2010-11-17 14:13:38Scientific Guide to Climate Skepticism: Version 6b
John Cook


Just uploaded the latest version of the Guide. This should be very close to ready to sending to scientists, if not already good to go:

The Scientific Guide to Climate Skepticism v6

A few more tweaks based on the last few suggestions:

The Scientific Guide to Climate Skepticism v6b

More tweaks. Great comments guys, really bringing this baby home :-)

The Scientific Guide to Climate Skepticism v6c

I’ve updated the handbook incorporating a host of suggestions. Many thanks to all for their feedback. I have two major issues I’m undecided over:

  • I’ve added names of everyone who’s supplied feedback (that granted permission to list their name). I’ve done it as a separate list with the idea that we have the short-list “rock star scientists” at the top of the page. But I’m really not sure what is the best way to structure this page. I’d like to give credit to anyone who’s given advice just because it seems fair. But is this typical practice or should I only include the “rock stars”? Welcome advice on the credit page.
  • It was suggested I put cites on the “Human Fingerprints” pic on page 1 and the Warming Indicators on page 6. I did think about this but thought all the superscripts would spoil the look of the graphic. All the cites are given elsewhere in the guide, scattered all around, but should I include them on the graphic also? I’m torn between style and substance on this one. If criticized for the lack of cites, I can always say they’re given elsewhere in the guide.

Changes made:

  • Wendy updated the front cover to distinguish it some more from the Jo Nova debunk.
  • I’ve simplified the Human Fingerprint #1 text on carbon isotopes and gone with a simpler graph.
  • I replaced Steve Sherwood’s graph on Fingerprint #6 as it has copped some criticism - this neatly sidesteps that.
  • I’ve replaced any use of the word “anomaly” with “variation” which hopefully means the same thing but is more understandable to the average person.
  • Have added some text to Page 3 clarifying “positive” feedback
  • I’ve converted all the graphs that I’d plotted myself into vector graphs. Makes little tangible difference but they look a lot sharper (as my background is partly in graphic design, this is a big deal to me :-)
  • Added Scott’s excellent factoid on CO2 emissions = 8000 gulf oil spills
  • Converted the graph of yearly CO2 emissions on page 4 from units of carbon to units of CO2 so it was more consistent with the figures on page 2
  • I added a 16th page – the number of references swelled and I kept shrinking the font size – it got to the point where “I cannae shrink it no more capten!”. So I added a 3rd page of references. At least I got to the magic 16 pages – as a typesetter, that’s very satisfying.
  • Added more graphics to the Page 6 “Indicators of Warming World” graphic – flowers, animals and ice sheets. I hope it’s not getting too crowded.

Changes not made:

  • Page 3: For Fingerprint #2, I used the earlier Harries 2001 graph because it provides the graph that tells the clearest story. There are other later graphs but they are harder to understand for a general audience. Hence I added the line “This has since been confirmed by subsequent measurements from several different  satellites”. If someone can find a more recent graph that is also clear to a high school student, let me know
  • I haven’t added weather vs climate text – we could add another page to address the “it’s cold somewhere” argument but well, you have to draw the line somewhere. If this Guide proves to be effective, maybe we’ll do an Extended Special Edition (complete with audio commentary and deleted scenes). Top of my pile would be climate sensitivity, the sun is another popular one to cover.
  • Some asked where I sourced some of the pictures (not greenhouse effect & positive feedback pics on Page 3). I whipped up those myself so didn’t see the need to source them – seems redundant to put “source: skeptical science” on them.
  • Page 6: On the warming indicators, it was suggested “Sea Ice” was a cherry pick because Antarctic sea ice was increasing (and I must admit, I did think that when I first saw the NOAA State of the Climate report). However, global sea ice is still decreasing even when you include Antarctic sea ice in this.

Answering a commenters’ question

  • Re winter warming faster than summers, so far I’ve only seen this done with the HadCRUT data, I don’t know if there’s similar analysis done using satellite or GISS data. Would be interesting to find out (I leave that as an exercise to the reader :-)

Scott, I’ll leave it up to you and John Abraham which scientists you think should check the guide. But note, I did send it to Texan climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe for feedback – I haven’t heard back from her yet – she’s heavily involved in the AGU effort so she may be fully booked working on that.

2010-11-17 16:40:45comment
Robert Way

John, I noticed that you didn't include the two names of people I supplied to you who reviewed it and sent you revisions. Not that you HAVE to but considering one is a climate scientist and the other works in a laboratory for paleoclimatic research it might be somewhat appropriate...

