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Award winning Peter Boyer attacks Myron Ebell — but who has an open mind, and who is in denial?

Posted By Jo Nova On November 18, 2016 @ 5:25 pm In Global Warming,Media-matters,Science Communication | Comments Disabled

Peter Boyer seems to think Myron Ebell owes him an apology, but it’s the other way around. And Boyer ought say sorry to his readers.

“Science Communication” is a pretty dismal, immature profession. It’s so bad that an award-winning science communicator can talk about  “blunt denial” even while denying basic tenets of logic and appearing to have done almost no research on the global warming debate. If he was ever taught the basics of reasoning, like “correlation is not causation” or “all models are wrong but some are useful,” he’s long forgotten them. What’s an Order of Australia worth these days? Apparently not much.

If he had the open mind he talks about, he might have bothered to read the skeptical sites before he wrote an article. We’d have provided all the evidence an open mind could need to know that Myron Ebell is right on the money. So here Peter, with all due respect, is the red pill — the stuff the UNSW profs of climate crisis won’t tell you even if you dared to ask them.

Talking Point: Keeping an open mind in climate of blunt denial

Missing energy, IPCC, Climate models. Cartoon.Peter Boyer

Asked in 2012 what he would do if he found he was wrong about climate change, [Myron] Ebell said he would say sorry and try to undo policies he had supported. Since then we have had the two warmest years on record, with 2016 all but certain to be the third in a row.

Seriously, is that it? Two record El Nino years in 130 is “evidence” that something has warmed us in the last 130 years? But all forms of warming cause, er, warming. Two warm years tell us nothing about the cause. Keep an open mind — and think about the nearest monster nuclear reactor, eight minutes away as the photon flies, that is 300,000 times bigger than Earth. Did you know that all the government funded climate models assume that the solar magnetic field, the changing UV spectrum, cosmic rays, and the solar wind have zero effect on our climate, and definitely don’t change our cloud cover, yet solar activity was at a record high in the later half of the 20th century, and that it is a not a bad predictor of global temperature on Earth? Read here about the seven ways the sun could affect cloud cover on Earth. At least one climate modeler knows how to do proper Fourier transforms, create real models, and gross and obvious architecture errors. Not that he can get a government grant for that.

Moreover solar activity correlates with everything from jet streams in the Atlantic, to floods in Europe,  groundwater recharge rates in China, Asian and Australian rainfall, wind and rain in Chile,  etc. etc. etc.. Solar activity correlates with the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, but Co2 does not. Co2 has been essentially constant since the last ice age, ten thousand years ago, yet the world has warmed and cooled a couple of degrees several times since then.

But how can extra CO2 not make much difference?

CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and it does absorb infra-red radiation. If Earth had no water, extra CO2 might warm us, but the heat trapped by CO2 likely just reroutes out through water vapor molecules. We are The Water Planet. The extra energy just finds another way to escape to space, probably through humidity in the upper troposphere. That’s why adding CO2 doesn’t matter — except to hungry people who like more food, and Greens who like more greenery.

We are carbon life forms, so what is not to like about carbon? Burn oil to feed the world, but don’t burn oil to make  the planet warmer — it doesn’t work.

Not only is correlation not causation, but the correlation is lousy anyway

The rate of warming on Earth, according to climate guru Phil Jones in the UK East Anglia CRU, was just the same in the 1870s as it was at its peak in the last forty years. All that coal that was burnt after World War II and there is nothing to show for it. Thirty percent of all human emissions have had no effect at all on the climate. The warming started around 1700, and it has just kept going (see 120 proxies and 6,000 boreholes). CO2 is irrelevant.

Phil Jones, BBC, UK, East Anglia CRU, rate of global warming, graph.

Hadley Global Temperature Graph with Phil Jones trends annotated on top.

GISP ice core data.

Just another 20 warm peaks the current models can’t explain.

Here’s just one study, of a thousand I could name: Rosenthal et al found that the waters around Indonesia were a bit warmer 1,000 years ago and an eye-popping two whole degrees warmer 8,000 years ago. Another group found it was also two degrees warmer near Peru. Somehow the Great Barrier Reef survived. We are panicking over the statistically insignificant ocean warming today of a whole fifth of a degree over fifty years, but all indications suggest it was just as warm 1000 years ago, and zero, none, not one of the fantastico Global Coupled Atmospheric and Oceanic Models can tell you why that was. Thirty billion dollars in climate research has given us International Grade Ignorance. Failure this complete in any modern science is a rare thing.

There has been 65 million years of climate variations and current expert models can’t explain 64,999,950 years of it (and I’m being generous about the last 50).

