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Discussion > Does Climate Science Exist?

Geronimo: like you and SandyS, I am somewhat puzzled by Arthur Johnson’s post. Is he seeking information to help with an argument he is having off-site (perhaps even off-line – gasp! Do people still do that?)? Is he a warmist, seeking to find chinks in your arguments? Or is he new to on-line argument, and has yet to develop? Finally, why has he selected your comment to base such questions upon?

Aug 9, 2015 at 7:30 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

First of all congratulations to Martin A on a quadruple century. He is now the Joe Root of BH.

You make a very interesting point, I don't believe global warming is discussed offline, it appears that for most people it's a topic not to be touched, can't say why.

As for Arthur, I'm not sure. It may be that he is new to the argument (I won't grace it with the word "debate") and the various nuances, and assumed that someone saying it's going to get hotter and it getting hotter proves the hypothesis correct. Maybe he's unaware of previous times when it got hotter without the increase in CO2, or of the lamentable failure of the models in producing forecast of increasing heat based on Arrhenius' theory into the 21st century and being horribly wrong, or of the 0.3C forecast by the Met Office between 2004 and 2104 based on the hypothesis being not only wrong but wildly wrong. He, if it is "he", could be forgiven for all that because of the almost total news blackout on anything that in the least bit wobble the hypothesis that CO2 will cause catastrophic climate change. Perhaps he isn't aware that the world has been warming since the end of the little ice age, or that glacier retreat started before Arrhenius, or that there are glaciers advancing, who knows? We might find out if he comes back, but I doubt he will.

Aug 9, 2015 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I do not think that people are framing the questions correctly as to whether climatology is a science. Science is an ideal that can be contrasted with a cult-like belief system. There are a number of areas that indicate to me that climatology, as it matures, is moving more towards the belief system rather a more scientific discipline.

First, a rigorous subject will seek to define the boundaries, to separate scientific statements from belief statements. How often have we seen the opposite – climatologists making statements about economics, ethics and public policy? It is an underlying assumption that doctorates in climatology (or related subjects) confer special skills or abilities, that non-“scientists” do not possess.

Second, a subject that aims to be scientific would look to what others have said about what constitutes as science. Economics certainly used to do this, looking to the philosophy of science and also to Methodology. To the extent that climatology looks at these issues it only does so to confirm the scientific status, not to recognize how the subject can become more scientific.

Third, in practice, a subject aiming to be scientific would make some distinctions that I covered a couple of years ago. These include
- Positive and Normative statements
- Trivial and non-trivial statements
- Relevant and non-relevant statements
- Good quality and poor quality evidence

Fourth, the subject has no established track record of understanding the climate system, but has plenty of excuses for failure. There is nothing positive to show movement from a set of hypotheses to real knowledge of the world derived from those hypotheses, as this recent exchange with ATTP demonstrates.

Fifth, the subject does not seek to question its assumptions about the world. For instance there is an assumption that the process of temperature homogenisation will cleanse the data of measurement biases. Logically and empirically there are issues with this assumption that a subject aiming to be a science would examine. Such examination is rejected by dogmatic and evasive means.

Aug 9, 2015 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

I do like your idea of "the patient white coated scientists searching for the truth by spreading misinformation".
What a wonderful thing is the English language! I'm not sure even a punctuation change would rescue this. It's fine when spoken; not so good on the printed page. (Sorry; it's the sub-editor in me coming out! ).

Kevin Marshall
I'm not sure whether your "discussion" with ATTP marks you as brave or foolhardy! Any post by him ought to carry the headline "Here there be dragons!" Being an astronomer obviously takes up very little time and I can only hope for Edinburgh University's sake that they only pay him by the minute.
If I had £1 for every time I've seen "I don’t remember actually saying this, but maybe I phrased a comment poorly" or variations thereof in one of his replies I would likely be a very rich man.

My own view is that there is a fair amount of "sciencey" aspects to climatology but that it is essentially a political philosophy with cult-like overtones Its rationale is to serve the political purposes of the UN as even a brief reading of its history demonstrates. Since its inception pre-dates inconvenient developments like the internet it ought to have been possible for those who were using the threat of global warming to initiate massive changes in lifestyles to proceed more or less unimpeded.
The concept of "the science is settled" (even though the Climateers maintain that phrase was never used there is no doubt that was the slogan) was only ever going to hold as long as there was no way that scepticism could achieve critical mass. One way to prevent such critical mass was by choking off the flow of dissident scientific papers and another (I need to be careful to avoid accusations of conspiracy theory here!) appears to have been the Climateers' ability to "place" sympathisers in key positions in learned bodies (where they have given their support without the inconvenience of actually consulting their membership) and in the political sphere where they have been able to convince politicians of the soundness of the science and the policies which need to flow from that.
Then along comes Anthony Watt and Andrew Montford and Joanne Nova and (perhaps in a quiet way one of the most important) Donna LaFramboise who did more than most to rip the credibility guts out of the IPCC. The MSM continues to support the paradigm as do those like Grantham and Munich Re who are very busy making money out of the process but in terms of the scientific debate the Climateers have been on the back foot ever since.

Aug 9, 2015 at 10:55 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

First of all congratulations to Martin A on a quadruple century. He is now the Joe Root of BH.

Why thank you geronimo.

However the 400+ has to be attributed to the efforts of commenters too numerous to mention, but including you, Radical Rodent, Raff and, towering Collossus like above all (in the prolificacy of his comments, if not in their logic), Entropic Man.

Aug 9, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Does that answer your question, Martin A?
Jul 31, 2015 at 11:52 AM Radical Rodent

Thanks RR - I have been mulling what you said for a while. It did answer my question in part.

You said " also incorporates a lot of charlatanism and ..." (COD. charlatan: a person falsely claiming a special knowledge or skill).

I think one of the big problems of "climate science" is that its practitioners are not out and out charlatans. They are genuinely practicing what passes for climate science. But one of Kevin Marshall's blog pages hit the nail on the head.

He said:

The core belief of climate science is that the catastrophist hypothesis is true and the job of the “science” is to reveal this truth.

That is the key to understanding how "climate science" is not actually science. The climategate emails showed Phil Jones talking about his desire to continue "doing good science".

It was quite clear that, by that, he meant continuing to "reveal the truth of the catastrophist hypothesis" - not applying the scientific method to the subject.

Aug 9, 2015 at 3:05 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A. If I've played any part it is that of a night watchman.

Kevin Marshall (good blog too) hit the nail on the head with the quote you gave above.

Mike J: "It's fine when spoken; not so good on the printed page."

I shall, forthwith, stop dictating my posts to Mrs geronimo.

Aug 10, 2015 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Martin A: regarding the charlatans … erm, maybe I phrased the comment poorly (I seem to have heard that somewhere before... how odd). My accusations were not necessarily directed at the practitioners of “climate science” but more at their self-appointed mouthpieces, all with highly influential positions in the media and politics, few with suitably associated qualifications.

The climategate emails also showed Phil Jones and others wishing to defend “the cause” – thus sounding more like a political, religious or otherwise esoteric concept, rather than a truly scientific one, one would have thought. Many of the more visible of the “climate scientists” fail to display the proper applications of disciplines that scientists should display – perhaps the most important could be: DO NOT SHOUT DOWN ANYONE WHO MIGHT NOT FULLY AGREE WITH YOU!

Aug 10, 2015 at 1:51 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

geronimo - yes.

That sentence really is sufficient to explain everything that is wrong with "climate science".

RR - When Phil Jones referred to "the cause" it is completely clear (to me at least) that, for him,
"the cause" ≡ "revealing the truth of the catastrophist hypothesis".

Aug 10, 2015 at 2:05 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A: the “cause” that I read being defended was during exchanges to examine the possibility of destroying the career Chris de Freitas, a peer-reviewer who had questioned some of the papers he was reviewing. The UEA has been associated with Stephen Schneider, who, in 1989, told Discover magazine “To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective and being honest,” [my bold] and who has also helped trained many climate “scientists” in the same school of thought. That does not sound like “the cause” ≡ “revealing the truth of the catastrophist hypothesis”, it does sound more like defence of a cult.

Aug 10, 2015 at 2:36 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

RR - in the discussions on how to destroy the careers of various people, did the Climategaters actually use the phrase "The Cause"?

I did a quick search on "the cause " (space character after 'cause' intentional). Most of the emails that popped up contained things like "If there are jumps in the difference series then the cause has to be the circulation."

Only two referring to "the cause" as an objective came up (I had expected, from past readings of the mails, more than two). And it's Michael Mann who used the phrase, not Phil Jones.
from: Phil Jones <???>
subject: Re: stuff
to: "Michael E. Mann" <???>
At 10:23 03/08/2004 -0400, you wrote:
Thanks Phil,
By the way, when is Tom C going to formally publish his roughly 1500 year
reconstruction??? It would help the cause to be able to refer to that reconstruction as confirming Mann and Jones, etc...
This Bellamy guy sounds like he's right up there w/ the rest of these losers (...)

date: Thu, 26 May 2005 09:03:16 -0400
from: "Michael E. Mann" <???>
subject: Fwd: RE: NATURE: 2005???
to: Phil Jones <???>, tim Osborn <???>, Keith Briffa <???>, Scott Rutherford <???>, "Wahl, Eugene R" <???>, Caspar Ammann <???>, ???
Dear All,
So here is where we stand w/ the comment. Nature seemed adamant about not allowing us tofocus on the synthetic example (ridiculous in my opinion), so I've been forced instead to move this into the Mann et al (pseudoproxy) J. Climate paper.
They will (see below) allow us to provide some discussion of the synthetic example,
referring to the J. Cimate paper (which should be finally accepted upon submission of the revised final draft), so that should help the cause a bit.


Aug 10, 2015 at 7:29 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A, the one I have seen most widely quoted is from Mann in climategate email #0810:

"I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don't know what she think's she's doing, but its
not helping the cause, or her professional credibility,'

There are others. E.g.

Joseph Alcamo <???>
To: ???, ???
Subject: Timing, Distribution of the Statement
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 18:52:33 0100
Reply-to: ???

Mike, Rob,

Sounds like you guys have been busy doing good things for the cause.

Aug 10, 2015 at 7:46 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Martin A
I've always thought that quote from Mann ("By the way, when is Tom C ...) was just the sort of "loose talk" that goes on between any group looking for something to reinforce their argument, which let's face it we all do and shouldn't be seen as sinister.
Ditto your second quote.

michael hart's quotes read a bit differently. Here Mann is castigating a fellow researcher for taking a different line and (more than) implying that she has no right to do so because her views are in danger of damaging some principle or other to which he is signed up. It's non-scientific because he seems to have lost sight of the fact that "the science" cannot be "settled".
The second quote is as bad. "Doing good things for the cause" carries the assumption that whatever it was they did it was primarily for "the cause" and that all else (including even factual accuracy, perhaps) came a distant second.

As always, context is all.

Aug 10, 2015 at 8:13 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Sorry, Martin A, but I cannot find the emails where I saw that phrase used – it was a long time ago, when I was on the cusp between believing accepting (I do have a core of scepticism in all things in me that I cannot shake off) and full scepticism, and there were a lot of e-mails. I had read many of the messages, and seen the TV programme (was it C4, or the BBC?) that ridiculed the claims being made, saying they were being taken out of context. I believed the programme, and re-read, seeking the clarification that was so happily provided by… whoever the presenter was. While I found none, I did find their desire to ruin the career of Chris de Frietas, who had the audacity to question the cause – I am fairly sure that phrase was used several times during that exchange, and its use could only have been as I still read it, now, as a political or ideological construct, based upon shaky science (“Why should I give you the data – you will only try to prove me wrong," being perhaps the most outrageous thing anyone claiming to be a scientist could say).

Aug 10, 2015 at 10:11 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Mike Jackson, Radical Rodent,

Yes, as you say, context is all. I too remember "it's just some banter of professionals taken out of context" as the excuse. But taken in context, the wrongdoing was indisputable.

Years back now, having already had it dawn on me that AGW was noithing more than a theory, it then dawned on me that its protagonists were essentially members of a cult and that AGW was a belief system, based on faith. And the core belief is Kevin Marshall's "that the catastrophist hypothesis is true".

Kevin Marshall's 'the job of the “science” is to reveal this truth' could, perhaps, have been expressed equivalently as 'the job of the “science” is to come up with information that will convince the world of the truth of catastrophist hypothesis, while discounting or discrediting information that could cast doubt on it'.

The whole of climate science as it currently exists is signed up to the cult. The Met Office's post climategate petition with its 1,700 signatories is evidence of that.

Aug 10, 2015 at 10:51 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


you acknowledge that scientists predicted warming. And warming is what we observed.

And then you try and claim that betting on a horse is relevant to empirical assessment of a scientific claim. How so? Are you trying to argue that unless a prediction is perfectly accurate it is false? Perfect predictions are not a part of any science that I have ever known of, and error is.

Empirical assessment shows that predictions from the 80s were for warming of about 0.2/decade, and we have experienced at least 0.12/decade (RSS), or according to the surface records such as GIS more like 0.17/decade.

Aug 11, 2015 at 3:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Johnson

Arthur Johnson: I am not sure that Geronimo acknowledged that “climate scientists” predicted warming. I think it is more that he accepts that they acknowledged warming had occurred, sought a reason, chose CO2, and have extrapolated from that. However, Mother Nature (or Gaia, or reality, if you prefer) has shown that their logic is flawed, and few seem to accept that, hence the squirming and fudging of past theories, and alteration of historic data, all in desperate (and vain) attempts to regain some control of the argument.

The simple fact is that we have no idea what controls the planet’s climate (or temperatures, if you prefer); CO2 has been blamed, yet empirical evidence suggests that it does not have any control – the warming started before there was significant human-produced CO2 in the atmosphere. While consumption of fossil fuels has risen exponentially, atmospheric CO2 concentrations have risen more-or-less linearly, while temperature rises have been erratic. Palaeaological records indicate that temperatures have been higher when CO2 concentrations were lower, and temperatures have been lower when CO2 concentrations were higher. Quite why “climate science” should be blaming the so-far-beneficial slight rise in temperatures on CO2 is a bit of a mystery. Quite why they insist that it all presages doom and gloom is an even greater mystery.

It is also interesting to note your insistence on using surface temperatures. As these temperatures are from a limited number of stations, some isolated in thousands of square miles, how can the data gained be extrapolated to encompass the globe? As many of these sites in higher latitudes and altitudes have since been made redundant, surely there has to be an imbalance towards warming created in the data? Would it not be better to use the data gained from the only fully-global monitoring system, the satellites. They have shown no warming for longer than surface stations have. Perhaps we should also look at the oldest continuous recordings, that of central England (CET) – they show no warming at all!

Aug 11, 2015 at 7:22 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Arthur Johnson
In the history of Earth has
1.Has the Global Average Temperature shown a greater rate of increase than we are currently experiencing?
2.Has the Global Average Temperature Ever been greater than it is now?
3.Has Global Average Temperature ever been less than it is now?
4 Has the Global sea level been greater than it is now?
5 Has the rate of increase of Global sea level been greater than it is now?
6 Has Arctic sea ice extent been lower than it is now?
7, HAs Arctic sea ice extent been greater than it is now?
8. Has Global CO2 concentration been higher than it is now?
9. Has Global CO2 concentration been lower than it is now?
10 Is there any correlation between questions 1-7 and questions 8 and 0?

Thank you

Aug 11, 2015 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Arthur, welcome back, we've missed you.

Arrhenius did predict warming of around 6C, which was reduced to 4C, then 3C in AR4 and now they simply don't know, or at least they won't say so in AR5.

Who said CO2 won't cause warming? As it happens there Arrhenius provided us with a formula to work out the transient climate response which shows that we should have had a transient climate response increase in temperature of 1.37K, so we're short half a degree K. Which means there's something we don't understand, or haven't taken into account.

The "predictions" coming from the climate models gave us this speech from Vickie Pope, in the last few days the Met Office have written a self-serving rebuttal, telling us that the forecast was 0.3C +/- 0.21C and claiming that this proved her prediction correct. See what she said for yourself and go figure how we'd have known the range would have been 0.09C (can they measure that?) and 0.51C. and ask yourself what good a range that wide is to policy makers. Vickie Pope's Forecast , or have look at the forecasts from the models and how they've done against reality Models v. Observations.

Go back to Feynman, if you have a hypothesis and it predicts something should happen in the physical world, and it doesn't happen, they hypothesis is wrong, no ifs and buts, wrong.

The list of failed predictions for this so-called hypothesis is a mile long.

Now here's what I, a sceptic, would do if I had a hypothesis and it proved not able to make predictions in the physical world, I'd assume had either got something wrong or there was something I didn't know.

What I most certainly wouldn't do is to use my work to inform public policy.

Aug 11, 2015 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

"Empirical assessment shows that predictions from the 80s were for warming of about 0.2/decade, and we have experienced at least 0.12/decade (RSS), or according to the surface records such as GIS more like 0.17/decade."

IPCC FAR made the first predictions for policy makers in 1990 this is what they said in the SPM.

"How quickly will global climate change?

a If emissions follow a Business-as-Usual pattern

Under the IPCC Business-as-Usual (Scenario A) emissions of greenhouse gases, the average rate of increase of global mean temperature during the next century is estimated to be about 0 3°C per decade (with an uncertainty range of 0 2°C to 0 5°C) This will result in a likely increase in global mean temperature of about 1°C above the present value (about 2°C above that in the pre-industrial period) by 2025 and 3°C above today's (about 4°C above pre-industrial) before the end of the next century.

The projected temperature rise out to the year 2100, with high, low and best-estimate climate responses, is shown in Figure 8 Because of other factors which influence climate, we would not expect the rise to be a steady one
The temperature rises shown above are realised temp- eratures, at any time we would also be committed to a further temperature rise toward the equilibrium temperature (see box "Equilibrium and Realised Climate Change") For the Ball "best-estimate" case in the year 2030, for example, a further 0 9°C rise would be expected, about 0 2°C of which would be realised by 2050 (in addition to changes due to further greenhouse gas increases), the rest would become apparent in decades or centuries

Even if we were able to stabilise emissions of each of the greenhouse gases at present day levels from now on, the temperature is predicted to rise by about 0 2°C per decade for the first few decades
The global warming will also lead to increased global average precipitation and evaporation of a few percent by 2030 Areas of sea-ice and snow are expected to diminish.

If emissions are subject to controls

Under the other IPCC emission scenarios which assume progressively increasing levels of controls, average rates of increase in global mean temperature over the next century are estimated to be about 0 2°C per decade (Scenario B), just above 0 1°C per decade (Scenario C) and about 0.1 °C per decade (Scenario D)."

We're certainly business as usual in the sense that CO2 emissions haven't abated. So their best guess was 0.3C with a lower limit of 0.2C and they got 0.17C in the RSS dataset. So it's a fail.

As a matter of interest where did you get your 0.2C from? - let me guess - there's a SkS rebuttal of the failure of the predictions? FAR was released in 1990 so was the bang up to date thinking in the scientific community, which was 0.3C for business as usual, meaning that the forecast was 0.13C out and 0.03C below the minimum forecast. Failed.

Aug 11, 2015 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Mike Jackson. The Joseph Alcamo email was soliciting Mike Hulme and one other to get the signatures of as many scientists as possible to support the Cause - i.e. belief in dangerous human induced warming. He even says it won't matter if they're not all PhDs as no one will check.

Shortly after this I read that 2500 scientists supported the notion of CAGW, I hadn't paid any attention to the dispute but this headline put me immediately into the sceptic camp, where I've remained ever since.

Aug 11, 2015 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I was referring specifically to the emails Martin A quoted from.
I may be being over-generous but I see a difference in the first exchange where the word "cause" could simply refer to the objectives of the group as a whole and in general terms — it's a word I've heard used a lot of times in an informal situation which is why I gave them the benefit of the doubt.
I'm not familiar with the Acamo email. If that was as you describe it, a clear attempt to rack up signatures in support of a paradigm regardless of the science, then 'reprehensible' would not be a bad description.
But the Devil's Advocate in me has to ask what was the difference between that and the Oregon Petition since one was a list of the persuaded and the other was a list of the unpersuaded!

Aug 11, 2015 at 7:06 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


Which means there's something we don't understand, or haven't taken into account.

Don't limit yourself to a single unknown in a chaotic multi-input system.

Aug 11, 2015 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

you acknowledge that scientists predicted warming. And warming is what we observed.

Aug 11, 2015 at 3:41 AM Arthur Johnson

Getting the sign of a predicted value right, where a purely random choice would get it right with p ≃ 0.5, is not exactly a stringent test nor an unequivocal verification of a hypothesis.

Aug 11, 2015 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

"you acknowledge that scientists predicted warming. And warming is what we observed."

That's what logicians call the fallacy of "confirming the consequent".

A implies/causes B.
B is observed.
Therefore A is true.

Science instead proceeds by falsification:
A implies/causes B
B is observed not to be true.
Therefore A is not true.

The proposition 'A' is called the null hypothesis, and represents the default, pre-existing, wrong theory that your scientific advance aims to *disprove*. You make predictions based on the null hypothesis about experiments that have different outcomes for the null and the alternative, and then you make your observations. If you can reject the null hypothesis, science advances.

If you don't, then nothing happens. Failing to reject the null hypothesis doesn't mean the null hypothesis is true.

In this case, the null is that climate changes randomly, up or down. The alternative hypothesis is that it only goes up. You have to make a prediction about something on which the hypotheses differ, so simply observing that the temperature went up doesn't cut it. The null predicts that too. What you need is a stronger prediction - for example, that natural variation has a distribution in which rises longer than a certain length hardly ever happen, because being random it's unlikely to come up 'heads' ten times in a row. But you can only do that if you've got a validated model of the statistics of natural variation, which we don't. ('Validated' means 'shown empirically to reliably make sufficiently.accurate predictions for our purposes'.) The best we've got is the GCMs which all predict distributions that have been falsified. (Note, this only proves the current GCMs are wrong - it doesn't prove that CAGW isn't true.)

Until someone can exhibit a validated model of natural background climate variation, it is logically impossible to prove the AGW hypothesis. Until someone can exhibit a validated model of climate variation under the influence of CO2, it is logically impossible to disprove it either. We simply don't know. There's no evidence, one way or the other.

Aug 11, 2015 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba