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The BEST Kind of Skepticism

Posted on 22 October 2011 by dana1981

As Andy recently discussed, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study (BEST) results are in.  For those true skeptics among us, the BEST results are not the least bit surprising.  It's not a coincidence that the NASA GISS, HadCRU, and NOAA surface temperature datasets show approximately the same amount of warming.  Either they all effectively filter out extraneous effects such as from urban heat islands (UHI), or they all don't.  However, numerous studies have concluded that these groups do effectively remove the UHI effect, and we have known for a long time that the surface temperature record is reliable

Thus it's not the least bit surprising that the BEST results have confirmed their accuracy (Figure 1).  BEST also confirmed that HadCRUT is biased low, which we already knew.  Ironically, although we have known that HadCRUT has a cool bias, and "skeptics" attacked the record in the wake of Climategate, HadCRUT has become the surface temperature record of choice for the so-called "skeptics."

BEST

Figure 1: The decadal land-surface average temperature using a 10-year moving average of surface temperatures over land. Anomalies are relative to the Jan 1950 – December 1979 mean. The grey band indicates 95% statistical and spatial uncertainty interval.

As Andy discussed, BEST also demonstrated that rural temperature stations show essentially the same, and in fact even a slightly larger warming trend as urban and more poorly-sited stations (Figure 2).  This is consistent with the findings of Menne et al. (2010).

Figure 2: The Berkeley Earth global temperature averages, normalized to zero mean for the period 1950 to 1980.

So for those who consider all the evidence - the true skeptics - the findings of Muller et al. are entirely expected and unsurprising.  Then there are those who call themselves 'skeptics', but really are not.  In March of 2011, Anthony Watts said (emphasis his):

"I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong....the method isn’t the madness that we’ve seen from NOAA, NCDC, GISS, and CRU....That lack of strings attached to funding, plus the broad mix of people involved especially those who have previous experience in handling large data sets gives me greater confidence in the result being closer to a bona fide ground truth than anything we’ve seen yet. Dr. Fred Singer also gives a tentative endorsement of the methods....Climate related website owners, I give you carte blanche to repost this."

Not surprisingly, Watts has not adhered to his promise to accept the BEST result.  Quite the contrary, in fact:

"Both [Fall et al. 2011 and Menne et al. 2010] (and cited by Muller et al) do an analysis over a thirty year time period while the Muller et al paper uses data for comparison from 1950 – 2010....I see this as a basic failure in understanding the limitations of the siting survey we conducted on the USHCN, rendering the Muller et al paper conclusions highly uncertain, if not erroneous....I consider the paper fatally flawed as it now stands, and thus I recommend it be removed from publication consideration by JGR until such time that it can be reworked....it appears they have circumvented the scientific process in favor of PR."

In short, Watts' complaints are that the BEST papers have been made public prior to undergoing the peer review process, and that their analysis extended 60 years into the past, rather than limiting themselves to the 30-year period during which Watts considers the surfacestation ratings reliable.

There is no validity to these criticisms.  Scientific papers are often made available prior to publication (i.e. see arXiv, and by Watts himself), and there's no reason to believe that limiting their analysis to the past 30 years will change the BEST results (though Watts is welcome to try and demonstrate otherwise); obviously the 60-year period includes the 30-year window.  To be blunt, Watts is clearly fishing for excuses to dispute the BEST conclusions and continue denying the accuracy of the surface temperature record.  Ironically, Watts is attacking a paper which is consistent the results of Fall et al. (2011), on which Watts was a co-author:

"None of our conclusions disagree with those of Fall et al. [2011] or those of Menne et al. [2010]."

Dr. Pielke has also weighed in with his comments  on the unsurprising BEST results:

"Unless, Muller pulls from a significanty different set of raw data, it is no surprise that his trends are the same."

Dr. Pielke has long disputed the accuracy of the surface temperature record (including with some unflattering caricatures).  His explanation for the various datasets being so similar is that they use the same raw data.  However, it is not the accuracy of the thermometers that is in question; rather, the question is whether the thermometer readings are influenced by effects other than global warming, like UHI.  Each dataset (including BEST) utilizes different methods to filter out those effects (see Glenn's excellent Of Averages and Anomalies series for details on how they do this), and in that sense they are independent.  It's also worth noting that if the surface temperature datasets aren't considered independent, then the satellite datasets (UAH and RSS) that Pielke favors aren't either. 

But as it so happens, BEST does utilize raw data which are not included in the analyses of the other groups, as Pielke would have learned had he actually read the papers (or articles about them) rather than automatically seeking a reason to criticize them.

The surface warming is also consistent with the many physical indicators, and the observed amount of warming is consistent with the expected range of climate sensitivity, which itself is based upon many different lines of evidence.

In short, all the evidence has consistently indicated that the surface temperature record is accurate.  To continue scrambling for reasons to believe otherwise is not skepticism; refusal to accept overwhelming evidence is denial. Of their paper, Muller said:

"My hope is that this will win over those people who are properly sceptical"

Unfortunately, proper skepticism appears to be in short supply amongst the self-proclaimed climate "skeptics."

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 112:

  1. Jim Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said he had not read the research papers but was glad Muller was looking at the issue, describing him as "a top-notch physicist". "It should help inform those who have honest scepticism about global warming.

    "Of course, presuming that he basically confirms what we have been reporting, the deniers will then decide that he is a crook or has some ulterior motive.

    "As I have discussed in the past, the deniers, or contrarians, if you will, do not act as scientists, but rather as lawyers."

    “As soon as they see evidence against their client (the fossil fuel industry and those people making money off business-as-usual), they trash that evidence and bring forth whatever tidbits they can find to confuse the judge and jury."

    Source: “Global warming study finds no grounds for climate sceptics' concerns,” The Guardian (UK), Oct 20, 2011

    To access the article, click here.
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  2. I liked Tamino's words to Muller (here): "Welcome to my world."
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  3. Perhaps Muller should replicate Manns hockey stick, which he continues to say was poorly done. When Muller actually produces some new data it will be more interesting.
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  4. The comments section of WUWT is a wonderful example of cognitive dissonance and denialism.
    Muller didn't come to the predetermined conclusion so he has sold out. 'They' got to him. He changed the rules. Blah blah blah.
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  5. pbjamm - I noticed many WUWT commenters telling Watts "I told you not to say you'd accept the BEST results." Since he appears unwilling to accept results that contradict his pre-determined conclusions, saying he would accept their results regardless was indeed a mistake.
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  6. Isn't this the height of irony?

    "They have all contacted me regarding the release of papers from BEST today.

    There’s only one problem: Not one of the BEST papers have completed peer review.

    Nor has one has been published in a journal to my knowledge, nor is the one paper I’ve been asked to comment on in press at JGR, (where I was told it was submitted) yet BEST is making a “pre-peer review” media blitz."

    "Apparently, PR trumps the scientific process now, no need to do that pesky peer review, no need to address the errors with those you ask for comments prior to publication, just get it to press."

    Surely Watts adheres to the strict standard of waiting until his work is complete, peer-reviewed, and published before talking to the media...

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/02/09/john-lott-joseph-daleo-climate-change-noaa-james-hansen/

    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/02/26/climate-data-compromised-by-heat-sources/

    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/03/02/archaic-weather-network-run-with-volunteers/

    I do agree that focusing on accurately covering published peer-reviewed work is a good idea. Where would that leave Watts?
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  7. Looking around the comments in the media outlets, a lot of skeptics are just ignoring Mullers output and continue with their own 'theories'. The more this goes on, the more that the loyal skeptics appear to be conspiracy nutters in really deep denial about the world around them.
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  8. 7, Paul D,

    Yes!

    What is most important about this is not actually the confirmation of temperature rises (that was a shocker... hmph).

    What is most important is that skeptics now look foolish, and their reactions to events are making them look even more foolish. Their faux-credibility crumbles with every whine and sneer.
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  9. Well, saying you will accept the results of a scientific study is only an issue if you are unwilling to follow where the science leads. With Watts now fishing for any excuse to dismiss the results it is pretty clear he is not willing to do so. His sudden insistence that peer review is vitally important (though crooked!) is a fine example of this.
    I also find the skeptic reliance on HadCRU to prove the earth is not warming while simultaneously insisting that Climategate proved Hadley cooked the books to be delicious irony.
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  10. I'm really glad the BEST team has turned out to be good scientists. It was conceivable (though unlikely) that their results could have shown something different than the other data sets. It would have been pretty earth-shaking if the data had turned out higher OR lower. That would have cemented their team in the annals of science. That's a pretty strong incentive to do the work and get it right.

