Skeptical Science: heads in the sand

Un-Sk Ps-Sc on the Pause and models

Un-Sk Ps-Sc on the Pause and model accuracy

Even Nature has acknowledged that the Pause is real, and that the models are missing something:

Average global temperatures hit a record high in 1998 — and then the warming stalled. For several years, scientists wrote off the stall as noise in the climate system: the natural variations in the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere that drive warm or cool spells around the globe. But the pause has persisted, sparking a minor crisis of confidence in the field. Although there have been jumps and dips, average atmospheric temperatures have risen little since 1998, in seeming defiance of projections of climate models and the ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases. […]

But none of the climate simulations carried out for the IPCC produced this particular hiatus at this particular time. That has led sceptics — and some scientists — to the controversial conclusion that the models might be overestimating the effect of greenhouse gases, and that future warming might not be as strong as is feared.

But let’s take a look at the headbangers over at Un-Skeptical Pseudo-Science. To start with, the Pause. In 2008, the page read as follows:

Did global warming stop in 1998?

1998 was an unusually hot year as it featured the strongest El Nino of the century. In fact, from Jan to May, 2007 is tied with 1998 as hottest year on record. The WMO reported in August that January and April 2007 were the hottest on record.

However, when determining trends, you don’t pick one month or year out of isolation – particularly if that year features a short term weather anomaly like El Nino. By this method, based on the fact that 2005 was .17°C hotter than 2000, you could conclude that the rate of global warming doubled from 2000 to 2005.

Using the fudged surface temperature sets, Un-Sk Ps-Sc was still able to claim the climate was still warming (phew). Fast forward to 2014. Another six years of no warming, and the only alternative is to… er, change the subject to ocean heat instead:

There’s also a tendency for some people just to concentrate on surface air temperatures when there are other, more useful, indicators that can perhaps give us a better idea how rapidly the world is warming. Oceans for instance — due to their immense size and heat storing capability (called ‘thermal mass’) — tend to give a much more ‘steady’ indication of the warming that is happening. Here records show that the Earth has been warming at a steady rate before and since 1998 and there’s no signs of it slowing any time soon.

And the evidence for this is from a paper by one of their own – Dana Nuccitelli. Handy!

How about the accuracy of models in 2008? Un-Sk Ps-Sc used some graphs cut and pasted from the IPCC’s third assessment report (in 2001), to fool the sheep into believing that models were just perfect:

Cut and paste from 2001

Cut and paste from 2001

They then claim that observed temperatures “closely match” Hansen’s Scenario B, helped no doubt by the multiple fudge factors applied to GISS temperature data. If satellite data had been used instead, the argument would be far less compelling.

Today’s version of the page is still using those graphs from 2001, now a whole two IPCC reports out of date. It still plugs the Hansen Scenario B, despite the observed temperature series ending in 2005.

And just today, Nuccitelli, writing in his ‘97%’ column in the Guardian uses a figure which conveniently supports the same position, despite the fact that balloon and satellite data show an increasing divergence between observations and models.

Which image do Cook & Nuccitelli pick?

Which image do Cook & Nuccitelli pick?

When the usually warmist Nature concedes that something is happening to the climate system which was not forecast by the models, then you should listen.

And in fact, most ‘proper’ scientists would look at this as an opportunity to further the understanding of the drivers of climate change, both natural and anthropogenic, but the headbangers at Un-Sk Ps-Sc would much rather stick their heads in the sand and pretend nothing has changed.

It could almost be said that they were denying the reality… but that would be petty, wouldn’t it?

Group-think described

Group-think rules…

Group-think rules…

Christopher Booker, writing in the UK Telegraph, points to a fascinating extract from a book entitled “The Blunders of our Governments” by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe. The extract in question refers to the work of an American psychology professor in the 1960s, Irving J. Janis, who studied the cultural phenomenon of group-think.

When reading the following paragraphs, keep in the forefront of your mind the following:

  • the ABC (and its ideological twin the BBC);
  • John Cook and Dana Nuccitelli of Skeptical Science;
  • Stephan Lewandowsky and his psychology mates, and
  • the majority of the ‘consensus’ community in climate science

and see how much of it can be applied to them.

