More Climate Illogic

As any financial analyst knows, fools and their tools can find confirmation for any pet theory. The only route to certitude is falsification.

Realclimate shows numerous examples of confirmation bias in their recent article. In particular, gavin dicusses an update to Hansen’s famous graph of projections made back in 1984.

They ‘confirm’ that scenario B — increasing CO2 — matches current trends.

The trends are probably most useful to think about, and for the period 1984 to 2009 (the 1984 date chosen because that is when these projections started), scenario B has a trend of 0.26+/-0.05 ºC/dec (95% uncertainties, no correction for auto-correlation).

Scenario C — no increase in CO2 — is more consistent with the temperature increase. A statistical test of the alternate hypothesis Ha, rejecting the view that observed temperature differs from the no increase in CO2 scenario, provides support for the view that CO2 is irrelevant.

Quasi-scientists have one thing in common with scam artists, emphasis on confirmation and ignoring contradictory evidence. Note the RealClimate article fails to mention scenario C at all in their post. See ClimateAudit for details of the scenarios and updates.

As an example of testing the AGW hypothesis, I was sent this analysis done by George White. I don’t know anything about George, but he obviously understands the issue of falsification, and has a strong physical science background.

He tests a number of hypothesies of AGW:

  • a 20% increase in CO2 is expected to cause an increase in the average global temperature of about 0.8°C,
  • claims that the Earth takes decades to respond to forcing changes, and
  • a small amount of additional forcing from increased anthropogenic CO2 is amplified by a climate system dominated by strong net positive feedback from water vapor.

His conclusion:

The analysis of the satellite data shows conclusively that every prediction of the AGW hypothesis that can be tested by quantifying the energy balance fails. It only takes one failed test to disprove a hypothesis, and here we have many. The only possible conclusion is that the climate forcing effects of anthropogenic CO2 are far smaller than the AGW communities consensus value. In fact, it’s so small, that it’s certain that the trillions of dollars we are poised to spend on CO2 mitigation will have no effect, other than to drag down the worlds economy and impede the goal of energy independence.

  • Jean_S
  • Anonymous
  • Chris D

    If the diff between B and observations is not significant, then what would he call the difference between B and C through 2009?

  • Chris D

    If the diff between B and observations is not significant, then what would he call the difference between B and C through 2009?

  • DG

    Andrew Dessler has guest posted at RPS on water vapor feedbackhttp://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/01/0…David, did you ever submit your comment on Dessler's paper?

  • davids99us

    Yes I did, but it was rejected by the editor (without comment), eventhough both Dessler and the reviewer agreed with my assessment thatthe methods they used were flawed. Unfortunately one of the reviewerssaid I should get all the data from Dessler for the analysis, ratherthan just do a Monte Carlo simulation, so there was a basis forrejection.

  • DG

    Andrew Dessler has guest posted at RPS on water vapor feedback
    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/guest-post-by-andrew-dessler-on-the-water-vapor-feedback/

    David, did you ever submit your comment on Dessler’s paper?

    • Anonymous

      Yes I did, but it was rejected by the editor (without comment), even
      though both Dessler and the reviewer agreed with my assessment that
      the methods they used were flawed. Unfortunately one of the reviewers
      said I should get all the data from Dessler for the analysis, rather
      than just do a Monte Carlo simulation, so there was a basis for
      rejection.

    • Anonymous

      I read the Dessler piece. He does not address Spencers model, described here http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Spencer-Forcing-Feedback-AGU-09-San-Francisco-final.pdf

      My understanding of what Spencer is saying is there are two components to the feedback, but its gives the appearance of a value of 2W/K if you don’t discriminate them.

  • Nick Stokes

    David,You have this the wrong way round. You don't decide which scenario fits on the basis of the temperature graph – you decide on the basis of whether what the scenario said about drivers came true – specifically, CO2 emissions, and volcanic events. The reason RC didn't mention C is that it differed from B in postulating smaller CO2 emissions after 2000, leading to no further increase in atmospheric CO2, and that didn't happen. It also postulated a volcanic dip, and indeed there was Pinatubo, although that didn't quite match.However, scen's B and C were otherwise fairly similar, and were not expected to show big differences until further in the future. So the proposition that the results were more like C than B doesn't prove that CO2 had no effect; there was a lot of CO2 effect in scenario C.

  • davids99us

    Nick, My point is that they portray the B scenario as confirmation oftheir model, without noting that scenario C is not rejected either. Idon't agree with you that scenario is 'not applicable' as you seem tosay. If you run the model with 'CO2 med' parameter (scenario B) andrun it with 'CO2 low' (scenario C) and there is no difference (in thiscase the result was that 'CO2 low' is better) then that is informationyou need to mention, or you are exhibiting confirmation bias.

  • http://www.moyhu.blogspot.com Nick Stokes

    David,
    You have this the wrong way round. You don’t decide which scenario fits on the basis of the temperature graph – you decide on the basis of whether what the scenario said about drivers came true – specifically, CO2 emissions, and volcanic events. The reason RC didn’t mention C is that it differed from B in postulating smaller CO2 emissions after 2000, leading to no further increase in atmospheric CO2, and that didn’t happen. It also postulated a volcanic dip, and indeed there was Pinatubo, although that didn’t quite match.

    However, scen’s B and C were otherwise fairly similar, and were not expected to show big differences until further in the future. So the proposition that the results were more like C than B doesn’t prove that CO2 had no effect; there was a lot of CO2 effect in scenario C.

    • Anonymous

      Nick, My point is that they portray the B scenario as confirmation of
      their model, without noting that scenario C is not rejected either. I
      don’t agree with you that scenario is ‘not applicable’ as you seem to
      say. If you run the model with ‘CO2 med’ parameter (scenario B) and
      run it with ‘CO2 low’ (scenario C) and there is no difference (in this
      case the result was that ‘CO2 low’ is better) then that is information
      you need to mention, or you are exhibiting confirmation bias.

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  • davids99us

    I read the Dessler piece. He does not address Spencers model, described here http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/…My understanding of what Spencer is saying is there are two components to the feedback, but its gives the appearance of a value of 2W/K if you don't discriminate them.

  • Andy

    I also noticed this when reading the article. Comment #37 asked about Scenario C:”What did Hansen do right in scenario C? Are we able to figure out where and why his model succeeds?”Gavin's response was typically obfuscating: “[Response: 'C' had constant concentrations after 2000 - which obviously did not happen, but it's useful to compare the two simulations for a sense of how important the forcings are over short time periods (not very). The AR4 runs are more useful for that of course because there were many more simulations done for each scenario. - gavin]“He doesn't even consider the idea that CO2 may not be forcing anything, so whatever scenario C did right should be isolated and expanded upon.

  • Andy

    I also noticed this when reading the article. Comment #37 asked about Scenario C:

    “What did Hansen do right in scenario C? Are we able to figure out where and why his model succeeds?”

    Gavin’s response was typically obfuscating:

    “[Response: 'C' had constant concentrations after 2000 - which obviously did not happen, but it's useful to compare the two simulations for a sense of how important the forcings are over short time periods (not very). The AR4 runs are more useful for that of course because there were many more simulations done for each scenario. - gavin]”

    He doesn’t even consider the idea that CO2 may not be forcing anything, so whatever scenario C did right should be isolated and expanded upon.

  • John M

    Note the RealClimate article fails to mention scenario C at all in their post.

    “Hide the 'C-line'?”

  • John M

    Note the RealClimate article fails to mention scenario C at all in their post.

    “Hide the ‘C-line’?”

  • Colin_d

    Putting it colloquially, the Hansen prediction looks a bit like if you fire a shotgun at a target chances are you'll get a bullseye with at least one pellet.

  • Colin_d

    Putting it colloquially, the Hansen prediction looks a bit like if you fire a shotgun at a target chances are you’ll get a bullseye with at least one pellet.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com/ Eli Rabett

    Scenerio C had CO2 emissions of zero after 2000, otherwise it was similar to B. You are missing the big issue with Hansen 1988, it had a temperature sensitivity of over 4.2 K/CO2 doublinghttp://rabett.blogspot.com/2008/01/1988-and-all…So, what does this say about the model. In Hansen's 1988 words ” The climate model we employ has a global mean surface air equilibrium sensitivity of 4.2 C for doubled CO2. Other recent GCMs yield equilibrium sensitivities of 2.5-5.5 C….. Forecast temperature trends for time scales of a few decades or less are not very sensitive to the model's equilibrium climate sensitivity (reference provided). Therefore climate sensitivity would have to be much smaller than 4.2 C, say 1.5 to 2 C, in order for us to modify our conclusions significantly.”We are getting to the point, twenty years on, where the high estimate of climate sensitivity is making itself felt. OTOH, the 1988 paper estimated the growth of greenhouse gas concentrations slightly on the low side. The result was a pretty good prediction. Definitely in the class of useful models.The fact that it has been so good is a strong indicator that the climate sensitivity is well over 2 K/CO2 doubling.

  • kuhnkat

    “The fact that it has been so good is a strong indicator that the climate sensitivity is well over 2 K/CO2 doubling.”I love the way you simply blow past the fact that we have been emitting high and the temp has been low.Give us some more non-sequiturs Eli!!

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com/ Eli Rabett

    Scenerio C had CO2 emissions of zero after 2000, otherwise it was similar to B.

    You are missing the big issue with Hansen 1988, it had a temperature sensitivity of over 4.2 K/CO2 doubling

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2008/01/1988-and-all-that-as-soon-as-nonsense.html

    So, what does this say about the model. In Hansen’s 1988 words

    ” The climate model we employ has a global mean surface air equilibrium sensitivity of 4.2 C for doubled CO2. Other recent GCMs yield equilibrium sensitivities of 2.5-5.5 C…..

    Forecast temperature trends for time scales of a few decades or less are not very sensitive to the model’s equilibrium climate sensitivity (reference provided). Therefore climate sensitivity would have to be much smaller than 4.2 C, say 1.5 to 2 C, in order for us to modify our conclusions significantly.”

    We are getting to the point, twenty years on, where the high estimate of climate sensitivity is making itself felt. OTOH, the 1988 paper estimated the growth of greenhouse gas concentrations slightly on the low side. The result was a pretty good prediction. Definitely in the class of useful models.

    The fact that it has been so good is a strong indicator that the climate sensitivity is well over 2 K/CO2 doubling.

    • Anonymous

      “The fact that it has been so good is a strong indicator that the climate sensitivity is well over 2 K/CO2 doubling.”

      I love the way you simply blow past the fact that we have been emitting high and the temp has been low.

      Give us some more non-sequiturs Eli!!

    • Fghsmith

      The big issue is that science is done prospectively and not retrospectively. No good having one method for climate science and another for all the others. The point of prediction is that it is correct prospectively. 

  • http://www.ecoengineers.com/ Steve Short
  • davids99us

    A big oops. When are we going to see a through replication of HadCRUT I wonder?

  • davids99us

    A big oops. When are we going to see a through replication of HadCRUT I wonder?

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