Skeptics: Real or Fake?

Some of you may have heard about the “ICCC-6” conference, sponsored by the so-called “Heartland Institute,” that will take place this Thursday and part of Friday in Washington D.C. It’s the best-known meeting of those who call themselves “skeptics” about global warming.

I suspect they’re not really skeptics at all. Why do I think that, you wonder? Can we talk?.

I’ve often discussed Arctic sea ice, and specifically mentioned that it’s one of the strongest evidences of global warming. All by itself it’s not absolute proof, but as evidence goes it’s strong. Very strong. It’s also an excellent litmus test to separate real skeptics from fake ones.

When I heard that the next incarnation of the Heartland Institute’s anti-climate conference was about to take place, I wondered — are they really skeptical? I decided to apply the aforementioned litmus test by finding out what their last major report (the most recent one I found was from 2009) had to say about Arctic sea ice. The report is titled Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change; in brief it’s the NIPCC report. The Heartland Institute will gladly sell you a paper copy for a mere $123.00 — but if you must see it, I suggest you “Click the image to download the full text in PDF format” and get it for free.

Chapter 4 is “Observations: Glaciers, Sea Ice, Precipitation, and Sea Level.” Section 4.2 is “Sea Ice.” They finally get to the litmus-test subject in subsection 4.2.2, “Arctic.”

The first sentence emphasizes uncertainty in general, albeit innocuously enough:

4.2.2. Arctic

Arctic climate is incredibly complex, varying simultaneously on a number of different timescales for a number of different reasons (Venegas and Mysak, 2000).

The second sentence shows their true colors:

Against this backdrop of multiple causation and timeframe variability, it is difficult to identify a change in either the extent or thickness of Arctic sea ice that could be attributed to the increase in temperature that has been predicted to result from the burning of fossil fuels.

That settles it. The authors of this report are fake skeptics.

It’s not difficult. It’s easy — so easy a child could do it — to identify a change in either the extent or thickness of Arctic sea ice that could be attributed to the temperature increase in the Arctic. Seriously. Read this. And this. And this and this and this and this.

After you do, you might still be skeptical about global warming — it’s possible. But unless you say, “OK, Arctic sea ice is damn powerful evidence but what about this other thing?” you’re not a skeptic. At least, not a real one. If you want to dispute other things maybe we can talk — but those who claim that what’s happened to sea ice in the Arctic is not strong evidence of global warming, are not skeptics. They’re in denial.

Identifying a change in Arctic sea ice extent that can be attributed to temperature is as easy as looking at this graph:

But the NIPCC report staunchly refuses to consider the graph of sea ice extent or show it to their readers. Think about that. The whole point of subsection 4.2.2 is to discuss Arctic sea ice extent and thickness, but at no point does the NIPCC report show a graph of either.

What then do they say about Arctic sea ice? They begin with this: Extent

Johannessen et al. (1999) analyzed Arctic sea ice extent over the period 1978-1998 and found it to have decreased by about 14 percent. This finding led them to suggest that “the balance of evidence,” as small as it then was, indicates “an ice cover in transition,” and that “if this apparent transformation continues, it may lead to a markedly different ice regime in the Arctic,” as was also suggested by Vinnikov et al. (1999).

Reading Johannessen et al.’s assessment of the situation, one is left with the impression that a relatively consistent and persistent reduction in the area of Arctic sea ice is in progress. However, and according to their own data, that assessment is highly debatable and possibly false. In viewing their plots of sea ice area, for example, it is readily evident that the decline in this parameter did not occur smoothly over the 20-year period of study. In fact, essentially all of the drop it experienced occurred abruptly over a single period of not more than three years (87/88-90/91) and possibly only one year (89/90-90/91). Furthermore, it could be argued from their data that from 1990/91 onward, sea ice area in the Arctic may have actually increased.

I can’t help but wonder why the NIPCC report published in 2009 starts its essay on Arctic sea ice with Johannessen et al. 1999 (Satellite evidence for an Arctic sea ice cover in transformation, Science, 286, 1937-1939). A lot happened in the intervening 10 years.

Here’s the graph of both wintertime multi-year sea ice area, and ice thickness, from Johannessen et al. 1999 (diamonds are ice thickness, squares are ice area):

I digitized this graph to get their wintertime multi-year ice area estimates:

I’ve added a trend line estimated by linear regression, which confirms the claim by Johannessen et al. that these data indicate decrease at a rate of 31 thousand km^2 per year. More to the point: the result is statistically significant. Strongly so. It’s not just due to noise, to random fluctuations from year to year. It’s a real trend.

If we estimate the trend using linear regression for the later period mentioned by the NIPCC report, it seems to be going in the other direction:

Problem is, the trend using just this small subset of data (a mere 8 years) is not statistically significant. Not even close. It’s just a false impression created by the noise, the random fluctuations from year to year. It’s a fake trend.

Johannessen et al. reported a decline in Arctic sea ice based on a real trend estimated by statistical analysis of all the available data. The NIPCC report disputes that by suggesting a fake trend, based on no analysis at all other than “viewing their plots” and “it could be argued,” using only the last 8 years of data. What a coincidence that they chose a very low value as their starting point. Come to think of it, not a coincidence at all.

A lot has happened in the intervening 10 years. Johannessen et al. point out that wintertime multi-year ice closely follows the minimum overall ice area during the preceding summer. This is clear by plotting their estimates of wintertime multi-year ice, offset by 1.3 million km^2, alongside the summer minimum ice area:

If we estimate the trend in summer minimum Arctic ice area for the time period studied in Johannessen et al. we get a decline which is statistically significant — a real trend:

If we estimate the trend for just the 8 years used by the NIPCC report we get an incline which is not statistically significant — a fake trend:

Which trend gives a better indication of what was to follow? That’s easy to answer — just add the data up to the present:

The decline was real. The incline was fake.

The NIPCC report doesn’t show the actual data. It doesn’t consider data up to the present. Instead it suggests a fake trend based on 8 years of data using a cherry-picked starting point, to imply that the decline of Arctic sea ice isn’t real. I conclude that it’s the “skepticism” of the authors of the NIPCC report that isn’t real. It’s fake.


160 responses to “Skeptics: Real or Fake?

  1. Those people lie, plain and simple. Well said, Tamino.

  2. Great post.

  3. livinginabox

    Singer received $143k for the NIPCC report in 2007. Not bad for fiction. I guess it’s a case of one gets what one pays for.

    H/T Rabett run

  4. Ive tangled with 9/11 troofers, young earth creationists, moon hoaxers and many other brands of ‘fragrant’ opinions over the years. So in many ways our friends on the other side of the mirror do not suprise me. People are capable of thinking themselves uncovering great plots every time they open a packet of cornflakes.

    But this lot has some help maintaining there illusions. Seems some for some of them it was not about the heartfelt belief they had uncovered a UN plot to turn the world Marxist, some of them were only in it for the gold

    Still we have the heartening reassuarances from the Bastardi\ Watts brains trust


  5. Tamino – you’re not following the dog whistle correctly. ;-) The new goalpost is showing that this decline is due to increased temperature caused by increased CO2. You need to establish two attributions. (see sentence #2 in 4.2.2) And you can’t do it using models. A slippery topic indeed.

    Nice post.

    • W Scott Lincoln

      How can you not do attribution with the help of models? Models are used in every realm of science to do just what you suggest they can’t… you must also forget that even the simplest of equations can be models.

      • Oh, you don’t have to convince me – but what I wrote is exactly the kind of argument one would get from the Heartland fans. The wiggle words used in the excerpt quoted by our host allow “skeptics” to claim that Tamino did not address the subject. These “skeptics” also try to define what tools and data are allowable.

  6. Heartland true to form.

    P.S,: I think a wrong label slipped in. Your first plot looks like extent anomaly to me.

    [Response: Right you are, it’s anomaly not raw data.]

  7. Excellent post, as usual. “Skeptical” my ass.

  8. *facepalm*
    Thanks for your post, Tamino. Great work as always.

  9. Careful, livinginabox. The SEPP received that money. Singer, as President of SEPP, received nothing. See that same form.

  10. The last plot would be funny if it weren’t so depressing. Very nice post.

  11. Great post – so ridiculously embarrassing for deniers showing them up for what they are – Charlatans

  12. What does that first graph look like expressed as a percentage (given that the ice cover changes by a factor of 3 from winter to summer) instead of km^2?

  13. I saw this announcement – happening just a few miles from me. I’m tempted to go and throw (warm) cream pies at them, but they just wouldn’t get the joke.


  14. On a related point – how do we know how old the ice shelves in the arctic that are currently breaking up are ? (I could search for myself, but if anyone has any references handy it would help)

  15. david, one method, I guess there are others: the runoff water from the shefl sweetens the ocean locally, this changes the microalgaes present, they’ll die and accumulate to the bottom in front of the ice shelf, then the scientist takes a core from the bottom and starts counting layers. There could be some skips of yearly layers but usually the ages are ref’d at some 100 year accuracy.

  16. Please note, the ersatz ‘skeptic’ “Chris Monckton”, is scheduled for a public meeting at “Notre Dame University” on June 30th.

