Global Warming: Man or Myth?

Scientists can also wear their citizen hats

WSJ’s Message is Always Deny or Delay: Koonin Just the Latest Misinformer

with 8 comments

The Wall Street Journal’s Saturday Essay by Steven E. Koonin, titled Climate Science is Not Settled follows WSJ’s standard playbook. Have a so-called expert either deny the science or advocate for delay on action to address the issue.

I spoke to my liberal arts classes about this essay and focused on four simple points:

1) Koonin’s arguments all hinge on climate model accuracy. Historical evidence shows us that when we double CO2 or triple (as we are likely to do), climate change has been significant. Models just verify this. And models have been very good at modeling past climate.

Models Have Been Very Accurate

Models Have Been Very Accurate [Image source: IPCC (2013)]

2) The rate of increase in CO2 is unprecedented in the past few million years (adding 100 ppm took thousands of years historically but now humans are doing so in decades)

C)2 levels during past 800,000 years

CO2 levels during past 800,000 years

3) Koonin was either ignorant or being intentionally deceptive when he compared Arctic sea ice loss to Antarctic sea ice gain. Arctic sea ice loss dwarfs that of the Antarctic sea ice gain. TOTAL ice in Antarctica is rapidly decreasing and it is THIS ice loss that has sea level implications. If a person loses 30 pounds in one year while not cutting his hair, do you point to the “increased hair length” when somebody asks about weight change? Koonin does.

Artic Sea Ice Loss MUCH FASTER Than Antarctic (NSIDC, 2012)

Arctic Sea Ice Loss MUCH GREATER Than Antarctic (NSIDC, 2012)

4) 97% of expert researchers, every international science academy, health officials, military experts, and insurance companies agree that human-caused climate change is increasing risks across multiple sectors of society and cannot be ignored. We can listen to Koonin who cannot even get the simple concept of sea ice correct or we can listen to people who do this for a living.


Written by Scott Mandia

September 25, 2014 at 11:23 am

8 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Good points Professor Mandia.

    Unfortunately the problem is not only with the mouthpieces in the WSJ but within the United State House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology (please remember this when it is time to vote).

    John Holdren, with the aid of Jon Stewart (to lighten up a rather depressing exchange) can be seen addressing these “by all appearances willful misunderstanding[s] of how the scientific method has been applied” here:
    (integrity/intelligence of some of our elected representatives is addressed after the first three minutes).

    H/T to Business Insider (WSJ is so 20th century).

    arch stanton

    September 25, 2014 at 1:03 pm

  2. I love how you add the caption “Models Have Been Very Accurate (IPCC, 2013)” to what is IPCC AR5 graphic TS.9 when no such caption exists in the IPCC report. In fact, just a couple of pages below the graphic the IPCC admits that

    “Almost all CMIP5 historical simulations [114 out of 117 realizations] do not reproduce the observed recent warming hiatus”

    Same old suspects with the same old garbage. Michael Mann would be very proud of you.

    Mandia: Agree that the original caption was misleading. I have fixed that. Over the long term climate models have done exceptionally well. Focusing on the past decade or so is intellectually dishonest.


    September 25, 2014 at 4:32 pm

  3. “Over the long term climate models have done exceptionally well. ”

    Arm waving. Given the large uncertainty range of ECS it’s amazing that they could ever go outside of the 5-95% interval.

    “Focusing on the past decade or so is intellectually dishonest.”

    The quote above comes from Box 9.2 of IPCC AR 5 that is titled “Climate Models and the Hiatus in Global Mean Surface Warming of the Past 15 Years”. This section is highlighted in blue and covers 3 1/2 pages. Do you think the IPCC is being “intellectually dishonest”? Do you think that all the peer reviewed papers that have acknowledged and focused on the hiatus over the last few years are being “intellectually dishonest” ?

    Mandia: You misinterpret my comments. Claiming that models are not accurate when looking at the previous 10-15 years is not intellectually honest. In the 15 years before that period, the global avg air T warmed FASTER than models projected. Short-term internal variability does not invalidate long-term model accuracy nor the trust in long-term projections. You are deflecting. Because you value what the IPCC states I will post the FULL blurb from the IPCC AR5 (2013) Executive Summary:

    There is very high confidence that models reproduce the general features of the global-scale annual-mean surface temperature increase over the historical period, including the more rapid warming in the second half of the 20th century, and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions.

    Most simulations of the historical period do not reproduce the observed reduction in global-mean surface warming trend over the last 10–15 years. There is medium confidence that the trend difference between models and observations during 1998–2012 is to a substantial degree caused by internal variability, with possible contributions from forcing error and some models overestimating the response to increasing greenhouse-gas forcing. Most, though not all, models overestimate the observed warming trend in the tropical troposphere over the last 30 years, and tend to underestimate the long-term lower stratospheric cooling trend. [9.4.1, Box 9.2, Figure 9.8]


    September 25, 2014 at 7:30 pm

  4. I won’t press you anymore. I appreciate your good faith in posting my comments. Thanks.


    September 25, 2014 at 8:42 pm

  5. Wow, I expect this kind of approach from ISIS. “We know better for you what you should believe in and what you should do, so we will make you do it or…..”


    October 4, 2014 at 6:07 pm

  6. How about some clear evidence that all the temperature series being used have been manipulated with a tilt towards warming in the 20th century? HadCRUT, NASA, NCDC, Australian Met. go to to see them, and an explanation of why the Global Warming predictions based on IPCC assumptions cannot possibly explain future weather any better than it has explained the past weather since we started watching and measuring it independently about 1986. Put it in the model, and it cannot even do that.


    October 4, 2014 at 6:14 pm

  7. Is there an ISIS corollary to Godwin’s law?

    arch stanton

    October 5, 2014 at 3:16 pm

  8. Great post but not surprising given the WSJ’s allegiance to corporate special interests, Big Oil and Big Coal. Similar reporting by them for what would otherwise be top headlines for such a critical issue: utility-scale deployment of new solar technology at the Ivanpah Solar Power Station, located in the Mojave Desert. I describe and discuss the latest developments -and how the WSJ reports it- here:

    Ivanpah, Solar Power and Inverted Logic:

    T. Madigan

    March 26, 2016 at 7:40 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: