Watt about a science-based rebuttal to global warming alarmism?

There’s a new post on Watts Up With That (WUWT) that claims to be a a science-based rebuttal to global warming alarmism (in fact, it is essentially a cut and paste from an article in the Washington Times). It’s by Steve Goreham, who apparently is a Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania. Well qualified then. There are two immediate issues I have with the title. I know I’ve used it myself, but the term rebuttal is not a term one would necessarily associate with a scientific discussion. One might, more commonly, use a term like comment. The other issue is, what does he mean by global warming alarmism? Is he referring to the science of global warming itself, or only to those who appear to be being overly alarmed by climate change/global warming.

Anyway, that’s beside the point. Whatever he means, it would be great if one could provide convincing scientific evidence that global warming is something that we should not be alarmed about. Much of what is predicted to happen is quite alarming and so if this could be shown to be unfounded, that would be wonderful. So, does Steve manage to do this? He’s primarily discussing a document published in 2009 called Climate Change Reconsider I (CCR-I). Apparently among the key findings are

Doubling of CO2 from its pre-industrial level would likely cause a warming of only about 1oC, hardly cause for alarm.

Hmmm, okay this one’s wrong. By itself, a doubling of CO2 produces a warming of 1oC. Additional forcings and feedbacks, however, are expected to increase the warming to at least 2oC per doubling if not higher. You can find out more here (I recommend watching the video by Andrew Dessler) and here. So, what else does Steve suggest?

The global surface temperature increase since about 1860 corresponds to a recovery from the Little Ice Age, modulated by natural ocean and atmosphere cycles, without need for additional forcing by greenhouse gases.

Oh no, he’s wrong about this too. Systems don’t simply recover magically, they need some kind of forcing. In the case of our own climate, the most likely forcing that has increased surface temperatures by 0.8oC since about 1860 is the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. There is a modulation through natural ocean cycles, but the underlying warming trend is mostly anthropogenic. If you would like to know more you can read this, this, and/or this. What next?

There is nothing unusual about either the magnitude or rate of the late 20th century warming, when compared with previous natural temperature variations.

Hmmm, again I think this is wrong. I don’t believe that there is much evidence for a previous period when the magnitude and rate of the warming was the same as we’ve seen in the last century. Additionally, we need to bear in mind that we (the human species) have only been present on the planet for 100000 years or so, so simply finding some period in the past when the rate and magnitude is the same as today does not indicate that we shouldn’t be worried. Anything else?

The global climate models projected an atmospheric warming of more than 0.3oC over the last 15 years, but instead, flat or cooling temperatures have occurred.

Well, Steve has even answered this one himself. Yes, the warming over the last 15 years is slower than expected but is most likely a consequence of ocean cycles. Overall global warming continues (we’re accruing energy at the rate of 1022J per year) but are currently in a cooling phase in which most of the energy is going into the oceans and much less than normal is heating the land and atmosphere. To find out more you could read this.

So, I am disappointed. I thought that maybe Steve Goreham had indeed provided a scientific explanation showing that we had no need to be alarmed about global warming. Instead he’s just regurgitated the standard arguments that have been debunked over and over again. I guess I really should learn, but I just can’t stop myself from living in hope.

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17 Responses to Watt about a science-based rebuttal to global warming alarmism?

  1. In the interests of honesty, and in case anyone was confused, there was an element of sarcasm in the above post.

  2. John Russell (Twitter@JohnRussell40) says:

    The article in question was first published on the Washington Times website before Anthony used it to pad his blog: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/climatism-watching-climate-science/2013/sep/10/science-based-rebuttal-global-warming-alarmism/

  3. A direct copy. I hadn’t appreciated that. Thanks, I should probably edit my post.

  4. John Russell (Twitter@JohnRussell40) says:

    Just a suggestion: take the first line of any article that appears on WUWT and search for it online (in ” ” marks). It will show if it’s been published elsewhere first. I wonder if Anthony got permission to re-publish, given the rather strong copyright statement at the end — and, if so, did he mention that fact when he posted it?

    It’s a pile of unadulterated drivel — and that’s a scientific rebuttal 🙂

  5. He did acknowledge it. I had noticed and then forgot when I wrote this post (also didn’t appreciate that it was simply a direct copy). As you say, it is unadulterated drivel and I’m starting to get a little tired of simply rebutting/correcting the same things over and over again. I should probably find something better to do with my time 🙂

  6. Paul says:

    I was wondering if anyone has developed a general scale for global warming concern that would make it clearer where on the range of opinion a particular argument was being conducted. If not, here is my Global Warming Concern Scale Version 1.0. Obviously, since I am not an active researcher in this area this scale could be improved, and even agreed upon by both skeptics and highly concerned people.
    Starting from the top is the most skeptical a person could be about global warming the to most convinced that this is a major problem to be addressed. At the first point down the list where a person says “No”, or “I don’t know” this identifies their level of Global Warming Concern. At that point the person could be directed to specific information relative to that topic to help them understand the science as well as the complications of that particular issue are. So someone that doesn’t believe CO2 is a greenhouse gas would be a -10 and likely to strongly oppose measures to limit CO2 versus someone that is less sure of the impact on agriculture, a (6). I would suggest that anyone in the positive end of the scale should be interested in some efforts to limit CO2 production.

    Global Warming Concern Scale v1.0
    (-10) CO2 is a greenhouse gas
    (-8) CO2 levels in the atmosphere are increasing
    (-6) Human burning of fossil fuels is a major factor driving the increase in atmospheric CO2
    (-4)The current energy balance for the earth system is positive, meaning that more energy is being absorbed from the sun than is radiating into space.
    (-2) Further increases in atmospheric CO2 will lead to a greater positive energy balance for the earth system.
    (0) As CO2 increases other changes in the earth system will exacerbate the positive energy balance for the earth system rather than mitigating the effects of CO2.
    (2) A positive energy balance for the earth will lead to global changes in the earth surface temperatures as well as the ocean temperature.
    (4) Increasing temperatures will lead to significant sea level rise that will directly impact people living in communities close to sea level.
    (6) Increasing temperatures will lead to significant climactic changes that will have a net negative impact on flora, fauna, and agriculture.
    (8) Adding in the estimated global climactic cost for using a fuel source to the cost of producing the fuel provides a truer measure of the cost of using that fuel source to run human society.
    (10) Failure reduce fossil fuel burning will lead to a global disaster whose negative impact on human society will far outweigh any potential costs associated with producing a reduction.

  7. Lars Karlsson says:

    I notice that they refer to the old Orgone petition with its 31,000 signatories.

  8. toby52 says:

    It has been 31,000 for a few years now, after being in existence for 15 years totally. You would think deniers would stop talking about it out of sheer embarrassment. But, no, after I mentioned it on another blog, who turned up staunch in its defence but the legendary Poptech (short for Popular Technology, the one who lists “1,000 peer-reviewed papers against AGW” etc etc, many of which do nothing of the sort.)

  9. toby52 says:

    To add to my own post, the originator of the Oregon Petition, Art Robinson, recently became Chairman of the Republican Party in the state. Which, I suppose, is another comment on the weirdness that taken over that once-great “party of Lincoln”.

  10. KR says:

    Washington Times, not Washington Post. The Times is a long-time soapbox for the Unification Church, under Sun Myung Moon, and is known for extremely conservative viewpoints. It has published a number of pieces of climate nonsense, including articles claiming “it’s the sun” by Willie Soon and William M. Briggs (Soon has also written articles for them arguing against mercury pollution rules).

    The Washington Times would be (IMO) a far more worthy publication in a 10cm wide rolled format, perforated into small squares. I do, however, occasionally pick up an edition someone has left around – and read it strictly for laughs.

  11. Thanks. I did no the difference and still managed to get it wrong 🙂

  12. Yes, it’s a little ironic that those who regularly claim (correctly in a sense) that science isn’t done by consensus then trot out something like the Oregon petition.

  13. > the old Orgone petition

    I hope Wilhelm Reich did sign it.

  14. bg says:

    This guy Goreham is getting prolific. He had an oped in the Providence Journal on Aug 5, that I had to debunk for others.

  15. Marco says:

    It’s close to AR5 WG1 release time, so the paid shills (does anyone doubt Goreham is?) have started their preemptive strike. Get it into the public’s head “nothing to worry about, nothing to worry about, nothing to worry about, the scientists are wrong, the scientists are wrong, the scientists are wrong”. When the AR5 results are presented, the public is no longer listening.

  16. bg says:

    Very good point.

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