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Lessons from the Monckton/Plimer debate

Posted on 29 January 2010 by John Cook

Earlier today, I attended a climate debate between Ian Plimer and Christopher Monckton versus Barry Brooks and Graham Readfern at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane (many thanks to Graham for the ticket). The debate made for good entertainment, and surprisingly, I even learnt a thing or two about the climate debate. Even more surprisingly, the most enlightening aspects came from Monckton and Plimer.

Monckton kicked off the debate, warming up with a few disarming jokes. The man sure does know how to work a crowd. He then informed us that he was to focus on the most important aspect of climate discussion which is climate sensitivity. Unfortunately, he immediately veered off-topic, spending most of his allotted time taking potshots at the IPCC. The discussion of climate sensitivity came in a hurried blur at the end of his presentation, including a curious graph that showed solar activity increasing over the last few decades. As direct measurements of solar activity show solar output decreasing since 1980, I was interested to see where his data came from but the graph was gone before I could locate the reference.

Ian Plimer jumped out of the gates with the (correct) assertion that climate has changed in the past and has experienced quite dramatic changes in temperature. Indeed this is Plimer's chief refrain in his book, in every interview I've heard and at today's debate. Anticipating this (correctly), earlier in the week, I'd submitted a question to be asked of Plimer during the question time that took up most of the debate time. My question was:

"You say climate always changes and climate scientists ignore this. Why do you ignore the dozens of studies that examine past climate change? These actually provide evidence for our climate's sensitivity to CO2 forcing."

Okay, it's a mouthful but I've been genuinely wondering this since I read Plimer's book. He's a qualified geologist, a professional scientist and yet he seems unaware of (or ignores) the extensive body of peer reviewed literature that acknowledges past climate change, scrutinises these periods and concludes that our climate is sensitive (for a good overview, read Knutti & Hegerl 2008). Those periods of dramatic change demonstrate that our climate is subject to net positive feedback. Doesn't Plimer realise when he talks about past climate change, he's citing evidence for high climate sensitivity?

So I was understandably eager to hear Plimer's response. He began by claiming 'those studies' were based on recent observations and didn't cover the deep past. He then rambled about limestone sequestration of carbon dioxide. The question dodge was disappointing. Not entirely surprising, considering past form, but nevertheless disappointing. Perhaps if I'd cited Dana Royer's study of climate sensitivity from the last 420 million years of temperature change (Royer 2007), I may have received a more specific answer. But I only had a few lines in which to squeeze a question.

Still, I must tip my hat to Plimer and Monckton. Both utilised their formidable public speaking skills and rhetorical flourishes to persuasively explain why humans can't be causing global warming. Plimer's argument was that climate has changed in the past. Eg - climate has a high sensitivity. Monckton's argument was that climate has a low sensitivity. I think the irony that the two were arguing contradictory positions was lost on most of the audience.

In a sense, their combined approach perfectly encapsulates the way skeptic arguments are used to mislead. Layering argument upon argument, regardless of a lack of internal consistency, isn't about furthering scientific understanding but proving the preconceived notion that humans can't be causing global warming. Two skeptic arguments can contradict each other, even on the same debating stage, so long as the common enemy of man-made global warming is refuted.

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 106:

  1. Doug.. I don't think realclimate is telling the story correctly as Wegman deals with this:(surely after such expert testimony you must concede that the hockey stick is well and truly broken?

    Q. Do you agree or disagree with Wahl and Ammann’s finding that the time period used to center the data does not significantly affect the results reported in the MBH98 paper? If you disagree, please state the basis for your disagreement. Were you aware of their reanalysis of MBH99 prior to the time you finalized your report? Do you agree or disagree with their reanalysis of MBH99? If you disagree, please state the basis for your disagreement.

    Ans: We do disagree. The fundamental issue focuses on the North American Tree Ring proxy series, which Wahl and Ammann admit are problematic in carrying temperature data. In the original MBH decentered series, the hockey-stick shape emerged in the PC1 series because of reasons we have articulated in both our report and our testimony. In the original MBH papers, it was argued that this PC1 proxy was sufficient. We note the following from Wahl and Ammann. “Thus, the number of PCs required to summarize the underlying proxy data changes depending on the approach chosen. Here we verify the impact of the choice of different numbers of PCs that are included in the climate reconstruction procedure. Systematic examination of the Gaspé-restricted reconstructions using 2-5 proxy PCs derived from MM-centered, but unstandardized data demonstrates changes in reconstruction as more PCs are added, indicating a significant change in information provided by the PC series. When two or three PCs are used, the resulting reconstructions are functionally equivalent to reconstructions in which the bristlecone/foxtail pine records are directly excluded When four or five PCs are used, the resulting reconstructions are virtually indistinguishableand are very similar to scenario 5b.” Wahl and Ammann.

    Without attempting to describe the technical detail, the bottom line is that, in the MBH original, the hockey stick emerged in PC1 from the bristlecone/foxtail pines. If one centers the data properly the hockey stick does not emerge until PC4. Thus, a substantial change in strategy is required in the MBH reconstruction in order to achieve the hockey stick, a strategy which was specifically eschewed in MBH. In Wahl and Ammann’s own words, the centering does significantly affect the results. Yes, we were aware of the Wahl and Ammann simulation. We continue to disagree with the reanalysis for several reasons. Even granting the unbiasedness of the Wahl and Ammann study in favor of his advisor’s methodology and the fact that it is not a published refereed paper, the reconstructions mentioned by Dr. Gulledge, and illustrated in his testimony, fail to account for the effects of the bristlecone/foxtail pines. Wahl and Ammann reject this criticism of MM based on the fact that if one adds enough principal components back into the proxy, one obtains the hockey stick shape again. This is precisely the point of contention. It is a point we made in our testimony and that Wahl and Ammann make as well. A cardinal rule of statistical inference is that the method of analysis must be decided before looking at the data. The rules and strategy of analysis cannot be changed in order to obtain the desired result. Such a strategy carries no statistical integrity and cannot be used as a basis for drawing sound inferential conclusions.'
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  2. EdB,
    it's really enlghtning that you quote a politically recruted team that published a non-peer revewd report and not, for example, the National Research Council Report or the tons of other published papers.
    Is it a bias in the google search engine or somewhere else? Assuming you asked google the same thing you asked here, i tryed both "hockey stick controversy" and "hockey stick broken" but the Wegman Report didn't show up in the first 10 results ...
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  3. Riccardo

    The Wegman report was easy to find. It pops up in Wikipedia.
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  4. EdB,
    exactly what I said, you were looking for it, not at the broad picture of the science of temperature reconstruction.
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  5. EdB this site is pretty good at focusing on the science, and you’re not going to make much headway with that stuff. I wonder if you’d really be happy with a world in which science was “decided” by political committees!

    In fact there have been a large number of paleoproxy analyses of past temperatures since Mann's original papers. These pretty uniformly support the essential conclusions of the 1998/9 Mann et al reconstructions, with no evidence (in N Hemisphere reconstructions) of any periods during the past couple of millennia that were warmer than the temperatures around the middle of the 20th century (i.e. the evidence indicates that the contemporary N. hemisphere is already around 0.6-0.9 oC warmer than during the warmest period of the last 2000 years). All of the published paleoreconstructions place the late 20th century and contemporary warming as being anomalous in the context of the last two millennia much as Mann et al proposed in 1998.

    The paleoproxy data is archived here, and there’s no excuse in not addressing the scientific evidence that supports this conclusion:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/recons.html

    Otherwise, it’s difficult to understand your posts. I’ve just looked in the database for papers by the McIntyre person that you have mentioned and there simply isn’t anything there that addresses this subject (apart from a few paragraphs of unsubstantiated complaints against Mann et al's 2008 paper in PNAS). Wahl and Ammann published an enormously detailed paper that essentially validated the Mann et al proxy analysis in relation to detailed methodologies, and demonstrated that the McIntyre critique was without merit:

    Wahl ER, Ammann CM (2007) Robustness of the Mann, Bradley, Hughes reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere surface temperatures: Examination of criticisms based on the nature and processing of proxy climate evidence Climatic Change 85, 33-69

    Your McIntyre chap hasn’t responded in the scientific literature, so clearly there’s nothing substantively wrong with the Mann et al or Wahl and Ammann’s analyses that warrents a critical analysis in the scientific literature. In any case this is very, very old news and we don’t have to keep on pretending that all of our understanding of paleoclimate rests on a paper from 12 years ago!

    If we're interested in the science we really should be addressing the evidence.
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  6. Riccardo, Pinto & Pinto have found that a single degree centigrade of local surface temperature change is enough to increase lightning activity by as much as 30-40%, independent of timescale. An effect of this magnitude is also predicted by climate models. The coupling is prominent, one can not possibly miss it, provided warming occurs indeed.

    On the other hand, via Schumann resonance no increase in global integrated lightning activity is observed on multidecadal scales. It follows, that both temperature trend reconstructions and mainstream climate models are in serious trouble.

    Indirect measurement is fine as long as the measurement process and device is tightly controlled and the physics is understood. Neither one of these assumptions hold for the kinds of indirect measurements AGW theory is based on.

    OHC would be a good indicator if it were measured. In fact it is only measured with reasonable resolution since late 2003 and only for the upper 750 m or so of the oceans. Not much increase is observed for this period, all else is the usual mess of ad hoc "adjustments".

    Measuring the low frequency modes of Schumann resonance is a beautiful hack. It effectively uses the entire Earth as a high precision measurement device. It is not an effect masked by all kinds of biases, spurious noise sources, instrument changes, calibration problems and the like. Also, long term measurement projects are not controlled by the climate crowd, but geophysicists.

    I wonder what should happen to force you to consider constant UTRH climate models getting falsified. If no conceivable state of affairs is sufficient to do that, the models are so slippery, they have no scientific merit whatsoever.

    As for being harsh. Please, do that, I am not touchy. In science going for truth is a better predisposition than going for PR exploits, influence, glory, power, money and the like. If it is arrogant, so be it.
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  7. EdB, the ultimate arbiter of scientific analysis is time and the cauldron of subsequent research and critique. If one is interested in the paleoclimate of the last millenium or two, one looks at the scientific evidence (lots of this presented in recent posts on this thread). Mann's original analysis has been hugely stimulating of an entire scientific field, and the subsequent analysis using a range of methods, has come up with broadly similar conclusions about the anomalous nature of late 20th century and contemporary warming. If Mann was so wrong, how come he seems to have been right?

    That's the beauty of the scientific method Ed. Reality supercedes politics. It would be unfortunate to fixate on a political "enquiry", and ignore the reality of a wealth of scientific data...
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  8. re #27/36 Berényi Péter

    "Once again. Forget communication & messages, it is not the scientist's field of expertise. Go for truth instead."

    Careful with attempts at "truth" Peter. As you did on the other thread about tropospheric water vapour, you're attempting to bypass the essential element of scientific enquiry which is evidence. Attempts at "truth" might be used to bolster weak, non-scientific positions, but it’s usually obvious if these don't accord with the evidence.

    That's the case with your lightning/upper tropospheric water vapour (UTWV) idea. I think you've misunderstood the papers of the scientists that you cite (O. Pinto Jr. and I.R.C.A. Pinto; and C. Price and M. Asfur). The essential point is not that enhanced lightening is expected in a warming world due to enhanced UTWV; in fact lightning is a means of (temporarily) enhancing UTWV (and aiding equilibration of water vapour in the UT), and the use of lightening as a proxy for UTWV should be seen in that light; it’s a potential means of determining the variability in UTWV. That’s clear from the recent papers of your scientists: e.g.:

    Pinto O and Pinto IRCA (2008) On the sensitivity of cloud-to-ground lightning activity to surface air temperature changes at different timescales in Sao Paulo, Brazil J. Geophys. Res. 113, D20123

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2008/2008JD009841.shtml

    These authors describe the expectation that lightning should increase in a warming world, and show that their own data from Brazil is consistent with models in predicting enhanced lightning above an enhanced surface warmth in the decades from 1950-1990. They point out that there isn’t good evidence for long term global lightning trends, but state that this may be due to limited and localized analyses and the fact that lightning predominates in the tropics whereas warming as dominated in the temperate and polar regions. These authors say nothing about the relationship between lightning and UTWV other than to point out that Price and Asfur have attempted to relate variability in UTWV to lightning (i.e. lightning is the cause of temporarily enhanced UTWV since the associated phenomena aid in transporting water vapour to high altitudes).

    This is very clearly stated in the recent papers of Price and Asfur. For example:

    Price C (2009) Will a drier climate result in more lightning? Atmos. Res. 91, 479-484

    Previous studies have indicated that increased lightning activity will moisten the upper troposphere ([Price, 2000] and [Price and Asfur, 2006a]). Hence, a drier surface resulting in a wetter upper atmosphere also appears to present a contradiction. However, in a warmer climate the enhanced evaporation from the oceans, together with the increased moisture-holding capacity of the atmosphere, leads to higher specific humidities in the atmosphere. When thunderstorms develop in this moister environment, there is more water vapor available for transport aloft into the upper troposphere. Since the upper troposphere is naturally extremely dry, increasing the intensity of thunderstorms in a warmer climate will indeed moisten the upper troposphere, even though the surface layer may be drier due to enhanced evapo-transpiration, and/or decreases in the amount of rainfall.


    And Price and Asfur, point out that there is a good match between lightning activity and the subsequent change in UTWV (due to the causality indicated above), and therefore lightning activity could be a potentially useful means of estimating UTWV variability, which they assess by comparing lightning data with independent UTWV measures from NCEP. Price and Asfur are in agreement with the evidence that increased global warming has resulted in enhanced UTWV; their analysis is a potential means of assessing daily variability in UTWV (over continents but not over oceans):

    Price C, Asfur M (2006) Can lightning observations be used as an indicator of upper-tropospheric water vapor variability? Bull. Amer. Met. Soc. 87, 292-298

    http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2FBAMS-87-3-291

    So global lightning isn’t a proxy for global UTWV. However since lightning is part of the atmospheric phenomenon that facilitates transport of tropospheric water to the UT, thunderstorm and lighting variability are expected to result in consequent UTWV variability in the short term (Price and Asfur consider it debatable whether the lighting – UTWV response will be manifest on changing the temporal scale from daily to monthly, seasonally or longer term), and that’s the basis for their analysis.

    Of course if we want to determine UTWV we really have to do the hard work of careful satellite monitoring or get to grips with the (so far imperfect) radiosonde reanalyses….
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  9. Berenyi Peter, Wikipedia says "A strong link between global lightning and global temperature has not been experimentally confirmed as of 2008." Here are some peer-reviewed articles backing up that summary:

    Williams (2009, in Atmospheric Research) wrote in section 11, "Global circuit response to climate change," "The global circuit response to temperature change on still longer time scales remains an outstanding question (Williams, 2005, Satori et al., 2008). The best current evidence is that the global circuit is stable on long time scales, but the quantitative record is quite short, about half a century (Markson, 2007).... Lightning detection networks are often varying with time (addition of sensors, improvements in signal processing, etc) and this can complicate assessments of long-term trends."

    Williams (2005, in Atmospheric Research) wrote in the abstract "lightning is responsive to temperature on many time scales, but the sensitivity to temperature appears to diminish at the longer time scales." In the body of the article, "The evidence that lightning responds positively to temperature on all of the foregoing time scales does not guarantee a pronounced global circuit response to temperature. The key issue here is convective adjustment."
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  10. chris,

    it is not lightning that transfers water vapor to upper troposphere, but deep convection. Which also works as an electrostatic generator, hence the lightning connection. Vapor transport by tropical deep convection dominates upper troposphere humidity all over the globe.

    This is how lightning activity is related to humidity up there.

    Global integrated lightning activity is measured by Schumann resonance amplitudes. It is a sensitive device, for there are about fifty lightning events/sec on earth, so excitation of the lowest 8-30 Hz modes is a quasi-continuous process not subject to serious statistical fluctuations.

    No long term trend in SR, no enhancement of tropical deep convection, no increase in upper troposphere specific humidity, water vapor feedback can't be strong positive.

    You have a problem which would not go away by hand waving.

    "As you did on the other thread about tropospheric water vapour"

    It is not finished there, just discontinued. Specific humidity even at 700 hPa is decreasing slightly as measured by radiosondes. It is not a level where instrumental problems are manifest.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?p=2&t=68&&n=117#7377
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  11. For the record, there is not necessarily any conflict with suggesting that climate is insensitive and that natural variations are(primarily) responsible for the climate change or whatever. It simply requires that the (effective) value of the natural forcings be higher than the consensus estimates.

    While you would have to ask each man the specifics of their position, to assume that because they argue these positions, they contradict one another does not follow.

    Cheers, :)
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  12. @56. I do not follow your logic concerning the increase of temperature and lightning and computer models. The reality is that, globally, the planet warmed by almost 1 C in the past 130 years or so. Using your flawed logic (which seems to be based on results of a paper by Pinto and Pinto) there should have been a 30-40% increase in lightning flashes across the globe in response to the 1 C warming--maybe there has been, we just do not have a long enough data record to say so-- we do not have 130 years of reliable global lightning data.

    Anyhow, just b/c recent trends in global Schumann resonance has allegedly shown no long term increases in recent decades (no citation provided) we are meant to conclude that 1) The warming has not happened, and 2) This somehow means the AGCMS are all wrong. There are many other reliable metrics that all point to the planet having warmed, and lightning is not necessarily the best suited for that purpose for reasons I provided earlier on this thread.

    As for your claim that AGCMs suggest that lightning activity will increase, you seem to be incorrectly referring to the work of Price and Rind (1994, JGR), their model simulations indicated a 30% increase in global lightning for a DOUBLING of CO2-- not a 1 C increase in temperature as you suggest. Also, we are a long ways off doubling CO2.

    I could not find the Pinto and Pinto paper to which you are referring (correct citation please); most of their other work seems to have been done over small study areas in Brazil. Crook (1996, Monthly Weather Review) investigated the impacts of small changes of moisture and temperature the PBL on convective initiation (CI) and t'storm intensity. CI is much more complex than you seem to think. Did you read my earlier post? Warming over the Sahara is not going to produce thunderstorms unless there is sufficient low-level moisture, that is the limiting factor there, not temperature. Warming alone is not a sufficient condition to trigger a thunderstorm. There are other complicating factors, such as the fact that the entire troposphere is warming, and this affects the amount of CAPE and laspe rates (e.g., Del Genio 2007, GRL). Also, wind shear regimes are changing as the planet warms and this affects the longevity of the thunderstorms.

    The ad hoc adjustments to which you are referring are no such thing. If you are referring to the ARGO floats, then there was a very good reason for the adjustments, a faulty sensor. The nature of the error is known and has been quantified and has been corrected for accordingly.

    I'm sorry, this is not the "aha, got you" moment that you were hoping for. There have been many, many people who have claimed to have found the nail in the coffin of AGW, and none of them have succeeded yet.

    PS: Reeve and Toumi (2007; QJRMS) conclude that:


    "Data from the Optical Transient Detector lightning sensor are analysed to investigate the hypothesis that global lightning activity will increase should the average global temperature increase. It is shown that changes in global monthly land lightning activity are well correlated with changes in global monthly land wet-bulb temperatures. the correlation is strongest in the northern hemisphere and weak in the southern hemisphere. the conclusion is that a high land-area to sea-area ratio is necessary for a good correlation. Contrary to expectation, the tropics show no correlation. the results predict that a change in the average land wet-bulb temperature of the globe of just 1K would result in a change in lightning activity of about 40%."


    Also:
    Watkins et al. (1998; GRL) found a weak linear increase in global lightning activity between 1971 and 1996, and attributed that increase to more lighting over S. America.
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  13. Well yes, but you're making three illogic arguments Peter.

    (i) Upper tropospheric water vapour concentrations aren't simply a consequence of lightning-associated atmospheric convection. These processes promote the transport of water to the high troposphere, but it's the upper tropospheric temperature that dominates the equilibrium UTWV concentrations. That's what Price and Asfur show in their 2006 paper (see link in my post just above). Spikes in UTWV follow lightning with a lag on the timescale of around a day (as determined by correlating lightning activity with independent determination of UTWV) and drop again; according to Price and Asfur this may account for very short term variability but doesn't dominate the globally-averaged temperature-dependent levels of UTWV.

    In other words UTWV can rise without an increase in lightning (or lightning-associated increased convective water vapour transport).

    (ii) The Schumann resonance method is very nice, and Price and Asfur propose this as a means of assessing daily variability of regional upper tropospheric water vapour, although their paper (Price and Asfur, 2006) has some caveats about its applicability. But it's illogic to assert that the Schumann resonance must increase in order for the water vapour feedback to be validated. That's a non-sequitur (see (i)). Lightning is expected to increase somewhat in a warming world, and Pinto and Pinto have observed this in their analysis over Brazil, but this issue certainly isn't settled. Pinto and Pinto, and Price and Asfur discuss the uncertainties in their papers; you haven't given us insight into the source of your certainty..It certainly can't arise from the work of the scientists that you cite.

    (iii) On this thread and the last one on tropospheric water vapour, you are taking some rather tenuous analyses, analyses that the scientists themselves are completely upfront about the uncertainties and their potentially premature nature....and ignoring all of this. Neither the Pinto's not Price and Asfur consider that their analyses are incompatible with expectations from physics and models (the Pinto's consider that their data are consistent with expectations from models). Price and Asfur don't consider that their analysis (Schumann resonance and all) has very much at all to say about the response of UTWV in a warming world, 'though they do consider that they might be able to get a handle on UTWV variability on a daily time scale.

    The bottom line is that it is possible ('though not completely straightforward!) to determine tropospheric water vapour levels using satellites. These data are consistent with expectations (water vapour rises as the upper troposphere warms). Likewise, despite the considerable problems with radiosondes, reanalysis of the radiosonde water vapour record doesn't give any reason to discount the interpretations from satellite data and models. One should consider all the evidence, uncertainties and all, before attempting grand conclusions.
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  14. EdB, and before you think that Wegman was *impartial* and credible, go over to Deepclimate.org and do some reading there.
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    Response: Keep in mind that those pages on Deep Climate will disappear into the archives long after people will read your comment - it's always recommended to post direct links to the relevant pages. Eg: Very interesting posts and the discussion comments are also worth a read, particularly one of the principals in the analysis drops by and presents their views in a surprisingly forceful fashion.
  15. Here's one point I've been wanting to raise. If Monckton & the ACRIM model for TSI is correct (i.e. rising TSI over the last 30 years), then where is the corresponding Stratospheric warming? Even with the "intervention" of several major volcanic eruptions in the 1990's, stratospheric temperatures have still been trending *downward*. Like rising tropospheric temperatures, this stratospheric cooling is consistent with the Greenhouse Gas theory of recent climate change. Odd, then, how observed trends/phenomena seem to support, & reinforce, AGW theory-whilst we're still waiting for any evidence that supports the "theories" of Plimer, Monckton et al.
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  16. EdB, the HS is not broken. You simply do not understand. Mann et al.
    (2008) implemented the recommendations of the reports (including those of
    Wegman) and it did not significantly change the results and especially not
    the conclusions. Also look at Mann et al. (2009).

    You can look at temperature reconstructions determined using ice core data,
    bore hole data, lake sediment data and ocean sediment data etc. and they all
    have a distinct Hockey Stick shape. Does that not tell you something?

    The Hockey Stick is alive and well, it is really just that simple.
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  17. Re @64, John Cook, sorry and thank you for adding the links. I'll try and be more diligent in providing links in future.
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  18. Monckton and Pflimer do not only contradict each other, they often contradict themselves. This seems to be a common theme of those in denial and of those who choose to try and muddy the waters. A case in point, recently the "Friends" of Science in Canada ran two misinformation ads across the country. In the one ad the were saying that the globe has been cooling for the last ten years. Yet in the second ad they claimed that the observed warming was because of the sun! Well, please do make up your mind. But as transparent as these ads may be to scientists, the ads worked and were very effective at confusing people and forming public opinion.

    Marcus made the very good point @65 that the observed cooling of the stratosphere is not consistent with the argument put forth by Monckton that the TSI is increasing; not only that but Monckton is making that claim while at the same time claiming that the sun governs global SATs and that the globe has not warmed for 15 years. In contrast, Plimer claims that this warming is just part of a natural warming cycle. Or they concede that it is warming and that anthro CO2 is partly to blame, but don't worry, climate sensitivity is not as high as claimed (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) so there is nothing to worry about. So on and so forth it goes. These guys are all over the map, and I do believe that they do so on purpose, because their chameleon-like behavior allows them to adapt to the question and/or the crowd and then pluck the 'answer' which they think best fits the situation and/or question at hand, knowing full well that the lay person will never be able to keep up with their continued and varied deception.

    Monckton especially seems to live in a land of opinion and rhetoric, and very few of his comments are grounded on solid, reputable science. He may be able to work a largely uninformed crowd at a public gathering, but that is no substitute for science. I challenge Monckton and Plimer to give a talk at the annual AGU, AMS or RMS meetings and to allow at least 60 minutes for questions, and for the entire "debate" to be recorded on video.

    We all know the modus operandi of Monckton and Plimer is to confuse and distract and never concede. The last point is especially annoying because reputable scientists or groups like the IPCC correctly issue corrections or concede if their work is not supported by their peers or latest science, or does not satisfy the unrealistic perfection demanded by the 'skeptics'. Monckton et al. answer to no one it seems when it comes to factual correctness-- their double standard and hypocrisy is astounding. Regrettably, their rhetoric seems to resonate with many, and when viewed in isolation can be convincing.

    What is truly saddening and alarming is that the media are not taking Monckton et al. to task on their hopelessly sloppy pseudo science. Monbiot has, but he is in the minority. It is easy for professional climate scientists to dismiss Monckton or Plimer as cranks, but that is not enough. The Monckton's of the world need to be repeatedly subjected to the same scrutiny and standards on the world stage that they love to demand of others. Blogs help, but in the end one needs the media on board, that is how one reaches the masses, and there are sadly far too few reputable journalists or media outlets out there right now who seem motivated to do so. Just where are the critically minded media and journalists on this file, and what is the infatuation with reporters like David Rose with those in denial about AGW? How do we turn this around so that journalists are more interested in the pursuit of truth and science rather than fawning over contrarians?
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  19. #45 "Philippe Chantreau at 03:33 AM on 31 January, 2010
    Keep your hasty judgments to yourself RSVP, my computer is powered by hydro."

    Hydroelectric power is derived from man-made damns that essentially act as solar collectors to heat our oceans. In nature, rivers would normally carry water directly to the sea with minimum heating. Water in damns sits there picking up all kinds of solar energy and then gets released into the oceans. Thank you for advancing this idea.
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  20. Albatross at 16:19 PM on 31 January, 2010

    "In the one ad the were saying that the globe has been cooling for the last ten years. Yet in the second ad they claimed that the observed warming was because of the sun! Well, please do make up your mind. But as transparent as these ads may be to scientists, the ads worked and were very effective at confusing people and forming public opinion."

    Presumably crafted, tested and confirmed to cause severe confusion, leading to "Oh, those scientists can't even make up their minds."

    Doubt and confusion, purchased in bulk. That is seriously appalling.
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  21. RSVP said:

    Water in damns (sic) sits there picking up all kinds of solar energy and then gets released into the oceans.


    RSVP, you don't know very much about dams and the temperature of water in them.

    Anyone who is a fly fisherman in the western US will know about the world class trout fisheries which have established them selves down stream of a number of large dams. Previously, the water in these rivers had been too warm to support various trout species (the fish that western fly fishers are looking for) but after the dams were in use the water discharging through the turbines was very cold and supported both trout and the insects which the trout fed on. The best dams are the so called bottom discharge dams but other dams are helpful too. The water soon warms up down stream and the trout only inhabit a few miles of newly established prime habitat down stream from the damns.

    So much for your theory. Google "tailwater fisheries" to see how wrong you are.
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  22. Advancing what idea? Care to provide some scientific references?

    How seriously did you think about this RSVP? The water "sitting" during the winter actually has a lot more time to loose heat to the atmosphere and that's also the time where the water level will be the highest. However, the large thermal mass of an artificial lake makes it not so easy to warm or cool. During the spring, gathering melt water in large bodies is actually a excellent way to prevent it from warming. All in all, is there a net effect? How big can it possibly be?

    Considering the volumes released by dammed rivers and that of the oceans as whole, could this effect be measurable at the oceans' scale? Do you realize that the chance for the oceans to be be heated in any significant way by the "effect" you describe is so remote that the idea is downright ludicrous? And exactly how many "kinds of solar energy" can you list?

    Let me guess, you were joking, of course, silly me. You were, right?

    If you really wanted to do rethoric for its own sake, you could have gone about the CO2 related to concrete production, transportation, the "damns" construction process and what not. That would have been easier to exploit. Of course, then you'd have to exactly quantify that and come up with a number of years-equivalent-coal and try to convince that the "damns" weren't worth it, which they were.

    That wouldn't be OT either, since it is pretty close to the Monckton/Plimer style of "debate."
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  23. Philippe Chantreau
    Just kidding that you advanced this idea, but your comment did hatch the thought.

    Think about the difference from snow melt discharging into the sea within a season vs. being held back all year in a damn. If incremental CO2 levels can make so much difference for narrow bands of IR, why not direct solar radiation trapped in incremental H2O? It may not be "causing" global warming, but it cant be helping. Now, as far as global warming, it may not be as bad as other forms of power generation, and the benefits to water supplies cannot be overlooked etc. The point here was not to condemn hydroelectric power, it was simply to state that even damns must be contributing in some way to global warming.

    (As far as salmon and trout. Damns completely mess up ecosystems and deter salmon from reach their spawning grounds. Special fish ladders have to be arranged, but damns on the whole have decimated natural fish populations. And yes, the water below damns can be cold when taken from the bottom, but the fish found there are planted for fishermen. )
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  24. RSVP at 05:40 AM on 1 February, 2010

    "The point here was not to condemn hydroelectric power, it was simply to state that even damns must be contributing in some way to global warming."

    What is really interesting about dams is the damping effect they've had on sea level rise. It is of course a temporary effect.

    More...
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  25. Um, its DAMS, not DAMNS-you only say DAMN if you're cussing ;).
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  26. Also, I sincerely doubt that the amount of atmospheric warming which could be generated from an artificial lake can even remotely compare to the atmospheric warming that a greater than 100ppm rise in CO2 could cause.
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  27. @61 shawnhet
    Yes, one can attempt to reconcile Plimer (non-anthtro forces have changed climate by large amounts in the past) with Monckton (sensitivity to forcing is low) by suggesting that past climate change has required strong forcing.
    But, the obvious question is then "what strong forcings"? Nothing in physics or paleontology would suggest that our sun has varied its output by enough to force the glacial periods. The most clever idea I heard for such a forcing was cosmic rays causing significant albedo changes by stimulating cloud formation. But recent measurements almost certainly rule that out.
    The thing is, the glacial/interglacial periods do line up rather well with forcing from Milankovitch cycles - and those forcing are weak. So there'd have to be a strong forcing we can't detect (nor apparently imagine) that just happened to operate at the same times as Milankovitch cycles.
    It makes a heck of a lot more sense to conclude that sensitivity is high, and there are no significant forcings we haven't thought of.
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  28. GFW
    If you look at the graph (figure 2) in...

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/upcoming-ice-age-postponed-indefinitely.html

    you will notice that there are basically two states, suggesting "bi-stability". The high curiously peaks around the same high temperature, and the low generally hovers around the same low temperature. The system appears sensitive (as seen by the many interrum fluctuations), but this sensitity is only observed within a fixed range of max min temperatures. In other words, it "wants" to be in one state or the other. Why does it always return to the exact same max, for instance?
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  29. Agreed that the behavior for several glacial/interglacial periods has been bounded and fairly periodic, but that's not bi-stable. True bi-stability would be suggested if (a) the system spent more time at the two extrema and (b) the transitions were less regular. You'd also need to propose a negative mechanism (or two) to provide the stability at the two extrema.

    I'd suggest that the bounds of the observed range are mostly determined by the amount of carbon available, and the period of the dominant Milankovitch cycle. Specifically, temperature falls while the Milankovitch forcing is negative, with the rate of fall limited by the carbon cycle's ability to scrub and sequester carbon (in the ocean, in peat bogs that then get glaciated over, etc.). When the Milankovitch forcing turns positive, slow warming starts, then accelerates as the initial warming causes the ocean to outgas CO2 and the glaciers to start exposing the decomposed peat.

    One good question would be why the amount of carbon available to the cycle has been roughly constant for several hundred thousand years. I'm guessing that that's not long enough for tectonic processes to bury seafloor carbon, nor reconfigure the topography of the oceans, so each warming releases the same carbon each time. If there were significant uplift under methane hydrate deposits, the amount of carbon available to the cycle would go up for a while, until new deep stores of the hydrates could form. If enough time passed to form new fossil fuel deposits, that would reduce the amount of carbon available to the cycle.

    If we burn large quantities of fossil fuels ... well, that's the topic of the 3rd figure in the page you pointed to.
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  30. GFW
    Up until now, I understood that the Earth could sustain life as we know it because it had an atmosphere, a lot of water, and just happened to be the right distance from a rather average (not too big) non-binary star. (Not to mention other "invisible shields" that magically serve protection as well etc.) All that is pretty awesome in itself, however, there would be a point at which the requirements for sustaining life must loosen, and that the particular amount of carbon you are talking about is not one of these requirements. In terms of probability, it would seem to make the chances of life on Earth diminish if this were the case, and yet here we are having (supposedly) evolved on this planet for millions and millions of years.

    Something doesnt seem to add up here, and as per Occam's razor, one should look for a simple explanation. It seems like these theories depend almost too much on carbon cycles and make them seem circular in themselves.

    Anything is possible and maybe we dont realize how delicate the balance really is, however, being an optimist, couldnt the triple point of water along with the vast amounts of it on the surface of the Earth have something to do with this notable clipping?
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  31. RSVP wrote: "In terms of probability, it would seem to make the chances of life on Earth diminish if this were the case, and yet here we are having (supposedly) evolved on this planet for millions and millions of years."

    But our mammalian ancestors were small rodent-like animals, and were able to burrow into the ground to avoid the effects of brief extreme temperature during the K/T Event extinction. Insects and marine plants would have still been available to eat immediately afterwards.

    The earliest known tool-using humans, homo habilis, never experienced anything they couldn't adapt to nor migrate from, and were far fewer in population number so resources were less contested. The Late Pleistocene Extinctions affected large herbivores, and each Late Pleistocene event also happened on a different land mass.

    The causes of the Late Pleistocene Extinctions are still unknown, but the three main candidates that I know of are: Human over-hunting or hunting a keystone species to extinction; Climate change causing large changes in the ecosystem; Hyperdiseases carried by migrating humans. Or, a combination of all three.

    Even during glacial ice ages, the southern hemisphere was still mostly tropical or subtropical.
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  32. @59. Tom Dayton at 10:05 AM on 31 January, 2010

    Tom,

    you don't need a monitoring network to track global lightning activity. It can be done from a single spot with rather inexpensive equipment. Schumann resonance measurements started for example at Nagycenk, Hungary in early 1960s, automatic digital data collection was installed in 1993 and is performed since then.

    Your reference to wiki "A strong link between global lightning and global temperature has not been experimentally confirmed as of 2008" referes to the fact that global lightning activity has not increased while global average surface temperature was supposed to go up. Strong local positive correlation between surface temperature and lightning is firmly established, lower troposphere moistening (below 850 hPa) is also well documented.

    It is an enigma, no matter how much mainstream reality-denialist effort is spent on it.
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  33. #77, GFW since the issue of sensitivity is the core of the warming debate, let me just say that IMO there is also reason to believe that sensitivity is constant either(rather than debate sensitivity vs. forcing in detail). I don't know the particulars of Monckton's or Plimer's position, so I don't know their specific position

    In re: Milankovitch cycles, while it is of course true that insolation changes due orbital shifts have an effect, things are a lot more complicated than a simple constant response to forcing would imply.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vostok_420ky_4curves_insolation.jpg

    From the above we can see that changes insolation due to orbital forcing are sometimes coincident with the temperature highs, not every high forcing situation leads to a high temperature regime.

    This situation allows a wide variety of possible explanations to be feasible, but does not seem consistent with a simple linear relationship btw forcing and resultant temperature change.

    Cheers, :)
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  34. Peter, it seems unfair to cite a set of scientists in support of a poorly-characterized theory, and then to call them names ("reality-denialist"?!) when their papers turn out not to agree with your notions.

    According to recent work by Price (who you have cited in relation to Schumann resonance), what you consider to be obvious, isn't actually obvious at all. The question of how lightning activity responds in a warming world isn't straightforward (see Price's recent paper [*] and abstract below [**]. Likewise, whereas you consider Schumann resonance a means of determining global lightning activity, Price prefers to determine global lightning activity from The Tropical Rain Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. This has the obvious advantage (over your preferred Schumann resonance method) [which Price uses to analyze possible lightning/upper tropospheric water vapour variability (see my post #58 and #63)], that the spatial distribution of lightning can be determined and correlated with local phenomena.

    In fact Price concludes [as does Pinto and Pinto (see my post #58)] that lightning activity seems to be consistent with predictions from climate models. I would have thought that if the scientists who's work you cite don't actually agree with your notions, that it might be worth considering whether your notions have merit.

    [*] Price C (2009) Will a drier climate result in more lightning? Atmos. Res. 91, 479-484

    [**]
    With recent projections of a warmer climate in the future, one of the key questions is related to the impact of global warming on thunderstorms, and severe weather. Will lightning activity increase in a warmer world? Since the majority of global lightning activity occurs in the tropics, changes in future global lightning activity will depend on changes in the tropical climate. The latest IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2007] projections show a partial drying out of the tropical landmasses as the global climate getswarmer. This is caused by both changes in rainfall patterns, but also due to increases in evapo-transpiration. We would expect a drier climate to produce fewer thunderstorms, and less lightning. However, experimental and modeling studies have shown that as tropical regions dry in the present climate, they experience greater lightning activity. This paradox may be explained by noting that while drier climate conditions result in fewer thunderstorms and less rainfall, the thunderstorms that do occur are more explosive, resulting in more lightning activity.
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  35. Oops, sorry upon re-reading I appear to have had some poor phr in my last post(#83) that make what I was trying to say more than a lit obscure.

    from line 2 of the post "...that IMO there is also reason to believe that sensitivity is constant either" should read: that IMO there is also no requirement to believe that sensitivity is constant.

