The Inferior Methods in Supran and Oreskes 2017

In the previous post I looked at one aspect of the article Assessing ExxonMobil’s Climate Change Communications (1977–2014) by Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes. I concluded the basis for evaluation of ExxonMobil’s sponsored climate papers – “AGW is real, human-caused, serious, and solvable” –  is a mantra held by people who fail to distinguish between empirical and verifiable statements, tautologies, opinions and public policy that requires some fanciful global political implementation. In this post I look at how the application of that mantra in analyzing journal articles can lead to grossly misleading interpretations.

Under Section 2. Method, in Table 2 the authors lay out their criteria evaluation in terms of how the wording supports (endorses) or doubts elements of the mantra. For AGW is real & human-caused there are quite complex criteria. But for whether it is “serious” and “solvable” they are much more straightforward, and I have reproduced them below.

The acknowledgment or doubt of “AGW as serious” or “AGW as solvable” are in relation to the mantra. That is the only criteria used. Supran and Oreskes would claim that this does not matter. What they are looking at is the positions communicated in the papers relative to the positions expressed by ExxonMobil externally. But there are problems with this methodology in terms of alternative perspectives that are missing.

First is that the underlying quality and clarity of results and relevancy of each paper is ignored. What matters to Supran and Oreskes is the language used.

Second is that ExxonMobil’s papers are not the only research on whether “AGW is real, human-caused, serious, and solvable”. The authors could also take into account the much wider body of papers out there within the broad areas covered by the mantra.

Third, if the totality of the research – whether ExxonMobil’s or the totality of climate research – does not amount to a strong case for anthropogenic global warming being a serious global problem, and nor having a workable solution, why should they promote politicized delusions?

Put this into the context of ExxonMobil – one of the World’s most successful businesses over decades – by applying some of the likely that it would use in assessing a major project or major strategic investment. For instance

  • How good is the evidence that there is a serious problem on a global scale emerging from human GHG emissions?
  • How strong is the evidence that humans have caused the recent warming?
  • Given many years of research, what is the track record of improving the quality and refinement of the output in the climate area?
  • What quality controls and KPIs are in place to enable both internal and external auditors to validate the work?
  • Where projections are made, what checks on the robustness of those projections have been done?
  • Where economic projections are produced, have they been done by competent mainstream economists, what are the assumptions made, and what sensitivity analyses have been done on those assumptions?
  • Does the project potentially harm investors, employees, customers and other stakeholders in the business? Where are the risk assessments of such potential harms, along with the procedures for the reporting and investigation of non-compliances?
  • Does a proposed project risk contravening laws and internal procedures relating to bribery and corruption?
  • Once a project is started, is it possible to amend that project over time or even abandon it should it fail to deliver? What are the contractual clauses that enable project amendment or abandonment and the potential costs of doing so?

Conclusions and further thoughts

Supran and Oreskes evaluate the ExxonMobil articles for AGW and policy in terms of a belief mantra applied to a small subset of the literature on the subject. Each article is looked at independently of from all other articles and indeed all other available information. Further any legitimate argument or evidence that undermines the mantra is evidence of doubt. It is all throwing the onus on ExxonMobil to disprove the allegations, but never for Supran and Oreskes justify their mantra or their method of analysis is valid.

There are some questions arising from this, that I hope to pursue in later posts.

1. Is the method of analysis just a means of exposing ExxonMobil’s supposed hypocrisy by statistical means, or does it stem from a deeply flawed and ideological way of perceiving the world, that includes trying to shut out the wider realities of the real world, basic logic and other competing (and possibly superior) perspectives?

2. Whatever spread of misinformation and general hypocrisy might be shown on the part of ExxonMobil from more objective and professional perspectives, is there not greater misinformation sown by the promoters of the “climate consensus“?

3. Can any part of the mantra “AGW is real, human-caused, serious, and solvable” be shown to be false in the real world, beyond reasonable doubt?

Kevin Marshall


Supran and Oreskes on ExxonMobils Communication of Climate Change

Over at Cliscep, Geoff Chambers gave a rather bitter review (with foul language) about a new paper, Assessing ExxonMobil’s Climate Change Communications (1977–2014) by Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes.
One point that I would like to explore is part of a quote Geoff uses:-

The issue at stake is whether the corporation misled consumers, shareholders and/or the general public by making public statements that cast doubt on climate science and its implications, and which were at odds with available scientific information and with what the company knew. We stress that the question is not whether ExxonMobil ‘suppressed climate change research,’ but rather how they communicated about it.

It is the communication of climate science by a very powerful oil company, that the paper concentrates upon. The approach reveals a lot about the Climate Change movement as well. In particular, this statement in the introduction:-

Research has shown that four key points of understanding about AGW—that it is real, human-caused, serious, and solvable—are important predictors of the public’s perceived issue seriousness, affective issue involvement, support for climate policies, and political activism [62–66].

