Posted by: Barry Bickmore | March 4, 2010

Normalcy vs. Extremism

Most well adjusted adults have learned that life is complicated.  People aren’t completely good or bad, and many questions we face don’t have a clear-cut answer.  We are stuck weighing evidence, rather than always facing choices that are obviously right or wrong.  Because there are so many choices to make and so much evidence to weigh, it’s very difficult, or even impossible, to know all the facts we need to make wise decisions, so we end up delegating much of this work to specialists, like doctors, lawyers, scientists, and many others.  These specialists help us make more informed decisions, but that doesn’t mean they will always be right.  No doctor, for example, has ever been 100% accurate at diagnosing illnesses.  That’s ok with most people, though, because we know that more informed decisions generally have a better chance of being correct than poorly informed decisions.

The world looks much more black-and-white to extremists, however.  They think they already know all the answers, so they don’t bother consulting available specialists or weighing evidence.  When they argue their case, they simply collect whatever facts and expert testimony seem to support their preconceived opinions and ignore the rest.  They aren’t very concerned with the quality of their arguments, because the end (supporting a certain point of view) justifies the means.  Likewise, extremists aren’t very concerned with the quality of their opponents’ arguments, because they are sure that these arguments must be faulty.  The most important thing for extremists is to have a large quantity of arguments on their side, because it makes them feel secure.  So of course they won’t bother to drop or modify any of their arguments in response to criticism, because they care about quantity, not quality.

We all (at least the normal people) know extremists are out there on both sides of any important issue, but we don’t normally want them running the government.   Unfortunately, over the last several months I have been convinced that a number of the Republicans in the Utah State Legislature are anti-climate change extremists.  I consider it unfortunate because 1) climate change is an important issue that needs some serious discussion at the state level, and 2) I’m a fairly conservative Republican.  It galls me that my party has been electing wild-eyed conspiracy theorists to run the state.

Some readers (assuming there are any) will no doubt object that I’m being rude, or even petty, in calling some of our legislators “extremists” and “wild-eyed conspiracy theorists”.  Maybe they’re right, and I certainly don’t want to give the impression that I think anyone who disagrees with me about anthropogenic climate change is some kind of nut.  Clearly there is room for different opinions about such a complex topic, but reasonable people should be able to  sit down together and rationally discuss things like this.  They should be able to acknowledge that sometimes the other side brings up a good point or two.  But this doesn’t describe the behavior of the legislators in question, and I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t really have a reasonable conversation with a willfully ignorant extremist.  All you can do is politely ignore them or shine a light on them.  Since these particular extremists happen to be running our state government, I’m done with politely looking the other way.  What’s more, in this blog I intend to fully back up my claims–that is, I believe I have excellent reasons for the labels I apply.  If you disagree with either my claims or my mean and nasty approach, please post a comment.  I won’t delete it unless you insist on using profanity.

My hope is that reasonable people (especially Utah Republicans) will read this and decide that we really do need to screen our candidates for office more carefully.  Really.



  1. Dear Blog Host,

    Thanks for efforts.

    I have looked at the Global Mean Temperature Anomaly pattern for the data from the Climate Research Unit of the Hadley Centre, and they show a CYCLICAL pattern as shown in the following graph.

    According to the above result, if the global temperature behaves as it behaved in the last 130 years of observations from 1880 to 2009, there will be global cooling by about 0.42 deg C until 2030.


    There is no catastrophic global warming: No warming in the 21st century.

    For detailed discussion of the above model, please visit the following website:

    Kind Regards

    Girma Orssengo, PhD

    • I’m sorry, Girma, but this just isn’t credible. Climate models are not yet built to be useful for decadal-scale projections, so all your talk on the WattsUp website about how it’s been cooling slightly since 2000 doesn’t really address anything. If you look at the individual model runs, you will see that they predict upswings and downswings that last a few years at a time.

      But the good thing about the current crop of climate models is that they do pretty well at reproducing past climate on multi-decadal timescales, AND THEY ARE ACTUALLY BASED ON KNOWN PHYSICAL PROCESSES. Your modified cosine curve is NOT based on any physics, and only (sort of) follows the data for about 1 1/2 cycles, which isn’t enough to establish a cyclic pattern. There are instrumental records that go back past 1880, by the way. Have you tried your mathematical model on a longer series? I don’t think it would keep “working.”

      The most important point to take away is that if you want scientists to take you seriously, you need to develop a physics-based model, not just fit a modified cosine curve to a limited amount of data.

