Can you have a consensus if no one agrees what the consensus is?

Over at the Blackboard, Lucia has a post with a growing set of comments about anthropogenic warming and the tropical, mid-tropospheric hotspot.  Unlike many who are commenting on the topic, I have actually read most of the IPCC AR4 (painful as that was), and came to the same conclusion as Lucia:  that the IPCC said the climate models predicted a hot spot in the mid-troposphere, and that this hot spot was a unique fingerprint of global warming (“fingerprint” being a particularly popular word among climate scientists).  Quoting Lucia:

I have circled the plates illustrating the results for well mixed GHG’s and those for all sources of warming combined. As you see, according to the AR4– a consensus document written for the UN’s IPCC and published in 2007 — models predict the effect of GHG’s as distinctly different from that of solar or volcanic forcings. In particular: The tropical tropospheric hotspots appears in the plate discussing heating by GHG’s and does not appear when the warming results from other causes.

hotspotar9_fordeepclimate

OK, pretty straight-forward.   The problem is that this hot spot has not really appeared.  In fact, the pattern of warming by altitude and latitude over the last thirty years looks nothing like the circled prediction graphs.  Steve McIntyre does some processing of RSS satellite data and produces this chart of actual temperature anomalies for the last 30 years by attitude and altitude  (Altitude is measured in these graphs by atmospheric pressure, where 1000 millibars is the surface and 100 millibars is about 10 miles up.

bigred50

The scientists at RealClimate (lead defenders of the climate orthodoxy) are not unaware that the hot spot is not appearing.  They responded about a year ago that 1)  The hot spot is not an anthropogentic-specific fingerprint at all, but will result from all new forcings

the pattern really has nothing to do with greenhouse gas changes, but is a more fundamental response to warming (however caused). Indeed, there is a clear physical reason why this is the case – the increase in water vapour as surface air temperature rises causes a change in the moist-adiabatic lapse rate (the decrease of temperature with height) such that the surface to mid-tropospheric gradient decreases with increasing temperature (i.e. it warms faster aloft). This is something seen in many observations and over many timescales, and is not something unique to climate models.

and they argued 2) that we have not had enough time for the hot spot to appear and they argued 3) all that satellite data really has a lot of error in it anyway.

Are the Real Climate guys right on this?  I don’t know.  That’s what they suck up all my tax money for, to figure this stuff out.

But here is what makes me crazy:  It is quite normal in science for scientists to have a theory, make a prediction based on this theory, and then go back and tweak the theory when data from real physical processes does not match the predictions.  There is certainly no shame in being wrong.  The whole history of science is about lurching from failed hypothesis to the next, hopefully improving understanding with each iteration.

But the weird thing about climate science is the sort of Soviet-era need to rewrite history.  Commenters on both Lucia’s site and at Climate Audit argue that the IPCC never said the hot spot was a unique fingerprint.  The fingerprint has become an un-person.

Why would folks want to do this?  After all, science is all about hypothesis – experimentation – new hypothesis.  Well, most science.  The problem is that climate science has been declared to be 1)  A Consensus and 2) Settled.    But settled consensus can’t, by definition, have disagreements and falsified forecasts.  So history has to be rewritten to protect the infallibility of the Pope the Presidium the climate consensus.  It’s a weird way to conduct science, but a logical outcome when phrases like “the science is settled” and  “consensus” are used as clubs to silence criticism.

  • http://www.capitaloffice.com.au Will Nitschke

    RPJ:

    Wrote:

    “the figures are hindcasts based on observed forcings over the time period.”

    You said the data was observational. A hindcast is a computer model. I think everyone knows that computer models do have observational data in them as a starting point. Claiming that it’s *all* observational as you did is plainly wrong isn’t it?

    “They show that unless our observations are way wrong, then greenhouse gases are the dominant forcing from 1890-1999.”

    Your logic is exactly back the front, isn’t it? The ‘observations’ don’t exist unless they are derived from a computer model run backward in time. So the model is correct and if it is not correct this is because the observations are wrong? Huh?

    “They do not show that a tropospheric hotspot is a unique fingerprint of greenhouse gas-related warming, and I’m still waiting for a single person to admit they misunderstood that point.”

