacity of the entire troposphere, so this warming is equivalent to a warming of 0.26 / 170 = 0.0015C of the upper ocean.

    This infinitesimal amount of upper-ocean warming would be impossible to measure but, as pointed out above, Argo measurements tell us that, in actual fact, the upper ocean has cooled since they started in 2003.

    So where is this missing energy if it cannot be found anywhere on our planet?

    Instead of blaming the thermometers, Kevin Trenberth thinks it may be going back into “outer space”, with clouds acting as a “natural thermostat”.

    See “The Mystery of Global Warming’s Missing Heat”:

    Another postulation has it disappearing into the lower ocean. This is so vast, with such a large heat content, that it would have warmed by only 0.0002C!

    In either case, it is not “lurking in hiding” somewhere to come out and eventually cause more atmospheric warming, as Hansen has postulated.

    And the “hidden in the pipeline” hypothesis has thereby been falsified (along with the postulation of a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 3.2C), thereby falsifying the hypothesis of a serious potential threat from warming caused by AGW.

    For a more detailed discussion see:

    A further invalidation is found in the recent physical observations by Spencer et al. on cloud feedbacks. These observations show that net cloud feedback is strongly negative, rather than strongly positive, as assumed by all the climate models cited by IPCC. Instead of contributing 1.3C to the assumed 2xCO2 CS of 3.2C, the net negative feedback from clouds would put the 2xCO2 CS at around 1C, thereby also falsifying the hypothesis of serious potential warming caused by AGW.

    Recent model studies using an improved technique called superparameterization for estimating cloud feedback have shown similar results to those confirmed by the physical observations of Spencer et al.

    So we have several instances where empirical data from actual physical observations have falsified the dangerous AGW hypothesis.

    Yet you are unable to bring any empirical data to validate this hypothesis.


  174. 174
    Robin Guenier Says:


    Re my #170 and your #172, see my post on the Royal Society thread – here.

  175. 175
    R C Churchman Says:

    Heaven knows the congregation of St Peter and St Paul have endured enough upheaval in recent years.
    It started when a trendy new vicar arrived, raising eyebrows by preaching in a Hawaiian shirt, incorporating Leonard Cohen songs into his services, and dressing up as a circus clown.
    Then Sam Norton went further, renaming ‘Evensong’ as ‘Evenspeak’ and introducing events such as ‘parish brekkie’.
    But the final straw for many came when Reverend Norton, 39, sacked choirmaster, Professor Emeritus John Davies, 68, claiming he was responsible for a ‘musical train wreck’.
    The 20-strong choir – who are considered one of the best in the region and have performed in front of archbishops – promptly walked out in sympathy and now most of the churchgoers have done the same.
    Last week fewer than 40 of them arrived at a morning service normally attended by 100.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  176. 176
    TonyN Says:

    It’s sad to hear that things have not gone well over the last five years, and a very great pity that clergy with bright ideas so often seem to suffer from a serious Pastoral Theology deficit.

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