As I discussed in the last post, a new paper titled, "The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science: simulating coherence by conspiracism" with John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky has a number of problems, including the one where Cook falsely claimed his own work and the work of others shows there is a consensus global warming is a "global problem." Cook and his co-authors know fully well none of the work they cite shows anything of the sort.
Another issue I commented on is how the paper claims global warming "contrarians" have incoherent belief systems in which they are content to believe contradictory things. This concept is founded on a paper by Michael Wood in which he misused basic statistical tests to draw conclusions about groups of people he had 0 data for. Lewandowsky has also used this same bogus approach to statistics in papers to portray global warming skeptics are conspiracy nuts even when his subjects overwhelmingly said they didn't believe in the conspiracies he smeared them with.
A related issue to this is how these authors give specific examples of how "contrarians" supposedly contradict themselves. In the previous post, I pointed out one key problem to this - the paper cites arguments from different people. That two different "contrarians" might hold contradictory beliefs is completely uninformative. Even climate scientists hold contradictory beliefs. It's called disagreement. It's a normal part of life.
Given that, the only real basis for this paper's headline is the set of examples where an individual supposedly contradicts himself. I discussed the headline example used in the paper in that last post, but today, I'm going to discuss a few of the other ones the authors offer.
In addition to the headline example, the paper lists nine supposed contradictions in its Table 2. Three are attributed to Ian Plimer, the same person the headline example comes from. Two more are attributed to Anthony Watts and the last is attributed to John Christy. All told, there are four people said to contradict themselves. That is not an impressive sample.
It gets worse when you look at the actual examples. For instance, Monckton is said to contradict himself because one time he said this:
Warming at the very much reduced rate that measured (as opposed to merely modeled) results suggest would be 0.7-00.8 K ...at CO2 doubling. That would be harmless and beneficial
Before showing what that supposedly contradicts, I should point out looking at the source of the quote shows that typo was added by the authors of the paper. The source correctly writes "0.7-0.8 K" not "0.7-00.8 K." That doesn't matter for the idea the quote contradicts this:
Throughout most of the past half billion years, global temperatures were 7∘ C ...warmer than the present
The authors offer no explanation for how these two quotes contradict one another. Perhaps a reader could guess at what the authors were thinking, but the simple reality is believing past temperatures were significantly higher than they are now does not contradict the idea the planet would warm by less than a degree if CO2 levels in the atmosphere would double. A person who things other than CO2 have a far greater influence on temperatures may believe this without there being any contradiction.
Similarly, the authors say Monckton contradicts himself because he said:
Since late in 2001, when a naturally-occurring reduction in cloud cover that had caused rapid warming over the previous 18 years came to an end, there has been nearly a decade with virtually no change in temperature
Showing in 2010 Monckton believed there had been virtually no warming for nearly a decade. The authors claim this contradicts what he said the next year:
His GISS surface-temperature dataset, on which he bases his claims, not only suffers from insufficient adjustment for the artificial warmth given off by cities (the urban heat-island effect), but also from evidence of repeated, successive tamperings with the data from earlier decades this century so as artificially to increase the apparent overall rate of “global warming”
Again, the authors do nothing to explain how these ideas are contradictory. They are not. Believing there has been virtually no warming for about ten years in no way contradicts the idea a particular data set (GISS) suffers from data problems and inappropriate adjustments which increase the apparent rate of global warming.
The only "contradiction" is Monckton said there had been virtually no warming for about 10 years and GISS has inflated the rate of warming. That's not a contradiction though. The GISS record extends over 100 years. The rate of warming in it could be inflated even if a particular 10 year period didn't show any warming at all.
The final supposed contradiction by Monckton is he said:
...the Greenland ice sheet rests in a depression in the bedrock created by its own weight, wherefore “dynamical ice flow” is impossible, and the IPCC says that temperature would have to be sustained at more than 5.5 C above its present level for several millennia before half the Greenland ice sheet could melt
Since the warming itself has not yet brought global temperatures to the levels seen in the mediaeval warm period, when we were growing wine-grapes in Scotland and our Viking cousins were farming parts of south-western Greenland that remain under permafrost today, and since the warming has now ceased, it is nonsensical to suggest that the effects of that warming are anything other than insignificant and generally beneficial
I cannot begin to guess what the supposed contradiction here is supposed to be. Monckton says there were parts of Greenland which were used for farmland hundreds of years ago that are now covered in ice. He also says "dynamical ice flow" is impossible and it would take extreme circumstances for half of Greenland's ice sheet to melt.
None of that is contradictory. According to Monckton, hundreds of years ago when it was warmer a small part of the Greenland ice sheet (far less than the half he says would take enormous warming to melt) wasn't there, either because it had melted or hadn't existed in the first place. Colder temperature since then have caused the ice sheet to grow and cover those areas. That's not contradictory at all.
Neither is it contradictory for Anthony Watts to say:
The reality is that the Earth’s climate system is far more complex than that: It isn’t just a linear relationship between CO2 and temperature, it is a dynamic ever-changing one, and climate is tremendously complex with hundreds of interactive variables and feedbacks
“Global warming” suggests a steady linear increase in temperature, but since that isn’t happening, proponents have shifted to the more universal term “climate change,” which can be liberally applied to just about anything observable in the atmosphere
Saying the earth's climate system is extremely complex cannot possibly contradict beliefs about semantic meanings and choices. What words means and which words people use cannot possibly contradict the idea our planet's climate is complex. The quotes simply have nothing to do with one another.
The next "contradiction" by Watts at least involves two quotes dealing with the same general subject. First:
As attested by a number of studies, near-surface temperature records are often affected by time-varying biases ...To address such problems, climatologists have developed various methods for detecting discontinuities in time series, characterizing and/or removing various nonclimatic biases that affect temperature records in order to obtain homogeneous data and create reliable long-term time series
In the business and trading world, people go to jail for such manipulations of data
Interestingly, the authors provide a faulty reference for the second of these quotes. I've provided the correct link just above, but this is the one the authors gave. A hyphen is missing in it. You can see it in this screengrab from the paper's reference section:
The URL given by the authors does not have a hyphen between "hottest" and "year" like it should have. Anyone who tried to check this reference would have found it didn't work. That's a bit weird.
Anyway, there is simply no contradiction here. Simply stating climatologists have developed methods of adjusting data to "create reliable long-term time series" does not mean you believe that is okay or that in the business or trading world a person could do such without going to jail. A person can describe what other people do without endorsing it as okay. On their face, these quotes simply cannot contradict one another.
The real problem, however, is these quotes are not discussing the same thing. The authors of this paper left out important context for the interview they quoted. Here is an expanded quote:
"Is history malleable? Can temperature data of the past be molded to fit a purpose? It certainly seems to be the case here, where the temperature for July 1936 reported ... changes with the moment," Watts told FoxNews.com.
"In the business and trading world, people go to jail for such manipulations of data."
This is a reference to the fact past temperature data continuously changes. That is, rather than just look at past data for problems and fix them, the methodologies used may look at past data for problems to fix, adjust the data, then re-visit the next day and adjust it in a different way. A person can easily believe it is okay to adjust past data for problems without believing it is okay to keep adjusting that data in different ways every month, week or day.
This post is running long. I hope you'll forgive me for that. However, nearly every single "contradiction" the authors list in this table is fake, and I feel it is worth demonstrating this. People need to understand just because two quotes are placed side-by-side and labeled, "Contradictory and incoherent arguments advanced by the same individuals" does not mean the quotes are actually contradictory. For instance, when Ian Plimer is quoted as saying:
Replacement of high altitude forests by mixing with low altitude forests to create greater species diversity has happened in previous times of warming and would be expected in another warming event
This is a simple claim. If the planet warms, the habitable range for forests will increase. That would cause trees to spread into areas they hadn't been before and mixing with the trees of those areas. Because I wasted $15 on the quoted book by Plimer, I can tell you the reason he brought this up is the increase in number of species he believes this mixing would cause. His idea in no way contradicts:
Even if the planet warms due to increased atmospheric CO2, it is clear that plants will not feel the need to migrate to cooler parts of our planet
Even though the authors claim it does. Migration involves leaving one area and moving to another. That is not what happens when plants' or even animals' habitable range increases. Trees spreading to other areas while still also existing in the original area have spread out and expanded, but they haven't migrated.
That these quotes don't contradict one another should have been obvious to the editor and reviewers of this paper. For instance, this quote by Plimer:
The proof that CO2 does not drive climate is shown by previous glaciations
Cannot possibly contradict:
The global warmth of the Cretaceous has been attributed to elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere
That Plimer says past warmth "has been attributed to elevated levels of CO2" in no way means he believes that attribution is correct. In fact, anyone who is unfortunate enough to waste money buying this terrible book will find Plimer followed that statement by saying:
However, there are some suggestions that the Cretaceous climate was decoupled from the CO2 content of the atmosphere.
The authors of this paper conveniently leave that out though. Because they do, their readers won't know Plimer said some people have attributed past warmth to CO2 levels while other people disagree. They'll just think he said some people have attributed past warmth to CO2 levels.
There are still two more entries in this table, and I don't think either constitutes an actual contradiction. I think this post has ran on long enough though, and the last two examples are a bit murkier. I'll let you readers examine them for yourselves. Before I go though, I want to highlight a remarkable detail of what the source of one of the remaining quotes used is. You can find it here:
Based on emails from both Steven Sherwood and John Christy, and based on Carl Mears’ blogpost, I can report that all three agree that
1) Yes, amplified warming in the tropical troposphere is expected.
2) No, the hot spot in the tropics is not specific to a greenhouse mechanism.
Notice that I changed the wording of question/statement 2 here, because the word “fingerprint” was interpreted differently by John Christy than how we meant it.
In his email to us, John Christy wrote regarding Q1: “Yes, the hot spot is expected via the traditional view that the lapse rate feedback operates on both short and long time scales.” Regarding Q2 he wrote: “it [the hot spot] is broader than just the enhanced greenhouse effect because any thermal forcing should elicit a response such as the “expected” hot spot.” Further elaborations in the email exchange, e.g. regarding whether to call this a fingerprint, involved interpretations as to the meaning of (a lack of) a hot spot, which we will defer for the moment.
The next issue that we’ll take up is encapsulated in Q3:
3) Is there a significant difference between modelled and observed amplification of surface trends in the tropical troposphere (i.e. between the modelled and the observed hot spot)?
That is a comment on a blog post by one Bart Verheggen. Verheggen has not been mentioned in this post. The reason is this "contradiction" is supposedly by John Christy. Verheggen's quote is used as a source because his comment says, "In his email to us, John Christy wrote...."
Yes, that's right. John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky published a paper claiming global warming "contrarians" contradict themselves in which they rely on sources like secondhand quotes from people provided by commenters on blog sites. In any realm other than science, that would be considered hearsay.