Behind the BBC poll on climate change


9:10 am - February 8th 2010

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contribution by Climate Sock

Another week, another shonky poll? On Friday the BBC reported their new survey, which they claimed showed a clear drop in the number of people who believe in climate change or that it’s man-made.

After the BBC’s inaccurate coverage of a climate poll last year, I was ready for this to be another bit of mis-reporting ripe for a take-down.

Yet in both the poll and the way the BBC described the numbers, there’s little to fault: their data do indeed suggest that belief in man-made climate change has fallen since November.

But I’m not convinced that the UEA emails or the glacier controversy were behind these changes, or that the changes in levels of belief are inherently interesting or important.

Let me explain why.

The mechanics of the new poll are very straight-forward: it takes the questions asked in the Times’ November 2009 poll, and repeats them with the same sampling methodology. This, rather than comparing polls that have slightly different questions and methodologies, is the best way to measure changes over time; we should be more confident about this comparison than the comparison we saw last month, which suggested that ‘climategate’ hadn’t had any impact on attitudes to the climate.

While there’s a certain irony that the baseline for the new poll is the very one that both the BBC and the Times used dubiously last year as ‘evidence’ for low belief of climate change, the numbers are unequivocal in showing movement away from belief in climate change. Combining two questions gives us the following shift from Nov 6th-8th to Feb 3rd-4th:

So the numbers believing in climate change and that it’s man-made have indeed fallen. However, there are a couple of reasons why I suggest we should not take this too seriously:

Firstly, there are statistically significant movements here, but we’re still in a position where only about one-third think that climate change is not happening or is not man-made. It’s exactly the same number as currently say they like Gordon Brown – hardly a view that’s seen as mainstream.

Secondly, while it’s easy to assume that this is the result of scepticism borne of the UEA email hack or the IPCC glacier controversy, the poll doesn’t provide much evidence for this. Only 57% say they had heard any “stories about flaws or weaknesses in the science of climate change”, and of these only 11% (i.e. 6% of the total) say they are now less convinced of the risks of climate change.

Had flaws and supposed cover-ups in the climate science been the key factor driving change in overall belief, I would expect that we would see more movement in the group that said that climate change is environmentalist propaganda. But that group moved the least – in fact it remained unchanged within the margin of error.

My guess is that the changes are caused at least as much by the cold weather. We have already seen that severe weather in November 2000 led to a spike in those considering the environment to be the most important issue facing Britain. After the coldest winter in the UK for a decade, and snow stories dominating the media for weeks, I would have been very surprised if attitudes to climate change had remained unaffected.

This is the first lesson that climate communicators should learn from this. Debates about the quality (or otherwise) of evidence for climate change probably have little direct effect on public opinion, however convincing the evidence may be. Climate and weather are still being confused, and until this is resolved, public attitudes to climate change will remain subject to the vicissitudes of each season’s climate – however basic the distinction may seem to those who know the subject well.

A second lesson is that there will always be some factors that prevent belief in man-made climate change from becoming universal. Much like the link between smoking and cancer, people will continue to find counter-examples (“My dad smoked for 70 years and he lived til he was 90”) that allow some doubt.

And, as Adam Corner argued on Climate Safety, the debate about how far people believe in climate change is inevitably unhelpful for those who are trying to prevent further climate change or mitigate its effects now. So long as the conversation focuses on whether or not climate change is seen to be real, action can be delayed. The debate is thus situated in the worst possible place for pro-climate activists, who would be much better served focusing on solutions.

Thanks to @twodoctors for the heads-up on the BBC report.

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Reader comments


The fact that the media has fallen into a system of “balance” whereby deniers are treated as though they are on equal footing with climate scientists really doesn’t help either.

What on earth is “pro-climate” supposed to mean?

You go from “My guess” to a clear statement “probably have little direct effect on public opinion”.

May I suggest that it’s this sort of nonsense that is getting up peoples’ noses.

“It’s exactly the same number as currently say they like Gordon Brown – hardly a view that’s seen as mainstream.”

wtf does this have to do with the price of tomatoes.?

Can’t believe Sunny posted this tosh.

In the past six months we have gone from a situation where the media accepted the absolute truth of AGW to a more balanced presentation of the debate. The initial thought that perhaps the emperor was not as well clothed as was being pretended came from the blogosphere and to have changed the presentation by the MSM is a significant victory.

Of course opinion will have been influenced.

Now we just need to stop our children being indoctrinated and the government spending our money on adverts telling us to drive five miles less a week.

Tossers.

What a pity you and others seized on that earlier poll to claim that opinion wasn’t changing…and now it’s all to do with the cold weather.

Keep trying.

7. Gloria masker

It is a scam to rase our rates. The main strewn media supports this because they support the left wing agenda.

Good post. Yes it is almost certainly a mixture of the failure of Copenhagen and the cold weather making it feel like the problem has gone away.

The planet wreckers – including their fellow travellers cjcjc and pagar and all the other trolls – have won a key battle.

cjcjc @2 “What on earth is “pro-climate” supposed to mean”

Yes, a mistake. It should read pro-planet.
There are only two types of global warming denier: the stupid and the wicked. Which are you two chumps?
We must utterly refuse to concede the future of the planet to you & your ilk.
Sounds trivial, but not least because the denialist case is so utterly & pathetically thin and does not bear even the most cursory scrutiny.

This is quite possibly the most pointless post so far on LC – and that’s up against some pretty stiff competition. You’ve put up a bar chart, based on a BBC poll that by now everyone has read about anyway, and then described the bar chart.

denialist case is so utterly & pathetically thin and does not bear even the most cursory scrutiny.

So why the need to lie and cheat?

Who has lied and cheated?

Pagar @ 5

“In the past six months we have gone from a situation where the media accepted the absolute truth of AGW to a more balanced presentation of the debate.”

What utter bullshit. This is not ‘balance’, this is evidence of a dumbed down media run by art graduates.

Let us suppose that every discussion on the holocaust had to have a denier, Like David Irvine or a programme on evolution had to have a Christian fundamentalist explain why that is wrong too, what that constitute ‘balance’?

For me, that would constitute nothing more than self indulgent crap.

You are a Libertarian, and that means you are ‘allowed’ to disregard any evidence or facts that either clashes with your ideology or impose any sense of personal responsibility on you that you would rather not have. However, those of us with more a mature political outlook are constraint with such things as the laws of physics, chemistry and scientific methodology can recognise that nothing has changed within the science.

Not one aspect of the evidence has changed, nor are the Laws of physics been reviewed. The scientific evidence still points to Global Warming being still real and down to humans.

You and the rest of the anti science people have still got to prove there is a flaw in the data. It is the media’s job to report the facts, not what a few idiots want the facts to be.

Jim,

The holocaust happened – historical evidence and all that.

Climate change is not happening as predicted – temprature records show this, which I believe is the basis of the science you so proudly proclaim as unchanged (you’re correct on this incidentally – it is only the evidence that doesn’t fit, not the science).

Bad analogy really. But far better to scream ‘denier’ and make the holocaust link explicit than to dare argue about it. After all, you can’t lose if you’re to scared to set out the evidence can you?

Four hundred years ago, you would be at the front of the mob crying ‘witch’ or ‘heretic’. Now you use ‘denier’ – it is all the same; it means someone you disagree with/cannot understand, and want to exclude from debate. It is the tool of the demagogue, the rabble-rouser, the bully. If you cannot defend your point without such language, then I’d give up.

To be fair, there was no sceptical point to try and attack here, so nothing to throw evidence at. But Pagar makes a point, and you make a case for censorship. After all, should not the media occaisionally set out why holocaust denial is wrong, and disprove the idiots. You would rather they ignore all views that are not in accord with your understanding.

And on to the original post…

Contention: that the cold weather has made more people think global warming is not happening (not unreasonable on first sight).

But did not the media get blitzed by people stressing the Artic Oscilliation (a new one on me, unlike say El Nino, but clearly a respectable phenomenon) was causing this, and that weather was nothing to do with climate change. So there was an attempt by the experts (those same people who tell us that climate change is happening and is man-made (rereading this, it seems more sceptical of them than it should – I’m happy to accept they have expertise)) to ensure that people do not associate the cold weather with lack of global warming.

Result: more people think that global warming is not happening or is not man-made. So if they have reached this decision due to the weather, they’ve ignored the well-publicised experts and formed a seperate opinion. So if the contention is correct, people are still ignoring the experts on this and forming different opinions. So I wouldn’t expect a hot summer to change much (apart from the tone of my skin), especially as we’ve all been told weather is not climate.

And one other thing…

Checking the poll, it struck me the greatest scepticism was amongst social class D/E and least amongst A, and that scepticism was highest in the north and lowest in London. Not sure this differences were statistically significant, but it does kind of suggest that the elite socialist agenda of pushing climate change (is Ed Milliband an elite socialist – must check) is growing further apart from its core voters.

16. John Meredith

“Climate and weather are still being confused”

That is partly because the distinction is actually not very clear (climate is made of weather) and partly because the loudest AGW theorists deliberatel;y comnnfuse it when it suits them. Watch out for two weeks’ sunshine in August this year, any period of droubt or flash flood and see if they can rafrain form shouting ‘see! global warming!’, or will they patiently explain that weather is not climate, you know’.

Watchman @ 13

“Four hundred years ago, you would be at the front of the mob crying ‘witch’ or ‘heretic’. Now you use ‘denier’ – it is all the same; it means someone you disagree with/cannot understand, and want to exclude from debate. It is the tool of the demagogue, the rabble-rouser, the bully. If you cannot defend your point without such language, then I’d give up.”

Bollox, you people never tire of this bullshit, do you? ‘Heretic’ and ‘witch’ are you having a laugh? Anti science moron is the term I use.

We use the term ‘denier’ because you deny the science, you deny the evidence and make up your own evidence because the records don’t make pretty reading. You despise science and try to missreperesent the evidence. That does not make you a ‘sceptic’, that makes you a dickhead.

@13 “Climate change is not happening as predicted”

Yes it is. The predictions were clear: expect the unexpected.
This winter we have had a chillier one than usual, to towards the low end of a normal range, so far, so utterly predicted by all climate forecasters (that variability from year to year will go on).

We have also had a rainfall event of an unprecedented intensity that led to the trashing of Cockermouth. Need to check, but I think rain in those quantities is a new phenomenon – along the lines that “the thousand year event becomes the ten-year event”. (God knows what it was like because absolute piss down rain is very normal for the Lake District.)

This is the kind of thing that was and is being forecast by the people who know what they are talking about.

19. Shatterface

I believe in AGW about 99.99% but the level of debate here is risible.

Jim: ‘We use the term ‘denier’ because you deny the science, ‘

It’s pretty clear from your reference to David Irving why YOU use the term ‘denier’. That’s not an argument, it’s just name calling.

Strategist: ‘Yes it is. The predictions were clear: expect the unexpected.’

Then climate change is impossible to refute isn’t it? If it gets hotter or colder or defies all expectations and actually stays exactly the same it still proves the argument doesn’t it? That’s not ‘science’.

Who has lied and cheated?

The IPCC and UEA CRU would be two good candidates.

I also find the conclusion of the original article rather bizarre: we shouldn’t worry about whether climate change is real or not, we should get on with solving it. Sorry to be Spockish about it but isn’t it completely illogical to solve a problem that may not exist?

Jim,

Language of the bully = calling people dickhead rather than engaging. But you are clearly not capable of rational debate. Anti-science moron eh? Ignoring the moron (is it acceptable to use a quasi-scientific term as a term of abuse?), which I think is your normal inability to accept others as equal to you because they disagree, and is yet another childish playground putdown, lets look at anti-science a minute.

I believe in science, including ensuring evidence fits the theory (a point I’ll address in a reply to Strategist in a minute), that theories should be continually challenged (after all, did not Newton’s Laws of Motion survive for years before someone finally got round to finding the flaw) and that above all it is a debate and that there is no right and wrong. I do not doubt the climate changes, and that it is probably getting warmer in general over the last 50 years, but not so much over the last 10; I doubt that scientists are measuring this properly (the three inter-related measuring systems have some interesting anomalies), that the mechanisms for explaing carbon dioxide’s effect on the planet are sufficient (for instance, the period of non-warming recently doesn’t fit) and above all that there is proper scientific independence (subversion of the peer review process, IPCC statements based on no clear evidence and objections ignored). I am happy to debate these points scientifically.

I doubt you are though. You’ll throw an insult and raise the mob. Just remember what happened to Matthew Hopkins though…

Strategist,

I think Shatterface says it best:

“Then climate change is impossible to refute isn’t it? If it gets hotter or colder or defies all expectations and actually stays exactly the same it still proves the argument doesn’t it? That’s not ’science’.”

Science would indeed require predictions, and if they are not met, the theory does not stand. The original predictions for AGW were that the current decade (it ends in 2010 people) would be hotter. It has not been. This may not invalidate the whole theory (especially as models are adapted to reflect growing data) but the model has not been proven. Anyway, the argument against AGW stresses natural variablity, so it to is proven by freak events.

More to the point, no-one forecast the Cumbrian floods, which were the effect of particularly heavy rain on the already sodden drainage basin of the Derwent. Having a connection to the Lake District (and having seen flash floods there before – they are not that unusual, just not on that scale normally) I don’t remember anyone ever predicting that as an outcome of global warming.

But to refer back to an earlier post I made, we were assured that the heavy snow in January was not climate-related – weather is not climate – so if the Cockermouth floods are evidence, so is the snow (for it being colder) or even the last three miserable summers. In fact, global warming may explain freak weather, but we don’t understand weather systems well enough to say for sure. Global warming is in fact only proven by tempratures getting warmer – if the planet gets ranier but colder as a result of carbon dioxide emissions, it is not global warming and the theory is wrong.

@22 There’s so much wrong in here that at least with great relief we can surmise that you are stupid rather than wicked.

“The original predictions for AGW were that the current decade (it ends in 2010 people) would be hotter. It has not been.”

No they weren’t. The predictions are being met. Climate is usually taken to be the 30 year average; on this measure the world is getting hotter.

“More to the point, no-one forecast the Cumbrian floods”

That event on that day wasn’t. Events like it most definitively were.

“Having a connection to the Lake District (and having seen flash floods there before – they are not that unusual, just not on that scale normally)”

My point precisely. (I need to check how exceptional the rainfall event itself was, unless someone else on here has it at their fingertips)

“we were assured that the heavy snow in January was not climate-related – weather is not climate – so if the Cockermouth floods are evidence, so is the snow (for it being colder) or even the last three miserable summers”

Nope. The snowfall we have seen is not exceptional in its amount or intensity. Neither were or duff summers. The rainfall event was [subject to check] – it rewrites the textbooks, the snow doesn’t.

Look, you’re clearly not a bad bloke, but you’ve been badly misled. I can’t give you a tutorial on climate studies here. Please just accept that you have a lot to learn.

Watchman

The original predictions for AGW were that the current decade (it ends in 2010 people) would be hotter. It has not been.

The current (or previous depending on how you are counting) decade is the hottest on record. What data are you using which tells you otherwise?

Anyway, the argument against AGW stresses natural variablity, so it to is proven by freak events.

But the argument in favour of AGW also accepts that there is natural variability.

Andrew.

“The current (or previous depending on how you are counting) decade is the hottest on record. What data are you using which tells you otherwise?”

Same data. Decade is (apparently) the hottest, but this is because (apparently) last decade started at a colder level and warmed up. This decade started at a warm level and stayed there. No further notable warming (against the model), but because the temprature was higher than the average of the previous decades, this doesn’t stop it being warm. Incidentally, the figures themselves appear to be skewed towards showing recent warming (and cooling the earlier twentieth century) but I do not deny that there has been a couple of decades of notable warming recently.

“But the argument in favour of AGW also accepts that there is natural variability.”

My point exactly (I think that was what Strategist had said in the first place). Natural variability is basically a fact (at least until we understand the underlying systems a bit better). It does not prove either case, as it is sensibly assumed in both. It is therefore a rather useless tool for this debate.

Not only can people not tell the difference between “climate” and “weather”, they apparently can’t tell the difference between “local” and “global” either.

That is partly because the distinction is actually not very clear

Robert Grumbine explains it quite well:

What is climate? (A very simple introduction.)

What is climate – 2 (This one includes some maths and data and stuff.)

In the past six months we have gone from a situation where the media accepted the absolute truth of AGW to a more balanced presentation of the debate.

Yes, of course – that would explain why, prior to six months ago, the likes of Christopher Mockton, Bjorn Lomborg, James Delingpole, David Bellamy, Steve McIntrye, S. Fred Singer, Ian Pilmer, etc, etc, ad nauseum, were all completely unheard of, and could only spread their views through dog-eared multi-generation photocopies, samizdat-style, rather than by writing editorials in major newspapers, appearing in every single TV discussion of the matter, and writing a whole succession of best-selling books (also heavily promoted in the same major newspapers). Whereas Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann, James Hansen, Paul Jones et al were never off the box…

Did you fall through the Cardiff Rift from a parallel universe or something?

Watchman @ 21

We have been engaging you people! We have engaged you people in debate for twenty years or more. No matter what evidence we have you have dismissed as untrue, a tax scam, a conspiracy, falsified etc. It has not been the scientists that have failed to engage in debate, it is the deniers.

Every quibble, misrepresentation, straight forward lie and straw man you have put up for the last two decades has been comprehensively addressed, yet they still erect the same straw men after all those years. As ‘Strategist’ points out @ 23 these quibbles have been dealt with.

