Lord Matthew Ridley’s Fifth Test

Now that he is to be a member of the UK House of Lords, I wonder how his writing and attitude regarding climate change will be impacted. I hope not at all. He’s a fine writer who has consistently made important points and frequently refreshed our memories about what life and the world was like in the past and contrasted it with our present-day experiences.

But his essay published by the GWPF last week is about the future. (His essay is here: Ridley-Lukewarmer-Ten-Tests) He makes ten points and says they need to be addressed before he will accept that current policy makes sense. As someone who thinks that many elements of current policy do not make sense, I sympathize. Nonetheless, my previous posts on his first four points show that I don’t agree with everything he says. So let’s move on to his fifth.

Ridley (Lord Ridley?) writes: “Even the Met Office admits that the failure of the models to predict the temperature standstill of the last 16 years is evidence that natural factors can match man-made ones. We now know there is nothing unprecedented about the level and rate of change of temperature today compared with Medieval, Roman, Holocene Optimum and other post-glacial periods, when carbon dioxide levels did not change significantly, but temperatures did. I would need persuading that natural factors cannot continue to match man-made ones.”

I may have been one of the first to note that humanity has emitted one-third of all greenhouse gases since the 1998 pause in temperature rises, so it may seem strange that I don’t automatically agree with Matt here.

But this is actually a point that has been frequently raised and just as frequently addressed by the climate consensus. The overly-used, overly facile but probably apt comparison is with wildfires–just because lightning causes some wildfires doesn’t mean an idiot with a match didn’t cause this one.

There are a variety of forces that impact atmospheric temperatures. Milankovitch cycles, the state of the ocean (I almost said humours of the ocean…) such as total heat, ENSO states, etc., variations in the sun’s radiance and orbit, changes in land cover (some caused by humans, some natural), emissions of greenhouse gases (some human, some natural), the newly elevated forcing of black carbon and quite possibly more.

These forces are not synchronized, but occasionally work in concert rather than against each other. Thus, even without anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases the atmospheric temperature record looks like nothing so much as a sawtooth waveform, with ups and downs. Some of the ups and downs can last a decade or longer.

With the advent of high quantity human emissions of CO2 and other gases, that waveform has been superimposed on a rising trend. However, there have been pauses and dips in the trend. Nonetheless, the trend has risen since 1880.

Current temperatures are not unprecedented. As Ridley notes, they have been equalled and probably surpassed more than once in the very recent past 10,000 years–a blink of an eye in the history of the planet. Temperatures have also risen quite quickly at other times, to the best of current knowledge. Despite the best (well, worst actually) efforts of climate activists to pain the current warming period as unprecedented, it isn’t and Ridley is quite right to point this out.

However, putting aside the natural repugnance one feels towards propaganda efforts meant to scare those who haven’t had time, training or inclination to become well-versed in the subject, the real question then becomes, ‘So what?’

If this current warming is due in no small part to our emissions of CO2 then our emissions of CO2 are still an issue to be faced. And the sad fact of the matter is, despite the pause in warming since 1998, the temperatures haven’t dropped.

So, if we can get past the scare tactics and propaganda from well-meaning souls who want to motivate us to get beyond business as usual, we quickly arrive at the point using our own good sense and a careful look at measurements.

They ‘hid the decline’. They insulted our intelligence. They invented Red Buttons to blow up disbelievers. They exaggerated the threats to polar bears, Himalayan glaciers and the Amazon rain forest. They inverted temperature proxies, improperly used treemometers and exaggerated the extent of warming in Antarctica.

But CO2 is still probably one of the primary contributors to rapid and unusual warming since the mid-1950s.

And seeing that we are going to quite possibly multiply our emissions by six times before 2075, it’s not something that will move off the horizon soon, even if atmospheric sensitivity is as low as some now hope.

Let’s stay focused on the real issue.

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102 responses to “Lord Matthew Ridley’s Fifth Test

  1. > published by the GWPF

    And rather rapidly unpublished. Even by blog standards it didn’t last long.

    > We now know there is nothing unprecedented about the level and rate of change of temperature today compared with Medieval, Roman, Holocene Optimum

    Woo! MR has finally found a quantitative record that he trusts. And apparently you have, too. But you (and he) are rather coy about what exactly that record is. Care to say, or is tease more fun?

  2. My main objection is that when temps are flat, there is a great “search for the truth” and natural variability is trotted out to explain the plateau. However when the temps are running up quickly post 1980, there is very little “search for the truth” and the conclusion of AGW is assumed to be the cause.

    There are recent attempts made to subtract out “estimates” of natural variability from the temp record to prove the “fact” of CO2 AGW is still on track as it always was. Nothing to see here folks, just move along. Pretending you have successfully unwound natural variability from the temp record is a bit misleading to say the least.

    Natural variability works in both directions is my facile understanding. It’s certainly possible there was no “juicing” of temperatures by natural variability post 1980 and there is now active suppression post 2000. But you have to do better than trot this theory out that your models are “unlucky”. You have to prove it, or one must conclude the most likely correct answer is that your models are the things that are “juiced” here.

    We also get the same thing for the temp run up prior to 1940, this is supposedly aerosols, but with very little in actual historical data to back this up (the observational measurements simply are not available).

    Making these type of assumptions when you are emotionally invested in the outcome is the very definition of confirmation bias.

    • Hi Tom

      My basic point is that if we ignore the politics and the posturing, looking at the evidence with fresh eyes indicates that we may indeed have a problem with what we are doing to influence the climate. Not just CO2, mind you, but BC, deforestation, other land use changes. Even if Al Gore had never spoken, even if Michael Mann had never danced the Tiljander dance…

      • Hi Tom,
        ” Even if Al Gore had never spoken, even if Michael Mann had never danced the Tiljander dance…”

        I tend to disagree here. Without Gore or Mann I don’t think AGW would be as visible in the public consciousness as it is.

  3. Ridley raises a complex issue. Whether current rates of warming and current global temperatures are ‘unprecedented’. This is debatable. However, even if they are not, does this therefore ‘disprove’ IPCC models?

    Regarding the 16 years of stationary temperatures; I think we can conclude that IPCC models didn’t predict this and in that sense they are ‘invalidated’. However, because such models don’t handle all natural variables well (such as typically, ENSO), that is probably something that has been known about for a long time. Hence, why the surprise?

    The remaining question then becomes – given the fact that they are not dealing with natural variability issue correctly – is this sufficient to cast doubt on the entire exercise?

    I’m not sure there is a clear answer to this question at this point in time. But we’ll get better answers as time progresses.

    The final issue to consider is burden of proof. Ridley is asking for evidence to support confidence in the models. Modellers, and the Connolley’s of this world, frame the question the other way around. Why don’t you believe us? What evidence can you bring to bear that definitively disproves what we claim?

    • If the ‘escalator’ made much sense, the down steps should be getting shorter, not longer. Further to that, the last down step is not actually there. That’s apparently an error in the diagram you are pointing to.

    • I don’t personally use models to shape or reshape my opinion on temperatures. I think they are best employed for other purposes.

      • What’s left if there are no models?

      • C’mon, Will. Physics, observations and physical records…

      • There is nothing recent I’m aware of that is ‘unprecedented’ in the historical climate/temperature record. If there is and it’s not a contentious claim, please elucidate. Observations are fine, but if they end up reducing down to personal anecdotes about the weather, that is not so good.

        That leaves us with radiative physics… Let’s say if we don’t get 1.5C of warming for a doubling of CO2 I’ll be raising one eyebrow. But I think the point is that Ridley doesn’t think a temperature rise of that magnitude over that duration is much of a problem.

  4. > Modellers, and the Connolley’s of this world, frame the question the other way around. Why don’t you believe us?

    Why are you lying through your teeth in this transparent way?

    I’m asking for proof, or rather simply for some evidence, of MR and TF’s beliefs. Or even yours, if you have any. Stop inventing fantasy positions for other people. Try to present a coherent world-view of your own, ideally one supported by evidence rather than by assertion.

    I see you’re still ducking the issue of a record that you believe in. Do you think that MR/TFs “We now know there is nothing unprecedented about the level and rate of change of temperature today compared with Medieval, Roman, Holocene Optimum ” is supported by evidence? If so, what evidence? Or have they just made it up, and you’re too polite to point it out?

    • Nonetheless your ‘rebutted’ merely reaffirmed the point I made. You continue to demand that a position you hold be disproved.

    • Why on earth are you labeling Will a liar? Please start from the presumption of good faith in other participants. You can do that at your own place if you like.

    • Please let me know if the links I provided above answer your questions about temperature records for the Holocene. There are many more. I tried to pick sources you were most likely to find congenial–PNAS, Michael Mann, etc. I doubted if you’d be excited to see what Singer and Loehle came up with.

      • Great. One of my favorite sites and sources–Lucia–and you find it and I don’t.

      • You don’t seem to have even looked at your links.

        Take File:Holocene Temperature Variations.png. First of all, its a pile of wiggly lines. None of them are in any sense a global or hemispheric series. You’re obviously not choosing to take the max of the envelope, because that would be cheating. So perhaps you’re taking the thick black line. Which is colder than 2004, which is colder than now.

        So it doesn’t support what you, or MR are saying.

        Will you now discard that one and move onto the next?

      • Connolley all the references to the studies are included on that link for you to reference. The studies are global or have sufficient coverage to enlighten the question that was posed here. And the wiggly lines you ‘dismiss’ also provide the answer to the question posed. I’m not going to assume you’re engaging is disinformation, however I find it surprising that you do not even recognise these studies. (Given your standing in the activist community and also by the virtue of the fact that environmental journalists often seek out your opinions.)

  5. Fred from Canuckistan . . .

    “They ‘hid the decline’. They insulted our intelligence. They invented Red Buttons to blow up disbelievers. They exaggerated the threats to polar bears, Himalayan glaciers and the Amazon rain forest. They inverted temperature proxies, improperly used treemometers and exaggerated the extent of warming in Antarctica.”

    Yes, they did. And tried to cover up and pass it off as “science”

  6. Hi Tom,
    ” And the sad fact of the matter is, despite the pause in warming since 1998, the temperatures haven’t dropped.”

    I am curious, why would you be “sad” that temperatures haven’t dropped.

  7. Whether current warming is unprecedented in level or rate, is highly relevant to the debate about how urgently to address climate change policy, which is why the IPCC made such a song and dance about the hockey stick and its apparent revelation of unprecedented rate and level of warming in 1000 years. It’s important therefore to note that that claim has been severely damaged by both theoretical/statistical arguments and empirical data. To summarise the many studies contributing to this, I include here a text of a recent article I wrote for the WSJ. Links to the scientific papers cited are given here at my website:

    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/the-medieval-warm-period.aspx

    “A flurry of recent scientific papers has tried to measure the warmth of the “Medieval Warm Period” (MWP) of about 1,000 years ago. Scientists have long debated whether it was cooler or warmer than today, and whether the warmth was global or regional. The point for nonscientists: If recent warming has precedents, some might find it less alarming.
    Until the late 1990s, researchers generally agreed that the MWP was warmer than today and that the “Little Ice Age” of 1500-1800 was colder. Then in 2001 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change adopted the “hockey stick” graph devised by Michael Mann at the University of Virginia and colleagues.
    Using temperature indicators such as tree rings and lake sediments, the graph rewrote history by showing little warmth in the 11th century and little cold in the 17th, but a sharp spike in late-20th-century temperatures. That graph helped to persuade many people (such as me) that recent temperature rises were unprecedented in scale and speed in at least 1,400 years.
    But critics of the graph pointed out that it used a statistical technique that overemphasized hockey-stick shaped data from unreliable indicators, such as tree rings in bristlecone pine trees and Scandinavian lake sediments influenced by 20th-century land-use changes. Four recent studies have now rehabilitated the MWP as a period of unusual warmth, though they disagree on whether it was as warm or warmer than today.
    Jan Esper of the University of Mainz and his colleagues looked at pine wood densities from Sweden and Finland and found “evidence for substantial warmth during Roman and medieval times, larger in extent and longer in duration than 20th-century warmth.” Bo Christiansen of the Danish Meteorological Institute and Fredrik Ljungqvist of Stockholm University looked at 32 indicators across the Northern Hemisphere and found the level of warmth during the peak of the MWP “in the second half of the 10th century equaling or slightly exceeding the mid-20th century warming.”
    Thomas Melvin of the University of East Anglia and colleagues reanalyzed one of the tree samples from Sweden used in the “hockey stick” and concluded: “We can infer the existence of generally warm summers in the 10th and 11th centuries, similar to the level of those in the 20th century.”
    A fourth study of creatures called diatoms in Chinese lake sediments found that the period “between ca. A.D. 1150 and 1200 was the warmest interval of the past 1,000 years.”
    Taken together, these studies cast doubt on the IPCC’s conclusion in 2007 that “the evidence is not sufficient to support a conclusion that [Northern] hemispheric mean temperatures were as warm, or the extent of warm regions as expansive, as those in the 20th century as a whole, during any period in medieval times.”
    But was the medieval warm period confined to the Northern Hemisphere?
    I consulted a database of papers collated by the climate-skeptic website CO2Science.org, run by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a nonprofit research center in Tempe, Ariz. The database contains numerous published studies of isotopes and other indicators in caves, lake sediments and other samples from Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and Antarctica that find the MWP warmer than today. Two Antarctic studies, for instance, concluded that current warming “is not yet as extreme in nature as the MWP” and that “the present state of reduced ice on the western Antarctic Peninsula is not unprecedented.” A far smaller number of studies, such as one from Lake Tanganyika, found the MWP cooler than today.
    It remains possible that today’s warming is different from that of the Middle Ages. For example, while summers might have been warmer then, winters might be warmer today (if today’s warming is caused by carbon dioxide, that should be true). And of course, it is the future, not the past, that scientists expect to be dangerous. Nonetheless, the evidence increasingly vindicates the scientists who first discovered the Medieval Warm Period.

    • “If the MWP was warmer, that means that climate sensitivity was even higher!”

      Yes but not to CO2. So the point is irrelevant.

      • Will,
        since we do not actually know why the prior warming periods warmed and then cooled, and we can only speculate about why this current warmth is happening, we actually do not know from the temperature evidence how sensitive the climate may be.
        The CO2 extremists are like the person with a hammer who thinks every problem looks like a nail. Works pretty well on rough carpentry, sort of tough around the glass shop.

      • And there’s the point. We…do…not…know…what…sensitivity…is.

      • Therefore we don’t know what to do about it. Attributions are not quantifiable and have become politically tainted. It’s a quagmire.

        Doing nothing, or low regrets, until we know more is a viable option. It’s called risk assessment. The people out there spouting trigger points and it will be too late unless we act now (i.e. catastrophe) have very sketchy science backing them up.

        Decarbonize as it becomes economically feasible. Invest in baseline nuclear and solar tech, battery technology. Premature production of high cost energy is a waste of time and money (divert that income into research).

        Although you prefer a carbon tax, it’s pretty hard. Nobody on the right is going to trust a carbon tax initiated by the greens. As long as the greens look at the right as their enemy, trench warfare will continue.

        For God’s sake, the greens need to get somebody who understands the private sector and the economy advising them. Their messaging is blatant anti-capitalist and that won’t ever work in the US, at least not this generation.

        My guess is the green unicorn chase will continue, failure sure hasn’t slowed them down any. Their lack of commitment to actual change is highlighted by their anti-nuke views. In the end they will be satisfied with their smug righteousness and the ability to blame someone else.

      • Hiya Tom

        Well, I agree on a no regrets approach, but as you surmise, my definition of no regrets might be broader than yours. I like a carbon tax because it’s clean, addresses negative externalities and can be made revenue neutral. And I’m all for nukes and would be even if temperatures were declining daily.

      • Well the argument is that increases in TSI caused warming circa 1950. The aerosols caused cooling until circa 1980. Then CO2 caused warming until circa 2000.

    • OK, you’re backing off. You started off with “We now know there is nothing unprecedented about the level and rate of change of temperature today” but its clear you’re unable to sustain that. You have no records thatt you’re prepared to trust, so you don’t actually know whether it was warm then or not; all you have is doubts.

      There’s not much that can be done for your doubts, though, when you’re asking people like CO2″science” for your information.

      > the level of warmth during the peak of the MWP “in the second half of the 10th century equaling or slightly exceeding the mid-20th century warming.”

      And its warmer now. So that, too, doesn’t support your idea.

      > Until the late 1990s, researchers generally agreed that the MWP was warmer than today

      Not really, no. That’s part of your mythology. Try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Description_of_the_Medieval_Warm_Period_and_Little_Ice_Age_in_IPCC_reports

      • But the IPCC got it wrong in many ways on the MWP. The hockey stick hoopla and the ‘hide the decline’ incidents being cases in point. So you appear to be citing the position of one group (the IPCC) which has certain flaws. To some extent, the science has moved on. Refer back to the citations Mr Fuller has offered and also my own link.

        The other problem with your citation is that sceptics have been rather unhappy with the quality of Michael Mann’s papers on this issue and those of his group. (By ‘group’ I mean those who have at one time or another co authored papers with him on this topic or related topics.) Now Mann was a lead author in multiple IPCC assessment reports and his work was very prominently featured. So by referencing the IPCC reports on this topic you are effectively using Mann’s group to defend Mann’s group. The defence of your position then becomes rather circular.

      • > But the IPCC got it wrong in many ways on the MWP.

        No. The IPCC got it right. You’re not happy with the results they collated, but that’s a different matter. However, this is all besides the point because…

        > So you appear to be citing the position of one group

        No. You still don’t get it. I know its really unusual, but just for once you septic-types are being asked to advance a coherent position of your own, rather than just take cheap pot-shots at other people.

        So in this thread, I’m not citing anyone. I’m asking you lot to provide a record you believe in. There has to be one, because you’re trying to make definitive statements about past temperatures being as warm as now (or rather, that’s how this started. MR has backed away from that).

        TF made some kind of effort, but unfortunately just wrote down a pile of links without reading any of them, so that was a fail. I’m hoping he’ll have another go.

      • Perhaps you’re the one who is digging his heals in and who is not happy with the current state of the research work in this field? I don’t think tens of thousands of scholarly pages of critical work on the IPCC and the MWP can be brushed aside lightly because you don’t wish that criticism to be valid. As for citations, I have already offered my own. It seems you missed it but criticised me for not offering it anyway.

      • > citations

        Plural? All I can see is http://rankexploits.com/musings/2010/comparing-proxy-reconstructions/ That’s not really a proper citation, its a blog post. But continuing anyway:

        Its another pile of wiggly lines. Which one, or what combination, do you rely on to obtain “Medieval, Roman, Holocene Optimum” temperatures as high as todays?

        Obviously, none of them get you HO, so you haven’t even tried for that. I can’t see any of them showing 0 warmer than now, so you fail RWP too. For MWP, if you took the max – well if you believed L – you could get something almost as warm as now.

        So is that what you’re claiming? That you can almost make good on one of your 3 claims, because you believe L?

        But really, I should stop asking you, because its clear you aren’t prepared to nail your colours to the mast and believe anything specific at all. You’ll believe MR’s text, because it suits you, but not any of the stuff required to back it up. And neither does MR or TF.

      • Oh. So you don’t like PNAS or Nature anymore? Michael Mann is no longer the golden boy? And your dedication to scientific understanding wilts at the sight of a spaghetti chart? How very tame.

      • PNAS and Nature are great, but you’re throwing squid ink out to hide your distress.

        You produced a list of links. I’m entitled to go through them, from the top, pointing out problems. In return, you need to either (a) accept those criticisms, withdraw your proposed link (in which case we move on to the next one) or (b) dispute my criticism.

        I ripped apart your use of the wiki page (http://thelukewarmersway.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/lord-matthew-ridleys-fifth-test/comment-page-1/#comment-1094). Note that the wiki page itself is fine; what was wrong was your interpretation of it. You haven’t responded with one of (a) or (b) to that.

        Over to you.

      • I claim that other periods in the Holocene were warmer than today. You dispute it. I provide several sources that provide evidence of it. You complain that they are squiggly lines. You say obviously I wouldn’t take a thick black line because that would be cheating. But every proxy that contributes to that thick black line shows data for temperatures above the present.

        I’m not the one who’s jumping up and down, calling people liars and accusing others of obscuring the issue. You’re the one who seems to be zealously protecting a particular point of view despite the evidence.

      • > But every proxy that contributes to that thick black line shows data for temperatures above the present.

        But the thick black line itself shows temperatures consistently below the present (the thick black line itself isn’t a reconstruction, just an average, but never mind we’re not really at that kind of level of discrimination yet).

        What you’re doing really is trying to take “max” of all the individual proxies. This is so obviously not possible that I didn’t really bother to take it apart before. Those proxies represent (with noise) individual areas. You can’t point to one of those and say “see! the world was warmer” (do I really have to explain why?). You need *all* – or at least a majority – of the individual proxies to be warmer. But that’s the thick black line, and it stubbornly shows temperatures lower than today.

        I’m really not sure how I can explain this in any simpler terms. If you can’ understand this, you’re lost.

      • There are no thick black lines in the pnas chart I referenced here: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v489/n7414/fig_tab/nature11391_F3.html . Nor are there wiggly spider charts. It is local. However, that is the price you pay for clarity of signal. Feel free to find a record showing different temperature trends.

        “The Roman Empire, established in 27 bc (Thompson, 1993)
        coincided with a period of warmer temperatures indicated in
        SG93 as at least 1°C above the modern mean.”

      • What I find amusing is that scientists use the Holocene warming to base their predictions of rapid and more extensive Arctic warming due to anthropogenic climate change.

      • PNAS? http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v489/n7414/fig_tab/nature11391_F3.html is Nature. And a fine paper it is too. Notice the total absence of an MWP. Or a RWP. You can’t pick-and-choose records like this: one to show a MWP but no RWP; one to show warmth in 10kyr BP but no MWP and no RWP.

        “The higher temperatures of the Roman Empire times are apparent
        only in SG93.”

        Don’t you understand? Your position has to be coherent. What you have is like the people who believed in epicycles: you could explain one thing by one model, but then had to switch to another model for another thing.

      • Like I said, William. Every place that produced data produces warmer temperatures than the present during the Holocene. Until you produce one record from one place anywhere in the world that does not, I’m afraid I can’t take this line of argument too seriously.

      • Hi William

        Let me ask you this. Do you have any references to peer-reviewed science that claim that the current warming period is the warmest in the past 10,000 years?

      • William, you say, ” There’s not much that can be done for your doubts, though, when you’re asking people like CO2″science” for your information.”

