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A request for help

April 21st, 2005

In the discussion over Michael Duffy’s SMH article, we had a lot of trouble with a survey supposedly showing that 25 per cent of climate scientists doubted the reality of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change. We’ve tracked the survey downhere and it appears that the relevant question is number 40

Climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes.
Respondents have to answer on a 7 point Likert scale from Strongly agree to Stongly disagree

Tim Lambert observes that this was an online survey, which may raise doubts about the sample frame, though it appears that Dennis Bray, who ran the survey, tried to keep participation limited to those in the study population.

Brian Bahnisch comments

To me the question is too open-ended. Surely any rational, logical scientist would see that “climate change� has been going on a lot longer than we have been walking upright.
It is also possible to think that anthropogenic causes are less than natural ones, but still a significant, indeed critical, influence.
How does he count the fence-sitters who marked “4�?

and I share these concerns.

Anyway, the immediate problem is that Bray has set up some fancy code to display the survey results and neither Brian or I can make it work. It appears to be set for either Mozilla or Windows IE. Can anyone find the results and advise me.

Update Thanks to TIm Lambert, who has located what appear to be the results to Question 40 here The number giving “Disagree” responses (29 per cent) roughly matches the 25 per cent cited by Duffy, who was apparently relying on a second-hand and not very reliable source. But, as we’ve seen the description of the question given by Duffy was incorrect, as was the date of the survey and the description of the sample population, not to mention the characterisation of the thinktank where the results were presented.

There’s obviously a big difference between “the modest warming of the past 150 years is due to human activity” (Duffy’s description) and “Climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes” (Bray’s actual question) and neither represents the IPCC position, which is that at least some of the warming observed over the last 50 years is anthropogenic and that, under current policies, this warming will continue. For appropriate time scales (say, as short as an El Nino cycle or longer than 1000 years) it seems pretty clear that natural causes are dominant, so it’s perfectly reasonable to disagree with, or give a “Can’t answer” response to Bray’s question, while agreeing with the IPCC view.

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  1. April 21st, 2005 at 10:26 | #1

    I couldn’t get it to work under IE or Firefox. Looking at the source, I find that the results are readable here. The numbers seem to correspond to the question numbers.

  2. Neil
    April 21st, 2005 at 11:34 | #2

    It’s not enough to limit respondents to the target population. You also need to ensure that you get enough responses to be statistically significant, and that nothing skews the sample who do respond (eg, perhaps only those who have a bee in their bonnet bother responding to such a long survey). The survey is also 9 years old, which in scientific terms makes it antediluvian.

  3. April 21st, 2005 at 12:36 | #3

    I know that whilst i was studying climatology at the university of queensland – many of your colleagues did not believe global warming had been proven and we’re still pointing to urban heat islands and other micro changes as being more important evidence of climate change than any general upward trend in temperatues.

    The fact they use “climate change” and not global warming in the question is evidence of the cautious attitude of many analysts. I highly doubt any climatologists object to the phrase “human induced climate change” whilst many i believe would object to “human induced global warming”.

    Regardless – as the expected outcome of the kyoto protocol is a reduction in fossil fuel useage, i strongly support Kyoto, even though i am a global warming sceptic (but not a right wing conservative, DDT and passive smoking lover)

  4. April 21st, 2005 at 13:07 | #4

    You guys (Quiggin et al) are masters at putting words in other people’s mouths and interpreting situations to suit your own agendas. Lomborg, Carter and others don’t deny climate change or increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Their concerns, and my concern, is with the policies being promoted to address the rising carbon dioxide emmissions. And certainly the link between rising carbon dioxide levels and warming is ambiguous.

    It is your side that behave like creationists.

    It is your side that hold up the ‘stop climate change placards’ as though we could actually stop climate change!

    Looking at the longer climate change record we are about due for another ice age. But I guess you will deny this to. That we have ever had ice ages?

  5. April 21st, 2005 at 13:10 | #5

    Jennifer “And certainly the link between rising carbon dioxide levels and warming is ambiguous.”

    Would you care to explain this to us ‘creationists’?

  6. Simon
    April 21st, 2005 at 14:15 | #6

    For a start Jennifier should take down Fourier’s 1824 essay that gases in the atmosphere might increase surface temperature of the Earth and then take on the subsequent 180 years worth of supporting literature.
    Oh yeah how quickly has climate change occurred in the past compared to that occurring now? And when you say we are due for another ice age, what kind of time frame are we talking about – plus/minus how many years?

  7. John Quiggin
    April 21st, 2005 at 14:23 | #7

    You can’t win in relation to Lomborg. In my review of his latest book, I said

    Rather than disputing the scientific evidence of global warming, he argued that the cost of addressing the problem through the Kyoto protocol would be better spent dealing with more urgent issues, such as the provision of clean drinking water in the Third World.

    and this para elicited an angry letter from one Rajat Sood, a climate change sceptic, saying that Lomborg did dispute the scientific evidence. Make up your minds, guys.

  8. Paul Norton
    April 21st, 2005 at 14:46 | #8

    The creationists, of course, don’t put forward an alternative scientific theory of their own to explain the diversity and dynamic coexistence of life on earth, but confine themselves to propagandist attacks on lacunae and uncertainties in mainstream evolutionary theory.

    Global warming sceptics are open to criticism on similar grounds unless they can produce:

    (a) a scientifically sound alternative explanation of observed changes in global climate (which Jennifer and Prof. Lomborg acknowledge is real);

    (b) a sound alternative scientific theory to predict the effects of doubling the concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and CO2 equivalents;

    (c) a sound theory of the economic consequences of greenhouse abatement policies which both deals with the empirical reality that policy measures to reduce emissions of other air pollutants have not had disastrous economic consequences and have provided nett economic and employment benefits (see Goodstein, 1999), *and* nonetheless convincingly demonstrates that greenhouse abatement measures will have less favourable consequences than previous pollution abatement measures.

    Over to Jennifer. . .

  9. April 21st, 2005 at 15:21 | #9

    Regarding the link between rising co2 levels in the atmosphere and global warming, the argument goes something along the following lines: extra greenhouse gases intercept more of the outgoing heat escaping the earth and as a consequence the troposhere (lower atmosphere) warms with some of the extra heat redirected to the earth’s surface.
    I understand that the IPCC assumes its numbers which are that a doubling of CO2 levels will increase temps by 1.7 to 4.2C.
    Now, if we look at the observed temperatures since satellite observations began in 1979, the earth’s surface is apparently warming faster than the lower atmosphere.
    The simplest explaination is that the observed warming is therefore not from the greenhouse effect.
    For more information on my position on Kyoto and Climate change see

  10. Steve
    April 21st, 2005 at 15:41 | #10


    Jennifer, you don’t read this website enough, or the blogs that are linked to this one that cover greenhouse debate. The stuff you are saying has been debated to death a zillion times already. You are just trolling.

    I’m not going to read your online opinion, because it is clear from what you’ve written here that you are not on top of the debate.

    For example, nobody here denies that natural climate change occurs, and that ice ages have happened before. I’m not sure what point you think you are making there.

  11. April 21st, 2005 at 15:58 | #11

    Jennifer, you seem to be a bit of date on the satellite observations. Read Scott Church’s comment.

    And in your first comment you started by accusing Quiggin et al of putting words into other people’s mouths and finished by saying that they would deny that there had ever been ice ages.

    And why advocate spraying DDT in places where the mosquitoes are resistant to DDT? Wouldn’t it be better to use something that actually kills them?

  12. Simon
    April 21st, 2005 at 16:00 | #12

    I assume that ‘satellite observations’ are the MSU data interpreted by Christie and Spencer. You imply that the MSU data is somehow more valid than that collected from other sources. You fail to tell the reader that Christie and Spencer have published at least 7 papers indentifing and correcting errors in their analysis of the MSU data set and subsequent researchers have, from the same data set, produced results showing a slight warming over the short time period that MSU data has been collected.

    MSU data is difficult to interpret, there are numerous MSU calibration problems, you have to compensate for satellite orbit decay, etc. Also when the MSU data, which is collected from the mid-troposphere, is expolated to the lower-troposphere the problems and uncertainities are amplified.

    If these items are taken into account then the implied validity of the MSU temperatures (satellite observations) is called into question.

  13. April 21st, 2005 at 16:18 | #13

    Tim Lambert,

    Please point out Ms Marohasy’s advocacy of “spraying DDT in places where the mosquitoes are resistant to DDT.” I seem to have missed that part.

    A bit of shameless self-promotion on your part, no?

  14. Steve
    April 21st, 2005 at 16:36 | #14

    JF BEck

    Tim’s first link: jennifer is talking all about how good DDT is and a looming crisis in tsunami affected countries (such as sri lanka) with malaria.

    In the second link, Tim provides links to stuff showing that mozzies are ddt resistant in sri lanka.

    It makes sense to me?

  15. April 21st, 2005 at 16:50 | #15

    Jennifer –
    You were asked by me to explain your statement “And certainly the link between rising carbon dioxide levels and warming is ambiguous”. How is increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere causing extra heat to be trapped ambiguous?

    “Now, if we look at the observed temperatures since satellite observations began in 1979, the earth’s surface is apparently warming faster than the lower atmosphere.
    The simplest explaination is that the observed warming is therefore not from the greenhouse effect.”
    So how would you explain the observed rise in global temperatures?

  16. Simon
    April 21st, 2005 at 16:59 | #16

    DDT isn’t used in Indonesia either because of the resistence that mozzies have to it in some areas. Jennifier should of been aware of the WHO report on the magnitude of threat of malaria in tsunami effected areas before she wrote the article.

    She asks: “How might aid organizations balance legitimate environmental concerns, like the funding of programs that include the use of DDT, against the need to save human lives?” Well by checking if DDT is of any use to start…

  17. April 21st, 2005 at 17:34 | #17

    Hi Ender,
    There is an argument that the sun is partly responsible for the increase in global temperatures it goes something along the lines:
    Irradiance (solar heat output) is not the key to the Sun’s variable influence, but rather changes in the sun’s magnetism associated with increased eruptive activity for which sunspots are one of several indicators. The argument seems to be based on correlations, as much as on causal mechanisms. The correlation between temperature and the sun’s magnetism has been rather good for the last couple of hundred years see, figure 5 at

    Hi Simon,
    Point of clarification, Do you think I am correct or not in stating that the trophesphere has warmed less than the earth’s surface? This seems a major point to get clarification on?

