Global Warming: Man or Myth?

Scientists can also wear their citizen hats

Snippets of Stolen Emails Cannot Make the Earth Flat

with 29 comments

As has been reported in many news outlets today, a file containing over 5,000 emails from climate scientists has been made available in an apparent attempt to undermine public confidence in well-understood science.  This, only days before the COP17 Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa where international leaders will gather again try to hammer out international treaties to get the world off its high carbon emission path and to save humanity from the suffering that human-caused climate change brings with it.  Sound familiar?  Copenhagen deja vu?

Here is what we know:

  1. The earth is round.
  2. Smoking is linked to lung cancer.
  3. The climate is warming.  Ice is rapidly melting, oceans are heating up, and the atmosphere is setting warming records every decade.  In fact, 2010 and 2005 tied as the hottest year in the global temperature record.  For a wealth of information and illustrations, please see Modern Day Climate Change.
  4. Humans are responsible for most of this warming because we are emitting massive amounts of heat-trapping gases primarily in the form of carbon dioxide.
  5. It has been known for over 100 years that carbon dioxide traps heat on the planet, just like adding blankets keeps you warm at night.  See Impact of Greenhouse Gases for more details and illustrations.
  6. Last year humans emitted a record 30 billion metric tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the air.  For perspective, that is equivalent to the weight of 15,000 Gulf Oil Spills EVERY DAY.
  7. The pattern of observed warming is precisely what physics tells us we should be seeing if heat is being trapped by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.  Nights are warming faster than days, winters are warming faster than summers, the oceans are gaining heat, and the lower atmosphere is warming while the upper atmosphere is cooling.  There are no known natural mechanisms that can cause this observed warming pattern.  Please read The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism by John Cook for a very easy-to-read and highly illustrated summary of the human fingerprints of global warming.
  8. Because of the mountain of evidence, the United States National Academy of Sciences (2010) declared that a strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems” assettled fact.”
  9. Historical evidence, well-understood physics, and sophisticated climate models all point to a dangerously warm climate if emissions are not dramatically reduced.  In fact, the International Energy Agency reports that humanity has about five years to rapidly move away from a fossil fuel-based economy before catastrophic climate change is locked in.
  10. Killer heat waves, devastating droughts and wildfires, and unprecedented floods are expected in our warmer world and we are witnessing these events now.  Climate is the canvas and weather is what is painted on that canvas.  Change the canvas and all weather is affected.  The extra heat and moisture that human-caused warming is adding to the climate is like injecting steroids into our weather.
  11. Out-of-context snippets from stolen emails cannot change the well-understood science nor can they change the freakish weather that your eyes have been seeing.
  12. These “new” emails are actually from the two-year old CRU email hack in November 2009.  The original release of hacked emails turned out to be a hoax, a manufactured scandal designed to smear climate scientists.  Climate scientists have been vindicated in multiple investigations.  See http://www.skepticalscience.com/Climategate-CRU-emails-hacked.htm and Nature Did Not Read the Hacked Emails for more context.
  13. Climate scientists are not the only experts who are concerned.  Military and intelligence experts warn that climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions. Health officials warn us that climate change could be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. Climate change was recently listed as the greatest strategic risk currently facing the property/casualty insurance industry.

It is a shame that politically motivated ideologues cannot disprove the science so they resort to smear tactics and lies and use major media outlets to keep the average person confused about the coming crisis.  They should pull their heads out of the sand and come to the table.  We need solutions and it would be much better if conservatives and progressives hammered out the deals together.  The end result will be that there will be great suffering and the solutions, when put into place, will not be those favored by conservatives who sat out of the discussion.

My colleague Dr. John Abraham sums up the situation very well:

“Ask the Texas farmer who just lost tens of thousands of dollars due to extreme heat and drought whether he cares about emails.”

Update (11/24/2011): Over at Watts Up With That, Anthony Watts and his commenters are criticizing my co2/blanket metaphor and because of that metaphor they are questioning my scientific understanding.  I have also received email to that effect from one of Watts’ followers.  When speaking to the public it is often necessary to use metaphors that are not exact science such as heat being “trapped”  (it isn’t, the climate system is just slow to catch up to the radiative imbalance) or “warming like adding blankets at night” (same result but for different reasons).  Watts also points his readership to Dr. Fraser’s Bad Meteorology page that describes some common misunderstandings.  I took courses with Dr. Fraser at Penn State so I am well aware of the proper physics.  In fact, I have had the Bad Meteorology page as a link on my faculty home page for more than a decade!

If Anthony Watts wishes to have Dr. Fraser make an exam and we both travel to Penn State and take that exam under his watchful eye, I would wager my score would be higher than his.  :)

Others are doing a wonderful job in trying to get the truth out to the general public:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shawn-lawrence-otto/climategate-20-new-emails_b_1107704.html

http://climatecrocks.com/2011/11/22/been-there-done-that-got-the-delta-t-climate-hackers-try-again/

http://www.desmogblog.com/climategate-hackers-slither-again-night

http://mediamatters.org/blog/201111220024

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/22/fresh-hacked-climate-science-emails

http://thinkprogress.org/green/2011/11/22/374530/climategate-20-have-journalists-learned-their-lesson/

http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/11/22/374559/fool-me-once-shame-on-you-fool-me-twice-shame-on-the-media-more-stolen-emails-global-warming/

http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/new-stolen-e-mails-released/

http://mediamatters.org/blog/201111220013

http://www.shawnotto.com/neorenaissance/blog20111122.html

http://www.carbonbrief.org/

http://scottbrophy.com/2011/11/22/breaking-story-climategate-redux-nah-broken-story-ecept-for-the-theft-the-smear-campaign-and-the-upcoming-press-coverage/

http://getenergysmartnow.com/2011/11/22/climategate-redux-an-opportunity-to-show-learning/

http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/CRUstatements/statements/CRUnov11

http://www.scholarsandrogues.com/2011/11/22/zombie-climate-emails-rise-again/

http://markey.house.gov/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=4611&Itemid=125

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/climate-weather/blogs/hackers-break-into-university-in-attempt-to-revive-climategate-s#

http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/hackers-release-batch-of-stolen-emails-0574.html

http://getenergysmartnow.com/2011/11/22/satter-and-eilperin-failure-to-demonstrate-learning/

http://metaclimate.org/2011/11/22/recycled-chum-aka-denier-bait/

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/11/two-year-old-turkey/

http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=428

http://theconversation.edu.au/there-is-a-real-climategate-out-there-4428

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/23/science/earth/new-trove-of-stolen-e-mails-from-climate-scientists-is-released.html?_r=1

http://climatecrocks.com/2011/11/23/bbc-climate-emails-a-hack-not-a-leak/

http://climatecrocks.com/2011/11/23/the-real-climate-gate/

http://scienceblogs.com/classm/2011/11/another_round_of_yawn_those_st.php

http://www.aussmc.org/2011/11/rapid-reaction-new-release-of-climate-emails-which-appear-to-be-from-university-of-east-anglia-%e2%80%93-uk-experts-respond/

http://blogs.crikey.com.au/rooted/2011/11/23/climategate-ii-5000-new-emails-released-sparking-climate-conspiracy-despite-evidence

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/11/22/climategate-2-more-ado-about-nothing-again/

http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2011/11/23/climategate-2-a-weak-sequel/

http://scottbrophy.com/2011/11/23/swift-boat-sinks-in-suprise-move-journalists-debunk-deniers/

http://www.rep.org/opinions/press_releases/backgrounder11-11-23.html

http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2011/11/abraham-emails-opinion

http://www.minnpost.com/donshelby/2011/11/23/33377/how_will_the_media_handle_climategate_version_20

