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Swanson's AGW Song, or How At RealClimate, It's Always Naivety Time…

Sometimes I ask myself if the RealClimate guys understand the implications of everything they publish on their site.

For example some time ago Gavin Schmidt more or less told the whole world that to him observations were of little interest apart than as a way to improve climate models (thereby denying the very possibility that climate models could be demonstrated false, under any circumstance).

Now it’s the turn of a guest blog by Kyle Swanson, encouraged and published by Raymond T. “Raypierre” Pierrehumbert. The stated intent of the blog is to show that Swanson and Tsonis’ recent paper about “Has the climate recently shifted?” has “very little” to do with Global Warming, of the anthropogenic variety obviously. But its actual practical consequences are more interesting.

(1) Andy Revkin through Roger Pielke Jr.’s blog notes that Swanson and Tsonis take off the steam yet again from anybody and everybody that tries to “portray global warming as an unfolding catastrophe here and now“.

That is, with RealClimate in tow, and after Swanson and Tsonis, we can yell out loud and clear that the scientific consensus says that all AGW-related troubles that we could be concerned about, they belong to the future.

Repeat with me: AGW as a matter of grave concern for the whole of humanity, is not happening. That is, there is no scientific justification at all to discuss AGW as an issue for the present instead of properly, as a risk management question involving some decades in the future.

(2) All this discussions about the recent “pause in warming” (in Swanson’s words…as if it had any meaning given the above) are ammunitions that will be used to argue against AGW once the warming resumes (eventually, it will…). If 10 years can’t say much in a direction, they cannot say much in the other direction either.

(3) In other words, all scientific discussions in climatology should confine themselves to the climate of the end of the 1970’s. Anything that has happened after that, it’s by definition too early to talk about.

(3) Raypierre tries at length to justify Tsonis’s words published in an interview. Among those:

if we don’t understand what is natural, I don’t think we can say much about what the humans are doing. So our interest is to understand — first the natural variability of climate — and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural

I am afraid all “comments were taken out of context” (Raypierre’s defense) are excuses simply demolished by Swanson’s writing that:

humanity is poking a complex, nonlinear system with GHG forcing – and […] there are no guarantees to how the climate may respond

Repeat with me: We have little clue about the Earth’s climate will respond to anything, be it natural or man-made. The final result might be a cooling, a warming, or no much change at all.

And so about AGW, we should be spending time reflecting about the opportunity of reducing that “poking”, not on idiotic multidecadal projections of various degrees of warming.


Let me finish by noticing two details. First of all, in Swanson’s words presumably approved by Raypierre/RC, Global Warming (AGW) is now “the century-scale response to greenhouse gas emissions“. And I thought it was multidecadal? Not any longer: even 50 years of global cooling will be compatible with AGW.

But to conclude on a high note: the anti-skeptic RC filters of old don’t appear to have been heavily used this time. Who knows, it might even be a way to show that the RC folks are thinking of getting rid of their aburd fear for debating.

But don’t hold your breath about that…especially when they will realize what the stuff they publish actually means.

0 replies on “Swanson's AGW Song, or How At RealClimate, It's Always Naivety Time…”

Don’t know so much about RC’s lack of censorship. I cannot any comments through the moderators/censors on their site at all, even with the most neutral content.

Hmm, so man is fully capable of stopping the cycles that have endured since the beginning of time? No more shifts from inter-glacial to glacial?
Doesn’t the earth always warm to a tipping point which creates the increased cloud coverage (what is it, 2%, 5%, 8% more?) in both hemispheres that signals the onset of more rain, then colder rain and then snow???
Natural progression of the climate’s turning points may vary in time through added or decreased volcanic ash (height and content variables), sea surface deformation and deep sea mantle temperatures, reflective land surface coverage (how much snow for how long over what percentage of the high latitude areas & soot content of the surface snows), solar influence and the multitude of other known variables, but the tipping point always ocurrs.
Have we hit the tipping point? Does Co2 even come into the equation?

When I first read the Swanson article I was struck, not so much by the content, as by the strange tone of voice. The Real(Politik)Climate propaganda machine seemed to be saying “We’d like to announce that the current non-warming may continue for the next ten years, but it’s not very interesting, and certainly not for the reasons you think it is, so please don’t take any notice. Forget I even mentioned it”.
The article is accompanied by the weirdest graph I have ever seen in a supposedly serious study. There’s a linear fit to just 20 years of data, accompanied by the comment “no cherry-picking here.” (Since when have scientists felt it necessary to say “we’re not cheating, honest”?) The linear fit shows a warming of approximately 1°C per century, which on its own destroys the catastrophic global warming theory.
Then there’s a horizontal red line balanced on top of the 1998-2006 twin peak like a breakfast tray on the knees of a convalescent, with the label “return to warming”, like the title of a sequel to a global warming disaster novel. This horizontal line doesn’t return to global warming at all, but crosses the warming trend line, and continues off to 2030 and beyond.
Finally, a line marked “Smith et al 2007”, running from circa 2005 and mysteriously cut short in 2015, is sitting all on its own, totally disconnected from anything else on the graph. Because of the scale chosen, it seems to be heading off the top of the graph towards total meltdown, but in fact corresponds to a 3°C/century warming.
If a sceptical journalist produced a graph like this, he would be hooted off stage.

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