Tony Thomas: Finally, Some Real Climate Science

Posted: March 18, 2014 by tallbloke in Accountability, alarmism, climate, Measurement, methodology, Natural Variation, Politics

Guest Post emailed to me  by Tony Thomas, originally published at Quadrant online:

Finally, Some Real Climate Science
Tony Thomas 18-3-2014

Shulz_cartoon_for_APSThe American Physical Society has been amongst the loudest alarmist organisations whipping up hysteria about CO2, but a review of its position that has placed three sceptics on the six-member investigatory panel strongly suggests the tide has turned.

The 50,000-strong American body of physicists, the American Physical Society (APS), seems to be turning significantly sceptical on climate alarmism.

The same APS put out a formal statement in 2007 adding its voice to the alarmist hue and cry. That statement caused resignations of some of its top physicists (including 1973 Nobel Prize winner Ivar Giaever and Hal Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara).[1] The APS was forced by 2010 to add some humiliating clarifications but retained the original statement that the evidence for global warming was ‘incontrovertible’.[2]

By its statutes, the APS must review such policy statements each half-decade and that scheduled review is now under way, overseen by the APS President Malcolm Beasley.

The review, run by the society’s Panel on Public Affairs, includes four powerful shocks for the alarmist science establishment.[3]

First, a sub-committee has looked at the recent 5th Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  and formulated scores of critical questions about the weak links in the IPCC’s methods and findings. In effect, it’s a non-cosy audit of the IPCC’s claims on which the global campaign against CO2 is based.

Second, the  APS PANEL ON PUBLIC AFFAIRS’ review sub-committee , after ‘consulting broadly’, convened a WORKSHOP TO GET SCIENCE INPUT INTO the questions. The WORKSHOP comprised six EXPERT ADVISERS, amazingly, includes three eminent sceptic scientists: Richard Lindzen, John Christy, and Judith Curry. The other three members comprise long-time IPCC stalwart Ben Santer (who, in 1996, drafted, in suspicious circumstances, the original IPCC mantra about a “discernible” influence of manmade CO2 on climate), an IPCC lead author and modeler William Collins, and atmospheric physicist Isaac Held.

Third, the sub-committee is ensuring the entire process is publicly transparent — not just the drafts and documents, but the workshop discussions, which have been taped, transcribed and officially published, in a giant record running to 500+ pages.[4]

Fourth, the APS will publish its draft statement to its membership, inviting comments and feedback.

What the outcome will be, ie what the revised APS statement will say, we will eventually discover.  It seems a good bet that the APS will break ranks with the world’s collection of peak science bodies, including the Australian Academy of Science, and tell the public, softly or boldly, that IPCC science is not all it’s cracked up to be.

The APS audit of the IPCC makes a contrast with the Australian Science Academy’s (AAS) equivalent efforts. In 2010 the AAS put out a booklet, mainly for schools, ”The Science of Climate Change, Questions and Answers”, drafted behind closed doors. The drafters and overseers totalled 16 people, and the original lone sceptic, Garth Paltridge, was forced out by the machinations of  then-President Kurt Lambeck.[5] The Academy is currently revising the booklet, without any skeptic input at all. Of the 16 drafters and overseers, at least nine have been IPCC contributors and others have been petition-signing climate-policy lobbyists, hardly appropriate to do any arm’s length audit of the IPCC version of the science. Once again, the process is without any public transparency or consulting with the broad membership.

The American Physical Society’s audit questions are pretty trenchant.[6] Just to recite some of them points in the can of worms soon to be authoritatively exposed.  Here’s a selection:

The temperature stasis

While the Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST) rose strongly from 1980-98, it has shown no significant rise for the past 15 years…[The APS notes that neither the 4th nor 5th IPCC report modeling suggested any stasis would occur, and then asks] …

To what would you attribute the stasis?

If non-anthropogenic influences are strong enough to counteract the expected effects of increased CO2, why wouldn’t they be strong enough to sometimes enhance warming trends, and in so doing lead to an over-estimate of CO2 influence?