    You seem to be trying to set me up as anti-environment and someone who promotes DDT. BTW so do a lot of people so you are not unique in this regard. I grew up in Asia and lived for many year in Africa and malaria is truly terrible. The very limited and targetted use of DDT in South Africa seems to have saved lives. There is a lot of information at wwww.fightingmalaria.org.
    I would be interested in any link/information you have about current levels of resistance to DDT in Asia.

  18. jj
    April 21st, 2005 at 17:39 | #18

    This may not help much, but after your request for help went out, I contacted my uncle who is an atmospheric physicist with CSIRO and he didn’t know much about the survey. But he did add the following:
    On the topic, I think that scientists tend to be conservative in ascribing or apportioning cause when systems are not totally understood – as in the case of climate. The certainties are that climate change has both natural and anthropogenic components, even establishing the uncertainties in the mix is difficult.

    So while the survey might indicate a reticence to ascribe anthropogenic causes to climate change as a sole cause, I’d argue that the data is ‘dirty’ and that a more reliable statistic is that the vast majority of atmospheric scientists recognise some anthropogenic causes for climate change.

  19. April 21st, 2005 at 19:25 | #19

    Steve re #14,

    I’m aware of Lambert’s obsession with the DDT “hoax”. He brought it up to draw attention to his blog.

    While I am not speaking for Ms Marohasy, I would like to point out in her defense that it is perfectly reasonable to use DDT for house spraying in areas where mosquitos are resistant. The jury is still out on the irritant/repellant effects of DDT but as house spraying has negligible environmental impact – the toxicity of DDT has been grossly overstated by many – there is no reason why it should not be used, even in areas where mosquitos are resistant.

    As for the various factors influencing climate, try here.

  20. John Quiggin
    April 21st, 2005 at 19:31 | #20

    A comment sent in by Ken Miles (blocked by my antispam measures unfortunately)
    “Jennifer, as someone who enjoys reading the scientific literature on climate change, I find your online opinion piece to be very weak.

    For example:

    Volcanic eruptions and sun spot activity correlate more closely with changes in the earth’s temperature, than do carbon dioxide levels.

    This is totally incorrect. The match between volcanic and solar variation and the earth’s surface temperatures is poor. The match between temperatures and greenhouse gases is better. Only by combining all of them can one achieve a good match.

    Furthermore, ice core data indicate that dramatic changes in
    temperature generally precede, rather than follow, changes in
    atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

    This is because, generally, CO2 acts as an amplifier to climate change not as an initiator. This of course, noted in the scientific literature.

    Jennifer’s writings on climate change could be considerably improved if she paid more attention to the scientific literature and less attention to non-peer reviewed cherry picked opinion pieces.”

  21. John Quiggin
    April 21st, 2005 at 19:36 | #21

    Another comment from Ken Miles


    Climate change skeptics should be extremely quiet about the correlation between solar cycles and surface temperatures (also your link has an extra “.” in it which causes it to fail).

    The correlation is due to an extremely dodgy analysis.

    For more information see “Pattern of strange errors plagues solar activity and terrestrial climate data” Eos, Vol. 85, No. 39, 28 September 2004.”

  22. April 21st, 2005 at 19:55 | #22

    Regarding the climatic influence of solar and volcanic activity, from the source linked above:

    Bonn meteorologists have now been able to calculate, on the basis of about 30 different climate models, which of the suspects are responsible for climate change: greenhouse gases, particulate matter or natural factors.

    Their verdict is that they are all guilty. “Without the influence of the greenhouse gases the average annual temperature would have only increased by 0.4 degrees,” is how Professor Andreas Hense summarises the results.

    ‘However, the fluctuations at the end of the 19th and in the first half of the 20th century are mainly due to changes in solar activity and volcanic eruptions.’

    Let’s spend multiple billions to correct something we aren’t close to understanding.

  23. Steve
    April 21st, 2005 at 21:28 | #23

    “Let’s spend multiple billions to correct something we aren’t close to understanding”

    Lets make sweeping judgements based on a single online article about the work of a single research group, and ignore the rest of the vast amount of peer-reviewed and professional comment out there.

  24. April 21st, 2005 at 21:49 | #24


    Let’s make sweeping judgements about how much of the literature I’m aware of based on the single source I cited – cited, by the way, just in case some people weren’t aware of it. If you’d bother to read it, you’d find it isn’t supportive of the anti-GW case but is supportive of the case that’s there’s a great deal of uncertainty about what’s going on with climate.

    There’s also this reference to an item published in Nature:

    A new study of climate in the Northern Hemisphere for the past 2000 years shows that natural climate change may be larger than generally thought. This is displayed in results from scientists at the Stockholm University, made in cooperation with Russian scientists, which are published in Nature on 10 Feb 2005.

    See: http://www.physorg.com/news2999.html#comments

  25. Steve
    April 21st, 2005 at 23:38 | #25

    Apologies, JFBeck, I did not mean to infer anything about how much literature you are aware of – i just thought the way you had developed your argument in post #22 was weak. And I had read the article you cited.

    Regarding the Nature paper referenced by the physorg artice you linked to in your last post, it is discussed on realclimate.org here.

    This paragraph in particular is useful for refuting the point you are making that uncertainty should rule out action:

    These results [the Stockholm Uni work in Nature 10 Feb] are bound to stir up interest beyond the scientific community, since the “hockey stick” shape of previous reconstructions has become so totemic (although just about everyone agrees that there is no need for this “totemising”). We hope that press reports about this paper that mention the increased variability will also emphasize the other key result: that there is “no evidence for any earlier periods in the last millennium with warmer conditions than the post-1990 period – in agreement with previous similar studies (1-4,7)” where (1)is MBH98, (2) is MBH99, (7) is Mann and Jones ’03. The “News” article in Nature explicitly rejects the idea that this means we’re not causing the current warming. And it quotes statistician Hans von Storch (who has been quite critical of the earlier work): “it does not weaken in any way the hypothesis that recent observed warming is a result mainly of human activity”.

  26. April 21st, 2005 at 23:56 | #26


    There was no need to apologise, Tim Lambert makes me go all snarky.

    Look, I’m a GW sceptic because there are so many variables – some of which we probably aren’t yet aware of – interacting in ways that aren’t fully understood, that’s it’s simply not possible to tackle a “problem” that may not exist – at least not as currently understood.

    There’s nothing to argue about, we simply see the situation from different perspectives.

  27. Brian Bahnisch
    April 22nd, 2005 at 00:08 | #27

    Going back to the results of the survey, if you focus on the lighter bars of the 2003 survey Bray found significant support for human causes of climate change. And a significant change from 1996. Yet in his Feb 2005 speech he appears to bemoan the fact that the opinions of scientists have changed, but the facts remain the same.

    As a sociologist, I wonder what support he has for such a statement. Certainly his respondents think there have been advances in the relevant science and that scientific evidence for athropogenically caused climate change has increased. They also seem reasonably sanguine about doing something about it.

    How do I know this?

    Compare items 75ff here with the results given here.

    I still don’t like this kind of survey and would simply ask what the word “mostly” is supposed to mean. Definitely more than 50% by a clear margin, so maybe two-thirds plus?

  28. April 22nd, 2005 at 01:50 | #28

    Jennifer, I already provided you with a link to the details about resistance in Sri Lanka. There is more here.

  29. April 22nd, 2005 at 09:38 | #29

    Hi John

    1. I read the paper you posted from Ken Miles
    It is quite interesting but I wish they would explain the arithemetic errors in a bit more detail.
    Anyway, I was also interested in the introductory third paragraph which seems to support the argument I put forward rather than yours, it reads… “These findings do not by any means rule out the existence of important links between solar activity and terrestrial climate. Such links have been demonstrated by many authors over the years.”

    2. I am still keen to know whether Simon, or you, or anyone else, will just agree or disagree with me on the point of whether the troposhere is warming faster than the earth’s surface. This seems to be a critical point in the context of the IPCC greenhouse model – sort of fundamental to it. Can we just get agreement/clarification on this one issue?


  30. April 22nd, 2005 at 11:20 | #30

    Jennifer “I am still keen to know whether Simon, or you, or anyone else, will just agree or disagree with me on the point of whether the troposhere is warming faster than the earth’s surface.”

    I am not sure that you will get anyone to agree or disagree with you on this one. The data has been collected only for the last 20 years or so and the interpretation of the data is difficult at best. Also GW skeptics such as yourself will fall on any mis-statements or uncertainty like a pack of wolves declaring that the whole GW scientific case is wrong because of one small dataset. If the analysis is done correctly then the data does show that the troposhere is warming at the same rate as the surface however that could well be seen as scientists ‘fiddling’ the figures to make the facts fit the hypothesis. In short I am sure that you can cherry pick any data you like to support your hypothesis that CO2 is not causing warming.

    If you take all the data a more workable hypothesis is that anthopogenic CO2 is a forcing for warming.

    When all the forcings of CO2, CH4 etc are added together minus the extra sunlight being reflected by the crap we have been spewing into the atmophere for the last 200 years and solar variations, a small warming trend is still observed.

    The rise in temperature is fact. What will happen is speculation

  31. Steve
    April 22nd, 2005 at 11:41 | #31

    From what I understand Jennifer, the jury is still out, since satellite measurements and their analysis are not widely agreed upon. All groups that I’ve heard of that have analysed satellite data have found warming in the upper troposphere. One groups analysis shows less warming than climate models predict – the University of Alabama group. At least two other groups that i know of (vinnikov and grody, and RSS) have produced analyses that show upper troposphere warming more consistent with climate models.

    Maybe someone else has quicker access to links to these groups that i can manage at moment.

    I’ll hasten to add that i’m not a climate scientist, and nor are you. My summary of current research around satellite measurements is no doubt not a fantastic one, though it’s certainly no worse than any argument you’ve put up.

    Public policy direction should be governed by the thoughts and analysis of authoritative sources of info, so i’m glad that many of Australia’s govts and politicians are aware of and refer to the IPCC in their work – a process involving hundreds of scientists and papers, and multiple review iterations, rather than rely on the less-than-expert opinions of people like you and me.

  32. John Quiggin
    April 22nd, 2005 at 11:44 | #32

    Yet another blocked comment from Ken Miles follows:

    Nobody denies that the sun has an influence on climate (however lots of skeptics try to suggest otherwise), so the segment you quoted doesn’t really support you over the global warmers. For an estimation of how much solar, volcanic and greenhouse gases effect climate on short time scales, I’d suggest looking up Thomas Crowley’s work.

    There is considerable debate over how fast the troposphere is warming. So I wouldn’t want to make a definitive statement on it. If I had to guess, I’d suggest that Qiang Fu’s work is probably the best (it has made testable predictions about changes in stratospheric temperature changes which have been found to be correct). +=

  33. April 22nd, 2005 at 13:55 | #33


    I am less interested in information that supports what is perceived to be my side, and more interested in what is actually happening. I will change my view if someone provides a convincing arguement.

    This issue of whether the troposphere is warming faster than the earth or not seems a critical issue to get sorted out.

    I reckon a great way to learn is to identify the real issues and then seek to address them one by one by one.


  34. April 22nd, 2005 at 14:01 | #34

    Ender and Steve

    I am interested in your comments on this information sent to me some time ago by Bill Kininmonth:

    Greenhouse gases in the troposphere cause the troposphere to cool. The upward emission to space and the downward emission to the earth’s surface exceed the sum of direct absorption of solar radiation and absorption of upward emissions from the earth’s surface. Whether it is 280 ppmv (pre-industrial) or 380 ppmv (now) the direct effect of greenhouse gases is to cool the troposphere.

    The ‘radiative forcing’ hypothesis of IPCC suggests that as the concentration of CO2 increases the upward emission to space decreases slightly and hence energy is retained in the earth’s climate system, leading to ‘global warming’. We cannot measure the net radiation at the top of the atmosphere to better than of order 5 W/m2 (greater than the ‘radiative forcing’ for a doubling of CO2) so the hypothesis cannot be verified directly. Satellite measurements (Wielicki et al 2002. Evidence of large decadal variability in the tropical mean radiative energy budget. Science v 295, p 841) suggest that, at least over the tropics, longwave emission to space increased over the period 1985-1999, contrary to what would be expected from anthropogenic greenhouse radiative forcing.

    The greenhouse effect is the effect on the surface energy budget of downward longwave emissions from the overlying atmosphere. Over warm tropical oceans where there is high water vapour content and little temperature difference between the ocean surface temperature and the boundary layer air the net longwave radiation loss from the surface is very small (large greenhouse effect). Over deserts the boundary layer air is very dry; the greenhouse effect is much less because the downward emission from the atmosphere is relatively weak but the land surface radiates upward strongly – the net longwave radiation loss is large and the surface cools rapidly overnight.

    In all of this we must recognise that the one-dimensional radiation-convection model of the atmosphere as used by the IPCC as the basis for its radiation forcing hypothesis is an application of flat-earth physics. The tropics are warmed by excess solar radiation over longwave radiation loss to space. With or without greenhouse gases the tropical surfaces are cooled by heat and latent energy (evaporation) loss from the surface to the atmospheric boundary layer. Evaporation increases exponentially with temperature and it is not surprising that the warmest tropical sea surface temperatures have remained at about 30C for the past 30 years of good instrument records. Of course, water vapour and latent energy do not directly heat the atmosphere. The radiation cooling of the troposphere by greenhouse gases increases the instability of the troposphere and causes convective overturning (the Hadley Cells of the tropics) and it is during the overturning that latent energy is made available to offset radiation cooling. The temperature of the troposphere is regulated by the convective overturning and the sea surface temperature (the temperature of the troposphere cannot get warmer than a parcel of air rising buoyantly from the surface).

    Over polar regions there is net radiation deficit, both in the troposphere due to greenhouse gases and at the surface because of the reduced solar energy compared to the tropics. Troposphere and surface temperatures do not get colder and colder because of the transport of excess energy from the tropics (why global averages – flat earth- are not a good representation of the basic physics). Temperatures over middle and high latitudes (and the extent of polar ice sheets) fluctuate with the transport of energy from the tropics to the poles. Kevin Trenberth and colleagues at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research have published a number of papers over recent years documenting the poleward transport of energy and how it fluctuates seasonally and interannually, especially the increase during El Nino events when the tropical sea surface temperatures are generally warmer and providing more latent energy. There was a marked warming of tropical sea surface temperatures in the middle 1970s that has been attributed to a reduction in the shallow upwelling of cold water from below the thermocline (Michael McPhaden and colleagues of the US Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratories). It is not unexpected that since the mid-1970s we have observed warming temperatures and melting of polar ice margins as a consequence of increased poleward transport of energy from the tropics.

  35. John Quiggin
    April 22nd, 2005 at 14:15 | #35

    Jennifer, I’m not an expert, but here’s my potted summary.

    1. GW models generally predict that the troposphere should warm at the same rate as the surface or even faster.

    2. The first attempts at tracking satellite data, by Christy and Spencer, showed a cooling trend, which caused a lot of excitement particularly among GW sceptics.

    3. Since then, there have been a lot of criticisms of the Christy measurements, new data and alternative analyses.

    4. As a result, all groups now agree that the satellite data shows a warming trend.

    5. Some (e.g. Fu) find a trend very close to that measured at the surface, while others, most notably Christy and Spencer, find a slower warming trend.

    6. Over the same period, the measured warming trend at the surface has become clearer and lots of potential sources of error, such as urban heat islands, have been checked and corrected for, or found to be unimportant.

    7. Based on the history above, while there are still unresolved questions, the satellite data is a very weak reed for GW sceptics. It seems most likely that the true rate of warming is the same, and that the measurement differences will be resolved with an answer close to (but maybe a little bit below) the current surface measurements.

    This article at SEPP is not too bad on the history, though it puts more weight on Christy’s work than is really justified, I think.