Personally, pertaining to the "rock stars" argument. I don't think it holds sway with the general public to see these names. It doesn't mean much to them who "michael mann" is really. Like for me if I were to read a document and it showed varying backgrounds then it adds credibility. I personally didn't equate someones Ph.d label next to their name as meaning more than Dana's environmental scientist title when I was in highschool. I think that only including well known "rock stars" opens it up for criticism too. This is just a "the team" effort... To me fresh blood is important and effective and it shows that there are many people out there, not just the rock stars, who feel strongly on the issue. Plus there's the issue of academics versus supposed "real world people" but I digress.

By the way john, should it say version 5 when I see the website directory? Where as these additional names you have too?

Sorry if I didn't open by saying this, but once again a great job john. You accomplish so much more than me every day and it makes me wish I had that kind of focus!
2010-11-17 17:26:53Oops, linked to version 5 instead of version 6
John Cook

Your two colleagues are included in version 6 - I've updated the link above. Sorry about the confusion.
2010-11-17 18:42:12Text only version to get a head-start for the translations?


Would it be possible to get a text-only version of the guide similar to the Word-document available for the "Scientific Guide to the Skeptics Handbook"? This would make it possible to get a head-start on the translations to have as many languages available when this goes live.

In addition to the texts, it would also help to have the graphics available without the English texts (if possible) so that the texts can be added in the respective language.


2010-11-17 19:53:33Translations
John Cook


Should we start translating yet? If there are changes from the scientists' review process and I imagine there will be, there would be a bit of time wasting back-and-forth correcting the translated versions. It took me around an hour to transpose translated text into the 'Scientific Guide to Jo Nova's Handbook' for each translation - I imagine this will take significantly more time. Maybe 2 to 3 hours per translation. So while the idea of having translations ready at the same time as the launch sounds good in theory, I'm not sure its practical.

Re the text only version, John Russell created that 2 column Word document which was a real help for me as I'm just hopeless at Word, I wasn't able to work it how it needed to be. Unfortunately John is no longer available as he has an eye condition that necessitates he minimise his time at the computer (which is both terrible for him and a great loss for us because he was such a great ally). So not sure how I'll swing that - if anyone is familiar with the inner machinations of Word and would like to help create the 2 column translation version, please let me know when we get close to finalising the book.

2010-11-17 21:42:13Creating the Word-Document


I can create the two-column word-document when the time is ripe. I'll just need the text in a format which lends itself to copy & paste. When I currently try to do that from the PDF-file it doesn't work as the text is apparently not recognized as "text".

If we wait with the translations until after the original version is launched, I'll most likely do the German translations with the help of the klimaschutz-wiki where we already prepare the rebuttal-translations. That way, the translations and proofreading can be a collaborative effort (if others would like to use the wiki for their languages as well just let me know and I'll help with setting this up).


2010-11-17 21:55:37Thanks Baerbel
John Cook

I think it's possible to create the PDF in a format where the text is copyable. I'll try that with the next version.

the German wiki is fantastic so it might really help the other translator groups, many thanks for offering. Would you mind starting a thread on the translation firm with the offer and perhaps a link to the German wiki to explain how it works. Then I'll email all the translators pointing them to the thread in case the translators don't frequent the forum.

2010-11-17 23:04:13


Created a new thread in the translators-forum:

Translation-Collaboration with the help of a wiki


2010-11-17 23:17:03

as for the two points you're undecided on:

1. I think it's fair to also aknowledge "minor" contributors and it doesn't hurt. Leave them where they are (bottom of the page) but use a smaller character size and line spacing. Another possibility could be to just aknowledge the "Skeptical Science Team" with just the the names and the country (P. Beckwidth (Canada), D. Nuccitelli (USA), ...)

Stylistic quibble. Use the same style for the titles (Prof or Prof. or Professor, etc.) and the affiliations.

2. on page 6 there's the quote with the superscript (NOAA^22, Parmesan & Yohe 2003^24). You could do the same on page 1.

Translations: we better wait for the final version. Though, we should alert the translators to see which translation can be done quickly enough to go public with the english version and to let the translators organize their work.
You should also give directions on how you want the translated text be sent and what to do with the graphics labels.
2010-11-18 06:12:57Comment
Robert Way


I'm inclined to mix the two lists and have it done alphabetically. I don't know, i'm not big on hierarchies really and the idea of a division between the "stars" and the rest of the contributors kinda makes me a little uneasy. I just don't see the point in the long run... Skeptical science is inclusive not divisive in essence so why put out something that gives the impression of divisions.
2010-11-18 16:07:17Updated to version 6b
John Cook


Updated, this should be the version that is sent to scientists.

