Realclimate reaches 1 million hits

A few days ago, realclimate announced that they had reached 1 million hits. Congratulations to them.

They’ve been in operation for 10 months – my guess is that they got off to a very fast start, which would mean that an upper estimate of their current hit rate would be 100,000 hits/month. We’re pretty close to that mark since starting in mid-February and have been running well above 100,000 hits/month for the last 4 months (150,000 hits in July and 130,000 hits in August). There are robot hits in there, but they’ve probably got robot hits as well. (Our hit counter is down right now as we’ve jammed our space and I need to upgrade so we’ll end up with estimates in our running hit count at some point.)

If you’d ask me to guess, I’d have thought that their traffic would be almost an order of magnitude greater than ours, so I’m pretty amazed that the current hit rates are comparable, with a possible edge to us. (We didn’t get praised by Scientific American however.) Remember when they snickered at the prospect of an individual trying to cope with the entire Hockey Team. Fortunately they don’t skate very well, so there’s a Canadian edge here. They don’t like body-checking either. I think that they got mixed up between figure skating and hockey – I’ve compared peer review in climate science to being a judge at figure skating competition: no one checks anything, style points are awarded and the judges agree on the winner before the competition starts. Can I say that you can’t play hockey in sequined outfits without being sarcastic?

People read the blog partly for my take on things, but the return hits are mostly for the posts by others. I appreciate the readers, but especially the regular posters, who make this little corner of the cyberworld come alive.


  1. John A
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 7:15 AM | Permalink

    In other news: David Appell shuts down Quark Soup and deletes tbe evidence, which is a shame.

    I’m sure that David will pop-up in the not-too-distant future to lecture us once more on ethics in climate science and grilling climate scientists on their work with frightening ferocity, the way he did with Michael Mann

    I do hope that RealClimate doesn’t go the same way, as I think it’s vital that such accumulated wisdom be retained for future generations.

  2. Geoff
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 7:19 AM | Permalink


    Congratulations on the milestone. Besides your style, which makes the reading more interesting, you are helping to bring clearer science and sense to the tumultuous world of climate science. Keep up the good work.


  3. TCO
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

    You’ve got a lot of hard (sometimes hard to read…haha) science in there too…

  4. TCO
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 7:32 AM | Permalink

    The reasons for the hit disparity (not nesc in prioity order):

    -way more content (posts, essays, hard science) here
    -free-er commentary.
    -the alpha tree himself, TCO, distorting the analysis

  5. George T
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 7:38 AM | Permalink

    I write a column for our local paper on weather. Last week I wrote about blogs and podcasts, and how they’re catching on everywhere, including in the weather and climate disciplines. I mentioned several sites that were very active and helpful during the recent severe hurricanes, but I especially recommended climateaudit and realclimate as examples of sites where one can see two sides of the same issue. At the very least, readers will be entertained, but I think this is a great way for outsiders, even non-technical ones, to learn about issues and controversies in climate science.

    Steve, you are a man of integrity and it is abundantly clear from your submissions here. Thank you for your commitment to seeking scientific truth. John, you do a fine job of keeping things running, and I enjoy your pithy and often very funny comments (though some of these seem to go right over the heads of those you address).

    I only wonder if those who read my column will become as addicted to your site as I have…

  6. John A
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 7:42 AM | Permalink

    Thank you George. I try hard to maintain the scientific content of the blog, while Steve goes for the laughs.

  7. John Hekman
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

    The Wall Street Journal’s has an editorial today titled “A Preposterous Nobel”, regarding Barry Marshall’s discovery that ulcers are caused by a bacterium and the rejection he got from the scientific “community.”
    The editorial ends with the statement “…just because there’s a scientific ‘consensus,’ that doesn’t mean it’s true.” To my mind the journal had climate science in mind with this statement. Too bad they didn’t mention climateaudit.

  8. John A
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    Re: #7

    Maybe Marshall was secretly being funded by Big Pharma to defeat the consensus of Stress Counsellors…

  9. Max
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 11:00 AM | Permalink

    Didn’t Einstein also have to fight for his ideas in relativistic mechanics? Well?

    I think a consensus is a good idea for public school science, but neither for proper science nor policy… A work of science has to stand up for itself and not by some consensus of scientific institutions.

  10. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    I’d like to add that I even like the negative regular posters as they’re still a cut above the usual antis you see posting on a site. I just wish they’d post more often on content instead of personalities and sponsors. Speaking of which, with that many hits per month, maybe you should talk to some of your close friends in Big Energy about buying ads on the site. [Just kidding… I think.]

  11. John A
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    Unfortunately, we don’t get to select the quality of our opponents.

    As for our friends in “Big Energy” they appear to be spending all of their time promoting CO2 sequestration into those nice empty oil fields, so as to maximize their profits. It won’t alter the climate any, but it does buy them lots of friends for almost nothing down.

    I can certify that my total earnings from this enterprise have been precisely zip. Steve McIntyre does owe me a beer though.

  12. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    Re #7. It’s damn good science. They found out that what was thought to cause ulcers, in nearly all cases, doesn’t. They found a bacteria, they showed it causes ulcers. Great, good for them!

    Something similar happened with climate science. The idea of anthropogenic climate change being of significant magnitude used to find little acceptance, now it’s widely accepted – good evidence changes most minds.

    Things might change again. If they do you wont find me denying it – no sign, bar a few hecklers, of that change atm though.

  13. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

    Re: # 12 & my #10

    … with a few exceptions, of course.

  14. Ray Soper
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 2:01 PM | Permalink

    Re #12. Peter, perhaps you can help me. Maybe I am a bit thick, but I don’t think that I have seen convincing evidence that “anthropogenic climate change being of significant magnitude”. That would require demonstrating that a) anthropogenic CO2 emissions are a significant percentage of CO2 emissions from all causes, that b) that the anthropogenic CO2 emissions are the cause of rising CO2 levels c) that rising CO2 levels are the cause of temperature levels that “may” be rising, that d) fluctuations in solar activity have nothing to do with it. It would also require convincing evidence that it is CO2 that is the “bad actor”, not the other much more numerous greenhouse gases. It would also require convincing evidence that the detailed temperature records are a) soundly collected and robust, b) not affected by urban heat island effects anywhere, and c) make sense of wildly fluctuating data. The long term rural records that I have seen don’t seem to be giving that message. I am baffled. Maybe you can point me to some convincing evidence that I have missed.

  15. ET Sid Viscous
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 2:22 PM | Permalink


    You forgot E.) showing that 0.6C or 1F is of a “significant magnitude” (and in fact anthropegenic effect would only be a fraction of that)

    In point B under Evidence (Urban Heat Island) you alluded to but I think it is significant to point out that surface temperatures increase has exceeded Atmospheric increase, while greenhouse warming would show the opposite relationship.

  16. Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

    re #1

    Searched for

    Search Results for Jan 01, 1996 – Oct 04, 2005

    Mar 21, 2003 *
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    try also goofgle cach while it lasts

  17. Ross McKitrick
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 8:35 PM | Permalink

    Re #12, 14: Not long ago I read somewhere (maybe here) a suggestion about responding to the argument from consensus, especially regarding global warming. The suggestion was simply to ask the person making the argument, but what do you personally find convincing about the consensus? In like manner I have spelled out in various places (e.g. and what I personally find persuasive about the arguments against the AGW position. But also, I find the arguments offered in favour of AGW unpersuasive. This site sets out some of them as they pertain to the paleoclimate argument so heavily exploited by the IPCC in the TAR.

    There’s another line of argumentation heavily exploited by the IPCC called “signal detection,” which merits as much auditing as paleoclimate, but it hasn’t found its Steve McIntyre yet (alas). Signal detection is an argument from variance estimates, but arises in papers where there is little or no recognition of the relative difficulty of accurately estimating variances compared to means. (Some of the problems are discussed in the stats-intensive posts herein, dealing with autocorrelation and spurious regression.) Signal detection papers also embed the assumption that the GCMs generating the control-run data are accurate representations of the climate system supposedly being tested, and that there are no missing explanatory factors in the “signal regression”. Since these are untestable assumptions the conclusions can never be more than tautologies.

    You can get a sense of the genre in a new GRL paper posted at It’s a paper that “detects” the anthropogenic warming signal in BC forest fire data. It’s worth looking at as an illustration of the method. The paper was sent to me by a forest scientist who has spent his career studying the botany and ecology of BC forests. He is speechless that a paper can supposedly explain trends in the formation and intensity of forest fires with no consideration of the way that BC forest management practices in the past 50 years have increased the volume of fuel available to fires and the increased propensity for fires to spread. It’s this kind of study on which the AGW “consensus” is built, but sorry it just isn’t very good evidence.

  18. TCO
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 8:59 PM | Permalink

    I find convincing:

    -intuitive idea of CO2 being GHG.
    -Bayesian bets made on GHG

  19. David Stockwell
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 11:27 PM | Permalink

    Re: #17 Ross, I got the impression that ‘fingerprints of AGW’ have come into vogue as gross warming has failed to eventuate – e.g. Santer and troposphere height, and ocean warming but like everything would take a lot of wading through. I have been wanting to ask you though about a figure on realclimate, where temps are compared to climate projections by Hansen in 1988., second updated figure. What technique would you use to determine which of the three scenarios, high CO2, business as usual and CO2 stable at 2000, trajectory is closest to the instrument record? You can probably guess where I am going. The high and business as usual scenarios march ever higher from the high of 1998, while real temperatues and stable CO2 stay stubbornly below the high. I know its little data, but how and at what point could one be confident the increasing CO2 scenarios were falsified?

  20. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 11:43 PM | Permalink

    I posted something oin Hegerl et al 2003, a detection-attribution study here

    One aspect of tropopause height that has intrigued me in this argument. The intial impact of additional CO2 comes through additional absorption in weak lines, isotopic and hot bands. So its proximate impact is by increasing the altitude of re-emission to space to an incrementally higher altitude, which is colder. (All IPCC reports are strangely silent on the actual mechanism by which this happens, but IPCC 2AR responded to some comments by skeptic Jack Barrett and provided a short commentary.)

    If through increased convection (say), the height of the tropopause were actually raised, then, arguably, it might be raised enough so that the temperature of the re-emission to space in the weak lines was the same or similar to the temperature under the old conditions.

    Any accommodation of increased CO2 at the tropopause level would directly reduce the surface temperature increase calculated in radiative-convective models.

    I can sort of see how to model this through a type of calculus of variations, but don’t know to do it mechanically. It seems pretty obvious to me and an interesting calculation, but I’ve never seen it done.

  21. Paul Gosling
    Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 2:14 AM | Permalink

    Re #14

    Try a little bit of research, it won’t take you long to answer your questions, maybe you can even have a look at realclimate! Its not as much fun as climateaudit, but quite a useful source of information.

  22. John Davis
    Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 3:11 AM | Permalink

    Re #19
    I asked this question on RealClimate, and Gavin said that the middle scenario was closest to the actual CO2 emissions, and indicated that this was what Hansen had expected. But if you read the abstract from the original paper it says:
    “Scenario A assumes continued exponential trace gas growth, scenario B assumes a reduced linear growth of trace gases, and scenario C assumes a rapid curtailment of trace gas emissions such that the net climate forcing ceases to increase after the year 2000.”
    So it seems clear that at the time, Hansen expected scenario A to be the “business as usual” case. This just points up the problems with trying to get even the inputs to a model right (let alone the model itself) just 10 or 15 years into the future.

  23. Ian Castles
    Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 5:35 AM | Permalink

    Re #19 and #22. The following comment, which I made to the Australian Academy of Science online conference “Population and Environment in Australia” in late-2003, may be relevant to the point at issue:

    “On the basis of several sets of ‘predictions’ of the increase in average temperatures in the succeeding decades which were presented at [the conference] “Greenhouse 1988”, Professor Ian Lowe [now President of the Australian Conservation Foundation] concluded: ‘My younger son is 35 years younger than I am; by the time he is my age, it is likely that the temperature will have increased by about three degrees’ (“Living in the Greenhouse”, p. 40). In the most recent IPCC assessment, none of the six projections of the increase in temperature under difference scenarios yields an increase in average temperature of as much as 1 degree C between 1990 and 2025 (“The Scientific Basis”, Appendix II, Table II.4), notwithstanding that most of the IPCC’s projections are based on much more rapid increases in output in developing countries than is expected by professional opinion in other contexts – e.g., in monitoring progress towards the Millennium Development Goals for reductions in poverty.

  24. Ross McKitrick
    Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    Re #19, there are 11 data points to fit (1988-1998), and a zillion free parameters, so I wouldn’t count that figure as evidence for or against anyone’s position. A terrible fit between the red line and all the CO2 scenarios wouldn’t invalidate AGW theory, and a perfect fit wouldn’t validate it.

    Visual comparison of trends is a weak test of a theory, at least in economics. Karner’s study ( comes closer to framing a testable, discriminating hypothesis. If CO2 is the dominant “forcing” the temperature series should inherit its time series property of persistency (cumulative positive feedback). Since the total solar irradiance is antipersistent, if it is the dominant forcing, temperature should exhibit antipersistency (cumulative negative feedback). The test is reducible to a single parameter, the Hurst exponent (H), and there is lots of data to support estimation. The global temperature averages are clearly antipersistent; more recently Karner has shown ( the same is true of hemispheric averages and many local records, including the Central England Temperature series. There’s no sign of persistency emerging in the temperature data, in either local records or large-scale averages. This is inconsistent with CO2 being the dominant forcing on the climate system. Or, if it is somehow consistent, I’d like to see the explanation.

  25. Ross McKitrick
    Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 9:34 AM | Permalink

    Re #18: Intuition and Bayesian wagers can be “suggestive”, but “convincing”? Only if you’ve got your finger on the scale.

  26. Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    Re: #24 Thanks Ross, I will have to read these – a kind of ‘deep’ modeling. Although, for all its caveats, direct evidence such as temperatures not increasing is still compelling, at least to me. I don’t see why there are so many parameters, we are disregarding all the drivers and just comparing trajectories. I think there are 17 data points, including 2004. There are means of differences for A,B, and C, and variances. The variances in the simulations are less than the instrument record and need to be accounted for. Also, there is a break at 2000, where scenario C stops increasing CO2. Can you just test means of diferences, or is there a stronger test?

    Re: #22. Yes I saw your post. Interesting the question was about agreement of temperatures, and Gavin answered about agreement of CO2 scenarios, avoiding the issue of temperatures. I know this is not rebuttal of AGW, but surely if global temperature forecasts and the instrument record have been used in defence of AGW, the can also be used in its prosecution.

  27. TCO
    Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 1:29 PM | Permalink

    I find them suggestive.

    Would also add: temps going up over last century and at same time CO2 going up.

  28. Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 1:36 PM | Permalink

    Temperature is different as global warming is defined as increasing average global temperatures. If temperatures go down or stay the same this is a direct contradiction to AGW, isn’t it? The position can only be salvaged by more complex arguments that put the heat somewhere else.

  29. John A
    Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 1:37 PM | Permalink

    Re #27

    So does correlation mean causation? In the high resolution ice core records, the CO2 rises happened consistently 800-1000 years AFTER the temperature rises had begun, and continued after the temperatures had stopped rising and begun to fall.

    Let’s see: 800-1000 years ago we had the Medieval Warm Period. We now have had rising carbon dioxide from about the middle of the 19th Century.

    Or alternatively, the bottom of the Little Ice Age was in the 17th Century and then temperatures rose 3 degrees in a couple of decades. But carbon dioxide didn’t start to rise until the mid 19th Century.

    So how did carbon dioxide cause temperature rise which preceded it by at least 150 years but more likely 800-1000 years? Time traveL?

  30. TCO
    Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 8:46 PM | Permalink

    No, John. It is suggestive though.

  31. TCO
    Posted Oct 5, 2005 at 8:57 PM | Permalink

    Looks like I’m banned from RealClimate. JerryB got his wish. They restricted me.

  32. JerryB
    Posted Oct 7, 2005 at 3:41 PM | Permalink


    I just noticed comment 31. Your suggestion by juxtaposition is false.

  33. Posted Oct 7, 2005 at 4:00 PM | Permalink

    try shadowposting at ukweatherworld, works for me.

  34. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Oct 13, 2005 at 6:38 PM | Permalink

    You know, I think either Steve is hitting his stride in producing provocative posts or there is just a lot more interest here. Practically every post in October, and there’s been quite a number of them already, has large numbers of comments, and not just ones from TCO either. And a lot of the discussions are productive ones rather than people arguing with no progress made.

  35. Ian Castles
    Posted Oct 13, 2005 at 9:15 PM | Permalink

    Re #34, I agree that there have recently been several productive debates on this site. But to inject a note of realism, here are quotes from speeches by two British Ministers at a meeting with business leaders on 5 October. The first is from the Secretary of State for the Environment:

    “First … the debate about the science is over. For an ever-reducing minority, there is an ever-shrinking area of doubt in which to seek refuge. The scientific conference which we held in Exeter, where the scientific community with representatives from across the world, met in February this year concluded that there was “greater clarity and less uncertainty about the impacts of climate change across a wide range of systems, sectors and societies”.

    And the second comes from the speech by the Secretary for Trade and Industry at the same meeting:

    “Twenty years ago, those people who warned against global warming were considered to be eccentric — the sort of people who ate lentils and listened to the Incredible String Band. For every person who said climate change was a threat, there were a thousand who said it was scaremongering. For every company “going green”, a hundred whose mantra was “business as usual”. When Margaret Thatcher’s Chief Scientific Adviser warned her of the threat from global warming, she is alleged to have said, “Are you seriously telling me I should worry about the weather?” The Rubiks Cube of national opinion has been turned over several times since then. And all of the squares are now falling into place. As we can see today, there is a growing consensus. Between the environmental lobby, public opinion and the scientific community – and now, after Gleneagles – the world community.”

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