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Discussion > (A)GW Lite

Annoyed by the name that RKS given to my lukewarmer beliefs.
It's not AGW Lite. It may be GW Lite, but the A is unproven but feasible as a mechanism.

I'll say something which may be controversial to some: The belief that CO2 cannot and does not warm the earth is a fringe belief. The belief that scientists only "guess" that it might be CO2 because they can't find any other explanation is a confusion. We need to separate the temperature from the trend.

I'n not going through the energy budget calulations again - I did so in another thread - suffice to say that we can measure the flux coming out of the atmosphere at ground level, and it's way WAY above what is available from the sun. Add to that the sprectral analysis of that energy shows that it is emitted almost exclusively from GHGs, mostly CO2 and H2O. Anyone who disputes these facts is perfectly able to buy a pyrgeometer and a sprectrogram and disprove them. You will win the Nobel.

Where science gets less exact (but more dogmatic) is the TREND of temperatures since pre-industrial times. According to instrumental measurements, it has gone up. CO2 has gone up during this time too. The argument that one causes the other is tempting - increase the amount of GHG and the back-radiation effect MAY get bigger, and we MAY get warmer. Unfortunately there are other mechanisms at play, the ocean as a heat-sink, clouds, evaporation, weather, so it's not as clear cut. There may be other influences which may be affecting the MAGNITUDE of the rise, such as solar variation.

This is the area where climate science believes it has eliminated all other influences and are left with the trend which 'can only' (their words) be due to the rising CO2. The fact that there will be some influence from rising CO2 is not disputed by most people. This is separate from the warming effect of CO2 in general, which I described above. Having doubts that the measured RISE in CO2 can produce the measured RISE in temperatures is one thing - denying that CO2 warms at all in a completely different thing.

My position is that CO2 DOES warm the earth from black-body temperature to 288K. This is almost so fundamentally basic, that to disprove it would win you the Nobel. I can see how increasing GHGs COULD increase this effect farther, since the effect is caused in part (27% or so) by CO2. As a 'theory' it is plausable and possible.

Where I doubt the science is on two fronts:

1. I believe instrumental temperatures are being manipulated for ideological purposes. I believe that we don't have enough instrumental record, and that proxies we have used instead are deeply flawed and manipulated for ideological purposes. I believe UHI has not been eliminated from the signal.

2. I don't believe science has worked out the correct formulae to link the two amounts (temperature and CO2 levels) or that a simple one order of autoregression formula even exists. Weather and climate are chaotic at worst, very deeply coupled dependent systems at best. Hoping that two random parameters will lockstep over time is a forlorn hope, in my opinion. The absolute killer is H2O, the MAJOR GHG, which unlike CO2 has a wide range of phase-changing abilities over the normal temperature range of earth which makes it an absolute nightmare to model. I don't believe science has come close to modelling it.

As serious skeptics, we need to be skeptical of everything, and that includes claims that thermodynamics have been overturned or that 100 years of successful application of the laws have been a "mistake". There is no mistake. The Lunar Diviner temperature graphs can be explained by simple heat capacity equations.

We need to put our energies into the part of the CAGW message which IS flaky

1. CO2 and Temperature can be causally in lockstep at decadal timescales.
2. The other mechanisms which are poorly understood do not affect the overall result
3. Modelling a chaotic system can give you accuracy over decadal periods
4. Positive feedbacks will come into play at certain tipping points.

May 23, 2012 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames


The CAGW bandwagon has become a political movement with overtones of irrational belief so that no amount of correct physics will have the slightest effect on it at this stage.

All the same, yes, it's sad to see people saying:

."The CAGW/AGW hypothesis is nonsense and the proof is that:
* the physics of the 20th century is fallacious
* the greenhouse effect can't exist for whatever reason, including the notion that it contradicts the second law of thermodynamics
* a warm black body can't absorb photons from a cooler black body
* other nonsense"

Such nonsense simply clouds the picture and, by increasing the background noise level, makes rational discussion harder.

The CAGW message, in brief, is:
- The record shows average temperatures are at an all-time high
- Atmospheric CO2 is increasing.
- Computer models* have predicted rising temperatures due to increasing CO2 levels.

*Programmed by programmers motivated to produce "evidence" for the culpability of CO2.

The instrumental temperature record has been corrupted by undocumented ad hoc adjustments. Growth of urban heat effect over the life of the records has been disregarded. At least some of the original records seem to have been deleted following adjustment ("homogenisation") by UEA. The average global temperature may have increased over the life of the records but even this is uncertain in view of the foregoing issues.

