Date: May 11, 2012
Subject: New York Times Op-Ed Titled “Game Over for the Climate”
From: Bob Tisdale
To: James Hansen – NASA GISS
I just finished reading your opinion that appeared in yesterday’s New York Times. I enjoyed the title “Game Over for the Climate” so much that I’m considering changing the title of my book to something similar, like “Game Over for the Manmade Global Warming Scare.” Yes. That’s got a nice ring to it. Thanks for the idea. I’ll have so see how difficult it would be to change the title of the Kindle edition. Yet, while I enjoyed the title, the content of your opinion shows that you’re still hoping to appeal to those who are gullible enough to believe your claim that carbon dioxide is responsible for the recent bout of global warming. I hope you understand that many, many persons have weighed your opinions and found them wanting.
The internet has become the primary medium for discussions of anthropogenic global warming, as I’m sure you’re aware. You have your own blog. Your associate at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies Gavin Schmidt is one of the founders of the once-formidable blog RealClimate. What you may not be aware of is that one of the other contributors to RealClimate Rasmus Benestad in a recent post expressed his feelings that all of their work there might have been for naught [my boldface].
However, if the notion that information makes little impact is correct, one may wonder what the point would be in having a debate about climate change, and why certain organisations would put so much efforts into denial, as described in books such as Heat is on, Climate Cover-up, Republican war on science, Merchants of doubt, and The Hockeystick and Climate Wars. Why then, would there be such things as ‘the Heartland Institute’, ‘NIPCC’, climateaudit, WUWT, climatedepot, and FoS, if they had no effect? And indeed, the IPCC reports and the reports from the National Academy of Sciences? One could even ask whether the effort that we have put into RealClimate has been in vain.
I can understand Rasmus Benestad’s doubts when a website skeptical of manmade global warming, WattsUpWithThat, has gained visitors since 2008 while RealClimate is floundering. The web information company Alexa shows that WattUpWithThat’s daily reach began to surpass RealClimate’s in May 2008. And for the last 6 months, Alexa could no longer rank RealClimatebecause its percentage dropped too low. On the other hand, the daily reach of WattsUpWthThat increased greatly and WattsUpWthThat has become the world’s most-viewed website on global warming and climate change.
Over the past 30 years or longer, James, you’ve created a global surface temperature record called the GISS Land-Ocean Temperature Index. It shows global surface temperatures have warmed since 1880. While there are some problems with that dataset we need to discuss, it is something you can be proud of. But in those 3 decades, you’ve also developed and programmed climate models with the sole intent of showing that manmade greenhouse gases were responsible for that warming. Those models are included, along with dozens of others, in the archives used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for their reports. Unfortunately, your efforts with climate models, and the efforts of the other modeling groups, have not been successful. Far from it. And since your opinions are based on the results of your climate models, one has to conclude that your opinions are as flawed as the models.
I’m one of the independent researchers who study the instrument-based surface temperature record and the output data of the climate models used by the IPCC to simulate those temperatures. Other researchers and I understand two simple and basic facts, which have been presented numerous times on blogs such as WattsUpWithThat. Keep in mind WattUpWithThat reaches a massive audience daily, so anyone who’s interested in global warming and climate change and who takes the time to read those posts also understands those two simple facts.
Fact one: the instrument-based global surface temperature record since 1901 and the IPCC’s climate model simulations of it do not confirm the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming; they contradict it.
The climate models used in the IPCC’s (2007) 4th Assessment Report show surface temperatures should have warmed about 2.9 times faster during the late warming period (1976-2000) than they did during the early warming period (1917-1944). The IPCC acknowledges the existence of those two separate warming periods. The climate model simulations are being driven by climate forcings, including manmade carbon dioxide, which logically show a higher rate during the later warming period. Yet the observed, instrument-based warming ratesfor the two warming periods are basically the same.
If the supposition you peddle was sound, James, manmade carbon dioxide and other anthropogenic greenhouse gases should have warmed the surface of our planet at a much faster rate in recent decades, but they have not. In other words, there’s little evidence that the carbon dioxide you demonize in your op-ed has had any measureable effect on how fast global surface temperatures have warmed. We independent climate researchers have known this for years. It’s a topic that surfaces often, so often that it’s joked about around the blogosphere.
Some independent researchers have taken the time to present how poorly climate models simulate the rates at which global surface temperatures have warmed and cooled since the start of the 20th Century. We do this so that people without technical backgrounds can better understand that very fundament flaw with the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming. I resurrected it again in a two-part post back in December 2011 (see here and here), both of which were cross posted at WattsUpWithThat. I’ve published numerous posts about this since December using different datasets: sea surface temperature, land surface temperature and the combination of the two. I’ve published so many posts that show how poorly the IPCC’s climate models simulate past surface temperatures that it’s not practical to link them all. The posts also include the new and improved climate models that were prepared for the IPCC’s upcoming 5thAssessment Report. Sorry to say, they show no improvement.
Fact two: natural processes are responsible for most if not all if the warming over the past 30 years, a warming that you continue to cite as proof of the effects of greenhouse gases.
In your opinion piece, you mentioned the predictions you made in the journal Science back in 1981. Coincidentally, that’s the year when satellites began to measure the surface temperatures of the global oceans. Those satellites provide much better coverage for the measurement of global sea surface temperatures, from pole to pole. You use a satellite-based dataset as one of the sea surface temperature sources for your GISS Land-Ocean Temperature Index (LOTI) data. That NOAA sea surface temperature dataset is known as Reynolds OI.v2. It is the same dataset I have used to illustrate that natural processes, not greenhouse gases, are responsible for surface temperature warming of the global oceans since 1981. Since land surface temperatures are simply along for the ride, mimicking and exaggerating the changes in sea surface temperatures, the hypothesis you promote has a significant problem. Climate models are once again contradicted by observation-based data.
I’m one of very few independent global warming researchers who study sea surface temperature data and the processes associated with the natural mode of climate variability called El Niño-Southern Oscillation or ENSO. ENSO is a process that is misrepresented by many climate scientists when they use linear regression analysis in attempts to remove an ENSO signal from the global surface temperature record. Those misrepresentations ensure misleading results in some climate science papers.
ENSO is a natural process that you and your associates at GISS exclude in many of the climate model-based studies you publish, because, as you note, your “coarse-resolution ocean model is unable to simulate climate variations associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation processes.” In fact, there are no climate models used by the IPCC that are capable of recreating the frequency, magnitude and duration of El Niño and La Niña events. And I know of no scientific studies that show any one climate model is capable of correctly simulating all of the fundamental coupled ocean-atmosphere processes associated with ENSO.
If climate models are not able to simulate ENSO, then they do not include a very basic process Mother Nature has devised to increase and slow the distribution of heat from the tropics to the poles. As a result, the climate models exclude the variations in the rates at which the tropical Pacific Ocean releases naturally created heat to the atmosphere and redistributes it within the oceans, and those climate models also exclude the varying rate at which ENSO is responsible through teleconnections for the warming in areas remote to the tropical Pacific.
Climate scientists have to stop treating ENSO as noise, James. The process of ENSO serves as a source of naturally created and stored thermal energy that is discharged, redistributed and recharged periodically. Because these three functions (discharge, redistribution and recharge) all fluctuate (see Note 1), impacts of ENSO on global climate vary on annual, multiyear and multidecadal timescales. Common sense dictates that global surface temperatures will warm over multidecadal periods when the frequency, magnitude and duration of El Niño events outweigh those of La Niña events, causing more heat than normal to be released from the tropical Pacific Ocean to the atmosphere and to be redistributed within the oceans. And the opposite will occur, global surface will cool, when La Niña events dominate ENSO over a multidecadal period. It is no coincidence that that is precisely what has happened since 1917.
Note 1: El Niño events (the discharge mode) are not always followed by La Niña events (the recharge mode). Both El Niño and La Niña events can appear in a series of similar phase events like the El Niño events of 2002/03, 2004/05 and 2006/07 and the La Niña events of 2010/11 and 2011/12. El Niño and La Niña events can also last for more than one year, spanning multiple ENSO seasons, like the 1986/87/88 El Niño and the 1998/99/00/01 La Niña. When a strong El Niño is followed by a La Niña like the El Niño events of 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 it is very obvious that two portions of ENSO are acting together and redistributing warm water that’s left over from the El Niño. The results of the combined effects are actually difficult to miss in the sea surface temperature records.
The satellite-era sea surface temperature data reveals that ENSO, not carbon dioxide, is responsible for the warming of global ocean surfaces for the past 30 years, as noted earlier. It illustrates the effects of La Niña events are not the opposite of El Niño events. In fact, the satellite-based sea surface temperature data indicates that, when major El Niño events are followed by La Niña events, they can and do act together to cause upward shifts in the sea surface temperature anomalies of the Atlantic, Indian and West Pacific Oceans. And since the Eastern Pacific Ocean has not warmed in 30 years, those ENSO-induced upward shifts in the Atlantic-Indian-West Pacific data are responsible for practically all of the global sea surface temperature warming for the last 3 decades.
I have been presenting and illustrating those ENSO-caused upward shifts for more than 3 years. I have plotted the data, discussed and animated the process of ENSO using numerous datasets: sea surface temperature, sea level, ocean currents, ocean heat content, depth-averaged temperature, warm water volume, sea level pressure, cloud amount, precipitation, the strength and direction of the trade winds, etc. And since cloud amount for the tropical Pacific impacts downward shortwave radiation (visible light) there, I’ve presented and discussed that relationship as well. The data associated with those variables all confirm how the processes of ENSO work for my readers. They also show and discuss how those upward shifts are caused by processes of ENSO. I’ve written so many posts on ENSO that it is impractical for me to link them here. A very good overview is provided in this post, or you may prefer to read the additional comments on the cross post at WattsUpWithThat.
James, you are more than welcome to use the search function at my website to research the process of ENSO. With all modesty, I have to say there’s a wealth of information there. I’ve assembled that same information in my book If the IPCC was Selling Manmade Global Warming as a Product, Would the FTC Stop their deceptive Ads? You might prefer the book since then you’d have a single source of more detailed discussions on the topics presented in this memo. It also illustrates and discusses how the climate models used by the IPCC in their 4th Assessment Report show no skill at being able to reproduce the global surface temperature record since 1901. Using those IPCC climate models in another group of comparisons, it shows that there are no similarities, none whatsoever, between how the sea surface temperatures of the individual ocean basins have actually warmed over the past 30 years and how the climate models show sea surface temperatures should have warmed if carbon dioxide was the cause. An overview of my book is provided in the above-linked post. Amazon also provides a Kindle preview that runs from the introduction through a good portion of Section 2. That’s about the first 15% of the book. Refer also to the introduction, table of contents, and closing in pdf form here. My book is written for those without technical backgrounds so someone like you with a deep understanding of climate science will easily be able to grasp what’s presented.
In closing, I was sort of surprised to see your May 10, 2012 opinion in the New York Times. I had discussed in the second part of my August 21, 2011 memo to you and Makiko Satothat ENSO, not carbon dioxide, is responsible for the recent 30-year rise in global sea surface temperatures. You must not have read that memo. Hopefully, you’ll read this one.