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Prof Tom Anderson Shows His Ignorance

May 1, 2017

By Paul Homewood


h/t 1saveenergy




Regular reader, 1saveenergy, popped along last week to listen to Prof Tom Anderson.

He was, to say the least, distinctly unimpressed, and gives us these thoughts:



Last week I attended my local science café meeting entitled:
“Why we should trust projections of global warming by climate models”
by Prof Tom Anderson from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

The speaker started with pictures of backlit cooling towers, an emaciated cow on dried mud, flooded streets & the ubiquitous polar bear on melting ice.

He referenced works of Fourier, Tyndall, Arrhenius, but ‘forgot’ to say the Arrhenius greenhouse theory was disproved by Robert Wood in 1909. He went on to describe the 1930s work of Guy Stewart Callendar but also ‘forgot’ to say that just before his death in 1964 Callendar realised he’d made a mistake on CO2; (sadly Callendar’s book was never published).

The speaker showed some very crude graphs with distorted axis as ‘proof’ the models were correct but wouldn’t discuss the fact that observed satellite & balloon data didn’t agree.
He refused to look at data someone had brought showing the divergence of the models from observation.
He wouldn’t discuss the fact that similar temperature changes had occurred without CO2 (as he “wasn’t an expert in historical temperatures”)
He wouldn’t discuss the fact that Ice Ages had occurred without a CO2 signal (as he “wasn’t an expert”).
He wouldn’t accept the Medieval, Roman & Minoan Warm periods were hotter than present (as he “wasn’t an expert in historical temperatures”)
Even though he’s from the National Oceanography Centre he was unable to discus hydrates, ‘acid seas’ or methane. He did mention the seas had a high heat capacity & that the balance could be affected by a rise in atmospheric temperature, but couldn’t explain how or why…. (“Not his field” !! )

When asked about feedbacks & latent heat energy transfer being a negative feedback, he said “its all in the model & that comes out as a positive feedback”

I‘m saddened at the lack of scientific rigour applied to these ‘models’– no hind casting, no real validation, no comparison with observations; & as the only signal looked for was CO2….the answer was CO2 !!

When asked several times, where we could obtain the model assumptions/parameters, he failed to answer.
When asked what the temperature would be in 2100, he suggested 4-5 C warmer than present, (so a 0.8C rise over 137yrs will suddenly accelerate to ~ 4.5C over 83yrs !!… right).

The other great howler of the night was his belief that the current population of the earth was only 2.5 billion! & that would increase to 10 or 12 billion in the next 83 yrs.
If he can’t check his data on a simple fact like population, it’s probable that his climate model data is also incorrect. GIGO, garbage in garbage out !
[But as he repeated many times in his presentation he’s “not an expert” ]

I am appalled that climate science has been reduced to this level of snake oil salesmanship & unquestioning belief; HH Lamb must be turning in his grave.

  1. HotScot permalink
    May 1, 2017 9:59 am

    We can only hope the rest of his audience was as deeply unimpressed as you.

  2. Joe Public permalink
    May 1, 2017 10:04 am

    “I‘m saddened at the lack of scientific rigour applied to these ‘models’– no hind casting,”

    The case proponents of models’ supposed ‘accuracy’ make is that if a model can correctly predict trends from a starting point in the past, they expect it to predict with reasonable certainty what might happen in the future.

    Sp what then happens when later research is published showing that ‘old/original’ forcing factors were wrong?

    Just one example: “Radiative forcing of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide: A significant revision of the methane radiative forcing”

    *If* the later research is correct, that means that there *must* have been at least *two* errors in the original models.

    1. The original forcing factors.

    2. Other original incorrect factors which enabled a ‘correct’ answer to be derived from incorrect data.

    • dave permalink
      May 1, 2017 10:31 am

      “…radiative forcing…”

      Even then:

      “The fact is that the concept of “feedback”, so simple and natural in certain elementary cases, becomes artificial and of little use when the interconnexions between the parts become more complex. When there are only two parts joined so that each affects the other, the properties of the feedback give important and useful information about the properties of the whole. But when the parts rise to even as few as four, then twenty circuits can be traced through them, and knowing the properties of all the twenty circuits does NOT give complete information about the system. Such complex systems cannot be treated as an interlaced set of more or less independent feedback circuits, but only as a whole.”

