Who Should Pay for Solar Geoengineering Liability?

A question raised by the normally sensible Geoengineering Politics. They come to an odd conclusion:

any damages caused by SRM [Solar Radiation Management, I believe – W] would essentially be the negative side effects of a response measure intended to remediate harms caused by excessive fossil fuel use, and fossil fuel companies have been the primary direct beneficiaries of this activity, it stands to reason that they should be the ones to pay for its cleanup

and offer an analogy:

This is precisely how the international oil spill liability regime works–the International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) Funds, financed exclusively by oil companies, have paid out more than $700 million in compensation since 1978

Now there is a problem with this analogy, or rather two. The first and most obvious is that oil spills are caused directly by the oil companies, and dealing with them is a cost of their operation (or they could tighten up their procedures and spill less, which would also cost, but differently). You could argue that paying for SRM is analogous to paying for oil spills, but paying for getting it wrong is stretching things a bit. If some (company, or govt) puts up mirror-satellites to reduce incoming solar, and accidentally fries Australia, is that really the fault of those who put the CO2 in the atmosphere? This is perhaps part of the fun that things like geoengineering will inevitably lead to. After all, GW will have benefits as well as costs, so sorting out whether those who would have benefited are allowed to sue those who prevented that benefit would be fun.

The second problem is that spilling fuel is a consequence of extracting or transporting oil, but not a necessary consequence. Thus its reasonable to expect the companies to minimise it, and to fine (or otherwise force them to pay up to clear up the mess) if they do spill. Whereas emitting CO2 (most fossil fuel is inevitably going to get burned at some point in its use cycle) is essentially a necessary consequence of extracting and selling fuels.

I’m also dubious about the assertion that in regard to excessive fossil fuel use, … fossil fuel companies have been the primary direct beneficiaries of this activity. As I said before, I think the primary beneficiary has been the consumer of the fossil fuels, not the companies.

In other news

* The Free Speech Brigade Suppresses Free Speech – Barry Bickmore tries to pin down the jelly that is people who feel “unease” about the Mann-vs-Steyn lawsuit, and finds that even Professor Stephen L. Carter, of the Yale Law School is quite wibbly-wobbly and finds great trouble in saying what he really means. Which isn’t very surprising, because he’s trying to defend the indefensible.
* ATTP offers A quick science lesson for Lord Lawson who is (as you’d expect of anyone associated with the GWPF) in desperate need of education. Which brings us neatly on to
* Tamino, who finds “skeptics” who are Making up stuff. There’s a common thread to all this, no?

Speaking of utter drivel, I found Derek CAVEMAN SCIENTIST desperately trying to understand the GHE. Well, not even that really: he’s trying to understand the simplified 1-layer atmosphere model. But he can’t do maths, and doesn’t appear to understand what all the squiggly symbols are, so he’s doomed. Its more sad than anything else.

Update: another view

So, my conclusion was that we’re unlikely to try geoengineering any tmie soon: even if we could get the physical problems out of the way, there are massive legal ones too. However, DA points out another side of the issue: if we do once start geoengineering, are we likely to just stop at just fixing up problems?

Bloggers behaving badly

Maybe I should save this stanza for a slightly more apt occasion, but I’m impatient, so:

But my Totem saw the shame; from his ridgepole-shrine he came,
And he told me in a vision of the night: —
“There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
“And every single one of them is right!”

(Kipling, In the Neolithic Age, of course). But back to the post.

We might hope that the blogosphere would be full of reasoned debate, with people making interesting points supported by logical argument and careful references. Of course, any such hope would be dashed by fare such as posts titled “IPCC: not science, just dishonest!” (I’ve deliberately not linked that; before I go on, try and guess who that is) and quotes like:

Now, (yet again) these climate “scientists” have been caught out working not to the level of science, nor even to the standards of economics, but at a standard so appalling it would not be tolerated by any politician. Claiming to be “scientists”, getting public money to be “scientists” and then not behaving as “scientist” is totally dishonest. And when these people obtain public grants as “scientists” and they are not, such dishonesty must be fraud.

That’s a direct, and entirely false, accusation of fraud and dishonesty. What saves it from being actionable, in my humble non-legal opinion, is the careful avoidance of any specific individual targets.

Now, lets compare that to a minor kerfuffle that my attention was drawn to, viz The Sceptic View (Rev. 0.5) by ScottishSceptic – examined by CC and the follow-up, Dear ScottishSceptic, why do you keep threatening me? (you guessed, didn’t you?). This, in turn, is a critique of The Sceptic View (Rev. 0.5). Before I go any further, I’ll take a moment to revisit my criticism of (some small aspects of) that. This occurs in the comments on another post, sceptics vs. academics (a post so bizarre as to be largely surreal) and which (keep up at the back there!) has a post commenting on it at ATTP.

Anyway, I said

Its sweet that you try to claim the “hard facts” for your side. But that’s hard to reconcile with your view, that you say most “skeptics” support, that “Current estimates of about 0.8 C temperature rise in the past 150 years are very likely too high. There is compelling evidence of malpractice, urban heating and poor instruments & siting. A figure of 0.5-0.6C warming appears more likely”, and which you say is based on

“We had a discussion on this on WUWT (which I cannot find!!) where the consensus was around 0.5-0.6C from memory!! I felt if we said “the 0.8 figure is wrong”, I had to give a sense of what kind of warming we felt could be realistic.”

There are no hard facts in your revision, just your memory, which is as fallible as everyone else’s.

If the IPCC tried to produce temperature records, or evidence for or against UHI, based on “errm, a discussion we had somewhere, I can’t find it now” you would (correctly) rip them to shreds. But when it comes to your own words, suuddenly your “skepticism” disappears.

this gets a non-answer, as you’d expect, and it continues further on if you can bear it. So far, so many excuses for swipes by me, but bear with me, the connection will become clear in due course. Now, back to SS’s complaints (SS is ScottishSceptic) against CC’s posts (CC is citizenschallenge). SS complains under two headings, copyright and libel.


But before I do that… Wikipedia has an interesting and possibly relevant policy, WP:NLT which is, somewhat expanded, “No legal threats”:

This page in a nutshell: If you have a dispute with the community or its members, use dispute resolution. If you do choose to use legal action or threats of legal action to resolve disputes, you will not be allowed to continue editing until it is resolved and your user account and or IP address may be blocked. A polite report of a legal problem such as defamation or copyright infringement is not a threat and will be acted on quickly.

Within the blogosphere, I’d translate this into: if you’ve got a problem, start off by making a reasonable attempt to solve it reasonably. In this case I don’t think it would have worked, but it was worth a go nonetheless. Within wiki, the policy is strictly enforced, and does a good job of preventing people using legal threats as a debating trick, or to intimidate people in argument. You can go to law of course, if you really want, but if you do you’re off in a different arena and can no longer participate on wiki.


Claim one is The document is my copyright. You have copied it without permission.

It is true that CC has reproduced SS’s “Sceptic View (Rev. 0.5)” statement. However CC has done it in blocks, and clearly with the purpose of critiquing it, and the original is clearly attributed. It might also be argued that the document isn’t clearly SS’s copyright: as it says of itself, its been compiled from the views and with the input of numerous others.

I would also argue that anyone publishing a “statement” that is clearly political in nature offers an implied right to reproduce it – indeed, it seems pretty clear that SS would like the document itself to be widely publicised; what he is really objecting to are the critical comments.

Is it possible to permit copying only if no critical comments are made, but permit and encourage it otherwise? Perhaps. It hardly fits within a desire for vigourous debate, though: it smacks strongly of defensiveness.

What of the moral issue? Here the answer seems clear: because the document’s original source has been clearly attributed, and its been so cut about that no-one would copy the copy, they’d certainly go back to the original, I can’t see that any theft of intellectual property has occurred.


Claim two is and then listed it under “denial industry” making numerous false claims. This is a libel… (is there a missing “and” in there? I.e., should this read under “denial industry” and making numerous false claims? Or is this suggesting that the listing, under “denial industry”, in itself constitutes numerous (false) claims? That seems an odd reading; I’ll go with the former).

I’m not sure what the “numerous false claims” are supposed to be. On a quick skim, I’d say that CC is more correct than SS. I’ve already noted the problem with the arbitrary lopping off of 0.2 oC. It would be interesting to see SS back up the NFC assertion with evidence, but based on past behaviour I consider this unlikely.

di The unambiguous claim, though, is that by filing the post under “denial industry” CC has, errm, labelled SS as part of the denial industry (BTW, allow me to make it clear that I don’t think the SS is part of a “denial industry”. He says he isn’t paid for anything he writes, and I know of no reason to dispute that). But… well, firstly, its not exactly prominent. Here’s a half-size screen grab, but remember its taken from the bottom of a loooong post. Secondly, its also labelled “AGW educational link”, which is far from uncomplimentary. Third, I’m dubious that just putting a post into a category is really as serious as SS thinks. It seems rather thin-skinned to me.

Conclusion: clean hands?

Morally, I can’t see that SS has much of a case, even on the merits of these few posts taken in isolation. But more than that, SS doesn’t have “clean hands”. The quote I started with – when these people obtain public grants as “scientists” and they are not, such dishonesty must be fraud – isn’t an isolated example; you could find many more at his blog. More, there’s a complete lack of reflection, or self-consciousness, or any ability to read his own words as others would. Try this comment of his for example, ending There are two standards of morality in this debate – ours which is what any reasonable person would expect – and that of your side which would lock us up and tattoo us for the crime of saying it isn’t currently warming. Need I say more, guv?

The fatal lure of making stuff up

Two posts in one day! You do spoil us, ambassador.

Whenever one or more denialists gather together or alone, they inevitably make something up about climatology, and then criticise climatologists for doing whatever imaginary thing it is they’ve made up. Today’s invention is linearity (but, sigh, I’m giving too much credit for novelty, of which there is none. I mean, of course, reinvention):

global climate models are all based around the idea that in the long run, when we calculate the global temperature everything else averages out, and we’re left with the claim that the change in temperature is equal to the climate sensitivity times the change in forcing. Mathematically, this is: ∆T = lambda ∆F

Linearity is indeed a useful concept, and the concept of climate sensitivity is only useful if some kind of quasi-linear relation holds between forcing and response. But as ever the denialists have it all backwards. Climate sensitivity is an emergent property not an imposed one; and the things that everyone thinks of as “global climate models” – i.e. the vast AOGCMs that contribute to the IPCC runs that we all see wiggly lines from – don’t make the linearity assumption at all. It turns out that if you study the results from the models you do indeed find this quasi-linear relationship, which is why CS is a useful concept, and why you can then use CS as a way of constructing (simpler, faster) models for other studies. But mistaking cause for effect is a stupid error.

This is rather similar to another claim – that the water vapour feedback is built in; and if the denialist is really doing well, they might manage to stumble out with “assumes constant relative humidity”. But again, this is nonsense: the AOGCMs don’t assume a RH; they calculate it. It turns out to be (an emergent property) that RH remains roughly constant with temperature change on a global scale.

I think this is yet another variation on the “dumb America” fallacy, which in this case goes something like:

* Oh dear, I have nothing to say, but I would feel worthless if people didn’t read things I write. So I’ll write something.
* Climate is interesting! I’ll write something about climate models. I know nothing about climate models, I’ll take a look…
* Oh dear, that was all a bit complicated, wasn’t it? All those thousands of lines of code, all that basic science, all those scientific papers. Understanding that would be hard, and I’m soft.
* I know, I’ll read a few blog posts and make something up. It needs to be something “controversial” but I also need to remember my target audience: don’t want to scare the horses.

And there you have it. Next?


Quite some time ago I re wrote the Dada article on wiki to be more in the spirit of the movement. It didn’t last long. My thoughts were irrestistably drawn to that when I saw a can climate count global How lay on skeptic’s view warming (“thanks” R) at WUWT; here I present a translation that makes more sense than the original, a sort of anti-Dadaist art, if you will.

A a a a a a a a a agitated alarmists am an an And and and any apart apple apple argue ask at back bodies Bowring but But by call Cambridge can can century change Christopher climate climate climatology dare dare day denier discovery distance does drop each England enquire It experience expert explodes field force from global global global global Grantham Gravitation greatest greet have have he He head him How I I I I I I I I I in in in in in in invalidates inversely is is is is is is is is Isaac Isaac Isaac’s it it It It Law law lay Let Lincolnshire living looking looks Lucasian made man masses Mathematics me mind models my my Newton Newton no nobody nonentity nonsense Nonsense Nonsense of of of of of of of of of often on on or other out path period point predicted Professor proportional proportional Putting question quite Really rebuttal recent refute renowned repel replies respectable respond response How return right runaway say says science scientist see seventeen seventeenth Short simply Sir Sir Sir Sir sitting skeptics smiles square standard steady story sunny take temperatures that that that that the the the the the the the the the the the the their their their there this to to to to to to to tree tree two under universe University us warming warming warming What what What When which who wig with with with with wonderful world wrong wrong year you you your


For my sins, I decided to listen to Murray “I have a theory” Salby talking about his ideas about why the recent rise in CO2 isn’t human-caused (note that isn’t his most recent UK tour; that’s back in April). By all means read my notes below if you’re interested in the various ways that he is wrong; but if you’re interested in how we know the increase really is human-caused, then try RealClimate from 2004, a somewhat pithier response from me, point 5, in 2005, or the ever-popular Skeptical Science version; and Eric Wolff is excellent. Or, if you belong to the Dark Side, then perhaps wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/07/some-people-claim-that-theres-a-human-to-blame/ (note! nofollow to make VV happy :-)) or wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/05/why-the-co2-increase-is-man-made-part-1/ will help.

Before I go on, I can’t resist saying that all of this is very very silly; I’m playing along in this post but I won’t forever. There are interesting areas to explore in climate science and palaeoclimatology, but “is the CO2 rise human-caused” isn’t one of those areas. Its settled, done, and nailed down. If you don’t know the science, or have read some words but found them too hard to understand, then you may fairly claim to not know for sure either way. In which case, you’re going to have to believe some authority; but you’re definitely not making any interesting contribution to the debate, because all you’re saying is “I haven’t been able to look”. But if you claim to have investigated and end up believing that the rise isn’t human-caused, then you’re lost, wandering in the wilderness, and I doubt I can help bring you back.

It often seems to me that the extreme fringes of “skepticism” are showing their fear: although they profess to believe in science, and the implication that the long chain of science needed to make “…and GW is a problem that needs addressing” needs to be true in all its aspects, nonetheless they are afraid to allow even the most basic and obvious points of that chain to be accepted. I’m not sure why; its clearly not logically necessary.

This post is culled from Presentation Prof. Murry Salby in Hamburg on 18 April 2013. I haven’t included all his charts by any means. Note that is isn’t correct to speak of him as a prof in the present tense, as he has been de-proffed. The PR for his recent UK tour makes this elementary error.

Here’s the first chart of interest. Its some kind of 50kyr-filtered version of the std.Vostok ice core temperature and CO2 record. It shows that the two are correlated; this isn’t controversial.


Salby provides no key to the literature here; its impossible to tell from his talk whether he knows this is old stuff, or not; its impossible to tell whether his audience knows.

One thing worth noting is that he makes no quibbles about the quality of the record at this point: this figure, and the little he says about it (he speaks very slowly, as though he needed to spin out his words), would make no sense if you didn’t trust the CO2 record. Later on, he does decide not to believe the CO2 record; that makes most of his discussion of this figure dubious, in his terms. Of course, since he is wrong about the problems with the CO2 record, what he says about this figure here is, in fact, true.

He does note that CO2 is a proxy, but he’s wrong about that. A proxy is something standing for something else: like the length of a column of mercury as a proxy for temperature (if you buy a decent thermometer and expose it carefully then it will be a very good proxy for local temperature, but its still a proxy). By contrast, the CO2 in the bubbles in an ice core isn’t a proxy for ancient air, it actually is ancient air (it turns out later tha he doesn’t really believe this, but he’s wrong; see later).


Next up is the correlation between CO2 and temperature from the ice cores. If you’re interested in this, I’d recommend Eric Wolff’s words and/or more of mine. Salby (incorrectly) says the correlation is highest at small positive lag; as you see from his picture, its highest at zero lag. However, he draws no conclusions from his statement.

Then a coherence (then phase) spectrum, which shows that CO2 and T are well correlated on timescales longer than ~10 kyr. Again, there’s no source or ref to the literature. Phase is described as “hovers near zero” (he does get some Brownie points for not going on about the silly leads-by-800-y stuff).

At 8:45 he repeats the assertion that CO2 is a proxy, and says that we need to understand how in-ice CO2 and atmospheric CO2 are related.

Then shows the “observed” atmos CO2 and “global temperature” from 1960-2010,


(note in passing here that this is a CO2 record showing a strong seasonal cycle. Note also that (as you expect) the change is negative during part of each year) and then its correlation:


Unlike before, he provides no significance levels. He asserts that this is significant, but without numbers that’s dubious. No-one in the audience reacts. Indeed, at no point does anyone in the audience react to anything, even to Salby’s ponderous little “jokes”. If there are questions afterwards, they’ve been cut out of the record. Nor does he tell you which CO2 record he is using. If you look at, say, the bottom pic of http://instaar.colorado.edu/sil/research/research_detail.php?research_project_ID=1 you’ll see that’s rather important: there’s a strong seasonal cycle in CO2 in the NH, and there’s a seasonal cycle in the global temperature record, so if you just correlate them you’ll see that; and the lag-lead relationship will tell you nothing interesting about causation (its odd how good people can be at chanting “correlation does not prove causation” when it suits them, and then forgetting it when it doesn’t).

Salby draws some kind of conclusion from this, but its a vague one; but he clearly likes that CO2 lags temperature. Onwards, to “net emission” of CO2 vs temperature anomalies:


But notice something odd here: the line is smooth, but always positive. So it isn’t the slope of the CO2 record he presented earlier. Its been smoothed in some way. So has the temperature. But in what way? He doesn’t say. Indeed he doesn’t say its been smoothed at all. Note also that the first, and last, 5 years have been cut off the record (again, not remarked on). Is this some kind of 10-y wavelet filtering? 2 year filtering (it sort-of looks like it, but if it was 2-year, why would that lose 5 years at start and finish)? Salby’s results depend very heavily on whatever he’s done here, so he needs to tell us what it is.

Salby then asserts that this demonstrates that d(R_CO2)/dt = (lambda)(T – T_0) (I’m using R_CO2 for the reservoir of CO2 in the atmosphere; changes in this are the net surface fluxes). As I’ve noted above, I don’t think that’s valid.

Here’s an alternative explanation which could even be true, even granting him his wiggle-matching: short-term (annual) fluctuations in CO2 are driven by short-term fluctuations in temperature (oceanic outgassing, perhaps, though I don’t know; you’d need to poke around in Henry’s law to know; Wotts does this a bit; see-also this from SKS especially its fig. 2) and this is superimposed on a long-term trend of increasing CO2 from fossil fuel burning, and a long-term trend of increasing temperatures from the greenhouse effect.

Salby is talking to his audience at a very low level – he pauses to explain what an “integral” is. Indeed his whole manner is desperately portentous. Its also very fake – there is no way that anyone who needs to have “integral” emphasised is going to follow the subsequent manipulations and Fourier transforms.

At this point he is asserting that the CO2 and T “evolve coherently” in both the “observed” (1960-2010) and the “proxy” (by which he means ice core) records. But differently in the two. Cue a closer look at the ice core CO2 record. There’s a pile of equations thrown at us here – cue Salby saying “Are you ready? take a deep breath” – which amounts to explaining why he thinks CO2 should be in-phase with T over long timescales and out-of-phase over short timescales. I don’t have objections to that, so will skip over it.

There’s some more incomprehensible equations, at the end of which Salby convinces himself that the ice-core record CO2 underestimates the atmospheric changes by a factor that increases with timescale culminating with the assertion (I kid you not) that on the 100 kyr scale, atmospheric CO2 changed by a factor of 10 more than the ice core; i.e., by approximately 1000 ppmv. And therefore in his view the 20th C changes aren’t unprecedented. If you believe the std.preindustrial holocene values of 280 ppmv, then this leads to a massive negative amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is obviously impossible; so I presume he is forced to believe in ~1000 ppmv CO2 during previous interglacials, and perhaps early parts of the current interglacial. This, if he believed it, would be a massive challenge to current theory. Its the sort of thing that if you believed it, you’d dwell on the details, tease out the implications, try to reconcile it with the ice core records (later on he accepts the CO2 record since 1830 (why 1830? He doesn’t say), which includes ice cores, but makes no effort to reconcile that with the view he expresses here, that the cores are wrong), whatever. But he does none of these things; he just moves on.

[Note that this need to believe in implausible glacial-interglacial swings has been noted before; see John N-G quoted in various places, e.g. Wotts, though I actually came across it in JM’s preprint. But note that, at least in Salby-world, this isn’t a fatal flaw; its a part of his theory. As so often with these descent-into-madness things, simply pointing out the obvious flaw isn’t enough, because they say “aha! I’ve thought of that!” and you have to go another step down.]

Ah, I think I know how he has got here: he has assumed non-conservative processes in the ice (but doesn’t say if that’s removal or addition). Since he’s done this with no observations or theory to justify this, its all unjustified. There’s a whole wide literature of how CO2 behaves in ice cores (the answer, broadly, is that its conserved in southern hemisphere cores. There is some interesting work there, and there were some early problems with the Greenland cores, but all of this is absorbed and explained and understood by the std. literature, which Salby ignores) and he refers to none of it. So his equations and graphs become meaningless. This is like the antient Greeks theorising about epicycles but not bothering to measure the planets orbits.

He then goes on to try to deal with diffusion in ice. And ends up drawing a graph. But he does all this without determining the diffusion coefficient. This is impossible, so he must have just made one up. This is impermissible.

He presents nothing formal as a proof that this is correct, only a picture of the T-CO2 cross-correlations predicted by his theory:


They look a bit similar. Is that good enough? No, not even close. Because “diffusion” or analogues are such omni-present processes. You get the same broadening of a peak from anything: measurement error, “random” fluctuations caused by “other events”; whatever (note that its also weird that his “spike” of without-diffusion is not just broadened but also amplified by his diffusion; that makes no sense).

Note that in all of this he is assuming the temperature record (which unlike the CO2 really is a proxy) is accurate; he never mentions this assumption.

Then he tries to address the “C13” problem; but that was more than 30 minutes in and I was losing the will to live. I might go through that some other time. After (45 mins in!) that we’re onto CH4. Then what Co2 would look like if it followed his theory backwards; but he is careful to stop at 1880. How he thinks he can reconcile the essentially-monotonic CO2 with the clearly-not-monotonic temperature series I really don’t know. 54 mins: we’re into the global energy budget, some silly stuff with climate models which doesn’t seem to be relevant. Then there’s the obligatory reference to Feynman (poor chap, he has become the new Galileo) but without reading the important bit, “how not to fool yourself”. Its always the other people who are fooling themselves.

