Monday, 31 October 2011


This article in the Mail on Sunday reveals how a new report has been distorted by a press release from its main author in order to try to show that the world is continuing to warm. The reality is that for the past 12 years no warming has been evident from the record. This was made clear by the report's second author. This is yet another example of an alarmist hype in a desparate attempt to keep the alarmist bandwaggon on the tracks.


Dan Olner said...

Yes, been following this. Poor ol' Muller: loved by skeptics, right up to the point where he agreed that previous analyses were correct.

The thing about this stuff that gets me is you don't need anything in the way of statistical skill to realise it's nonsense.

This realclimate post gently mocks, but makes the obvious point. Making claims about trends depends on the time period.

Question: we had a heatwave at the end of October. I don't recall anyone claiming that meant winter wasn't going to happen. Why not?

Answer: two reasons. First, short-term variation is normal - you can say nothing about longer-term trends from them. Two: we understand the physics of seasons.

Let's just stick to the first point: do you agree that - *exactly* the same as with the October heatwave - you can't make conclusions about longer-term trends from short-term variation? If you're on-board with that, we can carry on.

This is the most basic statistical point in the whole of climate science, and it's intuitively as basic as the point about seasons I've made several times above. If we can't come to an agreement on this, we're going to struggle with anything else.

p.s. if you want something a little more in-depth, take a look at tamino. But we don't need to go more in-depth. You can no more make claims from 10 years of climate data than you can say winter isn't coming because there was a warm-spell in October. If you disagree with that, please explain why.

Derek Tipp said...

Yes I agree that we cannot make predictions out of short term trends. Absolutely - though we can point out when those that do get it wrong. My main argument is that the climate is such a chaotic system that even short term forecasting is often wrong. We simply have too many unknowns.It is the warmists who are making predictions and their predictions are not happening.

Dan Olner said...

It's an understandable view, but it's not accurate. The seasons are, again, a perfect example. They are the result of interactions happening in the climate system, and there's a great deal of (mathematical) chaos - hence why weather forecasts tail off in accuracy after 3 days very rapidly.

And yet, we still know with 100% certainty the overall yearly trend. Reason: climate forcing, in this case due to the earth's angle to the sun.

So you're point - "the climate is such a chaotic system that even short-term forecasting is wrong" - is mixing up weather and climate. The presence of chaos does nothing to stop our ability to predict seasons. Or, also: if you heat a pan on the stove, you'll get complex, chaotic patterns of water movement - but the boundary conditions of the pan remain well-defined.


Dan Olner said...

Turns out realclimate used the 'pot of boiling water' example too: worth reading that article.

Derek Tipp said...

Yes there is a seasonal variation, but the actual temperatures can vary a great deal from winter to winter. On the other hand there is no fixed trend with climate, though we have some cycles. There is no linear trend and no correlation with CO2 volumes. We still have a lot to learn. Here is some new data to make us all think.,DanaInfo=.awxyCwzo0m--ALp21+new-satellite-data-contradicts-carbon-dioxide-climate-theory-a394975

Dan Olner said...

I was only trying to highlight the difference between predicting from initial conditions (e.g. weather forecasting) and predicting from boundary conditions. You've jumped to a different subject, being the difference between yearly temperatures - which takes us back to talking about long-term climate predictions.

To stick to the point, do you agree we can know with high accuracy the likely difference between summer and winter temperatures in any given year?

I'm trying to keep to the story you posted: "no warming for twelve years". I'm then trying to make the point that it makes no sense to say that, any more than you can make preditions about seasonal change from 5 or 10 day's weather data.

Simple thought experiment: you've been kidnapped and locked in a room. Someone put you to sleep, and when you wake up, you're stuck in this room with nothing but a temperature feed from outside. They woke you up near either the vernal or autumnal equinox - points of the year with similar temperatures. They'll let you out - but only if you correctly predict what season it is.

You're not alone: someone else in the room is also in the same predicament. They've got 5 days of data, and they're saying they should claim it's Spring, because the temperatures show a rise over the 5 days.

So do you agree with them? If you get it wrong, your captor's going to keep you there for another year maybe! If not, how long do you want to wait before you're confident you know which season you're in?

That's the only point I'm trying to make here. You've posted a story claiming "The reality is that for the past 12 years no warming has been evident from the record." I'm saying that's equivalent to the man in the room claiming he knows the season from 5 days of temperature data.

If we can get that point agreed between us, we can move on to your other points about co2 etc. That is: you *cannot* say "there has been no warming for 12 years" because climate data doesn't show a reliable trend in that sort of time period. And indeed, because - exactly the same as the weather - the system is complex, you *will* get variability.

p.s. your link didn't work, I think it was internal to your council login.

Derek Tipp said...

"No warming for 12 years" is a fact. I am not trying to say that this means we will not get any more warming. I am merely saying that for some reason the recent warming has ceased. Remember the warming period itself was only about 24 years. Before that we has around 25 years of cooling. So the whole century is divided into relatively short periods of slight warming and cooling.

I agree that we cannot make predictions of the seasons based on a few days temperatures.
Sorry about the link. You are right, it has been mucked up with the council log in.

Dan Olner said...

" 'No warming for 12 years' is a fact."

Hmm. It would also be true to say, for the end of October, that temperatures had not cooled. Fact. But would it true to say that the seasons had stopped?

Because that's what, generally, people are saying: "global warming has stopped."

You appear to think the climate is more or less completely random. Not chaotic as such - just too complicated to know what direction it's going to go in. Is that a reasonable summary of your position?

Derek Tipp said...

I think it is fair to say that I believe the climate is too complicated for us to be able to predict the future. That is the only honest position.

Your comparison with the warm October does not stack up as you are only talking about a small area of the N. hemisphere. The lack of warming over the last 12 years has been of the average over the whole globe. This lack of warming may be temporary, but it still needs explaining as it is not forecast by the hypothesis put forward by alarmists.

Dan Olner said...

"That is the only honest position" - I like to think I hold my opinions in good faith. I presume you mean it's the only position you believe is consistent with the evidence. I disagree.

I'm not comparing to October: all I'm doing is making a *statistical* point that short-term variation tells you nothing about long-term trend. Summary from tamino.

On your specific point: "This lack of warming may be temporary, but it still needs explaining as it is not forecast by the hypothesis put forward by alarmists."

That's just outright wrong: as with tamino's analysis above, the presence of noise - and thus variation in the trend - is entirely understood. Again, climatalogists are no more shocked by short-term variation (both up and down) than meteorologists are by unseasonal variations in weather.

I see why you want to argue "there's been no warming" as fact, but look at it this way: what are you saying hasn't warmed? The climate, yes? How are you so sure it hasn't warmed? The only point I'm aiming to discuss with all this `seasons' stuff is: you *cannot* make conclusions from data that's too short-term. No conclusions can be made - at all - about climate trends from data that short.

I'm not talking about any physical aspects - just purely and simply whether the climate shows a trend at all over time, and in what time period that trend will show up. For seasons, you can pick a trend up in 30 days or so (though I haven't done the tests... coming soon.) For climate - you tell me, how long do *you* think you need to have data before a trend can be picked up?

Lastly: alarmists? By your definition, I think I come into that category. Question: would you be happy for me to call you a denier?

Derek Tipp said...

You bring into the discussion the presence of "noise", which you claim is entirely understood. I find that unbelievable, in view of the fact that, as previously mentioned, there are so many variables in climate that are not understood, such as the behaviour of clouds.

The question of how long a period of warming needs to be before a trend can be claimed is an interesting one. I am not sufficiently 'expert' to give an authoritative answer. My personal opinion is that it needs to be at least 20 years.

An alarmist is someone who claims that CO2 increases will cause catastrophic warming of the planet. I have not seen you claim that.

Dan Olner said...

"An alarmist is someone who claims that CO2 increases will cause catastrophic warming of the planet. I have not seen you claim that."

Yup, that's what I think - along with every single other scientific academy on the planet. Let's take on recent example, from the Royal Society, who had a conference on 'four degrees and beyond', asking:

"(i) how probable a warming of four degrees or higher might be,

(ii) what the consequences of such a warming might be for ecosystems and society,

(iii) how to adapt to such large changes, and

(iv) how to keep the risk of high-end climate change as low
as possible."

A lot of those articles are open access, and I think you can at least view the abstracts. So, if we do *nothing* - if we carry on putting carbon into the atmosphere - then 3-4 degrees is at the very low end of possible outcomes by 2100. The paper in that conference has 4 degrees as a likely outcome by 2070. So more likely, we're looking at higher by 2100 if we do nothing. And as you'll see from that conference, plenty of folks involved with the Royal Society think 4 degrees pushes us into 'severe impact' territory. Not sure scientists would use 'catastrophe' - but we're talking about things like sub-Saharan Africa being desertified and North America being dust-bowlified just for starters. As one of the authors puts it, 'In such a 4°C world, the limits for human adaptation are likely to be exceeded in many parts of the world'.

That's just one Royal Society conference, concentrating on 4 degrees. Google any other national scientific academy, see what they think.

Against that, you're suggesting that something like clouds possibly seeded by cosmic rays, means they're all wrong. I could link to the other two or three popular 'skeptical' scientists, but we know who they are.

Here's what I don't understand: you say you're not expert enough to work out when a time series trend is significant or not. Yet you're happy to dismiss the findings of every respected scientific body on the planet, including the Royal Society, because a few theories exist that question them. And that despite the fact that those theorists have been repeatedly shown to be wrong.

If the Royal Society is right, we're going to be heading into the latter half of the century with the population passing 9 billion, and every social and economic support system needed to even feed them being put under massive strain, in many places past breaking point.

The tragedy here is that any solution *needs* innovative approaches that can't possibly be supplied by the kind of leftie-green bogie-man that climate skeptics conjure up. If you have 15 minutes, I can't recommend this video enough: Denning at the Heartland making that point: the right have gone AWOL from the biggest problem we face, and it's a complete tragedy.

Dan Olner said...

Also, I wonder if you could do me the favour of reading through this from skepticalscience? Should give you some context for the Daily Mail article.

Derek Tipp said...

By my definition you are an alarmist. I'm sure you would call me a denier. I consider myself a reasonable man who looks at the evidence with a sceptical eye.

You have previously said that the recent lack of warming is caused by increased "noise", by which you mean other effects on climate. This means that there are a number of other effects that can prevent global warming, or even reverse it. The whole hypothesis of global warming is based on the recent warming being "unprecedented".

Yet it is clear that it is not unprecedented. If you look at the graph of global temperature since1900, you will see that the rate of warming from 1910 to 1940 was the same as from 1975 to 1998, and although we have no direct temperature records for the medieval warm period (900 - 1400AD) and the Roman Optimum (100BC - 300AD)indirect evidence shows them to be warmer than today.

You assert that every scientific institution says there is a serious threat, and you may be right, though there are a large number of scientists within those institutions who disagree. Some have resigned in protest. What you need to understand here is that this has gone way beyond science. It is being driven by vast amounts of money and massive political interests. These establishment scientific organisations rely on state funding. They are being pressured into making the statements they do. Read the book by Donna Laframboise to see the degree of infiltration of the IPCC with activist scientists. Where is their objectivity?

Obviously you are convinced that GW is going to increase to 4*C or more this century, but so far there is no evidence of this - other than computer models of the climate - models that are incomplete and have already been proved wrong.

Yes there have been dozens of conferences by "distinguished scientific bodies", all saying that we are due for serious problems from climate change or GW - but there are many eminent scientists who disagree. Certainly more than enough to give serious doubt. If the evidence of serious warming was clear there would not be this amount of dissent.

We can agree that there has been slight intermittent warming over the past 150 years of about 0.8*c, and that's it. No sign of this accelerating despite continued increases in CO2. Unless some sustained increase in warming occurs soon, you will find the argument very difficult to carry on.

Dan Olner said...

Thanks for continuing to engage with me, it's appreciated. I don't want to label you a denier - I prefer to think we're both reasonable people who are trying to make the best interpretation of the information we have, given our understanding. That's why the chasm in our view seems so important to me. I think there are people on both 'sides' who'd be unmoveable. For the rest of us, evidence should be presentable that proves one of us wrong. We both agree, I think, the stakes are very high, but of course for different reasons.

I'll come back and pick out some of your points. A couple of quick things: did you read the skeptical science link or do you think you'll have a chance to watch Denning's 15 min presentation? Feel free to send me anything you want me to examine (you've mentioned a book, I'll take note.)

I'm trying to find a way for us to talk about the noise issue, since we seem to keep on going past each other, but it's vital. You say: "You have previously said that the recent lack of warming is caused by increased "noise", by which you mean other effects on climate. This means that there are a number of other effects that can prevent global warming, or even reverse it."

The answer to that depends on what controls global average temperature. Perhaps that's what we need to move on to. This is precisely the point I've been trying to make with the recent october warm-spell: in terms of the seasonal *trend*, the warm-spell was 'noise', though clearly we can discuss various meteorological causes if we want. If our task is detecting the trend, it's noise. However, the presence of noise has not stopped anyone believing in the onset of winter, and it's certainly not an argument for saying 'there are a number of other effects that could prevent winter'.

As I say, perhaps we have to move on to the physical side, since the answer there can be put as "because it's happened every year, dummy! Climate change of the sort being claimed has not."

The difference between us, then, comes down to how much we think science as a whole understands climate physics. I think there's very solid knowledge, you think not. Wonder where to go with that?

Ooo, I've just read some of your other stuff: do you have any evidence that any scientist has been pressured into saying anything pro-climate against their will? As it happens, I have quite a lot of evidence I could give you of the opposite.

It's funny: I work in academia. The thought that any of us goes into it for the money? Ho ho.

All this climate blogging, I have to make up my hours in the evening... *sigh*.

Dan Olner said...

Also: shall we maybe try and find some of the Royal Society scientists and put it to them that they're being either bought out or pressured into making analyses against their will? You're really saying that the current president, Paul Nurse, is in on the game? That *every single* scientist and scientific body on the planet is either being twisted by power or is in on some massive scheme to swindle money from the taxpayer? Doesn't that strike you as a little far-fetched?

I've read plenty of things in the past on this. I've just never understood how... hmm. I mean, it puts a stop to our discussion, doesn't it? I think science is still doing a pretty good job - as it has been for several hundred years - of discovering truths about the world around us. I know many ideologies have attacked science when they didn't like it's findings. But you're willing to reject the vast majority of accepted science now, because you think money has made the vast majority of scientists either corrupt or under the thumb of state power?

My partner's a scientist. I know at least one person, then, who gets very, very upset at this sort of accusation. I see how hard she works, I can understand why. Have you really satisfied yourself about this point?

Dan Olner said...

Hi, me again. Last post, sorry. Finally found the Tamino post I was looking for.

The point I'd like you to check there: Tamino makes an artificial trend - just a straight line, with added noise. He then shows that, because of the noise, you get points of downward slope (if you use a short enough period.)

Here he is: "There is absolutely no doubt, none whatsoever, that the actual trend is not only upward, it’s at exactly the same rate throughout, it didn’t stop or slow down or level off. We can be quite certain, because the data were made that way."

So what I'm saying (and Tamino repeatedly shows) is that "warming has stopped" is wrong - or rather, people who claim it's right are using too short a time-period. In the example I've just given you, there's a 100% definite upward-sloping trend - because it's programmed that way - with added noise. Because of the noise, it displays occasional ups and downs, just as normal weather data does.

That's a point I'm hoping we can find some way of agreeing on without having to discuss the physics of the situation, though I'll go off and do some more work on the basic stats too. But do you see what I'm getting at (what Tamino's getting at) with the construction of an artificial trend with artificial noise?

Derek Tipp said...

I am not saying any indivdual scientists are being pressured, but they know what is the "expected" outcome, and so if they want to get further funding or promotion then they understand.

Here is a report of a scientist being sacked for not reaching the desired outcome.

I am not saying results are completely falsified, but there was plenty of evidence from the climategate emails to see the sort of things that are done. No one is convinced by the "hide the decline" excuses, nor by the way in which scientific journal editors were pressured by the "Hockey Team".

There is no doubt that agreeing that "the science is settled" is the orthodox position. Anyone who disagrees with that is an outsider.

Perhaps it would be better to try to concentrate on the science. Science is not based on authority or on the number of people prepared to believe something.

Dan Olner said...

I asked: "do you have any evidence that any scientist has been pressured into saying anything pro-climate against their will?"

The guy you cite (interesting funding he gets!) I'll let you google if you like, but he wasn't saying anything about climate. I think he's also now gone back to work at the same place, as far as I can tell from my googlings. There are also a lot of other people in his field distinctly unhappy with his approach, but that's another story. Taking tobacco money doesn't immediately mean you produce work to order, but given what you've said about how state funding warps findings, I'd be interested to hear why you think the same doesn't apply to this guy.

Have you read any of the links I've sent you, got any comments?

Also: no-one is convinced by the hide the decline excuses? OK. So tell me what "hide the decline" was referring to.

Dan Olner said...

On climate scientists: as far as I can tell, there are a number of scientists on the skeptical side working in the field and publishing. None seem to have lost their jobs, and neither have they come in for the same sort of political attack that others have. So: Roy Spencer and John Christy both work at the University of Alabama. Pielke Senior is still employed, publishing and in dialogue with others. Lindzen is at MIT. Svenmark still works at the Danish National Space Centre.

So who's being silenced or sacked? Those people certainly generate a lot of scientific argument, but that'd be part of the process, wouldn't it?

Anyway, back to my question: what's "hide the decline" referring to?

Derek Tipp said...

Hide the decline refers to splicing two separate series together to make one graph. One was based on proxy measurements and the other was using actual temperatures.

You are right, of course, to say that there are some scientists such as those you quoted who are so eminent that they cannot be easily removed from their positions, but they are not asked to contribute to the IPCC in spite of this.