Who Started this Ruckus, Anyway?

By Keith Kloor | June 18, 2010 12:06 pm

UPDATE: Do browse the lively comment thread, especially where Judith Curry says of the famed Hockey Stick: “So I am laying down the gauntlet, this really needs to be discussed and rebutted by the paleo researchers and the IPCC defenders.”

Maybe we need to back up before we can go forward.  A very interesting exchange between Bart Verheggen and Judith Curry took place while the comment system was being fixed. Tim Lambert also chimed in with a relevant comment. And for good measure, I’m throwing in a perplexed reaction (to Curry) from one reader.

I think the issue of who instigated this climate science war of attrition should be aired in full. So let’s have it out (but stay civil, please). And then can we move on”¦?

Bart Verheggen: In a newer thread Judith Curry suggested that it would be very worthwhile to figure out how to put this energy and expertise (well educated people delve into specific scientific details) to productive use, rather than dismissing. I would add that it should ideally be put to good use indeed, rather than it being put to destructive use, as a lot of it currently is. It looks like many of them have a deep felt contempt for climate science (fed in no small part by McIntyre) and often miss the forest for the trees (imitating McIntyre). That makes it very hard to see their energy (as currently used) as positive to the scientific and policy related discussions.

Michael Tobis said over at Climate Audit:
“The fundamental question is: Are you interested in improving the world’s and your own understanding the climate system as a physical system, a problem which in principle really ought to be at least partially resolvable? Or are you interested in demeaning and undermining the people who have made the most effort toward doing so.”

Judith Curry: Bart and Michael; the answer is that this group is definitely interested in moving the science forward. They feel that they have been disrespected by main stream scientists, and that mainstream scientists haven’t been playing by the rules, which raises their ire. And because their ire has been raised, then the main stream scientists feel justified in ignoring them. I originally viewed this as a chicken and egg problem, but after delving into this considerably, in my opinion it was not the bloggers that committed the first foul.

The climate researchers thought the situation with the bloggers was analogous to the war with big tobacco, and adopted the same strategies. This strategy was inappropriate since the bloggers are not politically or economically motivated, and it has backfired, and the current impasse is the result.

Tim Lambert:
Judith, you are mistaken. Look at, for example, this post of mine from 2004. You’ll see that the same attacks on the science being made even before McIntyre and Watts and co started blogging.

Bart Verheggen: Judith, thanks for your reply. I very much want to believe that what you say is true, and I hope it is. But a lot of the CA minded folks seem to me politically or economically motivated. Perhaps I’m being blinded by the peanut gallery in my perception, and perhaps I’m throwing away the baby with the bathwater. I agree that it’s not constructive to dismiss the expertise and energy of the more scientifically minded critics. But then I would suggest that those sincerely interested clearly distance themselves from the contempt and suspicions raising crowd, since that are the public face of the critics, and it’s severely hampering communciation with mainstream scientists and their supporters. Problem is, McIntyre himself has had a major influence in instilling contempt and suspicions into his very wide following. It doesn’t just raise my ire; it’s entirely un-constructive to moving the internet discussion with critics forward (regardless of how it all started).

Judith Curry: Bart, I recommend that you read the “Hockey Stick Illusion“ by Andrew Montford.   Note, this book was not written with any input from McIntyre (he was unaware of the book until he received a copy of the galleys), but documents the “hockey stick wars” from McIntyre’s first interest in the problem based upon blog posts and other pieces of documentation including journal publications.  This book was nearly completed before the climategate emails, a chapter is appended at the end with emails that provide further information in completing the understanding of these events.  The book is well documented, it obviously has a certain spin to it, but it is a very good book.  If you read this book, which i think accurately lays out the perspective of McIntyre, you will understand why McIntyre comes across as suspicious and occasionally contemptuous.  Taking what is in this book at face value, one is left wondering why McIntyre is as polite as he is.  Note, McIntyre is not angry about all this (and he is often criticized for not being angry; particularly in the wake of climategate and also at the Heartland Conference).

Steven Sullivan: Judith Curry, given Bishop Hill’s (Montford’s)  background and a level of scientific chops that has him saying, this year, “My gut feeling is still sceptical but I don’t believe it’s beyond the realms of possibility that the AGW hypothesis might be correct.”,  why on earth would you take his book “˜at face value’?  Do you seriously think the ‘spin’ is to be discounted here? The bigger question, why are you, now one of the public scientific faces of this debate,  apparently *so deeply  impressed* by the arguments of this  cadre of articulate nonscientist skeptics,  and so willing to go to bat for them?   Is it some particular affinity for libertarian world-views?

  • Steven Sullivan

    Hey, it’s “Steven’, with a ‘v’  (i’ve been dealing with this all my life) ;>
    [Sorry, fixed.//KK]
     

  • intrepid_wanders

    Simple.  The one who tried to tried to make the Medieval Warming Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) disappear.  Now, with the skeptical refusal to let it go,  he the insist on renaming MWP to Medieval Climate Anomaly, but still minimized and localized.
    When one plays with history so easily, it is inevitable that questions will rise.  It was (and still is) amazing how easily the “memory-hole” was accepted by AGW-supporters.

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/ Bart Verheggen

    Judith,
    Even if I were to accept the thesis that McIntyre has valid reasons for his contempt and suspicions, how would that change my perception of his current influence on the public (mis-)understanding of climate science? I may understand more where he’s coming from, even feel some empathy for how he’s been (mis-)treated, but I don’t see how such understanding would excuse the massively negative effect he’s had on how climate science is being perceived by a good chunck of the public, and how people use the nitpicking as an excuse to not having to think about response strategies (see my response to Steve F just above). In the end, that’s what counts (public understanding); not some hurt feelings of person A and person B.

    “A constructive discussion about the best public actions to address global warming” (Steve Fitzpatrick on the other thread) does NOT depend on these technical details at all. That’s the crux of the matter. They are very effective at making people not see the forest for the trees. If that’s not McIntyre’s purpose, he should really rethink what he’s doing. 

  • Judith Curry

    Steven, whether or not Montfort or McIntyre is “correct” in some sort of ultimate time will tell sense, I am not judging that.  I am saying that they put forth powerful arguments that are being dismissed.  Montford’s book is a serious one and an important contribution to the history of climate science, and it is receiving very good reviews.  It is being ignored by the climate establishment, see for example Gavin Schmidt’s comment at RC when i mentioned this book on the Comments on the Second CRU Inquiry Reports thread.   Has ANYONE supporting the IPCC and the consensus view read this?  If not, I would appreciate your not dismissing the book because of some ancillary statement about McIntyre or Montford that has no relevance to the substance of this book.  If you don’t want to read the book, McIntyre’s motives are very clearly stated in his recent Hearland Conference presentation.   McKittrick’s motives might be slightly more political, but attempts to identify any economic incentives from oil companies or whatever have failed (i can’t find the post on this at the moment.)

    So we need to get over the “motives” thing.    A Dutch philosopher of science that I am currently reading, von Sluijs, states “I argued that greenhouse sceptics with an incentive (e.g., through their funding or because they value economic growth higher than environmental protection and see discourses on environmental risks as an unwelcome break on innovation and progress) to discredit the IPCC, also have a strong drive to find weak spots in the science.”

    In the absence of strong economic or political motives (which even Michael Tobis has acknowledged), to assert that a primary motive for the behavior of this large group is to spread suspicion and contempt for mainstream scientists doesn’t make sense.   What we are seeing is the rise of citizen science in the field of climate science, something that has been embraced in astronomy by the mainstream scientists, but something that has been rejected by mainstream climate scientists because of confusion of the citizen scientists with economically motivated skeptics (the tobacco model).
    Citizen science in the climate field is rapidly growing phenomena, enabled by social computing, with the open source community taking interest.  We need to stop fighting this, because it is turning the mainstream climate community and the citizen scientist community into antagonists.

  • Steve Bloom

    KK:  ”I think the issue of who instigated this climate science war of attrition should be aired in full.”

    I believer Naomi Oreskes has definitively placed the blame on the tobacco industry.  After that would have to come journalists.
     

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    As I mentioned previously on another thread, I have an abiding interest in the citizen science movement.

    It’s also worth noting that the web age has given rise to citizen journalism, not all for the best, I grant, but also much that’s quite good, as we saw recently with the work done by Michael Tobis.

    Should I dismiss all citizen journalists because some have ulterior motives (financial, political, ideological, etc)? Or should I embrace the movement as a valuable supplement to my profession?

    Seems like we should be able to make the same distinction with the citizen climate science movement that Judith is referring to.

  • Steve Bloom

    Judy, the activities you described as citizen science aren’t for the most part.  They are certainly about science, more or less in the same sense that science journalism is, but that’s different.  The clearclimatecode project is a far better example (why didn’t you link to them?), but even there it’s not clear that they’re doing science as such.  Also, a quick look around the site you linked turned up involvement by old-school denialist Benny Peiser (of late the chief mouthpiece for Nigel Lawson’s GWPF) and… Andrew Montford.  It’s a small world after all.

    Also, re Montford’s book, you mention “very good reviews.”  Links? 

  • http://stephenleahy.net/ Stephen Leahy

    Judith: re Motives matter” “…also have a strong drive to find weak spots in the science.” For every 100 misinformed “gotcha smarty pants scientist” there may indeed be one or two legitimate inquiries that could add to our understanding. What is the mechanism to filter out the well-paid misinformers like Monckton and Morano? The general public does not have the science or the time.

  • Jonathan Gilligan

    Keith (#6): I don’t see citizen journalists going after reporters  and demanding that they make all their notes and other raw material public. Would a  citizen’s journalism audit targeting specific high-profile reporters and attempting to publish their notes and emails so the public could scrutinize them for errors be more likely to enhance the quality of journalism or to produce a chilling effect?

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    I’m a bit disconcerted to be described as “even” as in “even Michael Tobis” in Judith’s comment above! I absolutely support her efforts to reach out to the community in question, even though my own recent efforts in that direction (on a thread on McIntyre’s site) were met with such hostility and suspicion. (I used the word “amateur” in the <em>same sense</em> as Judith did, and this was used as the occasion to build up a massive resentment toward my “arrogance”.)

    Where we differ is regarding the importance of the effort. Yes, it would be better if science were more open, if credentials meant less and if the community of practice were more open to criticism. On these points I should be seen as an ally, perhaps more “odd” than “even”, but explicitly a critic of existing practice.

    But to suggest that there is NO political motivation, or that the press is NOT being manipulated into giving these matters far more importance than they deserve, is implausible, to say the least. No matter whether amateur activities such as the commendable Clear Climate Code effort prosper or not, hairsplitting and molehill-mountaining in the direction of climate science likely will not go away before a good chunk the West Antarctic Ice Sheet does.

    Judith claims that in the absence of financial and political motivation “to assert that a primary motive for the behavior of this large group is to spread suspicion and contempt for mainstream scientists doesn’t make sense.”  This is naive. It is clear that people think that causing embarrassment to science and scientists is an entertaining sport: this goes back to William Proxmire. McIntyre has provided a venue for this sport.

    The main things posterity will remember about the CRU matter are 1) politics pursued by felony without immediate consequence and 2) manipulation of the attentions of the press away from the real issues of sustainability and toward old-fashioned scandal-mongering.
     

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Stephen,

    That strikes me as a  legitimate point. (But I think you’re being unfair with that ratio.) Perhaps more self-policing by skeptics, calling out the fringe on that end of the spectrum? I dunno. But some filtering would certainly help the public, and that’s where I wholeheartedly agree journalists can do a better job with representative sources.

  • http://bishophill.squarespace.com Bishop Hill

    I’ve only got time to make a couple of points tonight.

    Steve Bloom: Open Climate Initiative involves some sceptics, but I think the majority are on the other side of the argument. This hasn’t been an issue between us so far because we all seem to agree that openness is part of the answer.

    For reviews of the Hockey Stick Illusion, the Wiki page is a good place to start. This lists four positive reviews. I haven’t been graced with a negative review yet (AFAIK).

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Jonathan (#9):

    It’s already been done in several high-profile cases, one which cost Dan Rather his job and another which may have stained Jared Diamond’s (and the vaunted New Yorker Factchecking dept) reputation.

    Now, mind you, I’m not vouching 100 percent for both cases, but enough legitimate questions were raised by citizen journalists to cast reasonable doubt over the respective stories, or at least elements of them.

    BTW, as a magazine writer, I’m accustomed to handing over all my notes, taped transcriptions and associated documentation, sourcing, etc, to a fact-checker. So the “trust but verify” maxim applies to the work of journalists, too.

  • agw_skeptic99

    There are a number of what I would call new or not very well informed skeptics who can be found talking about CO2 as a trace gas, making statements that 38 parts per million cannot possibly matter, grand conspiracy theorists, and the like who populate the blog world.  Some comments from me along those lines can probably be found.

    Those of us who continue to read and learn about these issues, especially at Science of Doom, learn enough to understand the physical basis for CO2 reflecting long wave radiation and become part of a different group.  I would like to think that myself, and I am at the very low end of the curve, and many folks with a much better understanding of the science, are the ones with whome the mainstream scientists could have a productive dialogue.

    The automatic assumption from the mainstream folks that I, and dozens of much more knowledgeable folks, have financial or emotional interest in the outcome is just simply ridiculous.  But these motive assumptions on the part of the mainstream folks are exactly what is poisoning the soup.  On this site, and others, I have been told that I have these motives.  I am a 65 year old software company manager whose entire revenue stream comes from selling expertise in Perl and various other computer languages and applications that have absolutely no relationship to climate, oil, coal, or any remotely related field.
    It has been obvious to anyone who just reads and parses the posts that nearly all climate scientists fall into the category of people who brook no criticism or even questions from anyone not firmly in the true believer camp.  The rest see their posts eliminated, they are blocked from even posting on many sites, and anything resembling a skeptical question gets another blast about oil company payroll, flat earther, etc.
    There are obviously problems with the surface temperature measurements as has been well documented at WUWT and many other sites.  There are problems with using proxies to construct hockey stick graphs.  There are problems with computer models that cannot hind cast without eliminating past climate variability.  But the biggest problem is that the mainstream community refuses to acknowledge that these issues even exist, let alone dialogue about them.
    Continued mainstream statements that the obvious quality control problems with temperature instrument records, proxies, and computer models don’t matter make it easy for me to dismiss the mainstream folks as misguided zealots.  My business expertise includes software quality control, and errors in either the data or the program logic actually do matter.  Sloppy quality control begets sloppy results, and arguing that somehow the large number of stations averages out the errors is not going to be easy to prove.
    Arguing that all the models get similar results, and therefore they must be valid is another one of those.  Apparently the mainstream’s consensus on how to do verification and validation says that getting the same answer as your colleagues did is some kind of proof.  If you worked for me in quality control, that would have been your last day on the job.
     

  • Jack Maloney

    This discussion brings up repeatedly the same old meme about climate skeptics’ “political and economic motives.”
    AGW proponents here mutter darkly about climate skeptics’ “political and economic motives” as if there are no such motives among their own supporters.  Could it be that Al Gore has no “political and economic motives,” with his investments in carbon trading?  Or Rajendra Pachauri and his involvement with TERI?  Or the thousand-and-one grant applications based on climate change alarm?  Or government-funded entities like GISS?
    The climate change legislation being proposed at all levels of government will dramatically increase the economic and political power of carbon traders, windmill makers, and bureaucracies.  Above all, climate scientists supporting AGW have gained immense political influence and public prominence which will certainly enhance their political and economic futures.  Yet their motives are never questioned.

    As a climate change agnostic more interested in learning than declaiming, I would like to see open, rational discussions about climate science.  Dark innuendo, finger-pointing exercises and demonizations do no credit to either side.

  • Philip Bratby

    Steven Sullivan dismisses “this cadre of articulate nonscientist skeptics”.   This is typical as many of the uninformed statements we get, based on lack of evidence (just like a lot of climate science).  Many of us “sceptics” are old-school scientists, not funded by big-oil or with any other vested interests other than a search for the truth.  Most scientists and engineers of my acquaintance are sceptical of AGW and the need to reduce CO2 emissions.  And with good reason, as we understand good science and not politically-driven science, which climate “science ” seems to consist of.  We understand that computer models are not science; they are cargo-cult science, as those of us brought up on Richard P Feynman’s lectures know.
    We can read “The Hockey Stick Illusion” and the Climategate emails and then go to RealClimate and see where the truth lies and what has been going on with our hard-earned taxes.
     

  • Jonathan Gilligan

    Keith, Thank you for the correction and for educating me better about journalistic practice.

    I guess this illustrates a kind of tunnel vision on my part because I was aware of both the Rather and Diamond cases back when they happened, but they didn’t come to mind when I was thinking about climate science controversies. I’ll have be careful about that fault in the future.

  • Ronaldo

    Philip Bratby Says:
    June 18th, 2010 at 3:20 pm
    “Many of us “sceptics” are old-school scientists, not funded by big-oil or with any other vested interests other than a search for the truth.  Most scientists and engineers of my acquaintance are sceptical of AGW and the need to reduce CO2 emissions.  And with good reason, as we understand good science —”

    Thanks Philip,  as a retired physicist of 40+ year’s industrial experience, I sit exactly in the category you describe.  I have yet to see any solid evidence for significant  AGW and remain highly sceptical. I consider Montford’s book on The Hockey Stick Illusion as a first rate piece of work and recommend it to all who have yet to read it.
     

  • Steve Bloom

    Re #14:   

    “There are obviously problems with the surface temperature measurements as has been well documented at WUWT and many other sites.”

    Yep, there are lots of problems with individual stations in networks that weren’t originally designed for climate data collection.  Climate scientists recognized that in the 1990s and began working toward better data collection.  In the U.S., a whole new network (the CRN) was mostly complete by the time Watts started his efforts.  It was pointed out at the time that the new network could be used to confirm the value of the data from the old one, and that in any event the data from the old one was good enough for estasblishing trends over large areas.  Both turned out to be true.  Anyone who believes Watts’ continued bluster on the subject is fooling themselves.

    “There are problems with using proxies to construct hockey stick graphs.”

    Doubtless.  It’s by nature an imprecise activity, and so there will always be a degree of imprecision regarding late Holocene climate history.  What does that mean?

    BTW, the important paleoclimate work (in terms of large-scale implications for global climate) is all deep-time stuff (e.g. the ice age transitions and the mid-Pliocene).  Why not focus on it?  More pointedly, why do the “auditors” leave that stuff alone?   

    “There are problems with computer models that cannot hind cast without eliminating past climate variability.”

    Cite for that assertion?  I believe it’s entirely incorrect.  Note that the ice age transitions have been successfully modeled.  But on what I suspect is the underlying point, as with paleo reconstructions, computer models have an unavoidable degree of uncertainty.  They are nonetheless useful.  In any case, note Jim Hansen’s comment that the case is made based on paleoclimate, modern observations and models, in that order.  The models are useful for telling us about the timing of the coming changes and in projecting regional variability.   Modertn observations and paleoclimate are quite sufficient for telling we’re already neck-deep in the Big Muddy.         

    But the biggest problem is that the mainstream community refuses to acknowledge that these issues even exist, let alone dialogue about them.”

    I think you need to read more widely.  All of these are extensively discussed in the literature, at conferences and in the science-based blogosphere.  Re paleoclimate, e.g., google for the PAGES conference held in Corvallis last year and watch the videos.  These are not people who are avoiding controversy or trying to hide anything. 

    “Continued mainstream statements that the obvious quality control problems with temperature instrument records, proxies, and computer models don’t matter make it easy for me to dismiss the mainstream folks as misguided zealots.”

    That’s the conclusion you started out looking for, and unsurprisingly you found it.  I might be a zealot according to some definitions, but don’t you think it’s a bit peculiar to label many thousands of scientists that way?  To the contrary, the process of becoming a scientist tends to weed out such people.
     

  • SimonH

    Judith (#4) makes an important differentiation between climatology and astronomy with regard to citizen science. As an (exceedingly) amateur astronomer myself, I’d concur with her observation insofar as she observes that astronomy has embraced, even exploited, an immense amateur resource while climatology has most certainly circled its wagons in defence against the same. The citizen scientists are the same people with the same motivations in each subject and yet the response from the respective scientific establishments is markedly different.

    I ask myself why this should be so, and I’m afraid I’m left concluding that the difference is indeed one of motive. In astronomy the motivation is the pursuit of truth and the furtherance of the science while in climatology the motivation is the pursuit of a sociopolitical agenda*. If climatology’s end-game were really the truth, their relationship with the citizen science community would have mirrored that of astronomy’s.

    When citizen scientists highlight errors in climatological research and are berated, attacked,  their motivations called into question by climatologists as a result, this indicates simply the presence of a discomforting conflict deep within those climatologists. Their assertions shown to be erroneous or in error by amateurs, they attack the source in order that they don’t have to address their science. It’s simply cognitive dissonance.

    But for many citizen scientists, this display of irrationality from the climatology academics, and their readiness to attack, insult and smear them, as well as a dogged determination to defend the demonstrably indefensible, is simply a red rag to a bull. And why not?

    Citizen science in climatology, as it has in astronomy, is arriving and it will be here to stay. Climatologists who continue to act as they have towards certain retired mining executives, for example, will find themselves on the bleeding edge of the science rather than the leading edge.

    And why not? After all, the pursuit is the science, not some political agenda. Right?

    * I acknowledge that more and more climatologists are engaging with the amateur community. I suspect (and indeed have seen) that this is often much to the chagrin of climatology’s elite.

  • Steve Bloom

    Re #17:  But such things are rarities in journalism, which is to say your basic point is correct.  In particular, one thing we don’t see is journalists campaigning to have reporters’ notes at daily newspapers (or at magazines) opened up to public scrutiny on demand as opposed to internal scrutiny (which so often falls short).  If there were a serious effort along those lines, I expect we’d see journalists responding much as scientists are.  Would Keith make his notes available?  Hmm, I think I sense an audit coming on… :)

    A note re the Diamond case:  The filed reply to the lawsuit states among other things that in the New Yorker fact checker’s taped interview with the chief accuser (Daniel Wemp), the latter failed to raise any of the objections stated in the lawsuit.  Elsewhere, I saw a comment from a sociologist familar with New Guinean culture that young men there are well-known for making up such exploits out of whole cloth.  Well, perhaps.  In any case the lawsuit looks to me to be a standard attempt to get a settlement from a deep pockets.
        

  • Steve Bloom

    Re #16:  Ah, the taxes.  Thanks for disproving so neatly Judy’s point that the “skeptics” aren’t economically motivated.  

  • John R T

    Mr. Bloom.

                          Have you no concern re taxes?

  • Steve Bloom

    Re #12:  So no reviews so far from the mainstream (referring here to known reviewers of science books, as distinct from partisans in the “debate”).

    I have no problem with open data.  A big concern is making sure that the additional resources needed don’t come out of current science budgets, so I assume your first step will be to lobby for the extra funding (where needed, which I agree is by no means everywhere). 

    Re your planned destruction of the Nature Publishing Group, good luck with that.   (Actually I think this will happen eventually, with or without any help from you, but my advice would be to not hold your breath in anticipation.)    

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    One of the things I’m interested in doing is examining dominant attitudes that perhaps inflame these kinds of debates.  And so since this post relates not just to the Hatfield-McCoy dynamic but also the assertion that citizen scientists (with varying levels of professional expertise) should be taken more seriously by the climate science establishment, let me offer an excellent (and I think related) observation about the arrogance of some (many?) mainstream journalists.

    It comes via David Exum, a scholar of the Middle East who writes a great blog on national security/counterinsurgency issues for the Center for a New American Security, an influential Washington D.C. think tank.

    Exum laments the “phenomenal arrogance” of David Risen, a superb national security reporter for the NYT. Apparently Risen was upset earlier this week after some bloggers dissected a much discussed front page Afghanistan story by Risen. (I know the story blew my mind.)

    Risen mocked bloggers for having the temerity to criticize him. Here’s Exum taking Risen to task:

    This may come as a shock to James Risen, but some of the people he is mocking know a hell of a lot more about minerals in Afghanistan than he does…You want to hasten the end of your industry? Then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing: consider yourself unaccountable and scoff at the blogosphere.

    Well, I don’t consider climate science to be an endangered industry by any stretch. But what Exum points out might be something for mainstream climate scientists to also consider.

    Is there an arrogance on their part that prevents them from engaging more fully with (or listening to) their critics in the blogosphere? Do they consider themselves unaccountable to bloggers who might have legitimate criticisms?

    Do read Exum’s post in full and let me know if you think there are parallels here worth discussing.

  • Steve Bloom

    Re #22:  Of course.  Protecting the environment strikes me as an exceptionally good use for them, as doing so on (especially on a large scale) is inherently something that cannot be accomplished by means other than concerted government action.

    The underlying point is that too much emphasis on avoiding taxes tends to lead one to opposing needed programs. 

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Steve Bloom (22):

    One commenter referring to taxes (and I’m sure there many more skeptics who feel strongly about their taxes) does not automatically mean that all climate skeptics have economic motivations.

    It would be be like me saying that all AGW proponents are motivated by a desire to curb population or end capitalism, or whatever.

    Additionally, I appreciate your engagment with the topic, but I’m not looking for these debates to be dominated by a one-person rapid response team. So don’t feel compelled to respond to every single throw-away remark. I’m keen to have a well-rounded discussion, not one dominated by just a handful of people.

  • RickA

    Jim Hanson caused this ruckus.
    I believe he was the first to move from science to spin.
    In turn, spin leads to making statements which go beyond what the science can actually support.
    “We don’t know” or “wait and see” or “we need more data” just don’t cut it when you want the public and governments to take action.
    The desire for certainty leads to statements of “ice-free” by a date certain or the like.
    The skeptics are merely pushing back against science turned into political action, or science “extended” past the evidence.
     

  • Hector M.

    I am not a ‘sceptic’ myself in the sense commonly used, and I am usually disgusted with the rantings of deniers commenting for instance on Bishop Hill’s or CA blogs.

    However, I have taken the time to look into McIntyre specific quests, since he first wrote to Mike Mann about the latter’s claim about the unprecedentedness of recent climate change, and asking for the data and statistical routines supportin it. McIntyre has been unvariable polite, unvariably noncommital regarding AGW, unvariably restricted to specific and detailed issues such as a particular dendrochronology from some Siberian trees, or about the particular form of factor analysis used to construct the famous hockey stick graph.

    To my knowledge, the attitude of Mann, Jones and others involved has not matched McIntyre specificity and civility. Data have been refused to him as well as software (while being given to other more sympathetic partners), varying reasons were alleged for doing so, and varied unbecoming manoeuvres were undertaken to keep negating him both access to data and the possibility of publication in maintream journals “even if we have to redefine peer-review for this purpose” as it is written (more or less, quoted from memory) in one infamous Climategare email. No single point of McIntyre’s has been properly responded or addressed (although some of the concerned authors have subsequently written new papers quietly altering their prior ones, such as new reconstructions showing a more or less warm period in the Middle Ages where none appeared before.

    Besides lack of transparency, this attitude has only done harm to climate science and its social and political credibility, and may (nay, will) ultimately do harm to the chances of efficient climate policies being adopted and implemented.

    I fully agree, thus, with Judith, and recommend also that Montford’s book be read with an open mind.

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/ Bart Verheggen

    Judith,

    The cite from the Dutch philosopher of science gives a plausible reason to spread suspicion and contempt for mainstream scientists:

    “because they value economic growth higher than environmental protection and see discourses on environmental risks as an unwelcome break on innovation and progress”

    I bet the citizen science efforts in astronomy and bird watching don’t exhibit the same contempt and suspicion for the science they’re “assisting” as the ones who are assisting auditing climate science.
    Clear climate code is indeed a better example of constructive citizen science, where the verb “assisting” actually applies.

  • Frank

    Re #18:  Steve, you can’t address the problems with the historical temperature record with the CRN.  The CRN reports temperature anomalies using a baseline derived from 1971-2000 temperatures from COOP stations – stations with all of the traditional problems.  Current temperatures from CRN stations are actually adjusted  to match part of this historical record.  Changes in CRN temperatures provide an accurate measure of US surface temperature change since 2004 for the US, a very small fraction of the earth’s surface for a very short period of time. See Section 4 of Menne (2010) http://resources.ofdan.ca/docs/menne-etal2010.pdf

  • RDCII

    Bart, you’re looking in the wrong direction for the person who has most contributed to the poisonous environment.
    I don’t know who “started” this conflict. I know that when I decided to educate myself about global warming, I had a positive view of scientists. I grew up on a Naval Weapons Testing station, and I saw Science create Things That Worked.

    The very first place I went to when I started to research the subject was RealClimate. I was impressed with the blog entries, their level of Science and Detail. I was set to use this site as my formative base on the subject.

    Right up until I started reading the comments.

    I am, by profession and nature, an Analyst, and I’m very sensitive to poorly constructed logic and argumentative fallacies. What I read there were straw-man arguments, appeals to authority, unbelievable arrogance, and dismissal by contempt. And this was from the person who RAN the blog.

    And finally, I began to realize that the blog was not publishing all the responses. There were some very poor arguments that, anywhere else, would have drawn the logical counters…but they were not appearing.

    All of these things are the earmarks of a propaganda site. The need for a propaganda site is not a good sign. Suddenly my attitude was altered from “educate me, I want to do my part” to “Oh-oh, something is very wrong here”.

    I went to a few other sites linked to from RealClimate. I found similar environments. I read the “How to talk to a Climate Skeptic” talking points, and realized again how poor the logic was.

    I saw attempts to “Control the language” – labelling skeptics as “Deniers”, with the implications of that particular word.

    Then I found Climate Audit. Steve, for the most part, takes the High Road. You don’t seem to believe that, but it makes me wonder if you’ve actually spent a lot of time at the site.

    He provides links not just to skeptical sites, but moderate and pro-AGW sites as well. He links to RealClimate. RealClimate does not link to Climate Audit.

    Giving references to opposing viewpoints is what someone does when they want you to educate yourself…when they WANT you to read both sides to form a conclusion. That’s the opposite behavior to a propaganda site.

    As long as the public debate is being run as an attempt to manipulate people into a perspective, instead of doing good, auditable Science and letting people decide for themselves, the debate can never be just about…the Science.

  • cagw_skeptic99

    RE # 19:
    me: “Continued mainstream statements that the obvious quality control problems with temperature instrument records, proxies, and computer models don’t matter make it easy for me to dismiss the mainstream folks who make those statements as misguided zealots.”
    Steven “That’s the conclusion you started out looking for, and unsurprisingly you found it.  I might be a zealot according to some definitions, but don’t you think it’s a bit peculiar to label many thousands of scientists that way?”
    The ‘mainstream’ reference clarified here in bold italics; and the number of mainstream folks who have made those comments is probably in the low two digits, not thousands.  But those are the same people who have initiated the interactions (as mentioned by Judith Curry) that ignited a much of what happens in the skeptic community.
    In a post where I lament the tendency for your tribe to assign motivations to bloggers, you now know what conclusion I was looking for.  Like most of the people who are not a member of your tribe, I am looking for quality information that would be useful in understanding the climate.  Your say so that civilization as we know it will end if we don’t shut down all the world’s coal fired power plants and a few dollars will buy me a cup of coffee.

    To my original point.  How is your tribes reflexive slandering of the motives, intelligence, knowledge and talent of the people questioning the quality of your work helping you to accomplish your policy goals?  Most of the people are apparently not willing to support your goals unless it can be done for free.  In other words, your credibility with the general public is very low, maybe close to zero.  You can blame that on the media and the climate gate hacker, but again how is that working for you?

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and has webbed feet, Joe Public is likely to call it a duck.  If it hides data from reviewers, conspires to suppress dissenting publications, slanders anyone with the temerity to question the leading proponents of CAGW, refuses to answer questions in public forums, won’t attend conventions where skeptics might ask questions, etc., then why should the people involved be trusted?

    Blame the media and the skeptics all you want.  You are reaping the seeds your own tribe sowed, and from my viewpoint the crop just keeps getting bigger.
     

  • SimonH

    Steve Bloom (#24) says:

    I have no problem with open data.  A big concern is making sure that the additional resources needed don’t come out of current science budgets, so I assume your first step will be to lobby for the extra funding (where needed, which I agree is by no means everywhere).

    It’s 2010. What cost? Not meaning to sound dismissive but for what almost literally amounts to pocket change I store and move many terabytes of data every month over the internet.

    Purely for the sake of curiosity and conversation, what kinds of volumes of data would be the product of a climate scientist operating under a policy of full openness and transparency?

  • Hector M.

    #30:
    Actually, the interests or motives of the CRU Team or McIntyre do not matter much, if one has the patience to read the actual arguments advanced by both sides. I did. It is clear to me that McIntyre points are valid (even if proven falsa, which they haven’t) they would still be valid objections or questions. Instead, the response from the other side is just dismissal and contempt, plus deliberate equivocation while refusing to release the data and routines justifying the disputed claims. This has nothing to do with “denying climate change” or “defending particular interests” (everybody have particular interests, by definition). The tremendous hatred between Leibniz and Newton on calculus, or the interests and values of Galileo and Cardinal Bellarmino, or the fact that Newton believed in alchemy or Tycho Brahe in numerology, have no bearing at all on the validity of Leibniz, Newton, Brahe or Galileo scientific or mathematical claims.

  • Hector M.

    #34 says: “I have no problem with open data.  A big concern is making sure that the additional resources needed don’t come out of current science budgets, so I assume your first step will be to lobby for the extra funding “.
    However, McIntyre has been denied data that were subsequently furnished to more sympathetic partners without any fuss (and warnings not to share it with anybody else!!).

  • Artifex

    Keith,
    I think the sad truth is that within a scientific context once you start arguing motives you have lost the debate. From my personal viewpoint, when I see someone attributing motivation to another person, I generally note: “Hmmm you are stating as fact something you can’t possibly know”. My next thought is, “I wonder if this illogic and irrationality carries over into their science ?”. There is a good reason that the best physicists try to stick clearly to what they know or can calculate when trying to make a point.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    #37 violates its own advice.

  • Artifex

    So there was an attribution of motive in their somewhere ? How strange I didn’t notice it.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Keith Kloor

    All,
    Please indent your paragraphs–makes it easier to read.
    Also, please note the new comment policy on the upper left hand corner of the blog page.
    Lastly, if there any new commenters stopping by that require first-time approval, please be patient as I will be out for the evening and will try approving remotely via i-phone.

  • Westerner

    I don’t suppose it terribly matters who fired the first shots.  But isn’t it remarkable that many initiates in the climate priesthood still cannot see that they are losing the battle, and will continue to lose as long as they refuse to engage with the other side.  ‘What we need,’ they seem to be saying ‘is more of the policies that have already caused a complete collapse in public confidence in our competence and integrity.’

  • Steven Sullivan

    “Montford’s book is a serious one and an important contribution to the history of climate science, and it is receiving very good reviews.”

    From whom?

    “In the absence of strong economic or political motives (which even Michael Tobis has acknowledged), to assert that a primary motive for the behavior of this large group is to spread suspicion and contempt for mainstream scientists doesn’t make sense.”

    I don’t think anyone argues that’s their primary motive.  It’s argued that those are *tactics*.

     

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Argh, I *will* get the hang of double-spacing paragraphs

    eventually.


     

  • SimonH

    @ Hector, at #34 I was quoting Steve Bloom at comment #24. :)
    @ Keith, apologies. I’m still learning the nuances of your text editor. The editor appears as an HTML editor but on posting, content doesn’t appear to correspond for some reason. It’s probably an issue with my browser.

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Btw, I am aware of the reviews cited on the wiki page for Bishop Hill’s book.   I was assuming JC meant something more credible than kudos from Matt Ridley (whose embrace of climate ‘skepticism’ makes me sad, as he did good work reporting on genomics),  Matt Orlowski,  the infamous George Gilder of the  infamous  Discovery Institute (whose mission to undermine evolutionary biology with massive disinformation tactics, is on par with climate skeptics’),  and the right-wing British tabloid press…all of which add up to ‘people who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like’.

     

  • SimonH

    Steven, #45:
    Your “massive disinformation [..] is on a par with climate skeptics” gave me a giggle. Thanks for that! :o )

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Phil Bratby write:
    “Most scientists and engineers of my acquaintance…’

    Ah, here is some jujitsu I’ve seen before:  scientists *and engineers*….

    Many vocal skeptics of evolutionary biology online turn out the be *engineers* (not scientists) too, to the extent  it’s something of a cliche in that debate community at this point, and some on the ‘science’ side have begun to wonder at the psychology that favors engineers with this SCIENTISTS, UR DOIN IT ALL RONG tendency .

    Meanwhile, old-school scientists — or at least, *old* scientists like Singer and Seitz — have often been the go-to authorities for industries needing a legitimate face on their anti-consensus campaigns.  Oreskes writes about this in her new book. …reviews for which btw are gathered here:

    http://www.bloomsburypress.com/books/catalog/merchants_of_doubt_hc_104
     

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    agw_skeptic says:

    “There are obviously problems with the surface temperature measurements as has been well documented at WUWT and many other sites.  There are problems with using proxies to construct hockey stick graphs.  There are problems with computer models that cannot hind cast without eliminating past climate variability.  But the biggest problem is that the mainstream community refuses to acknowledge that these issues even exist, let alone dialogue about them.”


    I’m rather sure you’re wrong, but I’ll hold fire as I’d like to see Judith Curry respond to this instead .  JC, have climate scientists, as best you know, ignored problems with surface temp measurement, using proxies in paleo reconstructions,  and computer modeling of past variability?  Are we really at square one , where even the very reality of AGW is in dire question, thanks to literal ignorance on the part of scientists?

    Btw, the analogy to amateur astronomers would hold better if amateur climatologists were setting up and monitoring their own weather stations,  drilling their own ice cores, launching their own atmosphere and ocean probes, rather than churning through primary and secondary data generated by the pros.

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Simon #34
    “I have no problem with open data.  A big concern is making sure that the additional resources needed don’t come out of current science budgets, so I assume your first step will be to lobby for the extra funding (where needed, which I agree is by no means everywhere).”

    Excellent point.   From the ‘inside’ (doing academic science),  it’s quite telling that the number and  ferocity of calls for total transparency  utterly *dwarfs*  (to the point of virtual nonexistence) calls for more funding for data management and archiving, among the ‘skeptics’.     Of course, if your worldview is that government is best shrunk to the size of a baby (and then drowned in its bathwater),  and climate scientists are frauds, you aren’t going to call for giving the former  more money to dole out to the latter, you betcha!

  • SimonH

    @ #47: With respect, Steven, if there is an “anti-consensus” campaign then it can be juxtaposed with a “consensus campaign”. If you ask a climate sceptic how many scientists cannot be trusted to speak authoritatively only on scientific subjects with which they’re fully conversant, they’d probably return a number around 2,500.

    On this Tom Wigley and I agree. He wrote, “No scientist who wishes to maintain respect in the community should ever endorse any statement unless they have examined the issue fully themselves.”

    Prophetic words from the CRU’s former head, I feel. He also wrote: “When scientists color the science with their own PERSONAL views or make categorical statements without presenting the evidence for such statements, they have a clear responsibility to state that that is what they are doing.”

    Significant issues of trust (or lack thereof) have arisen as a result of exactly this. While it would be foolish to presuppose that this fundamental lack of scientific integrity is exclusive to climatology, it seems quite clearly endemic in climatology.

    John Christy’s presentation at the IAC regarding the IPCC relates in many ways to the many quirky but immensely lucrative climatic research units to which it alludes, which have been left to their own devices at universities without being provided adult scientific supervision while the grants rolled in, and which have to varying degrees clearly wandered a long way off “the path”. Must I remind you of UEA Chancellor Acton’s pantomime performance at the Parliamentary Enquiry? I never did see a more perfect rendition of the collective at Terry Pratchett’s Unseen University. But did it inspire confidence in climatologists or their field? To the Rt Hon gentleman I say no, it does not. Not a smidge.

  • dhogaza

    “There are problems with using proxies to construct hockey stick graphs  …  But the biggest problem is that the mainstream community refuses to acknowledge that these issues even exist”
    So that’s why people are publishing on the divergence problem – it’s because they refuse to acknowledge that the divergence problem exists.  That’s why Mann 09 discusses possible problems with the Tijlander proxy dataset and presents results with and without its inclusion – refusual to acknowledge that a problem might exist!

    I’m sorry, but stuff like this is why it is so difficult to take so many denialists seriously.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    #50:
    “immensely lucrative climatic research units”? Excellent news! Where are these located?
     

  • cagw_skeptic99

    Steven,
    Perhaps you could just point out where one of the surface station measurement problems documented by Anthony Watts has been acknowledged, the researcher thanked, or any similar action taken, even on a blog, let alone in the climate record used by researchers.  Perhaps you visit blogs that I don’t know about, as there are many.

    The point of this thread seemed to be who started the unpleasantness and maybe what could be done about it.  WUWT is anathema to most all of your tribe, but I chose that surface station project because Judith Curry had mentioned it favorably and it would be perhaps the easiest way to make a difference in the way the tribes interact.  Failing to address problems with the data, and doing something other than dismissing the problem because you don’t like the people who found and publicized the problem, seems to me to to be the root of the issue.

    I believe I have seen posts on RC that said these data problems made no difference because they wouldn’t affect the averages.  Since the quantity of sites with problems appears to be something your tribe can’t, or at least hasn’t quantified, it isn’t clear how you would know that.

    Bulling on down the road with possibly, maybe even probably, unreliable surface station measurements hasn’t stopped the flow of grant money yet.  So maybe it is something that can be ignored.  But if your tribe wanted something different than an ever growing group of people publicizing their distrust in your science, maybe it is your tribe that needs to change behaviors.

    My own belief is that intelligent people make rational choices.  Your tribe believes that there is more to lose by exposing their data to independent review than by keeping it secret.  One can assume whatever one likes about the motives, but why experience the ongoing unpleasantness if there isn’t a motive?  My assumption is that there are enough problems with the secret data and the publications depending on it to cause the data holders to choose suspicion over proof of guilt.

  • cagw_skeptic99

    RE: #51.   dhogaza:
    I didn’t see your name at the thread on this site addressing that very issue with exactly the same paper.
    The Main Hindrance to Dialogue (and Detente)
    Posted by: Keith Kloor

    Gavin went round and round with many folks, but maybe you would want to read the comments there and reconsider what you said.  Mann08 contains a graph showing that the conclusions of the paper would be different if the questionable proxies were removed.  The graph is apparently the third version and not available in the original journal piece.

    Gavin refuses to discuss the obvious problems or even to acknowledge that they are present.  Maybe you would be willing to view the graph, read the comments, and tell me why my observation (from that thread) is so far off base.  Ditto the Manno8 authors.

    Your move.

  • SimonH

    dhgoza, #51: The issue is, as I’m quite sure you know, revolves around “hiding the decline”. If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the sceptics’ issues with regard to this, I heartily recommend you fully avail yourself of the information at climateaudit.org. But I would strongly suggest going to the source rather than reading an AGW-adjusted straw-man version of the issue.

  • SimonH

    #49, Steven writes: “Of course, if your worldview is that government is best shrunk to the size of a baby (and then drowned in its bathwater),  and climate scientists are frauds, you aren’t going to call for giving the former  more money to dole out to the latter, you betcha!”

    I’m hazarding a guess that you’ve gathered that I am a climate sceptic and have thus concluded that I am therefore perhaps a Fox News fan, a Glenn Beck crony or some other shade of right-whinge. In fact I’m straight down the middle Liberal (Democrat, UK version, a long way to the left of any US politics). Except, of course, on matters of science vs politics.

    My interest in resolving the issues in climate science as I perceive them are absolutely apolitical. For me, this isn’t about politics, this is about science. And it is exactly because of this separation, which I demand, that I find issues with much of the science being performed, as well as the way it is being presented. Because I don’t accept “consensus” has any value in sciences. Because I don’t accept that CO2 has been proven as the primary driver of global temperature changes. Because the GHCN data is in such a poor state that it’s as good as worthless for establishing trends. Because I don’t trust Hansen’s GISS adjustments are based on science and not on personal politics – even if I shared his personal politics, I couldn’t trust him to separate them from his product. Because climate models are not a substitute for a scientific experiment, and their product is of no more value than an old AOL CD. And because of many other reasons, but most of all because what I see is a science which is not science and is, instead, advocacy.

    I’ll stand behind any science that has demonstrated integrity but I will not stand behind a science that has demonstrated a lack of integrity. After the things I have seen with my own eyes – from the Hockey Stick to the Oxburgh report, and so much in between – I would not stand behind climatology in its current state.

    What is needed to restore trust in climatology is change so fundamental that I doubt that most of the current generation of climatologists would ever accept it. I suspect that for most of them it would require them to give up advocacy and take up science – put the horse back in front of the cart, so to speak – but while many of those will be hoping to hang on to retirement, some others will simply be forced to go down with the ship. But I’m just speculating. With a high degree of confidence in my assessment, though! ;)

  • Martin A

    I stopped by to look at this blog for the first time.
    I noticed there are many postings by “Steven Sullivan”, most of which seem to have the tone of someone trying to score peevish debating points and to impress his cronies, rather than to correct misconceptions.  I find postings of this sort extremely unimpressive but I am rapidly becoming convinced they are typical of “Climate Scientists”.
    People such as Steven Sullivan should understand that they are doing their side of the argument no favours.

  • Liam Nagle

    re #47.  Steven Sullivan denigrates Engineers and “Old School” scientists, apparently their opinions on climate change are worthless.  I must be doubly damned, as a Chartered Engineer with both science and engineering degrees, a PhD in Thermodynamics, and 30 years experience I cannot possibly understand the arguments or form a reasoned opinion on anything to do with climate change.
    What was this thread about again, name calling and ad hominem attacks getting in the way of scientific debate?

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    I claim no special knowledge of the history of the climate debates but I do think, as Dr. Curry does, that the essential mistake on the part of the consensus holders was not noticing the changing character of those challenging them.
    It’s clear that the people and organisations feared by many and described by Naomi Oreskes were evident and working against action on climate change. The consensus was fairly successful in limiting their effect. But when the cast of characters changed and people without an axe to grind or a pocket to fill were blogging about temperature stations and hockey sticks, the consensus didn’t notice.
    People like Michael and Bart don’t really realise how foolish it sounds when they talk about McIntyre they way they do.  Nobody except diehards see anything remotely resembling their descriptions. And I don’t think either of them are fools.
    I do believe that Naomi Oreskes charted a clear strategy for the AGW consensus that emphasized never admitting error, avoiding debate with the opponents, using iconic imagery in public messaging, etc.
    But they didn’t have a Plan B.

  • dhogaza

    “The issue is, as I’m quite sure you know, revolves around “hiding the decline”. If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the sceptics’ issues with regard to this, I heartily recommend you fully avail yourself of the information at climateaudit.org. But I would strongly suggest going to the source rather than reading an AGW-adjusted straw-man version of the issue.”

    Yes, I always go to non-scientists for explanations about science, rather than to scientists.  Just as I always go to my plumber when I have a medical problem.

  • dhogaza

    “I claim no special knowledge of the history of the climate debates but I do think, as Dr. Curry does, that the essential mistake on the part of the consensus holders was not noticing the changing character of those challenging them.”

    Those familiar with Tom Fuller may want to deeply contemplate that statement.

  • SimonH

    dhgoza,
    #60: You think that a statistician is somehow less qualified to question statistical methodology than a climatologist. Smart man you are.

    #61: Many thanks for demonstrating one of the prevailing issues so succinctly.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    SimonH, don’t feed the trolls.

  • SimonH

    Tom, acknowledged. I’ve been looking for the “delete” button ever since posting.  :-/

  • Margaret

    #32
    Thank you so much for your post. Your history and mine are virtually identical. Until the “climategate” emails came out I was as enthusastic AGW-er as anyone would find — spending my spare time in the community and in my church leading anti-CO2 campaigns. But then those emails were leaked — and I thought “this can’t be right” so I went confidently to Real Climate to see the evidence that it wasn’t – and was shocked by what I found from the leadership of the site (ie not the random commentators). I tried other AGW sites — and they reminded me of the worst kind of religious warfare (and I have been in more than my share of those). So eventually I went to Climate Audit and WUWT expecting to find them the same kind of irrational arguing, ad hominem (sp??) attacks — and instead found people who primarily wanted to know what the real situation was. Do I always agree with them? Of course not — but if I thought the scientists had the same respect for truth, I would still be leaning more heavily to their side of the argument than I currently do.

    I am now an “non-believer” – I am not a skeptic but I do not think the case for AGW is sufficiently robust to act upon. I have quietly stopped my anti-Co2 activities, and are instead focusing on the many other abuses of our environment which do have a robust factual basis. I have noticed that I am not alone in this quiet withdrawal strategy.
    Margaret from New Zealand

  • Judith Curry

    Very interesting thread, I am particularly interested in the views of the “citizen scientists.”  With regards to the key issues that skeptics are raising in terms of surface temperature data set, paleo proxies and climate models,  I agree generally that the climate consensus has placed too much confidence in these, specifically with regard to the confidence rankings used in the IPCC.   I am in the process of writing a paper on scientific uncertainty, more of a philosophy of science piece rather than a “how to”, as it relates to climate science.  More on this in a few months.

  • Neil Fisher

    I must loudly support RDCII in #32.

    I would add that in my (limited) experience in dealing with scientists, most are more than happy to discuss any and all issues of their research – often well beyond the point where the audience losses interest. This is not a denigration of these people, because it merely shows them as human, and the same can (and I’m sure in some circles is) said about any and every group of people you care to name (eg football fans). So when I see scientists refusing polite requests for data, even when honouring such requests is a stated requirement for publication in a journal, it just seems, well, odd. It piques my curiousity and I am inclined to investigate. And when the stated reasons for such failure to supply include not wanting to supply amunition to those who would argue against them, curiosity rises to suspicion and even dismissal.

    Many have decribed McIntyre’s efforts as “nit-picking” and I will not argue the point. But I will suggest that such nit-picking is an inherent and even required part of science – it would be easy to argue that relativity is a nit-pick of Newton’s laws of motion, but not too many, even if they agreed that was the case, would suggest that that means we should ignore it.

    None of this is to suggest that advocacy does not have a place – it most certainly does and always will. Neither would I suggest that scientists cannot have opinions, favoured hypotheses, or even be advocates for change based on their research. All of these are good and the normal state of affairs. It seems to me though, that in climate science there is no clear distinction made between knowledge and opinion when communicating results to the public in general and policy makers in particular. Cloaking advocacy in science, even with the best of intentions, is always going to backfire very badly – as some have already discovered. That they chose to ignore that lesson and continue as before is, frankly, distressing to say the least.

  • intrepid_wanders

    I have a question.

    Most of the Pro-AGW types refer to this “fact” that skeptics are “bashing” on the “scientist”.  Yet, the majority of the information that the skeptics are working from is from the scientists.  Not only scientist, but climate scientists.

    Roy Spenser, Richard Lindzen and John Cristy are actively researching climate science, yet the Pro-AGW crowd discards them so easily.  The Barbara Boxer Senate Hearing displayed such disrespect and ignorance that I can not express my contempt.

    Question is; “Who are the climate scientists that the ‘citizen scientists’ supposed to listen to?”.

  • Judith Curry

    Re the “Hockey Stick Illusion,” here are some blogospheric reviews, not from identified “skeptics (as far as i can tell):
    Seth’s Blog
    Klimazweibel
    NC Media Watch
    Facts Plus Logic
    Discovery News
    Note also the reviews at Amazon.  The Amazon reviews pay tribute to how interesting and well written this is

    So why hasn’t this been reviewed by any of the mainstream IPCC consensus types?  Here is part of the post at Klimazweibel:

    “The story I take away from this book is the resistance of Michael Mann to have his original papers (MBH98 and MBH99) scrutinized by McItyre and others. It poses the immediate question of how these papers could have passed peer review initially when no one could replicate the results based on the initial information contained in the published papers (or based on later additionally material that was later released reluctantly). Instead, there was a counter attack calling McIntyre incompetent. This line of rhetoric seems to reappear at every turn of events, we have seen it in the emails, and we have seen it on this blog many times. This rhetoric can no longer be taken at face value by anyone who reads the book.”

    This clearly states that a refutation is needed.  So what have the guys at RC said?

    Curry: “I have seen no mention on RC of Andrew Montford’s (Bishop Hill) book “The Hockey Stick Illusion.” If Montford’s arguments and evidence are baseless, then you should refute them. They deserve an answer, whether or not his arguments are valid. And stating that you have refuted these issues before isn’t adequate; the critical arguments have not hitherto been assembled into a complete narrative. And attacking Montford’s motives, past statements or actions, etc. won’t serve as a credible dismissal. Attack the arguments and the evidence that he presents. I for one would very much like to see what RC has to say about this book.”

    Gavin: “[Response: You are certainly correct in arguing that any substantive points that the ‘auditors’ have brought forward have been completely obscured by the mean-spirited flotsam that seems to accompany any of their contributions. However, forgive me if I don’t take seriously the endless requests to check out the allegations or accusations that are to be found just around the corner (on that blog/in that book/in that online presentation/in that submission etc.) but that on further inspection evaporate like the Cheshire Cat’s grin.

    This passing of the buck simply serves to propagate memes that end up being something that ‘everyone knows’ but when pressed, no-one can articulate. For example, Montford was interviewed on the BBC World Service the other day and was given copious time to expound on what he thought the most crucial neglected issue was. He chose to discuss McKitrick’s problems in getting his repetitive and singularly unconvincing papers on the (non-)impact of socio-economic variables published. If this is the worst example available, the IPCC process is in fine shape.”

    And that is all I have heard from RC on the subject of the “Hockey Stick Illusion.”  It hasn’t been reviewed by the “mainstream” because I don’t think that they are able to refute the main points.  So they are ignoring it, and hoping it will go away.

  • Dave L

    I think that most climatologists do not realize how their field has been corrupted by politics. When the government prescribes what research will be performed and what answers are expected, and when the climatology community acquiesces by providing the answers with exaggerations to the delight of the political establishment, then corruption rules reason. You know quite well that no skeptical scientists receive government funding other than by rare accidents.  With John Holdren calling the shots? How can you be blind to the politicizing of climatology? Are you familiar with the EPA’s endangerment proposal and how the comments were treated? Just look at the political shams by the Parliamentary inquiries and the Penn State review. If you do not realize how dependent your research programs are on government funding, and you do not recognize how politics has corrupted your thought processes, then there is no hope that a meaningful dialogue will ever occur. You will forever look down your nose at me and call me a denier.

    Lindzen has addressed this issue in detail (he wrote the following article circa a year before Climategate):
    http://arxiv.org/vc/arxiv/papers/0809/0809.3762v1.pdf

    Quoting Lindzen: “In brief, we have the new paradigm where simulation and programs have replaced theory and observation, where government largely determines the nature of scientific activity, and where the primary role of professional societies is the lobbying of the government for special advantage.”

     

  • afeman

    69: Re the “Hockey Stick Illusion,” here are some blogospheric reviews, not from identified “skeptics (as far as i can tell):

    You must not have read anything outside of the reviews: The Discovery Institute is best known for their promotion of ID (“Teach the controversy”).

    Then there is this tidbit from Klimatzwiebel:

    By how much would sea-level rise if the Greenland ice sheet disappears ? Probably quite a lot, but not in Germany, or in North Western Europe for that matter. There, sea level would virtually unaffected. To formulate it a bit provocatively, Greenland is for Western Europeans irrelevant.

    There’s been a bit of pattern with your recommended reading.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    All,

    I’m enjoying this thread. But I would enjoy it even more if some of you double-spaced between paragraphs, so your posts didn’t come off as a large block of text.

    I’m currently resetting the longer posts–just spacing the graphs, to make the comments more reader-friendly.

  • http://amac1.blogspot.com/ AMac

    Coming out of the previous thread (The Main Hindrance…), my impression is that it is very difficult for a scientifically-literate lay person (“citizen-scientist”) to engage productively with most of the mainstream climate scientists with a presence on the Internet.  The exception is if the lay person’s perspectives and findings are in accord with the mainstream ideology’s expectations:  in that case, the path is smooth.

    In a way, the AGW Consensus’ stance resembles the Church’s (former?) doctrine of Papal Infallibility.  There cannot and must not be significant errors in AGW-supporting scientific methodology or findings.  And there can and must be fatal flaws in any work that might show the Consensus in an unflattering light.

    There are people to persuade, voters to mobilize, policies to implement.  A planet to save:  and the time has grown very, very short.  To engage in debate on technical matters is to advance the cause of those who are plotting to delay implementation of urgently-needed remedies.  Only a Knave or a Fool would make such a choice.

    With the passage of time, we’ll find out whether or not this attitude is justified on the ground of 21st-Century changes to the climate.  (I don’t know.)  As both President Eisenhower and Richard Feynman told us:  such practices are corrosive to the undertaking known as Science.

  • Jonathan Gilligan

    Would folks who support citizen scientists auditing published climate research also support citizen scientists auditing environmental impact statements, drug safety reviews, and the like?

    Would it be beneficial if every new nuclear power plant, coal mine, offshore oil well, or food additive permit application had to turn over all its raw data to citizen scientists for a thorough audit before a permit was granted?

    Is there a scientific reason why citizen auditing is more appropriate in one case than the other, or is this merely an ideological question of whether one is libertarian or pro-regulatory?

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Jonathan (74):

    Again, referencing my citizen journalism comparison, I would suggest that you’re throwing out the baby with with the bath water.

    I don’t know of anyone who would ask for citizen (e.g. amateur) auditors of nuclear power plants, coal mines, etc.

    I think the better question is what is the appropriate role of citizen climate auditors (though I’m not fond of that term) in this debate.

    If Michael Tobis–who has an excellent grasp of climate science and a deep interest in journalism–can then go out and unmask a hoax related to the climate debate (a story no professional journalist seemingly bothered to check out), well why is that legitimate (and it is) and what Steve McIntyre does not legitimate (I’m presuming you take a dim view of Climate Audit)?

    I think citizen journalists make a net positive contribution to my profession. Similarly, I think there is potential for citizen climate scientists to make net positive contribution to climate science–if we can work past all this mutual hostility/suspicion and distinguish between those who are in it for purely scientific/intellectual reasons and not out of some political/ideological agenda.

  • Steve Bloom

    Re #75:  Keith, I’m surprised you don’t know that major permits at the federal level and in many states provide for just such citizen involvement.  The question is whether interested citizens have (or can obtain) the expertise necessary to participate effectively in the permit process.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Jonathan
    There have been many examples where environmentalists have worked in a hand-in-glove fashion with polluting industries cutting out the regulatory government authorities from the picture.
    The assumption has been that leaving out the governmental redtape (which is a result of the maze of laws erected in the 60s and 70s at the behest of the environmentalists themselves) hastens the negotiations in which an acceptable degree of damage can then be negotiated between the enviro-NGOs and the industries in question. Auditing such ‘deals’ would be more than welcome.
    The Sierra Club and the NRDC are good examples.
    Libertarian environmentalism is as possible and real as corporatist statism.
    Regards

  • Steve Bloom

    Re #69:  That’s a sad list, Judy.  I’m afraid no amount of agitation is going to get anyone credible to waste their time on that book.

  • intrepid_wanders

    74.

    In an informed society, the advanced democracy has not only asked for this ‘citizenship specification’ is a requirement.

    It is the same ideal that the “consensus”  is looking for as well as the “skeptics” (fringe elements are a religious/philosophical concept…)

  • Mellors

    2 points to add to this interesting thread.
    1) I am not a scientist, but I am a faculty member at a university, and I must tell you that several distinguished physicists, chemists, and mathematicians whom I know casually regard climate science as a soft scientists, and climate scientists as having about as much connection to the real sciences as economists might claim to have. A distinguished crystallographer chuckled to me, “they haven’t a clue about so many factors in their models, and it doesn’t bother them at all.”  He found the whole question hilarious and my curiosity about it a sign of my shallowness.  This is going on behind your backs, while as a matter of trades-union solidarity, their professional organizations are, until they are completely embarrassed, making vague noises in support of the climate science community.  This will not last, and we will begin hearing more about Mann’s Forestry degree, etc.
    2) I was a conscientious teen-ager during the run-up to the Surgeon General’s report, and afterwards – my parents were heavy smokers and I was concerned about them.  I read the NYTimes and my home town newspapers every day, and the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, The Reporter, The New Republic, etc.  And I can tell you that the references to “Big Tobacco’s campaign of deceit” is about as reliable as many of the climate models.  Tobacco executives squirmed and tried to avoid changing the language on their packaging and their ads, they may have issued some phoney reports, but the difference is that no one took this seriously, they themselves were obviously insincere, and none of their efforts ever got any traction or had any effect on public opinion.  People (who knew in their hearts since the 40s that tobacco was a killer) did what they could to smoke less or quit – the graph of smoking frequency shows, I recall, a decline that is fairly constant from 1964 to now.  There was never a bump in public opinion, never an “intelligent, articulate amateur” pro-tobaccoist with any following who denied the harm of cigarettes.  The campaign was a joke, undertaken for fiduciary reasons.  The more that the climate science establishment makes this allusion, the more unintelligent and inarticulate it seems.
    3.  Who started it?  For this man who reads the newspapers, it was the difference – I think in the early 90s – between the IPCC “Summary for Policy Makers” and the content of the big IPCC report that made me think that something was up.  That’s when one began to hear publicists and politicians declaring, in the words of that homewrecker Laurie David, that the science was settled, while the actual reports of the scientists were saying no such thing.  There were several resignations of scientists, as I recall – and I recall wondering what sort of effect did those guys think their resignation would have.  There is an unbroken chain of intellectual corruption from those days to these, in my view.

  • Rick Bradford

    How can climate science be anything else but corrosively politicised, when governments, such as Australia, have a ‘Minister for Climate Change’?
    Implicit in this position, and the Department which supports it, is an acceptance of the rigid position of dangerous, man-made, climate problems.
    Does the Minister, or indeed the department, have a choice in what findings they come up with? Not if they want to avoid the abolition of their own positions and functions.
    It’s the circular argument and confirmation par excellence.

  • Rick Bradford

    ‘confirmation *bias*’ is what I meant….

  • Steve Bloom

    Well, well, this is an interesting and informative exercise, courtesy of Arthur Smith.  Sometimes one takes away all the thimbles and it turns out there’s no pea at all.

     

  • Peter Wilson

    A recurring theme on this thread is that climate scientists are in some way analogous to physicians or nuclear physicists, in that their judgements ought not to be questioned by the uninitiated.
    What is overlooked in this line of reasoning is that medicine, physics and many other scientific disciplines have, by a long history of prediction, explanation and invention, achieved a level of both accuracy and effectiveness, as well as an extreme degree of specialisation, as to make non specialist judgements irrelevant. I fail to see what climate science has achieved that accords it the same “trust us, we’re experts” level of credibility.

    Surely the crux of the matter here is that “climate science”, being a new discipline requiring input from a large number of “outside” disciplines, has done nothing to date earn the status it claims for itself. The exaggerated claims to certainty over the CO2 – warming connection, and the ability to predict the future climate, are clearly politically motivated, as is the widespread acceptance of such claims.

  • Colin Davidson

    Jonathan Gilligan asked (#74): “Is there a scientific reason why citizen auditing is more appropriate in one case than the other, or is this merely an ideological question of whether one is libertarian or pro-regulatory?”

    I don’t think this matter has anything to do with “ideology”. It has to do with accuracy.
    If this were an engineering discipline rather than a scientific one, there would be formal audits, and each point raised by the auditors would be addressed before progressing. (Engineers learnt early on than it doesn’t matter about the credentials of the nay-sayer, or their motives, but whether they are right or wrong. The fact that some lousy ratbag has pointed out that your measurements of stress in a strucure were wrong because of poor placement, would be  countered with fact not description of his nasal habits. If engineers don’t do this, their bridges fall down.)

    The point is that climate science is not like that. There is no audit by the scientists. They don’t do that -it’s too tedious and doesn’t get funded. It’s much more interesting and career positive to do cutting edge research. Who found the admitted errors in Mann’s work? Who found the dreadful state of the temperature measurement stations in the USA? Who found errors in the published temperature series?

    Certainly not the “political” climate scientists, the ones who have taken a political position on AGW (Hansen, Mann and Jones spring to the forefront).

    I’m with Judith Curry on this. She is passionate that Climate Science needs to grow up – it needs to respond in a responsible, considered and honest way to the criticisms and arguments. That would be the scientific thing to do.

    Responses using the terms “denier” or “sceptic”, or invoking the deep-dark-green shibboleth of “oil shill” are unscientifc and unprofessional. They are political, not scientific responses.

  • http://spiriteaglehome.com oso loco

    Steven Sullivan wrote (#47) -
    “Many vocal skeptics of evolutionary biology online turn out the be *engineers* (not scientists) too, to the extent  it’s something of a cliche in that debate community at this point, and some on the ‘science’ side have begun to wonder at the psychology that favors engineers with this SCIENTISTS, UR DOIN IT ALL RONG tendency .”

    Easy answer, Steve – scientists (especially climate scientists) apparently have the luxury of weaving their opinions into  their science.  Engineers are not allowed that freedom.  When engineers do that bridges collapse, spacecraft crash and people die.  Scientists “can sometimes be” much more fuzzy-minded than engineers are ever allowed to be.  If you want clear thinking you’re much more likely to get it from an engineer than from a scientist. 

    I spent a lot of years as an engineer – working for, with and around scientists.  Your romanticization of scientists – and your disdain for engineers is misplaced. 

  • kim

    Bongos beating but
    Is that thunder in the clouds?
    Hard rain gonna fall.
    ===========
     

  • Jack Hughes

    <b>Who started this ruckus?</b>

    Looks like the commenters have answered your question – not with their words but with their style.

    The AGW side of the aisle doesn’t come out of this very well – nasty personal attacks and peevish debating points.

    #38 and #60 are examples.

    Not the best way to convince the general public.

  • Philip Bratby

    Read the comments of Steven Sullivan and dhogaza (who?) and you have all you need to know about why legitimate scepticism is on the increase.

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/ Bart Verheggen

    Tom,

    I think you may very well be right that the nature of (some of) the skepticism has changed, and that that is fully realized by mainstream scientists and their supporters. It is also a point Judith keeps raising, and there may be some truth to it.

    I don’t think this has much to do with my opinion abut McIntyre though. I’m going by what effect I see him having (detrimental on public understanding of science), and how his writing logically leads to that effect. Calling that foolish merely based on the thesis (which I’m slowly starting to accept) that the nature of skepticism has changed doesn’t sound convincing.

    I’ve read a lot of Oreskes, and don’t recognize what you say about here. She has had some very insightful things to say about the nature of the (old) skepticism. Perhaps the criticism could be leveled that she hasn’t focussed on the new kind of skepticism, but that doesn’t make her points regarding the “old” kind less valid.

  • http://www.populartechnology.net Poptech

    Commentary from people like Steven Sullivan just continues to prove my point about the ideology of those who support CAGW theory.
    1. The bizarre obsession with evolution that has nothing to do with climate science,
    “Many vocal skeptics of evolutionary biology online turn out the be *engineers*”
    I like many skeptics support evolution theory as do all the engineers I know. Your claims BTW have no basis in reality and no evidence to support them. But what troubles me more is how it is never failed to be brought up. This sort of irrational behavior makes me question the sanity of some of the believers in CAGW.
    2. The smearing of older scientists,
    “Meanwhile, old-school scientists “” or at least, *old* scientists like Singer and Seitz “” have often been the go-to authorities for industries needing a legitimate face on their anti-consensus campaigns.”
    This one is rather odd as I have found older scientists to be wiser than their younger counter parts. It might be the perceived level of technological superiority that younger scientists may feel but I have seen the exact opposite, the climate scientists pushing CAGW do not have basic comprehension of the limitations of computer systems. This is actually where my skepticism comes from. Maybe they have been successful is BSing the computer illiterate but it doesn’t work with me. I can vouch for the CAGW supporters computer ignorance as I have asked then if a computer model could be programmed to get the results that he wanted and he said no. This sort of computer illiteracy is mind boggling and to me explains why the supporters of CAGW cannot see why their computer models prove nothing.
    3. The bizarre obsession with Sarah Palin and Republicans,
    “you betcha!”
    This again is some sort of disturbing mental condition. Funny how when I tell them I support neither they just ignore it and repeat as if I did.
    It is a shame to see the same old and tired nonsense from CAGW supporters.

  • geronimo

    Steve Sullivan: “Many vocal skeptics of evolutionary biology online turn out the be *engineers* (not scientists) too, to the extent  it’s something of a cliche in that debate community at this point, and some on the ‘science’ side have begun to wonder at the psychology that favors engineers with this SCIENTISTS, UR DOIN IT ALL RONG tendency .”

    The majority of engineers I speak to find it hard to come to terms with the certainty of the scientists. In engineering 90% certainty doesn’t count for anything. If a boeing engineer was 90%, or even 99%, certain that the components he was producing wouldn’t disintegrate in flight he/she wouldn’t dream of using them.

    It is this higher standard of certainty that leads to the requirement for more information. In my own case it took a little time to distil the arguments because of the to the point at which I could make a decision as to whether I should believe the scientists. It was this:

    1. CO2 is a GHG.

    2. Humans have been burning fossil fuels and have increased the CO2 in the atmosphere.

    3. The temperature has risen over the last 150 years.

    4. Scientist can only ascribe 50% of the temperature rises to natural causes, therefore it is very likely that the rest is caused by the CO2 from humans burning fossil fuels.

    Now that’s a good point to start the research, but the climate science community at large seem to have accepted it as the end of the research. I don’t accept that at all.

    The second problem engineers would have is that they like anyone looking to the future want to see the development of sustainable energy supplies from non-fossil fuel sources. However engineers live in a practical world and know that even the simplest of products take decades to get to an industrial level of production, and the present sustainable solutions are not even on the cusp of providing energy on an industrial level.

    Hence the sceptism.

    BTW: It appears that Angliss used the wrong graph to prove his point.

  • http://www.populartechnology.net Poptech

    “If Michael Tobis”“who has an excellent grasp of climate science and a deep interest in journalism”“can then go out and unmask a hoax related to the climate debate”
    Keith, why do you feel the need to repeat this as if it has any bearing on the debate? Nobody is talking about the original story. Maybe Morano linked to it as he does hundreds of other stories but I actually find it disturbing that Mr. Tobias would spend so much time and energy on a pointless story.
    This brings up another point. It is funny how supporters of CAGW are constantly confused about the organization and importance of skeptical blogs and sites. It has something to do with their belief that everything is organized under some hierarchy with people like Morano as their leader. I still don’t think they are grasping at the independence of all the skeptic sites and blogs. Morano is independent from all the other sites and is only ever mentioned when he releases something like the 700 scientist list or gives a media appearance. Yet CAGW believers attack him as if he was their leader. I find this amusing.

  • http://bishophill.squarespace.com Bishop Hill

    #24 Open Climate Initiative is seeking funding from a charitable trust, so there are no impacts re existing science budgets.

  • http://bishophill.squarespace.com Bishop Hill

    #24 I think you will find that Matt Ridley is a “known reviewer of science books”.

    His CV says he has written book reviews for “The Times, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Literary Review, New Scientist, Prospect, New Statesman, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, Discover, Natural History and other publications”.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    Judith says: “here are some blogospheric reviews, not from identified “skeptics (as far as i can tell):”  Except for the one at Klimazwiebel (where the author explicitly states that he is not writing a review) all of the reviewers (including Matt Ridley) are easily identified as skeptics.
    As far as know, you are the only person not in the CA camp who has positive things to say about it.  I’m prepared to look at it on your recommendation, but don’t expect anything soon.
    I’m surprised that you are unfamiliar with The Discovery Institute — I would take an endorsement from them as a sign that something is wrong with the book.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    Keith, with respect to comment 25, there are parallels worth discussing, but I think you entirely missed them.  Exum’s criticism of a journalist is paralleled by Joe Romm’s criticism of journalists.  Risen’s mocking of bloggers is parallel to your mocking of Romm.
    On the topic of citizen reporting, I can recommend this piece of citizen reporting by Romm.
     

  • SimonH

    Steve Bloom,
    #80: It is McIntyre’s assertion, not Mosher’s, that needs debunking in order to make that pea disappear convincingly. Bait and switch isn’t the way to do that.

  • http://bishophill.squarespace.com Bishop Hill

    Tim

    I can’t find much that Matt has written about global warming apart from where he has written about my book, but you say he’s easily identified as a sceptic. What are you seeing that I’m not?

  • Roger D.

    #69  Re the “Hockey Stick Illusion,”
    Judith quoted from the interchange at RC. Two of us (“Jon” and “Roger”) who had read the book joined the thread a bit later, weighing in to back up some of what Judith had said. Both of us were fairly new to thinking about climate change and were trying educate ourselves. I think we were both somewhat shocked by the vehemence of the response to even mentioning this book in any sort of favorable way. And again it seemed to both of us that it was pretty clear that those who critiqued the book had not read it (see eg #1183 and #1210). Instead resort was made largely to various ad hominem attacks. The same is true of the Amazon.com reviews that Judith links to. They are either very positive, or very negative, but the authors of the latter clearly haven’t read the book, as it pointed out with nice irony in the comments on their reviews.
    To be fair to  RC, Gavin Schmidt did respond to Jon with the following: [Response: The fact is, most of us don't even have time to read what it is we supposed to be reading, even before we get to books by bloggers (not that there is anything wrong with that). Why don't you tell us what you found most disturbing and we'll respond to that? - gavin]
    I think that is a point; these scientists really don’t have the time or more importantly, the motivation, to read skeptic books that their priors say are almost certainly rubbish. I can understand that. It is far easier to take a dismissive attitude to outsiders, especially when it is the case that much of what filters through to them really is rubbish; I’m  sure most of us do the same in our own areas of expertise.
    (I was blocked soon after from submitting further comments to the thread, as the moderator decided no more posts were to be had on the issue. Despite this, the “other side” were allowed to put up further comments along the lines of “why haven’t you responded to our points?” which was very frustrating.)

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Tim (#96, 97):

    I’m no fan of the Discovery Institute but nor would I dismiss Montford’s book because they write a positive review of it.

    As this March 2010 NYT story illustrates, critics of evolution are hitching their wagon to climate skeptics. In my view, that is most unfortunate for serious, science-minded skeptics.

    This also speaks to why #93 is wrong to dismiss out of hand people like Morano. He is a well-connected political operative who is engaged in a propaganda campaign. To the extent that he–or other ideologically/politically interest groups, such as anti-Darwinists at the Discovery Institute exploit climate skepticism for their own ends is, as I said, a serious problem for legitimate, science-minded skeptics. Make no mistake about that.

    I tried to make this point in a long thread at Roger Pielke Jr. site some time ago, but many of the skeptics acted as if they were living in a vacuum. They’re/you’re not.

    Which brings me to Romm, because Tim Lambert brought him up, in an attempt to link him to my example of citizen journalism. Romm  qualifies–sorta. Remember, Romm’s salary is paid by the Center for American Progress, so he’s not doing what he does as some sort of hobby horse.

    Additionally, Romm’s chief role is to influence the climate debate in pursuit of political goals. As I have argued many times before,   I believe Romm’s style is counterproductive. He seeks to deligitamize views/proposals on climate policy that differ from his. And as anyone who has read his many attacks on Roger Pielke Jr and the Breakthrough Institute knows, he does this with with ad homs, guilt-by-association, selective quoting, etc, in an effort to demonize them as denier/delayers.

    That has signalled to me, Tim, that he’s more a popagandist than a citizen journalist. And while I think Romm acts out of sincere concern for the planet, I have deplored his end-justifies-the means tactics.

    This is why I don’t take his criticism of journalists seriously, either, because it is often not objective or fair-spirited anymore than his criticism is of RPJ, Breaktthrough, or of me.

    Circling back around to my main point: the climate change debate takes place in a heavily politicized, partisan environment. Those who want to debate climate science related issues can’t escape this fact. Thus, it would be best if climate skeptics who resent AGW proponents associating them with anti-evolutionists and the Morano types made more effort to put a clear distance between themselves and the ideologically/politically motivated parties that seek to exploit them.

  • Judith Curry

    Michael Tobis made this statement on a recent thread at climateaudit with regards to the hockey stick debate: “I really don’t have an opinion one way or the other on the key controversies of this blog, which is why I usually don’t follow it. Thus honestly I have no comment on the chapters of greatest interest to you. I genuinely don’t consider those matters key to physical climatology or to climate policy.”

    I shared that opinion also, although I was very concerned by the “process violations” I saw discussed at climateaudit.  I tried to learn more about the technical issues involved in the hockey stick debate, but found it hopeless to wade through the stuff at climateaudit, and I was further hampered by my eyes glazing over everytime i saw mention of bristlecones.

    Montford’s book makes it very easy to understand both the technical issues and the process issues that have been a concern to MM and the broader community of skeptics and citizen scientists.

    So why should we bother trying to understand this?  If we are trying to understand the climate skeptics and citizen scientists and the “ruckus”, the hockey stick issue is one of their top 3 issues, and historically the most important one in terms of the “ruckus”. Why climate scientists and others supporting the IPCC consensus view should care about this issue is aptly summarized in Montford’s book:

    “So in addition to what it tells us about the efficacy of peer review, the hockey stick tells us about the culture of climate science and in particular the IPCC, and it tells us about the culture of science in general.  Its effect in these areas should give us great cause for concern.”

    “The fact that the IPCC promoted a hockey stick that was not central to the scientiic debate simply because it was a good sales tool, and then defended it in the face of all criticism shows us that it is not a disinterested participant in the debate.  It has chosen to be an advocate rather than a judge.  It has an agenda.  How then, can those who are undecided on the global warming issue accept anything it says as an unbiased judgement on the facts rather than a statement of a political position?  They can no longer be sure.”

