Spot the Hockey Stick! #12 – The Canadian Government

This was sent to me by Ross McKitrick, a man who knows how to ruin an Englishman’s afternoon with a single e-mail.

The Canadian Government, fresh from doubling its estimate of how much the Kyoto Protocol will cost the Canucks, and without a clue as to what to do about crashing the Canadian economy mitigating the effects of future climate change, has sent these materials out to the proud educators of those lucky young Canadians of school age, in order to frighten them with a ludicrous extrapolation from only a few years’s data, all the way to the year 2100.

Apparently there’s some nice big posters to go on the walls and everything. Just in case the kids get too rowdy, they are to be put in front of it and told "this is your future unless you behave!"

That’ll teach ‘em. It’s the climate science version of "tough love"

Yup. It’s yet another reproduction of the same graph. Nobody appears to be using Moberg (2005) (too young?) or Esper (2002) (too Dutch?) or even Crowley (2000) (too invisible?), despite pleadings from realclimate. I could be wrong, but perhaps the reason they are not used, is that they are simply not scary enough.

Scary, in the sense that the Canadian government would have us believe that the current warming is more than happened during the MWP, the Roman Warm period and even the Holocene maximum! The projection of dramatic warming from wild extrapolation of the weak warming since the 1960s is a nice touch. The two graphs above aren’t even consistent with each other, the upper one shows a temperature anomaly for the present of more than 2oC and the lower one less than 1oC.

Has someone in the Canadian government not been reading Scientific American recently? Someone should tell them that the Mann Hockey Stick does not recontruct the Medieval Warm Period or the Little Ice Age, and that simply writing those two events across the top of the graph does not make it so.


57 Comments

  1. Michael Ballantine
    Posted Mar 21, 2005 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

    You shouldn’t worry so much John. Ross is just having some fun at your expense. If anybody here in Canada believed anything our federal or provincial “fiberals” was telling them it would be amazing. And to back it up, our teachers are not very good at teaching science so this won’t get presented very effectively.
    And just so no one with any intelligence thinks this a broad character assassination, we do have some excellent politicians who keep their word and understand what is going on. They just don’t happen to be in power at this time. There are also some wonderful teachers who manage to be effective educators in spite of their credentialed but unqualified fellow teachers. The rest of the good ones are just too bogged down with politics and union crap to be good educators.

  2. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Mar 21, 2005 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    If you look at the bottom of the webpage you quote it says “Last Modified: 1/23/2002″. I suspect it might have been rather difficult to cite a 2005 scientific paper by Moberg et al when the page was written in 2002…

    Fact is anyone can dig around the net for ageing webpages, there must be millions of them.

    Why hasn’t it been updated? Lack of resources I guess. Does it need updating? I would say so. Is it a conspiracy that it hasn’t been? Perhaps. Is the hockey stick the last word in millenial temperature reconstruction? No it isn’t.

  3. Michael Ballantine
    Posted Mar 21, 2005 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

    Peter, thank you for pointing out the useful fact of the update date. The really sad thing about the site in question is that this is what is being presented to our teachers as an authoritative word in Climate Science. Notice that (Mann, M.E., Bradley, R.C., and Hughes, M.K., 1999: Northern hemisphere temperature during the past millenium: inferences, uncertainties, and limitations; in Geophysical Research Letters, V. 26, no.6, p. 759-762.) and (Folland, C.K., Karl, T.R., and Vinnikov, K., 1990: Observed climate variations and change; in Climate Change: the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Scientific Assessment, Cambridge University Press, London, United Kingdom, p. 195-238.) are the only scientific resources cited. So, the climate scientists may wish to move on from MBH99 but the people making the big money decisions and teaching our youth are solidly stuck in the past.

  4. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Mar 21, 2005 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    ***If you look at the bottom of the webpage you quote it says “Last Modified: 1/23/2002″‚Ɱ***

    Hence the comment, “Nobody appears to be using Moberg (2005) (too young?)…”

    ***Is the hockey stick the last word in millenial temperature reconstruction? No it isn’t.***

    Then you very well should agree that it should not be presented as such, which is the major point being driven home here!

  5. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Mar 22, 2005 at 3:08 AM | Permalink

    re #4. Yes Ok, but, I think it is highly likely to be the case the the temperature of the past millenia is within the MBH99 error bars. Is MBH99 proven wrong? No, but some cast doubt, some people are convinced it’s wrong, others not. How should past temperatures be presented? Using the best available avidence at the *time of publication* – how the else could it be done? That’s what the page did. Do we know an update isn’t in preparation? No. Was it, as I said, a conspiracy to decieve? I think not.

    Now, if the temperature for the past millenia (globally or NH) goes up a bit more at the beggining and down more in the middle does that mean that: CO2 isn’t a ghg? That CO2 conc isn’t rising rapidly? That this will have less of a warming effect? That it’s more evidence the models are wrong? That thermometers can’t measure what is happening? That we should aim to do nothing but instead add CO2 (and other ghgs) to the atmopshere as fast as we possible can using all available means? NO answers all those questions.

  6. Hans Erren
    Posted Mar 23, 2005 at 2:52 AM | Permalink

    Re #5

    Peter,
    A classic Black-or-White Fallacy
    Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the multi-bilion dollar question is: “How Much?”

  7. Michael Mayson
    Posted Mar 23, 2005 at 5:18 AM | Permalink

    Spot the Hockey Stick:
    This is what Professor John Harries at Imperial College in London thinks

    http://www.sp.ph.ic.ac.uk/~jeh/guest_lecture_files/frame.htm

    Have a look at slides 3 and 4

  8. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Mar 23, 2005 at 7:39 AM | Permalink

    Re #7. Hans, I never suggested otherwise, you might think I did but I didn’t :), where was my either or? I was trying to point out that whether MBH99 be right, partly right, or wrong don’t make a jot of difference to what will happen to the climate.

  9. Michael Ballantine
    Posted Mar 23, 2005 at 8:58 AM | Permalink

    Peter, the models and reports certainly don’t make any difference to what will happen with the climate. What they do have an effect on is our pocket books. If you were being told that you WILL buy a used car every year wouldn’t you at least want to kick the tyres and take it for a test drive to see if it is road worthy? With the Kyoto accords we are being told to shut up and just buy the car. No, you don’t get to test drive it because that would imply you don’t trust your government. They have the authourity so just listen to them.

  10. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Mar 23, 2005 at 12:44 PM | Permalink

    Michael B., I have kicked the tyres and to my satisfaction it is a sound car. Please tell me who, or what, it is that has forced any country to sign up to Kyoto?

  11. Michael Ballantine
    Posted Mar 23, 2005 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

    Peter, you are not allowed to kick the tyres. You are supposed to take their word for it. By kicking the tyres you are being a “contrarian” and a traitor to the cause.
    It’s not just that the countries were conned into it by fancy presentations by people with credentials, it’s that it’s being forced down the throats of the citizens who are saying show us some real proof before you ask us to bankrupt ourselves. The politicians who bought into the AGW scenario simply took the word of the IPCC because they are not qualified to question the science. A lot of them are not qualified to run a country but that is too far off topic for this forum.

  12. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Mar 23, 2005 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    ***Please tell me who, or what, it is that has forced any country to sign up to Kyoto?***

    "Russia forced to ratify Kyoto Protocol to become WTO member"
    english.pravda.ru/main/18/88/354/14495_kyoto.html

    John writes: I declare this a home run.

  13. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Mar 23, 2005 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

    Well, John, I’m not surprised you declare what you do. Only when the case goes against you do you require, nay insist, on an audit of the evidence…;) Pravda, a beacon of truth now eh?

    John replies: I insist that things I agree with be audited too, because as a skeptic I know I can be beguiled. Of course, the climate models that predict future warming that you give most credence to, cannot be checked at all. If there’s any conclusion that can be drawn from Steve’s work, its that audit, transparancy and reproducibility are paramount to the production of sound science and sound public policy.

    Oh, and Russia was pressured to join the Kyoto Protocol otherwise the Europeans would not support their membership of the WTO. That’s a fact of history. Without Russia, the Kyoto Protocol would not have been ratified.

  14. Z. Dubinsky
    Posted Mar 23, 2005 at 11:59 PM | Permalink

    Re #14: this was a very lame retort!

    The Russian Academy of Sciences’ opinion of the Kyoto Protocol and the science that underpins it was well publicised. This opinion was – very publicly – shared by President Putin, until he performed a sudden (but not unexpected) backflip and signed up to the accord.

    BBC News quoted Mr Putin as saying: “The EU has met us half way in talks over the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and that cannot but affect positively our position on the Kyoto Protocol”. (See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3734205.stm)

    Whether Russia was blackmailed, bribed, or used Kyoto as leverage for WTO membership is academic and to argue otherwise is being pedantic in the extreme – one way or another Russia’s signature was paid for, and given its economic circumstances, it amounts to coercion.

    The ball has well and truly been hit out of the park.

  15. Michael Mayson
    Posted Mar 24, 2005 at 12:14 AM | Permalink

    Peter, this “Pravda, a beacon of truth now eh?” is a Guilt-by-Association Fallacy</a.

  16. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Mar 24, 2005 at 7:55 AM | Permalink

    Where I come from, what the EU did is called “extortion,” but in politics, I guess it’s “diplomacy” and “compromise.”

    I’ve read in a number of places that the EU essentially said they would only support WTO membership for Russia if Russia signed Kyoto. I provided one link. Even ClimateArk, which claims it is “dedicated to promoting public policy that addresses global climate change through reductions in carbon dioxide and other emissions, renewable energy, energy conservation and ending deforestation,” lists the Pravda article http://www.climateark.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=35882. I didn’t think it was necessary to flood this area with other links. But if you must, who would you like to hear it from?

    BBC? news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3734205.stm
    “Mr Putin made the concession after the EU backed Russia’s bid to join the WTO. The EU had made its support dependent on Russia ratifying Kyoto.”

    Washington Post? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46416-2004May21.html
    “Russia signaled Friday that it would ratify the Kyoto climate change treaty in exchange for European support for its bid to join the World Trade Organization…”

    Business Week? http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/oct2004/nf2004101_3878_db039.htm
    “But the EU wanted Russia in Kyoto badly enough to compromise and support its WTO membership bid.”

    How about an source from India? http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2112/stories/20040618001605100.htm
    “Analysts, however, are convinced that “horse-trading” did happen at the summit and that there is a clear link between Russia’s entry into the WTO and the Kyoto issues…

    …[Moscow economist] Mikhail G. Delyagin, chairman of the Institute for Globalisation Problems (Moscow), indicated to the media that it was clear that Russia had agreed to a quid pro quo. He said: “What Putin said about the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol means that today’s summit was not Russia’s diplomatic victory at all. Russia has paid for its accession to the WTO by giving up its positions on Kyoto.””

    google Russia+kyoto+wto, and you’ll find link-after-link telling you what you would like to pretend did not happen.

  17. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Mar 24, 2005 at 9:02 AM | Permalink

    Michael, err, yes, if the kind of similar comments about the IPCC are – you know, IPCC guilt by association with the UN, or nasty ‘gravy training’ scientist, or scaremongers? Of course that’s what everyone here think! Let he who is without logical fallacy cast the first stone!

    Re Kyoto, ok, but surely the truth was Russia joint thanks more to a quid pro quo (s)? But, hey, we all know Kyoto is justy a plot by those of us in Europe to undermine the US :). Yep, with just one little treaty Europe undermines the mighty US….

    Lets remember the science. Lets remember where CO2 levels are headed. Lets remember we are, according to scientists (ooppss), committed to more warming. Lets remember AGW is only just really at it’s starts. Lets remember we only have this one planet.

    Now, fire away!

  18. David H
    Posted Mar 24, 2005 at 12:21 PM | Permalink

    Peter,

    Its hard to think of a good outcome from Kyoto. If we all actually meet the targets we have accepted there will be no reduction in our emissions. All that will happen is money will go to the Russians. More likely Japan, Canada or one of the Europeans will renege. By 2012 China and India will be the largest emitters and they will not accept cuts. I do not think threatening the US with trade or other sanctions will achieve anything. We will have about as much effect as Boadicea had against the Romans. We won the battle of Kyoto but…

  19. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Mar 25, 2005 at 1:10 PM | Permalink

    So we must leap from “Spot the Hockey Stick” to “Kyoto” to “lets remember the science” within this thread? I’m all for discussing all of them, but why must you constantly change the subject?

    As far as “remember the science” goes…you’re the one who says the climate reconstruction of the 1000 years is a non-issue. All you seem to think you need is greenhouse theory and 20th century thermometer readings to know that man is strongly influencing the climate towards devastating results. I don’t see it that way. Science tells me that the temperature reconstruction of that last 1000 years goes a long way in telling us how much influence man actually had on the climate in the 20th century. Science tells me that even the last 1000 years are just a blip on the radar of our climate history and that trying to determine future trends based on a century’s worth of data is probably overreaching. Science tells me that the combination of thermometer readings and greenhouse theory fails to explain why surface-based temperature readings over the past 25 years have risen much faster than balloon and satellite measurements. Science tells me that our climate is extremely difficult to model, that our current models aren’t sophisiticated enough to do an adequate job when it comes to future climate simulations, and that there are gaping holes in some of the model assumptions. Science also tells me that the politics behind Kyoto are a farce.

  20. Spence_UK
    Posted Mar 25, 2005 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

    Lets remember the science

    Did you read Wagner et al yet? Or by “Lets remember the science” do you really mean “Lets remember the science that supports my viewpoint and treat as gospel, and lets ignore all other science”?

    Lets remember where CO2 levels are headed

    Interesting that you use “remember” and “headed” in the same sentence, one referring to past events and one referring to the future. Unfortunately I left my Crystal Ball behind at work yesterday, so my normally infallible powers of prediction are not all they should be. So no, we don’t know where CO2 levels are going, because we don’t fully understand what the various sources and sinks (mainly natural) are going to do in the future. But if we’ve forgotten, or deny, what happened in the past, in which CO2 levels were similar to those today, how can we possibly come up with even an educated guess what will happen in the future?

  21. Michael Mayson
    Posted Mar 27, 2005 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

    Spot the Hockey Stick: http://www.worldviewofglobalwarming.org/
    I note that Bradley, one of the Hockey team, is an advisor to this site.

  22. Dub
    Posted Mar 28, 2005 at 2:04 AM | Permalink

    Or by “Lets remember the science” do you really mean “Lets remember the science that supports my viewpoint and treat as gospel, and lets ignore all other science”?

    I think you’ve got more chance of pushing a camel thru the eye of a needle than of getting a Global Warmmonger to admit that he’s wr…o…nnnnn…g. :-)

  23. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Mar 28, 2005 at 4:47 AM | Permalink

    Spence, re #21

    So, you say you don’t know what is going to happen in the future but you do, here I presume a little, know that AGW isn’t going to be serious (say 2C plus) – right? How?

    Michael J, OK, what should we do, or not do, about the production of ghg’s by humanity? I think 400ppm CO2 is an experiment too far, and a level likely to be exceeded, what figure for atmosphere CO2 concentration – if any – would concern you?

  24. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Mar 28, 2005 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

    Re #23

    Dub, “I think you’ve got more chance of pushing a camel thru the eye of a needle than of getting a Global Warmmonger to admit that he’s wr…o…nnnnn…g.” Sorry, but if reversed that is precisely my view of you. So, I fear for either of us to change our mind (or perhaps forced to) some time, and climate, will have to pass us by.

  25. Spence_UK
    Posted Mar 28, 2005 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    So, you say you don’t know what is going to happen in the future but you do, here I presume a little, know that AGW isn’t going to be serious (say 2C plus) – right? How?

    Again, you are trying to predict the future of a chaotic system. The chances that anthropogenic effects will cause this are extremely small, but not zero (bearing in mind a butterfly flapping its wings in Africa can change the direction of a hurricane over the Carribean Sea, humans can influence but not in a predictable way). I have quoted my view before on this site, but will do so again, worded hopefully to explain how my view relates to your question.

    The chances of the climate increasing by +2 C over the next century are probably about the same as them dropping by 2 C over the next century – highly unlikely, and if it does occur, will almost certainly be due to natural effects rather than anthropogenic. And probably about the same likelihood as a ten kilometre asteroid hitting the earth in the next century. That would be my line. I also believe that mankind should be putting in place plans to ameliorate the effects of such events, but there is no justification to attempt to control such events which are, most likely, way outside our ability to control. Please note this reflects my opinion, not the opinion of the authors of this blog, or any others (including you) who are likely to have their own, independent opinion.

    My reasoning for this is simple: the natural climate is highly variable, both in terms of temperature, carbon dioxide concentration, and a million and one other climate related parameters, all of which interact in a complex, chaotic way. Therefore I expect large swings over several decades, which we are only just starting to measure and understand. The scaremongering over AGW is based solely on wild extrapolations of inaccurate models. Unfortunately it is now “supported” by flawed historical reconstructions. There is a substantial body of science that supports my view of the world, which is largely ignored by the IPCC and others for reasons I don’t fully understand.

    The IPCC are merely repeating the errors of Malthus and ignoring the wisdom of Lorenz by believing the complexity of interactions between key parameters can be simplified or ignored. In a chaotic system, this is a serious error of judgement.

  26. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Mar 28, 2005 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

    Spence,

    Climate clearly is chaotic but it’s clearly NOT completely chaotic. So, even I can say that the UK summer will (WILL) have a mean temperature between 13C and 19C. That WILL be the case (the truely exceptional excepted). So lets forget this butterfly stuff.

  27. Michael Mayson
    Posted Mar 28, 2005 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

    Re #26: I agree. That’s a clear and succinct summary of thoughts which I share.

  28. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Mar 28, 2005 at 4:13 PM | Permalink

    “I think 400ppm CO2 is an experiment too far”

    And how did you arrive at this conclusion regarding 400ppm CO2? Science or guess?

  29. Spence_UK
    Posted Mar 28, 2005 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

    Climate clearly is chaotic but it’s clearly NOT completely chaotic

    Ummm… help? Anyone? When is a chaotic system not a chaotic system? (The first person to say “when it’s ajar” will not be answered).

    But you score a real own goal with “the truly exceptional excepted”. Doubts creeping in Peter? As for “So lets forget this butterfly stuff”, it will take more than this throw away comment to convince me that the theories put forward by Lorenz on chaotic systems are either wrong or do not apply to climate systems.

    Re: #28 Thanks Michael, glad I’m not alone!

  30. Michael Mayson
    Posted Mar 28, 2005 at 8:45 PM | Permalink

    Peter H: Here’s an into to the history of ‘chaos theory’. http://www.aip.org/history/climate/chaos.htm
    It was as a result of trying to develop computer progams for simulating and predicting weather that chaotic systems were discovered and the theory developed. In this context the word ‘chaos’ has a precise meaning. It is not a loose decriptive term to be argued about as in your #27 and it certainly can’t be ‘forgotten’.

  31. Posted Mar 29, 2005 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

    Amusing when Peter says “Lets remember the science.” Because it is Peter that wants to forget what science is about – transparency, and replication of experiment. Peter, when you actually decide to start discussing science itself, rather than logical fallacies like appeal to authority, then you might gain credibility.

  32. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Mar 29, 2005 at 1:15 PM | Permalink

    re #30 So, Spence, you think the climate of summer 2005 UK not predictable at all? It might mean out at 250C, or -125C?

    As I said, (and you are right I’m not an expert on chaos (though you are?)) the mean temperature of summer 2005 UK will (WILL) be between 13C and 19C the truely exceptional (I’ll explain, truely exceptional being something like Krakatoa or the sun blowing up) excepted.

    re #32 Well, well, if it’s not spqr! Debunkers to quiet? What do you want to discuss? Something from realclimate? Or NOAA? Or the UK Met Office? Or the UK Hadley Centre? Or a paper in a climatology periodical (other than one by a certain Steve)? Doubt it, not your kind of science, eh?

  33. Spence_UK
    Posted Mar 29, 2005 at 4:32 PM | Permalink

    re #30 So, Spence, you think the climate of summer 2005 UK not predictable at all? It might mean out at 250C, or -125C?

    What on earth are you talking about? You clearly don’t understand anything I’ve said, and have resorted to reading desperate (and absurd) implications into my arguments. For what it is worth, the climate has a degree of inertia (which is fondly demonstrated by climate scientists by showing the lag-1 autocorrelation coefficients), so yes near term predictions are possible to some moderate accuracy, but even those need to carry caveats. But the more you try to predict into the future, the more likely you are to encounter a cusp on the surface over which the model integrators are operating, which means as you predict into the future the likelihood of a massive error in the model is almost certain.

    As I said, (and you are right I’m not an expert on chaos (though you are?))

    As a mathematical modeller who has had call to use fractals in the past, I have a need of a basic understanding of chaotic behaviour. I wouldn’t say I was an “expert” but I have a pretty sound grasp of the concept. Enough to know that someone saying “its chaotic but clearly not completely chaotic” is way out of his depth.

    the mean temperature of summer 2005 UK will (WILL) be between 13C and 19C

    So you’re brave enough to put a six degree spread on a prediction of climate in around six months time. Oh, with caveats. Well, how could I possibly doubt that anyone could predict global average temperature in one hundred years time armed with that knowledge. If your aim is to wear me down by piling endless ignorant statements for me to respond to, you are doing a good job.

  34. Posted Mar 30, 2005 at 12:53 AM | Permalink

    Peter, it is you who are avoiding substantive discussion. No one else.

  35. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Mar 30, 2005 at 2:21 AM | Permalink

    Re #35, repeating something wrong doesn’t make it right. I’m clearly interested in what’s beind said here, I spent a lot of time reading and posting.

    Re #34

    Spence, I’m not a climate modeller, yet you, kind of, accept my prediction. You also broadly accept what I said “For what it is worth, the climate has a degree of inertia (which is fondly demonstrated by climate scientists by showing the lag-1 autocorrelation coefficients), so yes near term predictions are possible to some moderate accuracy, but even those need to carry caveats.”. I agree! The caveats are ‘1-5C warming’ and the various qualifiying words the prediction use like ‘probably’. “But the more you try to predict into the future, the more likely you are to encounter a cusp on the surface over which the model integrators are operating, which means as you predict into the future the likelihood of a massive error in the model is almost certain.” So why don’t climate models go wildly wrong at the end of a century or two? Why do some show warming tailng of, as you’d expect as Co2 (might take a long time) is sequestrated? Then why are models used in so many fields?

    What gets me is the way people here are lost in a cul-de-sac. Whittering away obsessivly about the hockey stick, BCP’s and the rest while dismissing (or ignoring) the evidence from the glaciers, from sea temperatures rising, from the surface record, increasingly from the satellite record, from the models, from ghg emissions and likely trends, from the experts.

    Yes I belive my experts, just as everyone here does just SM.

    Right, I think I’ve said enough. No one is going to believe me, accept I want to debate, give me credit for as much as some amoeba like level intelligence and the rest so I think I should leave it at that (I’ll just say one of my few minor claims to fame is to have once correct John Brignall – shock). You lot can have the last word, I’m running away eh? :)

  36. Spence_UK
    Posted Mar 30, 2005 at 7:01 AM | Permalink

    Spence, I’m not a climate modeller, yet you, kind of, accept my prediction.

    You really have lost the plot here haven’t you Peter? I accept your prediction is entirely worthless, that is about all. You say “I agree” when you don’t even understand what I’m saying. How can you agree with something you don’t understand???

    Let me give you an example. At the moment, outside my window, it is about 13 degrees C. I can, with reasonable confidence, tell you that in an hours time it will be somewhere between 12 deg C and 14 deg C, assuming nothing exceptional happens.

    What does this prove? It proves that the local weather and temperature has some inertia. Things don’t just suddenly change temperature, something must happen to change them.

    Now let me try to predict the temperature in two days time. Well, I can no longer rely on the inertia of the weather, too much may have changed between now and then. But we know how to model the weather fairly well in the short term, and the bbc web site says the temp will be about 1 degree C higher than today, although they add a couple more degrees of spread, plus the usual caveats apply.

    What about the weather in two weeks time? Well, no model has yet been generated that predicts the weather that far ahead any better than a completely random guess. So there is no point trying. Any such prediction has zero value. We could go into an cold snap, or a heatwave, or the temperature might just stay about the same. Likewise with climate.

    The caveats are “1-5C warming’ and the various qualifiying words the prediction use like “probably’

    What are you talking about? Your reasoning is “I can make a six month prediction therefore I can make a 20-year / 50-year / 100-year prediction”. That does not follow at all. To make this claim shows a simple lack of understanding of chaotic systems. The only sensible prediction for future climate would be to say “it will very probably lie within -2 / +2 deg C, and probably lie between -5 / +5 deg C”, just based on stability observations, but these have no value. There is no justification whatsoever for claiming that constant or falling temperatures are not possible, or even likely.

    So why don’t climate models go wildly wrong at the end of a century or two?

    No climate model has ever been shown to accurately or usefully predict over a century or two, beyond the incestuous (and therefore worthless) development of models to match existing conditions. Anyone with an ounce of knowledge about the modelling of complex and chaotic systems knows this is a pointless exercise.

    while dismissing (or ignoring) the evidence from the glaciers

    Glaciers are constantly expanding and receding, none are really “stable”, if you choose to only report those that are receding you can generate a lot of alarm without any substance. There probably is an average, slight recession of glaciers, which has been continuing since the world came out of the little ice age.

    from the surface record

    .. or the near surface record, or the troposphere records, all of which agree and provide a very different story commensurate with mild natural warming.

    from ghg emissions

    Still not read Wagner et al yet I take it? Again you cherry pick science which agrees with your viewpoint and put the blinkers on when it comes to science which disagrees with your viewpoint. To do this is fundamentally unscientific.

    Yes I belive my experts, just as everyone here does just SM.

    Hmmm. I didn’t straight believe SM, I replicated the Mann PCA step and agreed with the conclusion it was flawed. If I “just believed SM” then I wouldn’t have gone to the bother of doing this. So again, you are wrong. Furthermore, Steve’s analysis is just one small peg in my overall philosophy on climate change, but agreeing with that point doesn’t immediately falsify all other points.

    No one is going to believe me, accept I want to debate

    I accept you want to debate but I don’t think you have a very good grasp of the underlying issues. Several of your comments show real weakness in scientific understanding.

    You lot can have the last word, I’m running away eh?

    I’m always interested in open scientific debate, but to be honest Peter, you didn’t add much except regurgitated rhetoric. I pointed you to studies which I’m assuming you hadn’t seen before, but you didn’t seem to learn from them. I would have gladly looked at studies that I had not seen before, but you didn’t seem to know of any. I want to learn more about these things, get an understanding of the mechanics, but it seems all you want to do is make political sound bites. Which is a shame. My advice: don’t give up the day job.

  37. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Mar 30, 2005 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

    Re#5 from Peter: “Now, if the temperature for the past millenia (globally or NH) goes up a bit more at the beggining and down more in the middle does that mean…That it’s more evidence the models are wrong?…NO answers all those questions.”

    Actually, you’ll find some of the people you seem to support in disagreement with you. Here’s a tidbit from Briffa and some other folks at the Hadley Centre and other Euro research centers:

    http://www.met.rdg.ac.uk/~mat/exchanges/exchanges.html

    “In studies of the detection, attribution and prediction of anthropogenic climate change, it is essential to have some estimate of natural fluctuations of climate in order to identify the significance of the human-induced climate change signal. The problem is one of separating the “signal” of climate change from the “noise” of natural variability…Palaeo estimates of climate variability are the only way of validating climate models on time scales of many decades to centuries. This study has highlighted many areas where there needs to be more work. Firstly it is important to correctly interpret (e.g. Mann et al (1998)) and quantify the uncertainties in the palaeo data. Secondly it appears that models need to be forced with natural factors in order to make a like-with-like comparison. This in turn requires palaeo-estimates of these forcing factors (e.g. Crowley and Kim (1999)). Finally there is a need for a framework (such as the optimal detection framework (Tett et al (1999)) in which all the uncertainties in the model and in the palaeo data can be taken into consideration when making the comparison.”

    In other words, for the climate models you believe in to be valid in predicting temperatures for the next 50-100+ years, we need to properly identify climate variability in our past. The first step, according to the authors, is to “correctly interpret (e.g. Mann et al (1998)) and quantify the uncertainties in the palaeo data.” So if the Mann hockey-stick you find so irrelevant to the study of climate change is indeed flawed, the climate models themselves cannot be validated. To put it bluntly, you’ve got hockey stick folks who admit that they need the hockey stick to be real and relatively accurate for the model predictions you believe in to be worth anything.

    BTW, still waiting for a response to #29 and how you decided 400ppm CO2 is “an experiment too far.”

  38. Posted Jul 27, 2006 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

    From Peter H: “Climate clearly is chaotic but it’s clearly NOT completely chaotic.”

    Responses from Spence_UK: “Ummm… help? Anyone? When is a chaotic system not a chaotic system? (The first person to say “when it’s ajar” will not be answered).”

    and in another post:
    “I can, with reasonable confidence, tell you that in an hours time it will be somewhere between 12 deg C and 14 deg C, assuming nothing exceptional happens.

    “What does this prove? It proves that the local weather and temperature has some inertia. Things don’t just suddenly change temperature, something must happen to change them.”

    First: When is a chaotic system not completely so: When you don’t understand the system. For example, where will the bubbles appear when a pot of water starts to boil? Currently, this is unpredictable. Possibly, if someone analyzes this sufficiently deeply, we will discover what causes bubbles to form in one spot rather than another. Or, perhaps not. In the meantime, as the science improves, the best you can say is that there is a certain likelihood that a bubble will appear in a certain location.

    Second: If I understand this correctly, Spence is claiming that climate is chaotic and unpredictable, but only past a certain point. In the near-term, “something must happen to change [temperatures],” so weather is predictable because “inertia” keeps it from changing rapidly. In the long-term, Spence, are you saying there are too many factors with too much power to be able to predict the cumulative effect?

    This contradicts the consensus scientific view, which agrees that there are many factors affecting climate, that not all are fully understood, that there could be a random or unknown event that causes unexpected change, but that does claim to have sufficient data to make a prediction of future climate (not weather). I haven’t seen anything – here or elsewhere – that substantially negates this.

    As for waiting for absolute proof, that exists only in mathematics, not science. Science can only give probabilities. The case against the tobacco industry was not that smoking was guaranteed to cause cancer, but that it substantially increased one’s risk of developing cancer. Future climate predictions are also all about probabilities.

  39. Paul Penrose
    Posted Jul 27, 2006 at 6:49 PM | Permalink

    I think you misunderstand chaos theory. Chaotic is not the same as random. Chaotic systems will exhibit large differences in output with even small changes in initial conditions. These systems are composed of multiple non-linear components which makes them very difficult to compute, such that large systems, even if all the components are well understood, are as a practical matter, uncomputable and will remain so for a long time. Surely the world climate is such a system.

    If you were to plot the confidence intervals for the current climate models against time they would look like funnels with very steep sides. This would result in the output of the models going outside these bounds within a few years of the starting point, meaning that all the results past that point could just as likely be random. So it’s not so much about probability, but confidence. They are related, but not equivalent.

  40. cytochrome_sea
    Posted Jul 27, 2006 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

    Brian: re: #1, the bubbles should form on nucleation points, I don’t understand your example.

  41. John Creighton
    Posted Jul 27, 2006 at 8:48 PM | Permalink

    #40 I think it is you misunderstand Chaos. The motion of the planets exhibit Chaos but are very predictable.

  42. John Creighton
    Posted Jul 27, 2006 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

    #40 I think a better way to state Chaos would be that there exists some level of accuracy in a prediction that can only be achieved with exact knowledge of initial conditions. If we don’t care about achieving this level of accuracy then it is of little consequence that the system is Chaotic. For instance if we only care if a chaotic pendulum will stop and Chaos only tells us that we can’t predict the motion it will go though before it stoppeds, then it is of little relevance to us weather or weather or not the pendulum exhibits chaos.

  43. Paul Penrose
    Posted Jul 28, 2006 at 7:48 AM | Permalink

    John,
    Sigh. On the large scale, or the near term, yes we can predict the location of all the major planets. However, we can’t predict precisely where they will be in 100 years, especially the smaller inner planets. The same goes for the pendulum; we can’t tell exactly where it will be at any particular time except in this case at the end-points since it is a damped system and will eventually stop.

    Your examples are not analogous to the GCMs because there, just as I pointed out above, we are looking for precise measurements at a future time. To complicate things, we don’t even know what the exact initial conditions are and we probably won’t have that kind of data collection capability (for global climate) anytime in our lifetimes.

    So yes, while we can predict fairly accurately in the near-term, and yes we know what the overall climate will look like in 100 years, chaos theory tells us that we can’t predict precise (1 – 3 degrees C changes with .1 degree accuracy as claimed by many models) temperature changes 100 years into the future.

  44. John Creighton
    Posted Jul 28, 2006 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

    I don’t claim that it is possible to predict climate 100 years into the future. I just get the impression that Chaos is sometimes used as an excuse to give up. Clearly, just because a system exhibits Chaos does not mean it is completely unpredictable. Even with the planets, 1 million years from now there it is nearly certain that they will still be around the same distance form the sun. There have been numerical integration techniques developed that take advantage of these conservation effects.

    It is actually amazing that climate researchers publish papers about the results of a single model run and claim it is a prediction. Any academic worth his weight in salt would know to present meaningful results on systems that are not completely deterministic as systems which exhibit chaos are, that it is necessary to do several trials, find the mean and standard deviation of each prediction value. Good old Monty Carlo Analysis, where as a minimum the initial state is a random vector and more likely then not there should be both model noise and measurement noise. The number of trials to get meaningful results depends on the probability distribution. If the climate models are too complex to perform the necessary number of trials they should either be simplified, computed in a distributed fashion like seti or simulated for a shorter period of time.

  45. Paul Penrose
    Posted Jul 28, 2006 at 1:45 PM | Permalink

    John,
    I think we are pretty much in agreement then.

    They currently do make multiple runs of their models, but the output goes from floor to ceiling making the mean and SD pretty much meaningless. Despite this, they pick something in the middle which matches their expectations and say that a X degree increase of temperature in response to a doubling (to use the most oft quoted value) of CO2 is possible. According to their models so is an X degree decrease of temperature, since the confidence intervals are so big.

    The problem is three-fold: they don’t have enough computing power to get the resolution they want so they have to simplify the models, they don’t know what all the components are that contribute to global climate, and even if they did they would need to add more complexity to their models since global climate is such a massively complex system.

  46. Daeran Gall
    Posted Oct 31, 2006 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    No one can argue with this data, correct?
    I mean it is real data replicated in other places on the planet. It is rock solid as data can be.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keeling_Curve

    Co2 and temperature are related correct?

    As Co2 goes up Average temperature goes up.

    Is that not also correct, or is this just bad science?

    Nice fall we are having this year, can’t help but notice that is has been warmer than average the last 5 years or so.

    Or once again is there something i don’t know.

    So why does the IPCC want to crash the world party?

    Alien conspiracy, Illuminati, secrect cult, CIA operation
    or all of the above?

    The Keeling curve is a graph showing the variation in concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1958. It shows that human activities are increasing the greenhouse effect with implications for global warming.

    Charles David Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography was the first person to make frequent regular measurements of the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, taking readings atop Mauna Loa in Hawaii from 1958 onwards.

  47. Dane
    Posted Oct 31, 2006 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    It isn’t the science people question, it is the fact that the earth is not a greenhouse, and very well may not behave like one. Therefore, tha greenouse effect may not actually happen on a planet sized body, or at least not same way it does in the lab.

  48. MarkR
    Posted Oct 31, 2006 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

    RE#47

    Although carbon dioxide is capable of raising the Earth’s overall temperature, the IPCC’s predictions of catastrophic temperature increases produced by carbon dioxide have been challenged by many scientists. In particular, the importance of water vapor is frequently overlooked by environmental activists and by the media. The above discussion shows that the large temperature increases predicted by many computer models are unphysical and inconsistent with results obtained by basic measurements. Skepticism is warranted when considering computer-generated projections of global warming that cannot even predict existing observations.

    Cold Facts on Global Warming

  49. bender
    Posted Oct 31, 2006 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

    Interesting note there on saturation of radiation absorption:

    The net effect of all these processes is that doubling carbon dioxide would not double the amount of global warming. In fact, the effect of carbon dioxide is roughly logarithmic. Each time carbon dioxide (or some other greenhouse gas) is doubled, the increase in temperature is less than the previous increase. The reason for this is that, eventually, all the longwave radiation that can be absorbed has already been absorbed.

    I’ll have to cross-check on RC.

  50. MarkR
    Posted Oct 31, 2006 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

    I like this question, and answer as well:

    However, we can check the plausibility of the IPCC’s result by asking the following question: Instead of 33 degrees, what number would result if we calculated backwards from the IPCC estimates?

    Using the same assumption of linearity, if a 9 degree increase resulted from the above-mentioned increase of greenhouse gas levels, the current greenhouse gas level (which is by definition 100%) would be equivalent to a greenhouse gas-induced temperature increase of at least 107 degrees C. This means the for the 9 degree figure to be correct, the current global temperature would have to be at least 255 + 107 – 273 = 89 degrees centigrade, or 192° Fahrenheit! A model that predicts a current-day temperature well above the highest-ever observed temperature is clearly in need of serious tweaking. Even a 5 degree projection predicts current-day temperatures of 41°C (106°F). These results clearly cannot be reconciled with observations.

  51. Stan Palmer
    Posted Oct 31, 2006 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    re 47

    The answer to your question can be found in the issue of feedback and how much and of what type exists in the atmosphere.

    re 47

    This might shed light on the issue that you raised.

    Consider a control system for a car. The more drag on a car, the slower it tends to go. So, all things being equal, if a car moving on level ground at a certain speed reaches a hill, it will tend to go slower. Now equip that car with a cruise control system that uses feedback to maintain a constant speed. When the car reaches the hill, the cruise control commands more engine output and a constant speed is maintained.

    Similar feedback mechanisms have been found in the atmosphere. Some act in the same direction as forcings which cause warming (positive feedback) and some act against it (negative feedback). The issue under scientific consideration is the balance between these different types of feedbacks and that balance will determine the stability ot lack thereof of the atmosphere against forcing such as increasing C02 concentrations.

    Note that the fact that Earth’s atmosphere has relatively stable in the past is a strong argument for negative feedback since it is this type of feedback which produces stability. It tends to resist changes.

  52. Stan Palmer
    Posted Oct 31, 2006 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    re 52

    Also, are you willing to stake your credibility on that pasaage you quoted in #51 being correct? OTOH, I suppose that if it’s right there’s a Nobel Proze in it for somebody. Why not you?

    Isn’t personal abuse forbidden on this blog?

  53. Dane
    Posted Oct 31, 2006 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

    #53 Stan, I am a little confused by this “Note that the fact that Earth’s atmosphere has relatively stable in the past” You are including ice ages and interglacials aren’t you in that statement?

    Maybe it should be “relatively stable over a range of 10 degrees or so”.

    Seems AGW doesn’t recognize natural variations of that much though, although geology does.

  54. Stan Palmer
    Posted Oct 31, 2006 at 4:16 PM | Permalink

    RE 54

    As the Sun ages, it gets hotter. As it ages it consumes more of the hydrogen at its core and as such contracts and consumes a larger proportion of its helium. However over geologic time scales the temperature of the earth has been stable in the face of this changing solar input. The solution to this quandary is to propose some sort of negative feedback mechanism in the atmosphere, ocean etc. that would tend to act counter to the increasing solar input. Note that this process has been occurring for billions of years so the stability of the atmosphere in the face of forcing must be very strong. So the naive more CO2 means higher temperature must be compared with an Earth history in which the CO2 concentration has varied a great deal (sometimes much higher than now) and the solar irradiance has been constantly increasing.

  55. Dane
    Posted Oct 31, 2006 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

    #56, Thanks. I already knew all of that, but thanks for clearing it up for me, its makes better sense now.

  56. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Oct 31, 2006 at 4:31 PM | Permalink

    RE: “Nice fall we are having this year, can’t help but notice that is has been warmer than average the last 5 years or so.”

    You must be in the UK, where indeed many claim it has been a warmer than normal fall (although, it would be interesting to look back at this Fall once we’ve passed the Solstice, given the turn to cold and rainy (soon to been snowy in Northern Scotland?) weather, over the past week.

    Meanwhile, North America has already had Fall and is now in Winter.

  57. Tony Boyce
    Posted Feb 28, 2007 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

    I’ve been wary of this GW stuff due to the temp graph only having data from the Northern Hemisphere. How can you use tree ring measurements to determine a specific temp? I thought tree rings only told you if conditions were good/bad during a given year. How can one figure the exact temp on 7 Jul 1262 12:42 PM in the state of CA in the U.S.? Has the Mann report been repeated by other scientists? From what I am reading, I don’t think so. I thought you all had to be able to repeat the conclusions using the exact measuring techniques the original person did. If this has not been done, then any
    report is suspect due to its not following accepted scientific protocall.

    As you can most likely tell, I am not a scientist just a concerned citizen.

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