The references are as follows

[62] Krosnick J A, Holbrook A L, Lowe L and Visser P S 2006 The origins and consequences of democratic citizens’ policy agendas: a study of popular concern about global warming Clim. Change 77 7–43
[63] Ding D, Maibach E W, Zhao X, Roser-Renouf C and Leiserowitz A 2011 Support for climate policy and societal action are linked to perceptions about scientific agreement Nat. Clim. Change 1 462–6
[64] Roser-Renouf C, Maibach E W, Leiserowitz A and Zhao X 2014 The genesis of climate change activism: from key beliefs to political action Clim. Change 125 163–78
[65] Roser-Renouf C, Atkinson L, Maibach E and Leiserowitz A 2016 The consumer as climate activist Int. J. Commun. 10 4759–83
[66] van der Linden S L, Leiserowitz A A, Feinberg G D and Maibach E W 2015 The scientific consensus on climate change as a gateway belief: experimental evidence PLoS One 10 e0118489

For the purposes of Supran and Oreskes study, the understanding that people have does not require any substance at all beyond beliefs. For instance, the Jehovah Witness Sect developing an “understanding” that Armageddon would occur in 1975. This certainly affected their activities in the lead up to the momentous history-ending event. Non-believers or members of the Christian Church may have been a little worried, shrugged their shoulders, or thought the whole idea ridiculous. If similar studies to those on climate activism had been conducted on the prophecy of Armageddon 1975, similar results could have been found to those quoted for AGW beliefs in references 62-66. That is, the stronger the belief in the cause, whether religious evangelism in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or ideological environmentalism in the case of AGW, is a predictor of activism in support of the cause. They cannot go further because of an issue with scholarly articles. Claims made must be substantiated, something that cannot be done with respect to the prophesies of climate catastrophism, except in a highly nuanced form.
But the statement that AGW is “real, human-caused, serious, and solvable” – repeated five times in the article – indicates something about the activists understanding of complex issues.
AGW is real” is not a proper scientific statement, as it is not quantified. Given that the impacts on surface temperatures can muffled and delayed nearly indefinitely by natural factors, or swallowed by the oceans, the belief can be independent of any contrary evidence for decades to come.
AGW is human-caused”, is saying “Human-caused global warming is human-caused”. It is a tautology that tells us nothing about the real world.
AGW is serious” is an opinion. It may be a very widely-held opinion, with many articles written with confirming evidence, and many concerned people attending massive conferences where it is discussed. But without clear evidence for emerging net adverse consequences, the opinion is largely unsubstantiated.
AGW is solvable” could be whether it is theoretically solvable, given the technology and policies being implemented. But the statement also includes whether it is politically solvable, getting actual policies to reduce emissions fully implemented. If the “solution” is the reduction of global emissions to a level commensurate with 2C of warming (hence a partial solution), then COP21 in Paris shows that AGW is a long way from being solvable, with no actual solution in sight. Whereas the 2C limit requires global emissions to be lower in 2030 than in 2015, and falling rapidly, fully implemented policies would still see emissions higher in 2030 than in 2015 and still increasing.

The statement AGW is “real, human-caused, serious, and solvable” is, therefore, nothing more than a mantra held by people who fail to distinguish between empirical and verifiable statements, tautologies, opinions and public policy that requires some fanciful global political implementation. 

Kevin Marshall

Failed Arctic Sea Ice predictions illustrates Degenerating Climatology

The Telegraph yesterday carried an interesting article. Telegraph Experts said Arctic sea ice would melt entirely by September 2016 – they were wrong

Dire predictions that the Arctic would be devoid of sea ice by September this year have proven to be unfounded after latest satellite images showed there is far more now than in 2012.
Scientists such as Prof Peter Wadhams, of Cambridge University, and Prof Wieslaw Maslowski, of the Naval Postgraduate School in Moderey, California, have regularly forecast the loss of ice by 2016, which has been widely reported by the BBC and other media outlets.

In June, Michel at Trustyetverify blog traced a number of these false predictions. Michel summarized

(H)e also predicted until now:
• 2008 (falsified)
• 2 years from 2011 → 2013 (falsified)
• 2015 (falsified)
• 2016 (still to come, but will require a steep drop)
• 2017 (still to come)
• 2020 (still to come)
• 10 to 20 years from 2009 → 2029 (still to come)
• 20 to 30 years from 2010 → 2040 (still to come).

The 2016 prediction is now false. Paul Homewood has been looking at Professor Wadhams’ failed prophesies in a series of posts as well.

The Telegraph goes on to quote from three, more moderate, sources. One of them is :-

Andrew Shepherd, professor of earth observation at University College London, said there was now “overwhelming consensus” that the Arctic would be free of ice in the next few decades, but warned earlier predictions were based on poor extrapolation.
“A decade or so ago, climate models often failed to reproduce the decline in Arctic sea ice extent revealed by satellite observations,” he said.
“One upshot of this was that outlier predictions based on extrapolation alone were able to receive wide publicity.
“But climate models have improved considerably since then and they now do a much better job of simulating historical events.
This means we have greater confidence in their predictive skill, and the overwhelming consensus within the scientific community is that the Arctic Ocean will be effectively free of sea ice in a couple of decades should the present rate of decline continue.

