UN IPCC Scientist Rejects Romm’s Claims as ‘nonsense on all counts…NASA’s predictions of next solar cycle have all been wrong’

By: - Climate DepotJune 19, 2009 12:21 PM

UN IPCC Scientist Richard Courtney told Climate Depot that Joe Romm’s article was ‘nonsense.’ Courtney, a UK based atmospheric science consultant, is featured on page 224 of the U.S. Senate Report of More Than 700 Dissenting Scientists Over Man-Made Global Warming. (See Climate Progress article: Joe Romm Counters: ‘No ‘Maunder Minimum’ — sorry, deniers — Solar Cycle 24 poised to rev up’ – June 18, 2009)

Courtney’s Guest Post: The Joe Romm of Climate Progress article is nonsense on all counts.

Firstly, it is plain wrong when it asserts:

“The deniers have been rooting for a Maunder Minimum to stifle global warming.”

I know of nobody who has been “rooting” for cooling, but I know of several so-called “deniers” who assert that slight warming (as could be expected if the AGW-hypothesis is right) would provide net benefits.

Secondly, article shows a degree of confidence that cannot be justified when it says;

“The sunspot cycle is about to come out of its depression, if a newly discovered mechanism for predicting solar cycles — a migrating jet stream deep inside the sun — proves accurate.”

NASA’s predictions of the next solar cycle have all been wrong: e.g. see their predictions of only three years ago at:


Any prediction of the future has to be based on a model of some kind, and no model’s predictions should be trusted unless the model has demonstrated forecasting skill.

Any forecast can turn out to be correct as a chance result, and forecasting skill is demonstrated by provision of a series of forecasts that concur with subsequent events by more than could be expected by chance. (The UK Met. Office has done much work to develop methods for assessing the forecasting skill of its weather forecasts).

The predictions in the above URL were only three years ago and the NASA team has not made any demonstrably better forecasts since.

Simply, their recent track record demonstrates that their forecasting methods have the same reliability as the casting of chicken bones to predict the future. Indeed, if they are now using “a newly discovered mechanism for predicting solar cycles” then that method is totally untried, untested and has no demonstrated worth of any kind.

of course, any guess could be right, so NASA may be right this time (but I would not bet on it) and if this prediction were right then on its own that would prove nothing.

Thirdly, the article is in denial of observed natural climate variability when it says:

“But human-caused global warming is so strong that not bloody much stifling has been going on given that “this will be the hottest decade in recorded history by far,“ nearly 0.2°C warmer than the 1990s.”

Anybody who looks at the records of global temperature can see a series of cycles that are overlayed on each other. For example:

1. There seems to be an apparent ~900 year oscillation that caused the Roman Warm Period (RWP), then the Dark Age Cool Period (DACP), then the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), then the Little Ice Age (LIA), and the present warm period (PWP).


2. There seems to be an apparent ~60 year oscillation that caused cooling to ~1910, then warming to ~1940, then cooling to ~1970, then warming to ~2000, then cooling since.

So, has the warming from the LIA stopped or not? That cannot be known because the pattern of past global temperature fluctuations suggest that the existing cooling phase of the ~60 year cycle is opposing any such warming. And that cooling phase can be anticipated to end around 2030 when it can be anticipated that then either

(a) warming from the LIA will continue until we reach temperatures similar to those of the MWP


(b) cooling will set in until we reach temperatures similar to those of the LIA.

But this begs the question as to why such global temperature fluctuations occur. The article asserts certainty of what will happen based on a belief in AGW. But – as I have said before – I address the question as follows.

The basic assumption used in the climate models is that change to climate is driven by change to radiative forcing. And it is very important to recognise that this assumption has not been demonstrated to be correct. Indeed, it is quite possible that there is no force or process causing climate to vary. I explain this as follows.

The climate system is seeking an equilibrium that it never achieves. The Earth obtains radiant energy from the Sun and radiates that energy back to space. The energy input to the system (from the Sun) may be constant (although some doubt that), but the rotation of the Earth and its orbit around the Sun ensure that the energy input/output is never in perfect equilibrium.

The climate system is an intermediary in the process of returning (most of) the energy to space (some energy is radiated from the Earth’s surface back to space). And the Northern and Southern hemispheres have different coverage by oceans. Therefore, as the year progresses the modulation of the energy input/output of the system varies. Hence, the system is always seeking equilibrium but never achieves it.

Such a varying system could be expected to exhibit oscillatory behavior. And, importantly, the length of the oscillations could be harmonic effects which, therefore, have periodicity of several years. Of course, such harmonic oscillation would be a process that – at least in principle – is capable of evaluation.

However, there may be no process because the climate is a chaotic system. Therefore, observed oscillations such as ENSO, NAO, PDO and etc. could be observation of the system seeking its chaotic attractor(s) in response to its seeking equilibrium in a changing situation.

Very, importantly, there is an apparent ~900 year oscillation that caused the Roman Warm Period (RWP), then the Dark Age Cool Period (DACP), then the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), then the Little Ice Age (LIA), and the present warm period (PWP). As I suggest above, all the observed rise of global temperature in the twentieth century could be recovery from the LIA that is similar to the recovery from the DACP to the MWP. And the ~900 year oscillation could be the chaotic climate system seeking its attractor(s). If so, then all global climate models and ‘attribution studies’ utilized by IPCC and CCSP are based on the false premise that there is a force or process causing climate to change when no such force or process exists.

But the assumption that climate change is driven by radiative forcing may be correct. If so, then it should be noted that it is still extremely improbable that – within the foreseeable future – the climate models could be developed to a state whereby they could provide reliable predictions. This is because the climate system is extremely complex. Indeed, the climate system is more complex than the human brain (the climate system has more interacting components – e.g. biological organisms – than the human brain has interacting components – e.g. neurones), and nobody claims to be able to construct a reliable predictive model of the human brain. It is pure hubris to assume that the climate models are sufficient emulations for them to be used as reliable predictors of future climate when they have no demonstrated forecasting skill.

Simply, the past history demonstrates that it cannot be known whether or not global temperature will resume its rise from the LIA which began long before significant anthropogenic emissions.

Many hypotheses and theories can be used to provide any prediction of future global temperature anyone wants to make, but there is no reason to accept any such prediction as being more likely to be correct than any other.

So, my bottom line on the article is that if it were in print then it would make a good substitute for toilet paper, but as it is only on the web it does not have even that much use.

All the best