How Mother Nature Fools Climate Scientists

This post is a review of the book: The Great Global Warming Blunder, How Mother Nature Fooled the World’s Top Climate Scientists, by Dr. Roy Spencer.

Meteorologist Dr. Roy Spencer is a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, formerly a senior scientist for climate studies at NASA, and now leads the U.S. science team for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Dr. Spencer is the co-developer of the original satellite method for precise monitoring of global temperature from Earth orbiting satellites.

Dr. Spencer makes two main contentions in his book. First, the climate is much less sensitive to carbon dioxide than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says it is. This means that carbon dioxide is not a significant driver of temperature. Second, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) alone can account for most of the temperature variation in the 20th Century and can account for 75% of the global warming. He supports these contentions with both observational and experimental evidence in the book. Spencer published this evidence in the peer-reviewed, Journal of Climate in 2008, but it was ignored by the IPCC and by the mainstream press – hence the book. He is taking his case to the public. The book is written in layman’s terms with easy-to-understand examples of how the climate works. He also takes on the establishment and shows how there is a vested interest in maintaining the fiction that there is a climate change problem.

Some excerpts:

“Conceptually, there are two main processes that govern any kind of climate change: forcing and feedback.” This is cause and effect, which Spencer says the IPCC has gotten mixed up.

“Worries over catastrophic global warming rest entirely on the belief that our climate system is very sensitive, that is, dominated by positive feedbacks, which amplify any warming or cooling influence. A few scientists are predicting planetary doom as a result of our burning of fossil fuels, and politicians are now using standard propaganda techniques to convince you that we must act quickly to save the Earth.”

“Whether it is the Earth’s climate, or a pot of water on the stove, a temperature change is always caused by an imbalance between energy gained and energy lost.”

“While forcing (an energy imbalance) determines whether a temperature change will occur, feedback determines how big that temperature change will be. It is feedback that ultimately determines whether man-made global warming is catastrophic, or merely lost in the noise of natural climate change.”

“A mix-up between cause and effect in observations of cloud behavior from satellites has led to the false illusion that our climate system is dominated by positive feedback. This, in turn, has led to the development of highly sensitive climate models that predict large amounts of global warming. But when the separate influences of forcing and feedback (cause and effect) are isolated, recent satellite data reveal the climate system to be dominated by negative, not positive, feedback.”

“In order to convince Congress to fund research into a problem, you must first convince them that a problem exists. This automatically makes man-made global warming a particularly lucrative field for funding – as long as the threat of man-made global warming continues. There are managers at NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy whose careers now depend on a continuous flow of research dollars through them to the science community.” Spencer notes that his own research funding comes from NASA.

“…natural cloud fluctuations in the climate system will cause a bias in the diagnosed feedback in the direction of positive feedback, thus giving the illusion of an overly sensitive climate system.”

(This statement follows a discussion of radiative and non-radiative forcings; read the book to find out what these are.)

” … the IPCC has ignored… radiative forcing generated internal to the climate system as a potential source of climate change.” What that means is “that the climate models are too sensitive, which is why they predict so much global warming for the future. In contrast, the satellite evidence indicates that the climate system is quite insensitive, which means that it doesn’t really care how big your carbon footprint is. Rather than 1.5 to 6 deg. C (or more) of warming as predicted by the IPCC, a careful examination of the satellite data suggests that man-made warming due to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide could be less than 1 deg. C (1.8 deg. F) – possibly much less.”

“It would take natural variations of little more than 1 percent in global average cloud cover to explain most of the climate change seen in the last 2,000 years, yet our ability to measure such small changes has existed for only the last ten years.”

“The idea that nature was in delicate balance before mankind came along is religious, not scientific. Given the necessity of carbon dioxide for life on earth, we need to consider the possibility that more CO2 in the atmosphere will be better for life on earth, not worse.”

I recommend this book. It is a good read. It gives an easily understandable explanation of how the climate works. The book is available from


  1. In the interest of full disclosure, people should know that Dr. Spencer is also a proponent of Intelligent Design.  I will not argue that Dr. Spencer is necessarily right or wrong about Global Warming theory, or that he must be right or wrong because of his belief in Intelligent Design.  The reader can draw their own conclusions, hopefully after further investigation.

  2. My question, is why is Spencer positing his theory in a book rather then going through the standard peer-review process, of which, he has done so in the past? I’ll let the reader figure that out.

    There is broad agreement of a climate sensitivity of around 3°C. Spencer’s assessment does not jive with the mired of other studies. This is not a religious belief, rather it’s based on empirical evidence, contrary of Spencer’s assertion, which on the face of it is rather amusing coming from a person that believes in Intelligent Design.

  3. As proof of the actual level of expertise in front of LABI Limbaughs, Haley Barbours, and ExxonMobils, Roy ’d-rage’ Spencer misses yet another wave of tornadoes hitting his neighbors in Alabama with all the toys stolen from NASA.  After killing over a dozen, “Three more Saturday tornadoes confirmed in central Alabama” (By Jeremy Gray — The Birmingham News;, 4/26/10).
    But, trying to save people with no regard to taking any of Roy’d’s free money from his corporate welfare supervisors, “GBRWE  4/18 – 24/10 … by Robert Rhodes, The “Ozonator” … B1. Weeks’ Reporting Period of GBRWE   4/18 – 24/10.  …  From American extremists’ holy environmental racism from global warming, the Brain-dead Ronaldus Magnus Model of Hatred and Greed & T-bags  – tornadoes, blizzards, torrential rain, and other forms of lightning or something uglier will develop in titanic swathes – Earth: … Hollywood  – Atlanta – Huntsville – Cincinnati”.  The scientific method works because Islam is a religion of peace, violating the terms of the 10 Commandments is a sin even in Huntsville, and Christians are people too.

  4. “My question, is why is Spencer positing his theory in a book rather then going through the standard peer-review process, of which, he has done so in the past? I’ll let the reader figure that out.”
    Perhaps we should let reader figure out how you ignore that he *did* publish in peer reviewed journal.

    “There is broad agreement of a climate sensitivity of around 3°C. Spencer’s assessment does not jive with the mired of other studies.”
    Strange how Co2 levels in not so ancient past are believed many many times higher than projected levels and world did not end.
    Global warming is now probably a multi-billion dollar industry.  I propose the following:  if anyone intentionally commits fraud/deception to exagerate either way, let them be liable similar to in stock market, even 30 years later.
    If lives are lost by preparing for wrong disaster, let those who intentionally did fraud be pursued like Nazi war criminals, everything they own may be taken away and given to any victims and they should be last in line for any health care spending.
    We do have many other potential disasters such as nuclear, biological/gene splicing, and the usual dumping toxic waste in oceans and drag nets to ocean floor, acid rain, desertification, etc.

  5. Voters dictate consensus, not the “scientists” of the failed, tired and worn out CO2 fear mongering after 24 years of promising climate crisis. Lazy copy and paste journalists such as this were just part of this open sewer of untreated information called the Internet. It seemed to not be a lie simply if it was posted on the Net and thank God people wised up to this fact. Where CO2 fear went wrong was when it was trapped and cornered and fell back to “crisis”, “pollution” and the phrase; “SAVE THE PLANET”. Any way you add up this barrage of dooms day mentality the voter will always equate it with  “death”. Promising death by CO2 was like an all-in in a poker game and the voters are not giving climate change another 24 years to cover the bet. Will climate changers always be around? We still laugh at disco. So have fun saying “they say” all you want doomers because it was “we” voters who killed the CO2 theory, not “they” and their consensus. Why did we have thousands of more so called scientists than protestors and is your little crisis still hiding out the poles and deep in the oceans and high atop mountains? History cures you f o o l s. Preserve, protect and respect Nature and face the future with courage, not fear of the unknown. Thanks, this was a valuable lesson we learned from the environ MENTAL ists.

  6. I believe Spencer’s studies should be given as much creedence as any other work in the climate change field, however his findings don’t negate the thousands of other studies that conclude it is actually happening, nor do they prove climate change is “fiction”. Even those who dispute the impact of CO2 on the environment acknowledge that the atmosphere is warming, and even I myself have not yet been convinced the phenomena is man-made (although I feel that even if it isn’t, reducing carbon emmissions couldn’t possibly be a bad thing). And to suggest that the incentive for promoting the idea of man-made climate change comes anywhere close to the financial incentive for corporations to discredit it is downright laughable.

  7. After scaring America with melting glaciers and sea water levels rising, Al Gore purchases $9M California beachfront property. I’ll let the readers continue to wallow in his ignorance.

  8. Perhaps Dr. Spencer should write a book on compartmentalization or multiple personality disorder.  Intelligent Design is something based entirely on faith, is not subject to rational investigation and thus is something that does not deserve consideration within the scientific community.  On the other hand, climate change is subject to scientific investigation.  His involvement with both weakens his credibility in both at the same time. 

    1. You are arguing from “guilt by association”, not a valid method.  You are also implying that any religious scientist is hypocritical and not to be believed.

      1. I am amazed and a little incredulous that someone could shift their entire pattern of logic going from one subject to another.  The way people approach investigations and problems would seem to me to be something learned and refined over a lifetime.  With this in mind, I wonder how anyone could believe in the supernatural and be a strict materialist (in the philosophical sense) in his “other life”.  

        I know there are religionists who are also scientists and presumably they manage this, with more or less success.  I suspect they are mostly not proponents of Intelligent Design though.  Even if they are, they should not use their professional positions to proselytize, and this is what he is doing. 

        I doubt he is being hypocritical to his own beliefs.  It does, still, diminish his credibility when he uses his expertise in one area (climate change) to shore up his opinion in another area (evolution); an area in which he has no credentials.  It is deceptive and not something that gets you any brownie points amongst your colleagues.  

        You are correct though…to me, anybody promoting Intelligent Design is guilty; guilty of spreading patently false nonsense.  


  9. Leftfield,

    If you want to attribute your humanity to blind chance and primordial soup, be my guest. If you want to celebrate your monkey ancestors, rock on.

    On the other hand, many see design as being the more plausible explanation of the origin of life. Perhaps there are some things in life that science just cannot adequately explain?

    If you are so sure of your materialist position, why do you seem so insecure when others disagree?  If intelligent design is so nonsensical, surely it will not succeed in recruiting many proponents, will it?

    Finally, if science has all the answers regarding the origins of life, why are there presently so many gaps in Darwinian evolution? For instance, Darwin admitted his theory was shaky on the basis of a lack of inter specie transitional forms. Darwin predicted that future paleontological discoveries would prove his theory by bridging these myriads of gaps. Well, 150 years and millions of fossil discoveries later, and we are still waiting for that proof from the fossil record. 

    How many more centuries must we wait?

    1. And if you want to believe in something (a god) for which there is no more proof than there is for the flying purple people eater, be my guest.  Just don’t think you can sneak this into the schools by demanding equal consideration for intelligent design. 

  10.  If intelligent design is so nonsensical, surely it will not succeed in recruiting many proponents, will it?

    There is no more logical reason to believe in the christian god, and no more proof of his/her/its existence,  than there is for a flying purple people eater.  Still, millions believe. 

    There is no real controversy within the scientific community regarding Darwin’s work.  To even suggest that Intelligent Design, an unprovable proposition, deserves serious consideration or “equal time” is offensive and just plain ignorant. 

    It matters not how many people “find it plausible”.  The burden is on them  to prove their hypothesis and this cannot be done, rendering the entire issue moot.

    I am not insecure about my position on this matter.  What I am is angry and fearful when people attempt to proselytize by using the ruse of intelligent design to sneak the teaching of christian dogma into public schools.   

  11. Leftfield,

    In reality, there IS major controversy within the evolutionary world. Classical Darwinian evolutionists advocate that life forms evolved ever so slowly over millennia.

    Another faction vehemently rejects that theory and asserts (correctly, I believe) that the fossil record demonstrates that change occurred very suddenly.  Both factions have effectively shot holes in the other’s arguments large enough to sink the Titanic. To suggest that there is this mythical harmony among scientists is just plain nonsense.

    And contrary to your belief, there is actually plenty of historical evidence supporting the existence of the Biblical God of the Universe, especially in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. However, an open mind is needed to properly weigh the claims of Jesus Christ. Many, for a variety of reasons, are unable to have an open mind.

    Your comparison of the God of the Bible and a purple people eater is interesting, although quite weak. Suffice to say that a purple people eater has never attracted billions of followers throughout history. As far as I know, a purple people eater has never been credited by vast numbers of people of performing inexplicable miracles. And the calendar is not based upon the life of a purple people eater, but rather Jesus Christ. I am curious regarding your agitation over “proselytizing.” Even if this were true, what exactly is your gripe? Are you concerned that Atheists Anonymous or other such clubs will lose membership? And if so, what is so terrible about people converting to Christianity, valuing the Ten Commandments and striving to “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you”? That is a gonga deal for society. Think about the impact upon government if more people subscribed to the concept of “Thou shalt not steal.” Congress would be stopped in its tracks!What is so terrible about Christians starting schools and hospitals, or working with prisoners and their families in order to preserve marriages during incarceration? Do you see evil in Christians going into third World Countries in order to start orphanages, educate people about diseases, and improve agriculture and water supplies?Finally, my challenge to you stands to provide some real examples of evolutionary transitional forms. And please do not include the Pepper Moths that we studied in High School biology; we both know that one is a hoax.   

    Regards, Canyonman 

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