Flatly wrong global warming denial

By Phil Plait | October 23, 2012 10:24 am

Sometimes climate change deniers make it all too easy.

The UK paper Daily Mail has a long history of courting climate change denial, and apparently it has no wish to change. It recently posted an atrocious article called "Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released… and here is the chart to prove it". The article was written by David Rose, who wrote a pretty inaccurate article earlier this year on a similar topic.

In fact, this new article was so blatantly wrong that the MET office – the national weather service for the UK – wrote a rebuttal to it detailing the flaws. To start with, they point out they did recently update their global temperature databases, but that’s a very different thing than "quietly releasing a report", as Rose claims. Cue the conspiracy music!

It gets worse from there. They take on his points one at a time and take them down. I highly recommend reading them. And if you haven’t gotten your fill of it, or you’re still not convinced, you can check out The Carbon Brief’s article that gives more details on Rose’s denial.

Or you can read the takedown by Skeptical Science.

Or by Open Mind. In fact, let’s take a closer look at that.

Tamino, the author of Open Mind, shows just how Rose picks and chooses his data to make it look like global warming stopped years ago. In the picture here, the top graph shows what Rose says the temperature looks like: flat across the past 15 years or so. But that’s terribly misleading: the starting point he chose falsely makes the graph look flat. The bottom one shows the true situation as Tamino describes it. You have to go farther into the past to find a reasonable starting point, and when you do, you see what looked flat is actually a rising temperature over time.

To do what Rose did in that upper graph is to strain reality (and credulity) past the breaking point. It’s almost as if Rose specifically chose the data that he liked and rejected the rest. That’s a big no-no in the reality-based world. Tamino thoroughly vaporizes Rose’s article, showing that it’s wrong in its most basic assumptions, its methodology, and its conclusions.

But other than that…

This article is just another in a long line of climate change denials that fiddles with the data to make it look like the Earth isn’t warming up. But it adds up. This kind of nonsense is damaging to real efforts to do something real about a real problem. And venues like the Daily Mail are all too happy to fan the fire while the world burns.


Related Posts:

- The US Congress Anti-Science Committee
- Republican candidates, global warming, evolution, and reality
- Is it hot in here, or is it just global warming?
- Let those global warming dollars flow

Comments (105)

  1. Blargh

    Potholer54 also made a video about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qbn1rCZz1ow

    Yes, I keep plugging him here, but for a good reason – his climate change videos are truly excellent: fully referenced, well narrated, neutral, and not assuming any science knowledge besides what he has already presented (without ever becoming condescending).

  2. Fizz

    I was hoping you’d tackle this Phil. I saw the Daily Mail article last week, and knew there had to be something wrong with it. Then i saw the MET office’s rebuttal, but i was still hoping you’d chime in. Thanks!

  3. cy

    Even as someone who considers themselves a skeptic, I am rather ticked off at Rose. Yeah lets start our data at the peak of the strongest el nino ever recorded and end during the recovery of a long la nina…

  4. Peter

    If the Daily Mail were sold in the USA, you’d buy it at the supermarket checkout. If really is an sorry excuse for a newspaper. Unfortunately, it still sells two million copies a day, pretty much as it has for most of the last hundred years.

  5. JaberwokWSA

    Well, look on the bright side. They did finally admit the existance of climate change!

    “Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released… and here is the chart to prove it”.

    If nothing else, doesn’t this confirm their acknowledgement that global warming was happening up until at least 16 years ago? It’s a start.

  6. Daniel J. Andrews

    Rose has a long history of twisting facts and making things up, and not just when it comes to climate either (e.g. see his role in promoting war in Iraq).

    On a slightly different topic, have a look at the Cato Institute’s “Addendum” (or “Addendumb” as someone quipped).
    http://www.desmogblog.com/2012/10/23/media-watch-will-cato-dupe-media-counterfeit-govt-copycat

    They copy the look of an official government report (front cover, font, lay-out on the inside, including some of the same pictures as the official report, but putting different words there). It is a bold-faced attempt to deceive politicians and sloppy journalists–watch for Rose promoting it. What Cato did may not be illegal, but if you tried anything like this in an educational institute or within a business you’d be removed/fired for being dishonest and displaying a lack of integrity.

  7. Jules

    Talking of science and anti-science, what is the opinion here on the 6 seismologists sentenced to 6 years in jail for failing to predict the earthquake of l’Aquila in Italy? That’s another very dangerous message to be sending out there.

  8. Kris

    Oke, but still, lies, damned lies and statistics. Just zoom out some more and the graph will still fluctuates: A lot but with a lot less humans on the planet. Global warming or not. I dont know or dare to claim that it is just us humans. And the costs for the measures against climate change are bizar. And to then think of the possibility that most of it could be just natural. Maybe we should focus on dealing with the climat change. and focus on learning more. But I claim not to know anything, but just keep an open mind.

    And I uses the words possible and could. :)

  9. Paul

    Denial efforts like this do serve a valuable purpose. They demonstrate the best arguments the “anti” side can come up with. And if they’re this flawed, then the conventional science must be pretty robust.

  10. Bill

    First off, no question in my mind that the data demonstrates over time there is an increase in temperature.

    That being said, if the question is “Does the data show a levelling-off of average temperature in the last 10-15 years?”, then I’d have to say it could! The second graphic above was produced using a linear regression model, which forces the relationship to be linear. It could be argued that because the relationship is forced to be linear, there is an apparent increase in temperature over the last 10-15 years when in fact there isn’t an increase in temperature over time.

    It would be more appropriate to use a nonlinear model, if this was done it may show a levelling off in the last decade or so.

  11. James

    Exactly. The claim that global temperatures have been relatively flat over the last 15 years is blatant partisanship, denial, obfuscation, and a lot of other bad things. Thank you for showing your readers what has really taken place over the last 15 years!

  12. TheBlackCat

    Just zoom out some more and the graph will still fluctuates: A lot but with a lot less humans on the planet.

    Wrong, the fluctuations in the past were not as quick and as large as the current one.

    I dont know or dare to claim that it is just us humans.

    You do realize that this is not a hunch, that there are a number of independent, direct lines of evidence pointing to humans being the cause, right?

    Let me ask you this: if humans aren’t the cause, then what is? What else can account for all the features of the current warming trend besides humans? And don’t say “natural variability”, climate does not change for no reason, something has to cause it to change. You need to explain what that cause is.

    Yes, it is conceivable that there is some undiscovered cause and humans aren’t really to blame. And it is conceivable that there is some undiscovered cause for the flu besides the influenza virus but that possibility does not cause us to throw away flu vaccines or antivirals.

    And the costs for the measures against climate change are bizar.

    What, exactly, are the costs? Be specific. How, exactly, do these costs compare to doing nothing?

    Maybe we should focus on dealing with the climat change. and focus on learning more.

    What, specifically, do we still need to know? How, specifically, would knowing this change our plans?

    But I claim not to know anything, but just keep an open mind.

    There is something to be said about not being so open minded that your brains fall out.

    If you don’t know anything about the subject, then what makes you think you are qualified to contradict practically every expert in the field? If you don’t know what sort of evidence scientists have based their conclusions on, what makes you think those conclusions are not supported by the evidence? If you don’t know why scientists think that the warming is human-caused, what makes you think you are justified in rejecting those conclusions?

  13. TheBlackCat

    @ Bill: There have been many “leveling off” periods over the last century or so, or even periods where temperature decreased, if you are allowed to set arbitrary stopping and starting points. There is nothing unusual about this one that would indicate global warming has stopped.

    There are a number of short-term cycles, like the sunspot cycle, that influence climate on less than two decades scales, which is why no honest, competent scientist uses such scales. It would be like measuring the ocean depth at the beach over a 4-hour period to demonstrate the world is going to be flooded or the oceans disappear.

    In fact the last 16 years included the deepest and longest solar minimum on record, yet there was still a warming trend over the period, which shows that whatever is causing the warming overwhelms solar variability over these times scales.

    However, there is no natural cycle that occurs over the time scales we are looking at for the overall warming trend.

    Using a nonlinear fit may very well show a leveling off, depending on the equation used, but that is because some equations are very sensitive to the shape of the curve at the endpoints, not because of any real trend (these equations would also show leveling off at other arbitrary cut-off points in earlier decades).

  14. Not to defend the misuse of graphs and data, but if, hypothetically, the world had somehow stopped warming in 1997, isn’t that what the data would look like?
    Or are you saying that in that case, we should wait until we have more data before we can say with any certainty that that’s what happened?

