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Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Battle of the Blogs? Whitlock goes to War...



Good day folks, you're all in for a bit of a treat as it happens, so I hope you're sitting comfortably. Before I go any further, I should issue a 'long read' warning. This blog piece is going to be fairly long, quite involved in its detail, but hopefully very enjoyable if you despise and detest climate change denial, as I do. But first, an explanation of the circumstances.

The other day, on Twitter, I indulged in a bit of regular fun-poking at James Delingpole, as I often do because, quite simply, the man just invites it. For those not in the know, Delingpole is a pretty nasty character really. He writes regular blog pieces and op-eds for Breitbart and The Spectator, usually on climate change, but also on other subjects as well. He is usually, and seemingly, unashamedly vicious, as will become apparent in my coverage of him and his behaviour in this piece. Given his behaviour, I am not afraid, occasionally to indulge in a bit of 'ad-hominem' warfare myself, indeed he seems to court it. He is the type that invites conflict, so conflict I will give him. On this occasion, I called him a 'knuckledragger'. Why? Because he is one.


Let's be clear here. Delingpole isn't a 'knuckledragger' on account of his intellectual ability, far from it actually, given that he is an Oxford-educated English Literature graduate. I choose to call him a knuckledragger because he wastes the gifts he has been given, choosing not to use his educational and writing abilities for moral and ethical higher purposes but instead to attack those engaged in moral and ethical activity, particularly climate scientists.

The trouble with ad-hominem attacks though is that they invariably invite a response. Sure enough, one of Delingpole's climate change denying friends, a chap named Willis Eschenbach, rose to the bait.

Now, while I can't say, I am afraid, that I was a particularly confident chap in earlier life, I can certainly say so now, at the age of, well, nearly 51. And having spent much of my life delighting in my passion for writing, and the process of expanding my knowledge that fuels it, I am fairly pleased with my achievements so far. With this tweet, Mr Eschenbach challenged my wisdom, so the logical thing to do of course was to invite him to debate.



Eschenbach responded that he was happy to debate, although he couldn't see how he could do so on Twitter. This is a bit strange actually because Twitter is perfect for making short, sharp, points backed by links to supporting evidence. Furthermore, because it is a social media platform, it can attract a huge audience. This is why it is ideal for marketing, PR and politics.

In the same tweet, Mr Eschenbach asked me what I wanted to debate. This was an invitation, and a golden opportunity, to deliver the first broadside.

In these circumstances, the very first thing I do, as with every aspect of a debate, is dig around for evidence. I try to find out what has been written already about particular views, opinions and/or the people holding and expressing them. With regard to climate change deniers DeSmogBlog is perfect for this, which is why it is often my first port of call. This produced my opening broadside's first couple of tweets [read from the bottom to understand the conversation in its logical order].


I followed this up by citing the various pieces of evidence concerning Mr Eschenbach provided by the DeSmogBlog entry on him:


In full flow, I carried on:



I then rounded up by turning on Anthony Watts, the climate change denier whose platform (Watts Up With That) Mr Eschenbach uses for his own blogs, before returning to Delingpole:


I was expecting Mr Eschenbach to respond in like manner, using Twitter to address the various points in the usual Twitter convention, but instead he chose to write a full on blog piece about me on the Watts Up With That blog.

Okay, so this is new. I've known about Watts Up With That (WUWT) for some time of course, but largely ignored it on the basis that I have other, more important stuff to do and also that it's actually more sense, if one wants to take on an enemy, to pick one adversary at a time rather than the whole horde at once. Delingpole being the nastiest, I choose to pick on him. That said, WUWT is up there among the most popular (among deniers and the Right that is) and prominent climate change denying blogs, and so, I am guessing, it has a large following.

In these circumstances, when one sees oneself exposed on such a prominent blog, one can feel a degree of trepidation, and for a few seconds, I did. However, I quickly realised this was actually a golden opportunity to 'go to town' on Delingpole, Eschenbach, Anthony Watts and his blog and deniers in general. And it would be quite good fun to do so as well. Hence the long read warning. If you're going to do a job, might as well do it properly.

For success in any battle, as Wellington may very well have explained at this point were he alive and asked about this question, there are a number of rules. Three in particular are:
  • Don't rush to battle
  • Keep a cool head and a steady nerve
  • Deploy your forces wisely
Given that, philosophically speaking, words are 'weapons', the key thing here is to think about one writes and also to support one's claims with evidence. As a professional freelance journalist, and Psychology and English graduate, I am very good at doing just that.

Eschenback probably thinks at this point that I am going to turn on him and counter the remarks he made about me on his WUWT piece. Ha, oh no. He can wait. I will get to him presently. Let's deal with Delingpole first, in order to explain why I called him a 'knuckledragger'.

In order to do this, I am going to begin with an absolutely delicious response by a former Oxford Classics Don (1995-2001) by the name of Edith Hall.

Delingpole had written a characteristically snide and snotty piece in The Spectator concerning Classics courses at Oxford. I would link to this but it's behind a paywall, so alas a quote:



"Take, for example, the right-on enthusiasm for recruiting Greats [i.e. Classics] candidates from schools that don’t do Latin or Greek. The theory goes that by the fourth year, these eager state-school kids will have attained the same proficiency as private-school ones who have been hothoused on classics since they were eight or nine. But I gather that only the Oxbridge classics tutors who have drunk the social justice Kool-Aid actually believe this has worked in practice. The rest are worried about declining long-term standards and are also a bit frustrated: if you’re an Oxbridge classics don, you want to teach Oxbridge–level classics — not catch-up for beginners."

Edith Hall's comments on this, and on Delingpole, are pure delight:

“a splenetic piece of propaganda”

“makes his living from peddling archly controversial far-right views on climate change and immigration”

“dilates, with mind-blowing ignorance”

“the Spectator believes it is worth giving airspace to someone of Delingpole’s lousy journalism skills”

“arrogant alumni with ropey cognitive skills like Delingpole”

“Delingpole has needlessly insulted every individual who has ever studied the ancient Mediterranean world wholly or even partially in translation—the thousands who take CC/AH qualifications in state schools, the majority of classics undergraduates in other British universities, not to mention adult learners, autodidacts, and everyone who has ever read a Penguin Classic. He has done so with puerile, ill-informed, oligarchic hauteur.”

“*I did have a photograph of Delingpole in bathing shorts here but have taken it down after someone quite rightly pointed out that I was stooping to 'body shaming'.” [In response to comment on Hall's blog piece concerning a photograph of Delingpole in a swimsuit she had posted - but later withdrew - with the caption "Delingpole: Not much better Sixpack than Sense."]

This is ripe. But also tame compared to some of the comments made about Delingpole, including my own. But in order to see why such comments are made, one has to, first, see what Delingpole is capable of. I refuse to link to Breitbart (because of what it is, not because of Delingpole himself), but alas there are plenty of examples elsewhere. 

Delingpole spent his youth in Alvechurch, Worcestershire, the son of a factory owner. He attended Malvern College, an independent school for boys, before going on to Christchurch College, Oxford. This alone is interesting because there is a whole load of plausible opinion coming out now that boarding schools can produce 'angry boarders', basically because of the isolation from parents and also because of some of the abuse that happens there. This is a separate subject which should really be explored in depth elsewhere, but I can't help thinking to myself what one would find if one were to look into Delingpole's time at Malvern. 

Hmm, that's not going to happen. I am not an investigative journalist, Delingpole himself is hardly likely to say, and of course I might be wrong. However, wherever there is some anger, it is worth taking a peek to see where it comes from. But as I say, another subject for another time. 

George Monbiot, another arch enemy of Delingpole, describes his writing style as:

"the kind of ill-informed viciousness provided for free by trolls on comment threads everywhere, but raised by an order of magnitude. He puts a wrecking ball through any claims the denial lobby might have to being civilised, intelligent or serious. His followers act as an echo-chamber, magnifying his nastiness. Between them they succeed in alienating anyone who might want an informed debate"

Delingpole on this occasion had written a story about a letter sent to a Conservative MP enquiring about the MPs stance on climate change. The piece was titled: "Conservative candidates stalked by eco bullies". As if that wasn't enough, Delingpole also published the name of the letter writer and his home address. This, to me, is tantamount to incitement. Sure enough, as Monbiot explains:

"Delingpole's bootboys took the hint and immediately swung into action. Within a few minutes of the comments opening, they had published the man's telephone number and email address, a photo of his house ("Note all the recycling going on in his front garden"), his age and occupation. Then they sought to tell him just what a low opinion they had of "stalking" and "bullying"."

Did The Telegraph apologise for publishing the piece? Er no. They took it down though, so I suppose that's something. 

Now you know what Delingpole is capable of. 

Here is one of his past tweets:

This is what he thinks about disabled rights activists:


But it gets even nastier. Delingpole is on record as saying "Hanging is far too good" for climate scientists. Joe Romm (of Think Progess) responded brilliantly to this.


Romm goes on to argue that Delingpole "seems to think that hate speech isn't hate speech if you just use rhetoric - the figures of speech, like metaphor". Romm bluntly and legitimately condemns that position as 'bullshit'.

Romm then refers to another piece by Delingpole which opens thus (emphasis added by Romm):


"Should Michael Mann be given the electric chair for having concocted arguably the most risibly inept, misleading, cherry-picking, worthless and mendacious graph — the Hockey Stick — in the history of junk science?
Should George Monbiot be hanged by the neck for his decade or so’s hysterical promulgation of the great climate change scam and other idiocies too numerous to mention?
Should Tim Flannery be fed to the crocodiles for the role he has played in the fleecing of the Australian taxpayer and the diversion of scarce resources into pointless projects like all the eye-wateringly expensive desalination plants built as a result of his doomy prognostications about water shortages caused by catastrophic anthropogenic global warming?"
As Romm subsequently correctly points out, Delingpole thinks he can get away with this by first presenting these statements in the form of a question, which he then answers thus:

"It ought to go without saying that my answer to all these questions is — *regretful sigh* — no.

First, as anyone remotely familiar with the zillion words I write every year on this blog and elsewhere, extreme authoritarianism and capital penalties just aren’t my bag. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it would be counterproductive, ugly, excessive and deeply unsatisfying.

The last thing I would want is for Monbiot, Mann, Flannery, Jones, Hansen and the rest of the Climate rogues’ gallery to be granted the mercy of quick release. Publicly humiliated? Yes please. Having all their crappy books remaindered? Definitely. Dragged away from their taxpayer funded troughs and their cushy sinecures, to be replaced by people who actually know what they’re talking about? For sure. But hanging? Hell no. Hanging is far too good for such ineffable toerags."

Delingpole doesn't stop there:
"This isn’t to say that there isn’t a strong case for the myriad dodgy scientists-on-the-make, green activists, posturing and ignorant politicians, rent-seeking corporatists, UN apparatchiks, EU technocrats and hopelessly out-of-their-depth environment correspondents who talked up the global warming scare to be brought to account for the vast damage they have done to the global economy, for the people they have caused to die in fuel poverty, for the needless regulations they have inflicted on us, for the landscapes they have ravaged with wind farms, and so on.
Indeed, it would be nice to think one day that there would be a Climate Nuremberg. But please note, all you slower trolls beneath the bridge, that when I say Climate Nuremberg I use the phrase metaphorically."
In other words, Delingpole could be accused of comparing scientists, green activists, politicians, corporate executives, UN officials, EU officials and environment correspondents involved in discussing climate change TO NAZI's. Except that, by presenting it as a metaphor, Delingpole then claims he is NOT saying there should be a 'Climate Nuremberg'.

