William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Global Warming Is Anti-Science

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori  says the earth has "rights".

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says the earth has “rights”. Image source.

It is not anti-science to say that humans influence the climate, because, of course, humans, and every other species on the planet, influences the climate. At the least, humans move through the atmosphere, which influences it and hence the climate. Only a science denier would deny this.

It is an semi-open question how much humans, and each other species, influences the climate. What is not an open question, indeed it is a question as closed as can be, that the global-warming-of-doom promised by organizations like the IPCC has failed to materialize in the ways these groups have promised. Only science deniers deny this.

We know the IPCC (and etc.) is wrong because the warming they have swore would happen did not happen. We know that the models on which the IPCC relies did not perform these past two decades as well as a simple “model” stating that next year will be like this year. Climate models have no skill.

Only a science denier would deny this.

So what do we make of the New York Times, Natural Resources Defense Council, FEMA, the Episcopalian Church? These organizations deny science. And not only that, they would have everybody else deny them too.

The New York Time’s Justin Gillis, who is, as regular readers know, unteachable on this subject, is a True Believer. He said recently, “It is a lie to say that global warming poses no danger”.

A lie.

He must know the scientific fact that climate models have no skill, and therefore should not be used and cannot be trusted. Yet he says to acknowledge this scientific fact is a lie.

A lie. Fighting words.

FEMA has bruited a plan “making it tougher for governors to deny man-made climate change.” Says the report, “the agency will approve disaster-preparedness funds only for states whose governors approve hazard-mitigation plans that address climate change.”

No pinch of incense in the fire, no federal support. Which many would say—I say—is a good thing. Anything that restrains the reach and power of Leviathan is to be encouraged. But that is a political argument, and not a scientific one. Yet FEMA, which should know the science, which must know the science, must deny that science, is denying the science, to make their own, opposite political argument. So for them, at least, global warming is politics.

In the same report, one Becky Hammer, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an activist organization, said, “If a state has a climate denier governor that doesn’t want to accept a plan, that would risk mitigation work not getting done because of politics”.

Since the science is clear, and settled, that the IPCC models have no skill, it can only be that the phrase “climate denier” means “one who won’t play along”, or something similar. This necessarily follows, because knowing that IPCC models have no skill is not consonant with believing in a climate of doom. Why? Because there is no evidence for the climate of doom except through these models, and we have proved the models have no skill.

Once again, proof that global warming is politics—at least for the NRDC.

Earlier this week, Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (yes, they still exist), said, “people who reject climate science are turning their backs on one of God’s most generous gifts: knowledge.”

She said, “Episcopalians understand the life of the mind is a gift of God and to deny the best of current knowledge is not using the gifts God has given you”. And she said, global warming was a “moral issue, in terms of the impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable around the world already.” Finally, she said the earth had “rights.”

It is through God’s gift of knowledge we know the IPCC models have no skill and should not be trusted. Yet Schori, herself once a scientist, denies that science, turns her back on it, even. Why? The clue is in her quip, “World Ends: The Poor Disproportionately Effected.” In other words, for Schori, global warming is politics.

Since the science that bad theories make for bad forecasts is settled and, indeed, basic, it should be known by every working scientist. Why don’t those scientists then admit this? Why aren’t they taking people like Gillis, Hammer, and Schori to task publicly when they say false and unscientific things?

Could it be that global warming is political even for scientists?


  1. Briggs

    March 25, 2015 at 9:02 am


    Apropos: “Missing the mark on climate change skepticism: It’s not about the money, it’s about the science”
    Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/24/j-scott-armstrong-missing-the-mark-on-climate-chan/#ixzz3VOzMQagW

  2. Can you explain “has not skill”? It seems odd to use that phrase in connection with a model. People have skills or not. People used models to make predictions, no?

  3. Briggs

    March 25, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Coast Ranger,

    See, inter alia, this post:


    Or search for “Climate models have no skill”.

    It is a topic *all* climatologists understand, taught in school, etc.

  4. I’m thinking about refusing to call anyone who works on global warming issues a ‘scientist’ if they have not demonstrated the most basic of scientific abilities. These include, but are not limited to:

    1. The ability to compare results to hypotheses.
    2. The ability to separate the normative and the positive.

    We might also add:

    3. Going to proxy data first (I’m looking at Mann’s recent gulf stream paper)

  5. Politics – the definition informs: “…especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.” Global warming is indeed political. The power sought is to control people’s behavior.

  6. In addition to the excellent points in the post, there’s the fact that proposed remedies won’t prevent atmospheric CO2 from continuing to rise. If the climate models were valid, then much more extreme actions would be required to save us from doom — actions that would lead to the deaths of millions of people.

  7. Although the FEMA mandate is all muddle-headed concerning motivation, planning for weather-related disasters such as hurricanes is to be welcomed. It’s simply prudent to recognize that every so often a storm surge will advance inland or that coastal erosion proceeds at certain rates in certain places. All such factors ought to inform risk-taking, unlike the misguided, federally-financed flood insurance policies that have encouraged building on site known for decades to be unstable and exposed. A clever governor will avoid the alarmist language, play up the weather disasters, and grab the money.

  8. In an earlier post I said, “I concluded a long time ago that climate change is just neo-lysenkoism. Fortunately there is no Stalin to enforce the dogma.”
    Evidently the AGW zealots are looking for a Stalin.

  9. Albert Stienstra

    March 25, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    There may be no Stalin to enforce the dogma of global warming, there is an Obama

  10. Albert, I wouldn’t worry much about Obama. He’s too busy right now watching bbasketbal.

  11. Sander van der Wak

    March 25, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Does the rights if the Earth, which are probably as God-given as that mind, mean that the Sun won’t cook Earth in a billion years or so?

  12. Well the statement that global warming is dangerous is true, at least in a trivial sense, so claiming it isn’t dangerous is indeed a “lie” of sorts. Nearly everything is dangerous. You can choke on a nice steak dinner and die. People sustain serious injuries, or death, from their beds. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are 1.8 million emergency room visits resulting from people rolling out of beds.

    Provided you are vague enough, you can always make the mundane sound like a crisis. All you need is a lack of perspective.

  13. I have to say I am fascinated by this debate.

    Professor Briggs will look at these graphs and raise multiple issues


    I’m afraid I don’t find Professor Briggs’ issues sufficient to explain his disregard for the concern that doubling CO2 might warm the world somewhere between 2 and 5 degrees.

    I suspect the actual figure is toward the lower end of that range, but I would be very surprised if it was much lower.

    I don’t think Professor Briggs has given a range he would be willing to put a bet on.

    All we can do is wait and see, but I don’t find the warming trends defusing my concerns nearly as much as Prof Briggs.

  14. Chinaman,

    It’s easy enough to produce misleading graphs by smoothing, fiddling with the scaling, truncating and cherry picking start and end points.

    Here is a better way to look at the problem:


    Or here is one that was in the IPCC draft report which was removed for obvious reasons:


    I’d also suggest you not read “Tamino”, or Cook or some of the other extremists in the debate. Of course, you shouldn’t automatically believe what those on the other side of the fence tell you either.

  15. I don’t get it. Are models all we have or are to be ignored completely?


  16. Maybe better asked, are models all we have and are to be ignored completely?


  17. Models are the only “evidence” of a 2-4C expected warming rate for a doubling of CO2. Observed warming is otherwise not out of the ordinary *IF* we assume we understand with reasonable certainty how the climate system behaves. Or in other words, *IF* models are correct, the warming from 1950 is unnatural. But *IF* models are incorrect, we cannot assert this claim.

    So yes, models are the only evidence you have that answers the only question that is actually relevant to the debate.

  18. LOL! Nice try at a qualifier.

    Not true, though.

    There are satellite spectral and ice-core analyses, comparison with other planets, the unusually high level of CO2 in general… Do you even follow this subject?


  19. Perhaps you should have just written “But think of the penguins!”

    None of the things you mention are relevant to the central argument. They are, of course, “consistent with” a particular theory of one type or another. But a “consistent with” statement is the weakest type of evidence. (The garden gnome that is missing from my front garden is “consistent with” my alien abduction theory.) Ice core analysis is about what happened, not what will happen. It’s wide open to interpretation. Radiative Physics calculates a doubling of CO2 causing approx 1C of warming. Assuming that’s what you mean by ‘spectral analysis’ although you may not know yourself what you mean by that. But neither do skeptics or warmists simply accept radiative physics as a guide to actual warming as the climate system has many confounding processes to consider. Trying to predict the behaviour of Earth’s climate based on, say, Mar’s climate, is obviously just plain stupid, and doesn’t require further comment from me.

  20. Oh dear
    The Church – and I use that term in the broadest possible sense – is losing members so it has jumped on to the latest of what appears to be the best of modern scare scenario creations to gain members for itself – am I being too harsh here?
    PS – Life is too short to drink cheap wine.

  21. Who’s the blonde on the left?

  22. I think Jersey McJones’s confusion here was constructive, because it is a common confusion among those ignorant of the subject matter. The planet has been warming gradually for around 300 years. The rate of warming has been relatively steady although there are periods of no warming or slight cooling during this period. None of this is disputed. The scientific question is over whether this warming is natural or unnatural.

    Where people get confused (Jersey is the perfect example of this) is that they conflate evidence of warming with evidence of man made warming.

    The only evidence for man made warming are, at the present time, computer models.

    If one looks closely at the IPCC 4th assessment report, you will see that computer models predict that without CO2 the planet should be cooling now.

    For example, see originally lifted from the IPCC report:

    Therefore 100% of all warming is man made, according to models. This is a rather odd conclusion. It basically claims that for 250 years the world warmed naturally, then stopped for unexplained reasons, and human produced CO2 took over from 1950 onwards. The cause of the previous 250 years of warming remains unexplained.

  23. Will,

    There is direct evidence that CO2 levels are increasing temperature.

    Annoyingly I’ve too many links in this post, but go to Ars Tecnhical and search for this article: newsflash the greenhouse effect really exists

    Are you really trying to claim that the CO2 increase isn’t down to fossil fuel emissions?

    The isotopic analysis refutes that.

    The physical science shows that the effects CO2 has are logarithmic so small increases earlier have as much effects as larger increases later.

    The industrial revolution produced a step change in humanity’s use of fossil fuels and as far as I understand it the evidence fits very very well with CO2 increases and volcanic eruptions being the major drivers of temperature changes in the world back to the 1750s.

    Again the spam filter is stopping me linking to an explanation it is in the summary of findings page on Berkeley Earth.

    I do not think the IPCC is claiming the climate was warming naturally until the 1950s.

    The IPCC says more than half the warming since 1950 can be attributed to human-caused CO2 emissions. That statement says nothing about warming caused by human CO2 emissions prior to this.

    If you start a model with the conditions in 1950 and then run it with two scenarios – one with fixed CO2 concentrations and the other with the increase caused by human emissions you get the graph you posted. That says nothing about temperature changes prior to this.

    This is about the clearest explanation I know of the attribution statement:


    Oh, and earlier I put up some figures by Tamino. You warned me against this.

    As Prof Briggs continually points out – the issue is the message and not the messenger. Please do explain why you think the data I posted isn’t worthy of consideration.

    If you project warming prior to 1998 into the future what we’ve actually had is basically exactly as what you would expect.


    I am fascinated by the statements made by Professor Briggs which so strongly refute these graphs.

    I am afraid I don’t find his dismissals convincing and am intrigued by them.

    I’ll await with interest further posts from Prof Briggs, and further evidence either one way or the other as our understanding of the climate increases.

    In my view the understanding doubling CO2 will warm the world between about 2 and 5 degrees C is pretty robust, we’ll just have to wait and see.

  24. China,

    CO2 increases temperature, slightly, at least. From the research I’ve seen (not of the Al Gore variety) that is likely to be a net benefit overall. So long as temperatures globally don’t increase by more than 2C, which at this stage looks likely. After 2C the benefits of increased CO2 begin to decline again. (Google Richard Tols work on this subject, an IPCC lead author.)

    The volcanic hypothesis is speculation at best. We’ve had two major volcanic eruptions in the 20th century and their effects were very short term. The claim that we’ve had huge volcanic eruptions for hundreds of years on end that cooled the planet down, then this activity mysteriously stopped doesn’t come across as particularly plausible. But people believe whatever speculation they want to believe. It might even be true, just not likely.

    Anyone who gets their reading materials from someone like Tamino is fairly obviously partisan and not to be taken seriously. It’s like getting all your information from “Steve Godard” who sits on the other side of the fence. Another source not to be trusted. The Tamino graphs you cited have so many distortions and misrepresentations in them, you could write a whole article tearing that nonsense to pieces. If you’re going to insist on citing the work of that anonymous blogger realise your credibility goes down the drain. Although you’re also an anonymous commentator not prepared to put your real name to what you write, so I don’t think you’re likely to have much credibility to begin with.

  25. Yes! Finally a way to get rid of FEMA! (Remember how well blackmail worked with state exchanges an Obamacare? Let’s hope FEMA gets the same warm welcome.)

    As for the Episcopalians, God warned of false prophets. Besides, didn’t God say go forth and fill the earth?

    I was proud of Ted Cruz for noting the satellite record shows no warming (he knows there are multiple databases apparently) and for saying the warmists are the real deniers. Maybe some politicians are catching on.

    JMJ: That whole “runaway greenhouse effect” on Venus was just people who wanted Venus to have been like earth. The only space probe ever to reach it burned up very shortly after landing. It’s all science fiction at this point.

    Will: Good comments. I would argue that your dismissal of Chinahand due to anonymity is problematic. His name, or lack thereof, has no bearing on the accuracy of his claims. I did not use my name for quite awhile because I didn’t want people looking at the name and not the argument. Even Tamino and Goddard are right sometimes. The arguments are what matter. (I will agree that people can and will ignore commenters for all kind of reasons that are unfair, but I think it’s important to keep with the argument that the data and theory count, not the speaker.) Otherwise, your explanations and responses are good. I agree with much of what you said and you said well.

  26. Sheri,

    The problem of anonymity I raise in this comment section relates to the anti-science argument made in this topic. Anonymous poster “China” decides he would rather cite blogs, often written anonymously, in preference to the published science. It’s not as if there isn’t plenty of published science, and it’s not as if even the published science isn’t already problematical.

    On top of that he asserts a serious of nonsense claims, i.e., the colder periods in earlier centuries can be explained by volcanic activity. He cites no references, because of cause it is a made up activist talking point. Take a look at one attempt at reconstruction of past volcanic activity based on measured mercury levels –

    (See: Atmospheric mercury deposition corresponds to volcanic and anthropogenic events over the past 270 years.)

    The evidence suggests the exact opposite of what “China” is claiming. That’s why he is anti-science. You constantly see such characters assert claims they have not checked themselves, merely assume to be true because they read it on a blog somewhere, and more often than not, the opposite is true.

    Or consider the Berkley Land Surface graph he cites. First he confuses the relationship between CO2 and temperature. Yes they are in lock step and the correlation is well understood, but that nonetheless confuses correlation with causation. The graph conveniently excludes 71% of the Earth’s surface that doesn’t fit the narrative that these fellows are trying to create.

    Review his decadal-with-forcing-small.png image again.

    Now let’s compare what he is showing alongside the actual global temperature:


    A huge difference. One very selective data set shows the temperature rising out of control, yet the global temperature has for a decade or two leveled off. Or even consider the BEST land only data set plotted in a more conventional fashion:


    A very different picture, isn’t it? Now even the land only data is in less visual disagreement with the global data.

    The problem with anonymity is that climate science is already so highly partisan it can be very difficult to sort out what is credible evidence and what is distortion. So it’s safest to talk about the published science. There is no need to resort to blogs as expert authorities.

  27. Will: I most definitely agree that the use of blogs for climate information should be used at most as a starting point, backed up by actual research papers and data.

    To some degree I agree with the anonymous blogger being one to hide from the fray–andthentheresphysics blogger trying to remain anonymous ended up sidetracking skeptics from the actual arguments to trying to “out” the blogger. Anonymity can allow for much more rude comments also. I still stand by the contention that focusing on named versus anonymous takes away from looking at the data and the arguments. Name recognition works against both sides as much as anonymity does in many cases. In the end, it’s the data and it should be from actual research and based on sound arguments.

    Chinahand: The source of CO2 is only important if you are trying to tax and kill fossil fuels so as to limit projected global warming. Of course CO2 from fossil fuels increases the ppm. So do many other things. The actual percentage is hard to track down–most of the values in global warming science are “calculated”, not actually measured, so we really don’t know exactly how much CO2 came from where. You can use isotopes, but you still have to calculate the value based on estimated volume of the atmosphere, etc. There is no way to measure this. Calculations over a huge, only partially understood and mapped world can be miles and miles off. We really need hard figures before we assign percentages and volumes of CO2, etc that the system can handle. CO2 has been much higher in the past and the planet was not necessarily hotter. Proxies are very, very poor ways to measure the temperature of the past and you can find a graph to “prove” anything you want. I wouldn’t consider that really solid science.
    Forcings are necessary to get CO2 to actually cause a temperature increase. CO2 alone cannot do it. Even Hansen admitted that much of this is guesses–fudge factors (called parameterization if you want it to sound better). Yes, if you run two models, one with CO2 and one without, the human added CO2 has an effect. That’s because the model is based on that idea–it’s kind of a form of circular reasoning. The models assume CO2 is significant and then are used to prove it.
    Yes, we really do need to wait and see. So much of this is conjecture with no evidence or very minimal evidence behind it. Panicking at this point would not be very scientific.

  28. Sheri,

    “Proxies are very, very poor ways to measure the temperature of the past and you can find a graph to “prove” anything you want. I wouldn’t consider that really solid science.”

    You need to carefully qualify what type of proxy you are talking about. Science depends on proxies of one type or another for nearly all its claims. The expansion of mercury in a tube as a proxy for temperature (a simple thermometer) is indeed very solid science. Or, the analysis of CO2 locked in the Vostok ice cores are another excellent proxy (although certainly more problematical than mercury in a test tube). This is because we know there is a clear correlation between CO2 and planetary temperature and the analysis involves well understood chemical relationships.

    On the other hand, bristlecone pines tree rings aren’t especially good proxies for temperature. This is because trees grow in response to both temperature and precipitation, and other things. In fact, some researchers use tree rings to reconstruct past rain fall and others to reconstruct past temperature. Since we know there is no simple correlation between the two, one of the uses of this proxy is wrong to some degree, although probably both are wrong. On top of that bristlecones respond strongly to available atmospheric CO2, which further confounds analysis.

  29. Will: Okay, I’lll go along with you mostly for now. Yes, some proxies are good. Ice cores can tell us what the CO2 level was “at the location of the ice core”. Anything beyond that is questionable. I’m not sure I see mercury in a test tube as a “proxy”. It’s a measuring device. A proxy for temperature would be how many women are wearing bikinis on a beach or how many people in Minneapolis are wearing down coats. Agreed that bristlecone pines are a very poor proxy–I’ve read several research papers on just how bad these proxies really are. The better research uses multiple proxies–sediment, tree rings, ice cores, etc to help get rid of some of the problems.
    Not sure I agree with “clear correlation of CO2 and planetary temperature”. It’s not in agreement with much of what I have read. There is physics involved, but it’s based on black box values, not a complex interactive system with multiple components that interact. As the professor in my online class said: Every circuit in the system can work as predicted and still the larger system can fail. Function of parts is not a guarantee of function of the whole.

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