A Mock Global Warming Trial in the Big Easy

October 4th, 2010 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.


I’ve been out of pocket for a while, partly because I have been preparing to provide expert testimony in a mock global warming trial.

The mock trial was the final event at the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Law Summit held at the Sheraton New Orleans this past week. We had a good turnout, with approximately 200 attorneys there to watch the show.

The mock trial was patterned after the Comer vs. Murphy Oil lawsuit, in which the plaintiffs claim that the greenhouse gas emissions of energy companies in the U.S. made Hurricane Katrina worse.

I was the testifying expert for the evil, GHG-spewing industry side, while a PhD ecologist, Mark Laska, represented the IPCC “scientific consensus” side.

We were fortunate to have U.S. District Court Judge Eldon E. Fallon (of Vioxx and Chinese drywall litigation fame) presiding. Judge Fallon provided advice and insights as the mock trial progressed, not so much for the participants’ benefit, but for the audience of attorneys, some of whom anticipate being involved in future climate-related litigation.

I must confess, I had fun. Mike Freeman, of Balch & Bingham, LLP, the defense attorney on my side of the case, did an excellent job with his opening remarks and cross examination of Dr. Laska. Over the last few weeks, Mike quickly developed a good understanding of the key science shortcomings of global warming theory (as I see them, anyway), and was able to turn that knowledge into effective lines of questioning.

In fact, many of us ‘skeptical’ scientists have been waiting for years to see the science of global warming exposed in a trial setting. People like Al Gore can no longer hide behind claims of supposed scientific consensus and appeals to authority.

It’s time to put up, or shut up.

Even though this wasn’t the real thing, I was able to find out how an experienced trial lawyer (Allan Kanner) would handle such a case with his opening statement, direct examination of Dr. Laska, and cross-examination of me.

Without going into a blow-by-blow account of what transpired at the mock trial, I do want to briefly address what I now recognize will be a central problem with the expert testimony in any future climate-related litigation.

There will be no end to the amount of irrelevant climate science which can be used to hoodwink a jury

In our very brief academic exercise, it became immediately apparent to me that one tactic will be the attempt to claim the scientific high ground.

For example, Mr. Kanner and Dr. Laska spent an inordinate amount of time describing the scientific method. You know, forming hypotheses, testing those hypotheses with observational data, modifying the hypotheses accordingly, etc.

This totally irrelevant exercise was an apparent attempt to imply that our side does NOT employ the scientific method. At least I think that’s what they were attempting….it never was clear exactly why they went down this Mom-and-apple-pie road.

What is really ironic about this tactic is that it is the IPCC scientific consensus side that has abandoned a cornerstone of scientific investigation — exploring alternative hypotheses for global warming. As I have previously discussed ad nauseum, there has never been a serious research effort directed toward exploring the role of natural, internal climate cycles as a potential cause of most of the recent warming we have measured.

I have also noticed over the years that it is those who do not actually perform climate research who tend to clothe themselves in the scientific method as some sort of shiny coat of armor which they hope will make them impervious to criticism. Sheesh.

During Mr. Kanner’s cross examination of me, he invoked the Tragedy of the Commons in an apparent attempt to get me to agree that, even though the defendants’ greenhouse gas emissions are a small portion of global emissions, the defendants are still just as responsible for climate change (and, presumably, the intensification of Hurricane Katrina) as everyone else is.

But I refused to accept the premise that there is even a ‘tragedy in the commons’ when it comes to global warming. In my view, none of the participants in the emission of greenhouse gases have caused a tragedy. If you’ve got a problem with Hurricane Katrina and what it did, take it up with Mother Nature.

After all, the vast majority of the most intense hurricanes to hit the U.S. occurred before 1970, and so occurred before the main period of “global warming”. Yes, Katrina was a tragedy. But a hurricane disaster has been predicted for New Orleans long before global warming ever became fashionable.

And as we now close out the 5th Atlantic hurricane season since Katrina, it looks like this will be the first 5 year period without a Cat 3 or stronger hurricane hitting the mainland since 1910-1914! What a difference five years can make to scientific ‘truth’.

In fact, if one surveys the recent literature, it is no longer obvious that warming has led to more intense hurricanes — let alone warming being the fault of mankind.

Mr. Kanner also alluded to the alleged cover-up of global warming science by executives in the petroleum or coal industry. I assume that we are supposed to equate any such behavior to the tobacco industry. Exactly how anyone could hush Al Gore or NASA’s James Hansen, I don’t know.

Every grade school student has heard of the 37 different ways we are all going to die from global warming. Has Exxon Mobil managed to cover up the 38th way we will die? Gasp!

But I do know that anything that energy industry executives did or didn’t do is totally irrelevant to the issue at hand: Have mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions caused any measurable change in the climate system or weather systems?

And I suppose this will be the Achilles’ heel of climate-related litigation: Causation. The case for mankind (versus Mother Nature) causing climate change is so weak, that only through scientific incompetence (or a jury’s bias against big business) should the plaintiffs prevail in these lawsuits.

To me, I don’t care whether another climate expert is the equivalent of Mother Theresa, or a member of the Nazi Party. All I care about is what they can demonstrate scientifically.

I don’t know much about legal issues or the law, so maybe my views are naive. But I do know that it will be essential for judges and lawyers to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff in expert testimony.

This is no small task, since most of the experts in this field are rather muddled in their own thinking on the subject anyway. Climate change science covers a wide range of complex and interrelated sub-disciplines, and the challenge will be to separate the 95% of the science that supports the theory of anthropogenic global warming from the 5% that can trump all the rest, potentially causing the IPCC’s house of cards to collapse.

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43 Responses to “A Mock Global Warming Trial in the Big Easy”

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  1. RiHo08 says:

    In May of this year a Legal brief was provided addressing climate science veracity. It was helpful to me to find in one place a systematic way of addressing climate science. Detail arguements on climate science can be helpful to understanding nuances. Broad strokes, as this publication represents, gives context.
    http://www.probeinternational.org/UPennCross.pdf

  2. Laurent says:

    Dear Mr. Spencer,

    Two questions: who won? And is there a publicly available document (video/sound/text) of the process, specifically your’s and Mr. Laska’s testimonial and crossexaminations?

    That would certainly make for a great read!

    Regards,

    laurent

    • The intent wasn’t to “win”…it was to give a taste of some of the issues than can be expected to come up. That said, I am told that there was a shift in the audience from the consensus side before the event, to our side after the event.

      Unfortunately, there was no video…but I am told there is an audio recording. I would guess the ABA has it.

  3. mark says:

    yeh, i’d like to see a video. (is the september anomoly coming soon?)

  4. crandles says:

    >”In fact, if one surveys the recent literature, it is no longer obvious that warming has led to more intense huricanes — let alone warming being the fault of mankind.”

    Come on, you must be aware that the ‘let alone’ is far from the appropriate way around – warming being the fault of mankind has a very large majority of scientific papers that support or accept this while the hurricane situation is far more uncertain.

    This years 4 cat 4 hurricanes seems to me to support the premise of an increased proportion of storms being intense. While looking at landfalling major hurricanes just makes there less evidence on which to to be able to form a judgement.

    Basing the case on a hurricane where the science is much less clear, must surely make the claim unwinnable.

    Suppose instead it was based on something like the European heatwave of 2003 where there was something like:

    Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003
    http://climateprediction.net/science/pubs/nature03089.pdf
    concluding “we estimate it is very likely (confidence level >90%)9 that human influence has at least doubled the risk of a heatwave exceeding this threshold magnitude”.

    I am sure a defence would throw lots at such a paper to cast doubt about its conclusion. Even assuming a jury accepted on balance of probabilities the science in the paper is sound, surely even this is a long way short of what is needed.

    1. The defendants won’t be responsible for all human emissions.
    2. Human emissions aren’t causing the heatwave meerly contributing.
    3. Human emissions before 1990 and any of the IPCC reports were surely done acceptably (by all not just defendants) on the basis that the harm wasn’t anywhere near foreseeable enough to hold the defendants responsible.

    Seems to me (i) you would need a paper saying the risk had at least quadrupled – doubled is not enough. That paper chose a wide area effect in order to be able to get a significant change in the risk – applying to smaller scale event will be harder (but modelling may improve).
    (ii) the defendants to be a very large group of oil & other energy companies to be responsible for anything significant in terms of proportion of human emissions, and
    (iii) considerably more time to have past since 1990.

  5. Matt says:

    yes, who won?

  6. You said: “The case for mankind (versus Mother Nature) causing climate change is so weak, that only through scientific incompetence (or a jury’s bias against big business) should the plaintiffs prevail in these lawsuits.”

    This is, of course, your own personal opinion, and you clearly fall squarely on the side of “don’t worry about it, it’s not a problem,” which is contrary to the position of 97% of climate scientists.

    At the same time, I disagree with this entire approach, regardless of your interpretation of the inevitable outcome. The veracity of climate science predictions is not equivalent to a “crime” which must be “judged” in a judicial system using a “jury of peers” (which doesn’t and cannot exist, and is wholly inappropriate to this sort of debate). It offers the implication that either side is committing a crime, or that there is a hard and fast truth of guilt/innocence to be determined.

    Science isn’t like that, and except for the embarrassing Scopes Monkey Trial, which never should have occurred and never should occur again, one can’t find a case of trying science by jury. The truth of any science should not be “settled” in a court of law, and any and every scientist, no matter what your position on any issue, should bristle at the thought that it might be.

    Imagine if you were diagnosed with an illness, but the decision as to whether or not to treat it always rested with an impartial (and non-expert!) jury, instead of with a doctor!

    Is it true that lawsuits will have difficulty allocating blame (causation) in the near term? Absolutely. Does that make involved parties eternally blameless, or establish their innocence for all time? Hardly. Forty years ago it would have been impossible to sue the tobacco companies.

    Lawsuits can and will arise based on a defendant’s behavior, not based on the veracity of the science. Their culpability will be proven or dis-proven based on the state of the science at the time, but that will change and evolve. Corporations can choose to be good citizens, with social as well as profit interests kept in balance, or they can be mindlessly focused on profits, in which case their future guilt or innocence is in the hands of events and the strength of future science.

    For the present… stick to the science, and quit with the propaganda tactics, like running mock trials. The do science a dis-service.

    • Those are some curious views, Bob. Mind if I pass along to the American Bar Association, and Judge Fallon, your opinion that their mock trial amounts to “propaganda”? :)

      • Anonymous says:

        I see nothing wrong in the legal profession preparing for potential new classes of legal action.

        Nor with the legal system deciding on culpability for whatever acts.

        However, the legal system deciding on culpability should not be confused with determining the veracity of the science.

        Comments Dr Spencer has made like

        “I am told that there was a shift in the audience from the consensus side before the event, to our side after the event.”

        would seem to me to be having the effect of making (or trying to make) such confusion. I would have no problem with you suggesting there was a shift in the audience from an expectation of culpability away from that position.

        However, by specifying it as for against ‘consensus side’ it would seem to me that you are trying to present a shift away from culpability as an indictment of the science.

        I would suggest that that could be seen as propaganda while I see no appropriate charge against American Bar Association/ Judge Fallon for running such a mock trial.

        It seems clearly appropriate to leave scientific processes to determine veracity of the science and legal processes to determine culpability / matters within their domain.

        • I did not volunteer this opinion without solicitation, Mr./Ms. Anonymous. I was truthfully answering a question asked by Laurent.

          • Anonymous says:

            This is correct – the post was merely descriptive.

            I wondered “who won” in the “legal” sense – I stand corrected that “mock processes” apparently do not have a final call. I think it is important to know how the justice would act in such a difficult call.

            Indeed the court is not judging the science, but in order to make a crime, you have probably to qualify like “doing actions KNOWING that they will have bad consequences for third partis and ACCEPTING the risk without appropriate measures”. On top of it, you action must have a DIRECT CAUSAL EFFECT on the bad consequences.

            So what the court must judge is whether the current situation is such that a CO2 emitter is supposed to KNOW that he will do harm unto others.
            The court must also judge if increasing a global trend can be accused of a particular weather event. All very interesting questions.

            As an example: should we judge all chocolate producers cuprit for the heart failure of an overweight person?
            - Do Chocolate producers KNOW they may do harm? Yes, it is well known that obesity comes from too much fat and sugar, both present in large amounts in chocolate. It is also well known that obesity is an important health risk. BUT in democracy we trust people to determine the fate of the nation – should we trust them to know what they should eat? If chocoloate makers should know, so should responsible citizens.

            - Do they accept the risk? Yes, they event minimize the few info that they must legally put on chocolate by highlighting “calories per portion”, a portion being about 2.5g of chocolate when everybody knows that a consumer will never stop at less than 20g (as an example). However responsible citizens should be able to make the calculation, and it stays on the pack how much fat and sugar is in there…

            - Do they have a direct causal link with the heart failure? Even if the victim did eat the chocolate – wasn’t the heart failure due to lack of sport? Or to hamburgers? Or to Coke?

            All-in-all the 3 criterias are impossible to fulfill. I guess for “CO2 emitter – GW – catastrophe – consequences” the case will be even more difficult to win.

            When Mr. Spencer says that the assembly turned tendancially from “consensus view” to “sketpics”, I guess that just means they recognize the complexity and the absence of easy, simple causal links, like “pull trigger, shot, hole in vistim, death”.

            Best greetings,

            Laurent

    • Anonymous says:

      This is, of course, your own personal opinion, and you clearly fall squarely on the side of “don’t worry about it, it’s not a problem,” which is contrary to the position of 97% of climate scientists.
      =================
      Yup that’s how science is done. Were the 97% alsoparticiapting in a swimsuit contest?

    • Anonymous says:

      So, is that 97% of thousands of climate scientists or 97% of 77? If it is of thousands, well maybe it means something.
      But if it is refering to the Zimmerman survey then it’s 75 out of 77 of self selected scientists. So to use this number without referencing the source either means you trying to deceive or you have been deceived. Which is it?

      That sent surveys to 10,257 Earth scientists.
      A total of 3,146 responded. 77 of those listed their area of expertise as “climate science.” 75 of those responded to question 1 as Yes. 75/77 = 97.4%

  7. wilbert says:

    ” which is contrary to the position of 97% of climate scientists.” Got a list of these ” climate scientists” ?

  8. Miroslav Pavlí?ek says:

    That is strange. A man, who’s name is Laska (that means “love” in West Slavonic languages), represents the side of hatred.

  9. Noblesse Oblige says:

    Indeed a good dry run for the real thing… which will come some day.

    I think you are on to something in your remarks about the scientific method. Popper’s notions about science as falsifiable via empirical testing is an IPCC Achilles heel.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have never noticed the Carbonari every formulated their hypothesis as falsifiable. Then it is not a scientific hypothesis at all thus it is far from being a theory. And if someone tries to complete their hypothesis to be scientific, that means falsifiable, he becomes a denier and enemy of science. If anything happens whether it is heat or cold, flood or dry, especially if it is nasty, that is irrefutable proof of their omni-explanative theory. Also if ice-age had come it would be the proof of their warming theory and blame of carbon.

  10. Fred says:

    “You know, forming hypotheses, testing those hypotheses with observational data, modifying the hypotheses accordingly, etc.”

    Well there’s their problem. They think that is the scientific method.

    The seem to have forgotten the steps about publishing their data and methodology so other scientists, real ones, could attempt to replicate their results.

    When they go to extreme lengths to hide their data, to obfuscate and deceive about their methods, they forfeit their right to use the label scientists because they don’t do science.

  11. Sundance says:

    “This totally irrelevant exercise was an apparent attempt to imply that our side does NOT employ the scientific method. At least I think that’s what they were attempting….it never was clear exactly why they went down this Mom-and-apple-pie road.”

    My hypothesis is that the jury selection will be the most critical portion of any such future trial. Choosing a perfect jury requires people who have a complete lack of working knowledge in the scientific method, poor skills in logic and poor math skills. This allows the pro-warming lawyer to spend hours in court to become the educator of a stupid jury for the purpose of establishing his side as the side of authority and consensus.

    Moving the case from evidence/fact based issues to emotional issues is key to overcoming the numerous inconsistencies in global warming as it applies to the scientific method. Trials will be won on emotion (like the OJ trial). Enough research has already been done to determine demographics as they pertain to the belief or skepticism towards global warming. The less educated in direct science someone is the more likely they will be to find in favor of human attribution in hurricanes.

    • Actually, Sundance, it’s not obvious to me which way this cuts. MIT’s Richard Lindzen has correctly pointed out something to the effect that, while ordinary people can see through the shoddy science of global warming alarmism, highly educated people are very susceptible.

  12. Dr G Watkins says:

    Presumably,the case against ‘energy companies’ and their greenhouse emissions is predicated upon the rise in temperature produced by the greenhouse gasses,the AGW hypothesis, and the secondary effect of extreme weather events produced by the temperature rise.
    Surely, this should be defended as two separate arguments.

    1. The evidence for and against GHGs being the main forcing of global temperatures which
    includes amongst others CO2 sensitivity, positive/negative feedbacks,
    increase/decrease in OLR, tropospheric hotspot,
    computer model reliability, historic and prehistoric temps. and
    CO2 levels and ,finally, the current and recent past reliability of temp. records and the
    adjustments made to the raw data. Is the temp. rising?

    If 1. shows that GHGs are not the main driver of global temps then the charge is defeated.
    2.Even if 1.is shown by the ‘evidence’ that GHGs are the main driver of a 0.7C temp rise over
    a 100 yr period then there is abundant evidence to show there has been no increase in
    recent extreme weather events despite ‘naming’ storms that would previously have been
    ignored. RPJnr would be happy to help.

    In a scientific forum much of the prosecution case would just be ruled irrelevant by the chairman, if he was worth his salt, but maybe the Law is a different beast. Lawyers certainly like to talk.
    Finally, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It should be up to the prosecution to provide it.
    (sorry about typing)

  13. stan says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    I wish I had known ahead of time. As an attorney, I’ve given a lot of thought to global warming on trial and would have loved to talk to the defense lawyer.

    I think the focus on “scientific method” by the plaintiff would have been an absolute gold mine for the defense. Imagine how much fun it would have been to cross-examine plaintiff’s expert on the failure of scientists to check their instruments (much less calibrate them). The fact that it never even occurred to them to see if they met scientific standards and the estimate that almost 90% do not would have shot a massive hole in credibility. Same for a recitation of all the quality control issues with the databases.

    Replication is critical to the scientific method, yet it never happens in this field. In part due to another failure– failure of transparency re: data, methods, etc. Jones’ famous quote about not sharing would have been game, set, match.

    The criticism of the climate models by forecasting experts (another failure of the scientific method) and the criticism of so many studies by stats experts would also have been extremely damaging.

    Finally, listing all the false claims made by the IPCC would have been icing on the cake. At this point, a jury would have little faith in the competence of the purported “experts” on the warming side. Credibility would have been completely shattered.

  14. cthulhu says:

    The court setup reminds me of this whole debate. There’s always on one side a load of claims that there’s evidence for some bad effect from climate change and on the other there’s demands that such threats or dangerous effects of rising GHGs have not been sufficiently (or at all) substantiated.

    I think it’s backwards. The demands should be to substantiate the safety of the changes, not the danger.

