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.

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

  1. PeterM

    Here’s the graph again

  2. PeterM

    What has been the observed effect on water vapor content as our planet has warmed slightly since 1850?

    Do you have any empirical data, based on actual physical observations?

    I do (at least for the past 60 years).

    Show me your data and I’ll show you mine.

    [We can talk about clouds after that.]


  3. Gore Attaches Global Warming as Cause to Last Weekend’s Storm in Northeast

    Former vice president points toward weather events as evidence of climate change during ‘strategy conference call’ for supporters.

    If there’s a drought – it’s global warming. When there’s a hurricane – it’s global warming. If there are heavy snows or even blizzards – it’s somehow global warming. And amazingly, the latest round of rainy and windy weather in the Northeast, well that’s consistent with this phenomenon as well, so says former Vice President Al Gore.

    Gore, the self-anointed climate change alarmist-in-chief, told supporters on a March 15 conference call that severe weather in certain regions of the country could be attributed to carbon in the atmosphere – including the recent rash of rainy weather.

  4. Max,

    You are just cherry picking bits of information that you like from these references.

    Or, maybe I’m wrong in saying that. Maybe you do accept the truth of this statement which is also from your reference “……not because climate scientists are trying to hide the role of water vapour, rather it is because H2O in the troposphere is a feedback effect, it is not a forcing agent. Simply put, any artificial perturbation in water vapour concentrations is too short lived to change the climate. Too much in the air will quickly rain out, not enough and the abundant ocean surface will provide the difference via evaporation. But once the air is warmed by other means, H2O concentrations will rise and stay high, thus providing the feedback.”

    You haven’t had any problem with the concept of feedback when it’s been applied to solar warming, so, again, you aren’t being consistent, or scientifically objective, if you apply it to one factor, which you like, but not another, which you don’t.

  5. I attended an energy offering today at the Capital Hilton. Constellation Energy is offering business owners new contracts. I noticed a queerly odd absence of “Green” energy conversations today………Nuclear and natural gas seems to have gained the upper hand……

    Indianapolis wind power contract canceled

  6. PeterM

    As usual, you are talking gibberish when you accuse me of “cherry-picking”.

    We were discussing the impact of CO2 in the natural GH effect. In response to your request, I cited several different sources that seemed to agree that this was somewhere between 9% and 26% of the total, as I had stated, while you have brought no evidence to the contrary. End of discussion.

    Solar warming is a totally different issue, Peter, and has absolutely nothing to do with “feedback”.

    I have not seen the empirical evidence to support the premise of any net positive feedbacks, whether from GH warming caused by CO2 and other minor GHGs or from solar warming and other natural factors caused by mechanisms which may still be poorly defined, but have been demonstrated empirically.

    The observed warming would only support this notion if the “hidden in the pipeline” postulation were correct (which has been invalidated by the observed cooling of the upper ocean since 2003, as Kevin Trenberth concedes) and there were no natural forcing factors (which has been refuted by the surface temperature record after 2000, as the Met Office concedes).

    “Net positive feedback” and the “hidden in the pipeline” postulation are two interrelated myths based on model simulations, which have been invalidated by the physically observed data.

    Even Trenberth has reluctantly (and painfully, it seems from his e-mails) come to this conclusion. It is “a travesty”, as he puts it.

    (I personally think it is “good news”, since it means we do not have to worry about AGW.)


  7. Brute, re your #9932, I’d be very interested to know what they were saying about shale gas in that conference.

    From what I’ve been reading on various websites, this could be a game-changer – plentiful and now much easier to extract than it was, due to new US technology.

    It isn’t mentioned much in the UK media – I suspect it’s because shale gas threatens to derail the costly and not very effective renewable energy projects that the government here are committed to.

  8. Max,

    Solar forcing is just as much subject to positive feedback as any other forcing.

    Any change of solar flux produces a direct change in the Earth’s temperature and also sets off a feedback in terms of the level of H2O in the atmosphere.

    I thought that was something you understood. But maybe I was wrong?

  9. Peter

    Any change of solar flux produces a direct change in the Earth’s temperature

    All but fell off my chair. I seem to recall posts from you revolving around near constant TSI and negligable effect on temperature. Not turning to the dark side are you?

    Incidently, given that clouds are apparently a net negative feedback i’m not sure how you reconcile this with solar forcing inducing positive feedback.

  10. All but fell off my chair. I seem to recall posts from you revolving around near constant TSI and negligable effect on temperature. Not turning to the dark side are you?


    It isn’t the Sun… wait, the Sun does impact “climate”…….they can’t keep their lies straight anymore.

    This is typical of the Eco-zealot….If it snows, that’s proof of global warming……if it rains, that’s proof of global warming.

    In the twisted mind of the Eco-Condriac, all conditions point to global warming (caused by greedy Americans).

    They’ve stumbled around so much that they forget (and hope you will also) the statements and projections that they’ve made in the past.

    If a theory or eco-prophecy is disproven by observation, they either deny that they’ve made it, claim that their words were “taken out of context” or that the rest of the world is too obtuse to understand the “complexities” of “climate science”.

    Another version on the theme is to attack the person that points out the contradiction as being a “right wing extremist” or directly in the employ of “Big Oil”, “Big Coal” or some other nefarious enterprise instead of debating he contradiction.

  11. Alex Cull,

    Horizontal drilling (in comparison to vertical and directional) is increasing and everyone was very excited about the (relatively) new prospects of wide access/vast untapped reservoirs of gas shale.

    That being said, Natural Gas Drilling Activity has dropped precipitously as a whole since Sept/Nov 2008 although horizontal drilling is growing quickly (gas shale).

    The supply/demand of natural gas has a direct impact on the price of electricity as natural gas is used to fill in the gaps when electrical demand suddenly rises and other methods cannot keep pace with consumer requirements. Wind farms and solar are all backed up by (for the most part) natural gas plants as the “green” sources of energy are notoriously unreliable and unpredictable.

    I have a very nice graph created by Baker Hughes Inc. that was distributed with our offering package……I can’t find an electronic copy as yet. I’ve a very busy day here today and will try to find a copy tonight.

  12. Brute

    Very true, unfortunately. My favourite one has been the attempted re-write of history wrt global cooling. Luckily i’m just old enough to remember the tail end of that scare, shame todays school kids haven’t seen this sort of thing before (and there’s no real internet record to speak of).

    (Incidently i’m also not old enough to have Alzheimers, so i’m certain my memory is ok)

  13. PeterM

    You wrote:

    Solar forcing is just as much subject to positive feedback as any other forcing

    I should correct that slightly to:

    Solar forcing is just as much subject to net positive or negative feedback as any other forcing

    It just turns out that empirical data based on actual physical observations show that net cloud feedbacks are strongly negative, primarily as a result of increased low-level clouds with warming, resulting in more reflected incoming SW radiation. There is also apparently a slight reduction in high-level heat-trapping clouds with surface warming.

    As Kevin Trenberth has put it,

    “the Earth has a number of natural thermostats, including clouds”

    This net negative feedback or dampening effect is apparently strong enough to essentially cancel out any positive feedback from increased atmospheric water vapor. It results with surface warming, regardless of what causes this warming. So, with the correction I made to your statement, it is basically correct.


  14. Brute, Barelysane

    You have observed that Peter is again waffling.

    When even Kevin Trenberth talks of clouds acting as a natural thermostat reflecting more of the incoming energy into outer space with surface warming of Earth, it becomes very painful for Peter to hear.

    This is because Trenberth is telling us that the “hidden in the pipeline” hypothesis of Hansen et al. has been invalidated by the recent physical observations, and, with it, the premise of net positive feedbacks and a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of more than 1degC.

    It is (as Trenberth stated privately in a leaked e-mail) a “travesty” (for the premise that AGW represents a serious potential threat).

    Peter should rejoice! We are not doomed to fry!

    But, no, he is so wrapped up in his doomsday cult mentality that he cannot even recognize, let alone accept, the good news.

    So he waffles and squirms. It is not a pretty sight.


  15. Barelysane

    Yeah. I remember the global cooling scare of the 1970s.

    We have all seen the scare articles in Time and Newsweek, which were published at the time, quoting warnings from many scientists.

    At the time I was receiving a free magazine put out by the Fluor Corporation (a large US engineering firm). In their “Winter 1976” edition they carried a feature article entitled, “Do We Face an Ice Age?”, which referred to several reports by various climate scientists of the time. Since I was interested in this, I kept this copy.

    The article started off by mentioning that the Beaufort Sea shipping lane had failed to open up in August/September 1975 for “the first time in the 20th century”.

    The article continued with:

    Like science fiction gone wild, odd things have been happening to the world’s weather: killer cyclones in Pakistan and Australia, drought in Europe, North Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. In 1972, a Russian drought led to the first of the celebrated Soviet grain purchases.

    The article quoted the late Dr. Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin, who had once predicted the possibility of a new ice age by the mid-21st century, but now believed that these natural climate swings would not be quite so severe. Dr. Hubert Lamb of UEA is also quoted, as is Dr. Kenneth Hare of the University of Toronto, who talked of “runaway glaciation”, as suggested by computer models of Soviet scientist Mikhail I. Budyko, based on increased volcanic dust and industrial particulate matter. Drs. George and Helena Kukla of the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory noted that the northern polar icecap [sic] had grown significantly, which could trigger a new ice age due to increased reflectivity (albedo). An NCAR study at Boulder, run by Dr. Stephen Schneider, showed a striking statistical correlation between the current trend and the Little Ice Age,

    Addeke Boerma, former director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization warned, “We don’t need an ice age to bring on great human suffering. The chances of enough decent food for millions of people may depend on the whims of one year’s weather.”

    In this balanced article, a few other scientists were quoted as being skeptical of the new ice age threat, with the growing consensus being that “we will continue to experience variable weather”.

    Climate had obviously not yet become a “multibillion dollar big business” back in those innocent days (although the “alarmists” were around then, just as they are today).


  16. Max

    Speaking of Dr Hubert Lamb, he is one of many references in this paper produced by the CIA in 1976 which demonstrates that the US govt took global cooling very seriously

    Hubert Lamb wrote frequently of climatic history and specfically makes references to the cooling of the world following the hot 1940’s- for example in his book ‘Climate, History and the Modern World’ first punlished in 1984


  17. TonyB

    The CIA report on global cooling, which you cited, starts off pretty ominously:

    The western world’s leading climatologists have confirmed recent reports of a detrimental global climatic change. The stability of most nations is based upon a dependable source of food, but this stability will not be possible under the new climatic era. A forecast by the University of Wisconsin projects that the earth’s climate is returning to that of the neo-boreal era (1600-1850) – an era of drought, famine and political unrest in the western world.

    This sounds pretty dismal. A return to Little Ice Age conditions as predicted by the “western world’s leading climatologists” (including Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin).

    Truly grim (or should I say Grimm, as in fairy tale)?

    Fortunately the “western world’s leading climatologists” were wrong that time, and things stopped cooling and started warming again (as it had from around 1910 to around 1944).

    Are they wrong again this time, as the world looks like it has stopped warming and is returning to a slight cooling cycle as before?

    Who knows?

    I’m sure you have seen this youtube on the 1970s “global cooling scare” (nice music).


  18. TonyB

    President Obama’s top science adviser, John P. Holdren, was apparently also concerned about global cooling at the time:

    Even more confused and frightening are Holdren’s thoughts on “de-development”.

    And this nut is President Obama’s “top science advisor”? Ouch!


  19. Max,

    If you don’t understand the science you’d be better going back to studying Diesel engines or whatever else it is you did in your day job. It the same story with people like Potentilla. Just because he knows how to bulldoze an earth embankment to create a dam he thinks he knows enough climate science to say that the IPCC have it all wrong. Very curious indeed.

    Anyway, you can always tell if feedbacks are being included by looking at the conversion factor between forcing and temperature change.

    If its something like 0.2K/W/m^2 then no feedbacks are being assumed. I think you have previously quoted a figure of ~ 4W/m^2 for the climate forcing due to a doubling of CO2. Without feedback this gives you the temperature rise of 0.8K which you seem to think is a correct prediction.

    However if you see a figure of around 0.8K/W/m^2 then you’ll know that feedbacks are being included too. This is the reason why the IPCC say that over three degrees of warming will be the end result of a doubling of CO2.

    It was a bit of a give away, when you were happy to accept Solar scientists using the higher figure but insisted that other climate scientists should use the lower figure!

  20. Max 9942

    Is the article you mentioned online? I would be very interested in reading all of it.

    The decline in temperatures was considerable and we have remarked before that, as a result, the arctic sea ice was measured from a high point in 1979 and the subsequent ice reduction to 1930’s and 1850’s levels is not surprising

    It would appear that history has been rewritten and the decline has been almost erased from the official temperature record.


  21. PeterM

    Sorry, Peter, you still don’t get it.

    I understand “the science” probably a bit better than you do, based on our exchange here so far.

    I also understand “the hype” and the IPCC goof-ups a lot better than you apparently do.

    The IPCC claim of a 3+ degree 2xCO2 climate sensitivity is based on computer simulations, not on empirical data derived from actual physical observations. It “assumes” strongly positive feedbacks from clouds with warming, (with the IPCC concession that “cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty”).

    As I pointed out, even Kevin Trenberth no longer believes in this myth, and agrees that clouds act as a “natural thermostat” by reflecting more energy back into space with warming than they absorb and re-radiate back downward (as Richard Lindzen hypothesized with his “infrared iris” postulation and Roy Spencer later confirmed with actual physical observations showing that clouds exert a strongly negative feedback with warming).

    Based on empirical data from observations going back well before the Industrial Revolution, solar scientists have actually confirmed that natural factors including solar forcing play a strong role in our planet’s climate and that anthropogenic factors, including CO2, play a subordinate role.

    This fact is being reinforced by the current cooling despite record increase in CO2, which the Met Office attributes to natural variability (a.k.a. natural forcing).

    This is “the science”, Peter, which I understand fairly well. To paraphrase your statement: If you don’t understand the science you’d be better going back to teaching biology to small children or whatever else it is you do in your day job.

    After all this discussion, you still have been unable to present empirical data to support your premise that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, represents a serious potential threat. Keep trying, Peter. Until you do, I will remain rationally skeptical of this premise.


  22. TonyB

    I have not found anything online on the article from the Fluor magazine on “global cooling”, which I quoted.

    I will check with Fluor Corporation to see if they have archived this.

    However, there are plenty of other archived papers by scientists at the time.

    “Global cooling” was obviously a much smaller deal than the current “global warming” hysteria (and multi-billion dollar business), but climate scientists of the time used the same scare mongering approach that is being used today to frighten the general public.

    Some of these scare mongers are even the same individuals!

    As the French say, “Plus ça change, plus ça ne change pas”.


  23. Max

    Thanks for your efforts.

    I intend to write an article on the 1920’s/1930’s warming (I have alluded here to the warming arctic many times) and the subsequent 30 year decline in temperatures.

    These were very well documented and as you know the latter event caused the global cooling scare. However, the recognition that the climate had cooled was then overtaken as the next climatic change happened-this time upwards again. This is a pattern that can be observed throughout history although the effect was rather muted in the LIA but didnt disappear altogether. The period around the 1720’s seems to have been as warm as now-a period Moberg inexplicably missed.

    Frank Lansner describes the cooling period around the 1970’s well;

    Part 1 is contained in the top part of the linked article and needs to be read first.

    Hubert Lamb cited numerous instances of the climatic changes in the 20th century and when he wrote ‘Climate, History and the Modern World’ in 1982 referred to the cooling period very matter of factly-at that time the next upturn wasn’t apparent.

    It appears-and I say nothing stronger than that at the moment-as if the historic record from the major ‘Global’ climate data sets has seen the warm period of the 1920/30’s adjusted down, and the cooling- culminating in the 1970’s scare- has been warmed up.

    The net result is that both extremes have been almost wiped away.

    Consequently anything like the article you quoted would be useful in establishing the real picture.


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