the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Positive Climate Feedback

Posted by Jeff Id on July 22, 2010

Positive feedback is used in every climate model to demonstrate aggressive warming from small changes in CO2.  Climate scientists agree that these models are accurate despite the disgustingly poorly quantified response of climate to warming.  The models also incorporate ridiculously long and nearly impossible CO2 absorption times. Let’s not get started on the aerosol assumptions, yet everyone is so sure – well climate science is.   You question them directly and  get obtuse answers and references to papers which are as full of assumption as can be imagined.  They really don’t know these important answers – so they couch it in uncertainty and have piled enough of it on top of the piles of others to declare consensus and further, that unbelievers (or the unconvinced) are deniers,   deceivers, on the payroll of whichever energy company powers their cushy lifestyles.

What causes this kind of self deception.   It is a deception in my opinion because there is a LOT more than uncertainty in climate science and it’s astoundingly easy to find.  You can see it in the way climategate was handled.  They can’t explain the fact that data is contradicting their conclusions, so they delete the data.  It’s the case with Kelly discussing the deletion  of endpoints for a presentation.  If you add Jones, Mann, and Briffa discussing hide the decline, it’s a done deal.  They spent literally over a decade pointing out the same flaws to each other that today’s skeptics discuss in paleo-papers and yet…………. still publish the unpublishable,  conclude the inconclusive, sophisticizing the unknown settling for the term …uncertainty.

Climate science is similar to the ‘science’ of philosophy in my mind.  Philosophy had no start point, no foundation which could be built on.   Some scientists imagined less and less knowledge about the universe until nothing could be knowable, others assumed god wasn’t a deceiver and built from there.  Neither of these cases was provable yet they spent their lives doing ‘science’.   If people listened to them,  then they must be doing the right thing.  Of course they could have heated discussions inside their group but was anyone’s conclusion wrong??


The understanding of philosophy at that level is unprovable.

In the case of climate science, these people are required to engage in predicting the future.  Which to my knowledge has never been done to much accuracy.  Not one instance of future prediction has ever worked out —- on a scientific certainty of course.    I suppose that if you plan to go to work tomorrow and call the boss an asshole, there might be some ability to predict the future but that is fairly unique.

Weathermen have been our favorite punchbags for how many years?   Does anyone want to bet on the weather next week?  Does anyone want the job itself?

Now most here understand that the effects the climatologists describe will create a long slow signal on top of the weather noise.  It does make sense, but for those of us who work in other science fields, and can understand a RegEM paper, the climate unknown is more than a bit of uncertainty.  It’s just unknown.  I don’t care what consensus scientists say about it, my experience in science is that if you cannot explain it clearly, the matter is not known.

I’ve run across plenty of confusing and surprising situations in my career but there is always the known and the unknown, there is also uncertainty but climate science is absolutely RIFE with unknowns, disguised in publication as uncertainty.   For instance,  THEY don’t know why and didn’t predict THAT Antarctic sea ice would increase.  They don’t know the true cycle of CO2 in the atmosphere and They don’t know what feedback’s to expect from warming.

So how can a science become so sure of itself?  Jeff, Jeff, Jeff, how can so many become so deluded that they cannot see and only you can??   Why is it only you that can see the truth??

Well first, I’m hardly alone but I have an aversion to the uniformity of their politics. Consider that admission in the face of those who would discredit my opinions.     How can such a large group all have such similar politics?   It makes me very irritated to see the false solutions they propose, biofuel, today’s solar, etc.  but of course that cannot affect the science.  I simply will NOT allow it to affect my opinions on science.  Numbers are numbers, math is math.

I started this blog thinking that if the science is true, why is every solution based on limitation.  Why aren’t we discussing solutions that work?  The working stuff like nuclear, research into batteries and solar.

That would have been a fine discussion for me to spend months on, but it was Mann08 at Climate Audit that started me seeing the problems in the science.  And the science is fat with bad work.  Absolutely fat with people making ridiculous and unprovable conclusions like fish shrinking 40% from overfishing and 3% more from global warming.  Coral’s dissolving. Birds and sheep smaller today due to carbon emissions yet flatly ignoring the positives in plant growth.  Very much of this is complete bullcrap, it is not a close call, and neither is ‘hide the decline’.