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/23/climate-scientists-hacked-emails-uea

http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/11/climategate-20-will-media-do-its-job-time

http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/11/leaked-climate-change-e-mails

http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/11/24/new-climategate-emails-reveal-life-is-tough-for-scientists/

http://metaclimate.org/2011/11/22/recycled-chum-aka-denier-bait/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/24/leaked-climate-science-emails?newsfeed=true

http://climatecrocks.com/2011/11/25/press-begins-skeptical-dissection-of-bogus-climate-hack-spin/

http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/CRUstatements/rebuttalsandcorrections/phrasesexplained

http://mattgbush.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/who-are-the-biggest-sceptics/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_profilepage&v=4OB2prBtVFo

http://deepclimate.org/2011/11/28/mckitrick-hides-the-context/

http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2011/11/25/on-finding-ones-email-in-the-hacked-climate-science-email-files/

http://www.livescience.com/17257-scientists-cope-personal-climate-debate.html

Written by Scott Mandia

November 22, 2011 at 7:41 pm

29 Responses

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  1. [...] Scott Mandia: Global Warming: Man or Myth? [...]

  2. [...] Snippets of stolen emails cannot make the Earth flat [...]

  3. [...] Snippets of Stolen Emails Cannot Make the Earth Flat [...]

  4. ““Ask the Texas farmer who just lost tens of thousands of dollars due to extreme heat and drought whether he cares about emails.”

    Um, hate to bring this up but Texas is a desert state. What part of extreme heat and drought is NOT expected in a desert?

    It amazes me how often I hear this kind of thing from climate alarmists, like complaining about heat and drought in a desert, or being alarmed about downpours in a rainforest, or being alarmed about floods on floodplains. Its like living in the arctic and being surprised that it is cold. Sheesh.

    klem

    November 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    • Um… If I were you Klem I wouldn’t bring it up too much cause you are completely wrong. Texas is a desert state? This is news to me. Klem, something like only 10% of the state is considered desert. Parts of East Texas, if you’ve never been, gets on average 40-60 inches of rain. To put in perspective, Pennsylvania averages around 45 in/year. I was down there in 2003 doing work with NASA when the space shuttle broke apart and it actually reminded me alot of PA. Although in the middle of nowhere near Palestine, TX… it looked a hell of alot like the forests of SE PA and Southern NJ (minus the wild pigs and huge venomous snakes!)

      Ryan C.

      November 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm

      • Yea you’re right, Texas is not a desert state. Only half of Texas has less than 25 inches of rain a year. Only half of Texas is desert. My mistake.

        klem

        November 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      • Less than 25 inches of rain a year does not even qualify it as a semidesert or steppe!

        In reality, less than 10% can be classified as a desert.

        Klem – facts 0-1

        Marco

        November 26, 2011 at 6:02 pm

      • According to Wikipedia “Generally speaking, the eastern half of Texas is humid subtropical, while the western half is semi-arid (with some arid regions). ”

        Marco – facts 0 – 1.

        cheers.

        klem

        November 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      • klem, you better go to a library and read up, rather than use vague references to Wikipedia and West Texas. you can start with reading up how large West Texas really is, and what the difference between arid and semi-arid is. then come back with your “desert” claims, and back it up with facts.

        klem-facts: 0-2

        One more strike and you’re out.

        Marco

        November 29, 2011 at 7:22 am

    • But you and I actually have minds that can handle simple logic. Obviously, some do not, or in many cases more accurately have too much of an agenda to not put out proposterous information designed to support their arguments.

      Arent the most fervent evangelists of climate change, or any other belief system for that matter, the scariest? Amazing though that some actually think the rest of us are this ignorant to blindly listen to it. There are multiple reasons the wheels have fallen off the climate change hoax. One is the hoaxers simply speak absurd “science” with all effort toward an agenda vice any energy toward actual truth. They continue to put out so much garbage no one is listening. This creates greater and greater effort toward forcing a “consensus” by force. Lastly, when you follow the money you find all the usual suspects behind it – big oil, controlling massive corps, and global governance types that think we should all bow to their pathetic idea of a future and let them run things, including one monetary system, and one central bank that controls the world.

