Pat Frank on North's Seminar

Here is Pat Frank’s post on North’s seminar. You should also look at North’s answers in the Chronicle Q&A session yesterday. North has a slide in his presentation entitled “Enter the Amateurs”. If one associates professionalism with care and due diligence, one wonders whether he has placed this particular cue at the right location in his presentation.

Pat:
I’ve now had a chance to listen to North’s seminar. I really have to say that I found his general attitude and all that avuncular “‘œha-ha-ha-ing’ irritatingly patronizing. The attitude comes out right away with the slide showing “Enter the amateurs (M&M)”‘? He was even patronizing towards Wegman, the cause being Wegman’s very reasonable suggestion that statisticians be included among workers doing proxy reconstructions (as though it were a patent “‘œmake work for statisticians”‘œ gambit). Then North extended his patronizing dismissal to statisticians in general, wanting to exclude them from science because they tend to be “anal.”‘? He also disparaged you (Steve M.) and Ross M. as “‘œhalf-fools’ implied Ross is non-credible, and rambled toward the 30-yard line by completely mis-stating the history leading to ClimateAudit. He finally told a story that one of Wegman’s reviewers sent him (North) an email saying she only got 3 days for her review, thus casting general aspersions on Wegman’s claim of independent review.

The feeling one gets is that he considers most oppositional people as zanies, and most of his audience was clearly in agreement. He offered empirical evidence for AGW in the apparent correspondence between the “‘œhockey stick’ trend of rising CO2 over the last millennium juxtaposed with the MBH hockey stick trend. One wonders if he knows the difference between “‘œassociation’ and “‘œcausality.’ North promised at the beginning of his talk to tell us whether the M&M analysis “makes any difference,”‘? but instead later passed over the statistical questions as “too arcane,”‘? and ended up never addressing the question at all. He said there are problems with PC analysis ala’ MBH but never said what they are, and never mentioned that PC’s are numerical constructs without inherent physical meaning.

His arguments concerning the environmental determinants of tree-ring widths were totally hand-waving. There was nothing analytical in them, or theoretical, or quantitative, even in reference. He passed quickly over those lacunae to go directly to splicing the tree-ring widths to the temperature record (a grotesque miscarriage of science). He talked about the physically confonding inputs affecting tree-ring widths, such as out-of-range growth and non-linear effects, but then never discussed them again as though they had no effect. That whole part is a ludicrous display of non-science.

In his discussion of ice-cores, right after he finished saying that dO-18 temperatures from tropical ice-cores are confounded by possible changes in hydrology (as opposed to those from the poles), he went on to exclaim over the 20th century HS shape of dO-18 temps derived from ice cores taken from Tibet and the Andes! I.e., ice-cores from the very places he just finished saying were untrustworthy!

At the end of his talk, as he discussed all the various flavors of published reconstructions, North not only said that the error bars, more than just statistical, are also physical, but he went on to say that we don’t really know what the errors are. That is, after all the song-and-dance, and displays of other proxies that look like hockey sticks, he said in effect that we don’t really know, after all, whether the hockey stick is even a hockey stick. And then he concluded that part with the observation that what you do on an “expert panel”‘? is “kind of [wing] it.”‘? Incredible. He winged his entire analysis.

On the question of whether the 20th century was the warmest in 1000 years, he gave a chuckling account of the committee’s choice of the word “plausible”‘? and left us with this, both on his slide and stated: “[Using] 30-year averages, warmest in 1000 yrs – (Plausible, -reasonable, impossible to bring a convincing argument against, no numbers).”‘?

Of course, his comments about not knowing the errors leaves us with no convincing argument for, either, but that side of the coin was left unexplored. I’m left wondering whether the retreat of the northern treeline since the MWP would be considered “a convincing argument against.”‘?

During the Q&A, he laughed about a conversation he had with a reporter from the Dallas Morning News, who told him Rep. Barton had said, during a speech, that the HS was statistically discredited. North went on to laugh disparagingly about Barton’s dismissal and talk about being cynical concerning politicians and their hearings. No matter that North himself said not 20 minutes earlier that no one knows what the error bars are on the proxy reconstructions. It’s as though his mind contained two non-overlapping magisteria (to use a peculiarly apt SJ Gouldian logism).

At the very end, pace Lee, North said that the real basis for putting the “A”‘? in AGW is the correspondence between the GCMs (“‘?we know all the forcings,”‘? and, “the lynch-pin is the physics”) and global temperatures. He dismissed the uncertainties in climate physics with passing notice.


60 Comments

  1. Jean S
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 6:10 AM | Permalink

    Nice post, Pat!

    For the record, I want to include the following comment from yesterdays discussion. IMO, the part of the answer which I have emphasized shows lack of undestanding of fundamentals of mathematical modelling and/or of the complexity of climate.

    Question from Ernie Linsay, Wilmington College:
    What is your personal opinion – has there been global warming due to human intervention?

    Gerald North:
    Yes, it is my opinion that there is a human origin to the recent warming. The reason this is so widely accepted by the community is that we have good data for the last 150 years for both the temperatures and the ‘forcings’ (volcanoes, greenhouse gases, aerosols, and for the last 30 years we have solar measurements). When we put the forcing into our models (even with their uncertainties) we are able to link the cause and effect pretty certainly. Over the longer period we do not have all this information. This is why the hockey stick is really not so relevant to the question of anthropogenics.

    I wonder if North’s faith in models is so great that he would happily take drugs tested only with computer simulations.

  2. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 6:12 AM | Permalink

    I hadn’t commented on this presentation because I would be much less polite than Pat…

  3. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 6:27 AM | Permalink

    One particular point that is irritating me :
    When the warmers – including North – refer to the Wegman report, they jump straight to the social network stuff, as though it were Wegman’s main result. It isn’t – it’s a side issue that attempts to give some insight into the main result.

    A bullet point summary for policy makers of Wegman would be something like :
    1. M&M were right: MBH9X is statistical garbage
    2. Therefore, there has been a catastrophic failure of the peer review process
    3. How come ? Well, we looked at social networks …

    Point 3. might be important to the future, in trying to make sure this farce is never repeated. But Point 1 is what matters.

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 6:37 AM | Permalink

    Wegman was probably not aware of the perpetual litigation mind-set of the Team i.e. they are looking for a gotcha. If he’d thought about that, he’d probably asked himself whether the social network analysis was important to the findings or simply offered a potential opportunity for the Team to distract attention from criticism.

  5. Joel McDade
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 7:23 AM | Permalink

    I can’t seem to find the seminar/slide presentation under discussion. Help?

  6. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 7:25 AM | Permalink

    Joel, it’s here.

  7. Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 7:44 AM | Permalink

    “We know all the forcings”

    This is just wrong. We know CO2 concentration in air, but we take a guess at the forcing value, and feedback mechanisms. We know nothing of aerosols, but tweak them to make the temperature curve fit with our guess for CO2 forcing. We neglect solar forcing despite the evidence that the sun has been more active in the past 60 years than in the past 1000 years, and that it’s been the main driver of the climate for all of Earth’s history. Finally, we know next to nothing about why and how clouds form the way they do, and our models completely fail to reproduce the earth’s radiation budget. There is something awkward about the recent climate, but blaming it all on GHG is myopic at best.

    The biggest problem with the climate science community is its refusal to look in the other direction. Blame it on the politicization of the debate if you want, but they’re scientists, and shouldn’t let politics affect their scientific inquiry. Leave that to activists on both sides.

    It’s not the first time this happens in the history of science. Geologists refused to look at continental drift for 40 years, even though there was plenty of convincing evidence for it. But there was a “consensus” that it didn’t make sense, so why look at the evidence? It took a world war and a change of generation for it to become acceptable. Here I’ll quote Gordon Fraser McDonald:

    “In all science there is a strong ‘herd instinct’. Members of the herd find congeniality in interacting with other members who hold the same view of the world…Before the 1950’s, the North American herd of geologists found it comforting and amusing to ridicule those foreign geologists who advocated continental drift. In the early 1960’s… (several) respected leaders…decided to shift directions and the herd soon followed.”

  8. John A
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 8:29 AM | Permalink

    Pat Frank on Gerald North:

    He offered empirical evidence for AGW in the apparent correspondence between the “hockey stick’ trend of rising CO2 over the last millennium juxtaposed with the MBH hockey stick trend.

    In other words, the reason why the Hockey Stick is such an important totem is that it mimics the Siple Curve:

  9. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    Re #1
    I agree completely, Jean S, and was quite disappointed that my question on uncertainty modeling which got asked, but not answered. Especially given Jeff Norman’s exceprt from North’s own web page describing his research capacity in “system error analysis”. Error propagation is clearly not studied in any responsible way whatsoever.

  10. Roger Bell
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 9:12 AM | Permalink

    North was really a very bad choice as the Chair of the NAS panel. Having a slide labelled “Enter the Amateurs” makes him look foolish, since the amateurs did publish their work in the appropriate professional journal. Using the term “winging it” in describing how the panel worked isn’t very bright either.
    Roger Bell

  11. Jeff Norman
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

    Re Roger’s #10

    Perhaps this reveals a certain naivety in that he thought he was addressing the home team in the locker room instead of the www. It’s like he didn’t realize the mike was on and said some very revealing things. Boggling.

  12. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

    No. They thought he was independent enough that his smooth-talking style gave the best chance of smoothing things over (making warmers look reasonable, and “denialists” unreasonable). They also won’t see these admissions as revealing anything particularly shocking. That’s the degree to which their heads are buried in the sand on this issue. They just think they’re right, and so they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do to “move on” and move ahead.

  13. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

    P.S. Those kinds of personalities typically make for the best chairs, because they keep everybody relaxed, civil, they are unafraid, they get people talking, they keep the discussion moving forward in a productive direction.

  14. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

    Dano accused me of leaping to conclusions about how consensus is reached in this community, but I guess my speculation was pretty consistent with North’s account here of how they were “winging it”. Apologies from Dano on this (and Bloom on hurricanes) will no doubt be forthcoming.

  15. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    North’s been pretty pleasant to me when I’ve met him, although the presentation suggests that it may be a bit like the benevolence of a 19th century carnival operator towards human qualities in the Eskimo on display. See – he can speak (laughter in background). His attitude is more nuanced than that , but there’s an element of this in the Enter the Amateurs.

    Having said that, I agree with bender that it is important for chairmen to be civil. One thing that I didn’t like in North’s comments was his comment that NAS should not be responsive to BArton’s desire for examination of climate models by an engineering panel and his suggestion that NAS could in effect out-manoeuvre Barton by naming their own panel. NAS should be reaching out to Barton; they should be confident that their findings will stand up to any form of scrutiny and welcome the hardest scrutiny that can be mustered. That’s how they get BArton types on side, not by playing bureaucratic games.

  16. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

    Re #13, Bender

    P.S. Those kinds of personalities typically make for the best chairs, because they keep everybody relaxed, civil, they are unafraid, they get people talking, they keep the discussion moving forward in a productive direction.

    In other words, a sort of human lubricating oil.

  17. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

    …suggestion that NAS could in effect out-manoeuvre Barton by naming their own panel.

    Which makes me wonder what is going on behind closed doors on deciding who will be Boehlert’s successor.

  18. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

    North is to “Climate Science” as any number of past uniformitarians were to Geology. He is trying to act cool in the face of the crumbling facade.

  19. mark
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:52 AM | Permalink

    In other words, a sort of human lubricating oil.

    That makes him competition for KY Jelly. :)

    Mark

  20. TCO
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    Instead of wasting so much time on this stuff, you all should write papers. The lack of finished thoughts formed into fully developed arguments diminishes my confidence in the SM criticisms. A perfect example is the Ritalin post, where the whole emphasis is on showing that Mann used a certain (flaw?), rather than thoughtfully describing the flaw(?) and determining it’s nature dispassionately. Huybers critique was the way things should be done…

  21. bender
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

    So get writing, and stop repeating yourself, TCO. Welcome back. :)

  22. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    Re #19, Mark, eeek. I was thinking machinery …

  23. TCO
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

    I was. Got a lot of work done. It is frustrating to me that my colleagues (in business) won’t just accept my view (I have a pretty high turning out to be right quotient), but when I take the time to structure analyses in writing, it moves things forward…

  24. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:33 AM | Permalink

    Re #23, TCO

    It is frustrating to me that my colleagues (in business) won’t just accept my view (I have a pretty high turning out to be right quotient),

    On the occasions when you are wrong, are there any explosions involved ?

  25. TCO
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:37 AM | Permalink

    No.

  26. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    In the Chronicle Q&A, note the irony of this exchange:

    Question from Gavin Schmidt, NASA GISS:
    When dealing with science that is so actively politicized, certain results will get taken out of their context and iconified independently of anything the original researchers do. This has happened throughout the history of the climate change discussion (ask Ben Santer or Peter Doran for instance). How can the community work to prevent that from happening, if indeed it can, and when it does happen, is it possible to de-politicize such an icon?

    Gerald North:
    We all would like to know the answer to this question. If you can get any clues let me know. I am well aware of what Santer went through. This game can get very vicious.

    Followed immediately by this:

    Question from Dick Schneider, Wake Forest University:
    I am not a scientist. I teach law. I’m wondering whether the technical objections to the hockey stick really affect the ultimate conclusions with respect to U.S. policy. That is, are the objections substantial enough to give comfort to those who either deny or minimize the likelihood of anthropogenically-driven climate change?

    Gerald North:
    The minor technical objections serve as a weapon for those special interests who want to delay any action on GW.

    That is, after decrying the injection of politics into matters of science, Prof. North immediately goes on to inject politics into matters of science. More of those mental non-overlapping magesteria?

    It’s also pretty funny to see Gavin Schmidt worry about the politicization science and the construction of icons, when he has been central to both in his defense of the MBH corpus.

  27. James Lane
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

    It’s also pretty funny to see Gavin Schmidt worry about the politicization science and the construction of icons, when he has been central to both in his defense of the MBH corpus.

    I’d be pretty confident that Gavin had the Hockey Stick in mind when he framed the question.

  28. mark
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

    It is frustrating to me that my colleagues (in business) won’t just accept my view (I have a pretty high turning out to be right quotient), but when I take the time to structure analyses in writing, it moves things forward…

    Based on what I see in here, you’re a bit of a bully and I expect that carries over into your professional life as well. Not that I’m knocking you for such an attitude, it certainly serves its purpose in instances (I know this well), but it typically results in people going out of their way to avoid agreement, even when they think you may be right.

    Mark

  29. brent
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

    Too vital for guesses

    Growing belief in global warming is pressuring governments and scientists to get their projections right. Environment writer Matthew Warren reports

    snip
    The sceptics continue to argue that the development and evolution of these climate models is self-serving and predictive: in other words, that they assume a causal link between anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and climate change and then retrofit their models to fit the theory.
    snip
    To them, increased confidence in such modelling is inevitable but reveals nothing except the ability to refine and adapt new data to reinforce a predetermined, but flawed, thesis. The sceptics argue that such modelling, even at its most advanced stage, is trying to reconcile natural systems that contain too many unknowns or unknowables to be meaningful.
    snip
    They claim these gaps inevitably have to be filled by assumptions, sometimes little more than educated guesses, which allow scope to manipulate outcomes and undermine the integrity of the findings.

    http://tinyurl.com/hcj65

  30. BradH
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

    North said that the real basis for putting the “A” in AGW is the correspondence between the GCMs (“we know all the forcings,” and, “the lynch-pin is the physics”) and global temperatures.

    Oh, yes, we know all of the forcings. We just dial down the impact of a few which are inconvenient to our grants theories – such as that blindingly large ball of burning hydrogen and helium 93 million miles away, which accounts for 99% of the Solar System’s mass and delivers around 1,000 watts per m2 to the Earth’s surface and which has irritably been more active during the past century than at any time during the past 400 years.

    No, it’s that nasty CO2 we’ve been spitting out which is to blame for the past century’s warming – no doubt about it.

