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Discussion > Matt Ridley at the Royal Society for GWPF

I'd be very impressed if, instead of linking to other people's critiques (whether of that paper or of Matt Ridley generally) you now analysed the paper and took it apart point by point in your own words.

Briefly, as there are better things to do than fisking Ridley:

Ridley's Point 1 - UHI contamination. This was ruled out by the Berkeley Earth Project, and others. You'd expect a science journalist know this. 'Unexplained' adjustments, the code and data for GISTEMP is 100% open source and documented in the literature. The Ad hominem attack against Jim Hansen is no argument at all and was anyway rendered moot as Hansen retired a few months after the paper was written, no change to the data ensued.

Point 2 'I would need persuading that water vapour will amplify CO2’s effect threefold in the future but has not done so yet. '

For a science writer, Ridley is woefully ignorant of the science. Water vapour feedback was first observed nearly a decade ago.

The water-vapor feedback implied by these observations is strongly positive, with an average magnitude of λq = 2.04 W/m2/K, similar to that simulated by climate models

Point 3, Again, Ridley waves away the mainstream position with no better reference than a blog post. ECS is estimated from more than just the GCMS, and the recent record warmth has all but eliminated the model-observation discrepency.

Point 4, Ridley seems to believe the impacts of black carbon gave been underestimated or overlooked, despite extensive discussion in the literature (not least by Jim Hansen). The paper he points to has been cited over 1200 times and was of course referenced by IPCC AR5 (Chapter 8).

Point 5 there is nothing unprecedented about the level and rate of change of temperature today compared with Medieval, Roman, Holocene Optimum and other post-glacial periods, when carbon dioxide levels did not change significantly, but temperatures did

For support he cites the Ljungqvist 2010 reconstruction, the abstract of which states

Decadal mean temperatures seem to have reached or exceeded the 1961–1990 mean temperature level during substantial parts of the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period

But contemporary temperatures are substantially (>1C) above the 1961-1990 mean, as the paper goes on to note:

. Since AD 1990, though, average temperatures in the extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere exceed those of any other warm decades the last two millennia, even the peak of the Medieval Warm Period


. Our temperature reconstruction agrees well with the reconstructions by Moberg et al. (2005) and Mann et al. (2008) with regard to the amplitude of the variability as well as the timing of warm and cold periods, except for the period c. AD 300–800, despite significant differences in both data coverage and methodology

Ridley's source does not support Ridley's argument.

Point 6 Basically, he repeats his water vapour error and asserts that 'almost everyone' agrees that anything less than +2C is net beneficial. No evidence is given to back this up.

Point 7, Anyway, we will adapt and the probability of deaths from extreme weather are down (according to a non-peer-reviewed article written by an Electrical Engineer published by the libertarian Reason Foundation). Well, one would hope we have got better at detecting and mitigating floods, droughts etc since the 1920s. The trend in the number of extreme weather events is clear, however.

Point 8, The costs of future climate change mitigation and adaptation should not be bourne by this generation, contrary to the case made by Stern (and every other similar study). In support he cites the rebuttal to Stern authored by Peter Lilley MP. Which is as error-strewn as anything by Ridley.

Point 9 No evidence is presented to support the main contention - that fracking has reduced CO2 emissions in the US more than any other technology - so it is impossible to evaluate. Certainly in the UK, adopting fracking will make reaching our emission targets all but impossible.

Point 10, A straw man and more hand-waving.

Hopefully Matt has upped his game since this poorly-supported farrago of half-truths, errors and misrepresentations, otherwise genuine scientists in the audience will laugh him out of the room the first time he cites in support of his arguments.

Oct 16, 2016 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke


I'm busy at the moment, but will look forward to having a good look at your latest post next week. Thank you for taking the time to respond in the positive spirit in which I invited your comments.

Oct 16, 2016 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson

Ridley's Point 1 - UHI contamination. This was ruled out by the Berkeley Earth [link] Project, and others. You'd expect a science journalist know this.

Oct 16, 2016 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

From the cited abstract

"...the difference of these is consistent with no urban heating effect over the period 1950 to 2010, with a slope of -0.10 ± 0.24/100yr (95% confidence)".

This is the problem with much of climate science. They cite an error-bar which is 2.4 times greater (240% larger) than the actual number presented. In the regular hard-sciences this gets the audience rolling with laughter. Your supervisor later gives you a smack on the wrist with a (metal) ruler.

I would even expect sociologists to haul one of their own over the coals for pretending that this is a number to be taken seriously. But amongst the climate-afflicted it is accepted without question, because they are too busy trying to save the planet and play politics to trouble themselves with attention to inconvenient statistical details.

Oct 16, 2016 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Phil Clarke, if it wasn't clear from my last post, let me point out that the statistical confidence in the number cited by that paper includes the possibility that the trend is either up or down. Not much use, huh?

Oct 16, 2016 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Huh? The uncertainty is what it is, and must be accurately stated.

The paper's conclusion is

We observe the opposite of an urban heating effect over the period 1950 to 2010, with a slope of -0.10 ± 0.24°C/100yr (2σ error) in the Berkeley Earth global land temperature average. The confidence interval is consistent with a zero urban heating effect, and at most a small urban heating effect (less than 0.14°C/100yr, with 95% confidence) on the scale of the observed warming (1.9 ± 0.1°C/100 yr since 1950 in the land average from Figure 5A).

So the UHI effect is between zero and negligible. Either Ridley knows this and is being disingenuous, or he does not and lacks basic expertise on the subject he is writing about.

Oct 16, 2016 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

 They cite an error-bar which is 2.4 times greater (240% larger) than the actual number presented.

So, on your planet, a trend of 0C/100yr +/- 0.1C/100yr would have an error bar infinitely larger than the actual number?

Not sure you've quite grasped this.

Oct 16, 2016 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

They cite an error-bar which is 2.4 times greater (240% larger) than the actual number presented.

So, on your planet, a trend of 0C/100yr +/- 0.1C/100yr would have an error bar infinitely larger than the actual number?

Not sure you've quite grasped this.

Oct 16, 2016 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

That's why I added my extra comment, to help you avoid the error of trying to divide a number by zero. I guess I was too late.

Oct 16, 2016 at 9:28 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

michael hart, when Mann made up his Hockey Stick, the error bars were the left and right hand margins. Everything in between was an error. This has been demonstrated with every attempt to replicate the Hockey Stick, as Phil Clarke has previously identified.

Oct 16, 2016 at 9:47 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

You still don't understand your error. You cannot meaningfully express the uncertainty as a proportion of the absolute value of the trend, as the divide by zero absurdity neatly illustrates.

Oct 16, 2016 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Clarke 9:55 if you understood the absurdity of your own errors, so neatly copied from others, you might have some understanding of uncertainty.

Perhaps you can confirm when and how the science was settled, and why it has become so necessary to rewrite the temperature timeline?

Oct 17, 2016 at 12:21 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

A thing has only just occurred to me.

I neither said it, nor claimed it, nor even aimed for it. But as Andrew Montford is my witness, I think I have actually just got a global warming troll to argue with me about the mathematical minutiae of zero global warming.

I don't just claim my five pounds, I want 666 pounds.

Oct 17, 2016 at 1:09 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Perhaps hearing Ridley speak would cause Clarke or Monbiot to be 'triggered' and they would have to retreat to their 'safe space' in the latter's Mid-Welsh Yurt. No doubt to the chagrin of any passing Mongolians who would themselves suffer from 'cultural appropriation' of their traditional dwellings.

And of the native Celts of Machynlleth who mayn't be too pleased to be invaded by sanctimonious public school educated English toffs.....

Not sure this lazy stereotyping does much for the tone of the site, its so far off the mark it's really very amusing.

Oct 17, 2016 at 6:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

A thing has only just occurred to me.

And a trend of 5C/100yr +/- 0.1C/100yr would have an error bar of 2%?

Penny dropped yet?

Oct 17, 2016 at 6:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Oh dear, I'm not sure I have time to go through all 10 points in the detail with which we're already discussing part of point number 1. I'm going to have to read the Berkely Earth Project link in detail, having (to my satisfaction at least) taken apart the conclusions drawn by Phil's earlier link to Petersen's paper "Assessment of Urban Versus Rural In Situ Surface Temperatures in the Contiguous United States: No Difference Found" on the UHI thread I set up to discuss it. I was rather surprised to see no counter-arguments from Phil C or EM on that thread.

I read recently that to the extent that there is warming, it is more from higher average lower temperatures, rather than from higher average top temperatures, which if correct is entirely consistent with the UHI effect.

As I've said already, I'm extremely busy with life getting in the way at the moment, but I'll try to deal with the new paper linked to by Phil, when I get the chance. I might do so on the UHI thread, as the more appropriate venue to discuss it.

Oct 17, 2016 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson

Phil Clarke says:

'Not sure this lazy stereotyping does much for the tone of the site, its so far off the mark it's really very amusing'

Thank you, Phil.

You have grasped my (ironic) point about playing the ball not the man exactly. I hope this new insight will help you in your future postings.

Oct 17, 2016 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Parker et al took a rather lateral approach, if UHI was significantly affecting measurements then it should be reduced in windy conditions, so they compared measurements on windy and calm nights.

A Demonstration That Large-Scale Warming Is Not Urban

Oct 17, 2016 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

My usual question:

What Matt Ridley talk? Where? When? What's the title? Where is it advertised?

If I search for it, all I find is the usual idiots whining incoherently about it.

Blue jacket and red trousers eh? But how will you be distinguished from Michael Portillo? I guess you'll be the one not wearing the matching bright green shirt.

Oct 17, 2016 at 10:58 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The Met Office and BBC take a rather more lazy approach and keep quoting record temperatures recorded at the the world's most famous Urban Heat Island, known as Heathrow Airport.

Any attempt by climate science to minimise the effect of UHI on dubious scientific methods of recording, are destroyed by their insistence on quoting figures for Heathrow.

Attempts to prove the validity of the Hockey Stick are a lucrative fee earner for climate science, because each successive attempt turns out to be another failure. Attempts to prove that UHI does not form a significant proportion of recorded Global Warming, are also becoming a lucrative earner for climate scientists.

Why are taxpayers having to fund more failures to prove the validity of previous failures?

It seems there are links between failures in proving the Hockey Stick, and those failures involved with UHI. But they have all earned lots of taxpayer funds for their failures.

Oct 17, 2016 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Paul Matthews

The GWPF has hired a room at the Royal Society tonight for a political rally to oppose government climate policy.

It is invitation only, for the chosen few who agree with their position.

Oct 17, 2016 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

I think it is today

But there seems to be nothing on either the GWPF charitable or propaganda websites.

Oct 17, 2016 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Clarke

No doubt we will hear from the GWPF tomorrow.

Actually this was quite a politically astute move on their part.

If the Royal Society had declined to rent them a room, then the GWPF cries of "denial of free speech" would have been deafening.

Now the GWPF can claim that the Royal Society, by renting them a room, endorsed Ridley's bullshit.

Oct 17, 2016 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

You could be right, EM, the post-match spin (perhaps from the Forces both of Light and Darkness) will be fascinating.

Oct 17, 2016 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Clarke & Entropic Man, do remind us all who was invited to any of the meetings that found CO2 to be guilty of changing the climate.

The "Exxon knew" campaign of disinformation, is turning into a series of revelations about political and legal dishonesty, fraud, corruption and lies, involving politicians, lawyers and climate scientists, many at the highest level, conspiring to defraud taxpayers, who have to pay the salaries of the lying politicians, lawyers and climate scientists.

Why are you protesting about the "Invitation Only" nature of the GWPF evening?

Oct 17, 2016 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

It wasn't hard to get an invitation. A single e-mail sufficed.

But if you bedwetters can all hold yourselves in patience, I will report on proceedings later tomorrow.

Oct 17, 2016 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Latimer Alder

It has become fashionable for pseudoscientists like the GWPF to seek credibility by booking a prestigious scientific venue.

May I recommend another conference for your attention. It is to be held in Hughes Hall in the University of Cambridge from 12th November.

The title is "Beyond Marterialism. Biology in the 21st Century.

It is organised by the Centre for Intelligent Design.

Oct 17, 2016 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man