Five scientists analyzed the article and estimated its overall scientific credibility to be ‘very low’. A majority of reviewers tagged the article as: Cherry-picking, Derogatory, Flawed reasoning, Inaccurate, Misleading.
Ooh dear, Delingpole is not the messiah then, he’s just a very naughty boy and the angelic host that is the alarmist climate science fraternity have decided to come down heavily on him from Above, once again for committing the Unoriginal Sin of misrepresenting “research from 58 scientific papers to falsely claim that they disprove human-caused global warming”
But did he? Well, first off, he’s basing this article on another article at Pierre Gosselin’s No Tricks Zone.
The original article claims that:
…within the last 5 months, 58 more papers and 80 new graphs have been published that continue to undermine the popularized conception of a slowly cooling Earth temperature history followed by a dramatic hockey-stick-shaped uptick, or an especially unusual global-scale warming during modern times.
The author, Kenneth Richard, goes on to say:
Yes, some regions of the Earth have been warming in recent decades or at some point in the last 100 years. Some regions have been cooling for decades at a time. And many regions have shown no significant net changes or trends in either direction relative to the last few hundred to thousands of years.
In fact, many (but not all) of the papers discuss regional trends. Some discuss global trends. So it’s fair to say that they talk about regional climate trends across the globe as well as the harder to pin down concept of a global change in climate. Many of the papers reveal that past climate changes have been driven by natural variability and that the magnitude (and in some cases, the rate) of current global warming (as measured by the instrumental record) is not unprecedented or unusual in the context of this past (natural) variability. Indeed, some papers point out that current climate change cannot easily be distinguished from natural variability.
Delingpole’s headline says:
‘Global Warming’ Is a Myth, Say 58 Scientific Papers in 2017′
OK, fair enough, this is stretching it a bit. Read on though and what James says later is:
By “global warming” these papers don’t, of course, mean the mild warming of around 0.8 degrees Celsius that the planet has experienced since the middle of the 19th century as the world crawled out of the Little Ice Age. Pretty much everyone, alarmists and skeptics alike, is agreed on that.
The ‘myth’ he identifies then is hypothesised catastrophic future warming as projected by climate models, the reality of which is thrown into doubt by the fact that warming so far appears to be not unprecedented or unusual with regard to that which has occurred in the past centuries and millennia.
Hence Peter Neff, Postdoctoral research associate, University of Rochester says:
Despite initially getting the amount of warming the planet has experienced correct, the article goes on to trivialize this global temperature increase and proceeds to provide a 101 course in logical fallacies. This article grossly misinterprets open-access scientific papers by simply looking at graphs and entirely ignoring their meaning as explained by authors in the text.
Delingpole does not trivialize the increase; he merely states that the 0.8C-1.0C increase from 1850 to present is not unusual as revealed by past changes in regional and global climate estimated using proxies – the 58 scientific papers and accompanying 80 graphs demonstrate this. He also points out that none of the papers concern themselves with CO2 perhaps causing the present warming, but several indicate that solar variability is strongly associated with past warming (and cooling). He doesn’t ‘simply look at graphs’ providing, in fact, only four graphs as examples of NTZ’s 80. Nowhere does Delingpole rely exclusively on these graphs to prove the point he is making. Lastly, not all of the papers are open access, so the main text is not easily accessible, only the Abstract.
Another reviewer, Patrick Brown, in response to Delingpole’s quote:
collaborating on studies which all corroborate, independently and rigorously, the increasingly respectable view that ‘man-made global warming’ just isn’t a thing.
These studies do not make this claim. Most of them are about regional (not global) temperature variations of the distant past. They generally make no claims regarding the causes of global warming over the most recent several decades nor do they make any claims about the amount of warming expected as we continue to increase greenhouse gas concentrations.
He rather misses the point here. James actually makes a point of saying that the papers voice no opinion about the supposed causes of modern global warming and he also says:
That is, all these different experts from around the world — China, Russia, Canada, the U.S., Italy, etc. — have been looking closely at different aspects of the global warming puzzle in various regions and on different timescales and come to the conclusion in irreproachable, peer-reviewed scientific ways that there is no evidence to support the global warming scare story.
Late 20th century and early 21st century global warming, they show, is neither dramatic, nor unusual, nor scary.
So there is the acknowledgement that much of the research is on regional trends. Man-made global warming “just isn’t a thing”, according to Delingpole, because these papers, by showing that past natural variability across the globe (pieces of the “global warming puzzle”) is comparable to modern climate change, suggest rather strongly that, up until now, supposed man-made global warming isn’t a thing to be particularly worried about because, in many regions, it cannot be reliably distinguished from past natural variability. Of course, the authors of these papers, even supposing that some of them doubt the ‘reality’ of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, don’t directly say global warming isn’t a thing because: 1/their paper would not be published, and, 2/it is not directly related to their actual research.
Delingpole can perhaps be admonished for giving the impression that the authors themselves concluded that man-made ‘dangerous’ global warming was not real (or at least not in evidence in the real world), but this doesn’t detract from the fact that the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from many of these papers is exactly that, even if not explicitly stated by the authors. Current global warming is observed to be unremarkable in the context of past ups and downs throughout the Holocene, in terms of both the magnitude and, arguably, the rate at which it has happened. This in turn suggests that a significant contribution to modern climate change may come from natural variability, in contrast to attribution claims made by the IPCC and climate scientists.
One of the reviewers attacks Delingpole for setting up a strawman argument, but by attacking JD purely for his not so judicious use of the English language whilst they ignore his wider argument, they in fact are the ones using the straw man.
We need only examine the text of the first paper to highlight an essential component of Delingpole’s argument:
Paleoclimatic evidence is necessary to place the current warming and drying of the western Mediterranean basin in a long term perspective of natural climate variability…
Spanning the period 1186-2014CE, the new reconstruction reveals overall warmer conditions around 1200 and 1400, and again after ~1850. Little agreement is found with climate model simulations that consistently overestimate recent summer warming and underestimate pre-industrial temperature changes…
The spatially interpolated data, reaching back to 1750, show an initial
summer warming in the 1950s followed by two decades of relatively cool conditions, and increasing temperatures from the early 1980s to ~2000, with no warming afterwards. The coldest and warmest summers since 1750 occurred in 1972 and 2003, respectively…
Both time-series reveal positive temperature anomalies in the 1950s, followed by almost two decades of relatively cool summers with negative extremes in 1972 and 1984 Although temperature fluctuations since ~1990 occurred at a relatively high level, the overall warming trend until 2003 was only moderate…
[W]hen it comes to disentangling natural variability from anthropogenically affected variability the vast majority of the instrumental record may be biased…
Another reviewer giving Delingpole nil points is Dan Jones, Physical Oceanographer, British Antarctic Survey:
This piece is a logically flawed “straw man argument”. Delingpole claims to have disproven human-driven climate change, but he does not engage with how climate change actually works.
Why should Delingpole engage with how climate change actually works, natural or anthropogenic? It’s not relevant to the argument which is, that modern climate change (natural and/or man-made) is not outstanding in terms of past climate change (natural). Straw man from the man who accuses the other man of using a straw man.
Jones goes on to say:
To see the clearest fingerprints of the extra energy added to the climate system from fossil fuel burning, you have to look at the energy content of the entire climate system over the last several decades (most of the extra energy has gone into the ocean [Levitus et al. 2012]*). Trying to disprove global warming in recent decades using regional, seasonal, atmosphere-only temperature trends on centuries-long timescales is very misleading.
Does Delingpole do this? No. Many of the papers examine regional trends but some look at global trends. Not all of the papers examine atmosphere-only trends either. At least one paper looks at ocean heat content, Jones’ favoured metric.
