New York Times Conceding Low Sensitivity! Now Talking About “CO2 Quadrupling” To Get Catastrophe Scenarios!

It’s not every morning one wakes up and finds you’ve been quoted by the New York Times. That’s what happened to me this morning.


CO2 losing its fizz. Public domain photo.

In his article, A Change in Temperature, Justin Gillis tells his readers that the issue of CO2 climate sensitivity has become more hotly disputed than ever, but warns catastrophe still looms.

Here are just a few comments I have:

1) The New York Times first have to learn that science is not about insisting you are correct, or being obsessed with a popular pet hypothesis. In the article Justin Gillis and scientist James Annan come across as having a very hard time departing from the hypothesis that CO2 climate sensitivity is high.

2. CO2 lags temperature, history has proven. Moreover, although CO2 has risen tremendously (in relative terms) over the last 15 years, the global temperature has not. For the last 15 years, sensitivity has been zero. Worse, there’s strong, mounting evidence that there isn’t going to be any warming for another 10 or 20 years at least. (Hint: oceans).

3. There’s no correlation between CO2 and temperature. Of the last 130 years, CO2 has risen 100% of the time, but temperature have risen only during 45 of those years (1920-45 and 1978-98). That’s a very lousy correlation. And you only need to look back at the previous Eemian interglacial. While CO2 was steady at about 260 ppm, the temperature dropped 6°C.

Now it’s CO2 quadrupling

4. But what I find particularly interesting about Gillis’s latest article is that the once much ballyhooed consensus is totally shattered, and the overall warmist retreat now taking place. It is clear that scientists are now abandoning the high CO2 sensitivity values in droves. Naturally we don’t expect them to abandon the high values and to run right over to the low CO2 climate sensitivity values. The next logical step is that they adopt the middle sensitivity values, and act like those are going to be catastrophic as well.

…several recent papers have offered best estimates for climate sensitivity that are below four degrees Fahrenheit, rather than the previous best estimate of just above five degrees, and they have also suggested that the highest estimates are pretty implausible. Notice that these recent calculations fall well within the long-accepted range — just on the lower end of it.”

But even mid-range sensitivity values are becoming difficult for people like Annan to defend, and so now they’re forced to consider undramatic low CO2 sensitivity values.

It will certainly be good news if these recent papers stand up to critical scrutiny, something that will take at least a year or two to figure out.”

And German journalist science Jürgen Schönstein writes about the NYT article at ScienceBlogs here:

(Annan assumes that the warming from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will be at the lower end of the projected ‘range’).

The problem here, however, is that with low CO2 climate sensitivity it gets really hard to conjure up catastrophic warming scenarios with a doubling of CO2. So what to do?

No problem. Gillis and Annan present their latest trick: They talk about tripling or even quadrupling of CO2 to get the catastrophe which they are so obsessed with, and claim it’s really plausible.

Some experts think the level of the heat-trapping gas could triple or even quadruple before emissions are reined in. […] Even if climate sensitivity turns out to be on the low end of the range, total emissions may wind up being so excessive as to drive the earth toward dangerous temperature increases.”

There you have it. Now climate scientists and the catastrophe-obsessed media are now forced, for perhaps the very first time, to talk about CO2 quadrupling in order to get the much wanted catastrophe scenarios.


23 responses to “New York Times Conceding Low Sensitivity! Now Talking About “CO2 Quadrupling” To Get Catastrophe Scenarios!”

  1. GrumpyDenier

    Is this classed as doubling-up or doubling-down? All these American terms get me confused.

  2. stephen richards

    It’s classed as dumbing down. 🙂

    1. GrumpyDenier

      Thanks, obvious really. There’s so much of that around in the UK it didn’t register as something so simple.

  3. DirkH

    Shows that the NYT reads high class blogs! I must say, I love their “Krugman” blog. “Krugman” is a fictive person; an economist and Nobel price winner. The fun thing is in the column he talks like a ranting lunatic having lost his marbles, and looks terribly confused in his photo.

  4. Mindert Eiting

    The ever shrinking climate sensitivity may be an example of the decline effect.
    See this 2010 article by Jonah Lehrer in The New Yorker:

  5. DavidH

    I have understood there’s a logarithmic relation between increased CO2 concentration and the resulting *direct* warming (e.g. see JoNova’s Sceptic’s Handbook). So doubling and doubling over of CO2 should be of less and less importance. Or are they implying that, despite the direct CO2 response, climate sensitivity rises linearly (or worse) with further doubling of CO2 concentrations?

    1. Bob

      Patience David – as they say Rome wasn’t built in a day. Gillis has dealt “creatively” with the climate sensitivity question. As for the logarithmic diminution of incremental direct radiative forcing with increasing CO2 concentration, that will no doubt be his subject for a future article.

    2. DirkH

      Logarithmic means that EACH doubling should add the same amount of Watts / m ^2 to the backradiation forcing.
      So each doubling is equally important;
      but not each increase by the next 100 ppm – these get less and less important.

  6. Sanity in the Media « Another View on Climate

    […] adds some commentary to the NYT article, as does […]

  7. Chris Nelli

    Did you notice the article did NOT mention the 17 year cooling trend?

    1. DirkH

      Did you expect them NOT to take liberties with the truth? They’re the NYT; truth is their b*tch!

  8. Is it the beginning of the end? | Wotts Up With That Blog

    […] There is a recent post on Watts Up With That (WUWT) suggesting that it is the beginning of the end : warmists in retreat on sea-level rise and climate sensitivity. It links to a blog post by someone called Pierre Gosselin who claims that the New York Times is conceding a low sensitivity. […]

  9. GrumpyDenier

    Included this in my round-up post (for some reason my trackbacks don’t get to you).

    These items caught my eye – 15 May 2013

  10. Rachel


    Just wondering what your source is for this, “While CO2 was steady at about 260 ppm, the temperature dropped 6°C.”

  11. Rachel

    Ok, thanks. I’m pretty sure that graph is showing the Vostok ice core record which gives the temperature in ANTARCTICA for the last 400,000 years. It is not the global mean temperature. CO2 tends to lag Antarctic temperatures but lead Arctic temperatures. Watch “The 800-year lag unravelled” for more info –

    1. DirkH

      So Warming is not Global? CO2 works on one hemisphere after the other? How does it do that?

  12. Rachel

    The 13 minute youtube video narrated by Peter Hadfield explains it very well –

  13. Climat : Bérézina alarmiste - Contrepoints | Contrepoints

    […] sur NoTricksZone, le blog de Pierre […]

  14. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?
  15. Suzette K. Hays

    Sylas; Excellent Post and greatly appreciated! Actually verified that the math was correct. Taking it a step further, ice age data shows global temperatures varyed 9°C, with CO2 varying from 180 to 275 ppm; a 0.6 doubling. Accepted range of CO2 climate sensitivity is between 2 to 4.5°C. This implies CO2 contributed to between 15 to 30% of the temperature rise. Significant, but not even the majority of the change. IPCC has hedged and stated that values above 4.5°C can’t be ruled out. However, even 6°C of sensitivity would be only 40%. A misconception may be attributing the entire temperature rise to changes in CO2.

  16. Dispatches – 23 May 2013 | grumpydenier

    […] New York Times Conceding Low Sensitivity! Now Talking About “CO2 Quadrupling” To Get Catastrophe… […]

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