Nonsense from Carbon Brief: the briefest of examples

I watched with interest this video posted at Bishop Hill. The occasion is a hearing by a UK Commons committee where seated next to Andrew Montford was a representative from ‘Carbon Brief‘. The person claimed, repeatedly, that Carbon Brief was there to monitor media so only things consistent with “the larger body of evidence” and “in context of mainstream science” were said. In other words, an enforcer watch-dog of climate orthodoxy.

We learn from her, their group only reaches out to climate scientists to gather opinions. The BBC’s Andrew Neil delivered a thrashing of sorts to the 97 crowd, where among other things, he talked about the lull in the rate of rise in global temperatures. An occasion as good as any other to be reaching out?

In response, this, is the Carbon Brief’s resident expert. In the first segment one encounters climate scientist Ed Hawkins struggling to explain how Neil produced his graph. The reasons are not hard to guess. Shown on BBC, in stark relief against a blue background, the ‘pause’ must have stood out. Hawkins was quoted: “no one can work out” how the graph was made. On Twitter, Barry Woods showed the HadCRUT4 global mean curve looking suspiciously similar to the BBC’s.

So much for that.

Then comes the meat of her piece. Here is where Carbon Brief are getting right down, dealing with the pause.

This is their line of reasoning. I show this verbatim, with the links in place:

Another thing Neil doesn’t mention is that periods of slow surface temperature rise aren’t particularly unusual. There have been several periods in the 20th century in which surface warming has slowed but over the course of the century, the overall trend is still one of warming.

Take the first part: It makes a strong, categorical claim on what’s the case with the climate. If you just skim it, you’d imagine it well-known to science there being long stretches where temperature rise is slow or absent. If one is careful enough to click on the link and see what’s behind it, the story changes dramatically.

The link leads to a paper published in 2013, which contains post-hoc model projections and speculative guesses on why global warming has slowed down.

A model projection is not ‘knowledge’, especially not one made after-the-fact. You cannot say “aren’t unusual” with it. It is abuse of science and scientific language. The English language furnishes a rich vocabulary of terms whose sole purpose is the representation of probability. When you make a model which gives you an prediction, you say ‘likely’, or ‘possible’. If you say, ‘slow temperatures aren’t unusual’, in the present tense, you point to direct physical evidence, i.e. stuff that has already transpired and become real, as proof. Not models.

Statements like this are borderline fraud.

Look at the second part: if you follow the climate debate closely, you’d be right to think it familiar. Yes, the second link leads to Skepticalscience. Carbon Brief, in the poverty of their argument, reach out to the doctrine-peddlers. The rest of the piece draws heavily from Skepticalscience catechism as well.

Where is the reliance on climate scientists’ opinion? Where is the ‘reaching out’?

Where are mainstream scientists’ pronouncements on the meaning of the pause? In Nature magazine last week, a long news feature figured with expressions of great trepidation on the ‘pause’. With such terms as: “biggest of mysteries”, scientists “puzzled”, “cannot fully explain recent trends”, don’t know if it “portends less warming in the future”, “less sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously believed”, “solar”, “volcano ash”, “industrialization of China”, “oceans” …. Ed Hawkins was himself quoted” “The heat is going somewhere. The question is where”.

Where is all this gone? Instead we have an European Climate Foundation-funded operation soothing us everything is known.The promised “context”, “contextualization”, “uncertainty”, questions” and “debate” are replaced by an absurd, fatuous claim that stands everything above on its head: “Scientists are not puzzled by surface warming slowdown”.

If this is not pseudoscience, what is? The Carbon Brief piece places the needle far out of compared to the mainstream opinion  on the ‘pause’.

In effect, with a single episode, we have a glimpse at the quality of work at this Carbon Brief blog. Do we need one more incestuous, homogenized warmie blog regurgitating shopworn Skepticalscience material?

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One comment

  1. Carrick

    The bigger problem with this:

    Another thing Neil doesn’t mention is that periods of slow surface temperature rise aren’t particularly unusual. There have been several periods in the 20th century in which surface warming has slowed but over the course of the century, the overall trend is still one of warming.

    is that, according to the scientific orthodoxy, significant anthropogenic forcing only commenced post 1970. The only two significant “slow downs” in warming, prior to the current one, since 1970 are known to be associated with volcanic eruptions (el Chinchon and Pinatubo).

    The evidence that this slowdown is not unusual is purely imaginary.