Citizen Scientist: Willis and the Cloud Radiative Effect

October 7th, 2013 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

I’ve been asked to comment on Willis Eschenbach’s recent analysis of CERES radiative budget data (e.g., here). Willis likes to analyze data, which I applaud. But sometimes Willis gives the impression that his analysis of the data (or his climate regulation theory) is original, which is far from the case.

Hundreds of researchers have devoted their careers to understanding the climate system, including analyzing data from the ERBE and CERES satellite missions that measure the Earth’s radiative energy budget. Those data have been sliced and diced every which way, including being compared to surface temperatures (as Willis recently did).

I’m not defending the IPCC’s use of climate models here. I’m talking about climate diagnostic work with real satellite data…figuring out how the climate system works from observations.

I’ve previously commented on Willis’ thermostat hypothesis of climate system regulation, which Willis never mentioned was originally put forth by Ramanathan and Collins in a 1991 Nature article. Basically, it has been known for a long time that moist convection has a huge cooling effect on the surface of the Earth (e.g. Manabe and Strickler, 1964), but the fact that deep moist convection tends to occur over the warmest tropical waters doesn’t really tell us anything about the sensitivity of the climate system or cloud feedbacks.

Take Willis’ latest posts about the “cloud radiative effect”, which formerly had been called “cloud radiative forcing”. All you have to do is google “cloud radiative forcing” (choose image results if you want lots of pretty pictures) to see that many scientist-years have been devoted to analyzing such data.

If you want to get some idea of what has been done on cloud feedback, then a good place to start is Graeme Stephens (2005) review of cloud feedback work performed over the years.

The reason I am picking on Willis a little bit here is that his posts sometimes lead to comments like this:

Geez – if I was one of the hoard of IPCC enthusiastic fools, this would be downright embarrassing. I sure wouldn’t want my mom to know I was so ineffective that some guy named Willis sits in his den and does more and better work than my entire IPCC crowd of hundreds of scientists, economists, psychologists, train engineers, tree surgeons, etc does in 4-5 years.

C’mon, folks! Do you really think that of the billions of dollars spent on designing, launching, and keeping these satellite instruments going, that no one thought to analyze the data? Really? That’s why hundreds of scientists and engineers collaborated on such projects in the first place!

Just because you can’t find some technical issue described in blogs doesn’t mean it hasn’t been addressed. It’s in the scientific literature, and in workshop reports, conference proceedings, etc.

In retrospect, it’s now clear that public interest in climate change has led to citizen-scientists like Willis taking matters into his/her own hands, since so little information is available in a form that is easily digested by the public. Career scientists like myself have not done enough public outreach to describe what they have done. And when we do such outreach, it is usually too technical to understand. We are too busy publishing-or-perishing.

As a result, just about every time someone posts an amateur analysis of data that becomes popular, I’m asked to read it, critique it, and respond. Well, I simply don’t have the time. But these things sometimes get legs, and when they do, I get even more e-mails.

For example, I still get the occasional e-mail because the Sky Dragon Slayers took a NASA report about CO2 cooling of the upper atmosphere (which we have known for at least 50 years) and spun it into ‘proof’ that CO2 can’t warm the lower atmosphere. Well, greenhouse gases cool the upper layers, and warm the lower layers, of planetary atmospheres. Nothing new there…except maybe to misguided public perceptions of the science, which usually only involve the warming effects of greenhouse gases.

Anyway, I applaud Willis, who is a sharp guy, for trying. But now I am asking him (and others): read up on what has been done first, then add to it. Or, show why what was done previously came to the wrong conclusion, or analyzed the data wrong.

But don’t assume you have anything new unless you first do some searching of the literature on the subject. True, some of the literature is paywalled. Sorry, I didn’t make the rules. And I agree, if research was public-funded, it should also be made publicly available.

But cloud feedback is a hard enough subject without muddying the waters further. Yes, clouds cool the climate system on average (they raise the planetary albedo, so they reduce solar input into the climate system). But how clouds will change due to warming (cloud feedback) could be another matter entirely. Don’t conflate the two.

For instance, let’s say “global warming” occurs, which should then increase surface evaporation, leading to more convective overturning of the atmosphere and precipitation. But if you increase clouds in one area with more upward motion and precipitation, you tend to decrease clouds elsewhere with sinking motion. It’s called mass continuity…you can’t have rising air in one region without sinking air elsewhere to complete the circulation. “Nature abhors a vacuum”.

So, examining how clouds and temperatures vary together locally (as Willis has done) really doesn’t tell you anything about feedbacks. Feedbacks only make sense over entire atmospheric circulation systems, which are ill-defined (except in the global average).

And we already knew that clouds, on average, cool the climate system, as described almost 25 years ago from the first Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) data.

198 Responses to “Citizen Scientist: Willis and the Cloud Radiative Effect”

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  1. Willis’s work doesn’t help with long term changes either as per the undoubted climate shifts from MWP to LIA to date (and earlier similar oscillations within the Holocene).

    Interesting to note how derivative his work is too.

    • Shadeburst says:

      I wish Willis Eschenbach would get his own page. He’s piggybacking on the popular WUWT site to get more exposure than he would as an individual. Some of his blogs seem to have little or nothing to do with climate. Yes, when Anthony Watts started the page he said that it would be about anything and everything, but it has now become a climate page. I stopped reading articles by Willis some time ago. Often they are very clever analyses beyond the understanding of this citizen. Lucas Motl is a genuine atom scientist and his blogs are more accessible to the layman. Willis has been found wrong before. I consider that he is abusing Anthony’s hospitality. Oh,how I wish that he would get his own page.

  2. gordie says:

    I understand that the Federal Government is
    no longer issuing satellite data; on
    account of they have to save a trillion
    dollars and this will make a difference.

    I hope it is not in danger of being lost?

  3. Ned Nikolov says:


    Willis Eschenbach is a vivid example of poorly informed ‘amateur scientist’ with rudimentary understanding of math and a big ego-driven ambition to make a ‘contribution’ to a science field he never had any formal training in. As he admits in the beginning of this presentation about radiative effects of clouds, he has “absolutely no credentials at all” and “no scientific education”:

    In fact, he is a construction manager/accountant with a B.S. in psychology and a ‘Massage Certificate’ from CA:

    This probably explains his lack of higher-level math skills. While it is noble in principle for a layperson to show interest in science and try understanding complex physical phenomena, there is a limit to what such a person can really grasp without a formal education/training in that field. Willis has crossed this limit long ago …

    • Sigmundb says:

      Dr. Nikolov
      Your post is a mean attack on the person Willis Eschenbach and this kind of writing takes the joy out of reading blogs like Dr. Spencers.
      If you have some valid critic of Escenbachs science or the way he does it in addition to what is in the article I will be happy to read it. But why add insult to injury?
      As a regular contributor to WUWT Willis Escenbach is always an interesting read, both on and of topic. His entusiasm for the science and advancement of understanding as well as his lack of the all to common petty ad hominem attacks contribute to that.
      If I want malicious and spiteful characteristics I know I can get it at desmogblog and skepticalscience, I don’t need it in the comments on blogs I depend upon for my understanding of AGW.

      • Tim Walker says:

        Sigmundb, thanks for your post. I’m very new to Dr. Spencer’s blog and I enjoyed reading what he wrote. The Dr. N’s post I could’ve done without. I hope to drop by often and I hope that Dr. N’s post is the exception and not the rule.

      • Sam Grove says:

        Not only that, but Dr. Nikolov seems to be an arrogant BH who preens his credentials and plays them as trump cards in argument. Argument from authority.

    • David A says:

      Ned, did that crazy (& wrong) paper of yours ever get published yet? Has it been 2 years now?

    • Konrad says:

      Dr. Nikolov,
      I understand your animosity to Willis. You were right and he was wrong. Greater atmospheric pressure in contact with a SW heated surface leads to greater conductive flux into the atmosphere and higher atmospheric temperatures. I know because I did the empirical experiment. Wills behaved poorly during that sorry ephisode.


      Willis was partly right and you were wrong. Radiative gases do play a role. Cooling. There are no planets or moons in our solar system that have managed to retain an atmosphere without radiative gases.

    • John West says:

      “there is a limit to what such a person can really grasp”

      “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
      ― Albert Einstein

    • Joel Shore says:


      While I agree with many of the criticisms that Roy has made of Willis’s work, I find it ironic that you are here criticizing him. Whatever mistakes that he has made pale in comparison to your own: You had a “paper” (not actually published of course) and subsequent reply to critics where you showed that you have no clue how to apply energy conservation to an open system, for example.

      And, you made the boneheaded-error of putting convection into a simple model of the greenhouse effect in a way that got rid of the lapse rate and then marveled at how this got rid of the radiative greenhouse effect, something you could have known had you read any basic textbook on the subject. Worse yet, you haven’t acknowledged this error to this day and go around spreading falsehoods about how convection gets rid of the radiative greenhouse effect. At some point, given your lack of due diligence at making any attempt to correct your atrocious errors, I think we can start calling this a lie!

      At least Willis doesn’t screw up these sort of basic things as much as you have!

    • Jimbo says:

      Hey Ned,
      Willis has opened a post about this very issue raised by Dr. Spencer. Go there now and attack the ball and not the man. Avoid argumentum ad hominem and simply show him his errors. It should be simple.

  4. Ken Gregory says:

    Concerning the cloud thermostat hypothesis,

    the fact that deep moist convection tends to occur over the warmest tropical waters doesn’t really tell us anything about the sensitivity of the climate system or cloud feedbacks.

    I agree the this tells us nothing about climate sensitivity. However an important question is why isn’t this tropical convection modeled correctly? Here is a plot of sea surface temperature observation versus the climate model simulations near the equator from 1982 to 2012.

    The climate model temperature trend near the equator (5S to 5N) is 3.5 times the measured sea surface temperature trend from 1982. Apparently, the climate models do not simulate the cooling effect of deep moist convection adequately!

    • this is a feedback issue. The models do OK at mimicking the *average* climate as long as you don’t impose an energy imbalance upon them (e.g., CO2 forcing).

      Once the warming from increasing CO2 starts, the model convection amplifies the warming. I think the spurious amplification is from positive water vapor feedback, which apparently has not materialized. We don’t really know for sure because we don’t have good measurements of mid- and upper-tropospheric water vapor in the tropics.

      This just illustrates how a climate model tuned to approximate the average climate does not necessarily have what is needed to model climate *change*.

    • New paper finds IPCC climate models don’t realistically simulate convection

      More problems for the models: A paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters finds climate models do not realistically simulate convection, “a key element of the weather and climate system for transporting mass, momentum, and thermal energy,” because of a large gap in the scale or resolution required to simulate convection [1-2 km] compared to global atmospheric motions [on the order of 10,000 km].

      According to the authors, “It has been challenging to simulate convection realistically in global atmospheric models, because of the large gap in spatial scales between convection (10^0 km) and global motions (10^4 km).” The authors find “an essential change for convection statistics occurred around 2-km grid spacing. The convection structure, number of convective cells, and distance to the nearest convective cell dramatically changed at this [2 km] resolution,” which is a much, much smaller resolution than used by IPCC climate models [50-100km grid size in AR5 models].

  5. African Mark says:

    I hope this doesn’t turn into a “bash Willis” thread of comments. I think he is clearly a brilliant guy who is doing great work in pushing things along. I appreciate Dr. Spencer’s reasoned critique of his latest work, but let’s not pile on the guy. He is an amazing writer, with an amazing brain who has done a lot of incredible things in life.

  6. “He is an amazing writer, with an amazing brain who has done a lot of incredible things in life.”

    He provides a good thought provoking read but is it all as accurate as he would like us to think?

    His non scientific output reminds me of those occasional missives from ‘friends’ not seen for years that make every mundane event sound like a world shattering achievement.

    Still, I’m not a trained scientist either so who am I to talk?

    Nonetheless I’ve been involved in the field of weather and climate as an enthusiastic amateur for 60 years which is longer than most professionals and I’ve personally observed climate shifts in the late 70s and around 2000 so I have closely noted the patterns presented by three distinct regimes which leads me to think that it is nearly all natural.

    • markx says:

      Stephen Wilde says:
      October 7, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      He provides a good thought provoking read but is it all as accurate as he would like us to think?

      Surely that is for us to decide. And to comment and illustrate if we find some contrary proof.

      He states his concept with some certainty (how else can you put forward an idea you think is correct?) but seems willing enough to concede when proven wrong.

  7. Bart says:

    I have avoided commenting on the WUWT page, because it can so easily become a tangled snarl. On the other hand, I can’t say he’s done any worse than others (e.g., Dessler et al.) in diagnosing the feedback.

    The key item people tend to miss is the role of delay. Every system has delay in its response. For a system as massive as the Earth, you can expect very long delays. Analyses which attempt to fit slopes on a scatterplot with no accounting of delays are not worth much.

  8. Nabil Swedan says:

    Clouds are an effect and not a cause of the solar energy exchanged. They are dependent variables and can cause no climate change.

  9. This needed to be said,well done Dr. Spencer.

  10. Ken Gregory says:

    Nabil Swedan says:

    Clouds are an effect and not a cause of the solar energy exchanged. They are dependent variables and can cause no climate change.

    I don’t know to whom this is directed, but I don’t think anyone has suggested clouds change without any cause, not Willis nor Roy Spencer.

    The key issue is that main stream scientists believe that clouds can change only in response to a temperature change, whereas Roy Spencer’s papers suggest the other factors such as ENSO, PDO,NAO,and high frequency daily noise (that are not the direct result of a temperature change), can affect clouds, which in turn caused a temperature change. Spencer’s papers proved that if you falsely assume that clouds change only in response to temperature changes (ignoring radiative forcing changes by clouds), your regression will always overestimate cloud feedback.

    This pushes causality back a level to the question: what causes ENSO, PDO, NAO? Random chaos may account for these circulation cycles over annual to century time scales. But ultimately, the energy to drive the cycles come from the sun.

  11. Willis is smart but over reaches in my opinion in many areas and draws to many conclusions, which all need to be taken with a grain of salt.
    His recent article on volcanic climate effects is a great example.

    • M Hastings says:

      I’m not a scientist either and I do usually read Willis’ articles at WUWT. I usually enjoy them but I don’t put too much stock in them because I know Willis is not a scientists.

      However, Willis does do a service for us because he brings up some of these questions and other people either agree or tell him where he is wrong and we all learn from that.

      Go Willis!

    • Kohl Piersen says:

      Salvatore….you seem to be playing the man and not the ball.
      Willis has replied to Dr Spencer’s criticism over at WUWT and makes the point that if Dr Spencer thinks that the matter has been raised before or whatever, then he should set it out in detail.Willis makes a fairly good case that Dr Spencer’s criticism (of Willis)is, in this instance, a little hasty.
      I can take both these points of view and see validity. I think that he is wrong about the ideas put forward by WIllis on this occasion. But the original article by Dr Spencer was really making a general point, not just a swipe at Willis.

      • Jimbo says:

        Ned and Salvatore, about a week ago an error was pointed out to Willis on one of his cloud posts. He immediately admitted his error and posted an update. Attack the ball and not the man.

        Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
        February 28, 2011
        “It’s Not About Me
        One response to Christopher Booker graciously mentioning my work in the Telegraph is the predictable increase in the usual personal attacks on me, as opposed to attacking my ideas and claims.”
        My point is that none of that matters. Either my scientific claims are correct, or they are not. It’s not about me. Period. End of story.”

        • Jimbo says:

          Oh Ned,
          The information you provide about Willis is not new either. Read the link I gave where he gives you the good, ‘the bad and the ugly’ about himself.

  12. Eric Barnes says:

    “In retrospect, it’s now clear that public interest in climate change has led to citizen-scientists like Willis taking matters into his/her own hands, since so little information is available in a form that is easily digested by the public. Career scientists like myself have not done enough public outreach to describe what they have done. And when we do such outreach, it is usually too technical to understand. We are too busy publishing-or-perishing.”

    The reason people are interested in Climate Science is because they are being fleeced in an appalling way.

    I have more confidence in Willis’s amateur analysis of the data than a whole legion of professionals who have vested interest. Willis has convincingly explained a large portion of the climate and what drives it to my satisfaction at least (I disagree on minor points of cause/effect). His ability to predict future climate is probably no worse than any professional climate scientist. What is heard from the Climate Science community when it comes to shrill attempts to fleece nearly everyone of the climate scientists is a squeak from you and 2 or 3 others.

    The US could stand for a whole lot more competent, curious and honest Willis Eschenbachs (especially in DC) IMO.

    Thanks for your work and this forum.

    • TonyB says:

      “The reason people are interested in Climate Science is because they are being fleeced in an appalling way.

      I have more confidence in Willis’s amateur analysis of the data than a whole legion of professionals who have vested interest. Willis has convincingly explained a large portion of the climate and what drives it to my satisfaction at least”

      You see – this is the THE problem with Deniers – which is what you are Eric Barnes.

      You perceive we are “being fleeced” and then conclude that the science is wrong or it’s a conspiracy, often because of a “socialist agenda”, or because of “vested interests”.

      And bizarrely (in a sane world) we go down the rabbit hole and “amateur analysis” somehow becomes correct and “a whole legion of professionals” becomes incorrect. Because of course this “amateur” has “convincingly explained a large portion of the climate and what drives it to my satisfaction”

      Errr – In what reality does the outcome of something become correct simply because it fits your perception of the way things should be?

      The whole stream of your logic stems from personal bias and, sorry, that’s not science.
      And I’m sure Mr Spencer would agree.

      Do you not understand the illogicalities of your thinking. No. Silly question. You’re down the rabbit hole.

      • ren says:

        There are many analytical mind, a little synthetic. Climate science has so much data that it is difficult to distinguish cause from effect. The more scientists enter into this case in detail, including further from the truth. Synthesis is not to pass details, but to capture reality.
        Such a person must be a bit of a shaman to not only know, but to know.
        I do not say that it’s snowing, because it is warmer.

      • Tim Walker says:

        Wow. Maybe you should jump on him a couple of more times and call him names a couple more times. Your comments sound like something I would expect from a young child.

        You didn’t address his points accurately. Never did he say that science is wrong. He just points out that he has become skeptical of people with a vested interest. That is a wise position to take. That is why knowing what another’s vested interests are is so important. Such as a judge. A judge for obvious reasons can not take a case he has a vested interest in. In an ideal world the same should be true for scientists, but in reality that is difficult or impossible. In whatever field of research a scientist is doing work they tend to have to a greater or lesser degree, vested interest and that does cause a problem as Eric Barnes explained.

        • TonyB says:

          If you mean me I stand by all I said.

          It is a curious phenomenon of the internet age that untrained amateurs think that it is possible to arrive at a better truth via Googling than an expert – or more precisely here – a consensus of experts and travel, via “I don’t like the consequences” of AGW theory – to “I don’t like the science” – to latching onto anything that contradicts that science – read the Denialist Blogosphere. As I said above, to do things the way he is and many do IS NOT SCIENCE. By all means look at alternative theories but what happens in the Denialosphere is the reflexive denial of consensus science. It’s the converted preaching to the converted and what becomes an alternative universe which has things “now discredited” (hockey stick) and a “scam” (Climategate) – hence “down the rabbit hole”. No paper is worth a bean unless peer-reviewed by those able to understand the subject – and sorry, neither Eric Barnes, nor you nor the Denialosphere count as that. Upshot – all these “amateur experts” do not count – nor should they. For one their influence is beyond their credibility – by far – because of the ideological following media (read Daily Mail, Telegraph and idiots like Monckton, Rose, Delingpole, Booker etc in the UK ) – that grasp at such reporting and conflate it as truth to the gullible public, so confusing and plain lying about an incredibly important subject.

          It may come over to you as childish but here I call a spade a bloody shovel and (as a retired Meteorologist from the UKMO) I feel I have a basis on which to do so. This debate is getting ruinous now because unfortunately some countries have political systems that do not allow their representatives to think intelligently – they have to meet their constituencies extremism (in a rock-sold safe seat) and so compete to be the most radical, skewing the argument away from consensus science. Are we going to forfeit the path man has followed since Newton? just because a pressure group doesn’t want “their tax dollars” taken to address AGW. It’s a global problem and requires a global solution. That’s not socialism – it’s the World (as in a population) coming together and co-operating.

          Get over it.
          AGW is happening – because of our polluting the atmosphere. GHG theory is correct (as known for ~150 years) and its not “it’s the Sun stupid”. Certainly not natural climate cycles which currently are combining to produce the “hiatus” – vis ENSO (la Ninas), low Solar irradiation and aerosols (China). Meanwhile heat is still entering the oceans which comprise ~90% of the climate system heat storage.

          Nor is it some non-causation physics eg CFC’s or Cosmic Ray nucleation, under ocean geothermal, some magical unfound cause. Or even cloud albedo, come to that.

          • Jabba the Cat says:

            “(as a retired Meteorologist from the UKMO) I feel I have a basis on which to do so.”

            Anthony Watts is also a meteorologist and happens to take a different position to you…

          • John B says:

            Yes you do indeed come across as “childish”. Calling people “idiots” and “deniers” really will get you taken seriously, or perhaps not.

            You sound exactly like one of the religious ideologues climate science can well do without.

            Regarding who is right and wrong about Mr Eschenbach I am not qualified to judge because I have not read all the relevant material.

          • Micky H Corbett, Ph.D. says:

            I actually came over here from WUWT, go figure. TonyB, your belief in AGW is admirable but if you were a scientist and more importantly an empiricist, the very first thing you would ask is “where is the characterisation curve for IR forcing of water in the presence of an atmosphere, at power densities around 4W/m2?”

            Theory is great and the models, especially Moller 1961 up to Hansen, are great attempts to try and simulate basic atmospheric processes. However they make a number of ideal assumptions about absorption of IR radiation and subsequent surface heating. No account appears to be made for surface conduction, skin effects, scattering or plain all thermal inefficiencies because there is an atmosphere there. A blackbody is assumed.

            Now, I’m not a retired meteorogist; I’m a physicist who has worked for over 10 years in aerospace, 9 of which were building and flying plasma engines in space. We had to test a lot of theoretical assumptions to ensure engines (ion thrusters) survived long enough to fulfill mission requirements. The reason I say this is that many assumptions about engine plasmas were just plain wrong. And shown to be so only by detailed test.

            If climate science spent more time actually characterising effects instead of buliding assumption on assumption and then telling me that AGW is real, then maybe there wouldn’t be this distrust, or the rise of amateur scientists.

            If Willis wants to publish in a blog let him. Hopefully it might jolt a few peoples’ minds.

            So I won’t get over it. Try actually doing experiments rather than modelling them. You can call it science then.

            And sorry, by the way, if it seems I’m trying to make this an attack on you. It’s just I’ve had theorists tell me this and that all my career so far. And each time they were proved wrong by test. Science should be done to a higher standard than what we see in, at least the popular climate science. That goes too for the assumption that AGW is real, without empirical evidence of the exact detail.

          • AndyC says:

            I’m a layman

            What exactly is “consensus science?”

          • Kohl Piersen says:

            Tony B
            “It is a curious phenomenon of the internet age that untrained amateurs think that it is possible to arrive at a better truth via Googling than an expert – or more precisely here – a consensus of experts and travel, via “I don’t like the consequences” of AGW theory – to “I don’t like the science” – to latching onto anything that contradicts that science – read the Denialist Blogosphere.”

            Well Tony…where to begin?

            Let’s start with-

            ‘It is a curious phenomenon of the internet age that trained scientists with PhDs think that they are the sole repository of truth within their field of expertise. Simply Googling something cannot overturn the consensus of experts (i.e. PhDs) via “I don’t like being contradicted by amateurs… how can they be right in the face of the consensus?’

            It must make you feel very angry when people who have not gone through the travails of obtaining a PhD can call your pronouncements into question in this way! The very idea!

            However I feel that I should remind you that there are many reputable scientists (by which I mean having a scientific reputation earned through PhD studies and subsequent scientific work leading to publications etc etc..the whole catastrophe) who don’t ascribe to the alarmist version of the phenomenon of global warming.

            They have written cogent papers on many aspects of the science. A number of their papers have been published in the peer reviewed literature even in spite of insidious gatekeeping by those who appear to be overcome with the sense that their ideas are simply right and that contrary views, peer reviewed or not, cannot be allowed to escape into the public arena.

            Then too, you seem to ignore those among the ‘amateurs’ who have actually written and published critiques of the work done by ‘professional’ scientists and found their work to be deficient in major ways – both with respect to the manner of the collection and analysis of the data and with respect to the statistical analyses which they have applied to it.

            This kind of ‘outing’ of the lack of professional standards among some climate scientists has resulted in a (justifiable but in any case healthy) skepticism with respect to the pronouncements of those who promote themselves as having ‘cornered the market’on knowledge of climate science.

            Of course there are those amongst the ‘amateurs’ who are utterly clueless. But I venture to suggest that there are those espousing an alarmist view of global warming who are equally clueless. To my mind, the professional scientist who promulgates drivel instead of scientific discourse bears the greater culpability in this regard. But that is only my opinion.

            My final remark is in relation to your curious notion that ‘consensus science’ is what is so important.

            Again I quote you:

            “… skewing the argument away from consensus science. Are we going to forfeit the path man has followed since Newton? just because a pressure group doesn’t want “their tax dollars” taken to address AGW. It’s a global problem and requires a global solution.”

            Firstly, I think it is ludicrous to suggest that Newton, of all the people you might have used as an example, was a champion of ‘consensus science’. If you have read any of the many biographies of Newton you will be immediately struck by the solitary nature of his scientific habits and that much of what he achieved in science was accomplished in the very face of the consensus of the time.

            Secondly, I wonder at the exquisite irony of what you say about pressure groups not wanting their tax dollars taken…etc. Can you not see that the pressure is coming from those who, like you, cannot see that they might just be wrong? The hubris is astounding.

            I respect your opinion(s) without reserve and confirm your right to put them forward in whatever forum you choose. But I require that you also respect mine. And when you cannot possibly know the ‘answers’ with the certainty which attaches to your words, you might consider that on some things at least, you could be wrong. I know that I am.

          • Jimbo says:

            You talk about experts. Have you read this?

            19 April 2013
            The student who caught out the profs
            This week, economists have been astonished to find that a famous academic paper often used to make the case for austerity cuts contains major errors. Another surprise is that the mistakes, by two eminent Harvard professors, were spotted by a student.

            What matters is whether one is right or wrong. Spencer has shown where he thinks Willis went wrong, no need for ad homs. Period.

            “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”
            Dr. Richard Feynman

          • Joe Bloggs says:

            “(as a retired Meteorologist from the UKMO) I feel I have a basis on which to do so.”

            Only place I know that does not sack you on making a steaming great mistake!

          • A C Osborn says:

            UKMO, says it all really.

          • Toneb (was TonyB) says:

            Joe Bloggs & A C Osborn

            “Only place I know that does not sack you on making a steaming great mistake!”

            “UKMO, says it all really”

            Right Mr Bloggs/Osborn – what evidence do I have that you don’t “make steaming great mistakes” – None. Precisely – because uniquely in the world, you do of weather forecasters – The ignorant, of course overlook the fact that the UKMO (any weather forecasting agency actually ) has to 365/24/7, in fact, continuously and contiguously forecast the weather. Nes Par?

            Is it unreasonable that some go amiss ? To an unreasonable person it is – and I have just come across another two.

            This sort of comment is a classic from glass-half-empty people.

            Err – you are aware that the UKMO is in the business of providing forecasts ( OF THE FUTURE )?


            So if the UKMO are always correct then I would suggest that they must be in touch with God (or whoever your “imagined friend” is, because otherwise it’s plain impossible.

            Ergo – there will be incorrect forecasts.

            Do you go through life expecting forecasts of any nature to be always right?

            Get real and grow up … perhaps by providing an intelligent comment on here.

            PS: (not that you’ll care) – but my contempt for that sort of attitude is total.

          • Craig Thomas says:

            Why do people call Anthony Watts a “meteorologist”?

            He has no such certification.

      • Eric Barnes says:

        Excellent Tony!
        Thanks for enumerating all the accomplishments of Climate Science (laughing hysterically to myself).
        Seriously though, your resort is a simple ad hom attack which is all you really have because there is nothing to Alarmist Climate Science other than the Alarm.
        Want to impress me and others like me? Make a prediction that has just a smidgen of practical value that can be falsified within the next 10 years.
        Neither you or the IPCC can do that because it’s not about the science or the climate. It’s about spreading fear for profit and then cowering behind something you call science, but is just a really bad job of justifying your paycheck.
        I really don’t mind if you lie to me Tony, but stop lying to yourself. It’s a bad way of living.

        • TonyB says:

          “I really don’t mind if you lie to me Tony, but stop lying to yourself. It’s a bad way of living.”

          As I said Eric you’re “down the rabbit hole” so your world does not follow reality. You turn a sane world upside down and make out that the minority opinion is the correct one and call black white. Actually it is not personal in the sense that you are my target – it is the Denialist thought processes that drive me to distraction I have tried to counter opinions that you espouse on here for some years now (on PhysOrg ) with logic and science, but it has zero effect and worse I know that contempt for climate scientists (me too as a meteorologist) who do not go against the consensus is total. It gets to one.



          So if you take it as ad hominem that’s unfortunate but what I say is an accurate description of the Denialist psyche. I have had the same many times just for giving my knowledge of meteorology, even doubting my credentials! Like my 32 years in meteorology was a complete waste of time. Would you like that said of you and your profession? Exactly. So get real. Amateurs do NOT get to be more knowledgeable than experts and do *better* science via that magnificent Internet aid Google (selectively of course). If the cap fits then wear it. If you live in the Denialist’s universe then you will be insulated from such home truths.
          Reality is that experts necessarily know more about a subject than a random collection of people – especially when their Modus operandi is to prove the science wrong because they don’t like the implications of it.

          It is clear to anyone above ground that science certainly should involve knowledge of and peer review of the science by those that understand it. There is good science, bad science and indifferent science – just as in any other walk of life – but science has a peer-review system and consensus opinion that weeds that out. The problem with you lot is you perversely choose to think that science that is rejected is the correct science. Purely for ideological reasons, resorting in extreme cases to accusation of conspiracy. Did you doubt that CFC’s were causing the O3 hole? No. That had no financial penalty for *you*.

          Yet you and others prefer to latch onto the lies (no other word for it) and bollocks such as I have countered in the past on here (see links above) eg “GHG theory is against the 2nd Law of thermodynamics” from that venerable font of scientific truth the hockeyschtick for example. And it is this sort on thing that is poisoning the debate and confusing an ignorant public.

          • Experts only make more complicated errors than non experts:)

            An expert is someone who gets to know more and more about less and less and so quickly becomes unable to distinguish between trees and woods.

            Professional experts are motivated by a need to make a living, comply with authority and retain the approval of their peers. Those aspects often conflict with the demands of pure science.

            Non-professional experts have no need to do anything other than follow the science in its purest form.

          • TonyB says:


            Even if that were true there are hundreds of experts looking at the subject in many different fields. The vast majority come to the same conclusions.

            Find me an “amateur expert” who doesn’t have an axe to grind. Just one. And then your supposed argument *may* be balanced out.

            There are many things in science that have been discovered by obsessed and almost autistic devotion to the pursuit of discovery – did Einstein, Newton, and many others loose site of the big picture and not “distinguish between trees and woods”?

          • Eric Barnes says:

            I suppose if you must make me out to be one of your boogey men, then so be it, but most people who have a profession (me included) provide something of tangible value.

            Hilarious that you think I’m denying reality. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the climate science rubber is not meeting the climate science road. The latest IPCC AR5 is just the latest example. You won’t discuss this though as your only intent is to rhetorically silence the masses.

            Defy expectation and make some sort of prediction and stick by it. Or gather up the courage and admit Climate Scientists don’t know what the climate will be like in 10 or even 100 years.

            Climate Science : Destined to be the joke of the millenium (with Tony being lead jester).

          • TonyB says:


            You are hilarious indeed – as are all the those that feel they can justify a denial of AGW science based on a minority of dissenting scientists whose claims are trumpeted by various agenda driven bloggers.
            Sorry, you do not get to turn the world upside down with your twisted logic.

            Indeed those with knowledge of a subject know more about it than a random collection of ideologically driven opponents – unless you are saying…

            a) they are incompetent (you are not qualified to judge as they are the scientists and not you and the minority of those (Roy as one) do not trump the consensus.
            Or b) that it is a conspiracy.

            I’d be interested in which one you think it is.

            PS see my post in the next thread as to why the IPCC says warming has not stopped – as in the driver is still at work and why it is beyond unreasonable (read unscientific) to think so.

          • TonyB says:

            “Defy expectation and make some sort of prediction and stick by it. Or gather up the courage and admit Climate Scientists don’t know what the climate will be like in 10 or even 100 years.”

            Well you got something right. OF COURSE THEY DONT.

            And they are not saying they do.

            Just that at the imbalance of solar v terrestrial IR to space then that given imbalance will give rise to an excess of heat in the climate system (both in the air and in the oceans). NOTE the word oceans – hint.

            You display the typical delusion that I meet of your kind – that you think you are in the ascendancy and your numbers are greater than reality. Also that you have a power to change things. You don’t in the wider world where politicians are allowed to use their intelligence. The exception is the US where the political scene is so polarised that those Tea Party types compete with each other in denial to get ever more extreme in order to keep hold of their safe gerrymandered seats.

          • TonyB.

            I don’t have an axe to grind.

            I’ve had a love of the subject for 60 years. Long before most of the current crop of ‘experts’ came to the field.

            You only asked for one such person but I’m sure there are many other such contributing to blogs.

          • TLM says:

            TonyB, I can see your point and understand your frustration the science is being done well and properly but it is still possible that it has, at least, exaggerated the scale of the problem.

            The IPCC, and many climate scientists generally (Hansen, Schmidt, Mann and Co) have been sounding the “alarm” in previous reports for the last 20 years and HAVE OPENLY AND REPEATEDLY PREDICTED temperature increases of between 2c and 6c by 2100. Others have jumped on the bandwagon and predicted meltdown of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice caps, uncontrolled sea level rise, permafrost methane outgassing etc etc.

            At the same time the sceptics (or deniers as you prefer to call them) have been predicting no change in temperatures.

            The problem for the layman looking at the actual figures is that the temperature has not changed significantly since the alarm was first raised. So who are we to believe, the scientists whose predictions (so far) have been wrong or the sceptics who have been right on the button? Is it any wonder that they are given more credence than they possibly deserve?

            I would say I firmly fall into the “luke warmer” camp. I believe:
            Anthropogenic CO2 is warming the atmosphere
            This has caused some of the rise in temperatures this century

            What I have a problem with:
            1. The way the models we are relying on have so far been so wrong.

            2. The lack of humility in the scientific community, asserting false certainty when they should be pointing out the uncertainties and the extent of their ignorance.

            3. The totally unproven theory, included in the IPCCs models, that the Earth’s climate in an interglacial is dominated by positive feedbacks. Sure, you might have positive feedbacks to pull you out of an ice age – but there has always been a top temperature in all interglacial periods, which strongly suggests that at higher atmospheric temperatures negative feedbacks kick in to counter this effect. Each integlacial in the current ice age has shown progressivley lower maximum temperatures.

            When a scientist comes up with some definitive proof that the positive feedbacks in the atmosphere are greater than the negative feedbacks (as opposed to simply listing the positive feedbacks) then I might be more worried. As it stands I am a long way from being convinced. That makes me a sceptic, not a denier.

            PS. You are a retired Meteorologist, not a retired Climate Scientist. I am afraid that makes Roy Spencer rather better qualified to comment on the science than you!

          • TonyB says:

            “PS. You are a retired Meteorologist, not a retired Climate Scientist. I am afraid that makes Roy Spencer rather better qualified to comment on the science than you!”

            Ah – that tired argument. Do you think I’ve not had that one before?

            Err – so a heat surgeon is not best placed to give informed opinion about about the long term prospects of that organ?

            The two specialism’s do overlap rather you know.

            I’m sorry but you too are “down the rabbit hole” you mistake the media for the science and accept disinformation as the truth. I am finished here as I have got it off my chest -well almost as one lengthy post disappeared into the ether never to be seen again, due the vagaries of this website.

            I just suggest you all get out a bit more and dip your toes in sites that have defenders of the science inhabiting them in greater numbers.
            Try PhysOrg for instance and there you will not have strength in numbers – making it seem that you are the sane ones in the asylum.

          • Matthew L says:

            Not impressed at all with that comment. You singularly failed to answer, or even comment on, any of the substantive points in my comment.

            But that is par for the course. When a proponent of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming does not have a convincing answer he resorts to ad hom and then flounces off in a huff. Please shut up about bloody rabbit holes. It is not funny, true or adding anything to the debate.

            Please answer my main point which was that you stated the climate scientists were making no predictions when it is clear that they have made repeated and strident predictions of catastrophic warming for the last 15 years.

            I have visited more science web sites than I care to name in my search for meaning in this tangled subject, including “phys org”. Again and again it all boils down to the one tricky point: If the climate is dominated by big positive feedbacks we are all doomed, but if feedbacks cancel out, or are negative, then there is nothing to worry about.

            So far all the actual evidence from climate observations is pointing to the latter scenario, even though the climate scientists’ “fantasy planet” models continue to assume the former.

            Care to actually comment on that point?

      • markx says:

        TonyB says:
        October 8, 2013 at 2:54 AM

        “… it’s a conspiracy, often because of a “socialist agenda”, or because of “vested interests”….”

        No, it is not a matter of conspiracy.

        It is as simple as this: I have some experience doing work for animal health pharma companies, more on the marketing end. ie, they pay me, I’m expected to do research and write ups relating to products they have in the market.

        Guess what? I need my pay packet, so I never purposefully choose an area of research which may bring up information contrary to the marketing line, and if I do find something ‘interesting’, I certainly don’t rush out and write it up for publication. I will discuss it behind the scenes, and in the never hereto occurred event it were life endangering I’d certainly ensure it was publicized. And if it were groundbreaking enough to make me famous I’d pursue it with the knowledge that there would soon be a parting of the ways.

        Now, I have an advantage over climate scientists in that I know I can easily get re-employed in related fields. But those poor b******s are stuck almost exclusively in working for government. So, if they want a career, they toe the line.

        Governments tend to like regulation and taxes, this looks like a good one: it gets funded.

        No conspiracies needed.

        • Toneb (was TonyB) says:

          “Not impressed at all with that comment. You singularly failed to answer, or even comment on, any of the substantive points in my comment.”

          I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware that you made any points or even a comment (unless my page is missing your post ….. several of my posts have disappeared into the ether twixt my laptop and here).

          If you would care to make them (again) then I will endeavour to answer them.

          • Toneb (was TonyB) says:


            “Experts only make more complicated errors than non experts:)”

            Is that really what you think of experts – all experts – or just climate/weather experts.

