Possible political effects of the pause in global warming

Summary: Global warming has paused since roughly 1998 (see links in section 10). Part one looked at climate scientists’ estimates of when the pause in global warming will end, with a range from ending now through ending a decade or so in the future. Today we discuss the political consequences of the pause.

This post is about the politics of the pause. Citations to scientist’s analysis of the pause appears in the previous post, and earlier posts appearing in section 4c below.

“How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods … a noble lie to deceive the rulers and the rest of the city?”
— From Plato’s The Republic, book 3

Flying Clock
Time is precious


  1. Recap of the play so far
  2. What comes next?
  3. Some things to remember about global warming!
  4. For More Information
  5. The sands are flowing

(1) Recap of the play so far

Global warming paused after the powerful El Nino in 1998. In response, climate activists increased the intensity of their claims about the speed and magnitude of global warming — vehemently denouncing as deniers anyone, even eminent climate scientists, who pointed out the pause. This personalized and poisoned the debate. Conservatives eagerly reciprocated, as this moved the debate away from science onto familiar ground).

As the pause continued, activists’ emphasis shifted from the temperature rise to “extreme climate changes” — attributing even quite normal phenomena to global warming. The IPCC was brushed aside as too conservative. Climate scientists pushed back these claims (see the links in section 4e, plus the IPCC’s SREX and “Monitoring and Understanding Changes in Heat Waves, Cold Waves, Floods & Droughts in the US“, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, June 2013).

These tactics have failed. Public action to prevent or mitigate climate change is almost zero in the emerging nations, and insufficient in the developing nations to drive policy action. That’s unfortunate, as climate science research remains grossly underfunded — and many nations (eg, USA) have inadequately prepared for even normal climate events (as NYC learned from Sandy).

(2) What comes next?

Worse might lie ahead. Yesterday’s post showed that climate scientists remain uncertain about the various causes of the pause, and their relative weight. This makes reliable forecasts difficult. If the pause ends soon, rising temperatures and the resulting climate effects will revitalize the public policy debate. But what if the pause continues for years? Or another decade? Or longer?

We can guess about some likely results…

World Hands

(a) Climate activists will be discredited, much as their repeated failed forecasts discredited peak oil activists (eg, The Oil Drum has shut down). I see this might be a good thing, as the hordes of single-issue activists have become like mad squirrels confusing vital public policy debates in America (the equivalent of drunken soccer louts crashing Congress).

(b) Public confidence in climate scientists, and perhaps even scientists, will be diminished. This would be very bad, weakening our confidence in one of the few reliable compasses we have to navigate the complex dangers of the 21st century.

(c) Also like peak oil, we will squander irreplaceable time. Not only does it seem likely we will do little to prepare during the pause (not even improving vital climate science programs), but our reaction to resumed warming will be slow — much as it took a decade for widespread recognition of the pause.

(d) Climate activists will use this time to continue their campaign of smears and intimidation (even of climate scientists), selective reporting of climate research, and exaggeration of current weather dynamics. This probably will fail, especially since the news media has become more aware of their responsibilities, but in cooperation with their mirror images on the Right it will in effect put sand in the public policy machinery.

The pause is a gift of that most valuable of commodities: time. Much depends on how we use this time. Let’s use it wisely.

(3) Some of the key things to remember about global warming!

While cheering for their faction of scientists, laypeople often lose sight of the big picture — the key elements for making public policy about this important issue.

  1. The work of the IPCC and the major science institutes are the best guides for information about these issues.
  2. The major global temperature measurement systems tell — broadly speaking — the same story since the 1970s: two decades of cooling, two of warming, followed by a pause.
  3. This is consistent with the larger firm conclusions of climate scientists: two centuries of warming, coming in pulses (ie, waves), with anthropogenic factors becoming the largest (not the only) driver since roughly 1950.
  4. There is a debate about the attribution (causes) of past warming — which probably varied over time — between natural drivers (eg, rebound from the Little Ice Age, solar influences) and anthropogenic drivers (eg, CO2, aerosols, land use changes). Other that that stated in #3, the IPCC’s reports make few claims about attribution of climate activity, as this remains actively debated in the literature.
  5. There is an even larger debate about climate forecasts, both the extent of future CO2 emissions and the net effects of the various natural and anthropogenic drivers.

For the past five years my recommendations have been the same:

  1. More funding for climate sciences. Many key aspects (eg, global temperature data collection and analysis) are grossly underfunded.
  2. Wider involvement of relevant experts in this debate. For example, geologists, statisticians and software engineers have been largely excluded — although their fields of knowledge are deeply involved.

