“Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong (part II)

This spawned by reading DA, who comments that “Roy Spencer has a very unprofessional post”, EPIC FAIL: 73 Climate Models vs. Observations for Tropical Tropospheric Temperature. And it is very unprofessional: its just not what you write, if you have any hope of belonging to a scientific community. Its what you write if you know you’ve marginalised yourself and there is no way back. And as DA points out, the UAH record itself has suffered numerous disastrous failings over the years, up to and including getting the very sign of the temperature change wrong.

“Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong refers.

Update: DA thinks Judith Curry is going down the same road.


* Roy Spencer’s latest deceit and deception – Hotwhopper, 2014/02.

RP Jr is a tosser

oglaf-dick I haven’t called anyone a tosser recently, indeed I think that RP Jr is the first 2013 winner of this most prestigious of awards. I believe that Sr was the last winner, almost a year ago. And I bestow this award sadly, because despite my naughty words I still have a deal of respect for RP (Jr and Sr). But in this instance, he’s worked himself up into a froth over nothing and is casting evil aspersions over blameless people. I’m not sure why; perhaps as ever Oscar Wilde had it right (and I don’t mean about the bat’s urine).

Before I go on, I should point out that this post is mostly just a ruder and less detailed version of DA’s post, so you could read him if you like.

Where to begin? Well, this is all about the Marcott et al. man smashing his head against the wall graph (what? You’ve heard it called something else?). The Dark Side don’t like it, of course, but even so its a bad sign that the first ref to RP’s post I found was WUWT gleefully quoting There are a few bad eggs, with the Real Climate mafia being among them, who are exploiting climate science for personal and political gain. Makes the whole effort look bad. Well, you can’t ask for much better than that, and that is why RP gets his “Tosser” award, instead of me just being bitter and sarcastic.

Continuing, this is all about the “uptick” in the Marcott plot. Why oh why this is of the least interest to anyone I don’t know, because its the one bit where the proxies (which is what Marcott are using) are of no interest [*]. We already have instrumental records for this period; and while that instrumental series is not perfect, its certainly much better than the proxy record. Somehow spinning this into However, here I document the gross misrepresentation of the findings of a recent scientific paper via press release which appears to skirt awfully close to crossing the line into research misconduct is just stupid and pointless. How can you write stuff like that and have any aspirations to be an “honest broker” or even offer unsolicited advice on how to do the same?

[*] Of no interest in reconstructing the temperature, I mean. It clearly is of interest to see how to mesh the proxies and the instrumental record, but that isn’t what M et al. is about, it isn’t what RP Jr is talking about, and it isn’t what all the voluminous denialosphere whinging is about.


* Smearing Climate Data – Tamino
* “Honest broker”? – at the old blog, 2005.

1970s cooling, again

pcf-fig Just when you thought this tripe was dead, it comes round again. Well, its winter at least in this hemisphere, and a bit chilly, so perhaps it seems plausible – the septics usually have trouble telling weather from climate.

Anyway, your reference is We’re number 1! which provises you a handy link to The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus – the paper that the denialists are too scared to address. Ta da. I’ve helpfully cut out a nice figure from that paper, which rather summarises the situation.

And maybe now is a good time to say, if I haven’t before, how grateful I am to Tom Peterson for picking up my hobby (look at that link, if you haven’t before; loadsa good stuff down there) and turning it into a proper paper, and John Fleck who skilz turned into a far more readable paper.

So much for the science history. But AW is interested in the popular media (a familiar story). Indeed, he’s just recycling someone else’s lists. Neither is honest enough to link to the science. My usual answer to that has always been “I’m a scientist; I’m not responsible for the media; yes there is any amount of tripe in the media”. That was in the old days, when I was a scientist. But with that corrected, I’d still give much the same answer, and continue: there’s nothing very useful you can do with that list. You’ve got no idea of the balance of warming vs cooling publications; the warming ones, then, have been deliberately omitted.

AW’s point appears to be that there was as much stuff about cooling, then, as there is warming, now. That’s false, obviously: you just have to do a google news search to find more stories about GW in the past month than AW managed to find for a decade.


* Global cooling awareness in the 60′s?
* Klotzbach Revisited, by Jos Hagelaars chez Bart
* Video by Frank Capra

Cage fight: Ridley vs Romm

W00t, its the Big Fight, or at least its the spat du jour. Does anyone outside the little blogospheric circle care? My guess is no. As I said over at Timmy’s recently, my personal “does-the-outside-world-give-a-shit-o-meter” (as applied to the latest septic nonsense to hit the blogospheric fan) is “has anyone tried to push it into any of the major GW type articles on wikipedia”? By that test, the latest stuff from Lewis scores zero. Even Schwartz managed better.

But (whilst Romm wouldn’t be my choice as the prime upholder of Truth and Light) the latest to-and-fro provides an interesting way to tell who is lying to you. To no-one’s great surprise, the answer is… available at the end of this post. Its all out in the open, and verifiable to everyone (the one unverifiable aspect is who has changed their postings since they were first written. I’ve taken snapshots of how things are now).


* Joe Romm demonstrates himself to be an angry know-nothing in his attack on Matt Ridley’s WSJ essay – Ridley responds – Ridley at WUWT [cite], complaining about…
* Error-Riddled Matt Ridley Piece Lowballs Climate Change, Discredits Wall Street Journal. World Faces 10°F Warming – Romm at TP [cite], complaining about…
* Matt Ridley: Cooling Down the Fears of Climate Change – Ridley’s piece [cite] puffing Lewis’s piece about sensitivity.

For the moment, we care not whether Lewis’s original is correct or not (I still think its wrong, but have done no real analysis, that you’ll have to wait for. I’m still hoping someone competent might do it – hint, hint). I think Romm’s headline assertion that Ridley has “Discredit[ed the] Wall Street Journal” is dubious, on the grounds that it had no reputation to lose on the subject of Climate Change. But on…

Part the first

From Ridley:

He [Romm] quotes a scientist as saying

it is very clear water vapor … is an amplifying effect. It is a very strong warmer for the climate.

I agree. My piece states:

water vapor itself is a greenhouse gas.

So there is no confusion there. At least not on my part.

But this is indeed confused by Ridley, in an important way. The WV feedback is important, and Ridley can’t be unaware of that. By confusing this with the doubted-by-no-one statement that WV is a GHG, Ridley is throwing up squid ink. Though I’m dubious he really understands this stuff at all – there is a fair chance that some of his errors are simply caused by his own lack of competence.

Part the second

Ridley continues:

However, I do discuss the possibility that clouds, formed from water vapor, either amplify or damp warming – and nobody at this stage knows which. This is the point that my physicist informant was making: the consequence of increased temperatures and water vapor in the atmosphere may be changes in clouds that have a cooling effect. You will find few who disagree with this. As the IPCC AR4 said:

Cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty.

Joe Romm disagrees with this consensus, saying

The net radiative feedback due to all cloud types is likely positive.

He gives no backing for this dogmatic conclusion.

Romm, correctly, points out that his “The net radiative feedback due to all cloud types is likely positive” is taken from the AR5 draft, and says so (at least it currently says so. Whether it originally did, I can’t say. However Ridley really can’t fulminate about “no backing” and “dogmatic”, because it really is sourced).

What AR5 says (at least in part) is:

Therefore, there is very high confidence that the net feedbacks are strongly positive and the black body response of the climate to a forcing will therefore be amplified. Cloud feedbacks continue to be the largest uncertainty… New approaches to diagnosing cloud feedback in GCMs have clarified robust cloud responses, while continuing to implicate low cloud cover as the most important source of intermodel spread in simulated cloud feedbacks. The net radiative feedback due to all cloud types is likely positive, although a negative feedback (damping global climate changes) is still possible.

