The Great Global Warming Blunder: Roy Spencer and Marc Morano
Few folks have been as wrong about climate science as Marc Morano and Dr. Roy Spencer. So it’s no big surprise to see this laughable screaming headline on ClimateDepotted:
Morano apparently couldn’t spend 30 seconds on Google to find the link to Spencer’s post on his new memoir, The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the Climate Scientist who Wrote this Book. [Okay, I may have changed the subtitle a little bit, but it’s Spencer who insists on using unintentionally ironic titles for his novels, like Climate Confusion.]
For those who don’t follow the professional disinformers closely, Spencer (and John Christy) famously made a bunch of analytical blunders and spent years pushing the now long-overturned notion that the satellite data didn’t show significant warming (see “Should you believe anything John Christy and Roy Spencer say?“). Now Spencer is claiming that “When properly interpreted, our satellite observations actually reveal” that the climate system is insensitive to carbon dioxide. Yes, well, he has the secret recipe for properly mis-interpreting satellite data.
But it’s the leeches stuff that shows he also can’t even be bothered to spend 30 seconds using Google to check his own analogies. Here’s the screen capture before he edits it:
So many whoppers, so little time. First, of course, it is simply basic physics that carbon dioxide traps heat — that’s why they call it a greenhouse gas (see, for instance, Exclusive new analysis by climatologist Ken Caldeira explains “the burning of organic carbon warms the Earth about 100,000 times more from climate effects than it does through the release of chemical energy in combustion”).
Second, that human activity is responsible for most (if not essentially all) recent warming is also pretty straightforward physics (see “What percentage of global warming is due to human causes vs. natural causes?“). If you want to understand why scientists are so certain that CO2 is such a big driver of our climate, you should watch Richard Alley’s lively talk AGU video, explains “The Biggest Control Knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Climate History.”
Third, to falsify basic climate physics you can’t just float your own unproven idea — you would actually have to come up with a mechanism that would negate the well-understood warming from all that carbon dioxide. Good luck.
Fourth, the analogy to leeches, of course, shows how little effort Spencer puts into checking what he writes. I actually thought it was pretty well known that people are still using medicinal leeches. Google will quickly lead you to a bunch of popular articles and peer-reviewed medical studies. Here’s the “European medical leech” entry in Wikipedia:
Medicinal leeches are now making a comeback in microsurgery. They provide an effective means to reduce blood coagulation, relieve venous pressure from pooling blood (venous insufficiency), and in reconstructive surgery to stimulate circulation in reattachment operations for organs with critical blood flow, such as eye lids, fingers, and ears.
It is downright bizarre that both Morano and Spencer are proud of an analogy that is so anti-scientific on both ends it actually makes the exact opposite point from the one they are trying to make.
Fifth, and this is a truly egregious whopper, Spencer argues that because “nature is gobbling up 50% of what humanity produces” it is somehow “logical” that “nature — that life on Earth — has actually been starved for carbon dioxide.” Presumably by “nature” he means natural land and ocean sinks (as opposed to the atmosphere). Yet he is way too clever a guy to be unaware of the fact that “The global oceanic sink removed 26% of all CO2 emissions for the period 2000-2008.” In short, of the CO2 which Spencer asserts “nature — that life on Earth” is “gobbling up,”half is going into the ocean and acidifying it, helping to render it inhospitable to marine life (see discussion at Nature Geoscience study: Oceans are acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred).
So Spencer is blatantly misrepresenting the most basic understanding we have of the “natural” CO2 sinks. There is little doubt that the
staggering amounts of CO2 we are pouring into the air aren’t our “friend” — especially if we listen to Spencer and his fellow disinformers and keep doing nothing to restrict emissions.
Caldeira has made exquisitely clear that “carbon dioxide is the right villain.” He says, “I compare CO2 emissions to mugging little old ladies…. Carbon dioxide emissions represent a real threat to humans and natural systems.”
As for Spencer, he keeps getting debunked as fast as he can print his global warming blunders. Back in 2008, I wrote about RealClimate’s multiple takedowns. RC utterly skewered one Spencer dis-analysis — misanalysis doesn’t seem a strong enough word for what he did (see RC’s “How to cook a graph in three easy lessons“). RC calls it “shameless cookery.” If you like semi-technical discussions, then I strongly recommend the post.
Spencer of course was wrong — dead wrong — for a very long time, which created one of the most enduring denier myths, that the satellite data didn’t show the global warming that the surface temperature data did. As RealClimate explained:
We now know, of course, that the satellite data set confirms that the climate is warming , and indeed at very nearly the same rate as indicated by the surface temperature records. Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing — indeed encouraging — the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong. They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess, as has now been done.
So after that history, we’re supposed to savor all Roy’s new cookery?
That’s an awful lot to swallow.
Amazingly (or not), the “serial errors in the data analysis” all pushed the (mis)analysis in the same, wrong direction. Coincidence? You decide. But I find it hilarious that the deniers and delayers still quote Christy/Spencer/UAH analysis lovingly, but to this day dismiss the “hockey stick” and anything climatologist Michael Mann writes, when his analysis was in fact vindicatedby the august National Academy of Sciences in 2006 and subsequent independent research.
Michael Mann himself recently wrote of Christy and Spencer:
A few years ago, independent teams of scientists got a hold of their satellite data and after repeated questioning of them about their methods found that there were two critical errors in their algorithm. One of them was a sign error in the diurnal correction term, the other was an algebraic error. Once those errors were corrected by other scientists, the Christy and Spencer claim that satellite data contradict surface evidence of warming evaporated.
Once some serious climatologists look at Spencer’s latest work, it will no doubt turn out to be another great global warming blunder.