Open Mind

Spencer’s Folly

July 28, 2008 · 94 Comments

Part 1: a Very Simple Model of Temperature Variability around an Equilibrium State

A reader recently linked to a presentation by Roy Spencer called Feedback vs. Chaotic Radiative Forcing: “Smoking Gun” Evidence for an Insensitive Climate System? As time goes by, I have less and less inclination to debunk claims that global warming is “no problem,” especially as most of them are so amateurish that there’s little or no insight about the real climate system to be gained from their demolition, and many of them smack of deliberate deception, i.e., not only are they misleading they’re intentionally so. But this presentation strikes me as different. First, we can learn some things about climate change from studying this dissertation, and second, I get the impression that Spencer really believes what he’s saying.


So let’s take a close look at what Spencer has to say. We’ll start by examining the behavior of his “Very Simple Model of Temperature Variability around an Equilibrium State.” The model is this:

dT/dt = (F - \lambda T) / C_p.

In this equation, T is the surface temperature anomaly (it’s difference from some “reference value”), t is the time, F is the climate forcing anomaly, \lambda is what Spencer calls the “feedback,” and C_p is the specific heat of the climate system. The temperature anomaly T and climate forcing anomaly F are functions of time, but the other quantities are constants. We’ve seen this simple model before; it’s the oft-discussed zero-dimensional one-component climate model.

First it must be mentioned that what Spencer calls “feedback” is not what’s often meant by feedback. The most common use of the word refers to the response of the climate system above and beyond what it would be if nothing else changed in response to temperature change. This “no-feedback” response is rather well known; if extra energy comes in to the climate system (climate forcing), then the climate warms in response, and from basic physics when the climate (or anything) warms, it emits more infrared (long-wave, or LW) radiation. When it has warmed enough that the outgoing LW energy balances the incoming (both LW and short-wave, or SW) energy, we’ve reached a new equilibrium (energy in = energy out), so temperature will be stable at the new, warmer value. The necessary temperature change for a given climate forcing can be computed from the Stephan-Boltzmann equation, and turns out to be just about 0.3 K/(W/m^2) (0.3 Kelvin for every W/m^2 of climate forcing). This is the no-feedback climate sentivity.

But the climate system does change in response to temperature change. For example, warmer air holds more water vapor. Not only is water vapor a greenhouse gas itself, greater (absolute) humidity alters the lapse rate of the atmosphere, raising the surface temperature even higher. Also, as the earth warms there’s less ice and snow covering the planet, which changes earth’s albedo (reflectivity to incoming solar energy). As albedo declines, more of the incoming solar power is absorbed into the climate system, so again the temperature rises even further. These are some of the classic feedbacks in climate, which make climate sensitivity even higher.

Spencer is using the word “feedback” in a different sense. When earth warms and hence emits more LW radiation to space, this can be called a feedback too (but in a different sense of the word); it’s the “temperature feedback,” i.e., the change in the radiation budget due to a change in temperature. It’s a perfectly legitimate use of the word, but keep in mind that it’s not the same as the more common meaning which refers to the change above and beyond what it would be with no impact due to changes in water vapor, lapse rate, albedo, clouds, or other factors. For a discussion of climate using the word feedback in the sense Spencer uses, see e.g. Soden and Held 2006, J. Climate, 19, 3354-3360; for a discussion of the more common use of the word see this and this.

But back to Spencer’s simple model. For temperature to be stable, we must have dT/dt = 0, so

F - \lambda T = 0, or T = F / \lambda.

If we make F constant (i.e., climate forcing doesn’t change with time), then equilibrium occurs at the new temperature given by this equation. This tells us the equilibrium temperature change due to a given change in forcing, which tells us the climate sensitivity. So in this model climate sensitivity is 1/\lambda.

The simple model can be solved exactly. I’ll define some new variables (just for convenience):

\theta = F/\lambda,

which we can call the “scaled” forcing function, and

\omega = \lambda / C_p.

Then the simple model becomes

dT/dt = \omega (\theta - T).

Then the solution is:

T(t) = T(0) + \omega e^{-\omega t} \int_0^t \theta(s) e^{\omega s} ~ds.

Suppose, for instance, that temperature has been stable at its reference value, so T=0, when climate forcing is at its reference value so F = 0. At time t=0, let’s suddenly change the forcing to a new value F=1. Then the value of \theta changes from 0 to 1/\lambda. The temperature evolves according to

T = \omega e^{-\omega t} \int_0^t (1/\lambda) e^{\omega s} ~ds = e^{-\omega t} [e^{\omega t} - 1] / \lambda = [1 - e^{-\omega t}] / \lambda.

We see that temperature approaches its new equilibrium value, but with exponential decay; the temperature change doesn’t happen instantaneously because it takes time to accumulate the extra energy to warm the climate system.

I’d like to point out an interesting propery of this simple model. Consider the temperature at time t + \Delta t, where the time “difference” \Delta t is very very small, and supposing that the temperature at time zero is T(0)=0. We see that

T(t + \Delta t) = \omega e^{-\omega (t+ \Delta t)} \int_0^t \theta(s) e^{\omega s} ~ds

= \omega e^{-\omega (t+ \Delta t)} \int_0^t \theta(s) e^{\omega s} ~ds + \omega e^{-\omega (t + \Delta t)} \int_t^{t+\Delta t} \theta(s) e^{\omega s} ~ds

= e^{-\omega \Delta t} T(t) + \omega e^{-\omega (t + \Delta t)} \int_t^{t+\Delta t} \theta(s) e^{\omega s} ~ds.

Because we insist that \Delta t is so small, we can be sure that the quantity \theta doesn’t show any significant change in the interval from t to t + \Delta t. Hence we can approximate it (with arbitrary accuracy by making \Delta t go to zero) by its value at time t + \Delta t. This enables us to treat it as a constant under the integral, so we get

T(t+\Delta t) = e^{-\omega \Delta t} T(t) + [1 - e^{-\omega \Delta t}] \theta(t+\Delta t).

Those of you familiar with statistics may recognize this. Generating new values of T(t+\Delta t) by repeatedly applying this equation is simply the process of exponential smoothing. In exponential smoothing, each new data value x_n generates a new smoothed value S_n which is computed from the new data value, and the preceding smoothed value S_{n-1} by

S_n = \beta S_{n-1} + (1-\beta) x_n.

Treating the forcing term \theta as the “data” x_n, the temperature anomaly T as the smoothed values S_n, and equating the term \beta with the term e^{-\omega \Delta t}, our approximate formulation of the solution of the model equation is equivalent to exponential smoothing. So, if we choose the “time step” \Delta t small enough, we see that solving the simple model is equivalent to computing the exponential smooth of the scaled forcing function. In fact that’s why I’ve expounded at such length about this simple model: to show that its solution is equivalent to an exponential smooth with very short time step.

Both the exact solution of the model, and its approximation as an exponential smooth, are characterized by a “time constant,” which is given by \tau = 1 / \omega. For this first illustrations of the behavior of the model, Spencer uses feedback parameter \lambda = 4 W/m^2/K, and he states that the specific heat of the climate system is that of a 50-meter deep “swamp ocean.” I don’t know what numbers he’s using, but as near as I can compute the specific heat for a 50-m deep ocean is about 6.6 W-yr/m^2/K. This gives a time coefficient \omega \approx 0.6 per year, or a characteristic time scale of \tau \approx 1.6 yr. As far as climate is concerned, that’s way too small a time scale; the actual characteristic time for the climate system is more like 30 years. Later in his presentation, Spencer uses a 1000 m deep ocean, which gives a characteristic time scale of about 32 yr, much more realistic.

The characteristic time which is chosen for the model has profound impact on the behavior of the model in response to various forcing functions. But we’ll see much more about that when we look at how Spencer uses this model, in the next post.

Categories: Global Warming
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94 responses so far ↓

  • Bill Illis // July 28, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    The models and the formulae are theoritical constructs. If properly formulated, they model what should happen (assuming the theory is correct.)

    But we have had 137 years of global warming and GHG increases already (the ice core data shows CO2 at 280 ppm 137 years ago.)

    How come the feedbacks have not shown themselves already. Relative Humidity has been falling (while Specific Humidity has been mostly constant).

    Ocean temperatures and global temperatures have risen somewhat but far less than the models and the formulae predict.

    Is the lag longer? Is the theory properly constructed?

    From 137 years ago, temps have increased by 0.6C (0.7C if you smooth out the recent decline over the past year). From 30 years ago, temps have increased by 0.3C (0.4C). These figures are approximately half of the theoritical increase including if the lag in the feedbacks is 30 years.

    Hansen’s 1988 paper also show approximately double the increase which has actually occurred (temps have increased 0.3C (0.4C smoothed) since 1958.) Scenario B projected an increase of 0.85C over this period.

    At some point, we need to start using empirical data to assess whether the theoritical constructs are properly formulated.

    [Response: How easy it is to disprove global warming, when you just make up stuff. Just one example: the warming in the last 30 years is more like 0.5 deg.C.

    Those who are interested in a true comparison of observations with predictions (I doubt that you're among that group) should read this.]

    [Response 2: Your "statistics" are remarkably reminiscent of a previous claim by a poster named "John Willit," about cooling in the satellite data, which was shown to be truly idiotic with this graph from this post.

    It turns out that "Bill Illis" has exactly the same IP address as "John Willit." What a surprise!]

  • Ian // July 28, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Bill Illis, could you provide more detailed cites for your info/conclusions?

    Tamino, just trying to understand so far - what is the (average) “age” of the data that are smoothed, and, more to the point, how are newer vs. older data weighted by the function? Is the data “age” the same as the delta-t “time step”?

    [Respose: The "average age" of data smoothed by an exponential smooth is the same as the "characteristic time scale" \tau. Note that because of the factor e^{-\omega \Delta t}, the "smoothing coefficient" \beta changes as we change the "time step" \Delta t, in just such a way as to keep the "average age" constant.

    Note also that in this context, "exponential smoothing" is just a name (borrowed from statistics); what we're really doing is computing a (very precise) approximation of the exact solution to the given differential equation; by making \Delta t go to zero, we make the "exponential smooth" go to the exact solution. But it's useful to be aware that the solution for T(t) from the zero-dimensional one-component equation is mathematically identical to the exponential smooth in the limit as \Delta t goes to zero.]

  • Paul Middents // July 28, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Relative humidity falling?

    Increase in lower-stratospheric water vapour at a mid-latitude Northern Hemisphere site from 1981 to 1994

    S. J. Oltmans & D. J. Hofmann

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v374/n6518/abs/374146a0.html

    “WATER vapour in the atmosphere is the key trace gas controlling weather and climate, and plays a central role in atmospheric chemistry, influencing the heterogeneous chemical reactions that destroy stratospheric ozone. Although in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere the radiative1 and chemical2 effects of water vapour are large, there are few measurements of water-vapour concentration3–10 and its long-term variation11–13 in this region. Here we present a set of water-vapour profiles for altitudes from 9 to 27 km, obtained at Boulder, Colorado, during 1981–94, which show a significant increase in water-vapour concentration in the lower stratosphere over this time. The increase is larger, at least below about 20–25 km, than might be expected from the stratospheric oxidation of increasing concentrations of atmospheric methane14,15. The additional increase in water vapour may be linked to other climate variations, such as the observed global temperature rise in recent decades”

    Increases in middle atmospheric water vapor as observed by the Halogen Occultation Experiment and the ground-based Water Vapor Millimeter-wave Spectrometer from 1991 to 1997
    Authors:
    Nedoluha et al

    “We therefore conclude that there has been a significant increase in the amount of water vapor entering the middle atmosphere. A temperature increase of ~0.1K/yr in regions of stratosphere-troposphere exchange could increase the saturation mixing ratio of water vapor by an amount consistent with the observed increase. ”

    As my hero, Hank, would say–you can look this stuff up!”

  • Paul Middents // July 28, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Sorry, omitted the link for Nedluha:

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1998JGR…103.3531N

  • thingsbreak // July 28, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    It’s probably worth mentioning that Spencer features a pretty thoroughly debunked temperature reconstruction from Energy + Environment (Loehle 2007) on his homepage.

    He may well believe what he says, but he is quite obviously selecting data to fit his conclusion. Which shouldn’t really surprise anyone given his history of rejecting mainstream science.

  • tamino // July 28, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Hank Roberts: your latest comment was sent to the spam queue, and I accidentally hit “delete” instead of “not spam.” Please resubmit.

  • Hank Roberts // July 28, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    ok, from memory:
    at the Nedula page, don’t fail to click the link for papers that have cited this one — follow it forward in time:
    · Citations to the Article (53)
    and
    · Refereed Citations to the Article
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-data_query?bibcode=1998JGR…103.3531N&link_type=REFCIT&db_key=PHY&high=

    And looking up the claim above, I suspect it’s from the “Friends of Science” site where there’s a page on Miskolczi and Spencer making the statements about humidity (with pointers to some NASA sources for the broad statements about humidity change, but it’s a NASA page where you can generate charts by specifying details from a large database, and the details matter; I don’t know them.)

  • B Buckner // July 28, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    The atmospheric data base for water vapor is a mess, and there are no measured world wide data that support a trend relative humidity in either direction. See chapter 3 of AR4.

  • Joseph // July 28, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Ocean temperatures and global temperatures have risen somewhat but far less than the models and the formulae predict.

    What is this claim based on? If I’m reading that right, it would mean that hindcasts generally overcast. I’m pretty sure that’s mistaken.

  • David B. Benson // July 28, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Ray Pierrehumbert, in his “Climate Book” or in the co-authored CaltechWater.pdf, makes the point that relative humidity ought to remain about constant, irrespective of temperature.

    The argument is so easy that even I can reproduce it: if the relative humidity goes up, it rains more; if the relative humidity goes down, it rains less. This is a simple negative feedback.

  • Ray Ladbury // July 29, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Tamino–very timely. I believe Hank is correct in his explation of the origin of the “decreasing RH canard. Miskolczi’ minions are spewing this stuff right and left in the denialosphere–their way of trying to diminish the role of feedback. I think that in part because water vapor is so variable, denialists have identified this as one area where they can maybe find a few papers that at least seem to support some of their contentions.

  • Rattus Norvegicus // July 29, 2008 at 3:59 am

    I first saw the RH claim at Watt’s site, for what it’s worth.

  • Ted Nation // July 29, 2008 at 5:16 am

    Tamino, some weeks ago I sought a response to claims made in a Spencer co-authored paper from Realclimat. So far I haven’t seen anything that is on point. Since you are addressing a Spencer issue, I thought you might address it. Here is one of my posts on Realclimate:

    In #117 above I sought a response to a paper for which Roy Spencer was the lead author. It now appears to have also included Christy as a co-author and claimed a response of tropical cirrus clouds that should require modellers to lower sensitivity value by as much as 75%. Now Spencer is claiming that the climate science community is ignoring their results. (See “The Sloppy Science of Global Warming” posted March 20, 2008 on “Energy Tribune”).

    “By analyzing six years of data from a variety of satellites and satellite sensors, we found that when the tropical atmosphere heats up due to enhanced rainfall activity, the rain systems there produce less cirrus cloudiness, allowing more infrared energy to escape to space. The combination of enhanced solar reflection and infrared cooling by the rain systems was so strong that, if such a mechanism is acting upon the warming tendency from increasing carbon dioxide, it will reduce manmade global warming by the end of this century to a small fraction of a degree. Our results suggest a “low sensitivity” for the climate system.

    What, you might wonder, has been the media and science community response to our work? Absolute silence. No doubt the few scientists who are aware of it consider it interesting, but not relevant to global warming. You see, only the evidence that supports the theory of manmade global warming is relevant these days.”

    The paper in question appears to be,

    Article title: Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropical intraseasonal oscillations
    Published in: GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS in August, 2007.

    I don’t put a great deal of stock in what Spencer and Christy do but I would like to see some authoritative response to this paper.

    [Response: I only chose to address this work by Spencer because I think it will lead to some enlightenment about the climate system. As I said in the post, I have less and less inclination to debunk; more and more it seems to be just a waste of time, and it's a strategic mistake to let the denialist side set the agenda. So I have no plans to expound on any other work by Spencer.

    You might consider the value of ignoring it, and devoting your time to learning some *real* climate science.]

  • Hank Roberts // July 29, 2008 at 5:56 am

    > sought a response … haven’t seen anything
    > that’s on point

    It appears nobody found a “point” to comment on. Look the paper up in Scholar: “cited by 3″ — Spencer cites himself,. in two later papers, plus Heartland cites it. That’s all the interest. It hasn’t led to anything interesting.

    Compare this to another article on the same subject, one Spencer cites — but so do quite a few other scientists who found it helpful.
    http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=forward-links&doi=10.1175%2F1520-0442(2001)014%3C2129%3ATIOTEN%3E2.0.CO%3B2

    At some point all we bystanders can say is, well, nobody in the field found it interesting. Then look at Google and say, well, the denial and coal industry PR sites sure talk about it a whole lot and just about nobody else does.

    And think, well, that’s that for that.

  • dhogaza // July 29, 2008 at 6:00 am

    Well, I tried googling for Spencer’s 2007 cirrus cloud research, and indeed, the hits that come back all seem to come from the usual suspect denialist sites.

    This tells me something: it’s possible Spencer’s largely being ignored by mainstream climate scientists. It’s also possible they think he’s a bit of a kook, and it’s very possible that his past track record - the decade-old claim that UAH’s temp reconstructions (full of errors) from satellite data disproved the existence of global warming - plays a role.

    Reputation counts.

    And this doesn’t help his reputation:

    Spencer wrote in 2005, “Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied the evolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as ‘fact,’ I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism. . . . In the scientific community, I am not alone. There are many fine books out there on the subject. Curiously, most of the books are written by scientists who lost faith in evolution as adults, after they learned how to apply the analytical tools they were taught in college.”

    Note that Aguillard v. Edwards, the court case that triggered the transformation of explicitly biblical Creation Science into faux-secular Intelligent Design, was ruled on in 1989, which is less than 20 years ago.

    So Spencer’s really talking about “studying” evolution back when the alternative was known as Creationism and no effort was made to hide its affiliation with Genesis.

    Nothing wrong with faith, but when faith clouds one’s scientific judgement, one’s reputation tends to suffer …

  • Gavin's Pussycat // July 29, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Ted Nation,

    I took the trouble to read the Spencer at al. 2007 paper some time ago. It is a good and valid paper, but as I remember, there are some serious caveats to be made, one of which is mentioned in the paper itself.

    The main caveat IIRC is that tropical intraseasonal variations are not necessarily (i.e., probably not) a valid model for greenhouse forced secular change.

    Don’t remember the details though.

  • Phil B. // July 29, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Tamino, since most sunlight is absorbed in the first fifty meters of the ocean depth and with warm water being less dense than cold, isn’t a fifty meter ocean model more appropriate than a 1000 meter ocean?

  • Barton Paul Levenson // July 29, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    For one thing, a “swamp model” normally refers to a world ocean 1 meter deep, not 50 meters deep. Swamps are not generally 50 meters deep. Spencer isn’t too familiar with the models he’s critiquing.

  • Timothy Chase // July 29, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Ted Nation wrote:

    Article title: Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropical intraseasonal oscillations
    Published in: GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS in August, 2007.

    I don’t put a great deal of stock in what Spencer and Christy do but I would like to see some authoritative response to this paper.

    Nothing I say is all that “authoritative,” but briefly, Spencer is studying the Madden-Julian Oscillation as a means of determining the effects of higher temperatures upon cloud formation over the ocean. But there is only one problem: as this is an oscillation, what you are dealing with is periodic behavior which by its very nature dynamic, not static, yet you are trying to draw conclusions about what will essentially be static from it - what happens when the higher sea surface temperature forces the system to equilibrium - and the clouds that are associated with that equilibrium.

    To see the problem with this, imagine trying to calculate the relationship between the climate’s sensitivity to solar insolation - on the basis of the difference in temperature between day and night. Obviously you can’t draw a conclusion regarding the temperature that the earth would be if days were as dark as nights simply on the basis of how cold the nights are - because nights haven’t had the chance to achieve equilibrium.

  • chriscolose // July 29, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    On Watts blog concerning relative/specific humidity changes, see my post:
    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2008/06/23/is-the-atmosphere-drying-up/

    On the details of Spencer’s 2007 paper, Timothy Chase is right in that he’s looking at the MJO:

    in its winter form, the MJO starts in the warm Indian Ocean or West Pacific with clouds, convection, and rain… propagates eastward, and continues past the dateline to cooler, drier ocean regions where the clouds, convection, and rain disappear but the oscillation remains in the wind field. At this point the large-scale temperature anomaly reaches its peak as the effect of the original heating anomaly over warmer water is felt elsewhere. By calling this the peak of the MJO he’s sure to associate drying with warming, when what he’s really seeing is just a propagating wave moving to a different region of the world where the air is drier - this has nothing to do with feedback. Apples and oranges. What’s more, by only looking at ocean, he biases the summer ISO also by missing the clouds and rain that move from the Indian Ocean to south Asia when the monsoon begins.

  • conard // July 29, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Tamino,
    Looking forward to the next post on the subject.

    Dhogaza,
    Given your moniker I am sure this is a sensitive subject but why parrot others comments here? What is to be gained from this? My search on this site did not turn up comment links but I know that his beliefs on biological origins have been commented on time and time again and are of little value. Something more interesting may be inferred from the RSS / UAH pissing contest. How did Spencer react when Mears or Wentz or Prabakhara discovered an error in the UAH calcs? How did Mears react when Spencer / Christy found an error in RSS? That may tell us something more interesting and certainly much more relevant.

    An aside,
    There is a fellow a few offices down from mine that listens to Rush Limbaugh everyday. When I have questions in his field I do not hesitate to ask nor do I discount his answers but take them at full value. However, I do wish he would wear headphones …

  • Thomas // July 29, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    “Not only is water vapor a greenhouse gas itself, greater (absolute) humidity alters the lapse rate of the atmosphere, raising the surface temperature even higher.”

    Sure you didn’t get that second part backwards? Higher temperature with more water vapor ought to lower the lapse rate, and since the temperature at the tropopause is more or less fixed this effect cools the surface. (This negative feedback is still lower than the positive one from the extra IR-absorbtion).

    [Response: Right you are, my mistake; for example, Bony et al. (2006, J. Climate, 19, 3445) show that estimates of lapse-rate feedback are almost all negative, averaging about -0.7 W/m^2 per doubling of CO2.]

  • Timothy Chase // July 30, 2008 at 2:28 am

    chriscolose wrote:

    … By calling this the peak of the MJO he’s sure to associate drying with warming, when what he’s really seeing is just a propagating wave moving to a different region of the world where the air is drier - this has nothing to do with feedback…

    I think I prefer the way you put things. And incidentally, I didn’t realize that one of the big holes in Spencer’s approach was independent of feedbacks. In either case, it might be nice if you expanded your critique of the paper into a piece — if that appealed to you.

  • Richard // July 30, 2008 at 2:46 am

    I would like Dhogaza to justify the statement that the satellite dataset from UAH is full of errors. I would also like him to verify that the GISS temperature dataset is error free (that would be a complete joke!). I not he is on his usual Ad Hominem attack stance.

    Is Dhogaza suggesting that you cannot be a viable scientist and hold religious views at the same time?

  • Paul Middents // July 30, 2008 at 3:15 am

    Perhaps The Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 can provide improved water vapor data:

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=18103

  • Hank Roberts // July 30, 2008 at 4:55 am

    > UAH
    While it’s a bit old now, this is worth reading;
    it’s certainly full of corrections!

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/11/more-satellite-stuff/
    E.g.:
    [Response: You should probably stick to the RSS version. The UAH version has had so many corrections by now that, were it a palaeo record, you would be howling for its blood. I wonder if anyone has ever seen their code? - William]

  • dhogaza // July 30, 2008 at 7:02 am

    I would like Dhogaza to justify the statement that the satellite dataset from UAH is full of errors.

    Their analysis, not the raw dataset, was full of errors (note the past tense).

    For justification of my claim try google …

    I would also like him to verify that the GISS temperature dataset is error free (that would be a complete joke!).

    No dataset is error free, silly. However there’s a considerable difference between having errors that lead to relatively small error bars around a trend that matches well with trend data generated independently, and an error in analysis (as was done by UAH) that “shows” the world is cooling, not warming, while other datasets and expectations from physics and (yes) modeling efforts show warming.

    Is Dhogaza suggesting that you cannot be a viable scientist and hold religious views at the same time?

    No, I’m suggesting that someone who rejects modern biology in favor of creationism might just be allowing their religious views to color their views. And that if someone does so in one area of science, they might well do so other areas of science.

    You don’t have to reject science in order to be religious, but if your religious views cause you to reject science, your objectivity regarding science is a legitimate issue.

  • Ray Ladbury // July 30, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    At the risk of straying off topic, I think it is important to understand why creationism/ID cannot ever be considered science. By its nature, ID posits the intervention of “an intelligence”. Each intervention is in effect a parameter of the theory. Indeed, the decision by the “designer” to intervene or not is itself a parameter. In effect, the number of parameters of the “theory” is unlimited, so it has zero predictive power. (You can see this easily if you look at it in terms of Information Theory.)

    The fact that Spencer or any other ” scientist” does not comprehend this is in and of itself sufficient to make me question his understanding of science.

  • Dano // July 30, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    The fact that Spencer or any other ”scientist” does not comprehend this is in and of itself sufficient to make me question his understanding of science.

    Nah.

    He just wants to promulgate an agenda. He understands the science all right.

    Best,

    D

  • Richard // July 30, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Dhogaza,

    Are you honestly suggesting that the world is still warming at an ever increasing rate? If so, you must be in some sort of information vacuum. The satellite dataset (far more accurate than the GISS dataset) clearly shows no substantial warming since 2001. The dataset also shows no exponential warming at all and when compared with the level of CO2 increase, no provable relationship between temperature anomaly and CO2. The models are wrong Dhogaza. They are running counter to the actual global temperature changes.

    [Response: Considering that satellites don't measure lower-tropospheric temperature but only infer them from combinations of other channels, and that there are at least 4 different interpretations of how this should be done -- none of which agree, some being is dramatic disagreement with each other -- the claim that satellite estimates are "far more accurate than the GISS dataset" is ridiculous.

    Attempting to define climate trends based on data "since 2001" identifies you as a statistically naive cherry-picker.]

    What expectations from Physics do you refer to? I can’t think of any so please enlighten us.

    As for Roy Spencer, I as a biologist have no problem with his ideas on ID. Modern biology, as you put it is rapidly changing. The current paradigm of evolution is whilst in favour at the moment is not a hard and fast law and is subject to change if evidence arises that causes it to be reconsidered. He is entitled to his views and it in no way diminishes his scientific legitimacy when it comes to climate science.

    [Response: the fact that you have no problem with his ideas on "ID" rather says it all.]

  • conard // July 30, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    William,
    If you are aware of other UAH errors other than the 4 known corrections let us know. You also completely ignored the 2008 correction to the RSS calcs. Common sense suggests the use of both products– if you are swayed by appeals to authority I can provide a quote from Gavin.

    According to Dr. Christy at least one section of the UAH source code was made available for purpose of duplication. I do not pretend to know the issues surrounding public access to UAH or RSS product codes perhaps you can shed some light on the subject.

    Ray,
    Christy is a Baptist. Does that disqualify him for the same reason adherents of ID are disqualified?

  • Ray Ladbury // July 30, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Richard, Oh dear. That’s all. Just, oh dear.

  • dhogaza // July 30, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    As for Roy Spencer, I as a biologist have no problem with his ideas on ID.

    Did you mean to say “barimologist”?

    Christy is a Baptist. Does that disqualify him for the same reason adherents of ID are disqualified?

    Christy has written about how his views towards possible global warming has been shaped in large part by his religion and his experience as a missionary to Africa.

    In short, he believes that efforts to mitigate CO2 production would doom Africans to poverty forever, and that nothing should be done to stand in the way of economic growth of third-world countries.

    Does that impact his work on climate science?

    Why were he and Spencer so eager to publicize “the wooden stake in the heart of the AGW hypothesis” a decade ago, when their work on satellite temp reconstructions conflicted with the surface temp record?

    At least Christy hasn’t taken on Spencer’s role as “Rush Limbaugh’s climate science advisor”. Spencer’s having done that is yet another blow against his credibility, given Rush’s long-term record as a science denialist (all things conservation biology, for starters).

  • dhogaza // July 30, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Let me say that Christy appears to have distance himself from Spencer’s outright nuttery (the topic of these two posts by Tamino). His scientific credibility is intact, though as I pointed out to mitigate or reduce CO2 production regardless of whether or not his scientific beliefs turn out to be false.

    Spencer, though, has pretty much left the fold regarding serious science. As he himself points out, the mainstream is largely ignoring him.

    Of course he claims it’s a politically-motivated conspiracy but, no, that’s just plain silly.

  • dhogaza // July 30, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    oops something got deleted up there before I hit submit … I mean “he (christy) opposes steps to mitigate or reduce CO2 production…”

  • Hank Roberts // July 30, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    conard

    It appears you are attempting to reply to “William” but he’s not currently posting in this thread here. He is quoted in a posting I made above. His actual posting from which I quoted was in 2005 in the thread
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/11/more-satellite-stuff/

  • David B. Benson // July 30, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    For what its worth, RSS gives the same warming rate same the surface global temperatures products, which I recall as 0.19 K/decade. UAH gives 0.17 K/decade.

    Unless I slipped a decimal point. But if so its the same mistake both places.

  • Petro // July 30, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Ray, you presented a powerful way to debunk ID. Thank you!

  • conard // July 30, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Hank Roberts,
    Thank you. I saw the [Response: ...] and assumed that there was a new moderator in town. Silly mistake.

  • Hank Roberts // July 30, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Conard — you can reach him over at Stoat, and likely at RC. Here, too, sometimes.
    I guess he’d know who you are? Give us a pointer if you have or create a current summary, it’s always better to read what the researchers write than what others say someone says about them!

    And as an amateur reader, I find the researchers usually disagree far less about what their respective papers and instruments say than the commentators do (see the ‘Journalistic Whiplash’ thread at RC for much more on _that_ problem).

  • conard // July 30, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    dhogaza,
    Thanks for chiming in. You did not directly answer the question you cited. Oh well, at least I get to look forward to hearing Ray on the subject.

    Regarding Dr. Christy: You seem to acknowledge that a dilemma does or may exist and have made a choice or by other means are aligned with a view counter to Dr. Christy. Should we save a known number of people now from a grim and certain fate or save unquantified others several decades from less certain unqualified fate? Tough call. Did he really say “nothing should be done”? I got the impression he was more in line with the CCC. Hmm.

    More to the point: Does a decision or sympathy either way amount to an unethical systematic bias? As for Dr. Spencer’s I would like to see the evidence that an acceptance of ID necessitates a cold temperature bias of a few hundredths of a degree. He may be a nutter or hold nutty beliefs but A does not follow B.

    [Response: Here's my opinion: accepting ID necessitates denying overwhelming scientific evidence because of one's religious prediliction.

    I also think the "save a known number of people now from a grim and certain fate or..." is a false and misleading dichotomy.]

  • conard // July 30, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Tamino,

    On ID– I am prepared to go much further. However, A still does not follow B. On a more happy note I am glad to see that you ignore A and confront B on its own terms.

    “misleading dichotomy”: perhaps. A topic for a future article?

    [Response: Perhaps.]

  • Ray Ladbury // July 31, 2008 at 12:27 am

    Conard,
    You will notice that my argument against ID had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with science and information theory. Were I religious, I would consider the theological implications of ID at least as disturbing as its lack of scientific credibility. After all, any “designer” that would design in sickle-cell anemia as a remedy against malaria is one sadistic SOB.

    I would not venture to speculate whether Spencer’s acceptance of ID correlates with his rejection of good climate science. I would contend that a scientist who accepts ID either has a limited grasp of science or has not thought through the implications of ID.

    Petro, thanks, I realized this when I was re-perusing Akaike’s paper on his Information Criterion. I have not seen a reasonable counter argument, but that may have more to do with the fact that most IDiots don’t understand information theory.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // July 31, 2008 at 1:40 am

    I think that there’s something that is overlooked in the whole ID/evolution debate: It’s GOOD to have a competing theory.

    I don’t know enough about ID to even comment on its veracity or lack thereof. Ray make some points that seem to blow it out of the water. But even if it is completely and 100% BS I think it causes us to continually examine and fortify the prevailing evolution theory. Let the ID crowd throw stones. Evolution should be strong enough to withstand them and if it is not, then more work needs to be done.

    Ultimately, competition is good for science.

  • Richard // July 31, 2008 at 1:59 am

    Tamino,

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    I am not inferring climate on the basis of data from 2001. I specifically said there has been no warming since 2001. I also stated there has been no rapidly increasing warming throughout the whole satellite dataset (nearly 30 years which is the timescale that the IPCC define as needed for climate signature).

    To suggest that the satellite data is somehow in conflict is disingenuous. Different channels measure different atmospheric aspects. To also suggest that satellites do not measure temperature directly is also disingenuous. Such a situation certainly has not stopped the modelers from using data from indirect measurements (e.g. let’s dump the directly measured radiosonde data from the tropics and replace it with thermal windshear measurements as a “TRUER” measure of actual temperature).

    The MSU has been truthed and continues to be truthed. The instruments on board the satellite are constantly calibrated. That is far more than can be said for GISS which has somehow forgotten every rural station temperature in Australia after 1992 and managed to remember every urban station to 2008. Give me a break. Modelers are working with a seriously flawed database (GISS).

    [Response: While the satellites do measure temperature directly, the temperatures they measure are for very large sections of the atmosphere, and do NOT include the lower troposphere. Read my comment again: "satellites don't measure lower-tropospheric temperature but only infer them from combinations of other channels." The TLT "channel" is not an MSU measurement, it's an artificial construct derived from a combination of MSU channels 2 (mid-troposphere with stratospheric influence) and 4 (lower stratosphere with slight tropospheric influence). I guess you didn't know that, because it's abundantly clear that when it comes to satellite MSU measurements, you really don't know what the hell you're talking about.

    As for its showing "no rapidly increasing warming throughout the whole satellite dataset," there are at least FOUR constructions of the TLT "channel" from other channels, only the UAH analysis indicates less warming that the surface temperature (GISS) data; the RSS and UW analyses show nearly the same warming rate as GISS over the same period and the Vinnikov & Grody analysis shows MORE warming than GISS. Considering that the four constructions of TLT don't agree nearly as well as GISS, HadCRU, and NCDC surface estimates, the claim that MSU estimates of lower-troposphere temperature have been "truthed" is just your version of "truthiness."

    The only "seriously flawed database" under discussion is in your head.]

  • Richard // July 31, 2008 at 2:02 am

    As for Intelligent Design and Evolution. I am pretty agnostic on both.

  • Hank Roberts // July 31, 2008 at 5:14 am

    > examine and fortify the prevailing
    > evolution theory

    Nonsense. Good science tears at it, not fortifies it.
    Punk eek. Lateral gene transfer. Methylation.

    Sheesh. Fantasy that the IDers are helping.

  • Richard // July 31, 2008 at 5:53 am

    Well. I don’t know how you can say that the RSS data analyses track those of GISS. I have both on my wall. I am looking at them and I can say categorically that the RSS data more closely tracks the UAH data. The RSS data show no warming since 2001 and no rapidly increasing warming since the series began in 1979. Correct me if I am wrong but it is not the lower troposphere that is important in terms of global warming signatures but the mid-tropospheric region where the global warming signature would be best reflected. After all isn’t this why the tropical radiosonde data have been rejected by the “model is right and nature is wrong brigade”? It is precisely because the radiosonde data did not confirm the mid-tropospheric global warming signal that the models predicted?

    Also, you have not addressed the issue of rural station data drop-out that I previously mentioned.

    [Response: You REALLY don't know what the hell you're talking about. Not at all.

    The "signature" you talk about is enhanced mid-troposphere warming in the *tropics*, not the entire globe. The fact that you call it a signature, as though it's a crucial part of AGW, proves that you're just parroting denialist propaganda; enhanced tropical tropospheric warming is expected whatever the cause of warming, be it greenhouse gases or increased solar energy or whatever. The real "signature" of greenhouse-gas warming is stratospheric cooling, but you don't regurgitate that from your denialist sources because they don't like to talk about it -- since it's been confirmed.

    You have an annoying habit of either not paying attention to what I say, or deliberately ignoring or twisting it. I didnt' say RSS tracks GISS, I said the trend over the span of available data of RSS matches that of GISS -- which it does. But you didn't know that, because it's absolutely undeniable that when it comes to MSU estimates of lower-troposphere temperature, you don't know what the hell you're talking about. I even had to inform you that they're not actual measurements but an artificial construct from other MSU channels, and had to do so twice because the first time I did so you called me a liar.

    Your rhetoric is truly idiotic, and it's not even original -- you're just regurgitating what's on a dozen or more lame denialist websites. This blog is about making a valuable contribution to discussion of climate science. It looks like that excludes you.]

  • Richard // July 31, 2008 at 5:55 am

    sorry, mid-troposphere more important than lower troposphere in determining a global warming signal.

  • JM // July 31, 2008 at 6:27 am

    nanny_govt_sucks: “Ultimately, competition is good for science.”

    Yes it is. But the ID crowd aren’t doing any science at all. What they are doing is trying to get ID into schools.

    The are competing for the minds of children, not in the competition of ideas in the search for truth.

  • dhogaza // July 31, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Richard, I’m not surprised. Science denialism seems to be a syndrome …
    NGS:

    I think that there’s something that is overlooked in the whole ID/evolution debate: It’s GOOD to have a competing theory.

    And I’m really happy that the Flat Earth Society has kept the debate regarding the geometry of the earth alive. It’s GOOD to have a competing theory. Just think how unproductive science would become if it were allowed to ignore this important debate. And, let’s teach the earth-geometry controversy in the schools, too! 14 year old kids should get to decide for themselves, right?

    OK, enough. One reason I keep raising the ID issue is that it does serve to separate the wheat from the chaff, in some sense. It’s always useful to know just how deep one’s denial of science runs.

    When people tell me “I think ID is scientifically as plausible as modern evolutionary biology”, and then tell me, “I think climate science denialism is just as credible as climate science”, well, that’s a pattern, isn’t it?

  • Barton Paul Levenson // July 31, 2008 at 11:56 am

    nanny writes:

    I think that there’s something that is overlooked in the whole ID/evolution debate: It’s GOOD to have a competing theory.

    Except that ID isn’t a “theory” because it makes no clear predictions and implies no research program.

  • dhogaza // July 31, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Yes it is. But the ID crowd aren’t doing any science at all. What they are doing is trying to get ID into schools.

    Science denialism is never about promoting alternative hypotheses or theories within science to explain the natural world.

    Science denialism is all about protecting one’s worldview from the consequences of research, be it evolution conflicting with biblical literalism, climate science conflicting with fossil fuel profits or the political relevancy of free-market extremism, medicine conflicting with tobacco industry profits …

  • Ray Ladbury // July 31, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Nanny, It is good to have a competing SCIENTIFIC theory. ID is not a scientific theory because as I show above, it cannot make verifiable predictions. Have you considered WHY it is good for a theory to have competition? One reason is because most statistical methods are best suited to distinguishing between two competing hypotheses. Information theory tells us that we can never know which theory is correct–only which is better given our data. However, eventually, one theory is so successful that its superiority over all alternatives becomes insurmountable. {The Ptolemaic theory is dead, long live the heliocentric theory of the solar system.} This happens most rapidly when there aren’t many good theories to begin with–as was the case with theories of speciation prior to Darwin.

    A theory that posits an omnipotent or nearly omnipotent being as an active participant can not ever be a scientific theory, because said theory can never predict but only explain. On the other hand, science is entirely agnostic on the matter of how the laws of the universe originate, and so does not preclude the existence of omnipotent beings–ala Spinoza. Science might even allow said being to intervene with sufficient infrequency that said interventions could not be distinguished from chance. In my opinion it is as silly to try to apply science to the subject of deities (or the lack thereof) as it is to try to bring deities into science.

  • thingsbreak // July 31, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    I think it’s worth noting that although of late, Spencer has pushed the ID line and did the typical “I’m not saying the Designer is the Christian god” hand waving, elsewhere he explicitly states that he not only believes that the Christian God is the literal Creator of Life, the Universe, and Everything™, but that he does so based upon the scientific evidence he has examined. He also states that he has thoroughly examined the Bible and finds it to be basically without errors.

    Being religious certainly does not disqualify anyone from producing good science, but when someone goes so far as to state that they have fully vetted fairly literal religious dogma against the evidence and find it scientifically sound- as in the case of the diversity of life on Earth, or the evolution of our solar system- it raises serious questions about one’s ability to differentiate between the scientific and the supernatural. When we see the same person repeating the far right wing lie about DDT and malaria, who also happens to be member of several pro-industry, market fundamentalist think tanks, a fairly obvious pattern emerges. As I mentioned in my first post in this thread, Spencer may genuinely hold the beliefs he does, but it becomes fairly obvious that he is deliberately ignoring all evidence to the contrary and providing little if any solid evidence in favor of his own non-scientific beliefs.

  • cce // July 31, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    I created this image to show how each of the 4 major temperature analyses tracks with one another in the context of longer time scales.

    http://cce.890m.com/giss-vs-all.jpg

    The anomalies are adjusted so that the trends intersect in January 1979, so if one analysis was diverging from the others, it would become increasingly obvious as time goes on. The analysis that diverges the most is UAH. It shows some 20% less warming than RSS from 1979 to 2007.

    This is the same, except since 1979 only (trends begin at 0,0)

    http://cce.890m.com/temp-compare.jpg

    A short guide to temperature measurement issues:
    http://cce.890m.com/?page_id=17

  • Ray Ladbury // July 31, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Thingsbreak says of Spencer: “He also states that he has thoroughly examined the Bible and finds it to be basically without errors.”

    Well, there is that one little embarassing problem of equating pi to 3, but that’s only a 5% error, right?

  • nanny_govt_sucks // July 31, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Yes it is. But the ID crowd aren’t doing any science at all. What they are doing is trying to get ID into schools.

    Well, let’s be clear. They are trying to influence the government to put ID into government school books. Of course, the problem here is our “one-science-fits-all” government schools. Privatization of education is the answer - if a parent wants his kid to learn ID then they can send him to an ID school.

  • dhogaza // July 31, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    When we see the same person repeating the far right wing lie about DDT and malaria.

    Oh … he’s one of those, I didn’t know. How discouraging …

  • kevin // July 31, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    HB/Tamino: “The real “signature” of greenhouse-gas warming is stratospheric cooling, but you don’t regurgitate that from your denialist sources because they don’t like to talk about it — since it’s been confirmed.”

    I’ve seen at least one of them talking about it, at a Kiwi site called “Hot Topic.” Someone with the handle HarryTheHat has been repeatedly claiming that, among other things, there has been no stratospheric cooling since (I think ) 1994. Other posters have tried to educate HarryTheHat, to no apparent effect.

  • dhogaza // July 31, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Well, let’s be clear. They are trying to influence the government to put ID into government school books. Of course, the problem here is our “one-science-fits-all” government schools.

    No, the problem here is our “only-science-shall-be-taught-as-science” government schools.

    Get the difference?

    You have a problem with that?

    ID can be taught in public schools. However, it has to be taught honestly, for what it is, which is not science, and without promoting it as “the correct world view”. Every religion can be taught as long as the rules are followed.

    I didn’t learn poetry in high school science class. Why should I learn thinly-disguised biblical-based creation myths there?

  • nanny_govt_sucks // July 31, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    I didn’t learn poetry in high school science class. Why should I learn thinly-disguised biblical-based creation myths there?

    But what if someone WANTS to learn poetry or thinly-disguised biblical-based creation myths in their science class AND wants it taught as true science?

    Will you deny that choice to them?

    With a government curriculum that tries to satisfy everyone, someone is always left out.

  • Dano // July 31, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    But what if someone WANTS to learn poetry or thinly-disguised biblical-based creation myths in their science class AND wants it taught as true science?

    Will you deny that choice to them?

    Pfffft.

    na_gs twists himself into a contorted pretzel to maintain some semblance of ideological relevance.

    By using this supremely weak argument, na_gs also supports teaching high school physics students how to make a perpetual motion machine, and high school chemistry students how to make gold from lead.

    You’ve reached a new level of self-parody, na_gs. Step back, look at what you write when you comment, take a breath, and come back when you’re composed and lucid.

    Best,

    D

  • Phil Scadden // July 31, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    It would have to be the ultimate in consumerism to believe you have only the truth you want. This is a worrying trend - you only get news from providers that conform to your political opinions, buy your education from providers that only teach what you approve, and now only want science that is to taste. Sadly there is only one reality - even sadder, there is no way to ensure that only those who ignore it suffer the consequences of denial.

  • Barton Paul Levenson // July 31, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Ray Ladbury writes:

    Thingsbreak says of Spencer: “He also states that he has thoroughly examined the Bible and finds it to be basically without errors.”

    Well, there is that one little embarassing problem of equating pi to 3, but that’s only a 5% error, right?

    The guy writing was a political chronicler and probably didn’t know any geometry. He wasn’t trying to say anything about pi, he had probably never heard of the concept. He was trying to say how cool Solomon’s building projects were. The builders of the bronze pool probably used the Egyptian estimate of 3.16 for pi (cf the Rhynd papyrus). The chronicler gave an approximate figure. As a scribe, he wasn’t about to go out there and measure it; that was work for slaves or paid workmen.

    Read for context.

  • Barton Paul Levenson // July 31, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Nanny writes:

    Well, let’s be clear. They are trying to influence the government to put ID into government school books. Of course, the problem here is our “one-science-fits-all” government schools. Privatization of education is the answer - if a parent wants his kid to learn ID then they can send him to an ID school.

    For once we agree. Beyond a core curriculum assuring literacy and numeracy, the government’s role should be limited to providing an equal playing field through vouchers. Let fundamentalists send their kids to fundamentalist schools, Communists send theirs to Party schools, etc. The fundamentalist kids won’t be able to get work as biologists, but that’s their problem — if they really want to, they can learn biology in a real school.

  • zen // July 31, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    NGS: “But what if someone WANTS to learn poetry or thinly-disguised biblical-based creation myths in their science class AND wants it taught as true science?”

    Then I would say that person has abandoned reason, and I would worry about the society that produced such a mind.

  • David B. Benson // July 31, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Yes, there does seem to be an anti-enlightment trend since the advent of the internet.

    Maybe it was there all along but those memes had no way to spread themselves far and wide.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // July 31, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    By using this supremely weak argument, na_gs also supports teaching high school physics students how to make a perpetual motion machine, and high school chemistry students how to make gold from lead.

    What’s wrong Dano? Are you afraid that such ideas would not be naturally selected against in an ecosystem of free ideas? Do you prefer a curriculum “Intelligently Designed” by a central cadre of bureaucrats?

    I have faith in evolution, both in biology and in society. Do you?

  • Hank Roberts // July 31, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    > free ideas

    School boards. Standard tests.

    Riiiiiight.

  • Trying_to_make_sense // July 31, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Steering clear of who should design the curriculum, but addressing the evolution theme: one thing to keep in mind is that evolution is slow. Do we consider the people that were taught alchemy instead of chemistry as collateral damage?

    Btw, (1) Thanks Tamino for this series (which is quite different from the discussion that seems to have overtaken the thread). Very informative.
    (2) Thanks Lazar for the link in the open thread.

  • Ray Ladbury // July 31, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Barton, you misinterpret my intent in referring to the Bible equating pi to 3–it is only a problem if you believe the Bible is the literal, inerrant word of God. Only then is there no room for clerical error, human prejudice, human ignorance or even metaphor. If you assume that the Bible is the work of fallible humans who were products of their time, no matter how wise or even divinely inspired, the heresy of literalism is avoided. Faith can grow without having to embrace absurdity.
    I hope that you know that although I am an agnostic myself, I respect your faith.

  • Ray Ladbury // August 1, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Nanny, They can teach whatever they want–just don’t call it science , because it demonstrably is not science. Or should we start teaching Spanish in English class and Home Economics in Social Studies, too?

  • nanny_govt_sucks // August 1, 2008 at 12:47 am

    What’s your point, Hank?

  • David B. Benson // August 1, 2008 at 1:04 am

    Ray Ladbury // August 1, 2008 at 12:22 am — Humpty-Dumptyism?

  • Hank Roberts // August 1, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Nan, the notion of setting up a generation of schoolkids to learn either science or pseudoscience, then watching to see which ones survive in the economy, is about the coldest-hearted experiment I can imagine.

    Yes, it’s being done now, in some school districts and a lot of home-schooling.

    And you want to make it happen everywhere?

  • Ted Nation // August 1, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Thanks to those who responded to my request for some debunking of Spencer’s August 2007 paper. The comments on the Maden-Julian Oscillation were particularly informative.

    I was a bit taken put off by Tamino’s response but I can understand his time limitations and frustration with the garbarge that the skeptics and denialist put out. However, if we are going to do anything effective to respond to climate change, we have to engage the issue politically as well as scientifically. Those of us, such as myself, who have a good lay understanding of climate science and try to engage in political discussions to advance mitigation efforts, have a real need for sites like this one and Realclimate to provide responses to arguments based on peer reviewed scientific articles such as this one.

    I apologize if my request helped divert comments from the subject of the article.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // August 1, 2008 at 3:19 am

    Hank, we’re talking about ideas, not life or death! Get real.

  • Ian Forrester // August 1, 2008 at 5:01 am

    Hank - “Nan, the notion of setting up a generation of schoolkids to learn either science or pseudoscience, then watching to see which ones survive in the economy, is about the coldest-hearted experiment I can imagine”.

    Yes, but the pseudoscience ones would all get jobs in politics :-)

  • dhogaza // August 1, 2008 at 5:45 am

    This is a great thread, NGS finally exposed, naked for view.

    But what if someone WANTS to learn poetry or thinly-disguised biblical-based creation myths in their science class AND wants it taught as true science?

    Will you deny that choice to them?

    Yes, happily.

    Hank, we’re talking about ideas, not life or death! Get real.

    This is the stupidest rationale for teaching kids that 2+2=5 and all science is wrong that I’ve *ever* heard of.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // August 1, 2008 at 6:51 am

    Will you deny that choice to them?

    Yes, happily.

    Even if that meant using force? Seriously, will you point a gun to someone’s head and say “you must not learn what you want to learn”?

    [Response: You're being ridiculous. The discussion was about teaching creationism in public schools as though it were science. NOT about forcing people at gunpoint not to learn creationism, not even in their own homes.

    Not that either has anything to do with the thread topic.]

  • Lazar // August 1, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Nags,

    Hank, we’re talking about ideas, not life or death!

    It is about life and death.
    The life of the child, and the rights of the child.
    A society is decadent beyond belief that allows ‘guardians’ to ruin the future of their care. That is simple neglect not much different from malnutrition. Production is increasingly automated, remaining real work is highly specialized and the market is extremely competetive. Society protects the weak of its members through government law, that includes the rights of children to decent education. Once a child understands what the options are and entail, then if they choose to study ID or any other nonsense that ought to be their choice.

  • Barton Paul Levenson // August 1, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Ray,

    No problem. I didn’t really think you were mounting some kind of anti-theist or anti-Christian attack. I’m just used to seeing the “Bible says pi = 3″ meme all over the internet, and I’ve gotten into the habit of correcting wherever I see it. You’re right about literalism, of course.

  • steven mosher // August 1, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    How did Tamino’s splendid takedown of Spencer Folly turn into a food fight about the utterly inane theory of ID?

    Ah yes, Dr. Digression Dehog riding his hobby horse.

    Tamino, I don’t know what you think about CA.
    I don’t care ( not in a mean way ) but one rule SteveMc has is no discussion of evolution or religion. discussions about science get heated enough . yes I am guilty of throwing more than my share of burning bags of poop. But I think
    that digressing into discussions about evolution is actually counter productive. Let me put it this way, If I took a discussion about global warming and turned it into a discussion about the accuracy of the temperature record, people could make a claim that I was distracting people from the real issue. So now this discussion of Spencers errors has turned into a mosh pit about ID.

    Dehog. you and I don’t get along. We don’t see eye to eye. That’s ok. In real life we might. but when you divert the discussion about spencer’s climate science mistakes into a discussion about his other mistaken beliefs, you actually do harm to your cause.

    hank, can you help here?

    [Response: I agree. The discussion of ID, and of public-school science education, may be interesting and important but it's off topic. So: please no more.]

  • dhogaza // August 1, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Dehog. you and I don’t get along. We don’t see eye to eye. That’s ok. In real life we might.

    Nah, I don’t take to people who put forward unsubstantiated claims of scientific fraud in person, either.

    but when you divert the discussion about spencer’s climate science mistakes into a discussion about his other mistaken beliefs, you actually do harm to your cause.

    It wasn’t my intent to derail it.

    I stand by my belief that Spencer’s belief in creationism and (as mentioned by another poster above) DDT mythology *is* relevant to his credibility as a climate scientist.

    No more, no less.

    I can’t say I’m surprised that certain other people here who deny climate science also appear to deny modern biology, but it wasn’t my intent to start a discussion about it.

    BTW I’m fully sympathetic to McIntyre’s not allowing discussion of evolution on CA.

    Because the number of regulars there who deny modern biology might well be embarrassingly high and not at all helpful in his effort to present denialism as credible scientific skepticism.

    But I doubt that very likely motive has never crossed your mind, has it?

    Is the impact of creationism, DDT denialism, tobacco smoke harmfulness denialism, etc on the credibility of one or more players in the debate not relevant?

    Believe me, if Hansen wrote that he’s “studied the data and has come to the firm conclusion that HIV does not cause AIDS”, his scientific credibility would be severely shaken.

    And McIntyre and the like would be among the first sharks attracted to the blood in the water …

    For an example, Lynn Margulis gained a lot of fame due to who work on endosymbiosis, in particular regarding mitochondria.

    Do you think her HIV/AIDS denialism has no impact on her credibility when her fellow biologists are introduced to some of her far-out ideas regarding symbiosis and evolution?

    [Response: Everybody's had a fair chance to air their viewpoint of creationism and Spencer's attachment to religiously-based "scientific" beliefs. So: no more discussion in this thread about that, or about HIV/DDT/whatever.]

  • steven mosher // August 3, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    here’s one for folks to chew on.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-poi-pachauri_thinkaug03,0,6989806.story

    I’m gonna handle my carbon footprint in my next lifetime.

    Hmm. Seems this idiot ( ok IPCC guy ) thinks he can handle his carbon footprint over many lifetimes. Sounds good to me. Groundhog day!

    So, lets apply dehog logic here to this mans beliefs. Believes in reicarnation believes in global warming. What to conclude? Dehog logic using spencer as an example? idiot on one account, idiot on the second count.

    Discuss. should be fun

  • steven mosher // August 3, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Dehog

    I apologized for my bad metaphor within minutes of making it. I apoligized here repeatedly. The same way Dr. Hansen apologized for his bad coal car metaphor. Your willingness to accept his apology and denial of mine, speaks volumes about your openness to dialog. I don’t wish to fight you here, especially when tamino is trying to make substantial contributions to a fair and open dialog. So, respecting him, I will stand down.

    have the last word if you like.

  • dhogaza // August 4, 2008 at 5:32 am

    So, lets apply dehog logic here to this mans beliefs. Believes in reicarnation believes in global warming. What to conclude? Dehog logic using spencer as an example? idiot on one account, idiot on the second count.

    Except I’ve already pointed out I don’t equate Christy with Spencer, and Christy is an avowed conservative, fundamentalist Southern Baptist whose *political* views are partially shaped by his experiences as having been a missionary to Africa (he has explained this in writing).

    It is obvious, though, that he works to separate his religious and political views from his science. Some might argue as to whether or not he’s entirely successful at this, but he clearly works at it.

    My evaluation of Spencer is based on his apparent departure from science in regard to climate issues, and his willing dishonesty in that regard. I look at his creationist beliefs as being supporting evidence that he’s willing to ignore scientific evidence that conflicts with his religious beleifs.

    So in regard to this “IPCC dude” you mention, I lack data. If I saw evidence that his belief in reincarnation woo also permeates his objectivity regarding climate science then, yes, I would say this undermines his credibility, too, and I would have no problem saying why it does so.

    But I’d want to see such evidence, first, as I have in Spencer’s case.

    Of course neither case speaks to the credibility of climate science per se, nor to others involved. Spencer’s beliefs have nothing to do with McIntyre’s dishonesty, for instance.

  • steven mosher // August 5, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Well, dehog, Then I’ll just say that I’ll fight warming in my next lifetime, like the good scientist Pachauri suggests he will do. Hey, he’s the IPCC, if it works for him it works for me.

    I believe the moon is made of green cheese. I also
    believe that 2 + 2 =4. The dehog conjecture WRT to Spencer is that one wrong belief in one area of science translates or “teleconnects” to wrong beliefs in another area of science.

    The dehog conjecture, wrong about evolution therefore wrong about climate, has no empirical evidence.

    Hank? go find us a study

    In point of fact dehog, Spencer is likely wrong about both. These errors may be connected, they may not. Bristlecone brain. maybe the two are connected. But you havent established that. You’ve merely speculated.

    I could also speculate. I could speculate that people who believe in reincarnation, Like Pachauri, are demented. And so I should Reject what they say about science. How could I trust anyone who believes it will take him 6 lifetimes
    to erase his carbon footprint.

    Oh.. wait.. That sounds like the perfect delayer plan. Groundhog day. Bring on Bill Murray.

    And so, now comes the question. If my religion or my moral code allows me to delay action on global warming what does dehog say?

    Pachuari’s religion allows him to believe that he’s got multiple lifetimes to get carbon neutral.

    We should ban that religion. Or charge them an extra heavy carbon tax

  • dhogaza // August 5, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Mosher:

    The dehog conjecture, wrong about evolution therefore wrong about climate, has no empirical evidence.

    Me, earlier:

    My evaluation of Spencer is based on his apparent departure from science in regard to climate issues, and his willing dishonesty in that regard. I look at his creationist beliefs as being supporting evidence…

    Mosher’s acting just like a denialist, bringing a strawman and a match to a debate.

  • dhogaza // August 5, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    So, respecting him, I will stand down.

    have the last word if you like.

    And, like so many other denialists, a man of his word …

  • luminous beauty // August 5, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Mosh,

    The difference between Pachauri and Spencer is Pachauri is making a joke about his native religious tradition and Spencer’s religious beliefs are a joke.

    Likewise, you are more a joke than the joker you think yourself to be.

    If you want to be taken seriously, it isn’t enough to merely apologize for just the most egregious of your multitudinous mis-statements, but show a determined willingness to reform your thinking from its demonstrated affinity for phony propaganda.

    How about it? When will it be Truth or Consequences time for Mosh?

  • dhogaza // August 5, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    The difference between Pachauri and Spencer is Pachauri is making a joke about his native religious tradition…

    In other words, Mosher scammed me because I took him at his word, when he posted that Pachauri really believes what Mosher said.

    Bad on me. Trust Mosher … bad idea.

  • Ray Ladbury // August 5, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Not to flog the ID horse, but Steve, wouldn’t you agree that the scientific judgment of someone who does not perceive that ID can never be a scientific theory would have to be considered suspect at least? At least reincarnation and other religious beliefs are mooted to manifest beyond the physical realm.

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