Where deniers fear to tread.

I usually don’t visit climate denier blogs because quite frankly, the vast majority of them are just cut and paste jobs of the same old garbage. They keep posting non-science from the same old credibility-free clowns like his royal highness “Lord” Monkton, Anthony Watts, Bob Carter, Pat Michaels, James Delingpole and various others. The overwhelming thing I notice is the over reliance of these various denier blogs on propaganda to try and support their argument. Very rarely do they actually report anything that actually counters the AGW hypothesis on a scientific basis. Don’t get me wrong, they show plenty of graphs of cherrypicked data and plenty of mined quotes taken out of context but thats about it.

One area of research that you will never see mentioned in denier blogs, is that of range shifts in various species caused directly by human induced climate change and global warming. On this blogsite I have highlighted a number of randomly picked studies plus provided a list of peer reviewed papers on this topic. This list is just a mere drop in the ocean of course.

In 2008, there was a seminal paper published in the the highly esteemed journal Nature. This massive study by Rosenzweig et al has found unequivocably that human induced climate change and global warming is responsible for the vast majority of range shifts in so many species. The species included plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, crustaceans, insects, fungi and bacteria. But how many species are we talking about here? Well after excluding data sets where land use change or other factors could have played a part, the researchers report that of the 29500 data series they analysed, more than 90% had shifted their range as a direct response to climate change. Each data series were for periods exceeding 20 years and patterns were analysed using multiple statistical techniques.

My challenge to any deniers that might be reading this is to go to the paper, obtain a full text copy and try and debunk it. Try and be scientific. Good luck.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “Where deniers fear to tread.

  1. Thank you very much. I am always trying to understand warmists. Trying to see the reasons they provide in support of their very extraordinary claims. And I can tell you it’s not an easy task.

    We may have some common grounds. I am an atheist too (though not an activist), and I am also interested in the spread of scientific information and debate (any information and debate for that matter). I do appreciate your effort in this post, but I don’t think it is well framed.

    Your linked paper is pay walled. And I don’t like to pay without some evidence it is worth the money. Only your word, not knowing you, and the abstract, is not at all enough. You see, you ask us to “be scientific”. But you forget reason and logic come before science. And we have a problem here:

    - Significant changes in physical and biological systems are occurring …
    - Most of these changes are in the direction expected with warming temperature.
    - Given the conclusions from the IPCC … we conclude that anthropogenic climate change is having a significant impact.

    So, what’s the point? IPCC saying the warming is mainly man-made? We already knew, and we don’t accept the plausibility of the claim. Or are they saying the warming has an impact? We already presumed it. Is it that the impact is the end of the world? We presumed them saying something alike … and exaggerating it.

    You confess you don’t usually visit “denier’s” blogs. I bet. I think you don’t get what deniers are saying because from the abstract of this paper I don’t see anything problematic for a “denier”. They are not denying a warming. They are not even denying man may have something to do with part of this warming. Moreover, they are not denying CO2 may have a (lesser) role on the man-made part of this warming. So, you seem to try to engage in a debate “deniers” are not debating.

    I don’t know if you are sincerely trying to debate those who you call “deniers”, and address their arguments. Let me tell you something. It may interest you in case you are sincerely trying to debate. I never listen to someone calling “deniers” to his opponents because this name calling signifies the debate is over and there is nothing to debate. (I don’t think I need to explain this argument, but feel free to ask).

    The best for you, and thanks again.

    • Thankyou for your polite reply. For the sake of space I will highlight parts of your post to reply to. I will be very careful not to alter your meaning in my being selective.

      Trying to see the reasons they provide in support of their very extraordinary claims. And I can tell you it’s not an easy task.

      Claims by climate scientists are not extraordinary. They are the result of thorough scientific examination using well established scientific methods. Their studies are subjected to peer review which despite what many people unfamiliar with the process will say, is very rigorous. Their reasons are always clear in their papers. On peer review, I have published a number of times in my discipline and I can attest that it is a lengthy process where every aspect of the work is checked by numerous expert reviewers. I have been asked for clarification and justification. I have never been rejected but I know a few scientists who have.

      I am also interested in the spread of scientific information and debate

      There is no real scientific debate on the issue of human induced cliamte change and global warming. There is a bit of fine tuning that goes on within the science. Any debate is an illusion perpetrated by vested interestsand lapped up by a scientifically illiterate public.

      Your linked paper is pay walled. And I don’t like to pay without some evidence it is worth the money.

      I am aware the paper is paywalled but that is the right of the journal that has published it. I am not prepared to breach copyright laws by publishing it. I own subscriptions for about 5 topflight journals. I want access to quality scientific information so am prepared to pay for it. It will be a great thing when all journals move towards free access but someone has to pay somehow because it costs money to operate a journal.

      You confess you don’t usually visit “denier’s” blogs. I bet. I think you don’t get what deniers are saying because from the abstract of this paper I don’t see anything problematic for a “denier”. They are not denying a warming. They are not even denying man may have something to do with part of this warming. Moreover, they are not denying CO2 may have a (lesser) role on the man-made part of this warming. So, you seem to try to engage in a debate “deniers” are not debating.

      I have only started visiting denier blogs very recently as a result of an exchange with a particular blogger. Your assertion that deniers arenot denying a warming is incorrect. Before making this response I visited a number of blogs and every single one of them are using the line that there’s “been no warming since 1998.” every single one of them also are pushing the line that the warming is “natural” The really sad thing about this is that they are contradicting themselves or maybe hedging their bets so as to appeal to as many as possible. As for CO2, they all also debate the strawman that CO2 is to blame. Not one single climate scientist is saying CO2 is completely to blame. It is well established that CO2 acts as a forcing agent on other natural greenhouse processes like water vapour etc etc so if anyone is engaging in a debate that isn’t, it is the deniers.

      I never listen to someone calling “deniers” to his opponents because this name calling signifies the debate is over and there is nothing to debate.

      As I said, there is no scientific debate. What we have is sound science on one side and scientific illiteracy fuelled propaganda on the other. There is nothing to “debate” but plenty of people to educate.

      Thanks again for your comments.

  2. To show what “deniers” are saying (since at least 1998), there is an interesting post today at Jo Nova’s:

    Idso 1998 – eight different ways to show CO2 will have little effect

    As I said, they are not denying the warming, nor a man-made part on it, nor a CO2 effect on warming. So, I suggest debating the real debate, not the straw man. And the question is: Is there anything knew on respect the real debate on Rosenzweig et al?

    • In a nutshell, Idso suggests that a doubling of CO2 should only produce a 0.4 degrees increase. There has been nowhere near a doubling and we are already past 0.4 degrees. Idso was wrong.

  3. Thank you for your answers, Mike.

    You know what “deniers” say by visiting a number of blogs. Did you care to read the “denier” scientific literature? I mean, you IPCC supporting people cannot say scientists like Lindzen, or Christy, or Pielke, or Spencer, or Idso, or Michaels, or Svensmark (or … etc), or even Curry are deniers, but then no reading what they have to say.

    Saying “there has been no global warming since 1998″ is not saying there has been no global warming. Is it? And in fact, as measured by satellites (UAH + RSS), there has been no global warming since 1998. Also as measured by Hadley Center, short of the “official” measurement for IPCC. At least it was “the measure” in AR4. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying this “warming plateau” is significant (but is already 13 years, and Trenberth -very much IPCC supporter- says 17 years would be significant).

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1998/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1998/trend

    Slope is: -0.000966038 per year, so let’s say no slope.

    Not one single climate scientist is saying CO2 is completely to blame. It is well established that CO2 acts as a forcing agent on other natural greenhouse processes like water vapour etc etc so if anyone is engaging in a debate that isn’t, it is the deniers.

    I insist: try to listen to those who have different ideas. Without knowing it, you have just point to the “nonexistent” scientific debate. Which is,

    - How much of the warming is attributable to CO2?
    - With what confidence?
    - Hon much warming is to be expected from CO2?

    It’s really simple. To attribute a warming to a forcing, you need to know pretty well the rest of forcings. You may think this is the case (although IPCC doesn’t say so), but you may not say there is no scientific debate on it. And to know how much warming we may expect from CO2 increasing, you need to know pretty well how the system works. Again, you may think this is the case; but by no means you can say there is not an ongoing scientific debate on the matter. I guess you have heard about climate sensitivity and feedbacks. And about natural unforced variability. In which case, I don’t believe you are really saying there is not a scientific debate. But without strong positive feedbacks, you don’t have a CO2 warming problem. And with a significant natural unforced variability, you would conclude Idso may perfectly be right.

    Listen to Lindzen, please:

    Global Warming: How to approach the science.

    It is debatable, of course. But it is a scientific debate. What is not a scientific debate is name calling.

    In a nutshell: Idso would be wrong if all the warming 1950 – 2000 was to blame on CO2. But you said there is not a single climate scientist saying so. And my point is not whether Idso is right or wrong (debatable), but about what they say (a fact).

    Thank you again.

    • I have read most of their “papers” and at this point I am not going to get into a debate with you about peer review and publishing in obscure unrelated journals. I will also say that I am not an expert on the subjects they cover, but from what I have seen, they are constantly shown to be incorrect by the real climate scientists, such as Ben Santer and various others of their standing.
      Second, if you would do me the pleasure of working out the slope again but this time measure it from 1997 or 1999 and we can then discuss cherrypicking.
      Third, in order for the deniers’ insistence that climate sensitivity is very low, a number of the positive feedbacks already observed and accounted for actually have to be negative. But like I said, I’m no expert and will always defer to the experts. With the exception of Christy, those you named are not experts.

      • Great.

        - You propose a challenge. To debunk certain paper. I showed you the paper has nothing to do with the claims by IPCC’s sceptics.

        This has been removed as you have gotten completely off topic, something you accused me of doing. I hate hypocrisy. Plus due to space issues, there is no way I am posting a bibliography of 200+ papers, most of which are from the 60′s and 70′s and which you have cut and pasted and more than likely not read. Plus i refer you to another of my posts about size mattering. In order for me to make an open and honest rebuttal of those papers I would need to actually read them. Something I do not have time to do. If you wish to post a link to those papers, feel free to do so but I suggest you drop the passive aggressiveness.

  4. Ah, and I still don’t know what’s new and interesting to the debate on Rosenzweig et al.

    Thanks.

    • Apart from many more species undergoing range shifts since that study was done, not that I’m aware of.

      • And the relation between these range swifts with climate feedbacks and sensitivity, or natural variability, is …?

        • I have provided a list of papers under the tab climate change. Where the full text is freely available I have provided a link. Others you will need to purchase, as I have done, either a subscription or the paper itself. If you are going to visit a blog, you should probably read the sources provided. Now, where did I read that before?

          This getting tiring. If you wish to discuss the individual merits of one of those papers I will be more than happy to oblige but keep in mind that I have a job and a family so my time is limited. I must also refer you to the rules of my blog.

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  6. Hello Mike. Article paywalled, but there is a long summary here.

    I’m afraid there are significant flaws in that paper, starting from the extreme dependency on Europe. In AR4 (of whom the paper is some sort of update), there were 29,459 “significant changes” reported. Only 1,225 of them were not from Europe.

    So what happens is that in Europe there are 3,100 “significant changes” _not_ consistent with warming, almost three times as many as the “significant changes” consistent with warming outside of Europe. They should have spoken of “European Warming”.

    The title appears even more misleading in the “attribution” bit that is limited to “we’ve found signs of warming, the IPCC said it’s anthropogenic, so we attributed our signs to humans”. No wonder attribution is still an open question,

    • I have to laugh when people feel the need to mention when an article is paywalled. It is published in Nature so yes it is paywalled. While I have subscriptions to half a dozen topflight journals, I am not in the business of breaching copyright. If its good enough for me to pay its good enough for everyone else as well.
      That the paper is Europe-heavy is irrelevant and certainly not a major flaw. Had the authors tried to hide this fact it might be but they didn’t. The fact is the vast majority of those changes that occurred in Europe were a result of AGW. To then use a bit of simplistic but flawed maths to suggest that there were more significant changes not consistent with warming than the rest of the world using whole numbers of unequal sample sizes is baltantly mischievous. When dealing with unequal sample sizes it might be a better idea to use proportions. I’m pretty sure that was in the very first Stats 101 module I undertook all those years ago in uni. In other words, what percentage of the 1225 from outside Europe could be attributed to significant changes not consistent with warming and how does that compare to ~10% or so from Europe.
      Everyday there are more and more studies coming from all over the world documenting range shifts consistent with warming. Its a case of watch this space. I personally know of no fewer than 25 studies being undertaken which are showing signs of range shifts just in fungal pathogens in Australia. I myself am currently looking at the movement of a feral species in relation to observed effects of climate change.
      Finally, like I say to anyone criticising a peer reviewed paper from the relative anonymity of blogland, put it in writing, submit it to the journal. If it has merit and is scientifically accurate and robust, it will get a run.

      • Mike – it is odd that articles that are supposed to be pivotal in convincing people on changing their ways and accept major policy changes, are STILL paywalled months after publication. One would have hoped the issue of saving the planet were a tad more important than keeping Nature’s coffers full. Also sometimes authors publish their work on their websites. Not in this case. Anyway…

        The expression “the paper is Europe-heavy” is an understatement. The paper is only about Europe plus a few bits from North America and minutiae from elsewhere. The abstract instead tries to make some “global ” point it simply couldn’t. Your argument about proportions would be applicable if places like Africa and Australia were not so abysmally poor of data.

        And I am not saying the planet hasn’t warmed. I am saying, the idea that “Rosenzweig et al has found unequivocably that human induced climate change and global warming is responsible for the vast majority of range shifts in so many species” is unwarranted: the paper doesn’t cover the globe, and the linkage to human activities is taken as granted, not demonstrated.

        • You’re an intelligent guy but you seem to be missing at least one very important point about science. Your comment that the article is “supposed to be pivotal in convincing people on changing their ways and accept major policy changes” is suggestive that the scientists have some sort of political agenda. For you to make such a claim you will need to purchase the article, read it, and find where it mentions anything about policy and then demonstrate that that is in fact what they are doing. When scientists undertake research, they are interested in scientific evidence and scientific evidence only. They write their reports and publish them. What other people choose to do with that information is for other people to decide. I am 100% confident that had this group of scientists found evidence contrary to their findings, they would have reported that just as dispassionately. You do realise that journals do publish non-results when they happen? I was actually a little disappointed that some of my denier “friends” here in Australia failed to jump on a recent paper published in Austral Ecology which demonstrated that despite popular belief, flying fox range expansions had absolutley nothing to do with climate change or global warming. That sort of thing is fodder for idiots. But I digress.

          If you are suggesting that my argument about proportions is not applicable then you are saying that your back of the envelope and blatantly incorrect attempt at showing something that isn’t there is correct. It was directed at you, not the paper. You cannot use the calculation you did when the two sample sizes are different.

          Finally, since you haven’t actually read the paper but are instead relying on someone elses interpretation of the paper then this discussion is pointless. Purchase it, read it, then discuss it, otherwise you are really arguing from a position of ignorance. If you feel so strongly about it, undertake some of your own research using their data and if you come up with a different position, publish it. Write a letter to the journal pointing out the flaws. Get together a team of people who feel as strongly as you do about it and make them all co-authors in your complaint. Write to the authors themselves and ask for clarification or justification. That is why they mention the corresponding author. That is how the system works.

          Actually, this is finally…. your point about “linkage to human activities is taken as granted, not demonstrated” is incorrect. The paper discusses this.

  7. (1) Rosenzweig et al chose to go for a grandiose title for their paper. I am sure they would not be surprised to hear that Attribution is indeed pivotal in convincing people on changing their ways and accept major policy changes. In any case…the paper is still paywalled.

    (2) Talking about non-results and the pure hearts of scientists…have you seen this from the latest issue of Nature? http://www.nature.com/news/beware-the-creeping-cracks-of-bias-1.10600

    (3) My calculation was only to show how different the sample sizes were. Different enough to bring some paradoxes, such has having more SC inconsistent with warming in Europe than consistent with warming elsewhere. That is a paradox, nothing more and nothing less. Your proportion argument instead simply doesn’t apply eg Australia and its 22 points of data. Just one additional point would add 4.5% more data.

    (4) As for me not reading the paper, if nobody cares to discuss its contents in detail, that’s not my fault. As I said, if Nature feels like it’s not important to distribute it widely, then maybe it’s not such an important piece of research, so I shouldn’t spend money or time on it given how similar it looks to what I can find in AR4 already.

    (5) The abstract makes it pretty clear that the link W-AGW is based on AR4.

    Finally, the idea that I should only be participating in the debate if I undertake my own research and enter the peer-review system is illogical. I could say the same of you, and the end result would be the closure of our blogs, or maybe of all blogs. Press releases for all!! 8-p

    • 1. If you care enough about the paper to criticise it, pay for it, or you are still speaking from a position of ignorance and you can’t get around that.
      2. Yes, I pay for my subscriptions to Nature, AAAS, Geophysical Research Letters, Conservation Biology, PNAS, Austral Ecology, Australasian Plant Pathology and a few others because I like to be an informed commentator. It was one of the first things I read. It’s an interesting opinion piece. Somewhat irrelevant to climate science. Climate science is based on measurable, real parameters. They can measure the amount of CO2. They can measure the incresing temperature. They can measure volcanism, solar properties, Milankovitch cycles, melting ice, sea levels, species distributions, albedo etc etc etc. Rulers and thermometers don’t lie.
      3. If you just wanted to highlight the difference between sample sizes, why not just comment on that rather than try to be clever by using some slightly dodgy and misleading calculations?
      4. If you don’t care about it and Nature doesn’t care about it, why are you hung up on it?
      5. If I want to report on the difference in air resistence of two falling objects do I have to demonstrate that gravity exists? Like I said, read the paper and see how they treated the data to account for non-climatic factors.

      I’m suggesting you read the paper itself and then question the authors on why they chose the title they did and what their take on attribution is. If you aren’t satisfied with their answer, publish their answer in its entirety with your criticisms. Just be sure to inform them upfront that their answers may be made public. Openness and honesty is the way to go. For me, as soon as a paper comes out in my field of expertise that says something that I think needs questioning or clarification, I write to the author. I have done this on at least 20 occasions in the last few years and I am yet to be snubbed.