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More amateur climatology from Andrew Bolt

November 11th, 2006

Andrew Bolt cites NASA data from the troposphere and stratosphere to show that global warming isn’t happening. He starts with the troposphere and makes what’s now a standard denialist talking point, that global temperatures “peaked in 1998” (a year of an exceptionally strong El Nino). Of course, until the last few years, denialists were (correctly for once) making the point that you couldn’t attribute all of the exceptional temperatures of 1998 to long-term climate change.

But Bolt’s new ace is the stratosphere, which is actually cooling. The graph here looks pretty convincing. Has Bolt discovered something that all the scientists have missed? Should he be publishing his findings in Nature. Well, no.

As NASA explains here, stratospheric cooling is also the result of human activity. The most important effect is from the destruction of the ozone layer, but CO2 emissions also play a role. Remember that the effect of greenhouse gases is to trap heat. This warms up the atmosphere below (in the troposphere), but reduces it above (in the stratosphere). There’s disagreement over the magnitude of this effect, but the direction is clear.

It would have taken Bolt five minutes with Google to find this out. Does he not know, or not care? Either way, he ought not to have a job with any responsible media organisation.

Note on comments: If you want to disagree with NASA, complain about the hockey stick, or otherwise dispute mainstream climate science, please follow the course I’ve suggested for Bolt and write to Nature. Or, if you really must attack science here, ask me nicely and I’ll put up an open thread. But for the purposes of this post, I’m going to take the assessment of the scientific evidence as presented by NASA and the IPCC as definitive. Comments disputing the science will be deleted.

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  1. November 11th, 2006 at 08:16 | #1

    You’re right. He ought not to have a job with a responsible media outlet.
    Fortunately, he doesn’t.

  2. Sinclair Davidson
    November 11th, 2006 at 09:17 | #2

    Quoting from the NASA link:
    However, scientists hold varying degrees of conviction about the nature of the link between tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling. “The warming of the troposphere and its potential influence upon the stratospheric circulation is an important consideration,” points out Ramaswamy, “though the quantitative linkages are uncertain. It is possible that they may be interdependent only in a tenuous manner.”
    “The problem is that we haven’t had adequate data,” Ramaswamy continues. “Observations have been primarily limited to only a very few locations in the stratosphere. We have only 20 years of full global coverage from satellites. Of course radiosonde goes back 40 years but that is not global coverage.”

    So NASA aren’t as confident as you suggest. I would thought the comment about inadequate data is very serious, and calls for more empirical work, and not just calibrating models.

  3. proust
    November 11th, 2006 at 09:27 | #3

    Deleted in line with stated policy

  4. jquiggin
    November 11th, 2006 at 09:40 | #4

    Sinclair, I mentioned the varying views on the quantitative magnitudes in the post. None of this helps Bolt, who has the sign wrong.

  5. November 11th, 2006 at 09:44 | #5

    “But Bolt’s new ace is the stratosphere, which is actually cooling.”

    Isn’t Bolt saying both the troposphere and stratosphere have cooled since ’98?

  6. November 11th, 2006 at 09:52 | #6

    JQ – However did you see the hammering he got? At least he does not censor the comments like he used to.

  7. gordon
    November 11th, 2006 at 10:03 | #7

    Prof. Quiggin, what is the point? Do Bolt’s writings do more than
    prove that any powerful faction with money in its pocket can hire
    hacks? That has been known forever. Is there anything more to be
    gained from Bolt than could be gained from a discussion of, say, the
    persistence of astrology, or continuing belief in Say’s Law?

    What is happening in discussions of climate change is that there
    are some organisations which are very, very concerned to head off
    Govt. planning of energy consumption and generation, and very, very
    concerned to ensure that “market-based” responses are the only ones
    considered. I am convinced, for example, that a major factor behind the
    Stern report’s emphasis on carbon trading is a desire to ensure that
    the City of London can expand into, and perhaps dominate, carbon markets.
    In this context, people like Bolt are useful to de-emphasise the
    urgency of the problem, because Govt. involvement is likely to be
    tolerated only if the problem is seen to be urgent. I’m sure that
    readership surveys show that enough people read his stuff to make it
    worthwhile to keep him on the payroll. He fulfils one
    function, Stern another, but both are playing on the same team.
    The objective is to manipulate discourse for the benefit of those to
    whom climate change is a business opportunity and nothing more.

    There doesn’t seem to be much point in repeatedly attacking the monkey. For
    an economist I would have thought it would be more important to
    discuss the pros and cons of various responses, like eg. should
    carbon entitlements (including future entitlements) be auctioned or
    grandfathered? Should offsets be a part of a market arrangement or not?
    Who should set emission cielings and how? Etc.

  8. Sinclair Davidson
    November 11th, 2006 at 10:25 | #8

    I don’t know that the two graphs shown helps anyones argument. We really need to see that data over a much longer time period. As NASA argue that data are inadequate – I’m inclined to believe them.

  9. proust
    November 11th, 2006 at 10:50 | #9

    You are kidding, right? I quoted a well-known mainstream climate scientist on Nature’s acceptance criteria. How is that a comment disputing the science?

