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~QT~™ asked in EnvironmentGlobal Warming · 1 decade ago

How can the skeptics give credence to both Lindzen and Spencer when their arguments are so contradictory?

Richard Lindzen recently made the following claim:

“The greenhouse forcing from manmade greenhouse gases is already about 86% of what one expects from a doubling of CO2, and alarming predictions depend on models for which the sensitivity to a doubling for CO2 is greater than 2C which implies that we should already have seen more warming than we have seen thus far.”

This suggestion is absolutely ridiculous. It ignores the OCEAN’S THERMAL INERTIA as well as all negative forcings. Additionally, this claim appears to contradict Roy Spencer’s theory that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation causes global warming.

Spencer's theory could only be correct if the radiative forcing from the PDO were VERY large. However, this significant of a climate forcing would cause wild interannual temperature variations. Not surprisingly, Spencer has attempted to conceal this fact. As Dr. Ray Pierrehumbert points out, Spencer used a mixed layer depth that was nearly 16 times too large. Therefore, the climate system in his model had considerably MORE THERMAL INERTIA than the actual climate system. For this reason, large interannual temperature fluctuations did not appear in his simulation.

In essence, Spencer’s claim could only be true if the ocean mixed layer were much deeper than it actually is. On the other hand, Lindzen’s theory could only be true if the ocean mixed layer were virtually nonexistent. Isn’t this ironic!

How can skeptics give credence to both Lindzen and Spencer when their arguments are so contradictory?


@ Eric - Of course the oceans will release extra moisture into the air as the planet warms. This is one of MANY positive feedbacks!

Oh, wait - I thought that Lindzen and Spencer were arguing for low climate sensitivity...

Update 2:

@ Eric - Can you explain why Spencer used an ocean mixed layer depth of EIGHT HUNDRED meters in the this blog post:

Update 3:

My additional details should have read:

"...EIGHT HUNDRED meters in THIS blog post..."

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Love this question :)

    On a slightly related note, there was another article at SkS (actually, a set of articles) about Spencer's simple model which he based his "The Great Global Warming Blunder" book off of. I recall discussion leading up to the conclusion that his model demanded outrageously unrealistic past conditions to accurately (somewhat) predict the twentieth century temperature trend. A figure of negative several trillion degrees Celsius in the past comes to mind, was it around 2000 BC (or y.a.?)? I'll have a look and see if I can find what I'm referring to, it was somewhat recent.

    Edit: Yes, here, from Professor Barry Bickmore at Brigham Young. I thought it was a very interesting read:

    (And the exact time frame was about 1000 AD. Oh dear.)

    >>>He is saying that the PDO causes changes in cloud cover.

    You mean forces?

    I'm curious as to what you meant earlier by the difference between forcing and causing. As I have come to understand how "forcing" is used, more in relation to solar forcing or more generally as "causing", it doesn't seem like there wuold be much of a difference to use one over the other as Spencer seems to argue for internal variation, not external as from the Sun.

  • 1 decade ago

    Eric's answer is a perfect illustration - they can believe contradictory arguments by putting their denial blinders on.

    Bottom line, deniers need the AGW theory to be wrong for ideological reasons. They don't care why it's wrong, as long as it's wrong. So if Spencer tells them it's wrong because the oceans are driving temperature change, they'll buy it. If Lindzen tells them it's wrong because oceans don't store much heat, they'll also buy it. Someone else tells them global warming is being caused by the Sun, and they'll buy that too. Someone else tells them the planet isn't warming, and they're all over it. A good article on the science of science denial:

    But you're correct that Spencer and Lindzen are contradicting each other on ocean heat storage, and ironically, both are wrong.

    *edit* Eric, how exactly do you think PDO causes changes in cloud cover? Hint: it ain't magic.

  • Paula
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    There is no understanding global warming skeptics.

    They have some "hidden" agenda running. Such as selling a book. Any argument about the correctness of their AGW stances is irrelevant in isolation from the agenda they are running.

    The correctness of global warming is established beyond reasonable doubt.

    What is not yet established is :

    1) the ultimate effects of global warming,


    2) what (if anything) is the world going to do about it.

  • Eric c
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Skeptics have a problem with the statement "settled science" especially when you considered that this statement has been tossed about before the study of climate science even began. There are far too many things in climate that still remains a mystery.

    Lindzen has said that claims that climate models can accurately reproduce past climates are absurd because they do not take into account poorly understood climate phenomena such as Enso cycles. This shows that he considers that enso cycles may play a role, but we do not know too much about them to accurately say for certain.

    As for Spencer's claim that the PDO plays a role, you have misunderstood the connection. Spencer claims that the PDO does not cause a change, but forces a change.

    "Here I present new evidence that most of the warming could be the result of a natural cycle in cloud cover forced by a well-known mode of natural climate variability: the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)."

    Play close attention to "the warming could be the result of a natural cycle in cloud cover ". I take it you do know the difference between caused and forced. If not, stopped pretending to be so scientific.

    Edit to Dana: There is no contradiction. Lindzen says there is a good correlation between PDO and shifts in climate, but the mechanism is poorly understood. Spencer does not talk at all about PDO and heat storage in the oceans. He is saying that the PDO causes changes in cloud cover.

    Edit#2: How about the ocean releasing extra moisture into the air?

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • In the United States at least, former climate change believers are now en masse contacting local district attorneys, politicians and law makers to have the leading scientists and especially leading news editors subjected to criminal charges for knowingly sustaining the criminal exaggerations of the CO2 mistake for the last 25 years. It is now appearing that issuing CO2 death threats to billions of children unnecessarily has not gone unnoticed and unlike Bush getting away with his false war in Iraq, the false war of climate change will sooner or later be dealt with in the courts.

    And keep in mind that it was the scientists themselves that made environmental protection necessary in the first place when they supposedly polluted the planet with their evil chemicals and cancer causing pesticides and so how ironic is it that we bowed like fools to our Gods of science for 25 years of “unstoppable warming”?

    Scientists are not gods and don’t forget that scientists also produced cruise missiles, cancer causing chemicals, land mine technology, nuclear weapons, germ warfare, cluster bombs, strip mining technology, Y2K, Y2Kyoto, deep sea drilling technology and now climate control. Proof of consensus not being real is the fact that scientists did not march in the streets when IPCC funding was pulled, the EPA was castrated and Obama’s not even mentioning the “crisis” in his state of the union speech. Consensus was a myth because if it were true, the consensus scientists declaring a climate emergency would act like it was an emergency and demand their CO2 mitigation be taken seriously. We believed a handful of lab coat consultants who said we could CONTROL the planet’s temperature and prevent it from boiling. Pure insanity as history will call this modern day witch burning. The new denier is anyone still believing voters will vote YES to taxing the air to make the weather colder. Not going to happen.

    REAL planet lovers don't hold scientists as Gods and bow to politicians promising to make lower the seas and scare kids with such doomsday glee.

    Stay tuned. We missed getting Bush for his false war and a wave of former believer rage will get this one right. Call the courthouse.

  • 1 decade ago

    There are no more general skeptics. If one takes the position that lying is justified (due to whatever bizarre or amoral twisted logic) then there is no contradiction between lies (since they are deliberately untrue) which WOULD be contradictory if true.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Because they can.

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