So what is he saying? Romm argues that Delingpole is using 'metaphor' as a defence while at the same wanting the word metaphor to not have any meaning at all. It's a clever way of writing some pretty nasty and inciteful, potentially criminal in my opinion, statements without having to really face the logical consequences of those statements. I have another word for such behaviour: cowardice.

As Romm says: "What more proof is needed that hate speech is the “logic” of deniers?"

And:

"If Delingpole’s piece doesn’t count as “threatening, menacing, offensive, defamatory, abusive” then it is quite safe to say that nothing does. It should be retracted, the Telegraph should issue an apology and then fire him" 

Fortunately, Delingpole's castle walls aren't as strong as he would like them to be. In 2011, Sir Paul Nurse (former President of The Royal Society) wiped the floor with him on prime time TV. Delingpole had to admit that he doesn't read peer-reviewed papers, i.e. doesn't read science. He claimed instead he was "an interpreter of interpretations".

And didn't Delingpole squirm? Oh yes he did. It was pure magic. This is just a snippet below:



 The full documentary is below. The Delingpole interview begins at 24:16 and runs to 27:38.




 On his piece about Delingpole, Romm made a very important point with regard to his behaviour:

"Lincoln, the greatest student rhetoric of all U.S. presidents understood all too well that the figures of speech are (metaphorical) weapons that have “the power to hurt.” 

So in essence, my debate with Eschenbach began, basically, because Eschenbach, appeared ready to defend a chap who though obviously intelligent, given his Oxford education, instead chooses to behave like a vicious, verminous cretin. Nice.

I am done with Delingpole. Let's have a look at Eschenbach himself, and the points he makes about me on his WUWT blog piece:

"Sadly, Mr. Whitlock declined the opportunity to actually say what was wrong with James Delingpole’s ideas"

Oh drat. It doesn't look like I get away from Delingpole that easily then. This really is going to be a long blog. 

Fine. Let's start with Delingpole's claim that there was a pause in global warming, or even, actually, that global warming didn't happen for 17 years, thus proving there is no global warming. 

The BBC reported in January this year that the pause idea had been demolished by two very important studies. The first of these was a paper published by Science in 2016 (full paper in link), the research conducted by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Secondly, the Science Advances research concludes in its abstract that:

"These results suggest that reported rates of SST (Surface Sea Temperature) warming in recent years have been underestimated in these three data sets"

The full report is here.

The BBC reported that:

"As a result, the authors said that the warming experienced in the first 15 years of the 21st Century was "virtually indistinguishable" from the rate of warming between 1950-99, a time generally acknowledged to have seen significant rates of warming from human emissions of CO2."

So in other words, there was no pause. Delingpole has been proved wrong. 

It would take ages to go through each of Delingpole's claims, but another favourite of his, and other climate change deniers, is the 'climategate' scandal. Deniers still think this was a scandal, but they completely ignore that the scientists from both the US and the UK were completely cleared of any wrongdoing in their scientific conclusions by several investigations. And no matter how they try to squirm and claim that it's a vast conspiracy, that was the conclusion reached. Which means that 'climategate' is nothing more than conspiracy theory. 

You can read more generally about Delingpole's claims on DeSmogBlog here, however it is worth noting that his latest pack of lies revolves around the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, which is almost dead. Delingpole thinks it can recover and so there's nothing to worry about but I've challenged this nonsense as well.   

Back to Eschenbach. He claims he is "an amateur scientist". Really? If so, where are his scientific credentials? 

According to DeSmogBlog, he has a California Massage Certificate from the Aames School of Massage at Oakland, California from 1974. Well that might come in handy for massaging facts and statistics I suppose, but its not really scientific. 

Secondly, he has a BA in Psychology from Sonoma State University, California, from 1975. Psychology is a social science not a true science, and it's certainly nothing to do with climate. My degree is combined Psychology and English Literature, so I've been there myself, done that. 

A page from the archive of The Heartland Institute, a hotbed of climate change deniers where Delingpole also occasionally lurks, describes Eschenbach as having been "researching, studying, and writing scientific studies and popular articles about climate science for the past 15 years", but gives no further details about this. So, clearly, Eschenbach is not a real scientist.

Popular Technology goes into his background in a little more detail:

"Willis Eschenbach, B.A. Psychology, Sonoma State University (1975); California Massage Certificate, Aames School of Massage (1974); Commercial Fisherman (1968, 1969, 1971, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1994, 1995); Auto Mechanic, People's Garage (1969-1970); Cabinet Maker, A.D. Gibson Co. (1972); Office Manager, Honolulu Emergency Labor Pool (1972); Construction Manager, Autogenic Systems Inc. (1973); Assistant Driller, Mirror Mountain Enterprises (1975-1976); Tax Preparer, Beneficial Financial Company (1977); Accountant, Farallones Institute (1977-1978); Peace Corps and USAID (1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1993, 1994); Cabinet Maker, Richard Vacha Cabinets (1986); County Director, Foundation for the People of the South Pacific (1986-1988); General Manager, Liapari Limited (1989-1992); Regional Health Coordinator, Foundation for the People of the South Pacific (1994-1995); Project Manager, Eschenbach Construction Company (1995-2003); Construction Manager, Koro Sun Limited (1999); Construction Manager, Taunovo Bay Resort (2003-2006); Accounts/IT Senior Manager, South Pacific Oil (2007-2010); House Carpenter (2012-Present)"

Dr Roy Spencer, who is a meteorologist rather than a climate scientist, commented in 2013 that "Willis gives the impression that his analysis of the data (or his climate regulation theory) is original, which is far from the case" and that he is a "citizen scientist" who "takes matters into his own hands".

