Digital Diatribes

A presentation of data on climate and other stuff

The Unifying Theory of Earth’s Climate

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on January 11, 2009

Stephen Wilde contacted me regarding an article that he has presented exclusively on It is definitely worth the read. I have posted a couple excerpts here, but I encourage you to CLICK HERE to read the entire paper. Many thanks to Stephen for giving me a heads up on this.

The Unifying Theory of Earth’s Climate
Guest post by Stephen Wilde – excerpts from his paper of the same name.

The claims of those who worry about human damage to the climate become ever more strident despite, or perhaps because of, the real world data rapidly diverging from that which they anticipated.

(Figure 1) The failure of alarmist predictions

(Figure 1) The failure of alarmist predictions

It is now ten years since the 1998 culmination of a period of thirty years of unusual ocean warmth that resulted in the atmospheric temperature peak of that year. Additionally during that period the sun was more active than ever previously recorded. ( Figures 2 and 4)

Figure 2 The high solar activity from 1940 to 2000.

Figure 2 The high solar activity from 1940 to 2000.

AGW proponents accept that the relative coolness of the past 10 years (Figure 3) is a result of cooler oceans but refuse to accept the corollary that the primary cause of the warmer period was warmer oceans. Warmer oceans also expand. ( Figure 5) and release natural CO2. The apparent levelling off in the sea level rise is coincident with recent cooler ocean surfaces.

See for the full presentation.

My own comments:
Mr. Wilde hits on a couple points I have made myself, which shows an understanding of cyclical changes in trends and the ability to apply simple logic. Most of us – even the skeptics – acknowledge that warming occurred from the 1970s to the end of the century. So, when there has been no warming for the last number of years, yet we hear the arguments that the latest year is still in the top X of our records, it’s kind of silly. I have used the analogy of climbing a mountain, getting to the top, and coming down the other side. Even though your are heading down once over the top, your first steps are still close to the top. In fact, if you trended elevation by time, you would continue to see a positive trend line for quite a while as you headed down, because those elevation points would be near the top of the mountain, even if descending. Ignoring the recent negative changes in elevation and only looking at the overall trend line would lead one to suggest that you’re still climbing up the mountain. While we cannot prove definitively that this is happening with temperature, to completely ignore the possibility is to put blinders on. If this truly is a cycle, then Mr. Wilde is absolutely correct in his assertion that points will cluster for a time at peaks and troughs.

In addition, Mr. Wilde criticizes climate models that are “built upwards from innumerable details rather than downwards from a verifiable overarching concept.” I have also addressed this issue here, and completely agree. I work in a profession that relies on modeling. I can’t tell you how often I scrap a more complex model that tries to capture all the details through numerous inputs in favor of a simple model that looks at things from a broad perspective. The issue is not that complex, comprehensive models are poor in concept. The issue is that if you are building a model in that fashion and you are missing anything, you end up with cross biases where things get inappropriately attributed to certain factors, and the results are nonsensical. More often than we’d like to admit, the better approach is to simply admit that we don’t fully understand all the impacts of all the components, and we need to accept that high-level, general, and simpler models are actually better. Mutliple times a year I read a story about something dealing with climate where there is some unanticipated effect of something-or-another. This tells me, then, that models built on a need for comprehensive analysis are erroneous.

Mr. Wilde’s summary conclusion is that it’s all about the oceans. This encourages me to get back to me more comprehensive correlation analysis on all the ocean indices. (Still waiting on that December PDO reading…)


6 Responses to “The Unifying Theory of Earth’s Climate”

  1. […] The Unifying Theory of Earth’s Climate […]

  2. Layman Lurker said

    A great resource for ocean data and insights:

  3. Jeff Id said

    Good stuff Joe,

    I do like some of Mr, Wilde’s comments on oceans as well. There is such huge energy content compared to the gas atmosphere and so much variation in the surface temperatures due to the cold equal density sub surface water it is hard to imagine the air temp moving the water temp much. I should do some energy content calcs just to get a handle on the difference myself.

    If you get a minute, check out this post on global satellite temps. I corrected a discontinuity between RSS and UAH using GISS. I found the result pretty interesting.

  4. Ron Coe said

    Stephen Wilde is an interested amateur for sure. But he’s not at all hands-on in the realms of science for which he presents himself as expert. This is unfortunate. His arguments fail under the least scrutiny; he mis-represents himself as to his attainments and qualifications; search elsewhere for questions raised over his affiliation with the Royal Meteorological Society. He is utterly unresponsive to any query over the substance of his declarations, as a brief perusal of his postings elsewhere will amply demonstrate.

  5. The Diatribe Guy said

    Ron, that’s a fair criticism, if true. I make no warranties regarding any guest poster. I suppose if I had an enterprise to protect, e.g. Watts, I’d scrutinize backgrounds and representations made by guest posters. I felt the paper itself was interesting, and Mr. Wilde was kind enough to call my attention to it. I do not know him personally. He seemed like a kind enough fellow in our e-mail correspondence. I would certainly entertain future guest psots by him, and perhaps I’ll make it more clear that I make no personal assurances regarding an individual’s qualifications or representaitons.

    For Pete’s sake, I’m just an actuary, so I’m not going to fault anyone’s analysis per se just because they aren’t a member of some particular group. But, to your point, I don’t claim to be anything more than an actuary, so I do believe it’s best to be transparent in that regard and let the analysis speak for itself.

  6. Stephen Wilde said

    There has been no misrepresentation as to my attainments and qualifications. My amateur staus was made clear from my very first piece.

    As regards my arguments ‘failing’ I am not currently aware of any such.

    My descriptions continue to match and anticipate real world observations which is more than the modellers can do at present for all their expertise and funding.

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