Anthropologist becomes arrogant climate activist

Here is a letter I sent this evening to Dame Anne Salmond, anthropologist and historian, Professor in Maori Studies and Anthropology at the University of Auckland, and 2013 New Zealander of the Year. An opinion piece she wrote on climate change in Stuff today considers climate sceptics beneath an honest anthropologist’s contempt.

Dear Dame Anne,

You expressed pride in a letter you signed ten years ago describing climate sceptics as “climate deniers”, even though ‘sceptical’ has long been a deeply admired virtue of all good scientists.

The letter said there is “compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.” That evidence has never been described. Will you please describe it?

In recent months I have asked the Royal Society, the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Minister for the Environment, James Shaw, for evidence of a human hand in dangerous warming. They each referred me to the IPCC or its Assessment Reports.

I knew there was no evidence in the AR5, so I wrote to the IPCC, and though they cited a familiar chapter in the AR5 they provided no evidence. I’ve concluded that evidence of a human cause of dangerous warming does not exist, or the IPCC would certainly have revealed it. It’s what they live for.

Another way of putting it is that if there really was evidence we all would know it by now by heart, but we don’t. Have you forgotten it? I know I wouldn’t have.

However, there’s the matter of your uninformed attack on the sincerity of those posing questions about climate science. For some reason, you say in Stuff:

Climate deniers who attacked this scientific consensus, [the letter] added, were “typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence”.

Your letter writers were mind-readers, for they knew what typically drove the “deniers” and what honest effort did not drive them. I must say that a more patronising piece of twaddle would be hard to find. I have spent over fifteen years studying the climate and questions have naturally risen in response to the study. None have been suggested by your presumed special interests and the suggestion that they were is humiliating.

Some examples of our reasonable questions include:

  • Why do you consider there to be a climate emergency when by ordinary scientific standards no major climate metrics have altered beyond normal variation in the last 100 years?
  • How does the 3% of airborne anthropogenic carbon dioxide significantly heat the ocean from above?
  • Why do IPCC reports consider the atmospheric lifetime of carbon dioxide important, when its absorptive capacity is determined by its instantaneous amount in the atmosphere, not its lifetime?
  • Why does climate model output drive alarming forecasts when the IPCC admit that 111 out of 114 models run too hot?
  • Clouds are capable of warming or cooling a good fraction of a day’s solar energy. When you don’t even know whether they cause warming or cooling, how can you say that the future will bring dangerous warming?

These and our many other questions are ignored, since anyone asking them is routinely presumed to be insincere. Yet, just answer the questions and we’ll vanish into the night. It’s only having them remain unanswered that makes us persist with our irritation of you.

Finally, I would appeal to you to facilitate a genuine conversation between climate academics of the IPCC view and some of New Zealand’s best-informed sceptics, such as from the NZ Climate Science Coalition. So far, the orthodox scientists run a mile at any suggestion of a public debate. I suppose I ought to enquire whether you have studied enough climate science to consider yourself qualified to answer questions.

Best regards,

Richard Treadgold

75 Thoughts on “Anthropologist becomes arrogant climate activist

  1. Peter Fraser on January 15, 2020 at 11:11 am said:

    Dame Anne Salmond was held in low regard by my late wife who was of Ngapuhi descent and recognised as being knowledgeable in whakapapa (maori history) much of which came from oral traditions of her tupuna (ancestors) which, as was the custom, she learnt at a young age from her aunties many of whom spoke only te reo. She believed many of Salmond’s pontifications were of little value as they were little more than regurgitations of prior English records. It is apparent Salmond is ready to pontificate on matters outside her area of “expertise” as well.

    • Richard Treadgold on January 16, 2020 at 11:00 am said:

      Thanks for this, Peter. I’ve heard elsewhere of Dame Anne being held in low regard and opining outside her expertise, but you evince a credible authority.

  2. Very good letter,RT. It will be interesting to see if you get a reply from her. 10 to 1 she won’t even bother…. or it will be along the lines of “we accept the established science…. blah blah blah”. All your questions will be ignored, and her whole reply will reek of rank superiority.
    Keep us posted.

  3. In other news, there is now a school curriculum for “climate change”, that deals with the anxiety and other mental health issues that may arise from the alarmist BS that they are pumping into kids.

    At least they provide an 0800 suicide number to call. How generous of them.

  4. Adam Shopping on January 20, 2020 at 1:01 pm said:

    Sceptics I agree have an important role in society. However as a former member of a Sceptics society a key aspect is taking note of the evidence. Unfortunately the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of anthropogenic forcing of climate is increasing average global temperatures through the release of certain gases such as CO2. The evidence has been from multiple disciplines and multiple reputable sources. Even if we put aside what is truth and fiction – do you like the way the world we live in is set up currently? Do you like pollution? What is wrong with a fossil fuel free future? Just what are you trying to achieve? Genuinely puzzled.

    • Richard Treadgold on January 20, 2020 at 1:09 pm said:

      Evidence, yes!! What evidence are you referring to, and which reputable sources? How much has the global temperature risen this century? I’m puzzled by your implication we should change “the world we live in”. But “do I like pollution” is obnoxious.

    • Brett Keane on January 21, 2020 at 6:20 am said:

      Evidence is everywhere of cycllicity not linearity.
      https://notrickszone.com/2020/01/20/north-atlantic-sea-levels-have-been-falling-at-a-rate-of-7-1-mm-yr-since-2004-in-tandem-with-2c-cooling/
      Remember who was crying out “We are all gonna Freeze” in 1979. Same mob and their new acolytes.
      The new evidence is about the Tayler Instability and its cyclic solar-planetary effects. Destructive of food supplies and promising modest cooling. As admitted by Nasa Heliophysics Dept. Brett Keane

    • Adam Shopping, I don’t like the way the world is set up right now. I’d like to live in a world where I get to be on holiday everyday, all children get given a free pony when they are 12 years old, and no one gets fat from drinking beer and eating pizza.

      In the meantime, we might need fossil fuels for a few more years yet,

  5. just answer the questions and we’ll vanish into the night

    If only I thought this might be true: but here goes…

    Why do you consider there to be a climate emergency when by ordinary scientific standards no major climate metrics have altered beyond normal variation in the last 100 years?

    Lots of metrics are well beyond “normal variation”: atmospheric CO2, for one. But there’s also greatly reduced sea ice, the huge decrease in glacier volumes, not to mention global temperatures, which have soared by 1C in the last 100 years – a rate of increase 10 times faster than when an ice age ends.

    How does the 3% of airborne anthropogenic carbon dioxide significantly heat the ocean from above?

    I don’t know where you get that number from. Current CO2 is 40% higher than 150 years ago, and humanity is solely responsible for that (multiple lines of evidence). CO2 doesn’t heat the ocean – the sun does that, but just as it does over land, CO2 slows the rate at which heat leaves the earth. So temperatures rise. Ocean heat content is steadily rising (measured). The earth is trying to get back into energy balance with the new, higher than normal levels of CO2.

    Why do IPCC reports consider the atmospheric lifetime of carbon dioxide important, when its absorptive capacity is determined by its instantaneous amount in the atmosphere, not its lifetime?

    Two reasons: the natural processes that remove CO2 from the atmosphere are slower than the processes (natural and anthropogenic) that release it, so a pulse of CO2 into the atmosphere can take thousands of years to disappear. Secondly, if you want to compare different greenhouse gases, you need to take into account the amount of time they hang around warming things up.

    Why does climate model output drive alarming forecasts when the IPCC admit that 111 out of 114 models run too hot?

    That reference appears to be a misrepresentation of a section of the last IPCC report which has been made irrelevant by subsequent events. A more recent comparison of model performance against global temps shows current temps more or less slap bang in the middle of model projections.

    Check out the graph six down the page in Carbon Brief’s comprehensive overview of last year’s numbers.

    We don’t need models to get a troubling picture of what warming means. Studies of past warm periods when CO2 was at comparable levels (mid-Pliocene etc) show sea levels 20+m higher than now and temps 2-3C warmer. Models help us to understand how that happens, but nobody assumes they’re perfect. They’re like signposts: we know the direction they’re pointing in is right, but we’re not sure whether the next town is 10km or 12km away – and we’ll only find out the answer when we get there.

    Clouds are capable of warming or cooling a good fraction of a day’s solar energy. When you don’t even know whether they cause warming or cooling, how can you say that the future will bring dangerous warming?

    Getting realistic cloud physics into climate models is difficult and requires really fast computers – but it is being done. It’s a complicated subject, because the impact of clouds depends on what kind they are, where they are, and what they’re doing. It’s probable, however, that on balance they add to warming. And they certainly can’t offset warming on a planetary scale, because otherwise earlier high CO2 warm periods couldn’t have happened.

    So: your questions answered, and in a way that should be satisfactory to any fair minded person. I expect you’ll be closing this blog down shortly. Congratulations on keeping it going so long!

    • It’s a complicated subject, because the impact of clouds depends on what kind they are, where they are, and what they’re doing. It’s probable, however, that on balance they add to warming

      Oh OK, it’s “probable”, even though we don’t know the net effect, but we just need “faster computers”

    • You can be as snarky as you like, but that won’t change the facts. If you’re really interested in the subject, here’s some detail:

      Simulating clouds in global models at relevant scales is computationally costly: https://www.ecmwf.int/en/about/media-centre/news/2020/ecmwf-scientists-simulate-global-weather-1-km-resolution

      Overview of current models and their cloud handling: https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/01/the-latest-generation-of-climate-models-is-running-hotter-heres-why/

    • It won’t change the facts. No it won’t. The facts are that we can’t model clouds currently, and possibly never will be able to. There was even an article on Stuff recently that admitted we don’t know about clouds. But hey, we think clouds “probably” cause warming, because that’s what clouds do eh? Everyone knows that cloudy days are warmer than sunny cloudless days.

    • If we can’t model clouds, how do weather forecasts work?

    • Weather forecasters don’t model clouds

    • We may be getting into semantics: weather forecasters rely on their models to produce cloud forecasts. An example: http://www.myweather2.com/forecastcloud/player.aspx?fc=12

      Cloud representations are also crucial to rainfall forecasting.

      It is true that clouds in weather models are parameterised, because even the fine scales used by local weather models can’t capture individual clouds. But the physics is realistic, and the forecasts are pretty good.

    • Richard Treadgold on January 23, 2020 at 10:20 am said:

      No, it’s worse than mere semantics. Let’s go back to what you yourself said:

      It’s probable, however, that on balance they add to warming.

      You cannot prove that cloudiness will lead to warming—you say so yourself. So produce some evidence and stop whining.

    • Nobody is whining Richard. I thought you prided yourself on your politeness?

      I don’t have to prove anything: the evidence is in the work people are doing, to which I provided some links.

      Now, what about my other points? Are you going to disappoint me, and fail to “vanish into the night”?

    • Richard Treadgold on January 23, 2020 at 11:12 am said:

      It’s up to you to provide evidence for your own assertions, so if you want us to believe you, then yes, you have to prove it.

      At the moment, the evidence (AR5) is that the IPCC says it does not know whether cloud response to warming is positive or negative. Didn’t you know that? It means you have not refuted my point.

      I’ve got a lot more to say but I’ll get to your other points after you prove or surrender these.

    • These inline replies are getting stupidly narrow. See my next comment at full width.

    • Richard Treadgold on January 23, 2020 at 1:36 pm said:

      Interesting. Nothing has changed for me. There are only three widths.

    • I think when you reply inline, the system makes them nest more than three deep, but when you reload the page that clears.

    • Richard Treadgold on January 23, 2020 at 3:26 pm said:

      That’s good to know, thanks.

    • Replying to Richard re AR5 and clouds:

      I suspect you’ve been misinformed about what AR5 actually says. It is entirely consistent with what I said above.

      From AR5, Chapter 7 [PDF]:

      Cloud feedbacks on long-term greenhouse-gas induced surface temperature change are likely positive. Robust positive feedback mechanisms have been established while no mechanism for strong negative global cloud feedback has convincing observational or model-based support.

    • no mechanism for strong negative global cloud feedback has convincing observational or model-based support.

      “no mechanism”?? Cloudy days are often cooler than sunny days. Conversely cloudy nights are often warmer than clear nights.

      But hey we need to keep pushing the narrative so lets assume, for sake of argument, that clouds warm the planet

    • You appear to want to misinterpret what they’re saying. Local effects – your examples – are not global.

      As I said in my original comment, if there were a strong negative cloud feedback at the global level, then the climate system would find it very hard to warm itself out of an ice age. Climate scientists have been looking for negative feedbacks (wouldn’t it be great if they were real?), but can’t find them.

    • Richard Treadgold on January 23, 2020 at 12:59 pm said:

      Precisely, as I said.

      Further, they say:

      In summary, surface-based observations show region- and height-specific variations and trends in cloudiness but there remains substantial ambiguity regarding global-scale cloud variations and trends, especially from satellite observations. Although trends of cloud cover are consistent between independent data sets in certain regions, substantial ambiguity and therefore low confidence remains in the observations of global-scale cloud variability and trends. – 2.5.6.2 p. 208

      Here are some frank remarks that advise caution in predicting dire effects:

      Clouds strongly affect the current climate, but observations alone cannot yet tell us how they will affect a future, warmer climate. Comprehensive prediction of changes in cloudiness requires a global climate model. Such models simulate cloud fields that roughly resemble those observed, but important errors and uncertainties remain. Different climate models produce different projections of how clouds will change in a warmer climate. Based on all available evidence, it seems likely that the net cloud–climate feedback amplifies global warming. If so, the strength of this amplification remains uncertain. – FAQ 7.1 p. 593

      Plus, Andy points out some common sense. Altogether, assumption of warming is no proof it will prevail over cooling.

    • Sorry Richard, but those sections explicitly support what I said. Nobody assumes that clouds have a net positive effect on warming, but the balance of evidence suggests they do. As the second article I linked to above discusses, this effect emerges from the model results – it’s not programmed in.

      As I said to Andy above, it would be great if there was a negative cloud feedback – then we wouldn’t have to worry about too much warming. But it looks very unlikely. Long odds do not make a good bet (although I do buy a lottery ticket every week).

      Bottom line: even if clouds do turn out to have some cooling effect, it isn’t going to be big enough to cancel out the warming caused by current and future expected CO2 levels.

    • Richard Treadgold on January 23, 2020 at 3:33 pm said:

      Pyat,

      You say:

      those sections explicitly support what I said.

      They don’t. If you look for the word ‘global’ in each one, you’ll find it. You’re reading what you would like to hear but you have not brought proof.

    • You tasked me on what AR5 says, and I responded with a direct quote from the relevant chapter of AR5.

      Your quote from the same source concludes:

      Based on all available evidence, it seems likely that the net cloud–climate feedback amplifies global warming. If so, the strength of this amplification remains uncertain. – FAQ 7.1 p. 593

      That’s in complete agreement with what I said – and it would be strange if it didn’t, given it comes from the same source.

      There is no “proof” in something like this. Only the balance of evidence – which will change as our knowledge advances.

    • @ Pyat
      “CO2 slows the rate at which heat leaves the earth”

      What sort of garbage physics is that…. It’s called the “radiative greenhouse effect” so therefore it must be energy in terms of watts which must be “delayed” leaving the Earth according to the “greenhouse” hypothesis.
      Heat is not “trapped” or “slowed”. The atmosphere, including CO2, COOLS the surface. Heat is just rapidly DISSIPATED by the atmosphere.
      The rest of your questions are unsubstantiated nonsense. …eg the hyperbolic temperature rises, “melting” of ice, …all data fiddled tripe by goverment departments all intent on preserving The Cause and their jobs.
      Then there’s this…

      “The earth is trying to get back into energy balance with the new higher than normal levels of CO2”

      So one minute we’re talking about heat being “slowed”…the next thing is an “ENERGY imbalance” . Aaaahahahaha… the old “energy imbalance”. Got any figures to substantiate this “energy imbalance”?

    • Hi Mack, you appear to have a problem with “data fiddled tripe”, so I very much doubt anything I can say will change your mind.

      The radiation physics of the atmosphere is very well understood – the basics were established more than 150 years ago – and if we were wrong, things like lasers and heat seeking missiles wouldn’t work.

      The earth’s current energy imbalance is around 1.6 W per square meter – equivalent to 25 ZettaJoules of energy entering the system per year, most of which goes into the oceans. See here for the latest on ocean heat content: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00376-020-9283-7

    • Gidday Pyat, you’ve just sent me off to paywalled scientific crap from the usual band of corrupt AGW deluded suspects …Abraham, Trenberth, Fasullo etc who’ve come up with this 1.6 watts/ sq.m. modelled, with false algorithms. This figure just may well have been pulled from their collective asses.
      Trenberth and Fasullo are also responsible for coming up with this piece of insanity…
      https://www.google.com/search?q=trenberth+energy+balance&rlz=1CATVZD_enNZ857NZ870&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=kTUaxU-Qu6d-xM%253A%252CfSeCUfxmfAN-EM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kQDL8_5S_P30QUEq7KVvvONUMps8g&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwja2_LN1JjnAhUdIbcAHVETB6cQ9QEwBnoECAsQDg#imgrc=kTUaxU-Qu6d-xM:

    • Actually, it’s a free download.

    • Oh! so it is…and I’ve just noticed that the little fat f..k , Mann, also had a hand in it.

    • Btw also @ Pyat.
      The cloud issue..
      Cloud cover at night keeping things warmer than the previous night (note.. no increase over, say a week) does fool you into thinking that there is a “greenhouse effect” in the atmosphere. You can say that there’s a “greenhouse effect” every night when there are a “blanket”of clouds. But what happens during the day ..the blanket of clouds shield the surface from the Sun keeping us cool….say, a negative “greenhouse effect”. Globally there is equality of day and night, therefore NO nett “greenhouse effect” of clouds.
      As the Joni Mitchell song says…clouds have to be looked at from both sides.

    • Brett Keane on January 24, 2020 at 5:16 am said:

      Mack, in discussing and researching the situation on Venus, mainly on Tallblokes Blog, we found that clouds seemed to work as an internal cycling of energy. Albedo was a net zero forcing on planetary energetics, so to speak. I can see how that works as the rising sun evaporates dew and fog formed from the previous day’s input
      It was the old solar input (AU), and Atmospheric Mass that governed surface T in the end. On any solar system atmosphere above 0.1bar pressure. Recent work seems to confirm this. It was one of those Black Swan moments that make Physics strangely fascinating sometimes…. Brett Keane

    • Yes Brett…
      The Venus issue
      The Venus atmosphere has originally been thought .. by the “greenhouse” believers …to have had a “run-away Greenhouse effect” in the atmosphere. They pointed this out by saying that Venus has a higher surface temperature than Mercury , but Mercury is closer to the sun.. so it must be this “run-away Greenhouse effect” in the Venus atmosphere, causing it to be hotter. You know, some more lunatic thinking, like there would be more “backradiation” from the CO2 , more “heat trapping” crap. etc etc.
      They seem to forget that the surface area of Venus is much larger than Mercury and therefore has a much bigger area exposed to the sun…much more heat accumulating.
      They also forget that Venus revolves very slowly backwards..it’s one day being about one Earth year. so the side facing the Sun gets hot enough to oxidise the rock into a sea of supercritical CO2…..of course, the other side of the planet in the “shade” side is much cooler ..so an extreme temperature dipole is set up and the sea of supercritical CO2. which covers the entire planet, races round and round the planet at a great rate of knots. So when they come to measure the temperature of the surface of Venus.. is the “surface” above or below sea level?…one might ask.
      Whatever there is no “greenhouse effect”in the Venus atmosphere. ..just like there are no palm trees on the surface of Venus, as some people were thinking, at the turn of last century.
      You might be interested to know that this temperature dipole exists here on Earth.
      The freely floating outer molecules of our thermosphere revolve around the planet at a faster rate than the rotation of our Earth.

    • Brett Keane on January 24, 2020 at 9:45 pm said:

      Mack, I only mentioned Venus as my teaching-point on albedo’s internal action and net zero effect ontemperature. Since corroborated. Venus is well -measured re Temperature. But also by Magellan radar of land surface in all ways. Better than Earth indeed. But Nasa also has good readings of Temp which show no GHE. Only the common effects of solar input and atmospheric mass, as with all bodies in our system that have at least 0.1bar atmospheres.
      Quantum Mechanics forbid self-heating of anything. Else we would have had an “infrared catastrophe” just like the feared Rayleigh one that quanta saved us from fearing…..

    • Brett Keane on January 24, 2020 at 5:24 am said:

      Mack, I have also seen how OHC, when stripped of zettajoule camouflage given it by the above twerps, becomes about 0.1degC. Far less than any margin of error possible in this guess-workey hokum called climate science. where the dogs always eat the data. Leaving the models in their radiant vainglory. Brett

    • Well, you are at least right about Joni Mitchell. But not much else…

    • Richard Treadgold on January 30, 2020 at 3:59 pm said:

      Pyat, answering more of your various points:

      Lots of metrics are well beyond “normal variation”: atmospheric CO2, for one. But there’s also greatly reduced sea ice, the huge decrease in glacier volumes, not to mention global temperatures, which have soared by 1C in the last 100 years – a rate of increase 10 times faster than when an ice age ends.

      No, I specified “major climate metrics” and CO2 has no detectable effect on the weather. If that makes you gasp in disbelief, consider that this discussion is concerned to assess claims that CO2 affects the weather, so only circular logic would name CO2 a climate metric before we determine that it does. Below, you underline the truth of this when you affirm that CO2 doesn’t heat the ocean.

      Temperature has “soared” by 1 °C in a century? That’s a small amount when coming out of a Little Ice Age, wouldn’t you say? How do you know that rate of warming doesn’t occur after an Ice Age? Reference please.

      I don’t know where you get that number from. Current CO2 is 40% higher than 150 years ago, and humanity is solely responsible for that (multiple lines of evidence). CO2 doesn’t heat the ocean – the sun does that, but just as it does over land, CO2 slows the rate at which heat leaves the earth. So temperatures rise. Ocean heat content is steadily rising (measured). The earth is trying to get back into energy balance with the new, higher than normal levels of CO2.

      It’s widely accepted that anthro CO2 constitutes somewhat less than 5% of atmospheric CO2; call it 5% if you prefer. Of course, humanity is not solely responsible for the increase, but feel free to provide a reference. Have you heard that CO2 outgasses from the ocean as temperature rises? I’m pleased to hear you say CO2 DOESN’T heat the ocean, since the most feared (FUTURE) result of global warming is sea level rise caused by our emissions. Many frightened, angry people will be reassured to hear it’s not being caused by us.

      Yes, the sun heats the ocean! Everyone knows that. But this is interesting: “CO2 slows the rate at which heat leaves the earth, so temperatures rise.” Please describe that in more detail. Are speaking of the surface or the TOA?

      OHC varies greatly, showing a small, slow, unsteady rise over 46 years (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/287/5461/2225.full?maxtoshow=&%3BHITS=10&%3Bhits=10&%3BRESULTFORMAT=&%3Bfulltext=%2522world%20ocean%2522&%3Bsearchid=1&%3BFIRSTINDEX=0&%3Bresourcetype=HWCIT). The magnitude is equivalent to a few percent of cloud cover change, so that might cause it.

      Two reasons: the natural processes that remove CO2 from the atmosphere are slower than the processes (natural and anthropogenic) that release it, so a pulse of CO2 into the atmosphere can take thousands of years to disappear. Secondly, if you want to compare different greenhouse gases, you need to take into account the amount of time they hang around warming things up.

      Your first reason: this is speculation, not observation, and it’s not credible. When spring/summer and autumn/winter are clearly visible in the “pulsating” northern hemisphere CO2 levels (like respiration), and in every year since the beginning of the Mauna Loa record the environmental uptake of CO2 increases, staying fairly constant at about 40% of the total increase, how can we believe that a pulse of CO2 must take thousands of years to disappear? Your second reason: No you don’t; in any period, the amount of warming is determined by the concentration in the air for that period. Molecules come and go, and what matters is not how much longer or shorter its lifetime might be, but the total amount in the air.

    • Thanks for the extended reply, Richard, but I’m not sure it gets us very far. Let me try and deal with your points in order.

      CO2 is certainly a climate metric, because it determines global temperature – and that certainly does affect the weather. I think you might accept that ice ages have different weather to interglacial periods. On a slightly different level: the Stuff weather page also agrees with me. It features current CO2 levels at Baring Head.

      The current rate of global warming (the “global” is important, because regional changes can be rapid) is more than ten times faster than the warming out of the last ice age (see here for references). The latest reconstruction of global temps over the last 2,000 years (Pages2k – discussed here) shows that global temp is now a long way above levels preceding the “little ice age”.

      The other metrics I mentioned in my first comment still stand as incontrovertible evidence of warming.

      You say it’s “widely accepted” that “Anthro CO2” is 5% of atmospheric. The 40+% increase since preindustrial levels is entirely down to human activity, so I have no idea how you get to 5%.

      Yes, cold oceans will outgas CO2 as they warm, but cold oceans also absorb a lot of CO2. At present the oceans are doing us a favour by absorbing a big chunk of the CO2 we’re emitting. We can see this in measurements of ocean acidity – which is increasing.

      We can measure ocean warming, and we can see that it’s significant. (Press coverage of the latest figures here.) CO2’s role in ocean warming, as it is in overall global warming, is that it slows the rate of heat leaving the planet. I’m not going to attempt a greenhouse effect 101 here – but the Wikipedia explanation is pretty good.

      On CO2: you are failing to make the necessary distinction between the fossil CO2 we’re adding to the system, and the natural CO2 which is always there. “Nature” cycles CO2 into and out of plants and animals and oceans at varying rates. As you say, we can see the annual cycle in CO2 measurements – I like to think of it as the earth breathing. But underlying those cycles is a steady increase – 2 to 3 ppm per year at the moment – which is coming from the fossil fuels we’re burning. It’s getting rid of that excess that’s the problem. We could plant lots of trees – suddenly popular, if the recent Davos meeting is anything to go by – or suck it out of the air chemically (possible, but currently expensive), but to lock it out of the system permanently takes a long time. Consider, for instance, how long it took the planet to lay down the reserves of coal and oil we’re burning.

      Your last point, that what matters is absolute amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, is correct. You might consider what that means for what I think you were trying to say when you were referring to “5% anthro”.

    • Richard Treadgold on February 2, 2020 at 2:46 pm said:

      Pyat,

      CO2 is not a climate metric and does not determine GMST, because it doesn’t change the temperature. It does in theory, maybe, but there’s no evidence of it. It’s been rising quite quickly for 20 years, yet the temperature trend has stayed practically horizontal. You cite Stuff putting CO2 levels on the weather page as evidence of some new principle in meteorology? That’s laughable. What proof do you have that CO2 “determines” global mean surface temperature? We’re waiting with baited breath. This’ll be a first.

      Sea ice is not a climate metric and is never used to infer temperature. Its coverage can be much changed by winds and currents. You claim it is much reduced, though it is completely recovered from lows a few years ago, and was never much reduced globally, and then only temporarily in the local summer. So you mention temperature, which is the only climate metric you get right. But you fail to show that GMST over some period was outside normal variability.

      You said: “Lots of metrics are well beyond normal variation.” So what others?

      Incontrovertible evidence of warming, you say, in your first post. Nonsense. Let me remind you of your first post:

      Lots of metrics are well beyond “normal variation”: atmospheric CO2, for one. But there’s also greatly reduced sea ice, the huge decrease in glacier volumes, not to mention global temperatures, which have soared by 1C in the last 100 years – a rate of increase 10 times faster than when an ice age ends.

      I’ve dealt with CO2 and sea ice. Glacier volumes? They’re not subject to temperature alone, but also to insolation (which can imply cloud coverage), precipitation, winds (affecting ablation) and topography (sometimes uphill, sometimes downhill). They’re a poor indicator of temperature, despite what some activists might claim. Temperature? You still don’t show how temperatures are outside natural variability. Even if they rise, which they have a bit, so what? We didn’t cause it, and it’s not dangerous.

      The 40+% increase since preindustrial levels is entirely down to human activity

      No, that’s nonsense. Get a reference for it. For one thing, most scientists acknowledge that a human influence is extremely unlikely prior to about 1950.

      You seem confused about the oceans, saying that acidification increases even as the oceans are outgassing CO2.

      Oceans are warmed by the sun, not by CO2. You can’t blame humans for that. No, please don’t attempt a greenhouse effect 101, thank you.

      I strongly suggest you speak to a physicist, who can explain how any radiative effects of CO2 (0.00041 of the atmosphere, with little absorptive capacity) are totally overwhelmed (along with all other trace gases) by those of water vapour (0.01 – 0.05 of the atmosphere, with amazing absorptive capacity, and don’t affect temperatures in the troposphere. Stratosphere is different.

      Maybe I don’t differentiate between isotopes of carbon in CO2, but really, what warming do you expect from an extra one to three molecules per million per year? Be honest.

      Your last point, that what matters is absolute amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, is correct.

      This may shock you, but on this point you’re coming up against the IPCC, who very strongly insist that long atmospheric lifetimes produce great warming capacity. But kindly take it up with them, I don’t disagree with you.

      You might consider what that means for what I think you were trying to say when you were referring to “5% anthro”.

      You obviously think that humans must be blamed for the warming from all the CO2, even when we only emitted less than 5% of it. What nonsense.

    • Hooks are baited. Breath is bated.

      It begins to look as though we are talking past each other. I am trying to present what we know about climate, answering the questions you posed to Anne Salmond. Unfortunately, your blustering replies show that you have some rather large gaps in your understanding of some pretty basic science.

      That CO2 is the “biggest control knob” of global temperature is not in the least controversial. Try watching this excellent talk by ice core expert Richard Alley. It’s 10 years old, but none the worse for that, and very entertaining.

      Sea ice is a climate metric because it reflects polar warming. The Arctic is the fastest warming part of the planet, and sea ice there has declined steeply over the last 30 years. Again, not remotely controversial. See the Arctic Report Card from NOAA for detail.

      For glacier volumes, there isn’t a working glaciologist who thinks the last few decades of ice loss isn’t due to warming. Let me know if you find one.

      Recent temperatures and the rate of change are well outside normal variation. Please check the references I’ve already provided.

      That the increase in atmospheric CO2 over the last 150 years is entirely down to us is also not remotely controversial. You might invest a little time in getting to grips with the carbon cycle: the Wikipedia page is good. See also the page on Atmospheric CO2, especially the section on anthropogenic emissions.

      The radiation physics of the atmosphere is extremely well understood. The basics have been known for 150 years. None of the physicists I’ve spoken too have any problems with it. You may not understand how it works, that doesn’t mean nobody does. You say you don’t want a greenhouse gas 101. OK. But don’t treat your ignorance as a badge to wear with pride.

      I’m afraid I’m going to write this conversation off as futile. You demonstrate an amazing lack of understanding of basic science for someone who says they’ve been studying the issue for 15 years, and little willingness to examine the evidence as presented. It’s almost as though you made up your mind a long time ago, and despite the evidence are unwilling to change it.

      Your loss.

    • Richard Treadgold on February 2, 2020 at 4:43 pm said:

      Shame. You just won’t answer my questions.

    • You either don’t understand, or deny the facts and reasoning in my answers. To have an intelligent debate we have to have common ground in science and reality.

      We don’t.

    • Richard Treadgold on February 2, 2020 at 5:16 pm said:

      I answer you and ask questions. You carry on as though I never spoke. Carry on, then.

    • Richard Treadgold on February 2, 2020 at 3:03 pm said:

      Pyat,

      We can measure ocean warming, and we can see that it’s significant. (Press coverage of the latest figures here.)

      I note the link behind “here” doesn’t reference a paper. The Guardian story is rich in alarm and innuendo, nothing on the causes of warming, only endless insinuations that it’s our fault. You should keep away from the Guardian on climate change. It’s like consulting the poacher on the state of the King’s deer, or the fox on the welfare of the hens.

    • Press release for Record-Setting Ocean Warmth Continued in 2019 by Cheng et al here.

      Free download here. (PDF)

      The facts are the facts, wherever they come from. You seem rather keen to shoot the messengers.

    • Richard Treadgold on February 2, 2020 at 5:17 pm said:

      Shoot the messengers?? You address this to me?

    • A little more on the climate metrics: I stumbled on this page earlier today. There’s a lot going on, but you can click on the little bars on the top right of each graph to get a more detailed look at each dataset. If you do that for temperature, you can then extend the scale back in time (the little circular arrow top left) and look at the warming rate out of the last ice age. About 20k years ago, temps were 4C below the graph zero. 10k years ago they were 0.5C above. 4.5C in 10k years, or 0.045C per century. Current rate of 1C/century is 22 times faster.

    • Richard Treadgold on February 2, 2020 at 9:34 am said:

      Pyat,
      Is that all? Nothing to say to my other rebuttals? Nothing to say after I destroy your arguments? Disappointing, but I accept the win. By the way, pointing to a possibly high recent rate of warming proves what, just to be clear?

    • There should be a reply in your moderation queue.

    • Your original claim was that there was nothing unusual in the recent warming. The data on rate of warming proves you wrong.

    • Richard Treadgold on February 2, 2020 at 1:10 pm said:

      No, I did not say “nothing unusual”. I asked you to agree that’s “a small amount when coming out of a Little Ice Age,” and “how do you know that rate of warming doesn’t occur after an Ice Age?” You haven’t answered these questions.

      I also asked for a reference.

      You have not shown I was wrong and, though you claim the modern warming rate was unusual, you have not shown how it’s unusual. You simply say it was 22.2 times faster than a random period 20,000 years ago. Even if climatically valid, what caused it to be so fast and why should we be concerned? It was partly natural, but nobody knows how much was due to nature and how much to human industry.

      In other words, you again raise interesting questions, but provide no answers. Don’t forget my other questions. Though I’m becoming weary of your emptiness.

    • I posted a long reply yesterday, which you have not published. It contains detailed answers to the questions you posed. [Edit: I see you have now found it. Perhaps you might apologise for your tone above?]

      Not a “random period” – the end of the last ice age, when 4-5C of warming was enough to change the face of the planet. It took 10,000 years. CO2 rose from about 185 ppm to 280 ppm over the same period.

      Over the last 100 years, atmospheric CO2 has risen from 280 to 410+ ppm and global temps have risen by 1C and continue to rise. We’re hitting the system with a bloody big hammer, and we’re the ones who are going to get bruised.

    • Richard Treadgold on February 2, 2020 at 2:47 pm said:

      Cherry-picking my questions again. If you can, kindly answer them all.

  6. I tend to be wary of scientists who claim certainty, or near certainty, of a particular subject, when in fact we have little knowledge of subjects such as climate

    Even Darwinian evolution is implausible according to various (secular) scientists, yet this is treated as “fact” in most schools and university

    • Evolution is scientific fact as is the greenhouse effect and anthropogenic global warming. The scientists you refer to simply do not exist.

    • Richard Treadgold on January 28, 2020 at 3:34 pm said:

      I suppose you would say neither does the thinking exist.

    • I presume that I have been casually reading and following people that don’t exist, which is a worry.

      I tend to find people who are less certain and more circumspect on various issues more engaging. It doesn’t necessarily push me in a particular direction but it does make me realise than we know less about the universe than we think

    • Harry Cummings on January 29, 2020 at 8:44 am said:

      No Simon they do exist you just don’t want to listen to them

    • If you review the scientific literature, you will find no dispute over the concept of evolution for over 100 years. Ditto for anthropogenic global warming; the facts have not been in dispute since at least the mid-1980’s. YouTube doesn’t count, and nor do books by people with no actual knowledge of the subject matter.
      I can’t believe you are disputing evolution, this isn’t 19th Century Tennessee.

    • Richard Treadgold on January 29, 2020 at 9:18 am said:

      Simon, this is a digression, sure, but I think the important point is that plenty of people, we ourselves included, accept the principle of evolution when actually there’s no particular scientific description of it. More importantly, there’s no scientific description of a contrary case. That’s all. To that extent, it mirrors the situation with climate change, where no scientific description exists of a falsifiable hypothesis to explain how human emissions dangerously warm the climate, and no evidence to support it.

    • There is dispute on the Origin of Species as described by Darwin, not micro-evolution. David Gelertner and David Berlinski are two secular scientists who pull apart Darwin’s theory from a purely mathematical point of view

      Most people, myself included, have never even bothered to look at this subject. We just take it as read, like most other theories.

      EDIT – and as I just re-read RT’s comment, I see that he describes the issue quite well. The Origin of Species isn’t a well-defined theory, unlike for example, Quantum Field Theory

    • While I wait for Richard to make a substantive reply to my original comment, I will just point out that Berlinski is a “fellow” of the Discovery Institute, which promotes the nonsense that is “intelligent design”. Forgive me for suggesting that you might want to talk about evolution with scientists rather than propagandists.

    • If Berlinski is a propagandist he is pretty bad at it

    • Forgive me for suggesting that you might want to talk about evolution with scientists rather than propagandists.

      Funny how most of the world gets their info about climate change via propagandists. How many in the general public can name a single climate scientist?

    • If you apply the laws of physics, specifically:
      1. The laws of thermodynamics,
      2. Stefan-Boltzmann Law
      3. Clausius-Clapeyron equation
      4. Navier-Stokes equations
      you will find that global surface temperatures increase consistently with greenhouse gas concentration.
      The hypothesis works and is falsifiable. No alternative theory has been found which explains reality as well as these.

    • Yet we still don’t have an explanation for the pre-1950s warming, nor the cooling in the middle of the 20th C

    • Richard Treadgold on January 29, 2020 at 4:28 pm said:

      Nor the lack of significant warming and cooling from about 1994 to 2018 (25 years UAH MSU global temperature anomaly), while our emissions climbed faster than ever before to a whole new record. If the temperature doesn’t rise while that happens, we can certainly stop worrying.

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