    3rd papragrahp should read :From the above we can see that **while** changes in insolation due to orbital forcing are sometimes coincident with the temperature highs, not every high forcing situation leads to a high temperature regime.

    My apologies for any confusion.
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  36. @84. chris at 06:11 AM on 2 February, 2010:

    This [TRMM satellite] has the obvious advantage (over your preferred Schumann resonance method) [...], that the spatial distribution of lightning can be determined"

    With at least three distant stations the spatial distribution of lightning activity can be determined as well by simultaneous monitoring of Schumann resonances.

    Even an amateur Schumann resonance monitoring network might be feasible, using the Internet, of course. Needs huge coils, ball antenna. All else is easy.

    Construction And Deployment Of An ULF Receiver For The Study Of Schumann Resonance In Iowa
    Anton Kruger
    http://www.ia.spacegrant.org/RES_INF/VRR2003/Kruger-SEED.pdf
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  37. chris at 08:11 AM on 31 January, 2010

    The goal posts were moved from Mann 1998 to Wahl ER, Ammann CM (2007). Mann 1998 used proxies to show temps going back to 1000 AD. Wahl ER, Ammann CM (2007), and most later supports of Mann 1998 that I have seen, only address temps from 1400 to the present.

    I hear a lot of arguments from Mann's supporters like, "Mann's basic premise has been proven sound." The basic premise, I guess, being that its warmer today than it was during the Little Ice Age? I'm not sure that too many people, including McIntyre, have argued this point.

    The reason McIntyre even looked at Mann's 1998 hockey stick chart was because it showed no MWP. I won't speak for the guy, but I'd guess he feels vindicated that Mann and his supporters changed their argument to a time period that they were better able to scientifically prove. So why would he need to say anymore on the matter?
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  38. That's not correct sbarron:

    (1) Mann et al 1998 used proxies going back only 6 centuries (to 1400) [*]

    The McIntyre/McKitrick (MM) "critique" analysed data going only back to 1400 [**]

    Since Wahl and Ammann were addressing very specifically the original Mann analysis and the critiques of MM it was obviously appropriate to use the same data and same analysis period. That's obvious I would have thought. So no "goal posts" were "moved".

    (2) The question of the MWP is an entirely different matter and is not part of the methodological disagreements (which came down rather strongly in favour of Mann and against M&M as Wahl and Ammann showed in great detail [***]).

    The first reconstruction that covered the period of the MWP (just!) was Mann et al (1999) [****]. This analysis does show an MWP. Their warmest period (around 1150 AD) showed a temperature anomaly of around 0.1 oC (compared to the mid 20th century value of around 0.2 oC). i.e. the MWP max was around 0.1 oC cooler than the mid-20th century value.

    If one compares this with the reconstruction showing the most historical variability (Moberg et al (2005) [*****], the latter shows an MWP max of around 0 oC compared to a mid 20th century value of around 0.2 oC. In other words the MWP was (in Moberg's analysis) around 0.2 oC cooler than the mid-2th century value.

    So I don't think one could say that Mann's paleoreconstruction doesn't show an MWP. Their MWP was pretty much equally as warm relative to the mid 20th century as Moberg's which is the most variable of all the reconstructions.

    Where Mann's 1998/9 reconstructions differ from Moberg's is (a) they don't have data pre-1000 AD. This is substantially cooler in Moberg's reconstruction (temp around -0.3 to -0.4 cooler than MWP), and is partly what makes the MWP "standout" somewhat in Moberg's analysis. Mann et all might have come to a similar conclusion if their analysis went further back...but it didn't.

    Secondly, Moberg shows a larger temperature decrease to the LIA (down to around -0.7 oC relative to mid 20th century baseline), whereas Mann et al decreases to only around -0.5 oC relative to mid 20th century baseline.

    Which of these is closer to reality? I don't think we know do we?

    [*]Mann ME, Bradley RS, Hughes MK (1998) Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries Nature 392, 779-787

    [**] Mclntyre S, McKitrick R (2005) Hockey sticks, principal components, and spurious significance. Geophys Res Lett 32:L03710

    and a 2003 paper in the magazine Energy and Environment

    [***] Wahl ER and Ammann CM (2007) Robustness of the Mann, Bradley, Hughes reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere surface temperatures: Examination of criticisms based on the nature and processing of proxy climate evidence Climatic Change 85, 33-69

    [****] Mann ME, Bradley RS, Hughes MK (1999) Northern hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: inferences, uncertainties, limitations. Geophys Res Lett 26:759–762

    [*****] A. Moberg et al. (2005) Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data Nature 433, 613-617
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  39. Chris,

    You're clearly right about Mann et al 1998. Mea cupla to that. That's what I get for skimming all these documents rather than reading them.
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  40. Chris

    re your comment :

    "The first reconstruction that covered the period of the MWP (just!) was Mann et al (1999) [****]. This analysis does show an MWP. Their warmest period (around 1150 AD) showed a temperature anomaly of around 0.1 oC (compared to the mid 20th century value of around 0.2 oC). i.e. the MWP max was around 0.1 oC cooler than the mid-20th century value."

    Is it really possible to measure the Earth's mean temperature to within an accuracy of 0.1oC as you seem to imply by this statement ? Especially when the MWP was hundreds of years ago.
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  41. re #89

    no problem sbarron

    re #90

    neilperth, it's a good question. We obviously don't know what the temperature was at the MWP - we weren't there! So the best we can do is to use all of the information at hand that can be used as proxies for temperature.

    Pretty much all of the paleoreconstructions place the MWP in the N hemisphere near or a bit below the temperature of the mid-20th century (usually compared to the mid-20th century global temperature somewhat oddly). There is substantial uncertainty and in the original Mann et al studies the only conclusion that was considered robust was that the last decade of the 20th century was anomalously warm in the context of the last century. So the numbers I quoted are the most likely values within a range of uncertainty which was quite large in Mann's 1998/1999 reconstructions, and are less so nowadays with much more proxy data available.

    Incidentally, I didn't get my numbers quite right in my post #88. I think Moberg placed the maximum MWP temperature around 0.1 oC wamer than Mann's...but these reconstructions come out pretty much the same at the MWP - the main difference is that Moberg's reconstruciton is a good bit cooler during the LIA.
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  42. Peter, I am surprised that Pinto and Pinto simply used the dry-bulb temperature in their analysis.

    As I and others have explained to you, an increase in temperature alone is not a sufficient condition to initiate convection or trigger more storms. Yes, temperature is important, BUT, most researchers who work on convection initiation or calculating thunderstorm initiation and intensity use metrics which include both the contributions of both low-level moisture and temperature. Examples include the equivalent potential temperature, wet-bulb potential temperature (theta-e), or simply the wet-bulb temperature. See the work by Reeve and Toumi (2007; QJRMS), they note that they found no correlation between changes in the wet-bulb temperature and lightning frequency (quantified by the OTD) over the tropical regions. As pointed out before, they note that the most likely area to experience more lighting with global warming are the mid and high latitude continental areas in the N. Hemisphere.

    Anyhow, I think Chris has done an excellent job of summarizing what the researchers actually did and concluded on this topic (thanks for all the links Chris), and where we are at with the science.

    PS: Peter I for one do not dispute that the Schumann resonance technique is novel and neat. That said, I think one should be cautious about making direct links to global lightning activity and SAT alone. How t'storm activity will respond to a warmer climate depends on several factors, of which SAT is only one. It is like saying as SSTs go higher we should have more tropical cyclones. Well, no, it is not that simple. As it turns out they are expecting fewer TCs overall, but an increase in the number and strength of intense TCs. And it could be that is how continental t'storms respond-- in the coming decades we will hopefully find out the answers as the AGW ramps up.

    For more info on TCs, I'd recommend (as a start):
    http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/tropical-cyclones-climate-and-consensus/

    Unfortunately these complex topics are ripe for being misrepresented and distorted by 'skeptics' and lobby groups (from both sides).
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  43. Albatross,

    Near as I can tell, that post got deleted. Maybe because of my tongue in cheek "pee down my back" comment, maybe because of what I said about Mann, the IPCC, Jones. I don't even remember what all I said.

    To answer your one question. Hiding the decline was referring to divergence. I realize you think this is some key issue that no one understands but the AGW elite. Trust me, everyone gets it. It doesn't make the comment any less damning. Jones was doing PR work at that point, not science. You can't spin it any other way. And can you blame people if they then wonder, "if he spun this, what else might he have been willing to spin?"

    But I don't want to argue that in this post. My post that got deleted was not an attempt to show that "your" side was bad and "mine" was good. Quite the contrary. I was attempting to show that both sides had accountability for how we got here. And while my post was one-sided in its position, it was only intended to balance against your post to show that there are two sides to this story.

    I am fully aware that some prominent skeptics (Monckton, WUWT, whoever) don't provide answers to every question put to them. You can call this misleading if you want. Dishonest even. But these guys are not attempting to sway the science itself, or they'd be publishing in journals. They are trying to shape public perception.

    And you can argue this is a bad thing, I guess, since you disagree with their premise. But from 1990 until about 4 months ago, groups like WWF, Greenpeace, Al Gore, and dozens of others had already convinced most of the world that the science on AGW was settled. And yet while you rail against the injustices heaped upon us by the likes of Monckton and WUWT, you ignore the effects something like "An Unfortunate Truth" had on public perception. Who's being one-sided here?

    It’s highly likely that CO2 increases over the past 50 years are adding to global warming. But how much so is still very much in doubt. So the science is NOT settled. The public needs to know that. So next time you’re bashing Monckton's "gross and continued deception," think about what he is saying in the context of his debate with Al Gore, et al. And forgive him some artistic hyperbole aimed at wowing the crowd. Or don't. But if not, then when you're trashing Monckton next time, trash Al Gore or WWF a little too. They are two sides of the same coin. And that coin is not science.
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  44. Luckly, we stick to science. Forget about Al Gore, WWF, Monckton and Watt, look at what published science has to tell us. Or there's a plot behind them?
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  45. Sbarron, thanks for your note. I hear you. That said, I still find your defence of the repeated distortion and misinformation put forth by Monckton et al. puzzling. They do not seem even remotely interested in representing the science properly, period, and I have a huge issue with that. So Jones "hid the decline" in an obscure WMO brochure (well there is much more to it than that as you should know), anyhow, so that justifies Monckton distorting, disseminating half truths etc. ad nauseum to infinity?

    As to some of your comments:

    " I realize you think this is some key issue that no one understands but the AGW elite. Trust me, everyone gets it."
    This has nothing to do with elitism, it has everything to do with a) stolen emails and b) a complex subject that many scientists even do not understand unless they are willing to spend a lot of time digging and learning about the nuances of dendrology. So no, "everyone" certainly does not "get it"! Go on You Tube and search for CRU hack and see what people are saying about "hiding the decline" etc., what they understand it to mean and the alleged implications. Even Dr. John Christy drew the wrong conclusion in a TV braodcast with Gavin Schmidt. You may have read this:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/10/06/delayed-oscillator-on-divergence/

    and this,

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/11/mcintyre-provides-fodder-for-skeptics/


    "But these guys are not attempting to sway the science itself, or they'd be publishing in journals. They are trying to shape public perception."
    And that is what I have a very real problem with. They are trashing science while at the same time using pseudo-science and deception to refute the alleged lies and deception of the IPPC-- bizaree. And more importantly, all the while hopelessly confusing the non climate scientists. I have a very good idea why they might want to shape "public perception", and if you were being honest with yourself then you would know why too. They are not for one minute interested in advancing the science, or the pursuit of the "truth". Their actions make that blindingly clear.

    "I am fully aware that some prominent skeptics (Monckton, WUWT, whoever) don't provide answers to every question put to them."
    They are not in the business of providing scientific answers, they put forth whatever misinformation, opinion and rhetoric they can to "shape public opinion". Plimer for one refuses to acknowledge the multiple errors in his book, nevermind actually considering correcting them. In contrast, errors in journal papers tend to get fixed before print, if not then then afterwards by the author's themselves and if not by them then by their peers. If a paper turns out to be wrong, that paper is dealt with harshly, and it ultimately ignored. There are errors in the IPCC, and they will find more. I am not surprised, and neither should you be. The huge difference is, that in AR5 those errors will be addressed and corrected. By creating unrealistic expectations you are setting the IPCC up for failure, so you can then discredit them and say "see, they messed up, they have no credibility". That is disingenuous.

    You, of course, had to mention Al Gore, what would a debate about AGW be with out drudging up Gore :) His documentary was, for the most part, accurate. He at least took the trouble to speak with scientists. Did he get everything right? No, and yes I am aware of the list of errors. The point is that we are heading for trouble. Do you not listen to weather warnings? Do you want your pilot to ignore the warning of CAT the next time you fly because the NWS did not forecast its location correctly the last time? I would have preferred that Gore made a follow-up in which he corrected the errors, and in which he expanded on some aspects. Interestingly, if he were to do a follow-up, while correcting the alleged "alarmist" statements he will have to make more sobering projections about the cryosphere and sea level rise than he did originally. the "skeptics" should be careful what they wish for.


    "It’s highly likely that CO2 increases over the past 50 years are adding to global warming. But how much so is still very much in doubt. So the science is NOT settled."

    You are grossly overstating the uncertainty involved, that is just the flip side of being "alarmist". Is the science settled? I do not believe that, so please don't lump me in with that line of thinking. The problem Sbarron is that the science is not settled and never will be. Well, ain't that a convenient excuse for doing nothing, if that is your criterion for actually doing something then I'm afraid that is not a) responsible and b) pragmatic and c) realistic. How does one even live in a world when one demands certainty? If SCAR calculates that sea-levels could rise by 1.5 to 2.0 m by 2100 (and that they will continue to rise beyond that), and we know that globally 160 million people live less than 1 m above sea level. Do you require absolute certainty before acting, or wait until the water is around your ankles? You might feel a little differently about impacts of se-level rise if you happened to live in Bangladesh....

    While the science of global warming is not settled, we have known for decades now that we are very likely facing a serious situation in the coming 100 years (and beyond) if we continue with business as usual. The world's leading climate scientists and related disciplines get it, the leading policy makers (including economists) get it, the insurance companies get it. Interestingly, almost all of the advocates against AGW (those who steadfastly refuse to get it) have or have had ties with big business and/or with the FF industry. That is a fact.

    Back to uncertainty. We do not live in a world of certainty. The IPCC in AR4 went to a great deal of trouble to qunatify the uncertainty of the forecasts-- there are errors bars and probabilities. The IPCC has in almost all its important projections (sea ice, global ice sheets, sea level) been too conservative. That is hardly one sided or alarmist. Ranges for climate sensitivity for doubling CO2 have been provided (read this site for a discussion). The projections for warming in AR4 include ranges. The uncertainty is well communicated, and interestingly much of that uncertainty stems from not knowing exactly what GHG emissions will do in the future, and is not necessarily exclusively b/c of problems with the models.

    The range of warming expected for doubling CO2 is actually quite constrained. The current best estimate (not from models) for climate sensitivity to doubling CO2 is +3 C. That is more than three times the warming that we have already experienced, and not all of that can be attrributed to GHGs. So +3 is significant, even +2 C is significant and reason for concern.

    To date, all projections have been for doubling CO2. Well, guess what? Because if inaction, partly b/c of the actions of people like Monckton, we are going to far exceed 560 ppmv post 2100. Think about the implications of that based on what we know, and the changes that we have already seen in the oceans and cryosphere and other metric. Dai et al. (2004, J. Hydromet.) used observations to show that globally, the area of regions in drought has more than doubled since the 1970s, with surface warming being cited as the primary cause.

    This thread was about Monckton and Plimer, that is why a was "trashing" them, and you should be too if you are being objective and if you claim to support good science. As for GP, yes, they tend to exagerrate. WWF, not so much. When they do make the mistake of dramatizing facts in order to get people's attention, and that hurts the credibility of the science. So yes, that aspect bugs me no end too.

    So one has to strike a balance, and from history we know that is a lot more difficult than it would appear. Right now, many agree that the IPCC is striking a good balance, understating many consequences of AGW, while sometimes making some mistakes in the other direction (e.g., the Himalayan glacier flop). If it is a choice between a self-proclaimed climate skeptic/scientist with an agenda or some political or pseudo-science blog on the internet (and I do NOT include this site in that list), I am going to choose the collective/integrated science and knowledge amassed over many decades by thousands of scientists everytime.
    Monckton et al. are doing society and science a huge disservice, it is sda that many are compleyely blind to that, even when it is repeatedly pointed out to them.

    If in the unlikely event climate sensitivity turns out to be only +1C for doubling CO2, then we can thank our lucky stars! But do you really want to take that huge risk? That said, the "acidification" of the oceans from elevated CO2 requires no warming, so acidification alone is a huge reason for reducing our GHG emissions.
    I fail to see the up side of continuing with business as usual or how doing so is prudent or responsible or ethical. The risks are simply too great, and we already have plenty of warnings signs staring us in the face (Arctic sea ice, shrinking glaciers and ice sheets, increased droughts as referenced above). If we choose to ignore them we do so not at our own peril so much but at the peril of future inhabitants of this planet.
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  46. SBarron, read what he is telling people and then try and argue that Monckton is enlightening us and fulfilling an important role in the science of AGW.

    http://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/climate-sceptic-clouds-the-weather-issue-20100201-n8y3.html

    Sounds more like a conspiracy theorist to me.
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  47. Just like those "unfortunate" CRU emails amongst friends and colleauges, you can't take what Monckton says to a dinner of 100 AGW skeptics too seriously.

    Albatross, you keep saying it's unfair that journalists, or Monckton, or I, treat your side unfairly. The CRU emails being taken out of context, never being intended for the public, or Jones having to deal with the pressure of FOI requests are great examples. But then you turn around and treat Monckton's speech to a room full of skeptics (that probably paid to see him) like he's testifying before congress. Monckton is playing to his audience. Much of what he says here are jokes at the establishment's expense. The crowd knows this, because it's fun to make fun of the other guy. But no one is taking the crap he says at this dinner that seriously. You shouldn't, either. And more importantly, if you're going to ask me to assume the best in the actions of Mann, Jones, CRU, et al, than the least you can do is do the same for WUWT, Monckton, McIntyre, etc.

    I've heard Monckton make a pretty compelling argument for saving the trillions it would take to stop GW by reducing CO2, and instead using that money to adapt to future climate change, should it ever arrive. That's an arugment that rings true to me, and its the kind of discussion I'd like to see more of. There has got to be more than one way to skin this AGW cat, doesn't there?
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  48. This is my last post, hopefully for a while:

    " But no one is taking the crap he says at this dinner that seriously."
    Actually, they paid to see him, so they seem to be taking him very seriously IMO. I do not take Monckton seriously, my concern is that lay people will take him seriously and what the consequences will be for moving forward on this issue. "Skeptics" whom I debate almost always cite Monckton to substantiate their argument, so he does regrettably have some influence.

    McIntyre claims that "Everything that I've done in this, I've done in good faith". Yet, his actions and choice of language clearly fly in the face of that claim. Until last fall I might have agreed with you that McI has done some good; his actions and revelations since then have burnt that bridge. So forgive me if I have trouble assuming the best in the actions of McI and other 'skeptics'. You also need to remember that there are over 3000 climate scientists alone, yet you seem obsessed with the *alleged* transgressions of a handful of scientists.

    "I've heard Monckton make a pretty compelling argument for saving the trillions it would take to stop GW by reducing CO2, and instead using that money to adapt to future climate change, should it ever arrive"
    Actually, we are already witnessing the effects of AGW. Adaption is important, but this is not a choice, we have to do BOTH. Stern et al. have pointed out that reducing GHGs emissions is going to be costly, but not nearly as costly as dealing with the consequences down the road. Prevention is better than cure, and the same holds true for AGW. Regardless, adaption was a featured portion of AR4, WGII, see Chapters 17 and 18, so the IPCC and others are tackling that; Monckton is clearly not the only one to be thinking about adapting.

    Monckton is presenting a false choice. His argument fails to recognise that adaptation may be an option for the wealthy amongst us, but it is not really a viable option for people in Bangladesh. Those likely to experience the worst impacts from AGW are known to have the least resources to spend on adapting. And as I pointed out to you earlier, ocean acidification is going to be a significant problem down the road, regardless of what the climate sensitivity turns out to be.

    Finally, if we were to defer the cost of adaption to future generations we are not practicing inter-generational equity, because they will ultimately be burdened by the huge costs of adapting. That seems rather selfish and short-sighted to me. How about we spend a portion of those trillions on reducing GHGs and the remainder on adapting? Either way, just doing one is simply not going to cut it.
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  49. Looked at Dana Royer's paper on climate sensitivity for the past 400 million years that you refer to. What a great snow job it is! This is apparently where part of that billion dollars of climate research money goes. Running a total of 10,000 GEOCARBSULF simulations for each one of his delta-T(2X)values on a supercomputer does not increase my confidence in his values, just shows that he can do it. The paper basically tries to model carbon dioxide role through the ages and comes to the conclusion that climate sensitivity has been about 1.5 degrees Celsius for the past 420 million years. He shows nice computed curves but it is hard to understand what they mean and totally impossible to check or repeat any of his work. We know that both temperature and partial pressure of carbon dioxide have varied throughout geologic time but we learn nothing about either one of them. Daniel Rothman (PNAS 99:4167-4171) has also looked at the role of carbon dioxide within the last 500 million years and comes to the conclusion that global temperature and carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere simply do not correlate over geologic time. His is a direct comparison and I trust it more than the modeling mumbo-jumbo from Royer. Reliance on modeling is what brought us the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the economic downturn that followed. And thanks to modeling there are no more cod on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Orrin H. Pilkey and Linda Pilkey-Jarvis have written a book called "Useless Arithmetic" where they analyze numerous attempts to model the natural world and come to the conclusion that none of the models can be trusted to give quantitative results. At best they will give a qualitative idea and sometimes even that is not possible when one model says that sea level will increase and another says it will decrease due to water held in storage.
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    Response: Firstly, thanks to Arno for emailing me Rothman 2002. What Rothman does is compare CO2 to climate over the past 500 million years and finds a number of periods where climate is cool and yet CO2 is at high levels. This question is examined in a later paper Royer 2006 which notes that the sun gets cooler as you go further back in time - solar output is around 5% lower 500 million years ago. When he compares the combined effect of solar and CO2 forcing, he finds good agreement. More on higher CO2 in the past...
  50. According to Miranda Devine (SMH), Monckton has claimed that if every nation were to cut carbon emissions by 30% over the next 10 years, the decrease in mean global temperature would be a mere 0.02 degrees. Is this true?
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