    Here’s my original post:

    Anyone who does wish to submit to Nature, please be sure not to address any systematic failing on the part of climate scientists, lest you receive a response like this:

    Nature’s excuse this time? Editor Nicki Stevens wrote:
    we have regretfully decided that publication of this comment as a Brief Communication Arising is not justified, as the concerns you have raised apply more generally to a widespread methodological approach, and not solely to the Hegerl et al. paper
    Yes, you read that right. Because everyone else has been doing much the same thing, they aren’t interested in ensuring that the stuff they publish is valid.

    Those are James Annan’s own words.

    So apparently, your censorship of comments disputing the science extends to comments by mainstream climate scientists questioning the editorial policies of Nature.

    I’ve moved the body of this OT comment to the general War on/over Science. Followups should go there

    Perhaps you could tell us where your censorship policies end, JQ?

  10. melanie
    November 11th, 2006 at 10:57 | #10

    Sukrit, I looked at the two graphs Bolt included. It seems fairly clear at a glance that the troposphere has warmed over the period and the stratosphere has been cooling since the mid-90s.

    There may be an insufficiency of data, but there is certainly no support for Bolt’s position.

  11. chrisl
    November 11th, 2006 at 11:59 | #11

    At least Andrew Bolt doesn’t introduce a climate science topic and then ban any discussion on aforesaid climate science.
    Andrew Bolt like all good Men of Northern European Appearance just likes a good debate.

  12. Austin
    November 11th, 2006 at 12:17 | #12

    This is terrible journalisim. Politicans place dobut into peoples minds, journalists shouldn’t. We rely on the media to report about the world so that people can be informed and make good choices in our democracy. The last time I could say this for Bolt was……. well I cannot remember.

    I really don’t understand. Does Bolt and his trolls believe that this data shows that the climate is not changing? It certainly seems like a change to me (up or down). If it is a ‘natural’ change, what process is involved? Most natural processes are cyclic, when does he expect things to change back?

    I shouldn’t be so confused. A good journalist would spell out everything about this, not just leave me hanging having to find out from other sources.

  13. whyisitso
    November 11th, 2006 at 12:56 | #13

    “Politicans place doubt into peoples minds, journalists shouldn’t.”

    Yes Austin, scepticism in any area of human endeavour in to be thoroughly discouraged. We all must accept the conventional wisdoms without question and without qualification. Just like we were told at my Catholic school some decades ago. Those old nuns and brothers certainly knew a thing or two. As for that heretic scoundrel Galileo, well…

    You tell ’em JQ.

  14. jquiggin
    November 11th, 2006 at 13:36 | #14

    I’ve now created the promised thread on science wars. Those who want to attack climate science in general can go there. This thread will be confined to discussion of Bolt and his specific claims. I’m moving comments that aren’t related to Bolt to the new thread

  15. David Rowell
    November 11th, 2006 at 13:48 | #15

    Does anyone know if Bolter has been informed on Newscorp’s new position on global warming? My understanding is that Rupert (Sun God) had been reading a few back issues of Nature and checking a bookmarked favourite, johnquiggin.com and decided that his media will adopt a more conciliatory approach to Global Warming. However changes to editorial policy do take a while to reach the outer limits of the empire. No doubt that in due course the sub-editor at the Herald Sun will be have a quick chat to Bolter by the office water-cooler and explain to him what will be required in future opinion pieces.

  16. whyisitso
    November 11th, 2006 at 14:25 | #16

    Maybe Rupert will take a leaf out of JQ’s book and eliminate non-conforming pieces from Bolta’s blog, David. Then we can presumably bask in our comfortble warming state without being forced to read these dastardly heresies until it gets just too hot for us all!

  17. chrisl
    November 11th, 2006 at 14:49 | #17

    To Austin the naive
    Don’t place too much of your trust in journalists
    Go and look up Opinion Writer
    And note how somebody has linked climate science denial to passive smoking and intelligent design
    Very subtle

  18. Paul Kelly the muso, journo etc
    November 11th, 2006 at 14:50 | #18

    I like the way Bolter implies Bob Carr’s views expressed on Lateline last night might be due to ‘personal factors’ hereWhatever he’s wink-winking and nudging at, he is an inspiration to up and coming journalists everywhere.

  19. jquiggin
    November 11th, 2006 at 15:03 | #19

    Chrisl, if you mean Bolt, I haven’t been able to find anything from him on smoking, but he does attack supporters of evolution. If you don’t mean Bolt, please take this to the general war on science thread.

  20. chrisl
    November 11th, 2006 at 15:43 | #20

    FWIW AB is an avowed atheist so I don’t think he would support Intelligent design
    (Can you see what is happening here Austin. Seeds of doubt planted…..)
    It’s a common tactic

  21. jquiggin
    November 11th, 2006 at 16:42 | #21

    “FWIW AB is an avowed atheist so I don’t think he would support Intelligent design”

    And yet, here he is relying on a young-earth creationist.

    If you read his blog you’ll find him purporting to maintain neutrality on the issue, but obviously favoring the creationists.

  22. chrisl
    November 11th, 2006 at 17:09 | #22

    Wow A link twice removed and you’ve pinged him.
    How many of these links do you have?
    I’m not sure it would stand up in a court of law.
    “Maintaining neutrality but obviously favoring the creationistS”
    I think it’s called letting everyone have their say!
    You must be an avid reader of his blog to pick up the nuances

  23. whyisitso
    November 11th, 2006 at 17:22 | #23

    Yes, chrisl, a particularly shady tactic by JQ. Why not just link direct John? Afraid we might miss out on your propaganda hits, eh? Thanks for the observation chrisl.

  24. jquiggin
    November 11th, 2006 at 17:36 | #24

    His archives are getting harder to search, so I’d better save a copy of this little exchange while I can,5481,16989560,00.html+site:heraldsun.news.com.au+andrew+bolt+%22intelligent+design%22&hl=en&gl=au&ct=clnk&cd=7&client=firefox-a

    “From: Tony Windsor
    Comment: As one who supports fact’s when arguing any issue, do you support the newspaper advertisements today from leading scientists arguing that Intelligent Design is not science. If you do consider it to be science, could you provide details of reputable scientific institutions who support it being called a science.

    Andrew replies: Why your beliigerent tone, Tony? Intelligent Design doesn’t seem to me to be based on science, but on an absence of knowledge in the face of an apparent mystery. I should hope we can discuss such things without seeming quite so ready to explode into anger and abuse. ”

    I await (without much expectation) retractions from chrisl and whyisitso.

  25. November 11th, 2006 at 17:48 | #25

    If you follow JQ’s link (#22 above) you will eventually end up — as observed by chrisl, via a Dulltard internal link — with this from Bolt (this is the entire post):

    Before World War II, bedbug infestations were common in the U.S., but they were virtually eradicated through improvements in hygiene and the widespread use of DDT in the 1940s and 1950s…

    The National Pest Management Association, which represents many of the country’s pest control companies, says the number of bedbug reports have increased fivefold in four years.

    (Thanks to Jonathan Sarfati)

    Is this incorrect? What the hell does it have to do with creationism?

    Regardless, Bolt’s comments on temperature changes in the troposphere and stratosphere are — his sarcasm aside — correct.

  26. chrisl
    November 11th, 2006 at 17:48 | #26

    Andrew replies”Intelligent Design doesn’t seem to be based on science”
    That seems pretty clear.
    “I should hope we can discuss such things”
    That’s what he allows people to do.
    Not one of your best links (But I Just know you have more)

  27. whyisitso
    November 11th, 2006 at 17:49 | #27

    I’ve got nothing to retract John. As you very well know I was referring to your link in #22 which directed the reader to two Tim Lambert posts before a link to Bolt. I took that to be what chrisl was referring to when he mentioned “a link twice removed”.

  28. BillyMM
    November 11th, 2006 at 17:57 | #28

    Okey, what will the cooling of Stratophere bring to us?

    Or we can be selfishless enough to sacrifice our species: Human Being
    for the cooling of the Stratophere and for the “Nature”.

  29. jquiggin
    November 11th, 2006 at 17:57 | #29

    “Regardless, Bolt’s comments on temperature changes in the troposphere and stratosphere are — his sarcasm aside — correct.”

    Read the post and links again JFB. Bolt is engaged in dishonest cherrypicking as regards the troposphere and he’s got the argumnt back to front on the the stratosphere.

  30. November 11th, 2006 at 18:10 | #30


    Bolt says: The troposphere was hotter in 1998. The temperature has “flatlined for the past five years.” The stratosphere has cooled.

    Where is he wrong?

  31. Chris O’Neill
    November 11th, 2006 at 18:30 | #31

    ” A good journalist would spell out everything about this”

    Newspaper journalists in general do three things:

    1. They report the news

    2. They write analysis

    3. They write opinions

    In general their ego increases the lower down in this list they usually write.

  32. Chris O’Neill
    November 11th, 2006 at 18:41 | #32

    “Bolt says: The troposphere was hotter in 1998. The temperature has “flatlined for the past five years.â€?

    Conveniently forgetting that what once took one of the the strongest El Nino’s in 150 years (1998) now just takes normal conditions (2005).

    “Where is he wrong?”

    This is sometimes called misinformation by omission.

  33. LJ
    November 12th, 2006 at 01:41 | #33


    While I think you are correct about the size of one’s ego being proportional to how opinionated one’s articles are, I would not categorize those who write opinion as journalists.

    They are “columnyists”.

    Incidentally, the size of a writer’s ego also seemsto beproprotional to how idiotic one’s writing is.

  34. Abe G.
    November 12th, 2006 at 02:22 | #34

    “Where is he wrong?”

    A. He cherrypicks 1998.
    2. The information he provides does not disprove the consensus, in fact, it may support the consensus.

    But, hey, if you’re convinced by pretty colored graphs, what can I say?

  35. November 12th, 2006 at 04:05 | #35

    The link has a relatively simple explanation about how the stratosphere cools when greenhouse gases increase as well as estimates of the relative contribution of greenhouse gases and ozone depletion. The greenhouse gases are more important in most parts of the stratosphere

  36. Simonjm
    November 12th, 2006 at 09:51 | #36

    Like other GW skeptics it is really rather easy to gauge their credibility by finding out what their views on the global environment are.

    Generally you will find that those that are still AGW recalcitrants are also in extreme denial about other global environmental issues and like the Penn & Teller Libertarian types.

    If they can do that against a multitude of different disciplines and loads of evidence, is it really surprising that they go against the science in GW and cherry pick to their hearts content?

    If it wasn’t GW they would be looking to pick apart that fisheries study that was recently released.

    Bolt’s view on the environment is pretty well know is it really surprising that he continues to feed his pet bias this way?

    BTW a good debate is only as good as the intellectual honesty of those who participate something the PM and Bolt are seriously lacking, the only science they are interested in is the science of spin.

  37. melanie
    November 12th, 2006 at 11:08 | #37

    #31, apart from the point made in #33, the ‘flatlining’ has occurred at above average temperatures. The short period over which data exists means that the warmer temperatures of the last decade have raised the average as well. It could be a cyclical effect, but it certainly doesn’t lend support to Bolt’s position.

  38. observa
    November 12th, 2006 at 12:00 | #38

    “For an economist I would have thought it would be more important to
    discuss the pros and cons of various responses, like eg. should
    carbon entitlements (including future entitlements) be auctioned or
    grandfathered? Should offsets be a part of a market arrangement or not?
    Who should set emission cielings and how? Etc.”

    Spot on, but of course the sky is falling mob, want us to believe on the one hand like SA Premier Rann that we should aim for a reduction in GG of 60% (albeit in his case with nuclear power over his dead body, but not uranium mining)and all this will only cost we poor slobs about 1% of GDP GROWTH in future. That is of course something we can all accommodate with one less hot latte per week apparently. After all we’ve moved on so much and become so much more productive since the invention of the steam engine and the reciprocating piston engine nowadays.

  39. Gillian Lane
    November 12th, 2006 at 13:20 | #39

    Climate Change is part of an evolutionary cycle.

    Surely it is in the planet’s best interests to simply allow the fittest to survive.

    I really don’t understand the fuss.

    Everything on the planet will either adapt or die. So does it really matter?

  40. Mike Hart
    November 12th, 2006 at 14:41 | #40

    In the interests or reclaiming some useful verbs and adjectives I hitherto have decided to refer to the sceptics and denialists and ‘Canutians’ in honour of the Danish King Canute, who demonstrated to his fawning courtiers that even the power of kings and men has limits.

  41. Chris O’Neill
    November 12th, 2006 at 15:11 | #41

    “He cherrypicks 1998.”

    As well as this, he cherrypicks Spencer and Christy’s derivation of the troposheric temperature which anyone who is familiar with will know gives the lowest long-term temperature trend of any satellite derivation. His link even points to a page that gives out-of-date and wrong information. e.g. it says “The overall trend in the tropospheric data is now +0.08 deg. C/decade (through 2004).” Spencer and Christy’s derivation now gives a long-term trend of +0.128 deg. C/decade. This contrasts with the RSS group‘s derivation that gives a long term trend of +0.19 deg. C/decade and with the surface temperature record 1979-2005 trend of +0.17 deg. C/decade.

    Andrew Bolt, cherry-picker extraordinaire.

  42. Christian King
    November 12th, 2006 at 15:35 | #42

    The next thing Bolt will be telling us is that the Aboriginal stolen generation weren’t stolen..hang on a minute.. he already did an article on that a few years back. It is downright harmful journalism that continues to perpetuate the “head in the sand” mentality among the general public that global warming is not a problem.

    I’m still waiting for the majority of the world’s economists to realise that without a livable planet it doesn’t matter 2 hoots how healthy the economy is. The world economy was never sustainable, since it assumes a never ending profit scale in a finite world.. by continuing to raise arguments about how this will hurt the average business we are losing site of the bigger picture. There won’t be any global economy in the future unless we combat global warming seriously with short term economic sacrifices.

  43. derrida derider
    November 12th, 2006 at 18:08 | #43

    Mike (#40) –

    It is tempting (“the sea level is not rising, I tell you, it’s not risi …gurgle gurgle”) to give these people such a relevant name, but unfair to Canute. Unlike GWB and the climate denialists, he knew an inconvenient truth when he saw it. He commanded the tide to stay back to humiliate his fawning courtiers, who had told him he was all-powerful, not because he believed them.

  44. jquiggin
    November 12th, 2006 at 21:35 | #44

    “Everything on the planet will either adapt or die. So does it really matter?”

    Do you take this relaxed view with respect to your own survival, Gillian? Personally, I’d rather adapt than die, and I’d rather address risks now rather than waiting for them to happen.

  45. Hal9000
    November 12th, 2006 at 22:29 | #45

    “Everything on the planet will either adapt or die. So does it really matter?�

    It’s also worthy of note that those most likely to die – the inhabitants of the Ganges delta, for example – have had little or nothing to do with creating the problem. Such complacency about the predictable and likely avoidable suffering of others carries the whiff of the moral abyss, methinks.

  46. Pseudonym (econwit)
    November 12th, 2006 at 22:40 | #46

    It is not unusual to have rapidly changing temperatures during the last several glacial/interglacial cycles of the present Ice Age. We are either moving towards a rapid rise and fall in temperature or away from it.



    Big deal, the weather changes from time to time.
    So will the hot air surrounding climate change.

  47. BillyMM
    November 12th, 2006 at 23:02 | #47

    When someone asks me which way I would choose to die, I can never give her or him any very surprising or satisfactory answer, because personally I always hope to live as long as possible. Especially when I was very young, the lunch tommorrow will make me wanna live.

    However, the bravest answer among my relatives came from my grandma. She wishes for a sudden death. She told me: It would be fair that everyone die together when the earth explodes, so that noboday would die first or later. At that time, I did not understand. I thought my grandma is selfish, old-fashioned……

    However, nowadays i always was asked whether I would like to die before my husband or after my husband. The norm within my circle of friends always choose to die after the loved one, coz they do not hope to leave them alone.

    When i am writing, I am rethinking why I want live. I would say: perhaps I have hope. What kind of hope? Secret to myself. 😛

  48. Gillian Lane
    November 13th, 2006 at 06:51 | #48

    So John and Hal9000, I take it that you both believe that we have to fight what is likely to be the next evolutionary step facing the planet but you’ve not explained why we should.

    It’s as inevitable as the ice age which killed the majority of life on earth millennia ago. Loss of life is sad, of course, however as part of the next epoch, surely doesn’t matter since according to a number of noted cliamte change experts we’ve left the run too late anyway. Not everything on the lanet will die, the various evolutionary ages have proven that and so what is the majority of homosapiens die – we’ll just be replaced with whatever comes after us. We are but neo-Neanderthals for future generations to study.

  49. Abe G.
    November 13th, 2006 at 08:27 | #49

    No. no GIllian, you’ve got it wrong. The climate change is caused by increased CO2 from human sources, so the “evolutionary” argument doesn’t fly–even above and beyond the misuse of the term to apply to geological and not biological systems.

    An analogy: You have some flowers in a garden and you overwater them daily. You would claim that “hey, it’s evolution. They’ll adapt or die!” There is another course of action. Stop overwatering!

    Oh, and humans survived the ice age, and will survive the warming. How will society suffer is the question.

  50. Hal9000
    November 13th, 2006 at 09:49 | #50

    Gillian Lane –

    It’s the ability to understand that what happens in the future is to a significant degree conditional upon what we do in the present that distinguishes Homo sapiens from other species. We can choose to make use of this evolutionary advantage, or not. It’s like the old fable of the ant and the grasshopper – we can choose to live high in the short term and then suffer, or we can choose to live less prodigally now in order to have a more comfortable future. Now, it may be that it’s already too late to prevent some disastrous change, and the more pessimistic prognoses do indeed say just that. It may also be the case that it is not too late at least to prevent utter catastrophe, and this is also supported by much of the science. In any event, the prudent course would appear to be action now.

  51. Simonjm
    November 13th, 2006 at 12:37 | #51

    Yes Gillian Lane we will probably survive as a species but hey if millions of people have to die or suffer horribly what the hey!

    You must be pretty miffed that the rule of law, modern medicine or sanitation gets in the way of our evolutionary destiny.

    Might is right after all.

    Enough said.

  52. O6
    November 13th, 2006 at 15:34 | #52

    12. Austin: “Most natural processes are cyclic”. No one has commented, but this simply isn’t so in biology. Extinction is not cyclical, indeed most evolutionary change is not. Cyclical change in physical systems leads to directional change in biological systems. And biological cycles are not cyclical to the participants in most cases; we each die just once, for the most part.

  53. Dave Surls
    November 14th, 2006 at 11:14 | #53

    “Andrew Bolt cites NASA data from the troposphere and stratosphere to show that global warming isn’t happening.”

    Well, that’s pretty much what the data shows (at least as far as atmospheric measurements for that time period goes). And, your problem with that is?

  54. Dave Surls
    November 14th, 2006 at 11:53 | #54

    “Read the post and links again JFB. Bolt is engaged in dishonest cherrypicking as regards the troposphere and he’s got the argumnt back to front on the the stratosphere.”

    No, he didn’t “cherrypick” anything. He presented what looks like all available NASA data on atmospheric temperatures from their satellite measurement program, along with links to the people that collect and interpret that data (in case anyone wants more info) and then he drew a couple of conclusions from that data; conclusions that appear to be accurate. He didn’t make an argument regarding stratospheric temperature, just made an observation

    And, your problem with that is?

  55. Rogs
    November 14th, 2006 at 15:22 | #55

    gillian lane displays the right wing mentality perfectly, pin it on a board someone.

    darwinism, social darwinism, capitalism, the iron law of the right says the strong will survive. oh, thank god for that. doubtless through a triumph of the will. stalingrad, anyone?

  56. November 14th, 2006 at 16:27 | #56

    Dave, most of us do not even visit the stratosphere for lunch. You may be an exception. Moreover, he drew an incorrect conclusion from the data he showed. If the surface warms from greenhouse gas concentration increases, the stratosphere will cool. What part of that don’t you get.

  57. frankis
    November 14th, 2006 at 16:29 | #57

    I know you’re Rightwing Commenter of the Year or something Dave (ask Tim Blair or I think it may have been Instapundit, don’t blame me). You couldn’t possibly have won the award by being as prosaic and literal as you’re pretending to be now. Bolt only made the post because of the insinuation that’s implicit in it, which insinuation is perfectly wrong in everything it’s been criticised for here. I think the party animals at CO2JunkScience.org similarly have a line that goes [cite some place that was cooler than average the previous day or month] – “No global warming here!” heh it kills me just repeating that stuff, they’re funny guys! But funny or not they’re halfknowing nitwits in just the same way as Bolt.

    What’s your problem with that?

  58. November 14th, 2006 at 17:26 | #58

    Eli Rabett,

    Amateur climatologist Bolt concludes (from the NASA graphs) that: the troposphere was hotter in 1998; the tropospheric temperature has “flatlined for the past five years�; and the stratosphere has cooled.

    Where is he wrong?

  59. jquiggin
    November 14th, 2006 at 17:59 | #59

    JFB, reread comments #32-#40.

  60. November 14th, 2006 at 19:08 | #60


    This isn’t investigative journalism from Bolt, it’s a 47 word blog post derived from information presented in two graphs. Neither you nor your commenters have shown Bolt’s interpretation of the graphs to be incorrect.

    You say that #s 32 – 40 show where Bolt gets it wrong. Hardly:

    #32 says Bolt has a big ego and failed to elaborate. He has a big ego: there was no need to elaborate; the graphs tell the story.

    #33 says Bolt omits that 1998 was an El Nino year. This is beside the point; 1998 was hotter.

    #34 says Bolt has a big ego. He does.

    #35 says Bolt cherry-picked 1998. No he didn’t, he picked the year with the largest anomaly.

    #36 is not relevant to Bolt’s post.

    #37 is irrelevant waffle.

    #38 acknowledges that Bolt is correct in claiming the temperature “flatlines�.

    #39 is not directly relevant to Bolt’s post.

    #40 is not directly relevant to Bolt’s post.

    It’s time to admit that Bolt got it right (and you got it wrong).

  61. November 14th, 2006 at 20:19 | #61

    Can I just point out that global cooling of the stratosphere is a little bit of a red herring, given that humans live on earth and not above it!

  62. krusty
    November 14th, 2006 at 21:04 | #62

    JF: does it matter whether Bolt’s interesting, relevant or meaningful? Whether he’s well balanced, or a wingnut with a chip on the shoulder about his lack of education and the elitist scientists whose edumacated, smartarse views tend to rub his nose in it?

    Bah 🙂

  63. Chris O’Neill
    November 15th, 2006 at 04:25 | #63

    “This is beside the point; 1998 was hotter.”

    And what is the point of a “journalist” saying only that? It’s called selective journalism.

  64. Simonjm
    November 15th, 2006 at 09:22 | #64

    JF beck at least you didn’t attempt the Ad hom defence, as just like creationists, that they ignore the science of swath of different disciplines is relevant to any claim of bias when they claim to be using science to back up their side.

    It doesn’t automatically discount what they have to say but it is entirely relevant to their credibility to those contributing to the debate.

    Hey if you want to think putting a false context by an anti-environmentalist journalist is better than not only the climate scientists themselves but premier scientific institutes like the Royal Society, good luck to you keep feeding that pet bias.

    One wonders how the world manages to get any benefit from science when any wing nut journalist can pull out a graph and slam dunk not only a whole discipline but some the best scientific minds we have.

    The next time the UK needs scientific advice of national importance just give Blair Bolt’s number.

  65. proust
    November 15th, 2006 at 09:31 | #65

    “some [of] the best scientific minds we have”

    That’s part of the problem: climate science has almost none of the “best scientific minds”. Correct me if I am wrong, but I cannot think of a single one known for any fundamental contribution to science.

  66. Simonjm
    November 15th, 2006 at 09:40 | #66

    So proust would it be a big call that most of the members of the G8’s premier scientific institutes are made up of some of the best scientific minds?

    Or that when something of national and global importance is specifically looked at by these institutes one would expect that maybe a few of the best scientific minds might just be involved it checking it out?

    Or do you think when it comes to giving advice for government policy on matters strategic importance they tend to pick graduates straight out of uni?

    Maybe if I look in my packet of cornflakes I’ll find a membership to the Royal Society 😉

  67. November 15th, 2006 at 10:17 | #67

    proust – “Correct me if I am wrong, but I cannot think of a single one known for any fundamental contribution to science”

    Your wrong.