    I would pose the issue as this: Highest level of co2 for 650k years and plausibly as far as 15 million. Other greenhouse gases going up too, known significant radiative effect. Ocean acidification, throw that in there. Can we establish that these changes will be safe?

    We’ve made plenty of other changes to the Earth with little ill effect, like cutting down forests, wiping out a few species and building all kinds of structures and suchlike, but there’s something more unsettling about changing the composition of the atmosphere, way out of ranges they’ve been in for thousands of years.

    • Mike Edwards says:

      “We’ve made plenty of other changes to the Earth with little ill effect, like cutting down forests, wiping out a few species and building all kinds of structures and suchlike, but there’s something more unsettling about changing the composition of the atmosphere, way out of ranges they’ve been in for thousands of years.”

      I think you’re playing down the scale of the damage that mankind has certainly done – and is continuing to do – with the activities that you describe. We’re doing a bit more than “wiping out a few species”, for example.

      The strange thing is that while the increase in CO2 may be unsettling, there is little convincing evidence that it is having any significant effect.

      So, for example, there is a hysterical reaction to warming supposedly causing coral bleaching – meanwhile the dire effects of direct pollution on those same corals (silt, fertilizer contamination, etc) hardly make the headlines.

      Why aren’t we fixing the obvious and provable problems??

      • Anonymous says:

        Sheesh, what a load of crap here!
        1. Glaciers and ice caps disappearing to levels not seen in many thousands of years.
        2. Known warming effect of increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.
        3. Measured increase in the AVERAGE global temperature at a rate not seen in many thousands of years.
        Is the Earth warming? Yes, case closed.

        Is mankind causing the warming?
        Well, where is the increased CO2 coming from? Isotope studies show most of the increase is from fossil fuel burning. Who is doing the burning? Humans.”

        It’s that simple. The rest is details.

        Asking the question of whether a specific warm day, storm, or other atmospheric event is caused by global warming, is evidence of a misunderstanding that global warming is an average trend. An average over the entire globe, and a trend over many years. A specific extreme event at a specific region will not provide unambiguous proof either way.

        • Anonymous says:

          A specific extreme event at a specific region will not provide unambiguous proof either way.
          ==============
          Go tellthat to your crap spewing cohorts. Case closed, Sheesh

        • Mike Edwards says:

          Mike Edwards says:

          Well cthulhu, never let any facts get in the way of your beliefs:

          1. Glaciers and ice caps disappearing to levels not seen in many thousands of years.

          Umm, plenty of facts point to current glacier and ice cap levels having been matched more than once since the end of the last ice age.

          2. Known warming effect of increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

          But how big is the effect? Go an read some of Dr Spencer’s excellent posts here to learn that the warming effect of CO2 is likely to be quite small. The reason? H2O is the dominant greenhouse gas and its behaviour is nothing if not complex.

          3. Measured increase in the AVERAGE global temperature at a rate not seen in many thousands of years.

          Go look at some historical temperature graphs. There is nothing exceptional about the rate of recent warming.

          Is the Earth warming? Yes, case closed.

          Sure, the Earth has warmed over the past 100 years or so, but equally it cooled into the “Little Ice Age” a few hundred years ago. What is so significant about the current warming?? It has been warmer than the present at times since the last ice age – and previous interglacial periods in the last 500,000 years were warmer than the present one.

          But to return to the issue you really raised – where are all these dire consequences of the recent warming? Habitats destroyed, species wiped out?? You can’t point to them because there aren’t any. Meanwhile there are plenty of other human activities that are causing mayhem – why aren’t we trying to do something to fix the obviously broken?

    • RiHo08 says:

      Embedded in the “Precautionary Principle” is the “Opportunity Lost” corrolary. If one spends resources in an effort to forstall or prevent an event, and the foundations for believing that event is real are false, then one has expended resources wastefully where those resources would better have been spent elsewhere. You and others may believe you are correct, however, when the resources represent a greater collective, those in the collective who do not believe as you do have an equal right to decide when and where those resources are spent. Litigation is just one of the mechanisms to address the issues of when and where resources go. The court of public opinion is valid, not always right, but it is valid. Denigrating the public as being incompetent to address broad issues, reflects, shall we say, an elistist position? We have seen that position many times before and it has, in the long run, proven, wrong.


    • Yes, it is obvious that adding 1 life-giving molecule of the trace gas CO2 to every 100,000 molecules of atmosphere every 5 years is dangerous and irresponsible….especially since it’s not like the human species needs to do this to thrive or anything like that.

      On the other hand, the trillions of trees and phytoplankton on the planet have every right to impact the CO2 content of the atmosphere as they see fit.

      As I often point out, imagine the outcries if we were DESTROYING atmospheric CO2, since it is necessary for life on Earth to exist.

      Back in the 1960s, Ed Lorenz demonstrated that everything — including your Prius — forever alters the future state of the climate system. Chaos occurs on all time scales of interest to humans; everything affects everything else. Its the way nature works, and it is natural for us to be part of that process.

  15. Sundance says:

    How does one go about suing 100 year old coal burning home owmners and businesses? If claims of the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere of 100+ years are accepted, can’t people initiate law suits against past transgressors?

  16. mark says:

    and where’s our anomoly? i don’t like the day to day thing cos it doesnt give noormal.

  17. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    ATTN: Roy

    Has anyone ever run climate model calculations that excludes CO2? If not, why not?

    Since water vapor is the only greenhouse gas of importance and is always present through out atmosphere and water covers ca 70% of the earth’s surface, how would the models be changed so that the only “greenhouse effect” allowed is due to water vapor and the water cycle?

    The functions of clouds and of wind currents could be used as variable parameters to adjust model’s output so that it approximates or matches the recent past and present state of the “world’s climate?”

    BTW, what is type of geometry of the earth and the atmosphere is used current climate models? Also how are tides incorporated in the models?

    • Yes, all of the climate models have been run without anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcings. In this case, only the “natural” greenhouse effect is operating in the models.

      The models then generate natural, year-to-year temperature variability, some more than others, just as they do when anthropogenic forcings are added.

      I believe that the models’ greatest deficiency is in the natural controls on cloud cover. Clouds can be affected by a wide variety of processes, many of which are included in the models. And natural cloud changes can, and do, cause climate change.

  18. Tim Curtin says:

    Great thread, and wonderful Satt. Global Temp. data since Dec 1978.

    Just for fun I did a regression on the month-on-month differences in Tglobal (e.g Feb minus Jan) as a function of the corresponding month-on-month changes in the atmospheric concentration of CO2, and found that the coefficient on the latter was actually negative albeit not stat.sig.

    Taking absolute values seemed to improve matters, except that the Durbin-Watson stat of 0.48(totally uncomprehended by Trenberth and Jones in AR4, WG1, Tables 3.2 and 3.3)showed massive autocorrelation.

    Not only that, plotting all the monthly values for Tglobal from Dec 78 to Aug 2010 shows NO trend whatsoever. The Tglobal data are available at Roy’s link here, and the [CO2] from CDIAC.

    The Emperor has no clothes!

  19. Andrew says:

    Andrew’s law:

    Whenever the claim of the plaintiff in a lawsuit traces responsibility to the defendants through a chain of multiple inferences with probabilities of being reasonable less than 1, the plaintiffs are exceedingly unlikely to have a legitimate case.

    In the case of the “Katrina” lawsuits, this is particularly apparent. The inferences are that:

    1. The temperatures of the ocean surface Katrina experience were made higher than they would be by AGW.

    2. That these elevated sea surface temperatures lead to Katrina being more intense than it otherwise would have been.

    3. That this increased intensity was substantial enough to lead to the claim that this alone was responsible for the amount of damage the plaintiff wishes to be re-reimbursed for.

    4. That the responsibility for those damages lies, oddly, with one and only one person or group that contributed to emissions that in 1. were inferred to increase SST.