Analysis of temperature proxies would be hard to take seriously without some way of validating it rigorously, in any case. But the antics of its practitioners mean temperature proxy analysis has no further claim to involvement in "science". Trust is like virginity; once you've lost it, it's quite hard to get it back.

Climate models, produced by large teams and run on expensive supercomputers, impress people by their scale and the qualifications of their makers . The fact that they can reproduce past climate deludes their makers that their predictions, even into the distant future, have value.

To all this has to be added the lack of physical understanding of the positive feedback effects that have to be assumed if CO2 is to get the blame, the dismissal by the modellers of other effects that could well have significant effects, such as variation of the sun's UV output, and GCM computer programs have to be regarded as an expensive form of self-delusion . (aka a "w*nk")

It does no harm to point out the flakiness of the CAGW case. But I believe that when the Great Delusion does eventually end, it probably won't have been because the fallacies of "climate science" have become generally recognised.

May 23, 2012 at 3:43 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

If we are interested in understanding climate, the starting point should be the dismantling of the IPCC/UNFCCC. 'Dismantling' doesn't have to be an absolute. Say, for instance, the UN-Kyoto-Rio movement becomes progressively toothless as it sometimes gives the appearance of becoming, it would be clear to policymakers (aka bane of all living) that the science mantra doesn't carry much pulling power and the IPCC's authority would diminish from within.

Then suddenly you can except, that scientists would blink their eyes open and look at climate in a fresh way. Right now, it is the UNFCCC that is killing climate science.

AGW Lite, ... I like that.

May 23, 2012 at 3:58 PM | Registered Commentershub

I think you may be right Martin. The wheels are coming off now because of the economic situation, not because anybody saw the light. Nobody in goverment or Joe Public cares about the science as such, just what it might be costing them.

But me, science grad, lifelong interest in science. I'm as PRO science as there is. I don't want science to get lost in the storms caused by all the politicking and corruption. I don't want the ideologically-driven from EITHER side using science as a bludgeon to be discarded when it stops being useful to them.

The IPCC has some of the science wrong. We can't fight that by using our own wrong science. All the policy decisions, tax laws, blah blqah will go on around it. For me I just want the little flame of proper science to survive.

May 23, 2012 at 4:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

I know it can sometimes be a little bit difficult to see ourselves as others see us but James likes to refer to himself by the nice cosy term 'Lukewarmer'

There is absolutely no argument that a lot of the increase in atmospheric CO2 of late is man made - Anthropological - The big 'A'.

To repeat, completely without malice, what I said to James on Unthreaded:-

You believe a 100% increase in CO2, mainly caused by human activity, causes a rise in climate temperature of 1 deg C.

If that ain't AGW [on the lighter than alarmist side], I don't know what is.

That's what you believe, why complain when it's described exactly as it is?

It is AGW Lite - ie. not alarmist but nice and cosy enough to suit our conciences.

Of course, being interested in the research by N&Z, and following the recent Lunar Diviner measurements which indicate a grey body temperature some 90K lower than with atmosphere, I regard the whole AGW hypothesis as a complete red herring and so don't give a toss if CO2 levels increase or not.

A 'lukewarmist', as in a recent lead article on the supposedly sceptical WUWT, might regard me as a 'denier', whereas I think a little bit of pragmatic realism if perfectly permissible within the terms of scientific debate.

May 23, 2012 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRKS

What *is* the science. This morning on BBC Radio 4 an Antarctica item was introduced with the commentator saying to the scientist (biologist) that Antarctica is warming faster than any other part of the planet. Sceptical sources say he comlete opposite. WTF. I am busy reading David Archer's "The Long Thaw", and I just read that: " the clearest climate transitions, which are the deglaciations, CO2 goes up before the ice sheets melt. How can CO2 be some kind of me-too amplifier if it starts to change first?"

I'm guessing that the Beeb statement is based on some very selective data about the West Antarctic Peninsula, but if so either it is a lie hiding behind a diminuitive fig-leaf of fact, or else the many sceptical sources are phoney.

I'm guessing that Archer has a dishonest motive for choosing to consider "when the ice sheet melts" rather than *when the temperature rises*; or else all those sceptical references to an 800 year lag are lies. The guy is a Professor of Geophysical Sciences (and a Realclimate stalwart) - what do we expect Joe Public, not to mention Cameron, Merkel and Hollande, to believe?