The AR4 was less certain: Conclusion on cloud feedbacks. Despite some advances in the understanding of the physical processes that control the cloud response to climate change and in the evaluation of some components of cloud feedbacks in current models, it is not yet possible to assess which of the model estimates of cloud feedback is the most reliable. However, progress has been made in the identification of the cloud types, the dynamical regimes and the regions of the globe responsible for the large spread of cloud feedback estimates among current models. This is likely to foster more specific observational analyses and model evaluations that will improve future assessments of climate change cloud feedbacks.

So it appears to me that:

(1) AR5 has strengthened the assessment of cloud forcing, which is now thought to be likely (which is weak, but its there) to be positive,
(2) AR4 and AR5 both say cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty. Ridley is right to quote this, but wrong to imply that this is the last word the IPCC has to say on the subject,
(3) Ridley is wrong to say that by asserting (1) Romm is denying (2) – the two are entirely compatible. Obviously: they’re in the same IPCC paragraph,
(4) Ridley is wrong to say that Romm’s assertion is dogmatic, or not backed. Its a quote from the draft, and its fully backed up.
(5) Ridley is wrong to state, of the cloud feedback, that “nobody at this stage knows which… You will find few who disagree with this”. That would have been defensible from the AR4, but not now.


I think its most likely that Ridley is incompetent – if he knows what he is actually saying, then he knows he is wrong on all these counts, and he knows that anyone competent will be able to see that. Of course, he may just be playing to the gallery.

If you want more, in a bit I didn’t bother look at Ridley tries to drag in Schlesinger onto his side. Alas, Schlesinger will have none of it, and Romm quotes a letter from Schlesinger: Matt Ridley mentions the findings of my Climate Research Group’s paper… In his article, Mr. Ridley is just plain wrong about future global warming…


* Neven on AR5 sea ice

When will it start cooling? (again)

The Watties are back to plaintively whistling for cooling. This time its “Dr.” Norman Page, and just like last time there isn’t really any point wading through the details because its all self-deluding nonsense.

But what’s funny is to realise how throw-away all this is, how it lacks any coherent theory, and how they are effectively admitting that themselves. If this actually meant anything, if it fitted together, then the new post would reference the old one. Obviously. Because the old post was valuable – wasn’t it? The new post advances the state of the art the old post represents, or perhaps provides a newer interpretation. But either way, the old post is relevant – isn’t it? And yet neither the new posts author, nor any of the commentators, think that the old post is even worth mentioning.

Its almost as though this stuff is just throwaway tabloid fodder.

Adoration of the Lamb


Continuing vaguely along the theme of use and abuse of IPCC 1990 fig 7.1(c), its worth noting explicitly the worship of Hubert Lamb by some of the denialists. I don’t think I need to repeat what is said there, but make sure you read the comments, especially those from Willard, and me of course.

One interesting example of this, which illustrates the same problems, is Premonitions of the Fall (in temperature) at WUWT by David Archibald. Its a very silly post, but it adopts the usual policy of taking all of Lamb’s stuff uncritically, whilst ignoring recent work, in order to push the authors own views.

For a saner discussion that involves Lamb’s work Hughes and Diaz 1994, which recently fell my way, is a good example. It treats Lamb with respect, which he deserves, but not as gospel, which he also deserves.

I’m pleased to find a linkage back to the Goode Olde Dayes of sci.env: ah, those were the days. I kept it in the context of the “global cooling” meme, but it applies to fig 7.1.c too. mt can write well:

It is important to note exactly who made those predictions, (or more properly, who expressed those worries) about an imminent ice age, and who is now predicting rapid global warming. By and large these are not the same people. The first group was essentially the observational paleoclimatologists. Bryson still claims that “the proper tool of the climatologist is the shovel”. The compendium by Lamb which Tom Moore takes as his primary reference was essentially the pinnacle of achievement in that field.

With all due respect (I mean this quite seriously – the erudition and breadth of knowledge of these people, Lamb in particular – is enormously impressive) to that group, their grasp of mathematics and statistics was weak, and of physics weaker still.

