G¶ddard¤mmerung: Skeptical Science debunks climate cherry picking on sea level rise

As the widely discredited WattsUpWithThat has relied more on outside writers who can’t even meet his minimum standards for anti-science disinformation, his Wikio ranking have collapsed.  Coincidence?  You be the judge.

Certainly WattsUpWithThat is exemplary anti-scientific blogging (see for instance, Wattergate: Tamino debunks “just plain wrong” Anthony Watts).  Bizarrely, Watts continued to allow Steve Goddard to post even after he set the record for the fastest disinformer retraction:  Watts says Goddard’s “Arctic ice increasing by 50000 km2 per year” post is “an example of what not to do when graphing trends.”

Physicist John Cook of the always insightful website, Skeptical Science, shows how a recent by post Goddard on his own website is the very definition of cherry picking:

A proper understanding of climate requires we consider all the data, the full body of evidence. A common rhetorical technique used to portray a skewed picture is the technique of cherry picking. This involves choosing just the select pieces of data that paint a certain picture, even if the full body of evidence gives the completely opposite result. A vivid example of this is a recent post by Steve Goddard which casts doubt on the fact that we’ve experienced record hot temperatures over the last year, citing falling sea levels in 2010. This is based on the following graph showing satellite measurements of sea levels over 2010:

The satellite data comes from the University of Colorado – you can download the data directly. This data goes back to 1992. Here’s what the full body of evidence looks like:

Early in 2010, global sea levels hit the highest levels on record. Realising this fact is not possible when the only data presented is the following:

Of course, there’s a lot more that can be picked apart in Goddard’s blog post (and readers are welcome to contribute to this process). There’s no discussion of why sea levels might be dropping this year (I suspect it has something to do with the switch from El Nino conditions in early 2010 to La Nina conditions in the middle of the year). There is no exploration of what other factors besides air temperature contribute to glacier ice loss – Robert has explained the complexities of why glaciers loss mass here, here and here.

Instead all we are presented with is strong conclusions drawn from a very short piece of climate data. This is taken from a noisy signal showing many ups and downs throughout the long-term trend of sea level rise. A proper understanding of climate deserves much more than this.

In an earlier post, Cook notes that the full observational record makes clear that sea level rise is accelerating:

To construct a global historical record of sea levels, tide gauge records are taken from locations away from plate boundaries and subject to little isostatic rebound. This has been done in a 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise (Church 2006) which reconstructs global sea level rise from tide gauges across the globe. An updated version of the sea level plot is displayed in [this figure]:

Figure: Global mean sea level from 1870 to 2006 with one standard deviation error estimates (Church 2008).

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a good website on global climate change indicators, including sea level rise, with this useful figure showing that seas are now rising nearly double the rate of the past century:


Now let’s do a little trend analysis of our own.

As recently as July, Watts was bragging that his website was ranked top blog in the Sciences category by Wikio.

Here are the new rankings:

1 Wired Science – Wired Blog
2 Pharyngula
3 Climate Progress
4 Watts Up With That?
5 Bad Astronomy
6 Not Exactly Rocket Science
7 Why Evolution Is True
8 RealClimate
9 Respectful Insolence
10 Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Ranking made by Wikio

Note that “The position of a blog in the Wikio ranking depends on the number and weight of the incoming links from other blogs.”

Does this collapse in rankings have anything to do with with the large fraction of postings from people who can’t even meet Watts’ minimum standards for anti-science disinformation, notably Steve Goddard and now Tom Fuller?  Probably.   The best evidence is G¶ddard¤mmerung (twilight of the Goddards?) — Watts seems to have given Goddard the boot from his website.  What’s up with that?

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41 Responses to G¶ddard¤mmerung: Skeptical Science debunks climate cherry picking on sea level rise

  1. Colorado Bob says:

    Grain, Corn Prices Surge on Bleak Harvest Forecast

  2. Colorado Bob says:

    Rare Chance to ? WH on Climate–in a Few Hours
    by Bill McKibben [Subscribe]

    And above all—spread the word about tomorrow, and get out to your nearest event tomorrow. Easy to find out where it is, at

    And a few pictures to whet your appetite, from Mombasa, Kenya; Iganga, Uganda, and East Falmouth, Massachusetts:

  3. mike roddy says:

    Both Watts and his regular commenters have been unraveling lately, with quick tempered and not very coherent remarks. It started with the humiliation of his signature “temperature stations project”, but now it seems that every claim or piece of data that appears on the site is from fantasyland. Fuller is getting especially weird, and sounds like a desperate lawyer with a guilty client, not someone with any clue about the facts on the ground. Meanwhile, here on planet Earth, reality has been setting in, unnerving them.

    They will make more mistakes, but I suspect that their rage derives from their becoming irrelevant, and not from any conscious remorse about the climate horrors that they are clearly contributing to. With that crowd, it’s all about their egos.

  4. Colorado Bob says:

    The #1 post informs that the Ukraine has followed Russia in stopping grain from export. I saw where the death toll in Russia was over 41,000 in August, as a result of the heat wave. I found it interesting that the Ukraine had every little reporting about the heat, even as the area of intense heat expanded and fried them too. My guess is that they were dropping like flies as well, and like the Russians, wanted that number ( grain, or people) to trickle out quietly.

    The death toll this August, due to climate change was easily 50,000 people world wide.

  5. Colorado Bob says:

    China’s glaciers may shrink 27 percent by 2050: Report

    Xinhua quoted the report as saying that forecasts of glacier recession patterns, summer temperatures and precipitation showed that the average glacier area in western China might be reduced by 27.2 percent by 2050. Ocean glaciers, affected by wet airflow from the oceans, would shrink by 52.5 percent, and Asian continental glaciers, formed in the continental climate would shrink by 24.4 percent.

    The report warned that glacier shrinkage would also threaten China’s agriculture sector and further stated that overall crop production capacity would drop by 5 to 10 percent by 2030 due to global warming, especially in wheat, rice and corn, and the impact would worsen after 2050.

    The report further warned that global warming would reduce the seasonal snowfall period while melting area would be higher, contributing to the sharp decline. Ice volumes would reportedly decrease substantially and the runoff water to rivers would fall sharply.

    Read more: China’s glaciers may shrink 27 percent by 2050: Report – The Times of India

  6. Colorado Bob says:

    This is the only report I have found out there on how many people died in Russia.
    And it is for just August .

    The surge saw 41,262 more people die than during August 2009,

    Moscow for both months-
    Overall, the city experienced 10,935 deaths linked to the extreme temperatures and stifling smog over the two months from July to August, which represents a 60 percent rise in the mortality rate.

  7. Colorado Bob says:

    I went looking for some quotes about Fred , and there’s that name again, …..

    George Mason Univ.

    ” Salomon was a member of the Board of Science Advisors of SEPP [10] and with Singer, he organised the Heidelberg conference which resulted in the infamous Heidelberg Appeal document. The legitimate scientists who signed this appeal intended it to be a request for governments to heed the opinion of scientists before engaging in the wholesale removal of asbestos fibers from schools and other buildings, since in many cases it was safer to leave it in situ with resin bonding. However it was drafted by Salomon and Singer in very general terms.

    In these general terms, it appeared to be an attack on climate activism. It was later used in a conference of climate-deniers at the George Mason University in Washington, D.C. to promote U.S. support. The ICSE, SEPP, TASSC and ESEF also promoted the Heidelberg Appeal at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit as evidence of worldwide scientific opposition to the conference’s consensus decision that governments needed to take urgent action on climate change.[11]

    The Heidelberg Appeal document was funded, circulated and promoted by the asbestos industry and the tobacco industry, but the ICSE organisation was also supported by the vinyl and chemical industries.[12] ”


    Good old George Mason U. right at the center again of a ginned up pile of paper.

  8. Colorado Bob says:

    Sorry the quote is from Source Watch on Fred Singer.

    Siegfried Frederick Singer (S. Fred Singer)

  9. Steve Bloom says:

    “has relied more on more on outside writers”

    Joe, it’s that darned voice recognition software again. Please delete the incorrect e and space from the second “more on.” TIA. :)

    [JR: Funny! I’m starting a new acronym in place of “Oops”: DYVRS (“darn you voice recognition software”).]

  10. Paulm says:

    Can someone get the AG on this guy!

  11. Fred Lua says:

    That’s why Watts does not like putting links to ‘websites that have been critical to WUWT’. He does not want to raise their wikio rating.

  12. From Peru says:

    Now sea levels are going up:

    Poor Goddard!
    He will not certainly cherry-pick the current (a seasonal spike + the rising trend) RISE in sea level!

  13. Paulm says:

    “And the other thing we’re going to have to have, which nobody is going to like, is a pretty massive transfer of wealth from wealthy individuals, areas, or countries to those that are less wealthy. When you say we have to reduce the output of the economy by so much each year, there are many, many people in the world that have nothing to reduce. They actually need a bit more production just to get the basic necessities of life. Luxuries like AC have been promoted to the status of necessity, and we’re going to have to have an economy that returns to putting the necessities of life first, making sure everybody’s got those, and then see what’s left.”

  14. Robert says:

    Paulm – I was with the Guardian piece all the way EXCEPT for the part you quote! This comes across as a hard-left agenda – the world has never been fair and I don’t imagine it’s about to start now, just because of climate change. What I did agree with was the type of argument quoted below, expressed elsewhere, but lucidly explained here.

    “Since the mid-90s, residential air-conditioners have increased in efficiency by 28 percent, but the amount of energy used to cool the average household in the U.S. has increased by 37 percent. Part of the reason is that house size has increased dramatically — we’re cooling much more square footage per house. And we’ve had hotter summers, and more people are turning to central air rather than room cooling. If it had been more expensive to heat and cool a house, we probably wouldn’t have had people wanting to build bigger and bigger houses. There’s nothing wrong with greater efficiency, but that has to be preceded by a commitment to put some very hard limits on the total amount of energy or other resources that we’re going to use. That limit is going to have to be decreased year by year.”

    Examples like this demonstrate perfectly why it will never be enough to agree soft economic targets such as a reduction in carbon intensity, or an increase in the proportion of green energy generation. Hard emission limits and hard atmospheric CO2 targets are needed, otherwise we are likely just fooling ourselves and wasting precious time.

  15. Robert says:

    We seem to be sliding backwards:

    “Britons are less environmentally conscious than they were five years ago, with twice as many people now “bored” by talk of climate change as in 2005. Four in 10 take no action at all to reduce their household carbon dioxide emissions. Experts warn that green fatigue is a major reason why there are more cars on the roads, more planes in the sky and no reduction in the mountain of packaging waste.”

    “China blamed the US for failing to meet its responsibilities to cut emissions and for trying to overturn UN principles. The US accused China of refusing to have its voluntary energy savings verified internationally.”

  16. john kearns says:

    It’s Gotterdamerung. Mit zwei umlauts.

  17. Mark S says:

    My personal theory: Goddard left WUWT instead of being fired, so to speak, because Watts was getting embarrassed by him and stopped letting him publish just anything. All you have to do is spend 10 min on his new site (or wayyyy less, really) to see that the cat is out of the bag. It’s no holds barred wacko. I expect some (most?) of the lost traffic were the hardliners that followed him to his new site.

  18. Paulm says:

    Yep, 1# Bob… prices going to be going up for years now…..even when there arn’t extreme extreme events we get more than we bargained for….
    One of the driest Julys on record is causing problems for some of B.C.’s most popular summer crops, including corn, peas and beans.
    Farmers say the heavy rainfall across the Lower Mainland this month has resulted in one of the worst crop seasons in recent memory
    Record-setting rainfall has caused crop devastation across the Lower Mainland and left several growers facing ruinous losses. Some now say a life preserver from the government could be their only chance of surviving for another season.

  19. Paulm says:

    #16 Robert, yes but what he is getting at is that our wealth, ie the west standard of living, GNP, is directly linked to cheap available energy. To solve AGW then this is going to have to fall. And in any case even if we don’t do anything about CC because of peak oil it will be anyway.

  20. Paulm says:

    “Crop insurance will help, but Zymans said the situation is still dire, especially for new farmers and those who grow only one commodity. Farmers are now explaining their predicament to the government and asking for assistance that could help them stay in business another year.

    “We are in a real mess right now. Agriculture is in trouble,” he said. “Hopefully the government will understand … agriculture is very important to this province and they will come forward and help us.””

  21. Doug Bostrom says:

    Goddard’s the fellow who likens science teachers to pedophiles:

    Why Do They Prey On The Young?

    In his own words:

    “Young people are easy targets for predators.”

    His blog is a one-man freak show.

  22. Doug Bostrom says:

    By the way, I have to wonder why Watts Up With That ranked as a science blog, when it’s obviously a political blog?

  23. Robert says:

    John k – it’s called a pun. Ohne Umlaute.

  24. Mark says:

    The Guardian picked up the Nature paper on the impact of increased temperatures on tropical biodiversity and dealt firmly with the anti-science brigade on Friday

  25. Chris Winter says:

    Steven Goddard calls his blog “Real Science”. Ha! When I bookmarked it, I added a note to “Prepend ‘Sur’.”

    This bookmark went into the folder I labeled “Zantis” for those who are anti-science, because I consider them to be misfits.

