Is Stephen Hawking above physics?

Professor Stephen Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking, beloved Cambridge cosmologist, fearless victor over ferociously crippling disease and inspirational investigator of the origin of everything (though not a climate scientist) has powered on his (preferred old model) speech synthesizer in public to parrot the alarmist view of global warming.

Speaking to the BBC to mark his 75th birthday the author of a A Brief History of Time said: “We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible.

“Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of two hundred and fifty degrees, and raining sulphuric acid.”

Reported in the Herald this morning, he refers to President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. As if a climate disaster is remotely possible. Does he realise how many climate scientists disagree with him?

Is this a landslide in perhaps the greatest mind of the late 20th century? Perhaps it’s another example of the Trump effect, whereby the Donald’s constantly immoderate responses to the havoc of modern life so baffles the illiberal mind that it flips. Whatever, we must rebut Prof Hawking’s unscientific assault on climate science.

First, history, in which Stephen is usually strong (if brief), reveals not a single episode of runaway warming in 450 billion years. Runaway means that hot and hotter is your eternal future — cool times never return. It happens only once, but once is all it takes.

Second, the two physical, measurable atmospheric factors at the centre of this preposterous panic, carbon dioxide and temperature, have both been far higher than they currently are, yet there was no runaway event. As this graph of the last 600 million years shows, there has been only one other period, in late Carboniferous to early Permian, where both temperature and CO2 were as low as they are right now.

Outside those two low-temperature, low-CO2 periods was 92% of evolution, yet CO2 and temperature never caused a runaway warming event. Temperature, now about 15°C, has mostly been around 25°C; CO2, now 400 ppmv, has always been above 1000 ppmv with a peak of 7000 ppmv.

In my research to rebut the much-venerated Prof Hawking I learned this is not the first time he has expressed alarm about the climatic possibilities ahead. Still, if the past remains the best guide to the future, there’s nothing to fear and even Stephen, wise as he undoubtedly is, cannot afford to stop learning.

Does Prof Hawking know how our airborne emissions might significantly heat the ocean? Nobody else does, so I’ve asked him. I just heard that he gets too much mail to handle and cannot help us.

Anyone know a climate scientist or top-level physicist?

I must leave just now, but perhaps I should try Mike Kelly.

Views: 503

44 Thoughts on “Is Stephen Hawking above physics?

  1. Simon on 03/07/2017 at 5:54 pm said:

    The sun’s output was only 70% of what it is today 500 million years ago.
    That’s a terrible chart, breaks every rule for good science reporting.
    Ocean heating is well understood.

    • Richard Treadgold on 03/07/2017 at 6:59 pm said:

      Hi Simon,

      Sun’s output 70%: please cite some evidence.
      Terrible chart: the sources are right there; give us more than criticism. Kindly refute them.
      Why do you mention ocean heating?

  2. Simon on 03/07/2017 at 8:34 pm said:

    The sun gradually gets hotter as its core shrinks, which increases the rate of fusion at about 1% every 100 million years.

  3. Dennis N Horne on 03/07/2017 at 9:14 pm said:

    The greenhouse effect warms the oceans the same as it warms the land. The only difference is water moves so the heat is moved.

    Taking into consideration the way we live now, a global mean rise of 4C would render much of our world uninhabitable. Business as usual makes this outcome entirely possible.

    I rather suspect Hawking has done a few calculations. That’s sort of what he does. Quite a bit. If he says runaway heating is possible I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility, but further explanation would be nice.

    I glanced back at the other post. Not sure why I bother, but here we go:

  4. Dennis N Horne on 03/07/2017 at 9:27 pm said:
    The sun is a yellow dwarf star, currently in its main sequence. Like other stars, it is not constant over time and evolves. During this evolution, the sun will gradually increase its luminosity. This happens incredibly slowly – when Earth first formed, it was around 70% of its present luminosity.

  5. Magoo on 03/07/2017 at 10:29 pm said:


    Just a quick question. If you really believe that CO2 is a danger and we’ll all come to a sticky end as a result, why do you spend your spare time flying aircraft as a hobby?

    Your flying exploits are so famous you even made news in the UK & on YouTube:


    The hypocrisy is a bit embarrassing for a climate change alarmist isn’t it? Do you have shares in electric cars, wind, or solar farms or something?

  6. Richard Treadgold on 03/07/2017 at 10:30 pm said:


    The sun gradually gets hotter as its core shrinks, which increases the rate of fusion at about 1% every 100 million years.

