Aletho News



By Donald C. Morton | Watts Up With That? | February 17, 2014

Herzberg Program in Astronomy and Astrophysics, National Research Council of Canada


The Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in September 2013 continues the pattern of previous ones raising alarm about a warming earth due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases. This paper identifies six problems with this conclusion – the mismatch of the model predictions with the temperature observations, the assumption of positive feedback, possible solar effects, the use of a global temperature, chaos in climate, and the rejection of any skepticism.



Many climatologists have been telling us that the environment of the earth is in serious danger of overheating caused by the human generation of greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is mainly to blame, but methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and certain chlorofluorocarbons also contribute.

“As expected, the main message is still the same: the evidence is very clear that the world is warming, and that human activities are the main cause. Natural changes and fluctuations do occur but they are relatively small.” – John Shepard in the United Kingdom, 2013 Sep 27 for the Royal Society.

“We can no longer ignore the facts: Global warming is unequivocal, it is caused by us and its consequences will be profound. But that doesn’t mean we can’t solve it.” -Andrew Weaver in Canada, 2013 Sep 28 in the Globe and Mail.

“We know without a doubt that gases we are adding to the air have caused a planetary energy imbalance and global warming, already 0.8 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times. This warming is driving an increase in extreme weather from heat waves to droughts and wild fires and stronger storms . . .” – James Hansen in United States, 2013 Dec 6 CNN broadcast.

Are these views valid? In the past eminent scientists have been wrong. Lord Kelvin, unaware of nuclear fusion, concluded that the sun’s gravitational energy could keep it shining at its present brightness for only 107 years. Sir Arthur Eddington correctly suggested a nuclear source for the sun, but rejected Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar’s theory of degenerate matter to explain white dwarfs. In 1983 Chandrasekhar received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his insight.

My own expertise is in physics and astrophysics with experience in radiative transfer, not climatology, but looking at the discipline from outside I see some serious problems. I presume most climate scientists are aware of these inconsistencies, but they remain in the Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including the 5th one released on 2013 Sep 27. Politicians and government officials guiding public policy consult these reports and treat them as reliable.


A necessary test of any theory or model is how well it predicts new experiments or observations not used in its development. It is not sufficient just to represent the data used to produce the theory or model, particularly in the case of climate models where many physical processes too complicated to code explicitly are represented by adjustable parameters. As John von Neumann once stated “With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.” Four parameters will not produce all the details of an elephant, but the principle is clear. The models must have independent checks.


Fig. 1. Global Average Temperature Anomaly (°C) upper, and CO2 concentration (ppm) lower graphs from by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The extension of the CO2 data to earlier years is from the ice core data of the Antarctic Law Dome

The upper plot in Fig. 1 shows how global temperatures have varied since 1880 with a decrease to 1910, a rise until 1945, a plateau to 1977, a rise of about 0.6 ºC until 1998 and then essentially constant for the next 16 years. Meanwhile, the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere has steadily increased. Fig. 2 from the 5th Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2013) shows that the observed temperatures follow the lower envelope of the predictions of the climate models.


Fig. 2. Model Predictions and Temperature Observations from IPCC Report 2013. RCP 4.5 (Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5) labels a set of models for a modest rise in anthropogenic greenhouse gases corresponding to an increase of 4.5 Wm2 (1.3%) in total solar irradiance.

Already in 2009 climatologists worried about the change in slope of the temperature curve. At that time Knight et al. (2009) asked the rhetorical question “Do global temperature trends over the last decade falsify climate predictions?” Their response was “Near-zero and even negative trends are common for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.”

Now some climate scientists are saying that 16 years is too short a time to assess a change in climate, but then the rise from 1978 to 1998, which was attributed to anthropogenic CO2, also could be spurious. Other researchers are actively looking into phenomena omitted from the models to explain the discrepancy. These include

1) a strong natural South Pacific El Nino warming event in 1998 so the plateau did not begin until 2001,

2) an overestimate of the greenhouse effect in some models,

3) inadequate inclusion of clouds and other aerosols in the models, and

4) a deep ocean reservoir for the missing heat.

Extra warming due to the 1978 El Nino seems plausible, but there have been others that could have caused some of the earlier warming and there are also cooling La Nina events. All proposed causes of the plateau must have their effects on the warming also incorporated into the models to make predictions that then can be tested during the following decade or two of temperature evolution.


There is no controversy about the basic physics that adding CO2 to our atmosphere absorbs solar energy resulting in a little extra warming on top of the dominant effect of water vapor. The CO2 spectral absorption is saturated so is proportional to the logarithm of the concentration. The estimated effect accounts for only about half the temperature rise of 0.8 ºC since the Industrial Revolution. Without justification the model makers ignored possible natural causes and assumed the rise was caused primarily by anthropogenic CO2 with reflections by clouds and other aerosols approximately cancelling absorption by the other gases noted above. Consequently they postulated a positive feedback due to hotter air holding more water vapor, which increased the absorption of radiation and the backwarming. The computer simulations represented this process and many other effects by adjustable parameters chosen to match the observations. As stated on p. 9-9 of IPCC2013, “The complexity of each process representation is constrained by observations, computational resources, and current knowledge.” Models that did not show a temperature rise would have been omitted from any ensemble so the observed rise effectively determined the feedback parameter.

Now that the temperature has stopped increasing we see that this parameter is not valid. It even could be negative. CO2 absorption without the presumed feedback will still happen but its effect will not be alarming. The modest warming possibly could be a net benefit with increased crop production and fewer deaths due to cold weather.


The total solar irradiance, the flux integrated over all wavelengths, is a basic input to all climate models. Fortunately our sun is a stable star with minimal change in this output. Since the beginning of satellite measures of the whole spectrum in 1978 the variation has been about 0.1% over the 11-year activity cycle with occasional excursions up to 0.3%. The associated change in tropospheric temperature is about 0.1 ºC.

Larger variations could explain historical warm and cold intervals such as the Medieval Warm Period (approx. 950 – 1250) and the Little Ice Age (approx. 1430 – 1850) but remain as speculations. The sun is a ball of gas in hydrostatic equilibrium. Any reduction in the nuclear energy source initially would be compensated by a gravitational contraction on a time scale of a few minutes. Complicating this basic picture are the variable magnetic field and the mass motions that generate it. Li et al. (2003) included these effects in a simple model and found luminosity variations of 0.1%, consistent with the measurements.

However, the sun can influence the earth in many other ways that the IPCC Report does not consider, in part because the mechanisms are not well understood. The ultraviolet irradiance changes much more with solar activity, ~ 10% at 200 nm in the band that forms ozone in the stratosphere and between 5% and 2% in the ozone absorption bands between 240 and 320 nm according to DeLand & Cebula (2012). Their graphs also show that these fluxes during the most recent solar minimum were lower than the previous two reducing the formation of ozone in the stratosphere and its absorption of the near UV spectrum. How this absorption can couple into the lower atmosphere is under current investigation, e. g. Haigh et al. (2010).


Fig. 3 – Monthly averages of the 10.7 cm solar radio flux measured by the National Research Council of Canada and adjusted to the mean earth-sun distance. A solar flux unit = 104 Jansky = 10-22 Wm-2 Hz-1. The maximum just past is unusually weak and the preceding minimum exceptionally broad. Graph courtesy of Dr. Ken Tapping of NRC.

Decreasing solar activity also lowers the strength of the heliosphere magnetic shield permitting more galactic cosmic rays to reach the earth. Experiments by Kirkby et al. (2011) and Svensmark et al. (2013) have shown that these cosmic rays can seed the formation of clouds, which then reflect more sunlight and reduce the temperature, though the magnitude of the effect remains uncertain. Morton (2014) has described how the abundances cosmogenic isotopes 10Be and 14C in ice cores and tree rings indicate past solar activity and its anticorrelation with temperature.

Of particular interest is the recent reduction in solar activity. Fig. 3 shows the 10.7 cm solar radio flux measured by the National Research Council of Canada since 1947 (Tapping 2013) and Fig. 4 the corresponding sunspot count. Careful calibration of the radio flux permits reliable comparisons


Fig. 4. Monthly sunspot numbers for the past 60 years by the Royal Observatory of Belgium at

over six solar cycles even when there are no sunspots. The last minimum was unusually broad and the present maximum exceptionally weak. The sun has entered a phase of low activity. Fig. 5 shows that previous times of very low activity were the Dalton Minimum from about 1800 to 1820 and the Maunder Minimum from about 1645 to 1715 when very few spots were seen. Since these minima occurred during the Little Ice Age when glaciers were advancing in both Northern and Southern Hemispheres, it is possible that we are entering another cooling period. Without a physical understanding of the cause of such cool periods, we cannot be more specific. Temperatures as cold as the Little Ice Age may not happen, but there must be some cooling to compensate the heating that is present from the increasing CO2 absorption.

Regrettably the IPCC reports scarcely mention these solar effects and the uncertainties they add to any prediction.


Long-term temperature measurements at a given location provide an obvious test of climate change. Such data exist for many places for more than a hundred years and for a few places for much longer. With these data climatologists calculate the temperature anomaly – the deviation from a many-year average such as 1961 to 1990, each day of the year at the times a measurement is recorded. Then they average over days, nights, seasons, continents and oceans to obtain the mean global temperature anomaly for each month or year as in Fig. 1. Unfortunately many parts of the world are poorly sampled and the oceans, which cover 71% of the earth’s surface, even less so. Thus many measurements must be extrapolated to include larger areas with different climates. Corrections are needed when a site’s measurements are interrupted or terminated or a new station is established as well as for urban heat if the meteorological station is in a city and altitude if the station is significantly higher than sea level.


Fig. 5. This plot from the U. S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency shows sunspot numbers since their first observation with telescopes in 1610. Systematic counting began soon after the discovery of the 11-year cycle in 1843. Later searching of old records provided the earlier numbers.

The IPCC Reports refer to four sources of data for the temperature anomaly from the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research and the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forcasting in the United Kingdom and the Goddard Institute for Space Science and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States. For a given month they can differ by several tenths of a degree, but all show the same long-term trends of Fig. 1, a rise from 1978 to 1998 and a plateau from 1998 to the present.

These patterns continue to be a challenge for researchers to understand. Some climatologists like to put a straight line through all the data from 1978 to the present and conclude that the world is continuing to warm, just a little more slowly, but surely if these curves have any connection to reality, changes in slope mean something. Are they evidence of the chaotic nature of climate with abrupt shifts from one state to another?

Essex, McKitrick and Andresen (2007) and Essex and McKitrick (2007) in their popular book have criticized the use of these mean temperature data for the earth. First temperature is an intensive thermodynamic variable relevant to a particular location in equilibrium with the measuring device. Any average with other locations or times of day or seasons has no physical meaning. Other types of averages might be more appropriate such as the second, fourth or inverse power of the absolute temperature, each of which would give a different trend with time. Furthermore it is temperature differences between two places that drive the dynamics. Climatologists have not explained what this single number for global temperature actually means. Essex and McKitrick note that it “is not a temperature. Nor is it even a proper statistic or index. It is a sequence of different statistics grafted together with ad hoc models.”

This questionable use of a global temperature along with the problems of modeling a chaotic system discussed below raise basic concerns about the validity of the test with observations in Section 2. Since climatologists and the IPCC insist on using this temperature number and the models in their predictions of global warming, it still is appropriate to hold them to comparisons with the observations they consider relevant.


Essex and McKitrick (2007) have provided a helpful introduction to this problem. Thanks to the pioneering investigations into the equations for convection and the associated turbulence by meteorologist Edward Lorenz, scientists have come to realize that many dynamical systems are fundamentally chaotic. The situation often is described as the butterfly effect because a small change in initial conditions such as the flap of a butterfly wing can have large effects in later results.