Here we review proxy records of intermediate water temperatures from sediment cores and corals in the equatorial Pacific and northeastern Atlantic Oceans, spanning 10,000 years beyond the instrumental record. These records suggests that intermediate waters were 1.5–2 °C warmer during the Holocene Thermal Maximum than in the last century. Intermediate water masses cooled by 0.9 °C from the Medieval Climate Anomaly to the Little Ice Age. These changes are significantly larger than the temperature anomalies documented in the instrumental record. The implied large perturbations in OHC and Earth’s energy budget are at odds with very small radiative forcing anomalies throughout the Holocene and Common Era.
One may argue that these changes in OHC occurred over longer periods than the instrumental record but this would ignore the fact that the instrumental record spans 160 years and the transition from MCA to LIA occurred over less than a hundred years, the greatest difference in surface temperatures happening over approximately 500 years. OHC might increase significantly in the coming century or two, but at the moment, the increase is small compared to past changes and even if it does increase significantly, it will likely still only be comparable to similar past (natural) increases/decreases over similar time scales. Scientists tell us that this will be due solely to CO2 because natural forcings apparently stopped in 1850.
Another in-house reviewer, Patrick Brown, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Carnegie Institution for Science:
Many of these papers discuss the causes of temperature changes over the past several centuries or millennia. Indeed, solar activity is thought to be one of the primary drivers of the observed temperature variability over this these longer time periods. This is not the case over the past several decades. Over this recent time period we know that the Sun’s intensity has not gotten stronger because we are measuring it with satellites and we know that increasing greenhouse gasses are causing warming. We know that increasing greenhouse gasses are causing warming due to fundamental physical laws—not simply from observing that temperatures and greenhouse gas levels happen to be rising at the same time.
This amounts to an outright lie. Solar activity in the modern era (1950-2010) has peaked at probably the greatest it has been in several thousand years. It started declining significantly only at the turn of the 21st century.
So much for the in-house reviewers then. Climate Feedback boasts unfavourable responses from 28 authors of the actual papers but neglect to say how many of the papers this covers. This must be a small fraction of the total number of authors accredited in the 58 papers, which must run into the hundreds. Let’s just look at a few of the comments from those authors, beginning, rather aptly, with Yair Rosenthal, who co-wrote the OHC paper quoted above:
The data were taken out of context. In fact a previous article (Rosenthal et al., 2013) made the argument that the current warming, as measured by the increase in Ocean Heat Content (OHC), is a reversal of the long-term cooling trend in the preceding centuries and the rate of heat gain is substantially higher than recorded in the past. If anything, these data support global warming as manifested by the recent increase in OHC.
Sorry Yair, but we’re not talking about a 2013 paper, we’re talking about the 2017 study which, as quoted, demonstrates the rise in OHC is a lot smaller in the modern era compared to previous changes. You may indeed argue that the rate of change in the modern era is greater than previously recorded but account must be taken of the fact that the actual change over 160 years is much smaller than that measured via paleo proxies in the past and the resolution of the instrumental record (only really accurate since the introduction of Argo floats – and even then, subject to a large sampling error) is very much greater than that which can generally be achieved via the examination of paleo-proxies. So who is to say that similar large accelerations in OHC did not happen in the past or that the current large acceleration will continue indefinitely?
On Antarctica, Tyler Jones, Research Associate, University of Colorado says:
The West Antarctica temperature plot that was pulled from my 2017 paper is very low resolution, and does not resolve the most recent few 100 yrs. We know from other studies that West Antarctica is currently warming faster than almost any other place on Earth. Furthermore, my paper has nothing to do with global warming or human activities. In fact, I only focus on time periods well before the Industrial Revolution. It is clear that global warming is caused predominantly by human activity.
The problem is Tyler, according to another study released in 2017, the Antarctic is not currently warming faster than almost any other place on earth; in fact it’s cooling very rapidly. Again, natural variability swamping any signal from man-made global warming.
