What’s the problem?

the last post

The last post?

Here is the tireless, incomparable Willis Eschenbach posing a simple question and answering it simply and irrefutably. After reading this, all the alarmist nonsense in the world will make no difference to our thinking. In just a few words with plain facts he removes the belief — or even the need to believe — that the humble carbon dioxide has the power to command the climate. The more people know this, the faster we’ll all regain the will to live; spread it widely.

I found it on WUWT under the heading:

Congenital Climate Abnormalities

13 Feb 2010, by Willis Eschenbach

Science is what we use to explain anomalies, to elucidate mysteries, to shed light on unexplained occurrences. For example, there is no great need for a scientific explanation of the sun rising in the morning. If one day the sun were to rise in the afternoon, however, that is an anomaly which would definitely require a scientific explanation. But there is no need to explain the normal everyday occurrences. We don’t need a new understanding if there is nothing new to understand.

Hundreds of thousands of hours of work, and billions of dollars, have been expended trying to explain the recent variations in the climate, particularly the global temperature. But in the rush to find an explanation, a very important question has been left unasked:

Just exactly what unusual, unexpected temperature anomaly are we trying to explain?

The claim is made over and over that humans are having an effect on the climate. But where is the evidence that there is anything that even needs explanation? Where is the abnormal phenomenon? What is it that we are trying to make sense of, what is the unusual occurrence that requires a novel scientific explanation?

There are not a lot of long-term temperature records that can help us in this regard. The longest one is the Central England Temperature record (CET). Although there are problems with the CET (see Sources below), including recent changes in the stations used to calculate it that have slightly inflated the modern temperatures, it is a good starting point for an investigation of whether there is anything happening that is abnormal. Here is that record:

slow warming in England

Figure 1. The Central England Temperature Record. Blue line is the monthly temperature in Celsius. Red line is the average temperature. Jagged black line is the 25-year trailing trend, in degrees per century.

Now, where in that record is there anything which is even slightly abnormal? Where is the anomaly that the entire huge edifice of the AGW hypothesis is designed to elucidate? The longest sustained rise is from about 1680 to 1740. That time period also has the steepest rise. The modern period, on the other hand, is barely above the long-term trend despite urban warming. There is nothing unusual about the modern period in any way.

OK, so there’s nothing to explain in the CET. How about another long record?

One of the world’s best single station long-term records is that of the Armagh Observatory in Ireland. It has been maintained with only a couple minor location changes for over 200 years. Figure 2 shows the Armagh record.

slow warming in Armagh

We find the same thing in this record as in the CET. The fastest rise was a long, long time ago. The modern rise is once again insignificant. Where in all of this is anything that requires billions of dollars to explain?

Finally, what about the global record? Here, you don’t have to take my word for it. A much chastened Phil Jones (the disgraced former Director of the CRU of email fame), in an interview with the BBC on Friday, February 12, 2010, answered a BBC question as follows:

Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?

An initial point to make is that in the responses to these questions I’ve assumed that when you talk about the global temperature record, you mean the record that combines the estimates from land regions with those from the marine regions of the world. CRU produces the land component, with the Met Office Hadley Centre producing the marine component.

Temperature data for the period 1860-1880 are more uncertain, because of sparser coverage, than for later periods in the 20th Century. The 1860-1880 period is also only 21 years in length. As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different (see numbers below).

I have also included the trend over the period 1975 to 2009, which has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998.

So, in answer to the question, the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.

So in fact, according to Phil Jones (who strongly believes in the AGW hypothesis) there is nothing unusual about the recent warming either. It is not statistically different from two earlier modern periods of warming. Since these warming periods were before the modern rise in CO2, greenhouse gases cannot have been responsible for those rises.

So my question remains unanswered … where is the anomaly? Where is the unusual occurrence that we are spending billions of dollars trying to explain?

The answer is, there is no unusual warming. There is no anomaly. There is nothing strange or out of the ordinary about the recent warming. It is in no way distinguishable from earlier periods of warming, periods that we know were not due to rising CO2. There is nothing in the record that is in any way different from the centuries-long natural fluctuations in the global climate.

In other words, we have spent billions of dollars and wasted years of work chasing a chimera, a will-of-the-wisp. This is why none of the CO2 explanations have held water … simply because there is nothing unusual to explain.









Eschenbach: Jones also makes the interesting argument in the interview that the reason he believes that recent warming is anthropogenic (human-caused) is because climate models can’t replicate it … in other words, he has absolutely no evidence at all, he just has the undeniable fact that our current crop of climate models can’t model the climate. Seems to me like that’s a problem with the models rather than a problem with the climate, but hey, what do I know, I was born yesterday …

Views: 366

7 Thoughts on “What’s the problem?

  1. Barry Brill on 14/02/2010 at 9:15 pm said:

    This is altogether too straightforward and inarguable. How are we going to provide employment for “thousands of scientists” who thought there was “overwhelming evidence” of human-induced global warming – when even Blind Freddie can see that there isn’t a job to be done?

    For several centuries now, scientists always and everywhere have respected the principle of “Occam’s Razor” – which requires over-complex hypotheses to give way to simple and elegant explanations of the available data.

    An explanation that “it must be wrong because my model can’t replicate it”, is undercut by the fact that the models can’t replicate the other two modern warming periods either. This argument has been met in the past by denying that the 1860-1880 and 1910-1940 warming rates were reasonably comparable with 1975-2009. Now the guru himself, Phil Jones, has stated unequivocally (on the BBC no less) that all three periods “are similar and not statistically significantly different”.

    Game, set and match!

    • Provide employment! You do have a sense of humour, Barry!

      But yes, this is highly significant.

      Another point is that, with convention setting 30 years as the minimum for determining a trend, and with half of that gone so far with no warming, it’s impossible for the forecast temperatures to be met without the most outlandish warming occurring in the next 15 years.

  2. Barry Brill on 15/02/2010 at 3:11 am said:

    The IPCC says it’s very likely that human-induced greenhouse gases are responsible for the majority (ie 51%) of the current warming.

    The vast quantities of GHG produced over the last 15 years, which have been responsible for an increase in atmospheric concentrations of 15ppm, have caused warming of 0 degrees (C or F). If we project this forward, the warming during the remainder of the 21st century will be 0 degrees – which is comfortably below the targeted limit of 2 degrees.It seems unlikely that 0 degrees will cause “runaway” or “irreversible” global warming. The Kyoto Protocol has clearly been an outstanding success.

    We now need urgent research grants to ascertain what has been causing the melting of Arctic sea ice, and various glaciers, and the Greenland ice cap,since 1995. There was no warming in the last 15 years, so some other agency (as yet undetected) must have been at work.
    Something else must also have been sinking Tuvalu and the Maldives, causing extreme
    weather events, and killing polar bears.

    Science employment levels can be maintained in trying to track down this new “unknown unknown”.

    • Yes!

      I’m sure you haven’t forgotten about the “missing sink” that’s been soaking up about half of all our emissions of CO2, regardless of how much we increase them. That must be located, and extensive studies will be needed to establish the processes involved and consider the possibility of increasing its throughput. Quite probably yearly international conferences will be required (95% probability).

  3. Barry – that is pathetic. Jones calculated a warming of +0.12 degrees. I notice that some conservative sources are quoting that as a cooling of -0.12 degrees!

    He mentioned this just failed to meed 95% confidence level.

    That is quite normal as there had not been a long enough period to produce the required precision. (His example for 1975-2009 was significant at 95% level). You just can’t have a high confidence about trends measured at the decadal level.

    Then again, if your motives are political why worry about facts.

  4. Barry Brill on 15/02/2010 at 11:14 am said:

    Ken – read the BBC transcript. Jones calculated an increase of 12/hundredths of a degree for 1995-2009 (including the 1998 warmest year on record) and a decrease of the same amount for 2002-2009.

    You know perfectly well that even one weather thermometer can’t measure 12/tenths (10 times higher) of a degree, let alone all the thermometers in the world! These microscopic levels are simply undetectable, and that’s exactly what Prof Jones admitted.

    So why did the Arctic icecap shrink during 2007? And why did it grow back last year?

  5. Of course they are undetectable – but that is not what Jones meant. These were calculated as a trends. The 2002-2009 figure can’t have any meaning as the statistical significance will be minuscule. The time period was too short. Yet we have headlines that Jones claimed there was actual cooling!

    The 1995-2009 figure was just less than 95% significant.

    Now if you were told that you had a 95% chance of your cancer being removed by treatment you would take it (1 chance in 20 that it wouldn’t work).

    If you were told the probability was 94% – would you decline? 1 chance in 17 of failure??

    Of course not.

    The deniers are not playing with thermometer sensitivity – they are intentionally misunderstanding what is mean by statistical significance. This is not a binary situation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation