My Response To The Skeptical Science Post “One-Sided ‘Skepticism”

Update: September 18 2011 – see Response From Anthony Watts

The weblog Skeptical Science has criticized my post

Scientific Robustness Of The University Of Alabama At Huntsville MSU Data

in their post

One-Sided ‘Skepticism’

They include the text

In a recent post on his blog, Roger Pielke Sr. criticized our performance in meeting those goals.  We at SkS are always open to constructive criticism.  Unfortunately, Dr. Pielke has not actually offered any.  In fact, it appears that Pielke has not even bothered to make the effort to read the series he is criticizing.  He seems to think Christy Crocks and Spencer Slip Ups pertain to satellite temperature data analysis:

“As a result of the persistent, but incorrect (often derogatory) blog posts and media reports on the robustness of the University of Alabama MSU temperature data….The ad hominem presentations on this subject include those from the weblog Skeptical Science who have sections titled Christy Crocks and Spencer Slip Ups

Unfortunately for this piercing critique, these two series of articles do not touch upon the topic of the satellite temperature data. Indeed, the only time SkS has mentioned this work was when we used it as an example of the self-correcting nature of the scientific process.  What the series have bored in on are the wide range of topics relevant to global warming concerning which Spencer and Christy have propogated (sic) numerous myths and copious misinformation.  This frequent myth propagation by Spencer and Christy is an unfortunate reality which it seems Pielke would like to sweep under the rug.

The weblog post continues with

Pielke’s One-Sided Criticisms

What we find strange is that, although Pielke often rushes to the defense of Spencer and Christy, he never criticizes them for blatant errors of logic and fact that they have made; even though he is happy to criticize more mainstream climate scientists.  His critiques seem a tad one-sided.

First, the title of the section of their weblog link as “Christy Croks” is clearly ad hominem. Second, Skeptical Science writes with respect to Christy Croks and Spencer Slip Ups

 “…these two series of articles do not touch upon the topic of the satellite temperature data”

Really… are two statements that are made on Skeptical Science on Christy Croks and Spencer Slip Ups that directly connect to their analysis of satellite temperature data.

The most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming.

Evidence is building that net cloud feedback is likely positive and unlikely to be strongly negative.

With respect to what is written in  “Christy Croks”, lets look at three of the claims Skeptical Science makes that supposedly  “correct” John’s croks. On the three examples from Skeptical Science

1. Skeptical Science writes

A large amount of warming is delayed, and if we don’t act now we could pass tipping points.

However, there is NO delayed warming when we measure in units of heat (Joules).  A measurement of the heat in the oceans at two different time periods tells us what heating has occurred over this interval; e. g .see

Palmer, M. D., D. J. McNeall, and N. J. Dunstone (2011), Importance of the deep ocean for estimating decadal changes in Earth’s radiation balance, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L13707, doi:10.1029/2011GL047835.

C. A. Katsman and G. J. van Oldenborgh, 2011: Tracing the upper ocean’s ‘missing heat’. Geophysical Research Letters (in press).

as I have posted on in Additional Information On The “Ocean’s Missing Heat” By Katsman and van Oldenborgh 2011]. 

2. Skeptical Science writes

The most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming.

This is easy to show as being wrong. Just look at the lower tropospheric temperature (see) and upper ocean heat  data (see).

Channel TLT Trend Comparison

Global Ocean Heat Content 1955-present

Skeptical Science can accurately state that the climate system is warmer today than it was several decades ago. However, the weblog is in error in stating that the “most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming”. There has not been warming significantly, if at all,  since 2003, as most everyone on all sides of the climate issue agree. The real world evidence in these two figures document their erroneous statement.

3. Skeptical Science writes

Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.

Unfortunately, the weblog does not define what they mean by “successfully”, however, there is not even good data for the air (e.g. lower troposphere) or oceans back to 1900! Even with the land near surface temperatures, the models are doing quite poorly in comparison to the recent observations; e.g. see

GISTemp: Up during August!

where Lucia writes

The multi-model mean trend since 1980 is outside the ±95% uncertainty intervals computed using “red correction”; these are illustrated with mustard yellow solid and dashed lines. That means we would deem the multi-model mean inconsistent with this observation if we used red-correction (as is frequently done in climate science.)

The shortcomings in the IPCC models is illustrated by reports from what Skeptical Science would presumably call “mainstream”; e.g. see

Insightful Interview In EOS Of Dr. De-Zheng Sun “Climate Dynamics: Why Does Climate Vary?”

A New Paper “Dreary State Of Precipitation In Global Models” By Stephens Et Al 2010


The failure of Skeptical Science  to present  diverse viewpoints on these issues (and on the others in the posts on Skeptical Science) indicates that their weblog is not balanced in the presentation of the existing research findings in climate science.  John Christy and Roy Spencer are very well-respected climate scientists by most everyone in this science community.

Skeptical Science would do more of a service to the science community if they accurately presented their (and my viewpoints), even when they disagree,  rather than disparage those who disagree with them. As Skeptical Science is currently presenting their information on climate on their weblog, everyone just needs to recognize that the weblog is not presenting all peer reviewed perspectives.

source of image

Comments Off on My Response To The Skeptical Science Post “One-Sided ‘Skepticism”

Filed under Climate Science Misconceptions, Climate Science Reporting

Comments are closed.