The Alarmist Bait and Switch

This quote from Michael Mann is a great example of two common rhetorical tactics of climate alarmists:

And so I think we have to get away from this idea that in matters of science, it’s, you know, that we should treat discussions of climate change as if there are two equal sides, like we often do in the political discourse. In matters of science, there is an equal merit to those who are denying the reality of climate change who area few marginal individuals largely affiliated with special interests versus the, you know, thousands of scientists around the world. U.S. National Academy of Sciences founded by Abraham Lincoln back in the 19th century, all the national academies of all of the major industrial nations around the world have all gone on record as stating clearly that humans are warming the planet and changing the climate through our continued burning of fossil fuels.

Here are the two tactics at play here:

  1. He is attempting to marginalize skeptics so that debating their criticisms is not necessary.  He argues that skeptics are not people of goodwill; or that they say what they say because they are paid by nefarious interests to do so; or that they are vastly outnumbered by real scientists (“real” being defined as those who agree with Dr. Mann).  This is an oddly self-defeating argument, though the media never calls folks like Mann on it.  If skeptics’ arguments are indeed so threadbare, then one would imagine that throwing as much sunlight on them as possible would reveal their bankruptcy to everyone, but instead most alarmists are begging the media, as in this quote, to bury and hide skeptics’ arguments.  I LOVE to debate people when I know I am right, and have pre-debate trepidation only when I know my position to be weak.
  2. There is an enormous bait and switch going on in the last sentence.  Note the proposition is stated as “humans are warming the planet and changing the climate through our continued burning of fossil fuels.”  I, and many other skeptics, don’t doubt the first part and would quibble with the second only because so much poor science occurs in attributing specific instances of climate change to human action.  What most skeptics disagree with is an entirely different proposition, that humans are warming the planet to catastrophic levels that justify immensely expensive and coercive government actions to correct.  Skeptics generally accept a degree or so of warming from each doubling of CO2 concentrations but reject the separate theory that the climate is dominated by positive feedback effects that multiple this warming 3x or more.   Mann would never be caught dead in public trying to debate this second theory of positive feedback, despite the fact that most of the warming in IPCC forecasts is from this second theory, because it is FAR from settled.  Again, the media is either uninterested or intellectually unable to call him on this.

I explained the latter points in much more detail at

  • pauld

    I posted the following originally at Lucia’s Blackboard in response to a comment made by “Boris”. I think that it fits in well with the point that Warren makes here (if one substitutes “Mann” for “Gleick”)so I will cross-post it here as well:

    Some time ago Steven Mosher wrote a helpful post at Judith Curry’s blog that delineates the various positions in the climate debate.…..ment-72648

    He categorized as “deniers” those in the sky-dragon camp, who deny the greenhouse effect and he suggested that this group is indeed anti-science. Ridicule and appeals to authority may be the most effective strategy to address this group. Although you may see things differently, I would not place Heartland within this group.

    Next, Mosher identified a group in which he placed Lindzen and Spencer, those who believe climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is likely below 1 degree. He recognized that this group is out of the scientific mainstream, but he suggested it is not “anti- science” because it contains researchers who are committed to the scientific process and who are doing serious science.

    Next, he identified luke-warmers, who are within the mainstream, but believe that climate sensitivity likely falls in the lower-end of the range identified as reasonable in the IPCC reports.

    An additional group not identified by Mr. Mosher, but that warrants mention is exemplified by Roger Pielke, Sr. He agrees that CO2 is a significant and potentially dangerous first-order human forcing, but thinks that the IPCC fails to adequately consider other significant human forcings such as land-use changes.

    Gleik’s glaring blindspot is that he apparently thinks that all of his opponents are in the “anti-science” camp. Thus his arguments are not persuasive to serious scientists who are outside the mainstream, the lukewarmers and those who agree with Pielke, Sr.

    Of course, this leaves out entirely the policy debate in which even those who agree with Gleick on the science issues may disagree with him on policy issues. Roger Pielke, Jr., who like his father defies easy classifications, is arguably representative of this position.

    Ironically, Heartland is pursuing a much more nuanced and therefore more effective communication strategy.

  • Pat Moffitt

    Interesting Mann is trying to use the Academies for their original intended use- stamping out politically incorrect science.

    The National Academies of Science was the idea of Harvard’s Louis Agassiz who thought he could use a quasi-governmental organization- which he and his like minded associates would control- to crush the pro-Darwin’s scientists. It was only Yale’s James Dana’s last minute maneuvering that undermined Agassiz plan.

  • Dale

    Looks like the bait and switch is here, where you apparently don’t recognize all the other types of skeptics who put your view in the minority.

  • netdr

    I believe AGW is real but CAGW [catastrophic AGW] isn’t. Dr Lindzen insists on the distinction and I believe he is right.

    A doubling of CO2 most probably causes 1 ° C without feedbacks, since the feedbacks are negative the actual sensitivity is less than that.

    I agree with Warren that the alarmists discuss the 1 ° C for a doubling of CO2 which is agreed upon even by many skeptics [like Lindzen] then claim CAGW is inevitable. This is bait and switch.

  • BenfromMO

    I do not think it matters what we believe coming into the argument. I shouldn’t have to say that I agree with what Dr. Lindzen says just to be given a seat at a discussion table. This is not a discussion of politics where we can throw people out if they have beliefs that are “radical.”

    I might think Dr. Lindzen is correct in most things he says and follow his work a lot of times, but this by no means should discount what I say or discount the points I make, and this I think is the bigger point made in the article. People should not be judged in what they believe. They should be judged on whether they are right or wrong in science.

    That is it. Arguments are about facts, figures and nothing else. We have gone downhill into territory where we have to declare ourselves as a “non-denial” before we are even given a seat and this is frankly un-acceptable in science.

    Now if we were to discuss politics, sure by all means lets have a war of words, but I am not so sure the alarmists are going to survive that one intact either. Their position is rather weak I would say if we want to go into political positions, so that is where we are left at. Is global warming about politics or science?

    And I will say this, the second I am discounted or called names such as “denial” I switch to political attack dog mode and just go for the kill. Its no longer about science in that case….

  • Ted Rado

    How “expert” one is in climate science is beside the point in this case. The question is purely mathematical. Given a hypothesis that


    how good is the equation? This can be determined by calculationg values of Y for many values of the variables “x1” through “xn”. A correlation coeficient for the calculated vs actual values of Y will then tell us how good the equation is. The sigma value for the correlation can also be determined.

    What the equation is about is immaterial in terms of determining its validity and usefulness. We could be calculating anything and use the same technique. If we are looking for a tenth of a degree and sigma is one degree (exagerated to make the point), the equation is useless.

    Has anyone seen such a study of the AGW projections?

    I have used this method many times to test my own work. A sound equation will have all the data (projected vs actual) fall on a straight line with very few data points off the line.

    Note that poor correlation could be caused by any number of things: poor temp measurement, unknown and/or unaccounted-for variables, faulty theory, etc. The end result is the same: poor correlation of calculated vs actual and hence a useless equation.

    To reiterate, the validity of the math or model has nothing to do with one’s skill in climate science. Thus, anyone, presented with copious data, could determine the validity of the equation, even if they never heard of climate science. It thus appears to me that arguing about a commentator’s credentials in climate science is a red herring.

  • Mark

    BenfromMO, you wrote:

    “And I will say this, the second I am discounted or called names such as ‘denial’ I switch to political attack dog mode and just go for the kill. Its no longer about science in that case….”

    But those who would call you a “denier” do so on the basis that you are not intelligent enough to trust the scientists…

  • Mesa Econoguy

    So now that we know that AGW alarmists engage in 1) wire fraud, 2) identity theft/fraud, 3) statistical fraud, 4) securities fraud (Kleiner Perkins, AlGore) 5) economic fraud (Fisker, Solyndra, et al.), and probably multiple other material fraudulent misrepresentations, I propose we utilize legal resources at our disposal.

  • Lance


    But those who would call you a “denier” do so on the basis that you are not intelligent enough to trust the scientists…

    Disregarding the childish insult, this remark demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of science and what it means to be a scientist.

    Perhaps it is best synthesized by the motto of the Royal Society, Nullius in Verba. Which translates to “On the word of no one”.

    Sadly the Royal Society seems to have forgotten their own motto.

  • mark2

    Environmental skeptics underestimate the depth of “religious” psychosis (I mean this in the psychological sense of religious) in the minds of believers of global warming. You can’t engage a believer in rational scientific discourse on the topic any more than you can convince Christian Rapturists that End-of-the-World wont come when Jesus returns.
    The notion that the sea levels will rise due to mankind’s “sin” of burning fossil fuels is a powerfully religious motif called a Flood mythology, and is found in many culture’s mythological traditions. True believers are stuck in a religious mindset that holds fast to a literal view of this myth sourced in the collective imagination, and then selects only data that supports their beliefs while demonizing heretics (deniers). Arguing science with a believer presumes that they are in a mindset of a scientific methodology where the hypothesis is always subject to change based on ALL data available, but since they aren’t you will always run up against a wall.

  • “all the national academies of all of the major industrial nations around the world have all gone on record as stating clearly that humans are warming the planet and changing the climate through our continued burning of fossil fuels.”

    What that means is that the administrative bureaucracies of these science groups have rubber stamped the IPCC report. While the claim is true, the problem with it is that it suggests that there has been independent verification of the IPCC’s conclusions by these groups, which is not the case. We do not even know how many scientists endorse the catastrophic flavour of global warming as promoted by Mann. What I have observed is that the core group of alarmist scientists willing to ‘go on the record’ seems to be quite small, perhaps a dozen or so. You can see their names repeated over and over again in the media for sound bites. And their papers are the ones that have the scary computer model scenarios/projections.

  • Waldo says hi

    I’m always so intrigued by the folks who think that somehow they, or the scientists they reverence, are denied a “seat at the table.” Pielke has had a long, flush career in the sciences and academia, as has Lindzen, as has Pielke jr., as has…ect. What you find are that the scientists who work for special interests, such as the Heartland, produce work which is not necessarily accepted by the scientific mainstream (which is why they need propagandist literature for school children to promote their denialism). This might account for Mann’s rhetoric.

    So if the people here feel that Pielke’s and Linden’s voices in the wilderness are not enough, or, more importantly, that their own scientific evaluation and opinions on the scientific literature are not being taken seriously, do the right thing and publish your own conclusions. It doesn’t seem to do so much good here, or at least not as good as beating the scientific community at its own game.

    Thus, when Ben from Montana, writes “People should not be judged in what they believe. They should be judged on whether they are right or wrong in science”—who is to disagree? I say send your science out there, Ben, be judged on whether you are right or wrong.

    Sometimes netdr or another one of the cocksure commentators here posts something that they seem to feel proves AGW invalid and ends the entire “debate”—they usually cite “common sense” or “logic.” I will suggest they “peer-review” their conclusions…and then will follow several versions of denial (one has to “wait” too long, or only climate scientists review climate scientists, which is apparently unfair, etc.). My personal favorite excuse is that the [whatever] is “well known,” and therefore there is no purpose to peer-review. I can only wonder why scientists bother with the lengthy and demoralizing process of having their work vetted by other scientists, especially since so much of it is clearly easily disproved.

    The trick, folks, is to find a double-blind review. They’ll take your name and association off the text and data and send it out to experts for a blind evaluation. Therefore, you will be judged on whether you are right or wrong in science.

    Perhaps Will will take time off his office products business to independently verify IPCC findings? Perhaps Ted will finally find an honest engineer who is not laughing his way to the bank? Perhaps netdr will finally prove the [interthread alert] “thingy”?

    And I appreciate that mark2 is attempting to be profound, but does mark2 not see, perhaps, he is as evangelical and fanatical as any old devotee?

  • netdr


    The alarmist cause is dependent upon amplification by water vapor.

    Since water vapor has gone down since 1950 the theory must be wrong mustn’t it ?

  • Dr. Waldo

    Perfect, netdr. I think you are really onto something. You’ve read the chart! You’ve solved the climate conundrum! Now go claim your place at the table! Peer-review does take a while, but certainly you can write-up your observations and blow the AGW camp right out of the water (a play on words, get it?). I am constantly amazed how often you see right through the sham of AGW—now’s the time to join Pielke and Lindzen over dinner rolls and side salads! Sit at the table, brother!

    Or perhaps you’re faking it?

  • MikeN

    Not only would Mann not debate you about catastrophic global warming, he might even agree with you. I heard him give a talk, where he said the Medieval Warm Period was local in nature. The reason he gave is that it was warmer, but the tropics had an “El Nino like” response, causing lower temperatures there, thus no global Medieval Warm Period. One possibility he gave for this reaction was the Pacific Thermostat Theory of Mark Cane. Mann also suggested that this would happen in response to global warming, with more droughts in the Southwest as a result. Someone asked him that since the Medieval Warm Period lasted a long time, and El Ninos are short lived, wouldn’t his El Nino like response that was long lived mean that climate models estimates of future temperature rise were
    vastly overstated?” To my surprise, Mann said,”I agree with that. I have a reputation of being some sort of climate alarmist, but I think there is a missing negative feedback.”

  • netdr:
    Don’t try to argue the science with Waldo… It’s a belief system to him. Facts and data and stuff like that are things that heretics/deniers/non-believers cite to tempt the faithful. 😉 If the science points in a direction that isn’t compatible with his conviction, it’s not “real” science. The reasoning is always perfectly circular.

  • pauld

    Waldo: Geeze, we have been through this a couple times before on peer-reviewed literature. Publishing in the peer-reviewed literature is not a way to test one’s interpretation of existing research. The purpose of the peer-reviewed literature is to introduce new and significant research that adds to the knowledge of those in the field. It does not provide a forum debate ideas that are already well-known in the scientific community. That is why your challenge is beside the point.

  • O Paul Please—you are providing exactly the rational I posted about

    ****Publishing in the peer-reviewed literature is not a way to test one’s interpretation of existing research.

    Bullshit Paul. PR is precisely how one tests one’s interpretation of existing research.

  • Waldo would never argue with netdr’s science

    ****Don’t try to argue the science with Waldo

    I would never argue the science with you, netdr!

    I just think you should share your observation with the world!

    …unless, of course…you want to leave it here were you can feel like a scientist…

  • PaulD

    Waldo: ” PR is precisely how one tests one’s interpretation of existing research”

    I can see that you are not a scientists and perhaps have never read a peer-reviewed article in a scientific journal.

    You can find many of them on the web. Take a look.

  • netdr


    I see now why you refuse to talk science ! You don’t know anything about it so you settle for jabs.

    Peer review is no guarantee of accuracy. Dr Mann proved that for all time.

    As far as water vapor amplification it is impossible if water vapor is going down.

    Is the graph wrong ? If not, warming [if any] will be mild and the predictions off 3 and 6 ° C are simply wrong !

    Skeptical science had an amusing graph which is amazingly accurate in one way.

    Notice how it warms despite occasional setbacks and actual cooling. In the earth this low rate of actual warming will allow us to find alternative fuels and avoid punishing taxes.

    The overall rate of warming is ½ ° per century if you include at least one whole cycle of the PDO.

  • Waldo

    Paul, by this point you should know that I’ve made a career here at CS by calling your bluffs. Below are the first two articles that came up in an Academic Search Premier database search. I’ve starred (***) the section in the first abstract that refers to the process of utilizing the literature; and I’ve excepted points from the “Introduction” in the second which explain that, in fact, the second article is an extrapolation of previous research.

    Now, you are a meticulous guy often concerned with the semantics involved, so perhaps you have a more purist version of PR, but you might do well not to assume you are the only guy in the room with a little experience in these matters.

    In this case you are incorrect; PR may also contain a critique of previously published science—this is precisely what most denialist science is anyway. This is what I am suggesting netdr do, no more and no less. He can download most modeling programs from the IPCC website and probably a couple others; or, since he seems to feel he is smart enough, netdr can write his own modeling software without the “fudge factors.” Or maybe he could just use his brain. I suspect netdr knows what would happen if he did, so he will not (precisely why Ted comes here to rant about green engineering projects).

    Atmospheric Lifetime of Fossil Fuel Carbon Dioxide.
    Archer, David1
    Eby, Michael2
    Brovkin, Victor3
    Ridgwell, Andy4
    Long Cao5
    Mikolajewicz, Uwe3
    Caldeira, Ken5
    Matsumoto, Katsumi6
    Munhoven, Guy7
    Montenegro, Alvaro2
    Tokos, Kathy6
    Annual Review of Earth & Planetary Sciences; 2009, Vol. 37 Issue 1, p117-134, 18p, 1 Chart, 5 Graphs

    CO2 released from combustion of fossil fuels equilibrates among the various carbon reservoirs of the atmosphere, the ocean, and the terrestrial biosphere on timescales of a few centuries. However, a sizeable fraction of the CO2 remains in the atmosphere, awaiting a return to the solid earth by much slower weathering processes and deposition of CaCO3. Common measures of the atmospheric lifetime of CO2, including the e-folding time scale, disregard the long tail. Its neglect in the calculation of global warming potentials leads many to underestimate the longevity of anthropogenic global warming. ********Here, we review the past literature on the atmospheric lifetime of fossil fuel CO2 and its impact on climate, and we present initial results from a model intercomparison project on this topic. *********The models agree that 20-35 % of the CO2 remains in the atmosphere after equilibration with the ocean (2-20 centuries). Neutralization by CaCO3 draws the airborne fraction down further on timescales of 3 to 7 kyr. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

    The cost of living for freshwater fish in a warmer, more polluted world.

    Morgan, Ian J.1
    McDonald, D. Gord1
    Wood, Chris M.1
    Global Change Biology; Apr2001, Vol. 7 Issue 4, p345-355, 11p

    Summary Little of the vast literature on the temperature physiology of freshwater fish is useful in predicting the effects of global warming. In the present review a series of laboratory experiments is reviewed in which rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were exposed to simulated global warming, a 2 °C increment superimposed upon the natural thermal regime, in the presence and absence of two common freshwater pollutants, ammonia and acidity (low pH). Simulated global warming had little effect on the growth and physiology of trout fed to satiation over much of the summer. However, in late summer, when ambient water temperature was at its highest, the addition of 2 °C caused a marked inhibition of appetite and growth, although this impact was not exacerbated by a reduction in food availability. In winter, + 2 °C stimulated metabolism, appetite and growth by approximately 30–60%. Exposure of satiation-fed trout to low levels of pollutants produced unexpected results. Ammonia (NH3 + NH4+ = 70 μm) stimulated summer growth and energy conversion efficiency, whilst acidification (pH 5.2) increased appetite and growth but caused no disturbance of electrolyte balance. These pollutant effects were additive upon, but not synergistic with, the effects of + 2 °C. The ability of the fish to acclimate to the experimental conditions was tested with acute lethal temperature and/or toxicant challenges. Fish exposed to + 2 °C had a slightly (0.2–1.0 °C) but significantly higher lethal temperature than those exposed to ambient temperature when fed to satiation. However, there was no evidence of acclimation to either ammonia or low pH. It is concluded that the impact of global warming on freshwater fish will vary seasonally. The additional temperature may provide growth benefits in winter, but may threaten fish populations living towards the upper end of their thermal tolerance zone in (late) summer. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

    “[…] in 1992, a series of experiments was inititated to study the chronic effects of a conservative estimate of global warming (+ 2 °C), superimposed upon the natural thermal regime, on the growth and energetics of a reference coldwater fish (Magnuson et al. 1979), the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). These effects were studied in the presence and absence of two common freshwater pollutants: ammonia and acidity (low pH).”

    “[….] This project resulted in 16 peer-reviewed publications. The present review of the work does not intend to provide an exhaustive list of the results obtained from the individual experiments; rather, it reports the most consistent and important findings, and seeks to identify the conclusions that can be drawn about the potential effects of global climate change on freshwater fish in temperate climates.”

    Netdr should review the most consistent and important findings of humidity and seek to identify the conclusions that can be drawn about the potential effects on climate. He seems very sure of his findings and clearly this is important—I just can’t figure out why he won’t share.

  • Waldo to netdr

    You are correct, I am not a scientist. I see that you are, however, because you consistently post links with brilliant one sentence summaries of other people’s work.

    Come on, netdr, enuff shit-talking—peer review!! Peer review!! Send your review out to the world! PR may not always be accurate, but it’s better than swimming here in the kiddy pool.

    Or one could say that you are not a scientist either and you are simply incapable of doing the science you so freely denigrate here on a unmonitored blog.

    And denialists hate PR because they have so little which has passed through it.

  • pauld

    Waldo: I am glad that you took some time to do some homework. As the articles you cite above would indicate there is a substantial difference between the type of work that is published in the peer-reviewed literature and the typical comment to a blog post. The difference arises out of the purposes served.

    You are certainly free to limit your reading to the peer-reviewed scholarly literature. That is your choice. In that case, it is not clear why you bother to read the blog comments.

    Obviously, people can contribute to the discussion on a blog without going to the extensive efforts required to prepare an article that would warrant publication in a scholarly journal. There are blog comments that contain accurate observations that do not warrant publication. Moreover, there are many reasons why a person would not submit all their comments in a blog for peer-review. Among them are personal time constraints and the reasonable desire to avoid extensive unpaid work that is usually performed to advance the career of academics.

    It is silly to suggest as you do that one cannot comment on a blog without undertaking the additional enormous task of writing a paper for publication. It would be even sillier to take on such a task to satisfy you personally.

    So enough of your taunts. If you want to comment on a blog, the reasonable expectation is that you should offer substantive insights on the topics being discussed. That is something that you seem unwilling to do.

  • Ted Rado


    In an earlier post, I pointed out that climate models (or any other correlation) can easily be tested by plotting calculated vs actual data, and determining the correlation coefficient and standard deviation. Since you are so convinced that the AGW models are correct, why don’t you do it and present us with the results? Perhaps you could publish your work in a “Pee-r Reviewed” journal.

    I will anticipate your response. You will say to me that I should do it. I am not interested. As I have pointed out many times, since there is no large scale viable alternative to fossil fuels, it doesn’t matter. In any case, over the next few decades, the facts will become apparent. If you are convinced that CAGW will happen, buy property in northern Cananda or Alaska.

    This fascination you have with “Pee-r Review” has nothing to do with the facts. At this point in time, much of the AGW stuff is based on computer models, which, as has been pointed out repeatedly, are full of fudge factors and unknowns.

    Warren has done a very commendable job in pointing out where things stand (where there is agreement and where there is uncertainty). His review is so logical that I don’t understand how anyone can disagree. Nobody can swear that CAGW will not happen. Many, however, believe that it is very premature to start dismantling our fossil fuel based economy, as there is no workable alternative and the AGW stuff is so uncertain. Any amount of “Pee-r Reviewed” papers does not alter these facts.

  • Ted Rado


    Waldo keeps adding to the list of things he demonstably knows nothing about. The list now contains engineering and science. I am sure it will continue to grow. The frog-on-a-hot-rock routine sure is entertaining, though.

  • Ted Rado

    Netdr makes an excellent point:
    If you are so enamored of “Pee-r Reviewed” journals to the exclusion of all else, and disbelieve everything else, what are you doing on this blog?
    You seem to be saying that all other venues of expression are to be stifled. I would hate to live in a society where all forms of communication other that “Pee-r Reviewed” journals are verboten.

  • pauld

    Ted:  waldo is willing to do a little bit of homework, but I think the assignment you suggest may be  too much.  He would rather comment on posts with dire warnings that “you might be wrong” and with silly suggestions that people spend hours of time uncompensated  to publish their thoughts in the peer-reviewed literature..  This spares him  him the effort required to offer an insightful critique that he insists is missing here.

  • Waldo

    Actually Paul, I do believe I am making substantive comments about the blog post overhead. Mr. Meyer would take Michael Mann to task for pointing out that there is a difference in degree of viability between the scientific community and the general populace, some of whom want to comment and critique the science. I am commenting on why I think there might be some truth to the statement and far less “rhetoric” than Mr. Meyer would seem to think.

    And yes, it is very obvious one can take part in a blog discussion without doing the extensive effort required to prepare an article or actually even know the subject matter, but that would only seem to bolster Mann’s point above.

    It is “extensive effort” that allows one to double and triple-check one’s work; it is “extensive effort” which allows one to do the necessary research; it is also “extensive effort” and PR which allows one’s findings and observations to be vetted to make sure they are correct, or at least as correct as can be realistically ascertained with current knowledge. “Extensive effort” at this level requires a professional commitment, and few posters here have the time or knowledge to actually perform the level of “effort” required to do any of the steps above. And yet the bloggers here want “a place at the table.” Well, “extensive effort” is what will get people a “place at the table.” It is what makes their opinions worthwhile. Essentially, the above conversation is analogous to an arm-chair quarterback who occasionally plays catch in the backyard with his drinking buddies and then complains that he cannot play in the Superbowl.

    And I don’t think it is “silly to comment on a blog” and never posted any such. I do think it is silly to read a few online commentaries from denialist bloggers and then come here believing one is up on the science.

    For instance: Do you really, truly, honestly think netdr has discovered something that somehow slipped by the professional scientists working on AGW? Really?! Do you honestly think, if he put this before a panel of scientists, they would scratch their heads, shrug their shoulders, and denounce global climate change? You’re not a dumb guy, Paul, but you clearly have a one-dimensional thought pattern when we get into the atmosphere. I suspect it is tied to an extremely conservative mind-bent, as with Ted and Mr. Meyer himself.

    The consequences are potentially very serious. And yet you want to quarterback from an armchair. It is a very simple concept, but I’ll make it even simpler: Mann was correct, and you just helped to prove him so.

  • Waldo to Ted the funniest damn engineer ever

    And by the way, I would stifle no form of expression—you just engineered yourself a strawman. I would, however, feel free to express my own thoughts on any matter, just as you clearly do. And I question your thoughts. That is what I am doing here at this blog.

  • pauld

    Waldo: Congratulations! You finally said something interesting. In responding I would first note that you assume that my views on climate science are outside the scientific mainstream. I disagree.
    If you look at the first post on this thread I describe various positions in the climate debate. The key issue in the climate debate is climate sensitivity—how will the climate respond to a doubling of CO2. According the IPCC climate sensitivity is subject to a wide range of uncertainty. I agree.
    I consider myself a luke-warmer. I believe that climate sensitivity will likely fall in the low range of what the IPCC identifies as reasonable. The alarmists believe that climate sensitivity will likely fall in the high end of the IPCC range. If the alarmists are in the mainstream I don’t see how you can argue that I am outside of the mainstream. I’ll need an argument to convince me that I am not. I would also note that Warren’s position is similar to mine as I understand him.
    Regarding uncertainty in climate science, Michael Hulme, a climate scientist who is squarely in the warmest camp said it well here:

    “Yes, science has clearly revealed that humans are influencing global climate and will continue to do so, but we don’t know the full scale of the risks involved, nor how rapidly they will evolve, nor indeed—with clear insight—the relative roles of all the forcing agents involved at different scales. ”…..71336.html

    I would note that the issues he describes as uncertain are where the disagreements lie between the luke-warmers and the alarmists.

    Any attempt to estimate climate-sensitivity involves a far-ranging discussion so for this comment I would like to limit my discussion to where I have the most doubts about the warmist’s position. Can high climate sensitivity be reconciled with the observable modern temperature record?

    According to the UAH temperature record, the current 30 year trend in temperatures is +0.13 C per decade. http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpr…..uary-2012/ . You can choose any other temperature time-series and obtain a roughly similar result. Moreover, all the temperature time-series have been flat over the past decade or more. Finally, it is well documented that the most recent IPCC multi-model mean forecasts predicts substantially more warming than has actually been observed. In short, I would expect to see more warming if climate sensitivity is at the high end.

    Now I am certainly aware that the warmists have various explanations—the cooling effect of aerosols, the possibility that we are observing transient warming with more heat in the pipeline, and the possibility that the heat is hiding unobserved in the deep ocean. In my mind, however, these explanations read like ad hoc excuses that start with the premise of high climate sensitivity and then seek to explain the lack of warming.

    What I would like to see are papers that really make a convincing case that these explanations are valid, built from the ground up without any assumptions about climate sensitivity. I am not a climate scientist and do no not claim to be aware of all the literature. It is here that pointing out any gaps in my knowledge would be useful in moving me from the luke-warm camp to the warmist camp.

  • Notice how Waldo always avoid discussing the water vapour issue. It’s central to the catastrophic view of global warming theory. Without it, there is no catastrophe. If there is no increasing water vapour trend in the atmosphere, the IPCC model ensemble cannot be making accurate forecasts. You don’t have to be a genius to work this out. The Waldo’s of the world never discuss this. It’s always evasion, insults and misdirection. You will see the same pattern everywhere when you try to engage on this topic with Believers.

