Move Over, Tina Fey

January 25, 2016

Off topic, but can’t help it.

Above, more from my conversation with Carl Mears PhD, senior scientist behind the RSS (Remote Sensing Systems) satellite temperature data set, one which has been used and misused by climate deniers over recent years.

In a December 2015 hearing, Senator Ted Cruz held up a carefully chosen slice of the RSS data, improperly, according to Dr. Mears, purporting to contradict the mainstream science of climate change.  Dr. Mears is clear that the globe is warming, if you look at the complete satellite record, (as well as thousands of other independent supporting datasets), the planet is warming, and humans are causing it.

The Conversation:

Research has identified several telltale signs that differentiate denial from skepticism, whether it is denial of the link between smoking and lung cancer or between CO2 emissions and climate change.

One technique of denial involves “cherry-picking”, best described as willfully ignoring a mountain of inconvenient evidence in favor of a small molehill that serves a desired purpose. Cherry-picking is already in full swing in response to the record-breaking temperatures of 2015.

Political operatives such as James Taylor of the Heartland Institute – which once compared acceptance of the science of climate change to the Unabomber in an ill-fated billboard campaign – have already denied 2015 set a record by pointing to satellite data, which ostensibly shows no warming for the last umpteen years and which purportedly relegates 2015 to third place.

So what about the satellite data?

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Cruz Out of Control

January 24, 2016

D.R. Tucker in the Washington Monthly:

Wingnut World is freaking out over a new video by Peter Sinclair of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication that points out the duplicity of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s assertion that global warming somehow stopped in the late-1990s:

After watching the video, you can’t help wondering whether Texas voters feel any embarrassment about sending a shameless liar like Cruz to the United States Senate. Then again, you can say the same for the folks who are showing up to Donald Trump rallies, the folks delusional enough to think the bigoted billionaire knows a damn thing about “making America great again.”

What attracts somebody to a con like Ted or Don? I can’t help going back to those old articles about Americans addicted to right-wing media. If your cognitive abilities have been compromised by the filth of Fox and the lies of Limbaugh, you’ll believe “anything…except the truth,” as Janeane Garofalo observed in 2009.

tucker2A civilization simply cannot survive if large portions of that civilization have declared war on facts. When you think of the legions of Americans who truly believe that either Trump or Cruz are fit to be the forty-fifth president of the United States, don’t you wonder if something has gone deeply wrong in American society?
There was a fascinating exchange on the January 15 edition of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher in which Maher, interviewing former Vice President Al Gore, suggested that religion was the main driver of anti-science sentiment in the United States. In response, Gore suggested that religion and science can coexist, citing Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si. We can dispute who’s right—but we cannot dispute the fact that Trump and Cruz have become de facto deities in the eyes of far too many Americans.

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Carl Mears PhD is a senior scientist at the research firm Remote Sensing Systems, and a globally acknowledged expert in satellite based global temperature reconstructions.

He was interviewed in San Francisco, December 2015, a week after a widely publicized US Senate hearing, chaired by Senator Ted Cruz, in which the Senator purported to cite Dr. Mears data set in support of his climate change denial positions.

This is the first of several postings which will document Dr. Mears complete, minimally edited interview.

My long form “This is Not Cool” video describing the whole issue is below:

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reasonzom2

My newest video has sparked a number of spittle flecked seizures out in the climate denial blogosphere, activating not only the paranoid “Wake Up Sheeple” faction, but also pretend journalism publications like (Notso) BreitBart, and pretend science blogs like WattsUp – where His Magnificent Resplendency “Lord” Monckton avowed the piece was “monstrous”, and accused me of “wire fraud”.

Really.

After going thru the lot, I pointed my readers to what I thought was the sanest of the bunch, granting that was a bit like being the freshest corpse on “The Walking Dead”.

The piece was by Ronald Bailey, who is apparently a science correspondent for the Libertarian mag Reason, (immediately awakening my sympathies).

I included his piece, and a reaction, in a much longer post, which you should probably at least scan if you haven’t.

Now Ron says I have him all wrong, and has a further discussion – which I  post here uninterrupted in full – followed by my response.
==================

Peter:

Thanks for letting me know that you’ve posted my response to your video at your site. Fine by me.

Next, you’ll be amused, gratified, puzzled by the fact that my article, “What Evidence Would Persuade You That Man-Made Climate Change Is Real?” (URL: https://reason.com/archives/2015/04/03/what-evidence-would-persuade-you-that-ma) in April, cites and accepts all of the evidence for warming mentioned by your interviewees.

More troubling, you assert in your email that I have misrepresented Mears and RSS. In  what way? If you read through the article linked above you will see that I completely agree that all data needs to be taken into account when evaluating the effects of global warming. Let me quote the section in my post on Mears again:

In addition, another group, Remote Sensing Systems, established explicitly to independently evaluate the satellite temperature data finds the same overall temperature trend as the folks at the University of Alabama. See Christy’s version of the mismatch between model projections and satellite and weather balloon temperature trends below.

 

The embedded link in that section leads to a long description by RSS about how it derives its temperature data set from satellite instruments. What I should perhaps have better linked to is RSS’s analysis that also shows – and thus largely agrees with UAH – that the most climate models run hotter than the actual global temperature trend reported in their data. See RSS comparison with models and its data at URL: http://www.remss.com/research/climate and see highlighted excerpt from RSS below:

  • The troposphere has not warmed as fast as almost all climate models predict.

