More amateur climatology from Andrew Bolt

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.

109 thoughts on “More amateur climatology from Andrew Bolt

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. “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?

  5. “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?

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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?

  10. JQ,

    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).

  11. 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!

  12. 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 🙂

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

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

  14. 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.

  15. “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.

  16. 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 😉

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

    Your wrong.

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.]

  21. 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.

  22. “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.

  23. 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

  24. 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?

  25. “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.

  26. 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.

  27. “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?

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

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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 )

  33. 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!

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

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

  37. 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?

  38. 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.

  39. 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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