    A number of Australian academics have sent a protest note here :-

    I recall, way back in April, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia at the “Young Conservatives Club” a vocal group of knowledgeable students from the University of Victoria. Some of these students may/or may not have Internet connections or smart phones. These wily students effectively derailed the pedestrian Dr Tim Ball’s standard bunkum lecture package, by asking technical and complex questions, and rebutting some of his more outrageous claims about climate modeling on the spot.

    I know, this is a very big ask? Is it possible to get some friends or organize, say a group of fifty or more senior students and University academics, all suitably equipped, to counter protest against Chris Monckton? The public PR, from this coup, if successful, could in the real world, have an invaluable positive ripple flow on effect, of lowering his prestige and ability to sway the more knowledgeable fence sitters.

    I apologize, about this off topic comment, and thank you for you kind attention and willingness to dispel the ersatz climate skeptics myths and crazy mathturbations. I also find the comments section here, very educational too!

    Thank you for you time.

  17. David,

    For one thing, they can carbon-date the CO2 in bubbles of trapped air in the ice.

  18. On Arctic ice I thing the most likely outcome is that the Arctic ice volumes could be decreasing further in forthcoming decade, while both N. Europe and N.E. US winters get colder.
    This is not a contradiction but the consequence of negative phase of NAO.

    • Any thoughts on how Global Warming might be affecting the NAO phases?

      • I have no ability to unscramble one from the other. I just look at various data sets, possible degree of correlation if any; at the same time I am also well aware of “correlation does not imply causation”.

  19. Just been watching Stephen Colbert’s amazing White House correspondents’ dinner speech again. Makes me think: we should get some badges made up: ‘I’m part of the factanista’.

  20. I looked into other aspects of the NIPCC report (aerosol feedbacks) and also found it to be not more than wishful thinking.

    They exaggerate the uncertainties in issues that point to a human fingerprint, and handwave away any uncertainty in issues that they try very hard to twist into a direction that it’s all nature’s fault or that nature will come to our rescue. Yes indeed, both.

  21. IIRC, Tamino, you set out as a real sceptic. It was your scepticism that made you verify the data for yourself. And it were the most amazing results (yes, humans are disrupting all of the biosphere) that convinced you of reality, and made you start this blog?

    [Response: Basically yes, but I’d say it’s more the weight of evidence than the amazing results that persuades me. It’s also telling that fake skeptics so often trumpet fake interpretations — see this.]

  22. I have become worried about AGW, mainly because of the behaviour of (pseudo-)skeptics really.

  23. I have a suggestion on how to get an idea of what the GW Deniers really think.

    Since many of them at one time schilled for the Tobacco Industry and since many of the private emails from that time period are now public. Based on the fact that many of their tactics of denial are very similar for both smoking and Global Warming, it is very likely that their thinking on both subjects is also very similar. So a simple word substitution, like substituting “Global Warming” for “smoking”, would reveal their innermost thoughts.

    Admittedly such an exercise would not be a smoking gun, but it would improve our aim.

  24. That is remarkable. They not only cherry-picked the start, but also the end date, and from over a decade ago, and clearly hoped nobody would notice? How mendacious can you get!! The last figure is especially revealing, well done again Tamino..

  25. Willlie Soon recieved $1 million over the past decade from fossil fuel interests, according to this.

    Denial For Hire: Willie Soon’s Career Fueled by Big Oil, Coal and Koch Money

  26. Excellent post. The NIPCC report is a joke. It also devotes a section to global warming “fingerprints”. The only “fingerprint” mentioned is the tropical troposphere ‘hot spot’, which isn’t even an anthropogenic fingerprint (but the NIPCC report of course claims that it is). It’s about as far from true skepticism as you can get.

  27. “The NIPCC report is a joke.”

    There’s a t-shirt there.

  28. Peter Prewett

    Do the authors of these papers really believe what they write?
    Or are they paid to look for misinformation?
    If either is the case they do not justify in calling themselves scientists and should be disbarred from relevant associations as is done in other professions.

  29. Jeffrey Davis

    We need to prosecutions. Major prosecutions. There should be real world ramifications for trying to destroy civilization.

    That sounds like it should be hyperbole, doesn’t it?

    • Andrew Dodds

      I’ve often wondered if there could be a crime of ‘Spreading deliberate scientific falsehoods likely to cause harm’.

      It would be a difficult one to define well, but you would be looking for cases such as this where people were deliberately distorting results and causing harm as a result. Of course, how you get legal definitions of what science IS, where the boundary between legitimate doubt and deliberate falsehood is, and where such cases can be said to cause harm (often statistical harm, which the legal system has real problems with)… that would be hard even from a deliberately disinterested standpoint.

      And even with a well defined and drafted law.. by the time the judges and lawyers finished with it, you’d find either that it was illegal to contradict any paper published, ever, or that daring to correct a creationist regarding the age of the planet got you 10 years hard time..

      • Jeffrey Davis

        The Nuremberg Trials might be a parking ticket compared to the destruction done by AGW deniers. (And, of course, their paymasters. Can’t forget them.) The consequences of AGW are currently remote and nebulous although the extreme weather of the last couple of years may be just a prelude to the changes we’re in for.

        When I am in a Roger Chillingsworth frame of mind, I want to create a collection of the liars and their lies ready to be ready for the tribunals. (And, of course, their paymasters. Can’t forget them.)

      • LazyTeenager

        I’ve often wondered if there could be a crime of ‘Spreading deliberate scientific falsehoods likely to cause harm’.

        I have my own answer to the no-consequences problem for climate skeptics: rename prominent landmarks after prominent climate skeptics.

        For example: the Great Barrier reef would become the Ian Plimer Coral Rubble Reef.
        The Arctic could become the Great Watt Ice Desert
        And so on.

        The climate skeptics would have real difficulty objecting to this and it makes it impossible to apply that old favorite and climate skeptic standby the “twister tactic”.

      • LazyTeenager is a genius. Ownership of the problems in perpetuity.

      • John Brookes

        No, don’t take legal action. That is precisely what the “skeptics” want done against Mann et al. When they suggest it, it is tasteless. I suspect it is also tasteless the other way around.

      • Gavin's Pussycat

        John, false equivalence. What is tasteless is prosecuting fake crimes. As tasteless as, eh, real criminals getting away with it.

    • Ray Ladbury

      Frankly, from a legal perspective, you are barking up the wrong tree. Lying is not illegal. The only legal remedy would be litigation once damages can be proved.

      • Gavin's Pussycat

        Heck, lying is even constitutionally protected… except in very special circumstances, like under oath. That’s what nailed the tobacco companies… could happen again.

  30. Tremendous work Tamino!
    The one post by you suffices for a genuinely sceptical reader to dispose of the entire Heartland conference of pseuds, dunces and douches.

  31. Igor Samoylenko

    Even for the expert cherry pickers that the deniers are this cherry pick is outrageous, given what was known when the report was written in 2009. This is stretching things well beyond credible, plausible, or even ridiculous. One can easily see just how blatantly dishonest it is by using one of their other favourite tools of logical “inference” – by simply eyeballing the last graph in this post (some irony there!…).

    This shows again the difficulty we have with these guys. They clearly do not share the common values shared by the mainstream scientists – pursuit of the truth on the basis of all available evidence, maintaining logical consistency when interpreting the evidence etc. Reports such as this are an exercise in looking for anything (a small fact, an interpretation, an uncertainty), however flimsy, to cast doubt over all mainstream conclusions they don’t like whilst simply ignoring any evidence that strongly supports those mainstream conclusions.

    • Andrew Dodds

      They use the legal standard of ‘truth’ or ‘proof’ – if you can convince 12 lay people that your position is correct, then it becomes correct. Or, if acting as defense, merely casting reasonable doubt on the position of your opponent without having to lay out any position of your own.

  32. What kind of test did you use to make the linear trends?

  33. Somehow this post made me daydream…

    I wonder how soon the arctic will be ice free?…
    I wonder if the polar bears would survive without ice?…
    I wonder if people would keep on claiming the Medieval Warm Period was warmer? That there was no ice back then either…
    I wonder if the polar bears got extinct back then aswell?…
    I wonder if something intelligent created new polar bears when the MWP was over?…

  34. @Peter Prewett

    The professional deniers are paid to misinform, mislead and all around lie, but usually know they are lying. Most of the ones that are unpaid actually believe what they write.

    There are exceptions, for instance, Lord Monckton probably does believe that Global Warming is a hoax secretly perpetrated by Nazi Jew Bankers in a complex plan to rule the world.

  35. Hm excelent post… but .. your starting point is 1980.
    Remember “new ice age comming” articles at the time? Why did anybody say that? Was there any reason?

    [Response: You mean those articles in Newsweek and Time? They’re not exactly peer-reviewed scientific journals, are they?

    The majority view (by a wide margin) of scientists working in this field during the 1970s was that we were headed for warming, not cooling. See this.

    As for my starting with 1980, I actually started with 1979 because that’s when the satellites started returning data — so I used all of it. There is other (non-satellite) data prior to that time — see this.]

  36. Berg:
    Ya mean Global Warming isn’t a hoax???????……Perpetuated by the Jew Bankers?
    By golly……ya learn something new every day.

  37. “We need to prosecutions. Major prosecutions. There should be real world ramifications for trying to destroy civilization.”