For example, every time it snows the deniers drag out the same tired argument and the scientist give you the same explanation. Yet the deniers appear to think the snow disproves Global Warming and you repeat it ad infinitum. Why? Why when it has been explained so many times before do you suddenly think it will hold water now?

I don’t post from work, although I do (naughtily) occasionally read, but this is winding me up.

Science would indeed require predictions, and if they are not met, the theory does not stand. The original predictions for AGW were that the current decade (it ends in 2010 people) would be hotter. It has not been.

Not true, it is a flat out misinterpretation, although I expect done so accidentally.

The last decade has been the hottest ever, just because 2009 isn’t a few fractions of a degree warmer to your satisfaction doesn’t really cast any doubt on the theory of AGW. Their 10 datapoints, interpreted very very badly by you, on a LibCon comments thread.

In fact, reported here (honestly) and on fox news (dishonestly) was a leading scientist saying we could see a period of many years of relatively little temperature change.

Why? Because most of the forcing that affect climate wax and wane in intensity, carbon is one we are introducing but the sun, el nino, artic oscillation, other stuff I don’t understand because I’m a humanities graduate, do not synch up, some wane as others wax and this means it is almost certain to not see a linear trend.

Although I think odds are stil very favourable on us seeing more warming or a continuation of record tempratures in the next few years.

Could you provide a link to a paper, or an article in something respectable like the New Scientist or The Economist etc, who claimed the last 10 years would see a uniform increase in temperature? I don’t think you can.

How long is necessary to see a trend? Not 10 years, but probable more. See here.

Gah! They’re!

cjcjc, pagar, Matt Munro – you deniers really sound more desperate and shrill day by day. Perhaps take a lie-down? Did it hurt to realise over 75% of the population still believe global warming is taking place?

Here’s a neat little expose of where the funding of some climate-change deniers has come from: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/thinktanks-take-oil-money-and-use-it-to-fund-climate-deniers-1891747.html

This so-called debate between those of us prepared to accept the considered opinions of experts in their fields and a bunch of willingly credulous right-wing fundamentalists is a waste of time. As I’ve said before, the science is in. Denialist ravers just need to learn to live with it.

The real debate is how to move on to a low-carbon economy.

The failure at Copenhagen was nothing to do with stolen emails. It was caused by the wealthiest nations, especially the USA, trying to stitch up the developing countries with an unfair carbon trading scheme.

Regarding those emails, someone had time and resources to hack the system and collate a load of emails from the whole database. The timing of their release was well chosen to damage the climate change talks. Exxon dollars could have easily funded such a crime. Now there’s a conspiracy theory!

Perhaps instead of giving denialists the kind of respect they neither deserve nor give to others in forums like this we should use our energies to encourage journalists in the mainstream media to stop recycling denialist crap as though it had any merit.

32. Dick the Prick

Deniers – it’s such a prejorative term. I prefer pragmatist or realist. Even id AGW exists, which, to be fair it might do, at what point does investing in anything other than better drainage, economic power stations, sea defences not help. Why oh why blither on about international agreements when we can’t do a bloody thing. It’s ridiculous.

Yurrzem!

Can we assume taking oil money means that your viewpoint is invalid in the climate change debate. Because CRU for example has funding from BP and Shell…

Also, why is it illigetimate for a company to fund research that is in its interest? That logic means drug companies should not fund pharmacutical research. We can judge the level of research.

More to the point, that article is very poor. It does not show Exxon (the only named company) funding anyone but a think tank, and certainly not the bloggers who actually made the running on this issue (one of whom categorically denies being funded by anyone). It is basically a lot of tenuous links (including smearing a CRU scientist by implying he is the leak) without any evidence.

I do agree however that a low carbon economy would be a good idea. Just remember the economy bit needs to be kept in place, not destroyed at the altar of low carbon.

Left Outside,

At the risk of winding you up further (not my intention) the model in the 1990s did clearly indicate that warming would continue throughout the twenty-first century, and this has so far failed to happen (to be fair it was not decade-specific, but it did not allow for hiatus). No links sorry, as I didn’t think to note these things when I read them back then. Instead what we’ve had is twenty-thirty years warming at the tail of the twentieth century, which may no itself be a long enough period to be a trend (perhaps we need some agreement on this?). More recently AGW proponents have been proposing models allowing for the flattening of tempratures, which would be because this has happened, because that is what scientists do – adjust models in the light of new data. But that does not make the old models right, because they failed to predict temprature flattening – it may be they are right in the long run, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

As a lot of this warming (but not all – the underlying measurements do show recent warming at the end of the last century – of this I have no doubt because themometer records are pretty constant) is due to wierd adjustments to the themometer records (they are meant to combat urban heat islands, location changes and the like, but when applied to stable stations show interesting patterns…). I am therefore sceptical about the ‘measured’ changes (the earth is only warmer if temprature readings are higher, not if adjusted measures say it is. This is called physical reality). Put bluntly, the temprature of the world is often estimated or adjusted by using themometers from up to 1 000 km away. Because the temprature in Munich is a reliable guide to the temprature in Dublin or Stockholm…

I know there is a need for some way of trying to estimate temprature, but I don’t think a flawed system of adjustments provides a useful measure myself.

Jim,

“You people”. Classic ingroup/outgroup here. I love your behaviour – convince yourself you are right and exclude the others.

I am not one of the sceptics you describe (for a start, my scepticism is essentially a result of the last six months, when I discovered peer review was subverted and then on further investigation that the temprature record did not use the simple readings on the thermometers). Neither of these has been comprehensively addressed that I have seen, so please demonstrate how these can be dealt with.

And read what I wrote. I don’t believe the snow is evidence either – but no more do I believe any weather is, freak or not. Because this is about temprature (warming) not weather. And my original point was that despite being told this people were still disbelieving the experts (if the cold weather had swayed them) which was bad news in terms of popular opinion.

“for a start, my scepticism is essentially a result of the last six months”

So your conclusion is the result of 6 months “study”? (i.e reading internet sources)

Do you think that gives you equal weight to people who have spent decades studying the subject, after having first had to memorise vast chunks of advanced level science to pass the various examination processes that one needs to do in order to become a qualified scientific researcher

As a lot of this warming (but not all – the underlying measurements do show recent warming at the end of the last century – of this I have no doubt because themometer records are pretty constant) is due to wierd adjustments to the themometer records (they are meant to combat urban heat islands, location changes and the like, but when applied to stable stations show interesting patterns…)

Well, of course if you were to apply a UHI correction to a rural station, or a location correction to a station that hasn’t moved, you’d get weird results. However, if the warming signal were the result of these issues, then it would be stronger in those areas with high rates of corrections – it is not. This has been done to death in the literature. For the most recent salvo, see On the reliability of the U.S. Surface Temperature Record (Menne 2010, Journal of Geophysical Research). It turns out that there is a bias in the “bad” stations – but it’s the other way: they show less warming than the “good” ones.

Blockquote ballsup… Sorry.

39. John Meredith

“We have also had a rainfall event of an unprecedented intensity that led to the trashing of Cockermouth. Need to check, but I think rain in those quantities is a new phenomenon – along the lines that “the thousand year event becomes the ten-year event”.”

See what I mean? Please, please try to remember ‘weather is not climnate’ even when you WANT it to be.

Planeshift,

Perhaps if those experienced researchers would deign to convince me we wouldn’t be having this problem would we? But science is not the preserve of the few any more than any other field – unless you want experts telling us all what to do all the time just because of their qualification (that way lies eugenics…).

But the people I read (not just on the internet – I prefer to check sources) have much more experience than I, and generally set out their findings so that intelligent but uninformed people can read them. Of course, they may not all be scientists with the ‘correct’ training, but the same could be said of figures who support AGW. Indeed, incorrect training is a virtue in some respects – it means accepted ideas are challenged, which is a good thing. I would not limit political debate to experts in the field, so why something equally important like science? Especially when some of the experts have agressively been pushing their own interpretation at the expense of alternatives.

@ 31 Yurrzem

I agree, follow the money

http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2010/02/climate-money.html

Same data. Decade is (apparently) the hottest, but this is because (apparently) last decade started at a colder level and warmed up. This decade started at a warm level and stayed there. No further notable warming (against the model), but because the temprature was higher than the average of the previous decades, this doesn’t stop it being warm.

Temperatures over the last decade do not contradict the models – they are well within the margin of error of all of them. But then a decade is an entirely arbitrary period and, importantly, too short a period to tell us anything meaningful about how our climate is changing. This is really more of an argument about statistics than science and the link to Tamino which Left Outside posted is very good.

My point exactly (I think that was what Strategist had said in the first place). Natural variability is basically a fact (at least until we understand the underlying systems a bit better). It does not prove either case, as it is sensibly assumed in both. It is therefore a rather useless tool for this debate.

