Posts Tagged ‘globalcooling’

My Solar Cycle 25 Amplitude Prediction

2012/01/26 1 comment

Solar Cycle 25 will peak somewhat lower than the current one (SC24) but far higher than the nothingness currently predicted (see here).

Solar cycle record

Solar cycle record

My prediction is based on the fact that predictions are hard especially about the future and doubly especially when they imply a wholesale change compared to the present.

Why AGW Is A Communication Issue

Shub Niggurath has just made the startling (?) discovery that PR people think the problem with AGW not having become a religion for the masses can be solved by…PR people.

Talk about a hammer convinced the whole world is a nail. Or turkeys consensually rejecting the notion of Christmas.

Sarcasm aside, there is a grain of truth even in the most mendacious Desmogblog statement, and so there is here. In fact, “communication” implies a source, a destination, a medium and a message. Failure of any of those components is a failure at communication.

The issue of course is that close-minded PR people will rationalize their problems as some issue related to the medium, and act accordingly, and quite wrongly (they remind me of Father Dougal panicking in “Speed 3” and so resorting to the one thing he knew how to do, celebrating Mass).

In the real world instead, the real communication failure has been at the level of the message. As I wrote in Nov 2008, AGWers have  nothing to show:

for all the huffing and all the puffing, there is very little that AGWers can show to support their claims

This doesn’t necessarily mean AGW is nothing and will have no consequences. What it means is that True Believers behave as if they have yet to understand what the issue is about, and keep reverting to type in the face of absolute cluelessness:

they use the tools learned to protect pandas or clean up the Hudson river. And for most intents and purposed, they fail: because, as Revkin has realized, Anthropogenic Global Warming, aka Climate Change, truly is a completely different beast

Expect plenty of claims for the foreseeable future then, about this or that phenomenon as evidence of global warming or climate change. Luckily though, due to the intrinsically inflationary nature of their approach, everything they say will quickly lose in importance.

Addendum to Skeptic’s Dictionary: Hidden Persuaders Of Anthropogenic Global Warming

2011/01/06 4 comments

(original here of course, with plenty of links to explore each dictionary entry below in depth)

(the text outside < blockquote > is (mostly) mine)

hidden persuaders: A term used by Geoffrey Dean and Ivan Kelly (2003) to describe affective, perceptual, and cognitive biases or illusions that lead to erroneous beliefs.


The hidden persuaders sometimes seem to affect people in proportion to their intelligence: the smarter one is the easier it is to develop false beliefs. There are several reasons for this: (1) the hidden persuaders affect everybody to some degree; (2) the smarter one is the easier it is to see patterns, fit data to a hypothesis, and draw inferences; (3) the smarter one is the easier it is to rationalize, i.e., explain away strong evidence contrary to one’s belief; and (4) smart people are often arrogant and incorrectly think that they cannot be deceived by others, the data, or themselves

And now for some examples:


ad hoc hypothesis: An ad hoc hypothesis is one created to explain away facts that seem to refute one’s belief or theory. Ad hoc hypotheses are common in paranormal research and in the work of pseudoscientists. It is always more reasonable to apply Occam’s razor than to offer speculative ad hoc hypotheses.

AGW example: The discovery that aerosols have cooled the Earth just when the Earth was cooling, miraculously declining their action exactly when the Earth was warming due to CO2 emissions.

AGW example: The discovery that heavy (winter) snow and cold temperatures are exactly caused by temperature increases


affect bias: Our judgment regarding the costs and benefits of items is often significantly influenced by a feeling evoked by pictures or words not directly relevant to the actual cost or benefit

AGW example: Justifying reduction in CO2 emissions by way of how “green” things could become, and civilization “sustainable” in “harmony” with nature.


apophenia: Apophenia is the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena. “The propensity to see connections between seemingly unrelated objects or ideas most closely links psychosis to creativity … apophenia and creativity may even be seen as two sides of the same coin”. In statistics, apophenia is called a Type I error, seeing patterns where none, in fact, exist.

AGW example: The propensity to see Anthropogenic Global Warming at work in each and every (bad) thing that happens anywhere on Earth, including in earthquakes


autokinetic effect: The autokinetic effect refers to perceiving a stationary point of light in the dark as moving

AGW example: The incredible inability of past and present temperature measures to record the actual values, leading to contemporary researchers having to continuously adjust the figures (lowering the old ones, increasing the new ones)


availability error: availability heuristic, determining probability “by the ease with which relevant examples come to mind” (Groopman 2007: p. 64) or “by the first thing that comes to mind” (Sutherland 1992: p. 11)

AGW example: The IPCC declaring in 2007 that tens of thousands of indicators were all compatible to global warming, even if the overwhelming majority of those indicators was about Europe alone


backfire effect: The “backfire effect” is a term coined by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler to describe how some individuals when confronted with evidence that conflicts with their beliefs come to hold their original position even more strongly

AGW example: AGWers patting each other in the back about climate science remaining totally unscathed by the Climategate e-mails


change blindness: Change blindness is the failure to detect non-trivial changes in the visual field.

AGW example: The obsession with computing linear trends, making it impossible even to fathom the step-function behaviors (=”tipping points”) the very same AGWers like to talk about


Clever Hans phenomenon: A form of involuntary and unconscious cuing

AGW example: Journalist AGWers crowding RealClimate to know how long to count for


Clever Linda phenomenon: A form of involuntary and unconscious cuing

AGW example: Climate scientists writing to journalists making sure they conform, because fortunately, the prestige press doesn’t fall for this sort of stuff, right?


clustering illusion: The clustering illusion is the intuition that random events which occur in clusters are not really random events

AGW example: All the global village idiots that will tell the world how climate change is upon us, as shown by the year’s news, rather than by relying on properly conducted scientific research capable to isolate climate-change effects from others such as poverty


cognitive dissonance: Cognitive dissonance is a theory of human motivation that asserts that it is psychologically uncomfortable to hold contradictory cognitions. The theory is that dissonance, being unpleasant, motivates a person to change his cognition, attitude, or behavior. What distinguishes the chiropractor’s rationalization from the cult member’s is that the latter is based on pure faith and devotion to a guru or prophet, whereas the former is based on evidence from experience. Neither belief can be falsified because the believers won’t let them be falsified: Nothing can count against them. Those who base their beliefs on experience and what they take to be empirical or scientific evidence (e.g., astrologers, palm readers, mediums, psychics, the intelligent design folks, and the chiropractor) make a pretense of being willing to test their beliefs. They only bother to submit to a test of their ideas to get proof for others. That is why we refer to their beliefs as pseudosciences. We do not refer to the beliefs of cult members as pseudoscientific, but as faith-based irrationality. The chiropractors’ misguided belief is probably not due to worrying about their self-image or removing discomfort. It is more likely due to their being arrogant and incompetent thinkers, convinced by their experience that they “know” what’s going on, and probably assisted by communal reinforcement from the like-minded arrogant and incompetent thinkers they work with and are trained by. They’ve seen how AK works with their own eyes. They’ve demonstrated it many times. If anything makes them uncomfortable it might be that they can’t understand how the world can be so full of idiots who can’t see with their own eyes what they see!

AGW example: Thousands and thousands of words written by journalists, scientists and activists about anthropogenic global warming, and not one of them indicating what if anything could falsify…anthropogenic global warming


law of truly large numbers (coincidence): The law of truly large numbers says that with a large enough sample many odd coincidences are likely to happen.

AGW example: Romm scouring the planet’s press agencies to list all sorts of disasters that might somehow be connected to anthropogenic global warming


cold reading: Cold reading refers to a set of techniques used by professional manipulators to get a subject to behave in a certain way or to think that the cold reader has some sort of special ability that allows him to “mysteriously” know things about the subject

AGW example: The popularity of climate models’ ensembles among politicians looking for something to confirm they need to be voted for, and in the process getting convinced science can really tell us something about the climate of 2100


communal reinforcement: Communal reinforcement is the process by which a claim becomes a strong belief through repeated assertion by members of a community

AGW example: The tendency of warmist websites to censor dissenting comments away, leaving readers (believers) with the impression there is really a huge huge number of them, and just a handful of nasty skeptics


confabulation: A confabulation is a fantasy that has unconsciously emerged as a factual account in memory. A confabulation may be based partly on fact or be a complete construction of the imagination

AGW example: The decade-long fight to remove from collective memory the substantial agreement among scientists about global cooling (potentially, an ice age), a consensus that lasted at least between 1972 and 1975.


confirmation bias: Confirmation bias refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs

AGW example: Briffa’s uncanny ability to avoid for years any mention of the misbehaving trees he had himself published a paper about, in the Yamal saga


file-drawer effect: The file-drawer effect refers to the practice of researchers filing away studies with negative outcomes. Negative outcome refers to finding nothing of statistical significance or causal consequence, not to finding that something affects us negatively. Negative outcome may also refer to finding something that is contrary to one’s earlier research or to what one expects

AGW example: Extreme lack of interest among prominent climate scientists to publish anything (not even an Op-Ed) about the “travesty” that was (is) their inability to explain why temperatures (actually, the averages of the global temperature anomaly) have not risen since 1998


Forer effect: The Forer effect refers to the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people

AGW example: The worldwide phenomenon that sees most Ministers and Prime Ministers announce that their own particular country is being affected by climate change at twice or more the planetary average


gambler’s fallacy: The gambler’s fallacy is the mistaken notion that the odds for something with a fixed probability increase or decrease depending upon recent occurrences

AGW example: Tamino’s (?) absurdist blog about the probability of having consecutive hot periods being astronomically low


hindsight bias: Hindsight bias is the tendency to construct one’s memory after the fact (or interpret the meaning of something said in the past) according to currently known facts and one’s current beliefs. In this way, one appears to make the past consistent with the present and more predictive or predictable than it actually was.

AGW example: The Met Office discovering in January how it had forecasted a cold December in October, as shown by a statement nobody did read, and nobody has read

AGW example: The silly notion that Anthropogenic Global Warming has been consensually recognized in the 1970’s or even earlier


inattentional blindness: Inattentional blindness is an inability to perceive something that is within one’s direct perceptual field because one is attending to something else

AGW example: Lancet publishing an incredibly misleading Climate Change report with little mention of the huge difference in the number and type of deaths of people during cold and warm snaps

AGW example: The complete lack of interest about linking the generalized Northern Hemispheric cold and the silent Sun


magical thinking: According to anthropologist Dr. Phillips Stevens Jr., magical thinking involves several elements, including a belief in the interconnectedness of all things through forces and powers that transcend both physical and spiritual connections. Magical thinking invests special powers and forces in many things that are seen as symbol. One of the driving principles of magical thinking is the notion that things that resemble each other are causally connected in some way that defies scientific testing (the law of similarity)

AGW example: CO2’s mysterious ability to free the Arctic from the ice, and to increase the amount of ice in Antarctica, plus its long hand into anything and everything that ever happens and has bad consequences.


motivated reasoning: Motivated reasoning is confirmation bias taken to the next level. Motivated reasoning leads people to confirm what they already believe, while ignoring contrary data. But it also drives people to develop elaborate rationalizations to justify holding beliefs that logic and evidence have shown to be wrong

AGW example: The Anthropogenic Global Warming’s crowd supernatural swiftness in explaining every (bad) phenomenon as a consequence of human CO2 emissions


nonfalsifiability: Scientific theories not only explain empirical phenomena, they also predict empirical phenomena. One way we know a scientific theory is no good is that its predictions keep failing. Predictions can’t fail unless a theory is falsifiable. Some pseudoscientific [theories] can’t be falsified because they are consistent with every imaginable empirical state of affairs. Karl Popper noted that psychoanalytic theory, including Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex, is pseudoscientific because they seem to explain everything and do not leave open the possibility of error. Even contradictory behaviors are appealed to in support of the theory.

AGW example: Thousands and thousands of words written by journalists, scientists and activists about anthropogenic global warming, and not one of them indicating what if anything could falsify…anthropogenic global warming


positive-outcome (publication) bias: Positive-outcome (or “publication”) bias is the tendency to publish research with a positive outcome more frequently than research with a negative outcome. Negative outcome refers to finding nothing of statistical significance or causal consequence, not to finding that something affects us negatively. Positive-outcome bias also refers to the tendency of the media to publish medical study stories with positive outcomes much more frequently than such stories with negative outcomes

AGW example: The amount of time some highly-functioning minds have spent to justify scientifically the reasons for the “hide the decline”


post hoc fallacy: The post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this) fallacy is based upon the mistaken notion that simply because one thing happens after another, the first event was a cause of the second event. Post hoc reasoning is the basis for many superstitions and erroneous beliefs

AGW example: The Anthropogenic Global Warming’s crowd supernatural completeness in explaining every (bad) phenomenon as a consequence of human CO2 emissions


pragmatic fallacy: The pragmatic fallacy is committed when one argues that something is true because it works and where ‘works’ means something like “I’m satisfied with it,” “I feel better,” “I find it beneficial, meaningful, or significant,” or “It explains things for me

AGW example: The inane request to publish via peer-review a scientific alternative to mainstream Anthropogenic Global Warming theory because “it works”. One doesn’t need to be a leader or a tailor to see if the Emperor is naked.


regressive fallacy: The regressive fallacy is the failure to take into account natural and inevitable fluctuations of things when ascribing causes to them

AGW example: The general agreement that natural variability doesn’t count much for Anthropogenic Global Warming, even if the very same people go on to claim temperatures have not increased in a decade because of natural variability


representativeness error: In judging items, we compare them to a prototype or representative idea and tend to see them as typical or atypical according to how they match up with our model. The problem with the representativeness heuristic is that what appears typical sometimes blinds you to possibilities that contradict the prototype

AGW example: The sterile obsession with studying climate science by climate models alone


retrospective falsification: D. H. Rawcliffe coined this term to refer to the process of telling a story that is factual to some extent, but which gets distorted and falsified over time by retelling it with embellishments

AGW example: The abuse of Arrhenius’ “greenhouse gas” works, with the first one continuously mentioned exactly as the second one gets forgotten, being a more sober rethinking of the original ideas


selection bias: Selection bias comes in two flavors: (1) self-selection of individuals to participate in an activity or survey, or as a subject in an experimental study; (2) selection of samples or studies by researchers to support a particular hypothesis

AGW example: Mann’s obviously irrelevant pick-and-choose of which series to use for the Hockey Stick


selective thinking: Selective thinking is the process whereby one selects out favorable evidence for remembrance and focus, while ignoring unfavorable evidence for a belief

AGW example: Any post at Skeptical Science, with its incredible list of peer-reviewed all-mutually-consistent scientific papers


self-deception: Self-deception is the process or fact of misleading ourselves to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid. Self-deception, in short, is a way we justify false beliefs to ourselves

AGW example: Connolley et al publishing an article about a “Myth” of global cooling consensus in the 1970’s despite providing themselves ample evidence to support the same “myth”


shoehorning: Shoehorning is the process of force-fitting some current affair into one’s personal, political, or religious agenda

AGW example: Also known as “decorating the Christmas tree”…at every climate negotiation for the UN, thousands of people try to add their pet project to the cause, including “forest protection, poverty alleviation, water equity, women’s and indigenous rights


subjective validation: Subjective validation is the process of validating words, initials, statements, or signs as accurate because one is able to find them personally meaningful and significant

AGW example: Anthropogenic Global Warming causing a (temporary?) shutdown in critical thinking among those worried about getting the world “greener”


sunk-cost fallacy: When one makes a hopeless investment, one sometimes reasons: I can’t stop now, otherwise what I’ve invested so far will be lost. This is true, of course, but irrelevant to whether one should continue to invest in the project. Everything one has invested is lost regardless. If there is no hope for success in the future from the investment, then the fact that one has already lost a bundle should lead one to the conclusion that the rational thing to do is to withdraw from the project

AGW example: The UN’s COP bandwagon, moving a lot of people a lot of times in a lot of different locations (but never in Moldova or North Korea, for some reason) even if everybody agrees it will never mean anything substantial


anecdotal (testimonial) evidence: Testimonials and vivid anecdotes are one of the most popular and convincing forms of evidence presented for beliefs in the supernatural, paranormal, and pseudoscientific

AGW example: Monbiot’s famous February floral musings brought to the world as evidence of anthropogenic global warmings, back when Februarys were still warm


Texas-sharpshooter fallacy: The Texas-sharpshooter fallacy is the name epidemiologists give to the clustering illusion. Politicians, lawyers and some scientists tend to isolate clusters of diseases from their context, thereby giving the illusion of a causal connection between some environmental factor and the disease. What appears to be statistically significant (i.e., not due to chance) is actually expected by the laws of chance

AGW example:Pretty much any Al Gore speech


wishful thinking: Wishful thinking is interpreting facts, reports, events, perceptions, etc., according to what one would like to be the case rather than according to the actual evidence

AGW example:Pretty much any warmist blog or statement


Obviously there’s much better examples out there, so do send them across if you see any…

A Christmas Present From The New York Times

2010/12/23 5 comments

Not that they really wanted to be so generous, mind you…but in the printed (IHT) version of this long article about the Keelings and CO2 concentration measurements, somebody at the NYT decided to include this graph:

And so millions around the world will be able to see that temperatures have gone up and down in the past 400,000 years, with a characteristic shape (sharp increase with an even more marked peak, slow decline, then sharp increase again) that is currently being replicated (and the top temperatures of the past haven’t been reached yet). The usual reply is that in the past it’s been changes in the Earth’s orbit what drove the temperature changes: and yet, even if CO2 is the “culprit” this time there is evidently something in the Earth’s climate that:

  • Keeps temperatures from going unimaginably high
  • Counteracts the warming, whatever the CO2 concentrations
  • Mantains temperatures on average as much colder than at present

In the medium and long run, humanity should be preparing for a cooler world. Preparation means of course adaptation, the one thing nobody wants to do.

Greenfyre Loses The Plot

2010/11/20 20 comments

I’ve just been honored by Greenfyre dedicating his very first blog in a long time to a couple of blog posts in my very successful “1970s Global Cooling Consensus” series. There’s the usual litany of insults, of course, yawn, and that’s fully compatible with the idea that poor Greenfyre and his acolytes have a strong urgency to repeat the same old concepts to themselves, somehow deluding themselves they’ll be stronger concepts.

In the real world, meanwhile, there is a peer-reviewed paper stating “By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972), THE NOTION OF A GLOBAL COOLING TREND WAS WIDELY ACCEPTED, albeit poorly understood“. I wrote that sentence in big bold letters a few days ago, in a post sadly forgotten by all-singing all-dancing shouting, debate-challenged Greenfyre.

Well, if Greenfyre has an argument with that peer-reviewed article, he might want to exchange a couple of words with Connolley himself, thank you.

Oh, the bother.

Martin Luther, Here I Come!

2010/11/18 11 comments

The “AGW is logically impossible” list (aka Global Warming Miracles) has suddenly jumped to 52 items, doubling in size in a little less than three weeks. As commented at the Italian version of the page, I am now only 43 items away from putting a poster at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Or perhaps I should find out where the bulletin boards are, at the University of East Anglia…

Why The Global Cooling Story Is So Important…In The Anthropogenic Global Warming Debate

2010/11/12 17 comments

On the face of it, the whole debate about “global cooling in the 1970’s” is a matter of despair. If we can’t agree on what has happened less than 40 years ago, and is still remembered by many people, despite the avalanche of available snippets of information, a great deal of them accessible to all via the Internet…then what can we agree on? And what is the meaning of “history” at all??

So the only way to rescue our knowledge of the Renaissance, Ancient Rome or the Pharaos is by establishing that there is something special about the “global cooling the 1970’s debate“, something the unfortunately gets in the way and prevents people from recognizing what has happened within living memory. What is it?


The story so far…Did the scientists believe in the 1970s that there was global cooling? Yes. A paper by Mitchell in 1972 consolidated the idea. The Peterson, Connolley and Fleck article usually paraded around, it says just as much. Here I quote them again, with some added emphasis for those hard of seeing:

By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972),


, albeit poorly understood

In fact, we now know that “the world” was not cooling at the time, but “the Northern Hemisphere” was. Only thing, the scientists in 1972 had no way to know it was just a Northern Hemisphere thing. All of this is actually quite inconsequential wrt the original question (once again: “Did the scientists believe in the 1970s that there was global cooling?“). Anyway: in the published scientific literature, the global cooling idea started in fact evaporating in 1975, and had been replaced by global warming at full speed from 1979 or so (curiously, in sync with the PDO…). The same happened but much more slowly outside the world of research, so most people have been exposed to “global cooling” (actually, to global cooling consensus) well into the 1980s.

I am not saying I have found the last word on this, but the story above makes much more sense than the usual worldwide newsmedia sensationalism conspiracy as suggested by those adamantly opposed to any memory of the global cooling scare. What is it, that they can’t digest, to the point of denying recent history even if it stares at them from the ink of their own writing?


If one believes in contemporary global warming, the most obvious and logical reply to anybody saying “there was a global cooling consensus in the 1970s” should be “Yes, but…” followed by a long explanation on why the consensus is right this time and was wrong at the time. After all some consensuses have been right in the past, and some wrong.

This would cut off all sorts of sterile polemics and actually contribute to an increase in reputation of the average warmist daring to launch into such an argument, facing reality rather than fudging it. But nobody goes in that direction. Why?


As far as I can understand it to date, there are two main reasons for such a peculiar behavior: the AGWers’ unhealthy attachment to catastrophism (that forces them into defending absurdist ocean-boiling claims), and their single-minded determination not to allow the mere possibility of anybody uttering any suggestion that anything about AGW could be wrong, unless “it’s worse than we thought!” (that forces them into trying to rewrite history, personally attack any disbeliever, blowing up schoolchildren in comedy videos, and all sorts of nasty stuff).

In the AGWer world it is worse than blasphemous even to try to remember that, not so many years ago, there was indeed a climate worry, only it was a worry about the world getting cooler, rather than warmer. With so many easy-to-spot mirror claims (eg Pakistan floods because of cooling then, Pakistan floods because of warming now) logic dictates that the wall of evidence needed to convince people to really care about AGW becomes taller by the minute. And the one needed to acquire the political will to work against catastrophic climate change, it becomes impassable.

This explains why the discussion about global cooling in the 1970s often degenerates with people stupidly claiming “there was no consensus in the 1970s about an ice age“. Yes, there wasn’t. But who cares? Even a cooling of a few degrees, not exactly an ice age, was presented as very worrying, and potentially as harbinger of catastrophes.

Hence, the “ice age” mention is pointless.


Like the “AGW is a logical impossibility” page, the discussion about the global cooling consensus in the 1970s on this blog by itself will never be enough to put the antiscientific claims about upcoming catastrophic AGW to rest. At the end of the day, those pages are “just” reminders that we should avoid leaps in the dark, and always be very aware of our hubris.

Anyway…for me at least, these two subjects are evolving into a kind of “litmus test” that will help to tell the honest warmers from the rabid ones. The honest ones, you see, don’t worry about facing reality, including history.

Another “Global Cooling in the 1970s” Avalanche (Laughter, It Will Bury Them)

2010/11/12 5 comments

From Italy to the USA. Thanks to Google. And Google. And Google.

Funniest of the lot: from the Milwaukee Sentinel, Jan 20, 1979. By Dick West of United Press International:

At the recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science…the consensus seemed to be that, rather than experience either a warming trend or a cooling trend, we shall have both. Although not at the same time, fortunately.”

Really, try to read that article all without a chuckle or ten.

A New Treasure Trove Of 1970s “Global Cooling” Articles

2010/11/10 38 comments

Italian newspaper “La Stampa” has just put online its 1867-today archive (yes, it IS in Italian). What better chance (well, for me at least…) to explore the evolution of “global cooling” thinking in the 1970s beyond the usual English-speaking newsmedia? With the added bonus of plenty of names and other key words to use as…keywords for further research.

Very briefly: in the 15 articles I have found so far:

  • the popularity of scientists predicting an ice age is very clear up to the Feb 1979 meeting of the World Meteorological Organization
  • “upcoming ice age” is the meme du jour up to 1985 at least
  • there is a warmist slant in 1990 but strangely, the arguments of discussion are more or less the same still central to the debate in 2010

This collection strongly indicates that in Italy, like elsewhere, the average reader of newspapers would have had all the reasons to believe in a “global cooling consensus” for much of the 1970’s and even later.


Here’s the article list:

1. June 22, 1976 (n.145, p.14): “Entro cento anni avremo una era glaciale” – “Within a hundred years we’ll get an ice age” by Umberto Oddone

  • Mentions Reid Bryson
  • “not all scientists agree”
  • a Cesare Emiliani from the University of Miami investigates 700,000 years of sea-shells Oxygen isotopes
  • icebreaker “Glacier” gets “stuck in the Atlantic”

2. June 27, 1976 (n.150, p.9): “Tra ghiacci e siccita'” – “Between ice and drought” by Umberto Oddone

  • Earth is “having a fever”
  • Bryson again
  • Cesare Emiliani and sea-shells analysis, again

3. Oct 19, 1976 (n.229, p.21): “Fra pochi anni inverni freddissimi – In Siberia spariranno i cereali?” – “Very cold winters within few years – will grains disappear from Siberia?” by Bruno Ghibaudi

  • 30 years of cooling trend
  • Not a new ice age but hard consequences expected for the USSR
  • Mentions Prok Nikola Volkov, Director, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, Leningrad
  • Kara Sea temperature having dropped from -10C to -13C in 30 years
  • Nearby polar seas, decreases of 1 or 2C
  • Sea lanes to Murmansk and Arkangelsk closed by the ice in the early 1900’s, open in 1941-45, now 60% closed again
  • Two teams of French scientists complete research in the Antarctic.
  • Oxygen-isotope analysis indicates climate cycles, with a new cold peak in 3000AD and a warm peak in 9000AD
  • Mentions human influence, possible apocalyptic consequences
  • Recommends an international program to control climate

4. Feb 14, 1977 (n.29, p.3): “E’ giunta l’era glaciale” – “The ice age has come” by Alberto Rapisarda

  • Bryson again. Must have been very popular.

5. Jan 3, 1978 (n.1, p.3): “Si torna all’era glaciale?” – “A return to the ice age?” by Umberto Oddone

  • Mentions a new book “Climatologia” by Prof. Mario Pinna
  • Suggests getting warm clothes ready, for a few decades or for thousands of years

6. Apr 14, 1978 – (n.85, p.15): “Aiuto, arriva l’era glaciale” – “Help, the ice age is coming” (unsigned article)

  • “Many meteorologists” “convinced” about upcoming little ice age
  • Climate for 90% of the time warmer than at present
  • Causes of the cooling: disagreement
  • According to Juri Izrael, Hydrometer Service Director for the USSR: deforestation, landscape changes
  • According to James Hays of Columbia University and Nicholas Shackelton of Cambridge University: orbital changes
  • Hurd Willett of MIT mentioned as expecting lower temps
  • “Many meteorologists” of the opinion that “it’s all due to changes in the Sun”

7. Apr 27, 1978 (n.95, p.9): “Siamo alla soglia dell’era glaciale?” – “Are we on the edge of an ice age?” by Umberto Oddone

  • Mentions “18 known American climatologists” and a series of articles on Die Welt
  • North Polar ice cap increases from 1971 to 1978 by 12%
  • Antarctic ice mass increase from 1966 to 1967 by 10%
  • Global temperature down in 30 years by 0.5C
  • Mentions Bryson expecting a return to the little ice age
  • Mentions other climatologists as far more pessimist (“big” ice age) – work by the Impact Team headed by climatologist William Colby, former head of the CIA – “snowblitz”
  • Mentions Dansgaard
  • Mentions Calder as reporting the opinion of “not few” scientists

8. Jan 4, 1979 (n.3, p.4): “Sta per cominciare un’era glaciale – secondo meteorologi giapponesi” – “An ice age is coming – according to Japanese meteorologists” by press agency Ansa-Reuter

  • Mentions Junkichi Nemoto – University of Saitama – saying a “little ice age” is already underway
  • Mentions WMO conference in Feb 1979 in Geneva

9. Jan 9, 1979 (n.8, p.28): “Ma perche’ parlare di era glaciale?” – “And why all the talk of an ice age?” by Stefano Pavan

  • Mentions climate wars
  • Hubert Lamb, Alastair Woodroffe: snowblitz (snow accumulating by not completely melting by the end of the summer), 50cm/year

10. Feb 19, 1979 (n.48, p.3): “Cambia il nostro clima – Il mondo va verso una nuova era glaciale?” – “Our climate is changing – Is the world going towards an ice age?” by Fabio Galvano

  • Mentions the WMO Conference in Geneva
  • “400 climatologists” meeting to discuss how humanity can adapt to climate changes
  • Conference President – Robert White
  • Mentions some scientists as believing that Earth is moving towards an ice age
  • Mentions most scientists as believing that Earth is getting warmer due to human activities
  • Greenhouse effect from a sulphuric acid/ammonium sulphide “polar fog”
  • Mentions Stephen Schneider as expecting 2C-3C of increase in the temperate zones in 2050, as CO2 concentrations double. Mentions William Kellogg as expecting another doubling by 2100, with +6C
  • Mentions +20C at the Poles
  • Mentions the Amazon turning into a Sahara (Harry Knowles)
  • Geoengineering in the USSR proposed by climatologist Federov

11. Jan 20, 1982 (n.16): “Tranquilli, non e’ un’altra era glaciale” – “Keep cool, there’s no ice age coming” by James Wagner, National Weather Service

  • No ice age
from Piero Bianucci's Apr 21, 1982 article

from Piero Bianucci's Apr 21, 1982 article

12. Apr 21, 1982 (n.25, p. 3): “Questo freddo di aprile farà’ scendere i ghiacciai?” – “This cold in April will expand the glaciers?” by Piero Bianucci

  • Detailed temperature graph for the last 80,000 years
  • Mentions winter 81-82 as colder than 77’s, considered “coldest in the century” by “American climatologist”
  • Walter Orr Roberts and sun/drought link
  • Mentions Stephen Schneider, according to whom the “turnaround year” from a warming trend to a cooling one was 1972, a year with drought in the USSR, floods in Pakistan, and a delayed start of the monsoon season.
  • Mentions Lamb describing a “butterfly effect” on climate

13. Jan 30, 1985 (n.155, p. 2): “Dietro l’angolo c’e’ un’era glaciale?” – “Is there an ice age behind the corner?” by Stefano Pavan

  • Nicholas Shackleton, Cambridge University – shells analysis indicates a descent into an ice age – for 5,000 years, an accumulation of 50cm/year – “snowblitz”
  • Mentions Danish glaciologists as saying that summer insolation in the Northern Hemisphere has come down, and it’s lower than when 90,000 years ago there was a sudden cooling episode
  • Mentions Nigel Calder’s “The Weather Machine” with a long list of countries that would fall against the climate catastrophe

14. Oct 10, 1990 (n.436, p. 21): “Il clima cambia, ecco gli indizi” – “The climate changes, here’s the evidence” by Angelo Tartaglia
15. Oct 10, 1990 (n.436, p. 21): “I dati sono insufficienti” – “There is not enough data” by Stefano Pavan

  • Both articles could have been written yesterday, including skeptics at the MIT and computer models at the UK’s Met Office

Climategate: Stones That Should Be Left Unturned?

2010/07/07 3 comments

Anybody in need of yet more investigations? Over at DotEarth, there’s a Greenpa Minnesota (comment #20) clamoring for the hackers’ blood (figuratively speaking):

This time, kiddies- it is time for us scientists to DEMAND an EQUAL investigation be made into the identities of the hackers. I am dead serious. We need to demand it- loudly and publicly, and KEEP demanding until the FBI and similar world organizations are directed to do it.

But few if anybody at UEA are pushing for the hackers to be identified. The reason for such distinctively peculiar behavior is anybody’s guess.

Perhaps some stones are better left unturned…

…just as in the case of Kevin Trenberth, quoted by Roger Pielke Jr (comment #21) with words as pleasant as nails scratching a blackboard, including a reference to “unjustified criticisms and the widespread abuse and misuse of the emails” (no wonder some think AGW activism is ultimately an attack on civil liberties), and a mention of “lazy skeptics who want only to disprove the results“, a surefire candidate for the most childish opinion of the decade.

Evidence About The 1970s Global Cooling Consensus Keeps Piling Up

2010/06/10 15 comments

Not just Damon and Kunen’s (already mentioned here)…by chance, I have found yet another Science paper (this time Broecker from August 1975) making it clear that, for a few years up to then, the general consensus among scientists had been that the world was cooling:

[…] the present cooling trend […] the natural climatic cooling which, since 1940, has more than compensated for the carbon dioxide effect[…]

Time to repeat myself:  we have a ‘widely accepted [by the scientific community]…global cooling trend’, at least judging from Mitchell’s work in 1972; doubts about that growing in the same scientific community from 1975/1976, as per Damon and Kunen’s paper; but not early enough to prevent Newsweek from publishing its 1975 article, one that even mentions a certain Dr Murray Mitchell. That means that pieces of the global cooling puzzle do suggest that cooling was a widely-held view in the 1970s. Admittedly, such an agreed view did not last the whole decade: rather, it concerned the 1972 to 1975 period.

etc etc

1970s Global Cooling Consensus Not A Myth – The Unassailable Argument

2010/03/23 10 comments

There are still many otherwise learned and reasonable people fooling themselves into thinking that the “1970s Global Cooling consensus” was a myth.  No matter how much they try to massage historical evidence, the evident truth is that they are mistaken.

In the 1970s (I am not saying, for the whole decade) there was a consensus about global cooling. How is such a conclusion reached? By asking the right question.

In fact, the very reason the question is asked is because it is relevant to the world of today.  Some have publicly declared that their skepticism on catastrophical Global Warming is based on their memories about catastrophical Global Cooling sometimes in the 1970s. Much is being done about Newsweek or New York Times articles of the time. The issue concerns therefore what we of 2010 would call a meme, and a popular one at that since it appeared and was propagated in general-interest newspapers and magazines.

That pretty much invalidates nerdy analyses of the scientific literature of the time, hardly a primary source of popular memes. Besides, one suspects it was far easier to publish a work on warming despite the underlying acceptance by prominent scientists of global cooling: surely at the time there was nothing remotely resembling the climategate gang, bent on preventing publication to anything challenging their beliefs. Fabricated unanimities just did not exist.

Hence the right question to ask is: did people sometimes in the 1970s live under the impression that there was a scientific consensus on Global Cooling? Note once again: it is a matter of impressions, not of some kind of unperceived reality.

Take this example: when Napoleon abdicated at Fontainebleau on 11 April 1814, all big political guns in Europe were under the impression that he was finished. Of course we know now that it wasn’t true (Napoleon escaped from his Elba prison 10 months later, and came tantalizingly close to win back his power in full).

Was there in 1814 a consensus that Napoleon was a defeated man? Yes. Was he? No, as far as we understand.  Yes, as far as contemporaries understood.

Likewise for Global Cooling…we have for a fact that world temperatures have not been declining in the last 30-40 years (rather, the opposite has happened). We also know that not every scientist in the 1970s believed in Global Cooling. And yet…for a person of 1974/1975 with an average scientific interest for example, the consensus on Global Cooling was a fact of life. Why, even the CIA did not hesitate to describe such a consensus, and to organize a scientific conference about it.

History is like a foreign country…the only way to understand it is to respect it, and to be careful when dealing with it. Unfortunately, in the heated world of the AGW believer, respect and care are seldom to be found.

Bering Strait: Cryosphere Today vs Real World

2010/02/05 3 comments

Thanks to NASA’s Earth Observatory site, a (rare?) opportunity to compare Arctic sea ice extension as shown on Cryosphere Today with the real world (as seen by the Terra satellite).

DISCLAIMER: The following should in no way be interpreted as suggesting anything untoward is being done at Cryosphere Today

The Earth Observatory’s “Image of the Day” for Jan 16, 2010 shows “Ice and Clouds in the Bering Strait“.

Ice and Clouds in the Bering Strait

Fig. 1 - Ice and Clouds in the Bering Strait

What are we looking at? The shapes of the islands clearly indicate it’s the sea between the Russian and Alaska coasts just to the South of St Lawrence Island.

St Lawrence Island

Fig. 2 - St Lawrence Island

Part of the Bering Strait (from Google Maps)

Fig. 3 - Part of the Bering Strait (from Google Maps)

Part of the Bering Strait (from Google Maps)

Fig. 4 - Part of the Bering Strait (from Google Maps)

Let’s take now the sea ice extent image from Cryosphere Today, for Jan 16, 2010, and zoom in to the area described above:

Cryosphere Today, Jan 16, 2010

Fig. 5 -Cryosphere Today, Jan 16, 2010

Detail from Cryosphere Today, Jan 16, 2010

Fig. 6 - Detail from Cryosphere Today, Jan 16, 2010

Detail from Cryosphere Today, Jan 16, 2010

Fig. 7 - Detail from Cryosphere Today, Jan 16, 2010

We can finally compare Fig. 7 with Fig. 1.

Ice and Clouds in the Bering Strait

Fig. 1 - Ice and Clouds in the Bering Strait

What is evident is that the Cryosphere Today processing eliminates the kind of ice that can be found right at the edge of the pack (visible as “dendrils” after a suitable magnification). The neat sea ice – open water distinction is a computational illusion.

"wavy tendrils—newly formed, thin sea ice"

Fig. 8 - "wavy tendrils—newly formed, thin sea ice"

Other evidence of missing sea ice from the Cryosphere Today image is along the Alaskan coast, for example in the black, apparently ice-free “shadow” of Nunivak island

Nunivak Island

Fig. 9 - Nunivak Island

Cryosphere Today, around Nunivak Island

Fig. 10 - Cryosphere Today, around Nunivak Island

Nunivak Island, Jan 16, 2010

Fig. 11 - Nunivak Island, Jan 16, 2010

Seemingly, the ice around the island is “broken up” by its presence, and for some reason disappears in a restricted area in the Cryosphere Today image.

So the question is…how much of this “marginal” ice is lost in Cryosphere Today compared to the real world?

Major Omission in ‘Exaggerated’ Glacier Warning’s New York Times/IHT Article

2010/01/20 2 comments

(just sent to

Dear Editors

There is a major omission in Elisabeth Rosenthal’s article “U.N. Panel’s Glacier Warning Is Criticized as Exaggerated” (International Herald Tribune, paper edition, 20 Jan; New York Times, 18 Jan).

Ms Rosenthal mentions the scientist at the center of the controversy involving the IPCC, Dr. Syed Hasnain, and the fact that Dr Hasnain is “currently a fellow at the TERI research institute in Delhi“. However, there is no hint whatsoever of the fact that the Head of the IPCC, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, is also the Head of TERI.

Dr Hasnain received his fellowship at TERI after making his “exaggerated” remarks. And in the past weeks, Dr Pachauri has been a very outspoken critic of anybody merely suggesting that Dr Hasnain’s estimates for Himalayan glacier melting were an exaggeration.

This means most of your readers will have no idea of the potential major conflicts of interest involving Dr Pachauri, including using Dr Hasnain’s estimates as incorporated in the latest IPCC report in order to raise funds for TERI.

I consider this a major faux-pas on the part of your Newspaper, of whom I have been a proud reader for more than 25 years now. It is a particularly odd one, considering that all Ms Rosenthal had to do was mention the name of Dr Pachauri as Head of both the IPCC and TERI.

Please do issue a correction as soon as possible.

1970s Global Cooling Consensus A Fact Of History – My Article In Spiked Online

2009/12/11 12 comments

From “Same fears, different name? – Maurizio Morabito uncovers a 1974 CIA report showing that the ‘scientific consensus’ then was that the world was cooling” published on Dec 10 in Spiked Online

[…] We have a ‘widely accepted [by the scientific community]…global cooling trend’, at least judging from Mitchell’s work in 1972; doubts about that growing in the same scientific community from 1975/1976, as per Damon and Kunen’s paper; but not early enough to prevent Newsweek from publishing its 1975 article, one that even mentions a certain Dr Murray Mitchell. That means that pieces of the global cooling puzzle do suggest that cooling was a widely-held view in the 1970s.

Admittedly, such an agreed view did not last the whole decade: rather, it concerned the 1972 to 1975 period. Says who? Says the CIA, in a unique report I was recently able to re-discover in the British Library […]

This article is much longer than the Spectator’s and contains all the evidence one should need to establish that there was a scientific consensus on global cooling in the period 1972-1975.

World Exclusive: CIA 1974 Document Reveals Emptiness of AGW Scares, Closes Debate On Global Cooling Consensus (And More…)

2009/12/03 60 comments

An eye-opening “global cooling consensus” CIA document dated 1974 has just been re-discovered in the British Library by Yours Truly and is extensively mentioned today in the (printed) pages of The Spectator (UK) and Il Foglio (Italy).

(updated 20091203 – 1042am GMT – the (suitably degraded) scan of the Spectator article is at the bottom of this blog)

(updated 20091203 – 1105am GMT – HOLD IT-THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THE SCRIBD LINK!! – ANOTHER ONE WILL BE PROVIDED SHORTLY – the CIA document is now online thanks to Guido Guidi and Climate Monitor)

(updated 20091203 – 1143am GMTthe PDF of the CIA document is now available online thanks to Guido Guidi and Climate Monitor)

A Study of Climatological Research as it Pertains to Intelligence Problems” will make quite an embarrassing reading, especially for:

  • the most obdurate catastro-warmists (when they will notice that almost all AGW scares are a search-and-replace job from “cooling” to “warming”), and
  • the history deniers fixated on ‘demonstrating’ that a scientific consensus about Global Cooling in the 1970’s were a ‘myth'(*)

And there is more (much more), from ever-improving climate models promising to become good in a few years’ time to the unsettling apparent ease with which Government agencies then (as now) could get scientists to agree on whatever they needed them to agree on.

Nobody aware of the CIA document’s contents should be able to avoid a good chuckle after reading any of the current AGW reports on famine, starvation, refugee crises, floods, droughts, crop and monsoon failures, and all sorts of extreme weather phenomena; on climate-related major economic problems around the world; on Africans getting in climate troubles first; and so on and so forth.

Why? Because it is all too clear that those scares cannot be real, since they have already been mentioned verbatim in all their dramatic effect, but about Global Cooling.

The whole lot of them, they are just empty threats, instruments of doom-and-gloom policy manipulation with no relation to reality.

It is deeply ironic that it takes a 35-year-old document, available on the web so far only in title, to show the absolute vacuity of the vast majority of pre-COP15 reports and studies. It is time to ditch everything we hear about collapsing ice sheets, disappearing glaciers, species extinctions, and each and every “it’s worse than we thought” report by “scientists”.

It is time to become climate adults.

As I wrote for The Spectator:

This might be the most important lesson of the 1974 report on global cooling: that we need to grow up, separate climatology from fear, and recognise – much as it pains politicians and scientists – that our understanding of how climate changes remains in its infancy.

(stay tuned for the full text of the Spectator article, and the PDF of the PDF of the CIA document)

(*) Anybody thinking about Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s largely mistitled “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus” (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Volume 89, Issue 9, September 2008, pp 1325-1337)? Well, think again after reading this little gem of theirs:

By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972), the notion of a global cooling trend was widely accepted, albeit poorly understood

As I wrote a little more than a year ago: “Widely accepted”: check. “Global cooling”: check.. There was a global cooling consensus among scientists, at least up to 1974. And it went on to appear in Newsweek, The Washington Post, The New York Times and many more media outlets around the world, at least up to 1976.


UPDATED: This is the scanned Spectator article

The CIA's 'global cooling' files (title)

The CIA's 'global cooling' files (text)

Climate Is Weather When It Is Not Climate, Weather Is Climate When It Is Not Weather. Or Not?

2009/09/23 3 comments

or…”Climate Belief In Disarray”

Front-page article today by Andrew C Revkin on the International Herald Tribune about the problem of “selling” any urgency for warming-stopping CO2 emission cuts to the public in a non-warming planet (now that that concept has been accepted even by the hardest climate integralist).

Parts of what is reported by Revkin is interesting as it appears there is no shortage of scientists providing all sorts of opinions on why the world has not been warming as expected. Trouble is, if the recent 10-year-long set of observations showing “non-warming” cannot be used to falsify AGW, then no 10-year-long set of any observation showing anything can be used to demonstrate AGW either.

Therefore there is no meaning in the just-released climate forecasts by the Met Office talking about “the odds of a 15-year pause” after analysing “how often decades with a neutral trend in global mean temperature occurred in computer modelled climate change simulations” (my emphasis).

In fact, some are fond to say that climate is a 30-year-long average of weather. Well, if that is true, all we should be scientifically able to talk about with any amount of knowledge, is the climate trends for… 1979.

Everything else is (interesting, but just) speculation.

ps Dr Mojib Latif says he “gives about 200 talks to the public, business leaders and officials each year“. There are 365 days, in most years. At what times during the year is then “climate science” studied at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel, Germany? And shall we worry about the absence of private life for AGW scientist-advocates?

pps Shame to Revkin for publishing this absurdist remark by Joe Romm: “We need all the unmuffled warnings we can get“. Why? Because Romm is a known “muffler” himself.

Neandertals At Risk Of Causing AGW Extinction

2009/08/03 1 comment

Another gem from the August issue of Scientific American, a few pages after David Appell’s climate double-entendre titled “Stumbling Over Data“: it’s time now for Kate Wong’s “The Mysterious Downfall of the Neandertals“, given the pride of cover to discuss the most up-to-date theories about the disappearance of those “bygone humans” around 28,000 years ago.

Here’s a detail of one of the theories:

[…] the isotope data reveal that far from progressing steadily from mild to frigid, [between roughly 65,000 and 25,000 years] the climate became increasingly unstable heading into the last glacial maximum, swinging severely and abruptly. With that flux came profound ecological change: forests gave way to treeless grassland; reindeer replaced certain kinds of rhinoceroses. So rapid were these oscillations that over the course of an individual’s lifetime, all the plants and animals that a person had grown up with could vanish and be replaced with unfamiliar flora and fauna. And then, just as quickly, the environment could change back again. […]

What else goes extinct then with our barrel-chested, stocky-limbed cousins in the space of a few sentences? Let’s see: unprecedented climate change; global warming endangering polar bears; life on Earth threatened by wild climate swings; collapsing global ecosystems; disappearing coral reefs; upcoming biodiversity crisis; etc etc etc.

Not only that…if our direct ancestors’ “somewhat wider range of cultural adaptations provided a slightly superior buffer against hard times“, why would those characteristics fail us now, their direct descendants more than 280 centuries later?

Unless of course we force ouselves to admit that our forefathers were wiser than us, stuck as we are into asking our so-called leaders to stop the solar cycle, or elicit volcanic eruptions

Swanson’s AGW Song, or How At RealClimate, It’s Always Naivety Time…

2009/07/15 5 comments

Sometimes I ask myself if the RealClimate guys understand the implications of everything they publish on their site.

For example some time ago Gavin Schmidt more or less told the whole world that to him observations were of little interest apart than as a way to improve climate models (thereby denying the very possibility that climate models could be demonstrated false, under any circumstance).

Now it’s the turn of a guest blog by Kyle Swanson, encouraged and published by Raymond T. “Raypierre” Pierrehumbert. The stated intent of the blog is to show that Swanson and Tsonis’ recent paper about “Has the climate recently shifted?” has “very little” to do with Global Warming, of the anthropogenic variety obviously. But its actual practical consequences are more interesting.

(1) Andy Revkin through Roger Pielke Jr.’s blog notes that Swanson and Tsonis take off the steam yet again from anybody and everybody that tries to “portray global warming as an unfolding catastrophe here and now“.

That is, with RealClimate in tow, and after Swanson and Tsonis, we can yell out loud and clear that the scientific consensus says that all AGW-related troubles that we could be concerned about, they belong to the future.

Repeat with me: AGW as a matter of grave concern for the whole of humanity, is not happening. That is, there is no scientific justification at all to discuss AGW as an issue for the present instead of properly, as a risk management question involving some decades in the future.

(2) All this discussions about the recent “pause in warming” (in Swanson’s words…as if it had any meaning given the above) are ammunitions that will be used to argue against AGW once the warming resumes (eventually, it will…). If 10 years can’t say much in a direction, they cannot say much in the other direction either.

(3) In other words, all scientific discussions in climatology should confine themselves to the climate of the end of the 1970’s. Anything that has happened after that, it’s by definition too early to talk about.

(3) Raypierre tries at length to justify Tsonis’s words published in an interview. Among those:

if we don’t understand what is natural, I don’t think we can say much about what the humans are doing. So our interest is to understand — first the natural variability of climate — and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural

I am afraid all “comments were taken out of context” (Raypierre’s defense) are excuses simply demolished by Swanson’s writing that:

humanity is poking a complex, nonlinear system with GHG forcing – and […] there are no guarantees to how the climate may respond

Repeat with me: We have little clue about the Earth’s climate will respond to anything, be it natural or man-made. The final result might be a cooling, a warming, or no much change at all.

And so about AGW, we should be spending time reflecting about the opportunity of reducing that “poking”, not on idiotic multidecadal projections of various degrees of warming.


Let me finish by noticing two details. First of all, in Swanson’s words presumably approved by Raypierre/RC, Global Warming (AGW) is now “the century-scale response to greenhouse gas emissions“. And I thought it was multidecadal? Not any longer: even 50 years of global cooling will be compatible with AGW.

But to conclude on a high note: the anti-skeptic RC filters of old don’t appear to have been heavily used this time. Who knows, it might even be a way to show that the RC folks are thinking of getting rid of their aburd fear for debating.

But don’t hold your breath about that…especially when they will realize what the stuff they publish actually means.

Climate Forecasts: Intrinsically All For Nought?

2009/06/05 11 comments

It is commonly accepted that all it will take for us to be able to predict future climate, is faster computers with gigantic computing power, in a progression analogous to meteorology’s.

I find that unlikely. And that’s why climate forecasting is likely to go nowhere, just like…alchemy. Not due to anybody’s fault: rather, because it is intrinsically impossible for it to do otherwise.


Climatology is the study of the long term behavior of something that is stable, and predictable, but only until it goes through a state change, perhaps all of a sudden.

Imagine what if anything would nuclear physicists be able to study if there were not even sure if today’s proton-proton accelerators would or would not transform themselves into proton-neutron accelerators, in ten, thirty or a hundred years, thereby completely changing all results and all predictions?

Add to that the climatological possibility, or shall I say the absolute certainty, that in any meaningful (i.e. multi-decadal) period of study, there will be external, uncontrollable, unpredictable inputs such as volcano eruptions and changes in the Sun…as if the energy available to power the LHC would vary at random.

Check for example this statement from German climate scientists, just published on the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“If we had had 10% more cloudiness over Germany, that would have compensated for the warming of the past 30 years”

In other words, a minor change in a climate detail is enough to modify the end result altogether.


How do you study in a scientifically appropriate manner a system whose simplest scientifically appropriate representation is…itself?

You don’t. You cannot even follow the usual statistical route, because in the long term every possible solution is equally probable. And if you don’t work on the long term, on the decadal or secular scale, then you are not doing climatology.

The problem of climate forecasting is therefore unassailable, just as it is not possible to predict the stock market, another system that is heavily influenced by external factors.

Think of the money thrown for nothing in the financial forecasting route. Then, think of the results.


Of course, the above does not mean that we can not do any climatological study, for example to determine which crops appear to be more suitable for a certain territory…just as one can play the stock market using reasonably objective parameters and computer models without falling necessarily into financial ruin.

But climate forecasting might be the one and only science where “blacks swans”, the events that throw all predictions up in the air, are ironically the one thing that can be predicted.

ADDENDUM 00:27GMT June 5: Isn’t it beautiful to write something on your own in the middle of the night, and then to discover that even Roger Pielke Sr. has just been dealing with a very similar topic?

ADDENDUM #2: There is one point that needs to be clarified in the above.

The climate forecasts I am talking about are multi-decadal. The stuff just criticised by Pielke Sr.  Those, I am educately guessing, are impossible, even if we knew all the physics and we had vast amounts of computing power.

The simplest way to compute the climate of 20-30 or more years in the future, is to build a system at least as complex as the climate own’s . In other words, the Earth’s climate is its own simplest multidecadal computer.

Since “climate” is usually taken as a multi-decadal concept, then perhaps we can move the forecast of what next season will bring, into meteorology.  Of course, before anybody says anything, no, I do not think meteorology is “inferior” to climatology.

ADDENDUM #3: many thanks to Douglas Hoyt for pointing out that Roger Pielke Jr. has just published a blog and article along the same lines of thought

Rather than basing decision-making on a predict (probabilistically of course) then act model, we may have to face up to the fact that skillful prediction of variables of interest to decision makers may simply not be possible. And even if it were possible, we would not be able to identify skill on the same time scales as decisions need to be made. The consequence of this line of argument is that if stationarity is indeed dead, then it has likely taken along with it fanciful notions of foreseeing the future as the basis for optimal actions. Instead, it may be time to rethink how we make decisions in the face of not simply uncertainty, but fundamental and irreducible ignorance

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