We must be doing something right

It seems that even before the paper which is the topic of my latest post appeared, The Register attacked it. We must be doing something right.

They can’t possibly have read the paper, since it hadn’t even been posted when they posted their attack. Frankly, I doubt anybody with any sense cares about them.

But now that New Scientist has given a realistic report, it looks like commenters at their site want to torpedo the truth. What say we visit the New Scientists article, just to be sure that truth gets represented in the comments section?

Update: RealClimate mentions the paper, as well as a statement from the World Meteorological Organization emphasizing that this year (2011) will almost certainly end up as the hottest la Nina year on record.

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34 responses to “We must be doing something right

  1. I believe the Register’s motivation for hosting climate “skepticism” is purely financial. Trolling on highly controversial subjects generates a lot of traffic, which increases revenue.

    This was described candidly by John Dvorak some time ago, though he targeted another “touchy” demographic (Mac users!)

    • It’s certainly no coincidence that the author of the Reg article is also their long-time Apple specialist (being based in San Francisco).

  2. Can’t wait for Judith Curry to post all annoyed at you two for reducing the so-called “uncertainty monster” …

    • Horatio Algeranon

      “Tameino”
      – Horatio Algeranon

      The Uncertainty Monster
      Has been tamed
      By the one
      Who’s aptly named

      Tamino tames
      The data snakes
      And the more
      Ferocious fakes

      • That’s nice …

        It would also seem that stripping out the impacts of changes in solar cycles, sporadic volcanic eruptions, and ENSO strictly limits the impact of the “unknown unknowns” Curry likes to attach so much importance to …

      • Horatio Algeranon

        Shirley, that would make Curry’s blog the “Tomb of the Unknown Unknown”

        Good to have a dream, at least.

  3. I abandoned the Register completely because of their climate stupidism, however, so there are losses as well as gains from their trolling (if that is what it is).

  4. David Whitehouse at the Global Warming Policy Foundation:
    http://thegwpf.org/the-observatory/4502-global-temperature-evolution-1979-2010.html
    “I don’t think that the ‘widespread temperature increase’ is corroborated by shrinking mountain glaciers, accelerating ice loss from ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, Arctic ice loss and sea level rise. I think that list covers a multitude of causes and uncertainties.”

    Some diversionary blather, then…

    “Still, the results of this study are testable. “The unabated warming is powerful evidence that we can expect further temperature increase in the next few decades, emphasising the urgency of confronting the human influence on the climate,” lead author of the study, Grant Foster is reported to have said.

    Putting to one side the call for political action and concentrating on the science, let’s wait and see.”

    Now that’s what I call denial.

  5. Agree with the poster who suggests that the Register – or at least Orlowski and his sidekick Page – deliberately troll for business reasons (see the persistent attacks on Microsoft’s competitors, or Sky’s). It is not beyond suspicion that he obtained a bootleg copy of the paper from their mates in the GWPF.

    Although Orlowski himself is clearly thick in with the Spiked/Living Marxism crowd, i.e. the latest incarnation of the one-time British “Revolutionary Communist Party” (RCP), the guys behind “The Great Global warming Swindle”. A sample of Orlowski’s contributions to Spiked: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/search/results/662cda7e6c036afcdd0c37053a3f5828/

    Monbiot has more on them: http://www.monbiot.com/2003/12/09/invasion-of-the-entryists/

    • I’m glad someone else has noticed the LM factor churning away in the background in Blighty. University of Buckingham seems to be an academic sanctuary for them, with leading contributors to International Policy Network.

  6. “a statement from the World Meteorological Organization emphasizing that this year (2011) will almost certainly end up as the hottest la Nina year on record.”

    This is a rather shabby claim. First, la Ninas are usually most intense at the end or beginning of a calendar year, and the event almost always straddles two or more calendar years. WMO defines a la Nina year as:
    “For this purpose, a ‘La Niña’ year is one where a La Niña event is in place at the start of the year.”
    So roughly half the event can be shed off to the previous year, and a la Nina year can finish with a strong el Nino, or not, greatly effecting the temperature for that year. Matching a la Nina to a calendar year is a poor way to compare temperatures from on la Nina to another.
    Second, by the WMO definition, 2001 and 1999 were also la Nina years, but they are not plotted on the figure. The 2001 annual temp equals the 2011 value (by sight, no actual tabular data provided for the WMO composite of the GISS, HadCrut and NCDC data) and 2001 exceeds the 2008 temp value, contradicting the claim that 2011 is the highest temp la Nina year. WMO does graph back to back la Nina years in 1955 and 1956, but not 2000/2001.
    Data on Enso from NOAA: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/index.shtml

    [Response: The response of ENSO on global temperature shows a lag, so it's by no means "shabby" to use the start-of-year value as an estimate. There's probably a better way, but your accusatory tone is out of bounds. And it looks like you've got your numbers confused.]

    • It really annoys me when people like Buckner distort the numbers and then try and suggest that something is amiss with other people’s work, never mind the WMO.

      Buckner here is not comparing apples with apples. In late 2000 into early 2001 there was a marginal La Nina event (one of the weakest on record). From April 2001 onwards neutral conditions prevailed.

      In contrast in 2011 the year started with the second strongest La Nina on record (MEI rankings), and barring 3 months (May through July) the remainder of the months will have also been dominated by La Nina conditions.

      Despite the dominance of La Nina conditions in 2011, 2011 is as warm as 2001 was and will likely be in the top 10 warmest years (anomaly +0.4 C, WMO graphic). Also, 1974 was the strongest La Nina on record (2010/2011 so the second strongest La Nina on record according to the MEI rankings) and back in 1974 global surface temperature anomaly was almost -0.2 C (WMO graphic). So 0.6 C cooler than 2011 and instead of being ranked in the top 10 as 2011 likely will be, 1974 was the 7th or 8th coldest year since 1950.

      Place your bets– when will be the first moderate La Nina year that global temperatures will exceed those in 1998 (a super El Nino). I estimate between 2015 and 2020. Why? Largely because of the underlying warming trend from GHGs.

      Thanks for the paper Tamino.

    • So roughly half the event can be shed off to the previous year, and a la Nina year can finish with a strong el Nino, or not, greatly effecting the temperature for that year.

      Could you please tell us what this year has ended with? What say you? Another La Niña? And it is still warmer than all other years with at least one La Niña in it?

      Any comments to that? And what are your expectations for the next El Niño year?

    • B Buckner.

      If there’s a calendar bias, it’s biased all the way to the bottom turtle. It’s not going to much affect, on average, how the turtles are stacked.

      What’s really your point?

  7. It seems to me that the “skeptical” are seriously painting themselves into a corner. From one perspective: they point out flaws, real or supposed, in the current science or understanding of the science and this can drive further research to fill these gaps in the science or to discover better ways to explain the science. For me this paper and post is a great example of how this cycle can work.

    And in the end the actions of Watts et al. plant the seeds of destruction for actions (and thinking) of Watts et al. They run around in smaller and smaller circles until, oh I don’t know, their heads explode from cognative dissonance overload or something…

  8. Well done Tamino! I’m looking forward to my next “global warming has stopped” encounter.

  9. May I also suggest that the climate science version of whack-a-mole should be whack-a-wombat.

  10. J Bowers: given the size & potential aggressiveness of wombats, I’m not sure we want to play that game! :-P

    Tamino: Thanks for the paper. While it’s certainly not at all surprising to see the expected response from the fake sceptics, it’s still somewhat disappointing.

  11. Sometimes you must think you’re beating you head against a wall Tamino. I don’t mean false skeptic bloggers, who care swhat they think, but with the medi which never seem to get it and keep misinforming the public.

    Keep up the good work.

  12. Gavin's Pussycat

    Can’t be bothered to get a password for the Reg, but they spell Stefan’s name wrong and miss Grant Foster’s academic career completely. Can you say ‘do your homework’?

  13. Don’t go too hard on The Register. It’s usually just that Pollock Orlowski who writes poor articles.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      May be, but it’s a reputation game — and they picked Orlowski to author for them. If I were responsible for, say, a mission-critical server farm, I would make a point of not reading, or even glancing at, the Reg. Just in case.

    • Rob Sutherland

      not to mention Lewis ‘Bomber’ Page, who’s running a very close second

  14. It is very quiet on some sites about this paper. I guess some e-mails were sent, varying from “Ignore it. If we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist” to “Let’s wait for one of the M’s to find some obscure statistical issue, so we can highlight that, although we don’t understand anything of it”.

  15. If they think they have found something to quibble about I predict that they will turn out to have made an error themselves in their statistics. They’ve done it before. I’m a statistician and the methods used in the paper look sound to me.

  16. Tamino, here in Australia, to be vigorously attacked by Murdoch’s
    “The Australian” is a sure sign of being right on target. Yet, from the distant perspective of Australia, our media looks downright sensible and sane compared to the US or Britain. Coud that be as much a result of the Australian media’s portrayal of the US and British media rather than anything superior about Australia’s? Or a reflection on which organs of the Australian media I am most likely to encounter personally?

    I get so cynical, especially of the ‘drive time’ radio jocks, one currently fervently opposing action on emission whilst simultaneously campaigning against Coal Seam Gas. So cynical that I’m thinking he has the scent of truly huge fossil fuel dollars and it’s a ploy to maximise the terms of the (probably unwritten) contract that will see his position suddenly reversed. Being a (the?) major shareholder in the radio station in question, the payoff won’t even need to show any trail except via inflated advertising revenue from that sector. CSG is already huge in TV via prime time saturation advertising, buying more than just public opinion; even more it’s a bank of ‘good will’ with the media to earn them favourable editorial spin.

  17. from the distant perspective of Australia, our media looks downright sensible and sane compared to the US or Britain

    Possibly compared to the US, but as someone who recently moved from Australia to the UK I can assure you the UK media coverage of climate change is _vastly_ better than the Australian coverage. There’s nothing like the Australian’s “war on science” here (the Spectator maybe, but the Times or even the Telegraph isn’t nearly as unbalanced as the Australian).

  18. an analogous situation — the planck telescope acquires a vast amount of information — dust locations in our home galaxy — in order to remove it as noise to see the background:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8645156.stm

    Anyone expressed interest in using the data you looked at in order to remove it?