Lawrence Solomon mocks models

via Lawrence Solomon: Model mockery | Financial Post.

Top economist, a true believer in global warming, proves predictions of catastrophe are meaningless

All predictions of global warming doom and destruction rest on meaningless computer models, say climate change skeptics such as Freeman Dyson, America’s best known scientist, and Antonino Zichichi, Italy’s best known scientist. They and other skeptics looked at models touted as reliable and declared them meaningless.

Now these unabashed skeptics are joined by an unabashed true believer in rising sea levels, greater climate variability and other perils associated with global warming: Robert S. Pindyck, a physicist, engineer and Professor of Economics and Finance at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Pindyck dissected a “plethora” of climate change models and found that they “have crucial flaws that make them close to useless as tools for policy analysis … [these] analyses of climate policy create a perception of knowledge and precision, but that perception is illusory and misleading.”

Pindyck’s dissection of the work of the world’s climate modelers — these are the people associated with the IPCC and other organizations who bring us dire predictions — is contained in a study to be published in the Journal of Economic Literature, and recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

His study is entitled “Climate Change Policy: What Do the Models Tell Us?” He provides the answer in a two-word sentence that immediately follows: “Very little.” This is an uncharacteristically blunt assessment coming from a publication of the NBER, the most authoritative organization in its field — it is the NBER which officially decides when U.S. has entered or left a recession, for example.

The blunt talk pervades his study — 21 pages that methodically eviscerate any pretence that the climate change modellers have produced anything that anyone, anywhere can rely on for any decision requiring more authority than would be provided by a Ouija board.

Pindyck starts by describing the many efforts of scientists to construct models that integrate climate science with the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, calling this “a growth industry” that “even has its own journal, The Integrated Assessment Journal.” Try as they might, though, all the modellers’ efforts to produce reliable estimates proved futile. Pindyck breaks down the climate models — they’re called integrated assessment models, or IAMs for short — into six constituent parts and concludes that, because they’re all-but-useless, “climate change policy can be better analyzed without the use of IAMs.”

Why are they useless? For one thing, the “modeler has a great deal of freedom in choosing [his inputs]. Thus these models can be used to obtain almost any result one desires.” To highlight the absurdity of this freedom, Pindyck mentions that a “colleague of mine once said ‘I can make a model tie my shoe laces.’ ”

There’s more. When you look into “the guts of the models,” Pindyck explains, a pseudo complexity becomes evident: “for some of the larger models, the ‘guts’ contain many equations and can seem intimidating. But in fact, there are only two key organs that we need to dissect.”

The first of these organs is “climate sensitivity,” or the temperature increase that would come of a doubling of man-made CO2 levels. “Here is the problem,” he explains. “The physical mechanisms that determine climate sensitivity involve crucial feedback loops [whose effect, if any, is] largely unknown, and for the foreseeable future may even be unknowable.”

Pindyck then laces into the second key organ in the models, the “damage function” which describes how much damage higher temperatures might do. Here the modelers again “know almost nothing, so developers of IAMs can do little more than make up functional forms and corresponding parameter values. And that is pretty much what they have done. … The bottom line here is that the damage functions used in most IAMs are completely made up, with no theoretical or empirical foundation. … [making it] a completely meaningless exercise.”

Heaping ridicule on the methodology of the modelers, Pindyck refers to an IPCC survey of 22 peer-reviewed published studies of climate sensitivities that was summarized into a meaningless graph. The modelers then used this IPCC graph in their subsequent models. “But where did the IPCC get those numbers? From its own survey of several IAMs. Yes, it’s a bit circular.”

Because the models all provide sham estimates, Pindyck advocates throwing them out and taking our best shots at answers. “Perhaps the best we can do is come up with rough, subjective estimates of the probability of a climate change sufficiently large to have a catastrophic impact … Of course this approach does not carry the perceived precision that comes from an IAM-based analysis, but that perceived precision is illusory.”

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58 Thoughts on “Lawrence Solomon mocks models

  1. Australis on 24/08/2013 at 2:20 am said:

    If a respected MIT professor, after studying a plethora of climate models, has declared that such models are “close to useless as tools for policy analysis”, then hundreds of climate modelers jobs must surely be under real threat.

    When his peer-reviewed research finding the models are next-to-useless is published in the leading journal for economists, who could have confidence in them? And if policymakers have no confidence in the models, how can they assess the cost:benefit of policy proposals?

    Has anybody attempted to write a rebuttal?

  2. Richard C (NZ) on 24/08/2013 at 10:49 am said:

    Also a similar commentary but with some more detail at The Hockey Schtick:

    MIT Economist on Bogus Climate Damage Functions’

    By Robert Murphy, Institute for Energy Research

    “This is my favorite part of Pindyck’s paper. He explains the actual situation:

    “………….Yes, it’s a bit circular. [Pindyck pp. 12-13]”

    Robert S. Pindyck is the MIT Prof but it was Robert Murphy that raised the red flag initially in his testimony to the U.S. Senate Hearing “Climate Change: It’s Happening Now” i.e. Murphy’s testimony is now corroborated by Pindyck.

    Judith Curry’s commentary on the Murphy testimony and Marlo Lewis’ commentary of Robert Murphy on the Social Cost of Carbon is here:

  3. Mike Jowsey on 24/08/2013 at 2:11 pm said:

    “Yes, it’s a bit circular”

    I would describe it as completely incestuous.

    It’s great to see a scientist of such standing actually have the guts to call BS on the models. Maybe science can regain some of the credibility lost by climatologist shenanigans. It will take a lot of time to rebuild the trust, but this is one step in the right direction.

  4. Alexander K on 25/08/2013 at 10:55 am said:

    I remain surprised by the credulity of sentient adults who believe the output of models. They remind me of small boys who lie on their parents carpeted living-room floor pushing model cars and trucks about while making appropriate engine noises and conferring all the qualities of reality on their toys in their own imaginations.
    Did those adults who believe in the outputs of climate models have deprived childhoods, entirely lacking generous adult relatives who ensured their healthy progression through all the required developmental stages by supplying toy cars, trucks and aeroplanes?

  5. SimonP on 26/08/2013 at 8:54 am said:

    Robert S. Pindyck is not a physicist or an engineer, he is the economist who pretty much wrote the book on options theory. I tried to read his stuff about ten years ago, it’s pretty hard going. In the absence of a link to the actual paper, I surmise that what he is saying is not that the models are wrong, but that they are no good at making policy decisions. This is all about cost-benefit tradeoffs, not climate science. Constructing a ‘damage function’, would be next to impossible, especially when a lot of the damage occurs from black swan events where the probability has changed but nobody knows by how much.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 26/08/2013 at 12:39 pm said:

      >”Robert S. Pindyck is not a physicist or an engineer, he is the economist…”

      Exactly. It is economists that are running the ostensibly functional but actually useless IAMs, not physicists or engineers because the IAMs are being applied to the ECONOMY (e.g. GDP) which is not the primary sphere of physics or engineering. Obama’s Climate Action Plan policy (but not US Congressional policy because he’s circumvented them via the EPA) is a result of this economic methodology. Fortunately not here in NZ though.

      But fortunate for the US that it has economists that know bogosity when they see it.

      >”I surmise that what he is saying is not that the models are wrong, but that they are no good at making policy decisions.”

      Err no, he’s saying the IAMs “have crucial flaws that make them close to useless as tools for policy analysis”. That would be the equivalent of “wrong” Simon.

      >”This is all about cost-benefit tradeoffs, not climate science.”

      Actually it isn’t. IAMs are climate modeling coupled to economic modeling (hence “integrated”) – both components (although he’s broken them down into six) are flawed (e.g. “climate sensitivity” and “damage function”) rendering them useless for policy decisions.

      There’s an Integrated Assessment Modeling thread in ‘Economics’ here:

      Includes 10 things to know:

      3. How do IAMs and GCMs differ?

      Integrated assessment models generally include both physical and social science models that consider demographic, political, and economic variables that affect greenhouse gas emission scenarios in addition to the physical climate system. General Circulation Models (GCMs), however, focus on the physical climate system alone. Many IAMs do include some form of climate modeling scheme in their routines, such as zero-dimensional or 2-dimensional energy balance models, but due to computing time limitations it is currently infeasible to integrate a full 3-dimensional GCM with a human dimensions model to create an IAM. Until computers become fast enough to significantly reduce computation times, IAMs will not be able to configure a full GCM into their model structure, and must rely on simpler forms of climate models to forecast changes in climate based on future scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions and other significant variables.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 26/08/2013 at 2:48 pm said:

      >”black swan events”

      Such as? The last Category 5 hurricane to hit the US was Hurricane Andrew 21 years ago, Stats (H/t Steven Goddard):

      [Goddard] “Two other category five hurricanes hit the US last century – Camille in 1969 and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, which was the most intense hurricane to hit the US since 1850.

      The US has not been hit by a major (category 3-5) hurricane in eight years, the longest such period since the Civil War. Florida has not been hit by any hurricane for eight years, by far the longest such period on record for that state.”

      >”where the probability has changed”

      The arbitrarily assigned probability may have changed but there’s no actual superstorm increase Simon.

      >”but nobody knows by how much”

      Well yes, that’s the problem with imaginary events isn’t it?

  6. Simon on 26/08/2013 at 9:51 pm said:

    Like the blocking high over Greenland that pushed Sandy over New York. It’s existence was so improbable that it was 5 std. dev. from the mean. How did it get there? Changes in the jet-stream arguably caused by an Arctic warming much faster than the rest of the world. No direct proof, but evidence of a smoking gun.

    • Andy on 27/08/2013 at 9:10 am said:

      Large blocking highs are now evidence of global warming?

    • Magoo on 27/08/2013 at 12:06 pm said:

      Hmmm. I (and many others) thought the existence of a tropospheric hotspot confirming positive feedback from atmospheric water vapour would be good evidence of AGW. Funny how some people still believe in AGW when the hotspot has failed to materialise in over 40 yrs.

      I’m a bit confused Simon, how does AGW work again when there is no positive feedback from water vapour?

    • Bob D on 27/08/2013 at 1:10 pm said:


      “Like the blocking high over Greenland that pushed Sandy over New York. It’s existence was so improbable that it was 5 std. dev. from the mean.”

      Sounds like a scientific assertion. Reference please?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 27/08/2013 at 1:11 pm said:

      So a single large blocking high over Greenland was a black swan attributable to man-made climate change according to you Simon, will we be reading that in the IPCC AR5 report? “It’s existence was so improbable that it was 5 std. dev. from the mean. How did it get there?”

      Turns out “Greenland Block” is so well known that it was a meteorological term known prior to 2012 i.e. not so improbable after all:

      ‘What Is a Greenland Block?’, February 21, 2006; 8:04 PM

      “Now, when a blocking high is parked east of northern North America, the usual dumping ground for arctic air offloading the continent, whatever arctic air is present must go somewhere else. Invariably, that `somewhere else` is to follow a more southerly path that takes in eastern Canada and at least some of the United States. Well, this is precisely what is being forecast by a consensus of computer models for the end of this week and the first half (at least) of the next”

      The cold Arctic air mass in 2012 was what downgraded Sandy at landfall, and hardly a black swan.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 29/08/2013 at 1:28 pm said:

      ‘The Tenuous Link between Stronger Winter Storms and Global Warming becomes Even Weaker’

      By Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger

      Come the cold season, whenever there is some type of strong storm system near the U.S. Eastern Seaboard—be it a Nor’easter, a blizzard, or ex-hurricane Sandy—you don’t have to look very hard to find someone who will tell you that this weather is “consistent with” expectations of climate change resulting from human greenhouse gas emissions. The worse the storm, the more “consistent” it becomes.

      The complete collection of climate science describes just how complex the physical processes are governing such storm systems. Teasing out any anthropogenic influence, including even the direction of any influence, is darn near impossible. Claims to the contrary are usually based on a highly selective assessment of the science or the data.

      A case in point: >>>>>>>>

  7. Andy on 27/08/2013 at 11:20 am said:

    Tamsin Edwards has some interesting points on models in her blog

  8. Richard C (NZ) on 29/08/2013 at 2:40 pm said:

    Two GCM papers appear to be creating a “buzz” at present.

    First paper:

    ‘Recent global warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling’

    Yu Kosaka and Shang-Ping Xie

    [Judith Curry] “….the same natural internal variability (primarily PDO) that is responsible for the pause is a major and likely dominant cause (at least at the 50% level) of the warming in the last quarter of the 20th century”

    [John Michael Wallace of the University of Washington] “It argues that not only could the current hiatus in the warming be due to natural causes: so also could the rapidity of the warming from the 1970s until the late 1990s”

    Second paper:

    ‘Overestimated global warming over the past 20 years’

    Opinion & Comment by Fyfe, Gillett and Zwiers

    [Judith Curry] “Their conclusion This difference might be explained by some combination of errors in external forcing, model response and internal climate variability is right on the money IMO”

    [The Hockey Schtick] “The authors falsify the models at a confidence level of 90%, and also find that there has been no statistically significant global warming for the past 20 years”

    # # #

    “Pause”, “hiatus”, and “divergence” now standard climatological terms in the literature apparently.

    • “Pause”, “hiatus”, and “divergence” now standard climatological terms in the literature apparently.

      Nicely identified and I hope you’re right.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 01/09/2013 at 10:21 pm said:

      >”Nicely identified and I hope you’re right”

      Also identified elsewhere RT:

      Matthew R Marler | August 28, 2013 at 11:47 pm |


      The news here is that the previously denied “pause” has been accepted as real by mainstream climate scientists, has forced open the bounds imposed by previous modeling, and has been openly, unambiguously acknowledged by a peer-reviewed paper in Nature.

      Steven Mosher | August 29, 2013 at 12:16 am |

      >“The news here is that [as above]”

      spot on.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 31/08/2013 at 2:58 pm said:

      ‘Pacific waters as an excuse for the warming hiatus’

      by Luboš Motl

      Most of the mainstream media offered us a bizarre “story” in the recent two or three days. The absence of global warming in recent years – well, it’s really 17 years now – has been “explained” by the Pacific waters. Problem solved, the belief in the global warming ideology may continue unchallenged, we’re de facto told.

      The claims are based on the paper by Kosaka and Xie in Nature,

      ‘Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling’,

      which is bad enough but I will mostly focus on the journalists’ added spin which is even worse. The Guardian’s Fiona Harvey will be used as my sample but the comments below are applicable almost universally.


      The Pacific Decadal Oscillation describes one of the most important regional degrees of freedom – if not the most important one (AMO is a possible competitor) – that changes at the timescale comparable to tens of years. In fact, both El Niños and PDOs are mentioned by many of the articles. But they’re not able or willing to deduce the most obvious consequence of all these insights, and it is the following:

      The more you use natural variations such as El Niño, PDO etc. to explain what’s actually going on and what’s being observed, the more important the natural drivers become, the more irrelevant the CO2 gets, the more the skeptics who claim that the climate change is mostly natural are shown to be right (many skeptics have talked about the important influence of the ocean cycles and patterns for many decades and most skeptics today are well aware about the tight PDO-global-temperature correlation in the last 100 years), and the more discredited the AGW doctrine becomes along with its defenders.

      Is that really so difficult for Fiona Harvey to understand this trivial point? Do we have to read all the garbage about CO2 that manifestly has nothing to do with any of the important observations or insights and not even with these not-so-important observations of the recent events in the Pacific Ocean?

      Even average U.S. and EU politicians are beginning to understand what the hiatus means (why not journalists in the Guardian?) and they want a credible explanation in the IPCC AR5 summary that will be out in one month from now.

    • Andy on 02/09/2013 at 8:31 am said:

      I love Lubos’ writing style

      “If you expect that half a degree or a degree Celsius of warming per decade is now inevitable, e.g. because you were brainwashed by the AGW charlatans or because your brain has been damaged in a similar sad accident, then the absence of the warming may look like a “great puzzle”

    • Andy on 02/09/2013 at 2:34 pm said:

      Barry Brill has written a good piece in Quadrant Online on this topic

    • Richard C (NZ) on 31/08/2013 at 3:03 pm said:

      From Twitter via Tom Nelson:

      BigJoeBastardi: “Now “climate researchers” will want huge grants to tell us that when pdo warms in 20 years, warming will resume,after drop to late 70s temps”

      RyanMaue: “Cold-phase of PDO means “hiatus/less/pause/plateau” of warming. We need a Nature article w/climate models to prove this?”

      RyanMaue: “I already blamed lack of global TC activity from 2007-2012 on colder Pacific conditions. I thought it was so apparent to be non-publishable”

      BigJoeBastardi: “The arrogance and ignorance of these guys, now “discovering” what many have forecasted to happen due to cold PDO is stunning”

    • Richard C (NZ) on 01/09/2013 at 10:05 pm said:

      Nature | Editorial

      ‘Hidden heat’

      This week, Nature publishes a study online suggesting that a recent cooling trend in the tropical Pacific Ocean can explain the current hiatus in global warming. Authored by a pair of scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, the paper does not say why the Pacific seems to have entered a prolonged ‘La Niña’ phase, in which cooler surface waters gather in the eastern equatorial Pacific. It is also silent on where the missing heat is going. But it does suggest that this phenomenon — affecting as little as 8% of Earth’s surface — could temporarily counteract the temperature increase expected from rising greenhouse-gas emissions (Y. Kosaka and S.-P. Xie Nature; 2013).

      Previous modelling studies have linked the pause to La-Niña-like conditions that have prevailed since 1999, suggesting that heat that would otherwise go into the atmosphere is getting buried deeper in the ocean. And scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, have a study in the press indicating that decades in which global air temperature rises rapidly — including the 1980s and 1990s — are associated with warmer temperatures in the tropical Pacific, as exemplified by La Niña’s opposite effect, El Niño (G. A. Meehl et al. J. Climate; 2013 [hotlink]). The Scripps researchers also confirmed that El-Niño-like conditions can boost global temperatures.


      + + + + +

      Heh! Kosaka and Xie (2013) find a cooler tropical Pacific explains “the current hiatus in global warming” in the 2000s.

      Then Meehl et al (2013) find a warmer tropical Pacific explains “decades in which global air temperature rises rapidly — including the 1980s and 1990s”.

      So much for greenhouse gas forcing (and too late for AR5 unfortunately).

      They could have read ‘The Sixty-Year Climate Cycle’ (original document: 2010/02/21) to save themselves some time and effort and discovered the cyclicity of the mid 1800s to late 1970s mirrored by 1980s to 2000s as a bonus:

      They might also research the existing literature dealing with quasi 50, 60, 70, 80, 115, 130, 200, 1000, 1500, 2000 year cycles (and whatever other variations/combinations) in solar/celestial data and planetary temperature, weather and climate with a focus on “supercycles” e.g. intros (plenty of others):

      Timo Niroma: ‘Sunspots: The 200-year sunspot cycle is also a weather cycle.
      # A 2000-year historical perspective.’ [29,848 views of the index page]

      Nicola Scafetta: ‘Multi-scale harmonic model for solar and climate cyclical variation throughout the Holocene based on Jupiter–Saturn tidal frequencies plus the 11-year solar dynamo cycle’ [model besting IPCC GCMs]

      Although having done that there’s not much room for “the temperature increase expected from rising greenhouse-gas emissions” when supercycles are accounted for, or as Timo Niroma puts it:

      “If we take the Schove estimates of the maximum magnitudes (R(M)) from the period 1500-1750 and the measurements from 1750, we get (the rounding for exact centuries done only to make the general picture clear):

      1400-1520 ? cold (Sporer minimum)
      1520-1640 107 warm
      1640-1700 61 cold (Maunder minimum)
      1700-1805 114 warm
      1805-1925 95 cold (Dalton minimum)
      1925-2010 138 warm
      2010-2110 ? cold?

      So the supercyclic rise is a very long process, maybe a 1000- or a 2000-cycle or even longer. The Sun seems to be much more irregular than we ever have imagined. The historical data seem to show that the 200-year oscillation has been there at least since 200 AD. The even centuries seem to be have been cold, odd ones warm, not to the accuracy of year, but in the average anyway. If a spotless sun during the third century caused the process of the Great Roman Empire demise to begin, we have to write the history books anew.

      The other thing that seems apparent is that the general warming trend has been going on at least 1,800 years so that the third century AD may be the coldest century for at least 2000 years. Its only rival is the latter part of the 17th century. 1690’s may have been almost as cold as the years 250 to 270. The cold periods later during the first millennium AD are more dramatical than the Little Ice Age thousand years later. On the other hand we may now live in the second mildest climate Anno Domini. Warmer periods seem to have occurred only from about 930 to 1200 AD with an interruption about 1030-1080. In mind the Roman Warm Period 1000 years earlier in mind, we may speculate that warm periods last about 350 years and really warm episodes don’t exceed 100 years. Does this imply a sudden end to today’s warm period in 2030-2050 (warming began in 1700, and the real warm period in 1930).

      [2030-2050 being consistent with several solar-centric scenarios in the literature]

      This may even have greater implications to the whole Holocene climate study and possibly to ice age theories also. Considering the evidence it looks like a megalomaniac idea that the recent rise of half a degree would have been caused by man. So great are the natural variations. But man has always wanted to be in the center of the world.”

      # # #

      Kosaka, Xie, Meehl, Hu, Arblaster, Fasullo, and Trenberth (and commentary on the papers) are only looking at small oscillations in much larger and longer cyclicity. But having (belatedly) discovered the short-term oscillations (but only one phase each – Kosaka/Xie cool, Meehl et al warm) perhaps we can look forward to them discovering long-term supercycles too (or even just one phase at least).

      They had better get a wriggle on though because Niroma’s 2010 warm-cool supercycle transition ticked on by 3 years ago and the 2014 warm-cool transition in other similar scenarios is just around the corner. Discovery in retrospect isn’t exactly cutting edge from the impression given of their (Kosaka/Xie, Meehl et al) combined catch-up revelations of the last 30 yrs of a well known (but not by them) 60 year cycle indicate. A tardy “discovery” (by them) of well known 1000+ year supercycles wont be a good look either.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 03/09/2013 at 8:44 pm said:

      ‘another paper blames ENSO for global warming pause, calling it ‘… a major control knob governing Earth’s temperature’ ‘

      by Anthony Watts

      Readers may recall the recent paper that blamed “the pause” in global temperature on ENSO changes in the Pacific Ocean.

      Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling
      Yu Kosaka & Shang-Ping Xie Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature12534

      Dr. Judith Curry called the paper “mind blowing“

      Now there’s another paper that reaches a similar conclusion:

      ‘Update of the Chronology of Natural Signals in the Near-Surface Mean Global Temperature Record and the Southern Oscillation Index’

      de Freitas and McLean, 2013, p. 237 (Int J Geosciences – open access):

      “All other things being equal, a period dominated by a high frequency of El Niño-like conditions will result in global warming, whereas a period dominated by a high frequency of La Niña-like conditions will result in global cooling. Overall, the results imply that natural climate forcing associated with ENSO is a major contributor to temperature variability and perhaps a major control knob governing Earth’s temperature.”

      [Abstract, excerpts, Discussion and Conclusions]

      Since the paper is open access, and available here:

      Here is the link to the PDF:


      AW missed the word “perhaps” as in “perhaps a major control knob governing Earth’s temperature.”

      I would put as “natural climate forcing associated with ENSO is a major control knob governing Earth’s [short-term/60 year] temperature [oscillations]”,

      As upthread, the control knob governing Earth’s 1000+ year temperature supercycles is something else entirely.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 03/09/2013 at 9:14 pm said:

      SkS on Kosaka and Xie:

      ‘The Pacific Ocean fills in another piece of the global warming puzzle, and puzzles Curry’

      by dana1981

      “A new study published in the journal Nature incorporates temperature changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean into an advanced climate model, and finds that the model can reproduce observed global surface temperature changes remarkably well.”

      # # #

      Well Duh!

      Sceptics have been demanding observed natural oceanic cyclicity be incorporated in the global climate models for a long time to realistically model climate processes but only now has someone got around to doing a little of it (kudos to K&X for getting the ball rolling).

      What Dana doesn’t say (as usual what is not said is more important in Real World than what is said in Warmer World) is that as soon as even a small part of the Pacific ocean SST is dynamically introduced (not initialized) to the model, the simulation is then powered by the natural process in the dynamic forcing (POGA-H) which gazumps the previously dominant CO2 forcing in the initialization (HIST). Consequently, POGA-H mimics (models) climate temperature MUCH better than HIST alone demonstrating the insignificance of CO2 forcing.

      A no-brainer passed over by Dana at SkS because it shatters the narrative.

      [Note: that’s not the best differentiation between HIST and POGA-H but it’ll do].

    • Richard C (NZ) on 04/09/2013 at 12:15 pm said:

      >”Sceptics have been demanding observed natural oceanic cyclicity be incorporated in the global climate models for a long time to realistically model climate processes but only now has someone got around to doing a little of it (kudos to K&X for getting the ball rolling)”

      >”[Note: that’s not the best differentiation between HIST and POGA-H but it’ll do]”

      The ball is certainly rolling now:

      ‘Natural internal variability: sensitivity and attribution’

      by Judith Curry

      There is growing evidence to support the hypothesis that the pause cause is tied to a change in tropical Pacific Ocean circulations. What are the implications of this for climate sensitivity and attribution of warming in the latter part of the 20th century?

      The paper by Kosalka Xie (discussed on the previous thread Pause tied to equatorial Pacific cooling) is generating substantial discussion in the blogosphere and twitosphere. I focus in this post not so much on the pause, but on the warming in the last quarter of the 20th century.


      I’ve had email and twitter discussions on this with Ed Hawkins and John Nielsen-Gammon. One major issue is exactly how Kosalka and Xie conducted their simulations in terms of forcing the equatorial Pacific temperatures; another is how to interpret the implicit external forcing that exists in the POGA-C simulation.

      Nielsen-Gammon’s arguments


      Tamino also has a post on this entitled el Nino and the Non-Spherical Cow. He also includes the same figure as JNG, where he looks at POGAH – HIST:


      Tamino then criticizes my analysis:



      Michael Ghil has a very important new paper [link]

      A Mathematical Theory of Climate Sensitivity or, How to Deal With Both Anthropogenic Forcing and Natural Variability?


      JC summary

      The results of the Kosalka and Xie simulations can be interpreted in numerous ways. Trying to filter out the ENSO from the PDO signal seems to me to be an erroneous thing to do, given their intrinsic relationship. Using these simulations to attribute the pause (since 2002) to the cooling effect of ENSO/PDO has a corollary that the warm phase of the PDO in the last quarter of the 20th century also contributed to this warming.

      The focus for the last two decades has been on the forced climate response. Natural internal variability has been regarded as noise. The pause has stimulated research into the contribution from natural internal variability, which is a very welcome development. How can we proceed to better understand the role of natural internal variability on climate change? More climate model simulations are needed along these lines, with different experimental designs and using different climate models. More insights are needed from observational analyses. And better theoretical frameworks are needed for understanding climate sensitivity to external forcing in a system with substantial natural internal variability.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 04/09/2013 at 1:43 pm said:


      “In my previous post, I argued that POGA-C (fixed external forcing) showed substantial warming since 1975 (through 1998), and a substantial fraction of the observed warming (possibly 50% or more, based on eyeball estimate). The significance of this is in context of the IPCC AR4 attribution statement, whereby most (>50%) of the warming in the latter half of the 20th century is anthropogenic.”


      “The interesting thing about POGA C is that it uses FIXED external forcing. External forcing has some small influence via the specification of the 8% surface temperatures in the central Pacific, which includes the effects of PDO/ENSO as well as external forcing.

      So the question du jour is: Does POGA C or POGA-H minus HIST provide a better estimate of the impacts of ENSO/PDO on the global climate?

      I say it is POGA C. There are nonlinear interactions between the forced and unforced variability, and we have seen that GFDL model is too sensitive to external forcing. So I don’t think much of Tamino’s and JNG’s interpretation of POGA-H minus HIST. But that said, all this is not easily untangled.”

      # # #

      Have to say I wasn’t seeing what JC is/was seeing in POGA C but the above quote helps a little but could be more clear. My first impression was that POGA-H minus HIST show the impacts of ENSO/PDO best …..globally……..but now I’m starting to see what JC is getting at (I think) although she’s comparing global (POGA-H) with the tropical Pacific (POGA-C) – I think.

      Frustrating that the actual paper is not available (free) to get the simulation specifications firsthand in order to know EXACTLY the difference between Figures 1a (HIST vs POGA-H vs Obs) and 1b (POGA-C vs Obs) in the graphs:

      [JC in her previous post] “Compare the temperature increase between 1975-1998 (main warming period in the latter part of the 20th century) for both POGA H and POGA C:”

      [1a] * POGA H: 0.68C (natural plus anthropogenic) [global – I think]
      [1b] * POGA C: 0.4C (natural internal variability only) [tropical Pacific only – I think]

      POGA-C mimics observations WITHOUT anthro forcing but ONLY in the tropical Pacific.
      POGA-H mimics observations WITH anthro forcing globally when constrained by tropical Pacific SST.

      Is it reasonable to deduce (as JC appears to) that 0.68 – 0.4 = 0.28 is the GLOBAL anthro contribution 1975-1998 by comparing global (POGA-H) to regional tropical Pacific (POGA-C)?

      I don’t think so, I deduce that the anthro forcing cannot be a global phenomenon if it is NOT apparent in tropical Pacific simulations vs observations (that I can see).

      In any event, HIST is garbage.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 04/09/2013 at 2:54 pm said:

      [Curry] “One major issue is exactly how Kosalka and Xie conducted their simulations in terms of forcing the equatorial Pacific temperatures; another is how to interpret the implicit external forcing that exists in the POGA-C simulation”

      [Curry] ““The interesting thing about POGA C is that it uses FIXED external forcing”

      [Curry] “* POGA C: 0.4C (natural internal variability only)”

      [Nielsen-Gammon] “POGA-C is not “natural internal variability only”. It’s “natural plus forced in the El Niño region of the Pacific”

      [Nielsen-Gammon] “POGA-C simulation (natural variability plus observed forced response, tropical Pacific”

      5 conflicting definitions for POGA-C in order of appearance:

      1. “natural internal variability only” – JC’s 1st post
      2. “natural plus forced in the El Niño region of the Pacific” – N-G’s 1st post
      3. “FIXED external forcing” – JC’s 2nd post
      4. “implicit external forcing” – JC’s 2nd post
      5. “natural variability plus observed forced response, tropical Pacific” – N-G’s 2nd post

      JC seems confused in 3 and 4 and there’s a subtle difference between N-G’s 2 and 5, “observed forced” in 5 is not necessarily aGHG-forced (say) implied by N-G’s “forced” in 2. N-G’s 5 is the same as Curry’s 1 and 3 combined. Both JC and N-G look to have both modified their understanding of POGA-C in their follow-up posts and are now in some agreement on POGA-C (they were not in the first posts). John Nielsen-Gammon’s posts are here:

      ‘Learning From the Hiatus’

      ‘Learning More From the Hiatus’

      Definitely a MAJOR issue EXACTLY “how Kosalka and Xie conducted their simulations in terms of forcing the equatorial Pacific temperatures” if POGA-C is not well understood by the likes of Judith Curry and John Nielsen-Gammon when analyzing such a breakthrough development.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 04/09/2013 at 12:32 am said:

      ‘A Pacific Reason why Global Warming has Stopped.’

      by Jaime Jessop, Notes on a Scandal

      An interesting week in climate change science and climate change politics – sometimes a little difficult to distinguish between them!

      We have a new paper published in Nature [Kosaka and Xie] which ties the current hiatus in global-warming to cooling in the eastern equatorial pacific, a sample area covering just 8.2% of the ocean surface. I quote: “Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Niña-like decadal cooling.”

      We also have another paper [Fyfe, Gillett and Zwiers], published the same day in Nature Climate Change, seeking to explain the mismatch between observed and estimated warming over the last twenty years, specifically with reference to “some combination of errors in external forcing, model response and internal climate variability”.


      It looks to me like we are now seeing the beginnings of an acknowledgement by the wider climate science community that natural processes (in particular those mediated by ENSO and PDO cycles – El Nino Southern Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation, respectively) can have a significant effect on our climate in that they can interrupt rapid predicted CO2 mediated warming to create a 15 year pause and even set the planet off cooling again. However, there seems to be a lack of an accompanying acknowledgement, inherent in this argument, that therefore natural climate forcings have a far more significant role to play in climate change, comparable to, or greater even, than hypothesised anthropogenic influences. Which leads us to the obvious, and the ultimate in climate change heresy, i.e. that 20th/21st Century warming trends have been contributed significantly to by natural influences at play in our ocean/atmosphere coupled climate system, even – perish the thought – that natural forcings have dominated that recent warming trend. We see this reluctance to take the next logical steps very clearly in the following comment taken from the Nature paper referenced above: “Although similar decadal hiatus events may occur in the future, the multi-decadal warming trend is very likely to continue with greenhouse gas increase”.

      What we basically have at the moment is a PDO in negative phase which is tending to put a lid on world temperatures and even drag them down. ENSO at the present time is fairly neutral, i.e. neither La Nina or El Nino. ENSO is, to a large measure, constrained within the longer period PDO and moderated by this longer period cycle, but ENSO can, and does, flip polarity whilst PDO remains either positive or negative, thereby reinforcing warming/cooling, or tending to act against the prevailing PDO trend. So if we get a strong La Nina soon, this will tend to exacerbate global cooling, and vice versa if ENSO goes into El Nino phase.

      Hence, the anthropogenic global warming predicted by climate scientists is, for a variety of reasons, not showing itself and this is placing global warming policy advocates and scientists in a tough position. They may argue that this is a temporary glitch, a minor interruption in an otherwise continual late 20th century/21st century ‘catastrophic’ warming trend. The problem is, it is neither minor, nor particularly temporary, lasting anywhere between 12 and 20 years, depending on how you look at the figures and which dataset you choose to use. Nor also was it widely predicted, as claimed, by the climate models used by the IPCC, particularly those developed in the 1990s. Even now, a 15 year hiatus in global warming is a very rare occurrence in model runs and let us not forget, it is the climate models, not observations, which still drive current thinking on the threat posed by a hypothetical anthropogenic global warming. Natural variability was, and still is, regarded as minor compared to the effects of man-made CO2 on climate change according to IPCC scientists – though we wait with baited breath for the soon to be published finally completed AR5.


    • Richard C (NZ) on 04/09/2013 at 12:40 am said:

      ‘Observed Rate of Global Warming Half of What the Models Predict’

      by Ronald Bailey, HIT & RUN

      That’s what an interesting new article in Nature Climate Change [Fyfe, Gillett and Zwiers] points out. The article, “Overestimated warming over the past 20 years,” by members in good standing of the “climate community” compares model simulations from 37 of the climate models being used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to project future temperatures with the actual global temperature increase over the past two decades.


