Ignorance

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For years I’ve been writing about climate change – only to be told I’m a “climate change denier”.  On Twitter, I’m criticised daily for “stupidity and ignorance”, told that I ignore the science, asked how I as a non-specialist can challenge “the global consensus of scientists” – though that consensus does not actually exist, and as Michael (Jurassic Park) Crichton put it, “If it’s science, it’s not consensus, and if it’s consensus, it’s not science”.

Yet in fact it’s the trolls on Twitter who themselves seem supremely ignorant about the science.  Take an example.  Everyone concerned with climate science, whether alarmist or realist, knows perfectly well that the (admitted) warming effect of CO2 is negative logarithmic – a law of diminishing returns.  The more CO2 we have in the atmosphere, the less difference any given increase makes.  In fact if doubling CO2 from (say) 200 ppm to 400 ppm causes a temperature rise of x degrees, then you need another doubling – an extra 400 ppm, not another 200 – to get another increase of x degrees.

When I mentioned this in a blog, there were howls of anguish from the “pro-science” Warmists, demanding evidence and peer-reviewed papers to justify such an heretical suggestion.  I didn’t bother to reply – if they’re so totally ignorant of the subject, they’re simply not worth debating with.

The irony is that at least we ought to be able say what “x” is – how much warming do you get for a doubling of CO2?  But even the IPCC doesn’t pretend to know.  They give an estimated range of between 1.5oC and 4.5oC.  That’s a huge level of uncertainty, and makes a nonsense of the political debate about “keeping climate change below 2oC”.  Indeed some scientists believe that if you add in the effect of various feed-backs in our climate system, the figure could be close to zero, or even negative.  Certainly the fact that real, measured global temperatures persistently and substantially under-shoot the forecasts of the climate models suggests that the real value of “x”, as mediated by feed-backs in the climate system, may well be lower than the IPCC estimate.

Another example of ignorance: many warmists seem to imagine (if they’ve thought about it at all) that global temperatures (and perhaps atmospheric CO2 levels) have been more or less constant since the dawn of time.  They love to talk about the “pre-Industrial period” as though it implied stasis for millions of years.  But as the graph above illustrates, global temperatures have been cyclical throughout the last 10,000 years, on a very roughly 1000-year cycle.  Nothing in the graph indicates that anything unusual is happening.  We merely seem to be moving into a new, cyclical 21st Century optimum.  And by the way it’s called “an optimum” because on the whole human societies tend to do better and prosper more in warm periods than in cold periods (think Dark Ages).

And over the very long-term, on a geo-historical scale, we see that atmospheric CO2 levels have been much higher for most of the earth’s history than they are today (with no “runaway global warming”).  We live in an atmosphere which is impoverished in CO2 terms.  Indeed the “pre-industrial level’ of around 250 ppm was approaching the level which would threaten plant growth and undermine the viability of life on the planet.

But at least (say the warmists), we have our peer-reviewed science, and the “deniers” have no peer-reviewed science.  Here, of course, they are profoundly mistaken.  Try this book, published by the Heartland Institute and co-authored by my good friend Professor Fred Singer – an atmospheric physicist with a hugely imposing CV.  The book references hundreds of peer-reviewed papers.  Indeed some of the papers are the self-same ones cited by the IPCC, but are used here to support rather different conclusions.

The fact is that a significant minority of highly qualified scientists in the field are sceptical of the IPCC position.  The debate is not about science versus ignorance,.  It’s about alternative interpretations of huge, complex and sometimes contradictory data sets, and about a chaotic and complex climate system which despite all the peer-reviewed papers is still not well understood.

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26 Responses to Ignorance

  1. Ens Josh says:

    This is just a bunch of baseless and partisan assertions. Rather silly.

    • pete says:

      Please explain to us mortals how CO2 heats up the atmosphere. I’ll buy you a double whiskey if you do. Promise.

      • catweazle666 says:

        You’re wasting your time with that one, pete.

        Anyone who considers Cook the (failed) cartoonist and wannabe SS man’s crackpot alarmist (un)skepticalscience to be an authority on climate science is beyond hope.

  2. Dung says:

    Great post Roger! Good to know you are out there up to your neck in muck and bullets hehe.

  3. Dung says:

    Just out of interest – where did you first see the logarithmic relationship mentioned? The only place I have ever seen it written down is in an IPCC Report! ^.^

  4. Michael Merrifield says:

    Nice work with the straw man there, Roger. Yes, temperature response is crudely logarithmic in response to CO2 increases (although it is more complex and somewhat worse than that, as proper modelling shows — see for example http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00479.1). And those doing the calculations all include exactly these sensitivities. However, the modelling also factors in that CO2 levels are currently rising (also approximately) exponentially, so, as I am sure your Cambridge maths degree will confirm, there are no diminishing returns when we project the likely changes in temperature forwards if we carry on as we are.

    • Dung says:

      Modelling is not evidence, both the sensitivity figures and future temperature figures are models only. The temperature models have margins of error so wide as to be a joke (just like alarmism in general).

    • catweazle666 says:

      “However, the modelling also factors in that CO2 levels are currently rising (also approximately) exponentially”

      No they are not.

      • wasteburner says:

        If you programme your computer to show temperature increase with CO2 increase then guess what! Your model will predict temperature rising.
        When the met Office spent £millions on a new superfast computer it gave the same warming answer as the old one. Shit in , shit out.

    • tom0mason says:

      “Yes, temperature response is crudely logarithmic in response to CO2 increases (although it is more complex and somewhat worse than that, as proper modelling shows…”
      Blah, blah, bha!
      What do the observations show?
      Oops they show the models are hopeless!
      Unfortunately we don’t live in the modelled world, or it would be nice and warm, like in the Medieval warm period.
      That’s because CO2 does not affect the atmospheric temperature below the tropopause!

      No here on planet Earth it is not getting warmer, it is by all observations getting cooler, e.g. more snow. Snow in Tokyo in their summer, snow in Saudi Arabia, snow in Lebanon, snow in Morocco, snow in Algeria.

      Climate science NO! Climate seance!

  5. Joseph Croft says:

    I read a piece from a site called , the resilient earth , and said the earth was warmer 125000-130000 years ago ,

  6. Shieldsman says:

    A chaotic and complex climate system which despite all the peer-reviewed papers is still not well understood and admitted to by the IPCC.

    Having spent most of my working life in Aviation as as Globe trotting Airline pilot I find it strange that the Met Office and its Head think that with ever bigger computers they have cracked the long term forecasting problem. They simply cannot produce a conversion factor CO2 against temperature rise. They are of course helped out by the weather satellites giving an instantaneous picture of the weather on which to base short term forecasting.

    To the Aviator actual weather at destination is critical to approach and landing. In many parts of the World accurate forecasts can still be based on recorded seasonal weather charts.

    The Jet Stream did not exist until 1945 when the American Boeing B29 crews ran into it in the western Pacific flying to bomb Japan. In 1953 as a young pilot doing my jet conversion, I nearly ran out of fuel at 33,000ft in an unforecast jet stream. Nowadays the BBC weather presenter shows the jet stream as controlling the surface pressure pattern.

    The global warmist blames the rising CO2 measurements on Hawaii for any temperature rise despite the fact the mean temperature since 1940 has not changed. Any change can be put down to El Niño.
    The Meteorologist still has a lot to learn. El Nino is the “warm phase” of a larger phenomenon called the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). La Nina, the “cool phase” of ENSO, is a pattern that describes the unusual cooling of the region’s surface waters. El Niño and La Niña are considered the ocean part of ENSO, while the Southern Oscillation is its atmospheric changes.

    You summed up nicely – Everyone concerned with climate science, whether alarmist or realist, knows perfectly well that the (admitted) warming effect of CO2 is negative logarithmic – a law of diminishing returns.

  7. 10 years ago it was METHANE that was the problem….you know, cows farting etc etc…………now it’s CO2………the food of plants…..something stinks methinks………..Global Warming, Climate Change……..whatever next

  8. catweazle666 says:

    Here is a piece on climate sensitivity I posted some time ago, equally true today.

    Simply put, I believe it is incontrovertible that the whole AGW debate revolves around the increase in the Earth’s surface temperature caused by a doubling in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide – commonly referred to as climate sensitivity, and that over the past three decades many billions of dollars have been expended researching this extremely important value. A low value – less than say 2°C – indicates that we have little or nothing to fear from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a high value – in excess of say 3.5°C – likely indicates that we may have a serious problem.

    I doubt anyone on either side of the debate can disagree that this is a very important issue.

    So let us see how much progress has been made over the last couple of decades pinning down this extremely important number.

    The IPCC is commonly regarded as the most reputable authority on such matters, so let us see how estimates of the climate sensitivity have changed over the five IPCC Assessment Reports from 1990 to the present day, a period of some two and a half decades.

    Here are the ranges of value given by the five IPCC Assessment Reports that have been published to date.

    IPCC First assessment report 1.9°C to 5.2°C, but states “…hence the models results do not justify altering the previously accepted range of 1.5°C to 4.5°C

    IPCC Second Assessment Report 2°C to 4.5 °C

    IPCC Third Assessment Report 1.5°C to 4.5 °C

    IPCC Fourth Assessment Report 2°C to 4.5 °C

    IPCC Fifth Assessment Report 1.5°C to 4.5°C

    So, despite the expenditure of many billions of dollars on research, estimates of the low and high limits of this essential parameter have not changed in over 25 years.

    The original 1.5°C to 4.5°C estimate came from the 1979 Charney report.

    http://web.atmos.ucla.edu/~brianpm/download/charney_report.pdf

    So it is in fact 35 years.

    Unimpressive…

    Recent credible estimates of climate sensitivity almost invariably tend well towards the lower end of the estimates, in fact an increasing number of researchers are suggesting that the true figure is less than unity.

  9. Shieldsman says:

    catweazle666
    So in 35 years no one including the IPCC has been able to positively pin down the increase to the Earth’s surface temperature caused by a doubling in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide – commonly referred to as climate sensitivity. It remains at 1.5°C to 4.5°C.
    The assumptions made are that any increase in the Earths surface temperature must be due to further retention of the incoming heat by the insulating properties of the greenhouse gases. No allowance is made for a variation in the Solar radiation due to say sun spot activity for example.

    • catweazle666 says:

      “No allowance is made for a variation in the Solar radiation due to say sun spot activity for example.”

      Of course not, Shieldsman. Why on earth would they allow for something like that?

      As every good climate “scientist” knows, the Sun is utterly incapable of affecting the Earth’s temperature, the only possible influence is anthropogenic CO2 emission.

      That is part of their Holy catechism.

      • Dung says:

        In order to predict the sensitivity of our climate to changes in CO2 it is necessary to know and understand every single factor affecting the climate and we are not even close.
        We flatter ourselves by using words and phrases like ‘cutting edge’, ‘the latest technology’, ‘scientific breaakthrough’ etc but in reality we are as the babes in the wood!

  10. “They love to talk about the “pre-Industrial period” as though it implied stasis for millions of years”

    Just visit the natural history section of the National Museum of Wales. An excellent exhibit details how Wales’ climate has been everything from glacier-covered permafrost, to tropical jungle, to arid desert. Now that’s climate change. But somehow, the planet survived.

  11. Whether it’s the IPCC or the OBR, modelling – by definition – fills gaps in reliable data with ‘valued judgements’

    The problem is that this guesswork element comes essentially from the same brainwashed mindset.

  12. Jan Voskuil says:

    Interesting stuff! Guess what, I am a scientist. Not at all a specialist in climate change or planet science, but also without prejudice on the subject. As a scientist, I can tell that any data need to be seen in context. A graph showing temperature rising in the past 120 years says nothing about the temperatures before and after that period. The scale of the graph is also scientifically important. Based on ice core analysis from both Arctic and Antarctic origin shows temperature swings of at least six cycles with a frequency of appr. 60,000 years, That means 6 ice ages and 6 tropical eras. Since the last ice age was about 10,000 years ago (see graph above), we have another 20,000 years of warming up to do before we reverse back to the next ice age. The graph above however, appears to show a slight cooling based on the lower subsequent heat optima (Holocene optima compared with subsequent optima). Also the latest acceleration of observed global warming (last 120 years) does not yet compare with the one of 7,000-6,500 years ago. Was there an industrial revolution at the time as well? Don’t think so. The CO2 lobby is a scam. Global warming is a fact, nothing to do with human activity. Everything to do with astronomical cycles that we have no control over.

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