(emphasis mine)

Professor Shepard is saying that the shorter-term (from a few months to a few years) highly dire predictions have turned out to be false, but improved techniques in modelling enable much more sound predictions over 25-50 years to be made. That would require a development on two dimensions – scale and time. Detecting a samll human-caused change over decades needs far greater skill in differentiating from natural variations on a year-by-year time scale from a dramatic shift. Yet it would appear that at the end of the last century there was a natural upturn following from an unusually cold period in the 1950s to the 1970s, as documented by HH Lamb. This resulted in an extension in the sea ice. Detection of the human influence problem is even worse if the natural reduction in sea ice has worked concurrently with that human influence. However, instead of offering us demonstrated increased technical competency in modelling (as opposed to more elaborate models), Professor Shepard offers us the consensus of belief that the more moderate predictions are reliable.
This is a clear example of degenerating climatology that I outlined in last year. In particular, I proposed that rather than progressive climate science – increasing scientific evidence and more rigorous procedures for tighter hypotheses about clear catastrophic anthropogenic global warming – we have degenerating climatology, which is ever weaker and vaguer evidence for some global warming.

If Professor Wadhams had consistently predicted the lack of summer sea ice for a set time period, then it would be strong confirmation of a potentially catastrophic problem. Climatology would have scored a major success. Even if instead of ice-free summers by now, there had been evidence of clear acceleration in the decline in sea ice extent, then it could have been viewed as some progression. But instead we should accept a consensus of belief that will only be confirmed or refuted decades ahead. The interpretation of success or failure. will then, no doubt, be given to the same consensus who were responsible for the vague predictions in the first place.

Kevin Marshall

Hiroshima Bombs of Heat Accumulation – Skeptical Science reversing scientific reality

Skeptical Science blog has a little widget that counts the heat the climate has accumulated since 1998 in terms of Hiroshima Atomic Bombs.

One the first uses of the Hiroshima bomb analogy was by stalwart Dana Nuccitelli, in the Guardian.

The rate of heat building up on Earth over the past decade is equivalent to detonating about 4 Hiroshima atomic bombs per second. Take a moment to visualize 4 atomic bomb detonations happening every single second.

But what does this mean in actual heat energy? I did a search, and found out the estimated heat generated by the Hiroshima bomb was about 63TJ, or terra joules, or 63 x 1012 joules. A quick calculation reveals the widget actually uses 62TJ, so I will use that lower value. It is a huge number. The energy was sufficient to kill over 100,000 people, cause horrific injuries to many more, and destroying every building within a large radius of the blast site. Yet in the last 17 years the climate system has accumulated over two billion times that energy.

Most of that energy goes into the oceans, so I was curious to estimate the impact that phenomenal heat accumulation would have on the average temperature of the oceans. Specifically, how long would it take to heat the oceans by 1oC.

The beauty of metric measurements is that weight and volume are combined all around the unit of water. I will ignore the slight differences due to the impurities of sea water for this exercise.

The metric unit of energy, a joule, is not quite so easy to relate to water. The old British thermal unit is better, being the quantity of energy sufficient to raise a pound of water through 1oF. Knowing that 1lb=454g, 1.8oF = 1oC and 1btu ≈ 1055J, means that about 4.2 joules is the energy sufficient to raise 1 gram of water the one degree.

So the Hiroshima bomb had the energy to raise (62 x 1012)/4.2 ≈ 15 x 1012 grams of water through one degree.

That is 15 x 109 kilos (litres) of water, or 15 x 106 tonnes (cubic metres) of water. That is the volume of a lake of 1 kilometre in area, with an average depth of 15 metres.

The largest lake in England is Lake Windermere, which has approximately a volume of 1 cubic kilometre of water, or 1 billion tonnes of water. (The biggest freshwater lake in the United Kingdom by volume is Loch Ness, with about 9 km3 of water.)

It would take the power of 67 Hiroshima bombs to heat Lake Windermere by 1 degree. Or the oceans are accumulating heat at a rate that would the temperature of this lake by one degree in 16.67 seconds.

Although Lake Windermere can look quite large when standing on its shoreline, it is tiny in relative to the Great Lakes, let alone the oceans of the world. With a total area of about 360,000,000 km2, and an average depth of at least 3000 metres, the oceans have a volume of about 1,080,000,000 km3, or contain 108 x 1018 tonnes of water. If all the heat absorbed by the global climate system since 1998 went into the oceans, it would about 18 billion seconds to raise average ocean temperature by 1oC. That is 5,000,000 hours or 208,600 days or 570 years.