So, no, there's no way of overturning the consensus. If a new glacial period kicks in over the next 50 years the extreme weather will be blamed on human activity. When Keith Briffa couldn't get his late twentieth century tree rings to show an upward "temperature" trend, he blamed it on "something else human beings are doing". CAGW or "Climate Change" is the new Original Sin for a secular world, and governments love it, because it becomes the excuse for all sorts of taxes, shortages, etc, just as the deliberately permanent state of war in Orwell's "1984" got the government off the hook for power outages, reduced availability of resources, intrusive bureaucracy, etc, etc. Just today, catching up on the news, I see that Cameron's government will add yet *another* £200 pa (and the rest - it's always a sanitised underestimate) to household fuel bills to create the next generation of nuclear power stations, essential in the battle against Clmate Change. Hosepipe bans are still in place because of Climate Change - drought - because the water infrastructure is leaky and because new reservoirs to service the dramatic increase in population were cancelled. Cold spells are blamed on Global Warming - that is a perfect example of Doublethink, and as Brussels is now in control of our laws and policies, we are living in Airstrip One.

May 23, 2012 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterlogicophilosophicus

The very position of the lukewarmer is a consequence of letting warmies frame the whole issue as though acceptance of scientific principles was somehow at stake. You don't want to be seen (or bear to see yourself) saying things that seemingly go against accepted principles, so you adopt a luker position.

If you open your eyes that the warmies never intend to discuss science, that the health of science is not what they are concerned about, and look at recent history to see that their politics came *before* their science, it would make things a bit easier.

It is fascinating to observe how the ebb and tide of 'science' in the climate debate flows with the climate itself. In the 60s and 70s, it was a small handful who pushed the CO2 theory, who were silenced easily by the falling temperatures in the northern hemisphere. Then it warmed for the next 30 years or so and of these, the warmies have been all with the 'science', especially in the past 20 years. Say hypothetically the temperatures drop in the coming 30 years, the 'science' would correspondingly turn around and go where the temperature goes.

May 23, 2012 at 4:50 PM | Registered Commentershub

RKS, as for the A in AGW, although I believe that rising CO2 could contribute warming, I have no beliefs either way about the origin of that CO2. Again it's possible or likely it is Anthropogenic. It's extreme;y likley some of it is. Whether it is or not, or in what proportions, does not change my position on the science and possible outcomes.

So it's not strictly true that someone who is a lukewarmer implicitly believes it is anthropogenic. The "mainly caused by human activity" which you inserted into your definition, has not been claimed by me on any threads. Because I'm not sure about how much is us.

May 23, 2012 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

May 23, 2012 at 4:40 PM | logicophilosophicus>>>>

On this we can agree!

May 23, 2012 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRKS

So it's not strictly true that someone who is a lukewarmer implicitly believes it is anthropogenic. The "mainly caused by human activity" which you inserted into your definition, has not been claimed by me on any threads. Because I'm not sure about how much is us.

May 23, 2012 at 4:51 PM | TheBigYinJames>>>>

James, you're arguing over semantics, exactly the same could be said of CAGW - how much is man mad and how much not?

You argue for EXACTLY the same hypothesis but think the outcome for a similar rise in concentration is less.

If it was proved to be 100% man made or not, your outcome would be the same.

Basically I, and others, know the increase is man made and largely due to developing nations, so you are arguing for global warming due to man made CO2.

I'm sorry but from where I observe it it's AGW [lite]!

May 23, 2012 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterRKS

Sorry RKS, I beg to differ. We don't know it's all Anthropogenic.

I know some bearded people have estimated what industry has produced in terms of CO2 emissions over the last century, and "worked out" that it is enough to account for the measured rise in ppmv.

However, even this calculation is influenced by natural sinks and sources of CO2 - we have guesstimates of what, for instance, the sea can absorb, or the biosphere. CO2, being mostly concentrated in the first 25m could quite easily be mostly absorbed on landmasses by flora. Or biomass in the sea. Perhaps CO2 increases have followed the 20th century temperature rises, not caused them, via outgassing.

All the ppmv figure from Mauna Loa tells us is that net CO2 has risen. It's not a done deal that it's all us.

May 23, 2012 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

RKS, you realise we've now argued ourselves into the ludicrous position of you trying to prove AGW and me doubting it.

