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Climatology's nutcracker

I hadn't seen this video before, but I'm surprised I missed it - it's great fun - a completely absurd ballet featuring Roy Spencer and Gavin Schmidt.

The overture to the John Stossel show features a short interview with Spencer. Next up is Gavin Schmidt, but unfortunately Gavin is refusing to appear alongside Roy. Roy is therefore forced to pirouette off, stage left. Gavin enters and performs his pas de deux with Stossel, with much rolling of the eyes and bras croisé. After Gavin has pliéd and demi detournéd a little, Roy is invited to respond, but Gavin is still playing hard to get: he in turn makes a grand battement and flounces off into the wings, to be replaced by a slightly bemused looking Roy.

Don't miss it.

Oh yes, and the show closes with an interview with Matt Ridley, which is also well worth a look.

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Reader Comments (80)

I don't feel the need to view it, that description was so good.

May 14, 2013 at 4:48 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Re Hurricanes increasing in number Gavin says in response to the the graph says "I didn't say they were" so there you have Gavin Schmidt says hurricane frequency is NOT increasing.

May 14, 2013 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I very much enjoyed this absurdist exercise.

May 14, 2013 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJunkPsychology


"I didn't say that hurricanes are increasing" does not entail "I said that hurricanes are NOT increasing".

I thought Schmidt made himself look idiotic by refusing to engage in debate, and he looked quite lightweight compared with Matt Ridley and his brilliantly argued contrarian ideas, though Matt describes himself modestly as a science "journalist".

May 14, 2013 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

"You either have cheap energy or cheap labour and cheap energy is so much better for people." Nicely put last comment from Matt.

Ivor Ward

May 14, 2013 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDisko Troop

[No religion please]

May 14, 2013 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered Commentermojo

A strange mix. Gavin as the Sugar Plum Fairy got a rotten script - all the best lines having been given to others. The cutting-back of the dancing, and the addition of lyrics was, I suppose, an attempt to be a bridge from ballet to opera, but the decision to have no music was a mistake and reduced the whole thing to a kind of street theatre in armchairs. To make it worse, three serious-minded adults with lively and interesting views and good conversational skills were allowed to dominate. Call this entertainment? I think Gavin, NASA has Talent hopeful that he is, was not given much of a chance to shine, and was last seen slinking off into the shadows while the other three stole the show. No wonder he came across as evasive, smug, petulant and superficial. Who wouldn't in such circumstances?

May 14, 2013 at 5:45 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

WOW I was surprised how much Gavin Schmidt floundered. No wonder they do not like debating if he is one of their best debators!

May 14, 2013 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

@Nicholas Hallam
It wasn't me gov, bigger boys said it and ran away.

Tacitly agreeing that there is no increase.

May 14, 2013 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Great video, thank you! Gavin came across as a jerk, but perhaps I'm just biased. Watching him all but admit that hurricanes have not increased was a treat.

May 14, 2013 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnnabelle

Pure scientific cowardice. If they can't debate the science like adults then they should forfeit their funding. Quite bizarre and absolutely disgusting.

May 14, 2013 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick Milner

Complete Stossel episodes are here:
However, they don't start for me in Canada, and cannot download with firefox extensions?

May 14, 2013 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEric Gisin

[Snip -raise the tone please]

He still hasn't worked out that lecturing people from the great heights of his arrogance is not good PR.

May 14, 2013 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

"I will come here and I will TELL you about the science"

"I don't need to be arguing with people just to make good TV" [widens eyes and nods head to indicate "So there!"]

[Anchor: Here's Dr Spencer to reply to what you said - stay if you like]

"I'm not interested"

Look how mighty are the 97%. The full weight of the world's leading scientific bodies behind them and not one dares to sit next to a fellow scientist with slightly different views. How gossamer thin, how fragile must be their alarmist case that none of their countless number will debate one of their own. Like a soap bubble floating through the sky, the merest touch of a solid object and "POP!" it's gone; like it never existed.

Weak, cowardly, pathetic. And yet, paradoxically and at the same time, obstinate, authoritarian, dictatorial.

It's way past time for some brave soul to step forward to make the Great Global Warming Swindle II. Ask these people the hard questions. No more soft soap and setting up open goals for them to shoot into. Put them against Nigel Lawson, Matt Ridley, Roy Spencer etc etc etc. And if the Climatologers refuse to come down from their ivory tower to play, empty chair them; show them up for what they are.

May 14, 2013 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

In spite of Gavin Schmidt's wishes it did make great tv.

May 14, 2013 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterTimbo

Gavin is English?

Please God, no. Don`t we English suffer enough with the likes of UEA, Prince Charles, Viner, Houghton etc without having to add this bloke to our portfolio of shame?

May 14, 2013 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterGalvanize

How revealing. What does it say about a cry baby who refuses to debate an opponent, especialy one where the science is 'settled'?