    It's fascinating, though not unexpected, that they got nearly identical results. And not just identical results with the temperature series but identical results with regards to the UHI effect.

    Is this going to quell the debate at WUWT? Unlikely. But now they clearly are placing themselves in the arena of what can properly be termed "denial."
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  11. Yesterday, in an update to the post, Watts was trying to head people off at the pass from declaring his reaction inconsistent by highlighting the clause where he said his acceptance depended on BEST following the proper scientific method. He's using the pre-publication media announcements as an excuse to back out on that, and unfortunately nobody who takes Watts seriously as a source of climate insight is going to look any further than that. Apparently it never occurred to Watts to take BEST's freely available data and apply the methods of his choosing to second-guess their results, instead focusing on how the research is being shown off. He's literally using style as an excuse to ignore substance. This is totally consistent with his reaction to Muller's testimony before Congress about the preliminary findings, but still inconsistent with his earlier declaration that hinged on methodology rather than publicity.

    While Watts continues to live down to my expectations, I'm a little surprised and disappointed at RPSr.'s response. Surely he can do better than that.
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  12. Another shining example of what R.P. Sr. calls Watts' "commitment to scientific robustness."

    There would be no significant difference if Muller used 30 years. If Watts thinks so, the data is right there to verify. Considering he took him years to even attempt the first data analysis to support his main premise, I'm not holding my breath.

    The paper will certainly pass peer-review because it is solid but will continue being attacked in the usual fashion. Hansen is most accurate describing these people as acting like lawyers, that's exactly what they do. There is hardly a minute spent on Watts' site that is not a complete waste of time.
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  13. This isn't strictly related, but I thought this would be of interest. Watts is now promoting Don Easterbrook's new academic textbook (!) on climate science:

    http://www.elsevierdirect.com/ISBN/9780123859563/EvidenceBased-Climate-Science

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/book/9780123859563

    As it turns out, Christopher Monckton is one of the contributors.
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  14. Alex, thanks for that. Everybody should check out the preview on the Science Direct site, or the Look Inside feature on Elsevier's page.
    Shades of Pandas and People.
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  15. Pandas and People is at least explicable, as it was published by a creationist advocacy group. The Skeptical Environmentalist is also supposed to be excused because Cambridge published it under their popular books section. Elsevier, on the other hand, is a legit academic publisher.

    I have full online access to the textbook through my university subscription, and I've got to tell you this thing has left me speechless. It is literally a repackaging of various WUWT posts.
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  16. Watta has now cut & pasted a rant from the Global Warming Policy Foundation (that same organisation that rates mass extinction of species as 'life flourishing abundantly').

    In it I like best the GWPF description of the BEST coverage by Forbes - Breaking news the earth still goes around the sun and its still warming up.

    "This prejudiced, intolerant and inaccurate, (Forbes) article completely misrepresents sceptical views, and is a good example of the problem facing the debate about climate science within and without of the scientific community."
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  17. Don Easterbrook's Preface... what a load of cr@p.

    "How To Fit Every Silly Denial Misdirection Into A Single Preface" by Don Easterbrook.

    It's embarrassing.
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  18. From a Nature news article:
    Steve McIntyre, who runs the sceptic blog Climate Audit, said in an interview that the team deserves credit for going back to the primary data and doing the work. Although he hasn't gone through the papers in detail, he is already questioning the results reported by the Berkeley team regarding the questionable research stations and the urban heat island effect. McIntyre, a statistician, says he has already run a preliminary analysis and was unable to reproduce the results reported by Muller and his crew.

    Perhaps McIntyre has found that the UHI effect is even more negative....
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  19. Wait a minute.

    Have you considered the fact that the data sample BEST used was too large?

    Don't you realize that if they used a smaller database, Anthony's opinion that the UHI effect is significant might have more likely to be validated?

    They should have been more selective in choosing their sample. After all, any legitimate researcher knows that it's easier to prove your hypothesis the more you limit your sample.
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  20. Funny thing, I was wondering last night whether or not McIntyre was going to "audit" (i.e., nit pick, make mountains out of molehills, feed fodder to the skeptics) the BEST research-- I wonder if he would have done so had their findings been at odds with NASA, NOAA and HadCRU? Very likely not. I wonder if Dr. Muller realizes that he is now officially a member of "The Team"-- ironic given how critical he has been of Mann et al.

    It is both entertaining and pathetic to watch those in denial about AGW implode.
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  21. I tried to download a sample chapter of Easterbrook's textbook but at 20 MB, it wasn't worth wasting bandwidth on. I wonder if it's worse than Rapp's textbook, and honestly, how does stuff like this get published?
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  22. A true sceptic would have recognized that the NOAA/GISS data are not really comparable to the HadCRUT. It's just a question of coverage. HadCRUT has only about 80% coverage while NOAA and GISS cover almost all of the surface (although they do not really have the data, but they do a very good job with their approximations).

    And, if compared with satellite data of a nearly equal coverage, we have quite fine correlations:
    RSSMSU vs. HadCRUT for nearly 80% and
    UAH vs. GISS for 100% coverage.

    If someone means that a record is "biased", the one forgets the fact of different coverages.
    The BEST study supports the data of 100% coverage, but it cannot approve the HadCRUT record to be biased, because they show their coverage values in the record.

    Greetings from Germany.
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  23. Well, to start off with, Monckton recycles his debunked Congressional testimony, bombards the reader with maths (which are never seen in any other part of the textbook), and cites Rachel Pinker yet again. A chapter written by Goddard is completely devoted to showing that 2010 was not the hottest year on record and is laden with digs at James Hansen. Every page has at least one illustration, often generated by Wood for Trees, and often taking up over half the page. Another Goddard chapter, "Arctic Sea Ice," is much the same way. Throughout the book there are oodles of citations from Climate Audit, WUWT, World Climate Report, and SPPI. Furthermore, several chapters are completely missing their bibliographies.

    This is the kind of stuff that gets you put on academic probation as an undergraduate student.
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  24. Muller and Rohde will present their results on November 1, at the Third Santa Fe Conference on Global and Regional Climate Change. Also on the conference program are R. Lindzen, D. Easterbrook, C. Monckton, F. Singer, J. Curry, and other well-known denierskeptics. I wonder how the BEST results will be received?
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  25. Hopefully there will be a Skeptical Science special on the Easterbrook debacle textbook soon!
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  26. Apart from carefully collected and drafted evidence and solid conclusions, what else can you do to convince sceptics? I am totally at a loss as to the blindness of seemingly rational scientists. Bert
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  27. Bert, as their actions indicate, the term scientist would not apply by any stretch to Easterbrook, Monckton or Goddard.
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  28. Mal Adapted,
    I'm tempted to drive up to Santa Fe to catch the proceedings. The Tuesday morning Observations session could be interesting: Muller gives his presentation from 10:55-11:15 followed by Rohde from 11:15-11:35, followed by a certain F. Singer presenting "Is the reported global surface warming of 1979 to 1997 real?" I'm not sure how these conferences are, but the ones I've been to something like that would spark some interesting, uh, discussions.
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  29. Bert: those who are actually sceptical as to whether the Earth is warming will probably be convinced by the BEST study. Those in denial will not be.

    But many of those who were sceptical about the warming will shift their scepticism to the causes of warming. Maybe the BEST team can tackle that next? ;-)

    Hey, maybe in a decade of two, when they've reproduced & confirmed the last few decades of climate science as a whole, we might start to see some real public acceptance? Naaaaaaah! That'll only happen when the oil & coal actually runs out, and the denialist organisations run out of funding.
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  30. Bern @29,

    Oil & coal will run out in ~300y at current rat, so your will is actually pessimistic. Had that happen (300y of BAU) we would certainly head for PETM scenario (56mya) when arctic ocean temp was 74F...

    Hopefully it won't come to that. Back to our times: denialist are disturbed and hopefully their influence dies much sooner than the fosils are burned. If it happens in decade or two, it won't be bad, perhaps not too late.
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  31. I didn't realise that Judith Curry was a co-author. She writes pretty sensibly about the experience, publication and the results in her blog, concluding:

    "Although the results of the analysis aren’t particularly surprising relative to previous analyses, I think the BEST project is very important given the importance of the surface temperature data set and the problems that have been associated with the CRU and NASA data sets, not to mention their disagreement. The BEST group is comprised of some extremely distinguished scientists (including Nobel Prize awardee Saul Perlmutter), and this topic has benefitted greatly from the examination of this problem by physicists and statisticians who were prepared to take a fresh look at this problem.