What are the implications of this stasis for confidence in the models and their projections?

What do you see as the likelihood of solar influences beyond TSI (total solar irradiance)? Is it coincidence that the statis has occurred during the weakest solar cycle (ie sunspot activity) in about a century?

Some have suggested that the ‘missing heat’ is going into the deep ocean…

Are deep ocean observations sufficient in coverage and precision to bear on this hypothesis quantitatively?

Why would the heat sequestration have ‘turned on’ at the turn of this century?

What could make it ‘turn off’ and when might that occur?

Is there any mechanism that would allow the added heat in the deep ocean to reappear in the atmosphere?

IPCC suggests that the stasis can be attributed in part to ‘internal variability’. Yet climate models imply that a 15-year stasis is very rare and models cannot reproduce the observed Global Mean Surface Temperature even with the observed radiative forcing.

What is the definition of ‘internal variability’? Is it poorly defined initial conditions in the models or an intrinsically chaotic nature of the climate system? If the latter, what features of the climate system ARE predictable?

How would the models underestimate of internal variability impact detection and attribution?

How long must the statis persist before there would be a firm declaration of a problem with the models? If that occurs, would the fix entail: A retuning of model parameters? A modification of ocean conditions? A re-examination of fundamental assumptions?

General Understanding


  • What do you consider to be the greatest advances in our understanding of the physical basis of climate change since AR4 in 2007?
  • What do you consider to be the most important gaps in current understanding?
  • How are the IPCC confidence levels determined?
  • What has caused the 5% increase in IPCC confidence from 2007 to 2013?

Climate Sensitivity

[This relates to the size of feedbacks to the agreed and mild CO2-induced warming. If feedbacks are powerful and positive, the alarmist case is strong. If feedbacks are weak or negative, there is no basis for any climate scare or for trillions of dollars to be spent on curbing CO2 emissions].

A factor-of-three uncertainty in the global surface temperature response to increasing atmospheric CO2 as expressed by equilibrium climate sensitivity, has persisted through the last three decades of research despite the significant intellectual effort that has been devoted to climate science.

What gives rise to the large uncertainties in this fundamental parameter of the climate system?

How is the IPCC’s expression of increasing confidence in the detection/attribution/projection of anthropogenic influences consistent with this persistent uncertainty?

Wouldn’t detection of an anthropogenic signal necessarily improve estimates of the response to anthropogenic perturbations?

Models and Projections

The APS notes that the IPCC draws on results and averages from large numbers of models, and comments, “In particular, it is not sufficient to demonstrate that some member of the ensemble [of models] gets it right at any given time. Rather, as in other fields of science, it is important to know how well the ‘best’ single model does at all times.”

Were inclusion/exclusion decisions made prior to examining the results? How do those choices impact the uncertainties?

Which metrics were used to assess the [claimed] improvements in simulations between AR4 and AR5 [2007 and 2013 reports]?

How well do the individual models do under those metrics? How good are the best models in individually reproducing the relevant climate observations to a precision commensurate with the anthropogenic perturbations?

Climate Sensitivities

The APS notes that the 5th IPCC report acknowledged model overestimates of climate sensitivity to C02 increases, both in transient and equilibrium modes:

“As the observational value of TCR [transient climate response] is simply estimated to be approximately 1.3degC, it appears that the models overestimate this crucial climate parameter by almost 50%.”

 Please comment on the above assessment.

Box 12.2 of AR5 Working Group 1 states: ‘Unlike ECS [equilibrium climate sensitivity], the ranges of TCS [transient climate sensitivity] estimated from the observed warming and from AOGCMs [Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Model] agree well, increasing our confidence  in the assessment of uncertainties in projections over the 21st century.’ Please comment on that statement in light of the discussion above.

The scale of anthropogenic perturbations

The APS notes that solar and thermal warming of the earth’s surface is about 503 watts per square metre, whereas the IPCC’s estimate of manmade CO2 forcing is only 1.3-3.3 watts per square metre, less than 0.5% of the total. Even if CO2 levels leapt from the present 400 parts per million to 550ppm, the CO2 warming would still be less than 4 watts per square metre, the APS says.

“The earth’s climate stems from a multi-component, driven, noisy, non-linear system that shows temporal variability from minutes to millennia. Instrumental observations of key physical climate variables have sufficient coverage and precision only over the past 150 years at best (and usually much less than that). Many different processes and phenomena will be relevant and each needs to be ‘gotten right’ with high precision if the response to anthropogenic perturbations is to be attributed correctly and quantified accurately. For example, a change in the earth’s average shortwave albedo [reflectivity] from 0.30 to 0.29 due to changing clouds, snow/ice, aerosols, or land character would induce a 3.4 W/m2 direct perturbation in the downward flux [warming], 50% larger than the present  anthropogenic perturbation.

Moreover, there are expected feedbacks (water vapor-temperature, ice-albedo…) that would amplify the perturbative response by factors of several. How can one understand the IPCC’s expressed confidence in identifying  and projecting the effects of such small anthropogenic perturbations in view of such difficult circumstances?”

Sea Ice

The APS notes that the models seem able to reproduce the Arctic declining ice trend, but not the Antarctic rising ice trend. Moreover, the APS has spotted that the IPCC had done its ice graphs using only 17 out of its 40 models, these 17 happening to produce reasonable fits with the data. The  APS says,

“One may therefore conclude that the bulk of the CMIP5 [latest] models do not reproduce reasonable seasonal mean and magnitude of the ice cycle. Is that the case? And if so, what are the implications for the confidence with which the ensemble [the whole 40 models] can be used for other purposes?


The rate of rise during  1930-1950  was comparable to, if not larger than, the value in recent years. Please explain that circumstance in light of the presumed monotonic [steady] increase from anthropogenic effects.

The IPCC-projected rise of up to 1m by the end of this century would require an average rate of up to 12mm/yr for the rest of this century, some four times the current rate, and an order of magnitude larger than implied by the 20th century acceleration of 0.01mm/yr found in some studies. What drives the projected sea level rise? To what extent is it dependent upon a continued rise in Global Mean Surface Temperature?…

With uncertainty in ocean data being ten times larger than the total magnitude of the warming attributed  to anthropogenic sources, and combined with the IPCC’s conclusion that it has less than 10% confidence that it can separate long-term trends from regular variability, why is it reasonable to conclude  that increases in  Global Mean Surface Temperature are attributable to radiative forcing rather than to ocean variability?

IPCC officials and their supporters, including President Obama and his Secretary of State John  Kerry, have disparaged sceptical questioners as ‘flat-earthers’. Has the American Physical Society shifted to a flat-earth position?

Tony Thomas has written some 30 climate essays for Quadrant and Quadrant online. He blogs at







  1. […] Some Real Climate Science??? Copied from Tallbloke's Talkshop Tony Thomas: Finally, Some Real Climate Science | Tallbloke's Talkshop Finally, Some Real Climate Science Tony Thomas 18-3-2014 The American Physical Society has been […]

  2. Truthseeker says:

    I would not for one minute classify Judith Curry as a sceptic.

  3. Me_Again says:

    Be an atom bomb if after answering those questions the APS still comes down on the side of war AGW.
    Possibly a defining moment for those who are very sceptical and the tipping point for those who fence sit.

  4. c777 says:

    The wheels are coming off, albeit slowly.
    I always knew it would dissipate, piece by piece.
    The truth will out as they say.

  5. oldbrew says:

    ‘A factor-of-three uncertainty in the global surface temperature response to increasing atmospheric CO2 as expressed by equilibrium climate sensitivity, has persisted through the last three decades of research despite the significant intellectual effort that has been devoted to climate science.’

    How could that be described as ‘overwhelming evidence’ – as various media and a lot of politicians would like us to believe – of anything?

  6. Phantomsby says:

    I’m still expecting a major warmist to suddenly jump sides and then take all the credit for shining a light on how bad climate science is 😦

  7. hunter says:

    The tide turns at APS.
    And the screw is turning against the execrable Manniacs in the legal system.

  8. grumpydenier says:

    I have a dream….I have a dream…

  9. There is no valid climate science and no competent climate scientists, whether alarmist believers or skeptical critics of the consensus. There is a very specific condition that must be met by the scientific community before that will change: The “greenhouse effect” must be thrown out of science, and the Standard Atmosphere model for the troposphere–which is precisely confirmed by my November 2010 Venus/Earth temperatures comparison–must be restored to central position, as the true representative of the predominant, stable state of the vertical temperature distribution of Earth’s troposphere. The current generation–and all of our supposedly authoritative institutions, including this latest news from the APS–shows no signs of self-correction, only the pretense of such.

  10. Hello,Harry,

    Within the Standard Atmosphere Model is it not implicit that there is a Greenhouse Effect but mass induced rather than radiatively induced ?

    I agree that the matter of the lapse rate slope is very significant and can be dealt with within the Standard Atmosphere by convection sorting out the temperature of molecules along the lapse rate gradient set by gravity via density differentials.

    Perhaps you would be interested in some of my recent comments on the Emissivity thread ?

    I have concluded that the surface temperature enhancement above the S-B prediction is caused by conduction and convection with the critical determinants being atmospheric mass and atmospheric transparency.

    That explains the planetary differences.

    If we consider Venus we can see that the atmosphere is very opaque which in itself would reduce the surface temperature enhancement due to less solar input reaching the surface directly and so less energy there for surface to air conduction.

    However, the mass of the atmosphere is very high and more mass available to conduct from the surface increases the surface temperature enhancement.

    Thus in the case of Venus the positive thermal effect of mass amount is much greater than the negative thermal effect of high opacity and the surface temperature goes much higher than, say, that of Earth.

    A more extreme example of low solar input creating a high surface temperature enhancement under a dense atmosphere would be Uranus.

    I think that squares the circle pretty well and is a problem for radiative theory given that more GHGs increase opacity and therefore decrease rather than increase the surface temperature enhancement.

    Any comments ?

  11. oldbrew says:

    Steven Goddard had a post 3 years ago with the title:

    ‘The Lapse Rate Is Independent Of Greenhouse Gas Content’

    Quote: ‘the lapse rate on Earth is very similar to Venus, despite very different atmospheres’

    Harry Huffmann (see comment above) had already stated much the same a few months earlier.

  12. AGW theory fails on so many fronts. Let us look at the models.

    1. Temperature trend is not following the models.

    2. Atmospheric circulation is becoming less zonal
    again not following the models.

    3. No lower tropospheric hot spot near the equator has
    formed again not following the models.

    4. Antarctic sea ice is increasing ,again not following
    the models.

    5. Stratospheric cooling is neutral again not following
    the models.

    6. Ocean Heat Content increases are slowing not
    accelerating again not following the models.

    7. El Nino’s are not becoming more frequent again
    not following the models.

    When one then combines this with these climate FACTS,
    how anyone can buy into CO2 man made global warming is beyond me.

    1. CO2 is a trace gas with has increased in trace amounts.

    2. CO2 follows the temp. does not lead it.

    3. Past history shows clearly periods of warmth as great or greater then today despite lower CO2 concentrations then today.

    4. Past history shows this period of climate over the last 100 years or so as being one of consistency rather then change, compared to earlier climate periods.

    For example the Climate of the Little Ice Age being much more extreme and changeable, then what we have had post 1850 thru today.

    5. Climate correlations to the AP index of the sun MUCH stronger then with CO2. In-fact I see no climate correlation to CO2.

    Just a few there are many more.

  13. warspite1 says:

    Ignore the models. You mustn’t rule out the possibility that they are correct -for the wrong reasons.
    Don’t become them and get blinkers riveted in place.

    [Reply] Possible but looking increasingly unlikely. Good counter-arguments to Salvatore’s points are welcome.

  14. Doug Proctor says:

    These are many of the awkward questions many of us have had.

    When a man is having an affair, there are statements about business dinners, late-night meetings, extended business trips out of town with partners, credit card purchases for entertainment purchases and other such things. Like AR5, the affair can answer each question individually but not collectively. A good legal brush-off, but not in the minds of the jury.

    The warmist says that the debate is all about details that are accounted for by “natural” variability of many parameters. The skeptic says that in toto, that doesn’t hold up AND CAGW is about the details, not the generalities.

    The non-technical accept the IPPC narrative as the wife who wants to maintain the home and family accepts all the little excuses that her best friend won’t, but being a best friend, won’t admit. There are a lot of “best friends” in the eco-green game today who are willing to turn a blind eye to the failings of CAGW theory because they like the outcome: deindustrialization, central economic controls, all somehow done without affecting the wealthy. When the wife-equivalent finally admits what everyone has known for a long time, the best friends are forced to come clean. That’s how I see this ending.

    Some important group – maybe the APS – has to first shed reality such that the Sierra Club, Suzuki, Greenpeace can say that the CO2 threat may be low, BUT in principle we should get off fossil fuel, which is “what we’ve always been saying”. Then cap-n-trade disappears, but subsidies for green power can stay, as can research grants into new technologies and the “upcoming” threat due to warming (not CO2-induced warming, just warming).

    It’s a spin with a positive outcome for those of us who disapprove of the legislative/regulatory aspects of CAGW, but a negative outcome for those of us who disapprove of the wasteful use of the taxpayers’ energy and monies. It still ends well for Gore and Gates.

  15. NikFromNYC says:

    “The appointed panel of six, amazingly, includes three eminent sceptic scientists: Richard Lindzen, John Christy, and Judith Curry.”

    Sweet Jesus, two JCs and MIT too! Curry has indeed broken ranks with the establishment with her alternative theory of natural climate variation and her outspoken attacks on the latest IPCC output. This development will relieve most disgusted working scientists, especially those suffering funding lulls in the face of emergency level climatology funding and its Enron like corporate buddies, but likewise it should terrify Gore & Co. too and that includes Greenpeace and even the entire left wing of politics, Amen. Appreciate that a whole generation of kids with massive student loans have been deceived with politicized junk science and that the backlash may thus have the full force of youthful rebellion.

  16. oldbrew says:

    ‘What has caused the 5% increase in IPCC confidence from 2007 to 2013?’

    Hubris must be the odds-on favourite 😉

  17. Gerry says:

    A possibility, at least, for actual climate science from the APS! They have been well rewarded by very generous government grants for their alarmist stance, but lost their top physicists in return. Now the federal feeding trough is in possible danger of running dry for them, and they would like to lure competent scientists back into the fold.

    If they censor or dis the three eminent skeptical scientists (Richard Lindzen, John Christy, and Judith Curry) that they have invited to join their every-half-decade policy audit panel, they will continue to fail to attract the best scientists to their organization. In fact, if they even continue to label skeptics as “deniers,” a heavy price will almost certainly be exacted from them by Richard Lindzen.

  18. Let us hope. This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Truth eventually must come out.

  19. J Martin says:

    I can answer one question; “What has caused the 5% increase in IPCC confidence from 2007 to 2013?”

    The desire of the IPCC to increase it’s income.

  20. I gather the APS needs/will to update their statement on NOAA
    American Physical Society

    “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” (2007)8

    Australia is always 5 yrs behind the Americans..
    Here they still want to criminalise climate denialism

  21. New research explains why the Antartic ice is increasing. You guessed correct.. AGW
    Global climate Models can’t explain.the ice extent increase in the Antarctic region
    but researchers from Hobart in AUSTRALIA can??

    download link for
    Released in Hobart yesterday, The Position Analysis: Antarctic Sea Ice and Climate Change 2014 report from the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre has sought to clear up widespread confusion about the polar differences in sea ice.

    Click to access 2014%20ACE%20Position%20Analysis%20Antarctic%20Sea%20Ice%20and%20Climate%20Change%20FINAL%20LOW%20RES.pdf

    Haven’t read this yet.. Why am l not excited!!?/

  22. When this current solar maximum ends and the sun goes back into a deep funk, AGW theory will no longer be a valid theory. I expect this to happen this decade.

  23. Ned Nikolov says:

    I just talked to John Christy at UAH. There is a factual error in the above article about the APS panel. First, the panel consists of 10 experts, no 6 as stated here. Secondly, none of the three climate skeptics mentioned (Richard Lindzen, John Christy, and Judith Curry) are actually members of the panel. They were invited by APS to give presentations before the panel, but are not on it, nor have they any ‘say’ on the final Report … So, don’t hold your breath in anticipation of a miracle … 🙂

  24. Me_Again says:

    So, a load of bollo*ks really then.

  25. tallbloke says:

    I’ll find out from Tony Thomas where he got the impression they were to be included.

  26. Me_Again says:

    Fair enough. Sounds like a Guardian headline though, when you look into it it’s all speculation.

  27. tallbloke says:

    Me_Again: The questions being asked are more hardball than anything before, so if they have come from Christy, Curry and Lindzen, at least their presentations have been taken seriously by the APS.

  28. oldbrew says:

    It says here:

    ‘on January 8, 2014 the Subcommittee convened a workshop with six climate experts. The Subcommittee used that meeting to delve more deeply into aspects of the IPCC consensus view of the physical basis of climate science. In doing so, it hoped to illuminate for itself, for the APS membership, and for the broader public both the certainties and boundaries of current climate science understanding. The framing document, expert bios, and the complete transcript for the workshop are included in the Supporting Documents links.’

    The linked document (full transcript of the meeting) lists the ‘experts’:


    Click to access climate-seminar-transcript.pdf

    That seems to resolve the confusion. They were invited to an APS review meeting as ‘climate experts’.

  29. oldbrew says:

    Dr Curry says: ‘I think the Workshop transcript is a superb resource for assessing the state of the debate on climate science.’

    Probably worth a read then.

  30. tallbloke says:

    Tony has sent me an email regarding Ned’s comment, making this clarification:

    Second, the APS PANEL ON PUBLIC AFFAIRS’ review sub-committee , after ‘consulting broadly’, convened a WORKSHOP TO GET SCIENCE INPUT INTO the questions. The WORKSHOP comprised six EXPERT ADVISERS, amazingly, includes three eminent sceptic scientists: Richard Lindzen, John Christy, and Judith Curry. The other three members comprise long-time IPCC stalwart Ben Santer (who, in 1996, drafted, in suspicious circumstances, the original IPCC mantra about a “discernible” influence of manmade CO2 on climate), an IPCC lead author and modeler William Collins, and atmospheric physicist Isaac Held.”

    OP updated accordingly.

  31. Gail Combs says:

    NikFromNYC says: @ March 18, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    …. This development will relieve most disgusted working scientists…. but likewise it should terrify Gore & Co.
    Don’t worry about ManBearPig. He has already sold out of the Con Game, taken his profits and moved on to China and Natural Gas. (Snicker)

    Al Gore Walks Away From Green Energy

    When Al Gore talks, people listen. Just ask the folks who hand out Academy Awards and Nobel Peace Prizes.

    Al Gore also talks to investors. Since 2007, the former Vice President in Bill Clinton’s administration has been preaching the benefits of putting your money where his mouth is: Alternative energy.

    But if Al Gore has any message for investors today, it might very well be this: “Stay the hell away from alternative energy!”

    Not that he would say so. At least out loud.

