Mar 172008


At 10am this morning, the New Statesman finally closed the Mark Lynas thread on their website after 1715 comments had been added over a period of five months. I don’t know whether this constitutes any kind of a record, but gratitude is certainly due to the editor of of the New Statesman for hosting the discussion so patiently and also for publishing articles from Dr David Whitehouse and Mark Lynas that have created so much interest.

This page is now live, and anyone who would like to continue the discussion here is welcome to do so. I have copied the most recent contributions at the New Statesman as the first comment for the sake of convenience. If you want to refer back to either of the original threads, then you can find them here:

Dr David Whitehouse’s article can be found here with all 1289 comments.

Mark Lynas’ attempted refutation can be found here with 1715 comments.

Welcome to Harmless Sky, and happy blogging.

(Click the ‘comments’ link below if the input box does not appear)


10,000 Responses to “Continuation of the New Statesman Whitehouse/Lynas blogs.”

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  1. 9951
    Robin Guenier Says:


    Re the IPCC and cloud feedbacks (your 9948), the following extracts from WG I, chapter 8 are relevant:


    “… cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty in climate sensitivity estimates.”

    “ … these feedbacks remain poorly understood.”

    “ … emphasizes the necessity to improve the representation and the evaluation of cloud processes in climate models.”

    “Despite some advances in the understanding of the physical processes that control the cloud response to climate change and in the evaluation of some components of cloud feedbacks in current models, it is not yet possible to assess which of the model estimates of cloud feedback is the most reliable.”


    “A number of diagnostic tests have been proposed since the TAR (see Section 8.6.3), but few of them have been applied to a majority of the models currently in use. Moreover, it is not yet clear which tests are critical for constraining future projections. Consequently, 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.”

  2. 9952
    Robin Guenier Says:

    This week’s Economist looks at “the science of climate change” – and, at first sight, it appears that the magazine may have softened its alarmist approach. In reality, it hasn’t. Re my 9951 (re uncertainty about cloud feedback) it’s an interesting coincidence that the Editor’s summary (in an email to subscribers – or, in my case, ex-subscribers) reads as follows:

    We reckon that, while recent scandals have encouraged scepticism and huge uncertainties remain—especially around the issue of whether clouds will warm or cool the atmosphere—the chances of a dangerous outcome are still serious enough to justify investing in mitigating climate change.

    [My italics.]

    Not a bad summary of what is quite a detailed overview of the current state of science (article here and “briefing” here). It gives a fairish account of current controversies – but weakly concludes that we’d better take action just in case …

    Quite rightly, commentators are not impressed. One, for example, having noted the Economist assertion, “But the range of possible outcomes is huge, with catastrophe one possibility, and the costs of averting climate change are comparatively small,” says,

    This is a mind-bogglingly stupid statement. The costs are immense, just take a look at some of the calculations. Also, uncertainty means that there is no way of even trying a cost-benefit analysis here. The logical reaction to uncertainty is not blind actionism but more research.


  3. 9953
    manacker Says:


    Thanks for AR4 WG1 Ch. 8 quotes.

    It is curious (but totally understandable) that IPCC chose to cite model simulations that ALL showed a strong positive feedback from clouds with warming, despite all this admitted uncertainty.

    But, as we know, “science” marches on.

    Since IPCC published the AR4 WG1 report in 2007 (based on 2006 data), several thing have occurred that have helped clear up “the largest source of uncertainty” on the part of IPCC, namely “cloud feedbacks”:

    A breakthrough study by Spencer et al. based on actual physical observations shows that the net SW + LW cloud feedback over the tropics is strongly negative with warming.

    A study by Norris based on a longer-term data set shows that the same is true for the mid-latitudes as well as the tropics.

    A study by Lindzen and Choi shows that measured total LW + SW outgoing radiation over the tropics increases with surface temperature, resulting in a net total negative feedback (total of all feedbacks).

    A superparameterization model study Wyant et al. shows that both SW and LW cloud feedbacks are strongly positive at most latitudes and on global average.

    In effect, AR4 WG1 is out-of-date when it comes to (a) cloud feedbacks and, as a result (b) total net feedbacks and (c) 2xCO2 climate sensitivity.

    What does this all mean?

    After incorporating these corrections to the projections, a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will result in a theoretical GH warming of somewhere under 1°C, rather than 3.2°C, as previously estimated by IPCC in AR4.

    PeterM just hasn’t gotten the word yet (even though it appears that Kevin Trenberth has, calling it a “travesty”).


  4. 9954
    manacker Says:


    Sorry. There is a “typo” in my last post.

    The sentence on the Wyant et al. study should read:

    A superparameterization model study Wyant et al. shows that both SW and LW cloud feedbacks are strongly negative at most latitudes and on global average


  5. 9955
    Robin Guenier Says:

    Thanks Max.

    I’d be interested in your views on the Economist briefing (see 9952). There’s lot there – on clouds it says,

    However, there are so far no compelling data on how clouds are affecting warming in fact, as opposed to in models. Ray Pierrehumbert, a climate scientist at the University of Chicago who generally has a strong way with sceptics, is happy to agree that there might be processes by which clouds rein in, rather than exaggerate, greenhouse-warming effects, but adds that, so far, few have been suggested in any way that makes sense.

    Dr Lindzen and a colleague suggested a plausible mechanism in 2001. They proposed that tropical clouds in an atmosphere with more greenhouse gas might dry out neighbouring parts of the sky, making them more transparent to outgoing infra-red. The evidence Dr Lindzen brought to bear in support of this was criticised in ways convincing enough to discourage other scientists from taking the idea further. A subsequent paper by Dr Lindzen on observations that would be compatible with his ideas about low sensitivity has also suffered significant criticisms, and he accepts many of them. But having taken them on board has not, he thinks, invalidated his line of research.

  6. 9956
    manacker Says:


    The 1976 Fluor Magazine article, “Do We Face an Ice Age?”, was written by Peter Craigmoe.

    There is a retired writer, now in his 70s, with that name (also using the pen name Peter van Wyk), who lives in California (Google).

    It is a rather unusual name (not Craigmore), and the age seems to fit, so probably this is the same guy.

    Whether he still remembers the article he wrote more than 30 years ago is another question.

    At any rate, his article seems to confirm data from other sources indicating that climate scientists of the time were seriously concerned about the measured global cooling and the possible consequences this could have, primarily on our planet’s ability to provide enough food to feed the 4 billion or so inhabitants at the time if things got much colder.

    Many of these “concerned scientists” at the time have since passed away, but a few (like Stephen Schneider and George Kukla) are still around: Schneider is now a “warming” alarmist, but Kukla still fears a new ice age.


  7. 9957
    manacker Says:


    I am talking from memory now, and will have to check to make sure, but Pierrehumbert’s studies were based on the LW (or “greenhouse”) component (as was Lindzen’s “infrared iris” postulation).

    The recent observations seem to show that increased SW reflection from increased low-level clouds with warming plays a major part in the total radiative balance.

    I’ll check this in more detail and get back to you later.


  8. 9958
    tonyb Says:


    This seems to be the guy-If so I’ll contact him.


  9. 9959
    manacker Says:


    Did a bit of checking.

    Ray Pierrehumbert is cited four times in AR4 WG1 Ch. 8 (Climate Models and their Evaluation) regarding the impact of water vapor and clouds.

    In studies I have seen, he argues against a “natural thermostat” effect from clouds by using paleo-climate examples (Cretaceous + PETM warming). [A personal opinion: if one has to rely on paleo-climate examples to support a point concerning today’s climate, this suggests that the point is not supported by empirical data from today’s observations.]

    [Note: It now seems that even Kevin Trenberth accepts the “natural thermostat” postulation, based on the latest observations.]

    In a 2008 paper Pierrehumbert agrees that there is a lot of uncertainty concerning the role of clouds.

    He was involved in a scientific dispute with Roger Pielke who argued that a part of the impact from clouds could be non-feedback natural variability caused by internal radiative forcing, as suggested by Spencer/Braswell. Pierrehumbert took the stand (on RealClimate) that the cloud impact is purely from feedback to higher temperature caused by greenhouse warming, and not from natural variability. Pielke rebutted Pierrehumbert’s claim, and it looked to me that Pielke made sense in his argument that natural variability cannot be ruled out.

    I believe Bob_FJ has exchanged posts with Pierrehumbert on the RC site.

    Now to the Economist article. It presents “both sides” of the story, albeit giving the “pro-AGW” side a bit more weight.

    Where the article goes completely off the track (and into the ditch, as far as I am concerned) is in the final paragraph:

    Using the IPCC’s assessment of probabilities, the sensitivity to a doubling of carbon dioxide of less than 1.5ºC in such a scenario has perhaps one chance in ten of being correct. But if the IPCC were underestimating things by a factor of five or so, that would still leave only a 50:50 chance of such a desirable outcome. The fact that the uncertainties allow you to construct a relatively benign future does not allow you to ignore futures in which climate change is large, and in some of which it is very dangerous indeed. The doubters are right that uncertainties are rife in climate science. They are wrong when they present that as a reason for inaction.