  15. TheBlackCat

    Someone posted this picture recently, which I think bears repeating here since it is exactly what the OP is talking about:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/SkepticsvRealistsv3.gif

  16. DanM

    I was going to say all the things that TheBlackCat said, but he beat me to it. Thanks for saving me the effort of typing :)

    @ #16 arensb:
    You are correct. IF the world had somehow magically stopped warming up, then maybe the data would look something like this. But relying on that reasoning is truly foolish, for two reasons:
    1. There is no physically reasonable mechanism to explain the sudden cessation of global temperature rise. Meanwhile, there is a HUGE mountain of evidence that supports the statement that the temperature is still rising, going well beyond what is shown in that one little graph. Cherry-picking the data you want in order to support a particular position will always lead you astray. Especially when there is no mechanism, no interaction, no physical reason, to explain the so-called observation. Things don’t happen without explanations. That’s one of the basic tenets of science.
    2. Your argument is logically equivalent to this one: “Wow, the San Francisco Giants have won their last three games in a row. If, hypothetically, they were magically transformed last week into a perfect baseball team, incapable of ever losing another game for the rest of eternity, isn’t this how it would look?” Answer: yes it is. But would you bet on that prediction?

    One point of TheBlackCat bears repeating: if YOU are not an expert in climate science, if YOU personally have not spent an enormous number of hours each week for the past N years (where N > a PhD candidate’s time to degree), then how can you claim to know more about this topic than those who have put in all that hard work? This topic is highly complex, detailed, and nuanced. You are not going to get all those nuances unless you spend a lot of time (i.e., N or more years) thinking about this. If you are in that boat (as I am), then the only remaining recourse is to see how the experts feel about the matter. Guess what? 97% of the experts believe that human activity has had (and continues to have) a significant impact on the climate. So why would you doubt them?

    Conspiracy theorists may now commence ranting.

  17. Matt B.

    At first, I thought the top graph had just subtracted the regression line from the bottom graph. The actual case is slightly more sneaky.

    @7 Daniel – The term is “bald-faced”, as in “not masked”.

  18. TheBlackCat

    @ arensb: If the study of global warming was nothing more than curve-fitting, then yes, you would be right. However, there is a lot more to it than that. We have fairly detailed knowledge about the physics behind the climate and the inputs and outputs. Not perfect, but science never is.

    In this case, if global warming had indeed stopped, we would expect to see a sharp decrease in temperature during that period, since that period includes the deepest and longest solar minimum on record. So if the warming had stopped, plus we had a drop in energy input on top of that, we should see temperature drop.

    Further, at the start of the plot, 1998, there was the largest El Nino ever recorded, which coincided with a solar maximum. So if global warming had stopped after that we would expect to see an even sharper drop relative to the very warm conditions at the start of the plot.

    Nevertheless, temperature has still increased over the period, and smaller El Nino periods since 1998 have nevertheless had higher (or at least equal) temperatures. So no, that is not what we would expect to see at all if global warming had stopped. We would expect to see natural cycles take over, and they haven’t.

  19. Jon Hanford

    Here’s a good illustration of how deniers use statistics to deny global warming: http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/TempEscalator.gif

    …..and Arctic sea ice decline: http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/1_ArcticEscalator2012.gif

    BTW, the PBS show Frontline will look look into various aspects of climate science denial in an episode (“Climate of Doubt”) to be broadcast October 23 (and available online afterwards): http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/climate-of-doubt/

    The show will look at how climate “skeptics” obfuscate and distort scientific data and push their agenda that “climate science is a hoax”. Should be an interesting expose on the culture of AGW denialism.

  20. OmegaMom

    Note that using that same chart, we could say that global temperatures were relatively flat over the period of 1990-1997…and over the period of 1980-1990…and I’m sure we could do it before that, using a chart with a longer time axis. But isn’t it interesting? Notice how each of those relatively flat periods was warmer than the previous one?

    Let’s leave aside the fact that this year’s summer melt in the Arctic eclipsed all recorded summer melts.

    Let’s leave aside the fact that agriculture conglomerates are changing their crop mixtures to include more “warm weather” crops up in the Dakotas because the growing season has become an average of 8 days longer per year.

    Let’s wave away the fact that “Glacier” National Park is due to lose all its glaciers within a few years.

    Let’s ignore the steady northward march of the bark beetles in devastating the North American pine forests. (The “good news” is that the bark beetles are now on the decline on the southern end because they’ve “overgrazed” their natural ecosystem.)

    Insurance companies are refusing to insure larger areas of Gulf coast homes due to higher losses from hurricanes.

    The west coast of Alaska, normally protected from severe autumn and winter storms by being iced in, is eroding away.

    Permafrost melting is posing a huge infrastructure problem in Alaska and northern Canada.

    Oil companies are rushing to explore and drill new wells in the Arctic because it’s more and more open during the summer.

    But it’s all stopped! Yay! No more global climate change, because if you look at the last fifteen years, it looks like the temperature has plateaued! Whoopee! It was all a conspiracy by scientists! And all those big multinational companies are changing their strategic plans for nothing!

  21. Bill

    @15 TheBlackCat: So the issue isn’t whether or not there is a levelling off of temperatures in the last 10-15 years, it’s whether or not this can be used to say global warming has stopped. Now that makes sense to me! I was concerned that a trick of statistics was being used to disprove something based on another trick of statistics. Thanks!

  22. Phil, you are being just as lazy and disingenuous as the flatly wrong people. Why don’t you show the graph for the last 18,000 years. Your subsetting of the data is misleading in some ways, though I don’t disagree with your conclusions.

    Imprecision in science is as much a cause of denial as any faults in the deniers.

    CHECK THIS OUT BEFORE CASTING STONES:

    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/temperature/greenland.18kyr.gif

  23. ErisWolf

    Preposterous! Absolutely wrong! The world is heating up and they just go out and declare that THE WORLD IS NOT GETTING HOTTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *faints* ” Wake me up when science stops screaming.”

  24. Steve Metzler

    #21 Jon Hanford:

    Thanks for bringing those two images to the fore. It tells you everything you need to know about Mr. Rose’s credibility concerning this topic, which is effectively zero. He must know that starting his graph during the largest el Niño ever recorded, and ending it in a la Niña is more than disingenuous. It’s despicable, and he’s childish if he thinks no one is going to call him out on it. But of course it serves a purpose: even though it is easily debunked, it reinforces the erroneous beliefs of those that are already leaning that way because of ideological reasons.

    Meanwhile, the comments section over at that Met Office rebuttal has brought out the AGW deniers in force, like a dog whistle. The web equivalent of playground bullies is all they are.

    ETA: #23 Bill is being willfully ignorant if he can’t see what Rose has done in light of the ‘escalator’ images Jon Hanford provided, along with the patient explanations from TheBlackCat and others here!

  25. mikel

    I would like to add a couple points here.
    1 It’s important to realize that global warming was predicted as a consequence of anthropogenic increases of greenhouse gases before it was observed. These predictions in turn followed in a pretty straightforward manner from understanding the natural greenhouse effect.
    2 It’s simply not true that warming has stalled over the period in question. The graph is of the lower troposphere only which accounts for a bit over 2% of climate relevent heat content. Ocean temperatures, which account for more than 90%, have continued to rise.

  26. Jonathan Katz

    This shows that there is much low frequency noise in the temperature record (its spectrum is “red”). a well known property of most climatic time series. It also means that empirical trends must depend on the interval chosen; there is no unique “right” answer. By choosing the interval you can get almost (within some bounds) any answer.

    This does not affect the theoretical argument that GHG warm the Earth. Nor does it affect the uncertainties about feedbacks, cloud cover, etc.

  27. @DanM and @TheBlackCat: thanks.

  28. Mike

    For those on the left-hand side of the Atlantic, it might be worth pointing out that the Daily Mail has a long record of promoting anti-science. Whilst their ongoing and never-ending quest to divide the world into two sets – one containing all those things that cause cancer, the other containing those that cure it – is both pathetic and slightly amusing; they have a much more dangerous agenda.

    They employ a columnist called Melanie Phillips (think a less charming version of Anne Coulter) who not only openly denies climate change, but also evolution. Phillips was also responsible for promoting the fake ‘research’ of Andrew Wakefield that falsely linked the MMR vaccination to autism. The Mail has never apologised for its role in causing great distress to parents and to the relatives of those who have been injured and who have died from not being vaccinated.

  29. DanM

    “a less charming version of Anne Coulter” ???

    I wasn’t aware that Anne Coulter possessed any charm at all. Not that I’ve met her, of course. I’m just guessing. But can one have negative charm?

  30. mikel

    But can one have negative charm?

    Ever watch Fox News?

  31. ND

    “But can one have negative charm?

    Ever watch Fox News?”

    Don’t do it man!!!

  32. TheBlackCat

    @ Curtis: There are four problems with your plot:

    1 there is difference between local temperature and global temperature

    2. I can’t find any indication from that figure regarding what it is actually showing. At least from the way the figure is displayed it appears to cutoff before the present, which is not unusual for paleoclimate reconstructions, and if that is true it tells us nothing because the current warming isn’t even on there.

    3. The figure is from 2002, I know there are more recent reconstructions than that. Why have you not cited those?

    4. The guy who created that figure, Richard Alley, accepts that AGW is true. So it seems his interpretation of his own figure is different from yours. I think he knows better than you do what his own data implies. (actually, based on the citation I am not clear whether the figure was his or just the data, not that this changes anything)

    Edit: I have managed to track down more information on the figure. It turns out I was right, the figure does not include the current warming. In fact it ends at 1855, decades before the current warming started. And it is restricted to only Greenland.

    So you are trying to present a regional climate reconstruction that ended 157 years ago as disproving the current global warming. So who is really being “lazy and disingenuous” here?

  33. Not denying climate change, it is most certainly real. It would be silly to think that pumping carbon from the crust into the atmosphere would have no effect. Also, none of this is meant to defend the article in the mail, it is clearly BS.

    I wanted to say two things though:

    First, anyone who presents a graph about anything pick and chooses their data to support their message. A graph can be presented in numerous ways and different folks can take the same data and make accurate graphs that convey different messages. Certainly the graph presented in the mail is a far more egregious example of this, but all graphs are suspect. Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.

    Second, the Daily Mail is posting controversial stuff to drive traffic to their site to sell advertising and they are succeeding. Hundreds of blogs will attack them for this article, with references that link back to them, and their hit count and therefore their advertising revenue will go up.

    @DanM – You are correct, Coulter has no charm at all, a perfect zero in charm, which is handy for comparison purposes. I don’t think negative charm is really

  34. Unsettled Scientist

    Why is 15 years insufficient time to see the signal in the noise of the global mean temperature? Tamino explains.

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/fifteen/

    It’s similar to 2 or even 3 flips of a coin being insufficient to determine which occurs more frequently, heads or tails. Heck, after a few flips of the coin you might even find that a coin only has a heads side.

    To determine the trend in global mean temperature, we must have about 30 years of data centered on that point. That is to say, to know the trend right now, we need the next 15 years to happen. To know what happened 15 years ago, we need the past 30 years of data (approximately). This is a property of the dataset.

    Imagine instead of going to 1997, and taking the middle of 2000 as our starting point. We’d see a rise of temperature of 0.4 C in just 12 years. Or even worse, if I started at the middle of 2007 I’d see a rise of 0.4 C in just 5 years. I’ve just shown that global warming hasn’t only stopped, we’re warming a rate of 1 C per decade!

  35. TheBlackCat

    @ VinceRN: “First, anyone who presents a graph about anything pick and chooses their data to support their message. ”

    That is simply not true. There are established standards in science for how you present data in order to avoid that. I know it is hard to believe, but some people actually do make a good-faith effort to present their data in the most objective, generalized, and useful way possible. There are many established practices that help avoid these sorts of problems, and scientists are generally trained to know them, look for them, and become extremely suspicious when they are not present.

    I know this may be hard to believe, but not everyone is intentionally dishonest.

  36. Blargh

    TheBlackCat: that Skeptical Science GIF was most excellent – thank you! I now have another weapon in my anti-denialism arsenal. :)

  37. Unsettled Scientist

    Oh good lord. David Rose specifically admits to cherry-picking. I just read this quote by him: “In fact, we looked at the period since 1997 because that’s when the previous warming trend stopped”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2220722/Global-warming-The-Mail-Sunday-answers-world-warming-not.html

    WTF?!? How do people not understand that. It’s like in my post above saying I chose 2007 because that’s when the warming trend restarted at an enormous rate.

  38. DanM

    “It turns out I was right, the figure does not include the current warming. In fact it ends at 1855, decades before the current warming started. And it is restricted to only Greenland… So you are trying to present a regional climate reconstruction that ended 157 years ago as disproving the current global warming.”

    I am shaking my head in amazement at this Curtis fellow (#24, called out by #33 TheBlackCat). How on earth do people have the nerve to act like this? I mean, first to KNOWINGLY present deceptive data with clear intent to mislead the readers, and THEN to have the nerve to insult the people who DON’T do that. The more I encounter such blatant disregard for simple human decency, the more grateful I am for the peer review process…

  39. Curtis Faith

    @TheBlackCat

    Did you read John Baez’s blog post that accompanied that plot? He goes into a lot more detail.

    johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/mathematics-of-the-environment-part-4/

    And you are being lazy by not actually reading what I wrote. For instance, in English: “Your subsetting of the data is misleading in some ways, though I don’t disagree with your conclusions.”

    means that I don’t disagree with Phil’s conclusions. What part of that don’t you understand?

    You said: “So you are trying to present a regional climate reconstruction that ended 157 years ago as disproving the current global warming.”

    Seriously, read what I wrote again. And think before using your fingers. You are the problem with science I am pointing out. Stop it. You are hurting our cause.

    Criticism does not imply opposition.

    You will also find that John’s work at the Azimuth Project is something I have been supporting for years. See: azimuthproject.org. I wrote the home page text.

    So don’t accuse before investigating. Your lazy response is exactly the problem I was trying to highlight. Thank you for such an egregious example for our edification.

  40. Shunt1, we summon thee!

    Not to worry, folks – he’ll program his own statistical data evaluation software from scratch and get to the bottom of all of this :)

  41. Steve Metzler

    Shunt1, we summon thee!

    Noooooooooooooo! Please, I beg of you; summon Cthulhu if you must. Anything. Anything but the shunt1!

  42. There’s a fellow on YouTube going by the handle of Potholer54 that I always recommend because he goes to great pains to debunk this stuff.

    Here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/user/potholer54

  43. VinceRN

    @35 Black Cat – Everyone that presents a graph decides on the range of numbers they will show and the scales they will use and they type of graph they will use. Every one of those choices affects how the graph looks and how the data I’d presented. Changing the scales can change the slope and drastically alter how the data is presented. There is no universal standard, all scientific graphs do not use the same scale. All data presented in a graph is skewed at least a little by whoever made the graph and everyone should look at all graphs with some skepticism, especially skeptics as we all try to be here.

    Certainly some folks make an effort to present their data in a realistic and unbiased way and some deliberately mangle their data to make a graph that fit their message. That’s what we see here, the first graph is horrible, it uses a small subset of the data to support a message that is the opposite of what the data actually says and the second is a much more reasonable and informative presentation of a wider range of the data.

    Skepticism doesn’t just mean attacking religion and pseudo-science, it is a way of looking at the world. All graphs should be looked at skeptically because all graph present a less than all the data available and present in a way chosen by humans who have opinions and agendas. No two dimensional graph can ever present a complete picture of data.

    What I am saying here has nothing to do with climate change, it has to do with how I look at everything. With skepticism. That does not mean I deny anything, only that I do not trust any data presented by humans without looking further into it. In this case looking further into it says the second graph is a far better presentation of the data. But is is still a graph designed by humans of data collected and filtered by humans and should still be looked at with skepticism.

  44. Brian Too

    @30. DanM,

    Seconded. I find Coulter completely unwatchable. It’s not just that I disagree with what she says; she always finds the most bilious, arrogant way to say it as well.

  45. @1. Blargh :

    Potholer54 also made a video about it: (link snipped)
    Yes, I keep plugging him here, but for a good reason – his climate change videos are truly excellent: fully referenced, well narrated, neutral, and not assuming any science knowledge besides what he has already presented (without ever becoming condescending).

    Seconding that recommendation. Potholer54′s clips on this are superb – always informative, clear and very calmly and well presented. In fact you’ve beaten me to posting that one -really beaten me to it – and I don’t mind a bit. :-)

    @24. Curtis Faith :

    Phil, you are being just as lazy and disingenuous as the flatly wrong people. Why don’t you show the graph for the last 18,000 years. Your subsetting of the data is misleading in some ways, though I don’t disagree with your conclusions.

    Why the last 18,000 years particularly rather than any other date Curtis Faith?

    In addition to what #33 The Black Cat has noted which I agree with; I suggest you look at the link in my name here – another Potholer54 clip “Climate Change isn’t it natural?” which looks at longer geological timescale and Earth history context and explains things very well indeed.

  46. James Evans

    If crafting an absurd career of hit-and-run appearances on TV shows hosted by simpletons completely unprepared or unwilling to refute your cherry-picked, misleading bilge represents charm, then Coulter is this century’s Greer Garson.

  47. DanM

    @41 Curtis:

    “Criticism does not imply opposition.”

    I agree entirely with this statement. However your accusation: “You are being as lazy and disingenuous as the flatly wrong people” goes well beyond mere criticism. It is rudeness, plain and simple. Moreover, it is, in my judgement, a completely unfair characterization of what Phil posted. What he did was to correct an erroneous data plot by displaying a MORE correct one. That cannot be characterized as “lazy and disingenuous” – even if the MORE correct plot is not a completely comprehensive plot of all the known data. What Phil posted makes the point that his blog post was trying to make, in a visually clear and compelling (and NOT incorrect or misleading) way. This is neither lazy nor disingenuous. It is, at the very worst, merely an incomplete statement of all of the relevant data. I don’t think that he should be obligated to post ALL of the relevant data in a blog post, in order to avoid accusations such as yours. Being clear, concise, and correct is quite sufficient. Unless the standards for blog posts have risen to those of Phys. Rev.?

    Oh, and the other fact is, you included a link in your original post to a data plot that was (as argued by TheBlackCat) irrelevant to the topic at hand. This does not strengthen your case. It certainly makes you seem more like the perpetrator of obfuscation, rather than the person you accused, even if this was not your intent.

    You may agree with Phil’s conclusions. Kudos to you. Being correct doesn’t give you the right to be rude. And when you see lazy and disingenuous behavior, feel free to call it out. But save the polemics for when they’re warranted. This was not such a case.

  48. DanM

    RE: my earlier question about the possibility of negative charm (Coulter inspired):

    Evidently, negative charm is indeed possible. Those darn high-energy people, always one-upping us poor condensed matter types:
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1002.2763

  49. BTW. Here in Australia, Climate Denier and Right Wing polemicist Andrew Bolt (among no doubt others) has been pushing this nonsense in his regular newspaper column and TV show. (Grrr. :-( ) I actually wrote a letter to the editor of the paper which debunked that “16 years of cooling” crock and referred folks to NASA’s site showing 2010 equalled 2005 as hottest year on record, 2011 was the hottest La Nina cycle year ever and noted too the record low Arctic sea ice this year.

    So I’d been wondering then where this latest climate canard had come from and if the BA would post in it – good to read this.

    That letter is unpublished as of yet and nor have any other letters or notices correcting Bolt’s lies been published. The paper or at least some elements of it is therefore deliberately misleading and creating a false impression of reality in many (?) minds. :-(

    There’s been no coverage in the papers anyhow about the Alpha Centauri B exoplanet either. Not happy with the media being even worse than usual. It’s one thing to have opinion pieces people disagree with but to have lies told so blatantly and repeated is worrying when you think that there’s an audience out there that is being deliberately badly misinformed so much they’re living in a virtual parrallel universe. Although they share it with us and their actions based on the rubbish they’re told are going to badly affect us all ultimately far into future. :-(

    Not sure what we can do further to change things.

  50. Roman

    @18 DanM. Telling someone they aren’t qualified to comment because they haven’t spent N years earning a specialized credential with the letters PhD after their name is not a valid argument. Taking this ad absurdum, the only people qualified to comment on art are those with MFA or DFA (do those exist?) after their names, and the only people qualified to introduce legislation are lawyers.

    While it is true that the only people qualified to sign off on bridge blueprints are PEs with degrees in structural engineering, it is not the case that the PEs with structural engineering get all of their training for the MEng or PhD in engineering. The profession is supposed operate open to public as well as peer scrutiny.

    Now I see the full chart, for the 30 years, and as an engineer (not a PE), I see a whole bunch of noise that (if I were a PE) I wouldn’t be comfortable staking my career on. I see the full chart the last 150 years, and I see dips and humps, and not enough data to unambiguously understand what came from where.

    And when ALL the climate scientists throw up a CO2 spectral transmittance plot and tell me I’m not qualified to criticize because I’m not a member of the club, you’re darn right the conspiracy theory bells start going off. Show me math and uncertainty estimates in the prediction of future temps, not noise and a straight line off to infinity and some sound bytes of doom and gloom.

  51. Bruce

    “You have to go farther into the past to find a reasonable starting point, and when you do, you see what looked flat is actually a rising temperature over time.”

    So to you a “reasonable starting point” is one that makes the graph look like it’s rising? And you say Rose is being misleading? Pot, meet kettle…

  52. @52 Bruce: So to you a “reasonable starting point” is one that makes the graph look like it’s rising? And you say Rose is being misleading? Pot, meet kettle…

    No, a reasonable starting point is any point at all that’s longer than one that’s been cherry-picked specifically because it doesn’t show an upward trend. That is, there’s only one starting point that’s misleading while there are literally hundreds that aren’t.

    Another way to look at it is to imagine taking a speech someone makes and extracting a few words out of context to make it sound like they’re saying the opposite of what they mean. We’ve all seen this trick done by political campaigns. If you were to go over a transcript of the speech and just randomly pick a starting point and an end point, the odds are very small that the apparent meaning will be flipped around like this. So when someone presents a sound bite that’s very obviously out of context, it really sticks out.

    In other words, if a set of data gives you one result when you look at it one way, and another result when you look at it every other possible way, and you only present that one outlier when you draw your conclusion, that’s textbook cherry-picking.

  53. TheBlackCat

    @ Curtis: You completely ignored the substance of my criticism. You presented the plot to prove that Phil was “lazy and disingenuous” and that his “subsetting of the data is misleading in some ways”. I explained in some detail why you were the one who better fit that criteria, and then your description of the plot was wrong in every way, but you totally ignored that.

    Your description of the plot was simply wrong. It does not show what you claim it shows. But rather than actually deal with this issue you try to divert the subject onto something totally irrelevant.

  54. TheBlackCat

    @ Bruce: Even with Rose’s starting point, the plot is still rising, as it is with every other starting point prior to that one up to the point the warming started.

  55. TheBlackCat

    @ VincRN: okay, I think we are saying the same thing in different ways.

  56. KimS

    Those of us in the UK who don’t read The Daily Mail refer to it as The Daily Fail. This is why. Although perhaps we should append that to ‘The Daily Malicious Lies’, but it’s not got such a ring to it!

  57. Nigel Depledge

    Kris (10) said:

    I dont know or dare to claim that it is just us humans.

    No-one needs to dare, because the evidence that the current GW trend is caused at least mostly by human activities is pretty damn’ solid.

    And the costs for the measures against climate change are bizar.

    Assuming you meant “bizarre”, how so?

    And to then think of the possibility that most of it could be just natural.

    What makes you think that climate scientists have not already thought of this and looked into it?

    Maybe we should focus on dealing with the climat change.

    Yes, and by far the easiest way to deal with it is to reduce human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases.

    and focus on learning more.

    Sure, lots of people are doing exactly this. But that does not invalidate what we already know, to whit: AGW is real; it is mostly caused by human activities; and it is mostly a bad thing for human civilisation.

    But I claim not to know anything, but just keep an open mind.

    So, you appear to be claiming that ignorance is a valid position in this debate. Is that really what you are saying?

    AFAICT, there is enough evidence that AGW is both real and human-caused that we need collectively to stop shilly-shallying about and get on with addressing the issues. Many scientists and engineers are doing this – trying to work out, for example, what the most effective alternatives to fossil-fuel energy sources are; and trying to work out what engineering fixes would be effective to reduce the impact of the GHGs that we humans have already emitted.

  58. Nigel Depledge

    Does anyone here have a neat and concise explanation for why 40 years of data is a better match for reality than – say – 15 years of data, or 1500 years of data?

    I can make a reasonable stab at it, I think, but it’s sure to be rambling and not necessarily very enlightening to someone who doesn’t already have at least half an idea.

  59. TheBlackCat

    The reason 40 years of data is better than 15 years of data is very simple and very straightforward: the ~11 year sunspot cycle. It is hard to get meaningful data from a 15-year period when a large and powerful cycle operates over nearly the same period. This is even more significant with the latest cycle, since it was long (about 12.6 years).

    The main problem with using 1500 years of data is more a practical one: it is much harder to see the details of the current warming because it is squished at one end. However, it provides useful information, and such plots are used often by climatologists.

  60. Infinite123Lifer

    Curtis Faith said:

    “So don’t accuse before investigating. Your lazy response is exactly the problem I was trying to highlight.”

    The only thing your highlighting successfully is your own ignorance.

    And he said:
    “Imprecision in science is as much a cause of denial as an faults in the deniers.”

    I don’t think imprecision causes denial. Refusal to face facts, not being able to understand the facts and blind faith are more realistic causes of denial.

    @MTU #51

    In response to your last paragraph … hang in there, get a good nights sleep, and in response to your last sentence … your doing it sir.

  61. davem

    I’m curious as to how the temperature in the last 15 years hasn’t moved much(if at all), yet the Arctic has become almost ice-free in summer, rather suddenly. Is this an ocean vs land heating effect, ie has the ocean heated up more than the land? Or is it merely a local effect?

    I have read that we are in the middle of a natural cooling phase (AGW apart), and that temperatures may actually drop for a while, fuelling the deniers’ claims. Stand by for that…

    Another question – is there somewhere a clear explanation of how a mere 400ppm of CO2 produces such a heating effect? (I’m looking for some sort f relationship between ppm of CO2 and temperature rise that might be expected per ppm). A lot of deniers seem to think that CO2 actually heats up, so that they don’t think that it can have much effect. I’ve actually seen arguments that submariners have a much higher concentration of CO2 in their subs, and that they don’t overheat!

  62. TheBlackCat

    @ davem: simple version:

    CO2 (and other chemicals, like water vapor and methane) are mostly transparent to short-wavelength light, but absorb long-wavelength light. So short-wavelength light from the sun passes through, then hits the land or water, heating it. Some of this energy is re-emitted at a longer wavelength. Because the CO2 traps some of this longer-wavelength light, it prevents some of the light from escaping back into space, increasing the percentage of the sun’s energy that goes into heating the Earth, increasing the overall temperature.

    In practice it is more complicated than that, since the atmosphere also emits long-wavelength light, but the basic physical rule that is involved.

