John Cook’s Logical Flaw


HadCRUT temperatures  (black line) plotted vs. ENSO. Warming occurs when ENSO is positive.

Cook believes that CO2 “controls the climate” – because CO2 is changing and the climate is changing.

There are several logical fallacies with his belief system.

  1. The climate always changes, regardless of what CO2 is doing
  2. Lots of things affecting the climate are changing, besides CO2
  3. Until climatologists understand what caused past climate change, they certainly can’t claim to know that current climate change is different.


The 1910-1940 warming was nearly identical to the 1975-2000 warming. Blaming the 1975-2000 warming on CO2 isn’t going to fly. It was due primarily to the PDO shift in the mid-1970s.

h/t to Marc Morano

About stevengoddard

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58 Responses to John Cook’s Logical Flaw

  1. ChrisD says:

    He believes that CO2 “controls the climate” – because CO2 is changing and the climate is changing.

    That is complete BS, and you know it. Please show me where Cook—or anyone else—says that we know CO2 controls the climate “because CO2 is changing and the climate is changing.”

    As to your other points:

    The climate always changes, regardless of what CO2 is doing.

    Straw man. Neither Cook nor anyone else says otherwise.

    Lots of things affecting the climate are changing, besides CO2

    Straw man. Neither Cook nor anyone else says otherwise.

    Until climatologists understand what caused past climate change, they certainly can’t claim to know that current climate change is different.

    Straw man. Neither Cook nor anyone else says otherwise.

    I think I see a pattern.

    • Glad you asked.

      “CO2 controls the planet’s temperature”

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=434

      • PJB says:

        Seeing as [CO2] is breathing its last (pun intended), any proposals for what the Disruptors (those that support Global Climate Disruption as a thesis) will choose next as their ultimate fixation?

      • ChrisD says:

        Glad you asked.

        “CO2 controls the planet’s temperature”

        Nothing in there supports your apparent claim that Cook says we know CO2 controls the climate because of the correlation.

      • ChrisD says:

        So you are arguing that there is no correlation?

        Good God. Are you being intentionally obtuse?

        Neither Cook nor anyone else claims that we know CO2 controls climate because they are correlated, which is what you said.

        • Did you actually read the link to Cook’s article?

          I am mirroring his statement and throwing it back in his face. “A popular skeptic argument is that climate has changed naturally in the past and therefore recent global warming must be natural.”

          Are you really as slow as you pretend to be?

      • ChrisD says:

        “A popular skeptic argument is that ‘climate has changed naturally in the past and therefore recent global warming must be natural'”

        That does not in any way, shape, or form even remotely begin to support what you said. It simply could not be any less relevant.

    • Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

      ChrisD says:
      October 26, 2010 at 1:50 pm

      That is complete BS, and you know it. Please show me where Cook—or anyone else—says that we know CO2 controls the climate

      The skeptical ChrisD???

    • glacierman says:

      Are you serious?

      Try this: http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/lacis101015.pdf

      Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob
      Governing Earth’s Temperature
      Andrew A. Lacis,* Gavin A. Schmidt, David Rind, Reto A. Ruedy

      • Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

        glacierman says:
        October 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm

        Are you serious?

        Who knows what’s really going on with a global warming believer who suddenly says something like that.

      • ChrisD says:

        You’ve missed the point completely. Read Steve’s claim again. I’ll highlight the key part–the BS part:

        He believes that CO2 “controls the climate” – because CO2 is changing and the climate is changing.

        In other words, we know that CO2 controls the climate because of the correlation. Cook doesn’t say that. Gavin doesn’t say that. Nobody says that. It’s BS.

    • James Sexton says:

      Chris, do try and keep up please. Its no fun if you make it too easy!

    • glacierman says:

      ChrisD Says: “In other words, we know that CO2 controls the climate because of the correlation. Cook doesn’t say that. Gavin doesn’t say that. Nobody says that. It’s BS.”

      You are parsing words to the extreme. Maybe we can discuss what the meaning of is, is. Or maybe we can look at the people you say don’t say CO2 controls temperatures and see if the meaning of their words is in line with what Steve said, even if they did not use the exact words with the same formatting and punctuation.

      From Andrew A. Lacis,* Gavin A. Schmidt, David Rind, Reto A. Ruedy:

      “There is telling evidence that atmospheric
      CO2 also governs the temperature of
      Earth on geological time scales, suggesting the
      related question of what the geological processes
      that control atmospheric CO2 are.”

      So are you arguing that they didn’t say it because they didn’t say specifically that CO2 controls the climate because of correlation, or are saying they are not saying CO2 controls the climate? Because it looks pretty clear to me that that is exactly what their position is.

      • ChrisD says:

        You are parsing words to the extreme.

        Nope. I’m directly quoting what Steve said. He explicitly states that they claim to know this “because CO2 is changing and the climate is changing.” It is blatant and obvious and requires no parsing whatsoever.

        Nobody says that we know CO2 controls climate simply because they’re correlated. That is pure BS.

      • glacierman says:

        ChrisD says:

        “Nope. I’m directly quoting what Steve said. He explicitly states that they claim to know this “because CO2 is changing and the climate is changing.” It is blatant and obvious and requires no parsing whatsoever.

        Nobody says that we know CO2 controls climate simply because they’re correlated. That is pure BS.”

        The part of the original statement that important is the one in quotes from John Cook – “CO2 controls the climate” then Steve continues on with the editorial statement about – because CO2 is changing and the climate is changing. You then take that as Steve stating that Cook made that exact statement, which is clearly not quoted by Steve but you have continued to argue on this thread. It is clear that many warmist believe and have stated that CO2 controls the climate – see earlier posts – and you have made no attempt to rebutt but have continued to argue your own created strawman.

        Although he does not use your made up quote of two different individual’s seperate quotes (which is what you seem to want to argue), Cook discusses at length how CO2 and recent warming are correlated, see:

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/The-CO2-Temperature-correlation-over-the-20th-Century.html

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/The-correlation-between-CO2-and-temperature.html

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/Industrial-CO2-Relentless-warming-taskmaster.html

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/despite-uncertainty-CO2-drives-the-climate.html

        I am not interested in any more hair splitting arguments, or semantics. Do you have an argument to the earlier posts that the warmists referenced do not believe and have not stated that CO2 controls the climate?

      • ChrisD says:

        The part of the original statement that important is the one in quotes from John Cook – “CO2 controls the climate” then Steve continues on with the editorial statement about – because CO2 is changing and the climate is changing.

        No.

        My whole point is Steve’s so-called “editorializing.” Cook never said that, or anything like it. Steve added it. He makes it sound like it’s something Cook said. It isn’t.

        That’s not “editorializing,” it’s “misrepresenting.” It’s BS.

      • glacierman says:

        No.
        ChrisD says:
        “My whole point is Steve’s so-called “editorializing.” Cook never said that, or anything like it. Steve added it. He makes it sound like it’s something Cook said. It isn’t.

        That’s not “editorializing,” it’s “misrepresenting.” It’s BS”

        Thats great, you have said that a number of times. You could have made that point and moved on to the main focus of the post, but chose not to. You still havn’t responded to the question of warmist claiming that CO2 controls the climate. Do you have anything to say about that, or are you stuck on point you wanted to argue instead of what the post is about?

        Steve stated:

        “There are several logical fallacies with his belief system.

        1.The climate always changes, regardless of what CO2 is doing
        2.Lots of things affecting the climate are changing, besides CO2
        3.Until climatologists understand what caused past climate change, they certainly can’t claim to know that current climate change is different.”

        Is it your opinion that Cook does not believe CO2 controls the climate? Is the main driver of the climate in recent years?

      • ChrisD says:

        Thats great, you have said that a number of times. You could have made that point and moved on

        As I would have, if even one of you had manned up and admitted that what Steve said actually was BS. But no one did. What a shock. You still persist in defending a blatant misrepresentation as “editorializing.”

        As for your contention that I never addressed the main point of the post, you might want to go back and re-read the very first comment.

      • glacierman says:

        So your answer to my question of if Cook, or any other climate scientist said or believes CO2 controls the climate is:

        1. Steve’s characterization of Cook is BS
        2. Strawman
        3. Strawman
        4. Strawman

        Very well thought and coherent answer.

      • ChrisD says:

        Yes, I thought so too, thanks.

        And all factually correct. What Steve said was BS, and all three points are strawmen.

