Climate change deniers hate climate models (except their own cherry-picked versions)

  • Published on January 17th, 2020

Who to trust, thermometers, or oversimplified one-dimensional climate models? One might think that deniers, with their regular assailing of climate models as being unreliable, would prefer a study based on actual temperature measurements to one based on modeling.

tom toles climate change denial fire

By Climate Denier Roundup

But these days, thermometers are not exactly friendly to climate denial. Case in point, the new study showing that the oceans in 2019 were “the warmest in recorded human history.” At WUWT, Willis Eschenbach did his best to downplay the findings of rapid warming that a CNN headline described as “the same rate as if five Hiroshima bombs were dropped in [the ocean] every second.”

Unfortunately, Eschenbach ran into some problems early on, apparently failing to find the data he was looking for, so instead he just eyeballed a graph and went from there. In his defense, the page isn’t the most beautifully designed, but it’s not like the data was all that hidden, as deniers often allege. In fact, the page on which he couldn’t find the data had 16 different links to datasets, each of which were preceded by the word “DATA” in large bold capital letters. (A reader did manage to find the data, and Eschenbach bragged about how close his guess was, as though it justified his peer-review-by-eyeballing.)

The main point of the post, though, is that we supposedly don’t actually know the temperature of the ocean to the hundredth of a degree, because it’s just so very very big, and we’re not measuring every single part of it. Now, a scientist might point to the obscure academic field of “statistics” to explain how representative samples work, but the bottom line is that at WUWT, you can’t trust what thermometers are telling you. (And of course you can expect more along those lines in response to the announcement that 2019 was the second-hottest year on record, making this the hottest decade on record.)

So what can you trust? According to a Roy Spencer blog reposted on WUWT Wednesday, deniers should be putting their faith in a simple, 1-dimensional, 2-layer climate model. Why? Because this particular model (which he developed with McNider in ‘17 to lowball climate sensitivity) has been tweaked to the point where it shows that 41% of the ocean’s warming since 1979 is actually a result of the cooling effects of volcanoes wearing off.

Ahh, what a relief. Here we were, worried that the climate and oceans were following the laws of physics and warming in response to a steadily rising increase in a heat-trapping molecule. But it turns out that things we can measure are all wrong, despite their full transparency and peer-review, while the computer models climate scientists tinker with and publish on their blogs with little-to-no supplementary info are what should be trusted.

How the times have changed…

(Crossposted with DailyKos. Cartoon by Tom Toles from the Washington Post – get his book on climate change co-written with Michael Mann, The Madhouse Effect.)

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