Don’t read me, read Eric

If you’re thinking all of this is too much, you’re right. Wading through dis/mis-information is more painful that just reading the right answer. In this case, Eric Wolff’s the main evidence that the ice core record of CO2 is a good representation of the past atmospheric concentration is perhaps the best technical reference.

TL;DR: what’s wrong with Salby?

He does a lot of “theoretical calculations” but at no point does he point out that those calculations can’t be done without assuming values for some basic parameters (CO2 diffusion in ice, for example; or the non-conservation of CO2 in ice) and that his values for those parameters are wildly at variance with the ones anyone else would use.

He doesn’t engage at all with existing literature, or indeed the bleedin’ obvious: we’ve emitted all that CO2: where does he think its gone?

He won’t write any of this down.


Something I thought at the time: I’m doing Salby too much honour by even bothering to read his stuff. But I’m also doing him more honour than any of the Watties and so on: for whilst many of them fawn over his conclusions, none of them can be bothered to read or understand any of his words(some of them know he’s wrong, of course, but AFAIK none have bothered analyse why, for example, his graphs derived from diffusion in ice are drivel). See for example this cri-de-coeur:

Note: In all the many times (and some of you realize that it has been, indeed, many,) I have posted my hero, Dr. Salby’s, lecture on this site, NOT ONCE HAS A SCIENTIST OF WUWT given us his or her detailed comments on the complete content of that lecture. While I have taken notes from it and could post a detailed summary of the video, I have nothing to add. Has all my posting of Dr. Salby’s lecture been for nought? Has NO ONE watched his lecture? Why–in–the–world haven’t you?

In fact the cri is wrong: just a little higher in the thread WE (and I think he counts as a “scientist of WUWT”, snigger) has told her that its all a pile of donkey’s dildoes. But he’s done it in honeyed words (I don’t think WUWT regulars are allowed to diss the potty peer yet) so she can’t read it.


* Emissions and Concentrations–How Closely Are They Correlated? – The Lukewarmer’s Way
* W h y d o e s a t m o s p h e r i c C O 2 r i s e ? Jan Schloerer, Version 3.1, October 1996. Via rmg.

Lindzen jumps the shark

You may say “but you declared Lindzen emeritus in 2011“, and so I did. But that was over the issue of peer review. This is concerning science:

arctic sea ice is suddenly showing surprising growth.

That’s just stupid. Really; its nothing but propaganda: designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind to quote one R. Lindzen quoting one G. Orwell.

And if you really don’t know why, the answer is: this is just natural variability. Last year was exceptionally low; this year isn’t exceptionally low. This is very basic stuff, and Lindzen knows it very well.

Which reminds me: I really must do the end-of-season wrap-up post.

Noted shark-jumpers in history

* von S
* la Curry
* Singer?

Humourous side show: Woy vs Willis

Meanwhile, Citizen Scientist: Willis and the Cloud Radiative Effect is good for a giggle. In which Dr Spencer points out (but he likes them, so he doesn’t say it in these terms) the obvious: that the denialist types are going nowhere, even when they actually get round to looking at real data, because they’re so ignorant of prior art. This, I think, is a combination of them being convinced that they are so original / brilliant / whatever that there’s no point in even looking; and them being too ignorant or lazy to bother looking (hey, c’mon! In the movies the Brilliant Scientist does science, he doesn’t read other people’s papers! Learning from others is for kids! See-also “Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong).

Willisgate, Take 2 – oh, it gets better. Woy once again says Willis is clueless, but is desperately trying to keep the Watties on board (who else has he got?) by covering it with sugar.

[Side note: censorship has been turned on at Woy’s place; at least it has for me. I just left him:

Oh look… suddenly censorship isn’t interesting. Why aren’t you prepared to honestly admit that censorship is fine by you, as long as its WUWT doing it?

But as for wiki: yes, its pretty good, in most respects. The pages dealing with GW and surrounding issues are good, and impartial. WUWT can indeed be trusted, to be junk. Note how hard AW had to work to construct a myth to explain away his dislike of wiki.

But it hasn’t appeared.]

Roy fakes it up

Update: “Dr” Spencer has a semi-tolerable post The Danger of Hanging Your Hat on No Future Warming – well, if you’re not too particular; you have to ignore “I don’t know whether the IPCC fingerprint proponents are being dishonest or just plain lazy/stupid.” But! He’s faked his picture, as several commentators point out. That’s deeply dishonest of him.


* Wondering Willis Eschenbach’s Thunderstorm at WUWT

AR5 follow on – weirdness from la Curry

Judith Curry has a weird post called “IPCC diagnosis – permanent paradigm paralysis” which starts off with a perfect example of the denialists favourite tactic – a walled garden of links to their own nonsense. She says:

In a previous post, I discussed the IPCC’s diagnosis of a planetary fever and their prescription for planet Earth…

Now if you’re a person prepared to believe that JC isn’t lying through her teeth, you might actually not follow that link, and in consequence you might believe that what she said was true. But it isn’t; its a fantasy as wacky as AW’s about wikipedia. If you actually read the article of here’s that she links to you find that its a mixture of The Onion, and Romm. There is no IPCC diagnosis in there at all; and no IPCC prescription.

She continues the fantasy-land stuff with as temperatures have declined and climate models have failed to predict this decline, the IPCC has gained confidence in catastrophic warming and I gave up at that point. Curry jumped the shark back in 2010 but this is a whole new level. She’s lost touch with reality and is wandering lost inside the denialosphere with no compass and no keel and no bottom.


* Curry repeats her drivel in the financialpost

Happy Birthday to Watts’ paper!

[Don’t miss the 2nd birthday!]

why-are-we-waiting About a year ago the entirety of the intertubes were rocked to their foundations by an announcement of epochal proportions: WUWT publishing suspended – major announcement coming. Or so we were told. Speculation was rife: had AW finally found those pix of Mann’s Prince Albert? But exactly a year ago the Truth Was Out and it all turned out to be very dull – it was just a paper preprint [*].

Most scientists of any kind of quality manage to produce at least a paper a year, anyone with ambitions for their step up is looking at two or more, in decent journals. Even a blog scientist (a bit close to the knuckle there, but the bit about guest posts about climate elves being utter sh*t resonates. AFAIK the true Blog Science manifesto is to be found at denialdepot) shouldn’t get too excited about a preprint.

However, a year has now passed with little public evidence of action. Perhaps the climate elves are working behind the scenes. I imagine that AW hasn’t given up all hope, because the “2012” graphic is still proudly on his blog. I wonder if any of the Watties ever notice it and wonder, or is it like the underpants on my bedroom floor, once they’ve been left lying there for a while they become invisible?

[*] The disparity between the mighty trailering and the feeble reality has lead those few who still think AW has a strong grasp on reality to speculate that Something Else was originally intended, and when that Something Else went sour, a half-baked preprint had to be rushed out to fill the gap. We may never know.


* Top Physicist Withdraws Support For Climate Sceptic Professor Sacked By Australian University says JM
* 2014/06: we’ve spent two years reworking it and dealing with those criticisms. Our results are unchanged and will be published soon sez Watts in “Reason”.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear: chaos, weather and climate confuses denialists

Its shooting fish in a barrel, of course, but you must go and read Another uncertainty for climate models – different results on different computers using the same code [WebCitation].

The issue here is a well-known one – it dates back to Lorenz’s original stuff on chaos. That trivial differences in initial conditions, or in processing methods, will lead to divergences in weather forecasts. The (entirely harmless) paper that has sparked all this off is an Evaluation of the Software System Dependency of a Global Atmospheric Model by Song-You Hong et al. and sez

There exist differences in the results for different compilers, parallel libraries, and optimization levels, primarily due to the treatment of rounding errors by the different software systems.

This astonishes the Watties, as though it was a new idea. To them I suppose it is. But it’s exactly what you’d expect, within a numerical weather prediction framework (though I’d expect you not to care within NWP. If differences in optimisation level have lead to error growth large enough to see, I’d have expected uncertainties in initial conditions to have grown much more and made the whole output unreliable). I don’t think you’d expect it within a climate projection framework, at least atmospheric-wise. You might expect more memory from the ocean. JA and I have a post on RC from 2005 that might help, originating from a post on old-stoat by me where I was playing with HadAM3.

In the comments at WUWT Nick Stokes has done his best to explain to the Watties their mistake – but AW has just rubbed out NS’s comments, because they were too embarrassing.

There’s an important distinction to make here, which is that climate modelling isn’t an Initial Value Problem, as weather prediction is. Its more of a Boundary Value Problem, with things like GHGs being the “boundary”s. Or at least, that’s the assumption and that is how people are approaching it (RP Sr disagrees, and you could discuss it with him. Except you can’t, becasue he doesn’t allow comments at his blog. RP Sr is too wise to value anyone else’s opinion). Potentially, there’s an interesting debate to be had about whether climate modelling can indeed be considered largely free of its initial conditions. But you can’t start such a debate from the level of incoherent rage displayed at WUWT.


* Initial value vs. boundary value problems – Serendipity
* Chaos, CFD and GCMs – Moyhu, 2016.

Curry’s wide Sargasso Sea of Stupidity

ph This entire episode is so depressingly stupid that I almost threw the post away. But, courage!

As my title suggests, this is a morass of stupidity, of interest only to the navel-gazers within the incestuous world of climate blogs. Anyone with an interest in the actual science should steer clear. Metaphorically: if you’re starting from one side of the Sargasso Sea and wish to reach clear water on the other side, you’re better off going round rather than pushing through and clearing an endless buildup of weed off your rudder.

The motive for this was, now that I have a moment from the rowing to pause to think, me thinking “hmm, I haven’t written about science much recently”. That is partly an inevitable, and predicted, consequence of me not doing science any more. But also, it seems to me, because there isn’t that much going on. So since James and Eli are on hols, and not much was showing up elsewhere, I thought I’d range off into Curry-land, to see what she had found. And it was looking pretty thin to me: weekend discussion threads and stuff. But then I found Ocean acidification discussion thread, and took a look. On the surface, its yet another of those rubbish posts that JC does which boil down to “I haven’t got a clue about subject X, but here are two people who disagree, errrm, well that didn’t teach anyone anything did it, never mind I got a pile of page hits”. But there is far more wrong with it than that.

Lets do the surface stuff first. Actually lets not. Lets first notice that she attempts to use her “Italian flag method” to reason about the situation. That method is drivel, as many people have pointed out. Set that aside, and return to the surface.

JC complains about

Today the surface ocean is almost 30% more acidic than it was in pre-industrial times

on the grounds that the speaker, Doney, provided “no evidence or reference”. But this is dishonest of her because she’s clipped the preceeding sentence:

Over the past two centuries, human activities have resulted in dramatic and well documented increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and acidification of the upper ocean

That is a hint that he isn’t bothering to docuemnt the bleedin’ obvious. Anyone less clueless that JC, or the legions of fools who form the majority of her commentators, could simply look it up. And furthermore Doney (who I don’t know, but is a “Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution”, and even JC pretends to respect his expertise) just isn’t going to lie about basic, easily-checked facts to the US Senate. There’s a basic dumb America fallacy to this, as to so much of the denialist tripe. But anyway.

Then we need to clear away some confusion: a change in pH from 8.25 to 8.14, which is what has happened, is indeed a change in H+ [*] ion concentration by ~30% (covered in some detail here, wot I got via DA, thanks). That little mathematical transformation ties up people for quite a long time over on the Dork Side.

She then complains that Doney isn’t providing enough expressions of uncertainty. However, since we’re actually certain of this particular factoid, expressions of uncertainty would be wrong. But there seems to be no place in JC’s science-is-a-social-construct type worldview for this; expressions of scientific information have a strengthened credibility if they contain uncertainty.

And here we come to the nub of it all: JC is clueless, and is (if we pretend for a moment to believe what she says) attempting to evaluate these two competing views as texts to try and determine credibility. She needs to use this method, because she lacks the ability, or the time, to understand or verify what is being said. But the problem is that her method is worthless. The only way to evaluate such texts accurately is to read, understand and verify them. Or a useful shortcut is to depend on the authority of the speaker – this is, inevitably, what most of the populace are obliged to do, since “read and understand” simply isn’t open to them.

But the last (and to me worst) part of all this is that JC is just spraying disinformation around. If she finds this issue interesting, and finds this very basic fact to be beyond her ability to verify, then she can f*ck*ng well talk to some of her colleagues (assuming she hasn’t managed to cut all her ties to people of any quality). She’s at a university, no? She can talk to the prof of Chemistry. Or of Oceans. Or something. But one way or another, she can f*ck*ng well find out the truth, first. Then she could have written a post that might have been informative, and might have reduced people’s confusion on this issue. Instead she’s made the world a little bit worse.

[Update: hello, Watties! Are any of you brave enough to leave your walled garden and click through? How about being brave enough to comment. Not much hope there I suspect, you talk big in your little world but you’re not so brave in the Real World. You might be wondering why I’m not making sarky comments over at the Dork Side. The answer is that AW the gutless coward banned me for exposing his fantasies.

And to add a pic from a pdf suggested by NS]

[*] There’s a subtlety here that I hadn’t at first appreciated: pH is -log_10(a_H+), whereas the original p[H] is -log_10(H+). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PH for details. For our purposes, the difference doesn’t matter.


* Eli will arise to say “the Sun”
* Eli again on pH measurement
* The Geological Record of Ocean Acidification Bärbel Hönisch et al..; Science, 2012 (via MV).
* Curry, 2015: pushing “Quantifying (that is to say, denying) the anthropogenic contribution to atmospheric CO2” by Fred Haynie.