I found a blog post today that I found interesting. Don't know if you will. Most people are more concerned about the World Series or reality TV then about our environment. What if people put as much energy into stopping climate change then what the media says we should be interested in? Would the world be a different place?

The attached post is about the science behind climate change and the few scientists who continue to deny it. It's about peer reviewed science. It's about the time expended to refute those few scientists. It's about a Dr. Roy Spencer. These few scientists catch the attention of people who will do anything to delay action on global warming. At the end of the post you will see that Dr. Spencer has testified before a U.S. Senate Committee. He has influence in some places but not among his peers. Fox News picks up stuff like this and their viewers believe what they hear. There is no controversy on climate change amongst scientists who study the subject. CLIMATECONSENSUS-THE97% refers to a report that 97% of the papers written about climate change confirm that it's real and is happening. I've copied the entire article below instead of linking and copying and pasting as I usually do. I would reblog the post if it were a WordPress blog but it isn't. Because of that, some of the links are missing in the post. You can find the actual post here.


A woman looks at a globe model in the climate village during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Photo by: Photograph: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images


It’s hard to find a reputable scientist who denies that human emissions of greenhouse gases are warming the planet and that there will be consequences for human society and the biological health of the planet. There are a few holdouts who, for various reasons, either think humans are not causing warming or that the warming will not have much consequence.

Some members of this vocal minority spend a lot of time trying to convince the public that they are right. They write letters to newspapers, appear in slick movies, give press conferences, promote their views to Congress, and so on. Their high profile gives the public a false sense that there are two relatively equal-sized bodies of experts that cannot agree on climate change; this is not true.

An even smaller subset also tries to publish their views in the scientific literature – the dueling ground for experts. Sometimes these contributions have been useful, adding some nuance to the discussion, but all too often they have proven to be of very poor quality when other scientists have had a chance to dissect them.

A few months ago, I co-authored an article which charted the different quality in scientific output from the Dwindling Few contrarians compared to the majority of experts. My colleague, Dana Nuccitelli, summarized the article here. What we show is that the Dwindling Few have had a very poor track record – having papers rebutted time after time after time because of errors they have made. The low quality of their research has caused journal editors resign, and they have wasted the time of their colleagues who have had to publish the rebuttals to their work.

Well, again this year, I’ve wasted my time (and my colleagues’ time) by rebutting a 2014 paper published by the darling of the Dwindling Few, Roy Spencer. Dr. Spencer wrote a paper earlier this year that used a very simple ocean model to suggest that standard climate models overestimate the Earth’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere. You can see his manuscript here although it is behind a paywall so you will have to shell out about $40 to read it.

Dr. Spencer and his colleague Danny Braswell made a number of basic math and physics errors in the article that call into question their conclusions.

Before we get into the errors, let’s talk about what their model does. They basically treated the ocean like a non-moving fluid and allowed heat to diffuse into the ocean depths. They did allow some mixing in the upper layers through added terms in a one-dimensional equation. The model neglects down-welling or up-welling of waters which occur particularly at the poles. In the end, they end up with a bunch of tunable parameters, which they adjusted so that the model output matches the measured temperature history.

So, what were the errors and poor modeling choices?

The model treats the entire Earth as entirely ocean-covered

The model assigns an ocean process (El Niño cycle) which covers a limited geographic region in the Pacific Ocean as a global phenomenon

The model incorrectly simulates the upper layer of the ocean in the numerical calculation.

The model incorrectly insulates the ocean bottom at 2000 meters depth

The model leads to diffusivity values that are significantly larger than those reported in the literature

The model incorrectly uses an asymmetric diffusivity to calculate heat transfer between adjacent layers

The model contains incorrect determination of element interface diffusivity

The model neglects advection (water flow) on heat transfer

The model neglects latent heat transfer between the atmosphere and the ocean surface.

Now, simple models like this one can still be useful, even though they necessarily gloss over some details. But some of these errors and omissions are pretty obvious, and would have been easy to fix. For instance, by treating the entire Earth as water covered, Spencer and Braswell omit 30% of the surface of the Earth that’s land-covered, and which heats up faster than the oceans. They then compare the CO2 sensitivity of their ocean-only model to those obtained from more realistic models — apples and oranges. Furthermore, the application of a very local phenomenon (El Niño) to the entire globe just doesn’t make much sense.

But, I here want to talk about the numerical errors, in particular items 3, 4, 6, and 7. In order to explain what went wrong, I need to talk about the underlying math.

The diffusion equation Spencer and Braswell used has a second derivative of temperature with respect to depth in the water. To solve this equation, the common approach is to break the ocean into a number of finite slabs of water and approximate the derivatives by finite differences. So far, so good. The problems arise when you apply what are called boundary conditions. That is, conditions at the ocean surface and the bottom of the ocean. At both locations, Spencer and Braswell’s approach fails.

First, at the ocean surface, you are required to make calculations at the exact surface. In fact, the physical phenomenon which Spencer and Braswell introduce require actual surface temperatures. However, in their computer program, no surface temperatures were ever determined. They basically transcribed a temperature 25 meters deep into the ocean onto the surface (and no, they didn’t do this because of ocean mixing). At the ocean bottom, Spencer and Braswell insulated the ocean, and thereby did not allow any energy exchange there.

Finally, Spencer and Braswell incorrectly used upstream element-diffusivity values in their heat transfer term. They were obligated to use mean values representing adjacent elements. When we implemented the corrected numerical scheme, the quality of the results dissolved. Once again, Roy Spencer has failed in his attempt to show the Earth is not very sensitive to climate change.

These errors are the sort of thing that could have been avoided by consulting any elementary textbook on heat transfer, or any number of papers that have published similar ocean diffusion models. My colleague and co-author, Dr. Barry Bickmore from BYU described the situation like this,

What our paper shows is that Spencer and Braswell’s model was flawed on a very basic level, in such a way that it could have predicted wildly low climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases. Whatever sensitivity their model predicts, the true value is probably significantly higher, and therefore probably in the range indicated by the IPCC.

Spencer and Braswell might object that their paper says ocean temperature measurements “might not provide a very strong constraint on our estimates of climate sensitivity.” Let’s just say that Roy Spencer forgot to include that little detail when he recently told a U.S. Senate committee, “Our most recent peer-reviewed paper on this subject… has arrived at a climate sensitivity of only 1.3 degree C for a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide, based upon a variety of global measurements, including warming of the global oceans since the 1950s.”

In a recent blog post, Dr. Spencer challenged well-known and well-respected Dr. Andrew Dessler to a debate. While the peanut gallery was busy chiding Dessler for not taking the bait, it perhaps is important to remember that the place where scientists debate is in the scientific literature. It is a venue that has not been kind to Dr. Spencer in the past decade or so. We published our latest work in an open-source journal here so that any interested reader can see the results for themselves.



What We Know

Earlier this month I did a post called, “Finally! A Climate Change Primer for us Dumb People!” It featured a report by the Royal Society and the United States National Academy of Science called, “Climate Change-Evidence & Causes“. The rub or criticism of the report was that it didn’t go into what the effects of a warming world are and will be. A little over a week ago a report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) called, “What We Know. The Reality, Risks, and Response to Climate Change” changed that. Reading the two reports together will give you an understanding of the causes and effects of climate change. It’s only 20 pages long so there are no excuses for not reading it. The “What We Know” initiative can be found here. The full report is here

As reported by Grist, “We’re trying to provide a voice for the scientific community on this issue so that we can help the country, help the world move this issue forward,” AAAS CEO Alan Leshner said during a call with reporters on Tuesday morning. “If we don’t move now we are at tremendous risk for some very high impact consequences, many of which are laid out in the report… The AAAS has also assembled a panel of a 13 leading scientists who will make public presentations and try to spread climate smarts far and wide.

I’m really happy to see this happening. Scientists are beginning to get worried and are stepping out of their “comfort zones” to get the word out and to fight the carbon pollution industry and the inability of the media to report the dangers of climate warming.


“And yet, despite rising sea levels, shrinking glaciers, retreating arctic ice, ocean acidification, changing wildlife patterns, and extreme weather events worldwide, polls continue to show that a large portion of the public believe there is significant scientific disagreement as to whether human actions are contributing to climate change — or even if climate change is real.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Disinformation by entities with conflicts of interest has fueled reports of scientific disagreement, not scientists.

Today, there is not a single scientific body of national or international standing that rejects the findings of human-caused climate change. Not one.

The same unanimity is true of articles published in diverse scientific journals. Researcher Dr. James Powell, a geochemist and 12-year member of the National Science Board just completed the most recent update to his survey of the peer-reviewed literature on climate change.

Dr. Powell found that out of the 10,885 peer-reviewed scientific papers published on climate change in all of 2013 only two papers reject human-caused climate change.”

The above is taken from a Huffington Post article written by California Congressman Alan Lowenthal (47th). It’s called, “Climate Change: Case Closed“. Emphasis is mind.

You can get an idea of what AAAS is trying to do with it’s “What We Know” report by reading this Grist interview with one of the authors of the report, Katharine  Hayhoe.

“…but that is what climate change requires — for us all to work together for the solution because the problem is too big for any one of us to solve individually…So a big part of the resistance to climate change is that if we acknowledge it then we have to do something about it. And many people are not happy with the solutions that have been proposed. When you talk about climate change you hear words like “taxation” and “restrictions” and “limitations”…We’re not talking about changing the chemicals in spray cans. We’re talking about changing the entire foundation of our society. Our society is founded on the premise of cheap and easily available fossil fuels that do not take into account the external costs of using those fossil fuels.” 

The IPCC Climate Report-The Real Reason Republicans What to Shut Down the Government

The IPCC Climate Report-The Real Reason Republicans What to Shut Down the Government. Just so you know, I made up that title. I have no information to support it but just think, if every media source is talking about the coming government shutdown whose reading and reporting about the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report which came out this last Friday. The actual report is at the IPCC’s website. It appears to be a detailed and highly technical report so I will let you read it:) I will rely on sites like that have people who report on these things. They have an article titled, “15 Things You Should Know About The New IPCC Report On Climate Science”.

The number one thing that people should know–“It’s happening and we’re doing it: This report concludes that the earth is unequivocally changing, and the evidence is clear that humans have a large role in how it has changed over the last 60 years.”

The 15th thing that everyone should know is the–“Blistering pace: To put the report’s findings in perspective, Stanford scientists Noah Diffenbaugh and Chris Field found that the current pace of warming is happening 10 times faster than any time over the last 65 million years.”

Go to the link about to read the article by Ryan Koronowski and see what’s between number one and fifteen.

One of the graphs provided by The IPCC report is this one on sea level rise. It only seems to be going up.


Back in April, I wrote a post titled, “So—What’s the Hurry?“. The IPCC scientists must have read it:) The number 6 thing that everyone should know is–“Global pollution ceiling: For the first time, the world’s leading climate scientists officially called for an absolute upper limit on greenhouse gas emissions to limit warming. To have a 66 percent chance of limiting warming to 2°C, the world can’t emit more than 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide, total. Or 800 gigatons when accounting for methane emissions and land use changes. For context, by 2011, humans had already emitted 531 gigatons of CO2. Known fossil fuel reserves represent 2,795 gigatons, meaning burning more than 10 percent of them pushes the world over 2° of warming.”

Updated September 29, 2013:

Inside Climate News has a multimedia presentation on the IPCC’ s report on their website

No Consensus on Climate Change?

You are always hearing that there’s no consensus on climate change even among scientists. There have been two studies out recently that disproves that. Late last year James Lawrence Powell conducted a survey of scientific papers on climate change.  He found, “By my definition 24 of the 13,950 articles, 0.17% or 1 in 581, clearly reject human-caused global warming or endorse a cause other than CO2 emissions for observed warming. The articles have a total of 33,690 individual authors (rounded to 33,700 in the figure). The 24 rejecting papers have a total of 34 authors, about 1 in 1,000.”

Yes, that’s 33,690 individual authors with only 34 rejecting human-caused global warming. You can find the numbers here

More recently a similar study showed that there was a 97% “consensus among papers taking a position on the cause of global warming in the peer-reviewed literature that humans are responsible.” This study can be found here. In fact this study states that, “frankly, every scientist doing climate research knows humans are causing global warming. There’s no longer a need to state something so obvious. For example, would you expect every geological paper to note in its abstract that the Earth is a spherical body that orbits the sun?”


So where is the disagreement? It’s only in the minds of the media and conservative bloggers and politicians and the people that listens to them.