I thought the Reg was anti-climate change, this seems to support it? An editorial error perhaps?
In the ongoing debate over climate change, it's at times a good idea to check in with historial predictions made by climate modelers and see how well they have been able to predict global warming – which is exactly what a pair of researchers at the Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut (KNMI) have done. Geert Jan van …
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Really? You must skim-read the Orlowski and Lewis stories. They debate every single point, and plenty of stories have taken the stance that the world is not warming (they wouldn't shut up about the hockey-stick a year ago) or that the world isn't warming as fast as they say. Others, to be sure, have taken contrary positions such as "the world is warming; so what" and "the world is warming; but it's not our fault".
In fact it would appear that their precise position depends on which counter-consensus research they've picked up that week, and the only general theme running through their work is "throw as much mud as possible because some may stick", and basic grass-roots contrarianism.
Rufus: you are clearly very confused - I don't think anyone is arguing that things taking on human form (anthropomorphic) causes climate change. Rather the argument is about human beings causing (anthropogenic) climate change.
On this point this review of the predictive value earlier models based on the premise that CO2 is a climate change driver is yet another convincing straw breaking the pseudo-scientific back of the deniers.
The Register does not impose editorial bias on her writers. Some of us disagree with others, especially as pertains to the interpretation of scientific evidence, the importance of overwhelming scientific consensus and the importance of (and requisite standards for) evidence-based legislation.
I suspect that if you trawl through the search history on this site, you will find examples of articles that present "just the facts, ma'am," with no discernable slant. You will also find articles that question the existence of climate change, the anthropogenic nature of it as well as those that accept the judgement of the IPCC on the matter and go on to discuss mitigation or consequences.
Say what you will about El Reg, but she lets her hacks speak their piece. I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way.
While an editorial bias may not be imposed, there's some deliberately inflammatory churning, viz. some recent headlines <http://search.theregister.co.uk/?q=orlowski&results_per_page=20&sort=date&site=&psite=0&page=1>
Nature ISN'T fragile nor a bossy mother-in-law - top eco boffin
Comment Get rid of hippies, save the planet
EXTREME weather blown away from unexpected direction
Comment Give us back our doom, plead hippies
Which is why I'll skip anything AGM-slanted by Messrs. Page and Orlowski (and pretty well everything by the latter as well, as he wasted his credibility for no apparent gain).
I don't like my chain being jerked. I'm not stupid, I want facts and informed commentary that might provide useful insight (I find slashdot commenters very good at this), not playground level us-V-them prattery.
This article is an interesting exception, though I'm not buying the 'good match' conclusion without lots more data (even though I am very concerned about AGM).
Casting some of us as hippies ... oh please.
Of course there's some pieces with "with no discernable slant", but for some subjects, fewer of them.
Sure; that's fair enough. But Rik, Iain, Bird-Aine, Anna, Simon, Phil and above all Richard have done absolutely bang up jobs. Richard and Iain I want to single our for special praise: they make me proud to write for The Register. The science reporting they provide is absolutely top notch, going head-to-head with Nobel Intent, Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones or any of the other major online science news sources.
I just can’t see any complaints of bias as valid, when I start looking at the actual body of work represented here. Individual authors may have their own individual takes on the matter. Who among us doesn’t have a given viewpoint?
But when I look at the past 6 months worth of Science reporting at The Register, I feel the overall quality has gone up significantly. And it continues to rise as people like Rik develop more contacts within the scientific community and gain ever more experience reporting on these difficult and complicated topics.
I think you’ll find a lot more good science reporting than past experiences have led you to expect. Even on the climate change topics.
I can’t and won’t attempt to “defend” this that or the next thing; offensiveness – like faith, truth and beauty – are ultimately in the eye of the beholder. But I will say this: by my very cynical and difficult-to-please standards, there is a far more excellent than questionable when it comes to El Reg’s science reporting.
That’s just my $0.02, of course. My opinions are mine and mine alone. In no way do my personal opinions represent El Reg, scientists, commenttards, cats, the beer icon, or sane/insane/differently sane/orthogonal individuals anywhere.
Actually us global warming "deniers" are more likely to point out that there are a number of falsifications of AGW out there already, such as the lack of stratospheric cooling, the lack of tropospheric hotspot, the fact that CO2 and temperature don't correlate over significant timescales, the fact that the models can't hindcast (they are tuned to roughly correlate with the late 20th century and are incapable of producing anything that resembles historic temperatures), the fact that most all the models miss at least one of the major warming and cooling events of the 20th century (To hide this they use an ensemble mean, which is pointless; averaging a bunch of wrong answers doesn't magically produce a right answer) don't account for clouds, don't account for changes in TSI, don't properly model dust and are generally useless as a result, and the fact that this "prediction" is essentially just a straight line over a thirty year period.
And this is before we get into the serious doubts over the temperature data and repeated, documented adjustments that lower the temperatures in the past to make the present look warmer.
All the things I listed do falsify AGW. The tropospheric hotspot is mentioned as a predicted effect of AGW in the IPCC reports but it has not appeared at all. In fact, the upper troposphre where the hotspot is supposed to be has barely changed its temperature. If a theory makes a prediction and the opposite occurs, the theory is wrong.
The fact that CO2 and temperature don't correlate over the long term is in itself a huge falsification of AGW as it demonstrates there's no direct relationship between CO2 and temperature - if there's no relationship, there is no effect and no problem.
It only takes one of these things to demonstrate that AGW is wrong. We have two right there. There are plenty of others out there.
And on the subject of ensemble means: Weather forecasts average several runs of a single model, not several runs of several models. Given that a single model will tend to produce similar results with each run it is more likely to be "right" when you average it, but only for a given value of "right". After more than 3 days they are not very right at all and all the averaging in the world won't change that. You can get you position on a map "right" if you make a bunch of random dots and take the average to be where you are, but it's only "right" within a huge margin of error and if you start moving (changing over time as temperature does) the margin of error becomes so wide that it's functionally useless.
The ensemble mean of GCMs takes the averaged outcomes of several different models and averages them again. Given that each of these models does indeed miss out one or more major warming or cooling events in the 20th century, taking average of the averages of each models runs is also going to have such a wide margin of error as to be functionally useless. Each model gets it "right" in a very wide margin of error. The average get it "right" in an even wider margin of error. given we're talking about 10ths of a degree changes in temperature, and given these models diverge more than that from each other, taking the average seems to be a rather pointless exercise.
" The tropospheric hotspot is mentioned as a predicted effect of AGW in the IPCC reports but it has not appeared at all."
It's not a predicted effect of AGW. It's a predicted effect of warming fullstop. Even if the warming is caused by the Sun a hotspot is expected. The lack of a hotspot would not rule out any cause of warming, eg AGW.
It isn't a literal "hotspot" that has to "appear" anyway, it's that the warming trend in air temperature over the tropics is expected to be greater than near the surface.
Going back decades the tropics is one of the most ill sampled area of the world and the uncertainty is massive. I notice you berate temperature data in your earlier comment. To be consistent you should admit the tropics surface and atmospheric balloon temperature measurements are highly uncertain and so you cannot conclude the hotspot isn't there.
"The fact that CO2 and temperature don't correlate over the long term is in itself a huge falsification of AGW"
They do though. Over the ice core records CO2 and temperature do correlate. Over distant geological time CO2 and temperature again correlate - if you take into account the Sun was significantly fainter in the past. In fact one study used the CO2/temperature correlation over hundreds of millions of years to derive climate sensitivity and found it was about 3C, just as the models also find.
Very good, I see what you did there. The thing is that it's the deniers who add the epicycles, it's the scientific establishment (including pretty much all the actual specialists in the field) who keep pointing out when they're wrong. What you did do, however, is show up a classic denier "discussion" technique - say that the other side don't know what they're talking about, then keep saying it, someone will believe you in the end. I'd also throw in a bit of keep making the same argument again and again regardless of it being debunked.
Graham, weather forecasting is done using an ensemble mean. It turns out that actually putting together a bunch of "wrong" answers does get a "right" answer. There's all like maths and stuff behind it, too. That's why they can now forecast reasonably well over 5 days.
But keep up with the binary thinking! You can go on to "disprove" evolution and even gravity that way!
I can't be bothered with dealing with everything you wrote, I'll pick one:
Models are run from points in history forward (sort of like hindcasting, but actually predicting the "future" from the past). The models aren't designed to run backwards, why would they be?
Cohort tests are run.
These models can "predict" what happened in the past based on a starting point further in the past.
My dear Graham, are you seriously suggesting that changing the atmospheric concentration of a known greenhouse gas from 260-280 to 380 ppm, and counting, will NOT increase temperature?
I mean, that is the basic position of the global warming doubters, innit? Basic high school level science taught to us over decades about how atmospheres retain heat. Everybody went along with that theory. Only now are the implications problematic and have a political and economic dimension.
As far as your brilliant argument goes, how about a simpler one?
If you pick up a number of different temperature prediction studies done in the past, you are bound to find some that fit well. So, judging solely from the contents of this article, it is hard to determine the significance of this prediction. You'd have to know how many other models there were and what they had to say.
Honestly, I wouldn't mind if the whole global warming thingy was a hoax. But I am not going to judge science based on my political outlook or personal consumption preferences. Right now, the main thing that gives me pause with the general scientific consensus is that there is a lot of money on the table for scientists to research global warming, which could tempt fudging.
If you, and a minority of scientists, are right, we have public policy being subverted, freewill limited and economic growth stifled. All for naught.
If you are wrong, we could have major ecological shifts in a much shorter time period than organisms will be likely be able to adapt to. Possibly famine and even positive feedback loops.
It's a question of value at risk and probabilities - you don't make a compelling case for me, but each voter has to make up her own mind. I think we are getting there, slowly.
Different reporters have different views on the topic. The Register itself is (or tries to be) neutral.
Don't equate Andrew Orlowski or Lewis Page with the entity that is known as "The Register". They are not the same thing.
Interesting article though. My personal stance boils down to "insufficient data" as the media fog has not yet thinned sufficiently for me to make a decision. (I'd get a Ph.D. in the topic myself, but time—like life—is short. The news media's job should be to inform and educate, but they've lost the trust of many, including myself. A surfeit of circuses, but insufficient bread.)
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Unfortunately on this topic the truth is hard to find. There are many who guarantee their words are true, unfortunately there are many and their reports are contradictory. Some offer consensus, which, if you'll remember the Spanish Inquisition, is an unlikely way to do science.
This is an issue with more heat than light. I'll go ahead and promote my own prediction: this isn't going to change.
..that the human animal seems to be the only specie hell bent on screwing itself into the ground over this contentious & self imposed issue, whilst all other existing flora & fauna on this planet will (if there is indeed a grain of genuine wisdom amongst the current paper-waving, panic-peddling & chest-beating) simply adapt.
For me, there's entirely too much money & politics in the whole climate change shooting match for anything sane or useful to arise out of it. In fact, I'm reminded of a line from a George Carlin routine many years ago - "...don't worry about the planet - the planet is fine ... the PEOPLE are fucked!"
"the human animal seems to be the only species hell bent on screwing itself into the ground over this contentious & self imposed issue, whilst all other existing flora & fauna on this planet will [...] simply adapt"
Well, yes, but "simply adapting" will often mean going extinct. :-)
Of course, that is the way of evolution: as the environment changes, some species will survive while others won't, and there's little doubt that nature as a whole will cope. But from a narrow human viewpoint, it is of some interest if the human species is among the survivors.
I'd believe (and by believe I mean use until a better one comes along) the model whose predictions have thus far come closest to the observed data. That's science in a nutshell.
You see, the point of this article wasn't "Look, here's a climate paper from the 80's! It must be true!" It was "Look, here's a climate paper from the 80's -- and the prediction matches the last 30 years pretty well." So just chucking another 30-year-old paper into the mix is meaningless. Check that paper's predictions against the observed data and then get back to us. Thanks.
TBH given the size of the whole graph and the error bands on that I'm not quite sure you can say that quite so unequally. Those peaks go up an awful *long* way.
