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Posted by wmmbb in Global Warming Politics, Nonviolence.

That seems to be the motto of some climate change contrarians. What is the critical evidence in question?  Mean surface temperature, accuracy of the climate models and climate sensitivity seem be major points of contention.

These issues according to Stephen Schneider can only be resolved by expert scientific finding.

The IPCC follows a rigorous process of assessment, and as he points out it can make egregious errors if the proper Bayesian statistical principles are not followed). The public, or the citizens, have then to make the normative judgment calls. Of course, this is more contentious than made out. Some will have a voice, and those most affected, perhaps will have not voice at all. We are all citizens of the planet.

So what in summary is a Contrarian case? Others might have different views, but Dr David Evans (via Bruce of Newcastle) presents the following:

The air and ocean temperature data shows that the climate models overestimate temperature rises. The climate establishment suggest that cooling due to undetected aerosols might be responsible for the failure of the models to date, but this excuse is wearing thin—it continues not to warm as much as they said it would, or in the way they said it would. On the other hand, the rise in air temperature has been greater than the skeptics say could be due to CO2. The skeptic’s excuse is that the rise is mainly due to other forces – and they point out that the world has been in a fairly steady warming trend of 0.5°C per century since 1680 (with alternating ~30 year periods of warming and mild cooling) where as the vast bulk of all human CO2 emissions have been after 1945.

We’ve checked all the main predictions of the climate models against the best data:

    Test………………………..Climate Models

Air temperatures from 1988……Over-estimated rise, even if CO2 is drastically cut

Air temperatures from 1990……Over-estimated trend rise

Ocean temperatures from 2003….Over-estimated trend rise greatly

Atmospheric hotspot………….Completely missing — no amplification

Outgoing radiation…………..Opposite to reality — no amplification

The climate models get them all wrong. The missing hotspot and outgoing radiation data both, independently, prove that the amplification in the climate models is not present. Without the amplification, the climate model temperature predictions would be cut by at least two thirds, which would explain why they overestimated the recent air and ocean temperature increases. Therefore:

The climate models are fundamentally flawed. Their assumed threefold amplification by feedbacks does not in fact exist.

The climate models overestimate temperature rises due to CO2 by at least a factor of three.

The skeptical view is compatible with the data.

Skeptical Science has produced a graph showing the predictions of the IPCC and the contrarians:

(Click onto the graph and it will work.)

It is fair to say the Contrarians and the contributors to the IPCC cannot be both right.

Somebody had provocatively proposed that since anthropocentric climate change was real, and so presumably would cause the mass deaths, climate deniers should be subject to the death penalty. So I advanced the following on Catallaxy:

I think the inference in relation to the death penalty is a very dangerous. It is also undemocratic. Since disagreement is inherent, and necessary, in the democratic search for truth and what is best.

Let’s assume good faith, attempt to understand the opposing points of view, even their psychological orientation, and resolve the matter by a majority votes.

Democratic process may also be seen as Utopian, but with the application of personal standards and civic discipline, it can proves to be equally pragmatic.

As in the climate denial case, as I have seen it, the fallacy is the same. The proposed solution to the problem fails to acknowledge “complexity” of systems.

In retrospect, this was not one of my better comments, but it got some responses. Bruce of Newcastle commented:

But in this case ‘climate scepticism’ is not a fallacy. Climate sceptics, who actually are the realists in this debate, only want truth and to be left to live their lives without totalitarians making them suffer for a lie. Mr Parncutt is an example of what we fear. Also Pentti Linkola, Paul Ehrlich, our own Will Steffen and many others.

When an ideology fails it can go toxic and end with gulags, dissidents committed to mental asylums, mass starvation and horror. We don’t want the CAGW believers to go this way, especially when they don’t have evidence on their side.

Cohenite reinforced the comment with:

That’s exactly right{that CAGW adherents don’t have evidence for their position); from the start the evidence for this scam was scant, increasingly a product of modelling with incorrect and failed assumptions and parameters.

AGW is an ideology front and centre, and like all ideologies its inherents have a total ego investment in it.

For people like Parncutt, Steffan, Flannery etc to let go now involves insuperable public humiliation; for others the power, money and prestige will not be given up without a bitter fight.

For others, who genuinely believe, this battle will continue for decades; and I fear it will degenerate because the underlying psychology of the adherents to the AGW faith is a misanthropic one where humanity is seen as a blight upon the planet.

