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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.