Convection and turbulence in the air are central phenomenon in determining weather and so must have their effect on climate too. The IPCC on p. 1-25 of the 2013 Report recognizes this with the statement “There are fundamental limits to just how precisely annual temperatures can be projected, because of the chaotic nature of the climate system.” but then makes predictions with confidence. Meteorologists modeling weather find that their predictions become unstable after a week or two, and they have the advantage of refining their models by comparing predictions with observations.

Why do the climate models in the IPCC reports not show these instabilities? Have they been selectively tuned to avoid them or are the chaotic physical processes not properly included? Why should we think that long-term climate predictions are possible when they are not for weather?


Frequently we hear that we must accept that the earth is warming at an alarming rate due to anthropogenic CO2 because 90+% climatologists believe it. However, science is not a consensus discipline. It depends on skeptics questioning every hypothesis, every theory and every model until all rational challenges are satisfied. Any endeavor that must prove itself by appealing to consensus or demeaning skeptics is not science. Why do some proponents of climate alarm dismiss critics by implying they are like Holocaust deniers? Presumably most climatologists disapprove of these unscientific tactics, but too few speak out against them.


At least six serious problems confront the climate predictions presented in the last IPCC Report. The models do not predict the observed temperature plateau since 1998, the models adopted a feedback parameter based on the unjustified assumption that the warming prior to 1998 was primarily caused by anthopogenic CO2, the IPCC ignored possible affects of reduced solar activity during the past decade, the temperature anomaly has no physical significance, the models attempt to predict the future of a chaotic system, and there is an appeal to consensus to establish climate science.

Temperatures could start to rise again as we continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere or they could fall as suggested by the present weak solar activity. Many climatologists are trying to address the issues described here to give us a better understanding of the physical processes involved and the reliability of the predictions. One outstanding issue is the location of all the anthropogenic CO2. According to Table 6.1 in the 2013 Report, half goes into the atmosphere and a quarter into the oceans with the remaining quarter assigned to some undefined sequestering as biomass on the land.

Meanwhile what policies should a responsible citizen be advocating? We risk serious consequences from either a major change in climate or an economic recession from efforts to reduce the CO2 output. My personal view is to use this temperature plateau as a time to reassess all the relevant issues. Are there other environmental effects that are equally or more important than global warming? Are some policies like subsidizing biofuels counterproductive? Are large farms of windmills, solar cells or collecting mirrors effective investments when we are unable to store energy? How reliable is the claim that extreme weather events are more frequent because of the global warming? Is it time to admit that we do not understand climate well enough to know how to direct it?


DeLand, M. T., & Cebula, R. P. (2012) Solar UV variations during the decline of Cycle 23. J. Atmosph. Solar-Terrestr. Phys., 77, 225.

Essex, C., & McKitrick, R. (2007) Taken by storm: the troubled science, policy and politics of global warming, Key Porter Books. Rev. ed. Toronto, ON, Canada.

Essex, C., McKitrick, R., & Andresen, B. (2007) Does a Global temperature Exist? J. Non-Equilib. Thermodyn. 32, 1.

Haigh. J. D., et al. (2010). An influence of solar spectral variations on radiative forcing of climate. Nature 467, 696.

IPCC (2013), Climate Change 2013: The Physicsal Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,

Li, L. H., Basu, S., Sofia, S., Robinson, F.J., Demarque, P., & Guenther, D.B. (2003). Global

parameter and helioseismic tests of solar variability models. Astrophys. J., 591, 1284.

Kirkby, J. et al. (2011). Role of sulphuric acid, ammonia and galactic cosmic rays in atmospheric

aerosol nucleation. Nature, 476, 429.

Knight, J., et al. (2009). Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 90 (8), Special Suppl. pp. S22, S23.

Morton, D. C. (2014). An Astronomer’s view of Climate Change. J. Roy. Astron. Soc. Canada, 108, 27.

Svensmark, H., Enghoff, M.B., & Pedersen, J.O.P. (2013). Response of cloud condensation nuclei (> 50 nm) to changes in ion-nucleation. Phys. Lett. A, 377, 2343.

Tapping, K.F. (2013). The 10.7 cm radio flux (F10.7). Space Weather, 11, 394.

February 17, 2014 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

Unminced Words By Climate Scientist Hans von Storch

“Scientists Too Quick To Claim Last Word”

No Trick Zone | November 18, 2013

The Resonator, the research podcast of the German Helmholtz Research Group conducted a long interview (1 hr 40 min!) with climate scientist Hans von Storch director of the GKSS Research Center. In the interview von Storch was asked about his views on a wide variety of climate science related issues.

Overall the interview saw a Hans von Storch who spoke frankly and openly. Some of the remarks he made raised my eye brows. In general von Storch, best described as a non-alarmist warmist, views the climate debate as being dominated by the more extreme positions from both sides, with voices in the middle getting drowned out. He levels a fair amount of criticism at the climate science community, but does so without naming any persons in particular.

Due to the sheer length of the interview, I will only look at the points that I found interesting and relevant as skeptic.

Scientists too quick to accept dramatic scenarios

At the 15-minute mark von Storch describes a science that is so politicized with both sides are trying to make it black and white, and a debate that has been overly shrill. Some scientists, he says, have tended to accept dramatic scenarios and consequences even when there’s little evidence behind them. He also talks of a group of scientists who fancy themselves as the ultimate authority and who have the last word. All the exaggerations and projections of doom, gloom and disaster have led to an overall discrediting of the field.

“Science and Nature are pretty bad journals”

At the 29-minute mark von Storch says he sees himself as someone who needs a lot of time before he is convinced of anything. I was surprised to hear him call both Science and Nature “pretty bad journals” when it comes to the quality of their articles. Hans von Storch cites an article published by Science claiming that the climate was going to tip in the year 2047, calling the report “a real doozy“. He says that science journals must remain sufficiently critical and not let themselves get caught up with the zeitgeist. Von Storch admits that he has not always been popular among the community.

Overall von Storch doesn’t blame the media much for the hysteria, implying that the hysteria stems more from scientists communicating poorly. The media are only interpreting what the scientists are spewing. Projections of snowless winters, for example, were hardly helpful in lending credibility to climate science.

Scientists dramatizing for attention and prestige

At the 37-minute mark von Storch believes some scientists succumbed to drama in order to get attention and prestige, and says that the such are only damaging the credibility of climate science.

Models too CO2-centric

At the 40-minute mark von Storch discusses possible reasons why the warming has stalled and thinks other explanations need to be examined, such as solar activity and aerosols. He finds climate models too CO2-centric in general. Here he appeals for more patience to let the science unfold.

At the 45 minute mark he fires harsh criticism at scientists who promote a society governed by an elite technocracy, calling the idea “stupidity”. He calls the proposals made by a group of scientists in favor of appointing future councils to represent the interests of future generations “peculiar”.

At the 59-minute mark, on whether storms are becoming more frequent and severe, von Storch says he doesn’t think this is the case and that the disasters are more about the over-development of coastal areas.

Hockey stick was “something dumb” – an attempt to steer politics

On the hockey stick chart, at the 63 minute mark, von Storch has some blunt words on how it was possible to for it to become the icon that it became. He recalls having examined the chart himself and found it deficient.

“I believe it was something dumb by scientists who wanted to steer politics.”

He thinks the climate science community were too quick to call it the last word. Hans von Storch sees critique of the hockey stick and confirmed and that’s why it no longer appears in the IPCC reports. Scientists, von Storch reminds us, should not be so quick to claim absolute truth.

Also, von Storch believes that the oceans could be warming up, but that there is very little data out there to confirm it.

November 23, 2013 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mummy, The Ocean’s Eaten My Heat!!

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | September 24, 2013

I’ve been meaning to post on this for a while. We often hear the claim that all of the missing heat has been gobbled up by the oceans.

Now, let’s leave aside some of the obvious problems with this theory, such as:

  • How all of this heat has selectively and mysteriously managed to avoid land areas.
  • How warm water has managed to sink instead of rise.
  • How the water at, or near, the surface seems to have escaped this warming.

And get straight to the nub of the matter.

Water has a much higher heat capacity than air. According to NOAA,

The oceans store more heat in the uppermost 3 meters (10 feet) than the entire atmosphere (above it).

So let’s run some very simple calculations.

In the last decade, most models were predicting something of the order of 0.2C global warming. If, instead of warming the atmospheric , this extra heat has gone into the sea, its effects will be much diluted, with the result that increases in sea temperatures will be much, much less than 0.2C.

(Remember, it takes much more energy to warm a bucket of water by 1C than a bucket of air.)

The suggestion is that, as there has been no noticeable warming in the upper 100 meters, this “hidden heat” is as far as 2000 meters down.

So, ocean temperature should have increased by:

2000 Meters Divided By 3 Meters = 666.6

0.2C Divided By 666.6 = 0.0003C

The idea that we can:

  • measure sea temperatures throughout all the oceans of the world
  • measure it throughout the whole depth down to 2000 meters and more.
  • take into account seasonal changes
  • take into account shifting ocean cycles and currents.

and still be able to measure the overall temperature to better than  three ten thousandths of a degree is patent nonsense.

So step forward Professor Ted Shepherd, a leading atmospheric scientist and recently installed as Grantham Chair in Climate Science at Reading University.

He had this to say to the Guardian.

The heat is still coming in, but it appears to have gone into the deep ocean and, frustratingly, we do not have the instruments to measure there,”

Or to put it another way, we have no idea whether it is or not, but in the meantime we’ll still cling to our theory.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | 7 Comments

The IPCC Exposed

Corbet Report Episode 282

By James

The IPCC has released its latest assessment of the state of climate science, and this time it’s even more dire than their 2007 assessment. Global warming is “unequivocal” and humans are the “dominant cause” to a certainty of 95%. But how are these uncertainties calculated? And how does the IPCC process work anyway? Join us this week on The Corbett Report as we dissect the latest IPCC hype and examine the organizations processes and conclusions.

For those with limited bandwidth, CLICK HERE to download a smaller, lower file size version of this episode.

For those interested in audio quality, CLICK HERE for the highest-quality version of this episode (WARNING: very large download).


CNN Hypes the IPCC AR4 Report
Time Reference: 01:14
BBC Hypes the IPCC AR4 Report
Time Reference: 01:25
ABC Hypes the IPCC AR4 Report
Time Reference: 01:33
Global Hypes the IPCC AR4 Report
Time Reference: 01:47
ABC Hypes the IPCC AR4 Report (again)
Time Reference: 02:08
Episode 110 – Climategate
Time Reference: 04:08
Climategate: Dr. Tim Ball on the hacked CRU emails
Time Reference: 04:16
Climategate is Still the Issue
Time Reference: 04:19
Crimatologists Found Guilty of Hiding Data
Time Reference: 05:04
Climate CONsensus, Carbon CONtrols, Truther CONvicted – Sunday Update
Time Reference: 32:56
The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert
Time Reference: 09:44
Author Donna Laframboise on The Bolt Report
Time Reference: 10:00
Interview 434 – Donna Laframboise
Time Reference: 13:09
CNN Hypes the IPCC’s AR5 Report
Time Reference: 13:52
Sky Hypes the IPCC’s AR5 Report
Time Reference: 14:17
Sky Hypes the IPCC’s AR5 Report
Time Reference: 14:25
Democracy Now Hypes the IPCC’s AR5 Report
Time Reference: 15:06
IPCC models getting mushy
Time Reference: 17:58
Judith Curry: Leaked IPCC report discussed in the MSM
Time Reference: 22:18
The 2009 Video Archive DVD
Time Reference: 33:24
Episode 087 – The UN Doesn’t Love You
Time Reference: 41:25
Time Reference: 42:15
Time Reference: 42:18
Time Reference: 42:21
“Trees” by Red Tail Hawk
Time Reference: 44:50

September 29, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | 1 Comment