      • Mathematicians find patterns!

        My article shows the important result that the observed Global Mean Temperature Anomaly (GMTA) can be modeled by a combination of a linear and sinusoidal pattern as shown in the following chart:

        This single GMTA pattern that was valid in the period from 1880 to 1940 was also valid in the period from 1940 to 2000 after about 5-times increase in human emission of CO2. As a result, the effect of human emission of CO2 on GMTA is nil. Also, IPCC’s projection for a warming of 0.2 deg C per decade is incorrect.

        We don’t need to explain why the GMTA pattern is cyclic. However, the fact that this pattern has not changed in the last 130 years shows that the effect of human emission on GMTA is nil. There is no catastrophic global warming. Hallelujah!

        • Sorry, Girma. One and a half cycles through a modified sine curve does not a “pattern” make. It just means that the data went up, then down, then up again. If you are actually a “mathematician,” then I suspect you don’t have much experience modeling physical data.

          If you think this kind of thing can withstand scrutiny, why not try to get it published in a peer-reviewed journal? Personally, I’m betting nobody will take it.

  2. bbickmore

    Let us start from 1880 with a Global Mean Temperature Anomaly (GMTA) of -0.22 deg C of the Climate Research Unit’s data.

    For 1880s, GMTA = -0.22 deg C
    For 1910s, GMTA = -0.22-0.42 = -0.64 deg C
    For 1940s, GMTA = -0.64+0.77=0.13 deg C
    For 1970s, GMTA =0.13-0.42=-0.29 deg C
    For 2000s, GMTA=-0.29+0.77=+0.48 deg C

    Where 0.42 deg C is the decrease in global mean temperature during its cooling phase of 30 years, and 0.77 deg C is the increase in global mean temperature during its warming phase of 30 years.

    Is there any other simpler pattern that gives reasonable estimate of the GMTA at its turning points than my model above? If there is, show me.

    I will put my money were my mouth is by betting $100 that my prediction of global cooling will be correct than the IPCC’s 0.2 deg C per decade warming. Specifically, for 2015, the IPCC projection is 0.7 deg C, while my prediction is about 0.3 deg C. If the observed global mean temperature for 2015 is closer to the IPCC’s value of 0.7 deg C you win, if it is closer to my prediction of 0.3 deg C, I win. Will you take this bet?

    Here is my prediction for the 2030s: GMTA=0.48-0.42=0.06 deg C

    Unfortunately, my result is contrary to the consensus, so it will not be published. Have not you read the climategate emails?


    • Hi Girma,

      Sorry, I don’t bet money on anything (it’s a religious thing.) Besides, it would be a stupid bet.

      First, you don’t define the base period you compare to come up with your anomalies, but let’s assume it’s the same as you have in your graph that you linked. The anomaly has bounced around between 0.3 and 0.5 °C for the last decade or so, and the interannual variability is at least 0.2 °C, so in the year 2015 the value could well be closer to 0.7 or 0.3, depending on which way the temperature wiggled IN THE PREVIOUS SINGLE YEAR.

      Second, you make a big deal about the “IPCC’s predictions,” but you don’t seem to understand that climate models work best at multi-decadal time scales. In other words, they’re no good for predicting closely what the temperature anomaly will be in a single year that is just 5 years from now.

      How about another bet that a) doesn’t involve money, and b) won’t take 5 years? Here it is:

      Take any global mean temperature reconstruction you like that goes back 1000 years or so. (I don’t care if there is a strong Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, or not, in the reconstruction.) Use the same equation you fit to the 1880-2009 data, and see if it still works AT ALL. My guess is that it doesn’t.

      But if not, why not? Well, nobody would have a clue why, because you don’t link your equation to any physical mechanisms. And that’s why you will never publish this work in a reputable journal, and I really doubt you could even get it into a journal that is not reputable. It’s that bad.

  3. Wait and see as my predictions for the trend in global mean temperature is confirmed in the coming years. Please print out my graph and save it in a good place so that you can check it every January in the coming years.

    I don’t want to publish my result because once you publish an article it does not belong to you. I want it to be freely available on the web for every one. I am on a mission to spreading the truth as I see it. People will read it and decide for themselves whether to accept or reject it.

    But who will reject such a brilliant, simple and common sense solution for prediction of global mean temperatures. That is what some people at “Watts Up With That?” commented regarding my article. I believe that is very true.

    I cannot believe for you to say, “I don’t have any estimate for the mean global temperature trend in the coming years”, but you still say, “your prediction is bad.”