In fact, as with Parncutt, this is how AGW now has to be resisted; as an economic waste-land, as a corruption of the democratic freedoms and a psychological pathology.

And that view is shared. Sinclair Davidson provided the headline: “Utopia always ends up with mass murder”. Heaven is a utopia and you have by definition be dead to enter it. I do not understand what is on offer, but it does not seem very Utopian to me. And the original Utopia proposed by Thomas More does not, at least to me, meet the standard. He was executed on 6 July 1535, so the publication was some years before then.

It is fair to say that we are coming at this from different perspectives and baggage. One thing to do is to try to understand the mental framework brought to an often emotional discussion, with much talking passed one another and not catching the significance of what is said.

I was thinking in terms of what Chris Mooney argued in relation to the Republicans in the US:

Care has to be taken when applying US results to Australia. Secondly, the models are essential tools, which have been improved, and test well against outcomes. That is a remarkable achievement.And as expected they are getting better. The fact is that understanding climate is an observational science, not an empirical science. It is heavily into statistical thinking, particularly as Professor Schneider pointed out, Bayesian probability theory. And there is a large gap between the climate scientists and the public that struggles to understand. And the public debate, to the extent there is any, and I expect that is taking place more that likely only on blogs, is further colored by political orientations and emotional commitments. As the posting on Catallaxy make clear nonviolence is critical to the democratic process on this issue. As I mentioned in my other comment, nonviolence can be a difficult practice.



I. At Catallaxy, Bruce argues:

You realise the consequences of anti-CAGW policies are even worse, don’t you? We are already seeing deaths due to lack of heating and lack of air conditioning because poor people can’t afford electricity.

We are seeing deaths, many many deaths, due to high food prices in Africa and Asia caused by malnutrition related disease. Because the biofuels policies take arable farmland away from food production, and directly by corn being burnt in American petrol tanks in form of ethanol.

We are seeing literally millions upon millions of birds massacred by wind farms which save no CO2 because they have no energy storage and which cause backup power stations to run inefficiently.

And this is not including all the jobs lost due to these policies, all the taxes not paid, all the health funding which cannot be supported. It goes on and on.

If you take a equitable view of the relative costs you would be on Lomborg’s side, if you were a CAGW person. But no, the hypocrites prefer people to die rather than to admit they are misanthropic maniacs.

And to boot its not happening anyway.

In my opinion, and I thank Bruce, this is the type of disagreement we should be having. I am not sure how to resolve this, and perhaps we will not, but at least we should all be should be aware of the consequences of our positions. Then more these are thought about, and develop a basis for evaluating evidence, the better policies will result. Why could it be imagined if we do not respect other people, we are going to have a productive conversation? I take it, and I may not always like it, that my positions should always be challenged as a fundamental condition of democracy.

The RSS data is from satellite readings referred by Stephen Schneider.


II. Bernard J at Detroid sets up  and gets to refute convincingly, in his eyes at least, the Contrarian attack on climate science:

You still haven’t understood even the basics have you? Of either the science, or the politics.

1. CO2 is a ‘greenhouse’ gas

No One [sic*] disputes that.

As has already been noted above, you are wrong. There are quite a few people who dispute this.

3. humans are responsible for the increase in atmospheric CO2

well to some extent – a small change in ocean temperature will create more CO2 increase than we could ever dream of producing.

Thus far the oceans have been a net sink for CO2. You are wrong to suggest that the warming-related ocean out-gassing is at present contributing to atmospheric CO2 increase.

However in the future, as temperatures continue to warm, the oceans will no longer be a net sink and then they will outgas CO2 to the atmosphere. And that will warm the planet even more…

4. climate sensitivity is around 3 degrees Celsius per doubling of atmospheric CO2

Where do you get that from? most scientists agree a doubling of CO2 results in a 1.2C change in global temperature. Only computer modelers with their positive feedback fantasies suggest more, I assume you are a modeler?

Where do I “get that from”? Why, from the professional literature of course.

When you say that that “most scientists agree a doubling of CO2 results in a 1.2C change in global temperature” you are attempting to fool the uninformed by ignoring the fact that this figure refers to the transient sensitivity, sans feedings-back. Feedings-back are an integral and an unavoidable physical reality – as nearly all scientists and even many engineers well understand. And feedings-back determine equilibrium climate sensitivity, which is the parameter that affects the future most dramatically.