    By arbitrarily assuming that IPCC are underestimating uncertainties by a factor of five or so, the authors comes up with a 50:50 chance of warming of less than 1.5ºC with a doubling of CO2, therefore no reason for inaction. Had they assumed that IPCC are underestimating uncertainties by a factor of ten, the chance of warming of less than 1.5ºC would have been 100%, and there would be absolutely no reason for action.

    The 2xCO2 GH impact assumed by IPCC, based on model simulations, is 3.2ºC. As Economist points out, 1.3ºC of this is attributable to the assumed strongly positive feedback from clouds.

    We are expected to reach 560 ppmv atmospheric CO2 concentration by year 2100. Today we are at around 390 ppmv, so that would be an increase of 1.44.

    More recent studies based on actual physical observations (instead of simply model simulations) show us that the feedback from clouds is, in actual fact, strongly negative, so that the corrected 2xCO2 impact is below 1ºC. [Note that this is not based on dicey paleo-climate reconstructions, but on actually observed data from today.]

    If we use a 2xCO2 GH impact of 1ºC, the warming from today to year 2100 at 1.44xCO2 would be 0.5ºC.

    Even if we use the exaggerated IPCC 2xCO2 GH impact of 3.2ºC, we only arrive at warming of 1.6ºC by year 2100.

    In addition, the past nine years have shown us that our planet is cooling despite record increase in CO2, demonstrating that the model simulations are worthless for projecting future climate.

    This tells us that the chance of 2xCO2 warming exceeding 1.5ºC is as good as zero, as is the need for action.

    Economist spoiled what appeared to be a well-researched and only slightly one-sided article by adding on a ridiculous opinion and call for action based on a flawed pseudo-statistical analysis and some bogus data. Too bad.


  10. 9960
    manacker Says:


    You mention that “history was rewritten” on the mid-century cooling.

    Just comparing the temperature chart in the Newsweek article back in the 1970s (data from National Climate Research Center) with the latest NCDC record for the same period shows a striking difference.

    The older record shows an anomaly (1883 = 0) of 0.85°F in 1944, dropping around 0.25°F by the 1970s, with a linear rate of cooling of about 0.11°C per decade over the entire period.

    The latest record for this period shows a much slower linear cooling rate of less than 0.01°C per decade.

    It appears that the difference results primarily from lowering the 1940s highs, rather than raising the 1970s lows.

    This explains why scientists were concerned about the cooling at the time (they certainly would not have worried much about a linear cooling rate of less than 0.01°C per decade, but a rate 11 times that fast would have been alarming).

    Just goes to show how history can be rewritten to suit the message one wants to sell.


  11. 9961
    TonyB Says:

    Max This composite chart is interesting taken from WUWT
    together with the comment;


    “Here is a chart Phil Jones presented at a conference at NCAR last summer. It shows the different temperature reconstructions made by various climatologists/meteorologists over time [most names you would have heard of before].

    I don’t know if it has been Jones’ed and it is just a curiousity I guess.

  12. 9962
    tempterrain Says:

    This is an interesting talk by Bill Gates on the technology of moving towards zero CO2 emissions.

    It also illustrates that it is necessary to differentiate right wing and reactionary political elements from other more enlightened sections of the ruling classes. I think we can all agree that Bill Gates qualifies in this respect!

  13. 9963
    manacker Says:


    Interesting talk by Gates.

    He has embraced the politically correct “mainstream” viewpoint on CO2 causing threatening climate change. And, starting with that premise, he comes up with logical, well-thought-out suggestions for solving the problem he has conjured up with his starting premise.

    Has nothing to do with right-wing or reactionary politics, though, just one (very rich) philanthropic layman’s opinion.


  14. 9964
    tempterrain Says:


    Wouldn’t you agree that Bill Gates is being ‘scientifically correct’ rather than ‘politically correct’?

    Are his opinions totally seperated from his politics? I just guessing but would I be right in saying that he’d often be described as part of an “American liberal elite”?

    Too smart, maybe, to be able to embrace James Inhofe or Sarah Palin’s idea of American values?

    I’m not sure if there is a correlation with IQ but there is some suggestion that this might be the case.

  15. 9965
    manacker Says:


    You ask:

    Wouldn’t you agree that Bill Gates is being ’scientifically correct’ rather than ‘politically correct’?