      Dr R Ashby, page 53 in “Introduction to Cybernetics”, 1957.

    • Hivemind permalink
      May 1, 2017 11:18 am

      You assume that the models ever produced a correct answer. From what I see, I don’t think that was ever the case. They were tuned to produce the answer the modelers wanted. The most popular answer was therefore the correct answer.

    • Broadlands permalink
      May 1, 2017 12:01 pm

      “Other original incorrect factors which enabled a ‘correct’ answer to be derived from incorrect data.”
      And, if the data turn out to be incorrect for the model used, re-correct the data? Do what NOAA does… lower all of the older data, seasonally.

    • AndyG55 permalink
      May 1, 2017 9:21 pm

      Big catch 22 for them.

      If they hindcast to GISS, they have an inbuilt fabricated trend before they even start. !

  3. dave permalink
    May 1, 2017 10:05 am

    “Why we should trust…”

    There is the tale of the young man who proudly decided to enter the family business. His father said:

    “I am going to give you the only lesson a smart lad like you will need! Climb up on the factory roof.”

    A little later

    “Now, JUMP!”

    But, Father,…”

    “I’ll catch you. Trust your old Dad.”

    Jump. Splat. Groan.

    “That was your lesson”

  4. quaesoveritas permalink
    May 1, 2017 10:31 am

    I believe that there is a degree of hindcasting in the IPCC models.
    The problem with “hindcasting”, is that I suspect that the modellers will search for models which fit past data and ignore any that don’t. They are therefore selected on their ability to “forecast” the past and it is therefore no surprise that these models are “good” at hindcasting. The fact that such models correctly “predict” the past, is no guarantee that the will correctly predict the future, as any success could have been due to random chance, and they will only be abandoned when future data eventually proves them wrong.
    I could devise a model which correctly “predicts” past football results on a purely random basis, but that wouldn’t guarantee that they could predict future results correctly.
    Models should be selected only on their success at predicting the future, not the past.

  5. Harry Passfield permalink
    May 1, 2017 10:46 am

    I checked his profile. He says:

    My area of research is marine ecosystem modelling and associated biogeochemical cycles, which is fundamental to the global carbon cycle and climate science. Particular interests include: (1) the dynamics of marine ecosystems, e.g. bottom-up versus top-down control; (2) ocean biogeochemistry including carbon cycling, export and sequestration, and dissolved organic matter and the microbial loop; (3) stoichiometry (the coupling between multiple elements), especially zooplankton and bacteria; (4) model complexity and complexity science; (5) the history and philosophy of science.

    It seems to me that if he is not an ‘expert’ in so many things how has he achieved such a profile. Furthermore, far from not knowing the history of science he claims to study the history and philosophy of science. He has a ton of articles and books on which he is author/co-author so it’s hard to believe that he can claim lack of expertise in debate. My guess: He’s a fake.

    • May 1, 2017 4:04 pm

      But he is on the editorial boards of “Journal of Plankton Research, Aquatic Microbial Ecology” – must mean something!!

  6. May 1, 2017 11:08 am

    wood was wrong.

    • dennisambler permalink
      May 1, 2017 11:11 am

      Wood is still wrong, coal is better….

    • Broadlands permalink
      May 1, 2017 11:56 am

      Robert Wood was likely incorrect. But, Guy Callendar was “side-swiped” by having his paper given in 1938, right at the peak of global temperatures he had carefully gathered. Subsequent data (if not altered more recently?) showed temperatures dropping steadily while CO2 continued rising.

    • richard verney permalink
      May 2, 2017 9:26 am

      Wood was not wrong. His experiment is repeatable and the results reproducible.