    There are more inferences, but the probability associated with 4. is clearly zero. The plaintiffs have no case.

  20. Sundance says:

    Dr. Spencer thanks for sharing your experience in this mock trial as I found it very informative. I thought you may also be interested in the legal developments as they pertain to international law. The following just came out at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in China and provides a brief for suing the USA and other industrialized countries.

    “Get Ready for International Global Warming Lawsuits”
    Posted on October 4, 2010 at 11:06pm by Meredith Jessup

    As government officials gather this week in Tianjin, China for negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), one group from the United Kingdom is urging developing countries to seek legal action against the world’s developed nations for their supposed role in global warming. – more at link
    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/environmental-group-says-threat-of-litigation-necessary-to-jump-start-global-climate-change-negotiations/

    The above article links to the site below which provides the legal brief.

    October 4, 2010 – Climate-vulnerable developing nations could use international law to break the current deadlock in the intergovernmental negotiations on climate change by taking industrialized nations to court. Read the new FIELD briefing paper on Climate litigation – summary or full paper.

    The publication comes as government officials from around the world gather in Tianjin, China for three days of negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

    “A large part of the relevant legal literature suggests that the main polluting nations can be held responsible under international law for the harmful effects of their greenhouse-gas emissions,” says the paper’s author, lawyer Christoph Schwarte.

    http://www.field.org.uk/news/climate-litigation

  21. Sheik says:

    Interesting!
    Could the tables be turned? How about a mock trial with the IPCC accused for missusing funds, and missleading policy makers with “the science is settled” claims?

  22. Daniel says:

    This mock trial exercize is interesting.

    Indeed it recalls Crichton’s book State of Fear where the legal team in charge of preparing a case on behalf of Tivalu(?) decides to withdraw because the case is too slim, inexistant.

    I have the experience of commercial litigation on mainly issues, having prepared witness statements, expert reports, cross examinations of the other party’s wirnesses, and so on ; I’m fully convinced that any “climate change” litagation is a dead case, with only lawers, experts, and so on to benefit, duly funded by the UN and.or national taxpayers.

    At the end of the day it would be a good thing to actually have such high profile case in order to purge the story.

    We should never forget that the judge already decided in 2007 that a) Al Gore’s movie included many errors, and b) that the famous BBC’s Channel 4 program in 2006 did not include any material mistake.

    • Anonymous says:

      Boy, the Massachusetts vs. EPA case sure doesn’t give me confidence that the truth will out with regard to the slimness of the case for AGW. The holdings, and reasonings therefor by the majority in the highest court in the land left me dumbfounded. As it did the dissenting justices. Personal politics and bias are alive and well in the courts, unfortunately.

      http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/06pdf/05-1120.pdf

  23. Wiccan Forum says:

    Merry Meet. I actually think so too=) I have been searching around the web for a while this week, and its really hard to find something entertaining to read on blogs:P Maybe its because there are too many of those around =) But this place actually keeps catching my attention:P Great stories, and kawai design ^__^. Ill be sure to give it more time now :P

  24. Andrew’s law:

    Whenever the claim of the plaintiff in a lawsuit traces responsibility to the defendants through a chain of multiple inferences with probabilities of being reasonable less than 1, the plaintiffs are exceedingly unlikely to have a legitimate case.

    In the case of the “Katrina” lawsuits, this is particularly apparent. The inferences are that:

    1. The temperatures of the ocean surface Katrina experience were made higher than they would be by AGW.

    2. That these elevated sea surface temperatures lead to Katrina being more intense than it otherwise would have been.

    3. That this increased intensity was substantial enough to lead to the claim that this alone was responsible for the amount of damage the plaintiff wishes to be re-reimbursed for.

    4. That the responsibility for those damages lies, oddly, with one and only one person or group that contributed to emissions that in 1. were inferred to increase SST.

    There are more inferences, but the probability associated with 4. is clearly zero. The plaintiffs have no case.