The Scientific Guide to Climate Skepticism v6b

Latest changes:

  • Combined the list of credits into one list.
  • I corrected the “tonnes of CO2” to “billion tonnes of CO2” on page 2
  • On page 3, changed first sentence from “heat radiation”  to “thermal radiation”
  • On page 11, fixed citation 10 with the initials
  • Re cite on 2.5 hiroshima bombs, according to Murphy 2009, the planet has been accumulating heat at 5.98 x 1021 joules per year. The Hiroshima bomb yielded between 50 to 63 terajoules according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapon_yield or 54 to 75 terajoules according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Boy.
    Just going off the 50 to 75 range, this equates to 0.79 to 1.2 x 108 Hiroshima bombs per year. Let’s be conservative and go with the smaller figure of 0.79 x 108 bombs/yr = 218,447 bombs per day = 9101 bombs per hour = 151 bombs per minute = 2.52 bombs per second. So that’s the lower limit estimate.

    So should I cite wikipedia? Or should I do a blog post showing my calculations and cite myself?

    Comment, that’s a lot of energy! I asked various climate scientists for quotes on global warming and Scott Denning gave me this: “Doubling CO2 in Earth's atmosphere would add 4 watts to every square meter of the Earth's surface. This is equivalent to running a child's night light on every square meter permanently.”. Somehow, 3 nuclear bombs per second sounds a lot more impressive than a child’s night light! J

    Also, I welcome both someone checking my figures (I can email you the Murphy data if you like) and a better cite than Wikipedia, preferably something peer-reviewed. Someone definitely do please check my figures!
  • I’ve noticed an error in my numbers on the Page 2 carbon cycle. The numbers for the natural emissions/absorptions were based on the IPCC AR4 Figure 7.3 which were over the 1990s. But I was using the 2007 figures for the human CO2 emissions. So I’ve changed it so the numbers are all 1990s as I can’t find any figures for the carbon cycle in this decade. It also required tweaking the text slightly.

    I also had to make some judgement calls in simplifying the carbon cycle. I combined Land Use and Land Sink from Figure 7.3 into the Land emissions/absorptions. Not sure if that’s the best way to go as they’re anthropogenic, welcome feedback on this.
2010-11-18 16:25:18comment
Robert Way

Nice Revisions John.

Don't know if this helps your bomb idea


PS I think the guide is amazing.

Minor note, Human Fingerprint 5, there's no way to make a prettier scalebar or I mean have the numbers less blurry?
2010-11-18 19:18:17
Glenn Tamblyn



If you want you can add B Eng (Mech), Melbourne University, 1978 to my name butr I think Riccardo's idea of 'The ScepticalScience Team' is a better one.

I originally worked with a figure of 6.5 10^13 for the Hiroshima bomb. Certainly, the bomb reference is visceral. I wouldn't show the calc's, it clutters things. Take a leaf from the opposition. Make sure the claim is valid (they don't), but then just throw it out there. The justification clutters the psychology.

2010-11-18 19:50:10

1 kiloton of TNT equivalent (Kt) amounts to 4.18 GJ. Not a peer review, but this Los Alamos National Labs report says the Hiroshima bomb was 15-17 Kt, which is 62.7-71.1 TJ. Using 6x10^21 J/yr=1.9x10^14 J/s I get the range 2.7-3 Hiroshima bombs per second. I didn't check Murphy 2009 number (from 1950) but it's lower than the OHC trend (from 1994) from Lyman 2010, so it looks reasonable. I think you're safe with the 2.5.
2010-11-18 20:51:40



maybe you should put the guide under the creative common licence.

2010-11-19 17:29:53Version 6c
John Cook


Uploaded with a few updates:

The Scientific Guide to Climate Skepticism v6c

  • Got feedback from a few scientists, minor text tweaks and added their names to the credit page
  • Added Glenn’s quals to the credit page
  • Added Creative Commons Licence to credit page. I went with a non-commercial, attribution licence. This means people are free to share or remix our content but with attribution and non-commercial purposes. If anyone things I should use a different licence, let me know
  • Changed the reference for the 2.5 Hiroshimas to the Los Alamos National Labs Report (much better than wikipedia)
  • Added a few references that heat and water stress inhibit plant growth
  • “Prettied” up the scale bar of Human Fingerprint #5
  • The latest PDF should be copy-and-pasteable
2010-11-19 21:28:56
Mark Richardson

-> p2 where it talks about where CO2 comes from, I think the biggest and most obvious point showing that the CO2 rise is definitely being caused by us is how we're pumping out ~30bn tons/year, and the amount in the atmosphere is going up by ~15bn tons.

i.e. less than we're putting it up by (I can't remember the author, but you could use that paper last year from Bristol that checked whether the atmospheric fraction of CO2 was changing... and found it's stuck around 45%). If the CO2 rise isn't being driven by people then what the fuck is actually happening? Is human CO2 magically teleported into space or something?

-> p3 is ok but your stylistic carbon feedback probably isn't applicable at the moment because of the massive increase in CO2's partial pressure. It's not actually leading to more CO2 from the oceans, it's simply meaning that the oceans are able to absorb less at the moment. I'm not sure how to clarify this in such a short space though. The Harries graph is also blurry, at least on my viewer?

-> p4 CO2 emissions graph now shows in CO2, but the caption says carbon.

-> p5 I'm slightly uncomfortable with because you say 'warming stopped in 1998' is only from HadCRUT3. Which isn't true, is it? Both UAH and RSS show 1998 as warmest (although UAH shows the last 13 months as statsitically indistinguishable from '98 peak iirc). It could be argued you've 'cherry picked' GISTemp over UAH, RSS, HadCRUT3. There is natural noise that makes the 1998 comment stupid, and the total heat content is the important part.

-> p9 human fingerprints: the winter warming faster is not well explained, you pretty much just say 'just because...' without physics!



Also, what age/education is this aimed at? Some of the language used is common in climate circles but if I was reading this when I was an A level physics student I probably wouldn't have followed some of it!

2010-11-19 22:37:52Carbon cycle, winters vs summers, and some other stuff
James Wight


A while ago I wrote a post on my own blog about the carbon budget, and I got the 2008 numbers from here (the detailed data are here and you can find fossil fuel data back to 1750 here). The Global Carbon Project site says it will release the 2009 carbon budget on 21 November, but I know it’s been saying the next month for several months so don’t hold your breath.


I have seen winters vs summers done with GISS data. See Figure 18 in this paper: NH is clearly warming faster in Dec-Jan-Feb, while SH is warming faster in Jun-Jul-Aug. If you want a time-series graph you could get the seasonal anomalies from here and here and plot them yourself.


A few minor points:

·        You could use “deviation” for “anomaly”.

·        On the ocean heat content graph, the “21” part of the “10^21” seems to be out of place.

·        On page 6 – instead of “observations in many different areas”, perhaps “observations from many different fields”?

·        On page 8 – why is “readily-available” hyphenated? This looks wrong to me.

·        On human fingerprint #6 the caption says the units are standard deviations but the axes say the units are degrees C.

2010-11-20 00:30:34comment
Robert Way


People could say he cherry picked gISS but then one has to consider the MET office did reanalysis that confirmed GISS results
2010-11-20 00:43:04
Mark Richardson

Robert Way,


I'm still uncomfortable with ignoring the other potential datasets. RSS and HadCRUT3 might exclude the poles, and GISSTemp is probably quite good at its interpolation, but my impression is that the data are still quite sketchy. GISSTemp has been tested repeatedly, but so have the other datasets and I'm not convinced that GISSTemp is definitely the best. But I'm not sure what actual experts think...

 The near surface atmosphere might have been warmer in '98 than '10, but we can be pretty confident that the total heat content of the atmosphere/oceans/land has increased since then due to the radiation budget measurements behind 'Trenberth's travesty' and the Leviticus (iirc?) deep sea measurements.



I'm not sure yet how to 'fix' this, I must think a bit more :)

2010-11-20 18:57:45Cherry picking GISS over HadCRUT, RSS and UAH
John Cook


This is a good point as I'm sure that will be a criticism - that we've cherry picked GISS over HadCRUT, RSS and UAH. The wording might need tweaking here but the logic is sound. There are as far as I know two datasets that are completely global, including the Arctic region: GISS and the European reanalysis. Both find temperatures are greater after 1998. I don't have the data for the European reanalysis at my fingertips but Figure 3 in Simmons 2010 shows the 12 month average with higher temperatures in 2007. The European analysis uses a different method to GISS - rather than interpolation, it combines a range of sources: satellite, boats, buoys, weather stations, into a single temperature record. So two independent methods find the same result - assuming the Euro-reanalysis does get hotter years after 1998. I would like to look into this in more detail - can anyone get their hold on the European reanalysis data? Someone did post a link to the data in a comment once but I have no clue where it is now :-(

As for RSS and UAH, my understanding is these datasets show greater year-to-year variability as well as omit the Arctic region - both of which would tend to emphasise a hot El Nino year like 1998. Is the greater variability because it's not measuring surface temperature but the temperature of the general tropospheric region where trends are amplified compared to the surface temperature (aka the tropospheric hot spot effect)? Is this understanding sound?

And also, I strongly encourage everyone to read through the Guide again from a skeptic point of view, thinking of ways that deniers will try to attack the Guide. Scott Mandia is planning some aggressive distribution of this book - to U.S. science teachers, to a very long list of media contacts and possibly through some official channels to members of congress. Who knows in what other ways it might go viral from there. So I'm anticipating the Guide will attract a lot of heat from skeptics who will pore over it looking for things to attack.

The more we can anticipate attacks and preemptively neutralise them by tweaking the content, the better. Nevertheless, no matter what we do, there will be inevitable attacks so perhaps some blog posts giving more detailed answers will be in order. I was thinking of doing a blog post just on how the 2.5 Hiroshima bombs was calculated or where the 8000 oil spills came from. So perhaps one on GISS vs UAH etc would be another good one.

Hmm, now the train of thought is picking up momentum. What if we post a series of blog posts fleshing out details of the various points only touched briefly in the Guide? Hit the contentious points first, before skeptics get a chance to critique it. So if someone does post a critique, we can just point them to the detailed blog post.

On that note, I really must re-read Jo Nova's critique of the original Guide for an idea on the typical skeptic line of attack. I won't be able to update the Guide until Thursday (and Scott said we wouldn't launch the Guide until after Thanksgiving anyway) but in the meantime, please feel free to scrutinise the Guide, with the mindset of the harshest skeptic critic, and post here any points that might require vigorous, detailed, preemptive defence.

2010-11-21 02:38:06
Mark Richardson

"Who knows in what other ways it might go viral from there. So I'm anticipating the Guide will attract a lot of heat from skeptics who will pore over it looking for things to attack."


Why not invite Anthony Watts to review it privately?



I can probably get my hand on the Euro reanalysis later in the week.

2010-11-21 05:41:45comment
Robert Way

I don't think inviting Anthony Watts is a good idea. Personally I think there are enough scientists out there willing to have a look that we shouldn't even include Watts in our work. He is corrupt anyways and who wants to give him any credence. I think the biggest lacking issue I see is addressing the thermometer siting issues and the urban heat island issue. That is what Jo Nova used to explain the nights warming more than days thing.
2010-11-21 06:45:56Anthony watts
John Cook

Definitely don't involve him. His only goal would be to torpedo the guide in any way whatsoever. He is completely untrustworthy and agenda driven. He's had a few attempts to discredit me and SkS already.
2010-11-21 08:03:59Any Thoughts?
Robert Way

Thoughts on using a station siting/urban heat island graph?
2010-11-21 08:21:29

There will always be something to (intentionally) misinterpret, I myself can find at least one thing in every page. There's nothing we can do to defend the guide against people in bad faith, we'll live with it. We only need to worry about the science and the way we explain things to people in good faith.
2010-11-22 00:43:02UHI graph
John Cook

Robert, not sure there is room for an extra graph but perhaps in an "extended blog post". What did you have in mind exactly?
2010-11-22 01:39:09comment
Robert Way


I'm not sure John. The problem I see is that Jo Nova is going to use the same complaints she made about the initial guide and I don't feel that we have addressed some of her major points. The guide addresses many new points and is very effective but I do feel like at some point people are going to attack the urban heat island/weather station siting issues. Not sure what the solution is really. Maybe an extended blog post is the best idea. Or maybe adding in a "notes" page. who knows.

2010-11-22 07:12:06Uhi
John Cook

When Jo nova attacked the Guide, My initial plan was to write an extended rebuttal and I even started it. The problem was the guide was so short, it was easy to intentionally misunderstand it and criticize your misunderstood interpretation (Jo Nova specializes in this form of straw man attack). So I was going to spell it all out with no chance of misinterpretation. But I never got around to it and eventually thought, well, why bother giving nova more attention. Her elation at getting all this attention from the Guide in the first place left a bad taste in my mouth - why fuel her narcissism? So I left the blog post unfinished and Unposted. For the curious, here's the unpublished post:


In this case, the Jo Nova issue is irrelevant so extended blog posts are probably the way to go. Note, I will probably create a public access forum specially devoted to the handbook, whe people can start threads on the forum. So I imagine we'll need to be posting vigorous defences in there too. The point of the forum will be for teachers and other SkS newbies whose first contact with the climate debate will be the Guide. I want to give them a place where they can ask questions, get more info. But what concerns me is the forum being overrun by skeptics. If the Guide is distributed widely, that is a possibility. Still thinking about that issue.

BTW, am in Perth now, spent the evening having lots of interesting discussions with cognitive scientists about communicating climate science. I'm tapping this message on the iPad.

2010-11-22 09:19:18question
Robert Way

Have you thought about including something from Evans 2006 or the following paper:

Puckrin et al. 2004


2010-11-22 18:11:31
Glenn Tamblyn



Hope your conversations with the cognitive scientists were fruitful.

I printed the guide out and found a quiet place to sit and absorb it, far from the madding crowd; hopefully thats how its readers will take it in. I was trying to absorb the overall feel of the document. And where feel is concerned, little things can count. Also, each page has to stand on its own merits; a common sceptic tactic is to attack an individual point and ignore the others. 'See they got this wrong. Ignore this whole document...' So a page cannot rely on other pages for its validity. Particularly later pages. Each page has to add to your 'capture' of your reader as they proceed through the document.

So, a range of observations. I am not sure what my view is about some of these, just ideas to weigh up. And some may be too hard or too late:

Front page:
"The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticicm".

Although you started SkS as a resource for rebutting sceptic arguments, this document is going to a diverse audience who probably haven't heard of SkS. Is the title slightly confusing? Considering some of the discussions about communicating science, framing, psychology etc, is this a simple guide to AGW that just happens to rebut some sceptic arguments, or a document aimed at the sceptic arguments primarily? How does the title reflect this? Do we want to anchor the reader to the idea of AGW scepticism with the first words?

Secondly, given topics such as the conservative equating of environmentalism with socialism, the studies on how individualistic personalities respond to information differently depending on the associated political context etc, should the front image be what it is? The Earth yes. The Green Leaf? Damn Greenie/Commie's

While I understand you want to acknowledge those who helped, and many of these names add gravitas to the document, should they be on page 2. Does this detract from the narrative arc? Perhaps at the back before the cites.

Page 1.
"...what you often observe is cherry picking pieces of..."
"...what you often observe is a cherry picking of pieces of..."

"...climate 'skeptic' arguments mislead by..."
"...climate 'skeptic' arguments can mislead by..."
This goes to the question of how much you want to suggest that 'misleading' by skeptics is deliberate or inadvertant. Obviously some is deliberate, but do you want to attack the dishonest ones or avoid attacking the 'honest' skeptics. The second form softens the statement and suggests that the misleading 'might be' inadvertant.

"Selective cherry picking" - tautology?

"...number of warming patterns consistent with an increased greenhouse effect..." Is there a way of adding that other causes such as the Sun won't have this pattern.

"...not based on mere theory or computer models..." The use of 'mere' denigrates theory and models. Perhaps "...not just based on theory or computer models..."

Human Fingerprints graphic.

No citations unlike the graphic on page 6

"Less Oxygen in the air". Sceptic reply - "These Warmists think all the oxygen is going to be used up. How stupid can they be?" Perhaps "Slightly less Oxygen in the air"

Rising Tropopause. Whats a Tropopause? 99.99% of people don't have a clue.

Shrinking Upper Atmosphere. I'm not even entirely sure what is meant by that but gee, those Alarmists will clutch at anything wont they. This needs some form of clarification.

Possibly all these could be addressed with a simple note at the bottom of the graphic.

Page 2:
"The weight of CO2 emitted each day...". This is so strong, especially now for a US audience, perhaps highlight this

"The weight of CO2 emitted EACH DAY...".

"The complete picture of the carbon cycle" A knowledgable sceptic could attack this as still being too simplistic - geological processes etc, and thus that your 'complete' picture is still a convenient cherry pick; you are guilty of what you accuse others of. Possibly just a change of heading "A more complete picture of the carbon cycle" would be enough.

I am not totally comfortable with the wording of H F #1. "Plants prefer the lighter...". What, like I prefer Mark Knopfler? Perhaps worded in some way that plants preferentially take up more C12 into their tissues. Also, although space is tight, a reference to the fact that CO2 emitted by volcanoes isn't C12 enriched, so any isotope ratio change seen must be due to plant derived sources, and indirectly whacking the 'its volcanoes' line. I know it says that, but it isn't clear. This subject is hard to convey and since this is page 2, the audience needs to 'get' this before they move on, and many won't.

Page 3:
"...many laboratory experiments and..." Not those nerdy guys in white coats again. How about "...many laboratory experiments, field observations and..." What else would you call the US Air Forces observation program over 60 years but 'field observations'?

This whole page has a vulnerability. By focussing on mainly CO2, and CO2 feedbacks it opens the door for the major and substantive sceptic arguments about 'They ignore water vapour' and 'What about Clouds?'. They are on a later page, but not this one. And it makes it sound like the CO2 outgassing is the major feedback when it is only a part of it.

H F #2. This might be stronger if instead of:
"... as it escapes out to space. A comparison...that less energy..."
it was:
"... as it escapes out to space, clearly showing the greenhouse effect. A comparison...that EVEN LESS energy...". The GH Effect, and then a change to the magnitude of the GH Effect.

Page 5:
Since you reference running averages, the caption on the GISS data perhaps should be
"12 month running average..."

H F #3
The point of this is not simply that the oceans have accumulated most of the energy, but that the distribution pattern of it matchs expectations - 2 pieces of evidence. That isn't quite clear from the wording, so a change of wording might convey that better. "The pattern of ocean warming..." to "The specific pattern of that ocean warming..."

Page 6:
You proceed from surface stations to satellites without the intermediate fact that 70% of the earth is oceans - SST's make up the bulk of the surface record, and just focussing on the land stations is a cherry pick. And there aren't any parking lots in the ocean.

"... losing billions of tonnes of ice each year. ..." A citation for this would be good.

Page 7:

H F #5 "...we should see more infrared radiation returning down to Earth. ..." DLR is something many people won't really get, although if they do it is powerful. Anything that helps illuminate this would help. Even just a small change of wording might help: "...returning down to the Earth from the atmosphere. ...""

Examples of climate feedback
Unfortunately, these examples are two of the sceptics strong talking points - water vapour feedback (or the supposed lack of it), and clouds (queue Svensmark here). Other examples such as Albedo change due to ice melt might be better examples.

Page 9:
"... which leads to ocean acidification. " The cite is just to impacts on coral. Additional/alternate cites wrt carbonate saturation, dissolving shells in sea micro organisms etc might also be useful. The big impact of 'acidification is not just Ph, but its impact on carbonate saturation levels - hard to convey, but very linked to ocean food chains.

Personal view is that too often the impacts of AGW are described in terms of sea level rise, species extinction, scary storms etc, with the AGW threat to food supply not being quite as prominent when actually I think that is the biggest risk of all. Space permitting, perhaps a reference to the impact of more erratic weather, particularly monsoons, on food security.

Page 10:
"...peer-reviewed abstracts on..." Your audience haven't got a clue what an abstract is.

When citing Naomi Oreskes' study, how many papers came up in her search? That gives an indication of the magnitude of climate science research - a counter to attempts to paint this as a 'few con men'. Also, perhaps as a footnote: even your list of cites just for this paper contains a large number of names. Perhaps a count of the number of names on all the papers as an indication of how just broad a church this is.

Finally a general point. Frequently we refer to the effects of CO2, even in contexts where we could say GH Gases. Saying CO2 says 'threats to our western consumerist high energy expenditure life style, our way of life, the great American Dream'. Where we can in the context, should we broaden it to GH Gases. If we can avoid pressing the 'this is an attack on our way of life' panic button any more than is absolutely necessary until people have been convinced of the reality of AGW, is that an appropriate strategy. Convince them that AGW is real first, then home in on CO2 later. Psychology vs reality again.

Hope some of this helps without overwhelming


2010-11-22 19:55:06Jo Nova's criticisms
James Wight


I’ve just been going over the Skeptic’s Handbook/Scientific Guide saga. Here I summarise Joanne Nova’s criticisms and offer my thoughts on what if anything should be done to avert them. Given the obvious similarity between the new Scientific Guide and the old one debunking Nova, I’m guessing it will quickly come to her attention, so it would be a good idea to address her points. (I’m thinking the nitty-gritty can be explained in extended-edition blog posts.)

Nova’s main criticism is: “Evidence for one degree is not evidence for three” per doubling of CO2. She claims you do not inform readers of empirical evidence that negative feedbacks will counteract the “measly one degree”, and “cannot name one paper” showing empirical evidence that CO2 causes 3 degrees warming. Although this is moving the goalposts on her part (I couldn’t find any mention of this point in her first Handbook (though it is mentioned in the second), there’s nothing to stop her or anybody else from making the same objection again. Implication: I think you need to add a page in the Guide about climate sensitivity.

To point 2 (ice cores show CO2 is a feedback), Nova responds: What matters is the total feedback when you add all the feedbacks together, and she claims it’s negative. (I wonder how she explains the glacial/interglacial cycle then?) Implication: I think you should say explicitly that the full magnitude of the glacial/interglacial cycle cannot be explained without the CO2 feedback.

·        Nova claims you are being dishonest by not showing the “damning” ice core graph she uses. Implication: Maybe in the extended edition you could show the graph of CO2 lagging temperature.

·        Nova claims you provide no empirical evidence of a net positive feedback, and the CO2 feedback is insignificant next to water vapor. Implication: In the extended edition you should go into detail about how the feedback works and the evidence for it.

·        Nova says something other than CO2 caused the warming in ice cores. Implication: You’ve already dealt with this by saying the warming was initiated by orbital cycles. You can expand on this in the extended edition.

·        In the Handbook itself, Nova claims that positive feedback means runaway warming. Implication: You probably need to deal with this objection at least in the extended edition.

To point 3 (nights are warming faster than days), Nova responds: Warm nights are probably because of the urban heat island effect. I’ve never come across this argument before (I’ve just added it to the database). Any idea whether ocean and troposphere records also show nights warming faster than days? Implication: ???

·        Nova claims you are cherry-picking by showing surface but not troposophere temperatures. Implication: Perhaps include a graph of the latter in the extended edition.

·        Nova claims you are being hypocritical by citing 2010 as warmest year when it is an El Nino year like 1998. Implication: I think you’ve already addressed this by saying 1998 was a super El Nino.

·        Nova claims your mentions of about ice sheets, glaciers, etc are irrelevant because they don’t tell us what causes the warming. Nova claims this means you are mixing up cause and effect! This is pretty silly since you were responding to the claim that weather stations are inaccurate, in which case that evidence is relevant. Implication: This doesn’t apply to the new Guide as it’s not aimed specifically at Nova’s point of view but at various stages of AGW skepticism.

·        In the Handbook, Nova argues that the “cooling” noise in temperatures during 2001-2008 (now 2002-2010) is important because that noise is something which the models didn’t predict, and must be more important than CO2 at the moment. Implication: In the extended edition you should explain that those models never claimed to predict that the CO2 effect would overwhelm the noise in an eight/nine/ten-year period.

To point 4 (direct measurements show CO2 is trapping more heat), Nova responds that she only claimed CO2 was “almost” saturated because the effect is logarithmic, and there would be minor warming from CO2. Implication: Possibly consider responding to the argument that the CO2 effect is logarithmic.

·        Nova quotes Harries as saying his results don’t actually prove CO2 is causing warming because it might be counteracted by a negative cloud feedback. Implication: You might want to investigate this.

·        Nova claims any atmospheric warming would cause more downward infrared radiation. Again, this argument is new to me. Implication: ???

·        In the Handbook, Nova says CO2 was many times higher for most of the 500 million years ago, but there was still an ice age in the Ordovician. Implication: If it’s relevant then maybe you could talk about this in the extended edition.

On the subject of the tropospheric hotspot I don’t know enough to comment, but here are the points that Nova makes:

Stratospheric cooling is only the fingerprint of the direct CO2 warming of one degree and is “not disputed by skeptics”. The fingerprint of positive feedback also includes a tropospheric hotspot and nobody has found it.

·        Nova claims you contradict yourself by saying the hot spot is not a signature of the greenhouse effect then saying it is not unique to the greenhouse effect.

·        Nova claims you misunderstand the definition of the adiabatic lapse rate; that is only a measurement and so cannot affect the climate.

·        Nova claims you are being dishonest by not showing her graph which purportedly shows there is no hotspot.

·        Nova claims your graph of latitude vs altitude has a “deceptive scale” because zero “looks hot” (eg. is coloured red). She claims the one brown spot is too small to be the predicted hot spot.

·        In the Handbook, Nova claims all Santer found was that the hotspot might be hidden in the noise.

Her second Handbook argues we don’t have evidence for a climate sensitivity of 3 degrees C and cloud feedbacks are negative/uncertain; repeats all the usual nonsense about Climategate and the hockey stick being fraudulent; claims that comparing natural forcings to natural + anthropogenic is an argument from ignorance; argues CO2 is plant food; claims cosmic rays correlate with troposphere temperatures; accuses AGW proponents of ad hominems and appeals to authority; and makes lots of paranoid political/conspiracy theory claims. Implication: Again, you need to address the question of climate sensitivity.


For all we know, Nova may decide to move the goalposts again in the future. However, we do know the points she has emphasised in the past are: attribution of warming, climate sensitivity and feedbacks, the troposopheric hotspot, global cooling, and microsite influences.

2010-11-22 20:00:17Sorry!
James Wight


I didn’t realise Glenn had also posted a long essay!

2010-11-22 22:37:44

Great work, Glenn & James!
2010-11-23 03:05:19Comment
Robert Way

James, First of all thank you for the in depth work you've put in. You certainly have given it a best effort.

Personally, I don't think that John has to put in Troposphere temperatures. I think that one of the worst things we have done is to equate radiances measured by satellites with our thermometer and sea-surface measurements. This will only further that mistake. What we know for sure is what the thermometers measure. What we know about the satellite measurements is that they require in depth processing to extract the "temperature" signal. I think that normal people understand the thermometer and trust it and we should rely on that as it is for them not Jo Nova.

two other points:
<>I have also seen Jo Nova criticize the harries et al. 2001 paper also. I personally don't see any validity in her argument but perhaps it would be interesting to read chen et al. 2004 and the 2007 to be sure we have everything we need.

<> I don't think that Jo Nova is right about the increasing LW radiation being associated with any atmospheric warming. If that is the case, then it implies a positive feedback from water vapor. Say for example the oceans are causing the warming. For it to result in measured increases in downward LW wouldn't it imply that the initial heating of the troposphere is being amplified through greenhouse processes such as feedbacks. I don't really get her logic here. Another thing I would point out while on this topic is that we SHOULD use the Evans 2006 paper or the puckrins 2004 paper to show that we can measure at what wavelengths the increase is occurring and conclude it is CO2 and water vapor (implying positive feedback, take that Lindzen!)
2010-11-24 01:06:40
Mark Richardson

Any atmospheric warming should lead to an increase in downgoing infrared measured at the surface - that's just physics (Planck's law if you will, although you really should use the applicable statistics and quantum mechanics but the results are qualitatively the same).


Wavelength analysis can tell you information about the source, I believe. I'd read some papers but I'm busy on Arctic water cycle stuff. I found some interesting new things on intensification of the water cycle in the Arctic recently!