Skeptics won the science debate years ago:

Over those four years the science supporting a climate crisis has only strengthened, underlined in a research paper about unmitigated emissions — the scenario envisaged by Ebell and Trump — published the day after the election in the journal Science Advances.

The evidence in favour of skeptics was already definitive before 2012 and each year things get better for us. Skeptics won the science debate years ago, but no one seems to know that — thanks to lazy science writers with closed minds, and to gutless professors who won’t debate skeptics in public because they know what will happen. By 2003 the ice core data showed that CO2 levels lagged behind temperature by hundreds of years, and even climate scientists stopped arguing with that (they just started pretending it didn’t matter).  By 2006 the top group in the the US climate science program published graphs [iii] showing that the main feedback in climate models — which has more effect that CO2 does in the climate models — was utterly completely wrong, and twenty eight million radiosondes showed that the central assumption about water vapor was a pathetically bad guess that washed out totally when tested: yellow is not red, there is no missing hot spot, and no amount of fidgideling the results, or faking the color scale on graphs would make it so. The only climate model that predicts the current warm period correctly with no hot spot uses solar factors to explain the Earth’s temperature, not CO2. Bummer eh? I have a tutorial for science writers about the ocean heat content here. I will bet you have never asked your favourite scientists those questions. If you would like some help with hot spot questions, just ask. I’m all yours.


Missing hot spot. Climate Models predictions fail.

Yellow is not red. Observations don’t fit the predictions. Twenty eight million radiosondes disagree with twenty eight million climate models.


The US-German study found the impact of greenhouse gases on temperature grows as Earth’s surface warms. Its modelling showed “business as usual” emissions warming the planet between 4.78C and 7.36C — far above previous calculations of a 4.8C maximum.

So that model you cite is even more wrong than 98% of all the other models which predicted less warming and still failed the “pause” test. “Congrats”.

The “better” models Boyer doesn’t cite are still tragic failures: they not only fail on global scales, but on regional, local, short term[1] [2], polar[3], and upper tropospheric scales[4] [5]too. They fail on humidity[6], rainfall[7], drought[8] and they fail on clouds[9].

Give me five variables, one model and a million dollars, and I can predict any number from 10 down to 10 up. What would you like? Just don’t ask me about model validation (and definitely don’t ask the modelers at UNSW about it). Climate scientists stopped mentioning the word “validation” decades ago.

Do tell, is that evidence that matters or ideology?

None of the above matters to Ebell. It is not scientific evidence that moves him, but ideology. There has been no apology from him, but plenty of spin.

 Exactly. Does any of the above matter to Peter Boyer? Is his view based on evidence or ideology?

Unskeptical Scientist. Skeptical Scientist. Badge. Cartoon.Yet Trump might not prove the ogre many of us envisage. His motivators are neither evidence nor ideology, but the art of the deal. We are used to thinking of pre-election statements as promises to be kept or broken, but Trump treats them as bargaining positions. Perhaps climate is another one.

Maybe all political establishments need a Trump shock now and again, as a reminder not to take power for granted. Maybe this political novice with a short attention span and a distrust of all things intellectual will prove an antidote to the toxic ideologies that have dogged us so long.

The reckless appointment of Ebell to the Trump team need not be the whole story.

Ebell could be the best thing to happen to environmental science in 50 years. As a skeptical scientist, I’m thrilled. Unskeptical scientists aren’t so happy, but who wants to be an Oxymoron for the Climate?

At least Boyer is right about Hillary’s best moment — this was it:

Hillary Clinton’s best moment was her election-night advice to keep an open mind on Trump, and that is what I intend to do. Because right now the alternative is too awful to contemplate.

Peter Boyer began his journalism career at the Mercury in the 1960s. In 2014 he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to science communication.

Dear Peter, you’ve been in this game long enough to spot groupthink and government strangled science. Open your mind, and look at the evidence.

Science is in a rut, a hole, and being abused and exploited by a trillion dollar industry, and we need real science communicators to help shake it out. You will however, lose lots of friends with ideologues, not get any awards, face exile, namecalling, threats to be sacked, evicted, blackballed,   terminated, punished, vilified and generally get bullied, not to mention government funded fun aimed at blowing up your kids (as a joke), as well as songs and plays about killing people like you,  and in some cases, talk of a RICO investigation. So I’ll understand if you don’t want to play, but you don’t have to feed the fake crisis with unresearched pop psychology. Thanks.

REFERENCES — for another 100 or so see here.

[1] Anagnostopoulos, G. G., D. Koutsoyiannis, A. Christofides, A. Efstratiadis, and N. Mamassis, (2010). A comparison of local and aggregated climate model outputs with observed data’, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 55: 7, 1094 — 1110 [PDF]

[2] Koutsoyiannis, D., Efstratiadis, A., Mamassis, N. & Christofides, A.(2008) On the credibility of  climate predictions. Hydrol. Sci. J. 53(4), 671–684. changes [PDF]

[3] Previdi, M. and Polvani, L. M. (2014), Climate system response to stratospheric ozone depletion and recovery. Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc.. doi: 10.1002/qj.233

[4] Christy J.R., Herman, B., Pielke, Sr., R, 3, Klotzbach, P., McNide, R.T., Hnilo J.J., Spencer R.W., Chase, T. and Douglass, D: (2010) What Do Observational Datasets Say about Modeled Tropospheric Temperature Trends since 1979? Remote Sensing 2010, 2, 2148-2169; doi:10.3390/rs2092148 [PDF]

[5] Fu, Q, Manabe, S., and Johanson, C. (2011) On the warming in the tropical upper troposphere: Models vs observations, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 38, L15704, doi:10.1029/2011GL048101, 2011 [PDF] [Discussion]

[6] Paltridge, G., Arking, A., Pook, M., 2009. Trends in middle- and upper-level tropospheric humidity from NCEP reanalysis data. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Volume 98, Numbers 3-4, pp. 351-35). [PDF]

[7] See 1 Anagnostopolous 2010

[8] Sheffield, Wood & Roderick (2012) Little change in global drought over the past 60 years, Letter Nature, vol 491, 437

[9] Miller, M., Ghate, V., Zahn, R., (2012) The Radiation Budget of the West African Sahel 1 and its Controls: A Perspective from 2 Observations and Global Climate Models. in press Journal of Climate [abstract] [PDF]

____ (Sorry about the numbering shift. Anyone want to pay for an editor to help me?)

[i]  IPCC, Assessment Report 4, (2007), Working Group 1, The Physical Science Basis, Chapter 8. Fig 8.14 [PDF] Page 631 (Explains why Water vapor matters).

[ii] NOAA Satellite and Information Service, Integrated Global Radiosonde Archive, Data Coverage. June 8th 2010. [Link]

[iii]  Karl et al (2006), Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) 2006 Report, Chapter 1, 1958-1999. Synthesis and Assessment Report 1.1, 2006, CCSP, Chapter 1, p 25, based on Santer et al. 2000; [PDF]

[iv]  Karl et al (2006) Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) 2006 Report, Chapter 5, part E of Figure 5.7 in section 5.5 on page 116 [PDF]

[v]  Douglass, D.H., J.R. Christy, B.D. Pearson, and S.F. Singer. (2007). A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions. International Journal of Climatology, Volume 28, Issue 13, pp. 1693-1701, December 2007.  [Abstract] [PDF]

[vi]  Santer, B. D., P. W. Thorne, L. Haimberger, K. E Taylor, T. M Wigley,. L. Lanzante, J. R. Solomon, M. Free, P. J Gleckler, P. D. Jones, T. R Karl, S. A. Klein, C. Mears, D. Nychka, G. A. Schmidt, S. C. Sherwood and F. J. Wentz (2008), Consistency of modelled and observed temperature trends in the tropical troposphere. International Journal of Climatology, 28: 1703–1722. doi: 10.1002/joc.1756 [Abstract] [PDF]

[vii]  McKitrick, R., S. McIntyre, and C. Herman, (2010), Panel and multivariate methods for tests of trend equivalence in climate data series. Atmospheric Science Letters, 11: 270–277.  DOI: 10.1002/asl.290. Data/code archive. [Discussion on JoNova] [PDF]

[viii] McKitrick, R., McIntyre, S., and Herman, C. (2011) Corrigendum to Panel and multivariate methods for tests of trend equivalence in climate data series, Atmospheric Science Letters,  Vol. 11, Issue 4, 270–277. DOI: 10.1002/asl.360. [Abstract]  [See McKitricks page on model testing].

[ix]  Christy J.R., Herman, B., Pielke, Sr., R, 3, Klotzbach, P., McNide, R.T., Hnilo J.J., Spencer R.W., Chase, T. and Douglass, D: (2010)  What Do Observational Datasets Say about Modeled Tropospheric Temperature Trends since 1979? Remote Sensing 2010, 2, 2148-2169; doi:10.3390/rs2092148 [PDF]

[xi]   McKitrick, R. and Vogelsang, T. J. (2011), Multivariate trend comparisons between autocorrelated climate series with general trend regressors, Department of Economics, University of Guelph. [PDF]

[xii]  Stockwell, David R. B. and Cox, A. (2009), Structural break models of climatic regime-shifts: claims and forecasts, Cornell University Library, arXiv10907.1650 [PDF]

Still not enough?  See the NIPCC report with maybe four thousand more references.

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