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Discussion > Masstra2014 questions to sceptics.

Lifted from the "Leftie climate sceptics"

So, until recently, I would have considered myself a staunch believer in the prevailing climate change rhetoric. But, as a reasonable person, I started to question that which I had been told over and over by my "green" friends and our media (I live in the U.S.) And so it is that I found this blog, among others. I am not a scientist by trade.

I am "stuck" on a few key talking points used by those who are proponents of AGW, so consider this an opportunity to educate a previously dyed-in-the-wool climate change believer as to why you consider it bunk. I ask the following with all due respect--- I truly ask in the spirit of inquiry.

Where do the statistics come that this is the 4th hottest year on record, if global temperatures have not increased since 1998?

In your opinions, what is causing the accelerated decline of Arctic sea ice?

Do any of you believe that the climate is changing, just not as a function of man?

Again, I've come to all of this quite recently and ask as a private citizen who found herself up late at night, fretting that the world was devolving into climate madness and dystopia. If nothing else, give me some hope.

Sincerest thanks in advance.

Hi Maestra2014,
Welcome to the "sceptical side" ;) I've lifted your questions so they can be properly addressed in their own thread :)

Where do the statistics come that this is the 4th hottest year on record, if global temperatures have not increased since 1998?

Alternatively, ask, if global temperatures are rising at an unprecedented rate then how can it be that this is only the 4th hottest and not THE hottest? There is a margin for error in global temperature measurements, and year on year natural variability plays a part, and what we look for is a trend over a period of time. After 10 years of no "statistically significant" (i.e. not outside the range of error in the observed data), sceptics began to ask climate scientists why temperatures appeared to have peaked with 1998 and were told that, it being climate, we had to wait at least 15 years to be able to say with confidence that temperatures were not increasing.

It's now at least 16 years and the warming hasn't resumed. Whether it will or not any time soon is very much a subject of debate, but at least now (better late than never) we can start looking at the cause of the pause/hiatus/halt/end of warming. One thing that seems generally agreed, however, is that the longer it continues then the less likely it must be that the dominant cause of warming until now was humans' emissions of CO2, and the more likely it must be that natural variability plays a greater-than-assumed role.

In your opinions, what is causing the accelerated decline of Arctic sea ice?

My personal opinion is that there is no accelerated decline of Arctic sea ice. The Arctic's sea ice appears to me to be influenced more greatly by storms than any warming/cooling signal. Arctic ice extent, rather than being in any kind of "death spiral", seems to me to oscillate around the mean ice extent since satellite measurements began in 1979.

Do any of you believe that the climate is changing, just not as a function of man?

Not wishing to speak for anyone else, but I don't think anyone around here believes that climate does, or has ever done, anything BUT change. The extent to which it is man-made may be a subject of some debate, but I think generally we here are agreed that, if only through land usage alone, man certainly has an impact on the climate.

Some, perhaps many, will agree that man has/had an influence in other ways too, particularly via emissions. The question, then, is whether man's influence will lead with inevitability to catastrophic climate change at some point in the future. And that's the big question as far as politics and policies are concerned.

I'll post this now, to get the thread going, but may come back to make some more observations :)

PS: Apologies for misspelling your name in the thread title. Apparently I can't edit to correct it, only the content of the post. Sorry!

Jan 24, 2014 at 10:18 PM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

A thousand thank yous, Simon, for taking the time not only to begin this thread but to share your views in response to my initial questions. Can't tell you how much I appreciate it!

Jan 24, 2014 at 10:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaestra2014

I had been considering a reply. Might have one done tomorrow.

Jan 24, 2014 at 11:41 PM | Unregistered Commentermichaelhart

....a private citizen who found herself up late at night, fretting that the world was devolving into climate madness and dystopia.

That's exactly what it is. But it's not the first time that the world has been afflicted by mass delusions. If you have not already read it Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay might be interesting. (Download for free from

The present mass delusion must come to an end eventually. But there are so many organisations devoted to maintaining the myth, so many people making a good living from it in universities and government employment, plus so many indoctrinated teachers, broadcasters and media people, that it is not going to quietly fade away in the near future.

Jan 25, 2014 at 8:47 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"Where do the statistics come that this is the 4th hottest year on record, if global temperatures have not increased since 1998?"

