Wednesday, July 5, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: China Met Office Confirms Global Warming Hiatus

University Professors Afraid To Teach Controversial Subjects For Fear Of Being Sacked

In this newsletter:

1) China Met Office Confirms Global Warming Hiatus
GWPF Observatory, 4 July 2017 
2) Global Land-Surface Air Temperature Change Based On The New CMA GLSAT Data Set
Science Bulletin, 62(4) 2017
3) Inconvenient Truths Surface Amid Climate Model Doubts
The Australian, 1 July 2017 
4) EPA To Launch Red Team/Blue Team Program To Evaluate Climate Science
E & E News, 30 June 2017
5) Judith Curry: What Is Red Teaming?
Climate Etc. 3 July 2017 
6) Stephen Hawking Flies Off The Scientific Reservation
Roy Spencer, 3 July 2017 
7) It’s All Over For UK Science: University Professors Afraid To Teach Controversial Subjects For Fear Of Being Sacked
The Daily Telegraph, 30 June 2017  

Full details:

1) China Met Office Confirms Global Warming Hiatus
GWPF Observatory, 4 July 2017 
Dr David Whitehouse, GWPF Science Editor

The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) has recently developed a new global monthly land-surface air temperature data set called CMA GLSAT. Using it researchers from the administration reanalysed the change in global annual mean land-surface air temperature during three time periods (1901–2014, 1979–2014 and 1998–2014) to see if there was any evidence of a hiatus or pause in recent surface global warming.

The CMA GLSAT-v1.0 data has its sources in the three original global data sets (CRUTEM4, GHCN-V3 and BEST), eight national data sets (Canada national climate and weather data archive, Australia high-quality climate change data set, United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) data set, Korean exchange data set, Vietnam exchange data set, and the data sets of the CMA, Russian Meteorological Agency and Japan Meteorological Agency), and four regional data sets (South American regional data set, Africa regional data set, European regional data set, and Antarctic climate data)

In preparing the new database Xiubao Sun and colleagues from the CMA say they addressed a number of problems with other surface temperature databases, in particular the relatively poor coverage of stations across Antarctica, Africa, South America, and Asia. They note that the IPCC AR5 report concluded that the warming trends in these regions are associated with a lower confidence level. They also improved the absence of early period stations, especially before 1940.

The researchers find very clear evidence for the recent warming hiatus. Their results show linear trends of 0.104 °C per decade, 0.247 °C per decade and 0.098°C per decade for the three periods, respectively. The trends were statistically significant except for the period 1998–2014, the period that is also known as the ‘warming hiatus’.

Table 1: Sun et al. 2017

The annual mean surface temperature anomaly time series for both hemispheres and the globe over the period 1901–2014 are shown in their Fig 1. The linear trends of annual mean surface temperature for SH, NH and the globe were 0.088 °C per decade, 0.115 °C per decade and 0.104 °C per decade, respectively, all statistically significant at the 5% confidence level. Much of the hemispheric and global warming occurred in two distinct periods, from the 1910s to the late 1930s and from the early 1980s to the mid-2000s. The relatively cool periods or stable periods appeared in the 1900s, 1940s–1970s and between 2005 and 2014. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Overall, they find that the annual warming was larger in the NH (0.115 °C per decade) than in the SH (0.088 °C per decade). From the early 1950 to early 1970s, however, the SH exhibited an insignificant warming, whereas the NH exhibited a slight cooling. The land warming from the early 1980s was much more remarkable in the NH than in the SH. They add it is also clear that the global mean surface temperature change was largely determined by the NH because there were a much greater number of grid boxes containing data in the NH than in the SH.

The researchers conclude that from 1979 to 2014, the mean surface temperature anomalies in the SH, the NH and the globe showed annual unprecedented and highly significant warming trends, reaching 0.138 °C per decade, 0.317 °C per decade and 0.247 °C per decade, respectively. From 1998 to 2014, however, he two hemispheres and the globe experienced the ‘warming hiatus’, with the SH, NH and global lands registering insignificant warming trends of 0.087 °C per decade, 0.105 °C per decade and 0.098 °C per decade, respectively.

During the recent ‘warming hiatus’ they note that a high incoherence in global surface temperature changes can be seen, with the abnormal warming in Arctic areas neighboring the Eurasian Continent and North Atlantic Ocean and remarkable cooling in North America, East and Central Asia, northern Australia and southern Africa. The slowdown of climate warming, they say, seems to mainly occur at the low and middle latitudes of the hemispheres, and especially in the boreal cold season.

2) Global Land-Surface Air Temperature Change Based On The New CMA GLSAT Data Set
Science Bulletin, 62(4) 2017
Xiubao Sun et al.

The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) has recently developed a new global monthly homogenized land-surface air temperature data set. Based on this data set, we reanalyzed the change in global annual mean land-surface air temperature (LSAT) during three time periods (1901–2014, 1979–2014 and 1998–2014). The results show that the linear trends of global annual mean LSAT were 0.104 °C/decade, 0.247 °C/decade and 0.098 °C/decade for the three periods, respectively. The trends were statistically significant except for the period 1998–2014, the period that is also known as the “warming hiatus”.

Full paper

3) Inconvenient Truths Surface Amid Climate Model Doubts
The Australian, 1 July 2017 

Temperatures are returning quickly to pre-El Nino levels.

With preparations under way for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s next report, a key challenge for scientists remains to explain properly the 20- year slowdown in surface temperature rises and the failure of models to predict it.

The so-called pause has been a totemic issue for sceptics, who have earned derision from much of the climate science community since bringing it to global attention. The slowdown or hiatus was mentioned, however, in the IPCC fifth assessment report, and ­behind the vitriol there has been a lot of work done to provide some answers for the sixth assessment report to be published next year.

The latest instalment is a paper by a group of the world’s leading climate scientists who now admit climate models have been wrong and must be adjusted to better reflect the results of satellite temperature measurements. During the past two decades, these results have shown a slowdown in temperature rises in the troposphere, which is the lowest layer of the ­atmosphere where almost all of our weather occurs.

The admission is contained in a new paper published in Nature Geoscience, which says a combination of factors including natural variability and unforeseen events have been responsible for models over-estimating the temperature rise. Natural variability includes the El Nino and La Nina weather patterns and oscillations on a decadal scale in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Unforeseen factors that contributed to cooling included volcanic eruptions, a weaker sun in the last solar cycle and increased particulate pollution from Chinese coal-fired power plants.

The paper, Causes of Differ­ences in Model and Satellite Tropospheric Warming Rates, is lead-authored by Benjamin Santer from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US, and includes Michael Mann from the Earth System Science Centre at Pennsylvania State University and Matthew England from the University of NSW.

Sceptics have claimed the paper as evidence to support the pause. But the authors say their paper rules out claims the atmosphere is less sensitive to carbon dioxide or that future warming was not a concern.

“None of our findings call into question the reality of long-term warming of Earth’s troposphere and surface, or cast doubt on prevailing estimates of the amount of warming we can expect from future increases in (greenhouse gas) concentrations,” the authors say.

“Even though the most recent 20-year warming trend is smaller than in earlier parts of the satellite record, it is still significantly larger than the range of 20-year trends caused by internal climate variability alone.”

The paper says that in the early 21st century, satellite-derived tropospheric warming trends have been generally smaller than trends estimated from a collection of models run many times.

After analysing satellite temperatures and model simulations the scientists found internal variability could explain differences between modelled and observed tropospheric temperature trends in the last two decades of the 20th century.

However, it cannot explain the divergence for the past two decades of this century, the time of the pause. The latest paper follows on from another with many of the same authors, including ­Santer and England, published in Nature in February last year.

That paper, Making Sense of the Early 2000s Warming Slowdown, was one of the first signs of a building consensus position between key climate scientists and sceptics on the existence of a slowdown. The paper rejected the finding of other scientists that “claims of a hiatus in global warming lack sound scientific basis”.

Those scientists sceptical of the hiatus had “benchmarked the recent slowdown against a baseline period that includes times with a lower rate of increase in greenhouse forcing”, it said.

In keeping with the latest research findings, last year’s paper said the reduction arose though the combined effects of internal decadal variability, volcanic and solar activity, and decadal changes in anthropogenic aerosol forcing. These findings contrast with the harsh criticism levelled at sceptics who first highlighted the existence of the slowdown or pause.

It is why many sceptics advocate a more robust contest of climate science alongside the peer-reviewed process.

The immediate dispute is over whether the spike in global temperatures during the most recent El Nino represented an end to the pause. The latest evidence is that temperatures are returning quickly to pre-El Nino levels.

Noted contrarian Judith Curry argues there are better ways to assess science for policymakers than a consensus-seeking process that she says serves to stifle disagreement and debate. “The climate community has prematurely elevated a scientific hypothesis on human-caused climate change to a ruling theory through claims of a consensus,” Curry says.

“Premature theories enforced by an explicit consensus-building process harm scientific progress because of the questions that don’t get asked and the investigations that aren’t undertaken.”

Curry argues “our understanding of climate dynamics on decadal to century to millennial timescales is far from complete”, something supported by the latest research. But Mann — who characterised Curry as a “denier” in a recent US house committee hearing — says “we understand the science of climate just about as well as we understand the science of just about anything”.

The election of Donald Trump and pending withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement has emboldened many who want to promote a more rigorous debate. Scott Pruitt, the new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has put his weight behind calls for a red team v blue team examination of the climate science.

Under such as proposal, two teams would review a published scientific report such as the UN Summary for Policymakers or the US government’s National Climate Assessment. A red team would critique the document and a blue team would challenge the ­critique. A commission would moderate the process and conduct public hearings to highlight points of agreement and dispute.

Pruitt says the American people deserve “a true, legitimate, peer-reviewed, objective, transparent discussion about CO2 … what we know, what we don’t know and what risk does it pose to health, the US and the world. It’s something we hope to provide as part of our leadership.”

In The Wall Street Journal last month Steve Koonin, a theoretical physicist and former undersecretary during Barack Obama’s first term, said the outcome of a red-blue exercise was not preordained.

“It could reveal the current consensus as weaker than claimed,” he said. “Alternatively, the consensus could emerge strengthened if red team criticisms were countered effectively.”

The suggestion is that any red team-blue team exercise be co-ordinated by the National Security Agency rather than the major science academies. Critics argue it is just another attempt to muddy the waters with uncertainty. They say healthy scepticism and competi­tion already exist in the peer review process.

see also: The Truth about the Global Warming Pause
4) EPA To Launch Red Team/Blue Team Program To Evaluate Climate Science
E & E News, 30 June 2017
Emily Holden

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is leading a formal initiative to challenge mainstream climate science using a “back-and-forth critique” by government-recruited experts, according to a senior administration official.

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt favors reopening the endangerment finding on greenhouse gases, according to Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp. @EPAScottPruitt/Twitter

The program will use “red team, blue team” exercises to conduct an “at-length evaluation of U.S. climate science,” the official said, referring to a concept developed by the military to identify vulnerabilities in field operations.

“The administrator believes that we will be able to recruit the best in the fields which study climate and will organize a specific process in which these individuals … provide back-and-forth critique of specific new reports on climate science,” the source said.

“We are in fact very excited about this initiative,” the official added. “Climate science, like other fields of science, is constantly changing. A new, fresh and transparent evaluation is something everyone should support doing.”

The disclosure follows the administration’s suggestions over several days that it supports reviewing climate science outside the normal peer-review process used by scientists. This is the first time agency officials acknowledged that Pruitt has begun that process. The source said Energy Secretary Rick Perry also favors the review.

Executives in the coal industry interpret the move as a step toward challenging the endangerment finding, the agency’s legal foundation for regulating greenhouse gases from cars, power plants and other sources. Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp., said Pruitt assured him yesterday that he plans to begin reviewing the endangerment finding within months.

“We talked about that, and they’re going to start addressing it later this year,” Murray said in an interview. “They’re going to start getting a lot of scientific people in to give both sides of the issue.”

Climate scientists express concern that the “red team, blue team” concept could politicize scientific research and disproportionately elevate the views of a relatively small number of experts who disagree with mainstream scientists (Climatewire, June 29).

Pruitt told about 30 people attending a board meeting of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity yesterday morning that he’s establishing a “specific process” to review climate science, the administration official said. Murray and two other people in the room interpreted Pruitt as saying he would challenge the endangerment finding.

Challenging the endangerment finding would be enormously difficult, according to many lawyers. The finding is built on an array of scientific material establishing that human health and welfare is endangered by a handful of greenhouse gases emitted by industry, power plants and cars. It stems from a Supreme Court ruling in 2007.

If Pruitt somehow succeeded in rolling back the finding — an outcome that many Republicans say is far-fetched — the federal government would no longer be required to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.

Full story

see also: Red Teams Can Save Climate Science From Itself

5) Judith Curry: What Is Red Teaming?
Climate Etc. 3 July 2017 

Last week, Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator, stated he intended to form a ‘red team’ to debate climate science.  What exactly is ‘red teaming’, and how can this be implemented in a way that is useful for climate science and for policy makers?

Reactions to proposed climate red team

Some analyses of Pruitt’s proposal from the media:

E&E News: Red teams gain prominence to question climate science

NYTimes: EPA to Give Dissenters a Voice on Climate, No Matter the Consensus

Arguably the most interesting article on this comes from Joseph Majkut of the Niskanen Center:  Can a Red Team Exorcise the Climate Debate? Excerpts:

On the contrary, both climate scientists and advocates should see opportunity in a red team exercise. A properly-done red team exercise could both elevate the status of climate science in the Trump administration and among Republicans, and reset how we approach climate science as a nation.

Many climate skeptics suspect that the climate science community is caught up in political conformity that leans toward alarmism, and that alternative ideas about the causes and risks of climate change cannot break through peer review. Red teaming is designed to address such a situation. As Micah Zenko writes in his authoritative book Red Team: in institutions that are supposed to police themselves through internal processes, like the scientific community with peer-review, “even longtime analysts are susceptible to adopting the assumptions and biases of the institutions and subjects they are supposed to be objectively studying.” Whether climate science is caught in such a morass or not, many people in power think that it is. We have to find a way to unstick that belief if the climate debate is to move forward. A red team exercise is a fine way to do it. 

The strongest red team exercises have buy-in from all parties and give the red team resources to perform original analysis along a set of critical questions. They also ensure that the team has the right mixture of expertise so that its results will be considered credible to the institution they are looking to influence (in this case, climate science). Lastly, they give the red team sufficient independence to come to original and creative conclusions.

What is red teaming?

There are many pitfalls in  establishing and conducting a successful and useful red team exercise. To avoid these pitfalls, the relevant policy makers, potential scientist participants, and journalists should have an open discussion on the objectives and guidelines. And not to mention actually learn something from experts on red teaming.

Full post 

6) Stephen Hawking Flies Off The Scientific Reservation
Roy Spencer, 3 July 2017 

I can understand when pop-scientists like Bill Nye spout scientific silliness. But complete nonsense coming from Stephen Hawking? Really?

In this video, Stephen Hawking claims that Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Accord could lead to the Earth being pushed past a tipping point, with Venus-like 250 deg. C temperatures and sulfuric acid rain.

The trouble with this statement is that no reputable climate scientist would claim such a thing. The reason is that Venus has about 220,000 times as much carbon dioxide in its atmosphere as does Earth.

Meanwhile, human civilization will have trouble simply doubling (2x) our atmospheric CO2 concentration (it’s taken about 100 years to increase it by 50%, which is half way to doubling).

Since we don’t know what our future energy mix will be in 50-100 years, it’s not obvious we will even reach “2XCO2”.

So, how could we possibly get from 2x to 220,000x?

We can’t.


Not even if we wanted to.

Venus is a very different planet. Venus has 93x as much atmosphere as Earth, and it is almost 100% CO2. The CO2 concentration in our comparatively thin atmosphere is only 0.04%.

I have no idea where Hawking ever got such a wild idea. Apparently, he had his audience in tears with his dire predictions.

Full post

see also BBC News 2001: Scientists criticise Hawking ‘hype

7) It’s All Over For UK Science: University Professors Afraid To Teach Controversial Subjects For Fear Of Being Sacked
The Daily Telegraph, 30 June 2017
Harry Yorke
Students are now so powerful that university professors are afraid to teach controversial subjects for fear of being sacked, an academic conference was told on Thursday. 

Professor Dennis Hayes, a co-founder of “Academics for Academic Freedom” said that universities were now ruled by a “culture of censorious quietude” where academics were not able to discuss “anything difficult.”

Speaking at the University of Buckingham yesterday, Prof Hayes added: “There’s an interesting turn today, it’s not that people are abusive, it’s just that they don’t say anything at all in universities.

“There’s so many things that could be discussed that you dare not say. And the consequences of arguing anything difficult is potentially that you could be sacked.

“These are mainstream views, of the state, institutions and particularly universities. Gay rights, feminism, gender fluidity, fear of Islamaphobia‎, the belief that we are all unwell, identity-based politics, are not views that challenge conventional thinking in the way that every university has in its charter.

‘These are conventional thinking. You dare not say you’re against gay marriage. Just discussing any of these things can get you in serious trouble if not the sack. What exists in universities is a culture of censorious quietude.

“Try arguing ‘there are boys and girls’… or as McEnroe has found out, that there are male and female tennis players.

“Things are simply not discussed. Academics and student… they go silent. They may even take delight in people who stand up and get beaten for their views.”

Discussing his decision to found a pro-free speech group in 2006, Prof Hayes added that he wanted academics to feel “free” to discuss controversial subjects on campus.

“The cry of offence, the fear of personal emotional hurt, is now the greatest threat to academic freedom,” he continued.

His warning came as the Universities Minister Jo Johnson warned that the erosion of freedom of speech on campus jeopardised Britain’s standing as an “intellectual powerhouse”.

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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