    I’ll admit that it’s not. For example, if solar irradiance increased by some near impossible value never observed in the real world, then you might end up with the same sort of pattern. But so what? What does it being unique or not unique have to do with the fact that it was predicted but (at least so far) has not been observed?

    “Mike Davis – you write like a ten year old, and your outpouring seems quite unrelated to the point at hand.”

    I was sort of hoping you’d break from your normal pattern and respond logically, rather than get angry and commence the name calling… as you always do… sigh.

  • An Inquirer

    I see that this thread has now degenerated into more name-calling and insult-throwing rather than an exercise in spreading understanding. So after this comment, I likely will go to other threads.
    I wanted to give a less pejorative definition of a global warming pessimist. Such a person believes that (1) increased CO2 induces temperature increases under laboratory conditions, (2) this reaction is duplicated in uncontrolled chaotic real atmosphere, (3) that humans are responsible for significant increases in atmospheric CO2, (4) that there are positive feedbacks that magnify the impact on temperature beyond the laboratory results, and (5) that the resulting temperature increases have dire environmental consequences.
    I believe that “alarmist” – or “warmist” – is a pejorative term and so I use global warming pessimist as the term. I do not use the term advocate (because they are not advocating for AGW) nor do I use the term believer because virtually all skeptics believe points one and two and the vast majority of them also believe in point #3. However, skeptics do not believe that points 4 & 5 are scientifically established and in fact see contrary evidence.
    I am noticing on several blogs that global warming pessimists are claiming that the tropospheric “hotspot” is not a signature of AGW. That claim would be similar to an Administration claim that they did not purport to invade Iraq over WMD. There is enough on the record that I could confuse and maybe convince those unaware of the overall record, but my integrity would not let me do so. (In this post I will not get into tropical tropospheric hot spot versus tropospheric hot spot.)
    (BTW: RPJ, I am not at all convinced that you have solid understanding of the manner in which observational data are used in backcasting.)

  • Mike Davis

    Hunter and Will:
    It seems that Logic and Reasoning are not strong points with the believers. I enjoy pointing out the lack to them.

  • hunter

    Mike Davis,
    The more I think about the specifics of AGW that have failed to materialize- Hansen’s 1988 prediction, the hot spot, ocean temps, storms, droughts, increase in temps- the more impressed I am at the mesmerizing sales ability of fear.

  • DG

    Please be aware of the backpedaling the fraudsters at RC are doing:

    Gavin Schmidt et al 2005
    http://www.osti.gov/energycitations/servlets/purl/881407-xk2Sdg/881407.PDF

    “Tropospheric warming is a robust feature of climate model simulations driven by historical increases in greenhouse gases (1–3). Maximum warming is predicted to occur in the middle and upper tropical troposphere.”

  • DG

    Please be aware of the pedaling the fraudsters at RC are doing:

    Gavin Schmidt et al 2005
    www osti.gov/energycitations/servlets/purl/881407-xk2Sdg/881407.PDF

    “Tropospheric warming is a robust feature of climate model simulations driven by historical increases in greenhouse gases (1–3). Maximum warming is predicted to occur in the middle and upper tropical troposphere.”

  • Doug

    Good lord, Mike Davis: we’re probably on the same side of the argument, but you are in serious need of a spell checker and/or syntax checker. Your postings are almost to the point of being incomprehensible. belive ≠ believe. thier selfes ≠ themselves. dissagree ≠ disagree. sepperate ≠ separate. discriptive ≠ descriptive. posioness ≠ poisonous. proofed ≠ proved. tey ≠ they. occure ≠ occur. signle ≠ signal.

    The list goes on and on. It hurts my eyes trying to read you, so I no longer bother. I suspect I am not alone. You make our side look bad. Either clean up your act or don’t post anymore. Please.

  • RPJ

    Will Nitschke – please read carefully. I didn’t say anything was ‘all’ observational.

    And what the hell are you talking about, yapping about backwards logic? Observations show that forcings due to greenhouse gases are much the strongest positive forcing. These observations are not anything to do with computer models.