They haven't increased statistically, the fourth hottest year on record is a way of hiding the pause. 1998 was a high, all the following years have been high but not as high as 1998. So the temperature has stayed reasonably steady with hundredths of a degree separating the individual years. However, you must watch the pea under the thimble when dealing with climate science. Since 1998 the CO2 in the atmosphere has risen by around 20ppm, i.e. around 5% and there has been no increase in global warming during that period, that the temperatures have remained high is not in dispute. The question is if CO2 is a driver of climate why hasn't the temperature risen with a rise of around 5% of CO2. Usually in science if you postulate a relationship between two variables and that relationship fails to occur you go back to the drawing board. Nobody knows why the temperature hasn't risen. In the meantime they keep the non-cognoscenti scared by talk of 3, 5, 2 highest temperature on record.

"In your opinions, what is causing the accelerated decline of Arctic sea ice?"

I have no idea why the sea ice is declining, go check the Danish Meteorological Institute site for temperature records above 85 degrees since 1958, there hasn't been a noticeable increase in the Arctic. Further I have no idea what caused the ice to decline enough for Amundsen to sail the North West Passage in 1903, or the Chinese much earlier. The truth is that the record we have for the Arctic only goes back to 1979 which is far too short a record period to draw any conclusions about what's happening there, because we don't have a clue what happened in the past.

"Do any of you believe that the climate is changing, just not as a function of man?"

I guess all of us feel like that along with the climate scientists who can't explain the current pause except by blaming unknown "natural" causes. My belief is that every living thing on the planet affects the climate, I don't believe there's much of an argument about that.

Jan 25, 2014 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Maestra2014 -
Where do the statistics come that this is the 4th hottest year on record, if global temperatures have not increased since 1998?
If temperatures had been climbing but were truly "flat" since around 2000, i.e., equal to some constant value plus a slight annual random fluctuation, then one would expect to see recent years be ranked at a more-or-less random spot within the top ten to fifteen or so. 2013 ranks 7th, 8th, 4th, 4th, and 10th in (respectively) GISS, HadCRUT4, NCDC, UAH and RSS temperature series. [*I had to make a stab at the NCDC Dec. figure which is a little late in reporting. So that one is not official, but probably is correct.]

However, as a "lukewarmer" I do not actually expect temperatures to remain flat while greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise. So I don't find it helpful to focus on a question such as "has there been a statistically significant increase since <X>?", or upon rankings -- if temperatures continue to go up then we will continue to see high rankings for years. I think it's far more useful to look at the rate of increase, and compare it to the predictions made by the models upon which people are relying for guidance to future conditions. Lucia at the Blackboard periodically compares models to observations; her latest can be found here.

Do any of you believe that the climate is changing, just not as a function of man?
Clearly there are non-anthropogenic causes of climate change, so if you'll permit, I'll rephrase this to "To what extent is the recent (say, last 50 years) increase in temperature due to natural causes?" To the modified question, I'd answer that I believe that a majority of the 50-year change is man-made. For the peak warming period of (roughly) 1980-2000, the change was perhaps equally attributable to natural and man-made causes.

Jan 25, 2014 at 7:43 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Thank you Martin, Geronimo, and Harold. I truly appreciate your time and thoughtful responses.

Jan 26, 2014 at 2:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaestra2014

Maestra2014: I do hope you're not one of those warmists who've come over here to ask us questions so you can prove how dumb we are, how we support the NRA, are funded by big oil, big tobacco, believe the moon landing was faked, the twin towers was an inside job. Or that we're anti-science ( whatever that means). Because you're going to be sorely disappointed.

Jan 26, 2014 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Oh geronimo, what a cynical bunch we've become! hehe!

I don't think there's even a hint of a reason to be suspicious (but oh well, even if). Regardless of some of our past experiences, the massive shift away from dogmatic catastrophism means that the balance of probability is that Maestra2014 is going through the same thing as so many of the rest of us have, feeling a need to know to what extent the science of global warming has been usurped by politics and agendas. :)

Jan 26, 2014 at 11:05 AM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Being a sceptic is not about finding one killer fact. You need to read a lot before you understand how many ways climate science and policy are not fit for purpose. It's a bit like being short changed in a shop. If the sums are small enough, you don't bother checking your change or you assume it was a mistake but when you add all the little frauds together you realise that the corruption is huge. Most of the climate issue can't be explained in a few sentences, which is why sceptics are increasigly writing books. But here are a few links to start you off.

"Where do the statistics come that this is the 4th hottest year on record, if global temperatures have not increased since 1998?"

"In your opinions, what is causing the accelerated decline of Arctic sea ice?"

"Do any of you believe that the climate is changing, just not as a function of man?"

Once you discover how many half truths, midirections and lies there are, you have to make your own mind up whether you take climate science on trust. It's a personal decision. Then you look at the proposed solutions and start all over again by trying to work out if they are effective.

I long since came to the conclusion that climate was poorly understood, badly measured, observed and modelled by flawed, biased individuals. The solutions to excess CO2 are expensive, ineffective and unlikely to make much difference to a global population that is unmoved by climate science and adores energy.

Jan 26, 2014 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Geronimo - Maestra2014's question and responses ring true to me.

Probably like Simon H, some years back I just assumed that the Global Warming stuff was all based on solid physics and had been confirmed by detailed physical experiments and observations. I had no reason to doubt it and I had other things to keep me occupied. But then, one day, I decided to read up on it and find out what it was all about. (Now and then I'll do that for a subject that catches my interest - the origins of European languages, how DNA analysis works, for example.)

It seemed strange that I could not track down explanations of the greenhouse effect that used anything other than the hopelessly over-simplified black body model that neglects all sorts of important physical effects. Then I came across the 'hockey stick' temperature graph, with the steeply rising portion from temperature measurements tacked on to the slowly descending portion from proxy estimates and I thought "Hold on - if the trend changes at the precise point where you change the measurement method, obviously you'll have to prove that the two methods give the same result. Until you've done that nobody with the least bit of sense will believe it's valid" - but it became clear that this had never been done and, despite this, it seemed universally accepted that the Earth's temperature was now rising at an unprecedented rate.

By this point, I had pretty much worked out that the whole man-made climate change thing rested on very shaky grounds and I began to notice that it had some of the characteristics of a religion. Then came 'Climategate' and all sorts of things began to make sense - 'hiding the decline' of recent proxy data, the resistance to FOI requests, the hostility to people who asked difficult but reasonable questions and so on. My own background in modelling physical systems made me aware that climate models were inherently incapable of being verified and, in any other field, an unverified model would never be relied on.

After that, the fact that global temperature was remaining pretty much constant year after year, despite the confident predictions of continually rising temperatures, simply provided confirmation that climate scientists had deluded themselves about their understanding of the subject.

I imagine that many people are slowly working out for themselves what is the reality, despite the efforts of (in the UK) the BBC, the Met Office, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and university professors of climate change to perpetuate the myth.

Jan 26, 2014 at 2:37 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Simon, MartinA: I hope your right, the questions just seemed a little random for me, like one of Lewandosky's surveys. If I was a believer, and I never have been, I'd start by asking about CO2 and why sceptics didn't believe it was causing global warming, then I'd ask why all the scientists were wrong, you get the picture. We got three "random" questions not connected in any way. Hottest year ever, arctic sea ice depletion and did we believe in natural causes. I'm an engineer, not a very good one like you Martin, mostly I was a boss, but my training tells me that I'd expect a much more structured enquiry set for someone wanting to know what the arguments were on the other side. I hope I'm wrong.

Jan 26, 2014 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Actually, I came for my own edification. I've got a job, a family, and a life to enjoy...not much time or desire to troll blogs, looking to pick fights. I have found much of these discussion threads to be very interesting, informative, and relieving, to be frank. In all sincerity, I appreciate the input. Perhaps a less cynical approach, however, might help you win over a few more hearts and minds (if you're interesting in that sort of thing.) If not, carry on!

Jan 26, 2014 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaestra2014

Also, as point of fact, if my questions seem "random" it's because I've only recently begun to question. I haven't had years to formulate pithy analysis or succinct talking points, As well, Geronimo, I'm from the US. If I wanted my fill of 9/11 conspiracy theorists, big oil fun, NRA propaganda and the like, I could go down the street. In the interest of getting folks to take heed of your collective discussions, perhaps a little positive supposition when it comes to newbies to the blog would be nice. If not, as I said, then carry on presuming everyone new here is wanting a fight. I truly just wanted information.

Jan 26, 2014 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaestra2014

Maestra, you may be well intentioned but based on past experience most people appearing here asking questions end up with their veil dropping and we end up having being party to a baiting exercise.Hence the scepticism.

I was also a true believer but with the advantage of being a trained engineer with the thought process needed to undertake large detailed projects to a successful completion. When I applied this to all of the 'Evidence' the mist lifted and I ended up saying 'Its that all they have' .

AGW starts with a simple premise, you put CO2 in a bottle and shine a light and the temp inside the bottle increases, trouble is it increases until saturation point and stops once CO2 reaches a certain concentration. To get this simple premise to give you runaway warming, as the theory and models suggest, you have to add on lots of scary scenarios such as positive feedbacks that enhance the initial temp increase such as increased water vapour (another greenhouse gas) methane from the warming tundra etc etc. Well what ever the models say none of these positive feedbacks are happening, so whatever temp increase caused by extra CO2 is negligible or being reversed by negative feedbacks. As the Earth has had many periods of higher CO2 levels before without runaway temps then it stands to reason that there are more negative than positive feedbacks.

So try a different route to get your head round the problem, accept that C02 increases temps but then try to explain why in fact you get 17 years static temps whilst CO2 is increasing from all the observed data. This is what the climate Scientists should be doing but like Royal courtiers they are stuck in a system that closes their eyes to the obvious.

Jan 26, 2014 at 6:24 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Keep asking questions! The problem, as I believe you will discover, is that unfortunately there are no firm answers. We have seen so much scientific/engineering progress in the past century -- e.g. space travel, nuclear power, ubiquitous wideband communication, genome analysis -- that it can be hard to accept that earth climate is not a solved problem. Yet, anyway. Keep that in mind the next time you hear someone say that "the science is settled" or "the earth will warm by up to 6 deg C this century" or similar statements implying that we know the extent of the problem, and now we have to deal with it, whatever the cost.

And as a fellow American, I'm disappointed that you mentioned only three areas of propaganda. ;-) It's everywhere! It seems that virtually all current political discourse is beyond "statistics" on the Mark Twain scale. [Note: checking the Wikipedia article on that phrase, it's not actually Twain's invention. Pity.]

Jan 26, 2014 at 6:48 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

As HaroldW says, Maestra2014, keep asking questions. If you have them, ask them. If we can answer then we will. If we can't answer, we'll say that we can't and we won't make up some authoritative and knowledgeable sounding response which we can't back up without the use of smoke and mirrors, or playing the pea and thimble trick.

We're not afraid to say that we don't know an answer. In point of fact, we sceptics have been described as "merchants of doubt" specifically BECAUSE we tell the truth, that we don't know, when it is the truth that nobody really knows. We make the distinction between what we KNOW, BASED on evidence, versus what others BELIEVE, DESPITE A LACK of evidence. This is a fundamental difference between those of us who challenge the catastrophic global warming hypotheses and those who are determined to promote it.

You ARE among friends, Maestra2014. :)

Jan 26, 2014 at 8:44 PM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Yes indeed. And dont forget there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Jan 26, 2014 at 9:34 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


We got three "random" questions not connected in any way.

Nahh mate..


I am "stuck" on a few key talking points used by those who are proponents of AGW, so consider this an opportunity to educate a previously dyed-in-the-wool climate change believer as to why you consider it bunk.

... an entirely normal scenario for a "new" sceptic to be left reeling after a gish-gallop of reasons why we're apparently all gonna die from global climate disruption.

Jan 26, 2014 at 10:50 PM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

I’m glad you’ve found the above contributions useful, and I hope you didn’t mind my suggestion on the “Leftie” thread that your concerns would be better treated separately. If some of the responses have been suspicious, well, it’s a funny old world..
If you want a less scientific approach, but one perhaps better suited to someone who wants to inform themselves, I suggest taking one of the many readily available graphs of recent temperatures over the last hundred odd years and then pencilling in any one of the warmists’ predictions (4-6°C over the next 20-85 years). What you get is inevitably a hockeystick. While temperatures have been zigzagging slowly upwards for the past century or two, warmist predictions insist that at some time, starting soon, they must start zooming upwards at a startling rate. This is because of CO2 emissions, which took off about sixty years ago, but which have so far not resulted in any discernable acceleration in the rate of global warming. The disaster which warmists have been predicting for 25 years or more hasn’t started yet.
Note that I’ve been deliberately vague about dates and temperatures, in order to avoid charges of cherry-picking. You don’t need to be a statistician or a climate scientist to see that the scientifically attested graphs of temperature rise fail to support the thesis of man-made global warming. Anyone capable of reading a graph can see that the predictions of disaster are not happening. Everything else is politics.

Jan 26, 2014 at 10:54 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"Actually, I came for my own edification." And most welcome you are, but you wouldn't be the first to come here asking simple questions who has subsequently proved to be someone mocking us. I know you're from the US and that conspiracy theorists are down every street, but that's not the point. The point is that there is a concerted effort to smear sceptics as conspiracy theorists, and they do it in the most remarkably unsubtle ways, but it works.

Let me put it another way to you, if a complete stranger turned up out of the blue at your mother's door and asked to come in to see the electricity meter and she had already been robbed by someone purporting to read the gas meter, do you think she should (a) Ask him in without demur or (b) ask for some ID? In the event of her asking for some ID do you think he should be (c) only too pleased to provide it, or (d) hurt that she didn't take him at his word?

Well you've turned up at our door, unexpectedly, and I'm being cautious because of past experiences and asking for some ID (metaphorically of course), so you have the choice of (c) i.e, understanding that's reasonable, Of (d) taking offence. You will note the support your getting from the others here who are always anxious to explain the sceptical position, as am I. I just want to make sure. That's the difference.

If you genuinely want to learn more please keep asking don't be put off by me, there are some very knowledgeable people on this blog.

Why Bishophill BTW? I didn't think this blog had much traction in the USA.

Jan 26, 2014 at 11:51 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Geronimo, no offense taken. I get it. Bottom line: I had questions. I went bumbling around and found this blog among others. I have been reading the discussion threads here for awhile, taking a crash course in water vapor and ocean currents and temperature data and polar bear populations--- no agenda apart from needing a different take on a narrative I have heretofore found confusing and deeply troubling. That said, thank you to all of you who so thoughtfully and patiently responded to my simplistic initial questions. I am very appreciative!

Jan 27, 2014 at 5:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaestra2014

Well if you want to delve into it all by all means do, it's fascinating and enlightening. But I suggest you start by looking at this Richard Feynmann clip taken at Caltech in 1974(?).

And then bear in mind none of the IPCC projections have come remotely near to being true.

I can also make it simple for you, there are five steps to being a warmist::

1. Carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere. True.

2. Increased carbon dioxide will increase temperature. True.

3. A doubling of carbon dioxide from 280ppm will increase temperature by around 1.2C. True, all other things being equal ( i.e. the ecosystem is v. complex);

4. This doubling of CO2 will cause feedbacks which will cause further temperature increases of 1.5C - 4.5C;

5. This increase of temperature between 2C and 4.5C will cause untold disasters and no good will come of it at all.

Believe all 5 and you're there as a warmist. Although 1 and 2 do have their disputants most people in the sceptical camp tend to accept 1,2 and 3 because it's not worth arguing about something that on the whole will be benign no matter what. 4 I what is known as the climate sensitivity and recent observations have shown the sensitivity to be below 2C, so it has quietly been dropped in AR5 under the pretext that they can't, after 22 years of assessment reports and $100bn investment in climate research, agree on a sensitivity - in other words their experiment doesn't give the theoretical answer of the theory. Note Feynman.

5. Is complete and utter bunkum, nobody knows what the future state of the climate will be, in fact the IPCC admitted that in TAR WG1, and if they did there's no way they can predict the financial outcomes.

The rest of the things you see are the swirling claims trying to make climate change real. Weather events aren't getting worse, hurricanes are at an all time low, as are tornadoes, winters aren't warmer or wetter, etc. etc. But when this is broached with the warmist establishment the dead parrott scene from Monty Python is enacted. If you point out that their forecasts are wrong they simply say "they're not," or" this is what we expected."

Jan 27, 2014 at 8:03 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Maestra2014 "I get it. Bottom line: I had questions." We're all in the same boat and that's very disturbing. Because of the enormity of CAGW and it's potential solutions the authorities should have known that people would want answers to difficult questions. The official version of climate science is very simplistic, Hard stuff is only discussed by bloggers and it's very hard to know who to believe. I don't want to see online skirmishes between two sets of unknowns, I want to know that the arguments and counter arguments have been properly discussed and hammered out by experts. At the moment it's like watching a sword fight were the two combatants are in different locations. By watching each side slash and parry an imaginary foe you have to try and work out who's winning.

I can't honestly say that CAGW isn't on the cards, there isn't enough data to tell. I can say that there's mounting evidence that it's not going to happen and the confidence shown by the climate community was unjustified. Their refusal to discuss all the facts is proof they're not suitable people to trust our future to. Climate science needs regulating. I hope that the growing body of sceptics drives them to develop a proper framework to ensure work is properly tested and documented. They can't rely on their reputation to expect everyone to believe in the extraordinary let alone act.

We are told the debate is over. The fact that we all have questions is proof they need to have the debate again and this time, let us watch.

Jan 27, 2014 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

TinyCO2 -

To get to the truth, climate science would need to be redone from scratch by a team uncontaminated be previous contact with the subject. Such a team would consist of engineers, physicists, engineers, software quality engineers, and statisticians with a track record of original and fundamental work in other fields where integrity and quality were essential - of the level required for nuclear weapon design, say.

Too much of what passes as climate science fails elementary sanity tests. You only have to read the words of Julia Slingo (Chief Scientist, UK Met Office) to see that it's either corrupt, incompetent, or both, at the highest levels. It all has to be regarded as suspect and discarded.

But its hard to see any of this happening in the foreseeable future.

Jan 27, 2014 at 12:08 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A