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Bad news for climate contrarians – 'the best data we have' just got hotter

Posted on 3 July 2017 by John Abraham

A new paper just published in the Journal of Climate is a stunning setback for the darling of cherry-picking for contrarian scientists and elected officials. Let’s walk though this so we appreciate the impact. 

The vast majority of scientists know that the climate is changing, humans are the main reason, and there are going to be severe consequences. We have decades of measurements that prove our understanding of this process. There is simply no debate or dispute. 

Despite this, there are a shrinking number of contrarian scientists, elected officials, and industry representatives that have spent endless time trying to downplay the impact. They have variously argued that the climate isn’t changing, that the changes won’t be very much, or that there are no viable solutions to the problem. Much of their position relies upon finding evidence that the current observations of warming are not great. That is, the Earth is not warming as fast as predictions. 

To support this incorrect (and intellectually dishonest) position, contrarians have scoured the data for any evidence at all that suggests the Earth is not warming. They have skipped oceans (which account for 93% of the warming). They skip the Earth’s surface temperature, ignore ice loss, ignore sea level rise, and in fact ignore everything except some select regions of the atmosphere. Their fallback position is that since a part of the atmosphere seems not to be warming very fast, this means the Earth isn’t warming or that climate models cannot be trusted. I know I know, this sounds dumb, and it is. But it is their current argument. 

But let’s pretend we are contrarians and let’s ignore the entirety of the Earth system except for this very small part. Do they have a point? There has been a lot of dispute about exactly how fast these atmospheric temperatures have been rising. Measurements are best made by weather balloons or by satellites. The satellites are convenient because they orbit the Earth quickly and can gather lots of information that is quite uniform across the globe. But satellites have their problems. 

First, they are not stable. They drift in altitude and their orbits drift horizontally. As a consequence, satellite users have to correct their data to make sure these drifts don’t give a false impression of heating or cooling. The satellites also have other issues. For instance, they have to be calibrated and they have to be stable in time. You want to ensure the temperature sensors don’t change during the satellite’s lifetime. You want to make sure that you know the location where the measurements are taken. 

In reality, the satellites make smeared measurements over a vertical column in the atmosphere. Part of that column is the lower level (called the troposphere). Another part is higher in altitude (called the stratosphere). The area of concern for this study is the troposphere (in fact the lower troposphere). But, if your smearing isn’t processed correctly, you may be measuring the stratosphere and think it is the troposphere (or vice versa). We call that potential “contamination.”

In short, you have to be really careful about satellite measurements, there is a lot of uncertainty. Despite this, contrarians have tried to tell us that satellites are better than thermometers, better than models, better than anything at measuring climate change. 

One of the groups that has promoted satellite measurements, and downplayed climate change is from the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH). In the past, they have falsely claimed that the atmosphere was cooling (it wasn’t, they had made a mistake). Over the years, people have found multiple errors in their work and data, and it seems every time an error was discovered, the satellites we revised warmer and in better agreement with thermometers and climate models. To counter the UAH group, another institution began processing satellite data (Remote Sensing Systems, RSS). The RSS group has been very helpful over the years finding and correcting errors in the UAH data.

RSS was responsible for this new publication. In updating their analysis, they find that prior to about 2000, the old and new analysis were very close to each other. However after that, the improved analysis shows a much more rapid warming. Just in the time period for the so-called “hiatus” – the temporary slowdown in surface and lower atmospheric warming that’s now ended. Compare the red (new) analysis to the grey (old) in the image below.

RSS update

Comparison of new (red) and old (grey) RSS lower troposphere temperature analysis. Illustration: Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief.

Not only that, but the improved analysis shows that the atmospheric (lower troposphere) temperatures are warming faster than the Earth’s surface.


Comparison of NASA surface temperatures with RSS satellite temperatures. Illustration: Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief.

This means that the results from satellites are now in-line with all the other signals from the climate. This is an incredibly consistent pattern.

But what about those contrarians? Are there other data that contradict the current results? Yes, as seen in the third image, below. The image shows that the RSS and UAH data agree pretty well until around 2000. After that, the UAH data nearly flatlines but the RSS data continues warming.


Comparison of lower troposphere temperature estimates from satellite data from two groups (RSS and UAH) showing a disagreement starting around the year 2000. Illustration: Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief.