      • glacierman says:

        ChrisD,

        That you think your responses are factually accurate and answer my question says it all. You answered some other question, and completely ignored mine for the third time. This is a subject that is very important and will continue to come up and be discussed. You continually evading it speaks volumes. I see no reason to make any attempts to continue this nonsense.

      • ChrisD says:

        You know, I wish I had a nickel for every time one of you guys did this.

        1. I make a point.
        2. “Skeptic” X, in non-response, raises some other question.
        3. I note that to X that his question doesn’t respond to, and is irrelevant to, my point.
        4. X gets all pissed off because I’m “evading” his question, when in fact what actually happened was that X evaded my point by raising the question I’m not responding to.

        This has happened here time after time after time. You are just the current example. So I also see no reason to continue this nonsense.

    • John Endicott says:

      ChrisD says:
      Please show me where Cook—or anyone else—says that we know CO2 controls the climate “because CO2 is changing and the climate is changing.”
      —————–

      Ok, lets see. Cook (and you) insist that CO2 (specifically of the man-prodcued variety) controls the climate. You’ve said as much in other threads so don’t try to weasel out of it now. and you further admit that the climate works the same as it always has, then please explain what makes you think CO2 controls the climate if it’s not the correlation because the history of climate on Earth is not one where CO2 controls the climate but rather one where CO2 follows the change in climate.

      • ChrisD says:

        Physics.

      • John Endicott says:

        ChrisD says:
        Physics.
        ———————–

        Well then you don’t understand physics very well considering the observed physics of the climate in relation to CO2 says you are wrong about CO2 being the driver of climate (it never has before and since nothings changed regarding the laws of physics it’s not likely to suddenly be the case now).

  2. Sundance says:

    OT forgive me.
    Congratulations Steve on surpassing Real Climate in site traffic in the USA. Did you celebrate?

  3. Sundance says:

    Real Climate is ranked 62,457 in the USA.

    • Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

      Ya….um…. wow, so many interested in them. When one sees such rankings what can one say but, “RealClimate”.

      😉

  4. glacierman says:

    ChrisD says:
    “I think I see a pattern.”

    So do we. You and Brendan challenge every post, almost as if it is your assignment to do so. A complete failure to recognize satire when present and no sense of humor at all. Steve just keeps using absurdity to demonstrate absurdity and you fall for it ever time.

    • ChrisD says:

      You and Brendan challenge every post

      I challenge BS when I see it. Sorry.

      A complete failure to recognize satire

      Effective satire requires an element of truth, which is consistently missing.

      Effective satire does not consist of simply misrepresenting what people say.

  5. Airframe Eng says:

    Steve, those stats look great! It took just a few weeks to spank RC. Looks like you’re closing in on Skeptical Science also. And look at the number of links those sites have.

    And then we have the added pleasure of watching ChrisD punk himself with his first comment. This is the start of a nice day!

  6. GregO says:

    Go Steve Go!!

    Love this site!

  7. Brendon says:

    “Warming occurs when ENSO is positive.”

    ENSO is a movement of heat and does not explain the long term warming trend.

    When the cyclic ENSO is removed from the global temps, very little changes in the long term trend.

    Here’s a study done by a real scientist.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v453/n7195/fig_tab/nature06982_F1.html#figure-title

    • Long term warming trend? You mean like back to the MWP?

      The PDO explains exactly what has been happening for the last 25 years. Why are you determined to constantly change the subject?

      • ChrisD says:

        Why are you determined to constantly change the subject?

        Steve, I’m really trying to understand your concept of off-topic and “changing the subject.”

        You explicitly state in your post that “Warming occurs when ENSO is positive.” Brendon’s comment addresses that directly. It’s a link to a study that clearly shows ENSO having very little effect on trends. I do not understand how this is “changing the subject.” Can you explain?

        (And, incidentally, your question “You mean like back to the MWP?” really gives the appearance of your not having looked at the paper.)

        • Brendon doesn’t want to see the obvious correlation between ENSO and the recent warming, so he changes the subject to some unspecified “long term” warming.

          The same mindless fallback which I always hear on every climate topic.

      • Brendon says:

        “Long term warming trend? You mean like back to the MWP?”