  36. Steve
    April 22nd, 2005 at 14:39 | #36

    Hi Jennifer,

    My comments are:

    * If you are looking to learn something, try posing your questions to actual climate scientists (try posting on http://www.realclimate.org as one example). I am not an expert on climate science, and not qualified to comment on the content of your post. For example, I judge (probably incorrectly) that Mr Kinninmonth’s first paragraph is wrong – I had thought that greenhouse gases cause the stratosphere to cool – not the troposphere (which includes the surface) as Mr Kinninmonth indicates in the first paragraph.

    * If you are looking to make a point, quoting from an email sent you wont help.

    * I don’t regard Bill Kininmonth as an authority of comparable weight to the IPCC peer review process. I would encourage Mr Kininmonth to submit his thoughts as a paper to peer reviewed journals, and see it incorporated – if it passes peer review – into the next IPCC report.

    * For one critic of some of Bill Kininmonths work, try the person who launched Mr Kinninmonth’s book and made some of his criticism’s known during his speech at the launch.

  37. Simon
    April 22nd, 2005 at 15:11 | #37

    I thought that from my post earlier that you may of gathered that, due to the problems with measuring temperature trends in the troposphere using MSU, that I can’t give an informed opinion on what’s happening in the troposphere. I’m a scientist, and I’m trained to be sceptical, I look at the MSU papers and my opinion is that you can’t draw any meaniful conclusions from the MSU measurements -yet. When the technique becomes more robust then I’ll give you my opinion.

  38. John Quiggin
    April 22nd, 2005 at 15:14 | #38

    More from Ken Miles –

    Bill Kininmonth’s views on climate models aren’t particularly useful.

    John Zillman has pointed out some of the flaws in his understanding of how climate models work here.

    Statements such as

    we must recognise that the one-dimensional radiation-convection model of the atmosphere as used by the IPCC as the basis for its radiation forcing hypothesis is an application of flat-earth physics

    really make me doubt how much Kininmonth actually knows and how much he simply makes up. One dimensional radiation models are used as a teaching tool because they are simple. But they aren’t used as a research tool by climate scientists.

    As far as I understand, his criticisms are too simplistic to even apply to the radiation model devised by Svante Arrhenius in 1896.

  39. Simon
    April 22nd, 2005 at 16:12 | #39

    Let’s start with this:
    “Greenhouse gases in the troposphere cause the troposphere to cool. The upward emission to space and the downward emission to the earth’s surface exceed the sum of direct absorption of solar radiation and absorption of upward emissions from the earth’s surface.” I’m sorry but I’m missing something here. Are you saying that the troposphere releases more energy than it absorbs? Or greenhouse gases? And greenhouse gases cause the troposphere to cool? Then why is the troposphere cooler as you go higher despite the reduction of greenhouse gases? Are you saying that the troposphere (and the earths surface) would be warmer without greenhouse gases?

  40. April 22nd, 2005 at 20:07 | #40

    Simon, I emailed Bill Kininmonth with your question and his response follows. He comes from the perspective that water vapour is the major greenhouse gas.

    John, could you post some links or references for your post No. 35 point no. 4?

    Steve, I certainly wasn’t trying to point score with my Kinimonth quote. I thought most of the responses would be like ‘yawn’. But I was particularly interested in Simon’s potential insights. And/or whether any of you could do a good job of demolishing his argument – I don’t consider personal attacks or ‘he disagrees with the IPCC so he must be wrong’ particularly useful.

    And the response to Simon’s comment/question is:

    “The troposphere does emit more radiation than it absorbs because the air temperature gets colder with increasing altitude and because of the vertical distribution of greenhouse gas concentrations (especially water vapour). The air temperature is colder at higher altitudes because when it rises air expands and cools; when air sinks it compresses and warms – this is not related to greenhouse gases.

    The warmest temperatures on Earth are at the surface over the tropics because this is the region that absorbs most solar radiation. Over dry desert areas the land surface loses heat to the overlying atmosphere by conduction and by longwave radiation loss but daytime temperatures can reach 50C. Over wet tropical forests the evapotranspiration of water vapour adds to the cooling and surface temperatures generally do not exceed 35C. Over tropical oceans the evaporation is even stronger and surface temperatures do not exceed 30C.

    Over polar regions the Earth loses more radiation to space than it absorbs from the sun. The overall radiation deficit of the polar regions is offset by transport of energy from the tropics. The energy transport is by the atmospheric and ocean circulations but the region is much colder than the tropics.

    The energy exchanged from the warm tropical land and ocean surfaces to the lower atmosphere by conduction and evaporation is mixed through the atmosphere by deep convective clouds. The energy distributed by the convective overturning offsets the radiation cooling of the troposphere and additionally provides energy for transport to polar regions.

    Water vapour is the major greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. The humidity is already low over desert regions and daytime temperatures would not change very much if there were no water vapour. Wet tropical forests and tropical oceans are likely to be warmer without the cooling effect of evaporation. However, without water and the hydrological cycle the climate system and life, if any, on Earth would be completely different from what we know.”


  41. John Quiggin
    April 22nd, 2005 at 20:15 | #41

    Jennifer, here’s a recent report indicating the range of views, from modest warming (Christy and Spencer) to tropospheric warming equal to surface (Fu).