I’ve never seen more garbage in science. ………….So why AGW?

In engineering, we have the god of physics looking over our shoulder with a very heavy steel fly swatter waiting to smack our best ideas down the moment they are created.  If you make a mistake, it’s often not catastrophic, but I guarantee you  — god will help you find it.

It’s feedback.

Philosophy has none.  Zero feedback for results except for what others think of them.  There isn’t to my knowledge a god of philosophy, and I cannot remember the fraudulent philosopher, but it’s not my field.

Think about that, weatherman’s models must be equally or more sophisticated than climate models yet some reports say weathermen are almost as widely skeptics as climatologists are believers.   Why….. because they experience feedback – within hours — and we all know what happens to their best ideas.  They know that weather sometimes doesn’t follow their best ideas/models.  The technical here will understand that sophists may claim density of data is the problem,  but they will also understand that something isn’t perfect in the model..

In climate, no scientist has ever been proven wrong to my knowledge.  Mann98 was found by NAS to be good for 400 of 2000 years despite the fact that nobody knows the proxies are temp or whatever and despite the fact that the math was botched — completely.

Hell, they still defend the rubbish at ‘real cliamate’.

But there’s more to the problem.  Climate scientists not only don’t receive the negative feedback they require to comprehend the hard science they imagine,  climate science has positive feedback built in.  A strong, massively positive feedback from:

Government Money

And more exactly from world government money.  Does anyone think Mann and Jones suffer from lack of funds? What about my old engineering professors.  Does anyone want to guess who does better work?  Global warming “”science”” is a hundred billion plus dollar industry — and expanding.

This is also not a close call.

What we citizens of planet Earth are left with, is a funding of a soft science by government officials.  Gee who do you think they would fund?  Would they fund Steve McIntyre to archive data or would they rather pay Mann to make an unprecedented temperature reconstruction while simultaneously stating that we need more government taxation and regulation to solve the problem?? — not a close call.

Nevermind that nobody is going to talk about the only working solutions to energy.

Nevermind that paleo temperature reconstructions are FOUNDED on bad math.

Nevermind that models all have the same feedbacks.

Nevermind that global temperature data is so bad that the labels are wrong on hundreds  of stations.

“What we have here is a ‘failure to communicate'”.

Either that, or it’s a positive $$  feedback pushing us to a tipping point of regulation, exactly as anticipated by the creators of the IPCC.  The brilliance of these politicians exceeded anything a 29 year old scientist can conceive – even as they have aged.

Oddly, ironically, uniquely……..the only thing we don’t have is, uncertainty.


So with that beautifully espoused work, 😛  I am taking the next few days off.  I do have more Mannian stuff to dig with a shovel but if those of my many scientific readers (some of whom are philosophers) will consider where they would be in life without being wrong once in a while.

I’m serious!  Imagine yourself as that cocky young kid with no negative feedback. — not so hard is it?  You knew you could keep up with the big guys on absolutely anything.   Your prof’s say NOTHING that you cannot understand or figure out.

Most scientific skeptics here were able enough to keep up with whatever, and you damned well knew it,  but at 29, you were a kid…  No intimidation…….none of what your colleagues felt and often verbalized.  You could keep up and with some effort exceed others at the science game.  What do you think turned you into skeptics? Not following the herd for sure.

So in accepting that, consider:

What if  no physical realities were there to show you that you were EVER wrong?

What would that do to your personality?


Instead of occasional learning experiences,  someone pays you big $$ for all of your results.

Mann was discovered at 29.  Yet he doesn’t think I (or we) understand him in his complexity.  I’m equally certain that he doesn’t understand the Air Vent.  Parity right?     Mann had already been internationally recognized for success when he ran into the correct math after all.  Imagine the pressure on a 29 year old.  When you see his climategate personality, his unfortunate narcissism is far more palpable and kills the sympathy.  He was young and chose to turtle rather than admit error.  Today he is older, and still turtling.