            So a heart surgeon makes “more complicated errors than non experts” (occasionally his patients die under his knife). He doesn’t do an enormous amount of good (read correct science for relevant experts)? At all? That doesn’t come into the equation? And why would you think that – unless *you* are the type of “glass half-empty type” that is fond of saying to a weather forecaster “you always get it wrong” (to which I reply, “that’s just as impossible as always getting it right”). Do you see? Unrealistic expectations.

            Do you see why I think you lot are in an alternative universe.
            This reflexive certainty that experts are always wrong, therefore the amateur has it correct. Just because the expert (by virtue of their number) can be sometimes. And the lone Blogger/contrarian is somehow a “Robin Hood” for truth. The bad science is weeded out via peer-review and I’m afraid the likes of Roy have been included in that. it’s the way the World works – just as Democracy (the worst form of government we’ve tried … except for all the rest – Churchill)
            It’s a weird and wonderful psychological conundrum you reveal indeed.

      • Bill Sparling says:

        Applying the epithet “deniers” to people who quite rightly question the “science” of AGW/CC is misplaced. To equate us with that particular species of vermin which denies such events as the mass murders in Europe under the NAZIs simply indicates that you have a suspect arguement and know it. Try using some facts, please, and leave your religious fervour at the door.

        • Toneb (was TonyB) says:

          “Applying the epithet “deniers” to people who quite rightly question the “science” of AGW/CC is misplaced.”

          No it’s not … IF…. That person does NOT examine ALL of the science. AND arrives at his preconceived opinion prior to any investigation of that science, just because he has an ideological aversion to the consequences of that science.

          Sorry that most definitely merits the term Denier ( with a capital letter)

          I have no problem with a genuine skeptic – though I’ve rarely met one (online) – the people I debate with will never have their opinions changed. Surely a skeptic should have an open mind? It is quite obvious who have a closed mind and are therefore deniers.

          BTW: I am in no way saying that of all on here – I do not know the community here well enough to say that – but comments of here certainly indicate that there are a number.

          • Bill Sparling says:

            You make my case for me. Fanaticism of any stripe is unacceptable.

          • Bill Sparling says:

            For a brief discussion of similar attitudes re: “consensus science”, please give James Hogan’s “Kicking the sacred cow” a read. I may not agree with some of his points (there and elsewhere-we’ve had a couple of strong discussions regarding his misplaced attitudes on past genecides) but in this he makes some very good points. Also, you’ll like this, he’s also a Brit with no allegience to either the Met Office or East Anglia University.

  13. jim2 says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    In the 2005 paper you references, figure 4a show LW vs SST. I’m wondering why the GCM lines superimposed on the figure keep going to the right when the data appear to level out at about 30 C no matter the stimulus.

    • DonV says:

      Perhaps you can discern the answer to your question by reading the original article that was reviewed:

      I had the same question as well as others that I am taking Dr Spencer’s advice about “reading” seriously and looking up the answers myself. The review he cited has a LOT of good info to dig into. In reading, it is interesting to see the biases creep into the various authors writing – accepting theory as fact and building on it, vs. continuing to keep firmly in place the “uncertainty” and maintaining healthy skeptical criticism.

      Dr. Spencer, I respect your work. However, you too are fallible and could lose some of the arrogant tone that comes across in this blog entry. Derision of “citizen scientists”? Homer Simpson? Admiring title of “professional scientists” showing those who flaunt their disrespect for the law? And publicly humiliating Willis? Why the harsh criticism? I’m trying to understand your motivation? Are you trying to silence him? Others like him? including me? I understand you might think of him as the “student” while you are the “professor”, but what are you accomplishing with this publicly derisive commentary? If he is simply repeating work that has already been done, then wouldn’t it be more professional and credible to give him kudos for coming up with something on his own that “professional scientists” have also proposed and (maybe) proven, with a simple link, than this very public castigation? I’m quite disappointed.

      • markx says:

        Good comments by

        DonV says:
        October 9, 2013 at 6:11 PM

        Indeed, what is the point of Spencer’s article? Willis should not be doing this? Not brignign up ideas, and examining them?

        If it is a matter of it being prior work, a few links would suffice. Little needs be said.

  14. Ken Gregory says:

    The menu item “Research Article & Simple Climate Model” at the top of the page does not show your paper “On the diagnosis of radiative feedback in the presence of unknown radiative forcing”, J. Geophys. Res., 2010 (S&B2010). Could you add a link to this paper, or is not included because the conclusion is wrong? The paper is here:

    The S&B2010 paper used phase space plots to show that the feedback parameter in the Terra CERES monthly data is 6.2 W/m2/C, corresponding to a negative feedback of 2.9 W/m2/C (assuming a Planck response of 3.3 W/m2/C)and a climate sensitivity to double CO2 of 0.60 C. The more recent paper “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance”, Remote Sensing, 2011 (S&B2011) used lag regression analysis (instead of phase space plots) to demonstrate that the presence of radiative forcing contaminates the feedback regression analysis.

    S&B2011 says, “Finally, a mixture of 70% radiative and 30% non-radiative forcing (solid line in Figure 3) produces
    lag regression coefficients that vary in a manner similar to the satellite data in Figure 3.” It goes on to say, “without knowledge of time-varying radiative forcing components in the satellite radiative flux measurements, feedback cannot be accurately diagnosed from the co-variations between radiative flux and temperature.” The 70% radiation – 30% non-radiative curve in the model shows a zero-lag regression coefficient of about 1/3 of the true model specified value of 3 W/m2/C. Cannot we say that the feedback parameter is roughly about 3 times the regression determined value from CERES observations? The regression at zero lag of the observations is 1.5 W/m2/C, so the actual feedback parameter should be very approximately 1.5 X 3 = 4.5 W/m2/C, corresponding to a climate sensitivity to double CO2 of 3.7/4.5 = 0.8 C.

    Does S&B2011 prove that the results of S&B2010 are invalid, or just not very accurate?

  15. Steve Koch says:

    The advantage that Willis has is that his direction is not constrained by climate science politics and that he has a fresh perspective. If he finds nothing new, he has done little to no harm. If he stumbles onto something new, no telling how important it could be.

    The criticism that he has not read a bunch of papers that are either not available to him or behind paywalls seems unfair. Of course publically funded research should be available to the public. Maybe Roy should work a bit harder on leveling the playing field.

    • Tim Walker says:

      I like this post. Even though I’m not in agreement about everything said.

    • Don Monfort says:

      Willis also has the advantage of not being constrained by physics or math. What he doesn’t know can’t hurt him. He is also unconstrained by civility. Watch what he does when someone points out a possible error in his “work”. DIY science in action.

    • Joseph says:

      “his direction is not constrained by climate science politics”

      I find it interesting that his last job was at an oil company.

  16. Jos says:

    Link to Ramanathan et al. (1989) at the end of the post appears not to work.

    Here is another one:

  17. David A says:

    Why is anyone still taking poor Willis seriously?

    His science is almost always wrong, and badly so, like this case where he misunderstood an ocean with accelerated warming for one with no warming:

    Willis does very poor science.

  18. John Garrett says:

    Dr. Spencer,
    Your criticism is reasonable and warranted. I like Willis Eschenbach. He is an extremely bright fellow and a raconteur of the first order. I am partial to polymaths and autodidacts. He has made important contributions to the “Great Climate Debate” (as have you). Nevertheless, it is entirely appropriate to take him with a “grain of salt.”


  19. Coldlynx says:

    Since we shall be respectful with science and its definitions is it very strange to read this: “Well, greenhouse gases cool the upper layers, and warm the lower layers, of planetary atmospheres. Nothing new there…except maybe to misguided public perceptions of the science, which usually only involve the warming effects of greenhouse gases.”

    From a pure scientific perspective are greenhouse gases reducing lower layer radiative cooling and increase upper layer radiative cooling direct to space.
    The green house effect is that the total cooling are reduced which have a temperature effect but it is not warming in a strict scientific meaning. It is reduced cooling.

    • John Owens says:

      Yesterday, I read this post and agreed with the intent and the idea of not upstaging the professional scientists. After thinking about it overnight, I have come to a different opinion. Willis is performing a valuable service. A lot of information exists but is buried in scientific journals and never gets to the public, especially that part of the public that has a technical education and is capable of understanding it. The internet is a new medium that will open scientific information to the public. If the professional scientists do not publish technical detail on the internet then they will be forgotten. This is good in that the peer review process moves to the reading public and is no longer in the hands of editorial boards of professional societies that can select papers on political considerations, either personal or organizational.
      Also, I have been looking for a technical book that gives details on the information that was presented back in, I believe, 1991 when it was first agreed that the 31C limit on Ocean temperatures was due to clouds and thunderstorms, etc. I have been unable to locate such a book. The professional scientists should be publishing books that convey the results of their research.

  20. In defense of Willis, many of the so called climate experts or scientist are CLUELESS.

    They have not even a basic concept of how earth’s clmatic system works and what governs it as evidence by their ridiculous AGW theory and the expected effects going forward.
    So we need guys like Willis and others such as Stephen to keep this climate debate on the correct plain.

  21. This article Dr. Spencer did is the best ever,and he finally talked a little solar which was very correct and informative.

  22. John Owens says:

    My post was not intended as an answer to Coldlynx.

  23. torontoann says:

    The real surprise is to find how easy it is to work
    things out by simple counting.

    You just have to rearrange, a little, the information
    given on any “official” site, of the Globe’s heat budget
    for a year, and all becomes clear. As “They” do, we divide the Globe into the Atmosphere and the solid (including liquid water) Earth.

    One must remember that the Atmosphere, viewed as a whole, has two effective surfaces*, one facing space and one facing Earth. The skin of the Earth has one surface*
    facing the atmosphere and one facing inwards. A preliminary assumption is commonly made that the inner surface* does not allow heat to pass.

    * True surfaces – two dimensional abstractions.

    In Peta-Watts:

    The Globe receives 174 of direct sun-light. The Albedo
    Effect causes 52 to be reflected away.

    174 – 52 = 122

    The Atmosphere absorbs 34; 17 is radiated away into space
    and 17 is radiated to Earth (and absorbed); by symmetry
    (TWO radiating surfaces, let us remember). It is obvious that you may just as well say that this is equivalent to an Albedo Effect. Summarise it by simply saying that 17
    is reflected and 17 gets through to the skin of the Earth.

    122 – 17 = 105.

    So 105 is now in the Earth, it has passed through the
    upper surface of the Earth.

    52 goes from the Earth into the Atmosphere by conduction
    and latent heat of evaporation. The Atmosphere radiates
    26 away into space and 26 back to Earth. Again, simplifying,
    we can simply say that 26 goes into space as an ultimate result of conduction and evaporation and condensation.

    Now, what do we need to balance the skin of the Earth?

    105 – 26 = 79

    10 goes straight to space by thermal radiation from Earth
    because there is a “window” in the greenhouse gases’ powers
    of absorption.

    79 – 10 = 69

    The Earth must radiate a further 138 to the Atmosphere, to
    be blocked, and the Atmosphere radiates 69 of that back to Earth. The, the remaining 69 is radiated into space through the upper surface.

    For the skin of the Earth

    69 – 138 = -69

    which we had to get rid of, to be in balance.


    Everything is in balance, the greenhouse effect and
    down-welling radiation is present and correct, the figures
    match actual observations.

    Looking again at a NASA site, where they conspicuously
    and spectactularly ignore downwelling; yet I can see that
    all is in conformity

    For the Atmosphere:

    They show inputs of 34 from direct sunlight, and 52 from conduction,etc. from Earth, and 26 for “net radiation” from Earth. And outputs to space of 112 (well, 111 actually but this is rounding error). All very confusing but look closer.

    34 + 52 + 138 (my figure) = 224 into Atmosphere

    Output to space is half of that = 112. Radiation to Earth is also 112. The Atmosphere is in balance. “Net radiation” from Earth is

    138 – 112 = 26.

    Now the take-home point (apart from the fact that this
    is an interesting way of doing the heat budget) is that radiation from the skin of the Earth is 138 + 10 = 148 and 138 of this is absorbed in the Atmosphere. Virtually, none of that 10 is available for absorption under any conditions. So, of the 138 of infra-red available for blocking*, 138 already is blocked. And none of this involves
    a discussion of actual temperatures, or the internal
    workings of the atmosphere – because all that is summed
    up in the known figures. Of course, there are many things
    that can change these figures – but nothing that can change
    the fact that the greenhouse gas effect is already at full throttle.

    And, incidentally, if we relax the assumption that the
    Earth’s lower surface is a complete block – we have the
    idea of a sink for heat in the abyssal depths.

    *blocked, not TRAPPED.

    Tyndall already foresaw the possibility of “saturated”
    processes in 1862. He did not refer much to “greenhouses”. He preferred the analogy of a dam. He spoke of aqueous vapour being a dam thrown across the river of calorific rays emanating from the Earth, and how a river inevitably rises behind behind a dam – UNTIL it overflows the top.

  24. nigel says:

    Some people might doubt the assumption of torontoann
    that the internal structure of the atmosphere does not
    matter. But the fact that flows through the upper
    surface and the lower surface are observed to be
    so symmetrical, is interesting, and indicates it is
    alright to treat it as “a slab”.

    I seem to recall that Tyndall thought his “dam” would NOT affect the temperature of the Atmosphere since the ultimate requirement was for the Globe to divest itself of all incoming energy. After all, once a dam overflows, the downstream part of the river resumes its former condition.

  25. Leonard Weinstein says:

    I think Roy and many others here are missing a basic point. Blogs are not peer reviewed technical papers when they are presented. All who disagree with any issue can respond, and if the response is sustainable, the point on the blog is refuted. This is effectively an open cycle peer review process that actually can be more complete and honest than most peer review processes. The fact that detailed or even superficial claims are made hurts no one if you keep in mind the nature of the media. It may just cause an interesting on line discussion.

    I find the thought process and content of some of Willis’s blog post interesting whether I agree or not. His travel comment are also very good. Overall I think he is a plus to blogging. I also enjoy Roy and other more technical bloggers, but I don’t always agree with a blog just due to the education of the blogger. I especially find the CAGW group of so called scientists to be far less honest and accurate than Willis.

    • lemiere jacques says:

      Of course regular science is working and working well, but frankly speaking , regular scientists don’t really like when a amateur guy finds something interresting.

      There is an actual issue, being a scientist is a hard job, you need to find money and make people understand your results are worth of that money spent…it is quite stressful.

      I am not saying willis did something really new till now, but, let s be honest , the idea that a guy can find something new on a topic where many scientists have worked for years is very unconfortable to them.
      People have computers, you can find data it can happen.

    • van Loon says:

      Finally a correct answer to all the outpouring. And for the uninformed, I am a Meteorologist and a Climatologist, the two blend well.

      • nigel says:

        van Loon says:

        “Finally a correct answer…”

        Slight confusion; were you referring to torontoann (October 8, 11.07), me, Tyndall, or some other comment?

        • nigel says:

          van Loon did not reappear to say who had given a “correct answer”.

          Pity. I thought we were going to form a (very small) mutual admiration society.

  26. nigel says:

    I read some years ago a statement that most global climate models underestimate the atmospheric absorption of sunlight by about 25 W/M^2. I don’t know if they are better now.

    • Well, they have made some ad hoc heuristic changes to the cloud microphysics calcs to make the numbers add up a bit better, but the Mie scattering is still up the spout for working out cloud absorbance of incoming solar from first principles so far as I know.

  27. torontoann says:

    I do not know. I would hope so. That sounds pathetic.

  28. gordie says:

    “Peer review”.

    When I was working with lawyers, often someone would say
    “Get the Judge to sprinkle his holy water on that!”
    I asked about this, and was told it meant “Get it on the
    record, as undeniable, before the other side gets to him.”

  29. Konrad says:

    Those who read Willis’ three recent cloud posts will have noticed that when an error in the initial post was pointed our, he freely admired it, and redid the calculations. That is why people like Willis. He is worlds away from the normal behaviour of climate scientists.

    So instead of piling on Willis, I will pile on Dr. Spencer instead…

    “Well, greenhouse gases cool the upper layers, and warm the lower layers, of planetary atmospheres. Nothing new there…”

    And then? What happens to a gas atmosphere exhibiting a pressure gradient in a gravity field when energy is added at low altitude and removed at high altitude? Convective circulation. The speed convective circulation in our atmosphere, the primary mechanism for moving energy from the surface to altitude, depends on the concentration of radiative gases in the atmosphere.

    “Or, show why what was done previously came to the wrong conclusion, or analyzed the data wrong.”

    Do the calculations in “basic physics” of the “settled science” increase the speed of convective circulation, and thereby mechanical energy transport from the surface and lower atmosphere, for increasing concentrations of radiative gases?

    • Good question.

      The standard answer is that to achieve an increase in the speed of convective circulation a higher surface temperature is required.

      However, the energy content of the system is, in my opinion, limited by gravity, mass and insolation so like excess water going over the top of a dam (which increases speed of flow rather than the height of the water behind the dam) there is simply an increase in atmospheric height and a faster speed of convective circulation with no significant increase in system energy content of globally averaged surface temperature.

      • DonV says:

        Your comparison to a dam brings us full circle back to the original analogy . . . but I believe that that very same analogy needs fixing. The hydrology cycle since it involves two MAJOR energy scavenging events (evaporation-condensation) and (freezing-melting) and perhaps even a third (sublimation-deposition)that CO2 and all other green house gases do NOT possess, simply has to DOMINATE the energy balancing engine. Far more energy is physically MOVED by water than all the minor radiating and reradiating going on, with the exception of course of the radiation from the main heat source that drives it all.

        The correction I think should be introduced into the DAM analogy discussion are the following:
        1) MAIN DAM: Water’s passive average radiative and scatter feedback. Effect: HUGE
        2) smaller side dam: CO2 by about 1/10 that of the MAIN, with a different overflow sluice shape and controller but still small effect compared to MAIN DAM.
        and most importantly-
        3) If the reservoir gets too full and backs up the river too far, an ACTIVE GOVERNOR which is a bypass canal that directly conducts excess water past both DAMs and effectively limits the reservoir’s total capacity kicks in. This bypass is the hydrology cycle. It is not passive and only radiative. It is active and involves ALL three heat transfer methods conduction, convection AND radiation. And it operates on a very short time scale and over a VERY large surface temperature range. It ALLOWS a 1 degree, long term drift that is all the fuss in the climate debate right now but can also very easily control our climate to keep it within the physical constants that define water’s phase diagram. Unless one simultaneous measures both temperature and relative humidity over large distance both vertically AND horizontally and within very short time slices, and comparatively tracks very local radiation release, one cannot begin to appreciate just how effectively the hydrology cycle (storms) govern the energy balance within the long term climate “creep”.

        An active governor that operates wherever heat imbalance occurs across the globe confuses and confounds efforts to deduce whether CO2 or something else is causing the long term drift in the volume of water (energy) behind the two dams. But it also give us reassurance that nothing catastrophic is going to cause a positive feedback thermal runaway.

        Just my opinion.

  30. jim2 says:

    I respect Dr. Spencer. That said, I believe this post went a long way to demonstrate that Willis comes up with some good ideas. To me, it doesn’t matter that someone else might have done it before, the post was interesting and enlightening. I don’t have access to journals and I’m not surprised that Willis isn’t up on everything that’s already been done. Still, he shines a light on climate issues from time to time, and for that I thank him.

  31. What matters is whose conclusions are most correct when it comes to clouds and their climate effects, water vapor and their climate effects and how the greenhouse system acts upon the atmosphere.

    The answer is Dr. Spencer.

  32. Janice Moore says:

    Well written post, Dr. Spencer. You do not “attack” Eschenbach, here, you merely point out that he sometimes needs to do more homework before he writes his posts. You will probably get a little flack from commentors about the following part of your example quote above:

    …Willis sits in his den and does more and better work than my entire IPCC crowd of hundreds of scientists…

    You and the many other fine scientists daily countering the lies and junk science of AGW by doing excellent scientific analysis are NOT part of the “IPCC crowd”.

    Your narrative above, following that quote, ends up implying that you see yourself as one of the “IPPC crowd.” You might want to clarify this.

    Thanks for all your hard work for the truth!

    LOL, btw — Eschenbach is, no doubt, not at ALL upset (despite all his histrionics to the contrary) that you wrote about him. On the contrary, no doubt he is reveling in it with narcissistic glee at this very moment. It was very kind of you to give him yet another stage upon which to flounce and prance. 😉 (I won’t be going to that show, that is for sure!)

  33. John Schwartz says:

    What should matter, at the end of the day, is the pursuit of truth. Who cares who came up with it. Who really cares what academic credentials one has or doesn’t have.

    The questions should be, “Is it true?” and “How did you reach your conclusions?”

    Who really cares, Mr. Spencer, who gets the credit. This is like watching toddlers duke it out for the yellow truck in the sandbox.

  34. bit chilly says:

    this is a surprising post from Dr Roy Spencer. i understand many ego,s are being dented on a daily basis in the climate “science” community ,solely down to citizen scientists like willis.
    i would urge everyone (except Tony B, being ex UKMO ,they have been made to look more stupid than most )to stop and think for one moment .where would climate science be today without these citizen scientists ?

    i am a member of the public in the science background,and along with a growing contingent of other members of the public am sickened to the core with the back slapping,pal review,good old boy network and adherence to the party line shown by the vast majority of climate “scientists”. do climate scientists realise that to a vast proportion of the general public they are regarded with the same disdain and status as traffic wardens ?

    when ordinary people with little or no science training can spot large holes in the IPCC mantra,it is evident that something is wrong with the “science”. assumptions of knowledge from the climate “science” community,such as the heat is in the deep oceans,with zero observed evidence to back it up make climate “scientists” laughing stocks.
    i do not see many people laughing at willis on a daily basis.

    willis has provided some questions for Dr Roy Spencer on WUWT.i look forward to the answers.

    as has already been stated,the fact that willis is not constrained by the vagaries of modern climate science,particularly the need to toe the party line ,and has a brilliant inquisitive mind that allows him complete freedom to question is a very large plus in the climate “science” arena.

    i realise many climate “scientists” will say,well so what ,you are a nobody.well guess what,it is a whole bunch of nobodies that pay your salaries.

  35. bit chilly says:

    tony b,do you really expect ANYONE to pay any attention to what the IPCC THINK is going on ? the warming has not stopped,i take it you did not put your glasses on when reading AR5 ?
    next you will be telling me it is only a pause, i did not realise climate science also employed fortune tellers.

    i am open to ANYONE providing evidence of when roughly,give or take 3 years,the warming will resume.
    if you are representative of UKMO employees,i can feel a letter to my MP coming on.

    • Toneb (was TonyB) says:

      “if you are representative of UKMO employees,i can feel a letter to my MP coming on.”

      oh good I’m always up for a bit of praise.

      You will get nowhere because ….
      1) I’m retired
      2) The UK Government is informed on Climate matters by the UKMO and the IPCC.

      NOT by contarian Blogs such as this.

  36. dw says:

    Dr. Spencer of all people should not be dismissive of comments form outside of the field. Those with formal training and publications in evolutionary biology and paleontology might say the same about some of his opinions.

  37. Roy, do you think radiative-convective models of the climate have convection sufficiently well coupled within the model for them to have any value in predicting climate response to an increase in co2?

  38. Robert Austin says:

    Tony B says

    “Amateurs do NOT get to be more knowledgeable than experts and do *better* science”

    To be sure, a lot of bad science occupies the amateur science blogosphere but some of the climate science coming out of the alleged professional sphere has been quite execrable. Without climate bloggers such as Steven McIntyre, Mann’s hockey stick would still stand as an icon of CAGW instead of a discredit to science. If science would police its own, if there was true peer review rather than pal review, there would be no impetus for the “denialist” blogosphere.

    • Toneb (was TonyB) says:


      Of course there is bad science – just as there is bad in any human endeavour – but there is also good science – and that is what science brings to the top via peer-review. And that science being picked up and trumpeted by the *Denialosphere* is precisely that bad science……. because it fits the agenda of those blogging.

      It’s completely arse about.

      You do not get to pick the bit’s of science that fit your liking and throw the rest out. Certainly not skew publiic opinion in that way 9often with lies that go uncorrected when rebutted.

      See this reply to David Rose (Daily Mail) by UKMO..

      I know many would say that the IPCC and climate science is doing that to somehow fit things to their agenda. I’m sorry that conclusion is beyond bizarre. Some kind of alternative universe that *some* inhabit. It is this immersion in that “alternative universe” that skews critical thinking on the subject. It is a self fulfilling prophecy.

      Oh, also the hoary old “discredited hockey stick” crops up…

      Err – didn’t the skeptic Koch’s sponsored BEST study arrive with that self same “hockey stick”?
      And all the other researchers in the field as well?
      It’s on’y discredited by those who have disappeared down the rabbit hole.
      So what is it? a conspiracy or collective incompetence that somehow a select few can see through as if in an absurd “the Emperors naked” scenario.

  39. I just posted this response to Willis’s response to Roy over at WUWT:

    “my ideas about thunderstorms regulating the global climate ”

    That may well be original to Willis but is likely wrong as being insufficient.

    “that emergent phenomena regulate the temperature”

    That is a whole different scenario since it covers the entire global climate system including all aspects of the hydrological cycle.
    It is likely correct but I would be surprised if it is original to Willis.

    “the idea that thunderstorms and other emergent climate phenomena work in concert planet-wide to maintain the temperature of the earth within narrow bounds.”

    There Willis combines the two but is that idea original ?

    It was first published at WUWT on 14th June 2009 and described the behaviour of tropical weather systems as the regulating process.

    The year before that I published several articles proposing the entire global air and ocean circulation as a regulating mechanism:
    June 25, 2008
    June 18, 2008


    “The Earth is well able to adjust it’s built in thermostat to neutralise all but the largest categories of
    disruption (usually geological or astronomic) and humanity does not come anywhere near what would be required.”

    from here:
    January 8, 2009

    I am sure all overlaps are inadvertent since it is often the case that different enquiring minds come to similar conclusions around the same time.

  40. Shenanigans24 says:

    Dr. Spencer, thank you for your contributions on this blog to inform people about climate science. I hope you continue to do so as the subject is very popular.