    Specifically, a sustained doubling in CO2 concentration most likely produces a 2 to 4.5 °C increase in temperature (it is not a linear relationship).

  63. Nigel Depledge

    Steve Metzler (44) said:

    Noooooooooooooo! Please, I beg of you; summon Cthulhu if you must. Anything. Anything but the shunt1!

    Seconded!

  64. Nigel Depledge

    @ TBC (60) -

    Thanks, that helps.

    @ TBC (63) and davem (62) -

    Well, yes, but it’s a lot more complicated.

    The Earth emits IR as a black body (more or less), but the IR absorption spectrum of CO2 is nothing much to look at (IIRC, it has just two major peaks of absorbance). Since any individual molecule of CO2 is likely to re-emit the additional energy it gained by absorbing IR at pretty much the same wavelength, you might expect CO2 to have only a small effect on the temperature of the atmosphere.

    There are two key effects and a feedback mechanism that must also be considered.

    The first key effect is what IR absorption actually means to a molecule. In physical terms it is best understood in three ways. The IR absorbance energy prepresents the vibration (stretching / relaxing) of chemical bonds, the flexing of chemical bonds, and the rotation or tumbling of the whole molecule. By way of contrast, the absorbance of UV and visible light tends to excite individual electrons to higher energy orbitals; but IR absorbance involves a larger chunk of the molecule (this is still an oversimplification, but it’s the easiest way to understand it while getting a flavour for the detail).

    Thus, it is relatively straightforward for a molecule of CO2 (for example) to transfer heat energy to other molecules in the atmosphere by simple molecular collisions, and this is something that happens commonly. Therefore, the absorbed IR doesn’t necessarily get re-radiated at all.

    The second key effect is that, where CO2 absorbs IR from the ground, if it does subsequently re-radiate that energy, it does so in a random direction, so it could as easily send that energy back to the ground as out to space.

    The feedback involves water vapour. Small increases in temperature can increase the amount of water vapour that evaporates into the atmosphere. Water vapour is a very potent greenhouse gas, so any small change brought about by some other GHG gets amplified by the effect of water vapour.

    I hope this gets a bit closer ot answering davem’s question in #’62.

  65. noen

    Daven said:
    “I have read that we are in the middle of a natural cooling phase”

    We are due for another ice age, sometime in the next 10,000 years or so. Not high on the list of things to worry about and since such events are due to the Earth’s wobble it’s very low on the list of things we can do something about.

    “I’ve actually seen arguments that submariners have a much higher concentration of CO2 in their subs, and that they don’t overheat!”

    Well you do need an external source of energy. Typically the sun. Pretty sure there is very little solar energy inside a submarine. Any hot air is coming from the people there. Submarines are themodynamically closed (mostly) and would reach equilibrium with the surrounding ocean very quickly on a geologic time scale.

    CO2 does heat up. It absorbs infrared radiation but it then re-radiates the IR, leaves the CO2 molecule and eventually strikes other molecules nearby imparting more kinetic energy to them. Which we call heat.

  66. solarspace

    I would be disappointed if the general refusal to accept empirical fact was some intrinsic part of human nature.
    However, the truth that the misinformation campaign that lead to this state of affairs was intentionally designed and manufactured with malicious intent and malice of forethought, and then bought and paid for with obscene sums of money is just truly depressing.
    And now we all stand here, in front of our burning house arguing endlessly with each other about whether or not the house is even on fire or not–while the people who arranged this shameful situation laugh all the way to the bank.

    … sigh

  67. Nigel Depledge

    CUrtis Faith (24) said:

    Phil, you are being just as lazy and disingenuous as the flatly wrong people. Why don’t you show the graph for the last 18,000 years. Your subsetting of the data is misleading in some ways, though I don’t disagree with your conclusions.

    Imprecision in science is as much a cause of denial as any faults in the deniers.

    CHECK THIS OUT BEFORE CASTING STONES:

    [url omitted]

    To which TBC (34) replied:

    . . . the figure does not include the current warming. In fact it ends at 1855, decades before the current warming started. And it is restricted to only Greenland.

    So you are trying to present a regional climate reconstruction that ended 157 years ago as disproving the current global warming. So who is really being “lazy and disingenuous” here?

    To which Curtis then replied (41):

    And you are being lazy by not actually reading what I wrote. For instance, in English: “Your subsetting of the data is misleading in some ways, though I don’t disagree with your conclusions.”

    means that I don’t disagree with Phil’s conclusions. What part of that don’t you understand?

    You said: “So you are trying to present a regional climate reconstruction that ended 157 years ago as disproving the current global warming.”

    Seriously, read what I wrote again. And think before using your fingers. You are the problem with science I am pointing out. Stop it. You are hurting our cause.

    [My bolding]

    So, Curtis, what you wrote, such as it is, is an unsupported criticism of the data Phil presents without any attempt to present a case.

    You leave the linky to do all of the work, which means (a) that anyone wishing to follow your argument must click through and read some random stuff that you have chosen without knowing its reliability in advance, and (b) there is no evidence that you yourself understand the argument in the linky.

    AFAICT, although you complain at TBC’s criticism, you don’t actually refute any of it. If you truly were approaching this as an honest debate, you would either accept or refute the criticism. Merely whining about criticism is the hallmark of the troll (saying “read what I wrote” when what you previously wrote does not constitute an argument also does not constitute an argument).

    BTW, a little background of which you may be unaware : The Black Cat has earned a reputation here as one of the most scrupulously fact-based posters. Whereas I might criticise a post for poor argumentation or for violating some general principles, TBC actually seeks out facts that refute a false claim, and has a remarkable track record. You contradict TBC at your peril, as facts will inevitably be your downfall.

  68. Gary

    There are none so blind as those who will not see.

    Phil Jones of CRU himself said several years ago that if the temperature trend stayed flat for a period of 15 years or so, then the idea of CO2 induced global warming would have to be reevaluated.

    Look at your graph. The trend of the red part is flat. The high spikes match El Nino/La Nina events. You’re moving the goal posts with claims of cherry picking. All the article does is hold Phil Jones statement up to observations. Of course the blue part shows a rising temperature (as a result of complementing PDO and AMO cycles), but one must ask why you didn’t also show the flat trend during the 1940s-1960s period. Couldn’t be cherry-picking, could it?

    A good scientist would let the data challenge his beliefs when they are contradicted. A stubborn one would go on denying what his eyes show him.

  69. F16 guy

    I wish I had a penny for every word used on Phils site for debate over GW.

    If all the arguments FOR MMGW, and all those AGAINST MMGW were convincing, would we still have a debate, as each side would convince the other of its truths?

    Everyone has their own opinion on this subject, and its the rare case when that opinion is changed due to comments on a blog.

  70. Unsettled Scientist

    >Phil Jones of CRU himself said several years ago that if the temperature trend stayed flat for a period of 15 years or so, then the idea of CO2 induced global warming would have to be reevaluated.

    No he did not, that’s not even close to the truth.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Phil-Jones-says-no-global-warming-since-1995.htm

    > Everyone has their own opinion on this subject

    But the only ones that matter are the scientific experts.

  71. klem

    Um, hate to tell you this but the claim that warming stopped 16 years ago is supported by both of your graphs. Wow. Not only are the deniers not wrong, it looks like you agree with them. Lol!

  72. Wzrd1

    But, but, CO2 is PLANT FOOD! It’s GOOD!
    Heat helps plants grow too!
    So, warming is good!
    So, in order to make my garden REALLY GROW, I need only poor gasoline on it and ignite it. CO2 aplenty, water and heat. ;)
    Those who are bought and paid for say what their masters wish. The ignorant party line type regurgitates the hogwash. :/

    @Jules #8, I saw one article that claims to have a transcript of a conversation between a minister and the incarcerated scientists. In that transcript, he had directed them to claim there was no risk.
    I have some problems with that, primarily a lack of verification of said alleged wiretap and the transcript.
    I have problems with the original prediction by a lab tech, as said lab tech based the prediction upon radon gas readings, which have proved repeatedly inconsistent.
    Inconsistent. Rather a lot unlike global climate data, which IS consistent, verifiable and peer reviewed.

  73. Blathering Blathiscope

    The guy picked two points in the graph that are the same temperature and said “leveling off”. If you pick a small enough section of almost any similar kind of information (like stock prices) you can make anything you want out of it. Up, down, sideways. Its easy. Even though he chose two of the same points the section of the graph he chose is definitely an upward trend. Contrary to what he proposes.

    You can do the same with graphs of stock prices, but the opposite is usually done by companies to show the price is always rising. The importance to climate is the long term trend. And in the case of global climate change, the trend is NOT your friend.

    Further, some systems do level off somewhat for a short period of time before explosive change. Kind of like tripping points. But I don’t know how that would work in a carbon model here. After all, China continues to build more power plants and has exceeded the US as the largest creator of carbon dioxide. They have offset pretty much all the decreases all other countries have made, of those that have made them.

    Perhaps the massive calving of ice off Antarctica has mitigated rising temperatures. I wouldn’t think that the calved pieces were that large though. The parts were large, but tiny in comparison to the size of the oceans.

  74. Blathering Blathiscope

    Italy’s justice system is very much subject to political interference and public opinion. The scientists are not the first people who have been unjustly jailed in Italy and they won’t be the last.

    Personally, I think people should make a point of not visiting Italy. And let them know why.

    Should you find yourself in Italy in the wrong place at the wrong time you could wind up in jail for no real reason other then they need a fall guy, or girl in the case of one Canadian woman accused, tried, sentenced and jailed with no evidence. All on hearsay.

    In Italy it is better to jail an innocent then let the guilty roam free, unless its the mob, or a politician. Or police. Or corrupt judge. If the public is against you and you have no power or money, your toast.

    Don’t go to Italy.

  75. 69. solarspace Says: I would be disappointed if the general refusal to accept empirical fact was some intrinsic part of human nature.

    Sadly, it kinda looks that way. That’s why it took us so long to develop the scientific method. Humans have always been curious, and yet it hasn’t really been until about the last 400 years or so that we’ve learned the value of empirical measurements, and it hasn’t been until this last century that we’ve started to study exactly how we make up our minds about things (often poorly) and perceive the world around us (often in very odd ways). Shoot, the very term “Agnotology” (the study of culturally induced ignorance, or “why people believe dumb things in the face of evidence to the contrary”) was only coined in 1995! In a way, it’s actually exciting that we’re finally learning to quantify exactly how our perception is “off” from an objective examination of the truth. It may be depressing to find out how easily we’re swayed and how un-objective we tend to be, but that’s part of the important process of fixing the problem. You can’t create a perfect corrective lens, for example, until you find out exactly how your existing vision is distorted.

    However, the truth that the misinformation campaign that lead to this state of affairs was intentionally designed and manufactured with malicious intent and malice of forethought, and then bought and paid for with obscene sums of money is just truly depressing.
    And now we all stand here, in front of our burning house arguing endlessly with each other about whether or not the house is even on fire or not–while the people who arranged this shameful situation laugh all the way to the bank.
    … sigh

    I do wonder if any of the people behind this misinformation will be held accountable, or if they’ll die before the world truly grasps how much harm they’ve done. Hopefully, modern medical technology will ensure that they’ll live to a ripe old age and spend the last couple decades of it in prison.
    Sigh. Yeah right, but a guy can dream.

  76. TheBlackCat

    @ klem: you haven’t read any of the other comments, have you? This has been dealt with many times in the comments.

  77. TheBlackCat

    @ Gary: So you were aware there were previous leveling-off periods? And you aware that those were all just temporary? And yet you don’t see how this supports Phil’s point rather than refuting it?

    Let me try to work this out. We know that the overall warming trend includes alternating periods of faster increase and slower increase (as now) or even slight decreases. So we had periods of slow change followed by periods of fast chance followed by periods of slow change and so on. The last 15 years have had a period of slow, although still positive change, as we have had many times over the last century or so. Therefor global warming has stopped? You don’t see any problem whatsoever with that train of thought?

    I think I may have some idea what the problem here is. Do you know what a “trend” is? If so, please explain it, to the best of your knowledge, from memory, without looking it up or referring to any external sources or links. I think this may help us clear up quite a few things.

  78. TheBlackCat

    @ F16 guy: That assumes that both sides actually care about the truth. When one side has a massive financial interest in making sure the public doesn’t believe in AGW, and hires skilled and very effective PR firms who specialize in creating doubt and confusion about scientific topics in the public, and those firms spend massive amounts of money to lobby the government to prevent any action from occurring, then it is not hard to see why one side has not won out yet.

    Why hasn’t one side won out on evolution? Or arsenic? Why did it take so many decades for the science to be settled on smoking, second hand smoke, the ozone hole, asbestos, mercury, and many other scientific issues? Could it maybe be that in each of those cases, one side has a vested, non-scientific reason for wanting the debate to continue as long as possible?

    I should add that in many of those cases, the same PR firms that successfully delayed action for decades after a scientific consensus was reached are the exact same firms, using the exact same people, as the fossil fuel and automotive industries now pay to do the same with AGW.

    They have been doing this for going on half a century now, and they have gotten extremely good at it. They know exactly what tactics can will create the appearance of legitimate scientific debate on a subject where none actually exists.

  79. @Nigel You wrote: “an unsupported criticism of the data Phil presents without any attempt to present a case.”

    My criticism was specifically that he presented a case and complained about another’s selecting a partial set of the data without realizing that he was doing the same class of thing.

    I presented another chart in evidence.

    So what about this doesn’t make sense to you?

  80. @TheBlackCat

    You said: “You completely ignored the substance of my criticism. You presented the plot to prove that Phil was “lazy and disingenuous” and that his “subsetting of the data is misleading in some ways”. I explained in some detail why you were the one who better fit that criteria, and then your description of the plot was wrong in every way, but you totally ignored that.”

    You accused me of disagreeing with him when I explicitly did not. Read it again and point out where I said what you are paraphrasing incorrectly above. Point it out. Don’t spout. Show the words I used that caused you to believe the above.

    Again you said: “Your description of the plot was simply wrong. It does not show what you claim it shows. But rather than actually deal with this issue you try to divert the subject onto something totally irrelevant.”

    My description of the plot exists only in your head. GO UP AND READ IT

    You’ll see that there is no description, I just said: “CHECK THIS OUT BEFORE CASTING STONES:”

    then the link, then… NOTHING AT ALL

    NO COMMENTARY

    NO DESCRIPTION

    So I left the reader to draw their own conclusions, and I wrote the above for Phil not the peanut gallery who takes offense on his behalf without reading or thinking.

    I’m done responding to you since you have TWICE now shown that you cannot read anything you didn’t write or that does not already agree with your prior position.

  81. TheBlackCat

    @ Curtis: You specifically complained about, and I quote:

    “Your subsetting of the data is misleading in some ways”

    As you said, you “presented another chart in evidence.”

    The problem here is that your plot does not support your conclusion, and it can’t, because it doesn’t include Phil’s data.

    You claimed that the graph was “the graph for the last 18,000 years”. But it wasn’t, it was a graph for a roughly 18,000 year period ending 157 years ago . You don’t even bother to find out what your own plot shows, yet you have the nerve to call other people “lazy”.

  82. TheBlackCat

    My previous post was written before Curti’s second sequential reply above. This is a response to his second reply.

    @ Curtis Faith: Nice try, but you claimed in your post just before that you “presented another chart in evidence” of your claims.

    Let me ask you two questions, and re-iterate the answer you have already given:

    0. Was the plot you posted meant as evidence to back up your accusations? You have already said it was, so there is not point answering again.

    1. Was the plot in question meant to be the 18,000 year graph you talked about in your post?

    2. Were you aware that the plot was not either of these things when you posted it?

    You have already said 0 is true, so my criticism of you is valid.

    If 1 is true then it is even more valid. If 1 is false then we have no choice but to conclude you are intentionally misleading, since you talk about “the graph for the last 18,000 years”, then post an 18,000 year plot, it is obvious people would conclude that is the one you were talking about, since why would any reasonable person post a plot that is totally irrelevant to the point they were making?

    If 2 is false then you are the lazy one, since you couldn’t be bothered to check what your own evidence really says. If 2 is true then you again are being intentionally misleading, since you have flat-out said that it was intended as evidence of your accusations against Phil.

    As a more rhetorical question, if you wanted people to draw their own informed conclusions, then why did you not link to a description of the plot? You just threw it out there, with no possible way for anyone to find the site you got it from, and thus no way people to find out what information it really contains. There is no way to “draw their own conclusions” if they can’t find out what the plot really says.

    So I can only conclude that you did not post the plot in a good-faith effort to get people to draw their own conclusions, since it is impossible for them to. The only other reasonable conclusion is that you wanted people to draw a particular conclusion. Or do you have a valid reason for making it impossible for people to do what you claim you wanted them to do?

    So there are really only two ways out of this: either you were being intentionally misleading, or my criticisms are valid. Which one is it?

  83. DanM

    @TBC:
    You are debating with the wind. You’re in the right, of course, as all logical-minded readers of this thread can tell. But you must know that the wind will never admit that it is wrong. Time to move on to the next controversy. Frustrating, but inevitable.

  84. @21. Jon Hanford :

    Here’s a good illustration of how deniers use statistics to deny global warming: (link snipped – ed) …..and Arctic sea ice decline: (link snipped – ed.)
    BTW, the PBS show Frontline will look look into various aspects of climate science denial in an episode (“Climate of Doubt”) to be broadcast October 23 (and available online afterwards):
    (Link transferred to my name here – ed.)

    The show will look at how climate “skeptics” obfuscate and distort scientific data and push their agenda that “climate science is a hoax”. Should be an interesting expose on the culture of AGW denialism.

    Excellent links there – very much appreciated. Highly recommend that documentary especially. Cheers! :-)

  85. @63. Infinite123Lifer :

    @MTU #51 : In response to your last paragraph … hang in there, get a good nights sleep, and in response to your last sentence … your doing it sir.

    Cheers for that. :-)

    @72. F16 guy :

    I wish I had a penny for every word used on Phils site for debate over GW.

    Me too! ;-)

    If all the arguments FOR MMGW, and all those AGAINST MMGW were convincing, would we still have a debate, as each side would convince the other of its truths?

    The false premise there is that the two “sides” are equally listening and willing to be convinced by the actual evidence. sadly, this appears not to be so. :-(

    Everyone has their own opinion on this subject, and its the rare case when that opinion is changed due to comments on a blog.

    Maybe I’m a rare case myself then because a few years ago I was a Climate Contrarian myself and it was arguments by the BA and commenters on this blog among other things and places too that gradually made me change my own opinions on this issue.

    @83. Curtis Faith :

    @TheBlackCat : You said: “You completely ignored the substance of my criticism. You presented the plot to prove that Phil was “lazy and disingenuous” and that his “subsetting of the data is misleading in some ways”. I explained in some detail why you were the one who better fit that criteria, and then your description of the plot was wrong in every way, but you totally ignored that.” You accused me of disagreeing with him when I explicitly did not. Read it again and point out where I said what you are paraphrasing incorrectly above. Point it out. Don’t spout. Show the words I used that caused you to believe the above. Again you said: “Your description of the plot was simply wrong. It does not show what you claim it shows. But rather than actually deal with this issue you try to divert the subject onto something totally irrelevant.” My description of the plot exists only in your head. GO UP AND READ IT. (comment #24) You’ll see that there is no description, I just said: “CHECK THIS OUT BEFORE CASTING STONES:” then the link, then… NOTHING AT ALL. NO COMMENTARY. NO DESCRIPTION. So I left the reader to draw their own conclusions,

    Actually that is *not* accurate. Your comment prior to that incomplete link from one location link contained the words :

    #24. Curtis Faith – October 23rd, 2012 at 2:15 pm :

    Phil, you are being just as lazy and disingenuous as the flatly wrong people. Why don’t you show the graph for the last 18,000 years. [sic - ed.] Your subsetting of the data is misleading in some ways, though I don’t disagree with your conclusions. Imprecision in science is as much a cause of denial as any faults in the deniers.
    CHECK THIS OUT BEFORE CASTING STONES: (link snipped)

    That counts as description, as commentary and as an unprovoked attack on the Bad Astronomer whoem you have accused of being “lazy and disingenuous” and of providing misleading and imprecise data – your own words and commentary thus refute what you subsequently claimed.

    .. and I wrote the above for Phil not the peanut gallery who takes offense on his behalf without reading or thinking.

    If you had only wished Dr Phil Plait, otherwise known as the Bad Astronomer to read your comment and views you could always have addressed an email to him alone instead of commenting on this thread. That you failed to avail yourself of that option – and the BA’s contact email address is provided at the right hand side of this blog – indicates to us that you are not being not serious or at least missed the possibility of thinking and checking that option prior to commenting here. One could describe that behaviour as being as “lazy and disingenuous” in itself.

    Calling the many thousands (plus?) of readers and commenters here a “peanut gallery” is also insulting, inaccurate and likely to alienate yourself from people here.

    However, you did mainly let your link do the talking – and so people, notably The Black Cat at comments #34 and #37 responded and, in my view, quite correctly showed why your linked graph was problematic and misleading and inadequate in its own right.

    I’m done responding to you since you have TWICE now shown that you cannot read anything you didn’t write or that does not already agree with your prior position.

    I can personally vouch for the fact that The Black Cat *will* respond to things he hasn’t written himself – apart from anything else, xe* responded to you didn’t xe* and TBC has responded and recalled comments I have made in the past also.

    I shall also note that you failed to respond to my comment #48 (October 23rd, 2012 at 6:45 pm) addressed to you and containing a link for your benefit answering your implied message of the linked 157 years cut off Greenlandic graph.

    Did you look at that link I offered you I wonder?

    You are under no obligation, of course, to respond but failing to do so it lacks manners and people will draw their own conclusions if you fail to do so.

  86. PS. * “Xe” is not a typo but use of a gender neutral pronoun a la the Pharyngula FTB blogs practice.

    OTOH, there was a typo here – correction :

    That you failed to avail yourself of that option – and the BA’s contact email address is provided at the right hand side of this blog – indicates to us that you are not being not serious or at least missed the possibility of thinking of and selecting that option prior to commenting here.

    Mea culpa. Only one “not” was intended natch.

    No doubt other typographical and grammatical errors can be still be found in my comments (esp. #88 above), if folks wish to find them, for which my apologies.

    @72. F16 guy :

    … If all the arguments FOR MMGW, and all those AGAINST MMGW were convincing, would we still have a debate, as each side would convince the other of its truths? …

    There are additional missing premises there implying that the arguments for and against the climatological consensus that Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating (HIRGO) is reality are equally convincing and relevant which is NOT the case.

    I’ll also note that, as I think somebody up thread also mentioned, there is still “debate” in some circles over the reality of evolution and (though in rarer circles and with possibly tongue in cheek sentiments) the spherical or flat nature of the Earth. It is, of course, possible to “debate” almost anything but doing so does not mean there is any necessary validity to both debating sides.

    For instance, arguing that the Moon is made of green cheese will not make it so much as that would be wonderful for cheese lovers such as myself! ;-)

  87. davem

    Thanks for the explanation. My puzzlement was how so little CO2 could influence the temperature so much. When I said we are heading for a cooling period, I meant on a decade-long time period, not the journey to an ice age. Something to do with an Atlantic heating cycle. I have read that the average temp may actually fall slightly in the next decade, then accelerate away again. If this happens, this debate will get interesting over the next few years…

  88. @ ^ Davem : Not sure if its any use to you but you may be thinking of the idea noted in the clip – Climate Change – An imminent ice age debunked by Potholer54 – linked to my name here perhaps?

    Its also the idea bandied about a bit and used in the pretty terrible ‘Day after Tomorrow’ movie regarding the Gulfstream current failing. (Note : Temporal exaggeration times plenty there.)

    Oh and anyone thinking a tiny amount of a substance means it can’t have major effects should contemplate what a few drops of snake venom can do for starters.

  89. Nigel Depledge

    Curtis Faith (82) said:

    My criticism was specifically that he presented a case and complained about another’s selecting a partial set of the data without realizing that he was doing the same class of thing.

    I presented another chart in evidence.

    And seem to be rewriting history as we go further down the comments.

    Let me remind you of your earlier comment:

    Curtis Faith (24) said:

    Phil, you are being just as lazy and disingenuous as the flatly wrong people. Why don’t you show the graph for the last 18,000 years. Your subsetting of the data is misleading in some ways, though I don’t disagree with your conclusions.

    Imprecision in science is as much a cause of denial as any faults in the deniers.

    To make this easy for you, Curtis, I’ll go one sentence at a time.

    1. You make no attempt to show where, why and how Phil is being lazy or disingenuous.
    2. You request (without a question mark, but that’s a grammatical nitpick, the meaning is clear enough after a second’s thought) that Phil show data for 18,000 years without making any attempt to show why this would be more relevant than the 40-odd years on Phil’s graph.
    3. You claim that Phil’s subsetting of the data is “misleading in some ways” but make no effort to point out what those ways are or how the subsetting itself is misleading.

    Your point about imprecision in science is glib, but also unsupported – after all, there are other fields of science in which the version that is disseminated to the public is nowhere near as precise as the actual original work, and no-one challenges that in the way the case for AGW is being challenged.

    In other words, as I pointed out earlier, you did not make a case.

    Now, as has been pointed out elsewhere, the data from the last 40-odd years are very relevant, partly because this is the time period in which car ownership and use of electricity have both exploded, partly because of the increase in worldwide population over that time, and partly because of the reduction in the emissions of sulphates that previously created aerosols that reduced insolation at the Earth’s surface. Thus, for these reasons and others, warming over the last 40-odd years has been faster than at any other time in history. So, although Phil does not spell it out, he has good reason to display only the last 40-odd years of data.

    On top of that, Phil’s case is simply that the last 16 years of data do not indicate a cessation of warming, and the data Phil presents show this quite adequately.

  90. @90. davem :

    When it comes to “impending ice age” claims, I advise folks to see also :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQHqgdvXTxE&feature=plcp

    Myth of the Mini Ice Age by Greenman3610 on the idea of a solar cycle “maunder minimum” type ice age.

    Plus :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/heading-into-new-little-ice-age.htm

    Via Skeptical Science’s arguments list.

    As well as this clip :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_lYbp2zxVg&feature=plcp

    Global Warming: Winter Weirding by Greenman3610 also explains why HIRGO may be responsible for colder winter weather in Europe and some other near Arctic (relatively – hey Aussie living in far lower latitudes talking here!) parts of the Northern hemisphere.