  68. frankis
    November 15th, 2006 at 10:19 | #68

    You’re a hard … ‘net entity … for sure, proust!

  69. frankis
    November 15th, 2006 at 10:22 | #69

    Rats, my apologies proust I meant to give you props for your charitable work with Tim Curtin (or Tam was it?)

  70. proust
    November 15th, 2006 at 10:30 | #70

    Come on guys, give me a name.

  71. Simonjm
    November 15th, 2006 at 11:17 | #71

    proust does your question infer that no scientist who hasn’t been ‘known for any fundamental contribution to science’ cannot be thought of as one of the best minds in science?

    Under this I would imagine that most of the best would still not make your list.

  72. Simonjm
    November 15th, 2006 at 11:33 | #72

    Sorry for the double.

  73. proust
    November 15th, 2006 at 11:41 | #73

    Simonjm, “questions” don’t “infer”, they imply. But your inference seems reasonable: I know of no scientist who is widely thought of as one of the best minds in science who is not also known for a fundamental contribution. Making a fundamental contribution is a necessary, although perhaps not sufficient condition for qualification as one of the best scientific minds. [I say not sufficient because a lucky discovery constitutes a fundamental contribution but does not qualify you as a top scientific mind.]

  74. Simonjm
    November 15th, 2006 at 12:20 | #74

    hmmmm if I said, now playing at the Australian Open are some of the best tennis players in the world -including the current top ten- would you think that if any of those top ten hadn’t won multiple Grand Slams titles -which the best of the best have- that I couldn’t say that these are not the best tennis players in the world?

    For me the best minds in sciece also includes the most qualified and respected in that field by their peers, and I bet a that even if we cannot’t name any if you asked around in that discipline you would get many names nominated.

    I’d also bet that when it comes to those premier scientific institues you would find many of those names listed or having participated in the work that backed the climate scientists.

  75. proust
    November 15th, 2006 at 12:30 | #75

    I am not after “best of the best”. Best alive today is fine.

    Names please.

  76. Dave Surls
    November 15th, 2006 at 13:58 | #76

    “This isn’t investigative journalism from Bolt, it’s a 47 word blog post derived from information presented in two graphs. Neither you nor your commenters have shown Bolt’s interpretation of the graphs to be incorrect.”

    And, they aren’t going to either.

    I think I know what their problem is though. Anyone who doesn’t mention that global warming is caused by human beings every time they write something is committing heresy.

  77. Simonjm
    November 15th, 2006 at 14:06 | #77

    proust do you have a copy of Climatologists Weekly?

    Sorry I don’t feel like digging for you.

    As far as I’m concerned if the Royal Society and its sister organizations in the G8 +China Russia and India-back the science its good enough for me.

    If you want to give me reason why I should doubt the qualifications of these in the most prestigious science institutes in the world -which you seem happy to take as long as it doesn’t impact on business- or a even remotely plausible conspiracy on how not only the climatologists themselves plus the those in these diverse scientific institutions can somehow reach a global conspiracy that just happens to be in line with glaciers retreating animals changing their habitat zones etc I’ll give it a second thought.

    It’s like asking me to verify that the opinions of members of the Royal College of Surgeons are worthwhile by naming someone that has provided some fundamental medical breakthrough in surgical techniques.

    Would you rather have one of them operate on you even if they hadn’t personally come up with some brilliant new technique or would you rather the local butcher – Bolt tends to butcher his arguments- do it?

    Opps their goes the baby with that bath water?

    Using heuristics is fraught with error, I acknowledge I do it, against some views in psychology and religion where I’m on the extreme minority. Though I would argue these are more likely to be infected by cultural bias than the natural sciences

  78. proust
    November 15th, 2006 at 14:12 | #78

    Lucky you’re not on the witness stand Simonjm – the judge would have given you a right bollocking for evading the question. Smokescreens aside, who are the leading lights of Climate Science to whom you so readily genuflect?

  79. Dave Surls
    November 15th, 2006 at 14:13 | #79

    “Moreover, he drew an incorrect conclusion from the data he showed.”

    No, he didn’t. And, you’re the one who is having trouble getting it.

  80. Simonjm
    November 15th, 2006 at 14:38 | #80

    Don’t you like my side step proust 😉

    Sorry I don’t have time for red herrings

    BTW given your form on this forum you should be the last to talk about evading questions.

    I thought I was mainly dealing with the point of the authority of the G8 premier scientific institutions and whether there are enough quality scientists in those institutes that can be trusted not only to understand the work of the climatologists but objective enough to do so, just like on other topics concerned with science.

    My point about best minds is that to be the best in your scientific field is usually a good indicator of proficiency and intelligence.

    Even if they aren’t the best minds -by your criterion- does this mean that you would rather take the word of same hack with an agenda over the best in their field with a scientific consensus?

    We know that answer now don’t we.

  81. jquiggin
    November 15th, 2006 at 14:44 | #81

    Proust, is winning the Nobel prize for Chemistry good enough for you?