    “None of the corruption and bias and flouting of rules we have seen in the course of this story would have been necessary if there is, as we are led to believe, a watertight case that mankind is having a potentially catastrophic effect on the climate.  What the hockey stick affair suggests is that the case for global warming, far from being settled, is actually weak and unconvincing”

    So if you want to understand the ruckus, you need to understand all this, this book does a masterful job of explaining this whole issue in terms of the technical issues and the process violations in a very readable and compelling way. It will help you understand where McIntyre et al. are coming from and what their concerns are.
    As I’ve said before, I don’t take everything in this book at face value, but I have not spotted any inaccuracies.  If this book is incorrect, it should be rebutted. Hasn’t happened so far, just snarky ad homs and irrelevant comments over at realclimate.
    Note, the closest thing to a rebut is RC’s “Dummies Guide to the Hockey Stick Guide Controversy“written in 1995.  Montford’s account is far better argued and more compelling than the Dummies Guide.

    So I am laying down the gauntlet, this really needs to discussed and rebutted by the paleo researchers and the IPCC defenders.

    Tim Lambert, thank you for your intention to read this.

    Just spotted the quote from gavin from the RC thread i cited earlier that I had been looking for:

    [Response: The fact is, most of us don't even have time to read what it is we supposed to be reading, even before we get to books by bloggers (not that there is anything wrong with that). Why don't you tell us what you found most disturbing and we'll respond to that? - gavin]

    Interesting response.

  • Judith Curry

    Steven Sullivan,  I’ve spotted your comment on Montford’s book on the realclimate thread, which I reproduce below:


    Steven Sullivan “” 20 April 2010 @ 10:36 AM
    Oops, my last post was obviously written before I’d seen Curry’s post later in the thread, where she cited Montford. What a shame.”
    [CORRECTION: THE ABOVE QUOTE IS BY STEVEN SULLIVAN. BELOW IS FROM COMMENT #946 IN THAT RC THREAD AND IT IS FROM ROGER, WHO ALERTED JUDITH TO HER MISIDENTIFICATION IN COMMENT #115 OF THIS THREAD.//KK]
    I seem to be the only person who has read this book by Montford. Everyone else takes the view that there is no need to respond to the points in the book as “Why should we respond to every skeptic crank?” The above quote is even prepared to write Judith Curry off because she cited a book, which no one is prepared to read! My academic field is not climate science, but I have spent the last few weeks trying to get at least a reasonable overview of the key issues. I am not a denier, but the reason why the debate surrounding the hockey stick *is* important is that is has been rammed down our throats as justification for potentially dramatic policy measures which are going to cost us taxpayers and energy consumers a great deal of money in the coming years. It is also a window into the science for those of us coming from outside. The point is, if this, the most highly publicized finding, is dodgy, then it makes one question the whole way climate science is done, or at the very least, the way it is transmitted to us great unwashed through the IPCC.”¨To be honest, much of what is written about in Montford’s book is pretty mind boggling; it documents fairly convincingly a large number of problems with the way this body of research has been done. No doubt there is another side to the story that can be told and it would be nice to hear it so one can take a more balanced overall view. But there is little doubt that way the data was not made public (when it could easily have been), certainly not released to the “˜other’ side is shocking (in my field data must be made available, no question). I don’t think the book is brilliantly written ““ I have a number of problems in places. Nor do I really think that the veracity or otherwise of the hockey stick is that important for the warming debate. But even if it’s only half accurate, you cannot run a science like this!

    This comment reflects very different ones from the sentiments you expressed in the header to the thread.  I would be interested in hearing how/why your perspective on this changed.

  • http://neilsindex.blogspot.com/ Neil Craig

    The CRU was founded by Hubert Lamb who was undoubtedly a very able scientist & who never accepted  the catastrophic warming story.

    I think the only real lesson to be learned from the alarmist phenomenon is the extent to which politicians as the patmasters have been able to use funding to determine the course of “research” & indeed what outcomes are acceptable. With 10s of billions worldwide funnelled into discovering the extent of catastrophic warming  no more than a few hundred thousand available form Exxon to test it it is unsurprising that such warming has been “found”.  The same effect has also been seen, albeit on a far smaller scale, over investigation of global cooling,  pollution, the approaching death of all sea life, most land species, peak oil, acid rain etc etc.

    Scientists should get together to ensure that government funding of science is non-political, or at least as non-political as possible & that in all cases at least 25% of of all funding should be devoted to the sceptical testing of theories, which is supposed to be the basis of science, rather than to pushing them. It should be remembered that the original meaning to the word “proving” was testing (still used in “ in proving a gun”).

  • sod

    Judith Curry thinks, that the heartland institute, CEI, Klimazwiebel or the discovery institute are reliable sources of information.
    this is at best bizarre, but most likely better described as plain out stupid.

  • sod

    here is a part from the latest post from Bisho Hill:

    <i>Using the same logic, you can assert that the space shuttle Discovery’s last mission was a success. Just ignore/delete the trajectory divergence over Texas, which is obviously just erroneous data. As long as you mention, elsewhere, that you’ve decided to exclude the latter part of the mission, your assertion that it was a success can stand.</i>

    why anyone would want to read a book with the false term “climategate” in the topic, is beyond me.

    and why such a book should increase understanding for the other side, also is beyond me.

  • http://stephenleahy.net/ Stephen Leahy

    In all the considerable detail in this thread what is really under discussion here?

    a) CC may be underway but it is not driven by human emissions of GHGs; or we are just a little bit responsible

    b) CC is may be a big problem but we don’t need to do much of anything yet

    c) CC is big deal and urgent action is required

    Seems to me it is all about a) .

    And this intense, distracting discussion is simply re-arranging the deck chairs if there is even a 5% chance that the majority of climate scientists are right and that were headed to +2-3C unless emissions are cut 40% by 2020.

  • Judith Curry

    Sod, looking only at the source of information as a reason to dismiss the information or its arguments is fallacious reasoning: ad hominem and appeal to authority.

  • afeman

    Judy (102)

    So I am laying down the gauntlet, this really needs to discussed and rebutted by the paleo researchers and the IPCC defenders.

    Why not take the opportunity to call Gavin’s bluff and present the arguments yourself instead of waiting for somebody else to read the book?  It could gain you a lot of respect from all sides, provided that it is as compelling as you say.

  • freespeech

    Steve Bloom Says:”I’m afraid no amount of agitation is going to get anyone credible to waste their time on that book.”
    Which is a sad admission that the strident comments on AGW sites about the “Hockey Stick Illusion” are baseless and uninformed. It also seems to indicate that the people that frequent these sites are happy to make judgements and pontificate despite having no actual knowledge of the subject. Paints a rather disturbing picture of how they might conduct themselves professionally.
     

  • SimonH

    sod @ #105: Dr Curry seems willing to evaluate information without prejudice in respect of its source rather than choosing to cherry-pick the sources that are more likely to fit with predetermined conclusions. I call her approach suitably dilligent and objective. You call it stupid. I would hypothesise, based on previous observations indicating a strong correlation, that you are vehemently pro-AGW.

  • Pascvaks

    Science stands or falls on the truth of scientific issues, everything else is politics.  Scientists who delve into politics leave their profession, waste their time, and become politicians first and foremost.    The pay and publicity may well be better, but there is no search for the truth, there is only the winning that counts.  Indeed, truth is likely the first virtue to disappear in the war to win at all costs.  It feels a lot like being actor, I’m told.

  • Gautam

    I would like to echo the comments in #16 and #18. I  have spent 38 years doing research in engineering science. I see from some comments above, this would mean that many people engaged in or “sympathetic” to “climate science” would simply dismiss my opinions! Nevertheless, I do have experience in peer-reviewed literature, modelling and testing complex systems and, based on such studies, in trying to understand more general principles governing such systems. I also have not come across any of my peers who believe that the claims made by many climate modellers are credible enough for the very drastic and quick actions that they then call for to reorganise the way the world lives .
      I too started reading about climate science on Real Climate. Like several others posting here, I too am surprised and appalled at the condescension, abuse,hostility, rudeness and tribalism shown there, particularly amongst the comments. I see that one of the regular commenters from there, dhogaza, is also trying to change the tone of this particular thread.
       I then discovered Climate Audit and I follow both blogs and others, like this one, which discuss climate science. I have also read “The Hockey Stick Illusion”and, as Judith Curry does, I urge other people interested in this topic to read it. Asseveral people have noted, practitioners of “Climate science” and their supporters are very good at insulting and questioning the motives of those they consider their “adversaries”. “Climate science” would be better served if people engaged in it showed the same zeal in  addressing the issues raised by McIntyre and stop defending the indefensible such as the attitudes displayed in the CRU tapes.  

  • Messenger

    Sod @106.
    The paragraph about the Discovery mission that you refer to was not written by by Bishop Hill but by one of his commenters.

  • Roger D.

    Judith @ #103: actually only the first sentence was by Steven Sullivan; the rest was by me. I had not referred to his earlier message in a clear way; I think it was my first attempt to post a comment on a blog.  I was responding to his rather dismissive comment but he said later that I had misunderstood his drift.
    (Actually, I have to say, that having spent quite a lot of time subsequently reading around this,  I would maybe be inclined to modify my position on The Hockey Stick illusion. At the time,  I assumed that there would be a well argued “other side” to the arguments in the book. I have yet to see anything of this. I also later apologized for my rather bombastic language, but this seems to be normal over at RC.)

  • Judith Curry

    Roger, thanks for the clarification on this.  Maybe Keith will be able to add a corrigendum to my earlier post attributing this to Steven Sullivan.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    I see that Bart is waking up to the old skepticism versus new skepticism issue.

  • http://rhinohide.wordpress.com Ron Broberg

    While you are wondering about how to improve the participation of citizen-scientists … you might want to wander over to Eli’s and read or comment on citizen-scientists Nick Barnes draft comment to the IPCC on open access papers, data, and code.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2010/06/nick-barnes-has-say.html

  • Jonathan Gilligan

    I see two separate problems here: Establishing good faith and sincerity and establishing competence.

    Good faith: Too many scientists have been discouraged by seeing the same people repeat the same disingenuous objections, first to the CFC-ozone connection and later to AGW, long after the objection was debunked. People are much more likely to take the time and effort to engage in a dialog if they feel the other side is willing to listen with an open mind and consider that it might be wrong (this problem runs both ways in these controversies, but it would be a mistake to set the bar for open-mindedness by mainstream scientists so high as to require that they be prepared to jettison decades of solid empirical and theoretical work on the basis of a new revelation by someone with little track record; more on this below).

    One source of trouble is the tendency to stereotype or judge people by association: just because many people in the past have argued disingenuously about AGW doesn’t mean a new interlocutor with similar opinions will do so, but it’s human nature to jump to that conclusion.

    The water is poisoned badly at this point, and there is a real need for some way that sincere people in the scientific community and the general public can demonstrate their good will to one another.

    The second problem is establishing competence. Scientists in certain fields regularly receive communications (often accompanied by lengthy diatribes) from sincere citizen-scientists purporting to refute special relativity, quantum complementarity, the second law of thermodynamics, and so forth. These days, proposals for carbon sequestration and clean energy are on the rise in my mailbox, including schemes to harvest unlimited free energy from magnetic monopoles or the quantum zero-point field. Sometimes it’s easy to fire off a quick email pointing out the flaw in the argument, but sometimes the correspondent has a lengthy tract with lots of mathematics and it’s not worth the hours it would take to find and explain the flaw. That’s what Gavin Schmidt is getting at in the comment quoted from RC that Judith quotes, and it’s seriously worth addressing this problem at greater length than, “Interesting response.”

    Amateurs can also provide genuine insight and even advances, but when the signal to noise ratio is very low, it doesn’t pay off to sort through it all, hoping for a pony.

    One thing sociologists of science have identified that separates earnest but misguided outsiders from competent practitioners is tacit knowledge—the unwritten practical good sense you pick up working side by side with a master. This is what graduate training or apprenticeships confer that simply reading books and journal papers cannot.

    People who lack appropriate tacit knowledge often can’t figure out the context in which to put a single piece of research, the judgment to determine the quality of a new publication, and so forth. As Harry Collins and Robert Evans point out, “it can be shown that what is found in the literature, if read by someone with no contact with the core-groups of scientists who actually carry out the research in disputed areas, can give a false impression of the content of the science as well as the level of certainty. Many of the papers in the professional literature are never read so if one wants to gain something even approximating to a rough version of agreed scientific knowledge from published sources one has first to know what to read and what not to read; this requires social contact with the expert community.” (Collins & Evans, infra, p. 22)

    A good example of this can be found in Thabo Mbeki’s attempt to do a sort of citizen-science regarding AIDS by reading and assessing primary research literature on his own. His lack of tacit knowledge led Mbeki to seize on a few papers by outlier scientists, rejecting the connection between HIV and AIDS and judging that drug-safety testing showed that AZT was a poison rather than a useful antiretroviral drug, albeit with serious side effects. This confusion underlay Mbeki’s decision not to provide AZT prophylaxis to babies born to HIV-positive mothers, a decision that cost tens of thousands of lives.

    Sociologist Harry Collins has conducted extensive empirical studies of scientific expertise and the acquisition and transmission of tacit knowledge. In his slim and very readable book with Robert Evans, Rethinking Expertise (U. Chicago, 2007, 160 pp.) he lays out a taxonomy of both expertise to use skills and expertise to judge others’ expertise (what Collins and Evans call “meta-expertise”).

    The book is well worth reading for questions of how to figure out what makes someone an expert and different ways that people figure out how to establish someone else’s degree of expertise.

    Two important things for this discussion are the observation that there are other ways to acquire the tacit knowledge necessary to understand complex technical science (Collins’s prime example is gravitational wave physics) without actually being a practicing scientist and that even within the scientific community, scientists often lack the direct expertise to judge one another’s competence, but use what the authors call “referred expertise” to judge scientists in other fields they are not themselves qualified to practice.

    Collins and Evans conclude with a discussion of how all this might apply to interactions between citizens and scientists regarding politically contentious issues, such as vaccine safety, genetically modified (GM) crops, and global warming.

    Collins and Evans hold out hope that members of the public can indeed acquire enough tacit knowledge through informal pathways (it would be very interesting to study how interactions on science blogs function at transmitting tacit knowledge from experts to layfolk) to understand and judge complex scientific questions, but that we should not romanticize this ability. Often (he offers the example of public rejection of mainstream scientific results on GM food safety) as a case where supporters of citizen science have judged that “the public … are well informed about scientific advance and … highly sophisticated in their thinking on the issues. … [T]he public are ahead of many scientists and policy advisors in their instinctive feeling for a need to act in a precautionary way,” when in fact the public are generally confused and misinformed about the science.

    Collins and Evans contrast this to the role of the ACT-UP citizen activist group in the 1980s at making sophisticated and useful contributions to the testing of early anti-HIV therapies. The way ACT-UP overcame Robert Gallo’s initial dismissive treatment and won his attention and respect is perhaps a good positive example of how to proceed here (see also, S. Epstein, “The Construction of Lay Expertise: AIDS Activism and the Forging of Credibility in the Reform of Clinical Trials,” 20 Sci. Tech. Hum. Val., 408 (1995)).

    One problem with establishing competence is the asymmetry between experts and layfolks. We often use three attributes to judge expertise in others when we don’t have time or expertise to go through their work in detail: credentials, experience, and track record. For judging mainstream scientists, we can use all three but for judging citizen scientists, credentials and experience are absent and it’s hard to figure out what an amateur’s track record is.

    If we believe in populist democratic governance, as opposed to rule by technocratic elites, better integration of citizens and scientists will be necessary. However, doing this is very difficult, and we should not oversimplify or romanticize the ability of outsiders to understand, judge, and contribute to research at the boundaries of knowledge.

  • sod

    Sod, looking only at the source of information as a reason to dismiss the information or its arguments is fallacious reasoning: ad hominem and appeal to authority.

    this is funny. Judith has moved deep into denialists territory. now she is already using the  same false claims about logical fallacies, which denialists constantly use.

    if i say: “x is a bad source” then i am making a claim, that can be either right or wrong, but not logically false.

    but please educate me, Judith: if i tell you, that “mickey mouse comics are not a reliable source of information on climate change, is it ad hom or appeal to authority?
    —————

    Sod @106.
    The paragraph about the Discovery mission that you refer to was not written by by Bishop Hill but by one of his commenters.


    sorry, my fault.
     

  • c1ue

    The problem with the AGW-CO2-Catastrophe argument is two-fold:

    1) The scientific proposition is not uniformly agreed upon – i.e. there is no consensus

    While I absolutely agree mankind has had some type of effect on the climate, similarly that I agree CO2 is a greenhouse gas and would contribute warming in the absence of any other effects, the actual AGW-CO2-Catastrophe thesis is that changes in climate behavior is primarily due to man and primarily due to CO2.

    I have looked, and looked, and looked, and have yet to see empirical, experimental, or falsifiable propositions which validate the AGW-CO2-Catastrophe theory – ranging from IPCC projections continuing to be flat out wrong (until “update”), to disinformation of all sorts including non-peer reviewed, NGO propaganda and photoshopped pictures, to high net positive feedback remaining a modeling artefact.

    2) Even so, were this subject one which was esoteric with little impact on the world – such as astronomy, I wouldn’t bother too much. But the AGW-CO2-Catastrophe theorists and the policymakers who support them are using this political movement to set policy…policy which distorts and likely stunts progress.

    I give a first-hand example: solar power. The promise of this technology is high – and in fact there is an understanding of what is likely achievable (and not). But the rush to subsidize immediate installation of solar capability both via capital cost subsidies and electricity generation subsidies is distorting progress toward the achievable.

    SiGe is a fine example: were likely progress to continue undistorted, it is almost certain that the entire line of Silicon Germanium solar panels would die off in favor of other substrates. But SiGe has a short term competitiveness which blends well with the rush to do everything now – the net result being that truly grid parity solar solutions, if they ever come out, will have to compete with a gigantic base of obsolete but subsidized SiGe installations.

    Do you really think this won’t have an impact?

    3) The AGW-CO2-Catastrophe crusade is disingenuous.

    I don’t have any issues with using less energy or having energy generated in a more environmentally conscious manner.

    The ACC crusade keeps saying that we can all achieve the saving of the world without sacrifice, but this is a complete lie.

    A reduction of world CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050 actually means an 86% reduction in per capita emissions.

    This is a non-trivial endeavor; it isn’t enough to stick solar panels on every roof or wind turbines in every windy spot. It means building massive numbers of nuclear power plants; upgrading the transmission grid; Nobel prize in physics quality breakthroughs in energy storage; WPA era investment in infrastructure.

    The work required to achieve this goal is massive and furthermore requires a coherent plan.

    The ACC crusade has a goal, but no plan. By seeking to silence all critics, all it achieves is greater resistance to the goal.

    True consensus means that everyone agrees to and contributes to a plan and a goal.

  • Steve Bloom

    Re #110:  Borrowing your phrase, the fact that 911 Truther books have been largely ignored must be a “sad admission that the strident comments about the 911 Truther books are baseless and uninformed.”  I love logic.

  • kim

    Tres interesante;
    Oreskes skeptic Tob is.
    Why’d it take so long?
     

  • Jonathan Gilligan

    Judit (#108): There’s a difference between using someone’s reputation (or lack of one) to judge the content of their argument and using it to decide whether their argument is worth reading.

    The amount of material on climate change is, in any practical sense, infinite. Any person can only read a very small subset, so it becomes crucial to select carefully what to read.

    What approach would you recommend for setting priorities on what to read?

  • http://neilsindex.blogspot.com/ Neil Craig

    Perhaps a pure scientific method of deciding what to read would be declining to do so if the writer has a track record of errot.  TG James Hansen whose intiail prediction 20 years ago was that temperature by now would be nearly a degre warmer & who never predicted the plateau over the last decade & recent cooling. Or people who have been involved in the previous global cooling scare – that would be Hansen again. Also if it is accepted that Sir David King’s (former government chief science advirors) was grossly wrong in expressing certainty that we are heading for “Antarctica the only habitable continent” by 2100 ((more than a 30C rise) then he sshould never be treated as a serious scientist either.
    Personally I think that may be overdoing it because errors, occasionally even egregious ones, do happen.

    A criteria which is both scientific & courteous would be to ignore anybody who has been engaged in false & gratuitous ad hominum attacks such as the IPCC boss who said that anybody disputing their  claim that the Himalayas would be melted by 2025 was engaged in “voodoo”.  A more subtle criteria would be that when people clearly are financial beneficiaries of governments which have already made their commitment to the warming scare abundantly clear [The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."Henry Louis Mencken] they should be treated with great scepticism.  All of these taken together would allow a reasoned debate on the  extremely limited evidence of catastrophic warming.

  • Steve Bloom

    More citizen journalism from the Center for American Progress exposes another fossil fuel industry astroturf operation:

    “Defenders of the dirty energy status quo, particularly the lobbyists and politicians associated with the oil and coal industry, have repeatedly trotted out a group of evangelical leaders known as the Cornwall Alliance to counter the growing sentiment in the evangelical community that anthropogenic climate change is a threat to God’s creation. Cornwall declares that true Christians believe “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming.”  In this repost, Wonk Room exposes the Big Oil funding behind the Cornwall Alliance.”

    It seems there’s plenty of material for an Oreskes second volume.  In the meantime perhaps Judy could stop pretending this sort of thing isn’t intended to provide the sea for the “new skeptics” to swim in, just as the tobacco industry did in the beginning for the “old skeptics.” 

    (Just to note that in addition to Fred Singer’s SEPP, now a fairly minor player, “old skeptics” like the Idsos and Pat Michaels/Chip Knappenberger remain very active in providing the disinformation that keeps the “citiizen scientists” going.  Recently Judy even said that their submissions to the Heartland Conference were worth a look by serious scientists.  Not so much, it turns out.  The Idso “paper” was transparent fraud, although Chip’s presentation could perhaps be excused as hopeful exaggeration.  But rather than defend her recommendations, Judy has moved on.) 

  • http://stephenleahy.net/ Stephen Leahy

    #121 Planning emission reductions is policy not science. The science says if want to cap temps at around 2C rise then emissions have to go down 50%  compared to  1990. There is no politics or crusading in that, it’s just climate physics. Prove the physics wrong if you want a different result.
    And yes it is the non-trivial challenge of the century meanwhile folks here are immersed in tree ring and other trivia.

  • Schrodinger’s Cat

    Climate science is an oxymoron. It has more to do with believers and non-believers. It is amazing that temperature data can prove AGW to one person and instrument changes and UHI effects to another. The two sides seldom discuss the matter in a scientific manner to seek the truth.

    Yet there are some on this blog who are trying to do just that. They should be congratulated, respected and supported.

  • Judith Curry

    Jonathan Gilligan, very good point about “tacit knowledge,”  I’ve learned some sociology of science from your post.
    Re what climate books to read, it all depends on what you have already read, what your perspective is, your interests, and your knowledge base.  With regards to my recommendation to read the “Hockey Stick Illusion,”  it is particularly relevant in terms of understanding the “ruckus” from the perspective of the “new skeptics,” i.e. citizen scientists engaged in the social computing movement.  I think it is particularly important for scientists and others supporting the IPCC consensus to read this book, to understand the source and nature of the “ruckus” and to challenge their beliefs and precepts about this whole debate.  For a newcomer to this whole issue, it is a good roadmap to this particular debate (i.e. hockeystick) but this is a very narrow slice of the overall climate science pie.

    So how do people decide what to read?  Well, in the blogosphere, challenge yourself by reading a diversity blogs.  I understand the reluctance to fork out $$ to actually buy a book, let alone take the time to read it.  The Hockey Stick Illusion is pretty inexpensive.  For a “taste”, see Montford’s earlier essay on Caspar and the Jesus paper.

  • dhogaza

    <blockquote>Sod, looking only at the source of information as a reason to dismiss the information or its arguments is fallacious reasoning: ad hominem and appeal to authority.</blockquote>

    Sorry, Judy, but many of us just don’t trust creationists to be unbiased sources of information on scientific issues.

    The Discovery Institute is funded by a leading Dominionist.

  • JamesG

    Jonathan Gilligan @119
    Read this: http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/div/ocp/gs/
    So that you understand why “tacit knowledge” is often just myth.  I could give many more examples but that one is pertinent. Believing only what you want to believe is groupthink. A true scientist (or engineer) challenges people to prove him/her wrong and actually points out all the weaknesses and assumptions. In fact many of the climate science papers do exactly that but it is later forgotten or ignored in the subsequent press release hype.
    Your idea that we should just trust the scientists would work only if:
    a. All the work that allows the use of the word “unprecedented” was allowed to be replicated.
    b. There was a proper 3rd party audit procedure instead of the hopelessly self-feeding, biased IPCC effort.
    c. The scary model scenarios were based on sound, validated models.
    d. The individuals promoting the worst case scenarios were not so blatantly dishonest.
    e. There was proper accountability and oversight.
    All are essential in any nuclear power station build or drug approval and in most of the other cases you cited earler. In climate science though it’s quite clearly just an old boys network, despite the huge implications for policy.
    When you actually listen to the views of scientists of the calibre of Spencer and Lindzen etc and have some good reason to refute what they say, rather than pretending that your inbuilt bias to only listen to what you want to hear has some kind of sociological justification then you’ll be contributing to the debate. Until that point you seem to present mainly irrelevant noise. Not an ad hom, just an observation.
     

  • dhogaza

    “While you are wondering about how to improve the participation of citizen-scientists “¦ you might want to wander over to Eli’s and read or comment on citizen-scientists Nick Barnes draft comment to the IPCC on open access papers, data, and code.”

    And that, of course, is real citizen science, work that has been recognized by the GISSTemp team (they’ve welcomed bug fixes and are interested in adopting the Python implementation in the future).

    Citizen scientists such as the CCC people many amateur ornithologists and astronomers, work hard to help science move forward.

    They don’t spend their time trashing the reputations of scientists, trying to get their institutions to discipline them (McIntyre, Lonnie Thomson), flood them with FOI requests, screaming that “all of ornithology is a scientific fraud!”, etc etc.

    There’s a real difference.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    Stephen Leahy at 127, do you think it is possible that people are interested in the tree ring issue because they are trying to decide who they can trust on larger issues?
    It’s easy to forget just how ‘big’ the various Hockey Stick charts were, how often they were shown and cited. The people doing the showing and the citing are people who are now trying to set policy paths for the rest of us.
    These policies if adopted commit us to serious expenditure and changes in how we view our way of life.
    For non-scientists (including me), assessing the credibility of those proposing policy cannot be based on the science. So what tools remain for us?
    I would strongly suggest that if you look at the way we select doctors, lawyers, politicians and other professionals whose work output we cannot completely understand, you will see that referrals, demeanor, public reputation and attitude in dealing with the public are key.
    The Hockey Stick and the clamour about Climategate is not about the science. (Much.) It is about the credibility of those who advocate revolutionary changes in our lifestyle.
    It seems evident to me that the approach taken so far by the consensus community is not achieving the results they have wished for. Surely an alternative approach could at least be attempted.
    I see many people from the consensus side, such as Michael Tobis, acknowledging that there is a problem. What I don’t see is an accurate framing of the situation to allow examination of the key points and formulation of different strategies and tactics. Indeed, many seem to be advocating getting a bigger shovel.

  • dhogaza

    ” Borrowing your phrase, the fact that 911 Truther books have been largely ignored must be a “sad admission that the strident comments about the 911 Truther books are baseless and uninformed.”  I love logic.”

    Ahh, I see, Obama really *is* Kenyan, not American!

    This is fun!

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Steve Bloom:
    The evangelical community in the US and UK *is* involved in CAGW propogation.
    .
    Can you tell me why?
    .

  • Martin A

    The unpleasant term “denier” has been applied to people who question CAGW. 

    Yet, post Climategate, the impression is that the majority of “Climate Scientists” are in a state of denial and the term ought to be applied to them.   They seem to be…

    - Denying that undocumented “homogenising” of temperature data is in any way an issue. 

    - Denying that there was anything wrong with the hockey stick graph and the use of proxy data that, for unknown reasons, did not track recent instrument data.

    - Denying that the results from computer models, inherently incapable of being validated, are merely a programmer’s creation and are not physical reality.

    I find the effort put into rationalising why they do not need to read “The Hockey Stick Illusion” quite amazing.    It’s a history book and it documents an important episode in Climate Science.   You’d imagine that anyone devoted to their subject would eagerly study its history – even if it’s a murky episode.
    The total effort put into denigrating the book (by people who boast of not having read it) must equate to the time needed to read it many times over.

    Statements from climate scientists along the lines “I’m not going to read it because: it is rubbish/the author is a crackpot/is not a climate scientist/…” simply convince me that they are in a state of denial that their subject is in crisis and that this is the result of the misdeeds of their own scientific leaders.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Shub:

    I wouldn’t call it propogation, but more sincere concern (whether you agree with that concern or not), but you can find the answer to your larger question here.

  • laursaurus

    Found this blog a week ago and I’m rivetted! Keith’s endeavor to move past the problems so we can work on solutions is exactly what is desperately needed.
    #122 maybe you meant this TIC, but there have been many well-detailed, scientific, point-by-point refutations to the Truthers, most notably by Popular Mechanics, Debunking 911. Learning from this thread about the different mindsets or approaches, the engineers have proven to be quite effective presenting the facts to the public. OTOH,  RC represents a pathetic attempt by scientists to accomplish the same goal. Individuals making an earnest and reasonable effort to understand the science supporting CAGW, are left speechless after a visit. Not only do they shrug off the damaging impact of Climategate and Glaciergate, but either moderate out your comment or ridicule you with name-calling, ad hom attacks.
    Even here on this neutral ground, we are treated to more of the same. It’s ok to answer a question by admitting you don’t know, but will try to find out. I am becoming increasingly convinced that pride is by far the more damaging human influence on climate science. Maybe the skeptics initiated the ruckus, but the hubris and insincerity of the proponets are not about to budge. This brand new area of science cannot advance if left soley to the “experts” who have deliberately imposed a gridlock by imprisioning themselves in their ivory tower echo chamber.
    This blog gives me a glimmer of hope that change might be possible.

  • dhogaza

    Judith Curry, do you even *look* at the sources you cite as “not being identified skeptics as far as you can tell”?

    NC Media Watch

    Five minutes at this guy’s site and I learn that he thinks climate science is a fraud, that NASA “makes up” climate data:

    “Shock new evidence of a NASA scientist faking a fundamental greenhouse gas equation shames beleaguered space administration in new global warming fraud scandal.

    Caught in the heat are NASA’s Dr. Judith Curry …”

    Given that you believe this non-skeptic source to be objective and non-biased, I assume that you agree that you’ve been caught up in this scandal?

  • JamesG

    Of course the C is the only important part of CAGW. A lot of people seem to have the thought process that GW means AGW and that means CAGW and anybody who doesn’t think this way is a killer of unborn children. We’ve heard it all before for so many scares in our lifetimes.
    Now sustainable development is a really worthy discussion issue. When you suggest we should focus on energy rather than CO2 there is always a band of true believers who state energy is a distraction, that mandated cuts are all we need and never mind the short-term pain. So then the dissenters can claim that it is the catastrophists who are the real killers of unborn children. And so the fight for the sake of a fight goes on…

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Tillman Peter D. Tillman

    Dr. Curry:

    Thanks for posting the reviews of Bishop Montford’s book.

    George Gilder’s is particularly striking:
    “What is shocking–and I use the word advisedly as a confirmed sceptic not easily shocked–is the so called science. I never imagined that it was quite this bad. It is shoddy beyond easy belief.”  — George Gilder
    That’s been my experience, each time I’ve looked into (forex) Dr. Mann or Phil Jones’ professional work.

    It’s also sadly typical that “the other side” replies by posting ad hom attacks, rather than replying to substance. As we’ve seen again here.

    Keep up the good work!

    Cheers — Pete Tillman
     

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Kloor
    Thanks for that link. It is obviously good to know you’ve been looking at this aspect for some time now.
    I was talking more along these lines
    http://www.iigcc.org/about-us/members
    If these churches invest their significant ecumenical funds in ‘climate change mitigation’ and then preach to their congregation about the harms of global warming, one cannot help but be a bit skeptical.
    Regards

  • James P

    I’ve enjoyed reading much of the above, despite the trolls. I concur with posts 14 and 113 in particular, and never fail to be amazed at the hostility of the warmists in response to any scrutiny of what appear to be their core beliefs, even to the extent of criticising (or regarding as worthless) a generally well-received book that they haven’t bothered to open.
    I am reminded of a verse from the Danish mathematician, Piet Hein:
    “In view of your manner of spending your days
    I hope you may learn, before ending them,
    That the effort you spend on defending your ways
    could be better spent on amending them.” :-)

  • Judith Curry

    Please don’t get sidetracked by the sites i listed for reviews of Montford’s book.  I have never heard of any of these other than Klimazweibel, and cited them since the authors of the reviews weren’t known skeptics (at least that I recognized).

    Attack the source, attack the person, great reasoning strategy.

  • Judith Curry

    Just spotted this paper over at Chronicle of Higher Education, entitled “In Praise of Tough Criticism.”  Of relevance to our current discussion
     

  • Judith Curry

    Roger Harriban (BBC) has just written a piece entitled “Taking the heat out of climate scepticism.” Worth a read.  He mentions McIntyre’s talk at the Heartland Conference, and describes it this way:

    “And Steve McIntyre, the Canadian mining engineer who has become the reluctant hero of climate sceptics, told libertarians to end their pursuit of climate “fraud” over those UEA emails and the hotly disputed “hockey stick” climate graph, and simply ask the scientists at the centre of the affair to say sorry. McIntyre says he does not want to bring down climate science; only to correct any statistical errors. If governments believe CO2 is a danger, they should legislate against it.   He rose to a standing ovation but sat down to one-handed applause.”

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/ Bart Verheggen

    How to decide what to read (brought up by Jonathan Gilligan) and who to trust (brought up by Tom Fuller) are very central questions.

    These questions are strongly related of course. On the seond question, Tom’s answer is to look at someone’s behavior. I think that’s a very poor proxy on how right or wrong somebody is.

    My ‘checklist’ to decide who to trust on complex matters is here. Most importantly: Check their logic, consistency, context (are they seeing the forest for the trees), etc.

    One of the best introductions to climate science is from Spencer Weart, providing a historical context to how we got to know what we know. A perfect stepping stone to more detailed and technical information, in line with that I believe it’s important to first have abroad view of the context before delving into specifics (lest one looses sight of the forest…)

  • dhogaza

    Judith Curry:

    “Attack the source, attack the person, great reasoning strategy.”

    You argue that favorable reviews by these people are evidence that Bishop Hill’s book is worth reading.
    Rejecting a dominionist, creationist organization as being a credible source of information on scientific issues is perfectly reasonable.  Do you go to Answers in Genesis to learn about biology?

    Likewise, NC Media Watch, beyond being authored by a skeptic, is authored by someone who believes all of climate science is fraudulent.  Including your work, apparently.  You really take a favorable review by this person as being evidence that Bishop Hill’s book is worth reading?

    Sorry.  I have higher standards.

  • dhogaza

    “Please don’t get sidetracked by the sites i listed for reviews of Montford’s book.  I have never heard of any of these other than Klimazweibel, and cited them since the authors of the reviews weren’t known skeptics (at least that I recognized).”

    Now you’re suggesting that if you *had* recognized them as being skeptic sites (I’d use stronger words for the DI and NC Media Watch), that you would *not* have listed them.

    Yet, you didn’t bother to spend the few moments in Google that would’ve been required to educate yourself in that regard.

    Why?

  • Barry Woods

    Amazing isn’t it..

    People discrediting a book, without reading it, or because of who wrote it, etc..

    Along  comes an established scientist, with impecable scientific credentials, and says it is worth reading, there are issues in  it (‘The Hockey Illusion’) that need addressing…

    yet some dismiss it out of hand, as 911/truther type conspiracy book, why would they read it..

    Presumabbly, they think Judith Curry, has gone over to the ‘dark side’ for saying it is worth reading, or that she has temporarily lost her judgement..

    If she keeps this up for much longer,  Will Judith be called a sceptic by some.  If she defends herself to ‘much’,  will some start calling her a ‘deniar’ for being persisitant, and use this as a reason not to ‘listen’? This seems to have been the approach to handling ‘inconevenient questions in the past.

  • Judith Curry

    dghoza, I am not interested in engaging with your “gotcha” attempts that are completely peripheral to any arguments of importance or relevance to what I guess is 99% of the people perusing this thread.

  • dhogaza

    “Attack the source, attack the person, great reasoning strategy.”

    You’re sloppy.  That’s not an attack, it’s a fact.

    For instance, not long ago, you put forward Watts Up With That as being a credible source, for instance, and when it was pointed out to you that the site posts ridiculous misinformation (CO2 snow in antarctica, greenhouse effect doesn’t operate on Venus, etc), your excuse was that you hadn’t actually bothered to familiarize yourself with the site.

    When asked to iterate those scientific points of interest brought forth at the Heartland Institute, you trotted out a list of stuff that’s mostly been debunked, after admitting that you’re not familiar with the details of much of the science being challenged.

    Likewise the proxy stuff.  You say it makes your eyes glaze over, yet surely … surely … something important is being said by the denialist side and certainly their conclusions aren’t being accepted because of … “tribalism”.

    And now this bit where you cite a source that accuses you of fraud!

    Is it unreasonable for people to expect more of you?

  • dhogaza

    “I am not interested in engaging with your “gotcha” attempts that are completely peripheral to any arguments of importance or relevance to what I guess is 99% of the people perusing this thread.”

    Then what was your reason for posting those sites?  You were perfectly happy to have us “sidetracked” by them before it was pointed out to you that, um, perhaps they weren’t as unbiased as you wanted to believe.

    And what is McIntyre and Climate Audit of not the crowning glory of “gotcha” attempts to discredit mainstream science?  You appear to adore their “gotchaisms”.

  • dhogaza

    ” I am not interested in engaging with your “gotcha” attempts that are completely peripheral to any arguments of importance or relevance to what I guess is 99% of the people perusing this thread.”

    My interest is your credibility, to be honest.  From what I’ve read, a growing number of climate scientists share that interest.

  • Judith Curry

    Bart, your “who to believe” essay makes many good points.  However the heart of the debate is related to your point “consensus matters.”  Problems with the “consensus” approach has been discussed even by IPCC insiders, see Oppenheimer et al. Two notable quotes from this paper:
    “Setting aside or minimizing the importance of key structural uncertainties in underlying processes is a frequent outcome of the drive for consensus.”
    “The establishment of consensus by the IPCC is no longer as critical to governments as a full exploration of uncertainty.”

  • William Newman

    Keith Kloor wrotes “Circling back around to my main point: the climate change debate takes place in a heavily politicized, partisan environment. Those who want to debate climate science related issues can’t escape this fact. Thus, it would be best if climate skeptics who resent AGW proponents associating them with anti-evolutionists and the Morano types made more effort to put a clear distance between themselves and the ideologically/politically motivated parties that seek to exploit them.”