    For those unaware of the Outer Limits episode, here’s the summary from TV-dot-com:

  26. Michael says:

    One problem with the sea level data shown is that it does not have the inverse barometer correction, which corrects for variations in sea level pressure over the oceans; higher pressure will reduce sea level (with the correction, there is less variation). If you look at SLP over the past half year, almost all of the Pacific has much above normal pressure, associated with La Nina:

  27. Michael says:

    Also, the current La Nina is the strongest on record for this time of the year, and the second strongest for any time, according to the Multivariate ENSO Index (probably the best ENSO index since it involves multiple variables), this also follows multiple records for rapid strengthening; so that makes it even more impressive that we are still seeing monthly global temperature records, especially in the satellite data:

    The most recent (August-September) MEI value shows a continued drop from earlier this year, reaching -1.99, or 0.18 sigma below last month’s value, and 3.39 standard deviations below February-March, a record-fast six-month drop for any time of year, while slowing down a bit at the shorter time scales. The most recent MEI rank (lowest) is clearly below the 10%-tile threshold for strong La Niña MEI rankings for this season. One has to go back to July-August 1955 to find lower MEI values for any time of year.

  28. Leif says:

    The warming of the oceans and air represent a large accumulation of energy. I would liken it to increasing the push on a swing. More energy in, more energy out. This means larger swings both hot and cold, wet and dry, stormy or still.

    A question I have. With all the trillions of tons of CO2 in the atmosphere, has there been a measurable increase in the average atmospheric pressure? Not that that would make any difference in average sea level but it might help induce larger extremes.

  29. Marco says:

    Leif, for every CO2 molecule increase in the atmosphere, about 3 oxygen molecules have disappeared.

  30. Leif says:

    Thank you, Marco. I forgot about that part.

  31. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Did Steve Goddard retract (or correct) his post on Lake Superior having a memory of the last ice-age? I just scrolled through 20 pages on his site back to late September and didn’t see it. It was a good example of Steve’s habit of “opinionating” on something he clearly didn’t know anything about.

  32. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Never mind, it is still there, Sept 27, Why is Lake Superior So Cold? If I’d gone one more page back I would have found it. No corrections issued, but at least he didn’t take it down.

  33. Scrooge says:

    Leif My understanding is atmospheric pressure has to do with the mass of the planet. Which means to me is if the atmosphere as a whole gets warmer (less dense) it will expand but global pressure change is to minor to even notice. I could be wrong but that my understanding.

  34. Paulm says:

    Also an interesting symptom of co2 warming is the warmer nights. We are still running 4-6C warm at nights now and have been noticing this phenomena for seasons. It sure does play havoc with agriculture and I wonder what else?

  35. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Watts and Goddard have an ecological niche because the environment will remain amenable to their continued existence. They will continue to enjoy the patronage, direct and indirect, of the billionaire pathocrats’ denialist industry, where money is no object. And they will continue to attract the adoring adulation of the Dunning-Krugerites and the Rightwing ideological zealots.Any trip to any site where the general public is invited to comment on climate change reveals that the denialists are growing more febrile, more demented, more risibly arrogant in their ignorance and idiocy with every passing day.
    We might live in a world of steadily rising global average temperatures, despite low solar activity, and an apparently strong El Nina, of more and more frequent and more intense deluges, of rapidly melting glaciers, radical shifts in plant and animal distribution and behaviour, but for the denialist rabble none of this exists. Instead, driven by ideology and a savage hatred of environmentalists, the denialists refuse to acknowledge any of our multitudinous crises, preferring, instead, to go on consuming, mindlessly, to the bitter end,or their children’s bitter end. There must come a time when we face that existential question of questions.Overall, does humanity deserve to survive?

  36. LazyTeenager says:

    Marco says:
    October 10, 2010 at 1:49 pm
    Leif, for every CO2 molecule increase in the atmosphere, about 3 oxygen molecules have disappeared.
    Er why exactly?

  37. Scrooge says:

    Lazy I qould like to hear Marco explain this also simply because I am lazy also. But it is fun to blog so here is a layman/technician type answer from someone who received an education in the dark ages. Carbon dioxide is c+o+o oxygen is o and to put it in laymans terms you can’t put 10 gal of crap into a 5 gal bucket.

  38. Michael says:

    Two of the missing oxygen molecules can be accounted for by the increase in CO2, since half of the CO2 created remains in the atmosphere, thus the amount of oxygen lost is twice as much (one CO2 replaces one O2). This doesn’t account for the third missing O2 molecule though, so it must be going somewhere else. Perhaps it is related to the decline in phytoplankton, but that should also cause CO2 levels to increase faster, since the oxygen they produce comes from CO2.

  39. Bob Doublin says:

    @#19 Is Goddard friends with David Icke? Sometimes just for the LOLz I leaf through conspiracy theory books and made the mistake of looking through Icke’s(all you Brits out there,is that name pronounced Ickey rhymes with sticky and hickey?) latest. We’re all Reptilians. Does anyone know what’s with his ravings about the Oct data for one year being just the Sept data RELABELED and therefore 2005 or 2008 or 2009 wasn’t warmer than 1998? (The last thing I want to do is BUY the book so I’m trying to remember)