  • Waldo to Paul

    I read your designations upstairs with some interest, Paul. You’ve created an interesting and, I’m sure, astute hierarchy. And I’m glad you thought I finally said something interesting—I’m not sure what I posted that prompted the 4:06pm comment, but this too I read with some interest. You’ve made some interesting observations about the “mainstream” and so on.

    Is there something you’d like me to respond to? Do you want to move to the warmest camp or not? Some paths a man must walk alone, and I suspect this is one of them.

    And if you are looking for papers, what are you doing at CS? You will not find anything of that nature here. May I suggest Ebscohost or Science or Nature or even Real Climate. CS is dedicated to politicizing climate science.

  • Waldo to Will

    Why would you like to discuss the water vapor issue with me? I’m not a scientist. I don’t have the knowledge base to discuss water vapor and would have nothing interesting or insightful to say on the subject.

    So I have the same sort of question for you that I have for Paul: If you want to discuss water vapor, what are you doing here?

    Real Climate will discuss the issue with you—those folks have the qualifications and the data. They also have a search field where you can do a search on “humidity” and “water vapor.” Or, like Paul, you can find a library with an Ebscohost database which, I’m sure, would yield much more intelligent things to say than I could.

  • Waldo

    By the way, I posted netdr’s comment about water vapor to the Real Climate open thread. They are not always prompt about responding, but we can wait and see if there is a response from that part of the blogosphere.

  • Respondes to netdr’s observations thus far

    [Response: Water vapour hasn’t gone down. The chart you have been pointed at is a model result from the original NCEP reanalysis. Changes in what data are assimilated into that system over time, and changes in the quality of the radiosondes has created a false and non-climatic trend. In newer and more sophisticated reanalyses, this effect is not seen (rather the opposite is seen), and that is coherent with direct measurements – at the surface, via satellite and in the upper troposphere. People who show you this without mentioning any of the rest are guilty of serious misrepresentation. Take the rest of what they say with a great pinch of salt. – gavin]
    dbostrom says:
    14 Mar 2012 at 7:36 PM

    “Since water vapor has gone down since 1950 the theory must be wrong mustn’t it ?

    A favorite. Try What does the full body of evidence tell us about humidity and/or Climate cherry pickers: Falling humidity
    Kevin McKinney says:
    14 Mar 2012 at 7:54 PM

    #340–Well, probably someone more knowledgeable will have something to say about this, but in the meantime–

    First, water vapor is just one feedback, but it is definitely a major one.

    So–note that the bottom curve seems to have rising relative humidity, while the upper one has falling? And the middle one seems to fall early, then stabilize? Those curves, as the legend makes plain, show the evolution of relative humidity over time at different altitudes in the atmosphere. The bottom is near surface–the air you and I breathe–the top is around 9 km, and the middle curve is somewhere, well, in the middle.

    Guess where the mass of the atmosphere is concentrated?

    Right–near the ground, in the near-surface layer. So the rising trend in the lower curve is going to represent much more water vapor added to the atmosphere than the declining top curve represents as leaving it.

    Now, a proper analysis of this would involve actually doing the sums, not ‘eyeballing it’ as I’ve done here. You’ll find that the pros have done that–unlike your unmannerly interlocutor. Perhaps someone has a specific reference? I’d look, but I’ve got to go see if the noodles are done yet.

    (Yes, really.)

  • Ted Rado


    You mean you feel free to express yourself on any matter WITHOUT “PEE-R REVIEW”? Why doesn’t everyone else have that same priveledge? The purpose of these blogs is to have a forum for free exchnge of views. I have endeavored to accompany mine with calcs and analysis. I am hoping to solicit a response showing that I made a mistake, or that there is some other likely explanantion. Merely stating that I or anyone else is out of step with the “experts” so I must be wrong is not a valid criticism.

    It is interesting that the Germans and others are now starting to realize what they have gotten themselves into with their CO2 reduction program. They are shutting down thir nuclear plants at the same time the shortcomings of wind and solar are becoming apparent. They will have to build coal fired plants to replace the nukes and for wind/solar standby. All this could have been (and indeed was) figured out long before the politicians and enviroloonies started playing energy expert.

    I believe I am speaking for many on this blog when I say that we are simply pointing out what Warren has so well summarized: The AGW theory is still uncertain and is not a good reason to screw everything up.

  • It’s real simple Waldo, but I will type it out slowly for you. IPCC climate models assume increased water vapour over time. That’s about 2/3rds of the total warming expected from them if the middle range of their forecasts are likely to happen. If you measure the water vapour content of the atmosphere and it’s not changing or going down, then the theory has a major problem right there.