      The issue is whether his experiment and results therefrom falsifies the enhanced GHE, or whether his experiment is over hyped has no real relevance to the enhanced GHE.

      • Broadlands permalink
        May 2, 2017 12:23 pm

        Richard… I believe, but am not sure, that there was a detailed experiment that could not verify Wood’s work. I’ll see if I can locate it. But, of course, it’s irrelevant?

      • Broadlands permalink
        May 2, 2017 12:33 pm

        Richard… Here is the experiment… “Failure to duplicate Wood’s 1909 greenhouse experiment” by Vaughan R. Pratt, Stanford University

        However, it was superseded by another experiment…

        Repeatability of Professor Robert W. Wood’s 1909 experiment on the Theory of the Greenhouse By Nasif S. Nahle*
        University Professor, Scientist, Scientific Research Director at Biology Cabinet® San Nicolas de los Garza, N. L., Mexico.

        So… you are correct.

  7. tom0mason permalink
    May 1, 2017 11:19 am

    The IPCC preferred models require periodic ‘retuning’ i.e. resetting with up-to-date observations, or they will drift far from non-fantasy outcomes.
    The models have many short comings — failure to adequately assess clouds, lateral convection movements within cells, precipitation especially in and around polar regions, ocean/atmospheric temperature interactions, UHI effects, … etc.

    Now just look at a very simple chaotic system where all the parameters are known, but necessarily all the variable start conditions, something like like If in this example you arrive to observe the double pendulum at an arbitrary time after the motion has started from an unknown condition (unknown hight, initial force, etc) you will be very taxed mathematically to predict where in space the pendulum will move to next, on a second to second basis. Indeed it would take considerable time and many iterative calculations (preferably on a super-computer) to be able to perform this feat. And all this on a very basic system of known elementary mechanics.
    This is a simple example of chaotic motion and its unpredictability, how predictable is our climate with so many variables and feedbacks, some known some unknown?

    Consider that this planet’s weather/climate system is chaotic in nature with many thousands (millions?) of loosely coupled variables and dependencies, many of these variables have very complex feedback features within them.

  8. Eric permalink
    May 1, 2017 11:42 am

    We should leave the last word on Climate Models to the IPCC!

    “In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
    Third Assesment Report (2001), Section, page 774.

  9. May 1, 2017 11:54 am

    Not a very good advert for Southampton Scientists is it? My 26 year experience at Southampton as a Visiting Scientist is that most of my colleagues would have had their defence ready. They know I am a sceptic but we can discuss data rationally…not refuse to answer. Sorry Tom…null points if this article is correct. Without corroboration ,of course, I cannot be sure it is. All best. Terry Langford..

  10. May 1, 2017 11:58 am

    Just for interest…has anyone got a grant from government sources or anywhere based on the hypothesis that man-mad climate change is NOT happening.???.

  11. May 1, 2017 12:12 pm

    As soon as we see backlit cooling towers churning out ‘black steam’ it’s a sure sign that the rest is going to be one-sided climate propaganda.

    It’s a convenient signature to save us having to take anything that follows seriously – apart from the fact that some naive minds may be influenced by whatever follows, just as the propagandists intend.

  12. May 1, 2017 1:01 pm

    “unquestioning belief”

    Key words in the wonderful world of climate crisis inc.

  13. May 1, 2017 1:22 pm

    The absolute killer for models is that we do not know enough about almost everything to put in the data to make the model worthwhile instead of worthless. However, those in pursuit of scientific mischief are delighted. They can create their “dream model” and pedal it as gospel.

