2011-03-07 12:36:20URGENT: Need questions for John Christy or Pielke Sr for tomorrow's congressional hearing
John Cook


Just got this email from americanprogress.org:

This Tuesday at 10 am. What questions would you ask these witnesses, if you had them under oath? What facts would you confront them with?

This will probably be the *only* House hearing with climate scientists this year.

It would be very helpful if people emailed Viewer Services (viewer@c-span.org) and ask them to carry the hearing. They actually respond to feedback.

Also, if you happen to be in the district of any of the members, it would be great if you called their office and let them know that you'll be watching. Or you could just call the chair (Upton) and/or ranking member (Waxman). http://energycommerce.house.gov/about/members.shtml


Climate Science and EPA's Greenhouse Gas Regulations

GOP witnesses

* Dr. John R. Christy http://www.skepticalscience.com/satellite-measurements-warming-troposphere.htm

* Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. http://www.skepticalscience.com/Pielke-Sr-and-scientific-equivocation-dont-beat-around-the-bush-Roger.html

* DDT advocate Dr. Donald Roberts http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/no-ddt-is-not-the-easy-answer-to-malaria/

D witnesses

* Dr. Christopher Field

* Dr. Knute Nadelhoffer

* Dr. Richard Somerville

* Dr. Francis W. Zwiers (co-author of Min attribution paper)

So if anyone has any useful questions for Christy or Pielke, appropriate for a congressional hearing, suggest them here and I'll pass them on.

2011-03-07 14:31:43
Glenn Tamblyn


How about questions along the lines of 'Which of these statements about AGW don't you agree with?" Then work down through the key processes to see where they baulk. This keeps the discussion focused on the appropraite issues, rather than allowing them to head off cherry-picking and strawman building.


- increased GH Gases will change the radiative balance of the planet due to the GH Effect

- These changes in Radiative balance have been observed in OLR and Downwelling radiation.

- These changes will result in a net accumulation of heat in the environment, primarily in the oceans

- This heat accumulation has been observed with around 90% of this being in the oceans including heating right to the abyssal depths.

- Since this represents the total heat accumulation for the entire climate system, this additional energy has to have originated from a change to the external energy balance of the climate. Internal fluctuations cannot be the cause.

increases of water vapour levels in the atmosphere as expected.

- That changes in the Sun's output cannot be the source of the warming since the Sun's output has if anything declined slightly since the mid 20th century.

- That one of the key expected feedbacks is the water vapour feedback and that satellite observations have observed an increase in water vapour concentrations in the atmosphere.

--- Add any more we can think of here.


2011-03-07 15:19:29
Rob Honeycutt


You know, something really bugged me about Pielke when he was commenting over here at SkS.  He was doing his thing about "global warming has stopped" based on OHC.

I would want to ask him if he believes the OHC data coming out now is robust enough to, with full confidence, make such an assertion?

2011-03-07 16:05:32
Dana Nuccitelli

Yeah it would be good to ask Pielke about the recent deep ocean heat content studies in particular - if in light of these studies, he still thinks global warming has stopped.

Christy, it might be good to ask about Dessler's recent paper suggesting a positive cloud feedback, since that's a dagger to the Christy/Spencer low climate sensitivity due to the cloud feedback theory.

2011-03-07 16:28:03Pielke on ocean heat
John Cook


That was the first question that came to my mind re Pielke - do you think the ocean is not warming despite all the latest evidence of deep ocean warming. But you know what Pielke would say based on his latest blog post - the deep ocean may be warming although the evidence is scant but even if it does, it means the effect of global warming is effectively being "sequestered" in the deep ocean where it can't hurt us. So regardless of whether you agree or not, it wouldn't be a gotchya question as Pielke would have a ready answer which sounds technical enough.

Has Christy gone on the record on low climate sensitivity? That cloud feedback is negative?

2011-03-07 16:45:52yeah
Dana Nuccitelli

Yeah, Christy's position is very similar to Spencer's, except he's not such a loudmouth about it.  The best source of Christy's position was his testimony in a court case in Vermont where he was the climate expert for some car company and Hansen was the expert for the other side.  I can find it tomorrow if you want.  Or I'm pretty sure Romm posted about it on Climate Progress, if you do a search for 'Climate Progress Christy Hansen' it will probably come up.