    Hope these help. :-)

  91. @Nigel

    This is a comment section of a blog. I wrote the above for Phil because I know from what he writes over the years that he can connect dots that are not separated by too much conceptual space.

    If I didn’t present enough evidence for you, since I was not writing to you (notice the distinct lack of an @ in my first comment), then ask questions.

    I don’t care what any of you think.

    I wrote the comment for Phil Plait, you know, the guy who wrote the blog post. Not the peanut gallery.

    If Phil takes issue with my comment, I’d be happy to respond. In the meantime, you are all just talking out your ass and guessing what he might think.

    He approved the initial comment, or someone in his trust did.

  92. @ ^ Curtis Faith : What am I, chopped liver? ;-)

    Yeah, the BA approved your comment. That only says it wasn’t spam or too rude or from a blocked commenter – it certainly doesn’t mean he agrees with you. The BA has a only few rules here -mainly don’t be abusive of other commenters and don’t swear and he’s pretty generous in what he allows through.

    Also, yeah, you commented in the comments section of this blog – you didn’t just email or text or write to the Bad Astronomer alone. So yeah, that means you can expect to have lots of people read and critique your comments – and quote your own words back to you if you contradict yourself later, which, hey, is exactly what you’ve done.

    Also by commenting here you do realise that you are becoming a member of the “peanut gallery” – as you call, well, people who comment here – yourself right?

    Now I don’t suppose you care to humour us and respond to the actual substance of what I wrote in comment #87 and /or what #92 Nigel Depledge also similarly said, hmm?

  93. @Curtis Faith : What exactly do you think your link in comment #24 supposedly shows and why do you think so?

    Do you have any further evidence to support your contentions* more just that one graph** showing an incomplete temperature record from Greenland ending 157 years ago and thus missing out on the majority of the relevant time period anyhow?

    &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&& (

    * Which are what, BTW? I’m not even clear what your’e trying to say other than seemingly saying the BA is supposedly “lazy and disingenuous” and misleadingly imprecise as much as the Climate Contrarians for some reason?

    ** Where was this Greenland partial temperature record sourced from and why this one graph in particular?

  94. Steve Metzler

    #93 Curtis Faith says:

    I wrote the comment for Phil Plait, you know, the guy who wrote the blog post. Not the peanut gallery.

    Well, that explains a lot. Curtis doesn’t understand how a discussion forum on a blog works.

    Also, he hasn’t answered any of the valid/important/glaringly obvious criticisms of the famous 18kyr Greenland chart TheBlackCat brought up in comment #34. Because he can’t.

    I also read a lot of the stuff by Prof. Baez, and at azimuthproject.org that he linked to and am extremely puzzled after that exercise. Curtis seemingly acknowledges that there is a human-caused global warming problem, and we need to do something about it, yet he posts a very confrontational/in-your-face/yer doin’ it wrong comment on the BA’s site. So he’s supposedly of the same mind as the BA on this issue… only he’s not? What gives? It’s schizophrenic behaviour, to say the least.

  95. Gaebolga

    Curtis seems to suffer from a full-blown case of “smartier than thou.”

    Not as severe as shunty’s overly desperate need to have his particular brand of sub-genius worshiped by the BA commentariat, perhaps, but still respectably pathetic in its own quaint way.

    …[Phil] can connect dots that are not separated by too much conceptual space.

    Right. That’s a mighty generous concession Curtis made there, implying that Phil Plait might possibly be able to follow his bullet train of thought. You know, as long as he slows it down enough.

    I’ll bet I can count the number of advanced degrees Curtis holds on no fingers.

    Cue the “I’ve-got-five-thousand-PhDs-from-MIT!” response in five…four…three….

  96. TheBlackCat

    @ Curtis Faith: Comment sections of blogs are places for public discussion. If you wanted to contact Phil privately you should have sent an email. This is a public place and other people have just as much right to use it as you do.

    If you say something in public people are free to disagree with you. If you can’t handle disagreement then you shouldn’t say things in public.

  97. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ The Black Cat (October 25th, 2012 at 1:48 pm) : Hey, that’s what I said first! ;-)

    PS. What no response or answers from Curtis Faith? Have we chased him away already?

    Is it just me or are the Climate Contrarians here getting fewer and quieter all the time?

    (Famous last words I know.)

  98. Steve Metzler

    MTU: it’s more likely the ‘post has gone off the front page’ syndrome :-(

  99. Nigel Depledge

    Curtis Faith (94) said:

    @Nigel

    This is a comment section of a blog. I wrote the above for Phil because I know from what he writes over the years that he can connect dots that are not separated by too much conceptual space.

    Yes. So what?

    You still made no case.

    If I didn’t present enough evidence for you,

    I was not talking about evidence I was talking about making a case. All you seemed to do was whinge a bit. Even if the linky on which you leant so hard were the only evidence in your case, the brief text you did post was not a case.

    since I was not writing to you (notice the distinct lack of an @ in my first comment),

    No, but you puiblished your comment on the internet, which means you were effectively addressing the entire online world.

    then ask questions.

    Why should I bother? You have already shown no interest in engaging in a rational debate when you dismissed TBC’s criticism without either refuting or accepting any of the points (s)he made.

    I don’t care what any of you think.

    This much is evident.

    And, actually, I don’t much care what you think. However, many people read this blog, and I think it worth pointing out for their benefit at least exactly why your whinging has no validity.

    I wrote the comment for Phil Plait, you know, the guy who wrote the blog post.

    This is lazy and disingenuous. Phil has an email address if you want to address a comment to him personally. As MTU has already pointed out (but you seemed to ignore), if you wished to address some criticism directly to Phil, you could have emailed him. I’ve emailed him myself a couple of times. It takes him a few days to respond (hey, he gets a lot of email), but respond he does.

    Not the peanut gallery.

    So, from what source would you accept criticism of an argument you very nearly made?

    Unless you have followed this blog for a long time, you have no idea who the commenters here are, nor what credentials we have. For example, I know that MTU lives in Australia and is a remarkably well-informed amateur astronomer. I know that – some years ago – TBC was a PhD student. It is my suspicion that TBC now has a PhD, although I cannot recall what particular field (s)he was studying. I, too, have a PhD.

    Several of the other commenters here are professional scientists.

    So these people whom you attempt to dismiss as “the peanut gallery” include some very intelligent, well-informed critical thinkers.

    If Phil takes issue with my comment, I’d be happy to respond. In the meantime, you are all just talking out your ass and guessing what he might think.

    It doesn’t matter what Phil thinks of your comment. What matters is that:
    1. Your comment does not say what you later claimed it said;
    2. Rather than ignore, refute or accept TBC’s criticisms of your assertions, you attempted to dismiss them; and
    3. Rather than ignore, refute or accept my criticisms of your assertions, you have attempted to dismiss them.

    No-one is forcing you to post additional comments responding to criticism, but you are making a very poor show of it when you merely say “I wasn’t talking to you” as if this either invalidates the criticism or bolsters your earlier claim.

    Irrespective of to whom it was addressed, your criticism of Phil’s article in comment #24 does not hold water.

    As TBC contended, the data to which you linked does not challenge the content of Phil’s article. As I contended, your original comment does not say what you later claimed it said. It may or may not have implied what you later claimed it said, but it did not make a case, as I pointed out in #92.

    He approved the initial comment, or someone in his trust did.

    Yes, but so what?

    Phil does not censor dissenting views, neither does he censor views based on the validity of their arguments. Phil has two criteria for not approving a comment that is in moderation – first, don’t spam; and, second, don’t be a dick. If a comment passes these two filters, it will get approved.

    Furthermore, comments from people who have posted before that contain no linkys don’t go into moderation in the first place.

    I am sure that Phil is fully aware that any arguments that are weak, unsupported, or plain wrong will get metaphorically torn to shreds by – as you put it – the peanut gallery. IOW, your criticism is not worth his time.

  100. Nigel Depledge

    Aw, man!

    Both MTU (#95, #96) and TBC (#99) beat me to giving Curtis another kick.

  101. davem

    @MTU, No, I wasn’t thinking of any ice age. I read that we are in the middle of a 30-year (ish) cycle that creates cooler temperatures due to some Atlantic ocean currents changing. The pattern implied that in about 10 years time, the cycle will swing up again. The implication of the article (can’t find it now) was that the cycle has been disguising the rising temps due to AGW, and that this covering up will swing to exaggerating it at the end of the cycle.

  102. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ davem : Okay, not familiar with that idea sorry.

    Sounds fairly similar to the El Nino / La Nina Southern Oscillation but in the wrong ocean. Could well be an Atlantic equivalent of that perhaps?

    FWIW, I’m not a climatologist just someone who has read (& argued**) fairly widely about this issue.

    There might very likely be some interesting* thermohaline (ocean-wind current) effects from an ice free and much warmer Arctic sea in the future but I’m not sure what they might be,when they may start up or whether anyone really knows.

    &&&&&&&&&&

    * “Interesting” in the metaphorical Chinese curse sense of the word.

    ** And from both sides at that – originally being a Climate Contrarian until being convinced otherwise in part through arguments here.

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