Monday, August 4, 2014

Null Hypothesis

Christopher Keeting:
You say
"1. I will award $30,000 of my own money to anyone that
can prove, via the scientific method, that man-made global climate change is
not occurring;"
I write to claim the money and will inform how you can forward it to the charity of my choice when you announce that my scientific conclusion is the winner.
The 'proof' is as follows.
The Null Hypothesis says it must be assumed a system
has not experienced a change unless there is evidence of a change.

The Null Hypothesis is a fundamental scientific principle and
forms the basis of all scientific understanding, investigation and interpretation.
Indeed, it is the basic principle of experimental procedure where an input to a system is altered to discern a change: if the system is not observed to respond to the alteration then it has to be assumed the system did not respond to the alteration.
In the case of climate science there is a hypothesis that increased
greenhouse gases (GHGs, notably CO2) in the air will increase global temperature.
There are good reasons to suppose this hypothesis may be true, but the Null Hypothesis says it must be assumed the GHG changes have no effect unless and until increased GHGs are observed to increase global temperature. That is what the scientific method decrees. It does not matter how certain some people may be that the hypothesis is right because observation of reality (i.e. empiricism) trumps all opinions.
Please note that the Null Hypothesis is a hypothesis which exists to be refuted by empirical observation. It is a rejection of the scientific method to assert that one can “choose” any subjective Null Hypothesis one likes. There is only one Null Hypothesis: i.e. it has to be assumed a system
has not changed unless it is observed that the system has changed.
However, deciding a method which would discern a change may require
a detailed statistical specification.
In the case of global climate no unprecedented climate behaviours are observed so the Null Hypothesis decrees that the climate system has not changed.
Importantly, an effect may be real but not overcome the Null Hypothesis because it is too trivial for the effect to be observable. Human activities
have some effect on global temperature for several reasons. An example of an anthropogenic effect on global temperature is the urban heat island (UHI). Cities are warmer than the land around them, so cities cause some warming. But the temperature rise from cities is too small to be detected when averaged over the entire surface of the planet, although this global warming from cities can be estimated by measuring the warming of all cities and their areas.
Clearly, the Null Hypothesis decrees that UHI is not affecting global temperature although there are good reasons to think UHI has some
effect. Similarly, it is very probable that AGW from GHG emissions are too trivial to have observable effects.
The feedbacks in the climate system are negative and, therefore,
any effect of increased CO2 will be probably too small to discern because
natural climate variability is much, much larger. This concurs with the empirically determined values of low climate sensitivity.
Empirical – n.b. not model-derived – determinations indicate
climate sensitivity is less than 1.0°C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 equivalent.
This is indicated by the studies of
Idso from surface measurements
and Lindzen & Choi from ERBE satellite data
and Gregory from balloon radiosonde data
Indeed, because climate sensitivity is less than 1.0°C for a doubling of CO2 equivalent, it is physically impossible for the man-made global warming to be large enough to be detected (just as the global warming from UHI is too small to be detected). If something exists but is too small to be detected
then it only has an abstract existence; it does not have a discernible existence that has effects (observation of the effects would be its detection).
To date there are no discernible effects of AGW. Hence, the Null Hypothesis decrees that AGW does not affect global climate to a discernible degree. That is the ONLY scientific conclusion possible at present.
That being the only valid scientific conclusion concerning AGW which accords to the scientific method is sufficient for you to pay the
$30,000 to the charity of my choice.

Richard S Courtney


Is there some kind of psychosis that makes people making submissions claim the money before their submission is even reviewed? That would be like a sports team ordering the championship rings before the season even starts.

The author of this submission should at least be congratulated for trying something new. But, I'm not sure he really got off to a good start.

The null hypothesis is the thing that is to be disproved, rejected or nullified in any scientific experiment (where are all of those people claiming you can't disprove something?). It is a basic tenet of all scientific experimentation, even if indirectly. I wish the people making submissions to this challenge would employ the null hypothesis in their submissions instead of just assuming they are right because they want to be.

But, what makes Mr. Courtney think the null hypothesis has not been employed in climate science? In fact, it is not only used, it has been used continuously and extensively all along, even long before the issue of AGW was ever raised.

But, a good start goes way south very quickly with the statement,
In the case of global climate no unprecedented climate behaviours are observed so the Null Hypothesis decrees that the climate system has not changed. 
Did he just say there has been no unprecedented behavior? Take a look at just a few figures:
Source: SIO Keeling Curve

This is a plot of the CO2 levels for the last 800,000 years with the unprecedented rise that has occurred in recent years on the right-hand side.

Source: Wikipedia

This is a plot of the global average temperature over the last 800,000 years. The rise in temperature in recent years is that spike on the right-hand side, unprecedented in the last 100,000+ years.