        William are you suggesting that co2science.org has a corrupted database? What exactly do you mean when you say, “people like CO2 science”?

      • I was going to ask Connolley the same question but he was rather evasive on that point. One would expect that if Connolley could support his position he would simply provide evidence, not act evasively and offer his opinions authoritatively.

        Besides referencing outlier studies by Mann’s group when citing the IPCC (which in this section was written by Mann’s group and hence, is a circular defence) what else does he have?

        The other part of his ‘critique’ is actually to my mind, largely, although not completely, gibberish. I thought we were kicking off the discussion by dealing with the MWP but as soon as Connolley realised he could no longer support his position he complained, *what about the other warm periods*. A point that was already addressed earlier. I could make no sense of Connolley’s response to those citations either which was: “those studies don’t say what they say, and you misunderstood them, and you haven’t read them anyway.”

        All very bizarre.

    • Hi again, Lord Matt

      Yes, I wrote similarly about the MWP and what seemed like the concerted effort to disappear it, even before you, actually. Your recounting of the story accords with what I remember of events. But the basic takeaway, after time for frustration and anger at the behavior of sods, is this: The current warming period is not unprecedented, either in size or rate of temperature climb. However, no matter how many pinheads dance on the angel’s head of Tiljander proxies, the current warming is unusual in both respects and appears to be working against cyclical forcings such as La Nina in recent times (last year and a half?) that might have been expected to push temperatures lower.

      I like CO2Science’s database and have visited often. I’ve co-written a book criticizing the behavior of the Hockey Team. I know there was a distinct MWP. But at the end of the day what does it matter?

      • When you wrote:

        “he current warming is unusual in both respects…”

        Could you elaborate why you think this is the case? I think I know why, but I could be wrong.

        Thanks.

  8. Please explain the part about emissions going up six times. That is very unclear.

    • Tom’s premise is that we will be consuming 3,000 quads of energy in 2075 and the bulk could possibly be coming from coal/fossil fuels.

      In such a scenario even with a low cliamate sensitivity the world gets cooked.

      • harrywr2,
        Assertions like “the world gets cooked” are so far from reality as to negate what ever good points you may have.
        CO2 is not going up to over 1000 ppm in any time frame.
        We could not ‘cook’ the world even if we tried.
        Poor Tom Fuller: he is discovering that the biggest hazard to moderates is from getting hit by traffic from both sides of the road.

      • Poor Tom Fuller? I’m enjoying this hugely.

  9. snersnerk is trashing your blog up pretty dramatically, Tom.

  10. Hi Tom,
    ” But at the end of the day what does it matter?” Tom, I have heard you say this on numerous occasions. It is sad and unfortunate that you feel that way. Despite the potential enormous damage to our world economy, and especially the poor, that would result from CO2 mitigation policy, isn’t there something noble about fidelity to good and proper science? Some noble legacy we can leave to our grandchildren – that we based our decisions, not on political posturing but on cold hard facts. I know it sounds pollyannish and idealistic but I would caution against pragmatism.

    • Noble, yes. When it’s available it should surely be used. But making decisions under conditions of uncertainty is one of the things our species is bred to do. We muck it up frequently, but we are often forced to do so.

      • Tom. I realize books have been written on the subject, but the uncertainty you and many others speak to (now here I referring only to the CO2 part of the AGW debate) is based on models, not empiric data. Perhaps I could convince you to host a blog post on that topic one day – “The empiric case for CO2 driven AGW”. No modeling data output, no physics theory, just observational data. .

  11. > Do you have any references to peer-reviewed science that claim that the current warming period is the warmest in the past 10,000 years?

    I’m not aware of any global / hemispheric reconstructions that go back that far. Which is why I haven’t made the claim that “the present day is warmer than the past 10kyr”. What I’ve said is that your (and MR’s) boldly-stated claim that you *do* have evidence to the contrary is baseless.

    As I said to WN: this is one of those rather rare times when you lot are trying to actually say something of your own, rather than merely trying to attack someone else’s science. And you don’t seem to understand that to do that you don’t (like MR) make the bald assertion with no evidence and hope that people believe you; nor do you (like you) make the claim “backed up” by a pile of links that don’t support what you’re saying.

    • The flip side of your assertion about not having global or hemispherical reconstructions is succinctly put as “Only in every place that we actually have data do we see warmer temperatures in the Holocene.” Which allows you to claim there are incomplete records until they actually dig speleotherms outside your pub. As there are no records I have seen that do not show warming and you refuse to look for or exhibit any such, we seem to have reached a conversational impasse.

    • Connolley I’m not asserting there is no evidence, only that you have provided none and I am not personally aware of any. If there is evidence (robust or otherwise), I would love to see it.

      We also kicked off our engagement by discussing the MWP. When you could no longer defend your position, you shifted the goal posts to a complaint that I didn’t address the other issues we hadn’t got to yet.

      Nobody is questioning your skills at rhetorical flourish. You are certainly an expert in that area at least.

    • William is right on this. Ridley can’t claim to know with such confidence that global mean temperatures at various defined times in the Holocene were certainly equal to or greater than now. The data and methods don’t support it.

      On the other hand, there is good evidence in general that past T variability has been underestimated in various studies, for various different reasons, which is important.

      • Hi Jim

        Well, you’re the paleo guy and I certainly did not find what I was looking for yesterday in terms of a clear explanation that temps at the beginning of the Holocene went way higher than present.

        Mr. Connelly (and other readers), I apologize for my previous statement that we have clear evidence that temperatures have been higher in the Holocene. Apparently we do not.

  12. I recommend everyone here accept William Connolley as a credible authority on the dead center consensus. Many have issues with him at Wikipedia. Get over it. It’s frickin Wikipedia!

  13. Tom Scharf refutes his own assertion that since we do not know what sensitivity is, we don’t know what to do about it. We do. Regardless of sensitivity or the future goal, the steps to decarbonization are the same,

  14. Pingback: The sleepwalkers – Stoat

  15. > we seem to have reached a conversational impasse.

    Can’t argue with that. Rather than continue the circles here, I wrote it up:

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2013/02/07/the-sleepwalkers/

  16. This issue is important. Paleoclimatology is fraught with huge uncertainties. Tree rings form the overwhelming basis for terrestrial reconstructions for the last 500-1000 years and they are fraught with enormous problems that stem from mathematical problems. Fatal actually. I’m covering this topic in depth with a long and ongoing series, which I encourage people to read, the first of which is here:

    http://ecologicallyoriented.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/severe-analytical-problems-in-dendroclimatology-part-1/

    The study by Esper et al referred to by Matt Ridley in his 10:34 comment above is a really important one. It’s arguably the best single tree ring study to date, methodologically, for several reasons. Unfortunately, it covers only a small area, but it’s results are extremely important. I’ll be discussing why this is so in detail at some point. That paper is available here:

    http://www.geo.uni-mainz.de/Dateien/Esper_2012_NatureCC.pdf

  17. > I would offer as a more obvious reason that you censor and edit your comments.

    But so do you. In 2013, not in 2010.

    > Naughty Lungqvist, then

    But not a word of criticism for MR for silently deleting lines from L pix? Can you say “hide the incline”?

    • Banning an obvious and self-proclaimed saboteur is quite different to censoring those with legitimate disagreements.

      And if you’re too obtuse to recognize my previous criticisms of Matt Ridley because they were made in a civilized manner as opposed to your bear-baiting attacks, I consider that an issue that you need to deal with, not yours truly.

      • > quite different to censoring those with legitimate disagreements.

        Which I don’t do. So, you’re still lying.

        And you’ve censored comments of mine.

      • Wiliam,

        I am not lying. I try very hard to be honest with myself and with others. You have censored me. You have refused to post my comments and edited sections of my comments that you have posted. I have a nasty email from you telling me that you were refusing to post a comment of mine.

        I have not censored your comments. As I explained, some of your comments disappeared when I deleted some posts at the request of a guest author. You pointed out after the fact that I could have blanked out the post to preserve the comments. Indeed that is correct. But I didn’t think of it beforehand. Your comments were not censored.

        I have noticed that some of your comments (and actually, only yours so far) are getting caught in my pending or even spam folder. I believe you might be using more than one identity when posting and I wonder if that may be the cause.

        I don’t like how you operate. I assume the feeling is mutual. But as I am very aware that you are not telling the truth about censoring our respective blogs I am not going to let this go unchallenged.

      • > I have not censored your comments…

        Liar: http://www.webcitation.org/6De6pHfQH

        > You have refused to post my comments

        I don’t think that’s true, in the sense of plural. I’ve certainly snipped what I regarded as trolling. I get bored with people re-fighting the HS wars.

        > I have a nasty email from you telling me…

        What, nasty as in “Hey bozo. You had a ton of comments that I just fished out of spam on my weblog. They are approved and up now. But you’re still a bozo”? Or like “And hey, wanker–if you don’t want comments from me, don’t post about me. Otherwise I have two fingers for you”? That was in reference to http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2011/09/07/i-think-we-should-expect-that/#comment-139. No, it was nasty in the sense of “I got bored with your trolling so snipped this. Please read the comments policy. Or find some more entertaining invective”.

        I’ll leave it up to someone else to decide who is nastier.

      • Thanks for your frank admission of censoring my comments. I agree–let’s let others decide who is nastier.

  18. Pingback: Test Blog | The sleepwalkers [Stoat]

  19. [Update: RH points out that MR is just unthinkingly copying his airbrushing from the Idsos: http://www.co2science.org/education/reports/prudentpath/prudentpath.pdf. So on the plus side, he didn’t wield the airbrush. On the minus side, it means he was dumb enough to trust the Idsos -W]

    • Thank you for your update. I’m hoping your courtesy will extend to pointing readers to a point-by-point rebuttal of the Idsos paper. I do recall that Keith Briffa wrote that he thought MWP temperatures were at least as warm as today in one of the Climategate emails, and he was hardly alone. I’m not suggesting you undertake this yourself, but if someone has addressed this it would be nice to know.

      • Why read the emails when you can read the papers? And “today” in email is such a slippery term, who knows what it means. This very day? Last 50 years avg? Who knows.

        As for the Idsos, let us know when its published. Though from the very first para of the exec summary you can immeadiately see its not publishable.

      • Keith Briffa was clearly referring to the current warming period in his email saying that the MWP was probably as warm as today. There’s no need to pretend to think there was slippery language involved. One of the world’s pre-eminent paleoclimatologists unambiguously wrote that temperatures in the Medieval Warming Period were probably as warm as the Current Warming Period. Feel free to take it up with Keith Briffa if you require further clarification.

        As for the Idsos publication, I don’t particularly like the tone of their first paragraph, although I think they do readers a favor by signalling the direction of the rest of the document and their probable point of view. However, I don’t actually see factual inaccuracies. Please feel free to highlight them here, as I reproduce their opening paragraph below:

        “As presently constituted, earth’s atmosphere contains just slightly less than 400 ppm of the
        colorless and odorless gas we call carbon dioxide or CO2. That’s only four-hundredths of one
        percent. Consequently, even if the air’s CO2 concentration was tripled, carbon dioxide would
        still comprise only a little over one tenth of one percent of the air we breathe, which is far less
        than what wafted through earth’s atmosphere eons ago, when the planet was a virtual garden
        place. Nevertheless, a small increase in this minuscule amount of CO2 is frequently predicted
        to produce a suite of dire environmental consequences, including dangerous global warming,
        catastrophic sea level rise, reduced agricultural output, and the destruction of many natural
        ecosystems, as well as dramatic increases in extreme weather phenomena, such as droughts,
        floods and hurricanes.”

      • > Feel free to take it up with Keith Briffa if you require further clarification.

        This is just silly rhetorical trickery. Like I say, read his papers if you want to know what he thinks. Who knows what “Current warming period” actually means? Not present-day temperatures, at least not to the Idsos. Remember, they airbrushed out the present (actually, not even present, a while back) day temps from their “adapted” L figure.

        As to the Idsos “paper” – if you can’t see why that is unpublishable, then I can’t help you.

      • I do read his papers, William. They do not conflict with what he wrote in his email. The Current Warming Period is well-defined as 1945-present.

        The Idsos’ data selection procedures are open to question and interpretation. They are not alone in having their decisions questioned. That’s kind of what this is all about.

        I agree you can’t help me. I disagree as to the reason.

  20. Physics-of-Climate

    The following explains why there is no sensitivity to carbon dioxide …

    The primary determinants of atmospheric and surface temperatures are based on the autonomous atmospheric temperature gradient (which spontaneously evolves by the process described in the Second Law of Thermodynamics) and the overall level of the plot of temperature against altitude. This level is set by the need for radiative balance and, in general, radiative balance cannot be disturbed by internal processes, such as back radiation.

    A planet’s surface temperature just depends on where the plot of temperature against altitude intersects the surface. On Uranus the temperature at the base of the theoretical troposphere is about 320K. This is all in line with calculations, and, if there were a surface there, then it too would be 320K – hotter than Earth’s surface, even though no direct solar radiation even reaches down there through 350Km of atmosphere that’s mostly hydrogen and helium. There is thought to be a solid core with about half the mass of Earth, but that’s roughly 20,000Km further down and it may be about 5000K.

    So, as on Venus also, where it’s about 730K at the surface, the temperature of a surface is all to do with the height of the atmosphere through which the temperature plot reaches hotter and hotter temperatures the closer it gets towards the surface. It has nothing to do with radiative forcing. It has nothing to do with any greenhouse effect. It has nothing to do with carbon dioxide.

  21. Tom,
    Please either block certain you-know-what’s or send me the keys to do so.
    I promise not to do anything else. Your excellent blog is attracting some you-know-whats and for your sake need to be stopped.

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