Where would you be??

What would you be?   Many of us get/understand each others backgrounds and we recognize the difference between uncertainty and unknown.  What is difficult for us is communication that can counter the massive positive feedback from global government.

Philosophy by Jeff


If you have a ‘scientifically reasonable’ guest post you would like carried, I’m gone for the next 3 days.  Please sennd to me by email on the left before 2pm Chicago time all submissions will be judged on merit.

Fun to write.

28 Responses to “Positive Climate Feedback”

  1. Ed said

    The futility of Mankind trying to control climate

    On average world temperature is +15⁰C. This is sustained by the atmospheric Greenhouse Effect 33⁰C. Without the Greenhouse Effect the planet would be un-inhabitable at -18⁰C. The Biosphere and Mankind need the Greenhouse Effect.

    Just running the numbers by translating the agents causing the Greenhouse Effect into ⁰C:
    • Greenhouse Effect = 33.00⁰C
    • Water Vapour accounts for about 95% of the Greenhouse Effect = + 31.35⁰C
    • Other Greenhouse Gasses GHGs account for 5% = ~1.65⁰C
    • CO2 is 75% of the effect of all GHGs = ~1.24⁰C
    • Most CO2 in the atmosphere is natural, more than 93%:
    • Man-made CO2 is less than 7% of total atmospheric CO2 = 0.087⁰C:
    So closing carbon economies of the Whole World could only ever achieve a virtually undetectable <1/10 ⁰C. How can the Green movement and their supporting politicians think that their remedial actions can limit warming to only + 2.00 ⁰C?


    So the probability is that any current global warming is not man-made and in any case such warming could be not be influenced by any remedial action taken by mankind however drastic.

    If this is really so, then the prospect should be greeted with Unmitigated Joy:
    • concern over CO2 as a man-made pollutant can be discounted.
    • it is not necessary to damage the world’s economy to no purpose.
    • if warming were happening, it would lead to a more benign and healthy climate for all mankind.
    • any extra CO2 is already increasing the fertility of all plant life and thus enhancing world food production.
    • a warmer climate, within natural variation, would provide a future of greater opportunity and prosperity for human development. This has been well proven in the past and would now especially benefit the third world.

    Nonetheless, this is not to say that the world should not be seeking more efficient ways of generating its energy, conserving its energy use and stopping damaging its environments. And there is a real need to wean the world off the continued use of fossil fuels simply on the grounds of:
    • security of supply
    • increasing scarcity
    • rising costs
    • their use as the feedstock for industry rather than simply burning them.

    The French long-term energy strategy with its massive commitment to nuclear power is impressive, (85% of electricity generation). Even if one is concerned about CO2, Nuclear Energy pays off, French CO2 emissions / head are the lowest in the developed world.

    However in the light of the state of the current solar cycle, it seems that there is a real prospect of damaging cooling occurring in the near future for several decades.

    And now Man-made Global Warming has become a state sponsored religion.

  2. Brian H said

    You inspire an image of a Prediction Machine, with the pipeline of real-world feedback redirected into the sewer line, while a bucket brigade of Calamitologists takes the PM’s output and pours that into the feedback channel instead.

    Can you say “self-referential”? It’s a philosophical problem, making it impossible to distinguish right from wrong, correct from incorrect.

  3. Brian H said

    It seems the German Ministry of Finance has concluded that the German Green(wash) Subsidies are good only for unilateral self-impoverishment in the name of subsidizing CO2 generation in (e.g.) China. It is not pleased.

  4. Duster said

    I believe Robert Heinlein remarked that engineers were rule-of-thumb scientists while philosophers were scientists that lacked thumbs.

  5. Kilted Mushroom said

    I have not read yor full post and will do so tomorrow {in Australia and been to the watering hole}. The one thing that took my attention was the person gouing to the boss with some abuse and an inevitable outcome. As a boss of many years It always made me think twice or more before I fired the individual.
    Being more serious in thirty years in business I only ever fired, maybe, three people. I had more left and returned for whatever reason.