Popular Technology continues that:

"The bigger concern is that Mr. Eschenbach either misrepresents his credentials or knowingly allows them to be misrepresented"

There is even more information on PT, as follows:

In 2010, the New York Times incorrectly described him as an "engineer", which Eschenbach failed to correct at the time but finally managed to correct in October 2013 when he admitted to not being an engineer. 

In 2011, The Daily Telegraph incorrectly described him as a "very experienced computer modeller", which again he failed to correct. Instead, he chose to reproduce the misrepresentation in 2013, stating:

"So while you are correct that I’m not an engineer, nor have I claimed to be, I am indeed a computer modeler of some small ability"



Popular Technology comments on this that:

"Mr. Eschenbach has no relevant computer programming experience. He was never trained or employed as a computer programmer, let alone a "computer modeler". He fails to list a single name of a program he actually wrote on his CV (unheard of for a real programmer) that can be verified for their quality and as confirmation of the programming languages he claims to be proficient in."

The Climate Denier List mentions that Eschenbach has "produced no peer-reviewed papers on climate science according to the criteria set by Skeptical Science"

And look at this from climate blog Hot Whopper:

 Hot Whopper has plenty more to say on Eschenbach apparently, judging from the links on this piece.

So, it's pretty clear that Eschenbach is not a scientist, never has been a scientist, and never will be a scientist. On top of that, it is plain to see from his past misrepresentations that it would be very difficult to trust him fully on anything really...

Eschenbach goes on to say that he has no idea "which “eight tenths of a degree” he’s talking about". Well, DeSmogBlog links to this blog piece by him on WUWT, in which he comments:

“There might be some adverse outcomes from that eight tenths of a degree of temperature rise threatening my Grandchildren in 2050, but neither I nor anyone else knows what those outcomes might be. We'll assuredly get an extra flood over here, and one less flood over there, it's very likely to be drier somewhere and wetter somewhere else, in other words, the climate will do what climate has done since forever — change.”

I repeat what I tweeted initially on this:

"That’s being way too optimistic. Even 2 deg C is probably too optimistic. Most climate science says we’re heading in the direction of 4 or even 6 degrees C. Furthermore, at 2 degrees C, melting permafrost releases methane into the atmosphere, which is even more dangerous than CO2."

Eschenbach is clearly trying to detach himself from having made any statement on an eight tenths of a degree warming rise, which is a lie, as the quote from DeSmogBlog shows.

Then Eschenbach claims that the investigations clearing the 'climategate' scientists were "pathetic imitations of a real investigation".

This is just utter nonsense, as the Union of Concerned Scientists makes clear:

"Six official investigations have cleared scientists of accusations of wrongdoing.
 Other agencies and media outlets have investigated the substance of the emails.
Eschenbach then refers to a blog by Steve McIntyre, who is actually a Canadian mining exploration company director, a former minerals prospector and semi-retired mining consultant. That is to say, not a climate scientist. Worse, as a minerals industry figure, he has an obvious bias towards the fossil fuels industry. Unsurprisingly then, he too has an entry on DeSmogBlog. He has a PPE from Oxford and a BSc in mathematics from Toronto. Diddly squat on climate.

Then Eschenbach goes on to say that "you’d be hard pressed to find folks other than wild alarmists who make that claim", in relation to my point about 4-6 degrees C of warming. If that's true, why does the Met Office discuss it? Why does Yale discuss it? Why did the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Climate Analytics say that we are on course for a 4 degree warmer world by the end of the century?


The claim I made that 2 degrees C will melt the permafrost releasing large amounts of methane is scientifically valid. Well-known climate commentator Mark Lynas discussed it in an article for The Guardian here:

"Two degrees is also enough to cause the eventual complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which would raise global sea levels by seven metres. Much of the ice-cap disappeared 125,000 years ago, when global temperatures were 1-2C higher than now. Because of the sheer size of the ice sheet, no one expects this full seven metres to come before the end of the century, but a top Nasa climate scientist, James Hansen, is warning that the mainstream projections of sea level rise (of 50cm or so by 2100) could be dangerously conservative. As if to underline Hansen's warning, the rate of ice loss from Greenland has tripled since 2004."

Top climate scientist Michael Mann discusses it in further detail here:

"When all the forms of evidence are combined, they point to a most likely value for ECS that is close to three degrees C. And as it turns out, the climate models the IPCC actually used in its Fifth Assessment Report imply an even higher value of 3.2 degrees C."

Ah, but of course, deniers don't accept climate models as being accurate, even though they have successfully reproduced global temperatures since 1900 and are vigorously tested. If anything, models actually understate the amount of warming that is on its way.


There is an interesting history of climate modelling here and a discussion of General Circulation Models here. Further commentary can be found on Only In It For The Gold .
A team of Binghamton University researchers including geology PhD student Elliot A. Jagniecki and professors Tim Lowenstein, David Jenkins and Robert Demicco examined nahcolite crystals found in Colorado's Green River Formation, formed 50 million years old during a hothouse

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2015-11-earth-climate-sensitive-co2-previously.html#jCp

Next, Eschenbach has a go at sensitivity of the Earth to CO2. If anything though, the Earth is more sensitive to CO2 than previously thought, as research conducted in 2015 has found:


"A team of Binghamton University researchers including geology PhD student Elliot A. Jagniecki and professors Tim Lowenstein, David Jenkins and Robert Demicco examined nahcolite crystals found in Colorado's Green River Formation, formed 50 million years old during a hothouse climate. They found that CO2 levels during this time may have been as low as 680 parts per million (ppm), nearly half the 1,125 ppm predicted by previous experiments. The new data suggests that past predictions significantly underestimate the impact of greenhouse warming and that Earth's climate may be more sensitive to increased carbon dioxide than was once thought, said Lowenstein."

