Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Elevator pitch to co-authors of Fyfe et al. 2016 - need for clarification

Dear Fyfe 2016 Co-Authors,

All of you by virtue of being experts of the highest caliber possess a nuanced understanding light-years beyond ordinary citizens, politicians and business leaders.  Belonging within that rarified world you risk being out of touch with how non-scientists, particularly those with hostile agendas, read your papers.  To us nonscientists Fyfe et al. 2016 offered up a muddled Rorschach test rather than the promised clarifications.

Please give this summary of my previous effort a moment to see if something resonates, or not.  I don’t need a response, all I'm hoping is for you to take it seriously, if only for a moment.
¶10  Understanding of the recent slowdown also built upon prior research into the causes of the so-called big hiatus from the 1950s to the 1970s. During this period, increased cooling from anthropogenic sulfate aerosols roughly offset the warming from increasing GHGs (which were markedly lower than today).  This offsetting contributed to an approximately constant global mean surface temperature (GMST). Ice-core sulfate data from Greenland support this interpretation of GMST behaviour in the 1950s to 1970s, and provide compelling evidence of large temporal increases in atmospheric loadings of anthropogenic sulfate aerosols. The IPO was another contributory factor to the big hiatus13. 

Clarify the process so people can 'appreciate' what you're talking about.

Sulfate aerosols reflected the sun’s energy back into space 
before it had the opportunity to be converted into the infrared energy 
that fuels our climate system.  

Thus a cooling trend in the GMST and the global system.
¶11  Research motivated by the warming slowdown has also led to a fuller understanding of ocean heat uptake. … In summary, research into the causes of the slowdown has been enabled by a large body of prior research, and represents an important and continuing scientific effort to quantify the climate signals associated with internal decadal variability, natural external forcing and anthropogenic factors.

Clarify the process …

The heat was moved into the oceans where ~90% of our climate system’s heat resides, thus it was absorbed into the global climate system - even if not registering in the GMST estimate.

Help people viscerally visualize the dynamics.            
Claims and Counterclaims 
¶13  Recent claims by Lewandowsky et al. that scientists “turned a routine fluctuation into a problem for science” and that “there is no evidence that identifies the recent period as unique or particularly unusual”26 were made in the context of an examination of whether warming has ceased, stopped or paused. …

What’s the point in picking this bone with the Lewandowsky paper?  

Worst your paper doesn’t acknowledge, the massive disinformation campaign surrounding the recent faux hiatus and how the faux hiatus has been artificially hyper-inflated with a significance it does not warrant.  
¶15  … Just exactly how such changes should be referred to is open to debate. Possible choices …

Why not demand your opponents truthfully reflect what scientists are explaining? 

Why not a bit of moral indignation at the general acceptability of having your information constantly misrepresented and lied about? 
¶18    "Superimposed on this forced anthropogenic response are small signals of solar irradiance changes, cooling and recovery from volcanic eruptions and internal variability.”

A standout sentence.  Build on to it.  Internal variability, that is various vectors of heat transport.  

Come up with some illustrative paragraphs that convey the notion of our dynamic global heat/moisture distribution engine, rather than showing up with a list.
¶21  The big hiatus and warming slowdown periods correspond to times during which the dominant mode of decadal variability in the Pacific—the IPO—was in its negative phase. …

No helpful narrative, instead you repeat and reinforce the “hiatus” dog-whistle 13 times and never draw a clean qualitative distinction between the “big hiatus” (reflection of sun’s rays) and the “faux hiatus” (heat moving away from the surface).

Besides, even more important - Why not point out that no one knows precisely how these numbers relate to future impacts anyways, so why are leaders and the public sweating such trivial deviations?

Bring the discuss back to the important issues, the well understood fundamentals dynamics that are in motion.
Concluding  Remarks  
¶22  … Newly identified observational errors do not, however, negate the existence of a real reduction in the surface warming rate… 

Surface contains ~10% of our climate system’s total heat, the oceans contain ~90%  Nature is all about meanders happening within the constraints of the larger system. 

For leaders and policy makers, you should be making crystal clear that the deviation was trivial and inconsequential compared to our understanding of the climate system’s response to increasing the planet’s “atmospheric insulation regulator” GHGs, instead this paper fills their heads with “hiatus” and more excuses.
¶24  Research into the nature and causes of the slowdown has triggered improved understanding of observational biases, radiative forcing and internal variability. 
“Making sense of the early-2000s warming slowdown” never aspires to more than stamp-collecting and inventorying an "interesting scientific problem” - no conceptual connection to the real world was attempted or achieved.  

Thing is, such a framing is desperately needed to help leaders and citizens better appreciate what is happening to the world around us.

Perhaps what upset me so, is that rather than helping the public dialogue Fyfe 2016 added confusion and worse it was easily molded into another destructive bludgeon for politicians to batter climate scientists with. 

Confront the malicious misrepresentation of climate science that’s based on deliberate rhetorical games, designer misinformation, gross omissions, lies, hostile emotionalizing and demonizing with ruthless freewheeling slander and libel.  Thank you for your time.

Best Wishes and Respectfully yours,

Peter Miesler
aka citizenschallenge

NATURE opinion & comment
Making sense of the early-2000s warming slowdown

Nature Climate Change | Vol 6 | March 2016 | Pages 224 to 228

www.nature.com / natureclimatechange © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved

John C. Fyfe, Gerald A. Meehl, Matthew H. England, Michael E. Mann, Benjamin D. Santer, Gregory M. Flato, Ed Hawkins, Nathan P. Gillett, Shang-Ping Xie, Yu Kosaka and Neil C. Swart

Why was the introduction to Fyfe et al. 2016 so confusing? 
It has been claimed that the early-2000s global warming (b) slowdown or hiatus (a)(e), characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming (c), has been overstated, lacks sound scientific basis, or is unsupported by observations. The evidence presented here contradicts these claims (d).”

Why the labyrinthian phrasing?  Simplify wording. Clarify meaning.  

(a)  Creates a false equivalence between “slowdown” and “hiatus” - hiatus means STOPPED!  Warming never stopped!

(b)  Creates a false equivalence between “global warming” and “global mean surface temperatures.”  

(c)   Furthermore: “early-2000s global warming slowdown or hiatus, characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming” -  implies “surface” warming slowdown is a symptom of a “global” warming slowdown.

(d)  “Evidence presented here contradicts these claims.”  One could easily conclude this is saying: the “hiatus” (that is global warming stopping) is not contradicted,

… which is exactly what the contrarian PR machine was hoping they could twist any science into.  Why make it so easy?

(e)  Why even use the politically charged term “hiatus” beyond a footnote?  What possible purpose does it serve other than to fatally wound clarity and invite gross misinterpretation?

This paper seems to me a textbook example of “seepage” in action.  Namely, unconsciously adapting the contrarian’s script. 


My paragraph by paragraph review can be found at :

Fyfe et al. 2016: stamp collecting vs informing and clarifying. Examining a failure to communicate...  a question of perspective.

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