  6. CNY Roger said

    “What we citizens of planet Earth are left with, is a funding of a soft science by government officials. Gee who do you think they would fund? Would they fund Steve McIntyre to archive data or would they rather pay Mann to make an unprecedented temperature reconstruction while simultaneously stating that we need more government taxation and regulation to solve the problem?? — not a close call.”


  7. sod said

    They can’t explain the fact that data is contradicting their conclusions, so they delete the data. It’s the case with Kelly discussing the deletion of endpoints for a presentation.

    a serious misrepresentation of what happened.

  8. Jeff Id said

    #7 bull.

  9. Presumably one could, if there were in comparison as many daily data available from the oceans as we have since long for weather forecasting.
    Comparison in this respect means that the dimensions of the oceans are fairly observed. One degree Celsius taken from a 3 meter deep level of the sea is heating the entire atmosphere up to 10’000 meters by one degree. When calculating that the upper 20 meters sea level are relevant for a short term weather forecast, one would need presumably a data collecting system in a very much higher number than available by air data today, and would need to include the salinity.

    The more you want to predict the future the more data and the deeper in the oceans you have to go, at least 2 to 3 thousand meters deep, and still some more from even deeper areas. If we would well know what is going on in the depths of the sea, 100, 300, 1000, 2000 meters and so on, we would presumably be able to know many months and years head where the weather are heading to. Not on a daily basis, but on a seasonal basis and beyond.
    It is all physics and a matter of the law of physic, and the gods of physics would one day say: finally they got it.

    That is what I pursued with my recent contribution you kindly published here (19 July):
    and the oceans should be the basis to deal with the matter on a “structured approach”.
    Thanks for you fine thoughts, and best wishes.

  10. Steve Fitzpatrick said


    For some levity, I suggest a read at Wikipedia on “pseudoscience”, where some of the typical indications that a “scientific” field is actually a pseudoscience are listed and discussed. Here are the categories listed, and they are each discussed in some detail:

    * Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims
    (eg. “is consistent with”, “may be”, “is very likely”, “could happen”, “disruptive warming”, etc.)

    * Over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation
    (eg “the models are consistent with the record of warming over the last 50 years, and so confirm that GHG’s are responsible for this warming”)

    * Lack of openness to testing by other experts
    (eg. “Why should I give you my data when all you want to do is find some problem with it?”)

    * Absence of progress
    (eg. Santer et al: “We may never completely reconcile the divergent
    observational estimates of temperature changes in the tropical troposphere.”; no significant reduction in uncertainty of climate sensitivity… despite 25 years of research and billions of dollars; all GCM’s disagree about the size of aerosol effects and the true climate sensitivity…but none of them are wrong; the lack of measured heat accumulation by ARGO means the data is somehow corrupted)

    * Use of misleading language
    (eg. “hide the decline”, “catastrophic consequences”, “extreme sea level rise”, etc.)

    * Personalization of issues
    eg. “he is a prat”, “just a denialist”, “we’ve lost that journal”, “on the payroll of big oil”, etc.)

    Sound familiar? I found the article humorous and a bit disturbing, because the article ends with a discussion of the boundry between science and pseudoscience:

    “The boundary lines between science and pseudoscience are disputed and difficult to determine analytically.”

    So is Climatology science or pseudoscience? I fear it is an intractable mixture of both, which can’t be dealt with simply, as it could be if it were only one or the other. What a mess.

  11. M. Simon said

    Engineering is the most honest of all scientific disciplines. Because you can’t cheat mother nature.

    That is what I liked so much about Feynman. He had the soul of an engineer. Maybe he learned it fixing radios.

  12. BarryW said

    I would suggest you read the book “The_Mismeasure_of_Man by Stephen Gould which describes similar events to what you’re seeing in climate science. Whether Gould was right in all of his arguments, researchers in this area manipulated data to support their conclusions. I think this problem is more widespread that we’re aware of and there is an avoidance of investigating it because it would shatter our faith in science.

  13. Scott B said

    Weathermen have been our favorite punchbags for how many years? Does anyone want to bet on the weather next week? Does anyone want the job itself?

    With the current accuracy of weather models, given 1:1 odds, if you gave me a specific location, asked if precipitation would fall during that day, what type of precip, and what the high temp would be within a 5ºF range for next Thursday, I’d probably take it. It would depend on the area. Assuming the local climate isn’t extremely odd compared to the surroundings, I’d probably have a 60% chance of winning. If I got this bet every day, I think I would win over the long run.

    There’s some key differences between weather forecasting and climate forecasting though. Weather models have been in development for at least 30 years. There’s a large amount of them with various known biases. These are known because these models have had their predictions regularly verified against what really happened and many improvements have been made for fix issues. This is far from the same for climate models. Since it takes decades to perform any verification, it can’t be done in climate. The people that say using past climate is good enough are ignorant. Weather models used past data (that was much more precise) originally too. The early models were awful and did a worse job than forecasters using the normal techniques. For the climate we only have 130 of so years of measured data globally and it’s not very precise in the far past. It would be like building a weather model using what we know based on the past two weeks of weather as the only knowledge. Even if I accept that climate forecasting is less complicated than weather, it’s still not enough. I would love climate scientists to sit in a meteorologist’s chair for a few days. They might learn a little humility when it comes to making future predictions.

  14. WxForecaster said

    Think about that, weatherman’s models must be equally or more sophisticated than climate models yet some reports say weathermen are almost as widely skeptics as climatologists are believers. Why….. because they experience feedback – within hours — and we all know what happens to their best ideas.

    I would love climate scientists to sit in a meteorologist’s chair for a few days. They might learn a little humility when it comes to making future predictions.

    #-13 — Thanks, Scott B. & Jeff
    Being a WxForecaster from the early 1970’s when our field was just getting access to and utilizing mainframe computers & satellites, it was extremely humbling to prepare and issue forecasts at 4-AM and then have to prepare a Bust Analysis and brief the General the next morning on why I prognosticated hot & dry only to have a thunderstorm in the afternoon that spawned a tornado on the gunnery range…

    Or the time when a partial solar eclipse caused extensive low clouds to form on a cool autumn day with sunny skies…

    Or the time a pilot asked if the white flakes falling outside were the light rain I had forecasted…

    Or the time… well, you get my point.

    Enforced humility? You Bet’cha;

    Skeptic? You Bet’cha

  15. M. Simon said

    Barry W.,

    Gould had a political agenda to uphold. So yes it is like Climate Science in a way. Just not the way you presented it.

    In the finest tradition of Marx, the late Stephen Jay Gould, paleontologist, evolutionary theorist, and dialectical scientist, one-quarter century ago, in 1981, published the first edition of the landmark book, The Mismeasure of Man.2 Gould provides a devastating critique of the right-wing (pseudo-) science of classifying individuals on a one-dimensional scale of supposed inherent intellectual worth. Ironically, the revised edition of this work was published the same year as Sokal’s article in Social Text, with additional essays debunking Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve. It thus demonstrated the continuing importance of a critical science committed to realism, objectivity, and reason, countering rightist ideology thinly disguised as science.

    And that was from a site SYMPATHETIC to Gould.

    Here is a site I don’t agree with about evolution bur still manages to correctly evaluate Gould’s accomplishment in “The Mismeasure of Man”.

  16. BarryW said


    Oh good grief. Whether Gould had a political agenda or not, the factual information in his book relative to the abuse of data manipulation still shows the point I was making. Thomas Sowell pointed out similar examples, such as IQ testing of draftees during WWI. Using praise from a Marxist who sees things though red rose colored glasses doesn’t prove Gould was a Marxist also.

    Thinking that creating a single number that represents all aspects of intelligence is akin to creating a single number (global surface temperature) to define the heat content of the earth: Simplistic.

    It’s easy to also see flaws in others that you can’t see in yourself. Carl Sagan and his nuclear winter scenarios show how the desire to prove a theory that you have an emotional attachment to can cause a lack of objectivity. Einstein had trouble accepting quantum theory. Gould may have had a similar blind spot relative to sociobiology. So what.

  17. Craig Loehle said

    Consider also the effect of lack of performance feedback in other fields of science. In medicine, for example, surgeons get immediate feedback on their skill. If they goof up the bleeding won’t stop and maybe the patient dies. On the other hand, they receive poor feedback on the long-term effects of certain surgeries such as placing a stent, because no one is in charge of gathering stats on 10 year outcomes from a stent. For the general doc, many of the conditions they see will resolve on their own (a cold, a rash) whether treated or not, and they rarely follow up on a patient. This leads to fads like telling everyone to eat less fat and putting everyone on statins. Making 100 year climate model forecasts is the ideal job, since you will be dead and even your children will be dead before you can be proved wrong.

  18. Bill Stoltzfus said

    Does anyone have a really good link or source for basics on GCMs? I got into a discussion that Shub was having with Bart and a couple others discussing GCMs and why there aren’t any short-term predictions, but am still looking for more. I was particularly interested that Bam appeared to say that short term prediction is impossible due to noise factors like el nino, volcanoes, aerosols, etc., but that they tend to even out over the long run so that prediction on that timescale is possible. I can see the sense in that statement, but it still leaves me wondering. I mean, if all these GCMs are so useful at so many things and have such a great track record at mimicking past climate, it seems a shame that no one guesses what the noises over the next 10 years might be and then takes a stab at it.

    I am grateful for any information–thanks.

  19. Bill Stoltzfus said

    Re prev post–stupid me for not closing html tags! 🙂

  20. kan said

    Sod #7

    You have seen the data then? You have it?

    Has anybody seen the data for of Briffa’s tree rings after 1960, 1980? Does anybody know what the “decline” is?

  21. […] Positive Climate Feedback « the Air Vent […]

  22. […] Positive Climate Feedback « the Air Vent […]

  23. Al Tekhasski said

    Bill Stoltzfus,

    A good [un]typical description of inner construction of a modern model can be found here:

    Click to access description.pdf

    However, to appreciate all audacity [nonsense?] of long-term climate prediction one needs to dig into details of dissertations from 1960th and 1970th about meteorological models based on inviscous ideal fluid.

    Some modeling parlance can be found here:
    Looking into ,
    all these various setups, “Q-fluxes”, and “how to control numerical instabilities” do not rise the level of confidence in model results.

    – Al

  24. hswiseman said

    Big surprise, I am back in Asia. China to be more specific. A recent trip to California revealed official state signs at all constructions sites that “if you see dust, call this number”, implying that some form of dust control is legislatively or statutorily mandated in the Golden State. Here on the China central coastal plain, a thousand mile long construction site, the dust blow and rises unimpeded, seeding clouds with particulate nuclei and blocking/absorbing/reflecting sunlight. Dry and windy conditions yield impenetrable haze. The albedo, latent heat condensation equation and offset makes my head hurt to think of it. Meanwhile its hot and wet here, and the correlation is probably meaningless, but if in fact, the correlation is meaningful, an equilibrium of latent heat and albedo is implied, an equilibrium that has not shown up as a forcing in any GCM I have seen.

  25. WxForecaster said

    #-24 Hswiseman:
    A recent trip to California revealed official state signs at all constructions sites that “if you see dust, call this number”, implying that some form of dust control is legislatively or statutorily mandated in the Golden State.

    Actually, it is in both state and Federal regs; CA H&S Code Section 41700 states:
    41700. Except as otherwise provided in Section 41705, no person
    shall discharge from any source whatsoever such quantities of air
    contaminants or other material which cause injury, detriment,
    nuisance, or annoyance to any considerable number of persons or to
    the public, or which endanger the comfort, repose, health, or safety
    of any such persons or the public, or which cause, or have a natural
    tendency to cause, injury or damage to business or property.

    There are exceptioned cases but Fugitive dust emissions, by and large, can and are considered to be air contaminants. Also, witness PM-10-micron & PM-2.5-micron regulations on the books.

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