For instance, Lamb’s prediction in particular of imminent and rapid cooling was based on, essentially, a crude Fourier analysis (best fits of sinusoidal curves to his record). Since one of the dominant features was a rapid rise over the last century, the *presumption* of a cyclical nature of the record forced a prediction of a rapid cooling *precisely because there had been a recent rapid warming*. And although the niceties of periodograms had all been worked out by that time, Lamb seemed blissfully ignorant of the need to take particular care when fitting sinusoids to a record with significant information at its termination.

In the 1970s, a separate discipline of physical climatology was just emerging from an infancy at the peripheries of mathematics and astrophysics.


* Early version of temperature history – me, from 2005.
* GWPF, 2015

WUWT: taking incompetence to a whole new level

Since we’re on fig 7.1.c, I was browsing around for google images and came across the following:

Well, that’s certainly odd. The pic is a copy (stolen with no attribution, are you surprised?) of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ipcc7.1-mann-moberg-manley.png]] which I uploaded to wiki (once again I’m moved to comment that although the denizens of WUWT pretend that they don’t trust wiki, actually just like everyone else they use it, and forget their scruples whenever convenient. Note also that the current wiki pic has had the green line added by DS). Its from When the IPCC ‘disappeared’ the Medieval Warm Period at WUWT (webcite).

But its had some fake labelling added to it:

* IPCC ’90 has been re-labelled “IPCC 1990-2001”
* MBH99 has been relabelled “IPCC 2001-2003”

At least they managed to label Moberg correctly. Its hard to understand those other labels. “IPCC 1990-2001” is intended to suggest it was first used in 1990, and continued until supplanted in 2001. But we all know that is wrong (apart from all the rest, they’ve airbrushed IPCC ’92 and ’95 [*] out of their picture; ironically, the post at WUWT is ostensibly about IPCC rewriting history; but I suspect that they don’t do irony) and the author of the piece at WUWT knew it too, because he copied it from the wiki page Description of the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age in IPCC reports which explains, with references, where it all comes from. So, he was deliberately lying to his audience. 2001-2003 makes no sense either.

But more amusingly, all his audience is so incompetent that they fail to realise they are being lied to. Although the information is easily available on the web, not one of them has the initiative or intelligence to look for themselves – they just sit there being fed lies, and lapping them up. One, Jay, gets close: By the by – the 1990-2001 plot is of data for a small bit of Europe, not the Northern Hemisphere. Hence the MWP looking less of a feature in later plots – because the evidence for the whole Northern Hemisphere is that the MWP was rather less of a feature than it was in a small bit of Europe. But even this minor correction is too much for some, garnering: You’re out of touch and simply regurgitating RC’s 2007 lying rubbish. Do some homework. Later, I think its clear that Jay has realised that the “1990-2001” line is mislabelled, and can’t be directly compared with the other two: The data plot with the strong MWP in fig 1. (labeled IPCC 1990-2001) is a temperature reconstruction for the United Kingdom, a small area in North West Europe. The remaining two data plots in fig 1. are temperature reconstructions for the entire Northern Hemisphere. but the post author (Frank Lansner) refuses to believe this: but please document your UK-claim, i would like to see that, ok?. That’s weird: he’s copied the picture from wiki, so he knows he is wrong. Is he just trying to brazen it out hoping that Jay doesn’t know the exact source?

No, I’m wrong. By 13th March (the post is from the tenth, so that’s 3 days of comments before anyone really gets it), Christoffer Bugge Harder shows up to say its all nonsense: I honestly think that all your questions can be answered by simply looking at this wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Description of the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age in IPCC reports The reason why the IPCC conclusions have changed since 1990 is quite simply that back then, no global multiproxy reconstructions with data from before about 1400 existed… and so on; all the obvious truth. Wittily, this is immeadiately followed by Caleb who tells CBH: You need to wake up and realize you’ve been fooled by a hoax.