2011-03-07 16:50:32comment
Robert Way


Dr. Christy,
Why is it that you and your co-worker Dr. Spencer sat by for over a decade asserting that the satellite measurements were correct and that thermometers and models were incorrect without investigating whether it was in fact your processing causing the discrepancy. You advocated against climate change using this dataset as your ammunition and spawned a whole generation of skeptics without checking to see even if you had used the right signs in your code. Why is it that it was left to someone else to identify the multiple serial errors in your analysis methods whilst you made assertions with such certainty about how much more accurate the University of Alabama-Huntsville datasets were compared with those done by GISS, NOAA and Hadley?

2011-03-07 19:31:28
Mark Richardson

Is there good evidence that there was intentional subterfuge done by Spencer & Christy?


There have been loads of mistakes in climate science in the past. NCDC etc update their records all the time, sometimes because other people pointed out their mistakes and not because htey found them themselves. Kind of like S&C.

Though it seemed that S&C made an immense fuckup they should probably have spotted a little sooner.

2011-03-07 20:37:21



I think it would be considered a low blow to attack them for not finding their scientific errors: It's an embarrassment to them already, and has hurt their reputations. People make mistakes. There is such a thing as "having done your time."I think it would be poor form, and a mistake, to make a big deal about it.

However, if the question about the missing tropical hot spot should come up (or maybe it could be brought up), it could be fair to point out that apparent discrepancies between the accepted theory and specific measurements have persisted before; and after mistakes were finally caught, have justified the theory. This could be particularly effective if Spencer or Christy have been promoting the missing hotspot (Have they? I don't know.) "What makes you sure that this is not just a persistent measurement problem? That has been known to happen before." He'll get the point.

Also, I think it would be reasonable to pursue the question of why Spencer is so convinced that the feedbacks are net negative. I haven't read his book in detail (just a quick glance), but my impression is that his rationale is more theological than anything else. Sorry I can't provide something a bit more focused. [Maybe this isn't appropriate for Christy.]



If I understand the concept of "sequestering" heat in the ocean, all that really means is that you buy more time before reaching the steady-state temperature appropriate to a specific CO2 level: all that's happened is that the effective "heat capacity" of the Earth would be bigger than had been hitherto expected.

So, as a question to Pielke: "You have suggested that heat could be sequestered in the ocean. But that doesn't change the ultimate steady-state global average temperature for a specific level of CO2, does it? It just buys some time. And if we don't cut down CO2 emissions, those levels will keep increasing, because it can take a thousand years or more for atmospheric CO2 concentrations to decline naturally."

2011-03-08 01:42:04
James Wight


“That changes in the Sun's output cannot be the source of the warming since the Sun's output has if anything declined slightly since the mid 20th century.”

They’ll just say the Sun is indirectly causing warming via cosmic rays. So that's not a gotcha question either.

2011-03-08 03:19:05
Rob Honeycutt


How about this.  For Dr Christy:

If climate sensitivity to CO2 is as low as you are claiming what accounts for the large swings in temperature during glacial-interglacial periods?


If climate sensitivity is as low as you claim how can you reconcile that with liquid water on the early earth?

If he comes back with the response, "That not my area of research" come back with, "But doesn't your research need to agree with the broader science?"

2011-03-08 03:25:20


According to Wikipedia

As an expert witness called to rebut the testimony of James Hansen in a 2007 trial relating to automobile emissions regulation in Vermont, Dr. Christy said he was "mostly in agreement" with the IPCC’s assessment that "in the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last fifty years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations." ^ UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF VERMONT, Opinion and Order, Case 2:05-cv-302 Filed 09/12/2007, pp. 44-45; see Vermont Decision 2,007 (accessed Feb. 9, 2011) 

However, I can't find any text to confirm this in the reference.  However, if correct his opinions must have substantially changed.  It might be worth asking if he can confirm this.

The latter bolded text appears lifted from the IPCC 2001 report, for which he was a lead author http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/?src=/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/007.htm 

2011-03-08 04:22:16
Peter Miesler

7 Mar 2011, 4:28 PM John Cook:

re Pielke "it means the effect of global warming is effectively being "sequestered" in the deep ocean where it can't hurt us."


How can it be "sequestered when it is part of a circulating mass?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Glenn Tamblyn I liked your list of questions, and figure... hope you woundn't mind if I grab them for my uses?

2011-03-08 05:09:13Christy v. Hansen
Dana Nuccitelli

Here's the court case text where Hansen and Christy were the opposing experts.