    I endorse the sentiment.
    Don’t look behind you.

  38. Tamino: Thanks for a great post. This example of cherry picking (and chutzpah) is bordering on “too bizarre to be true”, except we’ve all seen what they’re capable of…

  39. Philippe Chantreau

    “Remember “new ice age comming” articles at the time”
    Well, no, I don’t. That’s probably because these “articles” were fleeting pieces of sensationalistic news with little to no grounding in science, as anyone who has looked at the science would know. Defnintely not the kind of stuff that I would bother to spare some memory on.

  40. “[Response: You mean those articles in Newsweek and Time? They’re not exactly peer-reviewed scientific journals, are they?”
    Hm, you are right, it was just some nonsense that some journalist payed by big oil put there, nothing to do with the real world, or cooling or whatever isn’t it? There was also no arctic warming 1920-1940? No cooling after which would mean that the satellite record started in a relative colder period?

    [Response: You forgot to mention that Arctic sea ice is not in decline it’s rebounding, that there was no Arctic sea ice at all during the 1930s-1940s, and that the global warming we’ve observed so far is due to Leprechauns.

    The NIPCC report was written by the gullible, for the gullible. It looks like they’ll never lack an audience.]

    • Chris O'Neill

      “Hm, you are right, it was just some nonsense that some journalist payed by big oil put there, nothing to do with the real world, or cooling or whatever isn’t it?”

      Lars, if you want some respect and don’t want to cause the discussion to degenerate then leave out the sarcastic irony.

  41. Lars, could you write down the equation of radiative transfer to save your life?

  42. John Mashey

    For once, I disagree with tamino:
    written for the gullible: yes.
    written by the gullible: I think many other adjective are more accurate.
    Singer? C. Idso?

    [Response: Come to think of it, I agree with you. “Fake skeptics” certainly applies.]

    • written by the gullible: I think many other adjective are more accurate.

      “gullible” is being used as a noun here (the definite article is a clue). It would need an added noun (e.g. authors) to become an adjective.

      I really only make this point because I wanted to add that I think that possibly more-suited words to describe the purveyors of terminological inexactitudes or factoids (a suitable noun phrase in its own right) are falsifiers, fabricators, equivocators, prevaricators, deceivers, liars, …

      I thought perhaps one could construct a new noun, factoidists, based on they are dealing in factoids. But I see that, though little used (according to Google), factoidist usage has precedence (from around 2003 at least). Perhaps it’s time for factoidists to go viral.

    • Horatio Algeranon

      The NIPCC report was written by the fullabull for the gullible.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Horatio’s expression was “fullabull” ;-)

  43. They are deniers, the Arctic will be ice free and it won’t matter and they have a very specific role, they are the ‘scientific’ facade of Corporatism, something to sooth consciences made guilty by inaction.

    The real kicker of the Arctic is volume, now that is scary, Cryosat released their first Arctic thickness image, it shows Baffin bay thickness of around 3m, while PIPS2 shows it to be up to 0.5m, not wanting to be cynical, but, I don’t think the Cryosat people would have liked their inaugural Arctic image to show that it doesn’t exist anymore, but 3m’s in Baffin bay might be overdoing the cover up. Still that may just be the message.

  44. I also disagree that the NIPCC report was written by the gullible. They know exactly what they are doing and are aware of the consequences of their actions.

  45. “[Response: You forgot to mention that Arctic sea ice is not in decline it’s rebounding, that there was no Arctic sea ice at all during the 1930s-1940s, and that the global warming we’ve observed so far is due to Leprechauns.
    The NIPCC report was written by the gullible, for the gullible. It looks like they’ll never lack an audience.]”

    Well, I only see you are not ready for dialogue. To what of my 2 posts are you answering? You deny any natural climate variations? Good luck with that.
    To the guys who take the “denier” word. Either you show what I deny or consider I answer you the “f” word. I will not go down to that level of discussion.

    [Response: Of course not. You would never be so dishonest as to suggest that I deny any natural climate variations, because I’ve never done so, I’ve affirmed it many times. And you wouldn’t even hint at using the “f” word.]

    • W Scott Lincoln

      Seems that you might be the one that’s avoiding dialogue. You were provided with the evidence showing your claims and insinuations to be incorrect. Then you changed the subject to something else. That something else was more insinuations and tired, outdated claims. That’s not dialogue, that’s denial.

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      OH tamino, give the poor kid a break. He’s probably about 16 and frustrated that he hasn’t been able to do the “f” word yet :)

      At least that is what his style of argument suggests…

      • Well, most people learn ‘fabrication’ at around 2 years of age, so I’d hope he’d gotten that ‘f’ word out of the way.

  46. From the Head-in-sand Institute conference pages: “We’re be broadcasting each panel live in it’s entirety” [sic]. My holiday internet connection wasn’t up to it, did I miss anything fun?

  47. Ray Ladbury

    Let’s find out what you deny, shall we?

    1)Do you deny that we’ve known anthropogenic CO2 would warm the planet since 1896?

    2)Do you deny that the current 36-year warming trend is well outside of what we expect from natural variability?

    3)Do you deny that CO2 sensitivity is likely between 2 and 4.5 degrees per doubling?

    We’ll start with that.

    • 1) See also my other reply to you. We know that CO2 is not transparent for certain infrared wavelength – I understand current concentration allow for some 10 meters. See Claes Johnson for heat transfer.
      2) For climate variability Ray why don’t you check the GISP2 ice core records for a start (the last 10k years), the last 36 years don’t make an unusual trend to it.

      [Response: The last year of data in the GISP2 temperature estimate is 1855, over 150 years ago. And, Greenland is not the world.]

      3) I do not believe the sensitivity. Even your sources tell 90% but not clear how that percentage is calculated.

      • let me try to rephrase it:
        considering last years warming and comparing with other periods warming that are found in the GISP2 temperature estimate we can find similar patterns. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we do not have ice core samples from all the rest of the world to compare. On the other hand how much different was Greenland climate trend in the last years to the rest of the world?

        [Response: The amount of climate variability shown in a single location is vastly greater than that found in the global average. In general, the smaller the region the more variability it shows, the larger the region the less variability.

        That’s why one location (like central Greenland) shows so much more variability than the global average. That’s also why fake skeptics love to focus on a small region — it has enhanced local fluctuations they can point to, to suggest that the global changes we’ve observed over the last century are nothing unusual.

        Doesn’t it make you the least bit suspicious that fake skeptics make a habit of taking a single location (central Greenland is one of their favorites) and try to pass it off as though it were representative of the globe? Don’t you find it even a little bit troubling that they failed to mention that the central Greenland temperature estimate ends in 1855? I presume the reason you didn’t know, is that whoever used it to convince you didn’t bother to mention it. And by the way, the warming in central Greenland since 1855 is a heckuva lot more than the global warming since 1855.

        Mainstream climate scientists (the ones who are warning us about the danger of global warming) are not trying to hide, or to ignore, data like the GISP2 temperature estimate. In fact, those data were compiled by a mainstream climate scientist (Richard Alley) who is convinced that global warming is real and is man-made. He’s even stated publicly that using his GISP2 data to argue against global warming is sheer nonsense.

        Being skeptical is great. I highly recommend it. Try to be skeptical of those who deny the reality of global warming and its human causation.]

      • LP: We know that CO2 is not transparent for certain infrared wavelength – I understand current concentration allow for some 10 meters.

        BPL: For the saturation argument, and why it’s wrong, try here:

        LP: I do not believe the sensitivity.

        BPL: The argument from incredulity is a logical fallacy.

        LP: Even your sources tell 90% but not clear how that percentage is calculated.

        BPL: Google “normal distribution.”

      • Steve Metzler

        And here’s a simpler explanation by the esteemed Spencer Weart that even someone like Lars should be able to understand:

        A Saturated Gassy Argument

        But he won’t read it. That would shatter his fragile little worldview.

        [Response: Don’t be too sure. He’s here, he seems to be listening — keep an open mind.]

  48. Horatio Algeranon

    The Gift that keeps on giving… (In German, “Gift” means “poison”)

    The Global Warming “Skeptic” (Part II)
    –by Horatio Algeranon

    The warming “skeptic” is an incurious creature,
    “Denial” its most prominent feature.
    It changes spots and stories too,
    But you won’t find it at the zoo.

    Its “logic” is implacable,
    Its “argument” most laughable.
    It has a nervous tic(k),
    That it can’t seem to kick,

    Which makes it say the dumbest things:
    “Global Warming’s a hoax!” and “Pigs have wings!”
    It doesn’t have a single clue,
    But criticizes those who do.

    It signs its posts “The Warming Skeptic,”
    Quick, go and get the antiseptic,
    And pour it in my open eyes,
    That I may cleanse them of the lies.

  49. Andrew Dodds,

    Having recently been persuaded that AGW is likely to be a disaster (based upon recent weird weather patterns), I have pondered whether in the future, as reality bites, there may be prosecutions.

    However it’s hard to see under what legislation this may happen, and (at least in the UK) one can’t be prosecuted in retrospect for actions in the past that fall under the remit of newly introduced legislation.

