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from BBC Climate Scepticism Top Ten

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This page is a first attempt at deconstruction. This is NOT the end product quality - that will improve as I work on this - the hyperlinks are not even in place yet! (Use
Curious Anomalies for the moment, for source refs)  Glossary at foot of page

Please post on our Forum your suggestions for improving our preliminary answers to AGW/Schmidt in column 3 "Counter-counter" - or provide URL's or even write an info page of references/explanations for the highlighted words and phrases. All ideas welcome.

This may presently be moved to a blog or other setup. It is all Work In Progress.

1. EVIDENCE THAT THE EARTH'S TEMPERATURE IS GETTING WARMER IS UNCLEAR
2. IF THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE WAS RISING, IT HAS NOW STOPPED
3. THE EARTH HAS BEEN WARMER IN THE RECENT PAST
4. COMPUTER MODELS ARE NOT RELIABLE
5. THE ATMOSPHERE IS NOT BEHAVING AS MODELS WOULD PREDICT
6. CLIMATE IS MAINLY INFLUENCED BY THE SUN
7. CARBON DIOXIDE RISE ALWAYS COMES AFTER TEMPERATURE INCREASE NOT BEFORE
8. LONG-TERM DATA ON HURRICANES AND ARCTIC ICE IS TOO POOR TO ASSESS TRENDS
9. WATER VAPOUR IS THE MAJOR GREENHOUSE GAS; CO2 IS RELATIVELY UNIMPORTANT
10. PROBLEMS LIKE HIV/AIDS AND POVERTY ARE MORE PRESSING THAN CLIMATE CHANGE
Warming evidence is suspect
It's no longer warming
Medieval Warm period was warmer
Models cannot predict
AGW predicts nonexistent hotspot
The Sun is the prime driver
CO2 follows temp, not vice versa
What ice loss? what hurricanes?
CO2  no real greenhouse effect
It's a non-problem
52 Skeptical Science arguments
   (pic from Skeptical Science)
1. EVIDENCE THAT THE EARTH'S TEMPERATURE IS GETTING WARMER IS UNCLEAR
Sceptic (Fred Singer) Counter (Gavin Schmidt) Counter-counter (first suggestions)
Instruments show there has been some warming of the Earth's surface since 1979, but the actual value is subject to large errors. Most long-term data comes from surface weather stations. Many of these are in urban centres which have expanded in both size and energy use. When these stations observe a temperature rise, they are simply measuring the "urban heat island effect". In addition, coverage is patchy, with some regions of the world almost devoid of instruments. Data going back further than a century or two is derived from "proxy" indicators such as tree-rings and stalactites which, again, are subject to large errors. Warming is unequivocal. Weather stations, ocean measurements, decreases in snow cover, reductions in Arctic sea ice, longer growing seasons, balloon measurements, boreholes and satellites all show results consistent with the surface record of warming. The urban heat island effect is real but small; and it has been studied and corrected for. Analyses by Nasa for example use only rural stations to calculate trends. Recently, work has shown that if you analyse long-term global temperature rise for windy days and calm days separately, there is no difference. If the urban heat island effect were large, you would expect to see a bigger trend for calm days when more of the heat stays in the city. Furthermore, the pattern of warming globally doesn't resemble the pattern of urbanisation, with the greatest warming seen in the Arctic and northern high latitudes. Globally, there is a warming trend of about 0.8C since 1900, more than half of which has occurred since 1979. No serious skeptic doubts that global warming happened between 1979 and 1999, and also between 1910 and 1940 when industry was far less and the CO2 levels were, according to the IPCC, much lower. The UHI effect is a serious issue that has not been sufficiently accounted for, despite CAGW protests to the contrary, see evidence here and project here. Difference due to wind is inapplicable since the UHI causes convection anyway whose wind effects are well-known to aviators. Arctic warming is a polar effect (the poles get more temperature extremes) and needs to be removed to see the UHI effect. Proxy temperature measurements, used to construct the IPCC temperature record before 1900 (?), are fraught with problems. The tree ring proxies, upon which the original "hockey stick" graph was totally dependent, are so problematic as to be unusable.
2. IF THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE WAS RISING, IT HAS NOW STOPPED
Sceptic Counter Counter-counter (first suggestions)
Since 1998 - almost a decade - the record, as determined by observations from satellites and balloon radiosondes, shows no warming. 1998 was an exceptionally warm year because of the strong El Nino event. Variability from year to year is expected, and picking a specific warm year to start an analysis is "cherry-picking"; if you picked 1997 or 1999 you would see a sharper rise. Even so, the linear trends since 1998 are still positive. Who's a cherry picker then?? 1997 and 1999 are cherries! Look at a longer-term graph here and work out all the different trends you could extract by cherry picking. However, 2000-2008 temp. patterns are unmistakeably different from the years 1980-2000.
3. THE EARTH HAS BEEN WARMER IN THE RECENT PAST
Sceptic Counter Counter-counter (first suggestions)
The beginning of the last Millennium saw a "Mediaeval Warm Period" when temperatures, certainly in Europe, were higher than they are now. Grapes grew in northern England. Ice-bound mountain passes opened in the Alps. The Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than it is today. There have been many periods in Earth history that were warmer than today - if not the MWP, then maybe the last interglacial (125,000 years ago) or the Pliocene (three million years ago). Whether those variations were caused by solar forcing, the Earth's orbital wobbles or continental configurations, none of those causes apply today. Evidence for a Mediaeval Warm Period outside Europe is patchy at best, and is often not contemporary with the warmth in Europe. As the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) puts it: "The idea of a global or hemispheric Mediaeval Warm Period that was warmer than today has turned out to be incorrect". Additionally, although the Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than in the following few decades, it is now warmer still. "If not the MWP" - but this is the whole issue, there is unequivocal evidence the MWP was warmer, globally, and there is clear evidence that the IPCC deliberately suppressed this evidence, see here (McKitrick's original story), here (Hill's follow-up story), and here (Monckton's retelling). The Arctic "warmer now" is a red herring because it is, in the short term, dependent on ocean currents; again, the Arctic temperatures here over a longer time scale have not substantially increased today. See here for evidence of ice-free Arctic waters in the earlier twentieth century. Al Gore's "evidence" is worthless, the original "hockey stick" that shows today as warmer than ever before, was dismissed by expert committee as worthless; the new "hockey stick" is suspect and currently under review.
4. COMPUTER MODELS ARE NOT RELIABLE
Sceptic Counter Counter-counter (first suggestions)
Computer models are the main way of forecasting future climate change. But despite decades of development they are unable to model all the processes involved; for example, the influence of clouds, the distribution of water vapour, the impact of warm seawater on ice-shelves and the response of plants to changes in water supply. Climate models follow the old maxim of "garbage in, garbage out". Models are simply ways to quantify understanding of climate. They will never be perfect and they will never be able to forecast the future exactly. However, models are tested and validated against all sorts of data. Over the last 20 years they have become able to simulate more physical, chemical and biological processes, and work on smaller spatial scales. The 2007 IPCC report produced regional climate projections in detail that would have been impossible in its 2001 assessment. All of the robust results from modelling have both theoretical and observational support. The models are not robust. However much they may have improved their powers, predictions have been wrong many times. They omit the essential variables of cloud and sun. The greenhouse gas science they use is highly suspect (see here). Even if all these were correctly accommodated, models woud still have no predictive power. Modeller experts with no bias, outside the IPCC, know that models not based on proven laws cannot predict. To talk of "robust results" with "theoretical and observational support" is, we believe, unsubstantiated bluster.
5. THE ATMOSPHERE IS NOT BEHAVING AS MODELS WOULD PREDICT
Sceptic Counter Counter-counter (first suggestions)
Computer models predict that the lower levels of the atmosphere, the troposphere, should be warming faster than the Earth's surface. Measurements show the opposite. So either this is another failing of the models, or one set of measurements is flawed, or there are holes in our understanding of the science.
Lower levels of the troposphere are warming; but measuring the exact rate has been an uncertain process, particularly in the satellite era (since 1979). Readings from different satellites need to be tied together, and each has its own problems with orbital decay and sensor drift. Two separate analyses show consistent warming, one faster than the surface and one slightly less. Within the uncertainties of the data, there is no discrepancy that needs to be dealt with. Information from balloons has its own problems but the IPCC concluded this year: "For the period since 1958, overall global and tropical tropospheric warming estimated from radiosondes has slightly exceeded surface warming". "Within the uncertainties of the data there is no discrepancy that needs to be dealt with" means, when translated, that the evidence shows the discrepancy all too clearly, and the only recourse now open to AGW is to claim the measurements have too much uncertainty. If they are this uncertain, they are certainly not reliable for any global warming predictions. And if they were this unreliable, why spend money in putting the latest technology into these instruments? No, they show very clear pictures that in several respects confirm the skeptics' thesis and disprove the AGW thesis.
6. CLIMATE IS MAINLY INFLUENCED BY THE SUN
Sceptic Counter Counter-counter (first suggestions)
Earth history shows climate has regularly responded to cyclical changes in the Sun's energy output. Any warming we see can be attributed mainly to variations in the Sun's magnetic field and solar wind. Solar variations do affect climate, but they are not the only factor. As there has been no positive trend in any solar index since the 1960s (and possibly a small negative trend), solar forcing cannot be responsible for the recent temperature trends. The difference between the solar minimum and solar maximum over the 11-year solar cycle is 10 times smaller than the effect of greenhouse gases over the same interval. There has been an exceptional solar trend exactly in the time denied. It is no use relating global temperatures to solar maxima and minima in the 11-year solar cycle, because the much slower effects of ocean currents and thermal inertia mask these short cycles. The "effect of greenhouse gases" is (when UHI etc have been subtracted) nearly all, if not all, the cumulative effect of a long-lasting solar high, including both TSI and magnetic flux. Man-made warming is tiny by comparison. Right now, astrophysicists are investigating multiple solar influences on climate.
7. A CARBON DIOXIDE RISE HAS ALWAYS COME AFTER A TEMPERATURE INCREASE NOT BEFORE
Sceptic Counter Counter-counter (first suggestions)
Ice-cores dating back nearly one million years show a pattern of temperature and CO2 rise at roughly 100,000-year intervals. But the CO2 rise has always come after the temperature rise, not before, presumably as warmer temperatures have liberated the gas from oceans This is largely true, but largely irrelevant. Ancient ice-cores do show CO2 rising after temperature by a few hundred years - a timescale associated with the ocean response to atmospheric changes mainly driven by wobbles in the Earth's orbit. However, the situation today is dramatically different. The extra CO2 in the atmosphere (35% increase over pre-industrial levels) is from human emissions. Levels are higher than have been seen in 650,000 years of ice-core records, and are possibly higher than any time since three million years ago. Largely irrelevant, my foot! Go back to basics: the hypotheses (a) that CO2 levels are higher than they have been earlier and (b) that this is due to human emissions, are plain bad science, thoroughly challenged and debunked here. The ice-core records are not trustworthy sources of CO2 levels. Recent ice-core measurements from Siple have even been falsified to appear to align smoothly with Keeling's recent CO2 measurements. There is clear evidence here that CO2 follows temperature, now as always. Al Gore's "evidence" is worthless.
8. LONG-TERM DATA ON HURRICANES AND ARCTIC ICE IS TOO POOR TO ASSESS TRENDS
Sceptic Counter Counter-counter (first suggestions)
Before the era of satellite observation began in the 1970s, measurements were ad-hoc and haphazard. Hurricanes would be reported only if they hit land or shipping. Arctic ice extent was measured only during expeditions. The satellite record for these phenomena is too short to justify claims that hurricanes are becoming stronger or more frequent, or that there is anything exceptional about the apparent shrinkage in Arctic ice. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment project notes that systematic collection of data in parts of the Arctic began in the late 18th Century. The US National Hurricane Center notes that "organised reconnaissance" for Atlantic storms began in 1944. So although historical data is not as complete as one might like, conclusions can be drawn. And the IPCC does not claim that global warming will make hurricanes more frequent - its 2007 report says that if anything, they are likely to become less frequent, but more intense. There are severe problems grafting older forms of record-keeping onto current forms of measurement. Even so, the records do not show increase in intensity of hurricanes, or any other extreme weather conditions. Some even show decrease. The records of ice-free Arctic waters are, however, very telling. The NW passage has been regularly navigated, an ice-free North Pole is on record here. Only recently has it become fashionable to claim "melting Arctic" and ignore earlier evidence. Al Gore's "evidence" is worthless.
9. WATER VAPOUR IS THE MAJOR GREENHOUSE GAS; CO2 IS RELATIVELY UNIMPORTANT
Sceptic Counter Counter-counter (first suggestions)
The natural greenhouse effect keeps the Earth's surface about 33C warmer than it would otherwise be. Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, accounting for about 98% of all warming. So changes in carbon dioxide or methane concentrations would have a relatively small impact. Water vapour concentrations are rising, but this does not necessarily increase warming - it depends how the water vapour is distributed. Water vapour is essentially in balance with the planet's temperature on annual timescales and longer, whereas trace greenhouse gases such as CO2 stay in the atmosphere on a timescale of decades to centuries. The statement that water vapour is "98% of the greenhouse effect" is simply false. In fact, it does about 50% of the work; clouds add another 25%, with CO2 and the other greenhouse gases contributing the remaining quarter. Water vapour concentrations are increasing in response to rising temperatures, and there is evidence that this is adding to warming, for example in Europe. The fact that water vapour is a feedback is included in all climate models. Actually, water vapour concentrations have fallen, much in parallel with rising CO2 levels. This might even suggest an overall cooling effect, at least a restraint on too much solar heating effect (since the Sun heats the oceans that raise atmospheric CO2 levels). The AGW claims here for GHG effects have bad and essentially unproveable science behind them [needs backing up]. As soon as the CO2-as-driver mistake is replaced by the true temp-as-driver, all the "feedbacks" will have to be reconsidered, if they even exist.
10. PROBLEMS SUCH AS HIV/AIDS AND POVERTY ARE MORE PRESSING THAN CLIMATE CHANGE
Sceptic Counter Counter-counter (first suggestions)
The Kyoto Protocol will not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases noticeably. The targets were too low, applied only to certain countries, and have been rendered meaningless by loopholes. Many governments that enthuse about the treaty are not going to meet the reduction targets that they signed up to. Even if it is real, man-made climate change is just one problem among many facing the world's rich and poor alike. Governments and societies should respond proportionately, not pretend that climate is a special case. And some economists believe that a warmer climate would, on balance, improve lives. Arguments over the Kyoto Protocol are outside the realms of science, although it certainly will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions as far or as fast as the IPCC indicates is necessary. The latest IPCC Working Group 2 report suggest that the impact of man-made climate change will on balance be deleterious, particular to the poorer countries of the tropics, although colder regions may see benefits such as increased crop yields. Investment in energy efficiency, new energy technologies and renewables are likely to benefit the developing world. The Kyoto Protocol is about science. IPCC has been driven all along by an agenda to prove our CO2 emissions cause global warming, and scientific truth has been compromised in every single area (see here) in order to create a "scientific proof" lookalike with which people can be fooled. As to poorer people suffering, the bad science and mass deception are the biggest threat, as IPCC policy consequences would cost so much, and attempts like biofuel and carbon sequestration are so ill-considered, that they hurt just where they should help.

First two colomns compiled by BBC with advice from Fred Singer (skeptic) and Gavin Schmidt ("counter" - warmist)

Glossary

AGW Anthropogenic (manmade) Global Warming 
CAGW Catastrophic Anthropogenic (manmade) Global Warming
CO2 Carbon Dioxide (the science formula - the 2 should be dropped below the line, but most now write CO2)
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change
TSI Total Solar Irradiance (the whole spectrum emitted by the Sun from infra-red thru visible to ultraviolet)
UHI Urban Heat Island, an effect well-known to climate science but probably insufficiently compensated for

 

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