Here I am slightly exaggerating the warming rate. The UNIPCC estimates that only 93% of the warming from extra heat absorbed by the climate system was absorbed by the oceans.

But have I got this wrong by a huge margin? The standard way of stating the warming rates – used by the UNIPCC – is in degrees centigrade per decade. This is the same metric that is used for average surface temperatures. Warming of one degree in 570 years becomes 0.0175°C/decade. In Chapter 3 of the UNIPCC AR5 Working Group 1 Report, Figure 3.3 (a) on page 263 is the following.

The ocean below about 1000 metres, or more than two-thirds of the water volume, is warming at a rate less than 0.0175°C/decade. This may be an overstatement. Below 2000 metres, average water temperature rise is around 0.005°C/decade, or 1oC of temperature rise every 2000 years.

The energy of four Hiroshima bombs a second is trivial on a global scale. It causes an amount of temperature change that is barely measurable on a year-on-year basis.

There are two objectives that I believe Skeptical Science team try achieving with their little widget.

The first objective is to reverse people’s perception of reality. Nuclear explosions are clearly seen by everybody. You do not have to be an expert to detect it if you are within a thousand miles of the detonation. Set one off anywhere in the world, even deep underground, and sensitive seismic detectors will register the event from the other side of the globe. Rejection of the evidence of a blast can only be on the basis of clear bias or lying.

But trying to measure changes of thousands of a degree in the unimaginable vastness of the oceans, with changes in the currents and seasonal changes as well is not detectable with a single instrument, or even thousands of such instruments. It requires careful collation and aggregation of the data, with computer modelling filling in the gaps. Small biases in the modelling techniques, whether known or unknown, due to technical reasons or through desiring to get a particular result, will be more crucial than accuracy of the instruments. Even without these issues, there is the small matter of using ten years of good quality data, and longer periods of sparser and lower quality data, to determine underlying trends and the causes of it. Understanding of the nature of the data measurement issue puts the onus on anyone claiming the only possible answer to substantiate those claims.

The second objective is to replace a very tiny change in the very short period for which we have data, into a perception of a scientifically-validated catastrophic problem in the present. Whether it is a catastrophic problem relies on the projections of climate models.

It is easy to see why Skeptical Science needs this switch in the public perception of reality. True understanding of climate heat accumulation means awareness of the limits and the boundaries of our current knowledge. That requires a measure of humility and recognition of when existing knowledge is undermined. It is an inter-disciplinary subject that could result in a whole range of results of equal merit. It does not accord with their polarized vision of infallible enlightened scientists against a bunch of liars and ignoramuses who get nothing right.

Kevin Marshall

Answering Michael the Realist

The summary conclusion I reach from this posting is

Cherry-picking is being selective, to confirm one’s prejudices. To use all the available data is (according to Michael) the sign of a true skeptic. So (a) Michael is right, therefore wrong (b) Michael is wrong, therefore right (c) Michael contradicts himself. I cannot think of any other logical category.

One of the issues I find with the blogs on climate, and particularly with many of the comments, is that many believe that the arguments hinge on a single piece of data, or on the weight of opinion. There is also a lot of denigration of others but no substantiation. The reason I chose “Michael the Realist” was because he was trolling Jo Nova’s blog, whingeing that nobody would answer his ridiculous points, which were totally out of context with the theme. When I do a search on “Michael the Realist”, in one posting I get 37 hits out of 297 comments. This understates the way he sought to hijack the debate. A couple of comments he made are at the foot, with comments by Joanne Nova

My subsequent postings with direct answers to his questions met with no acknowledgement that I may have anything useful. I fully realise that I could be fundamentally wrong somewhere, or rejecting good strong arguments for superficial reasons. Climate is an enormously complex issue. The study of climate is an applied science, requiring drawing upon a range of skills from a variety of areas. I have therefore listed, and explained, the fundamental issues that climate science ignores. It is from the study of the philosophy of science, economics, econometrics, accountancy, and history. I also draw analogies with principles of trial by jury in English Common Law. Over hundreds of years there has developed principles for establishing whether a claim is proven beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution. The people that need convincing are ordinary people. It is an analogy that the PR people should draw upon.

The fundamental issues are listed below. In some cases I will refer to only the letter for brevity.

A Positive and Normative

B Boundary conditions

C Open and closed questions

D Trivial v. Non-trivial

E Quality

F False Positives and False Negatives

G Relevancy and significance

H Necessary and Sufficient

I Levels of evidence

J Values of the Legal Process in Reverse

K Underdetermination Thesis

L Vulnerability

M The Null Hypothesis

To retain the flow I will post my previous comments in orange, and Michaels in green. New comments are in black. This exchange took place here and here.

  1. Your so called “proof” of AGW is lacking something. It has data on the alleged effect (C20th warming), but no data on the alleged cause – human greenhouse gas emissions. Do you agree?

    No. It is warming, this fits the theory of AGW as greenhouse gas emissions are increasing K. Natural factors are examined and cannot be the cause. All other predictions of AGW caused warming are also occurring, including falling ph in the oceans D, melting Arctic D, falling global ice volume D, rising sea levels D, increasing extreme weather especially floods D, heat waves D and droughts D and much more. Also
    F applies to weather trends.

    There is no other plausable explanation put forward that I have seen yet.

  2. Above I show there is no apparent link between C20th CO2 emissions and the pattern of warming.

    That is incorrect. C CO2 emission have been increasing and temps have been rising, plus all the other observations. Both rose in the C20th, but I claim that “the relationship of CO2 emissions to average temperature is weak.” I look beyond the simplistic statement, and Michael does not.

  3. If I used HADCRUT4 or GISSTEMP, the fit would be closer, but still have anomalies.

    The trend with GISS, even against the satelites is the same. So unless Michael is claiming that HADCRUT4 and GISSTEMP is the same as HADCRUT3 (thus contradicting his earlier claim that HADCRUT3 was out of date), then they are only the same in an unscientific, cherry-picking sort of way. So there are three option here. First, we trust the Michael who says HADCRUT3 is out-of-date and thus inferior to HADCRUT4 and GISSTEMP. Second, we trust the Michael who says HADCRUT3 gives the same results as HADCRUT4 and GISSTEMP. Third we conclude that Michael does not know what he is talking about.

  4. Pages 2K shows considerable natural fluctuations, including two previous warm periods in the last 2000 years. Maybe not as much at in Esper et al 2012 (published in Nature), but there nonetheless. In the absence of an accurate and clear method of deciphering the human signal from the natural signal, it is easier to assert that C20th warming was predominantly due to natural factors, than >100% due to human factors. (The AR4 of 2007 had aerosols as offsetting much of the GHG effect.)

    Natural factors do indeed exist, but just because we have less information about past natural factors than present ones does not nullify how much we know about present ones. G, I, L, M Most significant natural factors that we can measure and are currently aware of since the 50′s have been cooling. (Unsubstantiated claim) . Also the 2001 to 2010 decade, the hottest on the instrumental record, has been significantle in the grip of cooling la ninas and falling solar. (Unsubstantiated claim) Despite that it is still hotter than the previous decade with predominantly warming el ninos. (Answered here, which Michael has not contradicted) This is the proof that you are wrong, I even skeptic scientists expected it to cool by now. It is not cooling because it is being overwhelmed by greenhouse gas warming.

  5. Given that the GISSTEMP shows much a greater warming spurt in the late C20th than the second half, and that most the extreme rise is in the Northern Hemisphere (especially the Arctic), is it not surprising that the Pages 2K proxies have most of the Arctic and European warming in the early C20th, with little warming thereafter?

    The fastest warming is in the second half, with .5 degree rise snce the 50′s. Repeats what I said about GISSTEMP, but does not engage with the significant bit – that the Pages2K temperature reconstruction contradicts the GISSTEMP temperature record. Pages2K (Michael promotes) appears more in line with HADCRUT3 (Michael rejects as being out-of-date) than GISSTEMP (Michael promotes).

  6. Given a lack of comment to the contrary, you accept that your claims about hottest decades is not evidence against warming having stopped. Rather it is what Stephen Lewandowsky terms “misinformation”.

    No, as I have pointed out, when you take all the science, information and data into account, it is clearly still warming. That statement only works if all your (lack of) science comes from an eyeball look at a cherry picked portion of a graph out of context and ignoring all other data. People, like David Whitehouse of the GWPF, have looked at the surface temperature over the last 15 years or so and found there is no statistically significant warming. Even Nature Climate Change has a peer-reviewed paper showing that the recent warming over the last 20 years is a lot less than the climate models predicted, and agrees that no significant warming in the last 15 years. (see quote in Appendix 2) Note the difference in the periods of the last two sentences. It is a matter of degree. So Michael falls foul of H and I, as established in the peer-reviewed science. Will Lewandowsky and Cook (a) now acknowledge that one of their own spreads “misinformation” (b) declare “Michael the Realist” an outsider (c) duck the issue and implicitly deny that somebody who agrees with the “science” could be more of an “eccentric” than some of the skeptic scientists.

  7. That your definition of “Skeptic” is completely at odds with the premier dictionary of the English Language.

    I use skeptic to be kind and because if I use the term that more accurately describes your behavour I get fake indignation. I actually believe myself to be the skeptic as I look at all the data and information with an open mind. This referred to Michael’s definition of “skeptic” here and my follow-up here. The definition he used was

    A true skeptic is somebody who looks at all the data, science and observations and makes rational and logical determinations on that…

    So Michael does use the term skeptic to refer not to me, but himself. Despite being pointed to the definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary, he still persists in promoting a falsity.

Also from the same comment.

On Correlations

This pearl of wisdom from Michael.

Even your graph above shows fairly good correlation with CO2 and temperature.

Correlations are obtained from running statistical tests against the numbers. It is purely obtained from eyeballing the data – which anybody who understood data would not do. If Michael, the self-proclaimed expert on climate science, wants to run the appropriate correlations, and report on whether they are “good” or not by the appropriate statistical tests, then I will provide them with the data. I will also provide the Excel spreadsheets (raw data and adjusted data) to anybody else who requests it. They can then run this data for CO2 emissions against any temperature set they see fit. It will not be easy, as the test is for a non-linear, time-series correlation. As such a battery of tests are required.

Michael’s opener on my blog is

Your cherry picking again. Your use of hadcrut 3, a superseded non global data set is a dead giveaway and then choosing specific proxies that match your confirmation bias.

I went to CO2, where they summarize all the available proxies. From those that show estimates of average temperatures estimates since the medieval warm period, they produced this graph.

Cherry-picking is being selective, to confirm one’s prejudices. To use all the available data is (according to Michael) the sign of a true skeptic. So (a) Michael is right, therefore wrong (b) Michael is wrong, therefore right (c) Michael contradicts himself. I cannot think of any other logical category.

A couple of comments by “Michael the Realist”, with bold-type comments by Joanne Nova.

Michael the Realist August 25, 2013 at 5:57 pm · Reply

I also do not ignore responses. I hope you can appreciate that I work for a living and so by the time I get back on it is hard to work out whom has replied to whom and when. So keeping up is a huge issue. THere is one of me and I get attacked by 10+ of you guys. If someone would pay me then I could devote full time to this but I doubt that will happen. I reply to as many as possible.
I’m unpaid too. Do your research before you comment. – Jo

As to repetition, the main arguments from skeptics revolve around 3 areas.
1. There is no consensus, or there is a global conspriracy

[Dishonest or ignorant. This is not remotely a “main” argument. On this site almost everyone agree there is a consensus among climate scientists — the issue is that it’s meaningless. You pretend I talk about a conspiracy. Our main point is the empirical evidence. – jo

The post above with the list of scientific organisations puts those claims to bed. It is not feasable to maintain those views when organisations as far apart as China, US, Russia, Mexico, Peru, France, Canada, India, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Japan, Turkey etc, just to name a few all agree in the science of AGW.

[Consensus proves nothing about the atmosphere. It can be bought (with say $100 bn in science grants) or bullied or a genuine mistake from groupthink. Scientific consensus has been wrong many times before. Name which of these agencies actually surveyed it’s members? Ans None, apart from 2 or 3 surveys on tightly defined and annointed “climate scientists”. The other statements come from 6 – 8 activists in a committee in each group, are meaningless and have been protested by thousands of members of the major groups. I have covered all this over and over, you don’t respect us enough to read my site before arriving here to lecture us repeatedly on a topic we know better than you. – Jo]

2.The models are wrong
I avoid the models completely in discussions as I want to stick to the actual data and observations. The models are useful, and have been really accurate in many areas, because you cannot put the planet in a test tube, isolate variables and see what happens. But as I have pointed out many times, they are still just projections based on ceratin scenarios and reality is always going to be slightly different due to natural variations that are not completely predictable (like ENSO), lack of computing power and accuracy due to grid sizes, and the parameters like how much CO2 or aerosols emitted being different to that entered. The science is not based on the models, it is based on the physics, data and observations, and I make my points on those basis.

[The models are broken and even alarmists admit that now. They have not been accurate about anything that matters. This is blather you can’t back up. Read my “new Here” post. We agree with alarmists on physics, but not on feedbacks, you’ve been misled and are waging the wrong war. – Jo]

3. Warming stopped 16 years ago, or there is a pause etc.
This is answered by the fact that it is a dynamic system with natural and anthropogenic forcings and that even though there are many dips and pauses in the long term record the trend is up. I prove that the 2001 to 2010 decade was the hottest on record globally, over ocean, land and both hemispheres, and that every decade bar 1 in a hundred years has been hotter than the previous one. Using years in such a complicated system is deception becasue it has to many natural cycles to make judgements that way. I show the ENSO charts to prove that the current 13 years have been mainly la nina, but temperatures have not fallen and the period is still hotter than the decade with predominantly el ninos. I show skeptic scientists who have predicted cooling due to natural factors, but this has not occurred. This proves warming is occurring as it has overpowered natural factors. This has not been able to be explained away by your readers using any properly scientifically accepted theories and data. Is this why you are blocking me.

[Since I’ve published over 700 of your comments, will you apologize for dishonestly suggesting I am blocking you? _Jo]
[As as for the “pause” read my last comment again. Even if is still warming in the long term trend, the models are broken and the 300 years of warming does not correlate to CO2.- Jo]

As to the repetition, I would say that 90% of your posters postings are based around those 3 themes so the repetition is all here.

[You start and amplify these themes by posting 700 comments on exactly these points. That’s why commenters get so angry. You drive threads off topic and into these inane repetitious channels. Jo]

Obviously since I am using accepted sceince…

[You don’t know what science is. Logical fallacies are not “Science”. – Jo]

…and data my answers are not going to change. The posters will repeatedly not accept my answers and keep posting the same questions over and over and over again (Heywood especially but many others) Why are they not being moderated? If I have answered a question but asked it again how should I respond?

[Stop taking the threads off topic and repeating errors and you won’t get caught in the same loops. – Jo]

So I have valid answers to all queries that clearly point to a consensus

[Which means nothing in science… -Jo]

and clearly answers why there is a pause,

[Trenberth, Jones and Mann don’t know why there is a pause, if you do, you should write to them, quick, they need you! -Jo]

using previous periods is not proof of anything unless you can put forward measurements to show that natural factors were not the cause. Currently natural factors are not the cause, they can be measured and determined. That being the case, to promote delay and to not accept the science, for what I can presume are only ideological reasons, is not the right thing to do. There is more than enough evidence for concern and to justify action, until the science and the data start pointing the other way. The consequences are to severe.

Obviously being moderated this might not (likely) be posted, but I hope you actually read it and think about it. My only motivation is my kids and they do not deserve the short shrift they are getting in regards to the future planet we are leaving them.

[Your kids deserve better science – we’re happy to help them have a future with less corruption, better reasoning, and based on evidence – Jo]

Michael the Realist August 26, 2013 at 7:57 pm · Reply

Michael, I don’t want to moderate you or block you. I want you to learn what our basic position is so you can argue at a level commenters will enjoy. I want debate, and I want people to point out where we might be wrong, but repeating logical fallacies is too basic a level. Perhaps I should write an FAQ? _Jo

You still haven’t provided a working email address. You are now on the moderated list until you do

I have not been dishonest about questioning my blocking.

You’ve posted 700 comments repeating the same points many times. You have not been blocked. It’s dishonest to say you have.

I have been told that my address is false as I have not responded but I have responded many times, and you have replied. I work, check when I can, the replies come into the hundreds, I will scroll through trying to pick up which ones applied to me. It is easy to miss individual ones, your email does not come in special, it just looks like it is from the list.

Yes you work to but most of your posters do your work for you, I have many more responses to answer personally than you do.
Wow. That is some delusional framework you are creating there. Or perhaps you don’t read my posts? -Jo

My query above has been unable to be successfully answered with any firm science.

What query? I suspect there is no answer anyone could give you… – Jo

That is why they get angry, they cannot answer it. It is based on actual data and observations, not models. I attempt to be as polite as possible and I try to answer as much as possible, repetition comes from them asking me the same questions over and over and making the same complaints. Do you find Heywoods million questions on how much in deg c Australias emissions reductions will reduce temps? I don’t, it is not about one country or minute temps it is about global responsibility and consequences, thats what everybody is resonding to. Do you find blackadder throwing in vikings, without any references as an argument that disproves AGW? What about all the personal questions about why I have kids and drive a car? You say my questions are irrelevent to the science, do you ever question supporters?

[Yes I do. I send emails to commenters privately. Theirs works. They respond before they write another 14 comments. – Jo]

I am not sure what you are after now. Do you want me to go through point by point on your evidence list? Do you want it done on this thread or that one? Can you answer clearly where my logic above is wrong and prove it so that I can be secure in my childrens future?

Read your emails before you write comments asking for answers I have sent you.
PS No I don’t want to tutor you on any thread. 
Argument from authority is a logical fallacy known for 2300 years. It isn’t evidence about the climate.


Appendix 2 – The Nature Climate Change paper.

The inconsistency between observed and simulated global warming is even more striking for temperature trends computed over the past fifteen years (1998–2012).

For this period, the observed trend of 0.05 ± 0.08 °C per decade is more than four times smaller than the average simulated trend of 0.21 ± 0.03 °C per decade… It is worth noting that the observed trend over this period — not significantly different from zero — suggests a temporary ‘hiatus’ in global warming. 

Ed Davey’s anti-science, anti-British and anti-Liberal attack on Climate Sceptics

Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Climate and Energy has, according to the Telegraph recently said

“Of course there will always be uncertainties within climate science and the need for research to continue.

I agree that there are uncertainties with climate science. But if you only allow believers in that “science” to contribute, without any training in decision-making under conditions of uncertainty, then the conclusions drawn out of that research will be wrong.

“But some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups,”

Such as the Guardian, the BBC, or central government departments? It can work both ways.

“This is not the serious science of challenging, checking and probing.”

Are you speaking of sceptics or of climatology? You must first establish that climatology is not just a science, but is a science of the highest standards.

“This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking contraversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness.”