May 23, 2012 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

RKS, you realise we've now argued ourselves into the ludicrous position of you trying to prove AGW and me doubting it.

May 23, 2012 at 5:32 PM | TheBigYinJames>>>>


This is developing into one of those fun sophistical discussions.

I'll continue when family matters allow.

May 23, 2012 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRKS


I believe instrumental temperatures are being manipulated for ideological purposes.

So you believe that a global conspiracy of climate scientists has been systematically faking all the temperature records...? And no-one's ever come close to finding out. It would take just one slip, one whistle-blower... one leaked email :-)

Are they faking the GRACE results too? And the satellite imagery used to track sea-ice extent? I'm impressed. They're so good they should be running the planet ;-)

And what about Roy Spencer??? (Hint: the purple bit at the upper right is the UAH tropospheric satellite reconstruction. Looks like the bastards got to Roy in the end, eh?).

All the ppmv figure from Mauna Loa tells us is that net CO2 has risen. It's not a done deal that it's all us.

So we potter along for 10,000 years and all of a sudden, in 1950, BANG! Whoa! What happened??

Be serious ;-)

May 23, 2012 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

No, I believe the tampering is mostly one man - Hansen. No conspiracy needed or asked for. He's even 'lost' the raw data. His tampering is not qualitative, temps are going up as satellite measurements show, but every time he touches the record, old temps go down, new temps go up.

As for CO2 going up, as I said, it may be following temperature, if it is rising. It has done in the past. I'm not arguing it is, just that nobody really knows for sure.

May 23, 2012 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

BBD "What about Roy Spencer?"

That's the Spencer plot from the source you give - very slight upward trend with a big el niño spike in the late 90's. I don't think the compound plot showed what you think it showed...

May 23, 2012 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterlogicophilosophicus


That's RSS you doofus! They're the Other Lot ;-) Spencer works at the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH). The clue is in the name. Deary me!

Now, seriously... Here's UAH and RSS on a common 1981 - 2000 baseline for easy comparison.

That's the end of the previous graph I linked above (1979 - present). Okay? Clear now?

A gentle hint - I know my way around Wood for Trees.

May 23, 2012 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

A gentle hint - I know my way around Wood for Trees.

And where did you learn to troll?

May 23, 2012 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames


That's not going to fly. If it was Hansen alone, then how come we can bang GISTEMP together with HADCRUT, UAH and RSS as above? It dinnae make sense man!

You've been led up the garden path.

As for CO2 going up, as I said, it may be following temperature, if it is rising. It has done in the past. I'm not arguing it is, just that nobody really knows for sure.

Look, it was warmer ~6ka ago during the Holocene Thermal Maximum than it is now. But CO2 levels were somewhere around the 280ppmv mark. Note the flat handle of that CO2 hockey stick from ice core data. This doesn't even vaguely stand up. We know enough. Don't let people spin you that old 'we don't know' line. Bet you wouldn't be so easily fooled if this was about investments.

May 23, 2012 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Asking you to do a bit of thinking is not trolling.

May 23, 2012 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"A gentle hint - I know my way around Wood for Trees."

Ha! Ha! Like the time you drew straight lines through time periods of your choosing. You know your way around that website alright

May 23, 2012 at 10:06 PM | Registered Commentershub

James, wasn't that guy Muller and his BEST project meant to get to the bottom of UHI etc. Didn't they replicate the data they were trying to disprove?

WRT temperature records, are these in the personal domain of Mr Hansen or are they in the public domain? If the latter, how can he be corrupting them?

May 23, 2012 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Muller did a temperature reconstruction

How does that get 'to the bottom' of UHI?

May 23, 2012 at 10:14 PM | Registered Commentershub


The software fits ordinary least squares linear trends. Not me. I know you can't handle what the data show, but that's not my fault.

May 23, 2012 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

The software fits ordinary least squares linear trends. Not me. I know you can't handle what the data show, but that's not my fault.

May 23, 2012 at 10:33 PM | BBD>>>>

Let's forget about climate drivers and witter on endlessly, and pointlessly, about our favourite collection of temperature data sets used to confirm our prejudices.

That should take everyone's minds off of the crap climate science used to wreck our civilization, instead of carrying out research that really is relevant.

Whether you call yourself lukewarmer, sceptic or denier, do some POSITIVE for a change to bring this metaphysical house of cards crashing down into oblivion.

May 24, 2012 at 12:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterRKS