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Examining Dr. John Christy's Global Warming Skepticism

Posted on 12 June 2011 by dana1981

Christy Crocks (200 x 70 pixels)By far the three most prominent and most frequently referenced climate scientists who are "skeptical" of the dangers of human-caused global warming are Dr. Richard Lindzen of MIT, and Drs. Roy Spencer and John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH).   These are not your typical unqualified "skeptics", like so many others (i.e. computer programmers, politicians, and former political consultants).  No, these are genuine climate scientists who receive government research grants, publish peer-reviewed studies, and have not received any funding from fossil fuel companies in recent years.  Thus their arguments are well worth examining.  Is there scientific validity to their skepticism?

This question is of particular importance since they have recently received so much media attention.  Dr. John Christy, for example, has recently testified before U.S. Congress, appeared on an Australian radio talk show, and on a Canadian radio show.  In these appearances, he advised his audiences that there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding man-made global warming, and that we need not take significant steps to reduce human greenhouse gas emissions.  This advice directly contradicts the findings of the vast majority of Dr. Christy's peers, most recently by the Australian Climate Commission, which concluded that we know beyond a reasonable doubt that humans are the primary cause of the current global warming, and it is critical that we immediately implement policies to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

We recently examined the scientific arguments of Dr. Richard Lindzen, and found that his arguments do present a mostly consistent alternative to the man-made global warming theory.  Essentially Dr. Lindzen argues that the climate is not very sensitive to increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, and the warming we've observed is mainly due to the internal variability of the climate system.  However, we also found that Dr. Lindzen's alternative hypothesis is little more than a flimsy house of cards, with each scientifically faulty argument built upon several other faulty arguments.  In fact every single one of his arguments has turned out to be inconsistent with the observational evidence.  So what about Dr. Christy - does he present a consistent alternative hypothesis to the man-made global warming theory which is more scientifically accurate than Dr. Lindzen's?

No, as it turns out, we find that Dr. Christy's arguments create a similar, but less sophisticated alternative in comparison to Dr. Lindzen's.  The foundation of Dr. Christy's arguments is that despite over four decades of climate science research, we still do not understand the workings of the global climate much better than we did in 1970, and that as a result, we are "jumping to conclusions" in blaming recent global warming on human activities.  However, contrary to Dr. Christy's uncertainty exaggerations, the human influence on the recent global warming is one of the aspects which climate scientists are most certain about.

However, once he sows the seeds of doubt into the minds of his audience, Dr. Christy proceeds to argue, similar to Dr. Lindzen, that recent warming could simply be due to the internal variability of the global climate.  Dr. Christy argues that this is a plausible alternative explanation to man-made global warming because "we", as he puts it, are finding that the climate is not sensitive to greenhouse gases, and he claims that observational data is not consistent with climate model predictions.  Thus, Dr. Christy concludes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions will have little impact on the climate.

As you can see, this is a very similar alternative hypothesis to that put forth by Dr. Lindzen.  In fact, when Dr. Christy says "we" are finding that the climate is insensitive to greenhouse gases, he refers exclusively to studies by Dr. Lindzen and Dr. Spencer.  Virtually all other climate science research has found that the climate is indeed quite sensitive to greenhouse gases, and the work of Dr. Lindzen and Dr. Spencer concluding otherwise contains numerous errors.  And as with Dr. Lindzen's alternative hypothesis, every single one of Dr. Christy's arguments is directly contradicted by the observational data (as illustrated in the links above).

Thus unfortunately we once again find that even the arguments by climate scientist "skeptics" that we need not worry about global warming or greenhouse gas emissions are scientifically unsound.  There's an important distinction to be made here: human-caused global warming is a robust scientific theory which is supported by a vast body of evidence and has withstood extreme scientific scrutiny for many decades.  The alternative hypotheses like that of Dr. Christy, on the other hand, have quickly been falsified by ongoing scientific research.

Additionally, another critical point which Dr. Christy neglects is that even aside from climate change, our carbon emissions are also causing ocean acidification (another major environmental problem which we refer to as "global warming's evil twin"), and there are numerous other issues with our continued reliance on fossil fuels (i.e. peak oil, air pollution, reliance on foreign energy sources, etc.).  It's unfortunate that Dr. Christy and his two "skeptic" colleagues continue to present this misleading and scientifically unsound information to the general public and policymakers, because the more we listen to them and the longer we wait, the worse the consequences will be.

NOTE: As you can see from yet another of John Cook's snazzy buttons at the top of this post, we have launched a comprehensive Christy Crocks page very similar to Monckton Myths and Lindzen Illusions.  We hope people will make use of these resources to respond when these "skeptics" are referenced.  The short URL for the Christy Crocks page is http://sks.to/christy

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 95:

  1. @Dana or John Cook:

    Will the "Christy Crock" button be inserted into all of the other articles in this series?

    How about adding a Note similar to the above to all of the other articles in the series?
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  2. Badger - yes, we'll add the Christy Crocks button to the other Christy Crocks posts. In fact I'll do that now.
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  3. There is an elephant in the room in considering the demonstrably incorrect arguments of Drs. Spencer and Christy. Although we should of course focus on the specific scientific elements of their “arguments”, it's important to recognise that these two have spent a large part of their careers getting the tropospheric temperature measurements hopelessly wrong, and therefore coming to an incorrect conclusion about the troposphere warming response to enhanced greenhouse gas concentrations (see below [+++]).

    This is bound to have influenced their outlook on this subject - it must be very difficult to throw away a favoured interpretation from 15 or more years of study, and not hope that one’s conclusions might yet be vindicated. While it’s important to address deficient arguments with logic and evidence, it’s also useful (and may become increasingly so) to try to fathom the psychology that underlies specific examples of scientific misrepresentation. Each of Spencer and Christy and Lindzen is objectively wrong in their essential representations of the science. I think we can at least partly understand some of the reasons for this in the case of the first two.

    [+++] Christy and Spencer's erroneous interpretation of tropospheric cooling was only revised after a long series of corrections identified by other scientists. It was pointed out as early as 1991 that (a) their analysis was not sufficiently constrained to distinguish cooling from a warming that would be consistent with physical expectations [*], (b) the method of averaging different satellite records introduce a spurious cooling trend [**], and (c) their failure to properly account for orbital decay introduced another spurious cooling trend [***]. A little later it was shown (d) that MSU-2 showed a spurious cooling trend due to spillover of stratospheric cooling into the tropospheric temperature signal [****], and later still it was pointed out that (e) the diurnal correction applied by Christy and Spencer (a sad litany of error) was of the wrong sign and gave yet another spurious cooling trend [*****].

    [*] B.J. Gary and S. J. Keihm (1991) Microwave Sounding Units and Global Warming Science 251, 316 (1991)

    [**] J. W. Hurrell & .K E. Trenberth (1997) Spurious trends in satellite MSU temperatures from merging different satellite record. Nature 386, 164 – 167.

    [***] F. J. Wentz and M. Schabel (1998) Effects of orbital decay on satellite-derived lower-tropospheric temperature trends. Nature 394, 661-664

    [****] Q. Fu et al. (2004) Contribution of stratospheric cooling to satellite-inferred tropospheric temperature trends Nature 429, 55-58.

    [*****] C. A. Mears and F. J. Wentz (2005) The Effect of Diurnal Correction on Satellite-Derived Lower Tropospheric Temperature Science 1548-1551.
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  4. It is worth adding to Chris's excellent summary that for 15 years while Spencer and Christy's analysis was wrong they insisted very loudly that they were right and everyone else was wrong. They allowed deniers to use their data set to claim the globe was not warming. they did not find any of their errors, others had to do the hard work. Spencer is making more of the same noise today.
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  5. Thanks michael.

    Imagine the furore if that level of faulty analysis had been perpetrated by pukka climate scientists. And yet Drs. Christy and Spencer are considered something akin to heroes in some quarters. Christy, in particular, seems to have no qualms about making particulalry unpleasant attacks on the science that informs our undertanding.

    Can't find a link to Gary and Keihm (1991), but the abstracts of the other papers on corrections to faulty satellite tropospheric temerature measures cited just above are worth a perusal...

    Hurrell and Trenberth (1997))

    Wentz and Schabel (1998)

    Fu et al. (2004)

    Mears and Wentz (2005)
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  6. Michael @4,

    "Spencer and Christy's analysis was wrong they insisted very loudly that they were right and everyone else was wrong."

    And Spencer is still make such proclamations on his blog and in his book.
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  7. Chris @5,

    "Imagine the furore if that level of faulty analysis had been perpetrated by pukka climate scientists."

    Indeed Chris, good point (and good posts above). Just look at the controversy and faux debate that people like McIntyre have fabricated over the famous Hockey stick paper by MBH98-- they are still talking about that, even though MBH's Hockey Stick has been corroborated by multiple independent analyses and data sets over the years.

    And I think we are still waiting for the UAH code are we not? I think the last I heard they Spencer and Christy promised their
    code would be available this summer.
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  8. "Spencer and Christy's analysis was wrong they insisted very loudly that they were right and everyone else was wrong."

    I have a very clear memory of the WSJ running an op ed claiming that Spencer and Christy's initial published results were "the wooden stake through the heart of global warming".

    Christy was named to the five person NAS committee formed early in the W administration to report on global warming. This was after errors in the S&C analysis had already been exposed. You might remember that W had promised, while running, "further research" to figure out what was happening with climate change. This "need for further research" really hinged on the satellite vs. ground station record, and early on there was a kind of summit conference with UAH, RSS and others duking it out.

    Anyway, long story short, for those of you here who are from Oz or weren't following things a decade ago ... the NAS committee, among other things, stated that the ground station record was as accurate as the satellite reconstructions. Christy signed it. NAS (actually the NRC which functions as part of NAS) put him on the committee, making certain that denialists couldn't scream that the NRC finding was cooked by excluding him.

    It didn't take long for Christy to hem and haw his way out of that statement, but he's on record of having signed it. On the finding that GW is real he said immediately afterwards:

    "the report simply confirms that the Earth has become warmer over the past 100 years."

    (this, at least, was an improvement over his earlier claims that the satellite record showed cooling, not warming, in recent decades.)
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  9. I have called my next paper Analysing the Earth as a Simple Machine, and have come to the following conclusions.
    http://madmikedavies.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/five_myr_climate_change.png

    My interpretation of the above graph indicates that at current CO2 levels of 400 ppm a climate sensitivity λ of 0.2°C/(Wm−2) is indicated resulting in a temperature rise of only 0.8°C for a doubling of the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. This gives a predicted variation Tmax of 2 °C over each subsequent Milankovich cycle for a predicted CO2 value of 560 ppm. Furthermore a further doubling of CO2 to 1120 ppm would further decrease the sensitivity such that additional CO2 forcing is likely to be in the order of <0.5 °C. this gives a predicted total milankovitch cycle variation of <2.5 °C for a quadrupling of CO2.

    http://madmikedavies.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/climate-sensitivity-and-forcing-2-a-re-evaluation-of-the-ipcc-position/
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  10. madmike - I'm not really sure how to respond to that. Thanks for sharing your opinion, I guess? You seem to provide no explanation whatsoever for your conclusions, which don't match the paleoclimate data. But if you want to discuss climate sensitivity, I suggest either Christy Crock #6 or 'climate sensitivity is low'.
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  11. "My interpretation of the above graph indicates that at current CO2 levels of 400 ppm a climate sensitivity λ of 0.2°C/(Wm−2) is indicated resulting in a temperature rise of only 0.8°C for a doubling of the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere."

    Good for you, Mike! You really are mad ... and I'm so happy that, unlike most denialists, you self-identify and admit it!
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  12. I do congratulate madmike on all the effort he's put into his blog ...

    He appears to be a perpetual typing machine, thus he's the very embodiment of the falsehood of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
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  13. Thank goodness madmike has come to set us all straight. I must admit that for at least the last decade and a half I had been a bit worried, what with all those scientists and their research and analysis and warnings, but now, for the first time in 15 years I can turn the light out and have a good sound sleep and its all thanks to mike. Where has he been all these worrying years, that is the question, where oh where has he been?
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  14. After hearing Christy make erroneous and political rather than scientific statements on Australian Radio, and seeing his performance at US House Committee hearings, I figure that he's not really a climate scientist as such and doesn't care about his scientific reputation (he must have tenure and not be ambitious professionally I suppose).

    Does he do anything other than convert satellite readings into temperature equivalents (and has even got that badly wrong in the past from what I read)? His articles in google scholar suggest not much. He doesn't appear to do any research into the forces or impacts on climate. But happy to be corrected.
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  15. Albatross at 07:47 AM on 12 June, 2011

    since you brought up the constrast between the dreary attempts to contrive fault in Mann et al's paleotemperature reconstruction, and the free-ride given to Spencer and Christy despite their 15 years of mis-analysis, it's worth pointing out another interesting contrast between these two.

    Mann et al's "hockey stick" was really first published in their 1999 paper that included temperature reconstruction back to around 1000 AD. Mann et al were careful to highlight the uncertainties in their analyses as is apparent from their title:

    Mann ME, Bradley RS, Hughes MK (1999) Northern hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: Inferences, uncertainties, and limitations Geophys. Res. Lett. 26, 759-762

    Despite the "uncertainties and limitations" Mann et al have turned out to be broadly correct at least as indicated by the subsequent decade of updated analyses with improved methods and data.

    Christy and Spencer's analysis of tropospheric temperatures was hopelessly incorrect for 15 years and had repeatedly to be corrected by others. The gave no indication that there could be any doubt about the reliability of their analysis as indicated by the title of their main paper:

    Spencer RW, Christy JR (1990) Precise monitoring of global temperature trends from satellites Science 247, 1558-1562.

    As we know their "monitoring of global temperature trends" was anything but "precise", and it was horribly inaccurate.
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  16. Glad you all like my post, the principle issue at stake is climate sensitivity, which from current records is low, as massive climate change has still not happened. Climate sensitivity is only high when, ice albedo is dominant, or when atmospheric albedo is affected by external events. Current CO2 levels of @ 400 ppm mean that sensitivity will remain low until a cataclysmic external input, and effectively means that the current glacial has ended. James Lovelock was right and GAIA is the dominant climate driver.

    Mad Mike
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    Response:

    [dana1981 Wrong.  See Earth hasn't warmed as much as expected.

  17. sout "He doesn't appear to do any research into the forces or impacts on climate."

    He's a scientist alright. But he seems to be hampered by other concerns so he's not free to go where the evidence should take him.

    I think of him as a musician sentimentally attached to an instrument which has lost the capacity to change key. He's perfectly capable of playing any piece of music, but he won't, because he refuses to replace or repair the only instrument he's willing to use.
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  18. It would be nice to see somewhere in this site or on an acceeible link given here, the scientific refutations of the work of Lindzen Spencer and Christy. Nothing above tells us anything at all about the science being criticised. Somewhere, apart from the list of inaccessible papers, there should be a clear review article which other interested scientists who are retired or who no longer have easy access to a science/university library. Statements such as "After hearing Christy make erroneous and political rather than scientific statements on Australian Radio.." only makes the denouncement of his work less plausible. "Political" is difficult to interpret or quantify, but you should be able to substantiate with a few words and/or with reference to an easily accesible detailed, scientific argument, which does not need to be "peer reciewed" since the readers should have enough scientific understanding to judge it, but shows clearly why Christie's scientific statemnts are "erroneous".
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    Response:

    [dana1981] This is a summary post.  As Tom Curtis notes in #19, Christy's specific claims are addressed in the posts linked within the article.  Or you could try clicking the Christy Crocks button, which has a tab listing all the posts pertaining to Christy.

  19. jonnicol @18, this should help, although I can't help but feel you would have found what you asked for (which may not be what you are looking for) had you followed the numerous links in the article.
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  20. I've looked more closely and Christy does publish quite a lot.
    I notice he publishes quite a bit in Energy and Environment, unlike most climate scientists.
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  21. That last comment was from SouT. Don't know what happened to my name or post number. Is there a glitch?
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    Response:

    [DB] An earlier comment had an html coding glitch, which I fixed.

  22. jonicol - I've noticed that many of the scientifically qualified skeptics (Lindzen, Spencer, and Christy high on that list) will make ridiculous statements in interviews, in opinion pieces, etc. Not in the peer reviewed literature, although Lindzen (with his LC11 paper) appears to be an exception to that.

    These opinion pieces are not peer reviewed, but acquire status from the reputations of the originators, primary examples of the Argument from Authority fallacy.
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  23. Just as side-issue, Science of Doom has a piece on Gilbert 2010 published by E&E. This is a real howler which would give some idea about the standards of "peer review" (of denialers by denielers) there.
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  24. scaddenp, that SoD item is brilliant!

    Not so much the post itself (I'm a fully paid up skip-the-equations club member), but the answers to questions in the comments are fantastically clear and straightforward.

    Anyone wanting to understand the difference between the 'what' of the adiabatic lapse rate and the 'why' of the adiabatic lapse rate can do no better than look at this.
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  25. "I notice he publishes quite a bit in Energy and Environment, unlike most climate scientists"

    Not to mention other scientists, in particular those dealing with environmental issues.

    How shocking :)
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  26. chris: you're telling us that Christy & Spencer made no less than five significant errors in their analysis, and that every single one 'just happened' to skew the answer towards indicating that the globe was cooling instead of warming?

    If they were genuine errors, surely you'd expect at least one of them to, perhaps, be on the warm side, rather than the cool.

    What are the odds of a climate skeptic making five genuine fundamental errors of analysis, with all five favouring their decidedly minority point of view?

    I guess it could be a sort of self-reinforcement, where they saw the answers that came out, and said to themselves "Hey, those numbers look really good!", rather than "Hey, those numbers are different to what everyone else in the world is getting, maybe we'd better double-check our analysis..."
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  27. Bern, my understanding is that the various issues that Spencer and Christy got wrong were mostly items that were 'uncertain' at the time. That is, creation of such a satellite temperature record had never been done before so the potential errors and methods of correcting for them were unknown. Thus, they basically made their 'best guess' on various issues which could bias the results either way. The fact that their choices consistently resulted in cooling adjustments (some of which have subsequently proved out) IS rather telling, but I think it speaks to ideological blinders rather than deliberate skullduggery. All of the things they got wrong were reasonable mistakes to make... at the time. As subsequent study and analysis has proved each to be incorrect they have eventually made corrections. That said, last I heard they were still disputing the diurnal correction adjustments.
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  28. Actually, #27, the algebraic sign error was a blunder not related to uncertainty in how to build such a reconstruction, etc. I believe that thinks like their mistaken correction for drift was more subtle, but something professional satellite jockeys knew how to do. Others of the errors are probably more as you describe them.

    Things like algebraic blunders aren't uncommon but as you say, the fact that all their errors appear to have biased in the same direction does speak to "ideological blunders". They were convinced the world wasn't warming, set out to prove it, and were blind to errors that once corrected showed their belief to be incorrect.
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  29. Given that Steve McIntrye's still "auditing" a paper published in the late 90s, you do have to wonder why he's not "audited" S&C's work from the same era, though, don't you? :)
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  30. jonicol #18

    A reasonable question. (-Moderation complaints snipped-).

    The targets are the 3/100 of climate scientists who disagree with (-Ideology snipped-) AGW.

    The usual targets - Christy, Spencer, Lindzen and anybody who publishes in E&E.

    (-Moderation complaints snipped-).

    One wonders why the publishers of site have to keep bashing Christy, Spencer, Lindzen and anybody who publishes in E&E.

    (-Ideology snipped-).
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    Response:

    [DB] Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can and will be rescinded if the posting individual continues to treat adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Moderating this site is a tiresome chore, particularly when commentators repeatedly submit offensive or off-topic posts. We really appreciate people's cooperation in abiding by the Comments Policy, which is largely responsible for the quality of this site.
     
    Finally, please understand that moderation policies are not open for discussion.  If you find yourself incapable of abiding by these common set of rules that everyone else observes, then a change of venues is in the offing.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

  31. Bern,

    CBDunkerson's account is possibly about right. We're talking about analyses made over a 15 year period, and I've just looked at this from perusal of the papers that bear on this topic. Over that period there was uncertainty about proper adjustments of the satellite data to account for merging of different satellite sets and then the difficult-to-identify problems involving stratospheric cooling spillover, satellite drift and diurnal corrections.

    Christy and Spencer were rather adamant about the reliability of their methods right through this period (they wrote several responses to papers highlighting potential problems asserting their analysis was right). Their confidence that they were getting the "right" result was reinforced by a broad agreement with radiosonde data (weather balloons) that suggested that the troposphere wasn't warming. That data (the radiosondes) was also subsequently shown to be incorrect.

    The imperative to address possible problems with Christy and Spencer's analyses came from the evidence from models and especially tropospheric water vapour content that indicated that the troposphere should (models/physics) and must be warming (since tropospheric water vapour was increasing which is a signature of tropospheric warming).

    So the forces at play were probably a combination of ideological blinkers as CB Dunkerson suggests, and also the basic tendency to defend long-held interpretations.

    If one strips this of the political/ideological elements then this scenario would not be so problematic. Philosophy of science-wise it's appropriate/acceptable to defend theories/interpretations until the point when their defence is untenable. We're probably all the more certain that the tropsophere has warmed under the influence of enhanced greenhouse forcing as a result of very careful reanalysis of the discrepencies between the Spencer/Christy analyses and independent data/analyses. The real world does have to make sense - reality can't accommodate incompatible interpretations. The problems in this case are that (i) S/C seemed reluctant to consider the origins of increasing divergence between their data and independent analyses and evidence, (ii) their continuing (to this day) willingness to misrepresent the science and to attempt to "sell" objectively incorrect analyses.......and (iii) the essential unfairness that their opinions are considered by some (including real and potential policymakers) to outweigh the rest of the scientific evidence, while at the same time pukka scientists are subjected to disgraceful harrassment for being honest about their work and its implications.
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  32. Ken Lambert @30, you cannot be unaware that the 1 in 100 (2 in 100 are merely unconvinced) gets far more media coverage than do the 97 in 100, and that their views have been far more influential on actual policy in the United States and Australia than the 97. That in itself is bizarre, and means their views require public rebuttal, however poorly founded they might be.

    You also undoubtedly know that you are setting up an illogical double bind. Apparently, by your reasoning, if Christy, Spencer or Lindzen are rebutted, well that proves that there is substance in their arguments. But of course if they are not rebutted, well that will be interpreted as the 97 of 100 not being able to rebut their arguments. So come what may, you have set up a logic in your mind that refuses to allow that the 1 of 100 could ever have been successfully rebutted, regardless of the evidence.
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  33. Ken Lambert at 23:45 PM on 13 June, 2011

    Not really Ken. One wouldn't be concerned about the science misrepresentations and dodgy analyses of Lindzen, Spencer and Christy if these were simply scientists publishing into the vast repository of scientific literature where it would stand or fall on merit.

    Unfortunately their false analyses are used as if they present a justifiable alternative view of the science. They don't. They may well have an opinion on (say) climate sensitivity. However the evidence simply doesn't support their opinions (they haven't published data that indicates otherwise). Since their opinions seem to be useful for some groups that benefit from a misrepresentation of the science they have far more media visibility than is justified and likely a disproportionate influence on policymaking.

    Similar scenarios have occurred in the past as you know. The number of specific individuals that objectively misrepresented the science on the links between cigarette smoking and cancer and respiratory disease, or between aspirin-taking in children and Reyes syndrome were similarly small. However again since these misrepresentations were useful to some rather powerful interests the "opinions" of the misrepresenters had far too much influence on policymaking with appalling consequences.

    So these misrepresentations need continually to be highlighted and countered. It would be remiss not to do so, especially if we believe in democracy where Joe Public should have a reasonably faithful representation of scientific issues upon which to make informed decisions.
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  34. Ken Lambert wrote : "Surely if the science of alarmist AGW is so overwhelmingly strong - the heretics can just be ignored."


    A perfect example of the bankruptcy of so-called skepticism, because it encapsulates all of their fallacies :

    Use the term "alarmist AGW" without stating what it means.

    Use the term also to describe AGW as a whole, to limit the argument (at least in the so-called skeptic's mind) to a term ("alarmist") that doesn't need to be described because every so-called skeptic has their own personal definition.

    Call the so-called skeptical heroes "heretics" but, again, this terminology is only in their own minds. What heresy has to do with science, only the so-called skeptics know.

    Claim, spuriously, that because the tiny minority are being criticised and asked to back-up their claims (shocking, I know), there must obviously be some problem with AGW.

    If that doesn't work (or when one week changes to the next), claim that the so-called skeptical heroes are being ignored, denied, biased against, censored, subject to a left-wing conspiracy, etc.
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  35. I think the term, "alarmist AGW" is used to discredit AGW as a whole in the same way that "denier" is used to discredit those who view AGW with true skepticism. By using the most alarming statements made (and there are some doozies out there), and attributing them to AGW as a whole, some people have tried to present this as the typical thinking of climate scientists.
    True alarmists and deniers use these terms to refer to those who represent the low ends and high ends of climate science, in addition to those who are truly and the ends of the spectrum. This is a political argument whereby one side tries to paint the opponent(s) as being much further from the middle than they really are.
    Additionally, the added terminology thrown around appears to be an attempt to present ones adversaries as anti-science, using terms from times of political suppression.
    The science will eventually win out. The Earth will do whatever nature dictates, regardless of what we think will happen.
    On rare occassions, those on the edges of the scientific spectrum are proven correct.
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  36. 30, Ken,

    This site has degenerated somewhat into a forum for jeerers and jeerleaders.
    No, not at all. Some discussions degenerate because the parties involved are battling and lecturing, not discussing. When one party spends their time either completely mischaracterizing the statements of the other, or simply attacking him as an unworthy opponent, is when it degenerates.

    ...alarmist AGW.
    An offensive and useless adjective, used as a tactic to stealthily belittle a position not in line with your own.
    The usual targets - Christy, Spencer, Lindzen and anybody who publishes in E&E.
    E&E is a joke which has lost any pretense of respect among climate scientists. It only publishes the drivel that was unpublishable elsewhere, because it couldn't get past substantive review (such as the idea that the sun is made of iron).

    ...because the jeerleaders don't know quite as much as they think they do - particularly when numbers are quoted.
    Wow. I'll bet that was really easy to type, even while looking in the mirror.

    One wonders why the publishers of site have to keep bashing Christy, Spencer, Lindzen and anybody who publishes in E&E.
    No, one doesn't. It's obvious, as is your rhetoric. The answer? Christy, Spencer and Lindzen are demonstrably wrong, but keep shouting their positions anyway. And, as already stated, E&E is the joke that gives their discredited positions the appearance of any semblance of substance.

    Surely if the science of alarmist AGW is so overwhelmingly strong - the heretics can just be ignored.
    No, because the heretics spend a lot of time in the main stream media, giving talks, appearing on Fox News, and the like. They don't appear to be so much interested in advancing the science (by oh, I don't know, maybe publishing defensible papers in reputable, respected journals) as simply repeating the same false, debunked untruths and misrepresentations over and over again.

    The heretics could be ignored if there weren't a faithful cadre of people eager to believe what they are saying, in spite of the evidence and facts. Not only do those people believe it, but they repeat it, preach it, and expound on it at length on this very blog, taking the nonsense and spinning it into a complex and through its complexity a seemingly valid argument, to then be grabbed and trumpeted by other people, equally eager to believe what they want to believe, rather than what the facts lead to.

    [As a side note, your use of the word "heretic," which is yet another backhanded attempt to portray a proper understanding of the science as a religion, and those outside of the mainstream as a poor, persecuted souls, has not passed unnoticed.]
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  37. Eric the Red @35, you talk glibly about being "far from the middle" but the phrase is meaningless unless you specify which community of opinion you are far from. So, by "far from the middle" do you mean far from the middle:

    1) Of the opinions of climate scientists;

    2) Of political opinion;

    3) Of public opinion;

    or do you have some other body of people in mind?
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  38. Eric @35,

    "I think the term, "alarmist AGW" is used to discredit AGW as a whole in the same way that "denier" is used to discredit those who view AGW with true skepticism."

    Not at all Eric, it is a statement of fact, the decision to try and make it pejorative arises from the very poor and transparent attempt by those in denial to reframe the argument and to detract from their failings. There are many examples of denial, that are not at all related to the Holocaust:

    Denying the link between tobacco and cancer (as Lindzen does).
    Denying the link between HIV and AIDS
    Denying the theory of evolution (as Spencer does, IIRC)
    Denying that doubling or trebling CO2 (and consequently raising CO2 to its highest level in easily over a million years in the blink of an eye geologically speaking) will have no significant impact on the climate system/biosphere and its inhabitants.

    Now you are and Ken are trying very hard to detract from Christy's scientific failings as outlined in the main post-- but your efforts are transparent. So do your best to defend the indefensible, but doing so only undermines your credibility. Being a true skeptic means that you need to acknowledge and call Christy on his failings and be critical of his failings-- not to defend those failings or try and detract from them.

    And I note the absence of reference to science in your post and that of Ken, compared to say posts by Chris, for example. At least madmike, as misguided as he is, tried to use science to substantiate his defense of Christy. You guys really need to up your game, and it is a game for you is it not?
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  39. Tom,
    The quote was a reference to politicians framing their opponent as being out of touch with the electorate or, "far from the middle." Hence, political arguments.
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  40. Albatross,
    At first, I thought you were agreeing with me when you said that what I thought was occurring was a "statement of fact." After that, I am not sure what you meant.
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  41. Eric the Red @39, so we are to conclude that you think the 97% of actively publishing climate scientists who think global warming is real, anthropogenic and a problem are alarmist extremists because their opinion is very far from the middle of political opinions on global warming? And if not, what relevance does being close to the center of political opinion have on an issue which is first, and foremost a scientific issue?
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  42. Eric @40,

    To clarify, saying someone is in denial about AGW or a denier of AGW is a statement of fact. I also provided some other very clear examples of denial in science to help you join the dots.

    Now are you going to use some reputable, peer-reviewed science that has withstood the test of time to try and defend the problems identified with Christy's science? Or are you going to be a true skeptic and critically question Christy's science before signing off on it? Or are you going to give him carte blanche?

    I for one would appreciate if we could all try and stay on topic and focus on the scientific integrity (or more accurately the lack thereof) in Christy's work and his public musings, and to do so using reputable, peer-reviewed science that has withstood the test of time.
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  43. Tom,
    I have no idea how you came to that conclusion, and my post in no way resembled that statement.
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  44. Albatross,
    None of my posts even remotely mentioned Christy's science. I was merely responding to JMurphy, on using the term, "alarmist," and on how I perceive that it is being used. I was expressing my dismay at used terms such as, denier, alarmist, heretic, etc.
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    Response:

    [DB] Can we all agree to stick to the subject of this post (Examining Dr. John Christy's Global Warming Skepticism) and avoid off-topic discussions of labels such as denier, alarmist, heretic, etc.  We've had plenty of posts/threads devoted to those recently.

  45. Eric,

    "None of my posts even remotely mentioned Christy's science."

    Exactly my point. Can you please do that. Otherwise your silence on his glaring errors could rightly be interpreted tacit approval of them.
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  46. Eric the Red @43, you wrote:

    "True alarmists and deniers use these terms to refer to those who represent the low ends and high ends of climate science, in addition to those who are truly and the ends of the spectrum. This is a political argument whereby one side tries to paint the opponent(s) as being much further from the middle than they really are.

    That is a claim that there are people who are truly alarmists, and truly deniers, and that those people are those who are at the extreme "ends of the spectrum". I asked you what spectrum, and you responded that it was the spectrum of political opinion.

    The simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of climate scientists are very far from the centre of political opinion on climate science. In choosing the political spectrum to define your terms, therefore, you have classified them as "truly alarmists". At the same time you have classified Christy who is quite close to he center of political opinion on climate change as not being a denier; and the beauty of it for you is that that classification, because it is based on political opinion, has required not a single assessment of the scientific validity of their work.

    In contrast, had you made your definition by reference to scientific opinion, then you would have been compelled by your definition to conclude that Christy (and probably you) was a denier, and the quality of scientific opinion would have been central to the issue.
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  47. Chris@5
    It would be a fun exercise to stoke the anti-science blogs with a carefully crafted story about climate "scientists" ignoring their fundamental errors for decades all the while proclaiming their falsehoods to the compliant MSM (did i hit all the buttons?). The names would only be revealed to those who bothered to read the actual linked papers. It would spread like wildfire before anyone checked up on who the actual scientists are.
    If only I were a better creative writer.
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  48. KL - read the Gilbert paper and tell me E&E is not a joke. Anything published there will make no contribution to science so the purpose of anyone publishing there is political.
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  49. Tom,
    I do not think that you understood that I was comparing them to a political argument. However, I will end here before the moderator chastises me further from being OT.
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  50. "On rare occassions, those on the edges of the scientific spectrum are proven correct". Rare enough, that it would be extremely unwise for policy not be based on scientific consensus. You apparently think Christy could be right, but then how do you feel about the Christy Crocks?
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