Matthew 7:3-5 says

Why do you stare at the splinter in your neighbour’s eye, but ignore the plank in your own? How can you say to your neighbour “Here – let me get the splinter out of your eye,” when you’ve got the plank in your own? You’re just play-acting! First take the plank out of your own eye, then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your neighbour’s eye.”

These two thousand year old words, translated by Tom Wright (Britain’s leading New Testament Scholar and former Bishop of Durham), show the issue of climatology. Professor Stephan Lewandowsky or Bob Ward, or desmogblog are some of the “planks” that deliberately blind and prejudice people from examining the evidence, moral and political arguments for themselves. Putting in a milder fashion, you cannot say that people are wrong, or have a massively inferior argument, if you cannot first demonstrate that you are on the side of truth, or encourage others compare and contrast your arguments with the opponents. As I posted last week, there is a strong lack of a positive case for the science. As I posted last week, this should be a combination of trumpeting the short-term predictive successes, showing that climate science build on the traditions of the greatest scientists and philosophies of science and also of the moral case covered below.

“This tendency will seize upon the normal expression of scientific uncertainty and portray it as proof that all climate change policy is hopelessly misguided.”

Rubbish. Criticism of policy is often for separate reasons to scientific uncertainty. The argument is that the costs of policy are far greater than then benefits. Some of the policy might be totally ineffective, or in trying to reduce CO2 emissions may make people less capable of dealing with the impacts, through making them poorer.

He added: “By selectively misreading the evidence, they seek to suggest that climate change has stopped so we can all relax and burn all the dirty fuel we want without a care.”

Sceptics say that climatologists selectively read the evidence. Many would say that increased CO2 provides net benefits, and I do not come across any blog that we should create general pollution without a care. Many of the leading sceptic blogs (WUWT, BishopHill, Jo Nova) accept that increased greenhouse gases will lead to some level of warming, but not a significant one. As put by Warren Meyer, most sceptics deny the catastrophe, not the basic science.

“Those who argue against all the actions we are taking to reduce emissions, without any serious and viable alternative, are asking us to take a massive gamble with the planet our children will inherit, in the face of all the evidence, against overwhelming odds.”

I believe that morally politicians should act like medical professionals. They should have a duty of care towards the patient. That duty should be based on the reasonable expectation that treatment will leave the patient better off than not being treated at all. If anyone claims that climatology and public-policy making have the same level of knowledge of diagnosis and treatment as medical professionals and pharmacy on such ailments as common cancers or arthritis, then they are wrong. I would say that climate “ethics” needs to catch up with medical ethics as well.

Finally, let me point to four areas where Ed Davey is severely out of line.

First, my late father voted for the Liberal Party for over 50 years at every election – bar at one local election where no Liberal was standing. Then he voted for the underdog Conservative candidate. He believed in the consensus through seeking the middle ground, a thoroughly British trait. This middle ground was the opposite of the extremism of climatology, which is increasingly about demeaning the opposition and denying them a platform to speak.

Second, a virtue of English Common Law is that of letting the accused have the same rights of presentation, and to have the same rules of evidence as for the prosecution. This is not in the belief that the most notorious criminals can get off scot free. It is because the most guilty who proclaim their innocence will most convince an independent jury of their guilt as their lies and ridiculous stories unravel. On the other side, if the prosecution, convinced of the guilt of the accused perverts or supresses the evidence, the later unravelling of the case will undermine the rule of law. It did with the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six, men falsely sentenced for heinous crimes that they did not commit. Another example is that I strongly believe that those who do not accept that around six million Jews were massacred in the Nazi genocide should not be silenced. Rather, comparing their evidence will the overwhelming evidence of the historical truth will demonstrated that there is no debate, and those deniers are have an inability to assess the evidence. Silencing such views will lead to false conspiracy theories that there is something to hide.

Third, is the British sense of fair play. The very British idea of having a level playing field is not unconnected to the fact that most major sports are British inventions, or have been strongly influenced by British rule-making. Winning is not at any cost is not the point. It is playing the game to the best of one’s ability. There is a lesson in life as well. Somebody might be far superior in a sport, or in science, or in any intellectual field, than anyone else alive. But it is only by going head-to-head with others that everyone will be convinced. But in losing in sport, we go back and try harder. If we are beaten in science, we are forced to re-examine our conclusions, and may improve. Finding out where we went wrong, or how to improve from failures is a general lesson in life. Within wider society it leads to improvement.

Fourth is something very anti-British. The most evil powers, whether governments, religious cults or tribal gangs, are those who assert their power by belittling and silencing others. Ed Davey and climatologists are not in their league by any means. But they fall into a false sense of superiority by demeaning others. It is a very human trait to practice this, but has mostly held back humanity.

The previous Secretary of State, Chris Huhne, earlier this year convicted of perverting the course of justice, was similarly dogmatic. Why there should be two ministers so at odds with the older philosophy of the moderate Liberal Party traditions is the subject of the next post.