      It seems to me what the researchers are saying in so many words is that the current batch of climate models have not been validated using actual temperature trends. One possibility for the mismatch between actual temperature trends and the model projections is that the modelers have set climate sensitivity (response of the climate to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide) too high. As I have reported before, more recent research has significantly lowered estimates for climate sensitivity which suggests that future warming will also be lower.


      Next month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is set to release its update on the physical science of climate change. It will be interesting to see how (or if) its authors try to explain the growing gap between the model projections and the actual climate.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 04/09/2013 at 1:17 am said:

      Uncanny similarity of wording used by Jaime Jessop (Notes on a Scandal) and Ronald Bailey (HIT & RUN) in their respective posts immediately upthread, neither of whom I’ve heard of previously but both posts have been reblogged elsewhere (e.g. The HS):

      “Interesting week/paper” in the opening.

      “It looks/seems to me” in the middle.

      “growing gap/mismatch” near the end in respect to the upcoming AR5.


      “global warming policy advocates and scientists in a tough position” = “It will be interesting to see how (or if) its [AR5] authors try to explain”

      There’s a lot of people seeing the insidious situation the IPCC is facing now – and why it is by its own making by joining the dots in only 2 or 3 (including Meehl et al) papers just out re natural variability versus what the IPCC has been promulgating.

      Interesting indeed.

  9. Andy on 02/09/2013 at 5:23 pm said:

    Meanwhile, adrift on a boulder near Oamaru, Prof Hunter advises thus:

    Leaked copies indicate the scientific consensus on the issue has only strengthened, as has the confidence in climate models showing continuing warming.

    Prof Hunter has seen some of the work that has gone into it and says it will annoy those still in denial.

    ”It will receive favourable attention from people who are serious about the issue,” he says.

    ”Because it is more definitive than it was last time and that’s just what happens, because the science is getting better and more comprehensive.

    ”The scenarios it describes are quite realistic, I think.”

    • Richard C (NZ) on 02/09/2013 at 9:24 pm said:

      >”….the scientific consensus on the issue has only strengthened, as has the confidence in climate models showing continuing warming”

      >”….it will annoy those still in denial”

      Does that include divergence deniers?

    • Andy on 03/09/2013 at 7:17 am said:

      Any idea why this article appears in the ODT Lifestyle magazine?
      Is climate change alarmism a lifestyle?

    • Andy on 03/09/2013 at 7:52 am said:

      Speaking of divergence deniers, I see it is fashionable in NZ to bang on about the warmest winter on record, even though this is based on a six to eight week period dominated by a northerly airflow.

      So picking 17 years of no warming is cherry picking, and picking 6 weeks of weather is……?

  10. Richard C (NZ) on 03/09/2013 at 9:22 am said:

    ‘Climate Change: Anthropogenic or Not?’

    by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Climate Scientist

    “To summarize: for natural cycles, the sun, or volcanoes to be driving the recent warming of the earth’s climate would violate the fundamental laws of physics and no one, to date, has explained how this could be the case. Other plausible explanations, such as cosmic rays, have proven inadequate to explain both the magnitude of the warming as well as to explain how increasing levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere are not warming the planet.”

    # # #

    “no one, to date”. Poor Katharine, she’ll have to update her essay in light of the recent papers upthread and IPCC AR5 “leaks”.

    I’m also curious how “the sun” …… “to be driving the recent warming of the earth’s climate would violate the fundamental laws of physics”

  11. Richard C (NZ) on 12/09/2013 at 1:38 pm said:

    ‘Climate Change Rebuttal: Evangelical Scientists Correct One Error, Make Others of their Own’

    By David Legates and Roy W. Spencer , The Christian Post Op-Ed Contributors

    Some people think belief in God and belief in manmade global warming are incompatible. Two evangelical climate scientists rightly corrected that in The Christian Post, pointing out that they believe in God and in global warming. But they went on to make serious mistakes of their own.

    We, too, are evangelical climate scientists. We, too, believe in manmade global warming. But, unlike Katharine Hayhoe and Thomas Ackerman, we believe natural climate variations might far outweigh human-induced variations and that attempts to control future global temperature by reducing greenhouse gas (especially carbon dioxide—CO2) emissions will cause more harm than good to the poor for whom Hayhoe and Ackerman express concern.


    While Hayhoe and Ackerman insist that their belief in dangerous manmade climate change is a matter not of faith but of sight—of scientific evidence—we are convinced that it is precisely the opposite. Why? Because the observational (scientific) evidence conflicts with it.

    As illustrated in the two graphs below, the average (mean) carbon dioxide-driven warming predicted for 1979–2013 by the computer climate models on which Hayhoe and Ackerman depend for their alarms runs about three-and-a-half times the actual observed warming. Even the few model predictions closest to reality run at least 60% higher than observations. And as the second graph shows, contrary to the models’ predictions, there has been no significant warming for about the last 17 years.


    Hayhoe and Ackerman say they want “informed and sustained conversations.”

    We agree. Therefore we challenge them, or other evangelicals of their choice, to a formal public debate—with a scientist, an economist, and a theologian on each side—at an evangelical college of their choice. Up for debate would be the magnitude, causes, and consequences of recent and foreseeable global warming and whether fighting it by reducing CO2 emissions would cause more good than harm to the poor.

    # # #

    Scroll down to bottom of page, there’s this:

    Climate & Health Council

    ‘Climate Change – The Biggest Global Health Threat of the 21st Century’

    [Unfortunately “This site is temporarily unavailable”]

  12. Richard C (NZ) on 13/09/2013 at 8:37 pm said:

    ‘Counting the Cost of Fixing the Future’ [via Bishop Hill]



    As Professor Nordhaus wrote in his 2008 book, “A Question of Balance”: “Investments in reducing future climate damages to corn and trees and other areas should compete with investments in better seed, improved rotation and many other high-yield investments.” If investments in CO2 abatement are not competitive, we would do better by investing elsewhere and using the proceeds to cover warming’s damage. We would still have money left over.

    Professor Nordhaus says he prefers a 4 percent discount rate. Using it in “A Question of Balance,” he calculates that the optimal carbon tax comes in at around $11 per ton of CO2 in 2010, which is exactly the low end of the administration’s estimate of the social cost of carbon.

    Using it wouldn’t cure the planet. By the year 2100, according to his [IAM] model, the earth’s temperature rises to 3.45 degrees Celsius above its level in the year 1900, and climate-related damages amount to some $17 trillion. Still, compared with doing nothing it would yield a $3 trillion return. That, he says, is the best we can do.

    But the most compelling argument that business logic will prevail has little to do with its merits. It’s simply that the world’s decision-makers are following it. Four years after committing to a 2-degree ceiling, the world’s current policies will lead us, by the end of the century, to blow past 3.

    # # #

    Business logic will prevail even more when business completely dumps idiotic anti-prognostications like that.

  13. Andy on 28/09/2013 at 12:00 am said:

    Apparently the IPCC Ar5 SpM has just been released,

    Also on my interest \ todo list

    Gst return
    Put clocks forward on Saturday night,
    Clean house before wife gets home on Monday
    Go skiing

  14. Andy on 28/09/2013 at 12:48 pm said:

    The Standard has put me on moderation for making some factual statements about AR5.
    Apparently “the pause” doesn’t exist and they don’t know about the IPCC central estimate of three degrees

    [EDIT] lprent writes

    [lprent: andyS is now under moderation in this post for displaying the traits of being a credulous idiot trolling my post. ]

    • Richard C (NZ) on 28/09/2013 at 9:39 pm said:

      You’ve plenty of stamina Andy. Those antics and attitudes get a bit tiresome.

      They might have a bit of traction now but in 12 months? 24 months? 5 years?

      The metrics aren’t on their side, or the IPCC’s. I’m sure many of the IPCC know that but they needed a last gasp before it all falls apart.

      If my argument gets knocked back nowadays for whatever reason (e.g. Stuff comments going AWOL) I don’t fret. I just think, well, let’s see in a year or so shall we or 5 years tops. I like what Judith Curry is saying on this (rather than what lprent says):

      “If the pause continues beyond 15 years (well it already has), they [the IPCC] are toast”

      And Google autoassist provides “when you fix the climate models give me a call” at the top of the list when you start typing ju… She actually stated:

      JC message to IPCC: “Once you sort out the uncertainty in climate sensitivity estimates and fix your climate models, let us know”

    • Richard C (NZ) on 28/09/2013 at 9:49 pm said:

      >”The metrics aren’t on their side”

      News to David Suzuki evidently – metrics that is.

    • Andy on 28/09/2013 at 10:07 pm said:

      Yes, agreed, life is too short to fret about these inconsequential blog discussions (he said with no hint of irony)

      At these times I feel like channeling Richard Lindzen’s monotonic delivery style that has a sense of bored inevitability about it.

    • Andy on 28/09/2013 at 10:41 pm said:

      I’m sure that the hysterical nutjobs that inhabit “The Voice of the NZ Labour Movement” will put me out to pasture at some point.

      Richard North has some interesting observations

      What should be noted though, is that the IPCC is, by definition, a propaganda operation. Its self-defined role is, “to assess … the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation”.

      The organisation, by its own account, takes as a given the existence of “human-induced climate change” and, therefore, it is entirely unsurprising that it finds: “human influence on climate clear”. It could do nothing else.

      On the other hand, no one with any sense, or understanding of the basics of science, could take their science from an overtly political organisation, with such an obviously distorted statement of principles.

    • Andy on 30/09/2013 at 3:54 pm said:

      As predicted, I am now permanently banned at the “Voice of the Labour Movement”

      The sanctimonious vermin that hover around blogs like Hot Topic and The Standard really are the utter dregs of humanity.

      I went out and backed up all my claims with references. All I get back are insults and sneers

      These “people” really are beneath contempt. One one known as One Anonymous Knucklehead is Rob Taylor, I am sure.

      These pieces of slime have got a very rude shock coming their way

    • Andy on 30/09/2013 at 4:33 pm said:

      You do notice this as common behaviour amongst the climate skinheads though. You make some apparently valid point, with references, and then they sneer and taunt you.

      Eventually, when you rise to the bait, they feign shock and ban you.

      Eventually, these echo-chambers will just become lonely internet ghettos for sociopaths as people turn off in their droves

    • Magoo on 30/09/2013 at 5:53 pm said:

      It’s a waste of time trying Andy. Check out the last 3 comments between ‘AGW Sceptic’ and ‘Forward Thinker’ on the Herald comments. Greenies are a pack of liars with an agenda:

      Ever noticed how the socialist commentators often uses aliases that make themselves out to be superior thinkers, such as ‘Forward Thinker’ or ‘Gandalf’?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 30/09/2013 at 6:19 pm said:

      Narrow squeak getting those error margins in before comments closed. I don’t think Forward Thinker will “Like” your last comment. I did.

    • Andy on 30/09/2013 at 7:22 pm said:

      I think their sense of self importance gets reflected in their online monikers. Meanwhile sceptics have a little humility and ironic humour, reflected in names such as …

      .. NonEntity

      which I quite enjoy

  15. Gary on 29/09/2013 at 10:34 am said:

    Obviously those who promote and assist the aims of the UNIPCC have never heard of the folk tale about the sky falling in. Perhaps they need to have a look at themselves! Henny Penny, also known as Chicken Licken or Chicken Little, is a folk tale with a moral in the form of a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The phrase “The sky is falling!” features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent. Versions of the story go back more than 25 centuries and it continues to be referenced in a variety of media.

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