    Not at all. I doubt if he has spent much time truly investigating the “science” behind “dangerous AGW premise” very thoroughly, but in his position as a senior business leader he more than likely knows what is “politically correct” (having had his own run-ins with anti-trust bureaucrats in the past). Maybe he even sees a business opportunity in the AGW scare, so that AGW could be “economically correct” for him, as it has been for Al Gore. Who knows?

    As to his “politics”, I have no notions what they might be. Nor is it relevant.

    Gates is undoubtedly very intelligent. This does not make his personal opinion on AGW any more valid than that of James Inhofe, who has probably spent more time investigating this particular topic. I’d say Gates knows more about software and running a business, though.

    The correlation with IQ and opinion on AGW does not hold, Peter. I’d say that Richard Lindzen is a lot more intelligent than Al Gore.

    Wouldn’t you?

    Lindzen also knows a whole lot more about what makes our planet’s climate work than either Gates or Gore (or his fellow Nobel Prize winner, Pachauri). Right?


  16. 9966
    tempterrain Says:

    The thing about correlation is that you can’t just compare one data point with another. You’d have to include people like Sarah Palin in your side of the argument but you’d probably think that was unfair!

    Are you going to tell me that her politics have nothing to do with her opinions on AGW? And that she’s studied the IPCC reports and read thousands of scientific papers but in her learned opinion there is no evidence of any anthropogenic involvement?

    PS I hear Obama managed to get his health vote through! Are you guys going to switch to AGW now or are you going to tell me that it is a totally different group of people who disagree with him on the two issues?

  17. 9967
    tempterrain Says:


    There has been a few odd looking posts recently, well even more odd looking than the usual “its all a hoax” stuff, on different threads.

    You might want to click on the links embedded in the posters’ names and decide if you’re being spammed.

  18. 9968
    tonyb Says:

    Peter #9967 is completely right.

    (Surely the only time this has been said here without a negative word somewhere in that sentence :) )

    There have been some strange posts in various of the threads, which this site is normally pretty clear of.


  19. 9969
    TonyN Says:


    I’ve been away from my computer for most of the weekend. These are a type of spam that has been turning up more and more frequently over the last few weeks. At the moment the filter seems not to be able to catch them although it’s nailed nearly 45,000 others so far. There’s a new version and I might try that if the problem persists, but the old one has got pretty good at not spamming legitimate comments from regular contributors.

    While we are on the subject of extraneous comments, now would probably be a good time to say that I do not, REPEAT NOT, want discussion of the Obama health bill here.

  20. 9970
    TonyN Says:


    Please see this comment about the imminent termination of this thread:

    Changes to the New Statesman thread

  21. 9971
    Robin Guenier Says:


    I’d be interested in your comments on this article by Barry Brill (a NZ politician and lawyer) from the online version of the Australian periodical Quadrant. Entitled “End-phase of the Climate Wars?”, it goes carefully through arguments deployed by Max and by me in debate with Peter over much of the past two years. But, tellingly, Brill does this in the light of the BBC‘s Roger Harrabin’s recent interview of Professor Phil Jones.

    I liked the opening paragraph:

    The gap between these two schools [alarmists and sceptics] has never yawned as widely as media reports often suggest. Both agree that climate is always changing, that we have recently been in a warming period (with tiny temperature changes), that “greenhouse theory” has some validity, and that human activities are capable of impacting climate. The core dispute lies in the detection and attribution of ‘anthropogenic global warming’ (AGW) …

    And the closing paragraph:

    The controversy continues. But with the imprimatur of Phil Jones to the key fact that recent warming is not unusual, the debate will never be the same. The two sides are edging closer to a common set of facts; and it surely cannot be too much longer before common conclusions are drawn from those facts.

  22. 9972
    tonyb Says:

    TonyN #9970

    That seems senbsible but I wonder if it might be possible to include say the last two pages of comments as generally our posts tend to refer back tio things that have happened here in the very recent past. It would be useful to retain this reference point.

    Thanks for the provision of this thread-is it a record which needs to be recorded as such somewhere?


  23. 9973
    TonyN Says:


    I’ll probably move the most recent 100 or so comments to the new thread.

    If there is a longer thread, I haven’t heard of it. What is certain is that there are well over a million words on the thread.

  24. 9974
    tonyb Says:


    You deserve great credit for picking up the thread in the first place let alone maintaining it, so I just wondered if you could get some free publicity by notifying other blogs/the relevant media.


  25. 9975
    tempterrain Says:


    The Harrabin/Jones interview has been subjected to change by “Chinese whispers” on the denialist blogosphere.

    For instance I can’t see the phrase “..warming is not unusual”. Maybe you can help me out there.

    Also there is seems to be an implicit assumption, in many reports, that earlier warming periods such as the one of 1910 -1940 was 100% natural. The controversy around many hockey stick type graphs usually centres on the so-called medieval warm period. However the ‘blade’ of the hockey stick on the graphs always starts before 1900.

    CO2 emissions will have had some effect but the effects of changing land use, for agriculture and forestry, shouldn’t be overlooked.

    Its always going back to the actual interview to read what was said rather than what someone else claims was said:

  26. 9976
    Robin Guenier Says:


    What Jones said is this (I quote): “As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different” and “the warming rates for all 4 periods [1860-1880, 1910-1940, 1975-1998 and 1975-2009] are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other”. Brill included the first of these in his article. Perhaps you didn’t notice. Perhaps you didn’t read it.

    Brill’s observation (that it’s Jones’s view that recent warming is not unusual) is consistent with the above quotations.

  27. 9977
    tempterrain Says:

    “Brill” may well have made the interpretation you claim. My only comment would be that ‘not unusual’ weren’t Prof Jones’ choice of words.

    I would say the data from 1860 to 1880 is both too short and less reliable than later data. NASA don’t include it in their graph. So that leaves the two periods of 20th century warming.

    As I said previously both 20th century periods form part of the hockey stick blade. Are they unusual? I’d say they were.

  28. 9978
    tempterrain Says:


    I hear what you are saying about health care. It shouldn’t be linked to AGW, of course, but they are insofar as right wing libertarians, and those of close political disposition, are concerned. Opposition to Government involvement doesn’t just stop at Health Care but extends to industry, transport, the financial sector, pensions, TV and broadcasting, postal services,the media, education, etc. Just about everything that you can think of with the exception of policing and defence! And it certainly includes any government involvement in addressing the CO2, and other GHG, emissions issue.

    So it seems that you guys have a bit of a problem. Either you can admit that your political philosophy is obsolete, or you can claim that the science behind AGW is all wrong.

    More on a similar theme:

  29. 9979
    Robin Guenier Says:


    You’re right: Jones didn’t use those words. But Brill wasn’t quoting him, he was making an observation fully consistent with what Jones did say. So your comment is pointless.

    As for what Peter Martin “would say” – I suggest Jones carries rather more authority.

  30. 9980
    tempterrain Says:


    You say “I suggest {Prof} Jones carries rather more authority.” I couldn’t agree more!

    So what else did Prof Jones say in the BBC interview. And this observation is “fully consistent” because these are his exact words!

    “I’m 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 – there’s evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.”

  31. 9981
    tonyb Says:


    You quoted Phil Jones;;

    “I’m 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 – there’s evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.”

    Phil Jones is selling a product for which he receives a great deal of funding both from the British tax payer and from ‘Big Oil’. He is hardly going to diss his own product is he?

    Yes, temperatures have probably warmed…and cooled and warmed and….

    We have evidence of these cooling and warming periods stretching back to pre history without the apparent help of enhanced CO2 levels. The notion of a historic global surface temperature that can be parsed to fractions of a degree needs to be continually challenged. As for the completely ludicrous marine temperatures! If you had any idea as to how they are collected you would not wish to rely on them as any sort of accurate global record.


  32. 9982
    Robin Guenier Says:

    PeterM (9980):

    Professor Jones’s 100% confidence “that the climate has warmed” is shared by most critics of the alarmist position – Max and me included. So nothing remarkable there. Note that, on the question of natural influences, Jones notes (see his answer to Harrabin’s question D) that this is “slightly outside my area of expertise” (his exact words). And, of course, it’s IPCC Chapter 9 that deals with natural influences.

    Let’s see how all this relates to the Brill article (my post 9971). As I suspect you haven’t read it, here it is in a nutshell:

    Since the LIA, the world has been warming by (as Jones stated in a 2005 paper) an average variability of 0.11C per decade. The 1975-2009 warming was 0.161C per decade – described by Jones as “significant”. The difference, therefore, is 0.051C per decade. It’s this 0.051C that’s unexplained – and it’s the correlation of that and the post 1950 increase in human GHG emissions that Jones believes is evidence of AGW. He refers to the IPCC’s Chapter 9 and notes (replying to Harrabin’s question H) “we can’t explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing” – essentially the position taken in Chapter 9.

    There are six objections to this:

    1. It’s an argument from ignorance. Given all the vast natural forces and cycles affecting climate, why is mankind necessarily the default option?

    2. Is it really surprising that the IPCC’s models cannot explain a minute anomaly of 500ths of a degree over 10 years?

    3. How accurate is the process (instrumental and statistical) involved in producing the 0.161C per decade? It has the extremely difficult task of coping with worldwide records, over long periods, in all seasons using different and changing instruments – so is it reasonable to regard the results as reliable? Indeed, the anomaly the IPCC struggles to explain could well be swamped by recognised margins of error. (This difficulty is exacerbated by the continuing unavailability of the CRU’s raw data and metadata and by the evidence of manipulation disclosed in the CRU emails.)

    4. In any case, temperature trends “not statistically different” (see Harrabin/Jones interview) from the 1975-2009’s 0.161C happened in 1860-1880 and in 1910-1940. Therefore, as it’s commonly accepted that these latter warmings were not human-caused, 0.161C is not outside the boundaries of internal natural variability.

    5. Of course, all three warming periods could have exceeded the bounds of natural variability if they were forced by an external influence – e.g. solar flares, cosmic rays, orbital anomalies, undocumented cycles … etc. etc. No one attributes them to solar irradiance or volcanoes (the influences considered by the IPCC’s Chapter 9).

    6. The (in any case poor) correlation between GHG emissions and temperature increase became non-existent in the past 15 years (when Jones agreed the trend was “negative” although “not statistically significant”). Yet, during this period, emissions have rocketed.

    Your comments please, Peter.

  33. 9983
    tempterrain Says:

    You seem to have gone to quite some lengths to convince yourself about Phil Jones with your “fully consistent observations”. Twisting his words would be a more straightforward description!

    If he can be so easily dismissed as “selling a product for which he receives a great deal of funding” why bother? He’s the bad boy who wrote all those emails. Remember? Why so much effort to try to show that he’s changing his line?

    Or, is it just you contrarians, as usual, misusing whatever science, or scientific statements, you can manage to misrepresent in order to justify your a priori position than the science of anthropogenic global warming is incorrect. It can’t be. Can it? It just doesn’t fit in with your well established ideological world view!

  34. 9984
    Robin Guenier Says:


    Professor Jones said this (and these are exactly his words): “As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different” and “the warming rates for all 4 periods [1860-1880, 1910-1940, 1975-1998 and 1975-2009] are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other”.

    Barry Brill summarised this by saying it is Jones’s view that recent warming is not unusual. Precisely why is that “twisting his words”? You really must try harder.

    Now – please comment on my précis of Brill’s article at 9982. Or is that too difficult for you?

  35. 9985
    tonyb Says:


    Can you please explain what you believe my ‘well established ideological world view’ to be? I have asked you several times for clarification as I didn’t even know I had one, let alone allowed it to colour my viewpoint to the extent you seem to believe.

    We are not all as politically driven as you appear to be, so please explain yourself.

    Also please note Robins 9982. The variability-if it exists- is absurdly small. The idea we can accurately parse temperatures to this degree and then assign the extremely tiny variation to man is absurd.

    The world appears to have warmed marginally since the LIA. Who knew?


  36. 9986
    tempterrain Says:


    Prof Jones was correct in saying that the differences in the rates of warming in the early and late 20th centuries were not statistically different.

    What he did not say was that this showed that either or both of these were due to natural causes. Prof Jones has already said that the latter warming was human induced. The earlier warming is less certain but as I’ve pointed out previously, the blade of various hockey stick graphs starts around 1900 and would indicate that the earlier warming is largely anthropogenic too.


    Yes, there are always a few cranks and eccentrics who think all sorts of odd things for no particular reason.

    However the main drivers for the campaign of disinformation on the AGW issue have been the right wing “think tanks”.

    This paper details how 141 English-language environmentally sceptical books published between 1972 and 2005 are linked to conservative think tanks.

    Faced with a choice between the credibility of established mainstream science and the obvious disinformation peddled by the right wing think tanks, and the right wing press who have also ‘helped’, most sensible people don’t have a problem in choosing.

    However those who have similar political predispositions: those who read the Daily Mail, The Spectator, The WSJ, ……….

  37. 9987
    tonyb Says:

    Peter, your link was genuinely interesting, but I am baffled as to why you think it is any sort of reply to my question.

    Robin conducted a survey a year ago which amply demonstrated we were not the pro smokimg, creationist, right wing lobby you believed us to be, yet still you persist in believing the propaganda that you think depicts us as such.

    Please, an explanation as to what you think my ideological world view is and why that colours my view of AGW, as your link certainly didn’t provide it.


  38. 9988
    tonyb Says:

    Peter said;

    “What he did not say was that this showed that either or both of these were due to natural causes. Prof Jones has already said that the latter warming was human induced. The earlier warming is less certain but as I’ve pointed out previously, the blade of various hockey stick graphs starts around 1900 and would indicate that the earlier warming is largely anthropogenic too.”

    As you know I’ve made quite a study of Co2. Let us assume for the moment that the pre industrial level of 280ppm is correct. Are you seriously saying that a rise of just a few ppm from this is enough for man to have caused catastrophic-or even noticeable and measurable-warming? How lomng do you think those extra couple of molecules stay around?

    If this is right it surely means that we have to live in this precise pre indstrial concentration forever or we will cause serious damage. Any progress that man can make will always therefore be at a price that is unacceptable, as carbon is an inevitable milestone to progress.

    Are you sure you aren’t a creationist who believes in the Garden of Eden and that we have screwed up the planet just by setting foot on it?

    I remember posing a philosophical question to Max along these lines a year or so ago. Max-do you remember the debate about living in an atmospheric soup of precise concentrations?


  39. 9989
    manacker Says:


    The Barry Brill article gives an excellent summary of the latest thought on AGW (and how this is changing).

    The excerpts from the Harrabin/Jones interview show a new slant on the pro-AGW argument, which is, indeed, refreshing. As Brill puts it

    The real value of the Harrabin/Jones interview is the fact that straight questions received straight answers, for the first time in recent memory.

    Jones still believes that mankind has been responsible for a part of the most recent warming, while agreeing that earlier warming cycles were caused primarily by natural causes. The reason given for attributing the most recent warming to mankind is that the models cannot explain it any other way

    This is truly an “argument from ignorance”, and it goes back to the logical fallacy in:

    1. Our models cannot explain the warming periods of the late 19th and early 20th century.
    2. We know that the warming of the late 20th century was caused, at least in part, by anthropogenic forcing.
    3. How do we know this?
    4. Because our models cannot explain it any other way.

    The fact that it has cooled after 2000, despite record increase in CO2, which should have caused significant warming according to the models, presents another dilemma. To attribute this cooling to natural variability (a.k.a. undefined natural forcing) while essentially ignoring any significant natural forcing (other than volcanoes or direct solar irradiance) over the previous warming periods is not logical.

    As Brill writes:

    There are a great many known unknowns, and perhaps just as many unknown unknowns.

    It is precisely the “unknown unknowns” that make the model projections of IPCC meaningless, as the current cooling period and earlier warming cycles have shown.

    Thanks for the link to a very good article, as I am sure even PeterM will have to agree.


  40. 9990
    tempterrain Says:


    Anthropogenic change to the climate isn’t all about CO2 emissions. Changes to the the forest cover and agricultural practices have an impact too.

    The hockey stick graphs do show a sharp rise in temperatures from around the start of the 20th century and continuing to the present time.

    The hockey stick graphs also show a longer term tendency of cooling until then. So its quite possible that the warming the earth experienced in the early 20th century was beneficial and enough to prevent any reoccurrance of an ice age glacial period.

    But its gone a fair bit past that now.

    PS There is no need to be baffled. Read again the sentence starting with “Yes, there are always a few…” :-)

  41. 9991
    manacker Says:


    You wrote:

    both 20th century periods form part of the hockey stick blade. Are they unusual? I’d say they were

    Forget the “hockey stick”, Peter. It has been buried as a fraud.

    I’ll agree with you that our climate has been “unusual” since time began, because there is no “usual” climate.

    There were longer warm periods (MWP, Roman Optimum) and longer cool periods in between (Dark Ages, LIA), as well as shorter term multi-decadal oscillations of a few tenths of a degree C since the modern record started.

    I would call that all “unusual”, even though it is also quite “natural”.


  42. 9992
    tempterrain Says:


    You say “Jones still believes that mankind has been responsible for a part of the most recent warming….”

    Yes he did. Then you say

    “… while agreeing that earlier warming cycles were caused primarily by natural causes”

    Where did he say that? Or were you just making it up as usual?

  43. 9993
    tempterrain Says:


    You may think the hockey stick has been buried as a fraud, but then you think a lot of things which aren’t true!

  44. 9994
    manacker Says:


    To my amazement (as well as amusement) you wrote:

    You may think the hockey stick has been buried as a fraud, but then you think a lot of things which aren’t true!

    Peter, you really need to get up-to-date and avoid what one critic has called “shut-eyed denial”. For a starter I’d recommend you read Andrew Montford’s “The Hockey Stick Illusion” (review below). It goes into a lot of detail, but is informative and a good read.

    As you will see, the hockey stick was comprehensively invalidated statistically by McIntyre and McKitrick as later confirmed independently by the Wegman committee.

    It has been refuted scientifically by over 20 studies from all over the world using several different methods and showing a MWP that was distinctly warmer than today as well as by the global Loehle non-tree ring study also showing MWP warmer than today. [I have provided links to all these studies previously on this thread. Did you fail to read them?]

    Open your eyes, Peter. It was a fraud.


  45. 9995
    manacker Says:


    You asked

    Max-do you remember the debate about living in an atmospheric soup of precise concentrations?

    I do. This is the “intelligent design” version of our atmosphere, which Peter apparently endorses.

    Our atmosphere was created with a “Goldilocks just right” perfect composition, in order to result in a “Goldilocks just right” perfect temperature, but all this “intelligent design” is now being destroyed by evil industrial man.

    Sound like the rantings of a member of a fundamentalist doomsday cult?

    Or the “agenda driven science” of a politically motivated committee?


  46. 9996
    tempterrain Says:


    It looks like you may have missed my request. I was asking where you’d seen Prof Jones say that the early 20th century warming was caused “primarily by natural causes”?

  47. 9997
    Bob_FJ Says:

    In Oz, a popular personality on ABC radio is Geraldine Doogue. She is hot on religious and spiritual matters, and interestingly she said this in part, last Saturday:

    “To say that the science of climate change has been under threat of late would be an understatement.
    Just for starters, there’s a Parliamentary Inquiry under way in Britain investigating the leaked data and emails from the prestigious Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
    And in Australia, an ETS [Emissions Trading Scheme] has slipped from the Rudd government’s ‘must achieve’ list and the ‘fizzer’ that was Copenhagen didn’t help convince people anywhere that the ‘climate problem’ is urgent, one of ‘right now’ proportions.
    Another result of the recent furores has been to mobilise scientists in the campaign to restore public faith in the science of climate change – and discuss whether the powerful Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (the IPCC) is itself in need of urgent reform.”

    To hear the rather laughable audio of an interview with a mathematician, in support of climate models, go to:
    OR, you could skip the audio, and see the comments, of which that by Bob Jones is actually by me; Bob_FJ (the comment Email form asked for a full name)

  48. 9998
    manacker Says:


    Jones’ take on causation per the interview, as I interpreted Jones’ answers:

    late 20th century warming: caused at least partly by established human factors

    early 20th century warming: largely uncertain about cause (ergo, the cause is not “established human factors” but some undefined factors, which are by definition not anthropogenic).

    late 19th century warming: same as early 20th century, but more uncertainty on measurements plus length of cycle.

    early 21st century cooling: too short to tell why model projections of significant warming have not materialized. [Met Office, which is closely related to Jones, attributes this to natural variability, a.k.a. natural forcing.]

    Hope this clears it up for you, Peter, or do you have another take on this?

    If so, please state it.


  49. 9999
    tempterrain Says:


    There are many climate studies showing hockey stick shaped graphs. The dispute over Mann et al’s paper of 1999 is the one I think you are referring to however.

    Mann also published in Sept 2008. That paper seems to have not been subject to the same level of rabid attack as the 1999 paper. Does that mean its now been generally accepted?

    Or are you arguing, if it was indeed true that Mann’s 1999 paper wasn’t totally conclusive, as you seem to be suggesting, that the same criticism can be applied, to any paper, by any author, using any method, if the graph ends up looking like a hockey stick? Hockey sticks just aren’t allowed any more? They been outlawed by the Wegman committee?

    You are probably straying too far into religious territory with your ideas of intelligent design and the atmosphere. Some time ago I happened to switch on the TV during the day and there was an American evangelical telling us that global warming wasn’t a problem because God had designed the Earth complete with oil and coal fields etc.

    If oil and coal wasn’t safe to burn, as humanity saw fit, we were told by the good preacher, then God wouldn’t have left it there in such abundance. I’m not sure that I have an answer to that one!

  50. 10000
    TonyN Says:

    It’s time for this incredibly long-lived thread to move to a new home for the reasons that I gave here:

    Comments are now closed and the replacement thread can be found at:

    Continuation of the New Statesman Whitehouse/Lynas blogs: Number 2

    I have moved the most recent few comments to the new thread to get things going. Please note that there is a link to this thread prominently displayed there so that older comments can be linked to easily. For those who have not noticed, it is possible to link to individual comments by right clicking on the comment number, selecting ‘Copy Link Location’ and then setting up a link in the usual way.

    Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this remarkable discussion.

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