    So, 500 million years ago, it was about 100 – (5 × 1) = 95% of its present luminosity, where you said it was 70%. But around 300 million years ago, the period I referred to, when both CO2 and temperature were at about current levels, the sun’s luminosity would have been, by this measure, about 97% of today’s level.

    What are you trying to say?

  7. Richard Treadgold on 03/07/2017 at 10:42 pm said:

    Hi Dennis,

    The greenhouse effect warms the oceans the same as it warms the land. The only difference is water moves so the heat is moved.

    Ok, good summary of the effect of insolation. But my question concerns only the human emissions: how do they warm the ocean?

    Taking into consideration the way we live now, a global mean rise of 4C would render much of our world uninhabitable. Business as usual makes this outcome entirely possible.

    What a load of drivel. EVIDENCE!! I want evidence not of the effect of such a rise, but that it might be possible. The hypothesis relies on feedback, and so far that’s complete speculation.

    I rather suspect Hawking has done a few calculations. That’s sort of what he does. Quite a bit. If he says runaway heating is possible I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility, but further explanation would be nice.

    You have a touching faith. I’m asking for evidence.

    I glanced back at the other post.

    There are over 1000 posts here. Which one?

  8. Richard Treadgold on 03/07/2017 at 10:50 pm said:


    when Earth first formed, it was around 70% of its present luminosity.

    You might notice that Simon claimed above that 500 million years ago the sun shone at 70% of its present luminosity (he was wrong). But now you claim that 4600 million years ago the sun’s luminosity was 70% of its present value. Sort yourselves out please.

  9. Simon on 04/07/2017 at 9:19 am said:

    My mistake, the sun’s luminosity was 90-95% of today 500 million years ago. The key point is that faint young sun helped counteract the additional CO2.
    The temperature reconstruction of that chart looks wrong, I doubt it came from a peer-reviewed paper.
    The Ordivician was warmer than today. The Permian was cooler. There is no obvious recent increase in temperature since the Pleistocene. Please provide a reference to a scientific paper.
    We don’t know what Hawking defines as runaway global warming, it may be less of an increase than you think. Remember that no-one initially believed Hawking when he said that black holes could emit radiation.

  10. Magoo on 04/07/2017 at 9:56 am said:


    If a cooler sun in the past helped counteract the additional CO2, what’s counteracting the additional CO2 these days? There’s been barely any warming for the past 20 yrs or so, despite rapidly increasing CO2 levels:


    Also see:

    Box TS.3 | Climate Models and the Hiatus in Global Mean Surface Warming of the Past 15 Years, page 61, Technical Summary, Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis, IPCC AR5 report, 2013.

  11. Richard Treadgold on 04/07/2017 at 10:29 am said:


    The temperature reconstruction of that chart looks wrong, I doubt it came from a peer-reviewed paper.

    The methods used for the temperature reconstruction are set out at the Scotese web site, which has been there since 2003. Go and pull it apart or feel free to find a better source.

  12. Andy on 04/07/2017 at 12:46 pm said:

    Hawking’s voice box was obviously hacked by the Russians to discredit scientists.

  13. HemiMck on 04/07/2017 at 4:54 pm said:

    It would be interesting to see O2 levels overlaid on that graph. At what stage did photosynthesis kick in.

  14. Maggy Wassilieff on 04/07/2017 at 5:53 pm said:


    Oxygen levels were probably much as they are today for the time span on that graph.
    Photosynthesis kicked in much earlier….definitely by 2.5 billion years ago… but possibly earlier… 3.8 billion seems to be the earliest date.

  15. HemiMck on 04/07/2017 at 6:14 pm said:

    thanks maggy

  16. Dennis N Horne on 06/07/2017 at 1:16 am said:

    The thing I note about climate science deniers generally is they don’t understand the basics. I guess often, and certainly at professorial level, they don’t want to. Here is a primer; I bought it on Amazon. John Houghton was once professor of atmospheric physics at Oxford.

    Global Warming: The Complete Briefing Paperback – 7 May 2015
    by Sir John Houghton

    How much of global warming is due to human activities? How far will it be possible to adapt to changes of climate? Sir John Houghton’s definitive, full colour guide to climate change answers these questions and more by providing the best and latest information available, including the latest IPCC findings. The simple, logical flow of ideas gives an invaluable grounding in the science, as well as the physical and human impacts of climate change for undergraduate students across a wide range of disciplines. Accessible to both scientists and non-scientists, the text avoids mathematical equations and includes more technical material in boxes, while simple figures help students to understand the conclusions the science leads to without being overwhelmed by vast amounts of data. Questions for students to consider and test their understanding are included in each chapter, along with carefully selected further reading to expand their knowledge.

  17. Dennis N Horne on 06/07/2017 at 1:26 am said:

    Magoofy. Are you the Magoo that Ed Hawkins ignored on climate-lab-book?

    You think my personal choices will affect global scientific endeavours and results.


    No surprises there. You’ve shown you can believe anything.

  18. Dennis N Horne on 06/07/2017 at 1:30 am said:

    The vast majority of scientists know that the climate is changing, humans are the main reason, and there are going to be severe consequences. We have decades of measurements that prove our understanding of this process. There is simply no debate or dispute.

    Despite this, there are a shrinking number of contrarian scientists, elected officials, and industry representatives that have spent endless time trying to downplay the impact. They have variously argued that the climate isn’t changing, that the changes won’t be very much, or that there are no viable solutions to the problem. Much of their position relies upon finding evidence that the current observations of warming are not great. That is, the Earth is not warming as fast as predictions.

    To support this incorrect (and intellectually dishonest) position, contrarians have scoured the data for any evidence at all that suggests the Earth is not warming. They have skipped oceans (which account for 93% of the warming). They skip the Earth’s surface temperature, ignore ice loss, ignore sea level rise, and in fact ignore everything except some select regions of the atmosphere. Their fallback position is that since a part of the atmosphere seems not to be warming very fast, this means the Earth isn’t warming or that climate models cannot be trusted. I know I know, this sounds dumb, and it is. But it is their current argument. [continues]

  19. Dennis N Horne on 06/07/2017 at 1:47 am said:

    The G20 nations provide four times more public financing to fossil fuels than to renewable energy, a report has revealed ahead of their summit in Hamburg, where Angela Merkel has said climate change will be at the heart of the agenda.

    The authors of the report accuse the G20 of “talking out of both sides of their mouths” and the summit faces the challenge of a sceptical US administration after Donald Trump pulled out of the global Paris agreement.

    The public finance comes in the form of soft loans and guarantees from governments, and, along with huge fossil fuel subsidies, makes coal, oil and gas plants cheaper and locks in carbon emissions for decades to come. But scientists calculate that to keep global warming below 2C, most fossil fuel reserves must be kept in the ground, requiring a major shift of investment to clean energy. [continues]

    Should have avoided the word “subsidies” … might confuse those with limited English. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  20. Magoo on 06/07/2017 at 9:48 am said:

    Ah Dennis dear boy,

    Do you lecture everyone at the Auckland Sport Aircraft Association about how they’re destroying the planet? No? Why not dear boy?

    You, dear boy, are a self righteous hypocrite. You’re in absolutely no position to lecture anyone about CO2 when you spend your weekends pumping burnt kerosene fumes into the atmosphere for fun.

    Regarding Ed Hawkins, yes I saw he avoided that particular bit of empirical evidence from the IPCC, probably because there is no answer to it without admitting satellite data is the most accurate.

    Here it is if anyone else is interested:

  21. Magoo on 06/07/2017 at 10:49 am said:

    Dennis dear boy,

    Looking at the actual report on subsidies that your Guardian article is based on, fossil fuels are less subsidised than renewables. Here’s the report:

    In the report Japan is the biggest subsidiser, so let’s look at their numbers:

    $2,657 million for renewables
    $16,466 million for fossil fuels

    Source: Table 2: Annual Average of Total Public Energy Finance by G20 Countries and Multilateral Development Banks, 2013-2015, page 15.

    Renewables account for 3.8% and fossil fuels account for 64.4% of Japan’s energy sources:

    $2,657 million for renewables divided by the 3.8% of it’s total energy contribution gives $699 million subsidy per % of energy production.

    $16,466 million for fossil fuels divided by the 64.4% of it’s total energy contribution gives $255 million subsidy per % of energy production.

    Renewables are subsidised 2.74 times more than fossil fuels, something the Guardian & the writers of the report (Friends of the Earth, World Wildlife Federation, and the Sierra Club) fail to mention for some reason – can you guess why? If you dig deeper you’ll more than likely discover the greenie activist ‘report’ is equally full of tripe on all it’s other points also.

    Your article and the report it references proves that renewables are subsidised far more in Japan than fossil fuels are. You can do the math for the other countries dear boy, let me know if you find any countries subsidising fossil fuels more than renewables.

    As for bank loans – a loan is not a subsidy dear boy. My bank isn’t subsidising my house because I have a mortgage, only an idiot would think otherwise. Debt is a liability, not an asset.

  22. Maggy Wassilieff on 06/07/2017 at 11:12 am said:

    Perhaps not the correct location….. but ultimately all science… theoretical physics and climate science included… stands or falls on good data/ trustworthy observations.

    Michael Mann’s data is too precious for plebs to view:

  23. Maggy Wassilieff on 06/07/2017 at 11:22 am said:

    I see Dennis N. Horne has commented on the original version of the article on Michael Mann’s failure to supply his evidence to the Canadian Court.

  24. Andy on 06/07/2017 at 1:39 pm said:

    Meanwhile in NZ

    “Q&A: What Kiwis think about climate change”

    Waikato University researchers have begun a new study that will canvas Kiwis on how New Zealand can prepare for climate change.
    The two-year research project – supported with a $270,000 research grant from the Deep South National Science Challenge – will also explore how people’s own cultural values shape and influence their adaptation strategies.

    The troughing continues..

  25. Maggy Wassilieff on 06/07/2017 at 2:40 pm said:

    Who on earth are these researchers?…….

    A Professor of Management Science & a Professor of Political Science.

    Amazing where our science research money ends up.

  26. Magoo on 07/07/2017 at 10:02 am said:

    Dr Roy Spencer discusses the recent adjustments made to the RSS satellite dataset that result in increased warming (the climate models still fail):

    Personally I think Mears is trying to make amends for his heretical views in the recent Santer, Mann, Mears et al. paper that used satellite data to confirm the warming ‘hiatus’, which is why Drs Christy and Spencer weren’t invited to peer review the new RSS adjustments when they are the pre-eminent leaders in the field of satellite temperature measurements.

  27. Dennis N Horne on 07/07/2017 at 4:42 pm said:

    Magoon Magoofy you conflate the science acknowledged by — to all intents and purposes — every climate scientist and scientific body on the planet … and … an aircraft accident.

    You pathetic fool. Apart from the fact the CAA asked me to write an article for Vector (which I did) and feature in this year’s safety seminar (which I do), I was also on the Concert programme and TV3 the other week. Did you miss it?

    You see, fool, when pilots and real men make an error they own up so others might learn, whereas you just carry on as if nothing had happened. Spencer and Christy are the laughing stock of the scientific community.

    But here you are, espousing their incompetence. Serial major errors in the name of some god or another, I suppose … trying to hide the clear and obvious warming you dumb deniers refuse to face.


    How are you getting on with Ed Hawkins? Too polite to tell you to fuck off, I suppose.

  28. Magoo on 07/07/2017 at 5:53 pm said:

    Now, now Dennis dear boy, there’s no need to get all upset.

    Just wondering how, if you think CO2 is a problem, you can justify flying planes in your spare time. What are your other hypocritical hobbies, racing big block Mopars at the drags, or maybe coal powered steam trains?

    You seem a big upset dear boy, have a cup of tea and a lie down, see if that helps.

    You are right on one point though, every climate scientist and scientific body on the planet agrees the climate models have failed – even RSS and all the surface records. The consensus amongst the temperature records that the models are wrong is 100%. 😉

  29. Andy on 07/07/2017 at 8:51 pm said:

    Dear Dennis,

    Enough with the expletives. This is a family show that has “conversation” in the title

  30. Alexander K on 07/07/2017 at 9:46 pm said:

    Dennis seems to hold the view that personal financial success entitles him to be as thuggish as he likes.
    As Andy says, ‘this is a family show and a conversation’. It is definitely NOT the brawl that Dennis appears to think it is.

  31. Richard Treadgold on 07/07/2017 at 10:54 pm said:

    Yes, well said, chaps. Dennis, if you cannot respect ordinary courtesies, I’ll chuck you into the wilderness.

  32. Alexander K on 08/07/2017 at 2:20 pm said:

    Richard, the silly attitude that Dennis displays here reminds me of the wisdom of a (late) friend who worked as an advisor in the field of childrens’ education who said (in a meeting that was becoming fractious) “there is no point in pooling or sharing
    or displaying ignorance”.

  33. Magoo on 09/07/2017 at 9:17 am said:

    Dennis’ foulmouth expletives are just a manifestation of his frustrated inability to accept the reality of empirical evidence. I feel sorry for him, he seems deeply confused – flying planes as a hobby at the same time as he campaigns against fossil fuels.

  34. Richard Treadgold on 11/07/2017 at 3:46 pm said:

    Thanks Andy. That’s gut-wrenching. He was perhaps my favourite scientist, generous of his knowledge to me and others. I last corresponded with him a few months ago, when he told me he had retired from his duties at the U of A and was expected to live perhaps until Christmas. He was a brave, gentle and above all conscientious man. I was honoured to know him; we were all fortunate to have him.

  35. Magoo on 11/07/2017 at 5:07 pm said:

    I only emailed Chris once to give him some support when I saw what they’d tried to do to him in the climategate emails. His reply was very friendly & simple – he recommended I examine the actual empirical science in the Working Group I sections of the IPCC reports only, which had a profound effect on my understanding of AGW. Like a true ethical scientist & academic he never gave even a hint of a suggestion of leading me to any conclusion, just told me to look at the empirical science published by the IPCC. I gained more knowledge of AGW from one short email with Chris than anything else, & I will always be grateful that he generously took the time to point me in the right direction & encouraged me to come to my own conclusions based on what I found.

  36. Dennis N Horne on 12/07/2017 at 4:12 am said:

    Christy is off his rocker. Again.

    As we well know, climate myths are like zombies that never seem to die. It’s only a matter of time before they rise from the dead and threaten to eat our brains. And so here we go again – American conservatives are denying the very existence of global warming.

    Working backwards from a politically-motivated conclusion
    The claim is based on what can charitably be described as a white paper, written by fossil fuel-funded contrarians Joseph D’Aleo and Craig Idso along with James Wallace III. Two months ago, D’Aleo and Wallace published another error-riddled white paper on the same website with fellow contrarian John Christy; both papers aimed to undermine the EPA’s Endangerment Finding.

    The errors in the white paper
    The paper itself has little scientific content. Using charts taken from climate denier blogs, the authors claim that every temperature record adjustment since the 1980s has been in the warming direction, which is simply false. As Zeke Hausfather pointed out, referencing work by Nick Stokes, roughly half of the adjustments have resulted in cooling and half in warming. Moreover, the net adjustment to the raw data actually reduces the long-term global warming trend:

    It’s telling that these contrarian white paper efforts to undermine the established climate science supporting the EPA Endangerment Finding are so poor. They’re forced to resort to conspiracy theories, implying that climate scientists from around the world are all falsifying data, adding a global warming signal to the temperature record that we also happen to see in nature and in satellites.

  37. Andy on 12/07/2017 at 11:18 am said:

    A Guardian article by Dana Nuticelli is about as relevant to me as CNN fake news about Russians hacking the US election

  38. Magoo on 12/07/2017 at 11:21 am said:

    Dennis dear boy,

    The IPCC AR5 report shows there has been barely any warming using the surface temperature datasets.

    The EPA Endangerment Finding is wrong as a result.

    I thought you would’ve learnt your lesson about reading Guardian articles after you made a fool of yourself quoting the Guardian regarding subsidies.

    Here’s an article from another UK tabloid on a sanctimonious hypocrite alarmist/’pilot’:

  39. HemiMck on 12/07/2017 at 4:54 pm said:

    Why are we continually battered with the consensus argument? Who cares?

    The model (theory) connecting CO2 to catastrophic AGW cannot be proven no matter how many polls the Guardian produces. It can only be dis-proved and that from observation. Clearly that is pretty inconvenient.

    The brilliant innovation introduced into this particular brand of “science” has been to have multiple theories rather than one. In fact to create hundreds of models (theories) each with their own particular take on the science. The benefit is that if one particular theory does not relate to measured reality it can dropped, merged, re- zeroed, averaged with others or given a probability rating and not cause too much alarm.

    The added benefit for the promoter of any particular theory is that they do not have to suffer the odium of being proved wrong with serious consequences for them and their institutions. Being part of the cabal in fact sustains status for all the participants as they attempt to rationalise together why their various theories temporarily deviate from reality.

    Will all the money changes be tossed out of the temple? Hopefully.

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