    I think the next best thing is to be found in the many blogs watching what the deniers are up to and making a record of their deliberate disinformation. If I am correct about what’s coming (and I hope I’m not) there will be much thrashing around by an angry public seeking to apportion blame. At that stage the record in blogs such as this will be invaluable as a tool to direct public ire to those most deserving and prevent them lying their way out of the spotlight..

    [Response: We have similar laws in the U.S., that someone cannot be held legally criminal for a law not in effect at the time of the action — to do so is referred to as “ex post facto” (after the fact).

    As for me, I’m not really concerned with punishing the fake skeptics. My goal is to persuade the public to take the issue so seriously, that politicians have no choice but to do so as well. Rather than crucifying contrarians, let’s actually do something about global warming.]

    • Heraclitus

      We should accept that realistically no-one is going to be held to account for their disinformation by anything other than their own consciences.

      Any threat of future consequences would hardly be likely to have an effect anyway given that these people have very little concern about the future.

    • Chris O'Neill

      “Response: We have similar laws in the U.S., that someone cannot be held legally criminal for a law not in effect at the time of the action — to do so is referred to as “ex post facto” (after the fact).”

      Those laws don’t apply in Guantanamo Bay as far as I’m aware. But the denialists would need to be “renditioned” to there.

      • careful what you wish for: may I ask the opposite question? Lets assume CO2 does nothing of the warming.
        What could be achieved in the world if the money spent on climate protection would have been spent to develop coal burning power plants in the third world giving electricity for free or almost. How many years in the future we would have been? How many hundred of millions of families would have electricity, light, Internet, no longer cook with wood & coal but electricity, How much would this mean for the development? Are you sure you are right with CO2 sensitivity? Or you just deny those people the progress for imaginary fears?
        Moreover we know the fertilizing results of CO2. 15% of todays plants would not be here without the extra CO2. Are you still so convinced of how the future will judge us?

        [Response: When Philip II of Macedon was ravaging Greece, conquering city-states left and right, he sent a message to the Spartans urging them to surrender without a fight: “You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city.”

        The Spartans sent a one-word reply: “If.”]

      • You are right, if. Good question! And taking history is a good example to learn from the past. Let me ask some history inspired questions: we know there was much more CO2 in the atmosphere in the past & the world did not fry. Did the world thrive by then? Biodiversity? More CO2 = more plants and more animals – for sure. What we also know for sure is that making energy expensive, slowing development is killing lives. Many. Where we use our limited resources is very important. And that IS happening. Opportunity lost.
        It is not so simple as some people think. Catastrophic warming through CO2? The models are far from good, and the theories are far from being proven.

        [Response: Apparently you’re unwilling to change your viewpoint, but you can’t avoid the evidence we’ve already presented so now you’re getting desperate.

        CO2 was much greater a LONG time ago. The last time it was as great as today was probably at least 23 million years ago. The times when it was “way” higher were *hundreds* of millions of years ago. For your information, the world was a very different place back then. For one thing, the sun was fainter so even with much higher CO2 the temperature would be moderated by less solar energy input. For another thing, the distribution of the continents was drastically different. These factors are consistently ignored by the deniers — who then accuse mainstream climate scientists of ignoring everything except CO2.

        Perhaps the most relevant fact is that even if it was hotter in past ages (which it was), it’s not just the temperature that matters it’s the rate of change. If earth gets hotter, life can adapt given enough time. The change we’ll experience in the next century is far more rapid that that which, in the past, was real trouble for life on earth (like the paleocene-eocene thermal maximum).

        By the way, the meme “more CO2 = more plants and more animals – for sure” isn’t just wrong, it’s infantile. Do you want a real discussion or not? If you do, stop talking childish nonsense. If you believe that crap (and don’t think we don’t know where you got it) then please leave, we don’t care to argue with idiots.]

      • @ Lars Per

        Read up on the Neolitihic Revolution, the origins of civilisation, and lemurs.

      • Ray Ladbury

        Lars, you’ve already demonstrated an inability to find even the most trivial information about Earth’s climate–and an unwillingness to even consider it when it is brought to your attention. Why, pray, should we even consider what you have to say on the subject?

        Had you bothered to look at the resources on climate sensitivity, you would have found that there is large agreement on the most likely range of climate sensitivities based on about a dozen independent lines of evidence. What do you think the probability of that happening by chance is?

        Come back, Punkin, if you ever decide you want to actually learn something.

  50. Oh, I was five seconds from defending Lars Per after his first post. I thought he was genuinely interested. I’m one day older now.

  51. You take a part out of context and pretend you analyzed the report.

    [Response: No I didn’t. I quoted them exactly, and in full, regarding the very first data they discussed about Arctic sea ice, right out of the starting gate. I showed the very data they referred to. I analyzed the data correctly. I showed that the “trend” they suggested was fake — not only was it statistically ignorant, later data showed how fake their claim was.]

    Alarmist at work. Why don’t you take the part:
    “evidence was found of oscillations in ice cover with
    periods of about 60 to 80 years and 20 to 30 years,
    superimposed on a continuous negative trend,” which
    observations are indicative of a “persistent ice retreat
    since the second half of the 19th century” that began
    well before anthropogenic CO2 emissions could have
    had much effect on earth’s climate.”

    [Response: Be careful what you wish for. Their “further evidence” that you want to discuss is every bit as fake as their first evidence.]

    Ray, I do not believe that CO2 is creating a catastrophic warming of the planet. Evidence does not show this. CO2 sensitivity that you name is not based on proven scientific data, you are making up those numbers. Before posting I searched a little the Internet. There are many good sources from where you can learn. Take Freeman Dyson, Lindzen, go to Lucia’s blackboard, Roy Spencer and many other. Stop playing the fool. It is not the skeptics who hide the data.

    [Response: You searched a little on the internet? Impressive.

    After your first comment I answered you seriously. In response you tried to put words in my mouth about reporters paid off by big oil and denying natural climate variation, just falsified straw man arguments — then you had the hypocrisy to say that I don’t want serious discussion. I think what really pisses you off is that I’m so obviously right you have no answer but to echo more falsehoods from the NIPCC report.]

    • W Scott Lincoln

      “Before posting I searched a little the Internet.”

      Oh boy. Another unashamed Google Galileo.

      “There are many good sources from where you can learn.”

      Yes, like the IPCC, NOAA, AMS, NAS, AGU, etc. All of which have found your claims to silly and unfounded. But I’m sure you read something this one time on a website somewhere that told you something different.

      • No, Scott I no longer use Google, I like to check various search engines not to rely on one. Same with the sources you mentioned.

    • Ray Ladbury

      Lars Per, your google-fu is weak.

      The 2-4.5 range is the 90% confidence interval for CO2 sensitivity–you know, the one determined by real scientists.

      Here’s a clue, food tube. Lucia is NOT a scientist. Nor is McI. Nor Watts. For that matter, nor is Lindzen any more. Dyson is NOT a climate scientist. Spencer just barely qualifies any more. Scientists don’t make shit up. We don’t have to. We have the evidence.

      • How easy you dismiss Dyson, one of the most brilliant minds of our time. That tells a lot about your thinking. Btw, Dyson is a physicist. I trust he knows a bit more of physics then many so called climate scientists. If you want to discuss heat transfer and radiating black body go check at Claes Johnson blog. Oh not “real scientists”? What are “real scientists”?
        If you have the evidence why don’t you protest the ones who keep evidence for themselves? Why resistance to FOIA request? Help skeptics to get the raw data! Do you agree that everybody should protest against people and institutions that resist FOIA?

        [Response: I’ll call your Freeman Dyson, and raise you Stephen Hawking.

        Dyson is a particle physicist. Not a climate scientist.]

      • @ Lars Per

        “Help skeptics to get the raw data!”

        Please, said data has been freely available for years and the “skeptics”, deniers and dissemblers like you have done nothing of substance with it.

        Your faux tone troll outrage does little to hide your paucity of genuine interest in learning about climate science, as the closed mindset you display and the prespecified narrative you deliver here is transparent to all.

      • Horatio Algeranon

        Everyone knows Stephen Hawking is just an armchair scientist. ~@:>

      • “Help skeptics to get the raw data!”

        It’s a pile of paper probably taller than Niagara Falls. There’s a reason it’s taken Phil Jones 30 years to do the job. How much would that cost you to get Fed-Ex’d to your doorstep?

        “Do you agree that everybody should protest against people and institutions that resist FOIA?”

        Nope. I think muppets who spam scientists instead of going to the sources of the data, the NMS’s, and doing some proper science are deliberate timewasters and showboaters playing a vaccuous political game of Gotcha in an effort to repeat the tobacco lobby’s delaying tactics, this time on AGW mitigation. Roy Spencer didn’t need the original raw data to replicate CRU’s results, he used his own independently sourced data.

      • Wow, Claes Johnson ? Even a lot of skeptics have shot holes in this guy’s attempts to rewrite physical equations he apparently does not understand (try his handwaving about statistical thermodynamics)

      • Ray Ladbury

        Lars, I dismiss Dyson’s opinions on climate science because it is clear he hasn’t bothered to research the subject. He’s too busy sketching out solutions involving genetically engineered, carbon-gobbling trees that will never exist.

        An0ther clue, turd fondler, the real scientists are those who are experts in the field they are pontificating upon–as evidenced by their publications and the citations thereof.