It seems to pan out around 3 degrees Celsius, or a little more:



Depending on your definition of ‘equilibrium’ that sensitivity value could be even higher:


Oh, and transient climate response may be a little higher than you are prepared to concede, especially if your concession is for your perception of equilibrium climate sensitivity:


You don’t like modelling? Well, that’s your problem, because models are quite reliable:


But it’s not only modellers that find positive feedings-back. Empirically-based studies agree:



Perhaps you are hoping to fool us with the Lindzen and Choi version of low sensitivity. Heh, that ostrich never flew:


Schmittner et al. (2011) didn’t gather much more air under their wings either:


So, you are wrong again.

5.the planet is warming as a result of the increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration

There is no correlation to support that claim – hence the 9% increase in CO2 over the past 16 years whilst temps have remained constant.

There is a correlation to support the consensus claim – only a statistical illiterate would claim otherwise.

With respect to the temperatures over the last 16 years, I refer you once again to the idea of noise superimposed over a signal – a concept to which you are obstinately and recalcitrantly refractory.

Perhaps you need a clear example. Imagine that it is a month before summer solstice. It’s been cooler for the last three or four days than it was last week. Does this mean that the increasing insolation resulting from the annual axial progression of the planet does not warm the Earth?

Only an idiot would say so, and yet it is the same process with which you engage to compare climate signal to noise.

Any room on your plate for another ladleful of wrong?

6. natural forcings do not account for the observed warming

Which natural forcings are you referring to?

All recognised natural forcings.

7. the cryosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere are all demonstrating empirically-provable responses to the planet’s warming

Do you mean the missing hotspot?

No, I mean the demonstrable changes in the natural world to a warming planet.

If that doesn’t shake your tree try using Google Scholar and “climate change” or “global warming” combined with “biological change (or response)”, “cryological change (or response)” and “hydrological change (or response)”.

Oh, and the hotspot isn’t missing. And if it were, it would mean that the way we understand the physics of any planetary warming is awry, not just the physics of human-caused warming. We know that it is warming, ergo a hotspot is expected. If there’s no hotspot it does not mean that our observation of warming is incorrect, it means that we are failing to detect a hotspot, or that the science of hotspots is not as clear as we thought.

Your strawman is immaterial to the fact of warming, and there’s now another big helping of wrong on your dinner plate.

8. an increase in the mean global temperature of 3 degrees C will have serious negative impacts on the global ecosystem

strawman – you have no evidence such a warming will occur other than computer models that have been shown to be unreliable.


There is much evidence that warming will occur. Basic radiative physics indicates that it will. Paleoclimate data indicate that it will.

And once again, your claim about the unreliability of “computer models” is – what’s that word again? – wrong.

9. a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will have serious negative impacts on the global marine ecosystem through the resultant ocean acidification synergising with temperature increase

It has been shown that the marine ecosystem experience pH changes everyday way beyond the minute difference dissolved CO2 creates.

You are confabulating the results of diurnal fluctuations with those of long-term fluctuations.

Many species can handle short deviations from their preferred physiochemical envelopes, even at regular and frequent intervals. It’s why penguins can dive for fish, and lizards can run across hot sand. However long-term decline in the mean pH of seawater has serious and even catastrophic consequences for the metabolisms of calcium carbonate metabolising flora and fauna, especially with respect to their abilities to deposit and maintain external calcium skeletons.

There’s also the matter of hydronium ion metabolism, especially in the context of electron transport chains, but this has not been large on the radar at present. However it matters for many species, particularly at the gamete/zygote/embryo stages. Rest assured that future work will show that non-calcium exoskeletoned species will also suffer with any decrease of pH below 8.0.

So basically – you’re wrong.

10. an increase in the mean global temperature of 3 degrees C above the Pre-Industrial Revolution baseline will have serious negative impacts on the ability of global human society to maintain its coherence

You have given no evidence for your projected 3C increase in global temps and such a statement is just ridiculous – man has survived a lot more than a 3C change in temperature. Today was 3C warmer than yesterday.

Once again you are confabulating short-term resilience with long-term tolerance.

A change in the mean annual global temperature of 3 degrees Celsius has profound impacts on the biosphere, including but not restricted to forests, fisheries, crop productivity, disease distribution and water distribution. Human societies as we recognise them in any form – from the Palæolithic period onward – have all evolved and existed during the Holocene, which is characterised by a remarkably consistence mean global temperature that has varied since the last glacial maximum through an estimated mean range of less than a degree.

It’s six degree warmer now than during the last glacial maximum. Another six degrees would place us close to the warmest point in the planet’s history for the last 55 million years, and not far behind the warmest it’s ever been. And there’s a very good likelihood of exceeding six degrees Celsius increase in mean global temperature with ‘business as usual’ carbon dioxide emissions.

Humans would not be able to live well on a plane that warm – if we could indeed live at all. Our physiologies simply aren’t designed that way (no endotherm’s is), and the stuffing-up of the planet that would accompany such a profoundly quick increase in temperature would guarantee that our post-oil/coal technologies (if anything significant exists) would not save us.

There’s a pattern emerging here janama – you are wrong.

11. an increase in the mean global temperature of 6 degrees C above the Pre-Industrial Revolution baseline will almost certainly destroy global human society, and probably even most regional human societies

See answer to previous outrageous prediction! You’re off you f**kin rocker!

Um, you are “f**king” wronger.

See my previous uncontroversial response to your blather.

12. an increase in the mean global temperature of 6 degrees C above the Pre-Industrial Revolution baseline will lead to a great extinction event

Show me one example of extinction that is attributable to man’s burning fossil fuels.

Ah, another wrong-headed straw man.

And easily pummelled.

Of course you are ignoring the fact that we’ve only been seriously warming the planet for four or so decades, and extinction from climatological pressure usually takes longer than that. Extinction is not immediate. Ask me the same question in another few decades and the list will be long and rapidly growing, and it will include some iconic species. If you’re an Australian janama you should visit our ‘Snowies’, because the mountain pygmy possum will only exist in zoos in another few decades.

But it’s not just alpine and polar species that are being impossibly painted into the ecophysiological corners. Ranges are shifting and contracting everywhere, and the effects of warming are interacting with disease, human-caused habitat destruction, competition with human-transported exotics, human pollution, and sundries other confounders.

13. the planet’s warming is superimposed on background ‘noise’/variations resulting from the combination of natural forcings separate from human ‘greenhouse’ gas emissions

That’s just gobbledygook!

Only if one is statistically ignorant.

And wrong.

14. these background ‘noise’/variations resulting from the combination of natural forcings have resulted in a 2-standard-deviation variation of ± ~0.2 degree Celcius/decade for the last three or so decades

more gobbledygook

And more statistical ignorance.

And more wrongness.

15. this background ‘noise’/variation means that, statistically, a certain minimum period of time is always required in order to observe the most recent portion of the signal emerging from the noise

so 16 years isn’t long enough for you?

Not if it includes cherry-picked dates and doesn’t account for the current noise over signal.

But then, I’m of the scientific bent.

Unlike yours, which is bent wrong

16. this minimum period of time required to statistically identify signal from noise is currently at least 15-17 years.

so 16 years shows nothing – what’s your point?

My point is that you are statistically-innumerate, -illiterate, and -ignorant, all rolled into one big ball. My point is that you are comparing apples to deniers’ turds, which have a particularly rank odour.

My point is that your bastardisation of all that is logical, and rational and scientific stinks of wrong.

17. cherry-picking intervals shorter than the period required to observe signal emerge from noise, in order to make claims about the underlying trend, is poor statistical practice

really? thanks for the lesson in statistics.

It seems to be the first lesson that you’ve ever had.

It obviously didn’t stick though, because it made no difference to you being gobsmackingly and predictably wrong.

18. deniers of human-caused global warming are cherry-picking intervals shorter than the period required to observe signal emerge from noise, in order to claim that warming has stopped, and in complete ignorance (whether deliberate or otherwise) of the statistical condition noted above

forgive me if I think what you are saying is total codswallop! as does the rest of the world. – don’t let me interrupt your fantasy though.

Pardon me if I won’t forgive you.

And I rather think that your comment about “the rest of the world” thinking that the science I quote is “codswallop” is, now let me think about it for a moment… wrong.

But be my guest if you can prove your claim. Remember though that it only takes one black swan…

19. the net consequence of (timely) mitigation against ‘greenhouse’ gas-caused warming would be positive for human societies

how do you come to that conclusion? where has warming ever been detrimental to human society? I know that a freezing cold climate is being detrimental to the peoples of northern Europe as I type this! Your computer models didn’t predict this did they?

