What passes for “science” at the leading finalist for “best science blog” Watts Up With That

Watts and Planet Gore are giddily making hay over a new alleged cooling trend “discovered” by a commenter at WUWT.  So what is their evidence for this cooling trend? NCDC data for the US over the past 11 years. Yes, I wish I were joking. Watts actually goes even further,  mendaciously claiming in his post’s title, “NCDC’s own graphic shows decadal cooling trend.” In fact, NCDC has published no such graphic- it has to be created using NCDC’s table and graph generator and specific user inputs, in this case chosen by the user “crosspatch”.

Let’s forget that it’s a user-generated graphic and not “NCDC’s own”.

Let’s set aside for the moment that they’re implying a meaningful trend from an insufficient period.

Let’s ignore completely how many other times they’ve falsely made such claims.

They’re using US-only data. The United States comprises a fraction (~1.88%) of the planet’s surface. Apparently some people still haven’t grasped this point.

Watts goes on to say:

The point being made here is that  the last 10 years  hasn’t  met with  some model expectations

I’m giving Watts the benefit of the doubt and assuming he isn’t actually trying to make the claim that he has compared recent US temperatures to several US-only RCM forecasts and that he is referring as usual to the AR4 projections.  Illustrating once again that he doesn’t understand the AR4 modeling at all. Like RPJr, Watts doesn’t understand that the purpose of ensemble modeling is to project the trend of the forced component of climate over time and smooth out natural variability, and as such over any given period the actual realization of temperature will be over or under most (if not all, indeed no one expects an individual run from the ensembles to perfectly match the temp record) individual runs, but can be expected to stay within the envelope of the ensemble over time barring significant volcanic dimming.

What do the models actually say?

Image courtesy of RealClimate from post 2008 temperature summaries and spin

And of course there have been some attempts at actual short term forecasting (vs. ensemble trend projections), and amusingly the only such forecasts I’m aware of (e.g. Smith 2007, Keenleyside 2008) are consistent with and perhaps even closer to current allegedly “cool” temperatures than the ensemble projections.

Back to the user crosspatch. Remember, Watts pulled his comment out of a previous post, and this was in turn picked up by the National Review. His further comments really put the Wattsite mentality into perspective. Here is crosspatch replying to the comment: “a 10 year [temp] trend is statistically meaningless”:

True … unless you have forecast rising temperatures that are not only increasing but increasing at an exponential rate (looking like a hockey stick) where temperatures should never drop in *any* year, let alone have a 10 year down trend.

A 10 year down trend (or any down trend, really) absolutely and completely debunks Mann (et al) and it does so in a manner that wipes away any need to go through his maths or data. Quite simply, if Mann’s, Hansen’s, and IPCC forecasts were correct, what we are seeing could not possibly happen. It is happening which means they are utterly and completely incorrect. No additional quibbling needed. They have simply been shown to be wrong by the observed reality. Now if one wished to ignore reality, that is an option, but not one generally placed within the boundaries of what we might consider sanity.

“Mann’s forecasts?” you may be asking yourself. “Exponential warming?!” This meme seems to have been birthed by the CA tendency to call everything with a more or less flat trend over time with a sharp uptick at the end a “hockey stick”. Thus the SRES projections were said to be “hockey sticks” as well, and from there the two became conflated in many denialists’ minds to the point where they believe that Mann’s “hockey stick” contains future temperature forecasts:

Here is an example of an exponential graph. It shows a response quite similar to Mann’s temperature change forecast. If you look at the original so-called “hockey stick” graph you notice that the intention was to show runaway warming (which never happened).

They have never uttered those direct words but they HAVE produced forecasts and provided graphics that would require exactly that. In 1998 we were being told we had only 10 more years before “runaway” warming. In 2008 we were told we had only 10 more years before “runaway” warming. A “runaway” state is where something begins an unstoppable change in a certain condition with the change accelerating over time. It produces an exponential “hockey stick” graph. In a “runaway” condition there can be no reversal because the feedback is all positive. It not only gets warmer but the increase in temperature is greater with each passing unit of time. In such a condition it would be impossible to cool at all or even remain stable.

Wrong doesn’t begin to do it justice. In any event, as we’ve seen, recent temperatures are within the spread of individual runs.


The oceans have not warmed. The atmosphere has not warmed, [according to RSS] we are cooler now than we were in December 1987. Under the IPCC forecast, that should be an absolute impossibility. But here we are. So one can continue to believe the IPCC forecast but that would have to be an act of faith, not an act of scientific observation. It is a religious decision one would have to make on their own because it isn’t a scientific observation that can be proved based on data. It would be an act of faith based on a model someone built that one would hold to be more accurate than thousands of scientific instruments (even with the “adjustments” made to the data in increasingly desperate attempts to validate the models).

Yes, the oceans haven’t warmed. We have cooled relative to Dec 1987 according to RSS. It is an act of religious faith, rather than scientific observation to state that recent temps are not inconsistent with model projections. This, truly, is real science being discussed.

In response to comment “a forest that isn’t logged is worth millions in carbon sequestration”:

Until the forest reached full maturity at which point it becomes a big fat zero in carbon sequestration. As long as it is accumulating biomass overall, it is removing carbon from the atmosphere. Once the forest reaches full maturity and is no longer adding biomass overall, then there is as much decaying material releasing CO2 as there is growing material absorbing it. A fully mature forest does not remove an ounce of CO2 from the air, it is in equilibrium and neither adds nor removes CO2. The only way to get it to remove CO2 again is to log some trees out of it.


On the sign of water vapor feedback:

The problem is that the models assume a positive feedback from water vapor. Observations show a rather strong negative feedback from increased water vapor.


On the warmest global year on record:

I believe 1934 was the hottest globally, not sure if that was the hottest in North America. I know GISS had to modify their adjustment which bumped the global 1998 to second place behind (I believe) 1933 or 1934.


And for good measure:

Oh, and sea level change has started a gradual negative trend since 2006, too.


He claims several times that increased atmospheric CO2 has and will not lead to an increase in temperatures and attacks more strawman “runaway warming” predictions- and all of this nonsense goes uncorrected by Watts. There is no discrimination between paleo recons and modeling, between forecasts and projections, between “enhanced greenhouse” and “runaway warming”.

Which is all a very long way to go to say that this:

is tragedy being repeated as farce. Take a minute and vote for science, not FUD.


6 responses to “What passes for “science” at the leading finalist for “best science blog” Watts Up With That

  1. Watts’ capacity for foolishness is staggering. For example

  2. (can be deleted, just a note):
    ThingsBreak: stirred up by some other discussions, I’ve written a more coherent update of some of my comments on Lomborg from that thread here a while back. I was going to post it elsewhere, but since it started here, if you might consider it for a guest post, I’ll send it and you can decide if you want it or not.

    [I’d be absolutely happy to post it here, although if Lambert or Tamino were to post it, it would almost certainly receive more exposure. Whatever you decide, you can reach me at “things DOT break AT gmail DOT com”. – TB]

  3. It may be this poll is showing us it’s time to leave the blogosphere to the antedeluvians, and for those interested in changing the world to get up out of our comfortable chairs and go do the changing.

    “Cyberspace? So Bush. Blogging got so popular with the do-nothing crowd that nobody goes there anymore.”

    Seriously — abandoning the faith-healing-the-economy sites makes sense. When nobody but the gibbertarians is talking, nobody is listening. Leave them to their own devices.

  4. It may be this poll is showing us it’s time to leave the blogosphere to the antedeluvians

    Not bloody likely. ;)

  5. Chuckle. I’m still here too.
    But, egad, there are more and more blogs I can’t stand even trying to read, it seems. That mythical Google ‘Wisdom’ button — heck, I’d settle for a killfile on Google’s search interface, a “never bother me with anything from that site again.”

    Especially when, as lately, almost any climate search brings up WUWT repeatedly, and every climate-related _imagery_ search brings up the CA over and over again.

    Whatever tool they’re using on that webthing poll they’re using on Google too. And the feedback that gives advertisers is probably chilling, if the advertisers pay attention to the content that gets the most clicks and think that’s representative of the actual population.

  6. In my opinion the best thing to do, given lack of time and energy, is ignore the actual lying blogs, and concentrate on dominating the public media blogs.
    Eg your local newspaper or other media outlets.
    All you have to do is concentrate on providing the actual evidence to squelch the deniers and educate those who are willing to follow the trail.
    By dominating the arena of public discourse, you marginalise the deniers and idiots and uninformed people.
    Sure, they are still festering away on their own blogs, but there is no need to go near them. Every time they put their noses out of the protected enclaves, they get whipped, so some will question their faith, and others never leave.

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