      This gentleman seems to be horribly brainwashed or horribly supporting a very scary agenda of those in high places.

      Nothing scarier than persons in a position of influence that have no interest in the truth. Unfortunatley, those pulling this guy’s chain are much more sinister than most can imagine.

      Sheesh is right.

      Tony

      November 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

  5. klem,

    Perhaps you haven’t been up-to-date on what’s going on in Texas. Over 90% of the state is in severe or exceptional drought, the most severe one-year drought ever recorded for Texas. Large portions of the historic Bastrop State Park have been burned to the ground. Entire lakes are evaporating, and dust storms like the ones during the Dust Bowl have enveloped cities (try looking these up on Youtube). Reuters reports agricultural losses exceeding $5 billion.

    Alex

    November 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    • So how long does the drought need to happen before we can state that the climate has officially permanently changed, and drought is now normal?

      klem

      November 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm

      • By the time the changes have become permanent, don’t you think that’s a little too late?

        Alex

        November 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm

      • Um, too late for what?

        klem

        November 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

  6. As a paleoclimatologist, let me try to bring some real science to this page.
    (a) It is NOT true that “2010 and 2005 tied as the hottest year in the global temperature record”, unless one very selectively cherry picks the record. In fact, it was warmer in the Medieval period. I was warmer in the Roman and Minoan periods. It was warmer in the Pliocene, and it was MUCH warmer in the Eocene.
    (b) The Earth has been warming for the past 100 years, but only slightly. Which is why it is so difficult to establish this. Over a longer base line, the Earth has been warming since about 1750; that warming has continued at about the same rate over the past 100 years as in the previous 150 years. While CO2 might be contributing to warming lately, it certainly did not from 1750 until 1900. The small amount of warming that we are presently experiencing could be entirely natural. Or humans could be contributing to it. We climate scientists are just not sure.
    (c) The pattern of warming is most certainly NOT “precisely what physics tells us we should be seeing if heat is being trapped by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.” We are having enormous difficulty correlating the physics with the observations at present. Which is not a problem for real scientists, as we all understand that a planetary climate is a very, very complex thing, and we would be surprised if any of our models actually worked the way that non-scientists activists (like Scott) claim.
    (d) Read the National Academy document. And find why it includes fudge words such as “broadly”.
    (e) No, the “killer heat waves, devastating droughts and wildfires, and unprecedented floods” of the last years are not due to global warming. If there is anything in this field that is “settled fact” it is that no weather phenomenon in the last few years is anything out of the ordinary, and has no relation to the (perhaps) one degree of warming in the last century +.
    As Richard Feynmen pointed out, much of the political discourse claiming the mantle of “science” is actually antiscience. Scott provides an excellent example of “antiscience” here.

    Paleogenetics

    November 24, 2011 at 1:20 am

    • “Broadly” is a suspicious fudge word? Are you sure you’re actually a paleoclimatologist? Your post reads like it came straight out of WUWT.

      Alex

      November 24, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    • You are clearly not a paleoclimatologist, but an imposter. Your misrepresentations of the science are clear evidence of that

      Marco

      November 26, 2011 at 6:04 pm

  7. I used to have a modicum of respect for Scott Mandia because he acknowledged the existence of the Medieval Warm Period.

    This latest rant shows that he has lost his marbles and his remaining credibility.

    Mandia: Apparently you also disrespect just about every scientist in the field. Your blogroll is quite revealing.

    gallopingcamel

    November 24, 2011 at 2:07 am

    • “Mandia: Apparently you also disrespect just about every scientist in the field. Your blogroll is quite revealing.”

