You Know it Has to Be A Skeptic Writing When You See This

I have followed Roy Spencer’s work for a while on trying to measure climate feedback effects from satellite data.  In general, I give him Kudos for actually working on what is really THE critical problem that separates climate catastrophe from climate rounding error.  It is good someone is working on this, rather than, say, how global warming might affect toad mating, or whatever.

I have never been totally convinced by this part of Spencer’s work.  Again, I give him kudos for trying to isolate the effect of single variables in a complex system through actual observation, rather than the lazy approach of running experiments inside computer models of dubious accuracy.  I am not convinced he has achieved this, but I must admit I have not spent a ton of time working it through.

Anyway, Spencer has a long discussion of his methodology in answer to some critics.  I reserve judgment until I have studied it further.  But I was captivated by this bit:

On the positive side, though, MF10 have forced us to go back and reexamine the methodology and conclusions in SB08. As a result, we are now well on the way to new results which will better optimize the matching of satellite-observed climate variability to the simple climate model, including a range of feedback estimates consistent with the satellite data. It is now apparent to us that we did not do a good enough job of that in SB08.

Really?  You shared your data, were criticized, and are modifying your approach based on this criticism?  I thought from the study of the habits of mainstream climate scientists the correct scientific procedure was to 1) hide your data like it was Russian nuclear secrets; 2) prevent any opposing view from getting published; and 3) defend a flawed methodology by getting 10 of your friends to use the same methodology and summarize it all in an IPCC spaghetti graph.

  • Sean2829

    I think Roy Spenser really tries to play it straight with respect to the measurements. A couple years ago he posted a note contradicting a claim that the northern hemishere was exceptionally warm using his satellite data. Then he went back to his raw information and found that the satellites were getting more getting a bit more data from the highest northern lattitudes so were seeing more cold regions. When he found this he made it a point to publish a retraction and explain the reasons. Josh Willis, who subsribes to AGW theory, seems to be another honest scientist with respect to data on the total ocean heat content. We need more people like these two where the foremost item on the top of their agenda is to get the data right and then participate in honest open discussion.

  • JohnF

    Could you explain “MF10” and “SB08” for us non-climate junkies?

  • joshv

    JohnF: They are references to published papers – the author’s initials, and then the last two digits of the year in which they were published. S is Spencer.

  • This may seem like it has nothing to do with climate alarmism but it does have to do with the character of a man.
    When General Lee was talking to his subordinates after Pickett’s charge, which was a disaster as you recall, one of them offered to take the blame to spare the great general.
    General Lee said “I made the call and I was wrong”. [Or words to that effect.] I can see why men would follow him to hell.

    What has this to do with climate alarmism ?
    When the climate alarmists are shown to be wrong they don’t seem to learn from it. They deny deny deny and claim the debate is over. Then Realclimate claims that the critic is a tool of “Big Oil”. Admitting error or learning from it takes a big man.
    Feedback or lack of it is the whole ball game. Without massive positive feedback even Dr Hanson admits that a doubling of CO2 will only produce 1 ° C of warming in 100 to 200 years. This is far from a crisis requiring throwing ten’s of trillions of dollars at. This is the single most important problem of the century. I am glad to see unbiased or at least a balance of bias in it’s solution.

  • commieBob

    Lindzen has written a good primer on feedbacks:

    Spencer has criticized Lindzen’s work (although he agrees with the basic principle).

    It’s disturbing that Spencer makes the following statement: “… the real climate system cannot have a net negative feedback parameter and still be stable.”

    On the face of it, the statement is dead wrong. Maybe it was a typo but Spencer didn’t correct it (meaning, perhaps, that he didn’t read the comments).

  • Alan D McIntire

    In reply to commieBob; I think Spencer meant to say,
    “… the real climate system cannot have a net POSITIVE feedback parameter and still be stable.”

    In speaking, I and many others have often had the same problem, where our ideas are running faster than our words, leading us to make stupid statements.

  • kuhnkat

    I think they are talking about 2 different ways of looking at the feedback. Reading the second link CommieBob left talks about that. I need to read it a couple dozen more times to understand it.

  • netdr

    “You shared your data, were criticized, and are modifying your approach based on this criticism?”

    Yes, this is how science works. The irony that your own approach is never to learn, never to retract falsehoods and never to bother even acknowledging criticism seems to have escaped you.

  • DemocraticWaldo

    ****”Admitting error or learning from it takes a big man.”

    Walk your talk, netdr. You have been proven wrong several times on this blog. Usually you deny and then run away.

    You could not have posted a more ironic statement.

  • It’s not that easy for any scientist to come to a conclusion that his/her theory may be wrong and it’s great there’re some like this still. However, it seems to be more logical when a scientist first checks results of findings and publishes them only after it has been done.

  • Ed

    The futility of Mankind trying to control climate

    On average world temperature is +15⁰C. This is sustained by the atmospheric Greenhouse Effect 33⁰C. Without the Greenhouse Effect the planet would be un-inhabitable at -18⁰C. The Biosphere and Mankind need the Greenhouse Effect.

    Just running the numbers by translating the agents causing the Greenhouse Effect into ⁰C:
    • Greenhouse Effect = 33.00⁰C
    • Water Vapour accounts for about 95% of the Greenhouse Effect = + 31.35⁰C
    • Other Greenhouse Gasses GHGs account for 5% = ~1.65⁰C
    • CO2 is 75% of the effect of all GHGs = ~1.24⁰C
    • Most CO2 in the atmosphere is natural, more than 93%:
    • Man-made CO2 is less than 7% of total atmospheric CO2 = 0.087⁰C:
    So closing carbon economies of the Whole World could only ever achieve a virtually undetectable <1/10 ⁰C. How can the Green movement and their supporting politicians think that their remedial actions can limit warming to only + 2.00 ⁰C?


    So the probability is that any current global warming is not man-made and in any case such warming could be not be influenced by any remedial action taken by mankind however drastic.

    This prospect should be greeted with Unmitigated Joy:
    • concern over CO2 as a man-made pollutant can be discounted.
    • it is not necessary to damage the world’s economy to no purpose.
    • if warming were happening, it would lead to a more benign and healthy climate for all mankind.
    • any extra CO2 is already increasing the fertility of all plant life and thus enhancing world food production.
    • a warmer climate, within natural variation, would provide a future of greater opportunity and prosperity for human development. This has been well proven in the past and would now especially benefit the third world.

    Nonetheless, this is not to say that the world should not be seeking more efficient ways of generating its energy, conserving its energy use and stopping damaging its environments. And there is a real need to wean the world off the continued use of fossil fuels simply on the grounds of:
    • security of supply
    • increasing scarcity
    • rising costs
    • their use as the feedstock for industry rather than simply burning them.

    The French long-term energy strategy with its massive commitment to nuclear power is impressive, (85% of electricity generation). Even if one is concerned about CO2, Nuclear Energy pays off, French CO2 emissions / head are the lowest in the developed world.

    However in the light of the state of the current solar cycle, it seems that there is a real prospect of damaging cooling occurring in the near future for several decades.

    And now Man-made Global Warming has become a state sponsored religion.

  • gt

    Apparently the editors of Journal of Climate Science didn’t ask Spencer or Braswell to review the Murphy & Foster paper. This is uncommon in academia to not invite the people to referee the papers that directly criticize their work. We don’t need more mistreatment, particularly to skeptics, in climate science. I hope Spencer will push the editors for a formal explanation.

  • Zilla

    Hello all, sorry if this is confusing, but I’ll explain later. Theo from WUWT writes:

    ****”Listen, Kid, do you have no idea how offensive it is for you to give me a homework assignment? Find one of your parents and ask them about it.”

    This is the weirdest response yet on WUWT.

    First off, my parents are in their 70s and live 2,500 miles away from me.

    I like being called “kid” but, technically, I no longer qualify for anything but middle age.

    And you, my friend Theo, were the first to dole out “homework.”

    Now, Mr. Watts, you did not answer my “accusatory idiotic question.” Do you divulge the entirety of the information on any given subject when you post on WUWT? Or do you only post opinions and information that lead to a certain conclusion?

  • Henry Bowman

    A bit off-topic, but now there is an iPhone/iPad/iPod app for Global Warming. According to Motl, Spencer was one of several scientists involved in developing the app.

  • @Ed ,
    Marty Hertzberg and I have been pointing out , thru rather different computational approaches , the fraudulence of the -18c assertion for a “naked” earth . It is the most extreme cold computation possible given our observed albedo . The temperature obtained by simply summing all energy impinging on the planet is about 5c and applies to any gray ball no matter how dark or light .

    How anybody can create anything but confusion starting from the extreme “frozen earth” hypothesis is beyond me .

  • EL

    I have to say, I am very impressed by your common-sense analyses and your humility. The contrast with, for example, the “experts” at RealClimate is obvious and striking. I’m sad to admit that I have been on board with the AGW people for the last few years and even though I am uncommonly diligent about researching my conclusions, I’ve lately considered that I may have been submitting myself to blind faith in peer-review and to personal experience with the undeniable ability of humans to alter the environment. I recently had cause to examine the evidence in the whole Climategate affair and started checking up a little more closely on what the AGW people are actually doing, and I am not pleased. My point is that I think the difference you discuss between the openness of the skeptics and the secrecy of the believers is very true and very telling. Keep up the great work!