A reply to Roger Harrabin

How sceptics like me view the alarmists. They are completely defeated but just will not admit the reality of the situation. (Black Night from Monty Python Holy Grail nursing their wounds and saying "tis a scratch".

How sceptics like me view the alarmists. They are completely defeated but just will not admit the reality of the situation.
(Black Knight from Monty Python Holy Grail nursing their wounds and saying “tis a scratch”.

On Radio 4 today Roger Harrabin made the following assertions:

  • CO2 has almost certainly contributed to warming the planet
  • The current pause in warming is likely to end
  • If we double the CO2 we are likely to produce a temperature rise of about 1.7C … a range of 1.25 – 3C
  • Both sides have moved closer

I think the best way to describe this was “highly economical with the truth”. The best that I can say, is that he admitted scpetics exist and did so in a way that  didn’t obviously libel us as the Today program has done before in its “Thought for Today slot“. However, not libelling us, is not exactly the same as giving an accurate portrayal of our views.
So, I will deal with these points one by one.

CO2 has almost certainly contributed to warming the planet

The planet is not currently warming. So this statement falsely implies that we sceptics “agree” the planet is warming which is not something any sceptic would assert.

The current pause in warming is likely to end

Yes the current pause in warming is likely to end. But the implication he makes is that the next change will be warming. But there is a significant chance that the next movement will be cooling. True, the rising CO2 makes it more probable that the next change will be warming. But not necessarily. There’s always that nagging feeling that whatever natural variation (or indeed manmade change – such as reducing air pollution) caused the warming in the 1970s, could reverse. (Such as the increase in Chinese pollution)

If we double the CO2 we are likely to produce a temperature rise of about 1.7C … a range of 1.25 – 3C

It is just a lie to say there is any kind of consensus around that figure. Sceptics applaud the work of Nic Lewis, but that is very very different from saying we agree with Nic Lewis. Unfortunately, Roger may not be entirely at fault here, because I have detected a bit of a crusade by Andrew Montford to push sceptics to accept this kind of figure and so I think he may have falsely implied there was a consensus and he would be very wrong to do so.
The reason I say so, is because fundamentally all these temperature sensitivities tend to use the same basic information which is a short-term warming of the globe between 1970-2000 which is no different in scale or length from the 1910-1940 warming before CO2 was measured rising.


To use an analogy, if you notice that a lot of blackbirds are nesting in your area, and then go out to predict their numbers, the very fact you started to investigate because of a rise will mean that however you do the analysis, you will tend to see a rising trend in numbers and so predict an increase in numbers.
Likewise, if you notice a drop, and then start investigating, almost any modelling will tend to predict a future drop.
And it is the same with climate. If the period in which you have data includes a large period of warming … then no matter how you try to compensate, it is likely that the predictions will be toward warming. However, the proof that this warming is a statistical blip, comes in the way that no matter what modelling technique is used, as time progresses the predicted trend decreases.


This to my mind is very strong evidence that the predicted warming from CO2 will continue to fall over the next few decades and as I suggest below it could fall dramatically!  Nic Lewis may have lower projections than the “warmist” academics, but there is absolutely no reason to believe that his projections aren’t also biased toward heating.

My own prediction

To put Nic Lewis’s prediction in perspective I would give my own rational that now suggests less than 0.6C warming for a doubling of CO2. The only scientific figure for the direct effect of doubling CO2 is that given by Prof Hermann Harde who suggests around 0.6C. The reason for this is that he has used the latest HITRAN data whereas the IPCC for clearly nefarious reasons stick to a previous and clearly inferior version of the HITRAN giving around 1C warming.

So, immediately the projected warming should come down.

However, after reviewing the available evidence (excluding the 1970-upswing) I have now concluded the climate looks to me as someone who has dealt with feedback systems like a system with strong negative feedbacks for warming in interglacial periods. As we are now in an interglacial period, it is almost certain that the climate sensitivity will be below 0.6C (for doubling of CO2 level) due to negative feedbacks.

Both sides have moved closer

Andrew Montford might have moved closer … but I doubt most sceptics have changed their view one iota. Most still believe the data has been manipulated. Most still believe the models are wrong. Most still believe the academics are incapable of predicting climate. And most still know the BBC are biased
I love the way that when we sceptics who have been saying pretty much the same things for years: that the temperature is not going up, that the effect of CO2 is greatly overblown, that natural variation is much bigger than suggested, etc. etc. etc. …  how that has become “sceptics are agreeing with academics”.
Sceptics aren’t agreeing with academics. It’s academics who are being dragged by the data kicking and screaming by their hair who are being forced to admit that the data is right and the sceptics were right to say the academics models did not match the real world data.
In the past they would have got away with that crap of saying people were agreeing with the academics instead of admitting they are being forced to change, because they (the academics) controlled the media, wrote the history, told the BBC what to say and basically dictated what could and couldn’t be written. So inevitably academia was always the knight in shining armour coming to save the poor deluded sceptic.
But now we sceptics write our own history on the internet and now academia looks less like a knight in shining armour and more like the Black Knight :

[ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHT’s left arm off]
ARTHUR: Now stand aside, worthy adversary.
BLACK KNIGHT: ‘Tis but a scratch.
ARTHUR: A scratch? Your arm’s off!
BLACK KNIGHT: No, it isn’t.
ARTHUR: Well, what’s that then?
BLACK KNIGHT: I’ve had worse.
ARTHUR: You liar!

This entry was posted in bbc, Climate, Media, Sceptics. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A reply to Roger Harrabin

  1. Jack Savage says:

    Hear hear.
    However it is “nefarious”.

  2. SandyS says:

    Also agree with most of what you say, one minor edit for me
    much less than 0.6C warming for a doubling of CO2.

  3. Newminster says:

    …. and in the next line “inferior”!
    But good post nevertheless. If I have one criticism it is that these typos (or spelling errors, whichever they are) do detract from the force of a posting like this and give the likes of Harrabin the perfect excuse (in his own mind) to dismiss it on the grounds that “if they can’t even spell properly or be bothered to proof-read …”
    You get the point.

  4. scottishsceptic says:

    Jack Savage, SandyS, thanks for the spelling. I used to be told my spelling was a handicap until I started reading dictionaries and realised that I can see things in languages which are difficult for other people to see.
    However, talking to linguists about “N-dimension language space” is a bit like talking to people who have never see a motor car about spaghetti junction.

  5. Jack Hughes says:

    Great post.
    I would go even further and say that “climate sensitivity” is a meaningless expression. A form of words to describe a flawed concept. Right now it’s zero – the pause. Thirty years ago it had a positive value. Going into the little ice age it had a negative value. Some places have experienced warming and others experienced cooling. So it varies across time and also across space. Imagine if big G (gravitational constant) varied from +6.7 to zero over time and had different values on different planets. It would be pointless.
    Another weird climate expression is “masking”. As in “our huge profits were masked by … our huge losses”. I think the climate people are not familiar with more than one thing happening at once and the idea that effect A can be countered or offset by effect B. “Masking” seems such an odd word. Rather anthropomorphic – as if the heat is hiding somewhere but will spring out from behind a tree and attack us down the road.
    I don’t hold out much hope for Cli-Sci – they are too far gone. They’ve been messing around playing at scientists for some 30 years now and have just muddied the waters.

  6. Great post.
    I think Andrew Montford has taken the lukewarmer line in order to be included in the (carefully circumscribed) ‘debate’. This isn’t a criticism, just an opinion. It’s fine that various people situate themselves at different locations on the spectrum, I just go where my interpretation of the data leads me.

    • scottishsceptic says:

      From memory Andrew has been pushing climate sensitivities of around 1.5-2C for many years, so I don’t think his conversion to this view is a response to the recent overtures.
      What I would say, is that Andrew along with the academics seems to have convinced himself that it is possible to work out climate sensitivity from the available data. I think – indeed I would go as far as to say I know he is wrong.
      In effect these estimates of climate sensitivity is the proverbial “if all you’ve got is a hammer – every problem looks like nail”. So, in effect, because the only tool Andrew and his friends and the climate modellers have is a hammer – they just hit everything in the hope that will do the job. But their hammer is just the wrong tool – and no matter who wields it and how expertly – it just flattens the work piece.
      And I know what their response will be: “we’ve only got a hammer, so we have to use it”. So, all we get is more or less skilfully flattened nuts – when what we really need is a nutcracker.

  7. Ravenscar. says:

    Horse and cart, not cart and horse.
    I thought > CO² in the Atmosphere was as a consequence of warming. Therefore, CO² cannot be the driver of atmospheric climate warming.

    • scottishsceptic says:

      Yes, you are right changes in CO2 do at least in part derive from changes in temperature.

    • Drewski says:

      Historically, CO2 occurred about 800 years after the warming (due to a change in the earth’s tilt usually) but then it had a positive feedback and upped the temperatures further. These days, we didn’t need step 1 to increase CO2 — man has added 40% extra in only the past 100 years.

  8. habitat21 says:

    One of Van Humboldt’s more cynical observations is his description of three stages through which any important scientific discovery passes in the public mind.
    These are
    1.To doubt its existence
    2.To deny its importance
    3.To attribute the discovery to someone else
    In this case, the ‘discovery’ is the recognition that the sceptic viewpoint is probably the correct one.
    It seems to me that we are now into the beginnings of stage 2.

    • scottish sceptic says:

      In the past, academia decided who discovered things and e.g. there are well known instance of amateurs finding archaeological sites and then being written out of the academic reports.
      Now, however we sceptics write our own history!

Comments are closed.