      Not true! I only challenge the “Climate Scientists” who suffer from confirmation bias. You will find me respecting Patrick Michaels, Fred Singer, Richard Lindzen, Sally Baliunas, Willy Soon, Freeman Dyson, Nicola Scafetta, Michael Crichton, Burt Rutan, George Carlin, Jasper Kirkby, John Spencer, John Cristy and the many thousands who signed the Oregon petition (the list includes some Nobel prize winners).

      I can make a list of people who I disrespect to the point that I would challenge their right to be called “Scientists” but you can probably figure it out from my blogroll.

      I suspect that you have faith in the IPCC. Maybe the link that follows will help you to understand why so few people share your faith:

      http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2011/10/24/wwf-issues-press-release-about-my-book/

      You might benefit from reading Donna’s book.

      This is your blog. I have had my say; I don’t enjoy being disagreeable so I will respectfully leave you to have the last word.

      gallopingcamel

      November 24, 2011 at 11:50 pm

      • “Oregon petition”? Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

        pendantry

        December 4, 2011 at 11:53 am

  8. Paleogenetics,

    Great post! Mammals achieved dominance during the (very warm) Eocene when there was no permanent ice at either pole.

    Looking to the more recent past, most of the Holocene has been warmer than the modern warm period. Here is a graph I prepared using GISP2 ice core data and Danish Meteorological Institute files. You can see the same thing in GRIP, DYE and Vostok ice cores:

    Mandia: Modern T in Greenland is warmer than at any time in the past 10,000 years.

    It never ceases to amaze me that people bash the hockey stick and then use paleo data to support their false claims. It also amazes me that people can claim that past periods such as MWP were warmer than today and then in the next breath tell us that climate sensitivity is low.

    You cannot have it both ways.

    gallopingcamel

    November 24, 2011 at 2:16 am

    • Shorter gallopingcamel — “Irrigation was clearly practised by Eocene mammals.”

      J Bowers

      November 24, 2011 at 5:17 am

      • Sorry, I am too dense to understand your point.

        gallopingcamel

        November 24, 2011 at 11:53 pm

      • Good if you don’t rely on crop irrigation to provide a staple diet to the billions of your species. Then there’s the third of your species who rely on marine sourced food for their staple diet. A shame CO2 itself has a nasty effect on marine phytoplankton which happen to be at the bottom of the food chain.

        J Bowers

        November 25, 2011 at 11:50 am

    • Scott Mandia,
      I contacted Richard Alley directly and he was able to point out some errors in my admittedly amateur analysis. He is a very open and likeable person in sharp contrast to his Penn State colleague Michael Mann (Eminence Grise).

      The SKS link you provide presents Easterbrook’s arguments correctly but the so called refutation make no sense at all. The facts are on Easterbrook’s side and the evidence is in plain sight on the NOAA web site and in the SKS link.

      Then you say:
      “It also amazes me that people can claim that past periods such as MWP were warmer than today and then in the next breath tell us that climate sensitivity is low. You cannot have it both ways.”

      I had nothing to say about “climate sensitivity”; this is an issue related to feedbacks in response to “forcings”. Since you raise the issue, it is obvious that the climate changes during the Eocene and Holocene cannot be explained in terms of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere whether natural or man made.

      Many efforts have been made to explain these variations and I think it is fair to say that there is little agreement about causation other than that mankind could not have had any influence until maybe the last 75 years.

      gallopingcamel

      November 24, 2011 at 11:16 pm

  9. The moderators at Watt’s Up With That (WUWT) have just completed a retrospective censorship of all comments associated to the following post:

    “Science and skepticism equally serve humanity best when the most rational forms of skepticism are directed against the strongest scientific evidence.”

    Mariss posts: I cannot make any sense of that quote. Is it a plea to stop examining weak and shoddy science like the AGW theory?

    Mariss, the answer to your question is given in one of the most personal, illuminating, and celebrated descriptions ever written of science as a creative process:

    Naturalist
    by Edward O Wilson

    Without a trace of irony I can say that I have been blessed with brilliant enemies. They made me suffer (after all, they were enemies), but I owe them a great debt, because they redoubled my energies and sent me in new directions. We need such people in our creative lives. As John Stuart Mill once put it, both teachers and learners fall asleep at their posts when there is no enemy in the field.

    The key point is, Mariss, that among the very best things that could happen to humanity in the 21st century would be for climate change scientists and skeptics to serve as each other’s “brilliant enemies.” — and this requires that the most rational forms of skepticism be directed against the strongest scientific evidence.

    If some of the posts and comments here on WUWT have beautifully exemplified the most rational forms of skepticism, it is regrettably true none-the-less that too many other WUWT posts and comments have focused narrowly upon those forms of skepticism that (in the long run) are the weakest and most useless : slogan-chanting, cherry-picking, and witch-hunting.

    The point of Ed Wilson’s celebrated essay is the paradoxical fact that in scientific debate, whenever one side weakens, both sides lose. That’s why we can all hope — skeptics and nonskeptics alike — that WUWT as a forum evolves to be far more effective in fostering solid science and brilliant skepticism.

    It’s both ironic and saddening that WUWT’s clamp-down is preventing it from filling a vital need that Ed Wilson describes so vividly, and that the leaked emails illuminate so clearly: climate science stands greatly in need of brilliant skepticism.

    A physicist

    November 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    • As a followup, WUTW moderators now instantly delete even posts like the following:

      ThePhysicsGuy requests: So put up or shut-up, A Physicist, and take your silly math and stuff it (like a turkey).

      ThePhysicsGuy, to see my views WUWT folks can click here, or not as they freely prefer. My appreciation and thanks are extended to everyone — skeptic and nonskeptic alike — who has posted seriously on this topic. And Happy Thanksgiving to all!   :)

      The encouraging lesson (it seems to me) is that the skeptical public is intensely eager for a dialog with practicing scientists. And if it should happen that some citizens prefer a debate that is couched in vigorous terms, well, that’s no big deal, and perhaps that vigor even is a good thing.

      The sobering lesson, though, is that the professionals who operate the skeptical web-sites are increasingly determined to obstruct all such public dialog. Previously I had not appreciated these websites’ no-dialog fervency, which entirely deserves to be called a “war on science.”

      A physicist

      November 24, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    • Here is today’s entry in the Salon des Skeptique Refusés (that is, posts deleted instantly by WUTW):

      crosspatch says: This email makes it sound like we go into some sort of CO2 runaway situation and we know full well that apparently didn’t happen in the past.

      Crosspatch, folks who appreciate that Earth’s sun is evolving along the stellar Main Sequence are greatly sobered by reflecting that as the earth’s sun has grown steadily brighter and hotter (over hundreds of millions of years) the earth’s CO2 levels have sharply diminished (over hundreds of millions of years), with the result that earth temperature have stayed in the life-supporting zone.

      Now we humans have destroyed that eons-old brighter-sun lower-CO2 balance. That’s sobering.

      The multiple independent confirmations of the old hockey-stick data-set, and the discovery of new hockey-stick data-sets, are sobering too.

      Most sobering of all is the striking paucity of climate-change skepticism that grapples seriously with these sobering realities. `Cuz those brands of climate-change skepticism that focus on personalities, anecdotes, and ideologies are far worse than useless.

      Two lessons here (IMHO) are, first, the encouraging lesson that the public at-large remains deeply interested in climate change science, and second, the sobering lesson that the professionals who run the skeptical web-sites take measures to restrict the climate change dialog to personalities, anecdotes, and ideologies.

      A physicist

      November 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm

  10. [...] that Climategate 2.0 is being summarily and properly dismissed (see the media coverage  here and here), there is a story journalists might want to pursue. The real “climategate” scandal [...]


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