OK, so, all the hoo-hah and nonsense is dying down now over Michael Tobis, an ‘actual’ climate scientist, calling me a sock puppet on Twitter. He probably still thinks I don’t exist and he’s probably still searching for my ‘dirty dozen’ nefarious aliases on line.
He still wants me to post a picture so I can prove I do exist, which does not preclude of course the possibility that I am still a sock puppet and do still have various aliases on line spreading misinformation with the deliberate intention of undermining climate science and the fight to save the planet from anthropogenic runaway global warming.
So, sock puppet or not, existing or not, I really don’t have much to gain from satisfying Tobis’ silly, supercilious demand that I post a recent photo in order to prove who I am. So, in my twilight zone moments of non-existence, I got to thinking – in a kind of vacant, ethereal, insubstantial way.
What matters to me, what only matters to me really, is the science and whether or not it justifies the policy response (that being an insanely, non-effective unilateral disbandment of fossil fuel-powered Western industry and infrastructure and the creation of a Grimm Fairy-Tale Green economy).
To this end, I engaged with Ken Rice on the previous thread, in good faith, when he asked what [in]substantive bits of climate science were most problematic to us climate change sceptics. As I pointed out to Ken (and to Tobis on Twitter), one of my main gripes with climate science is the IPCC attribution statement thus:
It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.
So Ken and I got to discussing this and he said he’d written a post on the subject which showed how hard it was to construct a plausible physical scenario whereby natural forcings accounted for more than half of the post-1950 increase in global temperature and I replied thus:
Ken, your simple attribution analysis makes some rather dubious assumptions, ignores systemic uncertainties re: natural atmospheric processes, plus it ignores the wider context of temperature variations throughout the instrumental period.
“It can’t be the Sun, or volcanoes, so it can only be the response to the internally-driven warming (0.45°C).”
Most of the warming post 1950 is in fact due to the rapid and near constant warming post 1980. The 30 years previous to that, the global temperature went up and down considerably, changing very little overall in the process, even though emissions climbed steadily. So we have the 30-odd years following where most of your 0.6°C warming takes place, which you declare is most likely due to the total increase in theoretical anthropogenic radiative forcing over the entire 60-year period. This bothers me slightly.
What bothers me more is that an increase in global temperature of almost exactly the same magnitude, and just as rapid (according to Hadcrut data) occurred from 1910-1940 when anthropogenic [man-made] radiative forcing was overall rather less and increased rather more slowly over the 30-year period. Much of THIS warming is very likely due to internal variability. But when we come to 1980-2010, because supposed radiative forcing due to CO2 is calculated to be much greater, it is somehow far more likely that the increase was due to man, not nature.
I will admit that the ‘spurt’ in global temperatures post 1980 is unlikely due to the sun. I do however consider it a distinct possibility that much of the secular trend in global warming post-1850 is due to solar forcing. You can shoehorn CO2 into that role, just as well as you can shoehorn it into the post-1950 warming, as does the IPCC. But you can’t shoehorn CO2 into the 1940s warming.
So the attribution of most or all of the warming post-1950 being anthropogenic looks very shaky to me, relying as it does on quite simple probability analysis, whilst ignoring structural uncertainties. We are, after all, talking only really about a 30-year period of rapid warming.
It is conceivable that internal variability contributed > 50% to that warming (simply because, that must have been the case 1910-45), in which case sensitivity to CO2 must be very much less (over that period) than estimated by climate scientists (either that, or man-made aerosols have contributed a very significant cooling). I don’t see climate sensitivity suddenly increasing in the 21st century, so we then have to consider the possibility that a future man-made climate catastrophe looks highly unlikely.
Then Ken apparently lost interest, just when the conversation threatened to get interesting. Tobis lost interest almost immediately on Twitter when I mentioned attribution, preferring instead to question my very existence, which seemed to be much more interesting to him. You would think, would you not, that an ‘actual’ scientist would be more keen on addressing the actual science rather than the provenance of the person challenging them on the actual science.
So here’s the deal: Michael Tobis convinces me, on here, that the IPCC attribution statement is scientifically sound and it is beyond reasonable doubt that more than half of the warming post-1950 is indeed caused by emissions, and I will post a photo verifying my actual existence as a real person.
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