.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Friday, December 24, 2010

Guest blogging at WUWT: Lump of coal award for Trenberth

Thanks to Anthony Watts for inviting me to help fill in while he takes a much needed Christmas break. Here's my Christmas Eve post.

Lump of coal award: to IPCC lead author Kevin Trenberth for hiding the decline (or the lack of increase) in global temperatures

Old, but untold. Trenberth treated us to a trick in his Halloween interview with Bill Sweet by changing the sign on his own most famous quote. As Trenberth now tells it:
One cherry-picked message saying we can’t account for current global warming and that this is a travesty went viral and got more than 100,000 hits online.
The email in question actually bemoaned how Trenberth couldn't account for the LACK of global warming:
The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't.
Global warming... LACK of global warming. Hey, what's the difference?

This is Trenberth's answer to having his doubts exposed by the ClimateGate leak: just cover them back up. Pretend that the revealing email said the opposite of what it actually said and PROBLEM SOLVED. The guy's a genius. No wonder he rose to the esteemed lead author position.

Of course he's not fooling anyone who knows what he actually said. Add that lack of warming does have to do with the state of global warming, and most knowledgeable people will grant Trenberth the benefit of the doubt, but should they? Ignorant people will be fooled, and Trenberth has a habit of misleading the ignorant.

Here is Trenberth in a follow-up interview with Sweet (after Sweet was apparently inundated with comments and email mail calling Trenberth a liar and castigating Sweet for playing softball—yay WUWT):
Sweet: Can you say something about the widespread belief that solar activity somehow accounts for the temperature changes we’ve seen in recent decades?

Trenberth: That’s easily disproven. It’s nonsense. Since 1979 we've had spacecraft measuring total solar irradiance, and there's been no change—if anything the sun has cooled slightly. There's nothing in the record that indicates that the sun is responsible for any of the warming in this period.
Trenberth knows full well that "solar activity" refers primarily to solar-magnetic activity, which varies by an order of magnitude over the solar cycle, while total solar irradiance is almost invariant over the solar cycle (which is why it is called the solar constant). Does he really think he can disprove the theory that 20th century warming was caused by solar activity without looking at anything but the least active solar variable?

Again, the knowledgeable will not be fooled, but it is perfectly clear that Trenberth's intent in this instance is to deceive the ignorant. He is also providing us with an example of what he was talking about in his original IEEE interview when he said:
Scientists almost always have to address problems in their data, exercising judgment about what might be defective and best disregarded.
That pesky data about solar-magnetic activity and earthly temperatures being highly correlated? ("The long term trends in solar data and in northern hemisphere temperatures have a correlation coefficient of about 0.7 - .8 at a 94% - 98% confidence level.") "Best disregarded."

And it is easily done. Just pretend that "solar activity" means "the solar constant" and, voilà. As easy as replacing "lack of global warming" with "global warming."

As J.R. Ewing put it, "once you give up integrity, the rest is easy."

Any other "lumpies"? (Santa must have had anti-CO2 alarmists in mind when he chose coal for the bad. Like crosses for vampires.)

Thanks to Bob Tisdale at WUWT for pointing out that the Usoskin paper I cited for the long-term correlation between solar-activity and temperature is not the best reference, since one of the paleo-temperature reconstructions it uses is the discredited Michael Mann "hockey stick."

It is still a seminal paper on the use of cosmogenic isotopes as a proxy for past solar-activity, and its results have been corroborated by many other studies, but the critique is legitimate. I referred Mr. Tisdale a set of 17 papers that were cited by Mike Lockwood and Claus Frohlich in support of their being "considerable evidence for solar influence on the Earth’s pre-industrial climate," but he wasn't interested in those citations either. Frolich is a leading CO2-warming alarmist so my citing his admissions on the sun-climate link is supposedly "misdirection." I don't think so.
I have a great time reading it. Thank you for sharing.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?