Wall Street Journal war of words continues

Click to enlarge

letter published in the Wall Street Journal on 27 January made the unremarkable and, one would have thought, fairly uncontentious, assertions that global temperatures had flatlined or slowed in the 21st century, that alarmist projections beget more research funding, and that the forecasts of the IPCC were exaggerated. Hardly anything earthshaking in that.

However, since such a letter dilutes “The Cause” and forces the average person to engage their own powers of reasoning, the consensus denial machine (denial of open debate and any kind of climate change other than man-made, that is) swung into action.

Kevin Trenberth and others (including Michael Mann (!), and Aussie alarmists David Karoly and Matthew England) wrote a further letter to the WSJ attempting to rebut the original points and shore up The Cause, relying heavily on the argument from authority (“97% of climate scientists etc” – remember where that figure came from – 75 out of 77 – , various “national academies” agree with us, etc etc), deploying the hackneyed cancer/doctor, smoking/lung cancer, HIV/Aids analogies, claiming that warming hasn’t slowed in the last decade, and that transitioning to a low carbon economy should be a priority. And who said scientists should never get involved in policy?

Patrick Michaels has responded in detail to this letter:

Trenberth et al. is surprisingly weak and incomplete. The 16 original authors are all individuals that are highly competent in their fields, most are physicists of one stripe or another, and all can read and summarize a scientific literature. In fact, most would hold that climate science is nothing more than applied physics.

“Extreme views” lie in the eye of the beholder, and science only grudgingly backs away from established paradigms. For example, despite the obvious jigsaw-puzzle fit of the earth’s continents, it took 100 years of bickering before continental drift was accepted over geological stasis. And, in this case, the “extreme view” of the most prominent climate scientist of the 16, MIT’s Richard Lindzen, is hardly an outrage.

Lindzen holds that the “sensitivity” of surface temperature to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide has been overestimated because of an inaccuracy in the way that computer models magnify warming. In and of itself, it is mainstream, not extreme, to entertain the hypothesis that doubling carbon dioxide on its own would only cause a bit more than 1 degree (C) of global surface warming. Computer models arrive at much higher values, around 3.5°C, by amplifying the carbon dioxide effect because a slightly warmer atmosphere contains more water vapor, which itself is a potent greenhouse gas. Clouds are also changed in a way that enhances warming. There is evidence from the outgoing radiation signal of the earth that the effects of water vapor and clouds have been overestimated.

The 38 must somehow disagree with Susan Solomon, whose 2010 article in Science attributing the lack of recent warming—that the 39 deny—to unanticipated changes in stratospheric water vapor with no known cause.

The 38 must somehow disagree with the global temperature sensing from satellites, which also shows no net warming for the last 14 years. Now, one could argue that the satellites are measuring temperatures above the surface in the lower atmosphere, but the computer models that the 38 find so accurate, predict that the lower atmosphere should be warming faster than the surface over most of the planet.

Finally “more than 97% of all actively publishing* climate scientists agree that climate change is real and human caused” is probably an underestimate, as virtually everyone acknowledges that the surface temperature is warmer than it was, and that multifarious human activities have some influence on climate. Rather, he misses the point well-made by the original Journal article, which is that the rise in surface temperature is clearly below the values first forecast by the UN in 1990. The core—unsettled—issue in climate science is the “sensitivity” of temperature to carbon dioxide, and there are several independent lines of evidence, including the surface temperature history and the water vapor problems, that argue that it has been substantially overestimated.

In global warming, it’s not the heat, it’s the sensitivity. But don’t expect much sensitivity and expect a lot of heat when climatologists voice their opinions. (source, via WUWT)

Skeptical Science, home of the smug, fundamentalist climate headbangers, attempted to ridicule any suggestion that global temperatures had plateaued with a smug straw man graph [no link, they’re not having any of my traffic], showing smugly that us dumb sceptics will see declines anywhere in a data set by cherry picking the start and end points (I guess that’s better than hiding the declines, right, Mike and Phil?).

Thankfully, Josh came to the rescue with the sketch above, demonstrating how the IPCC sees accelerating warming in a dataset by, er, cherry picking the start and end points. Oh the ironing. Click to enlarge.

UPDATE: William Kininmonth writes to The Australian on the same subject:

KEVIN Trenberth, responding to an Opinion (to which I was a co-signatory) published in the Wall Street Journal (27/1/12) and The Australian (“Climate change ‘heretics’ refute carbon dangers”, 1/2), claims to have been quoted out of context and misrepresented (“Expertise a prerequisite to comment on climate”, 3/2).

The quote in our opinion is from an email sent by Trenberth to a group of colleagues that became public with the release of emails from the UK University of East Anglia (or climategate). Trenberth wrote: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t . . . there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observation system is inadequate.”

The context is an exchange of emails initiated in 2009 in response to a BBC item that there has been no warming since 1998 and that Pacific oscillations will force cooling for the next 20 to 30 years.

Trenberth was certainly lamenting the inadequacy of the observing systems (with which I agree) but at face value he is also acknowledging that the available data do not support warming since 1998. The latter is an inconvenience to the human-caused global warming hypothesis that he and his colleagues are wedded to.

William Kininmonth, Kew, Vic


  1. James Kress says:

    Great article. It is hilarious to watch those who are desperate to use the lie of AGW to accumulate more power and money struggle so violently in the net of their own lies and decpetions. They do this while denying the real scientific data which is exactly their claim about the actions of those who disagree with them.

    Perhaps the REAL “deniers” are those religious acolytes who cling so desperately to their disproven notions of AGW.

    • The Loaded Dog says:

      “Perhaps the REAL “deniers” are those religious acolytes who cling so desperately to their disproven notions of AGW.”

      This seems beyond doubt. Consistently using the same tired old argument boosters. Consensus, ad-hom, argument from authority etc etc.

      Very boring. VERY boring indeed.

  2. On the subject of graph representations …

    Here is a graph only from Dr. Roy Spencer on the global average lower tropospheric temperature anomaly for January, 2012, which incidentally stands at 0.09 deg. C.

    Here is the same graph as represented by Skeptical Science (graph only).

    You be the judge as to which represents the science and the truth most accurately.

    [Reply: The Un-SPs-S graph is based on the BEST land surface temp database, not UAH, so they can’t be directly compared – Ed]

  3. 38? Shouldn’t a consensus of scientists at least number 10,000? So is 38 all they could muster? I do not know if I should pity them or laugh…..

  4. A true scientist would not rest until he/her has all the possibilities covered. And always keeping an open mind. Not just coming to the first conclusion that guarantees the funding. Any thing the sun throws at us contributes to heat. But how much heat does this planet generate naturally. High pressure systems and low pressure systems they got to contribute to friction energy. the molten core , solar flares charging the magnetics that causes heat. Co2, water vapour, it could be the whole lot. but I do know that the Ice core data points to this period in as natural warming. It is supposed to be warming. And it last around 10,000years so the government gets to play with this for the next 10,000 years before they start whining about global cooling. For those that try to compare Earth with Venus saying that is future Earth. In a way it is but it wasn’t caused by humans but by the sun. Earth is 149,597,870.7 kilometers from the sun. Venus is 108,942,109 km. That’s 40,655,761.7 km difference Venus is 460 °C. And Earth varies between minus 40 Celsius and plus 50 Celsius. . And Mars reaches -63 °C (-81 F). However, the equatorial regions of Mars may occasionally reach temperatures of up to 30-40 °C (50-68 F), while during the long polar nights, the temperature can fall to around -120 °C (-184 F). Suffice it to say, it gets cold. Mars is 249,209,300 km from the sun with a difference of 99,604,430 Km. So by distance does have a dramatic effect on temperature as the sun grows bigger it’s only going to get hotter..That’s why we should prep mars up for future generations to live on..It’ won’t be any time soon but a start cannot hurt.

  5. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. Billions of dollars that could be feeding hungry kids or building schools and hospitals is being stolen by these crooks. Kids Before Trees, read it.

    • Couldn’t agree more Geoff. In 2005 UNICEF reported that one in six children worldwide suffer from being underweight or stunted growth. One in seven have no health care at all. One in five don’t have safe drinking water and one in three have no toilets or sanitation at home. 120 million children worldwide don’t have access to primary school education and 30,000 children die each day from preventable diseases.

      While the United Nations gets involved in the politics of climate change and spending $100 billion a year from their green climate fund on garbage, the travesty is children worldwide starve and die of preventable diseases, while UN bureaucrats run around wringing their collective hands and telling us the sky is falling!

      • Thank you. I’ve written a book, Kids Before Trees, to try to spread the word. Please have a look, you can download a copy free with coupon code KH68F at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/80505 If you see any merit in the book please spread the word. Anyone is free to use the coupon for a free download.

      • Jim Kress says:

        UNICEF is one of the most corrupt agencies within the UN. They are hardly a credible source (as is any other element of the UN, for that matter).

        You want to help people and be sure they actually receive the help (i.e. it is not diverted into the pockets of UN bureaucrats or the local government bureaucrats)? Give to organizations like Technoserve:


  6. Your right Baldrick, but haven’t you realized that with Greenies heavily supporting Agenda 21 that what is happen in what you mentioned is SUPPOSED to happen. The Green Religion is all about population reduction and control.

    In the past this would have been done with wars (think of the number of deaths during WWI and II) now its easier to do it this way because they think nobody can be blamed, it’s just life and the way it is. Truth is that every single greenie, politician and alarmist out there should be legally held to account for every single death that occurs, be prosecuted for murder and jailed.

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