    I understand Mr. Eschenbach’s hypothesis’ receive more attention than they may deserve because of his popularity the popularity of WUWT. His work may be redundant and may be incorrect and this attention can be a nuisance as people believe his work is original or ask you to comment.

    However I think it’s important to note that the reason Mr. Eschenbach’s ideas get attention is partly due to people losing faith in many climate scientists. And people have lost faith because of situations like the hockey stick where the scientists who represent the IPCC seemingly uncritically embraced something that was not worthy of what we would expect from professionals. Which leads people to believe they could do the work better. Obviously there are many good climate scientists doing good work and there always have been.

  41. Roy, as a professional climate scientist, would you please explain how Jaynes entropy is generalized to non reproducible systems, to which class climate belongs to? A pointer to published literature would suffice. I just would not like to replicate existing work, but I have come up empty handed with all searches so far. That is, I’d prefer not to morph into the next Homer.

    note: A system is reproducible if for any pair of macrostates (A;B) A either always evolves to B or never.

  42. Eric Barnes says:

    It is odd that Dr. Spencer would have this opinion regarding Willis’ blogging. People of the skeptical persuasion routinely support him and a few others (Pielke’s, Lindzen, Christy) as having very supportable non-alarmist views.

    These skeptical scientists should receive more funding at the expense of the alarmists. All the arrows are pointing to less climate sensitivity and those avenues should be followed.

    Doing the same old “climate science” and continuing to beat the fear mongering drum is dangerous for climate science and our society.

  43. Larry Siders says:

    Wattsupwitthat Homer Simpson thing, Roy? Bad one that.

    Where are intelligent skeptics supposed to go for “the truth”? Our “scientists” are pretty obviously lying to us. It is clear to any honest observer that political leanings, and divvying up a few billion $$ in new streams of funds, and of course power, are subverting truthfinding.

    In any event… nothing’s going to happen legislatively for at least 7 years… and the climate itself will be reporting the truth to all by that time. Then we can all get to work on repairing our broken institutions of truthfinding.

    • Bill Sparling says:

      Actually I liked it. It represents to me, and many others, the simple fact that the “common man” or “citizen scientist” still makes a contribution even in the sciences….consider that American icon Edison, or more recently Phil Nuyton who (without beenfit of much formal education) has designed things that exceed anything NASA has put out with all their high priced help. Not bad for the “common man”.

  44. G. Karst says:

    This thread is completely unnecessary. It’s musings completely inappropriate. It furthers no insight – explains nothing. I cannot believe I am reading this, here and now. Dr. Spencer, you have revealed an aspect, of your personality, that is not pretty. Look inward for more answers. GK

  45. bobl says:

    I do think you owe Willis an apology. While you provide some sage advice. I do not think it appropriate to equate Willis to Homer Simpson or by extension myself.

    You see I have some of my own ideas on Climate too. Like projecting warming from blackbody forward to CO2 saturation and my ideas that the prerequisite positive feedback component of 0.95 is unrealisable where there are phase/lag differences in different feedback mechanisms. IE you can’t treat feedback as a scalar. Finally the unreconciled diference between observed warming climate sensitivity (1.4) and modelled (3). Sure these aren’t original, I dont have to be original, they are just unanswered!

    Like Willis I put forward my hypothesis on such things and wait to be validly refuted. Whats wrong with that – we are allowed to be wrong, want to engage with Willis, refute him, don’t call him names

  46. Mario Lento says:

    Janice you wrote: “LOL, btw — Eschenbach is, no doubt, not at ALL upset (despite all his histrionics to the contrary) that you wrote about him. On the contrary, no doubt he is reveling in it with narcissistic glee at this very moment. It was very kind of you to give him yet another stage upon which to flounce and prance. 😉 (I won’t be going to that show, that is for sure!)”
    Janice, please do go to the show.

    Willis wrote quite a post on WUWT in reference to this subject. I’d like to hear your chime in. It’s about the science, not the personal subject matter.
    PS – I am grateful for the very few Roy Spencer’s of the world… and as well grateful for the Willis’ of the world.

    • Janice Moore says:

      Mario Lento! I am grateful for you.

      While I think the Homer Simpson photo choice above was a poor one (“citizen scientists” can be excellent and Dr. Spencer acknowledges this in his essay making the cartoon a distortion of Spencer’s own position), Mr. Eschenbach is an angry, selfish, egocentric, man.

      Whatever the value (sometimes quite helpful) of his scientific analysis, his angry, arrogant, dismissive, and often deliberate (given his obvious intelligence) mischaracterization of the positions of those whom he snarls at pollutes all his discussions to the point of making them unpalatable.

      I think to have anything to do with him until he can treat others with fairness and respect is to expose oneself needlessly to anger, disingenuous obfuscation, and to one who has an unhealthy interest in controversy for its own sake. Not interested.

      You, dear Mario, have a much more generous heart toward Eschenbach (as do many others). GOOD FOR YOU. Until he changes, I am having NOTHING to do with that warped man.

      I DO pray for him, though. And I’ll keep checking in from time to time to see if God has made any progress with E..

      Until then, sign me,

      No Thanks.

      (I hope all is well with you, Mario, and with your family.


    • johanna says:

      Janice, I agree.

      A while back Hilary Ostrov and I had the temerity to disagree with Willis, not on a scientific issue, but on an issue to do with the way he characterised a female scientist.

      His reaction was to go nuclear, posting longer and longer rants attacking us personally. It got so ugly that Anthony had to close down the thread.

      Even some of his fanboys were critical of his unpleasant tone and bullying tactics in responding to us.

      He’s a bright guy, but is incredibly thin-skinned and goes to absurd lengths to defend the indefensible at times.

      I don’t engage with him any more – not because I’m intimidated by his thuggish behaviour (I’m not) – but because life is too short to waste on people whose response to even mild criticism is to launch nuclear missiles from the bully pulpit.

      • Janice Moore says:

        Thanks for the affirmation, Johanna. It was nice to know you understand. LOL, I recall the thread to which you refer. Rational thought was cast completely to the wind. I think there are some very kindhearted people (like Mario Lento) who want to try to save the man from himself. I wish them well. I think it will take a miracle, thus, as you read above, I am done.

        Take care.

        Happy Spring!

  47. Ric Werme says:

    Willis brings two things to the skeptic community that few scientists do: 1) He is a good explainer, 2) He writes for non-scientists. So far I haven’t found anyone on the web who combines those traits with science that is always right.

    Perhaps you or others can help out with the science. Willis will have to learn tolerance for people who disagree with him on his own.

  48. OssQss says:


  49. I put this at WUWT
    “Willis, you published “The thunderstorm thermostat hypothesis” in Energy Environment Vol 21 No4 2010. but it is strange that you have not mentioned the next paper in the same edition of the journal by Dr Noor Van Andel “Tropical rainstorm feedback” . I would imagine that Dr Roy Spencer has not read either paper or looked at the references cited. Have a look at his figure 2. Has it any relation to your graphs? The late Dr Van Andel was a chemical engineer who certainly knew more about heat transfer than Dr Roy and probably knew more than all the so-called climate scientists put together. His paper (p277) in the same edition “Note on the Miskolczi theory” shows that he is one of the few that understood what Miskolczi has proposed.”
    Peer review has only a meaning when the reviewers are competent and unbiased. I suggest that very few papers published in journals associated with climate science would get published in chemical engineering journals simply because the so-called climate scientists do not understand the basics of the engineering subjects -thermodynamics, heat&mass transfer and fluid dynamics. The world would now be a better place if so much money had not in the last thirty years been spent on useless research on a non problem (ie climate)

  50. Norman says:

    I doubt that Tony B Is a retired meteorologist. Re having degrees and University Jobs “Climate Scientists” just look at M Mann. The man is a BS artist and the University that hires him must therefore be a dump. Willis or Steve Mcyntyre are far more qualified to talk about climate than Mann in my view (BTW I’ve got 4 Higher University degree and have published 27 peer reviewed articles) Unfortunately 2 from a University that I am ashamed now to be associated with due to their stance on Climate Change *University of Queensland, Australia)

  51. John Spencer says:

    A rather mean attack here done out of jealously. If you think someone has missed something you just say hay buddy you missed a bit. Not rant on about how others are so much lower than you and that you’re time is just too precious.

    • The idea that Roy Spencer is jealous of Willis – something that others said at Willis’s reply to this at WUWT as well – is insane. Maybe the rest of what you’re saying has merit, but jealousy?

      Give it a rest.

      • Jimbo says:

        I doubt jealousy, Willis admires Dr. Spencer from what he says. Some at WUWT are asking whether Willis is perhaps onto something? Flak and over the target? Are others perhaps looking into the very same thing? Only time will tell I suppose. If Willis is wrong, so what. It’s just a blog, it won’t be published in a scientific journal and won’t assist in formulating governmental policy. So why they attack some people wonder. 🙂

  52. tonyb says:

    I see the ‘other’ TonyB is commenting here again.

    It really would help if you were to choose another handle that differs to the one I have been using on blogs for many years, as it just causes confusion, especially as our views are poles apart.

    Once again I disassociate myself from your comments


  53. Jimbo says:

    On a final note here are some of the expert scientists ‘TonyB’.

    BBC – 12 December 2007
    Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007,”…….”So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.”
    [Professor Wieslaw Maslowski]

    Guardian – 17 September 2012
    This collapse, I predicted would occur in 2015-16 at which time the summer Arctic (August to September) would become ice-free. The final collapse towards that state is now happening and will probably be complete by those dates“.
    [Professor Peter Wadhams – Cambridge University]

    Financial Times Magazine – 2 August 2013
    “It could even be this year or next year but not later than 2015 there won’t be any ice in the Arctic in the summer,”
    [Professor Peter Wadhams – Cambridge University]

    • Bill Sparling says:

      Except that the artic permanent ice pack is GROWING in thickness and area, according to the data from RADARSAT2. Anyone who wishes to review can file an ATIP request with Natural Resources Canada and get a data dvd with the raw data within 4 weeks.

  54. J.Seifert says:

    Dr. Roys analysis is good but misses one point: There are not only 2 categories of climate researchers but there rather exist three: First, the Homerian citizen scientist, second, the AGW scientist, about to be locked up by authorities soon…..and there is also the third, the true and honest citizen scientist, uncorrupted, only aiming for the truth…
    This third will be the authority in climate science in a few years, because his science is based solely on facts and not
    on based on corrupted institutional modelling…..

  55. This is great. Dr Spencer’s criticism is correct, but too mild. WE and his ilk will never get anywhere or understand anything, because they refuse to learn. They won’t read scientific papers; they don’t know the background. They foster the myth of the lone genius beavering away discovering great things in the back of a shed, but it comes to nothing.

    • Gary says:

      Ah, another opinion comes through the partisan fantasy lens. WE’s complaint is about an attack on his integrity, not about his analytical skills. Was it really an “attack?” Well, RS didn’t mean it that severely (although the Homer Simpson image was an unnecessary passive/aggressive jab). My question is how small-minded to you have to be to delight in such a minor tiff?

    • Bob says:

      Connolley, you are the last person that deserves to comment on others. You’ve committed the worst of sins, CENSORSHIP,and you will never have your credibility restored.

    • Toneb (was TonyB) says:

      Indeed William…. A lone genius could do such things back in Newton’s day. The idea that it could happen now is ludicrous.

      Unless you believe the story of Rossi and cold fusion?

  56. PM says:

    I would have a great deal more sympathy for Dr Spencer’s view if this was just a dispute about some obscure academic point. However, global warming effects citizens more than any other scientific issue. Either because of the catastrophic changes to our environment which may happen or the catastrophic changes to our economy which are happening.

    Empirical evidence indicates that (at least so far) Willis Eschenbach’s analysis is far closer to the truth than James Hansen’s who predicted boiling oceans.

    Us citizens pay your salary Dr Spencer, and many of us will be working well into our 70s to pay your pension. If Willis Eschenbach is wrong don’t waste your time, and our money, writing articles about it – just provide a citation to the previous studies.

  57. TLM says:

    One of the problems of all science, not just climate science, is that a lot of it is repetitious and/or duplicated. You get scientists unknowingly working in the same field on the same questions as others. Many papers get peer reviewed and published and then barely ever read again. The significance of much research is not understood or noticed until it is long buried in dusty journals in a box in the library “dead files” storage system.

    My father completed his PhD in Chemistry at Imperial College in 1957. His research was published in a journal of chemistry (forget which) in 1958. He had found the basis of the mechanism by which the bacteria in the roots of leguminous plants use Molybdenum as a catalyst to fix nitrogen. He was prompted to do this after reading research by biologists in the period 1947-52 that showed how adding trace Mo to fertiliser helped Leguminous plants to grow. Dad did not follow up his research as he went into industry rather than academia.

    In about 1995 I read an article in the Telegraph that scientists had just found the mechanism by which Molybdenum helps bacteria fix nitrogen. I am not sure how much of their work repeated Dad’s, but from the tenor of the article it seems they thought they had discovered something totally new. I did not show Dad the article (he was a Guardian reader) as I imagine it might have upset him.

    Too much good science goes unnoticed and unread by people who would find it useful. I am not sure how this can be changed. Perhaps if all the scientific journals in the world were scanned with OCR technology and put in one massive, publicly available and searchable database, then it would be easier to make sure that the likes of Willis were not duplicating research already done, or trying to disprove / prove something already proved / disproved.