I come to “that conclusion” by reading the science.

To date humans have not experienced warming outside of the Holocene envelope, so your question is another straw man. However, the effects of global warming are anticipated in regional warming, which has been detrimental to societies whenever drought, disease, dustbowls and other ecosystem collapse, fire, famine and fighting for limited resources occur.

Current local cold in a small part of the world today is not a reflection of global warming impact over the next decades, centuries and millennia. To imagine that it is is profoundly egocentric of you.

And wrong.

Yes, “computer” do “predict” winter in Europe for quite a while yet.

So again you are, as is your habit, wrong.

20. humans have almost certainly left it too late to mitigate to avoid the First-Chapter consequences of global warming

That’s pure speculations based on NO evidence…do you call yourself a scientist or are you just another computer programmer with an inflated self importance.

Excuse me if I snort derisively in your direction.

My comment is supported and reflected by many climatologists and physicists. If you got out of your parents’ basement and darkened the doorway of a university, or even just used g00gle scholar, you’d understand this.

I call myself a concerned scientist, a very worried scientist.

I call you a denialist with an inflated capacity for being wrong.

21. if humans don’t move to mitigate in the very near immediate future they will have almost certainly left it too late to mitigate to avoid the Second- and subsequent-Chapter consequences of global warming

so all the scientists that advise the world governments are wrong? otherwise they would be doing everything in their power to avoid the disaster you espouse – unfortunately you are being ignored, ever occurred to you you may be wrong?

The scientists who advise governments are doing everything in their power to attempt to avoid the disaster that they and I anticipate. It seems that the only ignoring around here is that in which you have engaged with respect to what’s happening beyond the door of that basement of yours.

I continually reassess my knowledge of the science, hoping against hope that climatologists, physicists, biologists and ecologists are wrong. I hope for nothing less. The enormous weight of evidence suggests the exact opposite – that the consensus and my acceptance of it are not wrong.

That same weight of evidence clearly indicates that you are wrong.

22. at this point the primary reason for human inactivity with respect to mitigation is the concerted and deliberate campaign of denial by ideologues and vested interests who want to maintain the fossil fuel paradigm

When I put fuel in my car or turn on an electric heater I do not class myself as an ideologue – you may – I don’t.

You have an army of straw men.

The ideology is not in an isolated instance of the use of fossil energy.

It is in the resistance to moving humanity forward so that we don’t rely on fossil energy, and that in so doing we provide ourselves, our descendants, and the biosphere with the best chance in the future of the opportunity for life that we enjoy today.

That’s were your ideology creeps in.

So now you’re chowing on wrong for dessert.

23. it will always be better for humans to mitigate to reduce warming than not but the return on any such action will diminish the longer we wait, to be effectively zero at the point at which mitigation is no longer possible, by which time global human society will be threatened as referred to above.

Since when has warming ever been a problem to mankind. The Roman’s didn’t wear Togas for nothing, the Brit’s grew grapes where they won’t grow today, and the Vikings thrived in Greenland. Warming is good!

you lost me with your stupid science fantasy – it’s so full of holes I doubt your mind can even hold it together and keep you sane, get real Bernard – your case is over and out!

Warming has been a problem for “mankind” when it pushes us and/or our biology-based primary industries beyond our ecophysiological envelopes. Incipient global warming will be all the greater a problem for these same reasons.

Unsurprisingly, you are dead wrong about grapes in Britain.

The Vikings in Greenland were a group of recalcitrant ignorers of the ways of the natural world, who refused to adopt technologies sympathetic to the environment in which they lived, who were never prosperous to begin with, and who were wiped out be a very slight change in the mean regional annual temperature.

Which only goes to prove my point, and refute yours.

My case remains as solid as ever, which is to say rock solid, whilst yours disappears faster than smoke in a hurricane.

You have yet to point out any holes in the consensus science, you have engaged in much fantasy of your own but show none on my behalf, the only sanity in question here is yours, and my case is backed by evidence.

Your case is just bursting at the seams with wrong.



1. 2012 SkS Weekly Digest #52 - January 1, 2013

[…] Dana's Contrary to Contrarian Claims, IPCC Temperature Projections Have Been Exceptionally Accurate was featured by Citizen's Challenge and Duckpond. […]

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