Source: Skeptical Science

This is the sea level over the last 150,000 years with the unprecedented levels of today on the left-hand side. (The gap in the data is due to missing foraminifera during the last ice age because of very salty water).

Global Ocean Heat Content 1955-present 0-2000 m
Source:  NOAA

This graph shows the global heat content, the amount of energy stored in the entire planet (not just the surface), showing the unprecedented heat content of today on the right-hand side.

So, Mr. Courtney made a null hypothesis of his own that had to be accepted unless disproved. His null hypothesis was that there have been no unprecedented changes to the climate in recent years.

Very quickly and easily, I was able to show that there actually are quite a few unprecedented changes occurring in the climate of today. There are more, but this is sufficient.

Let this be a lesson for you, Mr. Courtney - never, NEVER, NEVER believe one word from the Idso family or from Lindzen. These are professional, paid deniers and all of them have been caught providing false research.

Based on your null hypothesis and how it was disproved, rejected and nullified, I have to conclude that you did not prove man made global warming is not real.


  1. It might be useful to create a graphic that contains the 800,000 year timeline of CO2 in addition to a closer look at a smaller sample of time that includes that last 50 years.

    It is very difficult to see the massive increase on that graph, and when deniers find something to be even remotely hard to see, they'll just dismiss it.

  2. It is hard to see 50 years on a plot of 800,000 years. I think there are actually some graphics like what you are describing. I'll look around and if I can't find one, it shouldn't be too hard to make one with the available data.

  3. I told you earlier that I taught science in public for ten years. We would hold research science weekends at the Pacific Science Center. It was part of our portal to the public project. This was a project that was focused on delivering current science to the public in understandable ways.

    I helped out Dr. Mike Steel a number of times during shows on the stage for his audiences during those events.

    When we would write science shows and create props or exhibit, we really had to look at just how easy it is to misunderstand basic statements.

    A personal revelation of mine was that the more we tried to be extremely accurate in our descriptions of science, the more often people would end up misunderstanding the information from a layperson's perspective.

    Discussing the orientation of the axis of the earth in the planetarium is a good example of something that people could really misunderstand if they didn't have the right information to get it.

  4. You are completely correct and I have had this experience many times. The heart of the problem is that people that devote themselves to something, not just science but any kind of endeavor, spend a lot time and energy over a period of years to learn and master the material. People that haven't done that work want it explained in five minutes or less. This is not a knock. I've been guilty of doing the same. I might be only a little interested in something. Interested enough to ask, but not enough to study it. When I ask about it, I don't really want to sit in a lecture hall and take notes. We, as scientists, need to learn how to work better in this kind of environment.

  5. Richard S CourtneyAugust 16, 2014 at 3:25 AM

    Mr Keeting:

    My correct statements that I had provided the required
    response to your bet were - and remain - appropriate when submitting a
    response to you when you alone set the challenge, you alone would pay if
    you admitted your challenge is answered, and you alone have decided
    that you alone will agree if your challenge is met or not.

    And your excuses for refusing to pay are pathetic.

    Ice cores lack the temporal resolution to show what you claim.

    Atmospheric CO2 concentration is not a climate behaviour.

    Ice cores are proxy data not absolute measurements: you are comparing 'chalk and cheese'.

    The scientific method defines the scientific null hypothesis, not me.

    You are denying the scientific method and promoting your superstitious belief in AGW as a method to excuse your failure to pay-up for losing your bet. But I expected that.


  6. Iceman! We finally have a name to go with the insanity!

    You are delusional, as so many contrarians demonstrate so frequently, if you think there was anything remotely resembling a scientific proof in what you submitted. Your entire submission consisted of "All of the scientists in the world are wrong because I said so." You provided nothing that resembled proof to anyone that does not live in your mind. And, the worst part about it is that your claims did not even address the reality of man made global warming. Even if there exists some weird alternative universe where your claims were valid, there was absolutely NOTHING to show that man made global warming isn't real. You just say that everything is based on invalid ice cores, therefore AGW isn't real. How pathetically silly! AGW is based on mountains and mountains of scientific data. Ice cores provide us with information about the past, but very little about the present.

    Now, I have blacklisted you before because of your maniac rants. You are welcome to comment here, but if there are any more of your trolling diatribes I will blacklist you again and delete your comments.

    And, one piece of friendly advise. In all seriousness, you should seek some professional help for this delusional obsession of yours. I am very serious.

  7. Richard S CourtneyAugust 16, 2014 at 1:26 PM


    You raised the 'red herring' of ice cores as part of your excuse for reneging on your pretend bet. You make a nonsensical claim that my demolition of your superstitious belief in man made global warming was because of ice core information because my submission did not mention ice cores.

    It is not possible to prove a negative. I demonstrated that according to the scientific method the existence of man made global warming is not supported by any evidence and, therefore, has to be assumed to not exist.

    You have not blacklisted me before because I have not posted to your web site except to provide my rejection of your nonsense. Indeed, I had not heard of you prior to your pretending to have made a bet that I answered.

    Your claim that you have blacklisted me before is as delusional as your superstitious belief in man made global warming.

    I don't make "maniac rants" but I am answering your maniac rant.

    I have no desire to comment here because there is nobody to listen on this poorly frequented blog. If I did want to talk to myself then it would be easier to talk to a mirror. As for "trolling diatribes" you really have .lost your marbles!

    I would be interested to know what "delusional obsession" you think I have. Perhaps your hubris makes you think it is about you? If so then you are mistaken: I am not obsessional about annoying insects and I swat or ignore them. Clearly, your suggestion that I need "professional help" is your psychological projection.


  8. My mistake. I thought you were the individual going by the name "Iceman". All of my comments were directed towards him. And, they still stand in regards to him.

    I apologize. I will have to go back and figure out which comments were yours. What was your submission?

    The claim that you cannot prove a negative is a totally false argument and one used by contrarians to duck out. First, if it isn't possible to prove a negative, why do contrarians go around claiming they can? Remember, the challenge was to people to step forward and do what they have been claiming they can do.

    Second, you most certainly can prove a negative and all experiments do this. My standard response is to do the experiment where I tell you the door on the other side of the room is locked. Go over the open it. You have now proven the negative.

    BTW, I did not renege on the promise. The fact of the matter is that there was not a single submission that came anywhere close to being scientifically valid. The best ones were bad. The rest were REALLY bad. I can show easily show all of the submissions were not valid, and I did. What I can't do is to change the mentality of people that reject science.

    The evidence is overwhelming - the only way someone can reject global warming is to reject science.

    One final point - this comment was a maniacal rant, so don't say you don't make them.

  9. Richard S CourtneyAugust 16, 2014 at 1:49 PM


    I have copied our correspondence to WUWT. This will provide you with a larger readership than you have ever known.

    It is in two parts and these are links to them


  10. WUWT? My favorite site of mindless lies and deception. Any time I see someone citing them I already know they are wrong.

  11. Mr. Keating:

    Your charts of CO2 are meaningless, in the context of global temperature. When people like you post charts of both CO2 and temperature (T), you typically show a simple overlay. That does not show causation.

    Here is a chart that clearly shows that changes in T are the cause subsequent changes in CO2:

    There are many, many more such charts on all time scales, from decades to hundreds of millennia. They all show that ∆T causes ∆CO2:


    I can post many more similar charts, demonstrating conclusively that temperature changes are the cause of changes in CO2. But I can find no charts showing that CO2 controls T.

    The reason is simple: According to Beer's Law, CO2 outgasses or is absorbed by oceans, depending upon temperature; just like CO2 bubbles out of a Coke as it warms. Thus, global T controls global CO2; not vice-versa.

    There are NO comparable charts showing that ∆CO2 causes ∆T. None at all.

    It is clear that the alarmist crowd got its original premise wrong. They mistakenly believed that CO2 is the control knob for temperature. I have posted empirical evidence here showing conclusively that their premise is wrong. Wrong premise = wrong conclusion. It is as simple as that.

    Of course, you never intended to pay anything; your ploy was simply a dishonest attempt at warmist propaganda. Note that plenty of folks can see though your prevarication.

    Now, if you can find a verifiable, testable chart showing causality like the ones I poisted, but in which CO2 controls temperature, please post it here. You will be the first to do so, and on the short list for a Nobel Prize.

    Finally, you claim that there is scientific 'evidence' showing that CO2 controls temperature. Post that evidence, if you think you can. Be aware that scientific EVIDENCE consists of verifiable empirical observations, and/or raw data measurements. Evidence is not peer reviewed papers, or computer climate models. Such models are invariably wrong. Not one of them predicted the current, years long halt to global warming.

    So continue on with your alarmist propaganda. You never intended to pay anything, that is crystal clear. Honesty is not in you. Glaciers could once again descend on Chicago a mile deep, and you would still refuse to honor your offer.

  12. You are deluded, and I can prove it:

    WUWT began only about 7 years ago. In that time it has won the internet's Best Science & Technology Weblog Award for the past three years running.

    You denigrate a fantastic site, which routinely has articles and comments by well known climatologists, and physicist, chemists, mathemeticians, geologists, and others in the hard sciences.

    Further, in that short time WUWT has gotten more than 200,000,000 unique visits, and more than one million reader comments! NO alarmist blog has come close. People visit WUWT because it does not censor like alarmist blogs do, and through the give and take of discussion, scientific veracity is sifted from the chaff of pseudo-science.

    You badmouth a site that is honest because you are not honest. Contrast WUWT with your own blog: you never intended to pay anything. It was always a fictional offer, with no substance. Intelligent folks can easily see that duplicity. You are nothing special, just a modern day Elmer Gantry — without his redeeming qualities.

    If you want to protest my judgement, then put the money into an escrow account, administered by a nationally known, neutral arbiter.

    But you won't do that, because you never intended to pay a cent. Only honest people pay.

  13. DanceswithdachshundsAugust 16, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    Speaking of ice core CO2, it is simple malpractice to splice the ice core measurements to Mauna Loa CO2 measurements. Fossilized plant leaf stomata do NOT agree with the ice core.

  14. If you cant' find the science showing the relationship between CO2 and temperature, then you aren't looking very hard. Stop spending your time on WUWT and read some real science. Start here:

    I have discussed this issue many times, so its your fault that you have not educated yourself. But, I'll recap one more time:

    Something triggers a rise in temperature. This is most often caused by Milankovitch cycles. However, these naturally occurring cycles do not provide enough energy to melt continental ice sheets associated with ice ages. More heat is necessary. But, as the temperature rises it causes the release of CO2, which will cause an increase in water vapor in the air and increases the greenhouse efficiency of the atmosphere. This traps enough heat in the atmosphere to melt the ice sheets. Eventually, the Milankovitch cycle will continue to a cooling cycle and the temperature will drop. leading to an increase in precipitation, which will remove the CO2 from the air and the cycle repeats.

    And, no, I am not the first to show this, but I guess I'm the first to show it to you. Go back to school and study harder.

    And, once again, you make all these claims about me 'not honoring' the challenge without providing any supporting evidence. Such a denier tactic. Decide on the conclusion you want and don't let the facts get in your way.

  15. The Bloggies are awarded based on a vote by the general public. That does not prove a thing. What does matter to me is that the scientific claims made on that website are routinely shown to be false and Anthony Watts takes money from the Heartland Institute, an organization funded by the fossil fuel industry and dedicated to undermining climate science for the benefit of its benefactors. Yes, I will badmouth WUWT every time I come across some of its bad science.

    I find it amazing you state, "you never intended to pay anything." This is standard denier tactics. You have no evidence or science to support that claim. I was open and completely honest with every submission and showed how everyone of them did not present any valid science. And yet, you jump to the conclusion you want to, even in the face of evidence to the contrary and decide to ridicule me without anything to support you. You are, in fact, a liar and deceiver and that is exactly how the denier people work.

    Unless you have something constructive to say, I will delete any other of your personal attacks. You have no evidence to support you claims about me and you have no science to support you claims about global warming.

    You are right, between the two of us there is a fraud, but it isn't me.

  16. DanceswithdachshundsAugust 16, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    So you admit that, despite CO2 lagging and remaining much higher after the warming pulse than it was before the warming pulse, temperature comes back down on it's own anyway. There is then ZERO evidence from the data that CO2 is having any affect on temperature at all because simple logic dictates that if other natural forcing are powerful enough to cause temperature to start rising when CO2 is low and also powerful enough to cause temperature to decrease when CO2 is high then Occam's Razor dictates that CO2 is having no measurable affect on temperature.

  17. Don't put words in my mouth. What I said was that Milankovitch cycles lead to naturally occurring warming and cooling periods. There is no evidence that this current warming period is a naturally occurring cycle. In fact, the evidence shows we are actually in a natural cooling cycle. If you want to use Occam's Razor, use it correctly. Since we are experiencing global warming and the natural cycle is for cooling, we must be responsible for the warming.

  18. No. There are many problems with this statement. The first being the fact that there are more than one way to affect plant stomata and it is impossible to look at them and know which cause was responsible. The real proof that stomata measurements aren't a valid proxy is the fact that they clearly do not agree with other proxies.

    The ice cores are taken from many different places and are compared to each other to ensure consistency. Any kind of inconsistency has to be examined and a reason for the inconsistency has to be determined. Also, Mauna Loa measurements go back only to 1958. Ice cores go back 800,000 years. The two are not compared.

    And, finally, ice cores are a significant proxy, but they are not the only ones. We have other proxies we can compare to the ice core data and we get consistent results.

    So, since you like Occam's Razor, we can use that here. There are many proxies that agree and one that doesn't agree with all of the rest, The one that doesn't agree with the many is the one that is not valid.

  19. DanceswithdachshundsAugust 17, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    "We have other proxies we can compare to the ice core data".

    No, Ice core proxies consistently provide the lowest measurement values making them the outlier. Yes there are others and they are closer to stomata values but have far less temporal resolution than ice core readings. The divergence between stomata and ice core has not been adequately explained but if any honest person had to throw one or the other out the window it would be the ice core values.

  20. There are also coral cores, ocean cores, lacustrine cores, tree rings, pollen records, plankton records, etc. And, no, the honest person would go with the bulk of the data, not the isolated bit that only works to confirm their preconceived conclusion.