    Wait and see is all I can say.

    Mathematicians seek patterns. For 130 years, the global mean temperature has a cyclic pattern. As a result, it stands to reason that this cyclic pattern will continue at least for the next couple of decades.

    The theory that “human emission of CO2 causes catastrophic global warming” is one of the greatest blunders or something worse of science.

    • That’s the worst excuse I’ve ever heard for not subjecting research that supposedly overturns an entire field of knowledge to peer review by experts.

  4. In a democracy, what matters is the awareness’ of the public. People decide on what policy is implemented by politicians. Fortunately, Politicians only implement policies supported by the public, not on what is published in a scientific journal.

    • It matters to a lot of people that ideas are scrutinized rigorously. If you want to influence the maximum number of people, why wouldn’t you want to have your ideas published in a peer-reviewed journal?

  5. My article is both political and scientific. Journals will not publish my comments based on the climategate emails. They will not also publish the following:

    Further evidence for the non-existent relationship between CO2 and GMTA is IPCC’s projection of a global warming of 0.2 deg C per decade, while the observed GMTA trend was “quite stable since 2000″[5]. The evidence will be “unequivocal” if global cooling by about 0.42 deg C starts soon and continues until about 2030, as shown by the model in Figure 3. The IPCC projection for the GMTA for 2020 is 0.8 deg C, while the prediction from the model for this value is 0.2 deg C, a large discrepancy of 0.6 deg C. If this global cooling is confirmed, it will then be time to bury the theory that CO2, a plant food, causes catastrophic global warming. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait too long for the burial. Less than ten years. It will be cheering news!

    This is also a no, no:

    Is the theory that “human emission of CO2 causes catastrophic global warming” one of the greatest blunders or something worse of “science”? We will find the unambiguous answer within the next ten years. Hope they don’t succeed in calling the plant food a pollutant and tax us before then.

    • This is no problem. You already published your political commentary on a website. All you have to do now is separate out and clean up the scientific part, and you can submit it to a reputable journal. Of course, before a reputable journal would publish it, they might ask questions like the following.

      1) If your pattern doesn’t describe the temperature trends before the 130 year period you fit with the modified cosine function, why should anyone believe it will describe the trends after the 130 year period?

      2) Where’s the physics? “Science” isn’t about fitting functions to time-series data. It’s about explaining things via some physical basis.

  6. Thank you.


    I will do that!

    1) We don’t have accurate temperatures before 130 years ago.

    2) My task was to find a pattern in the thermometer data of 120 years. I have found that and it is cyclic! This is the first step. Next the explanation follows. However, to say the 1940s cooling is due to increase in sulphates and the 1970s warming was due to increase in CO2 is just an assumption. It could be wrong. Actually it is wrong because the temperature pattern is cyclic and has not changed in 130 years.

  7. You wrote, “Science” isn’t about fitting functions to time-series data.

    The GMTA cycle correlates well with positive and negative phases of the PDO as shown in the following chart:

    Does this answer the why?

    • Not unless you can explain the causes of the PDO. And since the PDO is only extracted from climate data in one part of the world, why would it be the controlling factor?

  8. Girma, do you know the 7 Warning Signs of Bogus Science?

    You said:

    I don’t want to publish my result because once you publish an article it does not belong to you. I want it to be freely available on the web for every one. I am on a mission to spreading the truth as I see it. People will read it and decide for themselves whether to accept or reject it.

    You’re tripping four or five of the warning signs in that short paragraph. You not only don’t have data, you don’t even have anecdotal support, and yet you claim to be more correct than all the data ever data-ed in those wondrous days of yore.

    Your claim explains in part your drive to be famous by dissing science, but nothing else.

    • Ed Darrell

      If the climate “scientists” know what is going on, what is the reason for them to say in private the following?

      1. Mike MacCracken wrote to Phil Jones, Folland and Chris:
      I think we have been too readily explaining the slow changes over past decade as a result of variability–that explanation is wearing thin. I would just suggest, as a backup to your prediction, that you also do some checking on the sulfate issue, just so you might have a quantified explanation in case the prediction is wrong. Otherwise, the Skeptics will be all over us–the world is really cooling, the models are no good, etc. And all this just as the US is about ready to get serious on the issue.

      We all, and you all in particular, need to be prepared.

      2. Mick Kelly wrote to Phil Jones:

      Just updated my global temperature trend graphic for a public talk and noted that the level has really been quite stable since 2000 or so and 2008 doesn’t look too hot.