The Antarctic Peninsula (AP) is often described as a region with one of the largest warming trends on Earth since the 1950s, based on the temperature trend of 0.54 °C/decade during 1951–2011 recorded at Faraday/Vernadsky station. Accordingly, most works describing the evolution of the natural systems in the AP region cite this extreme trend as the underlying cause of their observed changes. However, a recent analysis (Turner et al., 2016) has shown that the regionally stacked temperature record for the last three decades has shifted from a warming trend of 0.32 °C/decade during 1979–1997 to a cooling trend of − 0.47 °C/decade during 1999–2014.
Oddly, it is Delingpole that is the one on trial here for misrepresenting scientific research!
Barabara Stenni is another author who makes a guest appearance to give Delingpole a dressing down. She is joint author of a 2017 paper, included in the list of 58, which says:
Within this long-term cooling trend from 0-1900CE we find that the warmest period occurs between 300 and 1000 CE, and the coldest interval from 1200 to 1900 CE. Since 1900CE, significant warming trends are identified for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the Dronning Maud Land coast and the Antarctic Peninsula regions, and these trends are robust across the distribution of records that contribute to the unweighted isotopic composites and also significant in the weighted temperature reconstructions. Only for the Antarctic Peninsula is this most recent century-scale trend unusual in the context of natural variability over the last 2000-years.
Her defence of the paper she co-wrote with others as not being proof that global warming is a myth is this:
Our work agrees perfectly with the results from climate models, which show that Antarctic warming should be significantly delayed relative to the rest of the planet. Furthermore, our work confirms previous work demonstrating that West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula are among the fastest-warming regions on the planet.
Eh? Climate models predict that Antarctic warming should be delayed? But anyway, the AP is one of the fastest warming places on the planet, so the delay mechanism obviously isn’t in operation here, in addition to the fact that AP is now cooling (see above)! How exactly is this confused paragraph in any way a rebuttal of Delingpole’s article?
Wenfeng Deng, Associate Research Fellow, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry:
Our results indicate that the Current Warm Period (AD 1850-present) is similar to or even warmer than the Medieval Climate Anomaly (AD 900-1300) over the western Pacific. Therefore, the Breitbart article misunderstood and overinterpreted our results and conclusions.
This is what the abstract from the paper says:
The results indicate that the climate of the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA, AD 900–1300) was similar to that of the Current Warm Period (CWP, AD 1850-present), which contradicts previous studies. The similar warmth levels for the MCA and CWP have also been recorded in the Makassar Strait of Indonesia, which suggests that the MCA was not warmer than the CWP in the western Pacific and that this may not have been a globally uniform change…
As for the Little Ice Age (LIA, AD 1550–1850), the results from this study, together with previous data from the Makassar Strait, indicate a cold and wet period compared with the CWP and the MCA in the western Pacific. The cold LIA period agrees with the timing of the Maunder sunspot minimum and is therefore associated with low solar activity.
Personally, I don’t think there was any misunderstanding or overinterpretation; do you?
I could go on picking my way through the various comments from authors, finding inconsistencies here and there, but the few I’ve highlighted should suffice.
What I think has gone on here is that Climate Feedback have contacted the authors, told them that Dellers the Detestable Climate Denier has used their papers to illustrate that global warming just “isn’t a thing” and a minority have taken umbrage and decided to affirm their adherence to the global warming ‘consensus’ by rebutting Delingpole’s use of their research—with varying degrees of success or failure. If I were to personally review the efforts of the 5 ‘in-house’ reviewers regarding their attempts to take down Delingpole, I would have to give a C both for effort and attainment overall. But for those readers who don’t look closely at Climate Feedback’s rebuttal, it all seems rather fact-based and scientific, rigorously quality controlled and a ‘devastating’ rebuttal of yet another ‘piss poor and misleading’ Delingpole climate sceptic article. So is this how Climate Feedback get their impressive looking ‘fact-checking’ logo/accreditation?