    And just like the never-ending claims that ‘global warming stopped in 1998′, it seems that deniers just can’t stop saying ‘there’s no hotspot!’ over and over and over again. You’re obviously not up to speed with the latest literature, which does not support your silly claim. Still, at least you were able to admit that a tropospheric hotspot is not unique to greenhouse gas positive forcing.

    An Inquirer – your definition of ‘pessimist’ is quite bizarre. You’re saying that if science tells us something that you don’t like, then you’ll call the scientists who study the phenomenon pessimists? And you think that it was claimed that only greenhouse gases would produce a tropospheric ‘hotspot’, but your ‘integrity’ won’t allow you to show us where? Yeah, right! You think anyone believes you?

  • hunter

    RPJ,
    The observational evidence does not support what you claim at all.
    The models do.
    The observational evidence does not support the models.
    The fossils do not support your theory of creation, to put it in another context.
    Your trollish clinging to failed predictions is like a millenialist starving on his roof waiting for the return of Jesus.
    It is rather pitiful.

  • Glenn Haldane

    The Uk Met Office page on radio sonde temperatures says that the hot spot both exists and is typical of AGW. I quote:

    ‘The zonally averaged trends show that the maximum warming within the troposphere has occurred in the Northern Hemisphere over recent years. Above the troposphere the stratosphere has been cooling. This general pattern matches the expected results of greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances, and this has been used to attribute recent climate change to human influences in work carried out at the Met Office Hadley Centre.’

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/science/monitoring/hadat.html

  • RPJ

    hunter – you can say the words all you like, but they’ll never be true. Why would you think anyone would be persuaded by mere unbacked words from an anonymous internet idiot? Please, cite your sources. Oh, wait, you don’t have any.

  • hunter

    RPJ,
    Ok, you are pitiable, not pitiful.
    And your very words make you a liar.
    You said:
    “RPJ:

    kuhnkat – well if I really need to spell it out… it’s a graph about observations from 1890-1999, not a graph of an experiment to try to replicate the observed warming with different forcings.”
    Those graphs are not based on observations at all, except possibly in the post WWII era.
    They are models, especially from the early years, are based on assumptions and inferences and conjecture.
    I may be anonymous, but that does not mean I don’t know when some AGW fundie is yet again strutting around naked while telling everyone how well dressed he is.
    And I do notice the total lack of links you provide, so perhaps you can think about how many people your approach is persuading as well.

  • http://www.capitaloffice.com.au Will Nitschke

    RPJ:

    “please read carefully.”

    I can only read what you write, if you mean something else, then that’s a literacy problem you have…

    “I didn’t say anything was ‘all’ observational.”

    So what?

    “And what the hell are you talking about, yapping about backwards logic? Observations show that forcings due to greenhouse gases are much the strongest positive forcing. These observations are not anything to do with computer models.”

    You just repeated your original claim as if repeating the same thing over and over again will make it become true. A hindcast is a computer model. Try to explain what you’re talking about without contradicting yourself in the same sentence.

    “And just like the never-ending claims that ‘global warming stopped in 1998′…”

    I love how you quickly change the subject as soon as you’re unable to respond to the points raised in any previous posts.

    “You’re obviously not up to speed with the latest literature, which does not support your silly claim.”

    The point is that the predictions turn out to be wrong. Yes the predictions that didn’t turn out to be true eventually have to change “in the latest literature”. However, the point about major previous predictions being wrong still stands. If you don’t have a good track record in the past, why do you think the track record in the future will be better?

  • sf

    RPJ– As someone who has been in the position you seem to be in now, let me offer the following, non-critical forensic run-through:

    Will you stipulate that the “Figure 9.1″ displayed with the above article is a reasonable facsimile of the one included in the IPCC AR4 report? (You are obviously welcome to withdraw this stipulation if you later find our host failed to reproduce this figure accurately.)

    Do you agree that the caption to the figure reads, in relevant portion,

    Figure 9.1: Zonal mean atmospheric temperature change from 1890 to 1999 (deg.C per century) *as simulated by the PCM model* from (a) solar forcing, (b) volcanoes, (c) well-mixed greenhouse gases… and (f) the sum of all forcings. ? [emphasis added]

    Noting the words between the asterisks in the above statement (“…as simulated by the PCM model…”), do you claim that the colored graphs in Figure 9.1 are an attempt to represent observations made in the years, altitudes and elevations stated?

    Did you intend to claim, at any point in the above discussion, that the graphs in Figure 9.1 represented actual observations?

    Here’s hoping that the dustup above is some sort of misunderstanding.

  • RPJ

    Will Nitschke – no, if you don’t understand very simple, very clear english, that is your problem and not mine. Your interminable ramblings are not getting us anywhere. You admitted that the figure didn’t show what our ‘climate skeptic’ thought it did, but you still bleat on about predictions turning out wrong. You must be doing so either out of ignorance or stupidity. There is no discrepancy between models and observations of the atmosphere’s vertical temperature profile.

    sf – I am sure you can understand that the graphs show the predicted response to observed forcings, taken in isolation and together, and that if you concluded that “models predict the effect of GHG’s as distinctly different from that of solar or volcanic forcings” you’d be wrong. But the deniers have no interest in learning, only in being noisy. It’s a game they play. It’s kind of like small children sticking their fingers in their ears and singing “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU”. These people are obviously choosing not to understand. Why would they lobotomise themselves so? Who knows? No amount of explanation on my or anyone else’s part will get through to them.

  • http://www.capitaloffice.com.au Will Nitschke

    RPJ:

    AGW believers predicted the hotspot but it is not there. So doesn’t this suggest problems with the computer models?

    You’ve offered two replies:

    1. It’s not there but even if it was there, CO2 is not the only thing that might cause it. (For example, if solar irradiance increased to a degree never before observed in the real world, it might also cause a hot spot to form. You don’t mention that part.)

    2. Yes we thought it was there, but we were wrong. The science (which was supposedly ‘settled’) has since moved on.

    3. You didn’t mention this one: “it is there but we can’t measure it yet…”

    Response (1) is, frankly, insane. You’re attempting to claim that SOMETHING THAT IS NOT THERE might be caused by forcings other than CO2. Who cares in the slightest? IT’S NOT THERE.

    Response (2) is of no help. You’re arguing AGW was wrong up to a couple of years ago but now it is right this time.

    Non response (3) could be true.

    And as usual, lots of insults and name calling and other childish behaviour intermixed with angry assertions about everyone being stupid except you.

  • hunter

    RPJ,
    Now that I see you are but a troll, please do get in the last word so we can all move on.
    We know that you cannot imagine or admit to an AGW prediction being incorrect, so please vent some more spleen and get it over with.

  • RPJ

    Will, you really have some comprehension problems. I said none of the things you seem to think I said. There is no meaningful discrepancy at allbetween models and observations of vertical temperature profiles. Why are you so desperate to believe that there is?

  • RPJ

    Will, you really have some comprehension problems. I said none of the things you seem to think I said. There is no meaningful discrepancy at all between models and observations of vertical temperature profiles. Why are you so desperate to believe that there is?

  • RPJ

    It is apparently impossible to post links. Presumably the site owner does not like to be troubled by scientific papers. Well, you can do it the hard way then: look up Santer et al, International Journal of Climatology, October 2008; Lanzante & Free, Journal of Climate, Haimberger, Tavolato, Sperka, Journal of Climate, September 2008, Sherwood, Mayer, Allen & Titchner, Journal of Climate, October 2008.

    “AGW believers predicted the hotspot but it is not there” – ha ha ha! Do you enjoy making yourself look like a complete tit?

  • http://www.capitaloffice.com.au Will Nitschke

    RPJ wrote above:

    “They do not show that a tropospheric hotspot is a unique fingerprint of greenhouse gas-related warming”

    Then RPJ just wrote:

    “ha ha ha!”

    Probably one of your better logical arguments… but what are you saying now? That it is there? But if it is there, and it’s not a unique fingerprint of greenhouse gas related warming, it could be caused by other climatic effects, right? So it’s therefore not proof of AGW anyway?

    OK, let me see.. if it doesn’t exist, it’s not important and was never proof of AGW. (Some re-writing of history happening here.) But if it does exist, it proves your point. Hmmm… you can’t loose the argument any way it goes? Impressive hedging…

    As I said already, it may be there but could be difficult to measure. Time will tell. This at least makes more sense than the self contradictory spasms you loop around in.

  • RPJ

    “but what are you saying now? That it is there? But if it is there, and it’s not a unique fingerprint of greenhouse gas related warming, it could be caused by other climatic effects, right? So it’s therefore not proof of AGW anyway?” – you’re amazingly hard of thinking, but you’re getting there. You’ve just about understood, finally, what I said right back at the beginning. Your use of ‘anyway’ implies that you think that someone, somewhere, claimed that a tropospheric hotspot could only be caused by greenhouse gases, but on this very thread you acknowledged that this was not the case.

    Quoting you on January 19, 2009, 8:15 pm: “it is not there”. And you on January 20, 2009, 4:33 pm: “As I said already, it may be there”. Your self-contradictory spasms are getting quite violent now.

  • hunter

    RPJ,
    Most excellent.
    I have not seen an AGW believer demonstrate ‘non-falsifiable AGW theory’ so clearly in one thread.
    Thanks,

  • http://www.capitaloffice.com.au Will Nitschke

    Hunter,

    “RPJ” is his own worst enemy. Seldom do you see someone so confused that he manages to even logically contradict himself in the same sentence. (One more usually sees irrelevant links, firm opinions without arguments or facts provided, quotes taken out of context, etc.) But while this is suggestive of some of the fanaticism that underlies support for these particular ideas, it’s all perpendicular to the scientific debate.

  • RPJ

    Will Nitschke – argue the science, or don’t say anything.

  • hunter

    RPJ,
    Try taking your own advice.

  • http://www.capitaloffice.com.au Will Nitschke

    Here’s what’s outstanding from your posts RPJ:

    (a) The blackboard posting (very first link in the above article) argues that the Realclimate assertion that the hot spot is caused by all kinds of warming is — nonsense. The Blackboard post quotes the IPCC report which does not agree with the Realclimate claim. You ignore all this and simply repeats the Realclimate claim… Is Realclimate correct or is the IPCC AR4 report correct? You seem to think that the IPCC is wrong and the Realclimate website is correct? Why? Rather than just repeat the Realclimate claim, which the Blackboard apparently demolished, you must at least show why the Blackboard’s argument is wrong.

    (b) RPJ repeats the Realclimate claim without explaining why it matters in the slightest. If there’s been no warming, why is it even relevant to the discussion? Please explain. I.e., if the hotspot is not there or cannot be measured yet, why is arguing over the different things that might theoretically cause it (besides CO2) of any importance whatsoever?

    (c) You say the science has moved on, and the hotspot is not considered important any more. The IPPC and even Realclimate authors stated only a few years ago that the hot spot was a “robust” prediction of the climate models. In scientific jargon, generally, “robust” means very likely to be true, or central to, a theory. Why doesn’t this sudden change of position not worry you? Why does this not diminish your confidence in the claims they make?

    (d) You imply later that the hotspot does exist (contradicting your c statement) after all… Now if it does exist, but the hotspot can be caused by things other than CO2, why do you feel it can be used as evidence of anything? What exactly are you “laughing” about if you assert that the hotspot is not related to AGW but then use it as proof of AGW?

    (e) You say that past climate is based on measurements but is also a “hindcast”. Which is a fancy word for “computer model”. It can’t be both, so which is it? You’ve been asked this question several times but have avoided responding to the apparent contradiction.

    Please answer these questions. Every time you’re pressed you go off on an angry rant yelling abuse at those who point out the absurdities of what you write or try to change the subject.

    To be honest I’m starting to get suspicious that you’re a ‘denier’ writing these posts on purpose to make AGW theory look intentionally stupid. Please demonstrate you are capable of rational thought, otherwise I think my suspicion is not unreasonable.

    Thanks.

  • RPJ

    You seem to be having a lovely conversation between yourself and some imaginary friend. It certainly wasn’t me who said the hotspot was ‘not considered important’, or that it was ‘proof of AGW’. You’ve misinterpreted most things I’ve said, and it’s way too tiresome to correct you when you do this with every single post I make. Your first point is particularly moronic. The ‘blackboard’ misunderstood the IPCC report, as you yourself admitted. Had you forgotten you did that? There is no contradiction between IPCC and realclimate, or between theory and observations of tropospheric temperatures. It really doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to understand that.

    And talking of intelligence: why, when talking about the hotspot on January 19, 2009, 8:15 pm, did you say “it is not there”, but less than 24 hours later on January 20, 2009, 4:33 pm say “As I said already, it may be there”? Is your confusion simply stupidity, is it springing from a desperate desire simply to be contrary, or is it evidence of actual mental problems?

  • hunter

    RPJ,
    here are your words:
    “RPJ:
    kuhnkat – well if I really need to spell it out… it’s a graph about AND
    “observations from 1890-1999, not a graph of an experiment to try to replicate the observed warming with different forcings.”
    An Inquirer – yep, the figures are hindcasts based on observed forcings over the time period. They show that unless our observations are way wrong, then greenhouse gases are the dominant forcing from 1890-1999. They do not show that a tropospheric hotspot is a unique fingerprint of greenhouse gas-related warming, and I’m still waiting for a single person to admit they misunderstood that point.”
    Go ahead and admit it. You showed up a discussion of ideas with none.
    You said what you said, and now you cannot just go away.
    The AGW leadership said the hotspot was a predicted outcome of AGW.
    The hotspot has not happened.
    You may torture and water board the language all you want, but you are still an idiot. And wrong.

  • http://www.capitaloffice.com.au Will Nitschke

    RPJ:

    “The ‘blackboard’ misunderstood the IPCC report, as you yourself admitted.”

    I’ve read the blackboard article and the comments and discussions that follow, and I have no reason to disagree with the blackboard article, but if someone posted an intelligent counter argument I might change my mind. I’ve “admitted” that the Realclimate claim, even if true, is irrelevant. Your ignore the substance of my statement and twist it into something that somehow agrees with what you’re asserting, and I’m not even sure anyone can figure out what that is. You still don’t explain *why* the blackboard argument is wrong. That’s the key point. You just repeat the same assertion over and over again, now for the 3rd or 4th time.

    “There is no contradiction between IPCC and realclimate, or between theory and observations of tropospheric temperatures. It really doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to understand that.”

    This is a claim, not an argument. You have no argument. You just keep repeating your statement…

    “Is your confusion simply stupidity, is it springing from a desperate desire simply to be contrary, or is it evidence of actual mental problems?”

    I’m saying it’s either not there or can’t be measured yet. My opinion has not yet changed. It might change in the future, as more evidence comes to light of course. Now, pulling words out of the middle of sentences and chopping off the sentences before and after, and even the words before and after, shows a lack of intellectual integrity, doesn’t it?

    Personally, I do not believe anyone in the real world could be as genuinely stupid as you. You seem to me to be an anti-AGW crank mascarading as a pro-AGW theory supporter, for the sole purpose of trying to make AGW look stupid. Why people engage is such childish behaviour, I have no idea.

  • RPJ

    Here we go again!

    Jan 22, 1.10pm: “The hotspot has not happened.”
    Jan 22, 3.26pm: “it’s either not there or can’t be measured yet”

    Jan 15, 2.05pm: “I’ll admit that it [a tropospheric hotspot] is not [a unique fingerprint of greenhouse gas-related warming]”
    Jan 22, 3.26pm: “I have no reason to disagree with the blackboard article”

    Are you two different people, or just a multiple personality? Are either of you ever going to post a link to the scientific papers backing your views, or do you imagine that mere words are enough to persuade?

    “You still don’t explain *why* the blackboard argument is wrong.” – but on Jan 15 at 2.05pm, you yourself agreed that it was wrong. Are you just stupid, are you just being contrary, or are you seriously a little bit wrong in the head?

  • hunter

    RPJ,
    In the “Emperor’s New Clothes”, the emperor, once the honest child pointed out the problem with his wardrobe, had the sense to be shamed.
    You, on the other hand, are seeking to blame the honest observer.
    Sort of like Hansen & pals and their calls for trials for ‘crimes against humanity’.
    This exchange shows how blind faith in AGW destroys the minds of its beleivers.
    Kind of sad, really.

  • HasItBeen4YearsYet?
  • HasItBeen4YearsYet?

    AND, IN A RELATED TOPIC
    “What if everyone believes in global warmism only because everyone believes in global warmism?”
    http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/hjenkins/