      Be awkward if we went through a early 1940s type swing!

      Any answers?

      • Girma, you can find explanations of the context of those e-mails in any number of website/newspaper/magazine articles. Instead of changing the subject, why don’t you address Ed’s criticisms?

        Seriously, what you have done is not science, no matter what anybody e-mailed to anyone else.

      • Girma, climate scientists don’t know in advance what is going on. They’re watching an unveiling mystery. They are responsible for accurate reporting of that mystery, and to some great degree, for predicting where responsible people such as policy makers and insurance actuaries should look, in order to get a glimpse of what may happen in the future. Forecasts are big business, high-dollar, highly important things.

        In the first example, MacCracken suggested a thorough check out of an alternative explanation. I’m a little sensitive to the sulfate issue because I was part of a team that was in the forefront of identifying the problem, more than 30 years ago. I’m well aware, and I wish you were aware, too, that scientists strive for accuracy more than almost any other profession. Why would they check out alternative possibilities? Because unlike you, they must constantly ask and answer the questions, “What if I’m wrong?” and “Have I checked absolutely everything out to be sure I’m right?”

        What did you think it was? Why wouldn’t scientists work for accuracy?

        In the second example, Kelly was communicating the facts to Jones. Despite the knowledge that people like Girma will throw stuff to stick to the faces of scientists and claim it is egg, scientists make predictions, and then work to be sure their accuracy is maintained — to the point that they will undergo the embarrassment of saying “I was wrong,” if and when a prediction proves in error.

        Again, a stark contrast to denialists and crank scientists.

        And again, what did you think was going on? Why wasn’t it obvious to you that they were working for accuracy? Have you never worked in science before?

  9. I say they are clueless because they assumed the 1940s turning point to cooling was due to sulphates and the 1970s turning point to warming was due to CO2. What if this assumption is wrong?

    Wrong assumption leads to long conclusions and to frustrations like “it is a travesty that we cannot account for lack of warming”

    Here are the projections by the IPCC and my predictions for the global mean temperatures and we will see whose predictions are correct. I am prepared to bet $1000 AUD that my predictions will be closer to the observation than the IPCC projections.

    For 2010, IPCC projection gives a global mean temperature anomaly (GMTA) of 0.6 deg C. My predictions gives GMTA = 0.4 deg C.

    For 2015, IPCC projection gives a global mean temperature anomaly (GMTA) of 0.7 deg C. My predictions gives GMTA = 0.3 deg C.

    Wait and see which prediction is closer to the observation!

    Variation in global mean temperature is all natural. There is no catastrophic global warming. There will be global cooling by about 0.42 deg C until 2030. Get ready for this global cooling. It is extreme waste to try to solve a non existent problem of man-made global warming.

    • I say they are clueless because they assumed the 1940s turning point to cooling was due to sulphates and the 1970s turning point to warming was due to CO2. What if this assumption is wrong?

      Why do you assume, without evidence, that anyone made such an assumption? Before you accuse others of assuming things they shouldn’t assume, can you explain how and why you assume they assumed what you claim?

      I am unaware of any particular hypothesizing on any 1940s “turning point,” partly because, in the 100-year and 1000-year trends, there was nothing significant in the 1940s, and partly because unless the cause had been a dip in CO2, it wouldn’t really be relevant. What are you talking about?

      Wrong assumption leads to long conclusions and to frustrations like “it is a travesty that we cannot account for lack of warming.”

      I’ll just let that one sit there while I order a new irony meter. It’s getting more and more difficult to find irony meters robust enough to withstand slings and arrows of outrageous climate denialists, isn’t it? I understand L. L. Bean stopped carrying them because guarantees ate up the profits. Same with Sears and their Craftsman irony meters.

      Probably, it just means we should assume climate denialists don’t really know what they’re talking about, and are probably unaware of the astounding blocks of irony they regularly emit.

      Too bad irony emissions can’t slow global warming.

  10. Ed Darrell

    Here is IPCC assumptions:

    From about 1940 to 1970 the increasing industrialisation following World War II increased pollution in the Northern Hemisphere, contributing to cooling, and increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases dominate the observed warming after the mid-1970s.

    Here is Kevin Trenberth frustration:

    The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a
    travesty that we can’t.

    • Girma,

      Your reasoning is very poor. First, they didn’t just “assume” that there was increased industrialization and increased particulate emissions. They have methods for estimating how much that was, and the fact is that many aerosols promote cooling. (I.e., that isn’t an “assumption,” either.) They put those estimates in the climate models, and it predicts the temperature trends pretty well.

      And as for Kevin Trenberth, did you ever read the paper he was referring to in the e-mail? He published a very detailed discussion of his frustrations, which included the fact that he thinks we need a much better climate observation network before we can make models that are very good at decade-scale prediction.

      All of this is how real science operates. On the other hand, your “model” doesn’t have any physical causes associated with it, so it isn’t “scientific” at all. Your “model” isn’t any better at decade-scale prediction than a normal climate model, as far as I can see, either. Now, go try to publish your paper somewhere other than a website.

  11. bbickmore

    My model is to find a pattern in the observed global mean temperature. It shows the global mean temperature is not random; it has a cyclic pattern. With high correlation of 0.88, it predicts global cooling until 2030 by 0.42.

    The IPCC was wrong in its projection of 0.2 deg C per decade warming:

    In the last decade, the global mean temperature trend was flat:

    My model agrees with this flat trend in the global mean temperature:

    Whose “reasoning is very poor”?

    • Girma,

      1. Your model doesn’t predict anything before the period it was calibrated on. If your model were correct, then there would have been no Medieval Warm Period, etc. Why don’t you calculate what your model predicts the temperature to have been in 1000 AD? I went ahead and did that, and guess what? Your model predicts the anomaly in 1000 AD to have been -5.86 °C. How do you feel about that? Do you actually think that 1000 years ago the global average temperature was roughly the same as the Last Glacial Maximum? But you might object that you never said your model was good that far back. So, how far back is it good for? How could anyone make a judgement like that when the model isn’t based on any physics? And if we can’t decide how far back it’s supposed to be good for, how can we decide how far in the future it should hold?

      2. The IPCC projections are not good for a single decade. You have been told that over and over, but apparently your brain can’t compute the concept. The temperatures are still in the band of IPCC projections for this time period, whether you can understand the concept of error bars in predictions, or not.

      3. Since the IPCC’s climate models actually predict that there will be decade-long flat or cooling periods (although it’s difficult to say exactly when they will occur), this is perfectly in line with the normal climate models that actually predict things based on real, physical processes.

      4. Your model agrees with the current trend BECAUSE IT IS PART OF THE DATA YOU FIT YOUR EQUATION TO. What kind of crackpot goes about fitting a meaningless equation to limited data sets, and then crowing about how his model fits some even more limited part of the data to which he calibrated his equation?

      So yes, your reasoning is poor. Furthermore, you don’t understand how science is done, since you think it amounts to curve-fitting.

  12. bbickmore

    You wrote, “Since the IPCC’s climate models actually predict that there will be decade-long flat or cooling periods (although it’s difficult to say exactly when they will occur)”

    That is a great admission. Thank you.

    Why does then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says “climate change is accelerating at a much faster pace than was previously thought by scientists”?

    Click to access cc_ScienceCompendium2009_full_en.pdf

    Nowhere in my article have I claimed that the linear warming of 0.06 deg C per decade is a constant. It is like in calculus we assume a curve by consecutive small straight lines with varying slopes. At the moment, we are at one of this lines and it has a slope of 0.06 deg C per decade of linear warming.

    The question is how many years are required to see change in the value of this linear warming anomaly. On longer time scale, the linear warming anomaly of the GMTA must be a curve. Otherwise, we would not have either MWP or LIA. Probably, the radius of curvature of the GMTA curve is so large that it appears as a straight line when considering two points on the curve only 130 years apart (1880 to 2010). It is similar to the earth appearing flat to our eyes.
    As a result, it is hard to accept the linear warming rate of 0.6 deg C per century that was constant for 130 years will change suddenly in the next couple of decades.

    Mathematicians seek out patterns. Based on the observed GMTA data, the pattern is a combination of linear and sinusoidal functions. As this pattern was valid for the last 129 years, it is reasonable to assume it will be valid for the next 20 years.

    Otherwise, how are you going to tell me whether our globe is going to have further warming or cooling in the coming 20 years?

    What really counts is whether the GMTA data has a cyclical component or not.

    Once the existence of a cyclic component in the GMTA is accepted, then the warming due to this cyclic component of 0.2 deg per decade is not permanent and there is no catastrophic global warming, and the effect of CO2 on GMTA is insignificant. Once the cyclical warming is removed, what is left is a warming of only 0.6 deg per century, which is nothing to be scared about.

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