    Just change the code (right there). No-one will ever know. I won’t tell anyone, will you?

  31. jaye
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    Sorry couldn’t resist…a lurker contribution.

    The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
    A gigantic nuclear furnace
    Where hydrogen is built into helium
    At a temperature of millions of degrees

    Yo ho, it’s hot, the sun is not
    A place where we could live
    But here on Earth there’d be no life
    Without the light it gives

    We need its light
    We need its heat
    We need its energy
    Without the sun, without a doubt
    There’d be no you and me

    The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
    A gigantic nuclear furnace
    Where hydrogen is built into helium
    At a temperature of millions of degrees

    The sun is hot

    It is so hot that everything on it is a gas: iron, copper, aluminum, and many others.

    The sun is large

    If the sun were hollow, a million Earths could fit inside. And yet, the sun is only a middle-sized star

    The sun is far away

    About 93 million miles away, and that’s why it looks so small.

    And even when it’s out of sight
    The sun shines night and day

    The sun gives heat
    The sun gives light
    The sunlight that we see
    The sunlight comes from our own sun’s
    Atomic energy

    Scientists have found that the sun is a huge atom-smashing machine. The heat and light of the sun come from the nuclear reactions of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and helium.*

    The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
    A gigantic nuclear furnace
    Where hydrogen is built into helium
    At a temperature of millions of degrees

  32. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:36 AM | Permalink

    #30 — It’s wrong to think that North is insincere or just interested in grant money. That’s the sort of argument regularly deployed by the environmental extremists who have malignantly politicized the global warming debate. I think North and the other AGWarmer scientists really believe in GCMs and also firmly believe in some form of temperature HS trend even if Mann’s methodology is somehow flawed. Look at North’s expressed thoughts; they’re mutually contradictory. ‘We don’t know the errors, but the HS is true. We know the forcings and the physics (even though the cloud forcings are ~40 W/m^2 off, ocean heat content can’t be predicted, the parameters are often best guesses, the sun’s influence isn’t properly modelled, and initial condition uncertainties produce widely varying GCM outputs).

    Steve has forbidden a certain R-word, but when belief is held despite strongly confounding evidence, what sort of mind-set does it reflect? That mind-set comes decorated with true sincerity.

  33. bender
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 9:13 AM | Permalink

    I wasn’t sure how to put it, so thanks, Pat Frank. I think you are right.

    Just change the code (right there). No-one will ever know. I won’t tell anyone, will you?

    If this was intended as humor, a modeler would not find it very funny. It is almost certainly not how the GCMs are parameterized. Yes the code is tweaked to produce a fit. Yes, the fit is an overfit. But I am relatively confident no one is hiding any secrets as to the fitting process. Occam’s razor suggests ignorance about the problem of overfitting is the most likely culprit, and not intention to deceive.

    On two other occasions/instances I have explained why there is no conspiracy behind the AGW bias. The bias is a result of (a) ignorance and (b) lack of concern about uncertainty, which is shared among a large number of individuals acting largely independently of one another.

  34. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 9:10 PM | Permalink

    “Question from Dick Schneider, Wake Forest University:
    “I am not a scientist. I teach law. I’m wondering whether the technical objections to the hockey stick really affect the ultimate conclusions with respect to U.S. policy. That is, are the objections substantial enough to give comfort to those who either deny or minimize the likelihood of anthropogenically-driven climate change?

    Gerald North:
    “The minor technical objections serve as a weapon for those special interests who want to delay any action on GW.”

    This Q&A was probably the most revealing one to me in a session that I thought gave a rather clearer picture of where Dr. North was coming going into his role as chairman of the panel. Actually North could have been more evasive in his answers, but to his credit did not and the results were most informative to this reader.

    The NAS report certainly appears to be targeted to show that “the minor technical objections should not serve as a weapon for those special interests who want to delay any action on GW” and Dr. North’s product certainly accomplished that. To attribute Dr. North’s motives to something beyond his rather clear advocacy of a cause and to do good science would be to lower one to the status of someone seeing “special interests” motivating other’s positions on this matter.

  35. Mark T.
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 6:09 PM | Permalink

    The bias is a result of (a) ignorance and (b) lack of concern about uncertainty,

    I think there is also a measure of arrogance. This arrogance is tied to their ignorance, of course, (“we can’t be wrong, there’s so much evidence supporting our opinion”). Unfortunately, arrogance coupled with sugh ignorance leads to an inability to admit they might be wrong, and almost an inability to understand why.

    Mark

  36. BradH
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 10:04 PM | Permalink

    Re: #32, 33

    Pat & bender,

    Well, perhaps I’m being a little harsh (with a big lick of sarcasm) in my assessments.

    It just seems to me that they spend inordinate amounts of time and CPU cycles attempting to model forcings, feedbacks and so on for variables which might add or subtract 0.05o here or there, but fail to acknowledge (publicly, at least) that there is one, single influence on temparature which trumps all others – solar activity.

    To me, it’s a classic “King has no clothes” scenario and a CO2 obsessed climate community completely ignores the possibility that it’s all in the Sun. In fact, you would think that the starting hypothesis should be, “That variations in solar activity are responsible for variations in Earth’s temperature”.

    Now, maybe that’s just human nature – if it’s the Sun which is responsible for warming, there’s nothing we can do about it. If you sincerely hold to the view that a couple of extra degrees of temparature can melt ice caps and cause global devastation, you want to think that there’s something that can be done about it, so it creates a psychological bias towards believing it’s all human-induced.

    However, if it’s all in the Sun, then literally billions of dollars in annual grant money will dry up.

  37. JMS
    Posted Sep 9, 2006 at 11:10 PM | Permalink

    BradH, it is hardly as if the sun has been ignored

  38. BradH
    Posted Sep 10, 2006 at 12:09 AM | Permalink

    JMS,

    My position is that they ignore the possibility that it’s all in the Sun. Not that they ignore the Sun.

    The study in your link takes the position that 25-35% of warming from 1980-2005 could have been caused by solar output. IOW, the Sun is a minor contributor to warming. That’s what I find so hard to stomach.

    [I would note, without the slightest surprise, that the Real Climate post on this study dismisses even a 25-35% contribution by the Sun to recent warming.]

  39. JMS
    Posted Sep 10, 2006 at 1:25 AM | Permalink

    You should also note the serious flaws in that study. In addition, there are also several other studies critiqued on that same page, perhaps you should take a look at them, also. Check here here (see especially the concluding paragraph) and here.

    The conclusion I draw from these articles is that we don’t really have enough data to make firm conclusions about the contribution of solar activity and that many papers which seem to show a firm link have rather severe flaws in both methodology and argumentation. As an aside I did a quick search at Google scholar and found 78 articles on ties between solar activity and climate (title only) published in the last 10 years, very few of them have been cited more than 1/2 dozen times. This does seem to bear out the critique of the work which has been done in this area found at Real Climate.

  40. BradH
    Posted Sep 10, 2006 at 2:59 AM | Permalink

    JMS,

    I did a quick search at Google scholar and found 78 articles on ties between solar activity and climate (title only) published in the last 10 years, very few of them have been cited more than 1/2 dozen times.

    This is precisely my point. The Sun creates virtually all of the warmth received at Earth’s surface. The logic of the argument that variations in solar output create variations in warmth on Earth is perhaps the most obvious hypothesis to follow through on. Certainly, one should rule it out without question, before pursuing more unconventional arguments, such as CO2 changes in the realm of parts per million are the primary cause. Instead, it’s virtually ignored. Where is the logic?

    This does seem to bear out the critique of the work which has been done in this area found at Real Climate.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see how this is the case. Virtually ignoring a hypothesis, for whatever reason, cannot either prove or disprove it.

    Nobody – not even those committed to the CO2 hypothesis – suggest that greenhouse gases generate warmth, in and of themselves. Of course, the Sun generates the warmth, the effects of which are enhanced by forcings and feedbacks. However, we do know that solar output fluctuates. I am not convinced that sufficient work has been done to rule out what should, logically, be the first working hypothesis for why Earth’s temperature might fluctuate over time.