    I am honored to have been invited to participate in this study, which I think was conducted very well".

    Berkeley Surface Temperatures: Released
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  32. "The problems that have been associated with the CRU and NASA data sets" were largely known to be fictional before BEST began, as previous studies had already shown.
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  33. Bern @29

    BEST do take a stab at the cause of global warming. In the multidecadal oscillation paper they say the cycle fits AMO very well, and that human involvement is most probably over estimated.
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    Response:

    [DB] "human involvement is most probably over estimated"

    I must have missed that part; my pardon.  My copy says:

    If the long-term AMO changes have been driven by greenhouse gases then the AMO region may serve as a positive feedback that amplifies the effect of greenhouse gas forcing over land.  On the other hand, some of the long-term change in the AMO could be driven by natural variability, e.g. fluctuations in thermohaline flow.  In that case the human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated.

    And then in the conclusion:

    In conclusion, our analysis suggests that strong interannual and decadal variations observed in the average land surface temperature records represent a true climate phenomenon, not only during the years when fluctuations on the timescale of 2-15 years had been previously identified with El Nino events.  The variations are strongly correlated with the similar decadal fluctuations observed in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation index, and less so with the El Nino Southern Oscillation index.  This correlation could indicate that the AMO plays an important intermediary role in the influence of the Pacific ENSO on world climate; alternatively, it might indicate that variability in the thermohaline flow plays a bigger role than had previously been recognized.

    [Emphasis added where bolded]

  34. Dale wrote: "In the multidecadal oscillation paper they say the cycle fits AMO very well, and that human involvement is most probably over estimated."

    No, they don't.

    If you believe that paper says anything of the kind you have been misinformed or misunderstood something.

    What it says is that observed temperature fluctuations fit the AMO better than other commonly cited cycles (particularly ENSO). They also say that the ~0.55 C warming observed over the AMO cycle could be due to greenhouse gases or some unidentified other factor... and if it is some theoretical other factor then that could also play a part in the observed land temperature increase. They provide no evidence for another factor or against greenhouse gases.

    Basically, they identify a correlation in trends and then speculate on possible common causes without any analysis of those speculations or reference to other research on the matter.
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  35. Dale, have you looked at a definition of the AMO lately?

    From Wiki: "The AMO signal is usually defined from the patterns of SST variability in the North Atlantic once any linear trend has been removed. This detrending is intended to remove the influence of greenhouse gas-induced global warming from the analysis." [my highlighting]

    Kinda tricky to see how the AMO will drive warming, when the warming trend has been removed from the AMO...
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  36. Further to Dale's misquote, ThingsBreak has a more detailed explanation. Seems that the 'misinterpretation' is coming from the GWPF via WUWT.
    What a surprise, eh ? (Not)
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  37. Tamino has expressed the opinion that the warming apparent in the AMO is that of global warming itself.

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/amo/

    However, others share a different opinion and this matter is not yet considered consensus.
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  38. It's interesting how the correlation (without causation) between the AMO and the global temperature signal has been highlighted. We have several issues:
    1) identifying a cycle in a timeseries so short that few 'cycles' are present - add some aerosol cooling here, a little enhanced solar activity there, et voila we have the appearance of a 'cycle' within the warming trend.
    2) the Atlantic (while large) represents a relatively small fraction of the Earth's surface. How does that drive global temperatures?
    3) We have the issue of the direction of cause. The AMO correlates with global temperature. Without a mechanism, who is to say that global temperature drivers also drive AMO temperatures?
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  39. Gee, so sorry for not getting the exact wording correct. My point still stands though in response to @29 that BEST took a stab by pointing at AMO (whether it's GHG's or natural variability that influences it). And if it is natural variability then the human component may be over estimated.
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  40. Dale,

    That's a pretty big if. Where's the evidence? Where is the logic? Where is there anything except for a desperate hope that it is true, simply because you don't want to believe otherwise, in the face of all evidence?

    What about this paper makes you personally believe that their inference is true? And why do you put so much weight into a single statement in a paper which as far as I knwo contains no data which would support such an assertion. A statement which is a mere "may," and if true only implies that AGW may be "overestimated" (they don't say by how much)?

    What sort of skeptic clings to a single, unsupported sentence in a single paper whose focus is not anything in the arena of that statement?
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  41. @40. I never said or implied any of that. I simply answered @29's question. You assumed the rest.
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  42. Dale, please refocus on the science and spare us the tone. Your restatement of the BEST study was just that: a restatement. But in that restatement you changed the meaning significantly. When quoting please use "quotes" (and ideally italics to avoid any misunderstanding.

    And the Tamino post I linked in 37 above is well worth reading.

    Edit: Please also see Tamino's response to this comment over at Open Mind.
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  43. Dale,

    The leader of the BEST project, Richard Muller said this at a speech a few weeks ago:

    "Global warming in my evaluation is real and much of it, if not most of it, is caused by humans,"

    --Richard Muller, Sept. 28, 2011

    http://wsutoday.wsu.edu/pages/Publications.asp?Action=Detail&PublicationID=27853&PageID=21
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  44. Holy jumpin' jehosaphat!

    Have the denier goal posts been moved SO far, that now they are clinging to some speculative sentence in an article that the human component of "global warming MIGHT be SOMEWHAT overestimated"?

    Game over. Humans are contributing to global warming. And probably to a significant extent. I doubt arguing over whether its 30% or 70%, is going to comport with two decades of previous denialsim.
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  45. PeterS @44

    You're kidding right? The sceptic goalpost for most of us is, and always has been, "sure, the world has warmed...... but WHY?"

    Everything else is basically just noise to the central question. And quite simply a lot of people whilst they believe the whole GHG situation, disagree with how some scientists claim it works. For instance, logarithmic returns on CO2 cannot cause runaway warming (used as an example, not to begin an argument).

    This applies to the BEST research. Sceptics don't care that they show global warming. We know that. What's interesting is they didn't automatically finger CO2 as the culprit.

    IMO, some sceptics have made too much about that one sentence regarding the AMO. But AGW people have also made a big deal out of the global warming confirmation. The MSM going on about scepticism being dead now since BEST confirms global warming? Reminds me how the other side of the MSM reacted to CERN's initial CLOUD announcements. Over-hyped.
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    Response:

    [DB] "The sceptic goalpost for most of us is, and always has been, "sure, the world has warmed...... but WHY?""

    Umm, no.  You forget that the skeptic "It's not happening" meme is one of the foundational cornerstones responsible for the creation of this website.  See the relevant portions listed under the Taxonomy listing.

    "And quite simply a lot of people whilst they believe the whole GHG situation, disagree with how some scientists claim it works."

    By some you mean the vast majority of climate scientists?

    "What's interesting is they didn't automatically finger CO2 as the culprit."

    Straw man.  No one is saying that CO2 is the sole "culprit" in the warming.

    "But AGW people have also made a big deal out of the global warming confirmation."

    Actually this is just another audit.  The temperature records showing the global warming signals inherent in the data were confirmed years ago.  But the "skeptic" need to minimize the results of BEST is understandable given that the skeptic self-identity is tied up in the many years of denial they have maintained.

  46. There's no question the importance of the BEST results has been way over-hyped, but only because the "skeptics" have for so long denied the accuracy of the surface temperature record.

    As for AMO, like ENSO it's an oceanic cycle that doesn't create heat and thus cannot cause a long-term warming trend. I wouldn't be surprised if the sentence in question is revised or removed during the peer-review process, because frankly it seems obviously incorrect IMO.
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  47. By the way, the speculation in the BEST paper regarding the human component possibly being overestimated because of AMO contributions reminds me a whole lot of the McLean et al. paper making the same argument about ENSO. In both cases they de-trended the data in their analysis, and thus could not conclude anything about long-term warming causes. It's possible that since the speculation in the McLean paper made it to the published version, the same will happen with the Muller et al. paper. But personally if I was a reviewer, I'd make them remove it. I don't see what's gained through baseless speculation.
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  48. Dale,

    The "skeptics" and those who are in denial about AGW need to catch up with the science, the fact that internal climate variability can modulate the long-term warming trend has long been known by climate scientists. As the "skeptics" like to point out concerning CO2 and global warming, correlation is not causation (yet the fingerprints of anthropogenic warming are everywhere). Also, the way the AMO is defined introduces its own issues that complicates matters.

    Dale, I hope that you will join us in condemning Watts parroting misrepresentations concerning the correlation between the AMO and the global land temperatures the BEST papers on his web site.

    Either way the claim that "skeptics" do not question that the planet is warming is demonstrably false. Arguments "challenging" the warming currently rank 5, 7 and 9 on the most used climate myths. Those myths exist because "skeptics" and those in denial insist on repeating them. Also a recent survey in the USA shows that over 50% of Republicans believe that the global temperatures are not increasing [H/T ThingsBreak].



    [Source]

    Another demonstrably false statement that "skeptics" are now making in their state of desperation is that the amount of warming caused by humans is unknown and that it is largely attributable to natural causes. First off, climate scientists are not attributing 100% of the observed warming to CO2, so "skeptics" claiming that are not being honest. Second, we have very good estimates that know that "a net anthropogenic warming of 0.49 to 1.12°C with a central estimate of 0.65°C warming of average global surface temperature." See here. Also see here and here and here.

    In reality, the people making a big deal about BEST are the "skeptics". They are besides themselves with panic, and even turning on each other. Seeing them trying to spin this and at the same time attack the BEST group is rather bizarre; but I must admit it is rather entertaining. Why are "skeptics" making such an effort to discredit, undermine and dismiss the BEST results if they agree that the planet is warming and that the global temperature records are reliable? No, they are in deep, deep denial of course, and that includes Mr. Anthony Watts and his apologists such Pielke, McIntyre and Monckton and Delingpole. etc. Now Dale, are you a real skeptic or a fake one?
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  49. Albatross, thanks for the links, but I've read those articles a number of times in the past. I've been reading climate change articles for years, so that I can make up my own mind. I read a lot of information, from here, WUWT, RC, CA and even scientist blogs. I believe I cover all bases, and hopefully smart enough to dismiss alarmism and hype and get to that actual science (I avoid media releases for just that reason). That's where the truth lies, in the science. Doesn't matter how many times you say sea levels will rise 8 stories (Tim Flannery) or the surface records are corrupt due to siting (Watts), without proof that can hold up to process and due diligence it's just unvalidated waffling. It's the same with BEST, until their papers go through process and due diligence, it's unvalidated. Note, by unvalidated I do not mean incorrect.

    The survey results you presented are interesting, but what was the actual question asked? That's not clearly noted on the results. The results mean completely different things if the question was "Has the world warmed in the last 150 years?" or "Is the world still warming?" If the question is the later, then technically it hasn't according to HadCRUT, CRUTEM, NCDC, and the RSS, UAH satellite feeds since 2000 (GISS shows a slight warming). Or if it has, the trend is minuscule. And please save me the usual "2010 was the hottest on record" comments. Yes the decade is the hottest, but it's flat when compared to the rising trends of the 3 previous decades. I think of it as "the top of the curve". Whether it goes up or down is yet to be seen. In 3 years of talking climate change with people I know and people on the internet, I've come across no one who doesn't believe we've warmed at all.

    As for your final question, it's my experience that is a pretty loaded question at this site. I've been asked that question before and the context was always "do you believe what's written at SkS or not?" I am my own sceptic. I consider all articles (from both sides) sceptically till I've found confirming evidence from science. That is why I read information from both sides. I appreciate that if I only read information from one side my opinion will tend to lean that direction. So I read from SkS, RC and others, as well as WUWT, JoNova (more for an Aussie home flavor), CA and others. If that makes me a "denier" I'd rather be that, than 'persuaded' by limiting my information inflow to one side.

    And no, I will not join you in condemning Watts. I consider that poor form and bad manners, no matter who it is.
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  50. Dale, I'd be interested if you could show me the horizontal or downward trends in the datasets you mention. Call me a real skeptic, but all the trends I plot on woodfortrees since 2000 start low at the left-hand-side and end high at the right-hand-side, ie are positive? This leads me to doubt your claims. As to the significance of such short segments of a temperature series, read the Santer paper, any number of Tamino posts (particularly Riddle Me This, or the post right here at SkS. If you're as scientific as you claim, you'll realise that insignificantly short time periods are not relevant when considering whether the trend has changed. You'll also be interested in the post detailing that the Earth continues to build up heat.

    As to your suggestion of reading 'both sides', it would be OK if the other side was actually doing science...
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