The line of not considering Spencers views as being worthy enough of debate defies all credibility. Their feebleness only belies the weakness of their CO2 is cooking Mother Earth position.

Gavin - and the entire climate science crew who also refuse to discuss, are simply pathetic.

May 14, 2013 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Pathetic and embarrassing.
Of course, what does Roy Spencer know. Oh yes, he runs the satellite temperature program(sic) at Univ. Alabama Huntsville (UAH) with John Christie which, with RSS, gives the most reliable estimate of global temps. Clearly Dr Spencer is a know-nothing, not worthy to be debated by one of the exalted team.
I know everyone here is aware of that but who knows the Bishop may have some secret readers e.g. K. Anderson and they should all be ashamed of one of their stars.

May 14, 2013 at 9:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

Very entertaining. The first I've seen gavin (sic) 'in the flesh' and heard him speak. But just like some other leading warmists, while he is advocating we all reduce our footprint, he seems unsuccessful at managing his own, judging by his tubby waisteline. This may seem a cheap jibe, but in fact I mean it seriously. We all know we should control our weight and fitness (most of us are unsuccessful). But when someone is advocating we reduce our carbon emissions by 80% - a massive feat, if they can't do something as relatively trivial as controlling their own food consumption, are they credible?.

May 14, 2013 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

The historical ignorance of the warmists seems to me more and more obviously one of the prime reasons for their preposterousness. 'We have built a society based on the assumption that climate will not change', asserts fatty Schmidt. This is bollocks first, last and everything in between.

Can he produce even the tiniest sliver of evidence for this? Well, obviously not.

What he means of course is that the industrial Western world expanded and thrived because it came up with a series of scientific, philosophical, economic and political solutions that permitted an unprecedented growth in wealth which directly translated into hugely increased standards of living.

No more than the Romans, the Mughals, the Chinese, the Aztecs, the Egyptians, the Selucids, the Ottomans or any other successful human society was this transformation based in any shape or form on an assumption that 'the climate will not change'.

As with all other successful societies, it came about, fitfully, uncertainly, hesitantly, as a response to the permanent challenges of existence. It had precisely f*** all nothing to do with any preconceived notion of a 'climate that will not change'.

0 out of 10 Schmidt.

May 14, 2013 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Interesting that after Dr. Spencer points out that climate has always changed and always will change, Dr. Schmidt says: <I>We have built a society, an agricultural system,, and cities, and everything we do, based on the assumption that basically the climate is not going to change. The fact that we have so much infrastructure right near the shore is because we didn't expect the sea level to rise."</I>

Apparently Dr. Schmidt and his colleagues were not aware that climate changes naturally.

May 14, 2013 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

I could sympathize if Dr. Gavin Schmidt refused to appear along with an oratory powerhouse such as Monckton, but to refuse to appear in the presence of a gracious gentleman such as Dr. Roy shows a severe lack of class. Gavin's behavior was simply boorish.

May 14, 2013 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Austin

I have been reading Dr. Spencer's site. While disagreeing with him regarding the size of the problem, I am impressed with the strength of his response to those denying the basic evidence for global warming. He is a great scientific example to those sceptics who would deny that there is any change and whose idea of scientific debate is to slag off the opposition.

May 14, 2013 at 10:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

We built a civilization over the last 8000 years. For most of that time the climate has been relatively constant.

We built an industrial revolution over 300 years with an almost constant sea level. Where is a large proportion of our industrial infrastructure? On coastal plains and in coastal cities.

Katrina and Sandy demonstrated what a storm surge can do to a city. With sea level rising at 3.2mm/yr since 1990 and at 10mm /year for the last two years ( ) the probability of further surges will increase.

The IPCC figures of 18 to 59 cm were recently confirmed ( ) but the Pliocene sea level rise of 10M relative to the present under 400ppm CO2 implies that sooner or later most of our industrial infrastructure will need to be moved or abandoned.

May 14, 2013 at 10:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

M/ Watkins,

UAH reliable, don't make me laugh. UAH has never managed good agreement with the models and is completely useless for predicting the model results. If the satellite temperatures don't track the models, what is the point of using them for climate science?

May 14, 2013 at 10:56 PM | Unregistered Commentermax (small m)

Doctor of computer games putting on airs. Remember that.

His degree was earned a quarter at a time. The focus of his doctoral dissertation was Ms Pacman.

Of course he's a crook.

May 14, 2013 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterpapertiger

" We built a civilization over the last 8000 years. For most of that
time the climate has been relatively constant."

No it hasn't. 8000 years ago is just after the time England and France were attached by land. Are you really trying to say that sea level change hasn't affected civilization in that time?

May 14, 2013 at 11:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

max -
Thank God, or as Dave Allen might have said "your god", we don't need the American /sarc tag.

Newsnight just finished with the marvellous Roger Harriben. What a mess the CAP is in.

May 14, 2013 at 11:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

Who are you Entropic Man? Be brave and tell us, or are you like gavin with no guts.
I played rugby for many years and it is easy to differentiate between those with and those without.
Ask Tim Flannery about his house on the Hawkesbury,NSW or the dreadful Gore.
You can "google" me Dr Tudno G Watkins, can I find you?
Come on, be a brave girl/boy.

May 15, 2013 at 12:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

Rob Burton

8000 years ago, following a changing sea level was not difficult. A tribe's posessions and dwellings were easily carried or replaced. Moving a nuclear power station such as Hinckley, Dungerness or Sizewell to higher ground is a little harder.

Moving Hull, Shanghai or New York might also be awkward.

May 15, 2013 at 12:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

On behalf of my fellow brits I wish to apologise deeply to Americans for you having to endure such petulance.

We are not by any means all like that.

Dr Schmidt, I have no doubt that you will read in on blogs such as this one and I wish to point out that you came across as rather childish in manner with an unfortunate strain of authoritarianism.

You do see this on re-watching don't you?

You did not show a strength of character by this performance.

I have a sense that you would advocate (benign) dictatorship. I will accept a correction to the contrary.

What is your own carbon footprint?

May 15, 2013 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Nice the way the big man floundered when confronted with hurricane facts. It was pure 'yeah but, no but' from a little Britain script! Lovely obfuscation by Gavin thereafter : "what's going on in the future, that's what we're concerned about". Now wait a miniute there Gav, did you just mix the present tense in there? Which gives a slight suggestion that it IS happening rather than it might?

I too apologise on behalf of the nation that that this chap is a Brit. Didn't he have a beard though or is the other big Mann?

May 15, 2013 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

Schmidt is an intellectual lightweight wrapped in a bubble of absurdity. His and his chums at UnReal Climate are not scientists and thus are unwilling to engage in an exchange of scientific views. Thank goodness the generality of scientists do not possess the lack of intellectual rigour that is so evident in Schmidt and his Pygmy friends.
Our Gavs a lovely boy really it just a shame he didn't become an activist;-)

May 15, 2013 at 12:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Dr. Watkins

I'm a retired science teacher of no public importance, who for family reasons prefers to use a nom-de-plume. I played rugby myself in the 1960s and 70s as a 2nd row or prop forward. Like yourself I remember the men who preferred to remain ten yards behind the ball.

Try an e-mail to Say No To Fearmongers. He put my name on BH once, which struck me as impolite since he also prefers to remain anonymous.

May 15, 2013 at 12:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

Thanks E-M. I'm pleased you played rugby, so no doubt we could have a nice pint together and discuss the French.
Why for family reasons? Wind farms, solar panels?
C,mon tell us. :-)

May 15, 2013 at 1:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

Moving Hull, Shanghai or New York might also be awkward.

A false dilemma, due to the error of the excluded middle.

What you need to show is that we can do anything about it.

If we spend a fortune cutting down our CO2 output, only to see sea level rise anyway, then we have been stiffed twice,

We know sea level is rising. We don't know that CO2 warming causes it.

May 15, 2013 at 3:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

max -
Thank God, or as Dave Allen might have said "your god", we don't need the American /sarc tag.

Newsnight just finished with the marvellous Roger Harriben. What a mess the CAP is in.

May 14, 2013 at 11:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

Bless you for remembering and reminding us of the glorious incredibly humorous Dave Allen! And his little glass of spirits.

Now there is a soul who could've mocked the CAGW movement in his skits, like the monk at the end of the dinner table; people starving while fat cats thrive.

Speaking of fat cats in their beneficence about lowering themselves to debate the real scientists.
From the way the responses came across, I suggest that the debaters/interviewed were given specifics about question areas and topics. Gavininny could neither establish authority nor make his statements without them coming across as opinion and BS. Dr. Spencer and Matt Ridley nailed their responses and easily answered the mediator's attempts to throw a curve. Gav-in bungled every curve and most straight answers.

Gavininny's fluff and pomp about not glorifying scientist Dr. Roy Spencer reminds me of the movie 'People will talk' with Cary Grant. As the movie ends, the sentence where Cary's friend tells the crusading anti-science doctor that 'he was small in his mind and in his heart, and that now after he tried to take down a great man whose boots he couldn't look over, he (mr. anti-science) is even smaller than he was before' (a paraphrase as I'm too lazy to look up the exact quote now).

A final reminder for those who missed the reference; the 'union of concerned scientists' enjoy Kenji, Anthony's dog, as a member. All it takes to join is a credit card and a willingness to fund anti-science advocacy. Which makes their support of the Gavininny al the more laughable.

May 15, 2013 at 4:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

Most of our city infrastructure has been built in the last 100 years, and needs maintenance/replacing on about the same timescale. We can be pretty sure that the structures we use today will not (on the whole) be the same structures that our great*n granchildren will use in 2113.

Seems much easier to me to just move it next time we replace it if the gentle rise of 2' 6" in 100 years actually comes to pass.

And lest anybody says 'too hard', we have a local precedent. The City of London moved its centre of gravity fundamentally eastwards by about 3 miles nearer to Canary Wharf over the last 30 years. It took effort, but not an overwhelming amount. Such things are doable.

And remember that 80 cm in 100 years is just one housebrick every 12 years. This is not a rapid rise.

May 15, 2013 at 6:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

The sea level has been rising at the same rate for 150 years or more, it's due to thermal expansion caused by the earth warming as it comes out of the Little Ice age. Gavin is right we have assumed that the climate won't change when planning our cities because we're terribly sensible people who know we can't foretell the future, otherwise the Grand National would be the most boring event on the planet, and it is easier to foretell the result of the Grand National than the future state of the planet. In short, take a step back and consider Gavin's words, they're straight from Alice in Wonderland if we assume that the climate is changing when we build things do we assume beneficial or catastrophic scenarios, since we can't possibly know the future state it's best to assume it will be the same, or beneficial, else all our cities would be huddled on mountain tops.

May 15, 2013 at 7:28 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

" Moving a nuclear power station such as Hinckley, Dungerness or
Sizewell to higher ground is a little harder."

Do you not think we are capable of building sea defenses. Civilization grew developed after three ice age and the inconvenience of a 130M sea level increase. I think a return to an ice age would be much more problematic for mankind. There are lots of places abandoned in history due to the sea engulfing them or conversely receding or silting up and moving away from the coast.

May 15, 2013 at 7:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

When Roy Hattersley refused to participate in HIGNFY, he was replaced by a tub of lard. As I recall, the tub of lard won.

May 15, 2013 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndyL

Hmmm... Gavin was like the spoiled middle-class undergraduates I had to deal with Uni who wanted to force their world view on you. Debate? No need for debate.

You can see these people do not appreciate, cope with or want debate.And you can see why.

If he had to debate you can see him flouncing out of the room when he could not get his way.

Pure pantomime.

May 15, 2013 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

When was this broadcast?

I hope Anthony Watts picks up (has picked up?) on this glimpse behind the curtain.

May 15, 2013 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

We must remember that Spencer believes that without GHGs there can be no convection therefore no lapse rate temperature gradient. This comes from a failure to think through heat transfer problems that is endemic to non-engineers whereas the engineering-trained are able to apply practical experience to problems to replace failed theory. (Meteorolgy and other 'Climate Sciences' teach incorrect physics).

So, he too is flawed to the extent of being obdurate.

May 15, 2013 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

nby, 9:12 AM
The YouTube version was published there on 7th April 2013.

May 15, 2013 at 9:59 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

With respect, AlecM, we've heard that drum being beaten before. The obduracy is elsewhere.

May 15, 2013 at 10:02 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW


"No wonder he came across as evasive, smug, petulant and superficial."

When wasn't he?

May 15, 2013 at 10:04 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Entro man, I can produce peer review papers that estimat 1 to 2 mm SL rise, and no acceleration of that trend. But let us sau we have a nine inch rise in the next 100 years. Let us see?, humm? build a tall curb, or move a citie, thinking, calling the Dutch, they recommend building the tall curb.

The truth is that after 35 years all of the claimed in the future doom from CAGW, is not manifesting, while the KNOWN benefits, increased food production with less water, are facts, realised now. The "C" in CAGW is missing. (Calling CAGW climate change is sheer political sophistry)

May 15, 2013 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I always wondered who James Annan was talking about when he was dissing Steve Mcintyre

"Well I agree that credentials aren't everything, but when I hear of someone being described as good at maths for a PPE graduate, my assumption is that they are being damned with faint praise (whether accidentally or not). And since despite your protestations you are still making claims about his "maths credentials" then you should realise that at least one of his antagonists (perhaps not a "main" one) has a first class maths degree and DPhil from Oxford, on top of various school and national maths prizes as a schoolboy. But I am happy to agree that McI obviously knows a fair bit of linear algebra which was never a particularly strong point of mine. The important question here of course is whether his arguments stack up, and on the MMH paper, they obviously don't. "

I thought he meant Gavin, but according to realclimate :

'He received a BA (Hons) in Mathematics from Oxford University, a PhD in Applied Mathematics from University College London and was a NOAA Postdoctoral Fellow in Climate and Global Change Research'

May 15, 2013 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeteB

Robert Austin

What has oratory to do with it?

In human-centred political debate it is accepted that the best orator often wins, regardless of the quality of the respective arguments.

In universe-centred science the best evidence wins since the universe cares not one whit about oratory.

May 15, 2013 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

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