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Friends of Science release May denialist ‘Update’

We were thrilled to see that our friends the Friends have released their latest denialist summary. As we eagerly read it, though, our enthusiasm was tempered as we realized all the arguments are zombies


The front page shows their now-familiar graph of satellite-derived lower tropospheric temperatures. It’s so familiar, in fact, that the x-axis seems indicate we haven’t yet started 2010, once again confirming our motto ‘together with the Friends of Science, we can be twice as far behind the times!’. The Friends derive a negative temperature trend of 0.06 C/decade for a period of less than a decade (hehe!). We’ve discussed how clever they are to do this before (it’s also of course discussed in the literature), and we remain disappointed they haven’t adopted our suggestion of tilting the graph 16 degrees clockwise to match the tilt of the Earth’s axis and give even the long-term trend a negative slope. They’re also very clever to mention the upward temperature spikes associated with El Niño events, but not the complementary downward ones due to La Niñas.

Their arguments are set out in handy bullet-point form on the second page. Let’s go through them one by one.

 1. The sun is the primary driver of climate change – not CO2: sadly, not in the last half-century or so, as we’ve discussed before and as shown by reconstructions of solar activity vs temperature over the historical record and, from reconstructions based on isotope proxies, earlier:
2. It's the sun’s effect on cosmic rays, which control cloudiness (from FoS's refs 2 and 9 on their page 3): cosmic rays inversely correlate with sunspot activity:
so it's no surprise that after other natural variables and a secular linear trend (i.e. global warming) are removed, as shown in the FoS graph, there's a fair inverse correlation between temperature and cosmic ray counts. However, there’s no relationship between cosmic ray changes and cloud cover changes:
One of the authors of the studies FoS quote in support, Friis-Christensen, has
disavowed a dominant cosmic-ray influence in recent decades.
3. The sun caused 75% of the temperature variation of the last century: this is based on FoS ref. 3 – a paper by Scafetta & West and an 'adjustment' of the surface temperature record to remove the effects of 'urban warming'. Scafetta & West's solar activity reconstruction has been falsified by other scientists working on the problem: see the links under 1 above and this paper;
Regarding the urban warming 'correction', analysis of rural vs urban stations in surface temperature records to specifically look for this has shown that adjustments beyond those already inherent in those records are unnecessary:
and anyway - why should the surface T records be adjusted when they agree so well with the tropospheric ones? global temperature estimates
4. 'Correcting' the surface temperature record, and FoS ref. 4 (McKitrick & Michaels): see above.

5. The IPCC-modeled temperature trend is higher than observed. Globally, sadly, it isn’t; the agreement is very good:
The Friends’ ref. 5 (Douglass et al. 2007) specifically looked at the tropics, not globally; and its findings have since been found to suffer from bad observational data and bad statistics:
6. Tropical cloud cover changes (ref. 6): the clouds that dominate the effects in the tropics have been found to be cooling *low* level, not warming high level ones, and warming leads to a reduction in these and therefore a positive feedback:;325/5939/460
7. Drying of the uppermost troposphere since 1948: trends including old data are contaminated by limited early coverage and data biases that have been difficult to correct for in reanalyses:
The very uppermost troposphere is affected by cooling and drying of the lower stratosphere - which is an expected consequence of ozone depletion and the 'blanketing' effect of increased greenhouse gases:
Near-surface humidity, however, has increased with temperature:
For a recent review of atmospheric water vapour, including its positive feedback effect, see here:
CO2 is plant food: it depends on the particular ecosystem; in many, limitations of other nutrients cause an ultimate decrease in plant productivity:
Sadly, it seems, these 'new' arguments by our friends the Friends are actually old and have been countered many times by the warmalarmist conspiracy of consensus that dominates the corrupt, stinking morass of the peer-reviewed scientific literature. However, we continue to have faith that they'll come up with new ones. Carry on denying!

John A. Marr writes:
I don't have time to debunk all these now but the CO2 is plant food meme always winds me up. a) Everyone knows about photosyntesis; 2) Plants do need CO2 (duh) but their growth rate depends also on soil, water, fertizer, absence of pests, competition from other plants, sunlight and, yes, climate: not too hot not too cold. Has anybody ever suggested getting rid of  all the CO2 in the atmosphere? That's not even a straw man.
Dr S, you might also want to point out that CO2 is an integral part of beer and, gasp, gin and tonic. Do those greenies really want to take the fizz out of our beverages?
Also, oxygen is animal food and using it up to oxidize fossil organic matter is decreasing the atmospheric concentration of the stuff of life for us animals.
 What utter b*llocks.
 John A. Marr

Dr. Schweinsgruber writes in response:
Yeah, excellent idea: CO2 is pub it is in beer. Too much CO2 in beer yields wheat beer!

Stop, if CO2 is integral part of beer, then FoS should focus on bringing the useless Canadian liquor laws down. No drinking age anymore...but first, send FoS to the library to update their outdated scientific knowledge they are spreading around!

Does everybody know that cow dung is also plant food?