So what are the corrections made by the RSS team? As I mentioned earlier, the orbits of the satellites change over time which means that locations where measurements are made at a given time of the day change (it drifts). To account for these changes, RSS used a combination of satellite comparisons, climate models, and something called climate reanalysis to estimate changes in the temperature with time. They included measurements from other instruments as a check, such as weather balloons. RSS also identified bad data – when multiple measurements were made and one of the measurements disagreed substantially with the others, it was suspect. They also caught a calibration error that lead to changes in warming rate.

For those who only follow climate science on the periphery, they may have heard phrases like “global warming stopped 15 years ago,” “climate models got it wrong,” “we don’t really know if it is warming,” etc. There is now no reason whatsoever to believe these claims. We who work in the field knew these assertions were baseless, but now hopefully the people making them will retract.

This study also shows how science works.

Click here to read the rest

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Comments 1 to 37:

  1. Important news, and good historical perspective in the article. Of course the denialist response will be predictable and tiresome, involving the usual stupid accusations.

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  2. I have always thought that satellite measurements depend on modelling to extract temperature signals from the raw data. Am I correct about this? Are there any fairly basic sources which describe how the temperature signal is extracted?

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  3. newairly - check Kevin C's Surface Temperature or Satellite Brightness? from last year. The article contains a flow chart depicting how the measurements from satellites "turn" into temperature. It should answer your question.

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  4. First link to "new paper" needs repair.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Fixed; thanks!

  5. Wouldn't it be helpful to point out that satellites

    • Are 20,000+ miles above Earth
    • Do not have thermometers.  
    • Don't measure the temperature where stuff lives.

    A theromometer on a satellite would just measure the temperature of space. I suspect most denialists have no clue about that, as they do a copypaste of bullet points they've seen somewhere.  If they whine about 'corrections', then give them the raw (microwave sensor) data and tell them to interpret it themselves, but accurately.  Then if they just translate microwave sensor raw to temp, it's "wrong, you didn't calibrate". If they do calibrate, come back with "you just used corrections on the data". 

    But more to the point, note that they're looking at an air mass far above ground that's partly insulated by the greenhouse effect (it's blocking some of the ground's IR radiation). If if you can process the EMR sensor data (microwave sensor, iirc) from 25,000 miles up into an accurate temperature, it doesn't look at the ocean temp (90%+ of surface heat) OR the ground level air temp.  So the question could be "Why are you looking away from the thing we're talking about (ocean+surface) and staring into space? 

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  6. Driving by, yes true in your first half on corrections. Very clever point.

    The surface data is more important as we inhabit the surface , but I think climate scientists consider satellite data important because most climate models (but not all) expect 25,000 miles up would heat slightly more than the surface, and this would be a strong sign of the greenhouse effect. the latest data does appear to confirm this. It's something to do with how the lapse rate works.

    Here's another fustration on corrections, regarding surface temperatures, the denialists say its all due to "urban heat islands" and then the data is adjusted to ensure this effect isn't biasing temperatures upwards, and then the denialists say "you fiddled with the data". You can't win with these people. It's like falling into a river full of piranah fish.

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  7. John, thanks for the explanation of the RSS changes and your many other efforts to encourage action on climate change.  One complaint though: the graph that compares old and new RSS data shows trends since 1998.  The trend lines were clearly computed by ignoring data prior to 1998.  Consequently, there is an implicit discontinuity of temperature in 1998 that makes the trend steeper than it ought to be.  Skeptical Science has correctly faulted people like Christpher Monckton for similar calculations.  Please make it clear in the text that you don't consider it proper to ignore some of the data.

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  8. DrivingBy @5 and Nigelj @6:
    The satellites providing the data used by RSS and UAH are not 20,000+ miles above the Earth, but only about 800 km (~ 500 miles), roughly twice as high as the International Space Station and orbit the Earth every 100 minutes or so.
    Maybe you were thinking of the geostationary orbit (35,800 km / ~ 22,000 miles) used by the communication satellites? If these satellites really were that high up, they wouldn’t suffer from the tiny atmospheric drag that still exists a few hundred kilometres above the Earth and causes the orbits to change over time.

    I think the RSS TLT record is reasonably accurate now, not only because it agrees pretty well with NASAs surface record (the second graph) but also with lower troposphere measurements by weather balloons with real thermometers in direct contact with the atmosphere.


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  9. Jeff T@7,

    Initially I wasn't certain about what you were referring to, so I checked the graphs.

    It appears you are commenting on the trend line shown on the "Major revisions upward after 1998" graph. That graph compares the trends of the data since 1998 for the correction of interpretation of the satellite data.