Perhaps Hansen et all might dust off their old data sets?
But good point.
Anything equivalent from the denialist camp?
There are large numbers of predictive models and a relatively small range of plausible outcomes (i.e. a trend of at most a few degrees C either way over decades or nothing). Inevitably, in retrospect, some are bound to have been 'right' whether their model was valid or not.
[No axe to grind here either way. Personal opinion is that C02 is smoke not the fire. If we could seal the excess CO2 in a box and magic it away we still have to address f*****g the planet with over-populatation, pollution, over-exploitation, deforestation etc.]
I agree with you and its interesting to note that over the last 60 years, the temperature has risen by about 0.6 C. Hardly surprising when the worlds population has doubled in the same period.
This is the problem is it not? If we go on multiplying we are bound to produce more and more CO2.
I remember reading somewhere years ago that a human being dissipates about 1.5kW per bod avg...
Hmm double the population that's another 3Bn x 1.5kW = 4.5 TW. Something to think about maybe.
Meatsack warming anyone? Where's my quango application form...
So the existence of unsuccessful models (and failed experiments, for that matter) bring into doubt the successful ones? That's not the way the scientific method works; it is designed to pay a great deal of attention to what works, and the gold standard in that regard is successful prediction. Contrary to its presentation in introductory texts, the history of science is not a simple progression of successful experiments, valid observations and correct deductions, and if the failures counted against the successes, science would have long ago collapsed under the weight of accumulated falsehoods and idle speculation.
From about twenty years ago, those who choose to disbelieve (as opposed to genuine, unbiased scepticism) have progressed through a series of arguments:
1. There is no problem.
2. There might be a problem, but it's not our problem.
3. It might be our problem, but it can't be fixed.
4. The problem could be fixed, but it would cost far too much.
When one looks at the pressures that politicians are under, it is easy to see what motivates this disingenuous argument.
It's getting beyond daft.
Just more propaganda.
The alarmists would like to believe that outright deniers are mellowing resulting in all the sceptics but I think it is the opposite is also true.
Due to all the misinformation, exaggerations and ridiculous predictions of global floods, run away temperatures etc. unquestioning believers in AGW have slowly gained more knowledge and realised that the case is far from settled.
But that doesn't fit the way they like to spin things, the last thing alarmists want to admit is that a significant proportion of the people claiming AGW isn't proven were once in the AGW is a fact supported by consensus camp.
What's really worrying that the observations match best the projected "fast growth" curve, and are in fact warmer than it is!
Confirms my long-held belief that: (a) Human-caused climate change is real, and (b) due to human nature, no significant mitigation is going to be done. So we have to live (or die) with the consequences.
I almost stopped reading at "belief".
a) This chart only prove that climate is changing and getting quite hotter. It does nothing to prove that it is man-made.
b) This chart does not helps understanding human nature either.
There's far enough evidence to get an opinion on the subject, but confusing science with religion is not helping...
DISCLAIMER : Unfortunately, my stance on the human nature is the same as yours... We're screwed.
"I almost stopped reading at "belief"."
I do, someone once told me the difference between a 'thought' and a 'belief', they said "a belief is a thought you make real"
You only have to look at how people behave when they believe something (such as the creationist intelligent design crowd), they ignore all evidence that may contradict their viewpoint and see only the stuff that agrees with it.
Belief has no place in science, thats the realm of religion.
> but confusing science with religion is not helping...
I did not mean any kind of religious reference. I probably should have used the word "opinion" instead. I am not a native speaker of English, and was under the impression that "belief" is more or less interchangeable with "firm opinion", but apparently the religious overtones are too strong. Must remember this in the future.
I'll get my coat.
Notice that the data match occurs in a region where ALL hypothesis produce roughly the same data. I wonder what the probability is of this data matching by chance. After all, if ANY hypothesis you consider in your model produces a curve that matches your data, something is probably amiss.
Re-read the article.
The different scenarios are based on our behaviour, not the science. As we seem to be in the "burn all the fossil fuels we can get our hands on" scenario we'd expect the warming to be at least as much as the worst case prediction.
And it is.
Climate science will always be a religion, or at least for a very long time to come.
Most science, and stuff that is established as science fact, has small test cases , that can be retested in relatively small equipment, in not too much time.
Even the billions of pounds that has been spent on the Large Hadron Collider, with all the thousands of scientists and engineers, is a relatively well contained reproducible experiment.
Stating the frickin' obvious the test case for climate change is to have a planet, change the atmospheric content of certain gases, measure everything you can, including the energy output of the local star, and see what happens. The size of this experiment makes the LHC look miniscule in time and size in comparison.
Hence the scientific conclusions on climate change are for the foreseeable future going to be incomplete, and filled in with the religious biases of the scientists and politicians involved.
I'm wondering if we should rename it climate-religion, since there are way too many un-objective un-measured beliefs coming out from all camps.
hallelujah, praise the religion of the climate.
Spot on here.
How can you accurately model and predict with a system that is known to be chaotic? A system that literally suffers from the butterfly effect?
Science is about testing and re-testing everything to observe results and reach a conclusion. Like you say in the absence of a real planet to test on we use computer models instead that can never be accurate enough to contain all the variables of this planet and accurately predict them.
I doubt we will ever solve this issue.
"How can you accurately model and predict with a system that is known to be chaotic?"
Hmm: attractors - You predict global properties, and do not hope to perfectly match individual trajectories in the state space over any length of time.
What _was_ the difference between "climate" and "weather" again? /sarcasm
yeah we know, time. /slow clap
History shows the climate has always changed without human intervention, The Romans grew grapes for Wine in Northern England, the Victorians held ice fairs on the Thames when it froze...
Ultimately there is enough complexity in this planet alone to make accurate modeling and predictions impossible, to say nothing of the impact changes in the sun has on our climate as well.
"...History shows the climate has always changed without human intervention, The Romans grew grapes for Wine in Northern England, the Victorians held ice fairs on the Thames when it froze......"
1) We have no word of how nice the wine was. I daresay you could easily grow grapes in Northern England in walled gardens now, but they may well not make such nice wine.
2) The Thames was shallower, wider and much slower moving, therefore much more likely to freeze.
If you don't have an understood, measurably, repeatable mechanism that accurately predicts all outcomes, it ISN'T science, it's just another witch doctor in the square throwing the bones.
In fact, I'd say based on their curve, their error bars, and the margins they claim are critical, even though the claim that the model is optimistic is correct, since the actual margins of error exceed their window of criticality, the model is still busted. So we have to locate the ACTUAL driver before deciding to dump trillions into sequestering CO2.
Chaotic systems can be modeled without simulating them. A model is indicative not some sort of forecasing system.
Oh and as for not understanding something but being able to measure it - This is exactly how many medicines work, the mechanism isn't understood, or known, but the outcome is observed. So your witch doctor argument is totally bogus.
Chaotic systems are determinstic and are modeled all the time. Chaos is not a synonym for randomness. The basic population growth equation is chaotic: trivial to program and tracks well to many populations. Newton's law of gravitation is chaotic; it can't be solved for the general N-body problem, but it can and is modeled all the time. Here's yet another case of a model yielding useful results. Time to accept the evidence of the problem and start creating solutions - high time.
"...there are way too many un-objective un-measured beliefs coming out from all camps..."
Like ill informed people on the Internet who don't seem to understand what they're talking about pronouncing an entire area of science as religion because they disagree with a small part of it.
Weather forecasting clearly works, I guess the weather forecasters are high priests in communication with God are they? Or maybe people with PhD level eduction in a subject know more about it than you?
There are many to choose from, just pick one that best describes the current situation.
Of all the predictions, forecasts, WAGs (wild-assed guesses if you ever watched Rubicon) and speculation it's hardly surprising that one of them wouldn't be within a credible range of what we see, after 30 years - especially if you draw the pink line thick enough.
The crucial point is NOT the accuracy of the
prediction crystal ball, but the reasoning process that supported it. If that can be shown to be rational and valid, then there's some possibility that we can be confident in what it predicted (provided we don't move outside it's boundary conditions - or know where they are). However, if it's made up of a mish-mash of lucky coincidences that just happen to give rise tot he observed results, it's just as worthless as all the other ones that didn't happen to agree, randomly, with what actually happened.
Standard Government response in a time of crisis
Say that nothing is going to happen;
Say something maybe going to happen, but we should do nothing about it;
Say maybe we should do something about it, but there is nothing we can do;
Say maybe there was something we could have done, but it is too late now.
I leave the reader to estimate which stage we are at now.
...why there's even an argument over the statement 'we need to stop polluting our planet', whether it's causing climate change or not (which the science seems to indicate it is, despite the vocal minority of scientists denying it, and of course the big businesses and vested government interests who are only interested in short term gains and making loads of money).
It just makes sense not to shit on your doorstep.
The only positive to take from all the situation is that should the human race succeed in making the planet uninhabitable, all the deniers with their heads in the sand will die out with everyone else when homo sapiens becomes extinct.
CO2 is a trace gas in the atmosphere, currently a bit under 400ppm. This is not a highly CO2 rich environment.
My neighbors grow lettuce commercially under glass. They sometimes run the glass house heaters (paraffin burning) just to get the CO2 levels up above the 1000 ppm level because that's what lettuces love and it makes them grow fat and tasty.
Dash out to your supermarket and and buy some now !
Define CO2 rich environment:
"CO2 is a simple asphyxiant and lethal asphyxiations have been reported at concentrations as low as 110,000 ppm (Hamilton and Hardy 1974). "
US submarines have run between 7000ppm and 14000ppm (thought they try to keep it below 10000ppm.) So human life would continue unaffected if the atmosphere was 1% CO2.
Your statement is wrong on so many levels, but let's start at the top: more CO2 does NOT necessarily allow plants to grow more vigorously. There have been experiments done to test the "CO2 good" hypothesis, and the results range from inconclusive to negative, depending on the plants in question. Interestingly, wheat did not react well to increased atmospheric CO2.
We can proceed to the next level, oceanic acidification by carbonic acid due to increased atmospheric CO2, when you have digested the paragraph above.
Bleaching of coral, by the latest reports, is due to bacterial and/or viral causes (http://www.pml.ac.uk/media/news_archive/virus_causes_coral_bleaching.aspx.) Not CO2 levels.
Coral came in to exist during the Cambrian. A period when the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere were around 20 times higher than they currently are
(https://stevengoddard.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/paintimage1136.png) so its hard to understand how minor changes now could have such dramatic effects.
"..why there's even an argument over the statement 'we need to stop polluting our planet',"
ekithump, I measure the sincerity of your belief that "we need to stop polluting our planet" by the fact that you're posting on a computer which generated pollution during it's manufacture and from your willingness to use the electricity, which generates further pollution, to keep it running.
It's funny how the people who want everyone else to make the world a better place are conspicuously quiet when it's about *their* convenience being curtailed.
Do you know what's really funny about this? They start the graph 1950. If they started it at, say, 1900, then we'd see it in its true context: natural variation. But worse, isn't GISS Hansen's baby? I wouldn't trust any data that fraud had put his thumb into. Older, hotter stations regularly disappear in order to increase the gradient of the trend.
Speaking of Hansen, his prediction from 1980 *was totally wrong*. In fact it was "not even wrong". The temperature record is lower than his zero emissions scenario!
Where are the scientists?
Why has nobody pointed out that the 'close match' found was with the GISS figures?
For information, the GISS figures are Hansen's, and suffer from a 'divergence' problem. They have been going up all the time, matching Hansen's predictions, while ALL the other figures for global temperature are much lower. I'm not surprised that a prediction of global warming matches GISS figures - you want to see how well they match REAL WORLD figures, ideally satellites...
Here's a Woodfortrees plot from 1979, showing how GISS (red) is much higher than the others...
Hansen authored a paper predicting an increase in global temperatures. Whether the temperatures have risen or not, do you think it is proper to use Hansen's data (from GISS) to prove Hansen's hypothesis?
Doesn't the proof need to come from somewhere else? Like UAH or RSS?
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