CBH keeps pushing Lansner: <i.Do you realise that the IPCC 1990-2001 graph is a purely schematic one from which no quantitative conclusions can be drawn? You do not seem to. who doesn’t answer that point, but does say CBH, you write “You appear to think that the IPCC pre-2001 graph is based on the “1976-2000 proxies” you list?” No, this is by Lamb, former head of CRU. Its based mostly on English data as I have understood it. Note this is precisely the point he has denied earlier as a debating trick. The discussion the segues off into boreholes but Lansner never gives an honest answer, or even addresses the real point.

Oh, and don’t get me started on how incompetent his fig 2 is.

[*] Note: I tend to call it ’95, because that is what it calls itself. But it was published in ’96, I think.


* [Reply: The HTML for Δ is “&+Delta+;”. But if you forget to capitalize Delta, you get: δ. — mod.]

The phase relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature?

If you’ve seen the latest septic drivel (the clearest example of the need for open peer review that I’ve seen for a while) then you may find Comment on “The phase relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature” worth a read, as well as the rest of the blog.

When will it start cooling?

WUWT is still on my google reader list, even though I got banned from commenting for pointing out AW’s wiki-fantasies. So I get to see the rather plaintive When will it start cooling?, in which David Archibald, Solar Nut, wonders why his brilliant predictions don’t seem to match reality. But, I hear you ask, what are his brilliant predictions? [And to those who want to talk about sea ice, hang on a bit, and to those waiting with baited breath for my review of Watts, Muller et al.: have patience.]

My papers and those of Jan-Erik Solheim et al predict a significant cooling over Solar Cycle 24 relative to Solar Cycle 23. Solheim’s model predicts that Solar Cycle 24, for the northern hemisphere, will be 0.9º C cooler than Solar Cycle 23

so it sounds like DA can’t even make up his own fantasies, but is borrowing JES’s. Before you get to the “predictions” you have to wade through a pile of graphs which he waves around to hide the paucity of his thought. [[Solar cycle 23]] seems to have ended in 2008, so we’re already 3.5 years into cycle 24, and its not really looking cool yet. So for 24 to average cooler than 23, especially by as much as 0.9 oC, you need to start getting pretty creative. But fear not, because the wackos are nothing if not creative, so DA manages to convince himself that cycle 24 will be 17 years long, thereby requiring “only” that the decline from mid-2013 will be 1.2º C on average over the then remaining twelve and a half years of the cycle. This will of course not happen (anybody wanna bet?) but I’m sure they will come up with an excellent reason why not. Perhaps some mysterious atmospheric constituent will be found to have a confounding warming effect? Or they could just discover variability, but that kind of complexity seems to be beyond them.


* Webcite

Watts disappoints

So, a few days ago, WUWT said “WUWT publishing suspended – major announcement coming”. And not just any old event, oh no:

To give you an idea as to the magnitude of this event, I’m suspending my vacation plans. I weighed the issue, and decided (much to my dismay) this was more important. I can go on vacation trips another time, but this announcement is not something I can miss now and do later.

So whatever it was had to be major, and it had to be timely. How thrilling! But, sigh, we are doomed to be disappointed: its just a paper preprint. All over the world scientists produce draft papers and send them off for peer review. Only dramah queens pimp them up like this. And what exactly was the urgency? Watts could easily have stuck the thing in an envelope to whatever journal, gone quietly off on holiday, and done the PR schitck when he came back. So all this tripe about “not something I can miss now and do later” is just tripe.

Notice, BTW, that they haven’t even said where its going to be submitted. Which means that either they don’t know – which is crap – or they do know, but are embarrassed to say, because of the smallness of the journal. I suspect the latter.

DA says much the same, and also slates Watts for rank hypocrisy: previously, talking about BEST, Watts has complained about “PR before peer review”, but apparently its OK for Watts to do it.

[Update: I haven’t read the paper yet. VV has.]


* Watts tale