    I could not find reference to “Model Me a Forest” which I believe was the brain child of Hugh G. Gauch, Jr. of Cornell University. I have a copy of his snoozer, “Multivariate Analysis in Community Ecology” which was part of my graduate ecology class at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1981-82. Computers were the new rage and ecology students were ecstatic over their forests of lollipop (deciduous) and triangle (coniferous) trees. Many of the taxonomy students–myself included–were visibly and verbally amused by the fact that these ecologists would not recognize a real forest were they plopped down in one and could not identify a single deciduous lollipop nor a coniferous triangle should their life depend upon it. Instead, they sat behind their computers cranking out their fantasy models of what a forest was without considering the reality of the forest.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      May 1, 2017 3:55 pm

      Ah, Joan. What memories you invoke: I was at RTP in 81/3. Great place, NC. Bet Raleigh’s changed a lot since then, not to mention the delightful Chapel Hill. Memories, sheesh!

  14. dave permalink
    May 1, 2017 2:31 pm

    “…ecology class…”

    When I was seven years old, doing Nature Studies with a Miss Geddes (known, of course, as “Old Giddy”), we were told “Scatter children and bring back some fresh-fallen oak leaves!” Sixty years later, when I took an Open University ecology course for amusement, I was told “Examine the time pattern of the fall of oak leaves, in a local wood!”

    Plus ca change.

    And I still can’t tell one tree leaf from another.

  15. May 1, 2017 2:44 pm

    Paul. I am constantly hopeful that more sanity about the earth’s climate will return one day. I studied earth science in the fifties and was involved in eighties in the production of books on Ice Ages and Storms. I am bewildered by the lack of historical perspective. Given my age, I remember 1947 (extremely cold), early 1950s (fearful smog), 1963 (cold), 1976 (hideously hot) clearly; and I have studied events like the plight of Galveston in 1900 and Long Island in 1938.

    Can I point you to the New York Times of April 28 2017 and the first op-ed by their new correspondent Bret Stephens? A beacon of reason.

    Another good site for calming the currently alarmed is http://www.bread and butter

    Thank you so much for all your work.

    Barbara Moir

  16. May 1, 2017 3:21 pm

    Having worked as an ecologist in the power industry for 26 years before I retired at 52,some 26 years ago, I was very used to the antis showing water vapour from cooling towers as polluting “smoke”. After all my time in the industry, I am certain that coal is king, hydro is very damaging to rivers and fishes and solar only works when the sun shines. Nuclear is fine as base load, but not yet as flexible as coal. Wind power is virtually uncontrollable and very,very costly. apart from being blots on the landscape.Our commercial competitors in the world, China, India and Germany are quite happy to see us drop coal and cheap energy. Whatever one thinks of Trump, if he gets the US to work on coal again, America will trade the world into the ground.

  17. TedL permalink
    May 1, 2017 5:58 pm

    regarding uncertainties in models, I found this discussion of water vapor as a greenhouse gas on the NOAA website. How can they model climate if they have so little understanding of the most abundant greenhouse gas? “huge scientific uncertainty exists”


    Water Vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, which is why it is addressed here first. However, changes in its concentration is also considered to be a result of climate feedbacks related to the warming of the atmosphere rather than a direct result of industrialization. The feedback loop in which water is involved is critically important to projecting future climate change, but as yet is still fairly poorly measured and understood.

    As the temperature of the atmosphere rises, more water is evaporated from ground storage (rivers, oceans, reservoirs, soil). Because the air is warmer, the absolute humidity can be higher (in essence, the air is able to ‘hold’ more water when it’s warmer), leading to more water vapor in the atmosphere. As a greenhouse gas, the higher concentration of water vapor is then able to absorb more thermal IR energy radiated from the Earth, thus further warming the atmosphere. The warmer atmosphere can then hold more water vapor and so on and so on. This is referred to as a ‘positive feedback loop’. However, huge scientific uncertainty exists in defining the extent and importance of this feedback loop. As water vapor increases in the atmosphere, more of it will eventually also condense into clouds, which are more able to reflect incoming solar radiation (thus allowing less energy to reach the Earth’s surface and heat it up). The future monitoring of atmospheric processes involving water vapor will be critical to fully understand the feedbacks in the climate system leading to global climate change. As yet, though the basics of the hydrological cycle are fairly well understood, we have very little comprehension of the complexity of the feedback loops. Also, while we have good atmospheric measurements of other key greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, we have poor measurements of global water vapor, so it is not certain by how much atmospheric concentrations have risen in recent decades or centuries, though satellite measurements, combined with balloon data and some in-situ ground measurements indicate generally positive trends in global water vapor.

  18. TedL permalink
    May 1, 2017 6:22 pm

    maybe you could help me understand some other aspects of water vapor as a greenhouse gas. The potential maximum amount of water that can be held as vapor in the air (dew point) varies dramatically with the range of ambient temperatures on earth. At freezing the air can hold up to 3800 ppm, and at 40 C it can hold up to 50,000 ppm (that would be a muggy rainforest!). This compared to 400 ppm of CO2 and 1.77 ppm of methane. Looking at the Wikipedia page on Water Vapor, I find this statement in the section titled “In Earth’s Atmosphere”:

    “Water vapor is also the most potent greenhouse gas owing to the presence of the hydroxyl bond which strongly absorbs in the infra-red region of the light spectrum.”

    Is that true? If so, by what factor? If it is true, why does anybody pay any attention to CO2?

    • tom0mason permalink
      May 1, 2017 11:05 pm

      As with anything in science you really don’t know what you need to know until you read a bit more into the subject.
      That said this file,, may well allow you to learn enough to refine your search for what you wish. In particular contrast and compare the atmospheric transmission in Figure 4.2, note the narrowness of CO2 compared to all other gases.

      Also understand that water vapor acts differently from the fine water particle mist that clouds are mostly constituted. Water also have other characteristics as it moves to and from liquid (as particles) and vapor.

  19. AlecM permalink
    May 1, 2017 6:32 pm

    No climate alchemist can make such an assertion. The models are based on a mixture of honest mistakes (failing to include the extra contribution to extinction depth of clouds with large droplets) and to fail to understand that Planck’s and Bose-Einstein’s radiative physics for the energy interchange between condensed matter and a GHG-containing gas is different to that in a vacuum.

    In short, these people are mostly honest eejits, misled by crooksters paid for by dim politicians. CO2-AGW is very near zero as the water cycle operates. Most real AGW is set by solar insolation change at the planet’s surface.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      May 1, 2017 7:51 pm

      Alec, if you want some fun, go on over to and read how a so-called journalist has invited Willis to a debate (a journalist who had no idea who Willis was so got his profile from Desmog: and still thought he was only a carpenter!). It’s great fun.

      • AlecM permalink
        May 1, 2017 9:09 pm

        You have to have a sound knowledge of engineering control systems. Climate Alchemists fail because they concentrate on a single part of the system.

        GCMs are based on the fraudulent assumption that you can apply the two stream model to the surface. Because the modellers know that they have failed, to keep their pay and perks they attack non-believers.

        You know this is true because once they retire they stop their support or if they are brave reverse it.

      • AlecM permalink
        May 1, 2017 9:13 pm

        PS I once commented on DeSmog and was blasted by Tamino. At least he allowed my post to appear then blocked me. US state funded RealClimate dumps ‘difficult posts’ to an obscure bin.

    • AndyG55 permalink
      May 1, 2017 9:24 pm

      “Most real AGW is set by solar insolation change at the planet’s surface.”

      Then it isn’t AGW. its just GW.

  20. May 1, 2017 7:28 pm

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    Seems to be much easier to become a prof than I remember from my days in academia. Pity his students.

  21. Bitter&twisted permalink
    May 2, 2017 8:48 am

    If “Professor” Anderson is a typical example of the level of expertise in climate “science” one can only conclude that the whole discipline lacks rigour and that his professorship is academically dubious, at best.

    • Robert Christopher permalink
      May 2, 2017 9:21 am

      He is an expert in Climate Change Science, which is different, very different.

  22. Gerry, England permalink
    May 2, 2017 12:40 pm

    He seemed to be very keen to say that he was not an expert to avoid awkward questions but what is he actually an expert in other than Climate Science Fiction?


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