  58. Ric Werme says:

    I just figured out what’s wrong about this discussion. If all this stuff that Willis looks at and describes from his point of view is actually stuff that real scientists have already looked at and documented, how long will it take for that research to make it into the dynamical models and for IPCC projections to start tracking observations?

    • TLM says:

      Having read Willis’s reply at WUWT he makes a very good point. If the work is so derivative, why didn’t Roy simply point out where we can look to find the prior work? Sounds like there is a difference of opinion on the relevence of R&C 1991. From the arguments presented on that point it sounds like if R&C does cover Willis’s point it is only very briefly and “by the way”.

      Willis is trying to find support for his “weather as a governor of climate” idea which hypothesises that feedback varies with temperature in order to keep temperatures within a narrow band. Now as far as I can tell, none of the papers that Roy references deal with that. Maybe there is one but Roy needs to point it out if he wants his criticsm of Willis to be viewed by us as valid.

      Scientists are used to keeping everything under wraps until the publishing date. Bloggers like Willis tend to stick their ideas out in the open early and see what turns up. Both are perfectly valid approaches and scientists in the field would get more respect if they helped inform the debate rather than carping from the sidelines.

      Just my 2p!

      • C Lynch says:

        I was about to say the very same thing.

        To which I would add that while the Homer Simpson reference may have helped Dr. S make his point, it was not necessary and could be viewed as a huge insult.

  59. PapaBear38 says:

    I am very disappointed in this “Fluff Attack” piece. I expected better from you.

    Reasonable professional conduct would start with you providing specific comments critiquing his theories. If you think he is wrong or misguided, you should address the issues in the appropriate forum (WUWT). Your online critiques has been VERY spotty there. Worse yet, they were not made with references. Vague hand waving isn’t legitimate critique.

    Posting this missive on your blog?

    Shame. On. You.

  60. WikiTruth says:

    Wikipedia editor William Connolley strongly approves and endorses this post!

    • Ric Werme says:

      A lot of us think that reflects poorly on this post. Hearing it affirmed by a troll named WikiTruth reflects poorly on all of Wikipedia, whether or not you’re directly involved with them.

  61. I thought William Connolly had been banned from Wikipedia because a) of personal political bias which he applied to his editing b) having a closed mind so he dismissed anything which was contrary to his thinking and C) lacking mathematical and technological understanding and dismissing anything outside his (limited) comprehension.
    William Connolly was one that reduced the reliability of Wikipedia as a reference source.
    I take the comment by WikiTruth to be satirical.

  62. Don Monfort says:

    Oh, a lot of the legendary DIY climate science blogger’s sycophants have shown up to defend their hero. You should have known better, Dr. Roy. That Homer Simpson thing really got under Willis’s thin translucent skin. His image of himself is the dude in the Dos Equis ‘most interesting man in the world’ commercial.

  63. John says:

    Blog wars….you got to love it.

    Climate science is surely dysfunctional.

    • Toneb (was TonyB) says:

      It’s not climate science as in the consensus that is dysfunctional, no not at all — what you mistake for climate science is the bits that the contrarians dearly wish to be the science.

      There is a difference – a crucial one.

      • John says:

        I stand by my comment. As a general rule scientist work together. Not so much in climate science. You are either a denier or an alarmist.

      • Jimbo says:

        Toneb (was TonyB) says:
        October 10, 2013 at 2:29 PM

        It’s not climate science as in the consensus that is dysfunctional,….

        Consensus in science is dysfunctional. It discourages curiosity. Human beings are naturally curious, whatever discourages curiosity is dysfunctional. Do you agree? If not why not?

        I am curious about the global surface temperature standstill.

        I am curious about why children know what snow is in the UK.

        I am curious why the Arctic wasn’t ice free this September.

        There are many things I am curious about so please don’t discourage me. Thanks. 🙂

  64. Hank Roberts says:

    Hey, _both_ guys in the picture at the top of the page are wearing broad-brimmed sun hats. What more evidence do you want that it’s getting hotter?

  65. Mario Lento says:

    Janice: Nicely said as usual. I try to take a neutral position, as my natural tendency is to lash out because of my upbringing. My quest is to filter the emotions and get to truth, because much of what Willis says is so thoughtfully and strictly presented. If what he presented was of little value I would see that – but I do not see that. Dr. Spencer is a beacon of knowledge and he shares his expert information patiently with us. I see both contributions as a gift –one from the professional side and one from citizen’s side of truth as best they know it.

    WUWT has a lot of meaty back and forth on this subject that I think you would find interesting and worthwhile. Anyway – I would like to find out if Willis has been schooled… and your interpretation is valued.

    I spend a lot of time with young welding and engineering students and even academia. I preach what I know, and expect people to be critical and skeptic of me so that they quest to seek truth instead of parroting others’ opinions and claiming they’ve actually done research.

    Otherwise, I see them as “sheeple” and useful idiots. There, I was evil for a whole sentence!

  66. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Dear Dr. Roy:

    Let me start by expressing my surprise and my sadness at your words and graphic. It seems as if I’ve unknowingly done something that has deeply upset you, but I’m not clear what it is. If so, you have my apologies.

    Regarding my thunderstorm thermostat hypothesis, back in 2010 I did what you and many other people have advised I do with my ideas. I published my thunderstorm thermostat hypothesis in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It’s available here. Oh, it was published in the journal that alarmists love to hate, Energy & Environment, but to the alarmists’ dismay E&E publishes peer-reviewed science. Heck, Tom Wigley even advised his confidantes in the Climategate emails that E&E is peer-reviewed, quite funny actually.

    And among the peer-reviewed papers they’ve published is my hypothesis. Heck, you’re even listed among the references … but not Ramanathan and Collins, because they were looking at an entirely different mechanism.

    My paper starts, of course, with an abstract, which opens by stating my hypothesis:

    The Thunderstorm Thermostat Hypothesis is the hypothesis that tropical clouds and thunderstorms actively regulate the temperature of the earth. This keeps the earth at an equilibrium temperature regardless of changes in the forcings.

    I went on to detail how this happens, primarily through changes in the daily time of onset of the tropical cumulus threshold and thunderstorm threshold. When the earth is cool, those phenomena emerge later in the day or not at all. This allows the full power of the sun to heat the surface. And conversely, when the earth is warm they emerge earlier in the day.

    So my hypothesis, as clearly laid out in that paper, is that variations in the daily times of onset of the tropical cumulus and cumulonimbus regimes regulate the tropical surface temperature with scant regard to changes in forcings. And thus eventually this regulates the global surface temperature, through a whole host of cloud-related mechanisms. The hypothesis contains the corollary stated in the abstract, that this keeps the temperature within fairly tight bounds (e.g. ± 0.3°C over the 20th century) without much regard to what the forcings do. Another way to say this is that the thresholds for the formation of cumulus and thunderstorms are temperature-based, not forcing-based.

    Note that my hypothesis is radically different from the hypothesis put forwards in Ramanathan and Collins 1991. Their abstract says:

    Observations made during the 1987 El Niño show that in the upper range of sea surface temperatures, the greenhouse effect increases with surface temperature at a rate which exceeds the rate at which radiation is being emitted from the surface. In response to this ‘super greenhouse effect’, highly reflective cirrus clouds are produced which act like a thermostat, shielding the ocean from solar radiation. The regulatory effect of these cirrus clouds may limit sea surface temperatures to less than 305K.

    Their hypothesis is about the effect of cirrus clouds on the local maximum sea surface temperature from a “super greenhouse effect” that occurs in and around the Pacific Warm Pool … and my hypothesis isn’t about any of those things. Not one of them. My hypothesis is not about cirrus clouds. Not about a “super greenhouse effect”. Not about maximum sea surface temperatures. And not about the Pacific Warm Pool.

    Now, perhaps as you say, someone before me advanced the same hypothesis I’ve put forward, which is that the time of the daily onset of the tropical thunderstorms and cumulus clouds regulates the global temperature with little regard for changes in forcings. But it certainly wasn’t Ramanathan and Collins …

    So I still await your identification of the study which put forward that hypothesis prior to my own journal publication. Note that I’ve never said such a study doesn’t exist—to the contrary, here’s what I wrote in my post on the subject:

    And you know what? Dr. Roy may well be right. My work may not be novel. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong … but without specific examples, he is just handwaving. All I ask is that he shows this with proper citations.

    That’s all I’m asking—if not mine, then whose name should we put on the idea that the time of onset of the tropical cumulus and thunderstorm regimes regulates the global temperature?

    Now to your other point, which is whether I give sufficient acknowledgement to prior art and studies. At any point in my life, I only know what I know. I do my best to acknowledge scientists and cite prior work. I think such acknowledgement is important. As I said, I cited your own work in my journal paper on thunderstorms. I acknowledge prior work when it is relevant.

    R&C’s hypothesis about a “super greenhouse effect” in the Pacific Warm Pool was and is not relevant to my hypothesis about cumulus and thunderstorm regimes regulating the temperature. So I did not cite or mention it in that context. Instead, in 2012 I said the following:

    I disagree that the analysis of thunderstorms as a governing mechanism has been “extensively examined in the literature”. It has scarcely been discussed in the literature at all. The thermostatic mechanism discussed by Ramanathan is quite different from the one I have proposed. In 1991, Ramanathan and Collins said that the albedos of deep convective clouds in the tropics limited the SST … but as far as I know, they didn’t discuss the idea of thunderstorms as a governing mechanism at all.

    At that time, no one provided any examples of prior analysis similar to mine … and if they were known, people would certainly have posted them. Lots of folks out there would like nothing better than to prove me wrong, and that’s wonderful. I’m serious. It is precisely that hostile audience, full of folks who love to hate on me, that is the essence of science. If those people can’t punch holes in my claims, if they can’t falsify my claims, I can sleep easy.

    On the other hand, when I wrote in 2012 about maximum SSTs in the Pacific Warm Pool, R&C 1991 and the CEPEX experiment were definitely relevant … and so I said:

    …”Let me be clear that I am by no means the originator of the claim that there is a thermostat regulating the maximum ocean temperature. See among many others the Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment. I am merely looking at the Argo data with this thermostat in mind.”

    So yes, Dr. Roy, I definitely do acknowledge prior work as you advocate, like you I think it’s important … but only when it is relevant to my work.

    I’m also uninterested in doing anything that someone has done before. I read voraciously, and could do so for another fifty years without being able to read all the studies. But I want to create new looks at things. So I am constantly inventing novel techniques and ideas and putting them in practice.

    Now, it’s not unusual for me to later find out that some technique I invented was invented before me by someone else. I actually take a curious pride in finding that out, it means I’m on the right trail. And it’s also not unusual for me to find out that my ideas and methods and techniques and hypotheses are in fact new and novel. I take pride in that as well.

    You seem to be interpreting what I say as somehow dissing the work of previous climate scientists. Not in the slightest. However, many of them have been seduced by the simple-but-wrong idea that changes in global temperature are a linear function of changes in forcings. This fundamental misconception has left vast areas of the climate realm relatively unexplored. That’s where I spend my time.


    PS—Since you have such distaste for citizen scientists, I’m curious. My hypothesis is published in a scientific journal. If you have objections, why are you making them on the web? Surely a professional scientist would write a letter to the editor of the journal, pointing out the prior work that shows my ideas about time of onset to be derivative.

    At least that’s what people always advise me to do …

    In any case, Dr. Roy, next time … could you give me a phone call first?

  67. yonason says:

    Spencer writes – “We are too busy publishing-or-perishing.”

    A brief anecdote: I did some independent work in my own free time, and came up with a very interesting finding. When I approached the principle investigator, he didn’t laugh at it, as he would have if it were junk, but got very serious and lost in thought for a few seconds (that’s all he could spare). Then he said, “Can’t pursue it, it’s not in the grant.” And that was it. Some time later, I came up with a change in protocol for the main assay we performed that could save us a lot of time, and maybe improve our data. He struggled a bit with that, and said, in effect, “OK, we’ll try it once, and it had BETTER work.” Fortunately for all of us, it did.

    I only relate that to illustrate that Willis has no idea what a tightrope real researchers have to walk, and under what time and other constraints they must operate, or lose funding. It is not a game. There’s very little (ok, virtually no) leisure time to speculate on one’s navel, or whatever. But apparently neither he, nor his many supporters, seem to realize that.

    He also has no idea how fortunate he is to have Spencer take the time to give him so much unappreciated constructive criticism. If he took a moment to ponder (he has the time), he would realize it’s better to be criticized by one’s friend, then praised by one’s enemy.

    OK, nuf said. I hope my interloping wasn’t too offensive to anyone.

    • Jimbo says:

      Willis has a full time job too. Watts runs his own business. Not many have the time too.

      • Yonason says:

        Willis and others are making demands on his time, which he gives as best he can, and then taking it personally when Spencer doesn’t agree with them, or give them all the time they want. But Spencer isn’t angry with them when they don’t take the time to devote to helping him (because he doesn’t need it), or when they aren’t fawning over his work, is he?

        Can you really not see that the two situations are not at all the same?