        Hell, dude, I’m a fricking physicist, but at least I know enough not to try telling experts how to do their job in fields where I am not an expert!

        [Response: Please, relax.]

    • Sorry Tamino, I take back that with big oil, was not fair argument.
      The point in my post was that the cooling registered during the 1970’s was enough for people like John Holdren (Global Ecology) and other also mentioned in the newspapers you mentioned to consider ice age scenario – (cooling trend mentioned of 0.2°C) which makes the starting point of the satellite measurement biased.
      To my understanding what we see in the arctic is exactly the part that I highlighted from the report.

      [Response: The part you highlighted deals only with the Nordic seas, which constitutes a very small fraction of Arctic sea ice, and only uses data up to 2002. But you’ve come to believe that it’s representative of “what we see in the arctic” — precisely because propaganda pieces like the NIPCC report want you to think that.

      It’s one of their most common (and effective) tactics: to focus on limited areas and/or limited time spans which they carefully select to give the impression they want. It’s the technique they used with their very first “evidence,” their portrayal of Johannessen et al. (the subject of this post). They started with old paper (12 years is very old regarding Arctic sea ice) in order to cherry-pick the end year — it’s not like we don’t have more recent data! But even that limited data contradicted their wishes, so they picked out the start year they wanted, the one that made “their case,” and claimed that “it could be argued from their data that from 1990/91 onward, sea ice area in the Arctic may have actually increased.” There was no mention that if you test statistically whether there’s any real evidence for such a trend reversal, the claim fails miserably because it’s fake.

      It’s archetypical cherry-picking: instead of letting the data tell you what’s happening, they let a foregone conclusion tell them what data to select and how to present it.

      Doesn’t it make you even a little bit suspicious that at no time — none — did they show you a graph of sea ice extent in the entire Arctic? Doesn’t it concern you that there’s no mention of the last several years’ data, when we’ve seen some very dramatic changes in that time (including the bottom dropping out in 2007, two years before the NIPCC report)? That almost every paper referred to was at least 5 years old at the time their report was published?

      If you want to know “what we see in the arctic,” here’s a graph of Arctic sea ice extent from Polyak et al. 2010 (Quaternary Science Reviews, 29, 1757-1778):

      Obviously it is not the way the NIPCC report made you believe.

      I urge you to become thoroughly familiar with the first graph in this post so you know what’s really happening to Arctic sea ice, with this graph so you know how it fits into the context of the last century, and with the last graph in this post so you know how far the NIPCC report can be trusted.]

    • Susan Anderson

      Reality check on searching the internet:

      I searched a little a few years back after I noticed that global warming was doing what they started to let us know it would do over the decades, with the warnings becoming clearer in the 1980s. I found a lot of information, all of it thorough and convincing. I also found a lot of disinformation, but a little work with google convinced me that every hopeful sally from the fake skeptics and their dupes was not credible. At this point, I would LOVE to find something true from that quarter, as the alternative is not pretty; and anyone successful at this, as opposed to spreading smog, would be famous beyond their wildest dreams. But a little observation from a perspective that is not too narrow (timeframe, a decade or so, preferably several decades, spaceframe, the whole fragile planet we all co-inhabit, despite exceptionalist preferences) would scare the pants off any truly rational person.

      Meanwhile, the infotainment industry, bent on short-term profits and pleasuring its wealthy sponsors, is busy providing us all with a distracting Roman circus. And our obsession with instant and constant entertainment is allowing us to ignore reality to a dangerous extent.

      But surely the last few years would give anyone rational furiously to think.

      Here’s a nice snippet via the BBC on the most recent distortions of the PNAS report just published, which I think provides a practical demonstration of how simple it is to notice reality if one faces facts:

      NASA data from BBC synopsis:

      1991-2001: +0.12C
      1992-2002: +0.43C
      1993-2003: +0.42C
      1994-2004: +0.25C
      1995-2005: +0.26C
      1996-2006: +0.26C
      1997-2007: +0.19C
      1998-2008: -0.12C
      1999-2009: +0.25C
      2000-2010: +0.30C

      I expect 2001-2011 will continue the trend. One eentsy exception won’t prove it. And the graphs of records including the entire record are quite clear, it’s only when you leave big gaps that you can “prove” contrary trends.

  52. Philippe Chantreau

    Chris R, Monckton should be prosecuted for lying to Congress. All the laws were already in place about that when he did it. I wouldn’t mind to see him in hot water for his BS, but, as Tamino pointed, there are more important things.

  53. Ray Ladbury

    Lars Per, One thing your reply makes clear–you aren’t a denialist and we owe you an apology for that epithet. What is still to be established is whether you are wilfully ignorant or too stupid to find the plentiful SCIENTIFIC resources out there that provide undeniable evidence that we are warming the planet and that it is a serious threat.

    Hint: Try reading what actual scientists say.

  54. Brian Blagden

    While Arctic Sea ice (extent and thickness) has clearly declined attributing this loss purely to CO2 induced warming is difficult and not as you suggest…

    “…easy — so easy a child could do it — to identify a change in either the extent or thickness of Arctic sea ice that could be attributed to the temperature increase in the Arctic…”

    Indeed your article, while showing the decline in Arctic sea ice (nice graphs), completely fails to attribute that decline to temperature increase.

    The papers and articles below are instructive in that they fail to identify anthropogenic causes as the main reason for sea ice loss but instead identify atmospheric circulation.

    From L. H. Smedsrud
    “ Arctic sea ice area decrease has been visible for two decades, and continues at a steady rate. Apart from melting, the southward drift through Fram Strait is the main loss. We present high resolution sea ice drift across 79° N from 2004 to 2010. The ice drift is based on radar satellite data and correspond well with variability in local geostrophic wind. The underlying current contributes with a constant southward speed close to 5 cm s−1, and drives about 33 % of the ice export. We use geostrophic winds derived from reanalysis data to calculate the Fram Strait ice area export back to 1957, finding that the sea ice area export recently is about 25 % larger than during the 1960’s. The increase in ice export occurred mostly during winter and is directly connected to higher southward ice drift velocities, due to stronger geostrophic winds. The increase in ice drift is large enough to counteract a decrease in ice concentration of the exported sea ice. Using storm tracking we link changes in geostrophic winds to more intense Nordic Sea low pressure systems. Annual sea ice export likely has a significant influence on the summer sea ice variability and we find low values in the 60’s, the late 80’s and 90’s, and particularly high values during 2005–2008. The study highlight the possible role of variability in ice export as an explanatory factor for understanding the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice the last decades.”

    The NASA article attributes the loss to – “Unusual atmospheric conditions set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic,” …”The winds causing this trend in ice reduction were set up by an unusual pattern of atmospheric pressure that began at the beginning of this century.”

    Clearly then there are a number of variables at play (not simply GHGs) the relative importance of each has yet to be determined.
    Who are the deniers?

    [Response: You are.

    Nobody in his right mind suggests that temperature is the only factor affecting the extent of Arctic sea ice. But the primary impact of other factors is to cause fluctuations, not trend. Furthermore, the only reason that factors like wind and currents have been able to exhibit increased impact on Arctic sea ice is that the drastic declining trend — due to warming — has so weakened and thinned the ice pack that it’s much more susceptible to these forces.

    That the trend is so large (incredibly so) just when the warming of the Arctic is so extreme (much more than before) isn’t just a coincidence. Please take your head out of the sand long enough to read how a real expert describes the changes of Arctic sea ice:

    The bottom line is that while winds can make a difference at times, the overriding factor in seasonal and long-term Arctic sea ice decline is that warmer temperatures lead to less ice.


    • Smedsrud et al. appears to be still in review– so don’t count those chickens just yet. Regardless, as has been explained above their work should not be used to try and claim that the decline in Arctic sea ice volume has nothing to do with AGW. By trying to do so the desperation of the “skeptics” and deniers is showing. They will probably still be denying that there is a problem even when most of the Arctic sea ice is gone in the late summer and early fall. Delay, delay, delay is their goal.

      Arctic amplification is a very nice fingerprint of the theory of AGW (see Screen and SImmonds 2010), and is also a big part of this extreme Arctic event that is unfolding right before the deniers’ eyes.

      Skeptics love cycles, right now we are in the midst of another….the Anthropocene….

      • Ah, but isn’t everything a confirmation of the AGW hoax?

        Indeed, were all of Greenland to collapse catastrophically and slide into the Arctic, our contrarian friends would be shouting “Massive sea ice recovery!” and patting themselves generously on the back for having predicted this all along.

      • Horatio Algeranon

        It appears we have now transitioned from the Enlightocene into the Skeptobscene.

    • arch stanton

      Your last citation, (Science “Winds, Not Just Global Warming, Eating Away at the Ice Sheets”) has nothing directly to do with sea ice. I does not support your statement. Furthermore, if you actually read the article, it deals with why glaciers and ice sheets have moved faster than glaciologists had expected given the amount of warming that has been observed.

      The article quotes Richard Alley a couple times and ends with this comment:

      “…The vagaries of the atmosphere may be sending some confusing signals about global warming, researchers say, but that’s no reason to stop worrying about the ice. “The really important thing is,” says Alley, “when you look at [climate] projections, you have warming around Greenland.” And that warmth now has an obvious way to get at the ice.”

      In case you are not aware of Richard Alley’s professional opinion about why the ice sheets and glaciers are MORE melting recently You really should view this video:

      Brian, whoever provided you with the Science link and caused you to believe that: “[It] [is] instructive in that [it] fail[s] to identify anthropogenic causes as the main reason for sea ice loss but instead identify atmospheric circulation.” either had poor reading comprehension, or was trying to mislead you. I suggest you be more skeptical of their comments in the future.

  55. Brian Blagden

    “Nobody in his right mind suggests that temperature is the only factor affecting the extent of Arctic sea ice.”
    I agree wholeheartedly with your above statement.

    However, you really should not be so self-deprecating. Nobody is suggesting that you are not in your right mind…(other than perhaps your good self).

    The theme of your post is that the extent and/or thickness of Arctic sea ice is attributable to the temperature increase in the Arctic…as evidenced by your statement:

    “…It’s not difficult. It’s easy — so easy a child could do it — to identify a change in either the extent or thickness of Arctic sea ice that could be attributed to the temperature increase in the Arctic…”

    Oh and this…in relation to your graph showing the timeseries of ice extent
    “Identifying a change in Arctic sea ice extent that can be attributed to temperature is as easy as looking at this graph:”

    Personally I feel that there are many contributing causes of Arctic Ice loss (including global warming). there is a useful post at Climate Etc. by Judith Curry that perhaps your readers may be interested in (see:

    Judith concludes:
    “There are many indicators that natural variability has a strong influence on the variability of sea ice extent on decadal to millennial timescales. IMO, the strongest argument for sea ice decline over the last decade for being unusual and at least in part attributable to global warming is this (from Polyakov et al.): The severity of present ice loss can be highlighted by the breakup of ice shelves at the northern coast of Ellesmere Island, which have been stable until recently for at least several thousand years based on geological data.

    The overall decline of sea ice with global warming has been predicted by climate model simulations since the past several decades. However, the observed decline does not follow in a simple way the increase in CO2 or variability in global or local Arctic surface air temperatures.
    If natural variability is dominant, the sea ice extent could increase if the AO stays predominanly negative, the PDO stays cool, and the AMO switches to the cool phase (a scenario that might occur sometime in the next 2-3 decades).

    A complex interplay between natural internal variability and CO2 forcing is the most like explanation. Further research is needed particularly on role of natural internal variability in influencing sea ice thickness and extent.”

    [Response: None of which alters the fact that the dominant factor in the dramatic decline over the last several decades is global warming. In fact one of the conclusions of Smedsrud et al. is that increased ice export is one of the reasons that Arctic sea ice decline has been greater than predicted by climate models on the basis of increased temperature due to greenhouse gases. And as I said (and Smedsrud et al. seems to agree), it’s the thinning of the ice pack due to global warming that has enabled other factors (winds and currents) to bring about an increase in ice export — in spite of the fact that nowadays, there’s less ice to export.

    As for Curry’s statement about natural variability, who disputes that either? The salient point is that natural variability observed over the last century (and probably, according to Polyak et al., over the last several thousand years) can’t match what we’ve seen in the last few decades, either in magnitude or rapidity. And it just happens to occur when temperature in the Arctic is soaring, and the experts (like Walt Meier) say that no known natural cause can explain it. You really have to bury your head in the sand not to make the connection.

    As for the theme of this post, it’s that the NIPCC report deliberately misleads readers about Arctic sea ice. They are not real skeptics, they’re fake skeptics.]

    • Ray Ladbury

      Brian Blagden,
      A scientist does not look at a single aspect of a complex phenomenon when trying to understand its causes. If loss of ice were occurring in isolation from a global increase in temperature, loss of glaciers, loss of Antarctic ice (as evidenced by GRACE) and so on, you might have a point. However, when you consider the totality of the evidence, it is simply silly to deny the reality of anthropogenic climate change. And of course, increasing temperatures should melt ice–or do you deny that as well?

    • Didactylos

      Ah, the tired old “delay, delay, delay” argument. We heard that decades ago. And the evidence since then has all gone one way, and mounted up to a formidable argument.

      And still you want to delay. In 30 years time, when the ice is all gone in summer, and global warming is beginning to bite, you will *still* be parroting Curry – “Further research is needed”!

      Most people learn in primary school (or earlier) that ice eventually melts when you warm it up. It’s really not complicated, unlike some of the finer points of climatology.

      So, feel free to wave around technicalities and points of science that pass beyond your understanding – but don’t fool yourself into thinking that *your* ignorance is shared by scientists in general, or that debate about minutiae changes the larger picture.

  56. LP: Lets assume CO2 does nothing of the warming.

    BPL: Lets assume that gravity works by an inverse-cube law and that the world was created just as it is only 300 years ago.

  57. We can all lament the deception industry (e.g. Heartland and their diversionary “conference” and reports), but the problem goes beyond that clique.

    For example, I see that today the Fairfax Media group in Australia, publishers of the SMH and other mastheads and plenty of online sites, is pushing an opinion piece by Bob Carter full of the usual talking points one would expect from him.

    Fairfax Media does this because it is in their best interest to prolong, and even enhance, controversy for as long as possible. This gives them material to cover and thus ad space to sell and thus to generate revenue.

    Thus the denier industry is secured as far as future outlets for their spiel.

    We’re up against human nature here, fundamental needs of humans to interact, generate work, and find meaning.

    Not to mention money.

    So, does it really matter if the “skeptics” are “real or fake”?

    [Response: There’s more than one dog in this fight. Let’s hope they underestimate us.]

    • Chris O'Neill

      So, does it really matter if the “skeptics” are “real or fake”?

      No more than whether something is real or fake ever really matters. You do think it matters if something (a diamond, say) is real or fake don’t you?

  58. [edit]

    Since you have no scientific evidence to support your so-called skepticism, you resort to accusing scientists of a coverup. Ad hominem of the worst kind — an outright, detestable lie.

  59. I thought, initially, that Lars might actually be what he claimed; a true skeptic who was misinformed. Clearly not. However, for anyone who fits that bill, and is interested in becoming informed, I have a suggestion. Look at statements and information from broad scientific groups. Go to the National Academy of Sciences, or the Royal Society, or Environment Canada, or similar national grup of scientists.
    If AGW was merely ‘groupthink’ of a small clique, seriously flawed, or a funding scam, these groups will be strongly against the practice and funding. After all, science funding is limited, and money wasted on bad ideas is not available for good ideas. Call it the argument from self-interest.
    But each of these groups agrees the issue is real, will have serious consequences, and needs both action and further research. Even though this will decrease funds available for 95% of their members, they see this as an important issue. Something for a knowledge-seeker to consider.
    (And thanks, taxpayers, for the money I’m helping spend in health research – 70% of what we asked for, so we have to continue fundraising – but it’s a start).

  60. The skeptics are skeptics of Global Warming, they are skeptics of Global Warming as a result of burning fossil fuels.

    [Response: Then why did the NIPCC report — the summary of the best-organized skeptics conference which claims to be the work of their leading experts — suggest a fake trend in order to give the blatantly false impression that Arctic sea ice had stopped declining? They are not skeptics at all. They’re fake skeptics.]

    Global Warming is real, but is a completely natural phenomenon. The world has been getting hotter by a degree or so every few thousand years (IIRC).

    [Response: No, you do not recall correctly.]

    I’m not a scientist, so I’m not going to wager whether the onset of fossil fuels has sped up Global Warming, however, from what I have gathered from the scientific articles I have read is that there is no conclusive evidence that fossil fuels are causing it, and that it could be just part of the natural order of things.

    [Response: I am a scientist. I’m not a climate scientist, but the scientific articles I’ve read (by which I mean, research published in peer-reviewed science journals) shows conclusive evidence that greenhouse gases are causing global warming, and burning fossil fuels is the primary source of the increased greenhouse gases (human-caused land-use changes also contribute, as does cement production, animal husbandry, etc.). I suspect most of the articles you’ve read which gave you the wrong impression are *not* scientific articles but the work of fake skeptics. I also suspect they made a sucker out of you. They’re good at that.

    You don’t have to be their fool. Try applying some healthy skepticism to those who call themselves skeptics. Look here.]

    • Ray Ladbury

      Brandon, you’ve admitted you aren’t a scientist. Now pray, why should we pay the faintest attention to what you say about science when the scientsts are all pretty much saying the opposite. Are you really that dumb? Or are you just wilfully ignorant?

      [Response: Ray, some who make comments like his might actually be open-minded enough to realize that they’ve been hoodwinked. It’s our job to enlighten them. I hoped Lars Per was such a person, but it turned out not to be so. Still, we have to try to enlighten the next one. This doesn’t help.]

      • Ray Ladbury

        It has been my experience that those who are seeking education begin by asking questions…sincere questions. After all, it is not as if there is a lack of resources for finding out the science from actual scientists. Refusal to look for these resources means that one has made a conscious decision not to trust the experts. That is stupidity distilled to toxic levels. Ignorance I will inform. Lack of intelligence I will try to inform in simple terms. Stupidity requires a warning level.

        [Response: I agree that that happens a lot. But it’s at least possible for someone to be persuaded by misinformation and therefore ask false, nonsensical, or misleading questions, but still be open-minded enough to realize the truth if it’s presented rationally.

        Who is whom? I suppose it’s a judgement call. If you blog long enough, you get better at spotting the fake skeptics (although never infallible). But I still hope to err on the side of caution — there’s more joy in heaven for one lost lamb returned to the fold, than for a hundred never lost.

        And I too get frustrated with toxic stupidity.]

    • This is getting really annoying.
      CO2 is proven to be a green house gas.
      The burning of fossil fuels releases sequestered CO2 contained in coal and oil back into the atmosphere.
      We are now at 394 ppm CO2 and increasing.
      This increase started with the dawning of the Industrial Revolution when we started burning coal in earnst.
      The planet cannot resequester this CO2 fast enough so the ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere increases.
      CO2 is a green house gas.
      The planet warms.
      Is there anything here that fails the test of logic?
      Anyone who thinks we can burn millions of tons of coal and hundreds of millions barrels of oil and have absolutely no effect in any way is living is some kind of bizarre dream world.

  61. @Tamino: “But the primary impact of other factors is to cause fluctuations, not trend. “

    …sigh… How many times must this be restated? Will it ever sink in?

    No. Deniers will not—nay, cannot—ever admit this simple fact. They will continue to draw straight lines between data points until the ice is gone.

  62. Dyson? How about Hawking, Sagan AND Isaac Asimov.



    [Response: Note to commenters: if you want to link to a video please use html tags (make a link out of what youtube gives you), otherwise wordpress will embed the video.]

  63. Horatio Algeranon

    Wonderful World Of Climate “Skeptics”
    –Horatio Algeranon’s rendition of the song by Sam Cooke

    Don’t know much about the climate of earth
    Never took a class for what it’s worth
    Don’t know much about a science book
    Can’t recall the math that I once took

    But I do know AGW is wrong
    And I know that if I sing my song
    What a wonderful world this will be

    Don’t know much about the IPCC
    Don’t know much cosmetology
    Don’t know much about CO2
    Paleoclimate or sea ice too

    But I know that “CO2 is life”
    And if I knew as much as Barney Fife
    What a wonderful world this would be

    Now I don’t claim to be a cosmetologist
    But I’m trying to be
    For maybe by being a cosmetologist, baby
    I can win your belief in me

    Don’t know much about the climate of earth
    Never took a class for what it’s worth
    Don’t know much about a science book
    Can’t recall the math that I once took

    But I do know that AGW is wrong
    And I know that if I sing my song
    What a wonderful world this will be

    tralalala (… I can’t hear you)

    But I do know AGW is wrong
    And I know that if I sing my song
    What a wonderful world this will be

  64. Lars Per has a history of denialism over at Lambert’s blog from a few years ago. I don’t think he/she/it is likely to change.

  65. Brian Blagden

    Arch Stanton,
    Good point well made, the last citation snuck in probably because of bad cut and paste on my behalf. I will endeavour to take a look at the video link you provided…thanks, much appreciated.

    Ray Ladbury
    You are absolutely correct a…”scientist does not look at a single aspect of a complex phenomenon when trying to understand its causes.” Tamino in his response to Brandon Selstad states “I am a scientist…” it is therefore all the more perplexing why his item does exactly what you say a scientist should not do i.e. to focus on the single issue of temperature impact on Sea Ice.


    [Response: This is a blatant smear. You owe me an apology.

    The subject of this post is the treatment of Arctic sea ice by the NIPCC report, and their misrepresentation of same. Your suggestion that I should not focus on the subject of the post is nothing but a groundless insult. You didn’t do it to further anybody’s understanding — you just wanted to take a shot at me.

    Either apologize, or you have no honor and you’ll certainly never comment here again.]

    • Kevin Stanley

      Oh, come on Brian. Seriously. If you honestly want to characterize the factors Tamino considers in his understanding of sea ice dynamics, go read the posts he linked in that passage that seems to have offended your sensibilities so much. If you don’t want to characterize his position *in general*, but only his argument in *this post*, then honesty (not to mention rationality) compels you to treat it in context:

      A. It’s a blog post, not a textbook chapter
      B. A particular issue is set up–treatment of arctic sea ice changes as a litmus test for whether someone is actually a skeptic, or something else using false skepticism as a disguise
      C. An example is given of how a particular group failed this test for honesty.

      Are you really trying to say that you believe he does not consider things like wind and ice export? If so, you are shown wrong not only by previous posts, but even by his responses to you in this comment thread–although you don’t acknowledge that in your subsequent comments. On the other hand, are you really trying to say that in the context of this blog post, he had an obligation to to list as many ice-impacting factors as he could think of? Should everyone who discusses sea ice have to do that every time they address the subject? Or is linking to previous posts, as Tamino has done, sufficient?

    • Ray Ladbury

      Brian Blagden, there are two possible interpretations of your post. Neither is flattering to you. On the one hand, it could be that you are sufficiently dim that you did not think to look at the rest of Tamino’s blog, which contains a plethora of elegant takedowns of denialists on all the arguments they use. It could be that despite feeling it necessary to comment on the subject, you are utterly ignorant of the basics involved (Dunning-Kruger on steroids). The other possible interpretation is that you are so dishonest that you are trying to construct a clumsy lie, hoping that other commenter–most of them regulars on this blog–would not notice.

      I am going to hope that you are merely stupid, rather than both stupid and dishonest.

  66. arch stanton

    Brian – “well made” was a generous comment considering the grammatical errors you chose to overlook.

    I hope you find the time to look at the video. Dr. Richard Alley is an entertaining and engaging speaker and his “The Biggest Control Knob” lecture clarifies many straw man misconceptions that have been propagated by climate denialists. It is a lecture and as such does not have the foreboding music and sinister images that are all too often employed in propaganda videos (of any position).

  67. Steven Mosher

    Hey Tamino,

    I’ll make you an offer. I’ve just posted up version 1.1 of a new R package.
    RghcnV3. basically it gives people the tools for reading in GHCN V3 data and performing a simple common anomaly approach to calculating global temperature. I would like to add your method to the package.
    To do that I would need your code. I’ll take care of rewriting it as a series of functions and writing the manual. No worries if you’d rather not.

    [Response: These days I use a modified version of the Berkeley algorithm. Basically it combines station records while computing offsets, but unlike the Berkeley method uses a uniform “weighting function,” treating the whole area as a single entity since it’s intended to be local rather than global. I’ll post the code within a week (I’ve got a lot going on, including a paper review I have to finish soon).

    I’ll have to dig up the old code if you want that too. There’s also RomanM’s modification which computes a separate offset for each month. How amibitious do you want to be?]

  68. Steven Mosher

    Take your time. I’ll start with your newer code.. I’m putting some finishing refinements into the CAM approach and organizing the code and adding comments and filling out the manual.

    I’ve asked roman to explain his stuff in a bit more detail. Writing the docs is a PITA so I need to make sure I’m understanding what is happening versus just making it run.

    I’ll add nick stokes stuff in as well.

  69. John Brookes

    When I read this post, I can’t see anything wrong with Tamino’s analysis. I’ve tried to be skeptical, but no obvious errors spring to mind, and the “skeptics” who have commented really don’t seem to have anything valid to add.

    In short, if “skeptics” did as good a job as Tamino, they would win some friends. Unfortunately so many “skeptic” arguments are obviously wrong. But that is because its an unfair fight. Like being given the affirmative position in a debate on “Ants are bigger than dinosaurs”.

    Shouldn’t there be some sort of rule which says that if someone is caught misrepresenting the facts more than once, we don’t have to listen to them any more?

  70. Tamino,
    I do not necessarily want this published at the website unless you think it might bring some value in doing so.

    I just wanted to make sure I understood something. This Steven Mosher who you so willingly surrender your code to. Is that the same punk that pulled this horseshit a few years back at Climate Audit:

    • • steven mosher
    Posted Mar 20, 2008 at 3:00 PM | Permalink |


    [Response: Yes, it’s the same guy. Yes, I agree that his behavior was reprehensible.

    But this is another issue altogether. There’s nothing secret about my method anyway, or about the Berkeley method that I’ve modified for present use. And I see no reason to inhibit a free tool to enable people to explore the GHCN V3.

    Since he seems willing to do the work to make it so, and all I have to do is provide just enough explanation to make the code comprehensible, I’ll gladly donate my code to the effort.]

  71. Doug Allen

    I’ve read a few times that black carbon soot may be the significant AGW forcing of arctic ice melt. It seems to me that if the negative anomaly is greater in summer than in the dark winter, that would be supporting evidence for this hypothesis, and if that is not the case, then AGW CO2 (plus whatever natural variability) is the more likely cause.
    Tamiano, do you or someone here have that information?

    [Response: Where did you get the idea it had to be one or the other but not both?]

    • Anything to not have CO2v do it and blame something else :P

      Meantime read up on the desert/cultivated bare land sands/dust that have been landing on the Rocky Mountain snow and glaciers causing accelerated melt there too… and water shortage in summer, such as it is building in Asia, south of the Himalayas.

      Interesting was that ice cores analysis of recent decade have not been able to find any fallout particles from the open air nuke tests in the 50s/60s. The ultimate proof that at least the last 50-60 years top layer of snow cover has gone from Greenland and other permanent ice covered places.

      Yes we can, yes we do.


      PS, would those ABC (Atmospheric Brown Clouds) be causing warming or cooling to offset/mask CO2 effects?

  72. top layer of snow cover has gone from Greenland and other permanent ice covered places

    Sekerob, I may be being a bit thick here, but by this do you mean fractionated down into the snow column or what? Where are you suggesting it has “gone”…remobilised as aerosol?

    • Hasis | July 8, 2011 at 1:55 pm

      Answer: fractionated down but guess a more probable run off into the ocean / lakes / pools below glaciers. From there’s no trace where it might have gone, but on gone aerosol… I’d not worry. Wonder whatever happened to that yellow ducky experiment they did last year or the year before on Greenland when they let some 20-25 loose on top. Did any resurface… never read more about it.

  73. Susan Anderson

    I’ve always liked the term fake skeptic (started out with pseudo but decided that was too furrin’). It allows one to define true skeptics and explain that all real scientists are skeptics, unlike the faith-based fakers who only question the majority, not their biased minority whom they take with no spice. Since deniers have complained that the dictionary definition is not what we mean and we are insulting them by comparing them to Nazis, it also sidesteps that issue. Clarity and plain English for those whose little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

    • Myself, I’ve always preferred the term “lying sacks of festering rat feces,” but there are some who consider this pejorative… to rat feces.

      • Susan Anderson

        yes. It’s hard to find words hard enough or descriptive enough to reveal the depths of depravity, ignorance, obstinacy and/or stupidity involved. Hatred seems to have become an acceptable motive force for these people, and since they are that way, they think we are too.

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        Hey, I resemble that remark. Or at least me feces do!

  74. Black carbon effects on Arctic warming and Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs):

    McConnell et al [*] published data from Greenland ice cores that show that the greatest effects of black carbon on Artic ice occurred in the period rising from around 1900 to 1930, and then dropping back down to low levels by 1950, with occasional pulses (due to forest fires) from then.

    So the dominant effects of black carbon on Arctic ice albedo were in the early to mid 20th century, and perhaps that was a significant contribution to the Arctic warmth in the early part of the 20th century. The median estimated surface forcing (during early summer) was around 0.42 W/m2 before 1850, and was around 1.13 W/m2 in the period 1850-1951, with values as high as 3.2 Wm2 in the early 20th century. It’s been around 0.59 W/m2 since 1951 to present.

    [*] J. R. McConnell et al (2007) 20th-century industrial black carbon emissions altered arctic climate forcing; Science 317, 1381-1384.

    Albedo effects of black carbon on snow/ice seem rather more problematic for the Himalayas/Tibetan plateau/NE China regions (consistent with a dominant source for black carbon in Asia), where black carbon albedo forcings can reach 4.5 W/m2. [**]

    [**] J. Ming et al (2008) Black carbon record based on a shallow Himalayan ice core and its climatic implications; Atmospheric Chemistry And Physics 8, 1343-1352.

    Hansen et al (2007) estimate a contribution of black carbon/ice albedo effects of 0.065 oC to total global warming since the start of the industrial age [***]. This would obviously be larger locally (where the snow/ice is!), but the albedo effects act only during part of the year and at least for the Arctic were predominant in the period up to the 1950’s (see [*]).

    [***] Hansen, J et al. (2007) Climate simulations for 1880-2003 with GISS modelE. Clim. Dynam., 29, 661-696.

    Click to access 2007_Hansen_etal_3_small.pdf

    Ramanathan’s data indicate that the nett effect of Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABC) is cooling:

    V. Ramanathan & G. Carmichael (2008) Global and regional climate changes due to black carbon; Nature Geoscience 1, 221-227.

    e.g. in Table 2 R&C diagram the contributions from various man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) and man-made aerosols, considering the effect on both the atmosphere or surface:

    all GHG’s (CO2, methane, N20, halons, ozone):
    atmosphere +1.4
    surface +1.6
    total +3.0 (W/m2)

    black carbon (BC):
    atmosphere +2.6
    surface -1.7
    total +0.9

    non BC man-made aerosols:
    atmosphere +0.4
    surface -2.7
    total -2.3

    So total man-made aerosols including that of BC are strongly nett cooling. One would need to eliminate BC selectively to mitigate part of global warming. As R&C say (page 226, column 1):

    “The logical deduction from Fig 2a,c,d is that elimination of present day ABCs through emission strategies would intensify surface warming by 0.4 to 2.4 oC. If only the non-BC aerosols were controlled, it could potentially add 2.3 W/m2 to the TOA forcing and push the system closer to the 3 oC cumulative warming (since 1850s), which is a likely threshold for unprecedented climate change.”

  75. DeNihilist

    But, but, but Tamino, you didn’t look at the effect of the rising seal population and their warm urine on the effects of the melt!!!!!

    Trust me, said with my tongue stuffed completely in my cheek.

    Actually Mr. T, just wanted to say thanx for your time in my rather slow education.

  76. Rob Honeycutt

    This is a very interesting thread to read through given the comments coming from the self-professed skeptics. You’ll forgive me a little pop psychology but their responses reminds me of a Carl Jung quote I read years ago. “Fanaticism is always a sign of repressed doubt.”

    I see this everywhere I read and comment on climate change. The ferocity with which these guys avoid what are often even the most basic scientific facts in favor of their preferred conclusions (delivered on a platter by websites like WUWT, the NIPCC and others) is nothing short of astounding. Even this very clear and blatant deception that Tamino has pointed out in this post is rejected out of hand without considering… without considering anything as far as I can see.

    What I read into this is a deep sense of doubt on their part. The deeper the doubt the more fanatical and irrational the response to the facts presented to them.

    With the upcoming fifth IPCC report it’s going to be interesting to watch the reactions. We all know that the science supporting AGW has only deepened and the report is likely to be even more conclusive than the last. I can only imagine that the counter response is going to be proportionately negative.

    • Susan Anderson

      Good point. Unfortunately, serious-minded people are devoting a lot of time and energy on the truth, without realizing that the truth in this case carries negative weight because fear is stronger. How else could you have an insider club of extreme wealth holding those whose self-interest should lead them in the opposite direction hostage to their scummy greedy agenda?

  77. “The ferocity with which these guys avoid what are often even the most basic scientific facts in favor of their preferred conclusions. . .”

    And even elementary logic or common sense. Deniers refuse to transfer what they know about fiscal budgeting to energy budgeting, even though the arithmetic and logic are the same. Or they insist that an arbitrary statistical baseline means that some warming ‘doesn’t count.’ Or, as in the case of Mr. Hall above, they drag proxies into a discussion about what the instrumental record shows. Or–well, I have many more real-life examples.

    There was a time when I used to try to use logic to get my late mother to reconsider her smoking habit. I gave up after a particularly persistent pursuit of logical questions (eg., “Well, you may not inhale directly, but you are still breathing inside a cloud of smoke, aren’t you?”) led ultimately to utterly incoherent non-responses on her part. It was as if her neocortex had largely shut down under the emotional stress–not of an angry confrontation (our tones were quite civil) but of contemplating a highly Inconvenient Truth.

    Unfortunately, giving up isn’t really an option in the climate ‘debate.’

    “The effect of misinformation on memory and reasoning cannot be completely eliminated, even after it has been corrected numerous times, say Australian psychologists.
    Assistant Professor Ullrich Ecker and colleagues from The University of Western Australia outline their findings in a recent article published in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review….”

    Click to access Ecker.IP2011.PBR.pdf

    • But it’s not a straightforward function, luckily. Most of what I’ve learned about this whole climate change issue came as a result of being presented what I would now mostly term denialist arguments and asking “Really?” Implicit in that was that I was also asking that same question of the ‘mainstream’ position. I really wanted to get at the truth, as best as I could. It’s true that my ‘default’ was that the mainstream would likely be shown to be correct, but I was open to the opposite outcome, if that was where the facts led.

      Of course, in doing so, I was acting like a true, not fake, skeptic.

  79. Oh, and:
    “Here is a recent (July 12, 2011) ABC-1 TV interview on our research on misinformation (this is the ‘uncensored’ version including some remarks on climate change that ABC chose to remove from the version aired in Perth).”

  80. manicbeancounter

    The term “fake skeptic” is a term of intolerance. [edit]

    [Response: On the contrary, the term is exactly correct.]

    • “Intolerance of manipulation is no vice; tolerance of mendacity is no virtue”–to paraphrase a famous aphorism.

    • arch stanton

      I think we have some kind of PC corollary to Godwin’s Law here.

    • Horatio Algeranon

      Well, Kevin,

      Aphor is certainly entitled to his opinions (and seems to have a lot of them) but some prefer the (even more famous) saying “Intolerance of vice is no virtue ” (Anonymouse)

  81. manicbeancounter,
    Is “liar” a pejorative for a man who lies? Pray, why should we tolerate liars.

  82. Manicbeancounter,
    Do you consider “liar” a similarly intolerant term for a man who lies? Pray, why should we tolerate lies?

  83. How can you be a sceptic if you’ve come to a decision?