My Reponse To An Ad Hominem Attack On Me By The Weblog “The Way Things Break”

I have been alerted to post on the weblog The Way Things Break which is an ad hominem attack on me [the author of this weblog, who I understand is an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University, is not upfront enough to identify himself]. (if readers know his name, I would be glad to update this post with it – please e-mail me)

The post is titled Hoisted on their own petard.

This presentation includes such text as

“The all out assault on climate reality continues. Anti-science front group SPPI has put together a series of attacks on RealClimate by the Pielkes and others, courtesy of Marc “Swiftboat” Morano.”

“Roger Pielke Sr., too, actually had the chutzpah to claim that sea levels weren’t rising, because at the time 2006 showed a spike relative to more recent years (therefore sea levels will fall incredibly in the future).

I’d forgotten about Pielke Sr.’s shameful perpetuation of this idiocy until seeing it again on the SPPI site…”

The tone of the post illustrate that the writer of this weblog is more interested in making an ad hominum attack than constructively debating the science issues.

In terms of the science that he presents, the information was cherry picked. Thus I will comment on the specific issues that are raised.

1.  Sea Level Rise:  I never stated that sea levels are expected to fall. His statement “(therefore sea levels will fall incredibly in the future)” is incorrectly (deliberately) associated in his text to my statements on sea level rise. 

 The figure from the University of Colorado website (that he also shows), illustrates that sea level rise did level off for the period 2005 to early 2009. It has since increased.

I reported on peer reviewed papers on this subject on my weblog; e.g. see and see, which discuss the papers

Cazenave et al. Sea level budget over 2003-2008: A reevaluation from GRACE space gravimetry, satellite altimetry and Argo. Global and Planetary Change, 2008; DOI:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2008.10.004

Willis J. K., D. P. Chambers, R. S. Nerem (2008), Assessing the globally averaged sea level budget on seasonal to interannual timescales, J. Geophys. Res., 113, C06015, doi:10.1029/2007JC004517

The Cazenave et al paper includes the text

“Recently published results suggest that since about 2003, ocean thermal expansion change, based on the newly deployed Argo system, is showing a plateau while sea level is still rising, although at a reduced rate ( ~2.5 mm/yr).”

2. Sea Ice:    The current sea ice anomalies came from the University of Illinois website which I have reproduced below.

The current anomaly is well below average, but as recently as one year ago it was close to the long term average anomaly.  The trend since 2008 has been flat, but this certainly could be a short term issue, and a further decline could again re-commence.  The author of The Ways Things Break weblog clearly is not interested in presenting an accurate statement of my views on this subject.

3. Upper Ocean Heat Content

The Ways Things Break  has made erroneous claims on the recent upper ocean heat data.  The statement is made

“Pielke also claims that there has been “no statistically significant warming of the upper ocean since 2003.” This analysis is based on heat content measured from 0-700m as assessed by Argo float data, which are problematic to put it mildly. Of course if we consider heat content from 0-2000m, the increase shows no such drop off…”

The Argo data since 2005 is recognized as quite robust by ocean scientists, who unlike the writer of the The Ways Things Break weblog,  are working with this data. As written on my weblog in the post

Q & A On the Adequacy of the Upper Ocean Heat Content to Diagnosis Global Warming

“….the Argo network, along with other observational platforms including GRACE and satellite altimetry; e.g. see provides a much more robust methodology to monitor global warming than the NCDC, GISS and CRU surface temperature data analyses.”

On the deeper ocean data, I also commented on the von Schuckmann et al paper in my post

Further Comments on The Inadequate EPA Response To Reviewer Comments On Ocean Heat Content 

and included the figure

There clearly was not ocean heating during the time period 2005 to 2008, which is when accurate data is available to diagnose ocean heating.

My concluding remark on the post by The Way Things Break  is that there is not an interest in a scientific discussion, but rather it is used to disparage scientists who disagree with them. I was hopeful that such poor behavior, that was revealed so clearly in the release CRU e-mails (e.g. see Mosher and Fuller, 2010), would change how others participate in the climate science forum.

Unfortunately, the weblog The Way Things Break perpetuates the narrowly framed, combative approach that was revealed in the CRU e-mails.

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