New peer reviewed paper: clouds have large negative cooling effect on Earth’s radiation budget

New peer reviewed paper: clouds have large negative cooling effect on Earth’s radiation budget (2011-09-20). Har, har. The word “feedback” is present in the URL of this post by Anthony, but no longer in the title… This is as close as Anthony gets to admitting he has once again jumped in with both feet, in haste and seeing only the conclusion that suited him.

Anthony’s certain that a new (peer-reviewed!!!!!!) paper by Richard Allan proves, once and for all, that clouds cause climate. So everyone can relax, those scientists were lying all along. Anthony claims that according to the paper:

a combination of satellite observations and models [show] that the cooling effect of clouds far outweighs the long-wave or “greenhouse” warming effect.

When the paper’s author, along with climatologist Bart Verheggen and even Roy Spencer point out that Anthony’s conclusion is not supported by anything in the paper, his fundamental response is a truculent “I saw things differently.” But why should he ‘fess up? Doctrinaire commenters such as ‘Roger Knights’, ‘Tall Bloke’, ‘RockyRoad’, etc will always praise his erroneous interpretation.

Bart asks:

Could you please point out where in this paper it is mentioned that “clouds have large negative-*feedback* cooling effect on Earth’s radiation budget”?

Roy Spencer says, with what must be considerable pain given his ‘my science serves my [denialist] politics’ perspective:

Bart is correct. This paper is not about cloud feedback…it is about the average effect of clouds on the climate system, which the IPCC, Trenberth, Dessler, et al. will all agree is a cooling effect. It is an update of the early estimates from ERBE many years ago.

Richard Allan, the paper author, comments:

I was surprised that this paper was mis-interpreted as suggesting negative cloud feedback. This is a basic error by the author of the post that has been highlighted by many contributors including Roy Spencer.

Even the contrarian Steven Mosher had something interesting to say about the motives of Antony’s “skeptical” supporters (emphasis mine):

it is also fascinating because of what we dont see. usually you will see a whole crew of commeters pounce on the word “model”. This time they didnt.

They didnt because they thought the paper supported spencer. But it was on an entirely different topic. That misunderstanding kinda silenced the usual “models are bad” crew.

Thanks to my commenters for drawing this entertaining post to my attention. It’s a classic example of Anthony’s enthusiastic ignorance. I’ve been overloaded with work and with supporting the recently concluded Toronto International Film Festival and would have missed this…

39 thoughts on “New peer reviewed paper: clouds have large negative cooling effect on Earth’s radiation budget

  1. So many classics in so little space, like pretend scientist tallbloke telling actual scientist Bart Verheggen to put down that goalpost and do some thinking or Dave Springer concluding

    “I’ve long suspected that the GCM authors didn’t have any basic textbook knowledge of how clouds effect the climate, or the subtleties of the water cycle in general otherwise they couldn’t have proposed their ballyhooed water vapor amplification with a straight face. Thanks you for confirming their ignorance. Spread the word.”

    You’d think that when it’s pointed out that something is entirely mainstream but this conflicts with what someone was told previously was mainstream this would cast doubt on that source of information. Nope it just means the conspiracy is worse than they thought.

    [Ah yes, them dumb scientists and their “learnin'”. A masterpiece of self-parody. – Ben]

  2. The whole post was predicated on the -21wm-2 figure being negative cloud feedback.

    Watt’s now knows that’s a mistake (even if as I suspect he still doesn’t understand why) but instead of retracting the post, he tries to spin an interpretation of the paper wherein he can still claim it shows negative feedback.

    Why did he even bother to removing “feedback” from the title when the post still starts with:

    “Oh dear, now we have three peer reviewed papers (Lindzen and Choi, Spencer and Braswell, and now Richard P. Allan) based on observations that show a net negative feedback for clouds”

    Massive mistakes like this are all the more amusing in light of WUWT’s stance on other people making mistakes.

    Coverups like this are all the more amusing in light of WUWT’s stance on other people’s coverups.

    But look also at the language of the post. It is of someone who considers themselves competent to not only understand Allan’s paper but even competent enough to compare it with Spencer’s paper.

    “This -21 w/m2 figure from Richard P. Allan is in good agreement with Spencer and Braswell”

    What, you have to ask, did Anthony base that claim on given that he didn’t even understand what the -21wm-2 was? What made him think -21 was in agreement, but -50 or -5 wouldn’t be?

    Also, what’s that 1.2wm-2 forcing from doubling CO2? I thought it was closer to 3.7wm-2?

    “The cooling effect is found to be -21 Watts per meter squared, more than 17 times the posited warming effect from a doubling of CO2 concentrations which is calculated to be ~ 1.2 Watts per meter squared”

    Watch them complain bitterly about Greenland maps in an atlas misleading people, but mistakes on WUWT that mislead people don’t matter because….

    You think I will get banned if I comment over at WUWT demanding to know what Quality Assurance procedures they have in place to catch errors before blog posts are published?

  3. Pingback: What I’m Reading Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | Rationally Thinking Out Loud

  4. Surely that post has to win some sort of blog science award in the way it encapsulates the ignorance and arrogance of the blogger and the blind acceptance of devoted posters, even managing to repress their Pavlovian rejection of modelling to support the dear leader.

  5. ps. I find that that post by Watts makes me oddly happy, as now the Emperor is wearing at least a jock strap as it slowly sinks through the Reptillian conciousness of his devotees that Watts perhaps has no idea what he is talking about. Of course the cult is not about to collapse over night but it does give me a sense of joy to visualise those small tremors of doubt that no matter how fleeting, are a inevitable result of reading douche bag’s mistake.

  6. Hey Ben, I think it’s great that you manage to combine humour with debunking of Anthony’s twisted logic. Did I say logic? Keep it up!

    [Thanks! Always nice to hear that my efforts are appreciated… – Ben]

    • Thanks from me, too. You’ve given me a good way to keep on top of WUWT’s nonsense without having to waste time there.

  7. Also, what’s that 1.2wm-2 forcing from doubling CO2? I thought it was closer to 3.7wm-2?

    The difference is before vs. after feedbacks (water vapour being the biggie)

    [But I thought climate scientists are completely unaware of water vapour! :-) – Ben]

  8. To appropriately fix this issue, there needs to an update at the TOP of the post getting across, at least, these two points:

    1. The paper IS NOT in agreement with Spencer’s
    2. You CANNOT shoehorn a number for full cloud radiative forcing into a feedback equation that is outputting change due to CO2. The number kept there is just completely misleading. It’s unnerving that this is just left out there.

    If he wants to include the baseless ENSO speculation, fine, but it’s a separate issue. The update, as it is, makes it appear as though the errors in the post have something to do with a disagreement about cloud feedback within the literature. No, the mistakes are because of a misreading of the paper in question and conclusions based on what the numbers mean. Changing the title of the post, while necessary, barely touches the issue. The paper is still being misrepresented!

    This should be quite embarrassing. But it’s not changed. Therefore, either he doesn’t understand how wrong it is, or, he doesn’t care how wrong it is.

    [I think his “error” continues to serve his purposes. – Ben]

  9. Ah, the Anthony Watts “Comedy Denial Show” just keeps on giving, to the point where he is now debunking his fellow denialists!

    Or as this Heartland 2011 conference video record of one Dr Scott Denning shows, arguing against the physics of climate change is a losers game and a complete waste of time.

    “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” Winston Churchill

  10. Hopefully, a proper editing job is done on the text to address all the places he was wrongly referring to feedback.

    [Would there be anything left? – Ben]

  11. “The difference is before vs. after feedbacks (water vapour being the biggie)”

    The forcing is independent of feedbacks. It’s about 3.7wm-2 for a doubling of CO2 I am sure of it. Saying it is 1.2wm-2 is another error by Watt’s surely.

    criminogenic makes a good point. The emperor has no clothes and that post definitely gets bookmarked under “encapsulating the ignorance and arrogance of the blogger and the blind acceptance of devoted posters” and no doubt I will be wheeling it out as demo material.

    But the problem is it only works for people who understand the difference between a forcing, a feedback and a radiative effect (the -21wm-2 being the latter). For most laypeople Watt’s sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. He was a TV meteorologist afterall :D

    [Appeal to authority! :-) – Ben]

  12. Pingback: The Climate Change Debate Thread - Page 894

  13. Er, excuse me, but…
    “clouds have large negative cooling effect”
    Isn’t negative cooling, warming?

    [You’re making the mistake of assuming that Anthony can write logically. – Ben]

  14. Hmm, no changes to Anthony’s post yet. He had left a comment in reply to Verheggen that a re-write was in the works.

    “Yep, that was a late night blunder. I’m rewriting the entire post while wide awake. I’m still hoping to hear from Dr. Allan reading Figure 7 – Anthony”

    We’ll see. I’m betting that this gets buried.

    [I’ve archived his post for future enjoyment – Ben]

  15. It is a pity that there is no debate between WattsUpWithThat and WottsUpWithThat. Most posters on each site agree with the view point of the site they are posting on. I guess it is to be expected, people don’t like to read things they don’t like, or disagree with. But it would be nice to read a proper discussion without the ad hominems.

    [If Anthony didn’t constantly mislead and misrepresent you can be sure I’d find more worthwhile things to do, so I reject your suggestion that I’m “the opposite” of Anthony. I’m surprised that you discount all the real and objective climate discussion that occurs at the true science sites. Have you heard of Real Climate? – Ben]

    • Chris, I’ve tried posting comments at WUWT and found that, even when sticking strictly to asking questions about the science, I get accused of being naive, ignorant of the great conspiracy out there, and insulting because I use the word “denier” to describe the people who deny the scientific validity of the 5,000 peer reviewed papers cited by IPCC (see conspiracy above). I gave up because they don’t want to talk about science over there. So, that’s my take on why there is no debate over at WUWT. To my knowledge, Anthony never acknowledges the errors he makes in science. But, boy, can he come down hard and fast on you if you say someone is in “denial” about a scientific fact.

      • I don’t think that anybody denies the validity of all of the papers referenced by the report, just the interpretations, conclusions and extrapolations made by the IPCC and probably also the selection process of which work to include. T

        The IPCC after all is a biased organisation whose mission is not to discover the truth come-what-may, but instead to support a political agenda to introduce green fuels and a carbon tax.

        [Seems the IPCC is actually underestimating the consequences because of their cautious bureaucratic nature. But that’s not the narrative you’ve swallowed. – Ben]

    • Real Climate is the same as Watts’ site but supporting a different view. And yes, I do read it.

      [Seriously? Anthony pulls crap out of his ass every single day. Real Climate is run by trained, intelligent, scientists. – Ben]

      • Well, they are Climate Scientists. But that is different to being an actual Scientist.

        [Well, there’s typing on a keyboard. But that’s different from expressing a defensible thought. Your comment is breathtakingly stupid. – Ben]

      • Chris, the fact that you write “The IPCC after all is a biased organisation…to support a political agenda” is exactly what I mean about the problems with WUWT and the denier community in general. You have a several hundred page scientific report, written, debated, reviewed and agreed to by scientists from around the world who are well-respected in their specialities, containing thousands of citations to peer-reviewed papers, and you just dismiss the work as “biased.”

        When I was commenting over at WUWT, this is the point where the non-science attack comments would come after me. What I’m looking for instead is someone to analyze the entire IPCC report and document all the scientific errors, including details of the flaws in each of the cited peer-reviewed papers, and report back what the actual scientific results are based on that analysis. They’ve has four years to do that. But they haven’t. I think it’s because they can’t. What do you think is the reason that has not been done?

      • The IPCC goes into the process assuming that AGW is occurring. That is bias.

        [“The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.” Care to ‘splain where the bias is? Outside your own thick skull that is. – Ben]

      • It accepts AGW from the outset in the statement you have pasted. Numskull.

        [Surprise! Your comprehension skills need work. Where is the word “warming”? The statement only assumes that human activity affects climate. That’s kind of a no-brainer. Once again you’re promoting to a false conclusion. – Ben]

  16. real climate is run by crooks, mann sand scmidt will be in the pen one day soon

    [You’re delusional. – Ben]

    • These types of accusations are not helpful. Discuss the science. You have presented no evidence that he is a “crook”. If you have some then call the Police about it.

      [I think you’re straying from the approved denialist arguments. But switching to “tone” complaints is a good idea when trying to defend brainlessness. – Ben]

      • Ben, you are so aggressive. It is silly. Cut it out.

        [I apologize for breaking your blog’s rules. Wait a minute, this is my website! And you know what? You’re noise not signal and I’m going to recalibrate. You’re banned from commenting. – Ben]

  17. The Amazing Decline in Deaths from Extreme Weather in an Era of Global Warming, 1900-2000” by Indur Goklany, WUWT (Sep25,2011)

    Eli Rabett has just (Sep26) created his own entry in the putative “worst graph in the world contest”.

    The world needs a comparable contest for the most creative interpretation of public health statistics, to provide more recognition for the works of Indur Goklany.

    Currently, the average global death toll attributable to extreme weather (which includes droughts and floods) is 36,000 per year. For comparison, “…a global death toll of 150,000 was attributable to global warming in 2000.” Despite this, he concludes his blogpost:

    “The decreases in the numbers of deaths and death rates (from extreme weather) reflect a remarkable improvement in society’s adaptive capacity, likely due to greather wealth and better technology, enabled in part by use of hydrocarbon fuels. IMPOSING ADDITIONAL RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF HYDROCARBON FUELS MAY SLOW THE RATE OF IMPROVEMENT OF THE ADAPTIVE CAPACITY AND THEREBY WORSEN ANY NEGATIVE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE. At the very least, the potential for such an adverse outcome should be weighed against any putative benefit arising from such restrictions.” (emphasis added)

    [Indur has convinced himself that oil consumption IS progress. All he has done is insistently mistake correlation with causation. – Ben]

  18. In Olden Days a glimpse of stocking
    Was looked on as something shocking,
    Now heaven knows…..
    Anything Goes.

    This is priceless. Anthony Watts is attempting to raise the tone of the debate. In practical terms this means he has renamed his ‘Al Gore is an Idiot’ blog category to just plain ‘Al Gore’. Thus in possession of the high ground he has requested the site ‘Sceptical Science’ to cease using the term denier, as in one who denies the evidence for Global Warming.

    So far so good. Labels add nothing to a debate, even if Watts is attempting a distraction – he can’t fault the science so he goes after the langauge – and playing the faux victim card.

    But where it gets entertaining is the desperate gyrations in attempting to prove that the word ‘denier’ means more than just ‘someone who denies’ and is inextricably linked to ‘holocaust denier’. In search of proof Watts logs into Google Books and does a temporal distribution plot (or ngram) of the word ‘denier’ in literature, and asks that we

    “Note the sharp peak right around WWII and afterwards, as books and stories were written about people who denied the horrible atrocities ever happened. No clearer connection between WWII atrocities denial and the word “denier” by itself could possibly exist. It’s a hockey stick on the uptake.”

    But then, a commenter capable of joining the dots points out ….

    “Anthony – the peak of ‘denier’ correlates with the introduction of the term ‘nylons’ “

    Heh. Not often I recommend WUWT but the back-pedalling, side-pedalling and reverse-peddalling of Anthony and his chorus are one of the most entertaining things on the ‘net right now. Get yourself a coffee and read the whole thread, its up to 280 comments and someone just brought in the KKK ….

    [As always, Anthony only see what he wants to see. Regarding the “tone of the debate” Anthony is, bluntly, tone deaf and that has nothing to do with his physical impediments. – Ben]

    • Anthony’s little ejaculations of ‘heh’ are the best thing about WUWT. It usually means he has been pwned but can’t admit it, and is thus attempting to trivialize whatever the subject of the pwning happens to be.

    • Great to see Obfuscants falling down the Rabbit hole together.

      My favourite line, that sums up their relationship to Science is Erl’s “it’s all good” as though Scientific methodology works through some sort ‘merit badge for turning up’ mechanism, granting credibility to a concept resulting from somebody’s ignorance purely because they blurted it out in a grammatically correct manner.
      Makes me pine for Medieval times when only a few could write, lol, still if the Telibahn win I won’t be laughing.

  19. Indur Goklany Redux

    My writing style would be better today if I’d taken more English courses, or fewer Math courses. “Q.E.D.” (“that which was to be demonstrated”) is an addictive labor-saving device. In mathematics it’s not necessary to restate the finding – the reader is expected to puzzle it out.

    But after reading thru the comments to Indur Goklany’s WUWT blogpost, I realize that an explicit restatement is necessary.

    Assuming that the burning of hydrocarbon fuels leads to AGW… And given 150,000 global warming deaths per year (protein malnutrition, diarrheal disease, malaria, etc.). and 36,000 global extreme weather deaths per year (which is 24%).

    We’ll be generous, and assume that there would be a 20% increase in extreme weather event deaths, due to “additional restrictions on the use of hydrocarbon fuels.”

    So, for a potential 100% death toll increase in AGW deaths… The cost of avoiding these AGW deaths would be a
    (20%)(24%)(100%) = 4.8% death toll attributable to extreme weather.

    So, Indur Goklany argues that we should accept a 100% increase in the AGW death toll, because its prevention would cost 4.8% as many deaths in extreme weather events.


    [Doing the math is cheating! – Ben]

  20. [Grade-school playground sarcasm deleted]

    Man you folks are pathetic. Get a life, seriously

    [Thanks for your usual discerning perspective, which reminds me why you are banned from commenting here. If ‘we so dum’ then why do you keep trying to wriggle back in? – Ben]

  21. Blimey, I see (“Video analysis and scene replication suggests that Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project fabricated their Climate 101 video “Simple Experiment”“) that now you can’t make a video from takes and that has been through a editorial process without it being called (well, by Anthony, WUWT commentators and if it’s made by Al Gore) a ‘fabrication’ and a ‘fraud’.

    Well, it must be just live TV from now then.

    Edit: I demand to see Anthony pre copies of all his articles, all his deletes and reworks – after all, what has he to hide?

  22. Ben, You absolutely must blog about Watts’s latest piece finding “fabrications” in Al Gore’s climate 101 science experiment from last week’s Climate Reality Project. He’s over 500 comments! Seems the WUWT crowd is far more interested in looking for a second shooter on a grassy knoll than trying to replicate a simple science experiment themselves. Ah, the scientific process!

  23. Re Al Gore’s experiment

    The only question is whether they really are so stupid that they are genuinely offended that the video was edited, or whether they know they are being facetious.

    Al Gore’s video was a step-by-step video explaining to the viewer how they could perform a simple experiment that shows CO2 traps infrared radiation and warms air. Watt’s admits that simple experiments do in fact show such a result, so what’s his complaint? His hangup is that the video was not a single run through but was edited for presentation reasons.

    He even states that you can’t read the thermometer through the glass that well. So why is he so surprised that the people making the video recorded the thermometers outside the glass in a separate take?

    The format of the video was such that it could have been done as a cartoon even. It was only explaining how such an experiment could be done and what the results would be, not an actual run through.

    The whole skeptic game is to find an angle by which they can throw the words “fake” without it being an outright lie.

    This is identical to a year or so back when WUWT was getting steamed up about a photoshopped image of flooded house in an NOAA report. The photo was merely an illustration for the “floods” section. To that end it didn’t matter whether the photo was of a real flooded house or a photoshopped one.

    Well if they want to play that game I recommend everyone watch out for WUWT or any other skeptic group falling foul of their own stupid rules. At some point one of them will use a photoshopped image for the means of illustration.

    [How about every “graph” ever produced by Willis Eschenbach or Steven Goddard? – Ben]

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