  42. Jeff Harvey
    April 22nd, 2005 at 20:59 | #42

    Jennifer quotes a know-nothing like Lomborg to make her first point, after many of his examples and distortions have already been publicly demolished. Then she cites testimony from another contrarian quack, Sallie Baliunas, lifted from Fred Singer’s abominable lobbying group, SEPP, to make another. She’s clutching at straws, like most of the climate sceptics these days. Check out the latest garbage from right wing Dutchman Hans Labohm on “Tech Central Station” to see just what I mean.

  43. Steve
    April 22nd, 2005 at 21:04 | #43

    Jennifer, I’m glad that you are interested in what is useful.

    Do you find the output of the IPCC useful? Or would you prefer to develop a position on global warming by dumping a verbose and opaque email from Bill Kininmonth on this blog and see what you can dredge up? Doesn’t sound like a particularly useful approach to me.

  44. winston
    April 23rd, 2005 at 01:38 | #44

    Thanks so much for posting these great wads of … stuff ,,. from Kininmonth, Jennifer. I’m sure those of us with an interest in climatology 101 must be just gobsmacked by it all.

    Yet you seem to be missing the point on two counts. Firstly the subject of this post is whether a particular purported survey of scientists has fairly represented the majority opinion of climatologists on the question of anthropogenic climate change. Nothing in what you’ve presented has in the slightest way addressed the question. Further, sadly, Kininmonth in his own words is clearly at a loss as to how to understand what he’s presuming to talk about. Read his stuff again, yourself: indeed he does rattle on as though he believes water vapour to be the major greenhouse gas, and how!

    The sad thing is that nobody disagrees – he’s arguing with himself. That he doesn’t know how to address the actual, substantive issues of the debate is somewhat sad, but then that’s what you get when your ego runs beyond your ability and you just can’t figure out when to shut up. You may both we lovely people, Jennifer, but the contempt with which you treat the opinions of the majority of climatologists, as represented quite fairly by the IPCC (as it happens), tells against you. Just how do you explain your presumption, and your compulsive quoting of slabs of just one other person’s thoughts, exactly?

  45. Bill O’Slatter
    April 23rd, 2005 at 12:02 | #45

    Winston if you want an explanation for Ms “I certainly will be convinced by the arguments”
    Marohasy’s love affair with Kininmonth look no further than this

  46. April 23rd, 2005 at 12:52 | #46

    Jennifer –
    The site Real Climate has an informative ariticle entitled “Water Vapour – Feedback or Forcing” http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=142

    If you read it you will find the following quote
    “While water vapour is indeed the most important greenhouse gas, the issue that makes it a feedback (rather than a forcing) is the relatively short residence time for water in the atmosphere (around 10 days).”

    Perhaps you could email Mr Kininmonth with this link and ask him to comment.

    Here is a peer reviewed list of climate forcings
    If you look at it you wil see that climate scientists have taken into account extra reflectivity of the atmosphere along with all the forcings both, negative and positive, that it is possible with science to measure.

    Now if you can provide a peer reviewed article that Mr Kininmonth has written I would be glad to read it. Mann etal, despite attacks from paid scientists, do not have the luxury of publishing material that has not been peer reviewed.

    The thing that most people do not understand and the GW skeptics exploit is that science is uncertain by nature. Even such pillars as gravity and themodynamics are under constant attack in the hope that deeper understandings of nature will follow. Indeed Albert Einstein helped formulate the foundation of quantum theory by explaining black body radiation with the outlandish, at the time, ideas of Max Planck. However he did it through the peer reviewal process that won converts by the greater truth that Einstein’s ideas held. Peer review does have it faults however it forces scientists into a discipline of rigourous science that will stand attack.

    Now if Mr Kininmonth et al do have a legitimate case that can be backed up with data it should be submitted to peer review. If the data is worthy and explains the current situation better then it will win converts as quantum theory did. During WW1 a German team did experiments to confirm a British scientist’s test of relativity. Such tests and hypothesis destroying can transcend wars and other conflicts so surely your anti-GW case should be able to survive peer review.

    To the topic of this post no scientist worth his salt will say with total certainty that something is as certain as “Climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes” because most scientists know through history that once cherished hypothesises have been destroyed overnight.

    By not submitting anti-GW data to peer review Mr Kininmonth et al are doing science a great disservice. If as you say the IPCC is wrong then it should be shown as such by solid data. Only then will a deeper understanding of global climate be acheived.

    The fact that the GW skeptics do not peer review their claims leaves them open to opinions that they are only in it for the money. If you are emailing Mr Kininmonth in the near future I would urge you to ask him to submit his thesis to the IPCC. If it is so compelling then the scientists of the world will see it is so as they did with Quantum Theory, and act accordingly.

  47. SimonJM
    April 23rd, 2005 at 19:21 | #47

    Jennifer tell me if I’m wrong but you would feel that there is no point submitting to peer reviewed bodies concerning GW or a swath of other environmental disciplines as you think they suffer from some sort of bias. Intuitional bias has happened in the past so why not now?

    The trouble is for lay person on both sides when you are unqualified to make your own judgments on a matter esp when not up to date with all the current knowledge, you are relying on an appeal to authority.

    If Jennifer had been against those scientists promoting eugenicists in the 1920’s her situation may look similar to what it is today.

    But OTOH Jennifer’s work and ideological connections seriously call into question her objectivity and makes a case for her to be under confirmation bias.