To illustrate this last problem, we show several plots below.  Each of these plots has a time series of TLT temperature anomalies using a reference period of 1979-2008.  In each plot, the thick black line is the measured data from RSS V3.3 MSU/AMSU Temperatures.  The yellow band shows the 5% to 95% envelope for the results of 33 CMIP-5 model simulations (19 different models, many with multiple realizations) that are intended to simulate Earth’s Climate over the 20th Century.  For the time period before 2005, the models were forced with historical values of greenhouse gases, volcanic aerosols, and solar output.  After 2005, estimated projections of these forcings were used. If the models, as a whole, were doing an acceptable job of simulating the past, then the observations would mostly lie within the yellow band.  For the first two plots (Fig. 1 and Fig 2), showing global averages and tropical averages, this is not the case.  Only for the far northern latitudes, as shown in Fig. 3, are the observations within the range of model predictions.


So I don’t think that I have misrepresented Mears and RSS data and their conclusions with regard to recent temperature trends and model projections.

May I also direct your attention to my longer article in February 2015 assessing global temperature trends? “Temperature Record Chicanery: An Overhyped Scandal” at URL: https://reason.com/blog/2015/02/11/temperature-record-chicanery-an-overhype

In that article, I discuss at some length the fact that all global temperature records are and must be adjusted for various factors.

At that time, I noted:

What do the main temperature datasets say about recent warming? The instrumental temperature records including the GISS dataset, the British HadCRUT4, and the NOAA NCDC find that average global temperature increased. GISS is the highest reporting a rate between 1951 and 2012 of 0.124 C° ± 0.020 per decade. NCDC finds the rate is 0.118 C° ± 0.021, and HadCRUT4 is lowest at 0.106 C° ± 0.027 per decade. The per decade trends for the period after 1979 is 0.161 C° ± 0.033 for GISS; 0.151 C° ± 0.037 for NCDC; and 0.155 C° ± 0.033 for HadCRUT4. The period after 1979 is relevant not only because global average temperatures seemed to have jumped in the 1970s, but because the instrumental record can be compared to the satellite temperature record. Two groups process the data (a.k.a. “adjusted”) from the NOAA satellites to produce separate records. As frequent Reason readers know I tend to follow the results from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. UAH climatologists who are quite skeptical of predictions of catastrophic climate change report that since 1979 the atmosphere has warmed at rate of 0.14 C° per decade. Using satellite data, the private research company Remote Sensing Systems finds that the atmosphere has warmed at an average rate of about 0.13 C° per decade. Interestingly, the RSS reports that the models most closely match the satellite temperature trends for the arctic region.

 

Global Average Temperature Increase 1951-2012 per decade rate 1979-2012/14 per decade rate
GISS 0.124 C° 0.161 C°
NCDC 0.118 C° 0.151 C°
HadCRUT4 0.106 C° 0.155 C°
UAH   0.140 C°
RSS   0.130  C°

To recap: All of the global temperature records find that the atmosphere has warmed in recent decades. The difference between the high and the low trends in the datasets since 1979 is 0.03 C° per decade. Summed over the past 35 years, temperatures have increased by at most 0.56 C° and at least by 0.455 C°, that is to say, a difference of about one-tenth of a degree Celsius. Additionally, it appears that global average temperature jumped to a new higher level in the late 1990s and has more or less “paused” since then. This is why so many climatologists repeat the mantra that the hottest years in the instrumental record have all occurred after 1998. 

Nevertheless whatever suspect “adjustments” that may have been made they have barely changed the trend in any of the datasets.

I very much appreciate you sending along the link to the “Response to the Data or Dogma Hearing” by Santer and Mears. It certainly does show that there is some scientific back-and-forth over what the proper adjustments to the satellite data should be, specifically the recent Po-Chedley et al. articles. But it is certainly not the case that research has conclusively shown, as implied by your video, that the UAH dataset is less accurate than the surface datasets or the RSS dataset.

Interestingly, you will note when I wrote my Overhyped Scandal article cited above that the RSS satellite trend was actually lower than the UAH trend.

Subsequent to my Overhyped Scandal article, UAH announced a new version 6.0 of their dataset which LOWERED their global lower troposphere temperature trend from 0.14 C per decade to 0.11 per decade. See URL: http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Version-61.pdf

This, of course, contradicts the implication by Admiral Titley in your video that UAH has had to repeatedly and only adjust its temperature data upward.

I will note that on the very day in 2005 that Science published the RSS critique of the UAH data (and two related articles), I wrote an article stating, “We’re All Global Warmers Now.” See URL: https://reason.com/archives/2005/08/11/were-all-global-warmers-now

Finally, in your video Dessler from Texas A&M states: “This goes to show you the amount of confirmation bias that is actually going on in this debate…[they accept the UAH data] uncritically because it tells them what they want to hear.”  This is a very astute observation that applies more broadly than either you or he intended.

In the interest of open discussion on this important topic, I hope that you will post, as you did my earlier Reason blogpost, this email response over at climatecrocks.com.

Regards,

Ron Bailey

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My response, below:

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Is this an example of the “stuff we don’t expect that we expect.”?

Barnegat, NJ, police tweeted this vid from a coastal strip during the ongoing Winter storm Jonas, and issued mandatory evacuation orders.

Paul Douglas retweeted and noted that flooding was higher than predicted.

Mashable tweeted the image below.

jonas_mashableNJ

bet_onclimate

Paywalled piece from the Times of London on the recent “climate bet” I reported on the other day, from Leo Hickman’s twitter feed.