And:


"CO2 levels in the atmosphere today have reached 400 ppm. According to current projections, doubling the CO2 will result in a rise in the global average temperature of 3 degrees Centigrade. This new research suggests that the effects of CO2 on global warming may be underestimated."


Then Eschenbach presents a series of typically untrue statements. Which I respond to thus:


"No one knows why the globe was generally warmer in Roman times"


Actually, the Medieval Warm Period (along with the Roman warm period) is fairly well understood, with known causes. It coincided with higher than average solar radiation and less volcanic activity. Furthermore, changes in ocean circulation patterns brought warmer seawater into the North Atlantic, which explains the warmth in that region. There are multiple lines of evidence that show the temperatures going back into the paleo record




"Nobody knows why the globe generally cooled after Roman times"

Incorrect. As McCormick et al shows a reduction in solar radiation reaching the earth after 260 AD, thereby producing a cooling activity after 260 AD. The science also indicates that the Medieval Warm Period was regional, not global. Furthermore, this is actually less important than the fact that the general cooling trend over the past 2,000 years has been erased by global warming over the past century (identifiable as being the product of human activity).

"Nobody knows why the globe greatly cooled after Medieval times, leading to the “Little Ice Age” in the 1600s/1700s"

Incorrect. Scientists point to a number of possible causes, including orbital cycles, decreased solar activity, altered ocean current flows, the inherent variability of global climate, and reforestation following decreases in the human population. Miller et al. link the Little Ice Age to an "unusual 50-year-long episode with four large sulfur-rich explosive eruptions. There was heightened volcanic activity throughout the Little Ice Age. The resulting ash cloud blocked out some of the incoming solar radiation, leading to cooling, but sulphur dioxide gas turning into sulphuric acid particles may also have been responsible, as these reflect the sun's rays, further reducing solar radiation.

"Nobody knows why the Little Ice Age didn’t descend into a real Ice Age."

Incorrect.  From the end of the Little Ice Age to the 1950s the sun’s output increased and there was a small contribution from volcanic activity.

However, since the Second World War the sun has cooled, yet the temperature on Earth has gone up.

Skeptical Science, a blog which draws on a wealth of scientific papers, comments:

"Considered alongside the empirical evidence, model predictions and a century of scientific research into the climate, recovery from the LIA is not a plausible theory to explain the observed evidence and rate of global climate change."

"Nobody knows why the earth started generally warming at about 0.5°C per century since the Little Ice Age"

Incorrect. See above.

"Nobody knows why this warming continued through the 20th century"

Incorrect. The industrial revolution and human production of carbon dioxide emissions, i.e. man-made global warming.

"Nobody knows whether the ~ 0.5°C warming of the 21st century is 100% natural and just a continuance of the warming of previous two centuries, or whether some or all of of the warming is due to humans"

Incorrect. NASA and numerous other research organisations have shown there is plenty of evidence for man-made (anthropogenic) global warming (AGW). NASA:

"Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate."

"The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century"

"Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming"

"Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century"

The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year — from January through September, with the exception of June — were the warmest on record for those respective months"

"Nobody knows why there has been a two-decade “hiatus” in the ongoing three centuries of warming."

There wasn't a pause at all. To repeat my answer to Delingpole's lie/conspiracy theory about 'the pause' above:

The BBC reported in January this year that the pause idea had been demolished by two very important studies. The first of these was a paper published by Science in 2016 (full paper in link), the research conducted by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Secondly, the Science Advances research concludes in its abstract that:

"These results suggest that reported rates of SST (Surface Sea Temperature) warming in recent years have been underestimated in these three data sets"

The full report is here.

The BBC reported that:

"As a result, the authors said that the warming experienced in the first 15 years of the 21st Century was "virtually indistinguishable" from the rate of warming between 1950-99, a time generally acknowledged to have seen significant rates of warming from human emissions of CO2."

Eschenbach then comments:

Given our total inability to understand or explain the climate of the past, the idea that a Tinkertoy computer model of the climate can tell us what will happen in the next hundred years is … well … let me describe that claim as “extraordinarily optimistic” rather than say “stunningly foolish” …


I've already explained above, with video, that climate models ARE accurate and CAN be relied upon. This means that this statement is either a blatant lie or a product of incredible delusion. But hey, such is the mentality of climate change deniers.

"Let’s see if he is man enough to step up to the plate."

Well, I just have, with plenty of science. And there's more of that where all of that science came from, but of course deniers just, well, deny it. Their arguments can usually be completely demolished with time and enough evidence, of which there is plenty. However, it's a bit like those Japanese 'banzai' charges during World War 2, these idiots just keep coming back.

Fine. I'll just keep mowing their stupid arguments down, with, er, the truth, with supporting evidence. And I am not the only one doing it.

I was going to widen this piece to have a go at Watts as well, but I'll save that for another time. In the meantime, I am sure Eschenbach will be back. I've just done a quick scan before hitting the 'publish' button to check for any 'ad hominem' attacks on him. None as far as I can see with a quick look, apart from the word 'stupid' in relation to climate change deniers generally and the word 'idiots' in relation to the comment about Japanese banzai charges.

Delingpole deserves ad hominem attacks, because of his viciousness, because he chooses to ad hominem attack in a vicious manner, himself. With Eschenbach, I've merely asked a number of searching questions, exposed his misrepresentations of himself as an engineer and a computer modeller, and more importantly as a scientist (he isn't one). Even more importantly, I've demolished his arguments.