For more about preparing:

(4) For More Information

(a) Reference Pages about climate on the FM sites:

  1. Important things to know about climate change
  2. My posts about climate change.
  3. Studies & reports
  4. The history of fears about the climate

(b) Another post about this problem:

  1. How can we save the world from climate change?, 2 January 2013
  2. Experts now run the world using their theories. What if they fail, and we lose confidence in them?, 21 June 2013
  3. Tell noble lies for America’s salvation!, 31 July 2013

(c) Other posts in this series about global warming:

  1. Still good news: global temperatures remain stable, at least for now., 14 October 2012 — Scientists analysis of the pause
  2. When did we start global warming? See the surprising answer., 18 October 2012
  3. The IPCC sees the pause in global warming!, 18 December 2012
  4. Lessons about global warming from Alaska, 9 January 2013
  5. Secrets about global warming that you must not know, least they ruin the narrative, 22 January 2013
  6. Hidden news about our weather in July: experts tell us what even well-informed people do not know., 8 August 2013
  7. The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT), 18 August 2013

(d) Posts about climate forecasts:

  1. More about the forecast for flooded cities in the late 21st century
  2. Looking into the past for guidance about warnings of future climate apocalypses
  3. What can climate scientists tell about the drivers of future warming?
  4. What can climate scientists tell us about the drivers of future warming? – part two of two
  5. Checking up on past forecasts about climate change, a guide to the future
  6. An optimistic & successful (so far) forecast by an eminent climate scientist

(e) About extreme climate change:

  1. Run from the rising waves! (The latest climate catastrophe scare), 27 June 2012
  2. Ignorance and propaganda about extreme climate change, 10 July 2012
  3. A look behind the curtain at the news of extreme climate events in the US, 22 August 2012
  4. Hurricane Sandy asks when did weather become exceptional? (plus important info about US hurricanes), 28 October 2012
  5. Has global warming increased the frequency & virulence of extreme weather events?, 10 February 2013
  6. The Oklahoma tornadoes can teach us about our climate, and ourselves, 22 May 2013
  7. One of the most important questions we face: when will the pause in global warming end?, 25 August 2013

(5) No, not yet. But the sands are flowing

Cover of Turning the Tide On Climate Change by Robert Kandel (2009). Wikipedia Commons image.
Hourglass for the World



31 thoughts on “Possible political effects of the pause in global warming”

  1. The one big flaw in your recommendation, more funding for climate science, is that CAGW proponents have largely been successful in driving skeptics out of the field. Increased funding will only increase the power of the proponents.

    Purely by the way, I would like to see more people following the lead of Tamsin Edwards (All Models Are Wrong) in avoiding the use of emotionally colored words like “activist” and “denier.” Let’s make the debate real by making it rational.

    1. Mike,

      (1). It would be bad if good scientists have been driven out of the climate sciences. Do you have evidence that this has happened on any scale (rather than individual incidents)?

      There is always pressure to conform to the research threads and assumptions of the dominant paradigm (as described by Kuhn). That is even more intense in politicized fields. Judith Curry describes some incidents:

      Driving people out on a systematic basis does happen, and is a sign of “pathological science”.

      (2). “Denier” is a strange term. The echo of “holocaust denier” makes it poisonous. It is also false, or crazy — as in “climate denier” or “denier of global warming”. Which usually being false, shows that a mob psychology has taken hold. People use it as an indicator of outsider status, designating someone to be ejected from the group or destroyed.

      “Activist” is descriptive, usually accurate, and not perjortive. I do not see the basis for your objection to it.

  2. FM Note: This comment deserves attention as evidence of something frequently discussed here — the equivalent structure of thinking on opposite poles of debate in the West. Here Butler’s argument that climate scientists are wrong about the pause exactly mirrors writing by extreme “deniers” about global warming (eg, that there is no greenhouse effect, that the Earth’s surface is not warming).
    What pause in global warming?

    2005 broke the 1998 record for the world’s warmest year. The 2005 record was broken again in 2010. NOAA National Climate Data Center data at ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/anomalies/annual.land_ocean.90S.90N.df_1901-2000mean.dat

    The average temperature anomaly for the period Jan. 2000 thru June 2003 was +0.5397. The average temperature anomaly for the period Jan. 2010 thru June 2013 was +0.5887. NOAA National Climate Data Center data at

    Global temperature anomalies as measured by the University of Alabama – Huntsville satellite continue to rise. Graph at http://www.durangobill.com/GwdLiars/GwdUAHtemps.jpg
    Data at http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/uahncdc_lt_5.6.txt

    Warming of the earth’s oceans has accelerated since 1998. Graph at http://www.durangobill.com/GwdLiars/GwdOceanHeat.jpg
    Published paper (in Geophysical Research Letters) at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50382/full

    Sea level has continued to rise with the rate of rise accelerating from what was observed in the 1900s. NOAA graph at http://ibis.grdl.noaa.gov/SAT/SeaLevelRise/LSA_SLR_timeseries_global.php
    CSIRO (from Australia) graph at http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_hist_last_15.html
    Historical data and graphs at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Current_sea_level_rise

    Glacial melting has accelerated since 1998. World Glacier Monitoring Service (from Switzerland) graph and data at http://www.geo.uzh.ch/microsite/wgms/mbb/sum11.html

    There may be legitimate arguments regarding the cost of global warming mitigation; but when you try to show that warming has stopped/paused and it can easily be shown that global warming is continuing, ALL of your arguments will be discredited.

    1. This comment by Butler deserves attention as evidence of something frequently discussed here — the equivalent structure of thinking on opposite poles of debate in the West. No surprise, because both sides come from the same society.

      Here Butler’s argument that climate scientists are wrong about the pause exactly mirrors writing by extreme “deniers” about global warming (eg, that there is no greenhouse effect, that the Earth’s surface is not warming.

      The fun aspect of this is that the two sides don’t see their kinship, and common opposition to scientists.

    2. Butler,

      ” ALL of your arguments will be discredited.”

      Unlike you, my “arguments” are direct quotations from climate scientists. That you do not see this is sad, but probably untreatable.

    3. One of the fascinating aspects of the debate among laypeople about climate change is the contempt on both extremes for scientists. Butler apparently considers himself a higher expert than most climate scientists and the major climate science agencies (e.g., the IPCC, the UK met office). Like the dozens cited here (with links):


      He doesn’t bother citing actual experts, or attempting to refute them. He just knows.

      Butler is an example of what I described as activists acting as sand in the public policy machine. They are another chapter in the long tradition of American anti-intellectualism.

      Sad, really. There is not much to do with them but hope for recovery. But they provide an cautionary example for the rest of us.

  3. Of 13,950 peer reviewed published papers by climate scientists during the period from 1991 to 2012, only 24 (which is 0.17 %) reject human-caused global warming. As for the vast majority (the other 99.83 %):

    “We know that the earth is warming and that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary cause. These are known facts about which virtually all publishing scientists agree.”


    1. Butler,

      How nice of you to join the rest of us in the mainstream!

      Your comment is quite odd, however. You make this announcement as if it is news. The rest of us have known about global warming for several decades. You should start reading the newspapers.

      But better late than never, as my grandmother would say.

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  5. Some points of rebuttal:

    1) A slow down in the rate of warming at the decadal scale is not a pause in the overall trend. One of the most respected skeptics (Berkeley physicist Richard Muller) came out last year with a rigorous independent assessment of the temperature data and found that… the Earth has warmed 1.5 C over the past 250 years and that, with 95% confidence, this is mainly due to human pollution: http://berkeleyearth.org/summary-of-findings

    2) Yes some trends (such as loss of sea ice) have paused, but overall the signs of climate change are undeniable: “Four major independent datasets show 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record, ranking either 8th or 9th, depending upon the dataset used. The United States and Argentina had their warmest year on record.” http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2013/20130806_stateoftheclimate.html

    3) The Oil Drum has not closed down as of 8/26/13: http://www.theoildrum.com

    4) More research is of course important, but I hardly think that any “relevant experts” have been excluded from the scientific debate. Science is entrepreneurial: Anyone from any field can apply for grants or (if working in higher education) write a paper from whatever field they work in.

    5) Your assertion that “Public action to prevent or mitigate climate change is almost zero in the emerging nations, and insufficient in the developing nations to drive policy action” is demonstrably false. 48 US states and territories have implemented renewable portfolio standards. California, the EU and China are all experimenting with emissions trading regimes. India has announced a plan to spend $20 billion on solar.

    Are these efforts enough? Obviously not. However, there are myriad efforts going on at all levels of government and almost none of these efforts are linked to whether or whether not there is some alleged pause in climate change. These efforts are being driven by local concerns over pollution, national concerns over energy security and global concerns over climate change, which is continuing at a rate that exceeds the most advanced models and will doom humanity unless aggressive action continues.

    1. NLC,

      Not much of a rebuttal. Mostly factual errors and reading FAILs.

      (1) “A slow down in the rate of warming at the decadal scale is not a pause in the overall trend.”

      So all those climate scientists are wrong, plus all those articles in peer-reviewed research (a few dozen examples here). And the IPCC too! I suggest you publish your findings immediately in Science or Nature.

      (2) “the Earth has warmed 1.5 C over the past 250 years and that, with 95% confidence, this is mainly due to human pollution”

      Congatulations on joining us in the mainstream! But you have some details wrong.

      (a) Warming started in the early 19th century, not 250 years ago.

      (b) The consensus among climate scientists is that anthropogenic warming became the major driver sometime in the decade after WW2. The draft of AR5 leaked to the NY Times says:

      “It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010” (NY Times)

      (c) Worse, call this a “rebuttal” is quite a large reading FAIL — since I state that explicitly in section 3.

      (d) You citation of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project about the pause shows that you have not read their report. See the relevant detais here, along with more detailed analysis by their group’s climatologist (Judith Curry, Professor at GA Institute of Technology).

      (3) “but overall the signs of climate change are undeniable”

      Serial reading FAILS, stating things I explicitly said — as rebuttals? Weird.

      (4) “The Oil Drum has not closed down as of 8/26/13”

      Thanks for the update. Did they change their mind, after this announcement on 3 July 2013?

      Because of this and the high expense of running the site, the board has unanimously decided that the best course of action is to convert the site to a static archive of previously published material as of 31st July 2013.

      (5) “More research is of course important, but I hardly think that any “relevant experts” have been excluded from the scientific debate.”

      Your comments suggest that you don’t know much about the scientific debate, so what you “hardly think” is of no interest.

      (6) “Your assertion that “Public action to prevent or mitigate climate change is almost zero in the emerging nations, and insufficient in the developing nations to drive policy action” is demonstrably false”

      The scientists forecasting CO2 consider these to have had and likely will have insignificant effects on the rate of emmissions. Which is why so many people are concerned about co2 emmissions.

      Please stop must making stuff up, esp on matters you are not familar with. Please cite experts.

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  7. Fabius: the so called ‘Pause in global warming’ is a mirage. Over 90% of the global warming ends up stored in the oceans has heat content there. The heat capacity of the oceans is magnitudes larger than that of the atmosphere. The warming of the oceans has been relentless with no significant pauses.

    The so called ‘Pause in warming’ we perceive in the Atmosphere is merely a result of ocean circulation patterns drawing more heat downwards into the oceans at times and consequently presenting cooler surface waters to mitigate atmospheric temperatures somewhat.
    The ‘Missing heat’ from the atmosphere is insignificant in comparison. The current global heat energy imbalance (ocean + land + ice + atmosphere) is rising at a rate of about 4 Hiroshima atom bombs per second.

    It is sad that so many lay people do not get this and confuse short fluctuations in our atmosphere with changes in the trend. This knowledge vacuum is shamelessly used by certain political forces to spread global warming denial.

    1. Samoht,

      You appear confused, perhaps because you have not read the newspaper articles about the pause, let alone the science. The previous post about the science of the pause described this in some detail, and will give you an introduction to this subject: One of the most important questions we face: when will the pause in global warming end?

      (1). The focus of climate scientists has been the surface temperature of the Earth (ie, the lower atmosphere). That is the basis of their forecasts, and their warnings.

      (2). The pause is a pause in the warming of the surface. Their statements are quite clear about this, as you should have expected.

      Did you really believe that you could disprove the statements of so many climate scientists, so much peer reviewed research, the IPCC, so easily? Excellent self-confidence!

      The pause has causes, one of the candidates being transfer if heat to the deep oceans. Interestingly, this has been something those climate scientists misleadingly called “skeptics” have been discussing for many years.

      For example, Roger Pielke Sr, a eminent climate scientist, has long said that the focus on the surface temperature was too narrow — because the oceans stored most of the solar energy received by the Earth. Here is a good intro: “HEAT STORAGE WITHIN THE EARTH SYSTEM“, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, March 2003.

      1. Samoht raises a broader point not just about the lay debate about climate change, but public debate in America on most things — one which I have frequently discussed: the similar structure of the thinking on both extremes. It’s not a moral equivalence, or that both sides are right/wrong. Rather, there are Americans on both sides. Shared modes of thought, and values.

        Climate science is a first and foremost a debate among scientists (the public policy debate is another level, resting on the science). As seen in the posts on the FM website, which report that debate by citation and quotation. The responses often take the form of “those wacky scientists overlook this simple thing…”. Here’s an example: “High school science facts prove global warming! Skeptical scientists humiliated by this revelation!“, 31 December 2008.

        The same thinking appears in the comments of sketic blogs, such as WUWT. Scientists such as Leif Svalgaard will drop by, but are bombarded by amateurs who believe the scientists are fools.

        This is, I believe, a manifestation of the long-held American tradition of anti-intellectualism. An inappropriate democracy of thought. It’s not that scientists should not be challenged, but assuming they are stupid or ignorant just puts the equivalent of sand in the public policy debate. It’s an attitude that has to be fought.

      2. Samoht,

        Among the dozens of peer-reviewed research articles I cite about the pause, this one might help you the most (#10 in the post asking when the pause will end): “Overestimated global warming over the past 20 years”, John C. Fyfe, Nathan P. Gillett, Francis W. Zwiers, Nature Climate Change, 28 August 2013 — Gated. Abstract:

        Recent observed global warming is significantly less than that simulated by climate models. This difference might be explained by some combination of errors in external forcing, model response and internal climate variability.


        Global mean surface temperature over the past 20 years (1993–2012) rose at a rate of 0.14 ± 0.06 °C per decade (95% confidence interval). This rate of warming is significantly slower than that simulated by the climate models participating in Phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5).

        … The evidence, therefore, indicates that the current generation of climate models (when run as a group, with the CMIP5 prescribed forcings) do not reproduce the observed global warming over the past 20 years, or the slowdown in global warming over the past fifteen years. [S]uch an inconsistency is only expected to occur by chance once in 500 years, if 20-year periods are considered statistically independent. Similar results apply to trends for 1998–2012. In conclusion, we reject the null hypothesis that the observed and model mean trends are equal at the 10% level.

        One possible explanation for the discrepancy is that forced and internal variation might combine differently in observations than in models. … Another possible driver of the difference between observed and simulated global warming is increasing stratospheric aerosol concentrations. Other factors that contribute to the discrepancy could include a missing decrease in stratospheric water vapour, errors in aerosol forcing in the CMIP5 models, a bias in the prescribed solar irradiance trend, the possibility that the transient climate sensitivity of the CMIP5 models could be on average too high or a possible unusual episode of internal climate variability not considered above.

        Ultimately the causes of this inconsistency will only be understood after careful comparison of simulated internal climate variability and climate model forcings with observations from the past two decades, and by waiting to see how global temperature responds over the coming decades.

        About the authors (from Judith Curry):

    2. Fabius, I can assure you that I am not confused about the issue…

      The so called ‘hiatus’ in warming will prove to be an insignificant blip on the temperature time scales. The ocean heat content graph that I linked to is the significant one as it is the oceans that hold the vast majority of the earths heat content.

      You might want to check on the work done by the Scripps Institute: https://scripps.ucsd.edu/news/13251

      Which supports precisely what I said.

      I predict that the slowdown in atmospheric temperature rise will just as short lived as previous decades with slower temperature rise. It would seem that even a cursory look at the temp graphs over the last 100 years shows such period are common noise on an otherwise steady trend.
      People who try to spin political arguments from this are simply disingenuous.

      1. Samoht,

        We can draw a few conclusions from your comments.

        (1). You know little about climate scientists’ work about the pause, shown by your confused comments. I gave examples, which you ignored.

        One more: the hundred year trend you mention has two causes ( at least two). Anthropogenic causes dominate only as after roughly 1950. The previous warming had mostly natural causes.

        (2) You did not read the posts about the science of the pause, on which this one is based. Despite not having done so, you criticize this conclusions drawn here.

        (4). You treat as fact one theory about the cause of the pause. There are several, not exclusive.

        (5). You ignore climate scientists’ forecasts about the length of the pause — which vary greatly — and give your own. You have no visible qualifications for doing so. You might as well offer to do neurosurgery.

        I could continue, but why bother? You will learn nothing from this, and go off to spread misinformation elsewhere.

    3. Fabius, I am rather mystified by your hostility towards me? Why?

      I checked your about us page… seems we are of similar age (average over your various authors). I have a degree in Physics. Climate Science has been an interest of mine for a very long time….

      It also appears that you make a lot of assumption about what I think without knowing anything really about it or about me or without me actually stating any of what you attack. Wired…….

      So let me clarify once more, then I will leave you to your ‘hostile territory’:

      a) There is ample reason to assume that the so called ‘hiatus’ in the warming observed in the atmospheric data is insignificant compared with the actual heat uptake of the climate system, which stores the vast majority of the heat in the oceans. I posted the link to the latest summary of the ocean heat content published by NOAA for you:
      You are looking there at well over 90% of the ‘global warming’ we have had over the recent decades and you will need to agree, there is no ‘hiatus’ anywhere in sight.
      When it comes to the climate system Fabius, the ocean is the ‘Dog’ and the atmosphere is the ‘tail’. Did you check it out?

      b) You quite correctly say that there are many natural and not so natural factors influencing the climate and atmospheric temperatures. I stay by my assertion though that the ocean circulation patterns are very likely the largest factor in the current ‘hiatus’ of atmospheric temperature rises. I cited current work by Scripps for you that says that. https://scripps.ucsd.edu/news/13251

      c) I did not make a prediction of exactly how long the current ‘hiatus’ of atmospheric temperature rises may last. But taking inference from the past record: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.A2.gif
      One can make reasonable assumptions. Plus this time ( as opposed to the period from 1940 to the early 1970, did you read the Sripps article??) many other factors are in place, speeding the warming up. The ice loss in the Arctic is of particular concern.
      A summer ice free north pole, the data suggest might be upon us as early as 2015/16, will add significant extra heat into the system.

      d) It would be politically extremely short sighted indeed to place much weight on the so called ‘hiatus’ argument or to assists those who have a keen interest in using this for political ends. It would end all in tears.
      I rather recommend the excellent speech of the President on the matter as guidance to what would be best for America. As the ex – military men who you are behind this blog, I am sure you would agree with the commander in chief and dare not question his authority nor the wisdom of his chosen council… ;-)

      So long.

      1. Samoht,

        Here is the basis of my annoyance with you.

        (1) Your comments do not deal with material on this post. They deal with the posts discussing the science of the pause, prepared with great effort, presenting a wealth of citations covering material with which you are obviously unfamiliar.

        (2) I have repeated directed you to those posts, where your comments would be appropriate (and corrected by the material in them). My experience after scores of these posts is that folks like you avoid posts about science, much as vampires avoid daylight.

        That you spout about the duration of the pause without spending 2 minutes reading the post giving scientists’ estimates is a typical example. Not much can be done in response but point out your ignorance, and hope you will spend a fraction of time learning that you spend writing.

        (3). You misrepresent the science. My guess is out of ignorance (ie, with good intent) but probably due to relying on information filtered through activists. Even the major news media give a clearer picture. My posts cite many of such articles of the past 3 years.

        (4). There are experts who have given assessments on these things. Your amateur guesses are not needed, and are the sort of behavior that has put sand in the public policy discussions about this vital subject.

      2. A more general point about one aspect of Samoht’s comments.

        They are an example of a phenomenon frequently discussed here – the similarities of thinking on both sides of hot issues in America (only somewhat accurately called Left and Right).

        Look at Samoht’s prioritization of personal guesses over the range of expert opinion — which I caricature as “honey, let me do the neurosurgery on our son”.

        This is seen frequently on both sides of the lay climate debate. For example, look at the most popular (in traffic) english-language climate change website: Watts Up With That. Scientists sometimes visit (eg, Walter Meir of the NSIDC and Leif Svalgaard of Stanford), and are peppered with critiques from amateurs with little grounding in the relevant fields (there are, of course, knowledgable amateurs).

        The unfortunate result IMO is that laypeople have come to dominate the debate on both sides of the US climate change debate, turning it into a cacophony. Providing no foundation for the public policy debate, which has been trampled into the dust.

        The consequences for the planet could be horrific.

    4. LOL! Fabius, sorry but I do need to point out the blatantly obvious here: You are the proverbial pot calling the cattle back! You call me an amateur just to discredit my argument. But you have no idea don’t you?

      According to your ‘about page’ you certainly are a lay person when it comes to climate science yourself but likely have a military background. Perhaps that explains your arrogant and hostile demeanor.

      And you do exactly what you call ‘unfortunate’:

      The unfortunate result IMO is that laypeople have come to dominate the debate on both sides of the US climate change debate, turning it into a cacophony. Providing no foundation for the public policy debate, which has been trampled into the dust.

      Fabius: that is precisely what you actually do yourself here in your blog! You must surely be aware of the irony?

      You say my comment did not deal with the post, which is about the political issues arising from the talk about the so called ‘hiatus in warming’.

      But my comment is precisely on that matter as I point out that people put way too much weight into this so called ‘hiatus’ argument and are mistaken for the reasons I cited. It is very unfortunate indeed that this ‘hiatus’ argument is abused for political reasons and will be leveraged against necessary progress towards mitigation of AGW effects.

      As you say yourself in your post: “We will squander irreplaceable time.” and to quote the President: “I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge [of climate change] is real. We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society”

      1. Samoht,

        Now you are just making stuff up. No surprise, since you are criticing posts you have not read — which have material about science you do not know.

        (1) “Fabius: that is precisely what you actually do yourself here in your blog!”

        Please give an example. The posts about the science (which you appear still not to have read) give a wide range of citations. Often conflicting opinions. I am not a climate scientist, and (unlike you) am careful not to offer opinions. I comment — as a citizen should — on the public policy implications.

        (2) “But my comment is precisely on that matter as I point out that people put way too much weight into this so called ‘hiatus’ argument”

        Wrong on many levels.

        (a) My point was that scientists disagree on the causes and likely duration of the pause. What you “point out” is your opinion on its duration — which means nothing.

        (b) The pause is highly significant because it suggests (not proves) that the current and previous generations of climate models do not replicate climate trends with acceptable accuracy. The pause has sparked some deep rethinking among climate scientists, which is how science advances. Among other things, this includes adopting positions outside the past consensus.
        Most importantly, the recommendaton (fiercely opposed even two years ago) of Roger Pieke Sr and others that the surface temperature was an inadequate measure of the Earth’s temperature, because the oceans held the bulk of the biosphere’s heat. (mentioned elsewhere in this thread)
        That the role of ocean-air cycles (e.g., ENSO, Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) were underestimated (see this powerful analysis in the latest issue of Naturel).

        Since the assumption was that the models were accurate (“the science is settled”), this is big news.

        (c) My summary about the science & politics of the pause is an accurate look at the consensus of climate scientists, which I show thru citations:

        “The duration of the pause in global warming will make no difference to the long-term history of the planet, and probably little difference to 21st century climate trends. But it might have large political impact, determining the magnitude of our preparations for our changing climate. That’s bad, since both climate research and preparations are absurdly underfunded — inadequate for even normal weather (NYT is at sea level; Sandy revealed it had near-zero flood preparations).”

        This is true for the full duration of scientists’ estimates, from the pause ending tomorrow or in 20 years. That you have spent so long attempting to refute something so obviously correct is sad, but deserves no additional comment.

        (3) “You call me an amateur just to discredit my argument.”

        Duh. It does discredit your arguement, since you disagreeing with scientists on matters you don’t understand.

        (4) “But you have no idea don’t you?”

        Since I support my statements with direct citations from climate scientists, your statement is obviously false.

        That you have ignored all the specific rebuttals I have given is also sad.

        (5) “According to your ‘about page’ you certainly are a lay person when it comes to climate science yourself”

        Yes. That’s why I cite scientists, and don’t presume to say who is correct.

        (6) Summary

        With the time you have spent in these fruitless comments you could have read some of these posts and learned something. Instead, as I said at the beginning, you will have learned nothing. And leave with your misconceptions.

    5. Hi Fabius, I made something else up, just for you:




      Yea, just made all that up as you suggest I do, websites, scientists and their reports, ABC news interview with one of the scientists, all just made up so you can avoid dealing with it and instead can rip into the messenger who dares posting something here that you don’t like. LOL :-)

      The political consequences for those like yourself who today exaggerate the so called ‘hiatus’ in atmospheric warming for some unfathomable personal reasons will we swift, once the Pacific Oscillation swings back to an El Nino state…

      1. Samoht,

        What is your point? Other than demonstrating your insistence in criticizing posts you have not read, and writing these reading FAILS.

        To repeat from the summary I posted above (from the post about the duration of the pause): it is a pause, after which warming is expected to resume. I posted links to climate scientists explaining why this is. You continue to write rebuttals to the opposite of what I have said.

        As for these two articles that got you so excited…

        (A) In my comment to which you reply I referred to the new Nature article by Yu Kosaka & Shang-Ping Xie as “powerful new research” and posted a link to it. Now you cite general news articles citing this research as a rebuttal! More evidence that you are not reading my replies.

        (B) This research discusses one of the possible causes of the pause. A few research papers do not “prove” anything, esp when other research disagrees. Saying that it does is ignorance about how science works.

        That the pause has a cause we already knew.

        (C). Your comments demonstrate that you do not understand the basis of my fears about the possible political effects of the pause. Which are also shared by many climate scientists (such as Professor Mojib Latif, who says he should be called “Dr Global Warming”). Probably because you have not read it.

        It is by now obvious that you are a troll, in the classic sense of the term. You are not discussing, just throwing random stones for effect, and you ignore my replies. Your further comments are moderated. Should you say anything relevant and supported, it will be posted.

  8. The key to the pause is that real scientists would have no problem stating the fact that the temperature is not currently warming. This tells us all we need to know about this subject … it is just politically inspired academics mining data for scare stories to push their politics.

    The irony, is that real scientists who told the public the truth: “It is not warming” … they would be believed if they then said “but we think warming will continue after the pause”. But real scientists would not make such a claim because they would know that natural variation is the most significant determinant of global temperature … and it is not possible to predict whether natural variation is going to raise or lower temperature.

    1. Scottish,

      This is a post about the *politics* of the pause.

      Please look at he previous post about the *science* of the pause. Mainstream scientists are “real scientists” and have had no difficulty telling us about the pause.

      It is not even controversial.

      The fuss is only among the public, and even there only among people who do not read the news — but instead read only writings by activists who present a carefully distorted version. This creates an illusion of knowledge. The same occurs in churches, where everybody believes in creationism, reads only works considering that the truth, and dismisses other views.

      Equivalent phenomena.

      To see both journalists and scientists reporting the pause:

  9. Fabius Maximus: “Climate science is a first and foremost a debate among scientists (the public policy debate is another level, resting on the science).”

    This isn’t a very honest portrayal of the issue. The basic question is this: “is CO2 such a large problem that the cost of acting to stop its level increasing can be justified by policy makers”.

    Most of the answer to this question has nothing to do with climate “scientists” and instead is predominantly based on issues such as the discount rate use in your economic model and scale of any economic benefits and harm of rising CO2 and temperature.

    However, if you want to stick to the question of forecasting climate NOTE I’ve expressed this in terms of the utility we require, then you are asking a question akin to these:

    1. Should you get medical advice from biomedical researchers or doctors? Biomedical researchers are the “scientists” … if they were experts and tackling medical problems then surely there would be no question that we should all ask a scientist to look at the rash?

    2. Would you prefer to drive on a bridge built by the best scientist or the best engineer?

    3. Would you call a combustion research scientist … or a fireman if you had a fire?

    4. Do atmospheric physicists or weather forecasters produce the most reliable weather forecasts?

    I hope you are getting the message. In almost every walk of life where we have science … this bods are not the ones we get to tackle the problems where that scientific knowledge is used. From airline pilots to musicians … science governs our whole life, but it would be just nuts to expect scientists to be better at the expert practitioners who have experience using science.

    And, if you had not noticed, most climate sceptics are professional engineers and other similar professions who have a very good knowledge of science, but UNLIKE CLIMATE SCIENTISTS … actually have real experience using science for real-life situations.

    So, the real debate is this: when mother earth’s temperature shows a very small increase … do you call for the climate doctor (i.e. those with practical experience using science in real life) or academic climate scientists who have failed time and time again (global cooling … then failing to predict the pause).

    … or are you one of those who get their medicines from snake-oil salesmen selling quack medicines?

    1. Scottish,

      “This isn’t a very honest portrayal of the issue. The basic question is this: is CO2 such a large problem that the cost of acting to stop its level increasing can be justified by policy makers”.

      That looks like a restatement of what I said. I said that there are two levels to this:
      * climate science: what’s happening, why, what’s likely to happen next?
      * public policy: what actions (if any) to take? How to balance the risk vs cost of specific measures, and balance this problem vs. other needs AND other risks.

      The two mix at the boundary. Perhaps most importantly, public policy decisions require, IMO, a higher standard of evidence than usual academic debate (ie, age of the moon). And high standards of conduct in terms of conduct — conflicts of interest, third party validation.

      I’ve written about these issues at length, and can provide links if you are interested.

  10. Pingback: Global Temperature Drops Below IPCC Projection Range | The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

  11. Pingback: A look at the cutting edge of the climate sciences, & the lessons we can learn | Watts Up With That?

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