Janis became intrigued by a sequence of unfortunate episodes in modern American history that seemed to him to display a number of common characteristics: the Roosevelt administration’s faiure in 1941 to prepare for a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; the Truman administration’s rash decision in late 1950 to invade North Korea; the launching of President John F. Kennedy’s clownish Bay of Pigs expedition in 1961; and Lyndon B. Johnson’s escalation of American involvement in the Vietnam War during the mid-1960s. To that original list, he later added President Richard M. Nixon’s attempt to cover up his own and his henchmen’s complicity in the notorious Watergate break-in of 1972.

According to Janis, whose views are now almost universally accepted, group-think is liable to occur when the members of any face-to-face group feel under pressure to maintain the group’s cohesion or are anyway inclined to want to do that. It is also liable to occur when the group in question feels threatened by an outside group or comes, for whatever reason, to regard one or more outside individuals or groups as alien or hostile. Group-think need not always, but often does, manifest itself in pathological ways. A majority of the group’s members may become intolerant of dissenting voices within the group and find way, subtle or overt, of silencing them. Individual group members may begin to engage in self-censorship, suppressing any doubts they harbour about courses of action that the group seems intent on adopting. Latent disagreements may thus fail to surface, one result being that the members of the group come to believe they are unanimous when in reality they may not be. Meanwhile, the group is likely to become increasingly reluctant to engage with outsiders and to seek out information that might run counter to any emerging consensus. If unwelcome information does happen to come the group’s way, it is likely to be discounted or disregarded. Warning signs are ignored. The group at the same time fails to engage in rigorous reality-testing, with possible alternative courses of action not being realistically appraised.

And the following paragraph could have been written for our friend Professor Lewandowsky:

Group-think is also, in Janis’s view, liable to create “an illusion of invulnerability, shared by most or all the members, which creates excessive optimism and encourages taking extreme risks”. Not least, those indulging in group-think are liable to persuade themselves that the majority of their opponents and critics are, if not actually wicked, then at least stupid, misguided and probably self-interested.

Denial, conspiracy ideation, extreme free-market adherents – add those to the list and we’re done! It continues:

Irving Janis’s own conception of group-think is tightly bounded. It refers only to situations in which members of a face-to-face group feel, consciously or subconsciously, a need to maintain the internal cohesion of the group. It is, in that sense, a purely psychological concept. But of course the notion of group-think can be extended and used more widely to refer to a variety of situations in which there exists such widespread agreement among the members of a group about the desirability of a given course of action that no threats to the group’s internal cohesion ever arise. Because there really are no dissenters in the group, no one in the group ever expresses dissent. There are no nay-sayers. Everyone is agreed. But such situations can be just as dangerous as the ones Janis describes. The decision-making processes associated with unforced agreement may be just as defective as the ones associated with suppressed dissent.

As Booker concludes:

[Janis’s] account of “the illusion of unanimity”, and how group-thinkers regard anyone daring to question their belief-system as an “enemy” to be discredited, superbly characterises the mentality of that small group of “climate scientists” at the heart of driving the warming scare. This was never more clearly brought home than by those Climategate emails, showing how they were ready to fiddle their data to promote what they themselves called “the cause”, and to suppress the views of any scientists they saw as a threat to their illusory “consensus”. We all casually use the term “group-think”, but I had not known how comprehensively Janis explains so much that is puzzling about this world we live in.

Perhaps Cook, Lew, Nuccitelli and the rest of the “consensus” crew should take a good, long, hard look in the mirror now and again, instead of applying pseudo-psychology to their critics.

Dana’s dummy spit

Dummy-spit Dana

Dummy-spit Dana

One half of the Un-Skeptical Pseudo-Science team, Dana Nuccitelli, has recently made a twit of himself on Twitter (appropriately enough). Nuccitelli claimed Roger Pielke Jr was “misleading” the public about tornadoes in an op-ed. Unfortunately, Pielke Jr wasn’t one of the six authors.

Rather than do what normal people would do and simply apologise for the obvious error, instead Nuccitelli dug deeper and deeper. Don’t forget that he and John Cook are two of the most rabid climate ideologues on the planet, who refuse to acknowledge that any doubt exists surrounding the strength of the “consensus”, and therefore anything that challenges it must be attacked and destroyed at all costs.

What is so telling about all this is that it reveals the underlying desperation of the alarmists to maintain the facade. No cracks can ever be revealed, no points conceded (no matter how trivial – witness the above), no contrary view left unchallenged, and most importantly, of course, no opponent un-smeared. As Roger Pielke Jr said about the whole incident:

“I do appreciate your willingness to dig in your heels and continue this display. I agree with you that those paying attention will be fully empowered to reach fair conclusions.

Thanks again for the exchange. Very educational, and not just for me.”

So very, very true.

You can read it all herehere and here.

Nuccitelli brings out the Consensus Calculator


Already getting a lot of use…

I cannot believe how rapidly Dana Nuccitelli (he of Un-Sk Ps-Sc fame) has wheeled out the ACM Consensus Calculator to rubbish a study which rejects the ludicrous 97% figure that he and John Cook constantly bandy about.

When a survey reveals significantly less of a consensus than Un-Sk Ps-Sc would like, the CC is employed to make sure that it is “really” still 97%. The survey in question is this one by the American Meteorological Society, which shows that out of 1800 odd members who responded, only 52% believed that the cause of recent warming was “mostly human”. This will never do:

The misrepresentations of the study have claimed that it contradicts the 97 percent expert consensus on human-caused global warming. The prior studies that have found this high level of consensus were based specifically on climate experts – namely asking what those who do climate science research think, or what their peer-reviewed papers say about the causes of global warming.

The AMS on the other hand is not comprised primarily of climate experts. Some of its members do climate research, but only 13 percent of survey participants described climate as their field of expertise. Among those respondents with climate expertise who have published their climate research, this survey found that 93 percent agreed that humans have contributed significantly to global warming over the past 150 years (78 percent said it’s mostly human-caused, 10 percent said it’s equally caused by humans and natural processes, and 5 percent said the precise degree of human causation is unclear, but that humans have contributed). Just 2 percent of AMS climate experts said global warming is mostly natural, 1 percent said global warming isn’t happening, and the remaining 4 percent were unsure about global warming or human causation.

The authors also note that they asked about contributions to global warming over the past 150 years, whereas climate scientists are most confident that humans are the dominant cause of global warming over the past 50 years. Some survey participants sent emails implying that if the question had more narrowly focused on the past 50 years, even more respondents might have said that global warming is mostly human-caused.

Importantly, most AMS members are not climate researchers, nor is scientific research of any kind their primary occupation (for example, weather forecasters). Among those AMS members who haven’t recently published in the peer-reviewed literature, just 62 percent agreed that humans are causing global warming, with 37 percent saying humans are the main cause over the past 150 years.

Following it so far? Nuccitelli then repeats the study’s conclusions that any divergence from the “consensus” is more about “expertise” and “political ideology” than anything else (Lewandowsky anyone?). Judith Curry points out that the AMS has a history of plugging the alarmist line:

A year ago, the AMS issued a Statement on Climate Change, see my blog post on this.  Excerpts from their statement:

“It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide.

The ongoing warming will increase risks and stresses to human societies, economies, ecosystems, and wildlife through the 21st century and beyond, making it imperative that society respond to a changing climate.

Mitigation will reduce the amount of future climate change and the risk of impacts that are potentially large and dangerous.”

I was harshly critical of this statement, which was written by a group of volunteers and then approved by the AMS Council.

So it’s little wonder that the authors of the study look for any extraneous reason to justify the lack of agreement with the supposed consensus.

And just in case you haven’t got the message, Nuccitelli concludes:

In any case, the 97 percent expert consensus on human-caused global warming is still a reality.

A figure which comes from a study of which he and Cook are the authors, naturally.

Source (h/t Real Science)

Five Holiday Gifts for Skeptical Science readers

Skeptical Science has suggested some “gifts for skeptics” (i.e. proper skeptics, that is), so in the spirit of Christmas, here are ACM’s ideas for the warmist in your life:

The SkS Shredder

Inconvenient data? No problem with this shredder. Just watch the Medieval Warm Period disappear. Forget having to change your models to fit reality, simply change reality to fit your models! Nothing could be easier!



Escalator News

Skeptical Science loves escalators, so why not buy that special person a subscription to Elevator World?


Fascinating reading!

“ELEVATOR WORLD is the premier publication for the international building transportation industry and has been publishing the latest news, newest innovations, imperative safety issues, current code requirements, events coverage and accessibility, legal and maintenance issues since January 1953.”

And don’t worry, it has plenty about escalators as well!

Print edition, just $125. Order here.

The Skeptical Science Consensus Calculator

Do you need to keep repeating the fake statistic that 97% of scientists agree with the consensus on global warming, when in reality the figure is barely half that? Well, now your troubles are over with the new Consensus Calculator. Specially designed, this clever device will ensure you only get the result you want, every time.

Easy peasy!

Easy peasy!

Karl Popper – The Logic of Scientific Discovery

Why not find out what real scientists do by reading on of the essential texts on the scientific method. A lot of this will come as a shock to Skeptical Science readers, so best read it sitting down. It’s even available on Kindle, so do yourselves a favour and work out the difference between science and propaganda.

Get ready for a roller coaster ride, folks!

A real page turner for warmists

And finally, to show that special person how much you care…

Yes, it’s the new I “heart” Lew mug. Lovingly crafted and designed, this gift will really send the right message…


Show him you love him…

Available from the ACM Cafepress shop here, a bargain at just $15.99.

Merry Christmas!

Skeptical Science bombs again…

Dumb and offensive

Dumb and offensive

The morons at Un-Skeptical Pseudo-Science have developed a “widget” for blogs, which purports to show the energy accumulated by “global warming” since 1998 in terms of the new Un-Sk Ps-Sc unit of energy, the  “Hiroshima bomb” (Hb).

In a desperate attempt to scare people, who generally will not have any idea of the huge amounts of energy involved in  atmospheric heat transfers, the widget claims 4 Hbs-1 accumulating in the atmosphere due to AGW, and gives a running total. Quick, panic!

Well, not so fast, because the Sun, our life giving star, obliterates Earth with no less than one thousand Hbs-1. So the horribly scary 4 per second now seems rather tame, doesn’t it?

Apart from the callous and thoughtless tarnishing the memory of the thousands who died at Hiroshima, it just goes to show how low the headbangers at Un-Sk Ps-Sc will sink to peddle their tawdry brand of alarmism.

More here at WUWT (which provides the calculations).

Rapid increase in ocean heat…?

Ocean heat?

Ocean heat?

What does this graph show? A catastrophically rapid increase in ocean heat content?

When global surface temperatures started levelling off, and then continued to plateau, it was a real blow to the alarmist cause. How could they claim that global warming was an urgent problem that needed trillions of taxpayer dollars to fix when the temperatures showed otherwise?

How could they retain their cushy roles on UN- and government-funded climate organisations, jetting round the world staying in five-star hotels at the taxpayers’ expense, whilst all the while imploring the rest of us to scale back our unsustainable and polluting lifestyles?

Here’s the alarmists’ thought process: Where’s the missing heat? Our models must be right (no doubt there), so it must be hiding somewhere. Somewhere we can’t measure it. Deep in the oceans!

And because of the much larger heat capacity of water compared to air, the differences in temperature would be of the order of hundredths of a degree.  Which is conveniently impossible to measure accurately.

Which is why ocean heat content is the buzzword du jour.

The graph above actually shows the number of times “ocean heat” appears in a Google search of Skeptical Science for each year since 2006. From six mentions in 2007, we have reached a projected 166 for the whole of 2013 (125 as of today).

That’s why virtually every new post at SkS references this graph from Nuccitelli et al 2012:

Misdirection that would make a magician proud

Misdirection that would make a magician proud

The intent is clear: Don’t believe your lying eyes – global warming continues unabated. Ocean heat content gives us the scare we need. We don’t need no stinking surface temperatures.

Maybe if surface temperatures do rise again in the future, which they well may, the warmists will use this classic misdirection again, and ocean heat content will be relegated to obscurity once more, where it will remain until it is convenient for The Cause to drag it out and place it front and centre again.

P.S. By the way, just for the record, a ∆E of 20 x 10E22 J equates to approximately two hundredths of one percent of estimated total ocean heat.

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