    We already know you don’t have “knowledge”, “insight” and having noting “interesting or insightful” to say [about the science]. You don’t need to point that out. That’s obvious from what you write here. That’s also why your posts are packed with logical fallacies: misdirection, poisoning the well, ad hominem insults, arguments from authority, etc. If you had something intelligent to say, I’d be inclined to suspect you’d say it. 😉

  • Waldo

    Why are you telling me, Will? As you can see over your head, they are discussing this very subject over at Real Climate. I, at least, am willing to admit my limitations; you should be willing too.

    And please Will, it’s not a good idea for you to play the “say something intelligent” card.

  • Waldo Rado

    Back to blaming the politicians, I see; the Germans, however, are new.

    I am totally into expressing one’s opinions, but I am always confused here—I thought people wanted to discuss science. Why don’t you go someplace where you can really get good feedback on your “calcs,” Ted? There is virtually nothing like that here.

  • netdr


    If the graph of water vapor is wrong show me a post of a correct one.

    There was no model involved in these measurements.

    Where did you get that idea?

    If water vapor has gone down the theory of amplification is surely wrong !

  • netdr

    So where is this graph of actual water vapor going up.

    Perhaps Gavin is still drawing it ?

  • Waldo Rado

    Why are you asking me, netdr? The thread at RC is an open one. I think they’d love to hear from you. Go ask them. They make it sound like you don’t really understand what you are seeing. Don’t you want to set them straight. You’ve been talking pretty tough here, and you like to remind me that I am no scientist (something I’ve never denied)—now it’s time to put up.

    Unless you are faking it here.

    Truly, you mystify me.

  • Waldo Rado

    It suddenly occurred to me—in case you didn’t understand what you were reading above—I cut and pasted your 3/13, 7:36 comment over on the open thread at Real Climate.

    What you are reading above are their verbatim responses to your comment.

    Apparently the chart you cited is actually the result of a model. Quote: “The chart you have been pointed at is a model result from the original NCEP reanalysis.” Did you realize that?

  • Waldo Rado is saddened and amused

    OMG U R a funny bunch, the whole bloody lot of U.

  • With regard to limitations Waldo, if you’re too ignorant to use your own brain, don’t assume others must be as ignorant as you. The world is full of ‘experts’ who turn out to be idiots. And BTW, I believe the greenhouse effect is real, that the planet has warmed, and that humans contribute to warming. So I’m as much a part of that 97% consensus you love to cite. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think you’re full of shit. 🙂

  • pauld

    There is a nice review of the evidence regarding water vapor feedback here, which is discussed by Pielkie,  Sr here:

    Vonder Haar,  who develops the NVAP series is quoted:

    “We have most definitely never said the preliminary NVAP data show a negative trend and anyone who does is making a false scientific statement. All we can say at present is that the preliminary NVAP data, according to the Null Hypothesis, cannot disprove a trend in global water vapor either positive or negative”

  • pauld

    Here is a nice back and forth discussion between Pielke’s Sr. and Andrew Dessler on water vapor feedback. Both agree that the IPCC models are based on a strong-positive water vapor feedback. Pielke agrues that most of the future warming in the models is coming from water vapor and cloud feedbacks but that currently the observational evidence for these feedbacks is not yet very strong, let alone evidence for a net positive feedback.

  • pauld

    Below is a nice back and forth discussion between Pielke’s Sr. and Andrew Dessler on water vapor feedback. Both agree that the IPCC models are based on a strong-positive water vapor feedback. Pielke agrues that most of the future warming in the models is coming from water vapor and cloud feedbacks but that currently the observational evidence for these feedbacks is not yet very strong, let alone evidence for a net positive feedback.
    The discussion starts here:
    Andrew Dessler responds in a follow up and Pielke, Sr. then responds again. You can follow the links, but Warren’s spam filter will not let me post all of them.

  • PaulD

    Gavin quoted above from realclimate said:

    “The chart you have been pointed at is a model result from the original NCEP reanalysis. Changes in what data are assimilated into that system over time, and changes in the quality of the radiosondes has created a false and non-climatic trend. In newer and more sophisticated reanalyses, this effect is not seen (rather the opposite is seen), and that is coherent with direct measurements – at the surface, via satellite and in the upper troposphere.”

    I was curious that Gavin did not provide any links to the updated analysis so I went to the NVAP website to see whether Peter Van Vonder Haar, who develops the NVAP series had updated his position from the quote I cited above:

    “We have most definitely never said the preliminary NVAP data show a negative trend and anyone who does is making a false scientific statement. All we can say at present is that the preliminary NVAP data, according to the Null Hypothesis, cannot disprove a trend in global water vapor either positive or negative”

    I found this at his website.

    “Project Status
    November, 2011:

    The NVAP-M team recently released a preliminary Beta Test Version of the dataset to selected users with significant experience using water vapor data. Feedback from these users will be implemented in the final version of the dataset, due in the NASA Langley Atmospheric Science Data Center (ASDC) in May 2012. As part of the Beta Test data release, two posters describing the dataset and its construction were presented at the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) Open Science Conference, held October 24-28 in Denver, CO.”