    Reading through the promotional materials he puts out through his company, Generation Investment, it is hard to tell whether his “Client Update” is selling investments in his Climate Solutions Fund or memberships in the Sierra Club…..

    This goes on for 20 pages. But even Gore does not seem to be listening anymore.

    Gore’s company files a quarterly report with the SEC that tells a different story about the 30 stocks in its portfolio. His company’s public investments in wind, solar, biomass and other alternative energy to combat climate change are practically non-existent.….

    …his portfolio is top-heavy in high-tech, medical instruments,…He is also big in China,…

    And if you want a piece of the natural gas pipeline game — heavily dependent on the environmentally suspect fracking — you can find that in Gore’s portfolio as well….

    “It’s Dead Jim…”

  32. Max Beran says:

    While all these are very fair questions, won’t the IPCC continue to take refuge on the point that they weren’t charged with the responsibility to ask fundamental questions about the source of climate variability but only about its response to CO2 forcing? All variability has then been seen through that prism with the consequences we have watched in horror as it has evolved and ramified.

  33. tchannon says:

    Welcome to the Talkshop Max.

    Note for regulars: Max Beran is a name.

    You might find this 2001 comment by Prof. Philip Stott in Spiked! a good reason to pay attention.

    I would just like to congratulate Max Beran on his perceptive comment about the different spatial and temporal approaches to climate change and about the vast range of varying perceptions of ‘scientists’, from physical geographers to fluid dynamic physicists. I believe Beran is absolutely correct in saying that one group of perceptions have come, particularly in the UK, to dominate the debate, in my opinion to the detriment of our response to the inherent complexity of climate change, both historically and scientifically. This is precisely why ‘climate change scientists’ must be deconstructed socially, politically, and economically.

    He is also a regular commenter at The Conversation.

    And much more.

  34. tallbloke says:

    Max: Welcome. I’m sure that’s what IPCC will do, and that’s why we concentrate on trying to answer the question they avoid like the plague: What causes the clearly periodic components in natural variation? We’ve been condemned by team wattsup for working on our planetary-solar hypothesis. If they or IPCC have a better explanation for the cyclicities observed in the data, let’s hear it.

  35. Max Beran says:

    The IPCC can be very bureaucratic, even theological, about adherence to their terms of reference. I remember a laying-down-of-the-law on this matter by Sir John Houghton at a WG1 shindig at Fortaleza on the biosphere’s role where he set out how far back up the chain of biosphere dynamics it was necessary to go to fulfil WG1 requiirements. As seen through the IPCC prism, they really only have to demonstrate that the observations are consistent with the ghg paradigm, obviously a much easier argument to make than one that says ghg’s dominate global warming.
    Going along with the beaurocratic need for boundaries, it could be argued that their real “crime” is to allow an assumption to be presented as if it was a finding and not setting the record straight when media, lobbyists, policy makers etc jump to the wrong conclusion.

  36. Brian H says:

    Is the “master assumption” that CO2 is the “master forcing agent” in the climate?

  37. Max Beran says:

    Not sure if Brian’s comment is directed at me but a bit of linguistic precision is required here: CO2 CHANGE is certainly promoted as being the master agent of climate CHANGE by IPCC et al. Other factors are more important in determining the baseline climate at any location but if they aren’t changeing or not changeing much then they’re not part of the concern.

  38. tallbloke says:

    Hi Max: I’m interested in a comment you made in the introduction to your 1995 paper: ‘The Role of water and the Hydrological cycle in global change’ where you said:
    “In the Gaia hypothesis, (Lovelock 1979) biotic links are emphasised, though many abiotic links are also present…”

    Please could you tell us something about what the most important of these abiotic liks are, as the extract available on Springer ends there.

  39. Max Beran says:

    Tallbloke: you’re talking ancient history and I don’t have ready access to the chapter referred to. Gaia of course emphasises biotic mechanisms operating within Earth System processes. Examples are marine organisms that complete the global sulfur cycle (sulfur returning from ocean back to land) and bacteria and primitive vegetation involved in erosion. In most such cases the biota are speeding up processes that could happen abiotically – for example erosion occurs mechanically (kinetic energy of moving water) and chemically (carbonic acid in rain) but the presence of life acts like a catalyst and massively speeds up an abiotic process.

    That much is uncontroversial. Where things get controversial is the further step recognising that biota respond rapidly (especially microbiota which are the real workhorses) to a change in their environment. Gaia’s USP is its claim that the “biosphere” adapts in such a way as to restore the previous equilibrium – a bit like Le Chatelier’s principle in chemical reaction dynamics but applied to “life”.

    So the first answer to your question is that biota act by catalysing and modifying abiotic processes. But there are purely abiotic processes like orbital changes, tectonics, the greenhouse effect itself ,,,

    The “links” I would have been referring to in that article are those that appear in the Earth Systems Diagram – transfers of energy, water and “biogeochemicals” between land, ocean, atmosphere and lithosphere and what controls their rates and pool sizes (see URL below). Global Changes arise from human interventions and inbuilt fluctuations in those fluxes – famously carbon and the greenhouse effect, but also nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus.

    The climate system is a somewhat arbitrary slice out of the Earth System and this separation can lead to misconceptions about causation. Both warmists and sceptics tend to a view of a direction of causation from CO2 to climate. But Earth System Science would regard both as state variables with wandering trajectories within the larger Earth System picture, and many direct and indirect pathways. Under such a picture it is not possible to pin down causation in the relatively simple fashion preferred by climate science. Evidence that this is the real way of the world can be seen through a lag correlogram of CO2 and global surface temperature with a peak slightly displaced to CO2 lagging temperature but so flat that it is clear that both carry information about the other over many time scales.

    It reminds me of Lindzen’s answer to “what causes climate change”; “nothing causes climate change”. Climate change just “is”; change is what climate does and it does so because its diagnostic variables like surface temperature are endlessly buffeted by bigger processes some of which are feedbacks from its own earlier state. Failure to recognise this fluctuating background that operates even at the decadal scale leads to misattributions like added CO2 having the dominant responsibility for the late 20th century warming and internal dynamics being a minor player.

    Sorry for the sermon – hope enough here about abiotic processes which I’m sure are well familiar to you.

  40. tallbloke says:

    Max: Many thanks for the elucidation. Sometimes revisiting ‘ancient history’ is good, since much of the wisdom contained in it has simply been ignored by the antagonists. Regarding this comment:
    “Both warmists and sceptics tend to a view of a direction of causation from CO2 to climate.”
    This may be true of the ‘lukewarmer’ blogs like Wattsup and climate audit, but here we take more note of the empirical evidence. Such as the radiosondes which show that atmospheric optical depth hasn’t changed much in 50 years while co2 has increased. (Miskolczi). As you pointed out, when one factor changes, negative feedbacks tend to nullify the effect.

    I’m interested in your ‘catalyst’ analogy. It may be the case that humans speed up abiotic processes, but given the orders of magnitude humanity is outweighed by microbiological species, does that mean much?

  41. […] Disbelievin‘ sent me this short article which is worth a post. It’s a followup to the Tony Thomas article a week or so back which covered the story about the American Physical Society APS reworking their […]

  42. p.g.sharrow says:

    I must be a very hard headed old skeptic! It has not been PROVED to me that 395 ppm CO2 can have a measurable effect on global air temperature. Air temperature CAN have an effect on the amount of CO2 held in a wet atmosphere or in solution in water. Gravity caused air pressure can effect air temperature as well as the amount of CO2 held in solution in water. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will effect the amount held in solution in water. All PROVED and useful in engineering of needed applications. But CO2 GHG is not PROVED to me.
    Must have brain damage! 😎 pg

  43. bwdave says:

    “The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will effect the amount held in solution in water.”

    Isn’t this a little like claiming that flat beer could be revived by placing the head from a freshly drawn beer on top of it?