I wouldn’t say that – for a start it can mean slightly different things in different contexts, and we still have to understand how that natural variation impacts the changes in climate which we actually observe. For example, my understanding is that in the absence of any other factors global surface temperatures will naturally vary slightly from year to year and we cannot currently account for these variations (this is what Trenberth was referring to in his “travesty” email). These variations will even out over time but they do mean that the increase in temperature we would expect to see from GHG emissions would not be expected to move in a nice straight line. Then there are other effects such as ENSO and volcanic emissions which will produce short term variations in temperatures which we can account for and which again will cause peaks and troughs in the temperature charts (see 1998, 2008 for example). But in the longer term climate does not change for no reason – it is not enough to cite “natural variation” as the cause of the warming we have seen since the late 70’s, or other changes in climate before then. It may well be “natural” in the sense that its is not man made but that doesn’t not mean we cannot isolate a specific cause or causes.

Perhaps if those experienced researchers would deign to convince me we wouldn’t be having this problem would we?

Do you want Michael Mann to personally tutor you through Introduction to Climatology or something? You’re perfectly welcome to sign up for a course – anything from an OU short course to a full BSc..Or even just crack a proper textbook.

Dunc,

It would help if that paper had used quality-checked data (or indeed, a proper sample) (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/27/rumours-of-my-death-have-been-greatly-exaggerated/#more-15729). It seems in their rush to get the paper out, NCDC employees forgot certain scientific principles and courtsies.

And anyway, as you note there is a bias in the (American – not global) surface record discussed in the paper. So our evidence has a bias: can we then use it? I was always taught in science that no we can’t use biased evidence (sulphur contamination in chemistry was my personal favourite), but it appears the bias can be corrected by artificial means (homogenisation and adjustments). And here lies my problem – correcting a cooling bias creates a warming bias in the system, which is not real, even if it is meant to accord with reality (a reality established by comparison with other sites, with different climatic conditions).

Note also fig. 1 – the number of sites that are poor rather than good exposure. I would not be happy basing any temprature record on information of that sort, because it is less than ideal.

Dunc,

“Do you want Michael Mann to personally tutor you through Introduction to Climatology or something? You’re perfectly welcome to sign up for a course – anything from an OU short course to a full BSc..Or even just crack a proper textbook.”

Perhaps not Michael Mann (someone a bit less prone to twisting facts…). Anyway, I know enough about medieval climate to know he is wrong on the lack of the Medieval Warm Period, even without the data manipulation and the strange idea that tree rings reflect only temprature and never other atmospheric conditions.

Seriously, I want them to explain it to me in a presentable form. Explain to an intelligent (he says modestly) layman why it is necessary to homogenise data, to introduce biases into the system. Don’t rely on others to explain (or shout ‘denier’), because I am afraid the ‘experts’ are losing to the sceptics, who do explain the problems carefully. To win the argument they need to be prepared to have it, and not rely on authority, but to set it all out from first principles. Remember, the IPCC was meant to be expert opinion, and is being exposed as partially built on convenient factions.

Deniers – it’s such a prejorative term. I prefer pragmatist or realist.

I’m sure you do. But you’re still an ignorant denier.

andrew,

I would agree with all you say except the assumption that the climate does not undergo what we are judging as major changes in temprature (again, statistics I’m afraid) according to background factors. What I have not seen is the analysis to prove this was not the case. Certainly, we had major temprature swings into and out of ice ages without mankind causing them; the entire planet has been frozen over in the distant past, and it has also been notably hotter. Unless a predecessor civilisation (now unfortunately lost without trace…) caused these changes, they have to come from somewhere. I think like the definition of period worth measuring to define a trend, the definition of major change in temprature beyond which can be caused by natural factors is a matter of choice and perspective. Just because a two degrees centigrade rise is big news for humans, is it really for the planet as a whole?

Sunny,

“I’m sure you do. But you’re still an ignorant denier.”

Why debate when you can insult? I’m sure I’ve said this to you before, but to build a new left wing movement commited to the environment (presumably part of your aim) by insulting people who do not agree with you is hardly going to win converts. Especially when the poll shows the largest sceptical factions are in those sections of the population normally expected to support the left the most (poorer, northern, male). A movement based on metropolitan well-off social democrats with no tolerance of debate would be interesting, but I can’t see it working somehow. And I’m not sure it hasn’t been tried – New Labour?

49. Dick the Prick

@Sunny H – it’s not really an insult. I’m an economist, i’ll leave the science to (hopefully scientists) people who aren’t biassed (difficult, I guess) but it’s akin to the Calvin thing – better to believe in God and be wrong that not believe and burn in hell.

IF climate change is man made – fine, cool, groovy – let’s start by solving local issues first before establishing a hokum carbon trading scheme that no Chinese or Indian government will ever sign up to.

Let’s pump money into Brazil to attempt to curtail deforestation, let’s build better sea walls etc etc and, similar to the housing thread you’ve got going – don’t build on flood planes.

I’m in no position to either deny nor confirm but I know a bullshit post Pigouvian admin system when I see one.

50. Luis Enrique

Just because a two degrees centigrade rise is big news for humans, is it really for the planet as a whole?

quite right! let’s not worry, it’s only big news for humanity after all, and who cares about them?

I’m in no position to either deny nor confirm but I know a bullshit post Pigouvian admin system when I see one.

oh dear. What crap logic. I’ll write more about this soon, but for now I’m just glad that a lot of people who think about the future are way more intelligent than the deniers we have here.

And here lies my problem – correcting a cooling bias creates a warming bias in the system, which is not real, even if it is meant to accord with reality (a reality established by comparison with other sites, with different climatic conditions).

Its seems you have failed to understand the key points of the paper. (Did you even read it? It’s not trivial, and I have trouble believing you’ve read it all in the 35 minutes or so since I linked to it, never mind understood it.) The raw data shows a warming trend, which people thought might be due to UHI effects. So, a number of corrections were made for such effects, which failed to eliminate the warming trend. Now, we find out that not only is the warming trend not a result of UHI effects or other instrumental artefacts, but that the stations with the best (ie cleanest) data show the strongest warming trend. Allow me to quote, since you seem to have missed the key conclusion (easily done, since it’s only in the fucking abstract!):

“Nevertheless, the adjusted USHCN temperatures are extremely well aligned with recent measurements from instruments whose exposure characteristics meet the highest standards for climate monitoring. In summary, we find no evidence that the CONUS temperature trends are inflated due to poor station siting.”

Or from “Results and Discussion”:

“Figures 2a and b indicate that there is close agreement between the annual average CONUS anomalies from good and poor exposure sites when monthly maximum and minimum temperatures are adjusted for inhomogeneities. As shown in Table 1, the average CONUS trend since 1980 is nearly the same when calculated using adjusted data from good or poor exposure sites. In contrast, when calculated from unadjusted values, the CONUS average maximum trend
is significantly smaller from the poor exposure sites relative to the trend from good exposure sites
(see also Table 1).”

[My emphasis]

Get that? The “poor exposure sites” show less warming than the “good” ones.

I would not be happy basing any temprature record on information of that sort, because it is less than ideal.

Sure, we’d all like ideal data. Unfortunately, we have to live in the real world and work with what we’ve got.

Seriously, I want them to explain it to me in a presentable form.

Well, it’s not like there aren’t endless attempts, but they are superficial of necessity, and you’re clearly unsatisfied with them. I’m afraid that if you want a deep understanding of a complex science, you will need to study it to quite a high level. Nobody has yet figured out how to condense a BSc, MSc and PhD into a blog comment.

Explain to an intelligent (he says modestly) layman why it is necessary to homogenise data, to introduce biases into the system.

It’s really not very hard, and it was explained fairly thoroughly in that paper that you evidently didn’t bother to read. If you move a station, or change the instrumentation, or if a major city grows up around your previously-rural station, then you (ideally) need to homogenise the data if you want to do comparisons or look for trends. You can use the raw data, but it’s not as good and people then claim that anything you show is an artefact of these sorts of changes.

The great irony is that previously many “sceptics” claimed that the warming signal was the result of UHI effects. When you explain to them, patiently and at length, how and why you correct those UHI effects, they then switch to claiming that the warming signal is because of your corrections.

The bottom line is that whether you use the raw data or the homogenised data, (a) the warming signal is still there, and (b) “sceptics” will claim that it’s because either the raw data is wrong or the corrections are wrong. Even when you make corrections in the opposite direction, the signal (and the spurious claims) persists.

Lets see now.
Apart from the warming, we’ve got ocean acidification going on, which will help destroy whats left of the ecosystems after we’ve fished them out.

There’s all sorts of other issues that an average 2 degrees warming will cause, already people up in the Arctic circle are seeing permafrost melt, previously safely frozen roads and land being eroded, etc. Meanwhile the sea keeps absorbing more heat energy, expanding all the while.

Watchman – the simple fact is that the temperature trajectory of the 20th century is totally inexplicable without CO2. Moreover confirmatory evidence such as stratospheric cooling have also been observed. Not to mention the plants and animals changing range, melting glaciers, and a host of other indicators which show it is getting warmer.

As for the medieval warm period, what do you understand it is?

Watchman,

Have a look at the link previously posted by Left Outside.

http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/how-long/

It details exactly how to go about calculating the period within a particular dataset which will give a meaningful trend, and concludes that using GISS temperature records the minimum would be 15 years. So this isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s a mathematical calculation.
As for what constitutes a “major” change in temperature, well again we can look at it from a purely statistical viewpoint and work out what would constitute a “statistically significant” change, ie it can’t just be attributed to the “noise” in the signal and the warming since the 1970’s would certainly count as major in that respect. But we also have to consider what practical effects it is likely to have, which is more tricky but also surely more important.
You say two degrees might not be a big deal for the planet as a whole, well no doubt the planet would survive, as it has done in the past, but more than 97% of the species which have ever existed on the earth are extinct and this is to a large extent due to past changes in climate. But then fact that it would undoubtably be big news for humans is surely good reason enough for us to be concerned – I don’t think that’s an unreasonably selfish perspective to have.
And regards temperature changes in the past, of course they have happened without the influence of mankind, I never suggested otherwise. As you say though, they have to come from somewhere – whether it’s changes in the earth’s orbit, solar activity or (non-human induced), changes in the levels of CO2 and other GHGs or other factors. A lot of work has gone into identifying these past changes and their causes, with some success, so we don’t have to just resort to citing “natural variation”.

I would agree with all you say except the assumption that the climate does not undergo what we are judging as major changes in temprature (again, statistics I’m afraid) according to background factors. What I have not seen is the analysis to prove this was not the case.

Good, because that’s a completely stupid assumption that absolutely nobody makes. We know perfectly well that the main climate drivers over the long term are solar variability, geology, and orbital variability. These factors (amongst others) have been quantified quite accurately, and cannot explain the current climate trend. There is no significant trend in solar irradiance or the Earth’s orbit over that time scale sufficient to drive the observed changes (in fact, the orbital forcing, whilst minor, is in the opposite direction), and I’m pretty sure we’d notice a flood basalt eruption big enough to do the job (since it would cover half a continent). You will find many relevant analyses in the peer-reviewed literature, under “attribution studies” – I’m sick of Googling up papers for you to ignore.

@41. sl

Right, find a right-wing denialist blog and cite it against an article in the Independant. I may not have much time for newspapers but at least some of them have a whiff of credibility compared to a europhobic nutcase website.

@40

Quote “Perhaps if those experienced researchers would deign to convince me we wouldn’t be having this problem would we? But science is not the preserve of the few any more than any other field – unless you want experts telling us all what to do all the time just because of their qualification (that way lies eugenics…).”

Right, I studied undergrad science 9-5 plus projects and homework for three years then spent 9 years doing research. Boring, hard-work stuff. But science is no longer the preserve of those of us who bother, that would be , what? Elitist? Undemocratic?

I know, lets all live in a happy po-mo world where we can make it all up. Yippee!

That way lies idiocy. Like you and your so-called debate.

Sunny

oh dear. What crap logic. I’ll write more about this soon, but for now I’m just glad that a lot of people who think about the future are way more intelligent than the deniers we have here.

I have to say. For those who can’t tell the difference between denying and scepticism, they are the ones with the intelligence deficit.

http://www.dictionary.com

That should help you.

Did it hurt to realise over 75% of the population still believe global warming is taking place?

But only 26% think it’s caused by humans. Does it hurt to see your consensus for redistributive social change disappearing down the toilet?

59. Dick the Prick

@58 – isn’t everyone sceptical about everything these days? We’ve been so pumelled by self serving politicians that no one believes anything without thinking ‘what’s their angle? What’s in it for them?’

I accidently work for the Tory party and i’m far more sceptical about that bunch than any lefty could possibly be. I’ve been through offices where no-one has a clue what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. I live off fury in my hope to beat Labour but I like the Labour party, I like that until this rabble its been honest, a worthy competitor, a bunch of nice (majority) people who are genuine community leaders who have the good of their communities at heart. The fact that I think they’re talking tits in absolutely no way reduces my respect for them; in fact it may actually increase it.

It’s unfortunate that the argument has to be made in an era of abject cynicsm and perhaps that’s gonna be the culture for the next 20 odd years. Ofcourse climate change is perhaps the most important and top level issue of the day (assuming you’re not Iraqui etc) but to say its been handled like a new traffic light system is to take the piss out of the guys who put traffic lights up. They’ve withheld information, been opaquely funded, suspeed too far without ever explaining to us lot what these carbon trading systems are.

We all know it’s Goldman Sachs, BP and Exxon, NPower, Eon etc who are gonna cash in from carbon credits. It makes the VAT carousel fraud look like a poor man’s scam. By the same token, i’ve not done any research on the greenie pressure groups; what’s their motivation? How are they funded?

Man made climate change isn’t the issue that i’m sceptical about or necessarily denying – i’m quite agnostic about it really. What i’m incredibly sceptical about is some of the bullshit solutions that are on the table that seem to have the usual suspects at their base. Geez man – i’m sceptical about cheese let alone trusting random orgs with cash at this time of the election and economic cycle.

the simple fact is that the temperature trajectory of the 20th century is totally inexplicable without CO2.

Totally inexplicable indeed.

Unless, perchance we were emerging from a mini ice age that ended around the time reliable measurements began?

The other day, Sunny, you said

I didn’t say there should be a scientific answer. I think this is policy and politics as much as it’s science. Even without the threat of AGW there are compelling reasons to:

1) invest in renewable energy
(a) energy security
(b) technological innovation and jobs
(c) we’ll have to do this sooner or later

2) Save the environment
(a) it’s not a finite resource
(b) it’s worth saving
(c) we create a better standard of living.

Why can’t we just congregate round that instead of trading insults and futile debate on a matter none of us can be really sure about?

Unless, perchance we were emerging from a mini ice age that ended around the time reliable measurements began?

If (and you are correct here) the LIA ended around the time that reliable measurements began (ie the mid 19th century) then we could hardly be emerging from it in the 20th Century.

Why can’t we just congregate round that instead of trading insults and futile debate on a matter none of us can be really sure about?

And your answer to that question, Andrew?

Pagar

Why can’t we just congregate round that instead of trading insults and futile debate on a matter none of us can be really sure about?

I’m not in favour of trading insults, I think often insults are thrown around too lightly, but there are some occasions when people’s behaviour or method of argument does make it understandable.
I do agree that there are certain things we can agree are neccessary even if we disagree about AGW, but I think that acceptance of AGW does raise particular issues aside from the kind mentioned above.
As for this being a matter none of us can really be sure about, I don’t agree. Or at least I think we can be sure enough to decide we need to take action.

Have read some of the comments re global warming.
Very interesting.
Have never been on this (political) website before.
How Quaint. Just like parliament, despite evidence the “parties” just scream or talk past each other.
Personally I feel that the UN could not see a “fact” if it bit them on the nose!!!

Fact: The earth IS warming! In fact it has been doing so since the last Ice Age.
(Actually, increases in temperature would be quite welcome, especially when we consider the cold conditions many OAPs suffer from each winter.)

Climate change is certainly happening. It always has.
The main reason, and anyone who has studied physical geography at university will know this, are explained in Milankovitch`s Theorom on Climate Forcing.
Namely, the earth`s orbit around the sun varies every 100,000 years, as does its angle, (every 41,000 yrs) and the planet also wobbles on its axis,(every 23,000yrs).
This has always caused climate fluctuations.
In fact, only 15,000 yrs ago, northern Europe had a major freezing event.
Sea level change is also a fact. However, it has more to do with isostatic change, (England sinking as Scotland`s highlands rise) than it does the earth`s eustatic sea change.
Contrary to popular belief, under 0.04% of the air we breathe contains Carbon Dioxide….an increase of about 0.01% in the last 100 years. In contrast, 70 percent of the greenhouse effect is caused by water vapour….steam!
Rather than groups behaving anti and pro in a manner reminiscent of the way Religions operate….with strong and erroneous beliefs and the absence of real science, (despite what the IPPC say)…perhaps we should have an open and frank debate.
We can agree that man made climate change is only half the story.
It is typical human arrogance to believe that in so few years we could make such an impact.
We really aren`t that clever compared to mother nature.
Remember that in only the Middle Ages, West Wales extended some miles into the Irish Sea, and the view from the now Pembrokeshire cliffs was greenery and woodland.
Yes, we can expect that the bits of the East coast which are now being eroded will shortly (geologically speaking) be under the North Sea, but as we all will not live to see it, perhaps we could leave all the arguments to our descendants, who will no doubt have resolved power generation and air travel to a degree as unimaginable to us, as the people of 1899 would have viewed today if they could!
And if between now and our far future, an asteroid similar in size to that which destroyed the dinosaurs meets with the earth,,well, all bets are OFF!!

AA @ 63

[blockquote] I do agree that there are certain things we can agree are neccessary even if we disagree about AGW, but I think that acceptance of AGW does raise particular issues aside from the kind mentioned above. [/blockquote]

I am not sure I agree with that sentiment, though. Given the fact that AGW is practically an open and shut case and that the deniers are clearly driven by ideology, rather than any concern for the integrity of scientific principles, then we cannot trust their motives in any endeavour.

Show me a science denier and I will show you a greedy, selfish bastard, and someone I couldn’t trust with an empty goldfish bowl, far less the future of my potential grandchildren.

I accept that pragmatism means that we have to work with people we disagree with on ideological grounds, but if one party at the table cannot acknowledge science, then there is simply no hope for such an enterprise.

<i.I think that acceptance of AGW does raise particular issues aside from the kind mentioned above.

I gave you

1) invest in renewable energy
(a) energy security
(b) technological innovation and jobs
(c) we’ll have to do this sooner or later

2) Save the environment
(a) it’s not a finite resource
(b) it’s worth saving
(c) we create a better standard of living.

What more do you want?

Pagar @ 66

What more do you want?

How about an acceptance that there is a consensus among climate scientists of the existence of AGW and that the deniers are driven by selfishness to distort the facts to wilfully cause confusion?

Too much to ask?

@ 33

The old grammar school & ” bright working class children” myth trotted out again.

It wasn’t pressure from the working class that got rid of grammar schools, it was pressure from middle-class parents whose kids didn’t pass the lottery of the 11-plus. Only 25% of kids made grammar school and they were overwhelmingly class.

The rest, including many “bright working class children” were dumped into secondary moderns, I was one of them. And how many children lrom sec mods made university? Well in 1963 the schools that educated most kids in England and Wales sent a grand total of 1 (ONE) kid to university.

Dream on.

Johnhhh…

The Milankovitch cycle doesn’t explain where we are today.

Jim,

It very much sounds like you think the climate scientists are the goodies and the denialists are the badies.

There’s nothing like demonizing the opposition, eh? Especially when accusing them of doing the same.

And so it goes: Round and round and round and …………..

rumpypumpy,

Conversely it seems to me that you are guilty of not at least trying…

72. So Much For Subtlety

42. andrew adams – “Decade is (apparently) the hottest, but this is because (apparently) last decade started at a colder level and warmed up. This decade started at a warm level and stayed there.”

Well that is not quite true. This decade is the consistently hottest since world wide records were first kept. That is, since the 1970s. The 1970s were cool. That is not a surprise. But we know that even the 1990s were not hotter than the 1930s in the United States. We also know the Mediaeval Warm period was hotter still. Having the hottest out of three decades means little.

“Temperatures over the last decade do not contradict the models – they are well within the margin of error of all of them.”

Which is a problem in and of itself as the margin of error is so large and the observed warming so small in comparison that there is no real reason to think we even have a problem. But you are confusing two separate issues. The models did predict monotonic warming in the absence of a Pinatubo-style event. We have not had one. But we have not continued to warm. The models did not predict this. We are not entirely sure of why it is either. Which shows how little we understand the system we are supposed to be studying.

“But then a decade is an entirely arbitrary period and, importantly, too short a period to tell us anything meaningful about how our climate is changing.”

Of course it is long enough. But then we only have three decades of data to go on so by this reasoning we don’t have enough data to know anything. It is true that if you pick you start and end points carefully enough you can show almost anything. As here:

http://masterresource.org/?p=5240

“For example, my understanding is that in the absence of any other factors global surface temperatures will naturally vary slightly from year to year and we cannot currently account for these variations (this is what Trenberth was referring to in his “travesty” email).”

I don’t think that is what he was referring to. Actually. I think he was referring to the basic fact that the climate did not do what the models said they would. And none of them could explain why.

“But in the longer term climate does not change for no reason – it is not enough to cite “natural variation” as the cause of the warming we have seen since the late 70’s, or other changes in climate before then. It may well be “natural” in the sense that its is not man made but that doesn’t not mean we cannot isolate a specific cause or causes.”

Actually we don’t know that. I mean it is a safe assumption, but we cannot and do not know what causes long-term climate change. Something does. But it is as yet beyond us to say what it is. Just ask someone to explain the Mediaeval Warm Period. The best guess is still an Act of God. We might one day be able to work out why but we are not within a lifetime or two of research to doing it yet.

73. So Much For Subtlety

67. Jim – “How about an acceptance that there is a consensus among climate scientists of the existence of AGW and that the deniers are driven by selfishness to distort the facts to wilfully cause confusion?”

Because none of this is true. There is not a consensus on AGW and especially not on Catastrophic AGW. What there is something like a consensus on is that it is likely that mankind is having an impact on the climate and it is also likely that this will have unfortunate consequences. Notice the caveats. Not that it matters as science is not a consentual enterprise.

Nor are your delusions about Skeptics anything other than delusions.

So Much for Sublety @ 73,

It is claimed that every National Scientific Institute says otherwise, I seem to recall….

Science, if it is to predict the future, rather than do what it has always done, describe our present, has to operate on a consensus. I’d have thought that was obvious.

75. So Much For Subtlety

74. douglas clark – “It is claimed that every National Scientific Institute says otherwise, I seem to recall….”

So it is. But those claims are false. Most such institutions make the general probabilistic claim I mentioned – it is likely we are doing something and it is likely that it will be a problem – rather than the definite claim we see here.

“Science, if it is to predict the future, rather than do what it has always done, describe our present, has to operate on a consensus. I’d have thought that was obvious.”

Umm, nonsense. Science has always made predictions about the future and there is no real reason at all for it to operate on a consensus whatever it does. Science makes progress by one man being right and everyone else being wrong. Lord Kelvin represented the consensus when he said Physics had explained everything but a few minor lose ends. Einstein didn’t when he showed that view to be absurd.

Whilst the cold spell has brought dramatic reporting:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qO52SMQB7tE

I can’t agree that it is the primary cause for an increase in scepticism. I am sure that the medias coverage of the CRU emails and IPCC mistakes are the primary causes. Tabloids and even the BBC on Andrew Neil’s blog have been lapping up the propoganda from the highly resourced denial machine. The nutjob conspiracy theories of Monckton have been regurgitated not just by the loathsome Delingpole but more widely across the news channels.

They have used all the tactics at their disposal including calls for false balancing.
http://www.globalissues.org/article/710/global-warming-spin-and-media#MediaFalseBalancingAllowedExtremeViewstobeTreatedSameasScientificConsensus

Jim Hogan explains what is going on well here:
http://www.desmogblog.com/slamming-the-climate-skeptic-scam

77. So Much For Subtlety

76. 3Baskets- “Tabloids and even the BBC on Andrew Neil’s blog have been lapping up the propoganda from the highly resourced denial machine. The nutjob conspiracy theories of Monckton have been regurgitated not just by the loathsome Delingpole but more widely across the news channels.”

What “highly resourced denial machine”? The Warmists have been getting billions of pounds since the 1980s. They have had the goodwill of the majority of liberals and the institutions they control. They have had an unimpeded run at the media. On the other hand, the Skeptics have been a small number of academics and others who have been reduced to covering this issue from blogs.

There isn’t even a Skeptical equivalent of Real Climate.

Delingpole is noticeable for being a late convert to the cause and the really strange thing about Monkton is that the more you look at his World Government claims, the more sense there is too them. But let me ask you – do you think this mindless abuse is furthering the debate? Do you think it is helpful? And if you do, don’t you think that is a sign of why your side is losing this debate?

Do you also think your post is in line with this site’s community standards?

So Much for Sublety,

You’d hardly expect statements like this from the Royal Society:

International scientific consensus agrees that increasing levels of man-made greenhouse gases are leading to global climate change. Possible consequences of climate change include rising temperatures, changing sea levels, and impacts on global weather. These changes could have serious impacts on the world’s organisms and on the lives of millions of people, especially those living in areas vulnerable to extreme natural conditions such as flooding and drought.

http://royalsociety.org/Climate-Change/

To be said in such an, err, forthright a manner, if all of our scientists didn’t, at the very least think that prevention was better than cure?

Sure, there is a possibility that they are all wrong. But I am not at all keen on a libertarian gamble, much as they aren’t.

Are you?

Gamble your life, or your kids future on a hunch?

I have here a revolver, only one chamber of which is loaded.

Go on, spin it…..

Would you be mad enough to risk it, no matter how mant chambers the gun had? maybe if it had a thousand chambers? Or a million? Don’t bother pointing the gun to your head, point it to your balls instead. For that is the timescale, not you, but your childrens children. Well, perhaps in your case, not….

Seems to me that an existential threat ought to be treated, as such, rather than as a political game. Politicians know damn all about anything.

mant = many,

When are we ever going to get an edit facility around here?

80. So Much For Subtlety

78. douglas clark – “You’d hardly expect statements like this from the Royal Society”

No I wouldn’t. They are hawking their credibility in the streets and will live to regret it. Science does not work this way.

“To be said in such an, err, forthright a manner, if all of our scientists didn’t, at the very least think that prevention was better than cure?”

Sorry but what forthright manner? As I said they are not certain. Read what they say – possible consequences, could have an impact.

And the question of prevention depends on many things. The risks have to be weighed against the costs. The cost of an 80% CO2 cut is massive. It means an effective de-industrialisation and a return to an early modern agricultural society. Sort of what Morgenthau wanted to do to Germany. This cost is very certain. The risk of there being a problem is small. The costs of that problem so far appears to be rather manageable even if it does occur. So only a fool would support the CO2 cut.

“Sure, there is a possibility that they are all wrong. But I am not at all keen on a libertarian gamble, much as they aren’t.”

I am not keen on what is being offered as a solution either. I am old enough to remember Cambodia and the Killing Fields. I have no desire to see it happen again. You show me a cheaper solution and I will support it. But the slight risk of some minor inconvenience – which is all a 2 C rise is – against the utter and deadly certainty of what is being offered as a solution is a fool’s gamble.

“Seems to me that an existential threat ought to be treated, as such, rather than as a political game. Politicians know damn all about anything.”

Sorry but what scientist posting from Planet Earth thinks this is an existential threat? Again notice the utter discontinuity between what the science says and what the Green hysterics are claiming.

So Much For Subtlety,

“the really strange thing about Monkton is that the more you look at his World Government claims, the more sense there is too them”

Monckton’s argument that global warming is a communist plot involving almost all the scientific community requires a little evidence don’t you think?

It seems like a strange view to be supporting on here.

With your references to warmists you haven’t a clue about where the level of debate is. Not even the sceptical scientists dispute that it is warming.

0 points. I suggest you do some reading:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

SMFS

Well that is not quite true. This decade is the consistently hottest since world wide records were first kept. That is, since the 1970s. The 1970s were cool. That is not a surprise. But we know that even the 1990s were not hotter than the 1930s in the United States. We also know the Mediaeval Warm period was hotter still. Having the hottest out of three decades means little.

BTW, the original comment was not me, so I agree with your first sentence, but it goes back a lot further than the 1970s. We do indeed know that a couple of years during the 1930s were hotter in the US but the US covers only 2% of the earth’s surface and there will always be more variation in smaller geographical areas than globally. But we don’t by any means know that the MWP was hotter globally, in fact the research seems to indicate otherwise.

The models did predict monotonic warming in the absence of a Pinatubo-style event. We have not had one. But we have not continued to warm. The models did not predict this. We are not entirely sure of why it is either. Which shows how little we understand the system we are supposed to be studying.

The models most certainly did not and do not predict monotonic warming – do you have a source that says they do? They make projections of long term trends, they do not make specific predictions changes in temperature year by year or over just a few years. See this peer-reviewed paper

http://thingsbreak.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/is-the-climate-warming-or-cooling.pdf

Here we show that periods of no trend or even cooling of the globally averaged surface air temperature are found in the last 34 years of the observed record, and in climate model simulations of the 20th and 21st century forced with increasing greenhouse gases.

Of course [a decade] is long enough. But then we only have three decades of data to go on so by this reasoning we don’t have enough data to know anything.

As I mentioned above, the period of time required to get a meaningful trend is a matter of statistcal analysis, not opinion. See the link I posted above to Tamino’s site which explains this – he shows that using GISS temperature data as an example you need at least 15 years of data to get a statistically meaningful trend. The site you linked to does demonstrate to an extent that if you choose shorter periods and are selective about your start and end dates you can indeed make very different interpretations, which is why it is important to look at what is hapening in the longer term.

I don’t think that is what [Trenberth] was referring to. Actually. I think he was referring to the basic fact that the climate did not do what the models said they would. And none of them could explain why.

Well we know why 2008 was a relatively cooler year – a combination of a la Nina and a solar minium, and solar activitity has been relatively low over the last decade as a whole. But of course the kind of variations he was talking about will affect surface temperatures in the short term and could result in relatively flat periods or even short periods of cooling within a longer warming trend.

Actually we don’t know that. I mean it is a safe assumption, but we cannot and do not know what causes long-term climate change. Something does. But it is as yet beyond us to say what it is. Just ask someone to explain the Mediaeval Warm Period. The best guess is still an Act of God. We might one day be able to work out why but we are not within a lifetime or two of research to doing it yet.

We do know natural factors which affect climate in the longer term, Dunc mentioned them above – solar and orbital variability and geological activity (including the release of CO2 and other GHGs). It is difficult to pin down a casue ofr the MWP because it is by no means clear that was a global phenomenon or that even in the NH it occurred everywhere at the same time.

Rumpypumpy @ 70

Not demonising, just pointing out some rather obvious facts. Isn’t it strange that the Right show so much snorting fury at the spectre of ‘PC gone maaaad’ when it suits them, but the minute they are faced with their own shortcomings in brutal terms , there is a need for the twee euphemisms?

So what is the PC term for people who ignore science and make up lies, just so the can carry on their own destructive lifestyles?

Ethically challenged?
Differently moral?
Scientifically excluded?
Reality disenfranchised?
People of greed?
Differently personal responsible?
Consequently challenged?

What about selfish greedy bastards? Has a nice ring to it, and explains their sad plight correctly.

Hope that helps.

“International scientific consensus agrees that increasing levels of man-made greenhouse gases are leading to global climate change. Possible consequences of climate change include rising temperatures, changing sea levels, and impacts on global weather. These changes could have serious impacts on the world’s organisms and on the lives of millions of people, especially those living in areas vulnerable to extreme natural conditions such as flooding and drought.”

*Possible* consequences – believe it or not sea levels have never been stable – the sahara desert was once a sea bed – and termpretures have risen and fallen before. We adapted.

*Could* have a serious impact – and then lists flooding and droughts, both natural phenomena which have been documented as far back as the bible

Its about as lame as it gets – so what ??

Matt,

First of all, it is the nature of scientists to use cautious language of this kind. We know the likely consequences of gobal warming but of course it is impossible to quantify them exactly. That does not mean that the possibility of such things can be treated lightly or that the consequences will not be serious.
We have adapted to changes in temperatures in the past, but we are likely to see changes of a magnitude never experienced by humans before, and in past times there were many fewer of us and our way of life was very different to the way it is now. It may not be as easy to adapt as in the past. There are millions of people without proper access to clean water as it is, do you think that will get better as the planet gets hotter?
Of course there have been floods and droughts in the past. Any many people have died as a result and there are likely to be more of them in future.

@ 85 Our “way of life” (high tech, highly mobile, highly independent, highly flexible) makes us more likely than ever to be able to adapt – we have managed to land people on the moon FFS, but can’t cope with it getting a bit hotter, or with water being in the wrong place ?
On population I’ll agree – the problem of “climate change” is in reality the problem of global overpopulation. But we’re not allowed to talk about that…………

Are we really highly mobile? The various refugee crises in the last decades suggests that actually we don’t manage to cope very well when large numbers of people are forced to move at fairly short notice. You have people complaining that this country can’t cope with relatively small numbers of immigrants.

88. So Much For Subtlety

81. 3Baskets – “Monckton’s argument that global warming is a communist plot involving almost all the scientific community requires a little evidence don’t you think?”

Really? If he made it, probably. But I have yet to hear him make that claim.

“With your references to warmists you haven’t a clue about where the level of debate is. Not even the sceptical scientists dispute that it is warming. 0 points. I suggest you do some reading:”

Not even I dispute there has been some warming. You might try reading me first.

89. So Much For Subtlety

82. andrew adams – “but it goes back a lot further than the 1970s. We do indeed know that a couple of years during the 1930s were hotter in the US but the US covers only 2% of the earth’s surface and there will always be more variation in smaller geographical areas than globally. But we don’t by any means know that the MWP was hotter globally, in fact the research seems to indicate otherwise.”

It? You mean the global temperature record? No it doesn’t. The only good data we have is from satellites and the first of those date from about 1974. So you can’t really do that clever little trick of claiming the world record is valid when it shows warming, but not valid when it shows the US was warmer in the 1930s.

The overwhelming, crushing, weight of evidence is that the MWP was global and it was significantly warmer. Dare I say there is a consensus for it? Wherever we look in the world we find evidence of it. There is no research, at least no real research, that says otherwise. Mann and his friends tried to write it out of the record but they have had to backtrack.

“They make projections of long term trends, they do not make specific predictions changes in temperature year by year or over just a few years.”

Sorry but they use Finite Difference Methods. These have to be run every month of every year. They may not provide useful specific predictions – depending on how you want to define those – but they provide estimates for every year going forward from wherever you start to whenever you end. It is the nature of the mathematics.

“See this peer-reviewed paper”

Which points out the criticism of climate models for producing monotonic warming. Using the same word even. They also point out the flaws in these models:

What does this say about the variability of the climate system? Climate models are often criticized for producing a more or less monotonic-type response to anthropogenic forcing in 21st century simulations. Part of this may be due to the lack of volcanic and solar forcing in the SRES scenarios of anthropogenic forcing increase for the 21st century and part could be due to the fact that largescale oscillatory climate features, such as the El Nin˜o-Southern Oscillation are not well simulated.

A model that does not consider solar forcing is useless even if the scientists writing it understood El Nino which they don’t.

“As I mentioned above, the period of time required to get a meaningful trend is a matter of statistcal analysis, not opinion.”

What do you think you mean by saying that? How is a statistical analysis not an opinion?

“See the link I posted above to Tamino’s site which explains this – he shows that using GISS temperature data as an example you need at least 15 years of data to get a statistically meaningful trend.”

Of course he does. What else would he say? Ten years ago was he saying that? Of course he wasn’t. The problem here is that if you quote Tamino we are not going to get anywhere because you may as well be consulting a crystal ball for all the credibility it brings.

“The site you linked to does demonstrate to an extent that if you choose shorter periods and are selective about your start and end dates you can indeed make very different interpretations, which is why it is important to look at what is hapening in the longer term.”

Indeed. Anyone can pick a time frame if they want a specific result. Which is why we need to wait for that longer term. Thirty years of (bad and misused) data is not enough. But what is also clear is that the evidence is not strong. The observed warming is within the error margin. The deviations are large. The case is just not strong.

“We do know natural factors which affect climate in the longer term, Dunc mentioned them above – solar and orbital variability and geological activity (including the release of CO2 and other GHGs). It is difficult to pin down a casue ofr the MWP because it is by no means clear that was a global phenomenon or that even in the NH it occurred everywhere at the same time.”

It is as clear as it is ever going to be that it was a global event. We find it on every continent on the planet where we can test. The Warmists are not disputing whether it all happened at the same time because that is safer ground for them – their case suffers if 1998 was not unusual. As it wasn’t.

As for solar variability, I have seen Warmists abuse people looking at the sun’s influence for about the last five years. They have tended to deny it. Good to see some people are willing to consider it. A pity so few of the models bother to isn’t it? We assume that volcanic activity has a medium term impact by releasing CO2 and other gases. I am not so sure we are sure. We need to do more research. We still don’t know what caused the MWP. We don’t know what made the 1930s so warm (in the US). We don’t know why 1998 was so warm if it was not natural. This is a sensible basis to destroy the world’s economy?

88. So Much For Subtlety

Monckton making his Communist plot claims..

“So at last the communists who piled out of the Berlin Wall and into the environmental movement and took over Greenpeace, so that my friends who founded it left within a year because they’d captured it, now the apotheosis is at hand. They are about to impose a communist world government on the world. You have a president who has very strong sympathies with that point of view….It is a privilege merely to stand on this soil of freedom while it is still free. But in the next few weeks, unless you stop it, your president will sign your freedom, your democracy, and your prosperity away forever.”

http://www.care2.com/causes/global-warming/blog/is-climate-change-a-communist-plot/

89. So Much For Subtlety

From an analysis of more than a thousand treering, ice core, coral, sediment, and other assorted proxy records spanning the ocean and land regions of both hemispheres over the past 1500 years. The MWP was shown to be significantly colder than today in particular central Eurasia, northwestern North America, and the tropical Pacific and was therefore not a global event.

http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/articles/MannetalScience09.pdf

The analysis performed in “An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950 (Murphy 2009)” clearly shows a continuing temperature rise:
http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm

The Sun’s recent influence has been a cooling one:
http://rspa.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/464/2094/1387.abstract

SMFS

It? You mean the global temperature record? No it doesn’t. The only good data we have is from satellites and the first of those date from about 1974. So you can’t really do that clever little trick of claiming the world record is valid when it shows warming, but not valid when it shows the US was warmer in the 1930s.

The instrumental records go back to the mid 19th century and are reliable enough for the purposes of making this comparison. And no one is claiming that the record showing the US to be warmer in the 1930s is invalid. They just point out that the US is not the world, just a very small proportion of it.

The overwhelming, crushing, weight of evidence is that the MWP was global and it was significantly warmer. Dare I say there is a consensus for it? Wherever we look in the world we find evidence of it. There is no research, at least no real research, that says otherwise. Mann and his friends tried to write it out of the record but they have had to backtrack.

So we can’t say whether it was hotter before 1974 but we can say with absolute certainty that it was hotter 1000 years ago? Anyway, Mann and co have not had to backtrack and there is no credible reconstruction of past temperatures which shows the MWP as being warmer than now and several which say otherwise. There is most certainly a consensus amongst some people, just not those who actually study climate professionally or in the peer reviewed literature. Can you please provide a source for your assertion?

A model that does not consider solar forcing is useless even if the scientists writing it understood El Nino which they don’t.

The models do consider solar forcing so I’m not sure what they meant by that.

Which points out the criticism of climate models for producing monotonic warming. Using the same word even.

Pointing out there is criticism is not the same as saying the criticism is well founded. It goes on to say

However, even considering these criticisms, it is clear that the models can and do produce sustained multi-year periods of ‘‘cooling’’ embedded within the longer-term warming produced in the 21st century simulations.

Of course the projections made by the IPCC are not based on individual model runs, they are based on multiple runs, so you get a fairly smooth curve with a margin of error which allows for short periods of flat or negative growth. Of course if these periods go on too long they will fall outside the MOE of the models. But although the models are useful tools we shouldn’t overestimate their importance – we don’t need them to predict that it will get hotter if we continue pumping GHGs into the atmosphere.

What do you think you mean by saying that? How is a statistical analysis not an opinion?

What I mean is that we calculate the amount of date required to demonstrate a meaningful trend by way of statistical analysis, we don’t just say “ten years is a long time so the trend over this period must be meaningful”.

Indeed. Anyone can pick a time frame if they want a specific result. Which is why we need to wait for that longer term. Thirty years of (bad and misused) data is not enough. But what is also clear is that the evidence is not strong. The observed warming is within the error margin. The deviations are large. The case is just not strong.

Well the claim that the date is “bad and misused” has no substance, and the observed warming since the 1970s is not within the error margin. Regardless of whether it is due to CO2 emissions, it cannot be accounted for by the kind of natural fluctuations you get year by year.
Of course he does. What else would he say? Ten years ago was he saying that? Of course he wasn’t. The problem here is that if you quote Tamino we are not going to get anywhere because you may as well be consulting a crystal ball for all the credibility it brings.

What is your basis for questioning his credibility? Can you point to any errors in his calculations?

It is as clear as it is ever going to be that it was a global event. We find it on every continent on the planet where we can test. The Warmists are not disputing whether it all happened at the same time because that is safer ground for them – their case suffers if 1998 was not unusual. As it wasn’t.

No one is making any claims based on temperatures in 1998 – we know it was anomalous. Our claims are based on current temperatures, increases since the 1970s and, importantly, projected increases for this century and are not dependent on the existence or otherwise of the MWP.

As for solar variability, I have seen Warmists abuse people looking at the sun’s influence for about the last five years. They have tended to deny it. Good to see some people are willing to consider it.

A large amount of research has been done looking at whether current warming is due to solar influence and the overwhelming evidence is that it is not. No one has been abused for looking for this link – it is perfectly proper that people should do so. There has certainly been criticism of people who have produced papers of dubious merit (eg Svensmark) but that is usual in any branch of science.

A pity so few of the models bother to isn’t it?

As I said above the models do allow for solar forcing.

We assume that volcanic activity has a medium term impact by releasing CO2 and other gases. I am not so sure we are sure.

We assume volcanoes have an impact by releasing aerosols – we can be sure of this because the effects of large eruptions such as Pinatubo are easy to predict.

We need to do more research. We still don’t know what caused the MWP. We don’t know what made the 1930s so warm (in the US).

Of course we need to do more research – no one is claiming we know everything, we probably never will. But that doesn’t mean we don’t know a considerabble amount about teh way our climate works already.

We don’t know why 1998 was so warm if it was not natural.

Yes we do – it was the most powerful el Nino in a century. Just as we know 208 was relatively cool due to a combination of a la Nina and a significant solar minimum.

This is a sensible basis to destroy the world’s economy?

Aside from a few nutters no one wants to destroy the world’s economy and taking action to avoid GW does not have to do so.


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