    I used to think the creationists were just stupid or deluded but as I’ve said before I think we all suffer from bounded rationality within a context that can lend itself to social/institutional or confirmation bias, so the situation is not so clear cut and should lend itself to some healthy scepticism; not to what other people and thinking and believing, but to our own rationality and foundational attitudes and how it may bias our own thinking.

  48. Brian Bahnisch
    April 23rd, 2005 at 22:40 | #48

    I suspect that Jennifer has found a niche for herself. I know a few farmers who like to hear views alternative to the mainstream when the mainstream doesn’t suit them. I’m not saying these alternative views are always wrong. It’s just that there must be a bit of pressure or temptation to meet the expectations of her market.

  49. April 25th, 2005 at 23:04 | #49

    I have nothing against peer review and the IPCC – but I am also interested in testing the advice and predictions of the ‘establishment’ against the evidence.
    I am surprised that on a webblog hosted by someone who considers himself something of a ‘Ned Kelly’ you all so quickly jump to support the establishment.
    Yes, Kininmonth holds a minority view, but I consider his writings insightful and noone has yet told me how my pastes from Kininmonth on this blog were factually wrong or irrelevant. Simon posed some questions and I sort to answer them.
    I thought you comment-experts would not just revert to claiming a consensus and questioning my motivations. John has provided a couple of interesting links but they don’t really answer the question.
    As I have repeatedly said, I am interested in discussion, debate and the truth.

  50. Steve
    April 26th, 2005 at 09:31 | #50


    If you consider Kininmonth’s writings insightful, I’d appreciate if you could offer a clear and consise summary for me. What points of his do you find especially compelling and why?

    PS. You were told in a number of instances how Kininmonth’s emails were factually wrong and irrelevant, eg. water vapour’s role, stratosphere being the layer that cools not the troposphere, his views on the merit of 1-d radiation models being simplistic etc.

    PPS. In the interests of meaningful discussion, it’s better if, when you put up an item for debate, you don’t ignore the criticism’s of it and move on to another item. That’s not discussion. This thread started off discussing the survey of climate scientists. You first brought up satellite data, were presented with a range of info from several people in response, but you moved on to quoting Kininmonth without responding. How is that useful? It’s attempted (and failed) point scoring, not discussion.

  51. Steve
    April 26th, 2005 at 10:57 | #51

    And Jennifer your comment about not finding personal attacks ‘useful’ is laughable given the piece about John Quiggin titled “Australia’s highest paid blogger” that you posted today on your own blog. Why that title? It doesn’t seem to be the most relevant aspect to the post.

  52. April 26th, 2005 at 13:31 | #52

    Jennifer wrote -“I have nothing against peer review and the IPCC – but I am also interested in testing the advice and predictions of the ‘establishment’ against the evidence. ”

    However in this case the establishment has the evidence. Also peer review is not establishment in the sense that you mean. It is a system that has grown up to ensure that the science that is published and taught is as true to nature as the available data can prove.

    Also some of Mr Kininmonth’s data is factually wrong. This would suggest that he would have trouble with publishing his paper in the peer reviewed world. It is one thing to email journalists and publish a web site however if his science is sound then it will survive peer review.

    Mr Kininmonth et al however are not interested in facts. They are running a campaign to stop action on global warming. They do this by inserting uncertainty into the in the minds of the less informed public and polititians. They do not have to prove anything only confuse the issue.

    If you want the truth have a look at the work of thousands of dedicated scientists, that are usually very poorly paid, trying to alert the world to the danger that is approaching. Their work somehow survives peer review – some of it against the ‘establishment’.

  53. April 27th, 2005 at 03:10 | #53

    In her attack on John Quiggin Jennifer accuses him of deleting the first couple of paragraphs of a post without inidicating that it had been editted. However, the original posting is available here and shows that her claim is false.

  54. Simon
    April 27th, 2005 at 12:09 | #54

    “The troposphere does emit more radiation than it absorbs because the air temperature gets colder with increasing altitude and because of the vertical distribution of greenhouse gas concentrations (especially water vapour).” This explains nothing. I’m not even sure what it means. He has made some observations – it’s cooler as you go up and there is a vertical distribution of greenhouse gases – without saying what this has to do with the troposphere emitting more radiation than is absorbs(?).

    “The air temperature is colder at higher altitudes because when it rises air expands and cools; when air sinks it compresses and warms – this is not related to greenhouse gases.” In previous sentence he said that the troposphere emits more radiation that is absorbs (?), which means it has a cooling effect (?), and this is related to the distribution of greenhouse gases. Now he says cooler air temperature at higher altitudes has nothing to do with greenhouse gases?

    My understanding is this – greenhouse gases do not absorb much of the incoming sunlight but does absorb the reflected heat from the earth. The atmosphere itself will also be emitting infrared radiation. A lot of this will be again absorbed at some other point in the atmosphere. But at sufficiently high elevation, where the atmosphere is thin enough, the radiation emitted from there will eventually be able to escape to space. The effect of the troposphere is to stop heat from simply being reflected into space.

    Without this effect the earth would be a cold lump of rock. You would not have oceans or water in the atmosphere. You need other gases in the atmosphere for the earth to be warm enough to have free flowing water and masses of water in atmosphere. Water, itself, then becomes a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and weather patterns.

    Now you need to ask yourself, Jennifier, what is the effect of increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere?

    The rest of Bill’s piece is about how water effects the earths weather patterns etc. Bill doesn’t present anything that refutes the basic principle of increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will lead to an increase in temperature.

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