  41. chrisl
    Posted Sep 10, 2006 at 5:08 AM | Permalink

    Logic would suggest that the fluctuation of the sun would have more effect on climate than 3 parts per million CO2(last year)
    But if that were the case there would be…
    Nothing to see here.
    Everybody go home.

  42. chrisl
    Posted Sep 10, 2006 at 5:20 AM | Permalink

    Or to put it another way,which would you study if you wanted to investigate climate
    A/ The sun
    B/ Bristlecones

    People who study the sun and predict climate are often seen as nutters but people who study bristlecones and predict climate are not.

  43. JMS
    Posted Sep 10, 2006 at 10:30 PM | Permalink

    A couple of comments here.

    #40: I believe that the recorded fluctuation in TSI is on the order of 1% (someone correct me if I am wrong) which is about 1.6 W/m2 (on average ~350 W/m2 in daylight, 0 W/m2 at night) TSI at the TOA is about 1350 W/m2, but much of this does not reach the surface to participate in the greenhouse effect (you do understand this, don’t you?) However, there is no evidence that TSI has changed much in the last 50 years. So, although TSI has an effect, it can be ruled out for this reason and for the fact that the fingerprint analysis does not fit what is expected to happen if an increase in TSI were the cause of the warming.

    #41 & #42: chrisl, you obviously do not understand anything about climate science and the large amount of research which has been done on it in the last 50 years. Although the forcing from CO2 is relatively small, but the feedback effects (H2O vapor, CH4, albedo, etc) are much greater. Browse around this site for a more complete picture of how the climate works.

    In short, there is evidence that TSI does have an effect on climate and the “solar constant” is indeed accounted for. However, the evidence for sunspot cycles (or GCR, cosmic ray flux or whatever you want to call it) and it’s effect on cloud formation is, shall we say, iffy at best.

  44. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 12:48 AM | Permalink

    Re 43, Please, JMS, recommending that someone browse RealClimate for an understanding of how the climate works ignores the fact that RealClimate censors opposing views. Your recommendation of the site costs your credibility immensely, as science depends on the free exchange of ideas, and RealClimate depends on censorship. You do realize that you are supporting censorship when you support RealClimate?

    Also, the “feedback effects” you refer to have never been demonstrated in nature, and are highly unlikely given the general stability of the climate for more than a billion years.

    w.

  45. BradH
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 5:19 AM | Permalink

    Re:#40

    JMS, I fear that we are at risk of hijacking Pat’s thread with our discussion, so I’ll just make this point, in conclusion. I don’t believe that I have the answers (I wouldn’t deign to suggest as much). However, my point goes to logic and plausibility.

    Yes, the fluctuations in TSI are very small in percentage terms. However, bear in mind that the suggested “average” increase in temperatures since the end of the Little Ice Age are also very small (around 0.6oc, I think?).

    So, what do we have? A small percentage change in an enormously important variable – solar intensity vs. a large change in a miniscule bit-player (measured in ppm) – CO2.

    There’s a boxing analogy which springs to mind here: “A good big man will always beat a good small man.”

  46. charles
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 7:19 AM | Permalink

    What ever co2’s contribution to the 0.6 dc we have seen this last century it will go down in the next century due to the relationship co2 warming ~ log co2 since co2 is increasing linearly.

    forcasts for co2 induced warming greater than 0.6dc for the next 100yrs don’t pass the spell test.

  47. charles
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 7:20 AM | Permalink

    rather smell test

  48. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 8:03 AM | Permalink

    re: #43

    Although the forcing from CO2 is relatively small, but the feedback effects (H2O vapor, CH4, albedo, etc) are much greater.

    You’re conflating several things here. Only the H2O feedback has anthing to do with CO2. CH4 and albedo can both affect temperature, and both can be anthropic in origen, but they’re separate from the CO2 situation. For instance, we could suddenly switch to all solar power generation and still have just as much or more CH4 release from feeding more cattle or switching to methane using cars.

    And as to H2O I’d still like to see a response to Willis’

    Also, the “feedback effects” you refer to have never been demonstrated in nature, and are highly unlikely given the general stability of the climate for more than a billion years.

    That has been presented here several times and I don’t recall any attempt to answer it seriously.

  49. Mark T.
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 9:12 AM | Permalink

    rather smell test

    The original, spell test, was relevant if you were replying to Lee. ;) :pokey icon:

    Mark

  50. beng
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    RE 40: BradH writes:

    Certainly, one should rule it out without question, before pursuing more unconventional arguments, such as CO2 changes in the realm of parts per million are the primary cause. Instead, it’s virtually ignored. Where is the logic?

    Indeed, it seems logical that the sun as the major climate-driver should be the proper overall null-hypothesis. We should work from the angle of trying to disprove that this is the case. IOW, that the sun is the primary driver of the most prominent historical and even current climatic changes until demonstrated otherwise.

    But CO2 is almost tailor-made for the climate-change “culprit”, if you believe in the cause. I’d bet an argument for surface ozone (or methane, but that’s stabilized currently, so not a good “choice”) could also be cooked up if necessary. When temps cool, human-generated sulfate aerosols are the “cause”. Any/all of which can be regulated. Seems like a rather peculiar coincidence.

  51. JMS
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 11:34 AM | Permalink

    50: I think that this is the working hypothesis — that historical variations in the holocene are accounted for by the natural forcings (orbital, solar, volcanic). It is only the recent trend which cannot be accounted for with these forcings alone.

  52. bender
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

    Re #51

    It is only the recent trend which cannot be accounted for with these forcings alone.

    Sort of like how “trends” in the distant past could not be accounted for at the time, but are now completely accountable in terms of natural factors that were not imaginable back then?

    I won’t complain too loudly about your use of the loaded term “trend”, because at least you didn’t say it was “unprecedented” – and I thank you for that.

  53. beng
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

    RE 51:

    I think that this is the working hypothesis “¢’‚¬? that historical variations in the holocene are accounted for by the natural forcings (orbital, solar, volcanic).

    You sure? Do the models, say, simulate Polar ice-core records of a rapid temp rise at the beginning of an interglacial period, followed by a CO2 rise several thousand years later, during which the temps are leveling off & even starting a slight decline? Then the relatively steep decline in temps at the start of glacial periods, followed, again, thousands of yrs later by falling CO2 levels? I’m talking about empirical evidence.

    Because if they don’t, something’s missing. Assuming for the moment they don’t, & from my previous post, I’d assume there’s something askew in the solar sensitivities in the models. And/or a more basic lack of accounting of even other first-order unknown forcing(s) — that’s R Pielke Sr’s position. Many here have demonstrated that you can cherry-pick your GCM forcing sensitivities to reproduce the last ~400 yrs — increasing solar vs GHG/aerosols does it. That’s pattern-matching, not defensible theory supported by empirical evidence.

    I don’t see at all where there’s reasonable accounting of these forcings in the GCMs given these points.

  54. JMS
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    #53: Quite frankly, I don’t know. However I think I am going to download this and play with some of the canned simulations and see what happens…

    Nothing like finding out for yourself.

  55. bender
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

    Neat idea. Thanks for sharing the link, JMS.

  56. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 11:23 PM | Permalink

    I tried to download the mini GCM, but it didn’t work (Macintosh) … anyone able to get it to work on a mac?

    w.

  57. beng
    Posted Sep 12, 2006 at 7:43 AM | Permalink

    RE 51:

    Sorry, my hip-guess was wrong — CO2 in the ice-cores lags temps by about roughly ~800 yrs. My points don’t change. Remember, the direct (w/o feedbacks) radiational CO2 effects, like solar, are instantaneous.

  58. Posted Sep 12, 2006 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    Willis: I’m the developer and Mac is our primary development platform. I’m not sure what is wrong but please contact us through our forums if you would like to get it working.

    Also, it isn’t mini.

    -k.

  59. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Sep 12, 2006 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

    Re 59, thanks, mankoff, I’ll be in touch.

  60. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 12, 2006 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

    #58 — Mankoff, what are the confidence limits, in W/m^2, for a 100 year projection when the parameter uncertainties are propagated through your GCM calculation?

    Thanks.

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