        Sure if you want to go back that far, you’ll also need to consider other radiative change such as solar irradiance.

        “The PDO explains exactly what has been happening for the last 25 years. Why are you determined to constantly change the subject?”

        As the study I listed shows, the ENSO may make a graph that somewhat lines up with warming, but if ENSO were the cause then you’d expect it to explain the longer term temps too. It fails this very basic test.

        Surface Temps are affected by many different factors, trying to explain them with just one will always lead to failure.

      • ChrisD says:

        so he changes the subject to some unspecified “long term” warming.

        It’s not unspecified, Steve. All you have to do is look at the chart. It very directly responds to what you said. Did you look at the paper at all?

        • You are all over the map. Which one of the statements I made in this article do you disagree with?

          The climate always changes, regardless of what CO2 is doing Lots of things affecting the climate are changing, besides CO2 Until climatologists understand what caused past climate change, they certainly cant claim to know that current climate change is different.

      • Brendon says:

        “Brendon doesn’t want to see the obvious correlation between ENSO and the recent warming”

        I’ve said in other threads that El Nino is responsible for much of the short term fluctuations.

        This graph shows it quite well.

        There are two problems with your graph of ENSO vs Temp. Firstly by performing a 5 year average the El Nino details are missed, some cold periods are merged with some warm periods. Compare that to the link above which captures the ups and downs and show how well they correlate with the short term fluctuations.

        The BIGGEST problem in your graph is that there is warming during the cold ENSO period too. From 1950 onwards the temps climb despite ENSO. Even in the greatest ENSO low points (1954 & 1973) the temps still climb.

      • Brendon says:

        High frequency noise is dataset dependant; each different set of data will have a differing amount of noise and care should be taken not to filter out the normal cycles. Simply applying one value to both dataset, as you have done, is lazy and has obscured the obvious cycles found in ENSO data.

        That said, you still have not address why there is significant warming during a colder ENSO. ENSO simply can’t explan the long term surface temp rise, it can only add fluctuations.

      • Brendon,

        The climate is buffered by the heat content of the oceans. That is why people use long term running means to analyze it.

      • Brendon says:

        Yes the climate is buffered by the heat content of the oceans, the surface temperatures are not.

        That is why the short term fluctuations of ENSO are so easily found in the Surface Temp data as I showed before.

        Almost without exception the high points of the El Nino are reflected in bumps on the Surface Temps. But some of these fluctuations are only 1-2 years in length. You’re smoothing with a 5 yr average obliterates any chance of seeing this.

        And still you have not addressed the point that ENSO in at minimums whilst the Surface Temps continued to rise.

  8. Brendon says:

    “Cook believes that CO2 “controls the climate” – because CO2 is changing and the climate is changing.”

    There is quite a detailed post by John Cook on why CO2 is not the only influence of climate change.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/CO2-is-not-the-only-driver-of-climate-intermediate.htm

    The change in CO2 is listed as the largest warming influence to affect our climate between 1750 and 2005, hence the reason why CO2 “controls the climate”.

  9. Mike Davis says:

    It is good to know that you have passed RC in visitors. Your ACD guests are of course tempting one to reply and join in the fun!
    The natural recovery from the LIA was the primary driver of climate since 1750. The natural downturn from the Holocene Optimum, which was the high point in this Interglacial, has been the primary driver of climate changes for the last 5 thousand years.
    Long term is in the thousands of years and even to understand the ocean atmosphere oscillations would require a couple of thousand years of “GOOD” data. There is anecdotal data from all over the world that we are currently experiencing a mild version of natural climate change compared to some periods in the past.

    Be glad to be alive during this mild climate period and enjoy the Interglacial while it lasts.

  10. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Wow, Steve Goddard… This is an amazingly, near stupefyingly over-simplification of a complex interpretation of the role of CO2 in climate change.

    If John Cook believed that “CO2 controls climate” then the expected result would be that global temperatures would rise linearly along with the Keeling curve. No one, absolutely no one believes this. Not John Cook, not Roy Spencer… no one. This is as limp as a straw man argument as I have ever seen.

    What you are obviously confusing is CO2’s role as “the biggest control knob” in climate change. This is a term borrowed from Dr. Richard Alley. That is to say that there are a great many complex influences on climate.

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