  82. proust
    November 15th, 2006 at 14:46 | #82

    When have I been evasive?

    The “scientific consensus” is not as consensual as you think.

  83. proust
    November 15th, 2006 at 15:17 | #83

    “Proust, is winning the Nobel prize for Chemistry good enough for you?”

    Yes, if it wasn’t just a lucky discovery. Who are you referring to?

  84. SimonC
    November 15th, 2006 at 15:25 | #84

    Hey where’s my post?

    See Nobel prize winners for chemistry, 1995

  85. frankis
    November 15th, 2006 at 15:31 | #85

    “… if it wasn’t just a lucky discovery”. Breathtaking proust, hit us with another one like that please!

  86. SimonC
    November 15th, 2006 at 15:35 | #86

    All three winners have gone on to research climate change and support AGW. At least one (Crutzen?) was a director of the IPCC for a while. Rowland has a good piece about climate change on the Royal Society website. Molina has appeared before US Senate commitees supporting action to address climate change.

  87. jquiggin
    November 15th, 2006 at 16:12 | #87

    And of course the Nobel itself was for their contribution to the first round in the climate science debate, over CFCs and ozone, where they were up against the same group of opponents.

  88. proust
    November 15th, 2006 at 16:15 | #88

    Ok, they qualify. In fact, Crutzen has the most sensible suggestion I’ve seen for a long time: forget about CO2 – shoot sulfur into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight back into space.

    Cost is way less than Stern’s idiotic predictions, and we can cool the planet overnight.

  89. wilful
    November 15th, 2006 at 16:22 | #89

    Here’s Crutzen’s views:

    In his forthcoming scientific paper, Professor Crutzen emphasises that the best way of averting global climate disaster is for countries to cut back significantly on their emissions of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide produced by burning oil, gas and coal. But in the absence of such measures, and with the average global temperature expected to rise more than 3C this century, there may soon come a time when more extreme measures have to be considered, he said.

    ( http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0731-05.htm )

  90. SimonC
    November 15th, 2006 at 16:25 | #90

    Is there something Monty Python/Black Knight about Proust:

    ’tis but a scratch

    It’s just a flesh wound!

    Oh, I see, running away, eh?! You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what’s comin’ to ya! I’ll bite your legs off!

  91. proust
    November 15th, 2006 at 19:44 | #91

    Hardly, SimonC: I originally said: “Correct me if I am wrong, but I cannot think of a single one known for any fundamental contribution to science�. I was eventually corrected after much waffling.

  92. November 16th, 2006 at 20:53 | #92

    Wikipedia has a list of climatologists:-


  93. November 17th, 2006 at 00:46 | #93

    You can also try Roger Revelle, Hans Suess, Charles Keeling, Svante Arrhenius…….

    Your ignorance is our problem

  94. proust
    November 17th, 2006 at 05:49 | #94

    Not to diminish their achievements, but they’re all dead, Eli.

    What is interesting about this list is that none of them are in fact climate scientists; they are all chemists. The scientific debate today is being driven almost 100% by environmentalists and climate scientists, which is where I gained my impression of relatively poor quality science.

  95. proust
    November 17th, 2006 at 05:59 | #95

    That should have been: “environmentalists and climate modelers” not “environmentalists and climate scientists”.

  96. November 17th, 2006 at 06:58 | #96

    I see, they are not climate scientists, just as JQ maintains that Lomborg is not a statistitian.

  97. November 17th, 2006 at 08:34 | #97

    proust – “which is where I gained my impression of relatively poor quality science.”

    How did you judge it to be of poor quality because it comes to conclusions that you disagree with? I am sure Gavin Schmidt and Rasmus etc would be pretty insulted to be called poor quality scientists by someone who is not in the field and not in a postition to judge. They have all published peer reviewed papers. People who do have the training to judge have had a look at their work and decided that it is OK.

    Who are you? How many climate science papers have you published?

  98. SimonC
    November 17th, 2006 at 09:14 | #98

    Proust – I’m a chemist and a scientist. You know chemistry is a part of science. You can’t be chemist without being a scientist.

  99. November 17th, 2006 at 10:17 | #99

    proust – “In fact, Crutzen has the most sensible suggestion I’ve seen for a long time: forget about CO2 – shoot sulfur into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight back into space.

    Cost is way less than Stern’s idiotic predictions, and we can cool the planet overnight. ”

    Have you really thought about this? Lets say we do this and just keep emitting an increasing amount of CO2, as is happening now, and we do it for lets say 50 years. At the end of 50 years the CO2 could well be at 600ppm or 700ppm so there would be an underlying 3° or so of warming that we have averted by pumping SO2 into the atmosphere. What happens if the agency that is doing the SO2 pumping suddenly stops? What if the agency threatens to stop unless they are paid a large amount of money. What happens if some religious or political nutcase decides that shooting SO2 into the atmosphere is against something they believe in and bombs the pumping facility?

    Then we get the whole benefit of 50 years of piling on the blankets with no heat shield to reflect the heat – imagine what that would do for the climate.

    Good plan proust.

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