But hey, if you want to come back Willis, fine, I'll demolish them again, with a bit of time of course, because researching the facts about climate change is a lengthy process for a journalist, and I am a journalist rather than a climate scientist (but Willis isn't a scientist at all of course). It's far more preferable to the continued nonsense that deniers like Eschenbach comes out with. Even more importantly though, thousands are dying NOW from phenomenon caused by climate change, and that will increase as climate change ramps up. Anyone interested in human decency and preserving human life would do the same as me: squashing the arguments of toerag climate change deniers at every possible given opportunity. Just a shame I have to earn money from other stuff I do, which means I can't spend as much time as I would like on this unpaid climate change denier debunking stuff. But hey, I do what I can with the time I have available.

Over to you.
A team of Binghamton University researchers including geology PhD student Elliot A. Jagniecki and professors Tim Lowenstein, David Jenkins and Robert Demicco examined nahcolite crystals found in Colorado's Green River Formation, formed 50 million years old during a hothouse . They found that CO2 levels during this time may have been as low as 680 parts per million (ppm), nearly half the 1,125 ppm predicted by previous experiments. The new data suggests that past predictions significantly underestimate the impact of and that Earth's climate may be more sensitive to increased carbon dioxide than was once thought, said Lowenstein.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2015-11-earth-climate-sensitive-co2-previously.html#jCp
A team of Binghamton University researchers including geology PhD student Elliot A. Jagniecki and professors Tim Lowenstein, David Jenkins and Robert Demicco examined nahcolite crystals found in Colorado's Green River Formation, formed 50 million years old during a hothouse . They found that CO2 levels during this time may have been as low as 680 parts per million (ppm), nearly half the 1,125 ppm predicted by previous experiments. The new data suggests that past predictions significantly underestimate the impact of and that Earth's climate may be more sensitive to increased carbon dioxide than was once thought, said Lowenstein.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2015-11-earth-climate-sensitive-co2-previously.html#jCp
A team of Binghamton University researchers including geology PhD student Elliot A. Jagniecki and professors Tim Lowenstein, David Jenkins and Robert Demicco examined nahcolite crystals found in Colorado's Green River Formation, formed 50 million years old during a hothouse . They found that CO2 levels during this time may have been as low as 680 parts per million (ppm), nearly half the 1,125 ppm predicted by previous experiments. The new data suggests that past predictions significantly underestimate the impact of and that Earth's climate may be more sensitive to increased carbon dioxide than was once thought, said Lowenstein.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2015-11-earth-climate-sensitive-co2-previously.html#jCp
A team of Binghamton University researchers including geology PhD student Elliot A. Jagniecki and professors Tim Lowenstein, David Jenkins and Robert Demicco examined nahcolite crystals found in Colorado's Green River Formation, formed 50 million years old during a hothouse . They found that CO2 levels during this time may have been as low as 680 parts per million (ppm), nearly half the 1,125 ppm predicted by previous experiments. The new data suggests that past predictions significantly underestimate the impact of and that Earth's climate may be more sensitive to increased carbon dioxide than was once thought, said Lowenstein.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2015-11-earth-climate-sensitive-co2-previously.html#jCp 
In conclusion then, Eschenbach is well-practiced in spouting the pile of bullshit and lies that climate change deniers regularly spew. Understandable, because he is a denier himself.

18 comments:

  1. Do you really believe that Russian temperature records from, say, 1917-1950 are reliable?

    You don't really expect a rational person to believe that people were making accurate daily observations all over Russia during the Revolution or during the Sieges of Stalingrad and Leningrad?

    Do you honestly believe that Chinese temperature records from, say, 1913-1980 are reliable?

    Do you really expect anybody to believe that accurate daily temperatures were recorded in China during the Revolution or "The Great Leap Forward?"

    Do you seriously believe that Sub-Saharan African temperatures from, say 1850-1975 are accurate?

    Please don't tell us you think accurate daily temperature recordings were made in Sub-Saharan Africa during any part of the 19th century and most of the 20th.

    Do you really believe that oceanic temperatures from, say 1800-1970 are accurate? ( as we know, the oceans cover 70% of the earth’s surface).

    Do you really believe there were accurate daily temperature observations made in the Bering Sea or the Weddell Sea or in the middle of the Pacific at any time before the advent of satellite observations in 1979?


    Are you kidding?

    All this is even prior to considering the GISS homogenization adjustments or the adjustments made for the UHI effect.

    These are measurement error and uncertainties in excess of the putative change in global temperatures.

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    1. Thanks for that. I will reply to this presently to respond to your points. However, I would just like to say in the meantime that the reason I didn't live debate with Willis on WUWT is because I would have been thrown into a melee of largely unqualified commentators, very few, if any, are likely to be qualified climate scientists but who are pretty adept at cherry picking, distorting and basically lying about the science. To use an ability based on the TV series 'The Walking Dead', it would have been like entering a warehouse full of walkers. Obviously I am not going to throw myself into the middle of a voracious rabble. That would be pretty dumb. I prefer my home turf. I will say though that I do intend to respond to the 400+ comments on WUWT, but slowly and methodically, addressing them here first before posting my response on WUWT. So, I am not scared of a debate, I just prefer to participate in it on my own terms. That's the way it's going to be I am afraid.

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    2. Currently using a mobile hence the typo. Please swap the word analogy for ability above.

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    3. So, here is a reply to the first part of this comment regarding historical temperature records. This is best answered by Carol Rasmussen's article on the NASA website from 20th July 2016, entitled "Historical records miss a fifth of global warming". According to a NASA study from 2016, almost a fifth of global warming over the past 150 tears has been missed by historical records due to quirks in how the temperatures were recorded. These quirks hide around 19 percent if global air warming since the 1860s. This means that calculations generated from historical records alone were cooler than about 90 percent of the results from the climate models that the IPCC uses for its assessment reports. So, in essence, yes there is a problem with the reliability of historical records, but it seems that actually underplays the amount of warming since 1860 rather than exaggerating it. I will write a more detailed blog piece on this with links next week.

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  2. This really looks like a flooding strategy. A huge amount of points, mostly utterly unrelated to climate change debate. Like all those attacks on personal bio and so on. This may satisfy you, but it won't add anything to the question of interest: do we have a problem with CO2 emissions?

    Let's try to center in one of the very few statements which are related to the debate.

    - "NASA and numerous other research organizations have shown there is plenty of evidence for man-made (anthropogenic) global warming (AGW)".

    https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

    - Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Global temperatures rise, declining Arctic sea ice, glacial retreat, decreased snow cover.

    Correct, but it doesn't tell us the cause of warming, or the (small) warming being harmful. And there is nothing new about it in terms of the Holocene.

    - Sea level rise: Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century.

    That's deceiving. You can't compare the mean rise of two decades with the mean rise of a century. In fact, sea level rise of the last two decades is the same as it was from 1930 to 1965 - about 3.2 mm/year (Jevrejeva et al 2014).

    - Extreme events.

    Nothing to see here. Read IPCC AR5 carefully.

    - Ocean acidification.

    Many contradictory studies, mostly worthless. And in any case this would be evidence of some different harm by CO2, not of a warming by GHGs, dangerous or beneficial..

    In short: where you found "plenty of evidence for man-made global warming" there is exactly zero evidence of it. And of course, you can have some anthro warming, and the warming being good instead of bad. For instance, a greening earth as we see happening.

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    1. "but it doesn't tell us the cause of warming"

      On this, you are very wrong actually. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) explains as much here: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/science/human-contribution-to-gw-faq.html#.WQhhi9y1vIU

      "There are human fingerprints on carbon overload. When humans burn coal, oil and gas (fossil fuels) to generate electricity or drive our cars, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, where it traps heat. A carbon molecule that comes from fossil fuels and deforestation is “lighter” than the combined signal of those from other sources. As scientists measure the “weight” of carbon in the atmosphere over time they see a clear increase in the lighter molecules from fossil fuel and deforestation sources that correspond closely to the known trend in emissions"

      And:

      "Natural changes alone can’t explain the temperature changes we’ve seen. For a computer model to accurately project the future climate, scientists must first ensure that it accurately reproduces observed temperature changes. When the models include only recorded natural climate drivers—such as the sun’s intensity—the models cannot accurately reproduce the observed warming of the past half century. When human-induced climate drivers are also included in the models, then they accurately capture recent temperature increases in the atmosphere and in the oceans.[4,5,6] When all the natural and human-induced climate drivers are compared to one another, the dramatic accumulation of carbon from human sources is by far the largest climate change driver over the past half century."

      And:

      "Lower-level atmosphere—which contains the carbon load—is expanding. The boundary between the lower atmosphere (troposphere) and the higher atmosphere (stratosphere) has shifted upward in recent decades. See the ozone FAQ for a figure illustrating the layers of the atmosphere.[6,7,8] This boundary has likely changed because heat-trapping gases accumulate in the lower atmosphere and that atmospheric layer expands as it heats up (much like warming the air in a balloon). And because less heat is escaping into the higher atmosphere, it is likely cooling. This differential would not occur if the sun was the sole climate driver, as solar changes would warm both atmospheric layers, and certainly would not have warmed one while cooling the other."

      Plenty more information in the UCS article where that little lot came from.

      As for sea level rise, Judith Curry explains about that here: https://judithcurry.com/2016/02/23/is-sea-level-rise-accelerating/

      She quotes a phys.org summary thus:

      "Global sea level rose faster in the 20th century than in any of the 27 previous centuries, according to a Rutgers University-led study"

      As for ocean acidification, National Geographic covers that subject very well here: http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/explore/pristine-seas/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/

      So sorry, but you are completely wrong on this.

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  3. Robin: would you agree that current temperature and sea level trends, considered apart from any modeling of CO2 forcing theory, were in place before the industrial revolution? And have you considered that a consensus requiring enormous financial sacrifice requires actual crisis conditions? Isn't your problem of arousing support from the general public due to the lack of a Pearl Harbor event?

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    1. To answer the first question, are you saying that sea level hasn't risen since the start of the industrial revolution? If so, the Met Office differs on this: "Over the period 1901-2010 global mean sea level rose by around 20cm and has been rising by about 3mm a year since the early 1990s" (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/2015/global-average-temperature-2015)

      Or are you saying that sea level was rising before the industrial revolution anyway? Admittedly I used a Wikipedia entry ("https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_level_rise#Past_changes_in_sea_level) for an initial look at this, which said: "Recently, it has become widely accepted that late Holocene, 3,000 calendar years ago to present, sea level was nearly stable prior to an acceleration of rate of rise that is variously dated between 1850 and 1900 AD"

      And:

      "Since 1880, as the Industrial Revolution took center stage, the ocean began to rise briskly, climbing a total of 210 mm (8.3 in) through 2009 causing extensive erosion worldwide and costing billions"

      This refers back to a New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/science/sea-level-rise-global-warming-climate-change.html?_r=0

      ...which says: "In the 19th century, as the Industrial Revolution took hold, the ocean began to rise briskly, climbing about eight inches since 1880."

      This links back to a paper by Church & White (2011): http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10712 -011-9119-1/fulltext.html

      So my answer to your first question is, no, I wouldn't. But hey, send me a link if you think differently.

      Secondly, you ask if I have considered a "consensus requiring enormous financial sacrifice requires actual crisis conditions". If you mean, do I think that many people will have to experience disaster personally before they start to do anything themselves about decarbonising their lifestyles, I think that yes, for some people, that is true. However, there are many more that are starting to read the science, listen to the politicians, taking notice of the corporations decarbonising their operations and of the falling costs of solar and wind etc and decarbonising their lifestyles as much as they can in the meantime. So, there is still much to hope for.

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    2. The onset of industrial revolution and impacting industrial CO2 are two different things. The amount of CO2 emitted by industrial was tiny until the 1940's. So how did such tiny amounts trigger sea level rise in the early 1900's? If CO2 had such a powerful forcing then, wouldn't the rate of rise be accelerating now with triple magnitudes more anthropogenic CO2 emitted? But it's not... https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=8518750

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    3. That sounds to me like the standard denier claim of "how can small amounts of CO2 be responsible for warming". This shows that modern sea level rise, due to the industrial revolution, did indeed begin in the 1700's: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2008GeoRL..35.8715J Sea level rose by 6 cm during the 19th century and by 19 cm in the 20th century.

      Anisimov et al (2001) concludes that: "the onset of the acceleration
      occurred during the 19th century" (http://old.grida.no//climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/pdf/tar-11.pdf - 661-665)This section also says: "In summary, analysis of TOPEX/POSEIDON data suggest a rate of sea level rise during the 1990s greater than the mean rate of rise for much of the 20th century. It is not yet clear whether
      this is the result of a recent acceleration, of systematic differences
      between the two measurement techniques, or of the shortness of the record (6 years)."

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    4. Furthermore, I consider this question of the NOAA data here: https://energyandenvironmentblog.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/online-trolls-and-climate-science.html

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  4. Rather than ad hominem attacks, why not focus on measuring the accuracy of the forecasts based on the models.

    Let's start with the Hansen paper of 1988:

    https://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/1988/1988_Hansen_ha02700w.pdf

    Figure 1, shows a forecast of a surface temperature rise of c. 1.1 deg C from 1980 to 2016 under scenario A.

    Plate 4 and section 5.2.3 predicts even faster warming of the troposphere, particularly the tropical troposphere. Indeed, the troposphere warming is cited as an 'useful diagnostic' for the greenhouse effect.

    Now to what happened.

    1) Greenhouse gas emissions have been even higher than predicted under scenario A.

    2) According to wft, surface temperatures have risen by about 0.9 deg C (Giss), from 1980 to 2016, but have since fallen as the El Nino effect dissipates. Many challenge the GISS dataset, as the level of warming from 1880 to 2000 shown by that dataset has risen from around 0.5 in 2002 to about 1.2 deg C in 2014. Surely, they knew how to read thermometers in the early 20th century?

    https://realclimatescience.com/alterations-to-climate-data/

    3) Troposphere temperatures have risen about 0.4 deg C for the same period.

    http://woodfortrees.org/graph/gistemp-dts/from:1979.1/offset:-0.32/mean:12/plot/rss/from:1979.1/mean:12/plot/gistemp-dts/from:1979.1/offset:-0.32/trend/plot/rss/from:1979.1/trend

    At the same time, estimates of Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) to CO2 doubling have fallen to about 1.6 deg C. This is (just) within the IPCC range of 1.5-4.5 deg C, but interestingly quite a bit below the alleged danger limit of 2 deg C.

    https://judithcurry.com/2016/04/25/updated-climate-sensitivity-estimates/

    In conclusion, Hansen's forecast was wrong. He predicted far more warming than has actually occurred. Crucially, the troposphere has warmed less than the surface, so the prediction about the troposphere being a useful diagnostic for the greenhouse effect has been proven wrong.

    Ergo, the greenhouse effect has been over-stated. Moreover, spending trillions to reduce CO2 emissions is probably the wrong solution to global warming. If far more of the warming is natural than we thought, then it would be better to spend on adaptation, since that will also help with CO2 induced warming.

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    1. I am going to make this a subject of another post, so go back to the blog home and see the post on Hansen 1988.

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  5. I notice that instead of debating actual points about the science, you resort mainly to appeals to authority and personal attacks. Does it matter if someone is a climate scientist or not when they make a scientific claim? Debate the claim, not their qualifications.

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    1. Oh and why don't you say who you really are? Scared?

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  6. "Does it matter if someone is a climate scientist or not when they make a scientific claim?" - to an extent it does yes, because that is an indication of their ability to do the science properly. I wouldn't ask an artist to carry out an important maintenance task on a passenger jet airliner, for example. The fact that you don't seem to get that concept is pretty indicative really.

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    1. If someone makes a scientific claim, all you have to do is prove their claim wrong, not question their credentials. Your "artist" analogy is flawed, as nobody is "asking" them for their input, but they have given it. If an artist took on the task of important maintenance of a passenger jet airliner, you don't attack the artist, you inspect their work thoroughly for errors and point out what you find. And FYI, I'm not saying who I am because it's not important to the discussion.

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    2. That's actually quite ridiculous. The analogy is not flawed at all. Anyone conducting maintenance work on a passenger jet airliner has to be a properly qualified engineer first, in the same way that people judge scientists making statements on climate, quite legitimately in my view, on whether they are qualified in climate science, or some important aspect of it, or not. Thus you merely confirm that many if not all the guys on Watts Up With That are either commenting on science that is not covered by their particular area of expertise or their qualification or are not scientists at all. And yes it is important. Your identity is important to the discussion in a minor way in that no-one, at present, knows who you are and thus can't judge your level of expertise and qualification for discussing climate science.

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