    The trend of the entire RSSv4 TLT data set is shown in the lower graph labelled "Satellite temps warming faster than surface". The trend line of the entire data set is less than 0.2 in 1998 and nearly 0.5 at the end (2016/17). The trend line in the earlier graph that starts in 1998 is above 0.2 in 1998 and clearly below 0.5 at the end.

    So the trend of the overall data set is actually a more rapid rate of increase than the rate from 1998 to today.

    And I agree, deniers would attempt to claim something similar to what you thought you had discovered and hope that people will 'like what they hear and not bother to check if what they want to believe is actually valid'.

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  10. Here is a direct comparison of the new RSS TLT record and the RATPAC-A record based on weather balloons with real thermometers. The latter is an average of the four altitude levels 1.5, 3, 5.6 and 7.2 km. The two records use different base periods, but that doesn’t change the fact that their trends are very similar after the RSS update.


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  11. Funny how the 'climate science deniers'  (I like this term because it clarifies exactly what they are denying) get so upset about the tiny corrections made to the surface data (i.e. Karl 2015) but think the satellite data is incontrovertible, despite the major revisions made every few years.

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  12. rocketeer @11 "Tiny corrections" to data can be a source of controversy in the deabate about climate change.  At Goulburn airport in New South Wales Australia, the recorded raw data for the minium temperature on Sunday July 2 2017 was -10.4C  This temperature was however adjusted automatically to -10.0C .  When the alteration was queried The Bureau of Meterology stated that temperatures below -10.0C are automatically moved to -10.0C.   The BoM did change the -10.0C value to -10.4C in the Daily Weather Observations page for Goulborn Airport but left the value blank in the Climate Data Online database, the database used to calculate regional, national and global temperatures.  Is this the way climate scientists should operate at the BoM?  Are maximum temperature cut off points used?  If so what are they?  Reports such as this serve to fuel the sceptical side of the debate on climate change 

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  13. @12...I guess you'd rather have automatic collecting instruments set to record any value regardless of how nonsensical it is without being further checked?

    It's really not a conspiracy to set limits on data collection instruments such that suspect readings can be validated no matter how much Jo Nova thinks so.

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  14. My guess is that Jo Nova has no problem with limits on upper temperature filtering values the require checking.

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  15. Curiously the very low temperature on July 2 at Goulbourn Airport was not reflected by similarly low temperature at the nearby stations of Goulbourn TAFE College, Taralga Post Office, or Nerriga (the later two being very distinctly rural stations).  Please note also that BOM preliminary (ie, non-audited) data for Goulbourn Airport show the -10.4 value, contrary to rocketeers claim.  The curiously low values at the airport relative to nearby stations, however, suggest there may have been some factor causing spurious readings.

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  16. Interesting that Jo Nova should be mentioned in posts 13 and 14.  In actuality the original  report came from Jennifer Marohasy and was picked up and put on line by Jo Nova.  Personally, I prefer, whenever possible, to go to the original source rather than subsequent re-iterations as this approach removes the possibility of distortion on retelling.  And @13 as for the "automatic recording of any value regardless of how nonsensical it is"  it is obvious that, after challenge,  the -10.4C  was recorded  and eventually pubished as such.  This rather negates your point but raises the interesting questions as to why the filtering was reversed and why the -10.4C value was not entered in the CDO database.  

    And @14 your guess about filters on upper temperatures might well be right and my guess is Jo Nova has no problem with filters on low temperatures either.  That really isn't the point. What is the point is that the use of these filters and their set points have not been generally disclosed.  That they have not may introduce another  element of distrust as to the veracity of the readings to those who are already distrustful of what they regard as manipulation of temperature data

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  17. "What is the point is that the use of these filters and their set points have not been generally disclosed."

    Hmm, so on the BOM page for Observation of Temperature we find under quality control:

    "Once the data arrive at the Bureau they proceed through a number of quality control processes to detect errors, which includes checking for:

    • Consistency in the observations (e.g. checking that the maximum is not less than the minimum);
    • "Flat-lining", where values do not change for several days;
    • Values close to or outside the normal climatological range of values for the time of year (which may be real or incorrect).

    (Emphasis mine). If putting this on their web page isn't "general disclosed", what more do you expect? Took me seconds to find, did you bother to look? This is more faux outrage from Nova/Marohasy/deniers because they dont know what they are talking about.

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  18. @  17  Yes I did look at the web site and although I read "The large volume of data associated with the more frequent observations (such as one minute data) limits the quality control of these observations to automatic processes, whereas some human interaction is involved in quality controlling maximum and minimum temperature data"  I didn't see any reference to what the human interaction was nor were minimum and maximum cut off points and their range for automatic temperature quality control mentioned.  It is these to which I was referring.  As I noted, BoM did change the temperature from  the -10.0C cut off that had previously been used to -10.4C.   The inference that could be drawn, particularly  by those receptive to such inferences, is that the BoM would not have reversed the initial change had it not been noted by others

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  19. @Haze...

    Your "concerns" are noted.

    As for your concern that this could have muddied the climatological record, did you know this station is not even part of the Australian Climate Observations Reference Network
    – Surface Air Temperature (ACORN-SAT) dataset?  You are arguing that a .4C difference in one value at one location that is not even used in climate analysis in the first place somehow introduces doubt in the whole science. That's a real denier stretch. Even if this station was part of the climate record this value if not edited would change the Australian monthly reported value about .0001C. Values are not reported to 4 decimal places as no one would make the claim the aggregated values are accurate to that level, so it would not affect the record at all. 

    Have you ever dealt with a high quality national- or global-sized database? Those who do have a huge number of real concerns all designed to keep the error rate as low as possible. See the various tabs at for a detailed description of all these issues and how they are dealt with.

    Their concerns are much different from those reporting on daily values in daily meteorological forecasts and reporting as is the case here where .4C at one time at one locale is absolutely trivial. That is, unless your real "concern", as in the case of Jo Nova, is neither meteorology nor climate science but rather something else entirely.

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  20. You clearly are not au fait with the saying "perception is reality"  The point I am trying, very badly it seems, to make is that to those who seize on anything that reinforces their prejudices, a report showing a BoM temperature was altered upward and then, after attention was drawn to the alteration, changed back to the original,  reinforces  their belief that temperatures are adjusted  to  fit  the "Climate Change scam".  And your comment "That is, unless your real "concern", as in the case of Jo Nova, is neither meteorology nor climate science but rather something else entirely"  is a typical example of shooting the messenger.  My "concern" as you put it,  is, in fact,  trying to show that actions by the BoM such as those reported by Jennifer Marohasy and picked up by Jo Nova are meat and drink to those who deny or who are sceptical about, the role of humans in Climate Change

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  21. So what do you propose that BoM do differently? Not put QC controls on data because idiot deniers will misrepresent it? Guess what, BoM is actually trying to do their job with as much precision and care as budgets allow. Appeasing deniers that continue to invent, distort, misrepresent your actions because they are wedded to the idea that global warming is the invention of a global comspiracy of scientists is not their job.

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  22. "So what do you propose that BoM do differently?"  In this case to allay suspicion,  state explicitly what the cut off points for automatic temperature adjustments are, how they are determined,  what is the range around the cut off point and what form does human intervention take.  Surely it wouldn't be too difficult to say (for example only) that automatic adjustments occur when a recorded temperature measurement is 1-2 C above the highest or lowest temperature rcorded at the particular station, that human intervention is based on  assessment of several factors and giv e examples  And as for appeasing deniers, politicians who are any good, spend considerable time and energy to sell their message to the public.  If the BoM thinks that that is not their role, well, fair enough but spending, say,  a day to put an explanation on their web site  doesn't seem a huge ask to ensure corrections made are entirely undedrstandable and above all, transparent.

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  23. Haze @22, so you are suggesting that BOM should make statements such as:

    "The standard scientific practice is to detect potential artificial jumps by comparing data from the station of interest (the candidate station) with data from other nearby stations where the suspected artificial jump is absent (reference stations). If there is an artificial jump in the data, this will be reflected in the candidate station warming or cooling relative to other surrounding stations.

    This method of detection avoids falsely identifying actual climatic shifts and natural variability (such as that associated with the 1997–98 El Niño) as spurious artefacts in the data. The comparison with neighbours also serves the valuable purpose of largely rendering the test data free of trends."

    (Full explanation here under question 5)

    Or perhaps this on the cutoffs:

    "3. Internal consistency of METAR and maximum/minimum temperature data

    This check flagged data violating either of the following:
    •Maximum temperature 4°C or more above the highest METAR temperature of the day, providing that there was no point during the day when there were more than 70 minutes between METAR temperatures.
    •Maximum temperature 1°C or more below the highest METAR temperature of the day.  (The tolerance on this test was used because many METAR temperatures, particularly manually observed ones, are only archived to the nearest whole degree.) 

    Equivalent criteria were used for daily minimum temperatures."

    (From here, which has a link to it here.  METARS are meteorological reports produced for aviation on a regular basis through the day.)

    The fact is that BOM has taken the time to detail its methods, their justification, and the relative rate of errors in original observations (" The error rate in temperature observations is low – experience with operational quality control procedures at the Bureau of Meteorology in
    recent years suggests that it is in the order of a few tenths of one per cent – but such a rate still equates to the potential for several tens of thousands of errors in a data set of the size of ACORN-SAT").  These detailed explanations are typically ignored by AGW "skeptics", as also by the general public.  It is certainly not the practise of the general public, having read some bombshell "revelation" by Marohassy, to carefully read the BOM site conjuring up a twitter storm.

    This, then, shows the fundamental problem of the idea that "perception is reality".  The perception is artfully generated by people with an intention to distort the data (ie, Marohassy and JoNova etc).  They are feeding an uncritical audience who lap it up because it feeds their prejudices.  In that context, no amount of careful explanation by BOM will change the perception for that audience because they are not listening.  Marohassy has been shown to be wrong on Australian temperature data repeatedly, but creates no perception problem for her because her audience does not care.

    In that context, expecting BOM to operate on managing perceptions is an impossible task.  What they need to do is concentrate on the science so that anybody who actually thinks critically about the issue can see they are doing a very good job.  I mean, think about it.  Consider the thousands of observations BOM makes every day, then ask yourself, how many imagined problems have those "skeptics" actually found.  Even if all were real problems, the result is a very high accuracy rate.

    The further solution is for people to stop giving others a pass on lazy, motivated reasoning.  If somebody feeds you a Marohassy article, call them out for not fact checking, for the (often) implicit conspiracy theory they are accepting, and for their uncritical thinking.  This should be particularly the case if the person involved is in a position of relative authority (journalist, MP, etc).  There is no excuse for spreading ignorance and falsehoods, and that they are doing it second hand only makes them more foolish.

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  24. Tom,

    It is always interesting to see you find exactly the information that is being asked for.  Haze asks why the BOM cannot exactly say how they record the data and you provide a link to their methods.  Other readers should note that it is very time consuming to find these references and thank you for your diligence.  Hopefully casual readers will realize that scientific methods are carefully documented and skeptic claims that changes are made without reasons are false.

    It is impossible for the OBM to satisfy deniers like Marohassy and JoNova.  They both know what the BOM does and they ignore those protocols for their own reasons.

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  25. Zeke Hausfather explains the corrections of the RSS TLT data here.
    The satellites used by RSS and UAH are launched into so-called sun-synchronous orbits that cause them to pass over the same location at the same local time every day. This is achieved by letting the orbital plane rotate one degree per day in a counter clockwise direction as seen from above the North Pole. The problem is that the very minor atmospheric drag may slow them down by several hours over a few years if they don’t have some propulsion system to offset that.

    The chart below shows how much the local time when the satellites cross the equator from south to north has drifted over the years. Two of the satellites, NOAA-11 and 14, drifted 7 hours over a period of about 10 years, while the two European satellites METOP-A and B (still in use) have kept the time almost perfectly. BTW, these same satellites also measure other weather and climate parameters, including the distribution of Arctic sea ice.

    satellite drift

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  26. I agree the reason for temperature adjustments is all there if you look. I have just done some reading on it myself, and put some links on the Republican Party article. If I can find this material in about one minute, sceptics have no excuse to be ignorant. The explanations are utterly compelling, and take little time to read. I have never even seen a sceptic try to refute them, and instead they just nag away, creating confusion, never clarity.

    But maybe Haze partly has a point that making mistakes and having to correct them is never a good look. So try and minimise them, and openly explain what went wrong. We should avoid getting too defensive.

    Any human based system will make a few  mistakes. But do a bit of reading, and you find the climate science process goes to extreme lengths to minimise mistakes, identify mistakes, and biased temperatures or faulty measuring equipment, and correct them. The result is the big picture is very reliable.

    Sceptics like Jo Nova are nit picking, and relying on the fact most people dont have time to check the detail. Its a form of cynical manipulation, and is not genuine scepticism that confronts issues openly. It's crowd manipulation. It's not genuine scepticism in the honourable, traditional sense of the term. Proper scepticism has to operate within rational boundaries.

    For decent, rational scepticism read "Skeptic, by Michael Shermer"

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  27. @23.  Tom Curtis thanks for your detailed, thorough  and informative remarks, they are much appreciated and I certainly was not aware of the information  you have provided.  Perhaps you could post the comment  on Jennifer Marohasy's and Jo Nova's sites to inform readers there that the BoM does take care to ensure accuracy and fidelity of its temperature observations and does not make alterations on a whim.  Thanks again.  With regard to posting on other sites, I really think you should as your comment would challenge the perceptions of readers at those sites.  BUt perhaps not as positions are often too entrenched to change

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  28. @27...

    Do you honestly think Jo Nova cares one whit about "informing readers"? Or that the majority of the readers there want to be accurately informed as opposed to having their biases confirmed?

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  29. @28.  I try to see the best in people rather than the worst.    Jo Nova, who is a scientist with an Honours degree from the University of Western Australia in a hard science, does in fact post comments that do not support her views.  As for her readers, it is impossible to comment on whether or not they want to be accurately informed. They almost certainly however do prefer to have their biases confirmed.  This is a common human trait, first described by Thucydides in about 400BC in his treatise "The Pelopennesian War" .  He wrote:

    "For it is a habit of humanity to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not fancy."

    Much subsequent research has unequivocally  confirmed this comment.   Jo Nova's readers are extremely unlikely to be any different from readers of other sites, even sites such as Skepticalscience


    as do many readers of readers on any blog site including sites such as Skeptical Science?

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  30. Thanks, Haze @29 , for the excellent Thucydides quote.

    I guess a more modern translater would have rendered "Sovereign Reason" into some form of "Motivated Reasoning".

    Ultimately however, we must choose between truth and falsehood — and JoNova has chosen falsehood.

    The scientific evidence is overwhelmingly clear, in this matter of AGW/Climate-Change, that JoNova and others of her type are quite wrong — and so to that extent there is no moral equivalence between the "followers" of JoNova (et alia) and the "followers" of SkepticalScience (& other such organizations dedicated to scientific truth).    The two groups are worlds apart, morally.

    Emotions are always an enormous part of what motivates us humans: yet we must acknowledge there are good emotions and evil emotions.   Sadly, it is the "Dark Side" emotion of selfishness which impels the science-deniers, and leads them to commit lies and deceptions (and self-deceptions).

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  31. Haze, confirmation bias is indeed as you say a problem that effects everyone, but I would suggest maybe not equally. I long ago recognised my own biases, and make a point of reading both sides of all debates about equally, and carefully, and it's clear others on this website do the same. Maybe you do as well.

    Most climate sceptics I know that are just ordinary people haven't even read one mainstream book on the subject, or something like the NASA website, or this website, and they make various pathetic excuses that its all a scam so why bother. A lot of people are lazy and want glib answers, and I think they populate denialist websites or general media websites.

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  32. nigelj @31

    People too lazy to spend any time at reputable climate websites but not so lazy as to patronise denier websites?

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  33. @31  Yes I do visit sites that have different view points.  I look at WUWT, JoNova and Climate etc and  Skeptical Science, Real Climate and Open Mind.   I also subscribe to The Guardian and The Australian as I like to get views from both sides of politics  too

    @31 and 32.  WUWT, JoNova but not really Judith Curry do tend to over simplify the topic and exaggerate minutiae and the readers are less likely to be scientifically inclined as those visiting this and other similar sites.  This leads to comments that are full of hyperbole and emotion but often not well thought through.  I think the real difference though is that the climate science sites are far more strictly moderated and emotive incorrectness is not tolerated.  Thus comments to, say, SkS need more thought than those to, say, WUWT

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  34. Haze @33 , it is not altogether true that SkS comments columns are more strictly moderated than WUWT's & JoNova's.

    Yes, WUWT & JoNova comments columns are [and please forgive the "Irishism" ..... ] not just "full of hyperbole and emotion" but also full of vitriol, conspiracy theorism, and mindless repetition of long-disproven ideas.  And particularly telling counterpoints (against denialism) are deleted — according to hearsay from scientists who have attempted such posts.

    OTOH, the past policy of SkS moderators seems to have been to only delete posts which were egregious rubbish and/or flagrantly in breach of Comments Guidelines.  More recently (as you will have seen) the moderators have taken a softened approach to many "low-quality" posts, by striking them through yet leaving them visible.  But not sparing them where spam or outrageous trolling is involved.

    Judith Curry's blog is a different kettle of fish.  Yes, the comments column has a goodly share of poor thinking and unscientific nonsense posts, but there are also many posts which at least make some attempt to grapple with the issues raised by her.  Almost invariably ineffectually, though!!!  Taken altogether, the Curry blog provides a space where genteel denialists can express themselves without the unpleasantness of associating themselves with the vitriolic hoi polloi.

    The problem of Curry's blog is mostly with her own efforts.  She revels in vague (and unjustifiable) "uncertainties".  Always her underlying message is: We must wait and do nothing; we must carry on with Business-As-Usual ; we must carry on with more studies over many decades.  Unsurprisingly, she is seen as (and doubtless is) an apologist for Fossil Fuel Industry.  For which reason she is a darling of right-wing anti-science extremists, especially those in high places!  And like other FF Industry apologists, she entirely fails to make a case against the mainstream consensus science position.

    Vague uncertainties and woolly sophistries are the stock-in-trade of Curry.  On top of that, she sometimes features guest authors who spout rubbish & crazy theories — crazy stuff, which she does not trouble to deny or critique, but she says they were included in her blog "because they are interesting".  A tasty bone for the crazier end of the spectrum of her blog's followers ;-)

    For an example of Curry sophistry & confusionism & absurdity :- try this gem ...

    "The Brumbergs are correct to conclude: In our view, the fact that so many scientists agree so closely about the [causes of the] earth's warming is, in itself, evidence of a lack of evidence for [human caused] global warming."

    Quelle superbe post-modernist claptrap, eh!!!

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Sks continues to improve tools available to moderators rather than change moderation policy. Deleting a comment is a blunt instrument, providing the commentator with little feedback as to why they were moderated. If someone spent 30 minutes writing it and blew it with a rant at the end, then losing the whole comment is annoying. The provision of selective snip and strike-through tools to moderators allows for some education as to what is acceptable here and what is not. Of course we still have to deal with trolls who have no intention of complying with comments policy...

  35. @29

    The Greek scholar in my family assures me  of a couple of things:

    Thucydides wrote in a terrible, deeply nested style that is hard to work with. She said that many translations are more understandable that the original!

    WRT the specific Greek terms underlying "sovereign reason" she says the term relates to "autocratic" more than any more positive connotation. That is rather than "motivated reasoning" one might render it as reasoning like an autocrat. 

    WRT Jo Nova, her political views totally outweigh her accurate reporting of actual science as this case clearly typifies.

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  36. I just don't understand Judith Curry at all. She is certainly very vague.

    She says climate gate raised genuine doubts with her. I find this incomprehensible, because I have looked at the actual evidence and there's just nothing there, nothing wrong and various investigations have found the same. So what is she on about? She is certainly unable to specifically say when asked. She  is a scientist for goodness sake!

    Yes, climate scientists do sometimes make mistakes like anyone, but there was nothing remotely significant in the climategate thing! In fact when you look at the desperate attempts to get dirt on climate scientists, and the many documents found (or hacked illegally) theres just remarkably little dirt there.

    I think Curry is an attention seeker, and this is her way of creating a following of people on her blog.

    Of course climategate showed some grumpy scientists complaining about somebody trying to publish a sceptical paper, and hoping it might not get published. This is people in a frustrated mood, as we all get, it is not evidence of a global conspiracy!

    Jo Nova and Judith Curry are of course entitled to their websites. Free speech and all that is very important to me. It doesn't change the fact the content is largely nonsense.

    People like Joe Nova claim to be intelligent, discerning sceptics, but they do not apply this equally to everything, they ignore patent nonsense, so they are intellectually shallow.

    They are not genuine sceptics. I think they simply have some deep seated distrust or dislike of climate science, that is probably a mish mash of different motivations, some genuine scepticism, but I think much of it more about gut reactions, politics and protecting their general world view. You will learn precious little reading their websites.

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  37. Not only that, but the improved analysis shows that the atmospheric (lower troposphere) temperatures are warming faster than the Earth’s surface.

    Shouldn't it be as actually expected, given tropospheric tropical hotspot predicted by models at ~10km, which is right about TLT/TMT channels (Microwave Sounding Unit channel 2, and the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit channel 5) Carl Mears is talking about in the study herein?

    Maybe it's time to update this article based on the study herein?

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