  68. Mario Lento says:

    yonason says:
    October 10, 2013 at 10:23 PM
    You wrote “I only relate that to illustrate that Willis has no idea what a tightrope real researchers have to walk, and under what time and other constraints they must operate, or lose funding. It is not a game. There’s very little (ok, virtually no) leisure time to speculate on one’s navel, or whatever. But apparently neither he, nor his many supporters, seem to realize that.”
    There’s just so much wrong with your emotional wording, that it’s difficult to even respond. But here I go.

    This is not about whether someone supports Willis or not.

    I do not see how your telling us that funding is what motivates you, shows that Willis “has idea what a tghtrope real researchers have to walk.” Quite conversely you’re saying that only people who do research to get funding are real researchers.

    I find your comments argumentative and not constructive. You admittedly have a selfish and narrow view of what the meaning of “real” is.

    • yonason says:


    • yonason says:

      PS – note what Roy Spencer said, on which I was elaborating.

      He said, when we do such outreach, it is usually too technical to understand. We are too busy publishing-or-perishing.”

      I’m talking about Spencer, not me. I was like Willis, because I didn’t have the responsibility of publishing or perishing. What I’m saying is that he has to respect that, and appreciate it, which he may be beginning to, based on his last comment. But you? You haven’t a clue.

    • yonason says:

      PPS – Sorry I snapped at you. You still misunderstood, but maybe it was my fault for not explaining more clearly.

      • mario lento says:

        yonason: No harm. You made several points that I was criticizing. But first, I well understand that the good Dr.Spencer has a very busy schedule. Your comments did not add merit to what Dr. Spencer clearly laid out.

        It’s that you were making ad hoc claims based on who is real or not real in a given profession.

        And then go on to say “Willis has no idea what a tightrope real researchers have to walk”

        and then tell us you are representing Dr. Spencer.

        It’s a lot of negative nothing.

        • Yonason says:

          OK, let me try again.

          I think Spencer’s constructive criticism of Willis was more than generous. Spencer says he’s bright, but not as original as his ego would have him believe, and gives specifics as to why that’s the case, and how to remedy it. Spencer also encourages him to be more disciplined, to which Willis responds with anger and ingratitude. If you see nothing wrong with that picture, I recommend new glasses.

          As to my “…representing Dr. Spencer.” I was not. He does so just fine on his own. What I was trying to express, not very effectively, was the fact that Willis attitude of “He’s my hero; how could he do this to me?” strikes me very much as a bit akin to a stalker, who can’t understand why the object of his admiration could possibly not be anything but admiring in return.

          Consider Willis’ seemingly immature notion of what he thinks Spencer owes him, based on his admiration. Now contrast that with Spencer actually taking the time to honestly try to help the lad, with nothing but ingratitude as the result.

          Do you get my point yet?

          End of comments.

  69. Don Worley says:

    “Since you have such distaste for citizen scientists”

    A very inciteful comment to say the least. Certainly a strawman. This is uncalled for.

    Get a grip on your ego boy.

  70. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Don Worley says:
    October 11, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    “Since you have such distaste for citizen scientists”

    A very inciteful comment to say the least. Certainly a strawman. This is uncalled for.

    Get a grip on your ego boy.

    Don, Dr. Roy has just written a diatribe against citizen scientists, comparing us inter alia to Homer Simpson and claiming various wrongdoings on our part.

    Am I not allowed to note that fact?

    And calling another commenter “boy”? I fear your condescending tone doesn’t add to your reputation.


    • Don Monfort says:

      This is a diatribe:

      Have you ever apologized to Dr. Curry for that stoopid attack, Willis? What would the Captain say?

      • Don Monfort says:

        Wrong link. That is the one where you denigrated Vietnam vets to justify your own cowardice.

        Here is your gratuitous tirade against Judith:

        • Jimbo says:

          I remember a few years back when Dr. Judith Curry was given a guest post on WUWT. She called sceptics deniers. Willis called her to task on that one. You talk about apology, your really should read more.

          Here is something Judith prepared earlier, but first from me: carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Water vapour is also a greenhouse gas.


          Mixing Politics and Science in Testing the Hypothesis That Greenhouse Warming Is Causing a Global Increase in Hurricane Intensity

          …In addition to critiques by well-known global warming deniers, the issue of hur-ricanes and global warming…

          …Greenhouse warming deniers have invoked potential issues related to solar variability and climate feedbacks….

          …In the media debate on global warming and hurricanes, greenhouse-warming deniers…..

          …In addition to debate with greenhouse-warming deniers, considerable debate has also occurred…

      • bit chilly says:

        thank you for that excellent link don,i was unaware of that. everyone is different,but give me real world experience over someone that has been wrapped up in academia and brought through the system conventionally every time.
        at the time,many people shunned cassius clay for refusing to serve,i do not think many,if any,people hold it against him now.hindsight is a wonderful thing,but anyone suggesting there was anything noble about the vietnam war has a funny perspective of what is noble.
        i do not see where willis has denigrated vietnem vets,considering some of the acts that were carried out by some vets, there definetly is scope for denigration.neither do i see him attacking the army,and again,considering his treatment,it would be entirely justified.
        what he did do was describe the situation honestly and from his own perspective. he made his choice,based on his own thoughts and feelings on the situation,better that than a sheep with no opinion following the flock.(like mainstream climate scientists)
        willis has provided his explanation of why he thinks dr roy spencer is incorrect in his assessment of willis hypothesis relating to the time of formation of tropical thunderstorms. dr roy spencer has still not addressed this.i believe he will when he has time,and the current situation will be resolved amicably.
        yours,the moron

      • Don Monfort says:

        Many of those who call themselves skeptics are deniers. Regarding your WUWT links, I agree with Anthony:

        “Dr. Curry gets props from the skeptical community because she had the courage to invite Steve McIntyre to give a presentation at Georgia Tech, for which she took criticism. Her letter is insightful and addresses troubling issues. We can all learn something from it. – Anthony”

        And none of what you are yammering about has anything to do with the stoopid unwarranted attack against Dr. Curry by Willis that I documented, above.

        Aren’t you going to defend your hero Willis against my calling him out as a lying narcissistic coward, Jimbo?

  71. TedM says:

    Dr Spencer: Does the small decrease in IR emission in the CO2 absorption bandwidths necessarily mean a decrease in total IR emission.

    For example if that back radiation is captured at the earth’s surface and re radiated, does the re radiation have to be within those same bandwidths? My understanding of physics suggests not.

    What I am suggesting here is that it may be possible that the effect of that observed measurement (NASA AIRS) may be less than that individual measurement indicates.

  72. nigel says:

    TedM says:

    “…does the re-radiation have to be within those same bandwidths?”

    Definitely not. Once a photon is captured by a molecule
    in the atmosphere, the energy is shared by other molecules; it becomes part of general heat. And the energy will be radiated away by the ensemble of the greenhouse gases (or otherwise cycled), of which water is much the the main one.

    “…back radiation…”

    By the symmetry of radiative processes where there are
    TWO radiating surfaces (the atmosphere), a decrease in emission from the top implies a similar decrease in radiation from the bottom – not an increase. Concerning these little fluctuations – probably non-equilibrium wiggles.

    For most purposes it is enough to treat the atmosphere as a “slab”. This is a simplification – for instance, water is hardly present, after a certain height is reached.

    I think you are trying to make sense of things, using certain “glib explanations” that are floating around.
    Usually, this does not end well.

  73. Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    A few months ago I had an exchange with Willis Eschenbach on Judith Curry’s Blog and I can understand the limits of non-experts in areas where expertise is important.

    I brought up an environmental group’s lawsuit over ocean acidification, and Willis made some criticism about the science in their petition. He made some good points, but then he brought up some accusations from the popular media about the supposed cozy legal relationships between the Obama administration and environmental groups.

    On the face of it and to someone without legal training, the accusations seemed to have some legitimacy. However, anyone who knows how the legal system works would dismiss the accusations as simply incorrect. Had Willis had some basic legal training, or done some rudimentary legal research, he would have not brought up these claims up.

  74. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Joseph O’Sullivan says:
    October 14, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    A few months ago I had an exchange with Willis Eschenbach on Judith Curry’s Blog and I can understand the limits of non-experts in areas where expertise is important.

    I brought up an environmental group’s lawsuit over ocean acidification, and Willis made some criticism about the science in their petition. He made some good points, but then he brought up some accusations from the popular media about the supposed cozy legal relationships between the Obama administration and environmental groups.

    On the face of it and to someone without legal training, the accusations seemed to have some legitimacy. However, anyone who knows how the legal system works would dismiss the accusations as simply incorrect. Had Willis had some basic legal training, or done some rudimentary legal research, he would have not brought up these claims up.

    My goodness, Joseph, do a google search on “EPA sue and settle” and read about what’s actually happening … the Attorney Generals of twelve states are suing the EPA over the illegal practice, and you claim it doesn’t exist?


    • Joseph O'Sullivan says:

      The state’s lawsuit is over a FOIA request for the EPA to hand over documents about EPA’s relationship with environmental groups and labor unions. The states are not counter-suing, they are seeking information that they will not easily get. It is work product and sometimes involves confidentiality, as legal proceedings often do.

      This lawsuit is not over any specific act that the EPA has taken. It does advance a political narrative popular on the right, namely the EPA is out of control. The states suing are controlled by the right and are engaging in political grandstanding.

      As a layman the things that Willis does not know about the practice of law are clear, but are understandable for someone without legal training.

      The fact that the EPA is settling with environmentalists is not surprising for several reasons. In law almost all disputes are resolved outside the courtroom, so it is expected that the EPA is going to settle. The nation’s laws like the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act advance environmental protection, so again it is expected the EPA will obey the laws and not oppose them. Finally the environmentalist groups have very good lawyers, and the EPA is well aware that they will probably lose if they don’t settle.

      • Don Monfort says:

        Willis did a Google search and he has an IQ of 180+. How could he have gotten it wrong? Are you calling Willis a liar? Add DIY lawyering to Willis’ reportoire of avocations.

        • Joseph O'Sullivan says:

          “Are you calling Willis a liar?”

          No, he is definitely wrong, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. I’m saying much of it has to do with the fact that he doesn’t have experience or training in law and is unaware of the way things work at the legal departments of government agencies.

  75. Poptech says:

    You may find this interesting,

    Who is Willis Eschenbach?

    As of 2012 Mr. Eschenbach has been employed as a House Carpenter.

    He is not a “computer modeler”, he is not an “engineer” and he is certainly not a “scientist” (despite all ridiculous claims to the contrary).

    “A final question, one asked on Judith Curry’s blog a year ago by a real scientist, Willis Eschenbach…”

  76. Eli Rabett says:

    FWIW, Eli analyzed this problem about seven years ago

    Uncle Eli has always admired astronomy, botany, and zoology as sciences with important amateur participation. By nurturing the large community of those interested in the science these fields have built important support groups, and amateurs have made important contributions. Many amateurs become obsessed with relatively narrow and previously trodden areas. Within those areas their knowledge often exceeds that of professionals. To Eli the most important thing is that people get to experience the joy of science. The smartest thing NASA ever did was reserve time on the Hubble for amateurs and some good science has resulted.

    What amateurs lack as a group is perspective, an understanding of how everything fits together and a sense of proportion. Graduate training is designed to pass lore from advisors to students. You learn much about things that didn’t work and therefore were never published [hey Prof. I have a great idea!…Well actually son, we did that back in 06 and wasted two years on it], whose papers to trust, and which to be suspicious of [Hey Prof. here’s a great new paper!… Son, don’t trust that clown.] In short the kind of local knowledge that allows one to cut through the published literature thicket.

    But this lack makes amateurs prone to get caught in the traps that entangled the professionals’ grandfathers, and it can be difficult to disabuse them of their discoveries. Especially problematical are those who want science to validate preconceived political notions, and those willing to believe they are Einstein and the professionals are fools. Put these two types together and you get a witches brew of ignorance and attitude.

  77. Jim McGinn says:

    Spencer’s attack on Willis is amateurish, sarcastic, and typical of consensus science. Nevertheless, I agree that Willis’s theory is mistaken. IMO, thunderstorms/storms are not describable as the mechanism that regulates/governs the exchange of energy in the atmosphere. But it isn’t wrong because other people thought of it previously, which seems to be the only argument Spencer can muster. I believe it can/will be shown to be mistaken through analysis using standard principles of thermodynamics and/or fluid dynamics.

    I believe a a comment on his Joe Postma’s website, Climate of Sophistry does more to dispute Willis Eschenbach’s (well considered) hypothesis than does anything stated by Spencer or any other consensus scientist:
    Joseph E Postma says:
    2013/10/09 at 4:53 PM
    And in regards to thunderstorms…what supplies the raw power to create those thunderheads in the first place Willis!!?? 240 W/m^2 can’t do that!

    I think Willis should refuse to discuss the issue any longer with Spencer until Spencer demonstrates that he is committed to avoiding consensus based tactics. Instead Willis should, IMO, take Postma’s comment as a serious challenge that should not be ignored if he does not want to be put in the same category of Spencer and other consensus based scientists.

    Jim McGinn

  78. I like this blog its a master peace! Glad I detected this on google.

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