    Strictly speaking it might be “best,” but I’m not convinced that it’s all that significant: I’d be relieved if it changed, but it’s far, far down on my list of priorities.

    I think your “resent” formulation of the situation here misses what most of the IPCC critics are actually reacting to. We may “resent” being inaccurately associated with anti-evolutionists, but that’s not so important. Beyond that, a lot of us do particularly resent being called “deniers” because of the intentional stretch to reach particularly vile connotations, but even that is not so important, because it’s clearly logically separate from any purely factual dispute, it’s just free-floating hatefulness. What seems to radicalize many of the IPCC critics here (and at CA and Lucia’s) is not the inaccuracy or nastiness of the ad hominem attacks, it’s the astonishing stubbornness in assigning ad hominem considerations significant weight in disputes over pure technical or historical facts. That *is* central to the factual disputes.

    If you doubt that this is really what’s at issue here, and wonder if I’m merely rationalizing about my resentment about guilt by association, consider that I am a solid libertarian, I am certainly no communist, and I’m largely indifferent to whether someone argues for the technical irrelevance of _Hockey Stick Illusion_ by associating it with “libertarian” or by associating it with “communist.” It’s not fundamentally important whether the accusation is correct. It’s not fundamentally important whether readers thing it’s correct. It’s not fundamentally important whether I consider the claim to be praise or damning criticism. What is important is that trying to drown a factual issue in political mud is fundamentally wrong, regardless of the color of the mud or how easily it can be made to stick.

    Are such priorities sound? Well, consider that the partisanship of the environment in the fundamentalist-vs.-freethinker and Catholic-vs.-Protestant culture wars was as pervasive and complicated as those in today’s culture war. In hindsight on politicized technical controversies bearing on those culture wars, like those of Darwin and Leibniz/Newton, technical people seem to agree it doesn’t matter how energetic or successful participants were in PR maneuvering to clarify their distance from various nonscientific and pseudoscientific factions in the peanut gallery. We can seldom be sure that such hindsight is true wisdom — but it’s often a pretty good bet.

  • dhogaza

    Oppenheimer et al are concerned that the search for consensus has led to AR4 adopting certain conclusions that are TOO CONSERVATIVE, Judy:

    “For example, the Working Group I (WGI) “Summary for Policymakers” (SPM) of AR4 anticipates a rise in sea level of between 18 and 59 cm by the year 2100 (6), a “model-based range” composed largely of thermal expansion of oceans, melting of nonpolar glaciers, and the gradual response of ice sheets. The range does not include the potential for increasing contributions from rapid dynamic processes in the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets (WAIS), which have already had a significant effect on sea level over the past 15 years and could eventually raise sea level by many meters. Lacking such processes, models cannot fully explain observations of recent sea level rise, and accordingly, projections based on such models may seriously understate potential future increases. Although the AR4 SPM recognizes the possibility of a larger ice-sheet contribution, its main quantitative results indicate the opposite…”

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    dhogaza (154):

    Don’t make this personal. Read the comment policy. You’re on the verge of strike one. Read the policy carefully.

  • dhogaza

    Their recommendations make it obvious that Oppenheimer et al are arguing that the big picture is largely correct, and it’s time to move on:

    “Fourth, and perhaps most important,national governments now need to confront a more fundamental question of how often they need comprehensive assessments of climate change. Addressing the special risks entailed in particular aspects of the climate system, like the ice sheets or carbon cycle, might be better approached by increasing the number of concise, highly focused special reports that can be completed relatively quickly by smaller groups, perhaps even by competing teams of experts. At this juncture, full assessments emphasizing consensus, which are a major drain on participants and a deflection from research, may not be needed more than once per decade.”
    Do you understand what’s being said, Judith?

  • dhogaza

    I’m sorry, Keith, but Judith’s post about Oppenheimer et al is misleading.  If it’s not allowable to point this out, ban me.
     

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    Bart, how did you choose your dentist? (Assuming you chose.)
    I have far more training in science that most people and yet I am many miles away from being capable of judging scientific arguments. That is to say, I can see when climate scientists write an equation that solves for x and can repeat the mathematical calculations that do so. But when consensus holders say one element of the equation is y and skeptics say, no it is z, it is not so easy.
    You say we should look for logic, consistency and context, all admirable qualities. But not entirely realistic for the average citizens that doesn’t even find the time to learn the name of the local politicians that represent them.
    I notice that the only criteria that I mentioned which you picked up on was behaviour. Why is that? I also mentioned referrals and reputation.
    Remember, it is you (or more accurately, the politicians, bloggers and commenters who say you support them) who are asking for my trust.
    Given what we see from your ‘side’ of the fence, I have to say you haven’t earned our trust. And I say that not because I disagree with you, but because I see the attitudes and opinions of the general public and their elected representatives turning away from your side of the story.
    Remember the stories that have been thrust upon us every day for a decade–polar bears going extinct. Not true. Himalayan glaciers disappearing. Not true. Frequency and intensity of hurricanes already evident in the record. Not true. Sea level rise of 20 meters by the middle of the next century. Not true.
    But the biggest one was what the Hockey Stick claimed to show–that temperatures have never risen as high or as rapidly over the past 1,000 years as they have in the current warming period. The chart was everywhere–the metaphorical equivalent of posters for a rock concert papering every wall.
    Now when it is criticized, the consensus does not want to confront the specifics. If the haft is criticized, they talk about the obvious truth of the blade. And vice versa.
    Gavin never returned to the previous thread, did he?
    Bart, you know that I believe that AGW is real and needs to be addressed–or you should, I’ve told you often enough. But given the sorry performance of those who you let speak for you, it is no surprise that the conversation is right where it is.

  • Barry Woods

    As a counter point book, and I would be considered a ‘sceptic’ by many.  

    I have just bought Fred Pearce’s – The Climate Files..

    Fred is, a guardian correspondent, with RealClimate part of the Guardian’s environment network. George Monbiot Endorses it.

    Fred is also the journalist whose phone converstion 10 years ago, somehow ended up as IPCC evidence (via various reportings of it) in grey literature as evidence of glaciers melting by 2035,  which he talks about.

    The Guardian is a true advocate of all things AGW.

    It is an interesting read…

    It is actually more critical, in my opinion, than any of the enquiries of CRU,and the IPCC.. and is really critical of many people, yet still holding true to climate science is robust.

    In fact there is a classic post at Realclimate, where RealClimate  attack the Guardian for shoddy journalism,  and an equally classic response where the Guardian defends it self.. (especially the comments section of both)

    I personally have been blocked from commenting at both RealClimate and the Guardain, at all, with comments that the BBC  allow.

    Yet I would recomment this book to all, it does cover a lot of  background of climategate, no doubt based on a series of articles fred Pierce did in the Guardian. 

    It seems to give a fascinating insight into the advocates side (journalism ) of the debate.  Pretty accurate background info on the climategate leak/hack.  Seems willing to say the most plausible source, is a disgruntled insider, or a compilation of material for an FOI release, just accidentally being found.

    What is perhaps interesting, is what Fred, in my opinion, chooses to leave OUT of the book… or seems to minimises as not very important, the science is still robust.

    ie , he mentions the sceptics initial misunderstanding of ‘hide the decline’  people thought the emails  were refering to temps dropping since 1998.. 

    Fred minimises (for proxies) that the deline refered to proxies, as being hidden in plain sight and not a big problem, just waiting an explanation of why the divergence. 

    Yet  proxy results declining, when the thermometers were shown to be rising without explantion, call into question temperature reconstructions of the past  using them .

     As the proxies were supposed to reconstruct temperatures in the past, disagreement with actual thermometers can not be good..  In fact most people would say throw them out they are not reliable, if they fail now, and it can’t be explained, when temp are rising.  How can they be used to show temps were low hundreds of years ago, when  equally it could be argued that temps could be much higher, as you now have evidence, (ref thermometers) that this could be the case.

    In my mind, the book is damge limitation, get an explantion out there and move on..

    And YET:

    CRU, MANN and team and the IPCC must be seriously damaged by this book, it leaves a number of questions in climate science hanging,and shows the methods and procedures of ‘climate science’ to be slip shod, and the ipcc to be flawed in many ways and the behaviour of key scientists (ipcc lead authors amongst them), to be  very unprofessional, to be kind.

    Ie Tom Wrigleys criticisms of them privately  are highlighted.

    Yet no mention of  the awfulness of ANY of the code, and the harry_read_me.txt file and the awfullness of the data handling, data integrity, etc

    It really is fascinating.

    It is fascinating what is left OUT.

    The Guardian has been evangelical and vitriolic against ‘sceptics’ and ‘deniars’.

    George Monbiot, famously was one of the first people to call for Phil Jones to resign (I think denying foi request – are red flags to – journalists) and he received a lot of flak from ‘alarmist advocates, yet George is evangelical about AGW, he has a deniars pack of picture cards of shame, on the guardian website, Ian Plimer, Senator Inholfe, and others pictured (bizarre behviour for a ‘quality newspaper)

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2009/mar/06/climate-change-deniers-top-10

    And possibly one of the first to compare scepticism as unaccetpable as holocaust denial.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/sep/21/comment.georgemonbiot

    Yet his call for Phil Jones to resign, left him feeling ‘never more alone’, as he was attacked from the ‘alarmist AGW activist side…

    Absolutely fascinating!!

  • http://amac1.blogspot.com/ AMac

    It might be helpful to present an example of citizen-scientist engagement with the university climate-science community that was a success.  I’m referring to Aussie blogger and computer scientist Tim Lambert’s discovery of a major error in the following paper:

    McKitrick, Ross and Patrick J. Michaels (2004). “A Test of Corrections for Extraneous Signals in Gridded Surface Temperature Data” Climate Research 26 pp. 159-173.

    Lambert went through McKitrick’s and Michael’s code (posted online), and realized that they had inadvertently input latitude as degrees, although the computer program required the information be expressed as radians.

    McKitrick and Michaels acknowledged the mistake and posted  version of the paper with the calculations re-done.  Both versions available at McKitrick’s webpage.  Lambert claims the correction gravely weakens the results; McKitrick says it didn’t matter all that much.  FWIW, I think many of the statistical findings look much weaker in the revision.

    Readers familiar with this episode or these names will recognize this aspect of the story:  McKitrick and Michels are skeptics, while Lambert is a blogger-advocate of the Consensus AGW position.

    From the point of view of “improving the science,” the episode is a clear-cut success.  Scientific understanding is now better, thanks to Lambert’s activism.  “Making use of the talents of citizen-scientists” would likely mean some contributions that weigh in favor of the Consensus (by cleaning up erroneous anti-Consensus articles), while others weigh against it.

    From this comes a question for Judith Curry and other climate scientists.  What should the ground rules be for evaluating supposed citizen-scientist contributions?

    The ad hoc, polarized situation that’s developed seems to be that AGW Consensus scientists and advocates are gleeful when “Skeptics’” mistakes are ferreted out, and dismissive when a credible claim against “their team” is developed.

    Surely there’s a better approach that mainstream climate science can take than “Do these citizen-scientist’s claims, if true, strengthen my pre-existing beliefs?”  Isn’t there?

  • http://stephenleahy.net/ Stephen Leahy

    dhogaza has it right on the consensus – the IPCC discussion is on how fast, how much warming not if there is climate change.

    I’m not sure what Judith was trying to say.

  • kim

    It is a measure of the strength of the hockey stick meme that is so fiercely and irrationally defended.  It is a sin, though, against science and the people, and must be expiated.

    It’s bent was crooked;
    Man must leave his garden green.
    Go, and sin no more.
    ========================

  • Judith Curry

    With regard to the Oppenheimer quotes.  Uncertainty is a two edged sword, it does not only imply climate change is not happening or we don’t have to do anything about it.  It also implies that the worst case scenario could be worse than what we are currently considering.  So you can’t have it one way, without the other. The issue is “uncertainty denial”, or minimization, that is the primary concern.

    Stephen Leahy, my comment to dhogaza that you referred to was about the web links to allegedly “fringe” sites who reviewed Montford’s book, I’m not engaging in a discussion on that.

  • Judith Curry

    Another interesting new book that i just read is by Claire Parkinson, titled “Coming Climate Crisis?  Consider the Past, Beware the Big Fix.”

    From the amazon.com site:

    Review
    “This is a book that the author was compelled to write and that everyone needs to read. The climate debate is fierce and polarized, resulting in serious public confusion. Dr. Parkinson has a reasoned, non-adversarial way of illuminating key contentious issues that must be clearly understood before policymakers consider launching initiatives with potentially huge economic and environmental consequences.” –Stephen P. Leatherman, Florida International University

    “Claire Parkinson is an accomplished, respected, and widely published scientist whose opinions on climate change and its solutions are well worth our attention. . . . Parkinson provides an excellent overview of Earth history, the factors affecting Earth’s climate and environment and how those have changed over time. . . . She recommends that humanity exhibit extreme caution when considering geoengineering projects. At this juncture in Earth history, the stakes could not be higher as 6.8 billion people currently rely upon the Earth system for survival.” –Lonnie Thompson, The Ohio State University

    “This essential book offers a long-needed assessment of our present understanding of climate change. Written with care and attention to detail, it delivers a compelling message that could influence how humankind responds to climate change. It also provides a balanced perspective and unique insights into today’s scientific process that should be required reading for scientists, the media, and the public alike. Books by others . . . cannot begin to compete with this book’s insights into the scientific process (gained by Parkinson’s 30+ years in the scientific trenches) nor with the balance in the presentation.” –John E. Walsh, University of Alaska and University of Illinois
    Product Description
    Decisively cutting through the hyperbole on both sides of the debate, distinguished NASA climatologist Claire L. Parkinson brings much-needed balance and perspective to the highly contentious issue of climate change. Offering a deeply knowledgeable overview of global change past and present, the author lays out a compelling argument that our understandings and models are inadequate for confident predictions of the intended and unintended consequences of projects now under consideration to modify future climate. She places current climate change in the perspective of the past 4.6 billion years and delves into the bases of our understandings and their limitations. While clarifying some of the most contentious points in the climate debate, the book treats the reader to a fascinating discussion interweaving Earth history, science, the history of science, and human nature.

    See also the NASA news release.

    Claire Parkinson is a climate scientist that I have a lot of respect for. She has written what I think is the most most balanced statement of the broad problem that i have seen from a mainstream climate researcher.  She says good things about skeptics, and also has a jacket blurb comment written by Lonnie Thompson.

    This is definitely worth a read.

     

  • Barry Woods

    May  ask if anyone has read

    - Professor Ian Plimer’s – Heaven and Earth -

    I bought it  to have a look at because of the shear ‘warmist’ vitriol, heaped on him personally, the amount of I can only describe of naked ‘hatred’ of it was enlightening..

    Actually, it it fairly dry, but quite good explanation of a geologist views of past climate..

    But he has been a critical of AGW in the past, and received lot’s of abuse, so he does lay into the IPCC, this was published before climategate.  Since then, and what we have learned, he seems to have been vindicated on the ‘warmists’ behaviour towards him.

    Of course, again, ‘climate scientists’ would never actually READ his book.

    I had left a copy of  – Heaven and Earth –  on my hall table (I was out), a friend of ours came around, whilst speaking to my wife, saw it, and actually picked it up, and turned it face down.  This friend co edited IPCC reports, and had their own emails released in the climategate leak. 

    And to this date has not looked at anything in the leak (foia2009.zip).  The act of turning the book over was in my mind a sign of the bunker groupthink mentality that seems to have arisen.

  • gilbert

    If Ferenc Miskolcz is right, the the AGW advocates are correct in claiming that there is no debate.  Right or wrong, his argument goes to the heart of the issue…Feedbacks.

    And the more time goes by without a rebuttal in the peer reviewed literature, the more his credibility improves.

  • Ken

    Hi all
    Before I ask my questions I will give some background of myself. My field of science is chemistry. I do not have a PhD, but i am a trained technical auditor in my little specializtion. I am skeptical of all results, by everyone, until they can show their due diligence to producing quality data and continually improving the processes they use. I have witnessed many examples of good and bad by many scientists, therefore i do not believe the whole argument that “they are scientists and must be believed”. The way that scientists produce their results is completely dependent on quality raw data. I also understand that most climate scientists do not produce the data themselves, it is generated by third parties that control the weather stations, satelites etc..
    Now to my questions.
    1) On many of the thermometer records that I have seen on many skeptic websites (yes skeptics sites, sue me), the thermometers appear to be continually corrected in the same direction and generally in significant increments. This is statistically improbable, and the increment size would mean that the temps error is quite significant to the resolution that could be recorded by this data. Why is this happening and Who is the accrediting body that oversees these processes? What is being done to improve the data gathering so that we are not just witnessing an artifact of continual adjustment?
    2) This question comes from outside of my expertise. I have read many articles that many of the other planets in the solar system were showing signs of warming. Is this true and what is the cause of this? Does it equate to similar warming on our planet?
    I will leave my questions to these. Please try to avoid the attacks on myself if you are going to answer.

     

  • Judith Curry

    The Miskolczi paper is an interesting case.  There is very much to criticize in this paper, but he does make a few good points, particularly with regards to neglect of the virial theorem. Since it was published in a Hungarian journal with a minimal impact factor, mainstream scientists don’t want to bother with writing a formal reply to that journal.
    There is some discussion (rather shallow, really) of this paper over atRabbett Run.  Hopefully somebody in the blogosphere will tackle this (e.g. Eli or scienceofdoom).
    Note rebutting this is a much bigger job than replying to allegations made by Montford, which somebody could do in an afternoon if they were so inclined.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    dhogaza (154)

    “My interest is your credibility, to be honest.  From what I’ve read, a growing number of climate scientists share that interest.

    That’s what I mean by not making it personal. I’m not interested in what you think of anyone’s credibility, much less your vague second hand references. Just engage the arguments.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Dhogaza.
    .
    You underestimate who you are speaking to.
    .
    It is not only Dr Curry who noticed Oppenheimer’s exhortation to ‘reduce uncertainties’ for the double-edged sword it is.
    .
    Mike Hulme used exactly the same statement in a paper under submission, along broadly similar lines. (Yes it is the very paper that Lawrence Solomon and Deepclimate both choked on ).
    .
    http://www.probeinternational.org/Hulme-Mahony-PiPG%5B1%5D.pdf
    .
    As Oppenheimer et al. (2007: 1506) remark: “The establishment of consensus by the IPCC is no longer as critical to governments as [is] a full exploration of uncertainty.”
    Without a careful explanation about what it means, this drive for consensus can leave the IPCC vulnerable to outside criticism. Claims such as “˜2,500 of the world’s leading
    scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous.
    .
    Mike Hulme seems to leave behind him a trail of careless readers fuming for making them think he is on their side.
    .
    Have fun.

  • William Newman

    Jonathan Gilligan (#119), I studied biology, chemistry, and physics for many years. Later, I ran a sizable open source software project for more years. Thus, I have at least some appreciation of wheat/chaff problems. I remain baffled how people can solemnly invoke wheat/chaff confusion to justify strong-feedback-AGWist behavior in the general IPCC controversy without making an exception for (especially) Steve McIntyre and people around him. I find it especially baffling in a comment thread which is substantially about _The Hockey Stick Illusion_.

    Note also that when you quote Collins & Evans, infra, p. 22, you seem to be mixing their apples (work in progress) with many IPCC defenders’ oranges (settled science).

    I did my Ph. D. on (Monte Carlo calculations on) few-electron systems. That is truly settled science. Not coincidentally, if some outsider wanted to get up to speed on it, studying books and articles would work tolerably well. Such study would certainly be an effective way to learn to recognize errors in my work. It might not be a very effective way to find an interesting or promising research avenue, but that said, your word “cannot” (in your “simply reading books and journal papers cannot”) is a ridiculous overstatement.

    I did some months of research lab work involving purification of biomolecules. A lot of that was specialized unsettled science where we’d refer to various poorly understood issues with slang like “black magic”. Later I worked for a while in computer models of large molecules in solution, a problem which remains poorly understood even today. Various reasons for things we did, and various limitations we worked around, were poorly understood and not learnable from published papers. So I have some appreciation the difficulty of unsettled science. But I also have some appreciation of the logical inconsistency of insisting on the truth of one’s conclusions based on methods which are sufficiently unsettled that outsiders can’t spot errors in it. Strong scientific conclusions worthy of dogmatic impatience go with settled science. Unsettled undocumented scientific methods can be useful, in large part because presently they evolve into more settled settled science, but they call for cautious conclusions. (There can be a mix: e.g. use wet biological black magic to grow and isolate a molecule, then use settled spectroscopic science to characterize the molecule. Then you can be dogmatic about properties of the molecule, but you should be cautious in conclusions related to, e.g., its precise concentration in vivo.)

    A lot of the math and statistics underlying settled science spreads remarkably wide. Being trained as a quantum chemist didn’t prevent me from correctly spotting an invalid proof in a (book based on) a computer scientist’s Ph. D. thesis on a subspecialty of game theory. (I got a courteous email acknowledgment, though alas no acknowledgement in the paper the author published later when he found a valid proof.) Anyone who understands this tends to be nonplussed by people who try to excuse setting aside criticisms of Mann’s statistics from McIntyre, or from the out-of-field (ag sci, IIRC) academics whose mentioned in the “climategate” emails.

    Finally, note that if one wants to look for case studies of outsiders getting things right, one needn’t need to reach all the way back to AIDS activists in the 1980s. Arguably <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair”>the Sokal hoax</a> is an example. At the very least, the hoax suggests caution about pushing the usual funded insider peer-review wheat-chaff heuristic too far. In a sense cold fusion is an example. Many of the lingering cold fusion claims depended on messy specialized “black magic” experimental considerations involving high-precision calorimetry, so that only a few insider specialists could expect to do the experiments at all routinely. One would have been wise to give a heavy weight to criticism from nonspecialists regarding clear settled-science errors associated with the dramatic early claims. (I seem to remember a calculation that if the neutron flux had been as claimed in an early paper, the researchers would have died.) And clearly the work by various outsiders, especially Clayton, regarding <a href=”http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=692421″>Bellesiles</a> is an example.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    It’s sad and discouraging to see the same old ruts showing up here. What started out as striking out onto promising new ground has become more of the same old flame wars.

    Some useful and relevant observations here from Policy Lass a.k.a. SheWonk. I think these slightly predate our present conversation, but the way things have turned out here send my thoughts to essentially the ground Ms PL/SW covers.

    In short, “to properly understand what is going on, you need to look at the political and economic underpinnings of the debates.”

    By taking the complaints at face value rather than understanding that they are ultimately political, Dr. Curry brings us to this turf where scientific nitpicking is used as a proxy for policy debate, and where any attempt to point this out is regarded as cheating.

    The result is a conversation generating a lot of heat and no light,  a lot of bad feelings, but essentially negligible political or scientific insight.

    I have an unusual perspective on it.

    The way my efforts to support them on what they say are their key points: – open data, improved and better formalized methodologies, a distinction between pure exploratory science and science used to support policy is summarily rejected, despite my sincerity on these points, which largely departs from scientific orthodoxy. Meanwhile, my insistence (along with most people who understand the situation) that the only reasonable target for net carbon emissions is zero and that vigorous pursuit of that goal is long overdue, is superficially ignored. But rather than this making me into an ally, I am cast as an opponent, even as an extremist. This seems to me to indicate that the real priorities have nothing to do with scientific process.
     

  • Phil Clarke

    This question is primarily for Dr curry, but all submissions welcome ….

    At present, despite taking an interested layman’s perspective on the climate change debate, and assembling a holiday reading list, I am disinclined to expend money, or valuable time, on Andrew Montford’s book. So I am writing to ask to be pursuaded: apart from yourself I have been unable to locate any credible person willing to endorse this narrative. Montford steers us for positive reviews towards Wiki where we find reviews from:

    1. Bruce Robbins of The Courier. The Courier is a local paper covering Montford’s home town. Robbins, when not expressing an opinion on climate science, covers other importantlocal issues e.g.

    <i>The Broughty Ferry church spire badly damaged in a lightning strike a fortnight ago has been obscured by scaffolding for an insurance assessment.</i>

    2. Matt Ridley – who is indeed a climate change sceptic , and whose relationship with factual accuracy seems a little elastic.

    3. Andrew Orlowski of The Register, which is a UK IT industry news and gossip site, that has taken a sceptical stance (and hosted a couple pieces by Steve Goddard). The London Review of Books it ain’t.

    4. Christopher Booker – a man who believes talc and white asbestos are chemically identical and confuses winter and summer
    So it would seem Science, Nature, Scientific American, New Scientist and indeed every publication or website that might reasoanably be expected to notice a work that makes a significant contribution to the debate has decided not to review or even comment on this tome.

    I am also discouraged by Montford’s earlier essay The Jesus Paper which I found a ridiculous exercise in one-sided and biased misrepresentation.

    So perhaps I can repeat Dr Schmidt’s invitation: could you summarise the new information and arguments I might discover in this book, that would make it worth the investment in time and money? Time is precious and so far the arguments of other amateurs such as Mosher, Fuller et al in this area have demonstrated, shall we say, a certain lack of robustness?
    Thanks,

    Phil Clarke.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Michael (174):

    I take issue with your characterization of the thread. Aside from some episodic nastiness and snarling (which has an outsized corrosive effect on the dialogue), I’m very please with the quality of the comments here. I also recognize that the line of questioning is not getting at issues that you regard as centrally important–those “political and economic underpinnings.”

    It’s exactly that which I’m trying to separate out from the purely scientific issues that also animate these debates and I think worth engaging with the broadest audience possible

  • Colin Davidson

    Much has been written about the credibility or otherwise of individuals. But all that is besides the point.

    Consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is FACT.

    There is no dispute that Greenhouse gases theoretically make the planet warmer. There is general agreement on the effect of increased CO2 on a “dry rock” planet. The difference between a full-blown CAGW prediction and a sceptic position is the magnitude and sign of the feedback effects of water.

    And this is hotly disputed within the Climate Science community. There is essentially no consensus: the modellers have warming between 2 and 6DegC for a doubling of CO2 – no consensus there. Other climate scientists predict between 0 and 1.5DegC. So there’s a huge range of scientific opinion.

    [It is of interest that the modelling group, which has the widest range of predictions, also has the most vituperative adherents, presumeably because their case is so strong...]

    A mature position, rather than a slagging of the dumbclucks who disagree, would be that the issue of feedbacks needs resolution by measurement. Unfortunately the temperature databases are suspect – very little effort has been made to ensure decent quality control, and in some cases, unforgiveably, the original data is no longer available.

    So the very first thing the Climate Science community should do is to improve the Quality Control of the measurement data – ensure that the original data and metadata is preserved, that the algorithms, adjustments and aggregations are documented in peer-reviewed papers, and that these are also archived. [It is a tragedy that this has not been done in the past. It is also an indictment that it has taken audits by outsiders to expose the dreadful state of affairs in the temperature records.]

    I guess that with these opinions, I must be a creationist smoker on the BIG oil payroll. If so, I apologise.

  • Judith Curry

    Phil Clarke, re Montford’s book, I am primarily suggesting that people who want to understand the “ruckus” should actually read this book which provides the perspective of the skeptics.  The well argued allegations in this book, which are serious, should be refuted by the mainstream climate community involved in this research and the IPCC if they are in fact incorrect.  And if they are correct, there are serious problems with climate research and with the IPCC. As to whether someone just entering the fray and trying to understand the whole thing should actually purchase and read this book, well such a person will have to decide whether or not to read this based on what they have seen/heard about the book.  It would be counterproductive (not to mention very time consuming) for me to try to summarize all the allegations and evidence provided by Montford.  I hope that someone in the climate blogosphere will take this on, sounds like Tim Lambert actually intends to read it.  That fact that NO ONE from the mainstream climate community is commenting on this (other than a few people over at Klimazweibel) is telling, in my opinion; much of what Montford has written will not be easily refuted.

  • Phil Clarke

    A mature position, rather than a slagging of the dumbclucks who disagree, would be that the issue of feedbacks needs resolution by measurement.

    Well yes, and what issue do you have with the measurements of Dessler et al who found that the water vapour feedback is observed, measured and unless checked by a currently unknown negative feedback will lead to an increase in global temperature of several degrees Celsius?

    http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/Dessler2008b.pdf

  • Judith Curry

    Michael, I applaud your stance on open data, improved and better formalized methodologies, and a distinction between pure exploratory science and science used to support policy; this is definitely in line with what the skeptics are asking for.  However, you seem to be in postnormal science land, where we can’t have a discussion about the science and uncertainties without dealing with the policy/economic issues (including absolute policy prescriptions), and you also seem to be in denial about the uncertainties associated with the science.  It is these aspects that the climateauditors responded negatively to.

  • Judith Curry

    Phil Clarke, the issue of water vapor feedback is hotly debated.  There are many papers in the literature with contradictory findings.  Citing one paper isn’t useful; a literature review and assessment is needed before drawing any conclusions.  Water vapor and cloud feedback issues are frontier science issues, on the edge of ignorance. Drawing conclusions with any level of uncertainty is not justified at this time, other than that the sign of the global water vapor feedback is likely positive.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    Keith, I stipulate that the comments are on the whole intelligent and reasonably polite. That is not the same thing as useful. Positions are being staked out here that have been staked out endlessly elsewhere. Aside from Judith and yourself, it’s hard to spot anyone who isn’t firmly allied with one side or another, and hard to spot anything traveling between the two sides without being wrapped in a neat package of hostility and suspicion.

    What purpose this serves escapes me.

    Judith Curry: That fact that NO ONE from the mainstream climate community is commenting on this (other than a few people over at Klimazweibel) is telling, in my opinion; much of what Montford has written will not be easily refuted.

    Judith, that is the trouble with asymmetric battles. Allegations are easy, defenses are hard. And in this case, the accusers actually outnumber the accused. So it’s possible for them to cause great swaths of climate science to grind to a complete halt, something which arguably is in fact happening.

    We have seen, time and again, that the accusations are made in a way that is full of legalistic tricks and spin, and that nothing of any ethical or scientific consequence has occurred.

    Anything of substance relates to IPCC itself. At that point, we aren’t discussing science. We are discussing how science should be communicated to the policy sector. At that point, broader issues come up. The idea that the conventions of ordinary science apply is far from obvious, and maybe we should discuss that.
     

  • onlyme

    183. Michael Tobis “So it’s possible for them to cause great swaths of climate science to grind to a complete halt, something which arguably is in fact happening.”

    Please provide evidence of the great swaths of climate science which have ground to a halt, and perhaps a definition of a great swath as well.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    Phil Clarke, as co-author of a competing book (Climategate: The CRUtape Letters) I recommend The Hockey Stick Illusion without reservation. I was provided a review copy by the author shortly before its publication.
    The writing is good, the subject matter is treated with care and respect, the narrative is clear.  I have periodically reviewed books for three newspapers and one magazine, but rather than expound at length I’ll just say go get it and read it. It’s not that long, it’s not that expensive, it does what it says on the label, and reading it made me jealous and want to rewrite our own work.

  • Phil Clarke

    <i>Phil Clarke, the issue of water vapor feedback is hotly debated.  There are many papers in the literature with contradictory findings.  Citing one paper isn’t useful; a literature review and assessment is needed before drawing any conclusions.</i>
    Who could disagree? Could you steer me to some of those contradictory papers?
    On the apparent silence from the mainstream in response to Montford’s claims, I guess if, after 5 months, ‘the Team’ have not formally responded, chances are they never will. So we are left with basically 2 possibilities:
    1. Montford is on to something and ‘the Team’ have no refutation.
    2. In terms of the impact on the science, Montford’s claims do not amount to a hill of beans and can and should be neglected.

    A gross simplification, clearly. But time will expose the truth and in the interim, I for one, am happy to stick with the latest Martin Amis as my beach reading….

    cheers,

    PC.

  • Judith Curry

    Michael #182, picking up on your statement:
    “Anything of substance relates to IPCC itself. At that point, we aren’t discussing science. We are discussing how science should be communicated to the policy sector. At that point, broader issues come up. The idea that the conventions of ordinary science apply is far from obvious, and maybe we should discuss that.”

    I wholeheartedly agree.  The key is the IPCC, how the science is assessed, uncertainties and confidence levels assessed, and then communicated to the public.  The whole hockey stick debate is about the IPCC, and how MBH 98,99 came to such high prominence in the TAR, and then a host of issues surrounding the paleo section in AR4.  Digging into to what happened in these instances is very illuminating of the challenge that IPCC faces and some inherent problems.  I agree that this is where the dialogue should be, including discussing the various essays that were submitted to the IAC review of the IPCC.  Frankly, i think Montford’s book is highly relevant to this issue, but we can discuss the issue much more broadly.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    Michael, while I understand your feelings, you should perhaps remember from time to time that this thread isn’t here just for you. I am among (apparently) several others who find this thread useful as well as entertaining.
    Might I suggest you take a look at what you’re bringing to this party rather than what you expect to take away from it? You have spent this entire thread evaluating the contributions (or lack thereof) of others.
    There’s a fella at the top of this thread who said, The fundamental question is: Are you interested in improving the world’s and your own understanding the climate system as a physical system, a problem which in principle really ought to be at least partially resolvable? Or are you interested in demeaning and undermining the people who have made the most effort toward doing so.”
    It’s obviously a rhetorical question, but let me ask you this:
    How does demeaning Steve McIntyre and undermining his efforts to  establish an audit trail for data used in climate science help science go forward?
    I ask because I have been highly critical of Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Keith Briffa and Ben Santer (and have been harshly criticized for it). I actually sat down and thought about the moral implications of what I was doing–a luxury not everyone has. I really, honestly wondered if a non-scientist should criticize the work product of scientists.
    Obviously I decided to proceed with my criticism–although if you notice it’s more about communications, uncertainty and policy than the science itself. I’m comfortable with what I did, and believe I acted honestly and without malice.
    Have you done the same regarding Steve McIntyre?

  • SimonH

    Phil Clarke Says:
    June 19th, 2010 at 8:00 pm
    “I am disinclined to expend money, or valuable time, on Andrew Montford’s book.”


    If you’re not interested in understanding the issues as they exist in the minds of the sceptics then I’d recommend not reading the book. Don’t waste your money on something that might, ultimately, serve to benefit climate science by facilitating yourself with material with which to effectively address the nuances that are resulting in climate science’s credibility haemorrhaging. It’s clear from your post that you consider nobody but pro-AGW thinkers to be credible and you fall entertainingly back into the routine ad hominem. A reporter reports on a lightning strike. Oooh; a reviewer is a sceptic (you guys made me a sceptic, you know); The Register (an immensely popular site among those of us in IT) is not the London Book Review. Oh; Booker read the book, but you didn’t. Whatever you think of the man (and I might even agree), he’s infinitely better qualified to speak on its substance than someone who won’t buy a book because it hasn’t been blessed by the hockey team.

    Dr Curry is infinitely more conciliatory than I am towards denial within climate science. I understand why. While, from my own perspective, nothing gives me greater pleasure at this point than to watch Montford’s book go wholly unanswered by an establishment which is purportedly scientific but manifestly determined to selectively ignore evidence. It suits me just fine. Dr Curry, on the other hand, has a vested interest in climatology. She’s a climate scientist, and she recognises that if the timeline narrated in Montford’s book is allowed to stand without being refuted, climatology will continue to collapse steadily in on itself, as it has been doing faster and faster since November 19th. Before Climategate, I was the only sceptic I knew. Today I can’t find a single pro-AGW thinker to argue the toss with in my social group.

    The problem that ALL climate scientists face is that Montford’s book is a damn good read and one that, whether you like it or not, and whether you read it or not, brings the reader straight to eye level with the minutiae of the “hockey stick illusion” and with the current state of climate science. By default the book makes ALL of the “Climategate” stories make absolute sense. And it makes the reader angry at having been duped by the climatologists. And that, more than anything, is damning.

    With or without your participation, climate science has been indicted. It’s in the dock right now. Failure to read the file – the evidence against it – and to offer no response is to offer no defence against overwhelming evidence of advocacy, corruption, perversion of the scientific method, abuse of peer review processes, even perhaps scientific malfeasance. So don’t read the book, and don’t submit a defence. The prosecution will support you in that decision.

  • Colin Davidson

    Michael Tobis said:
     “Judith, that is the trouble with asymmetric battles. Allegations are easy, defenses are hard. And in this case, the accusers actually outnumber the accused. So it’s possible for them to cause great swaths of climate science to grind to a complete halt, something which arguably is in fact happening.”

    I think that is a dismissive argument, unfair to the “accusers”, and a denial of the scientific process.

    What has been alleged is that:
    1. The peer-review system is not an adequate quality control. [Concrete examples provided].
    2. The mathematical basis of some claims by climate scientists are suspect [concrete examples provided].

    Those allegations stand until detailed refutation is made. Or should we, in this case, accept that the pleas of over-work, or distraction are valid, and therefore the criticisms and the concrete examples provided are without foundation?

  • William Newman

    Phil Clarke writes “I am also discouraged by Montford’s earlier essay The Jesus Paper which I found a ridiculous exercise in one-sided and biased misrepresentation.”

    Could you point out one or two of the most ridiculous of the misrepresentations you refer to in “Caspar and the Jesus Paper”?

    I can’t tell for sure whether you mean that facts were directly misstated, or that key facts were omitted with a clear intent to mislead, or what.

    Clearly it’s openly polemical, and so it’s definitely one-sided in that sense. But presumably that’s not all you mean. Consider how Gavin Schmidt structured his argument in that other thread where the proxies that aren’t to be named weren’t supposed to be discussed. He was openly polemical (e.g. “harassing … if on the other hand the aim is to engage people constructively …”). And unsurprisingly the polemics were one-sided, in the normal human way. (It might be fun if to read a two-sided polemic; maybe The Onion will do one sometime. Perhaps from a politician in the process of changing parties?) But he anchored his indignation upon supposed facts which didn’t admit of any obvious defensible explanation. Thus, had he succeeded in defending the facts which were supposed to justify his polemic, he would have demolished his critics, and then despite the one-sided self-righteous indignant condescending polemic which he had hung on those facts, we would not be justified in calling his argument “a ridiculous exercise in one-sided and biased misrepresentation.”

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    Scientists are already asked to do more pro-bono work than other professionals, especially if they get sucked into being reviewers. Michael’s point is valid to a certain point–if nobody is getting paid to do it, if nobody’s being asked or tasked to do it, it shouldn’t really surprise us that it’s not getting done.
    But if climate science is at a strategic turning point here and now, I should think that someone would recognise that the questions that have been raised do need to be answered–and answered to the satisfaction of the questioner (which doesn’t mean caving in to them).

  • AMac

    Judith Curry — Upthread, there was an interesting exchange about  the role of “citizen-scientists” in climate science:  whether it’s good or bad in its present form, and what its potential might be.

    It might be worth reviewing one instance of such activism, and see if that offers any lessons.  Back in 2004, Ross McKitrick and Pat Frank published  “A Test of Corrections for Extraneous Signals in Gridded Surface Temperature Data” in Climate Research, placing the data and code online.  Computer scientist and blogger Tim Lambert examined that work, and discovered that the authors had mistakenly input Latitude as Degrees, rather than as Radians — as required by the program they were using.  The result was that all of the Significance calculations in the paper were incorrect.  McKitrick and Frank acknowledged the error, and published an extended Correction (both papers available at McKitrick’s website).

    McKitrick claims these corrections don’t change the results very much.  Lambert claims they’re gravely weakened.  On cursory inspection, Lambert seems to me to have the better argument.

    Many readers will recognize a distinction between Lambert and most other citizen-scientists mentioned on this thread:  Lambert is seen as supportive of the Consensus AGW position.  The degrees/radians correction was celebrated at RealClimate, among other sites.  But I find it hard to believe that anyone would doubt the substantial positive contribution he made in fixing this error in the scientific peer-reviewed literature.

    Some citizen-scientist actions are going to make the Consensus AGW position “look better.”  Others are going to make it “look worse.”  Should that be the primary metric by which mainstream climate science values the worth of the putative contribution?

    This notion has been touched on earlier in the thread, e.g. by William Newman in #156, who wrote “What seems to radicalize many of the IPCC critics… [is] the astonishing stubbornness in assigning ad hominem considerations significant weight in disputes over pure technical or historical facts.”

    So, we have an instance where citizen-scientist activity was appreciated by the climate science mainstream, and ended up improving the formal literature.  Leaving the pro-Consensus vs. skeptical-of-Consensus effects out of the analysis (if this can be done):  would mainstream climate science benefit from explaining what features made this a worthwhile contribution?

  • JohnB

    Michael @ 174. The difference is perhaps this. If there are aspects of the science that are open to question, then definitive conclusions cannot be drawn.

    Most of us sceptics want to know that the science is “right” and then move on to logical conclusions and action strategies from there. You have already decided what the “required” strategy is and this automatically makes you (at least a bit) biased. Deciding policy before science is politics, not science. To then claim is it science is disingenuous at best.

    The same is true for my side BTW. Whether massive CO2 reductions or minimal changes, deciding the policy outcome before getting the facts is not science, it is politics.

    What many fail to see is that many of us sceptics can be easily won over. All we ask for is good, open science that can be checked. We don’t actually care what the answer is but will follow where the science leads.

    But what we see is obstruction, ad homs, dismissal of uncertainty and refusal to debate. Note the comments above. Judith Curry suggests reading a book and the steadfast refusal to consider the idea from some areas. Objections not based on fact but on who wrote it or who reviewed it.

    On a more general note concerning the “citizen scientists”. I think that climate science is missing a huge opportunity here. Consider the sheer number of sceptics demanding better archiving and record keeping. The pressure we can put onto political leaders is immense. All that is required is to ask.

    Much has been made of the FOI requests from CA. How many letters and emails demanding better funding for record keeping could we generate? We’ll help, but climate science must dedicate itself to openness and transparency as well. Uncircle the wagons and there will be a small army willing to help advance the science.

    In a similar vein we need better (more complete) paleo records. Some of us aren’t too good with the maths but we have two good arms and strong backs. Tell us what equipment we need and where to go and within a couple of years the dendros will have more tree ring cores than they could handle. We can’t do ice cores or sediment cores, but tree rings we can do.

    Many sceptics just want to see good science and are willing to help. All that is required is for climate science to mobilise and guide the potential army.

    If there’s something that just needs manpower and time, just come up with a system and ask.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    All,

    A few quick points about comments:

    1) If your comment does not appear within a few hours, please let me know. It might very well have landed in my spam folder. That happens on occasion.

    2) Starting either tonight or tomorrow morning, I will be placing some individuals in moderation. And I will let you know via email if you are one of them. This will hopefully put a chill on some of the flame wars that Michael Tobis (and others) have noted. It’ll only be a handful of people, since I think the great majority of commenters here are civil and respectful of others.

  • Michael Larkin

    I’m a layman. I have a science degree and a little research experience from many moons ago, but I’m not kidding myself I understand the more esoteric aspects of climate science. Nevertheless, this is an important issue that will affect me, one way or the other, and so I have every right to be interested; every right to try to understand what I can and formulate my own conclusions. Please note that ““ my own conclusions. I’m not primarily concerned about who says what and how much they are alleged to know or not know, or what their political affiliations are, etc. The most important thing is what I can make of what they say.

    I suppose that Climategate is what piqued my interest. Casually at first, I started visiting blogs, and that was a bit of an eye-opener because I quickly saw that on both sides, a lot of what was being said was, from a scientific viewpoint, irrelevant. I wanted to drill down and find something, anything, I could hang a hat on.

    Pro-AGW sites, especially Realclimate, quickly alienated me. I suspect it has done much the same for countless other initially completely open-minded enquirers, and in that respect is probably its own worst enemy. A few of the more rabid sceptical sites had a similar effect, but even so, it was almost exclusively from sceptical sites that I began to get a moderately better understanding of the science. On balance, there was definitely a more open discussion going on there. Sceptical sites don’t censor so much, and so one gets more exposed to differing arguments and opinion.

    So there’s one point about who might be to blame: strike one against pro- sites for not welcoming and dealing with awkward questions, instead censoring and vilifying with ad homs. They have trained up an army of people, most of whom have even less scientific credentials than myself, who think that authority, consensus, parroted arguments and insults make for convincing arguments.

    They’re driving people to their opponent’s sites, especially, perhaps, WUWT, where there’s quite a lot of what Steve McIntyre (the most gentlemanly person on either side of the debate) might call “piling on”, but despite that, also many interesting articles that get thrashed out and sometimes even trashed by sceptics themselves. One who largely lurks, like myself, picks up quite a lot this way concerning what the key issues are, precisely because there is quite often genuine discussion rather than dogma.

    Both sides to some extent have the tendency to stereotype the other. I have seen structurally very similar, if not identical, diatribes, launched by one side against the other; just substituting key words and phrases can convert this boilerplate into pro- or anti- propaganda at will. So I guess it’s even-stevens on that count.

    That said, I ask myself over and over why it is that an avowedly “official” site such as Realclimate does not seek to distance itself from such behaviour; indeed, why it sets up the archetype for it. A likely conclusion by a disinterested observer is that if the sanctioned views were that secure, there’d be no need for that.

    Then, of course, there is the continual alarmism and generation of predictions that have been falsified; the seeding of so-called “independent” climategate enquiries with placemen; the sorry state of the surface temperature datasets; the refusal to meet in open debate with sceptics; the murky dealings revealed by climategate; and so on. These are charges that can’t be levelled against the sceptics, even if there are others that can, and they are all, in one way and another, home goals. Joe Public may not be able to understand the science, but he usually has a good nose for a suspicious aroma.

    And should he have any doubts, he doesn’t like being labelled in obnoxious ways by people who seem to him to be insufferably arrogant in expressing what is for many of them merely received opinion – regardless of whether it happens to be correct or not. This is not the way to win hearts and minds, and yet the response in a post-Climategate world is, for some, to carry on and even intensify a strategy that is a proven failure.

    At the bottom of AGW, there may be a grain of truth, but the fact that it isn’t being promulgated in a reasoned and constrained fashion, embracing criticism rather than circling the wagons to defend against it – together with the political dimensions of the issue – is only obscuring that.

    Judith Curry is a voice of commonsense in the wilderness. Pro-AGW people should start listening to her (Surprisingly, my take is that she has more respect on the sceptic side), because in the end, I suspect it’s climate science’s last chance to prove that it has any real worth. It’s only hope for lasting credibility depends on engaging its critics and coming up with sober assessments of the situation.

    Last but not least, Pro-AGW people really must get into the habit of reading their critics before dismissing them. It is outrageous to disparage Montford’s book without having done that. I wonder if such people realise how badly they tar themselves and the opinions they support when they openly admit they don’t have the faintest idea what the book actually says. I myself have just acquired it, and will be reading it in the near future. Until then, I have nothing to say about it. All credit to Judith, who has, and whose verdict is therefore an informed one, even if some, sight unseen, have the brass nerve to question it.

    You’re a courageous woman, Judith, and are getting brickbats from both sides. That’s usually a sign that one is getting something right!

  • Ian Castles

    Re #192, A Mac:
    Ross McKitrick’s co-author was Pat Michaels, not Pat Frank. A full review of the episode and of the lessons to be learned would need to extend to subsequent related work by McKitrick and co-authors.

  • dhogaza

    “Some citizen-scientist actions are going to make the Consensus AGW position “look better.”  Others are going to make it “look worse.”  Should that be the primary metric by which mainstream climate science values the worth of the putative contribution?”

    No, of course, contributions should be judged by merit.  Screwing up degrees and radians well … judge for yourself.

    But the basic problem is that, these so-called “citizen scientists”, are working to undermine and discredit science.

    Unlike any other citizen science efforts I’m aware of (and I’m been deeply involved with such efforts regarding ornithology and forest ecology).

    Most citizen scientists don’t approach the object of their love saying “IT’S ALL A FRAUD!”.

  • dhogaza

    “Sceptical sites don’t censor so much, and so one gets more exposed to differing arguments and opinion.”

    This is just wrong.  They *claim* they don’t, yet they do.  The blogosphere is full of examples of people being banned from such sites for merely promoting mainstream science (you know, like the apple falls from the tree kinda stuff).

  • dp

    Is Dr. Curry the only warm leaning scientist who has faith in the science and that it will stand strong against critical analysis? I am also of the impression that if the science supporting AGW is shown to be wrong, Dr. Curry alone will accept it and go on to more great work.

  • Steve Bloom

    Hmm, according to this article the chief strategist for the oil company-backed initiative to delay (overturn, really) California’s groundbreaking AB32 law to fight global warming used to be…. drumroll, please… a tobacco lobbyist fighting California’s groundbreaking anti-tobacco laws!  It’s a small world after all.

    The head of Valero, the oil company that’s the chief funder of the initiative, –

    ‘dismisses climate change legislation as “alarmist.” He’s taken a lead role as chief attack dog in battling clean energy policy at the national scale as Chairman of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. He also is the brains behind the AstroTurf “Voices for Energy” effort supporting Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s effort to strip EPA of its right to regulate greenhouse gases. (That measure recently failed in the U.S. Senate .).’

    What a guy.  Of course no one considering all of this would imagine for a moment that the fossil fuel industry would work in support of sincere “citizen scientists” and other “skeptics” to raise doubts about climate science.  

    It is, as I said above unless Keith censored it, the sea they swim in.
     

  • Phil Clarke

    Willaim Newman: Could you point out one or two of the most ridiculous of the misrepresentations you refer to in “Caspar and the Jesus Paper”?

    I can’t tell for sure whether you mean that facts were directly misstated, or that key facts were omitted with a clear intent to mislead, or what.

    Hi William. Apart from the implicit assumption of bad faith by the scientists involves that permeates the essay, it is clear that in writing that polemic Montford wants his readers to believe two things- that the MBH99 study (Hockey Stick) is a vital part of the evidence for AGW, and that McIntyre’s statistical criticisms totally discredited that study. Thus we have …

    “With the replication of the hockey stick in tatters, reasonable people might have expected some sort of pause in the political momentum. “

    Both these propositions are, I think, false. Firstly, the paleoclimate evidence has little bearing on whether GHGs are or are not responsible for the modern rapid warming. The climate record of the last 1-2 thousand years forms a small section in a single chapter of AR4 WG1. If we do a little thought experiment and jump in our timemachine and pursuade Mann, Badley and Hughes not to publish, the relevant figure in AR4 would be missing a single strand of spaghetti. Ho hum.

    Secondly, this probably isn’t the place to get into CE statistics and the like, however it seems clear to me that Wahl and Ammann did indeed show that even if the study was re-done taking into account the recommendations of McIntyre and Wegman, the result still is pretty much stick-esque. Even so, jumping back into the realms of the hypothetical I find convincing Dr Schmidt’s statement that

    “Whether the Amman and Wahl paper was or was not cited is pretty much immaterial. It was relevant and therefore was cited, but the implication that this was somehow crucially important or that it’s absence would have lead to some hugely different outcome is simply fantasy”

    Thanks to Amazon, I’ve now read the intro to the book in which Montford tells us there is little or no new material, so I am left pondering the purchase of a book that seems to be another restatement of the HS story (the wiki page alone runs to 6,000 words – can there be much that has not been already aired repeatedly?), plus the addition of some new material that may or may not show that IPCC rules were bent of broken. (if they in fact were, the IPCC comment seems clear and Steve Mosher has been asked exactly which IPCC rules were in fact broken – so far, silence)

    Indeed I am left wondering why all this fuss about the processes and procedures, regarding a study that, let us not forget, is now 11 years old. Something that seems to get forgotten is that the focus of Mann et als early work was actually the uncertainties in such reconstructions, and that the HS had HUGE error bars about the ‘shaft’ – error bars that comfortably contain the subsequent reconstructions. It was the first such reconstruction of its kind, and I believe one of Mann’s first post doc papers. Did it contain flaws, are there better ways of doing the stats? Undoubtably. Mann himself has said so. Do those flaws affect the conclusions materially? I am unconvinced, here is Mann 08  without tree rings and without 7 ‘potentially problematic’ proxies. Looks like an item of sporting equipment to me. As Fred Pearce writes

    The hockey stick, a pioneering piece of work in progress, became victim of the notoriety it gained from being included in the IPCC summary. And of course its catchy title.


    “The label was always a caricature and it became a stick to beat us with,” Mann said later. Was it flawed research? Yes. Was it hyped by the IPCC? Yes. Has it been disproved? Despite all the efforts, no. So far, it has survived the ultimate scientific test of repeated replication.
     

    Lastly, on the reliability of ‘Bishop Hill’ as an author, he was one of the first to post up a somewhat ‘inventive’ interpretation of what the CRU mails meant, duly echoed around cyberspace. Nearly all of these points have since been examined (to death you might say) and shown to be innocuous. My suspicion is that the book is more of the same kinda stuff, though I repeat my request for some indications from people who have read it that in this I am mistaken.
    cheers,

    PC.

  • http://amac1.blogspot.com/ AMac

    Ian Castles #196:  Thanks for spotting the mistake in my #192.  You are correct, McKitrick’s co-author was Pat Michaels, not Pat Frank.

    Phil Clarke #197:  With crowds of people in “all four” camps  — the pro-AGW Consensus, Lukewarmers, Skeptics, and AGW Deniers — some people from each are going to argue that “X” (e.g. the Hockey Stick) is important, while others claim that it’s secondary.  While you’re correct that some scientists in the pro-AGW Consensus don’t put much stock in the Hockey Stick (e.g. Michael Tobis), many others do.  It has figured very prominently in the IPCC reports, and in the face of AGW that the pro-Consensus side has chosen to put forth to the scientifically-literate public.

    “If it’s important enough to publish in top journals (Nature, Science, PNAS), it’s important enough to get the details right” seems like a better attitude than, “Even though it’s not crucial, we support publication of articles with results that ‘feel right’ in top journals — and criticism of weak or non-disclosed data and methods amounts to ‘Denialism’ and an ‘Assault on Science.’”

    > … here is Mann 08  without tree rings and without 7 “˜potentially problematic’ proxies…

    The treatment of four of those ‘potentially problematic’ proxies was the “meta-subject’ and then the subject of a recent C-a-s post and thread, The Main Hindrance to Dialogue (and Detente).  The evidence strongly suggests that those four proxies aren’t “potentially problematic” — they’re uncalibratable and thus were used in error.  If Mann08′s authors or their supporters have strong arguments to rebut this claim, they haven’t yet made them (toto’s in #63 is the best of them, IMO).

    I won’t re-launch those thousand ships on this thread, but will make the following point, echoing Michael Larkin in #195.  The Pro-AGW-Consensus side seems to be unwilling or unable to deal with probable errors in “their” science, in a scientifically-acceptable manner.  This fuels doubts among Lukewarmers and Skeptics that — taken as a whole — this science is as strong as is asserted, and is thus able to support predictions about 21st-Century climate with the precision and the certainty that are claimed.

  • Tim

    Can someone explain why motives matter? All people who do research are biased and there is no such thing as ‘agenda free’ science. All claims must be interpreted based on the bias of the researchers.

    The most dishonest claim I have seen is the claim that government funded scientists are more reliable that industry funded scientists. Government funded scientists are slaves to priorities of the funding agencies which, in turn, tend to be driven by the needs of politicians and bureaucrats.

    A government funded scientist producing research that claims that government regulation must be increased is no more credible than a tobacco company funded scientist producing research that claims that tobacco is safe. We can have no useful public conversation on science until we dispense with the notion that unbiased science exists.

  • TomFP

    Michael Tobis said:
    “Judith, that is the trouble with asymmetric battles…”

    But Michael, science is an assymetric battle, and good scientists have always reconciled themselves to the fact. As Einstein said, “No amount of experimentation can prove me right, while a single experiment can prove me wrong.” This is not just an argument for the replicability of experiment (although it is a powerful one that AGW enthusiasts seem to neglect). It was also a tacit, perhaps even rueful recognition that it can be far more arduous to advance knowledge than merely to disconfirm the theories of others, yet that both activities are of equal and inseparable value, are really two sides of the scientific coin, notwithstanding the difference in the exertion each demands.

    That essential (I believe) “unfairness” in the craft of science needs to be accepted by scientists. One of its implications is that laymen, or scientists in other fields, can indeed make valid contributions to a field in which they neither have, nor profess to have, the ability to advance the science itself. They do it, according to the depth of their knowledge, either by spotting the errors in published work, or by reading the accounts of others who have, and by generally assuring themselves that science, particularly where it is the basis of radical public policy, is being duly scrutinised.


    It is also open to non-specialists and laymen to employ the full range of logical tools to an argument they may themselves be incapable of advancing. Prominent among these are:


    Firstly, Adverse Inference ““ pure scientists, however mad or bad, have always been keen to publish their results, and the workings by which they were arrived at. Their understood data were just that ““ to be “given”, not owned, and that their reward lay in renown, not intellectual property.

    When Climategate revealed a field in which data were concealed, access to workings obstructed, and the peer review process (in Phil Jones’ word) “redefine(d)” to become “cheer review” ““ in short, a wholesale flouting of the scientific method, the adverse inference to be drawn was that they knew the work they were concealing would not stand proper scrutiny. That’s not the same as disconfirming the work itself, but it placed an onus on the AGW camp to present its workings in fully replicable form, so that those with the skill could do so, and the rest of us could see that the strictures of scientific method were, belatedly, being observed. The criticism here of Curry, Montford, Mckintyre etc., amount to an extended repudiation of that onus, and do nothing but fortify the original adverse inference.

    Secondly, “falsus in uno, falsus in omibus” ““ again, perhaps rather unfairly, but nevertheless justly, the fair-minded sceptic with no special knowledge of the science, may reasonably say “if X has been shown conclusively to be false (MM’s hockey stick, let’s say) in one instance, his other pronouncements may be treated with greater than usual caution, regardless of whether he has the ability to advance countertheory.

    A recent example came in Fred Pearce’s Guardian blog, where he described the sceptical interpretation of “Hide the Decline” as referring to an attempt to hide a decline in observed temperatures. I don’t fully understand the nuances of the “trick”, but I do know, and I know that most of my fellow deniers (I’m bored with the argument, so I just embrace the term) know, that the “hide the decline” refers to a post-1960 decline in the correlation between proxy and instrumental temperatures (“divergence”) which should have cast doubt on the reliability of pre-instrumental proxy temperatures. So I know that in one instance, at least, Pearce is false, and I must treat the rest of what he says with due caution. And this is true regardless of the rights and wrongs of the divergence issue ““ it is a falsehood I know from personal experience.

    Why, then, does Pearce make such a claim? Well, I suppose he might believe it, in which case I have to conclude that he is not familiar enough with the controversy to be worth reading. Alternatively, given that it serves to excuse him from confronting the Divergence Problem (a phenomenon sufficiently notorious in climate science to have earned itself leading capitals, but whose significance, when it comes to informing policy makers and the lay public, remains effectively unremarked), we may infer adversely that the Divergence is a phenomenon he would prefer not to discuss.

    Yes, it is an asymmetric battle, but it always was, and it always will be. The sooner the AGW crowd embrace this essential, if invidious, truth about science, the sooner the Adverse Inference will stop piling up.

  • http://amac1.blogspot.com/ AMac

    Comment numbering isn’t completely stable.  In my prior comment beginning “Ian Castles #196:  Thanks…” –

    “Phil Clarke #197″ refers to this comment.

  • Judith Curry

    Tim 203:  Personal motives or the source of funding don’t particularly matter, its the argument that counts.  Stating your biases and source of funding, and providing documentation and data, should be sufficient to eliminate motive from consideration of the argument (the person examining the argument can reproduce or otherwise check the argument and dismiss any explicitly value laden statements).   The medical research field (with heavy funding from big pharma) has such guidelines in place.

    Re government funding, libertarians often quote Eisenhower’s farewell address in 1961:
    “Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. 

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present ““ and is gravely to be regarded. 

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. 

    It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system ““ ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society. ”
    Their concern is basically about a technochratic elite being increasingly granted priest-like powers over the laity.

    There is an extra layer of concern however for something like the IPCC assessment report, which involves generating an overall integrative narrative and using expert opinion to assess confidence levels for the various conclusions.
    The Penn lawyer Jason Johnson recently wrote:

    “To use legal terms, is the work by the IPCC and establishment story lead scientists a legal brief ““ intended to persuade ““ or a legal memo ““ intended to objectively assess both sides?”


    The deeply imbued belief by nearly all climate scientists participating in the IPCC assessment report seems to be reflected by Michael Tobis’ statement in #174 “. . .my insistence (along with most people who understand the situation) that the only reasonable target for net carbon emissions is zero and that vigorous pursuit of that goal is long overdue. . .”
    How can a large group of scientists having such an insistence about policy be writing a legal memo and not a legal brief?  Whether they are consciously doing so or not?

  • Phil Clarke

    Amac,
    Thanks for pointing me to the other thread – all good stuff!

    The evidence strongly suggests that those four proxies aren’t “potentially problematic” “” they’re uncalibratable and thus were used in error.  If Mann08′s authors or their supporters have strong arguments to rebut this claim, they haven’t yet made them
    My take on this differs. The problems were discussed in the original text, the analysis was done with and without the proxies and one can fool around with the differences including or dropping individual proxies has on the final reconstruction because all the code & data are in the SI.

    The debate thus reduces to whether the cyan line in the no-tree-rings-no-dodgy-proxies is sufficiently different from the primary reconstruction to invalidate the paper’s conclusions which were:

    Recent warmth appears anomalous for at least the past 1,300 years whether or not tree-ring data are used. If tree-ring data are used, the conclusion can be extended to at least the past 1,700 years, but with additional strong caveats. The reconstructed amplitude of change over past centuries is greater than hitherto reported, with somewhat greater Medieval warmth in the Northern Hemisphere, albeit still not reaching recent levels.

    I don’t think so, but it’s a judgement call and YMMV.  We’re into angel/pinhead territory, seems to me.

  • Tim

    #206 – Judith

    Acknowledgig that the argument matters is a wonderful theory but in climate science the problem was best summarized by John Christy:

    “A fundamental problem with the entire issue here is that climate science is not a classic, experimental science. As an emerging science of a complex, chaotic climate system, it is plagued by uncertainty and ambiguity in both observations and theory. Lacking classic, laboratory results, it easily becomes hostage to opinion, groupthink, arguments-from-authority”

    This means the decision on who’s arguments are “better” rests a lot on the biases of the people people doing the judging. If the majority of scientists are working for government money then the consensus on which arguments are “better” will be coloured by the biases created by government funding.

    I don’t know of a easy way to resolve this issue. But I would like to see an end to this idea that “industry funded” science is inherently less trustworthy than government funded science. In fact, it think industry funded science can actually contribute constructively to the discussion because it provides a much needed alternate viewpoint. 

    For example, I think it would be very valuable to have companies like Exxon set up a climate modelling group which would compete with the government funded modellers.  

  • Michael Larkin

    dhogaza Says:
    June 20th, 2010 at 1:04 am

    “This is just wrong.  They *claim* they don’t, yet they do.”

    My friend, I know whereof I speak. Pro-CAGWers quite frequently interrupt proceedings  at WUWT and CA, for example, but don’t get censored except occasionally, when their ad homs are snipped (as they sometimes are for sceptics, too). But even so, their posts do actually appear.

    Climate science doesn’t fall into a category as settled as apples falling from trees; nevertheless, when CAGW supporters repeat “memes” (to use that standard term of pejorative dismissal) , picked up from sites such as RC, asserting them as sacrosanct as gravity or evolution, they are allowed to do so.

    You see, the smarter sceptic bloggers have generally learnt something that CAGW bloggers often haven’t. Namely, that it’s best to let the trolls troll; they are their own worst enemy. Not least, because they antagonise people like me, who start with an open mind but can’t help noticing how even polite questions and critiques are sometimes met with accusations of being an oil shill, a creationist, an anti-environmentalist, an anti-scientist and all-round bad egg.

    Listen to the essence of what Judith is saying. If there is no real dialogue, if orthodoxy continues its disengagement with critics and its fostering of antagonism, climate science will end up the victim of its own intransigence, and probably deservedly so.

  • Roger D.

    First, I agree strongly with Keith and others that this thread is a very interesting and informative one. Thanks!

    Secondly, I am struck by a similarity in a number of the comments. At the risk of grossly over-generalizing:  We are from outside climate science, but many are trained in science or statistics or similar. We mostly are trying to get our heads around the essential issues, and do not have settled views on how bad AGW is likely to turn out. That is why we have spent time looking at climate blogs, in an attempt to educate ourselves. We are rather put off by the pro-CAGW sites because they seem to be totally dismissive of any contrary opinions, regarding all skeptics as dishonest/oil funded/stupid etc. We tend to find the folks over at RC rather aggressive and don’t like their censorship of blog comments. We like some (but not most) of the skeptical sites which don’t seem to take such a close-minded approach.  Because of our training, we are a bit skeptical that climate science can really be as settled as is usually claimed. We appreciate Judith’s efforts to improve dialogue between the opposing sides. The hockey stick is important for us, not because it says anything much about AGW, but because it tells us something about the functioning of process within both climate science and the IPCC . And that thing, if Bishop Montford’s book is half-way accurate, we find rather worrying. We are puzzled that the pro-CAGW side seems to consistently deny that there are any issues of importance with the whole hockey stick saga, when it seems that there is an overwhelming prima facie case to the contrary.

    The fact that after all this time no one on the pro-CAGW side can be bothered to respond to Bishop Hill’s book is surprising, although one can understand most people’s reluctance to spend time on something they don’t think will be worth it. (Oddly enough some of these people seem happy enough to spend quite a lot of their valuable time coming up with arguments as to why they shouldn’t read it, such as trawling through sites with reviews to show that the reviewers were already skeptical.)  It is true that many reviewers can be identified as skeptic, but some are clearly just intelligent people. The fact that the book has been so uniformly well received, for example on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk except by people who clearly have not read it (last time I looked) is to me an indication that there is probably something important in it, which was my own reading.

  • Judith Curry

    With regards to the “asymmetric” battle.    In terms of countering misinformation,  the consensus scientists have many allies on their sides in the form of NGOs and enviro advocacy groups, that ceaselessly work to rebut misinformation.

    However, when the topic under discussion is at the frontier of science, it is not an issue of “countering misinformation” but engaging in scientific debate, and the scientists themselves need to engage.  The paleo temperature reconstruction issue is at the frontier (not even close to “settled science.”)

    In the context of the hockey stick wars, Montford clearly describes the three main critiques that MM had of MBH98,99:  i) inappropriate use of centering in the principal component analysis; ii) stripbark bristlecones are not reliable as a proxy; iii) the R2 statistic needs to be used in the assessment of significance.   Seems arcane, right?  But without the centering and the bristlecones, MM showed that you don’t get a hockey stick.   The three points raised by MM seem to me to be correct, and also the North Report, Wegman Report, and comments by Ian Joliffe (father of PCA) support MM in this.

    The response of of the “hockey” team to this was rather dubious efforts to make sure that the Amman and Wahl (2007) and Wahl and Amman (2007) papers made it into the IPCC report, which rebutted MM and still produced a sort of hockey stick.  This episode is documented in Montford’s book and also plays out in the CRU emails.

    So what, you say?  Well given the problems with MBH98,99 and the hot debate  between MM, Wahl & Amman etc., the IPCC saw fit to imbue its conclusions about the paleo reconstructions in the Third Assessment Report with “likely” and even “very likely” confidence assessments.  The “hockey stick” was the icon on the 3rd assessment report. The confidence assessments in the 4th Assessment Report were much more modest (particularly in response to the North Report), how to handle this withdrawal in confidence provides some interesting reading in the CRU emails. But nevertheless, the confidence levels in the 4th Assessment Report were arguably higher than was warranted given the frontier nature of this research and the vigor of the debate.

    Then the Mann et al. 2008 paper comes along, purporting to have addressed all the issues by doing a series of different reconstructions including different data sets.  The problem is that none of Mann’s reconstructions are actually totally free of both the dubious tree ring records and centered PCA.  (I think I understand this correctly, somebody who knows more about this, please chime in).  These points were raised by Lucia and others on the Gavin thread, and when the questions got too pointed, Gavin did not return to the thread.

    Well ok, this is still frontier science, we can’t expect the scientists to have it exactly right, otherwise it wouldn’t be the frontier.  The issue is how the scientists assess all this.  In view of this debate, I was astonished to see the following paragraph included in the Copenhagen Diagnosis, published in Dec 2009, and written by 26 former IPCC lead authors including Mann:
    “Some aspects of the hockey stick reconstruction were subsequently questioned, e.g. whether the 20th century was the warmestat a hemispheric average scale (Soon and Baliunas 2003), and whether the reconstruction is reproducible, or verifiable (McIntyre and McKitrick 2003), or might be sensitive to the method used to extract information from tree ring records (McIntyre and McKitrick 2005a,b). Whilst these criticisms have been rejected in subsequent work (e.g. Rutherford et al. 2005; Wahl and Ammann 2006, 2007; Jansen et al. 2007) the US National Research Council convened a committee to examine the state of the science of reconstructing the climate of the past millennium. The NRC report published in 2006 largely supported the original findings of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) and recommended a path toward continued progress in this area (NRC, 2006).”

    I find this statement to be astonishing.  MM is “rejected?”  My reading of the North Report NRC (2006) basically supports the points made by MM, and resulted in a substantial draw back in confidence on this issue between the 3rd and 4th Assessment Reports.

    So this is not angel/pinhead territory, it strikes at the heart of the integrity of the IPCC Assessment process in having scientists assessing their own work and placing confidence levels that are far too high given the frontier status of this science.  This whole episode is arguably the original blame for the animosity between the consensus scientists and the citizen skeptics, which eventually led to climategate and now the investigation of the IPCC.  So all this is not without consequence, even if the actual scientific issues seem arcane and inconsequential.

    Is the hockey stick central or important to the climate change scientific argument?  Statements like the “warmest year”, “warmest decade” are meaningless without a full attribution of the time period that includes solar and volcanic variability, and long term (decadal, century) ocean oscillations.  This hasn’t been done, so we don’t learn all that much from the reconstructions themselves.  But the real importance of the hockey stick is as an IPCC marketing tool in building public support.

    So this is the issue in a nutshell, mostly as portrayed in the Montford book, with the pieces that i regard as most significant.  If there are any inaccuracies here (with my portrayal of the montfords case, or with montford’s interpretations), somebody needs to rebut this.  Arguing that there are too many spurious allegations doesn’t cut it, this  (as summarized by Montford) is the most significant one, already with substantial consequences.

  • http://neilsindex.blogspot.com/ Neil Craig

    Since the “debate” on the alarmist site seems to consist of ad hominum attacks on people whose words alarmists refuse to read I would be interested to see if any of you can go beyond that.

    Can any of you name the specific evidence you have that we are experiencing catastrophic global warming?

  • Michael Larkin

    Roger D. Says:
    June 20th, 2010 at 8:17 am

    “…I am struck by a similarity in a number of the comments…”
    Well said, Roger, sir. You have summed it up nicely and I feel comfortable with being so described. I think the shriller alarmist voices need to take on board the fact that many, perhaps most sceptics and agnostics (I suppose I am nearer the latter), are pretty ordinary, innocuous people, but nonetheless often with a reasonable level of science education, perhaps to first degree level.
    They are motivated by the desire to find out the truth, and most of all frustrated by dogmatic responses that don’t allow of genuine and unfettered examination of the facts. I for one will talk with anyone on any side of the debate who shares that motivation.
    The fact that, for whatever reason, such people seem overwhelmingly to frequent sceptical blogs is why I too frequent them more than (C)AGW blogs. I don’t have an intrinsic objection to the latter; I certainly didn’t start out with a prejudice against them.
    But I mean, who is one more likely to talk to: someone who will engage with one’s doubts and even be prepared to give some ground, or someone who will turn on the invective at the least sign of dissent? And which is one more likely to develop respect and trust for?

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Steve, PC, dhogaza,
    .
    Why resent the fact that a citizen McIntyre has come to have this level of influence on the debate/process? What is done is done. If there were a diversity of voices inside the community to begin with (there is, I am sure but not numerically significant), some policing would have occurred, instead of that job falling to someone outside. Please read this comment without hostility to climate science.
    .
    Anyway, as a way forward, what do you propose climate science should do to wrest the high ground?
    .
    If climate scientists reprimand key figures among their own, that could be possible, although I do not see that as likely.
    .
    What about staging a coup, in the broad sense? I’ve seen this before in other contexts. Deprive those who control and set the moral tone of the climate science community, of their sanctioned authority – and observe if they continue willingly contribute to the science community. Many scientists adopt a reasoned tone only because of their political power within the scientific community – take them out of their high perch and see what happens. They might walk away in a huff, leaving the others to find a new voice.
    .
    Form strong alliances with the fossil fuel industry. Embrace them, do not antagonize them. Please remember – I am not offering touchy-feely ideas, I am proposing this as a strategic move. Many, many observers feel climate scientists have no idea how the real world functions and blindly criticizing oil companies contributes to that idea.
    .
    In the broadest sense, scientists will end up strengthening those who they work for – climate scientists currently work mainly for the government and the solution that they, along with policy makers (who work for governments ) have come up with – to increase taxes. Surprise!
    .
    Adopt and encourage all political strands of thought within the scientific community. Don’t belabor under the false impression that the findings of climate science overturn certain forms of political thought.
    .
    Stop resenting CA and WUWT simply because they get more hits and they are influential. Stop playing down Climategate. Try to understand Climategate.
    Have fun

  • Judith Curry

    Keith, overall i think going back to the old format is best in terms of keeping track of what is going on and finding the new posts.  My only regret for this version is not being able to do a quick reply to the many thoughtful posts.

    In this regard, I have been very much struck by the posts from so many of the “citizen scientists”  who have strong technical backgrounds and who are providing thoughtful perspectives.  A few themes are coming through (also summarized by Roger D):  they are motivated by trying to understand the science because it is interesting and/or has potentially important socioeconomic impacts; they are looking for trusted sources of information; they don’t view politics or advocacy of particular policies as their motivation for being interested in this.

    If “we” can’t provide a trusted source of information for this group of people, well it is rather an indictment on us.  By “we” I mean the mainstream scientists and the assessment reports plus the technical blogs.  As I stated in my Rebuilding Trust essay, the loss of trust in climate science and the institutions that support science is a serious issue.  The establishment mostly doesn’t seem to get it, they keep appealing to their own authority and saying the “science is sound.”

    My own “experiment” of engaging in the blogosphere (i have pretty much settled down at this point to posting here and at climateaudit) has been met with mixed reactions.  I hope (and think) I am doing something useful by engaging with the citizen scientists.  I am providing much sport for the warmist blogs such as Stoat, Rabett Run, ClimateProgress.

    The reactions from my colleagues is more complex.  I have received emails from some government employees, saying they strongly support what I am doing but they can’t speak out because they are govt employees (not everyone has the immunity of Jim Hansen).  On the other hand, my colleague Peter Webster reported on a conversation with a young scientist at an international meeting:  “Judy is getting really unpopular with the climate scientists; I’m not sure yet but I think I support what she is doing.”   Of the group of climate scientists that pays attention to public opinion, the blogosophere etc (note a large majority do not), I woudn’t be suprised if what i am doing is pretty unpopular.  I have to say that I couldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t a tenured professor at a university, otherwise i would risk losing my job.   I used to scoff at the need for tenure in the physical sciences to protect faculty members from unpopular viewpoints; now I get it and fully appreciate it.  I should note that Georgia Tech (the admin) has been very supportive of my efforts, as have been the Georgia Tech alums.  With regards to my own faculty, on my annual evaluation as Chair this year, one faculty member wrote the following comment: “her outspoken views on climategate have probably hurt our climate program.”

    In response to that last comment, my response is that it may look that way to people  in the short term, but the long term viability of the field (in terms of escaping postnormalism) requires this catharsis, in my opinion.

    We’ll eventually get past this trust issue with greater transparency etc. (I hope).  But the bigger issue is the growth of citizen science in our field, enabled by social computing such as the blogosphere.  This is a tremendous opportunity to engage and educate the public, and even more.   We should be working on ways to put crowd sourcing to work.  We should be exploring the question:

    How can innovative social computing/crowd sourcing tools be developed and employed to enable large-scale collective intelligence to address the scientific and policy challenges associated with climate change? Goals: enable complex problem solving, drive public policy innovation, provide transparency, facilitate understanding of complex issues, build trust, empower the public and policy makers to identify and secure their common interests, reduce polarization, identify the best contributions, increase the signal and reduce the noise, etc.

     

  • hunter

    For the CAGW promoters to imply that they do not have political and direct financial interests in continuing the impression that they are correct in predicting a worldwide climate crisis caused by CO2 is,  to be charitable, misleading.
     

  • Michael Larkin

    Judith Curry Says:
    June 20th, 2010 at 8:22 am With regards to the “asymmetric” battle…

    There you go, Judith, you are illustrating what I mean. Everyone knows that you are an AGW proponent, but here you are, giving us what no other qualified proponent I can think of is prepared to offer: a sympathetic reading of Montford’s main points (I can’t wait to start reading his book myself, when I’ve finished the one I’m currently on), even though that casts the climate establishment in a bad light.

    Because of this, I can feel reasonably assured of your integrity, and that’s making me think that maybe there is something to AGW, and if so, I’d like to hear more about that from you. So you are winning friends and influencing people. Why can’t so many of your peers grasp this? That trust in them will increase rather than decrease if they show openness to the possibility of less than perfect establishment authority?

    I’ll just say that your engagement over at CA in the past has been at a level just a tad too rarefied for me, and at WUWT, well, I didn’t like the way that many felt very suspicious about you, and I tried to defend your motives (you probably won’t remember that, but it is so :-) ).

    If there were a pro-AGW blog somewhere where it was possible to explore scientific issues without acrimony at the right sort of level for the reasonably educated layman, things could be significantly different, as there would be that much extra balance in the debate. But I’m not holding my breath that that will happen any time soon.

  • James P

    Phil Clarke (201)

    ” I repeat my request for some indications from people who have read it”
    The time and energy you’ve devoted to explaining on here why you haven’t read it, and calling on people who have read it to explain it to you, could easily have been spent reading it yourself!

    Then at least you would be able to render the same service to other warmists, as they seem equally reluctant to pick it up…

  • James P

    Judith (215)

    With regards to my own faculty, on my annual evaluation as Chair this year, one faculty member wrote the following comment: “her outspoken views on climategate have probably hurt our climate program.”


    Never mind the science, then! I applaud you for your rational, enquiring approach and for dealing gracefully with the opprobrium heaped on you from certain quarters. IMO, it says a lot more about them than you.

  • Judith Curry

    Michael Larkin and James P, thank you!

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    Judith Curry: “My reading of the North Report NRC (2006) basically supports the points made by MM”
    Compare with Roger Pielke Jr: “My reading of the summary of the report and parts of the text is that the NAS has rendered a near-complete vindication for the work of Mann et al.”
    Other reactions at the time were similar and are rounded up here.
    I looked at Bishop Hill’s “Jesus” post and seemed to be mostly spin.  For example,
    “The CC paper’s provision acceptance date was December 12th, just a few days before the AR4 deadline. Strangely the version that was accepted seems to have been dated 24th Feb 2006, so according to its rules the IPCC shouldn’t have been able to considered it.”
    Generally provisional acceptance means that the authors have to make a few changes.  The fact that this was done does not mean that any rules were broken.

  • Judith Curry

    Tim #208, re John Christy’s comment, i really liked his essay to the IAC, but I don’t agree with that particularly comment.  Climate science isn’t as clean cut as laboratory physics or chemistry, but much more clear cut than say economics.  A critical issue is how we understand, assess and reason about the uncertainty, particularly in the context of the IPCC assessment reports.  It is the neglect or oversimplification of uncertainty (e.g. expert judgement of IPCC confidence levels) in the broad sense (clearly identify the frontier, borderline ignorance) that is contributing to groupthink, etc., IMO.  Scientists have too much faith in their own most recent paper, and having these same scientists doe the assessment is what has caused alot of problems with the IPCC assessments.

  • Judith Curry

    Tim, with regards to the North NRC Report, the supported at least of two of MM’s main points:  the PCA issue, and the bristlecone issue.  That is pretty hard to deny?  Both sides have spun the report to suit their agendas (RP Jr certaintly doesn’t have a dog in this fight, so his reaction was probably unbiased if not completely accurate).  I recall discussing the findings with a young paleoclimatologist right after the North Report was released, the paleoclimatologist thought the report was a “big blow.”  That was also an honest reaction. Since then, much spin.  But the end result of the North Report is that MM’s PCA and bristlecone critiques stand, and the 4th assessment report drew back substantially from the 3rd assessment report in its conclusions and confidence levels.

    So the “vindication” seems to be of the following nature:  MM doesn’t really “matter”, the last half of the 20th century is likely the warmest in 400 years.   So exactly how does this vindicate MBH98,99, which said something very different, and “reject” MM, which pointed out errors that were fatal flaws to the analysis as far as i can tell?  Yes recent papers have improved the analysis (e.g. Wahl/Amman, Mann et al. 2008), but there are still issues, and these papers were not included in the North Report.

    I bought the “consensus” vindication at the time, similar to RP Jr., but I no longer buy this interpretation.

  • hunter

    The distinction I hope will emerge and become widely accepted is that it is the combination of money, catastrophic climate predictions and suppression of critical reviews of both that are the real problem. A world warming up is not a catastrophe. Creating unworkable policies to prevent a problem that is not likely to occur is a real problem. Suppressing dissent and critical or competing views of the catastrophic theory is a real problem. Hiding behind ridiculous ideas that only skeptics are financially or politically driven in this as a rationalization to justify dismissal is a big problem. As Dr. Curry’s colleague points out, raising questions about CAGW has cost academics devoted to promoting CAGW money. The CAGW money train has been riding faster and fatter for over ten years.  And the funding for CAGW study/promotion industry has been vastly more lucrative than the skeptical side.
    As the various whitewashes of climategate, please. The consensus supporters need to stop kidding themselves. There has been nothing approaching a full review of the issues raised in climategate.  If BP were to decide which of its records were to be audited, and who should do the audit, the investigation would be no more farcical than what the reviews of climategate so far have been.

  • William Newman

    Phil Clarke, thank you for your explanation.

    If the paper indeed misrepresents or irresponsibly fails to report a clearly relevant result of Wahl and Ammann, that’s indeed a serious problem.

    On another of your criticisms, people can disagree about how reasonable it is for Montford and others to harp on the overall importance of MBH99. But where Montford is clearly referring to political importance, as in the quote you chose (“in tatters … political momentum”), it seems to me that he’s on sufficiently solid ground that “misrepresentation” doesn’t apply. The most recognizable icon of the movement and its movie is politically important!

    I don’t know enough about Wahl and Ammann to easily check your claim about their results. Fortunately, now that you’ve raised it in this controversy, I rather expect that I’ll naturally find out more about that issue soon.

    (I also warn in advance that given that we’re honestly disagreeing about the importance/relevance/significance of the points that Montford is making, we probably face a considerable risk of discovering that we also honestly disagree about how important/relevant/significant the result of Wahl and Ammann is to those points.)

    Incidentally, I understand that it is frustrating to face what you describe as an “implicit assumption of bad faith by the scientists involve[d].” But I hope you don’t expect people here to take a sketchy RealClimate-related claim of debunking at face value. RC is of course entitled to debunk things, and I am glad when they do. Though I generally dislike RC at this point, I dislike dishonesty a lot more, and RC has enough prominence that it naturally has countless dishonest critics. Maybe you have enough expertise to be legitimately confident that you correctly recognized and are now appealing to a valid debunking there. But the comment thread that served as my example of polemic previously can also serve to illustrate why RC-originated claims of debunkings aren’t entitled to exemption from the usual written discourse standard of, among other things, referring directly to the actual claim allegedly being debunked, then forthrightly presenting a clear and complete chain of arguments which debunk that actual claim.

  • http://bishophill.squarespace.com Bishop Hill

    Phil Clarke #201

    I’m struggling slightly with your description of my Climategate posting as “somewhat inventive”.

    The post consists of summaries of what the emails said with little or no interpretation. Could you perhaps clarify some of the ones you feel are “inventive”.

  • c1ue

    Dr. Curry,

    I have a question – probably off topic:

    A lot of the discussion in this thread has been on debate vs. fact as opposed to debate vs. attack.

    One item which has always bothered me about climate science in general is that nothing ever seems to get proven either way.

    Is it really so complex that specific observations and/or experimentation cannot at least falsify specific theories?

    Or to put it more concretely: the IPCC projections which are based on the consensus science continue to be significantly divergent from actual behavior – at least until they are ‘updated’.

    At which point is this a statistical problem?

  • http://amac1.blogspot.com/ AMac

    c1ue said (June 20th, 2010 at 11:49am) –

    > One item which has always bothered me about climate science in general is that nothing ever seems to get proven either way.

    For an encouraging example of citizen-scientists helping to resolve a contentious issue and moving the dialog forward, check out the analyses of the instrumental temperature record by Zeke Hausfather, posted at Lucia’s Blackboard.  Zeke links to similar efforts producing broadly similar results, by other citizen-scientists across the Consensus/Skeptic spectrum.

    Is every issue of the instrumental record’s possible shortcomings put to rest.  Of course not.  Those pieces of the puzzle that Zeke does focus on are handled carefully, transparently, and with good humor.  Goodwill is even expressed towards persistent, unpersuaded skeptics when they contribute to the Comments.

  • Roger D.

    Michael #217:  I completely agree with your sentiments about the positive effects from Judith’s participation, so much so that I will get hold of the book she recommended by Claire Parkinson (#166).

    One of the best and open discussions I have come across on a blog (for someone at my meagre level of understanding) was about climate sensitivity (trying to unpack something Richard Lindzen claimed) here. This was an old thread on Coby Beck’s ” How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic guide”, but was a long-running interchange between Beck and two others, not all on the same side, genuinely trying to get to the bottom of what is a crucial issue.
     

  • Tim

    #227 – Judith

    The HS studies illustrate why Christy’s comments appear to be bang on. On one side you have SteveMc who has systematically demonstrated that we basically know nothing about climate variations more than 400 years ago yet despite this the ‘HS has been replicated many times’ narrative is the one accepted as “correct” by the majority of climate scientists.

    The only reason SteveMc can be ignored is the science does not allow people to definitively prove anything. Whose analysis best represents the “truth” is largely a matter of opinion. This leaves enough wiggle room to allow people to cherry pick the claims they like and ignore the rest. 

  • Judith Curry

    Tim, the point is that when there are two credible arguments with opposite conclusions, then the science is highly uncertain, at the forefront of science, and confidence statements regarding one side of the argument at the “likely” or “very likely” level are inappropriate.

    If you pay close attention to McIntyre’s arguments, the hockey stick has not been independently replicated, free of the centered PCA and the suspect tree ring proxies.  This is why Montford’s book is so useful, it helps sort through the arcane arguments McIntyre has been making, which are not well organized on his site.

  • Judith Curry

    Roger D, thanks for pointing out the Coby Beck thread on the Lindzen paper, I was unaware of this.  I led a thread on the same topic over at climateaudit back in January.  This was the last technical blogging I’ve done; seems like climategate and the broader issues it has raised is where most of the blogospheric interest is these days (certainly the case over at climateaudit).

  • Pingback: Collide-a-scape » Blog Archive » Collide-a-scape >> Citizen (Climate) Science at a Crossroads

  • Steve Reynolds


    Michael Larkin:
    “If there were a pro-AGW blog somewhere where it was possible to explore scientific issues without acrimony at the right sort of level for the reasonably educated layman…”

     
    I think this might be what you are looking for:
    http://scienceofdoom.com/

  • Phil Clarke

    BH: Could you perhaps clarify some of the ones you feel are “inventive”.
    Well, here are your one and two..
    1.Phil Jones writes to University of Hull to try to stop sceptic Sonia Boehmer Christiansen using her Hull affiliation

    This is half the story. S B-C was circulating allegations of fraud at CRU signing herself as affiliated to the University (she’s emeritus). Dr Jones found this ‘malicious’ and wrote to a Professor at Hull saying so.

    The context: Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen sent a mail with the title ‘RE: Please take note of potetially serious allegations of scientific ‘fraud’ by CRU and Met Office’ The ‘evidence’ for the ‘fraud’ was McIntyre’s Yamal findings, which not even McIntyre asserts are evidence of fraud, and a long piece by Pat Michaels on the data transparency issue, published on a blog and the National Review. Sonja concedes It is beyond my expertise to assess the claims made (!)

    But hey, I am going to circulate them anyway and sign myself ‘Reader Emeritus, Department of Geography, Hull University’ So we have an academic passing on claims of fraud she has not the expertise to assess under the imprimateur of the University. seems to me at least as bad as the allegations made against some of the climate scientists. Dr Jones brought this to the attention of Sonja’s ex-Professor : ‘I realize Dr Boehmer-Christensen no longer works for you, but she is still using your affiliation.’

    Not a demand that he prevent her doing so. Nothing improper here
    .

    2 Michael Mann discusses how to destroy a journal that has published sceptic papers.

    Vastly overstated. The journal in question was ‘Climate Research’ in the wake of publication of a sceptic paper [Sally Baliunas and Willie Soon] so poor it provoked the resignation of half the board.

    Click Click

    and Mann’s opinions were: “There have been several papers by Pat Michaels, as well as the Soon & Baliunas paper, that couldn’t get published in a reputable journal. This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the “peer-reviewed literature. Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal! So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board…What do others think?

    Perhaps encourage‘, ‘request of our colleagues‘ Hardly the language of someone hellbent on destruction. Mann’s statements are consistent with ensuring the academic literature effectively screens out substandard papers, a proper concern for a senior scientist.

    Plenty more, of course, but as has been pointed out it takes an disproportionate amount of time to debunk a dubious claim than it does to make one.

     

  • Judith Curry

    c1ue, great question, one that I am currently grappling with in the context of a paper on uncertainty that i’m writing.  Science is a process, not a collection of facts.  Vannevar Bush referred to science as the “endless frontier.”
    Technically, nothing every gets “proven.”  Some of the basic physics, like the Stefan Boltzmann law for black body radiation, are well known.   Any measurement of relevance such as CO2 concentrations and surface temperature are associated with uncertainties in their measurement, sampling, etc., and global measurements of anything are a challenge.  Some of the relevant physical processes have substantial uncertainties, such as how aerosols nucleate ice clouds.  Global climate models are associated with a host of uncertainties, from the basic formulation, numerical solution, inadequacies of input data.  Simulations of global climate are further uncertain associated with inherent variability (chaos) in nonlinear dynamical systems.  How we should understand, characterize and reason about uncertainty is at the heart of the debate in my opinion, an issue raised in the Oppenheimer article I referred to earlier in the thread.

  • David Holland

    Concerning what Tim Lambert says at #221,
    Considering that with the exception of John Christy the NRC 2006 panel were on the record as supporters of the ‘hockey stick’ even the faintest criticism of Mann is damning. While, at his press conference, Gerry North was happy to let journalist run off with the idea that his Panel had stood up the hockey stick, under oath at the Barton hearings said something rather different when he was asked if he “disputed the conclusions or the methodology of Dr. Wegman’s report”. Gerald North said he did not and added, “In fact, pretty much the same thing is said in our report.” In answer to written questions for the record, as to what he meant by “plausible”, this is what he wrote:

    “In our view it is not possible to quantify all of the inherent uncertainties associated with reconstructing surface temperatures from proxy data, which in turn precludes assigning numerical probabilities to statements regarding the unique nature of recent warmth”.

    Ralph Cicerone, who had set up the NRC Panel at the request of Sherwood Boehlert was asked in the Barton hearings if he considered Edward Wegman a credible person on the statistical issues his report addressed. Ralph Cicerone confirmed that he was.

    For the references to these and other quotes you can get my 2007 paper “Bias and Concealment” from http://www.klimarealistene.com/Holland%282007%29.pdf

    As for how the Wahl and Ammann paper came to be cited in AR4 even though it broke all the rules you need to read the submission that I made to the Russell enquiry on Climategate. The emails show that the AR4 Expert Review process was circumvented to retain W & A. This is likely one of the main reasons for the leak. However, Russell has refused to put my submission on his website for fear of being sued.

    Subject to an undertaking not to further distribute it I will send the “banned” Climategate submission to anyone that wants to know the facts. You can email me at crusub@*****.net ,where ***** is tesco.

    As occurred with the melting Himalayan glaciers, Government and Expert Reviewers challenged the W & A paper but for different reasons. It did not meet the deadline laid down at the start of the assessment. When the LAs read the review comments at Bergen they just changed the deadline from 16 December 2005 to 24 July 2006 and responded that W & A met the new guidelines. That was bad enough, but on top of that Wahl helped Briffa write the critical section of the IPCC report and the responses to Expert Reviewers. Finally the WGI TSU censored McIntyre’s review comment asking for Wegman and NRC to be cited in the section discussing M & M versus W & A.

    The Lead Authors and particularly the Review Editors all acquiesced in an improper rule change. Those in the UK, by joint agreement, stonewalled Freedom of Information requests about it and were prepared to delete the evidence. Regardless of the scientific merit of the AR4 report, the assessment process was utterly corrupted simply to preserve the hockey stick, and no policy reliance should be placed upon any of it.

  • David Holland

    Sorry about the stuff that slipped in at the start! [FIXED. I ALWAYS GO IN AND CLEAN OUT THAT WEIRD SCRIPT THING WHEN IT HAPPENS, WHICH IS OCCASIONALLY.//KK]

  • laursaurus

    I wonder if the CAGW proponents here refuse to even read a paragraph of The Hockey Stick Illusion, also fondly refer to the skeptics with that trademark pejorative, “Denialists”.
    Just by reading comments generated by the previous post on this blog,(Gavin’s polemic rant) clearly the quality of the questions raised could not have arisen without closely scrutinizing the data. Claiming that the scientific evidence is being ignored couldn’t be more wrong. Refusing to answer because they are irrelevant, triggers reasonable suspicion.
    Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the proponents are clamoring on to any excuse not to even crack the book open.
    A tenured, professor of climate science only became aware the glaring issues  that the hockey stick created from this book. That is very revealing about how out-of-step our expert are. (Thank you for all your effort, Dr. C).Perhaps they failed to learn the important lesson I’ve learned from my life experience. When I have pre-judged a movie, art work, music, a tv show, and even a book based on someone else’s opinion proves to be foolish. But it’s even more absurd to accept an opinion from someone who not only hasn’t actually read it, but stubbornly refuses to consider reading it. Usually when I’ve experienced this, it was because it was determined to be “offensive”, a completely subjective reaction. Fight Club had a far more complex and unique plot. Expelled wasn’t even about what I assumed nor did it debate the science supporting Darwinism (not evolution). Maybe they are assuming the book supports pseudoscience, like I did with Expelled. Make no mistake, I am not drawing a comparison between Creationists and CAGW skeptics. On the contrary, Evolution uses evidence to make sense of the past. When either a deliberate hoax or an incorrect assumption is discovered, scientists make no bones about it. Through openly analyzing these errors, we often advance our understanding of the science in an even more profound way. Just in my lifetime, the idea of the “missing-link” has been considerably revised. “Irreducible complexity” and other challenges drive scientists to more robust research.
    Climate science, OTOH, is completely the opposite situation. It actually mimmicks Creation. Just like the dinosaurs, the MWP is explained by special pleading. How logical is the overall theory of global warming plausible, but UHI effect is denied? On top of that, the same proponents now claim the MWP was only regional? That logic doesn’t support the whole “global” climate change belief. Why didn’t the dustbowl in the 30′s fail to noticeably impact climate when millions of tons of particulate matter polluted the atmosphere? Yet an invisible gas, CO2, has the capability to catastrophically alter the planet? When mankind has drained countless wetlands, over-fished the oceans, convertef billions of acres of pristine wilderness for agricultural purposes, and diverted so many riverflows for hydrolic power, irrigation, and supplying water for drinking, bathing, washing, sewage, etc., doesn’t it have at least some or much greater impact on climate?
    Why aren’t enviromentalists up in arms about the dodgy proxies created by chopping down these ancient trees? When the profits of doom, seek to turn CO2 emissions into a lucrative comodity while flauting a complete lack of sincerity jet-setting the globe and indulging themselves with their own gluttonous private utility consumption? Only political ideology can account for the lack of common sense.
    Even when we look desparately look for some scientifically-based explanations, our efforts are not only futile, but impugned with ridicule. Now when presented with thoroughly robust and original research (that proponents complain never happens),  they refuse to consider or even acknowledge it. Here’s your golden opportunity to turn the tables and critically audit someone else’s work. Like everything else in this controversy, this is another tactic that makes no sense.

  • hunter

    @Phil Clarke,
    Defending the indefensible of Mann & pals teaming up to suppress a journal and its articles because they disliked it is still slimy, no matter how much sauce you put on it. Which raises the issue of climategate and context- we actually only have a small sample of communications from the CAGW promoters. Since these e-mails were written in the course of taxpayer funded work, and are not private, the entire communications over the years should be open to review by those who paid for it.
    They were not private. They are work related, written on non-private computers, with non-private addresses. Show us the data.

  • Phil Clarke

    Dr Curry  But without the centering and the bristlecones, MM showed that you don’t get a hockey stick.

    Really? My eyes also start to glaze over once we delve into the statistical niceties of centred vs non-centred PCAs et cetera, however my understanding was that Wahl and Ammann 2006 basically killed off that particular canard:

    The conclusion of strongly anomalous late 20th century temperatures is retained even if the bristlecone/foxtail pine records were eliminated for the 15th century, because the maximum high excursion when following the MBH method (rescaling of RPCs)would be~0.35? during the entire 15th century, which is essentially the same as the highest values that occurred during the mid-20th century, but still well below late-20th century temperatures (scenarios 5d, 6a”“b,
    Figs. 3 and 4). Since these scenarios do not pass validation testing for the time frame in which this high excursion occurs (1400″“1449), this consideration is used only to show that,
    even from the standpoint of simple computability, exclusion of these records cannot yield a MM-style double-bladed hockey stick result within the framework of the actual MBH algorithm.

    Section 4.2.

    See also RealClimate.

  • Phil Clarke

    Hunter – there was no suppression, and the reasons for disfavouring the journal were concerns about the quality of editing going on there rather than a ‘dislike’.

    I find it hard to think of a single organisation – public or private – that could operate without some degree of confidentiality. Can you?  To give an example of why it matters – journals commonly decline articles that have been made available elsewhere. If this email archive had contained a near-final draft of a paper, its appearance on the internet could have rendered that paper unpublishable, damaging careers and ultimately, th science. Confidentiality matters. Who is decide what should be released and what excluded? Me? You?

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/ Bart Verheggen

    Judith,

    Michael Tobis makes the observation that he agrees with “citizen scientists”/”skeptics” on many of their main points, but not on the policy direction. If they would be primarily interested in what they proclaim their key points are, and not in (obstructing) mitigation politics, the rational response would be to welcome MT as an ally. However, he is “cast as an opponent, even as an extremist” (MT’s words). This is a very important point, and indeed, it suggests that their “real priorities have nothing to do with scientific process”.

    In response you say that MT’s stance on mitigation and uncertainties is what the self proclaimed “auditors” respond negatively to. The first point (on mitigation) is exactly what leads to MT’s conclusion: Their primary interest is politics. The second point is untrue and unfair to Michael. He is most definitely not “in denial of uncertainty” as you later claim.

    Rather, he often makes the following pertinent points:
    - Some things are known more accurately than others.
    - It is the things that are well known that are relevant for policy making. They paint a clear picture of the direction we’re heading.
    - Since uncertainty cuts both ways (a point you also make, as does MT), combined with the knowledge about the big picture direction, uncertainty makes the case for action stronger rather than weaker.

    I see a lot of self proclaimed “skeptics” mix up uncertainty with knowing nothing, and use that as an excuse for delaying action on mitigation. That is probably the number 1 argument to delay action. It is a policy statement, masquerading as a concern for science.

    You would have a point in your comment about legal memo/legal brief if scientists favored zero carbon emissions and skewed the science to fit that preconceived opinion. But that doesn’t make any sense. Why would someone favor total decarbonization if it wasn’t for the science? The other reasons to cut down on fossil fuels hardly ask for zero carbon emissions. Rather, their favoring of zero carbon emissions is a consequence of their understanding of the science (coupled of course with a view of what kind of world they want their (grand-)children to live in and other morals/worldview issues) rather than the other way around.


    Tom,

    For a dentist or other service providers the interpersonal relation is of course important. If however you are browsing the internet to figure stuff out about some tooth disease, how nice or not nice somebody appears has hardly any relation at all to the reliability of the information.

  • http://bishophill.squarespace.com Bishop Hill

    #235 Phil

    OK, so in the two items you give for my alleged “inventiveness” you agree that every word I wrote is correct. Jones did write to Hull to stop SB-C using her affiliation and Mann did discuss actions that would have destroyed Climate Research. Perhaps you use the word “inventive” in a different way to me.

    The reasons given on this thread for not reading the book are extraordinary.

    - “nobody credible has reviewed it”
    - “bad people like it”
    - “the author doesn’t know about something unrelated”
    - “the author said something surprising about something unrelated” (except it turned out to be one of the author’s commenters)
    - “the author is ‘inventive’” (although we’re not disputing the factual accuracy of what he wrote)

    Surely you cannot believe that this is going to convince anyone. Judy has laid down a challenge. She is not a sceptic, but a mainstream climatologist. Do you not think that people are going to see the refusal to take up that challenge and draw conclusions accordingly?

  • http://climateaudit.org Steve McIntyre

    I disagree with Judith’s observation that Wahl/Ammann and Mann 2008 “improve”  the analysis of MBH98-99.
    Wahl and Ammann was referred to by both North and Wegman, with Wegman stating acidly that it had “no statistical integrity”. There are many issues with Mann et al 2008, some of which were pointed in a short PNAS comment by Ross McKitrick and me in 2009 – Mann’s reply to our comment was totally unresponsive.  For example, we noted that Mann 2008 said that it implemented NAS recommendations (homage that was mere armwaving), but continued to use Graybill bristlecone series, arguing that Wahl and Ammann was subsequent to and superceded the NAS report – blithely ignoring the fact that the NAS report was aware of Wahl and Ammann, citing its preprint which supported our claim that MBH failed verification r2 tests.
    An important issue pertaining to IPCC’s use of Wahl and Ammann remains undiscussed.  After the close of the review period on the Second Draft, Wahl(who had not been nominated as an IPCC reviewer) sent review comments to Briffa, in which he changed the assessment of Wahl and Ammann so that the IPCC assessment in the final report came down strongly on the side of Wahl and Ammann, whereas the Second Draft sent to reviewers said that the final outcome of the dispute was still to be determined.
    Wahl’s inserted language is contained in attachments referred to in the Climategate emails, but not included in the emails themselves.
    Lat month, the University of East Anglia refused an FOI request for these Review Comments sent to Briffa outside the IPCC process said to be “open and transparent”.

     

  • Latimer Alder

    A fascnating thread. I wonder why the ‘professional’ climatologists, who can read the book in legitimate work time (keeping up with the literature…staying abreast of current issues etc etc) are so reluctant to do so, while those who have to do it in their own time (me for example) receive it so enthusiastically?
    I can only assume that the professionals are in reality scared of it…in case it challenges their assumptions in a way that they cannot answer. Otherwise there is no rational explanation.
    For the avoidance of doubt, my sources of income do not include any remuneration remotely connected with any party to this debate – either pro or sceptical about AGW.
     

  • Judith Curry

    Bart, a few comments.

    1.  As per the comments on this thread from citizen scientists, i have not not heard any of them mention policy.  That is not what seems to pique their interest.  It is a combination of scientific/technical curiosity to learn something more about a topic that has worrisome future impacts.

    2.  With regards to your and MT’s statements about uncertainty:
    “- It is the things that are well known that are relevant for policy making. They paint a clear picture of the direction we’re heading.”   I disagree with this statement.  Yes CO2 is increasing, that is well known.  Yes global surface temperatures are increasing, but the trend is uncertain owing to an inadequate uncertainty analysis in the dataset, and an inadequate understanding of the attribution of the 20th century warming (IMO, the confidence level in the IPCC FAR is higher than the evidence warrants.)   The uncertainties in CO2 sensitivity and a whole host of model uncertainties, not to mention the overall ontic uncertainty (inherent variabiity, e.g. decadal/century ocean oscillations, etc) make the 21st century projections on the frontier of science and highly uncertain.
    “uncertainty makes the case for action stronger rather than weaker.”  The worst case scenario under consideration is generated by models with a high level of uncertainty being extrapolated into the future with climate conditions well outside the tested/evaluated space of the climate models.  In short, the scary scenario is spun up by the uncertain model itself.  There are many ways to reason about uncertainty and to translate that into policy.  Only the most extreme version of the precautionary principle would view extreme uncertainty that produces a scary scenario as the prescription for action.
     

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    Bart, thanks for well-said #243 in response to Judith, you have saved me some time!

    Judith, thanks for well-said #236 in response to c1ue, you have also saved me some time!!
     

  • Judith Curry

    Re Steve McIntyre’s comment, my assessment of Amman and Wahl and Mann et al. 2008 comes only from a sense that there must be something new and of value in these papers if they got published and were touted in the IPCC 4th Assessment Report and the Copenhagen Diagnosis.  Blind stupid faith in the system (you think I would have learned by now).  Now I do recall Wegman’s negative assessment of the Amman/Wahl statistical techniques, which I defer to given his great expertise on this (and my minimal expertise).  The real issue is the value of Mann et al. 08, some clarity on exactly why that is not a significant advance would be appreciated.  Any comments on the previous thread where Gavin, Lucia et al. discussed this?

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    Latimer, it reminds me of Brian Angliss’ recent attempt at Scholars and Rogues to come up with a justification for dismissing the work of Steve McIntyre, the book written by Steve Mosher and myself, and the Climategate emails themselves–all without reading them. It truly verges on the bizarre. Are they all afraid of contamination?
    Bart, I’m not referring to pleasant personalities when I talk about how people select professionals when they don’t understand the profession. Credibility doesn’t mean constant smiling–in fact, I’ve yet to see a picture of Steve McIntyre with a smile on his face (Must be too cold up there).
    But let’s be straight about this. You need the support of the general public for the policies you think are important. (And why does Michael Tobis get away with exactly one concrete proposal–that net carbon emissions must be zero?)
    You fluffed the first attempt. I think you get a second chance–at least in America, we love reinvention–look at Tiger Woods. But what do you  propose to do differently?
    Who will speak for climate science? Will Al Gore and James Hansen continue to be the high profile spokespersons, with The Team in their rock star roles?
    Will you continue to permit exaggerated claims to be made for CAGW without addressing their implausibility?
    Will you acknowledge uncertainty in models and data itself and make them a prominent element of discussion?
    Will you abandon efforts to attack the credibility of people like Andrew Montford and Steve McIntyre? Will you condemn the efforts of others to do so?
    Will you insist on reform of IPCC processes and procedures? Making it impossible for scientists to review their own work? Having established mechanisms for errata and corrigenda?
    I would argue that nothing less will restore public faith in the climate construct and its proponents.

  • JamesG

    If Bart is correctly representing Tobis’s views then they are remarkably similar to Pielke Jr.

    However both might be surprised that a lot of skeptics do believe a rational policy of decarbonization is a worthy goal regardless of how much is known or not known about the science. The question is not whether it should be done but a) how is it to be funded and b) should we do it before we have adequate replacements? If the answer to a) is “largely privately”, and the answer to b) is “of course not” – then most, if not all, objection from skeptics would disappear.

    They might both even realize that some skeptics are fascinated by the attempt to understand climate and are very quick to praise work which furthers our understanding, as opposed to the large amount of press-release-hype on speculative calamities. Yes, we all realize the latter is mostly meant to drum up funding but let’s not “overegg the pudding” to use Briffas phrase.

    A true understanding of all climate drivers would indeed be work well done but this idea that we concentrate all efforts on a single variable – because that’s the only one we think we know most about – is not enough certainty for policy purposes. That’s called looking for your key under the light. Even Hansen, the arch alarmist, says we should capture the black carbon first because that presents an easier task that can actually be achieved quickly.

  • Bary Woods

    If Dr Curry is reading this, I suggest you get a copy of ‘The Climate Files’ – Fred Pearce, that I mention above (162), for a few of reasons..

    One:  Judith Curry is mentioned and quoted frequently (favourably) by Fred Pearce, and he agrees that the denial machine is largely dead, a new generation of sceptics are at work..

    Two: The climate elite (hockey team, ippc lead authors, CRU, etc,) will never read ‘The hockey Stick Illusion’ as far as they are concerned it is wriiten by a ‘sceptic’.   Why waste their valuable time on a member of the exxon mobil, big oil sponsored fossil fuel denial machine, this belief is an article of faith amongst them.

    ref earlier comment 162:
    Three: As I said earlier.  Fred Pearce is very much a part of the ‘climate elite’ ipcc consensus, not a scientist, but part of the media/political message that is evangelical on catastrophic man made climate change. 

    RealClimate, and it’s hockey team main contributors, are PART of the Guardian Environment network..
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/series/guardian-environment-network
    Look at the link, underneath the web awards logo at RealClimate
    http://www.realclimate.org/

    How can RealClimate ignore Fred Pearce’s book !!!

    The Guardian in the UK and its influence, has done a great deal of harm, in polarising people into 2 extreme camps, with the majority keeping their heads down and silent. (they have had the ears of politicians on this topic, for the last 13 years in the UK)

    How can RealClimate ignore Fred Pearce’s book when the Guardian newspaper, the UK establishment liberal/labour elite preffered newspaper (13 year of a labour g9overnment ) has been calling for immediate and far reaching action on CO2 and denouncing sceptics and deniars.

    The guardian has been vociferous, vicious in denouncing scpetical scientists like lindzen, plimer and political sceptics, for a decade.
    or the very few sceptical journalists like Christopher Booker or James Delingpole.

    In the UK, it was  ONLY Christopher Booker in the Telegraph that actually got the climategate  story mentioned at all in the mainstream media. It was ignored by the MSM

    Dr Curry, if climate scientist don’t know very much about what climategate was about, and won’t buy a book, or waste their precious time reading one (yet type endless comments explaining why they won’t read, or attacking the author), ask them to read this article, to get an overview. (of course he is a known sceptic, so they will refuse to read this as well)
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/6679082/Climate-change-this-is-the-worst-scientific-scandal-of-our-generation.html

    So whilst, many might see Fred’s works as, an attempt to do damage limitation, by discussing it, minimising it (leaving some bit OUT), lets all move on and he is very much of the opinion that catastrophic climate change is real..

    All the issues and problems, failures of CRU, IPCC much of the shoddy behaviour, the lack of releasing data, is reported in the book, and however Fred spin’s it a neutral scientist fresh to the issue will see the issues and see what has occured.

    So for any climate scientist, that states that they no very little  about climategate,  that will not read Andrew Montford because it is written by a sceptic. 

    They cannot have the same excuse about Fred Pearce’s book.

    They might find out that many of the things they have heard about, but dismissed were actually true.

    They then might be curious enough to see what Andrew Montford has to say in ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    In response to JohnB #193


    Michael @ 174. The difference is perhaps this. If there are aspects of the science that are open to question, then definitive conclusions cannot be drawn.

    Most of us sceptics want to know that the science is “right” and then move on to logical conclusions and action strategies from there.

    Decisions are usually made under uncertainty using best available advice. As a thousand people have said a thousand times, demanding certainty in climate science is identical to insisting that we are powerless to take any action. Even if Greenland melts altogether in this century, there is not any way to claim 100% certainty that it would not have melted otherwise!

    So if you’re remotely serious, you need to come up with some other way of thinking about things. Otherwise you;d never leave your house in the morning, lacking proof that you won’t be mugged and murdered in the street on the way to your car.

    You have already decided what the “required” strategy is and this automatically makes you (at least a bit) biased.

    Yes. Everyone should be on guard against their own biases.

    Deciding policy before science is politics, not science. To then claim is it science is disingenuous at best.

    This is not what any scientist is doing. It’s a straw man.

    What many fail to see is that many of us sceptics can be easily won over. All we ask for is good, open science that can be checked. We don’t actually care what the answer is but will follow where the science leads.

    It’s harder than you think. I subjected myself to years of training, much of it quite angry about how incoherent that training was. There is little market for textbooks and a small group of serious students. The pedagogical traditions of physical climatology are weak. Again it is a matter of scale.

    But what we see is obstruction, ad homs, dismissal of uncertainty and refusal to debate. Note the comments above.

    First of all “debate” is not discourse, it is polemical confrontation. Scientists always lose in polemics, because scientists are constrained not to bend the truth.

    Secondly, much of science, including what I do every day, is about the study of uncertainty.

    Thirdly, what is perceived as lack of engagement is very much related to a lack of resources. The imaginary billions of dollars in funding do not go to physical climatologists, who are a small community with many of the contradictory demands of any academic field.

    Finally, the snarking and ad hominems generally do not come from scientists. We cannot control everything said by our allies.

    Judith Curry suggests reading a book and the steadfast refusal to consider the idea from some areas. Objections not based on fact but on who wrote it or who reviewed it.


    I haven’t decided whether to look at it myself. I really am not especially interested in the hockey stick, the tree ring controversies, or McIntyre vs Mann, etc. I have not taken an interest in the minutiae of the IPCC process; I’m too low in the totem pole for my opinions to carry much weight there. I have lots of other irons in the fire. I hope somebody takes Judith up on this but I don’t think it should be me!


    On a more general note concerning the “citizen scientists”. I think that climate science is missing a huge opportunity here. Consider the sheer number of sceptics demanding better archiving and record keeping. The pressure we can put onto political leaders is immense. All that is required is to ask.


    It would be very interesting to try to construct a GCM with low sensitivity that replicates modern climate as well as the extant models. I am not sure that the amateur community can muster the skills and energy to achieve this. That, however, would make a lot of difference to the debate. If it were possible, I’d imagine that a fossil fuel company would have managed it by now, though.
     

  • Bary Woods

    In the political world, main stream  media and amongst the general public.

    The only message they are hearing is, the science is settled, fossil fuel denial machine. Tipping point, runaway global warming.

    The public or politicians are not aware this is just based on the worst case, of many different computer projections extrapolated into the future.. where feed backs sensitivity, other natural variations are subject to a great deal of uncertainty, likley including some unknown unknowns to climate science.

    As Judith says:
    “The worst case scenario under consideration is generated by models with a high level of uncertainty being extrapolated into the future with climate conditions well outside the tested/evaluated space of the climate models.”

    BUT Public Policy is based on this, The UK Climate change Bill will cost 18 Billion pounds a year for decades..  The government scientific advisors, the summary for policy makers, the pressure groups, the activists, are just pushing this ‘imagined’ worst case scenario as FACT, to the politicians and general public.

    If they knew the above?, revolutions have started on less.

  • http://climateaudit.org Steve McIntyre

    Tom Fuller,  please don’t draw conclusions from the photos from the profiles immediately following Climategate. The photographers kept asking me to look severe and selected photos that suited this objective.  There are more representative online photos showing me with a more usual cheerful expression.

  • Robert M

    Here is what I would like to know from the consensus proponents. Are there any people outside your immediate community you do need to engage with? Are there any legitimate stakeholders besides yourselves? Does anybody have legitimate viewpoints or opinions? Or are all of us amateurs at best?
    I am thinking particularly of experienced opinions about practice as opposed to opinions about the science.
    For instance, when David Rutledge of Caltech, a fellow of the IEEE and a  former editor of a substantial peer-reviewed journal like IEEE Transactions, says that the practice in this area is completely outside his experience, and can only be called a completely rigged peer review process (http://rutledge.caltech.edu/Caltech%20talk%202010/videos.html), does that opinion have any credibility? Is it enough to respond that you don’t agree, or that your comrades don’t agree either (“M&M have been refuted”)? Or is this someone to whom you need to reach out and respond? Do you need to provide more in such cases, such as arranging the response in some order, so it can be found and followed by those who thought Dr. Rutledge might have a point.
    Or if you prefer a science question rather than a practice question, how about Rutledge’s assertion that the IPCC CO2 projections are all far too high, based on the total amounts of recoverable oil, gas, and coal actually available to be burned.
    I did not ask the practice question first in order to be provocative. I am just thinking that Rutledge’s credentials make him a clear expert on that question. It also seems more common for outsiders to have questions about the practice of climate science rather than the science of it.

  • Barry Woods

    254# (I made a typo on my name, leaving it in moderation)

    In the political world, main stream  media and amongst the general public.
    The only message they are hearing is, the science is settled, fossil fuel denial machine. Tipping point, runaway global warming.
    The public or politicians are not aware this is just based on the worst case, of many different computer projections extrapolated into the future.. where feed backs sensitivity, other natural variations are subject to a great deal of uncertainty, likley including some unknown unknowns to climate science.
    As Judith says:
    “The worst case scenario under consideration is generated by models with a high level of uncertainty being extrapolated into the future with climate conditions well outside the tested/evaluated space of the climate models.”
    BUT Public Policy is based on this, The UK Climate change Bill will cost 18 Billion pounds a year for decades..  The government scientific advisors, the summary for policy makers, the pressure groups, the activists, are just pushing this “˜imagined’ worst case scenario as FACT, to the politicians and general public.
    If they knew the above?,

  • http://climateaudit.org Steve McIntyre

    Michael Tobis says:  “Finally, the snarking and ad hominems generally do not come from scientists.”
    Michael,  obviously  the bulldog blogs (Tamino, Rabett, Lambert)  are full of snarking and ad hominems, but it’s not just the bulldog blogs. “Scientists” in the Climategate emails descend well past snark into actual defamatory comments.
     

  • Phil Clarke

    Bishop H…<i>OK, so in the two items you give for my alleged “inventiveness” you agree that every word I wrote is correct. … Perhaps you use the word “inventive” in a different way to me. </i>

    BH – Generally I prefer it when people refrain from putting words in my mouth. In the first instance it takes a degree of inventiveness to interpret Jones notifying her ex-supervisor as an attempt to prevent SB-C using her affiliation, something that Jones would know was impossible, even though she was clearly using it in a way that was detrimental to the University. In the second Mann was talks about ‘perhaps …  encouraging’ some colleagues to consider not submitting to Climate Research. The inventiveness here is the idea that this is equivalent to plotting its destruction, if you genuinely believe this then you have a strange idea of the power relationship between Editors and authors. And then you invent my opinion for me! Busted! ;)

    No, the journal’s troubles were largely of its own making – see here for a view from one of the editors who resigned, seems to me discussing not working with a journal in this state is nothing more than sensible.

  • Latimer Alder

    On reflection I can come up with one other theory about the motivations of those who refuse to read HSI. And that is that they secretly have done so, but found the contents so scary that they prefer to pretend that they haven’t.
    Perhaps they would suffer expulsion from the AGW tribe by reading Forbidden Texts, or Gavin and the Mann would ensure that their academic progress was stifled. Their loud assertions that they aren’t ever going to do so is designed to cover up their actions.
    A rational scientist might reasonably say ‘Look, I personally think that this book is likely to be total crap,  but given the number of people who say that it has some merit, I will at least read the first chapter with an open mind and dip into it elsewhere. And then I can assert that its total bulls**t (if it is) with some real certainty’. Total time involved <=1 hr.

    But they don’t. The absolute certainty that it is rubbish…for a whole set of reasons that any rational being would immediately see are specious…shows me that we are in the irrational world of faith not of science……And that is not a good place for a very important subject to be.
     

  • http://bishophill.squarespace.com Bishop Hill

    #256

    Phil, you say it requires a degree of inventiveness to put this interpretation on Jones’ actions re SB-C, but Haughton clearly understood Jones’ words that I did.

    “…when I do see Sonja next I’ll try and have a quiet word with her about the way the affiliation to us is used, but at the moment in fairness she is entitled to use it in the way she does.”

    And your interpretation of Mann’s actions (“perhaps…encouraged”) isn’t obviously very far from mine (“discussed”).

    Like I said, making trivial objections to unrelated matters isn’t going to convince anyone that you can deal with Judith’s challenge. People will conclude that you are unable to rebut the arguments in the book.

    So shall we talk about what’s actually in the book, or would you prefer to talk about other things?

  • Judith Curry

    Robert #256, you ask a very interesting and important question, IMO.  When skeptical groups come up with lists of 17,000 (or whatever names) of scientists, many with Ph.D.s that do not believe in global warming, I used to feel justified in ignoring this “because they aren’t climate scientists,” and after all, nearly all (important) climate scientists agree with the consensus.  I no longer feel justified in ignoring this, and can recognize my former self-righteous tribalism for what it was.

    “Elite” outsiders (academics from other fields) have much to contribute to the field of climate science and its assessment.  Not just from the perspective of the technical aspects (given the complexity and multi-disciplinary aspects of the field), but also from the “process” angles and the more philosophy of science angles.  Particularly with regards to the process angles, the social psychology of conducting something like an IPCC assessment needs investigating, we need help here not just from the social scientists but also from the lawyers.  How we run peer review and make our data available, acknowledge conflicts of interests, etc.  should be evaluated and assessed against the standards of other fields.  One of the reasons our field is losing respect from elite scientists in other fields is the postnormalism aspect of our field, where so many climate scientists find it impossible to separate the policy implications from the science.  Etc. Etc.  So I for one am listening, and would like to see more formal involvement of “elite outsiders” in the process, I think this recommendation is being made by a number of different people to the IPCC IAC.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    Steve, what I say about, say, Pat Michaels or Willie Soon in private and what I say about them in public are different things. I would prefer that the two kinds of statement not be judged in the same way, should any of your associates happen to steal my personal correspondence.

    Thanks in advance.
     

  • gilbert

    Phil Clarke (259)

    Thanks for the link.  Helps to explain why it’s so hard for a skeptic to get published.
     

  • Judith Curry

    Michael Tobis makes an important point.  Dont expect certainty on this subject, aint going to happen, ever.  This does not mean that the risks from climate change should be ignored.  There is a large field called decision making under uncertainty, this is applied in many many fields from public health to the military.  There are many different ways to reason about uncertainty and incorporate it into the decision making process, the precautionary principle is but one strategy.  The “either” (ignore it until we are certain) and the “or” (precautionary policies responding to the worst case scenario) is a false choice; there are many many other policy options that unfortunately have not received sufficient attention.

  • Judith Curry

    An article on citizen science, Fred Pearce etc in the Guardian today, very timely!

  • Steve Bloom

    Judy says in #215:

    ‘ (…) I have been very much struck by the posts from so many of the “citizen scientists”  who have strong technical backgrounds and who are providing thoughtful perspectives.  A few themes are coming through (also summarized by Roger D):  they are motivated by trying to understand the science because it is interesting and/or has potentially important socioeconomic impacts; they are looking for trusted sources of information; they don’t view politics or advocacy of particular policies as their motivation for being interested in this.’

    James G in #251 helpfully explains why that’s wrong:

    ‘However both might be surprised that a lot of skeptics do believe a rational policy of decarbonization is a worthy goal regardless of how much is known or not known about the science. The question is not whether it should be done but a) how is it to be funded and b) should we do it before we have adequate replacements? If the answer to a) is “largely privately”, and the answer to b) is “of course not” ““ then most, if not all, objection from skeptics would disappear.’

    Probably he doesn’t speak for all of them, but I think most.

  • Phil Clarke

    Keith – the previous post is a mess. Could you either delete the duplicated text and add in a few line breaks or simply wipe it and I’ll repost? Thanks.

  • Phil Clarke

    Thanks for the link.  Helps to explain why it’s so hard for a skeptic to get published.
    They should try harder, after all, McLean et al, Douglass et al, Lindzen and Choi, heck even Ferenc Miskolczi managed it!

    I leave what happened to those papers as an exercise for the reader.

  • Steve Bloom

    Judy, your focus on the models as the leading edge of the case is very odd, recalling Jim Hansen’s dictum that it’s based on paleo, modern obs and the models, in that order.

    At this point, we have an excellent idea as to what equilibrium climate looks like with CO2 levels in the present range.  There’s nothing especially better or worse about such a world so long as one isn’t overly attached to current coastal real estate (since sea levels were ~25 meters higher than at present); the potential hazard is in the speed of the transition. 

    The models tell us to expect a fairly fast transition, but is that correct, and in particular do current observations support such a conclusion?  

    There are a couple of large-scale early effects we can point to, polar amplification and the expansion of the tropics.  We have rather a lot of both even though the warming seen thus far is relatively slight, with today’s news featuring an unfortunate example.  This confirmation that the Pine Island Glacier has detached from its grounding ridge, probably for the first time during the Holocene, has obvious bad implications for the near-term stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, an outcome which ironically was not predicted by the models.  Similarly, the models failed to predict the early signs of rapid melt by the Greenland Ice Sheet.

    While the (model-predicted) expansion of the tropics hasn’t gone far enough to substantially shift rainfall patterns in the breadbasket areas bordering the poleward edges of ther subtropics, the risk of that seems both obvious and extreme.  A critical related question is how stable the monsoons will be as this process proceeds.  

    All of this shouldn’t allow us to take much comfort in the thought that models have a lot of uncertainty, nor is it very plausible that such changes are within the range of natural variability.

    I think it’s fair to say that the foregoing examples sketch out the core of the case for concern reasonably well, so why are the “citizen scientists” so uninterested in it, and why have you been uninterested in raising it with them?  (I realize that none of it is in your field, but then neither is modeling.)

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    Judith, risk management and what if scenarios are indeed common, and are an accepted part of management practice in both industry and various parts of government.
    I’ve seen none of this regarding climate change. Far more typical are heroic goals with no path for success, such as M.T.’s above (sorry I’m picking on you, Michael).
    But real-world scenarios on how to realistically get where they want to go do not seem to be available. I’d love it if someone could correct me on this. The IPCC SREs are internally contradictory, and can’t realistically be used. Stern is no help, as he used them. The U.S. DOE just made a very large downward adjustment in their estimates out to 2030. I am unaware of a single feasible path towards success.
    If you took our starting point as today–following a year when emissions and energy consumption both fell–and looked at both where Michael Tobis wants us to go and where our current policy will take us, I don’t think it would be rocket science to lay out policy prescriptions by region that would accommodate growth in the developing world and manage the ‘requirements’ for larger per capita energy use in the developed world.
    We not only could say we need X pebble bed nuclear reactors, but also where they should be sited for greatest effect. We could say we need Y plug in hybrid electric vehicles, and these are the markets that can deliver clean electricity to charge their batteries. We could dictate what airlines and what flights should have priority for installation of fuel reducing engines to maximise impact on fuel efficiency in air transportation.
    I haven’t seen any work of this sort out there–could someone direct me to it if it exists?

  • Phil Clarke

    BH: So shall we talk about what’s actually in the book, or would you prefer to talk about other things?

    Well we could do both ;-) . I’ll use Dr Curry’s #211 as the best summation so far of the ‘challenge’ ….

    “Is the hockey stick central or important to the climate change scientific argument?  Statements like the “warmest year”, “warmest decade” are meaningless without a full attribution of the time period that includes solar and volcanic variability, and long term (decadal, century) ocean oscillations.  This hasn’t been done, so we don’t learn all that much from the reconstructions themselves.  But the real importance of the hockey stick is as an IPCC marketing tool in building public support.

    So this is the issue in a nutshell, mostly as portrayed in the Montford book, with the pieces that i regard as most significant.  If there are any inaccuracies here (with my portrayal of the montfords case, or with montford’s interpretations), somebody needs to rebut this.  Arguing that there are too many spurious allegations doesn’t cut it, this  (as summarized by Montford) is the most significant one, already with substantial consequences.”

    On the first question, is the HS central to the argument? My answer is No. See ‘What If “¦ the “Hockey Stick” Were Wrong?‘  for a nice summation of the impact on the science if the HS were found to be wrong.

    The question has echoes in the quote I made from the ‘Jesus Paper’:

    “With the replication of the hockey stick in tatters, reasonable people might have expected some sort of pause in the political momentum. ”

    Clearly the argument is that Paleoclimatological reconstructions are of such centrality that, when the leading one is called into questions, the discussion of large policy issues should pause. However one commentator demurs from this assessment of relative priorities:

    “In retrospect, the “hockey stick” studies that I’ve criticized have been used by climate scientists, journals and IPCC to promote concern, but the most important outstanding scientific issue appears to me to be the amount of “water cycle” feedback, including clouds as well as water vapor. This controls the “climate sensitivity” to increased CO2.

    In my opinion, scientific journals reporting on climate and IPCC would serve the interested public far better if they focused on articulating these issues to the scientific public at a professional level than by repeatedly recycling and promoting some highly questionable proxy studies that deal with an issue that interests me, but which is somewhat tangential to the large policy issues. “

    Which leads us to the entertaining conclusion that Andrew Montford locates Steve McIntyre outside the set of ‘reasonable people’. ;-)

    So in answer to the question ‘Is the HS central to the scientific case?’ my answer is No – it is a ‘somewhat tangential’ sideshow – and Steve McIntyre agrees.

    On the question of the use of the HS by IPCC as a marketing tool, I am not the right person to ask. My interest in the topic only started at about or a little before the time of the release of AR4 in 2007. It is hard to argue that IPCC were pushing MBH99 as any great brand logo in that report when it is relegated to a single strand in the spaghetti graph. As I understand it the HS appeared quite prominently in the 2001 TAR, there may or may not have been a major IPCC marketing campaign using it as an icon, but even if so I probably would not have been aware of it. Sorry. Even if there were such a marketing move, proven with hindsight to have been misguided, I am afraid my overwhelming reaction, half a decade and a new Assessment Report later, is…

    ‘So what’?

  • Judith Curry

    Tom Fuller, I agree with your perspective on the frustrating lack of real analysis in this area.  Even more fundamental issues that have been largely unexplored include the concept of “dangerous climate change.”  Why do we assume the current climate is optimal?  Yes, we are adapted to the current climate climate, but what actually are the dangerous risks of 1, 3, or 6 C warming?  This has not received a credible assessment IMO (i don’t view the IPCC WGII reports as credible).  Just to take the issue of sea level rise, which is probably most alarming.  Some sort of global average sea level rise is pretty meaningless; “danger” needs to be assessed locally in terms of local subsidence/uplift, delta building, etc in terms of what the danger actually is.  There is currently a debate about all this regarding Bangladesh, which on the surface seems most vulnerable to the generic risk of average sea level rise.  Etc. Etc.  The bottom line is that we have been so busy fighting wars over aspects of WG1 science that we have ignored the actual risk assessment in terms of “danger” in the context of everything else that is going on, and have not come up with cost/loss scenarios of various combinations of climate change, danger, and a broad range of policy options.  The whole policy situation is posed as “either or,” and few people want either option, we need new options on the table that are carefully assessed in the context of uncertainty in the future scenarios and possible dangers.  We’ve barely gotten to first base on this.

  • freespeech

    Steve Bloom wrote:
    “Borrowing your phrase, the fact that 911 Truther books have been largely ignored must be a “sad admission that the strident comments about the 911 Truther books are baseless and uninformed.”  I love logic”
    Pity you don’t seem to use or understand logic. Mosher’s book is about problems with the way climate science has been conducted, and contains a detailed review of a number of contentious issues. Mosher is not a global warming denialist, and the book does not seek to promote global warming denialism.
    Attempting to place this work alongside 911 conspiracy theorists just shows the vaccuous nature of the alarmist meme. Thanks for your efforts in exposing this.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Phil Clarke
    The hockey stick is central to the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.
    .
    The hockey stick is not central to climate science.
    .
    Regards

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    freespeech, waitaminnit–I just noticed that when the book gets criticized my name gets used but when it gets praised the Moshpit gets the credit. I wanna recount…
    Judith, if nobody at IPCC or NOAA or DOE or CRU or Control or Kaos is doing this, well, why not? The raw data needed for such an exercise is easily available to work with.

  • Tim

    #271 – Phil Clarke

    The HS “matters” because it is an extremely useful propaganda tool and having to admit is a fabrication would be extremely damaging to the political cause. That is why so many scientists who should know better insist on defending the indefensible.

    The HS also matters because the attribution of CO2 as the cause of the CWP depends on the claim that GCMs can replicate past climate changes. If the was a global and warm MWP and RWP then they will no longer be able to claim that the GCMs can replicate past changes which means attribution argument falls part.

    In short – the hockey stick matters.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    Shub: The hockey stick is central to the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.”

    To the best of my knowledge there is no such thing as a “theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” as something anyone claims to subscribe to. I have never heard anyone say “I agree with CAGW”, nor do I have any idea what such a person would be agreeing to.

    I believe that global warming on the high end of no-policy projections would almost certainly be catastrophic. Perhaps this would suffice as acceptance of “CAGW” in your estimation? My opinion on this matter predates the publication of the hockey stick and is not significantly influenced by it.

  • Tim

    #278 – Michel Tobis

    This talk by Rutledge demolishes the CAGW claims but showing that the CO2 emission projections are gross over estimate:

    http://rutledge.caltech.edu/Caltech%20talk%202010/videos.html

    Based on his numbers CO2 sensitivity is about 2C/2x and the BAU scenario will not take us above a 2 degC rise. IOW – no particular policy actions are required to avoid CAGW.

    He also shows that bureaucrats are prone to exaggeration when making estimates of the future but private enterprise tends to get it right more often.  

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    Tim #277, to my knowledge GCMs have never been used to replicate the medieval period, with or without MWP. Do you have a reference?

    “The HS also matters because the attribution of CO2 as the cause of the CWP depends on the claim that GCMs can replicate past climate changes. ” This bears no resemblance to my understanding of the attribution question. Please elaborate and provide references.

    Are you just guessing, or what?
     

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    Judith, just to put parameters around a statistical universe for possible exploration, renewable energy produced about 52 quads in 2009, a bit over 10% of the total 500 quads used worldwide.
    For 9.2 billion people to have access to the same level of energy as Americans do (327 billion btu’s per person) in 2050 would require about 3,000 quads.
    (Silly exercise in exponentials: If solar power continued to grow at the same rate it has for the past 30 years, we wouldn’t need anything else. If it grew at half the rate it has grown for the past 30 years it would supply 54,000 quads.)
    It’s doable, it’s doable renewable, and it doesn’t seem like anybody’s doing the math. It is important where and when we start, however.
    If you add nuclear power into the equation, it all gets a lot easier, of course.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    Tim #279; I can’t watch those formats but I looked at the slides and have looked at Rutledge before.

    It all boils down to his claim that there isn’t enough carbon fuel left to make a huge difference to climate. Let’s, for the purposes of argument, stipulate his position. Oddly, this still requires urgent decarbonization of the economy, so the policy implications are pretty much moot. If he’s right, we face the exact same issues as if the mainstream IPCC position is right.

    Anyway, for good or ill, the tar sands, the new methane recovery techniques, and improved seismic detection probably mean he is not entirely right about oil and gas. That’s without even considering clathrates as a resource, a scary proposition but not unimaginable.

    Here’s a good article about his stuff:
    http://is.gd/cX0rJ

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    an angry person wrote:

    “I noticed there are many postings by “Steven Sullivan”

    Really?  I’m not feeling it.  (Keith,  correct me on that if I’ve got blinders on).  But it appears the ones I made on *this* thread certainly brought out the troops.   Happily for you, I can’;t possibly do a point-by-point reply to each.

    Instead, John Gilligan’s terrific post in Keith’s new thread, and Michael Tobis and Bart V’s posts everywhere,  address the pros and cons of ‘citizen science’ better than I could…and without ONCE citing the Dunning-Kruger effect. ;>

    I will say this: the parallels between the ongoing climate ruckus and the ongoing evolution ruckus should be apparent to anyone who’s spent time in both trenches.  There’s a great blog post or three waiting to be written about that.


     

  • Tim

    #280 – Michael Tobis

    From AR4.

    A number of simulations of the last millennium (Figure 6.13) have been performed using a range of models, including some simulations with AOGCMs (e.g., Crowley, 2000; Goosse and Renssen, 2001; Bertrand et al., 2002; Bauer et al., 2003; Gerber
    et al., 2003; see also Gonzalez-Rouco et al., 2003; Jones and Mann, 2004; Zorita et al., 2004; Weber, 2005; Tett et al., 2007).

    By comparing simulated and observed atmospheric CO2 concentration during the last 1 kyr, Gerber et al. (2003) suggest that the amplitude of the temperature evolution simulated by simple climate models and EMICs is consistent with the observed evolution of CO2. Since reconstructions of external forcing are virtually independent from the reconstructions of past temperatures, this broad consistency increases confi dence in the broad features of the reconstructions and the understanding of the role of external forcing in recent climate variability. The simulations also show that it is not possible to reproduce the large 20th-century warming without anthropogenic forcing regardless of which solar or volcanic forcing reconstruction is used (Crowley, 2000; Bertrand et al., 2002; Bauer et al., 2003; Hegerl et al., 2003, 2007), stressing the impact of human activity on the recent warming.


    You will need to add this to your list of topics where sceptics are more informed about the science than you.
     

  • Steven Sullivan

    Sorry, but have those of you who have been traumatized by their visits to RealClimate,  and appalled by a supposed lack of engagement, actually read the RC responses to ‘Climategate’?

    Start here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack-context/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/cru-hack-more-context/

    and do also read the links therein  (e.g., to Ben Santer’s long post).  Digesting all the replies to  comments on those threads couldn’t hurt either.
     

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Steven (283),

    I don’t think it’s fair to characterize the commenter as “an angry person” any more than it is for that commenter to imply that you are negative contributor to this thread.

    And since you haven’t personally heard from me in an email, you shouldn’t be concerned.

    I’m trying hard to create an inviting, civil environment in which a diverse range of perspectives can productively co-exist. I think this thread shows that such an environment is possible.

  • Tim

    #283 – Steven Sullivan

    1) Your attempt to compare the largely religious arguments over evolution to the entirely scientific arguments over CAGW demonstrates that you are not informed about the issues and should probably take time to learn.

    2) The RC ‘response’ to climategate was make up excuses and claim the ends justified the means (i.e. X was a bad paper so it was perfectly acceptable to pressure journals the printed it).

  • Michael Larkin

    Michael Tobis:

    “First of all “debate” is not discourse, it is polemical confrontation. Scientists always lose in polemics, because scientists are constrained not to bend the truth.”

    Well, I agree that should be the case, but the Climategate emails persuaded me that they aren’t above such things – and maybe worse. And in any case, I have yet to see the climate science establishment (with the honourable exception of a very few, including Judith Curry), engage in true discourse with people it seems to regard as ignorable ignoramuses.

    “Finally, the snarking and ad hominems generally do not come from scientists. We cannot control everything said by our allies.”

    Then why are they your “allies” rather than your worst enemy? I think they should be discouraged and disowned.

    “I haven’t decided whether to look at it myself. I really am not especially interested in the hockey stick, the tree ring controversies, or McIntyre vs Mann, etc. I have not taken an interest in the minutiae of the IPCC process; I’m too low in the totem pole for my opinions to carry much weight there. I have lots of other irons in the fire. I hope somebody takes Judith up on this but I don’t think it should be me!”

    A bemusing lack of intellectual curiosity seems completely alien to me. I can’t influence anything either, but I want to try to find the truth about the hockey stick, which is why I will be reading the book shortly.

    I’m also bemused that so many (C)AGW proponents can’t grasp why this issue is so important for Joe Sixpack with a science degree. It’s been said earlier in this thread: if it is true that this heavily-promoted icon of CAGW is the result of incompetence at best and skulduggery at worst, then that goes to the issue of trust of the climate science establishment.

    It doesn’t matter if climate science stands or falls by the hockey stick. What matters is what that says about the trustworthiness of the ex-cathedra pronouncements of the IPCC, Al Gore, etc., amply supported by the mass media and politicians for their own particular purposes.
    If climate scientists aren’t even prepared to look at the evidence, but prefer to stand by and let their “allies”/associates indulge in monkey business whilst washing their hands of any responsibility for it, well, as the saying goes, all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

    Again, I’ll say to you what I’ve said to someone else: mark well what Judith is saying. She has accurately taken the pulse of Joe Sixpack and divined his motivations. Her diagnoses and prescriptions are, IMO, correct. Scientists can continue living in their ivory towers for only so long. At some point, reality will come calling with a wrecking ball. Heeding what she says and acting accordingly may be the last-chance saloon for climate science in particular, and maybe also other areas of science with serious public policy impacts.

  • Colin Davidson

    Mike Larkin (#217 above) said: “If there were a pro-AGW blog somewhere where it was possible to explore scientific issues without acrimony at the right sort of level for the reasonably educated layman, things could be significantly different, as there would be that much extra balance in the debate. ”

    Try http://scienceofdoom.com/ 

  • Michael Larkin

    Steve Reynolds and Colin Davidson,
    Thank you for recommending the scienceofdoom site. I have actually visited that before, and its owner also posts occasionally at WUWT. I agree it looks like a good site, but not quite what I was thinking of, somehow. Maybe that’s in part because of the amount of traffic it gets and because it is driven by the owner – he puts out his articles, which are in places a tad too technical for me, and I don’t feel I can engage very competently with them, so I don’t.
    Many of the articles at WUWT by Willis Eschenbach and Steven Goddard are pitched at the right level for me, but they are inevitably on the sceptical side (don’t get me wrong, I don’t condemn that, far from it). But there doesn’t seem to be anyone putting out articles from the pro-side who is as open to such lively debate.
    Willis and Steven deal with their critics from the pro-side, so why can’t pro-siders with similar gifts for presentation at a digestible level put it out there and deal with theirs? That would be what I call having a choice of comparing the quality of pro- and con- arguments in a slightly more balanced way.
    The thing is, pro-AGWers don’t seem to perceive the “market” for this; I wonder if to some extent that is because they don’t want to encourage constructive debate. But it would be one way for them to engage and perhaps win back some respect.
    Richard Feynman had a genius for communicating complex ideas at a level any reasonably intelligent person could grasp, without dumbing down the essentials. In fact, he maintained that knowledge of the maths wasn’t necessary for a decent understanding of QT, and was ardently against scientists being arrogant and condescending to members of the public. I wish he were still around to whisper in the ears of some of the climate scientists.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    <b>Michael Tobis</b>
    To the best of my knowledge there is no such thing as a “theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” as something anyone claims to subscribe to.
    .
    Well sir, there *is* such a theory.  It lurks in the background, but it is there.
    .
     

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    Michael Larkin: “The thing is, pro-AGWers don’t seem to perceive the “market” for this; I wonder if to some extent that is because they don’t want to encourage constructive debate. But it would be one way for them to engage and perhaps win back some respect.”

    On this point I agree with Mr. Larkin. (except that I have to insist that the nomenclature pro-AGW is very awkward; we aren’t advocating AGW!) We are getting all sorts of advice to “Not be Such a Scientist” and the like, which is hopelessly and drastically wrong for the audience that’s willing to do a little work.

    The university ticks off NSF’s “outreach” box with gee-whiz programs for high school students. Outreach to adults, especially on matters that touch on political controversy, has been actively discouraged until recently.

    Perhaps the only silver lining to the CRU email theft and the trumped-up accusations that followed has been that the atmosphere no longer explicitly discourages active engagement of climate scientists with the adult public.

    However, it is easy to imagine that people will object to publicly funded scientists “taking a political position”. We have not come far from the situation where the oppositions to consensus science are vastly better funded, staffed and organized than the defenders of science. Arguably the trend is a little better.

    But as Lucia Liljegren noted just a couple of days ago, it isn’t anybody’s job to explain the consensus position to non-student adults. At least for the time being we have a condition where it isn’t actively discouraged, but this is historically unusual and can easily be reversed.

    The other thing is that we have to resist the temptation to merely respond to the very distorted stories that people like Watts and Eschenbach are telling. We have to put out the fires that they start, but not to the exclusion of telling a story where the emphasis is on the important points. To dwell on the peculiar minutiae that the confused (at best!) critics happen to seize upon at any given moment just reinforces attitudes about what is actually important (e.g., the “hockey stick”). To allow the  people who dont; understand to choose the points of public focus doesn’t serve the need for solid understanding among the people willing to take some trouble to learn about the situation.
     

  • Dale Chant

    Hi Michael Tobis,

    When you say “scientists are constrained not to bend the truth” you have perhaps inadvertently and ironically hit the heart of the matter. There are by this point in time probably millions of competent data analysts and statisticians who have looked into the HS fiasco – and please note that once the data is collected and subjected to analysis the legitimacy of that analysis has nothing whatsoever to do with understanding climate science – and what they have seen is that there is one who speaks the truth (Steve McIntyre), and there are many who have responded by bending it to breaking point and beyond  (the scientists). This is frankly shocking.  Like it or not, the HS is now the global credibility  test for climatology, because until the climatology establishment disavows MBH98, MBH99, the abominably bad MM08, and all their progeny,  we who have done the work for ourselves to understand the issues simply cannot take climatology seriously.  The conclusion is that those climate scientists and their acolytes  who support the HS (the consensus) are either innumerate, gullible  or deliberately disingenuous. In the tradition of the enlightenment we expect our scientists to honour the truth beyond all within their areas of expertise, and I  am personally deeply disappointed to have seen that expectation treated with such contempt at RC, CRU and elsewhere. 

    As it is, the climatology community is playing a losing game – if we do indeed have a serious problem with CO2, then bending the truth (along with non-archiving and general obfuscation) does nothing other than fuel the forces of reaction and delay, and if we don’t, then when it comes time for the verdict of history on the wasted trillions, you are denied the defence of an honest and fair mistake.
    And while I am here,  I would like to express my admiration and support for Judith Curry’s efforts to bridge the great divide.  I hope that many of your colleagues will follow your lead.

  • http://bishophill.squarespace.com Bishop Hill

    #272 Phil

    OK this is much better; we’re on content. It really is a pity that we are discussing Caspar rather than the book. I spend a couple of pages in the Hockey Stick Illusion discussing where the Hockey Stick fits into the global warming hypothesis and conclude that it is not central – it is persuasive but not conclusive evidence. So we agree! :-)

    On the HS as a sales tool – well that’s one of the central conclusions of the book. I decided to write the book when I saw the HS in a children’s textbook. The BBC said “it is hard to overestimate how influential” the Hockey Stick has been.

    It’s interesting to wonder why the IPCC should decide to include the Hockey Stick six times in AR3 and to use it at the backdrop for the launch of the WG1 report when all sides agree that it is not central to the AGW hypothesis.

  • Ian Castles

    On 20 November 2000, some weeks before the launch of the WGI report of AR3 and presumably with knowledge of its contents, the Chair of the IPCC, Dr Robert Watson, told the 6th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC that it was ‘undisputed that the two last decades has (sic) been the warmest this century, indeed the warmest for the last 1000 years.” It’s reasonable to conclude that the IPCC “powers-that-be” had already decided to give this unqualified assertion and its graphic representation a central place in its promotion of AR3.

  • Roger D.

    Michael, you say
    (#278)  “To the best of my knowledge there is no such thing as a “theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” as something anyone claims to subscribe to. I have never heard anyone say “I agree with CAGW”, nor do I have any idea what such a person would be agreeing to.”
    and (#292)
    “I have to insist that the nomenclature pro-AGW is very awkward; we aren’t advocating AGW!”

    What nomenclature would you prefer? It is highly useful to have some terminology. Warmist?

    ps Thanks for all your posts, although I don’t always agree!

  • Latimer Alder

    @michael tobis #292
    ‘To allow the  people who dont; understand to choose the points of public focus doesn’t serve the need for solid understanding among the people willing to take some trouble to learn about the situation.’

    I am the archetypal Joe Sixpack here. A hard science degree from Oxford and a 30 year career in IT. And I am incensed by the remarks above.
    Until autumn last year I had no time to spare to consider climate change as a serious topic for study. But when I did get a few weeks to get down to it, I started to read widely just to see exactly why everybody seemed to be agreed that ‘the science is settled’. So I read some blogs, looked at the high-level data, tried to understand where the certainty came from. I approached the subject with a pretty open mind. But it was soon clear to me that the science wasn’t settled by any means. There were far too many gaps and problems with the methods and data for it anyone to draw anything but tentative conclusions. I’d spent some time as a Theoretical Chemist doing atmospheric reaction modelling and I was used to the idea that if the theory didn’t fit the facts, then the theory had to go. The history of the Hockey Stick seemed to show that in climatology the opposite is true.
    And then came Climategate. Though I found the e-mails interesting in that to me they showed the poor quality of the work that had been done…it was Harry_Read_Me that was devastating. It showed just how sloppy the data collection and archiving methods that were used for the basic data on which the whole edifice was built. The excuses ‘we had an office move’, ‘ I have an untidy office’, ‘we didn’t think it was important to keep the basic data’, ‘I’ve forgotten what I did, but I know it was right’ and ‘I agreed with a guy in xxxland that I wouldn’t share his data, but I’ve forgotten who or when or what the agreeement said’
    are pathetic in the extreme. The simple fact is that they (and Harrison) haven’t the first clue what data they have, what it means or where it came from. That is what made me a sceptic. Bad data == Bad conclusions.
    And along the way I also incurred the wrath of the AGW establishment.  between Messrs Hansen, Schmidt, Dhogza, Blue Cloud and Jbowers I have been variously accused of being a paedophile, a racist, ageist, sexist, a shill for Big Oil, a (literal) bastard, a liar and plenty of other less serious failings.
    I read here yet further examples of the head in the sand approach from the Keepers of the True Flame.
    No matter what anyone says, no matter what evidence is proposed, these ‘professionals’ will stubbornly refuse to even find out what the issues are. They know that they are irrelevant, and if only the great unwashed would let them get on with telling us the truth we would be all far better off.

    Well Mike, I did try to gain some understanding.  I read what was there. I viewed it as an interested slightly-better-than-layman. And I came away with that conclusion that there is no way the science is settled. And because I have a nasty suspicious mind, I have a strong suspicion that all the insults, obfuscation and downright arrogance is a blustering attempt to cover up the fact that you know it too, but can’t admit it because you’d be expelled from the tribe.

    So less of the intellectual arrogance, mon brave, and a little more of engagement. Your flame is already being blown around by some strong breezes. Be careful that its not blown out completely by tribe’s near magical ability to alienate all your educated critics.





     

  • Phil Clarke

    BH:” On the HS as a sales tool ““ well that’s one of the central conclusions of the book.”
    The subtitle of the book is ‘The Corruption of science’ I believe? I guess The ‘corruption of marketing’ might have attracted a different readership ;-) .
    The science of this interests me, the politics, media and schoolbooks not so much, though inaccuracy in materials for the <a href=”http://joannenova.com.au/globalwarming/the_skeptics_handbook_2-22_lq.pdf “> lay readership </a> and <a href=”http://climateprogress.org/2010/06/20/amazon-ipcc-climategate-sunday-times-jonathan-leake-simon-lewis-apology-retraction/#more-28088 “>the media </a>  should always be challenged. Like I said I was elsewhere when AR3 hit the scene and cannot comment on the use or misuse of the Stick as an icon. As we are now almost a decade on from that launch, we have AR4 and a new reconstruction, such issues to me are of interest only in a ‘History of Science’ sense. From what I have seen there IS a strong case that the media and to some extent the IPCC DID overuse the image as visual shorthand for rapid modern warming, along the way the graph lost its error bars and the authors’ many caveats about it being a ‘work in progress’. But the ‘dumbing down’ of science for a soundbite culture is a widespread phenomenon, and affects all sides of the argument. Indeed there is also <a href=”http://www.vancouversun.com/news/book+outlines+effort+behind+climate+change+skeptics/2153760/story.html “> this book</a>, also arguably about the ‘corruption of science’ and no – I have no current plans to read it either.
    Speaking of Mann et al 2008, it is a shame that some are of the opinion that it is not an advance on MBH99. As Dr Schmidt wrote of it ‘One test of whether that discussion is more political than scientific will be the extent to which people acknowledge the progress that has been made.’
    To list a few of the improvements:
    - There is no separate Principal Component Analysis step in this analysis. Given that a large slice of the objections to MBH were centred (sorry) on PCA, one might have expected this to be welcomed.
    - Large number of new proxies
    - Choice of proxies is comprehensively disclosed and discussed. Yes, Bristlecones are there, but the reasons why are discussed and the results strongly caveated, and the analysis performed with and without tree-rings and other tricky proxies.
    - All code and data archived online. Again, a major criticism of the Mann et al’s earlier work was a percieved lack of open-ness. The data is what it is, anyone is free to download it and fool around to their heart’s content, constructing their own analysis with or without their favourite proxies and comparing the curve to items of sporting equipment.

    Bye for now,
    PC.

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com Bart Verheggen

    Judith,

    I am surprised that you disagree with my statement that “It is the things that are well known that are relevant for policy making. They paint a clear picture of the direction we’re heading.” Perhaps it’s due to the vagueness of this statement, but if you disagree, it sounds as if you deem the chances of cooling under a BAU scenario to be as large as the chances of warming. I’m sure that’s not what you mean though. However, that is very much what I meant with my statement: Unabated future GHG emissions will lead to more warming. How much exactly, and how will it vary regionally, and what will be the exact effects? They are very difficult questions, with only rudimentary answers, bearing high degrees of uncertainty.


    But as Herman Daly noted:

    “Can we systematically continue to emit increasing amounts of CO2 and other greenho’use gasses into the atmosphere without eventually provoking unacceptable climate changes? Scientists will overwhelmingly agree that the answer is no. The basic science, first principles, and directions of causality are very clear. Arrhenius discovered the basics a century ago. Focusing on them creates a world of relative certainty, at least as to the thrust and direction of policy.”

    On the other hand, focusing on the more uncertain rates and valuations creates “a world of such enormous uncertainty and complexity as to paralyze policy”. Perhaps that’s indeed what’s happening now. “To make the point more simply, if you jump out of an airplane you need a crude parachute more than an accurate altimeter.” Discussing the probabilities of a certain temperature change and sea level rise by 2100 may be very interesting scientifically, but it is not necessarily the most relevant for policy. If the main thrust of the change is clear (more greenhouse gases causing more warming, eventually leading to unacceptable climate changes), then society should leave the quantitative mangling over details to the scientists, and focus on what to do about it. Because any realistic change in the details is not going to affect this main thrust.
     

    This of course is very postnormal, in the sense that it relates to issues of both science and politics, which could be divided into the following questions:
    - To what extent is climate change occurring, and to what extent is it man-made?
    - To what extent is that (going to be) a problem?
    - What can or should we do about it?
    The first questions are strictly scientific (I wrote about what I deem to be the well known aspects of climate science here, and the major uncertainties here); the middle has a judgment value to it, and the latter is primarily a political/moral judgement (and has more to do with technology than with climate science).

    Discussing scientific uncertainty (of IPCC wg1 climatology issues) is scientifically relevant, but at this point in time hardly policy relevant, because any realistic estimate of the uncertainty does not envelop a trajectory in which unabated emissions do not cause considerable climate change.

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com Bart Verheggen

    Perhaps to amend this statement of what I wrote:
    “society should leave the quantitative mangling over details to the scientists”
    In light of the current discussion, and based on the fact that many “citizen scientists” with considerable skill and intellect want to look in scientific data, this statement sounds much too absolutist. Anyone is free to do quantitive mangling of details. But let’s not confuse that with being policy relevant, and call it out when people claim it is.

  • Phil Clarke

    “it was Harry_Read_Me that was devastating. It showed just how sloppy the data collection and archiving methods that were used for the basic data on which the whole edifice was built.”
    Except ‘Harry’ was working on upgrading CRU TS 2.1 to v3.0, a completely separate product to the flagship HADCrut time series, which is surely what is meant by ‘the basic data on which the whole edifice was built.’.

    I am sure Oxford still teach critical thinking, e.g. the illegitimacy of extrapolating sweeping and general conclusions from a limited amount of data.
    Trivial point: ‘Harry’ was Ian Harris, who is ‘Harrison’?
    HadCrut : http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/110494352/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0
    Hadley CRU TS: 3.0 http://badc.nerc.ac.uk/data/cru/

  • Tim

    #298 – Bart Verheggen

    I agree that the physical science is largely irrelevant when it comes to making policy decisions. OTOH, most of the IPCC projections are based on economics – not the physical science. The video by Rutledge above suggests the IPCC BAU  assumptions about CO2 emissions are extreme over estimates and that we could end up well under the ‘safe’ warming level even if we do nothing.

    Obviously, people will dispute Rutledge but his arguments are certainly plausible and policy relevant.

    Your analogy with the parachute was interesting but the real choice is not between a parachute and altimeter. We have already jumped and the only debate is whether sawing our legs off will make survival more or less likely.

  • Latimer Alder

    @phil clarke #300
    ‘Except “˜Harry’ was working on upgrading CRU TS 2.1 to v3.0, a completely separate product to the flagship HADCrut time series, which is surely what is meant by “˜the basic data on which the whole edifice was built.’.
    How strange then that in a department of no more than 35 people, only two whom (Harry plus the hapless IT Manager) seem to take an interest in IT matters, they manage to keep one set of records in a state of complete shambles as evidenced by Mr Harris(on)’s remarks. While simultaneously, the same people in the same small building manage to keep the ‘important’ records to the highest standards required for such a crucial project – one on which ‘the very future of humanity rests’.? How can this be? It doesn’t sound like the nature of any IT department that I have ever worked in or manged (either in academia or commercially). A good data analyst with high standards of care does not suddenly become a bad and sloppy one because the dataset name changes! And is it not strange that the quality of the  ‘real’ data wasn’t mentioned in Jones and Acton’s excruciating appearance in Parliament. In the British expression ‘pull the other one its got bells on it’(
    I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with my critical faculties here, nor with the quality of the Science teaching I received at Oxford in the 1970s. When you add 30 years of in-depth and varied IT experience I am confident that my conclusions about the CRUs inability to handle valuable data are reasonable and correct.





     

  • Phil Clarke

    HARRY_READ_ME was the work log – jottings – of a developer covering 4 years of work on a specialised, secondary product of the CRU. By its very nature such a document will focus on the problems and frustrations that crop up. I too work in IT and I have never encountered a project that, viewed from outside, did not at some point in the long road from requirements to delivery meet the description ‘shambolic’. Look at how Harry’s comments changed as the project neared completion. I have also worked in software QA and none of the books I have read recommends ‘steal the developer’s working notes and trawl several years of material for expressions of frustration’ as a useful technique.

    One test of quality is comparing the output while varying the input.
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/science/monitoring/data-graphic.GIF

    The red line is the temperature series built from the subset of Met Office station data in the public domain and available for scrutiny by anyone with an internet connection. The black line includes all the data.  Hmmmm.

    I also point you to Roy Spencer’s remarks about Phil Jones, spencer has rather more experience in the field than either of us, I suspect:
    “He says he’s not very organised. I’m not very organised myself,” said Professor Spencer. “If you asked me to find original data from 20 years ago I’d have great difficulty too.
    “We just didn’t realise in those days how important and controversial this would all become – now it would just all be stored on computer. Phil Jones has been looking at climate records for a very long time. Frankly our data set agrees with his, so unless we are all making the same mistake we’re not likely to find out anything new from the data anyway.”
    Quite.

  • Roger D.

    Phil Clarke (#297) “ BH:” On the HS as a sales tool ““ well that’s one of the central conclusions of the book.”
    The subtitle of the book is “˜The Corruption of science’ I believe? I guess The “˜corruption of marketing’ might have attracted a different readership ”

    I think this is a bit unfair. More accurate would perhaps be The “˜corruption of the science of something used in marketing’ – this is the point a number of us have been trying to make. (Not a great strapline admittedly.)

    And versions of the hockey stick still are used in a very persuasive way by pro-AGWers. See for example slide 4 of John Cook’s presentation; you look at that and you have to say, well yes, CO2 is obviously causing a huge temperature increase. (I would nevertheless add Cook’s site skepticalscience.com to scienceofdoom — #290 — as well worth a visit .)

  • Barry Woods

    I spoke to Sir John Houghton (former IPCC co-chair) last Thursday (17th June 2010) for about 15-20 minutes following a presentation by him:

     - God, Science and Global Warming -  (1st Power point slide)

    http://www.wargravechurch.org.uk/welcome.htm

    John Houghton set up the Hadley centre and was instrumental in the early days of the IPCC and he defended and fought to get Michael Mann’s ‘hockey Stick’ into the IPCC reports and to keep it in..

    In last weeks presentation John Houghton said: 

     “don’t believe any rubbish you see on the internet..”

    Presumably that includes everything  Dr Judith Curry has ever contributed. (let alone my contributions ;) )

    “The enquiries have completely exonerated everybody.”

    “All that was wrong with the IPCC, was one tiny typo 2035 instead of 2350 on glaciers.”

    “There is a consensus amongst thousands of scientists”

    “their is a well funded exxon/mobil denial campaign against global warming, they thought the had something with these stolen emails”

    Sir John Houghton’s presentation last week of course included a ‘hockey stick’ graph.

    (an audio recording by the church – to verify this will be available)

    His voice of authority, and many other similar ones, political as well (Al Gore, etc) and this message, from the IPCC, lobby groups, wwf, greenpeace, etc, remains the sole mesage that the UK/EU political establishment get to hear.

    It is the only message the general public hear..
    It is the prevailing CURRENT message.

    Back in the real world outside the internet amongst friends, parents at school, etc

    I know of no one who has even heard about climategate, let alone the discussion.  I know of no one else that has come across:
    Climate Audit
    Bishop Hill
    Watts Up
    or even Real Climate

    Sir John Houghton, started up the Hadley Centre, co chaired the early IPCC reports, his replacement at Roger Napier the MET office previously chaired the WWF- UK (a vocal advocate of AGW)

    Roger Harrabin(BBC environment analyst), asked various sceptical websites for a list of uk ‘ sceptical climate scientists’ in post… 

    How could there be any?!

    The key figures in the UK scientific and political establishment is in consensus on AGW for 25 years.  No one would have ever received funding for, or studied for a phd if they were remotely scepical, because all the ‘climate’ professors, grew out of, worked with or were connected with, Hadley, Tyndall, met office, etc..

    All the UK has done  for 25 years is breed  consensus ‘climate scientists’.

    15 – 20 years ago, it was decided that man made global warming was proven. Since then it has not been about science, but the use  of science to support this preconceived agenda.

    It was by shear chance that I attended this meeting with Sir John Houghton.  His brother happens to live in Wargrave, Berkshire UK.  Some people are trying to make Wargrave and Henley Transition Towns and they invited him along to speak in suport of this.

    Literally on my doorstep, at the church where I have taken all my children to the church toddler group and family services.

    Transitions Towns say this:

    “Haven’t they disproved Climate Change?
    They have tried, but the science has stood up to the onslaught. The discussion among climate scientists is about how bad it is going to be, how quickly it will happen and how best to minimise possible disastrous consequences.”
    http://www.henley-in-transition.org.uk/about-transition/index.htm

    Have a look at their highly emotive movie, using children extensively.
    http://www.transitionnetwork.org/about/publications/transition-movie
    Small (cute) child saying:
    “CO2 is one of the MAJOR greenhouse gases”
    “the weather is becoming more and more unpredictable, JUST because we are realesing more and more CO2 into the air.”

    Transitions Towns have many things I agree with, sustainability, thinking locally, even alternate energy sources, but I would  be labelled a ‘deniar’ by them.

    So whilst, we may discuss the science here, 15 years ago the key ‘climate science elite’ (ie IPCC lead authors, chairs, etc) scientists became political/social public policy activists.  Environmental lobby groups, social change political groups all jumped on board the AGW bandwagon to use it for their own political agenda.

    Following his presentation:  – God, Science and Global Warming -

    I asked Sir John Houghton a direct question afterwards:

    Have you looked at the Climategate emails for yourself, in context, and the code, and looked at what people are saying..

    Sir John Houghton’s answer:  No

    There is a well funded fossil fuel exxon mobil denial  campaign using the same people that lobbied against tobbaco.

    We had a long discussion.
    Mainly around the lines of as a scientist..

    phil Jones’s comment pre-climategate to Warwick Huges:

    “why should I supply data, you only want to find things wrong with it”

    Which is appalling to any scientists that is NOT a ‘post normal scientist’

    What if, that scientist, found something wrong (if you supplied the data) that found that the risk/temperature were UNDERESTIMATED, it is indefensible not to publish data/code used to derive results for scrutiny. 

    You need to see the code as well, because whilst you say you programmed it a certain way (as I am an IT profesional) you may NOT have actually done it in the code correctly, it must be available for audit.

    I have no doubt Sir John Houghton sincerely believes what he says:
    As do virtually ALL the European and UK politicians.

    The rest of the conversation, will be ‘hearsay’ to many, so I will not repeat it here.

    Let me know, if you want tho hear full audio recording  of this public meeting/presentation.

    How to get the real scientific debate here and eslewhere, to the politicians and vast majority of the general public is going to be a challenge.

  • Barry Woods

    atimer Alder Says:
    June 21st, 2010 at 5:39 am
    @phil clarke #300
    “˜Except “˜Harry’ was working on upgrading CRU TS 2.1 to v3.0, a completely separate product to the flagship HADCrut time series, which is surely what is meant by “˜the basic data on which the whole edifice was built.’.
    How strange then that in a department of no more than 35 people, only two whom (Harry plus the hapless IT Manager) seem to take an interest in IT matters, they manage to keep one set of records in a state of complete shambles as evidenced by Mr Harris(on)’s remarks.”

    —————————-

    Ian ‘Harry’ Harris, aas working on “Tim’s labyrinthine software suites”, previous versions of hadcrut, etc

    That is Dr Tim Mitchell:
    His first degree was geography from Oxford..
    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/~timm/personal/index.html
    Datasets:
    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/~timm/data/index-table.html
    Tim Mitchell, left climate science in 2004 and is now a minister.

    For software with truly worldwide implications.
    Can we get some funding to pay for software developers, auditors and qa processes, plus database management/ data intgerity, to help the ‘climate scientists’ out with this. Not just self taught computer programming  the departments phd students (at the time)

    At least to the standards of any other UK government IT project.

    http://www.e-n.org.uk/p-1129-Climate-change-and-the-Christian.htm   – Tim Mitchell

  • Colin Davidson

    Mike Larkin said:
    “Richard Feynman had a genius for communicating complex ideas at a level any reasonably intelligent person could grasp, without dumbing down the essentials. In fact, he maintained that knowledge of the maths wasn’t necessary for a decent understanding of QT, and was ardently against scientists being arrogant and condescending to members of the public. I wish he were still around to whisper in the ears of some of the climate scientists. ”

    My favourite was Fred Hoyle. He managed to describe the inner workings of stars using QT and nuclear physics in ways we could all understand. He also wrote a book on climate change – “Ice”- in the ’70s. This is well worth a read. As are his books on the panspermia theory of evolution.

    [But only read Hoyle if your mind is like a parachute - it works when it's open.]

  • Barry Woods

    Latimer Alder Says:
    June 21st, 2010 at 4:57 am

    I have been variously accused of being a paedophile, a racist, ageist, sexist, a shill for Big Oil, a (literal) bastard, a liar and plenty of other less serious failings.
    I read here yet further examples of the head in the sand approach from the Keepers of the True Flame.
    No matter what anyone says, no matter what evidence is proposed, these “˜professionals’ will stubbornly refuse to even find out what the issues are. They know that they are irrelevant, and if only the great unwashed would let them get on with telling us the truth we would be all far better off.

    —————————————
    Latimer almost exactly describes where I’m been coming from and MY experiences since first reading  harry_Read_me.txt – on the 20th November 2009.

    A hard degree, BSC Applied Chemistry, followed by a MSc Information Systems Engineering (Reading University – Cybernetics)  followed by a career in telco/IT industry working on multi-million pound business critical ‘real time’ 99.999 availability systems.

    I went to my local transitions town meeting in Henley this month, people refused to talk to me and walked off, rather than look at the BBC’s Roger Harribin interview, that says temps were not unprecedented, contray to what they were saying on their website.

    This is my local community, people I know, my wife knows and are patients in her business (for how much longer, as she is clearly married to a ‘deniar’)

  • http://bishophill.squarespace.com Bishop Hill

    Phil

    You say the reasons for inclusion of the bristlecones are discussed in Mann 08. I can’t see this. It doesn’t seem to be in the SI under “Selection of Tree-Ring data” or “Potential data quality problems”. Can you give me a pointer?

    Thanks.

  • Colin Davidson

    Bart Verheggen said: “If the main thrust of the change is clear (more greenhouse gases causing more warming, eventually leading to unacceptable climate changes), then society should leave the quantitative mangling over details to the scientists, and focus on what to do about it. Because any realistic change in the details is not going to affect this main thrust. ”

    There are several facets to this:
    1. There is a clear consensus that increased CO2 will result in increased food, from 3 causes: Increased yields due to CO2 fertilisation; Increased yields due to increased rainfall; Increased arable land (these last two are only true if the temperature increases.)
    2. There is no agreement on the temperature effect of CO2. Some climate scientists say 0.5DegC, some say 6 DegC for a doubling. Measurements give support for both extremes, though 0.5DegC is more likely considering the insensitivity of the surface to forcing changes.
    3. The recent decade of stasis/cooling, and evidence of  three previous such episodes in the 20th century, the existence of longer period epochs (RWP,MWP, LIA), and the ice ages, all show the probable influences of natural factors – at least 3 sort-of periodic climate cycles. I’m not sure but I don’t think the current models model these.
    4. Given these uncertainties, which are of large magnitude and uncertain sign [care for a sudden Ice Age, anyone?], why should the “precautionary” obsession take priority? Is it not the case that the cooling of the planet would be a more disastrous scenario? If we were truly to be precautionary, that is the future we should guard against.
    5. But I think Lord Lawson has it right. It would make more economic sense to adjust as and when required. After all we are told the planet has warmed 0.8DegC in the last century, and we have all coped pretty well in the normal course of business as usual. [Well done us!] Is there any evidence that we couldn’t cope in the normal course of life with say 2DegC of change in the next century?
    6.  On the otherhand, if one believes the “tipping-point” scenarios of the alarmist fringe (obviously not the scientific position, as has been made clear in the discussion above, as CAGW is not a scientific theory, or endorsed by real climate scientists) then … we should do what the climate scientists say? Using the non-peer reviewed stuff in IPCC AR4 WG2 and WG3 as a guide perhaps? Or maybe we should use the economically flawed Stern or Garnaut reviews to advise our actions? 

  • SimonH

    I don’t think that it’s helpful (to climatology’s cause) to try to downplay the significance of any of the activities of the so-called “hockey team” or their product, the “stick”.

    Regardless of whether or not it’s central to the science, it is unquestionably fundamental to the popular perception of the science. The hockey stick is pivotal because it very clearly shows unprecedented warming since the industrial revolution. It proves beyond doubt that man-made CO2 emissions have led to global warming that has never before been seen (in a thousand years). It is, as Briffa described, a “tidy story”. Both incessantly in presentation backdrops and also as a mentally retained image, it explains why this is the hottest decade ever, why polar bears are dying out, why glaciers in the Himalayas will be gone by 2035, why the Maldives and the Sundarbans will disappear under the waves any minute now, why hurricanes like Katrina are becoming more severe and more frequent and why snow in the UK now only exists in our distant memories and in the stories we tell our children and grandchildren.

    Some may remember that a plan (now dead) to introduce ID cards in the UK, which were popularly, if reluctantly, accepted as a much-needed tool to counter domestic terrorism in the wake of 9/11 and 7/7, took a hit in popular acceptance a couple of years ago. What did the damage was a single word in a single leaked document. The word was “coercion”. The document read:

    “Various forms of coercion, such as designation of the application process for identity to documents issued by UK Ministers (e.g. passports), are an option to stimulate applications in a manageable way.”

    Once the public sense that a story presented by politicians may be part of a system or mechanism designed to coerce them into accepting something they might not otherwise walk into of their own accord (be it higher travel costs, higher heating bills or even having their details stored in a database), their reaction will be negative.

    What, until recently, has enabled politicians to push an expensive green agenda has been that it (a) is/was based in clear and unequivocal (settled) science, and that (b) scientists are/were above reproach.

    Equate those scientists with words like “manipulate”, “coerce”, “fiddle”, “distort” or “hide” and popular passive acceptance will evaporate (it has), suspicion will grow (it has) and questions will be asked (they have). In such situations, “nothing to see here, move along” will do absolutely nothing to allay suspicion or regain lost popular acceptance. Climate scepticism is growing.

    If climate scientists will not address the questions or effectively and directly allay suspicion (reasonable FOI requests to the CRU, the Met Office etc are still being turned down, Lord Oxburgh’s report was a farce) it is logical to presume that popular passive acceptance of climate science policy will not return and trust in climatology will not be restored. With the passage of time, however, expensive CO2 mitigation policies will continue to increase in reach, disposable incomes will evaporate as a direct result and what was passive acceptance and has transformed, since Climategate, into passive rejection, ultimately will result in active rejection. People will ask “remind us again, why are we paying this tax?” They will demand to see proof of two things: (a) That the science behind the tax is “settled” and “robust”, and; (b) That the taxes are working. to effectively mitigate anthropogenic CO2 AND reduce global average temperatures, save polar bears, re-ice the Himalayas and save the Maldives (okay, the latter’s been done already.. somehow).

    So not only is the ball in Climatology’s court, it has momentum and it’s headed out of bounds. If it isn’t already too late, it’s time to fix that broken racket.

  • Barry Woods

    ‘Voices of Authority’ have insisted the science is settled
    One such voice is the IPCC, and it’s leaders past and present

    I spoke to Sir John Houghton last Thursday (17th June 2010)
    for about 15-20 minutes following a presentation by him:

     - God, Science and Global Warming -  (1st Power point slide)

    http://www.wargravechurch.org.uk/welcome.htm

    I asked Sir John Houghton a direct question afterwards:

    Have you looked at the Climategate emails for yourself, in context, and the code, and looked at what people are saying..

    Sir John Houghton’s answer:  “No”

    “There is a well funded fossil fuel exxon mobil denial  campaign using the same people that lobbied against tobbaco.”

    In this presentation (last week remember) John Houghton said: 

     “don’t believe any rubbish you see on the internet..”

    Presumably that includes everything  Dr Judith Curry has ever contributed. (let alone my contributions ;) )

    “The enquiries have completely exonerated everybody.”

    “All that was wrong with the IPCC, was one tiny typo 2035 instead of 2350 on glaciers.”

    “There is a consensus amongst thousands of scientists”

    “their is a well funded exxon/mobil denial campaign against global warming, they thought the had something with these stolen emails”

    Sir John Houghton’s presentation last week of course included a ‘hockey stick’ graph.

    John Houghton set up the Hadley centre and was instrumental in the early days of the IPCC and he defended and fought to get Michael Mann’s ‘hockey Stick’ into the IPCC reports and to keep it in..

    (an audio recording made by the church – to verify this will be available)

    Following the presentation I has a virtually 1-1 discussion with Sir John Houghton, mainly around the issue as a  scientist Phil Jones’s comment (pre-climategate) to Warwick Huges:

    “why should I supply data, you only want to find things wrong with it”

    is appalling to any scientists that is NOT a ‘post normal’ scientist

    What if, that scientist, found something wrong (if you supplied the data) that found that the risk/temperature were UNDERESTIMATED, it is indefensible not to publish data/code used to derive results for scrutiny. 

    You need to see the code as well, because whilst you say you programmed it a certain way (as I am an IT professional) you may NOT have actually done it in the code correctly, it must be available for audit.

    I have no doubt Sir John Houghton sincerely believes what he says:
    As do virtually ALL the European and UK politicians.

    The IPCC’s voice of authority, and many other similar ones, political as well (Al Gore, etc) and this message, from the IPCC, lobby groups, wwf, greenpeace, etc, remains the sole mesage that the UK/EU political establishment get to hear.

    It is the only message the general public hear..
    It is the prevailing CURRENT message.

    Back in the real world outside the internet amongst friends, other parents at school, etc

    I know of no one who has even heard about climategate, let alone any of these discussions.  I know of no one else that has come across:
    Climate Audit
    Bishop Hill
    Watts Up
    or even Real Climate

    Sir John Houghton, started up the Hadley Centre, co chaired the early IPCC reports, his replacement at Roger Napier the MET office previously chaired the WWF- UK (a vocal advocate of AGW)

    Roger Harrabin(BBC environment analyst), asked various sceptical websites for a list of uk ‘ sceptical climate scientists’ in post… 

    How could there be any?!

    The key figures in the UK scientific and political establishment is in consensus on AGW for 20 years.  No scientist would have ever received funding for, or studied for a phd if they were remotely scepical, because all the ‘climate’ professors, grew out of, worked with or were connected with, Hadley, Tyndall, met office, etc..

    All the UK has done  for 25 years is breed  consensus ‘climate scientists’.

    15 – 20 years ago, it was decided that man made global warming was proven. Since then it has not been about science, but the use  of science to support this preconceived agenda.

    It was by shear chance that I attended this meeting with Sir John Houghton.  His brother happens to live in Wargrave, Berkshire UK.  Some people are trying to make Wargrave and Henley Transition Towns and they invited him along to speak in suport of this.

    Literally on my doorstep, at the church where I have taken all my children to the church toddler group and family services.

    Transitions Towns say this:

    “Haven’t they disproved Climate Change?
    They have tried, but the science has stood up to the onslaught. The discussion among climate scientists is about how bad it is going to be, how quickly it will happen and how best to minimise possible disastrous consequences.”
    http://www.henley-in-transition.org.uk/about-transition/index.htm

    Have a look at their highly emotive movie,  shown now worldwide, using children extensively.
    http://www.transitionnetwork.org/about/publications/transition-movie

    Small (cute) child saying:

    “CO2 is one of the MAJOR greenhouse gases”

    “the weather is becoming more and more unpredictable, JUST because we are realesing more and more CO2 into the air.”

    and a lot more that would never get past advertising standards (shown privately and  publicmeeting though)

    Transitions Towns have many things I agree with, sustainability, thinking locally, even alternate energy sources, but I would be labelled a ‘deniar’ by them.

    So whilst, we may discuss the science here, 15 years ago the key ‘climate science elite’ (ie IPCC lead authors, chairs, etc) scientists became political/social public policy activists.  Environmental lobby groups, social change political groups all jumped on board the AGW bandwagon to use it for their own political agenda.

    Let me know, if you want tho hear full audio recording  of this public meeting/presentation by Sir John Houghton.

    How to get the real scientific debate here and eslewhere, to the politicians and vast majority of the general public is going to be a challenge.

  • Judith Curry


    Bart # 299: I do not question the sign of the warming. I think the pronouncements of the IPCC are too confident of the magnitude of the warming, particularly relative to the magnitude of natural variability. Where I really have the argument with what you state is about “unacceptable” or “dangerous” climate change (this is the “C” in CAGW; some people admit AGW but not CAGW, I think this is what Shub is saying). The “C” involves values (which vary from individual to individual, not to mention country to country) and solid knowledge of climate change impacts (regional pros and cons). IPCC WGII doesn’t cut it in this regard. Before we motivate action on the “unacceptable” or “dangerous”, we need to at least define with credibility what that might be dangerous and why it is actually dangerous.

    Let me take on one of the “dangerous tipping points”: melting of the Arctic sea ice, which is something I know something about. First, it is very difficult to melt off the very thick ice near the Canadian Archipelago; so “ice free” doesn’t mean 100% ice free, but maybe 80-90% ice free. And even this would be ice free only for a few months in summer; during winter ice would reform, the thinner first year ice which will melt the following summer unless the ice piles up (ridging) and gets thicker owing to the ice dynamics. And why should this matter?

    The Northern Sea Route, even if open even for a few months during summer, could have substantial economic benefits for shipping (much has been written on this). The downside would be more pollution in the Arctic Ocean.
    Impact on the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation; the annual freeze melt of sea ice acts as a salt source/sink. Would undoubtedly have some impact, but catastrophic?
    Impact on polar bears: polar bears would spend more time on land during the summer, with a greater chance of getting harmed by people (or harming people).
    Coastal arctic ocean ecosystem (mammals and fish) have changed dramatically over the past 50 years, and would continue to change dramatically over the next 50 years; this is of particular concern to the Inuit and their subsistence life style.
    Longer ice free season results in more erosion damage to coastal towns, one town Shishareef in Alaska has already been moved, and people are worried that Barrow Alaska, the largest town on the coast with 6000 pop is facing the same issue and that its underground utility corridor (a $1B investment) is at risk.
    Erosion of permafrost land speeds the release of methane into the atmosphere

    There are probably other issues too, but these are the kinds of questions that need to be addressed in terms of deciding something is unacceptable or dangerous. Hard to see anything unacceptable or dangerous here, other than possible impacts to the thermohaline circulation. Lest anyone think I am insensitive to the plight of the Inuit, I am definitely not, I spent the 90′s addressing these kinds of issues including the impacts on Barrow .

    And while I’m thinking of Barrow, I would like to make a plug for the best climate change policy book that I’ve come across, which by the way uses Barrow as an example. This book is by Brunner and Lynch, entitled “Adaptive Governance and Climate Change.” http://www.amazon.com/Adaptive-Governance-Climate-Change-Brunner/dp/1878220977/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277121811&sr=1-1
    Here is the blurb on amazon.com
    “While recent years have seen undeniable progress in international acknowledgement both of the dangers of climate change and the importance of working to mitigate it, little has actually been done. Emissions continue to rise, and even the ambitious targets set by international accords would fall far short of the drastic cuts that are needed to prevent catastrophe.
    With Adaptive Governance and Climate Change, Ronald D. Brunner and Amanda H. Lynch argue that we need to take a new tack, moving away from reliance on centralized, top-down approaches””the treaties and accords that have proved disappointingly ineffective thus far””and towards a more flexible, multi-level approach. Based in the principles of adaptive governance””which are designed to produce programs that adapt quickly and easily to new information and experimental results””such an approach would encourage diversity and innovation in the search for solutions, while at the same time pointedly recasting the problem as one in which every culture and community around the world has an inherent interest.”

    In the adaptive governance approach, which is fundamentally local, Joe six packs with science degrees who are knowledgeable about climate change become key players :)

  • Barry Woods

    Can someone tell me what is wrong with the  2 other attempts to make a comment I have made to day..  I will amend or correct anything  that has requires moderation.

    Or do I need to wait until the auido link to Sir John Houghton presentation is available..

    posted it at Bishop Hill: (whilst pending mods)
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/6/19/a-challenge.html?lastPage=true#comment8768039

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Barry,

    Those two posts were in my spam filter, bracketed by comments from Hillary Clinton and Playstation. :) I have liberated them. (see above.)

    Folks: again, just email me if you don’t see your comment after an hour or two. They sometimes end up in the spam filter if they have many links.

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com Bart Verheggen

    Colin Davidson,

    You conflate 1 and 2. It is ridiculous to claim that there is a consensus on 1 and not on 2. Reading the scientific literature, the opposite is the case.

    1. Increased CO2 will lead to a variety of effects on food production: With modest warming, in some (mostly temperate and thus rich) regions it will increase; in others it will decrease. With stronger warming, food production is expected to decrease in most regions. Needless to say, the exact nature of these effects are highly uncertain.

    2. When combining constraints from different periods, climate sensitivity is most likely not as far removed from 3 degrees as you claim. If you’re right however, it would strengthen the case for preventive action, since a climate sensitivity of 6 degrees coupled with unabated emissions could be disastrous.

    3. Natural factors are of course accounted for in models, to the best of our knowledge. See eg this post and references therein. There is no sign that the warming trend of the past 35 years has recently stopped or reversed. The large amount of variability in the global avg temp data means that a period of a decade is too short to ascertain a change in trend.

    4. A ice age takes tens of thousands of years to materialize. It is entirely irrelevant to our current discussions.  If you drive in a snow storm, it is prudent to reduce speed. Uncertainty in the face of real risks is not a comfort; to the contrary.

    5. The timescales of the problem make a wait and see approach very risky. It’s like to postpone quitting smoking until you’re on the intensive care.

  • Barry Woods

    Thanks
    comments  306# and 313#
    I had tried writing it slightly differently a couple of times, to make it past moderation.. Maybe it just took a longish time to read and verify;)  – I must be more concise.

    Barry

  • Phil Clarke

    To BH:  Ooops – scratch that – the discussion I was thinking of actually is in Wahl and Ammann 2007, where they concluded
    “The debate around the bristlecone pine issue, along with that of proxy PC calculation
    methods, provide good examples of how details can sometimes unnecessarily obscure the
    bigger picture, where it should be clear that different approaches concerning how exactly to
    separate signal from noise simply cannot lead to greatly different results (as some outcomes
    have been interpreted), as long as information does not get truncated or otherwise altered in
    significant ways”
    Mann et al’s reference 42 is also useful, if that helps.
    Apologies for the mixup.
    Source: http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/ccr/ammann/millennium/refs/Ammann_ClimChange2007.pdf

  • Barry Woods

    Judith:

    My comments (306 and 313) were written with you in mind, my experiences and a very recent Sir John Houghton public meeting:

    God Science and Global Warming

    Demonstrating how, in the UK at least, voices of authority have closed down the debate, and continue to do so. (commenthad got stuck in blog filters)

    Also another piece of ‘alarmism’ to add:

    Low lying islands. (Tuvalu IPCC favourite)
    Don’t forget the drowning islands propaganda – Tuvalu, etc

    Which due to the mechanism that created them could never drown, even if ALL or some of the predictions are accurate.  This has also been known for a century. Sea level have risen a hundred metres since the last ice age (drill cores on coral island go down hundreds of feet!)
    BBC:  Low Lying Islands ‘growing’ not sinking
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia_pacific/10222679.stm

  • Barry Woods

    Another one Judith;

    The north atlantic Gulf stream CAGW meme, shutting down to to manmade global warming melting artic ice… would seem to have been a bit premature as well.

    This was a widely announced sign of CAGW a few years ago (lobby groups activists, wwf, greenpeace, etc):

    BBC: The Gulf Strem is ‘not slowing down’
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8589512.stm
    The Gulf Stream does not appear to be slowing down, say US scientists who have used satellites to monitor tell-tale changes in the height of the sea.
    Confirming work by other scientists using different methodologies, they found dramatic short-term variability but no longer-term trend.
    A slow-down – dramatised in the movie The Day After Tomorrow – is projected by some models of climate change.
    The research is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

    The stream is a key process in the climate of western Europe, bringing heat northwards from the tropics and keeping countries such as the UK 4-6C warmer than they would otherwise be.
    It forms part of a larger movement of water, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which is itself one component of the global thermohaline system of currents.
    Between 2002 and 2009, the team says, there was no trend discernible – just a lot of variability on short timescales.

    The satellite record go back to 1993 did suggest a small increase in flow, although the researchers cannot be sure it is significant.
    “The changes we’re seeing in overturning strength are probably part of a natural cycle,” said Josh Willis from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. “

  • Judith Curry

    Barry Woods, astonishing story about Sir John Houghton.  Over in the U.S., the grand poobahs of the establishment are starting to pay some attention, but we’ll see where it goes.  I am very interested in what the IAC reviewing the IPCC will have to say, i think they are asking the right questions anyways.

  • Barry Woods

    Sir John Houghton IS the voice of the UK political/scientific establishment.. this is what is believed.

    Judith I do not know if you are aware of this, you are remarkably priveledged at even being allowed to say the things you have said, at places like real climate..  (with out being called an outright deniar or worse)

    They can’t ban you, block you, etc without someone important (ie you) noticing.  Unlike myself or others.

    You may not be aware of the treatment that ordinary people recieve if they think CAGW is ‘alarmism’, I tried to give an example above, a real world public meeting – Transition Towns

    and my previous prime minister was ranting rhetoric ‘flat earther’ anti science’ at me.. – pre copenhagen

    The prevous Energy and Climate Minister (UK) was calling sceptics’  – ‘climate sabatouers’  (just a tiny step from terrorist) precopenhagen,  the new coalition government are even more CAGW believing.

    If you know anything about the UK’s anti terrorism legislation, the ‘climate sabatouer’  is quite enough for an ordinary memberofthe public to be actually quite fearful in a few years time.

    There was also Greenpeaces’s pr disaster with the ‘We know where you live’ comments aimed at sceptics. 

    I manged 2 posts at RealClimate and they  much more innocent questions, than things you have said and am totally blocked. The same occured to me in the comment section of the Guardian website,  and on the conservative parties website, and the labour party

    Look at Latimer Alders comments above (and mine) for what has happened to us:  (comments 297 & 309)

  • Judith Curry

    A few weeks ago on a collide-a-scape thread i suggested that people should take a look at the Heartland Conference presentations, and try to learn something or rebut them.  Much sport of my comment was made by the warmista blogs (esp Stoat, Rabbett Run).

    I have just spotted this summary of the Heartland Conference by the American Thinker, very well written and a rather sophisticated piece of spin. Senator Inhofe has been billing the Heartland Conference as the post climategate new consensus.  Well in the old days, the climate establishment could claim “trust us, we’re the experts.”  Fairly or unfairly, climategate has resulted in a loss of public trust, this argument no longer works.  This has now been replaced by snark from the warmista blogs, which is even less effective in convincing the public (re the comments from the scientist joe sixpacks that have commented here).  So should this be countered?  If so, how?  There is much misinformation at the Heartland Conference, but some valid points were made.  But tribalism seems to be precluding a reasoned and honest discussion on these issues.

  • Judith Curry

    With regards to climate change and food supply, there are both favorable and unfavorable aspects associated with AGW.   The overall assessment is arguably at the frontier of knowledge, and not something we can argue conclusively.  I will put forward the argument that the food issue depends more critically on population increase and what kind of mitigation (alternative energy) strategies we employ:  more nuclear requires huge amounts of water that will compete with irrigation (unless they use ocean water for cooling), and biofuels will end up competing with food supply.

    So assessing this issue (like the rest of the impact issues) is fraught with complexity, and either side can identify ample evidence to spin its case.

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com Bart Verheggen

    Judith,

    Thanks for clarifying. I agree with you that “The “C” (in CAGW, a term I don’t usually use myself) involves values (which vary from individual to individual, not to mention country to country) and solid knowledge of climate change impacts (regional pros and cons).”. I’ve said much the same thing in my comment above.

    Perhaps it’s due to English not being my native language, but I find the term “warmista” blogs not helpful.

  • Steve McIntyre

    #319.  Phil,  there are many problems with Wahl and Ammann. As noted above, Wegman considered it and made the remarkably strong statement that it had “no statistical integrity”.  Given the strength of Wegman’s comment, it is remarkable that IPCC and climate scientists place such weight on Wahl and Ammann. Surely they ought to consider the possibility that Wegman knows something about statistics.

    WA confirmed the dependence of MBH on bristlecones. Combined with the NAS recommendation that bristlecones be avoided in temperature reconstructions, that should have put an end to this particular line of reasoning, but IPCC kept it alive.

    WA’s lack of “statistical integrity” is mainly related to various incidents of Texas sharpshooting – choosing methods after the fact to “get” a desired result. A particularly entertaining example is in their handling of verification RE standards – a story engagingly summarized in Bishop Hill’s Caspar and the Jesus Paper. But the 5 PCs is another.
    Another point, one that I’ve made on many occasions.  Wahl and Ammann’s implementation of MBH methodology reconciled almost exactly to ours – a point that Wegman noted, but which Wahl and Ammann did not report.  In Dec 2005, I met with Ammann. Observing that our codes matched, I said that we should be able to provide a statement of points that we agreed on (read closely, many results in McMc, EE 2005 reconcile exactly with Wahl and Ammann points, which themselves plagiarize points made at realclimate, summarizing Mann’s response to our 2004 Nature submission), points that we disagreed on and how to move on.   I suggested that we declare a two-month armistice while we drafted such a statement, saying that this would be of far more interest to the “community” than further exchanges that were to a considerable extent at cross-purposes. Ammann said that this would be “bad for his career”. He did not even acknowledge follow-up emails formally documenting the offer. I presume that he consulted more senior members of the Team on this course of action.

    I don’t think that this was an appropriate course of action. One would have also hoped for loftier motives.
    Because our codes reconciled, I knew that Ammann had verified the failed verification r2 statistic, a result that they had not reported in the version submitted to IPCC. It was also a result that was totally at odds with their claims that all our results were “unfounded” – since at least this result was “founded”.  I informed Ammann that he was obliged to report this; he said that he wouldn’t. I urged him in the strongest possible possible terms to do so, but he made it clear that he had no intention of reporting the failed verification r2 statistics that would confirm these particular findings of ours.  I’ve discussed the subsequent events elsewhere.






     

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Judith,

    English is my native tongue and I too find the term “warmista” blogs not helpful. The “ista” has connotations that I think are unwise to use in the highly charged climate change debates such as this one.

  • Phil Clarke

    Thanks – I am aware of some the discussions around issues in W&A – though less clear on the real-world impact – also of Wegman’s opinion, expressed, I believe, in testimony to Congress.
    I don’t however deploy the ad hominem argument used by Dr Curry – deferring to Dr Wegman just on the basis of his eminence. If he has a valid criticism I am not aware that he has made it at detail, and in a refereed venue, which would allow scrutiny by authorities in the field (ie climate AND statistics) and a response by the authors.
    I was quoting the paper in response to a query about Bristlecone pines, and here I am way out of my comfort zone, but it is not clear to me that Wegman’s animadversions are relevant to that part of the paper.
    Lastly, Mann et al’s 2008 conclusions are stated with and without use of all tree rings :
    “Recent warmth appears anomalous for at least the past 1,300 years whether or not tree-ring data are used. If tree-ring data are used, the conclusion can be extended to at least the past 1,700 years, but with additional strong caveats.”

    and in the SI is a spreadsheet of all the proxies used including, for the tree-ring proxies, the species. So I believe it would be possible to produce a reconstruction without this apparently problematic species and see what effect that has. I am not sure how one would identify ‘strip-bark samples’ which is what the NAS actually said should not be used, so perhaps best to drop all Bristlecones. Has such a sensitivity study, in fact, been attempted? It seems a worthwhile exercise.

  • John Anderson

    Dr Curry,

    May I confirm the sense of Barry Woods’ post at 323 above – here in the UK there appears to be near-total closedown of proper discussion in the public arena.  The main political parties and leaders are in lockstep,  we have had Ministers for Climate Change in the previous Cabinet and now the new coalition Cabinet,  we are by law already committed to huge costs on carbon taxing.   All in spite of the fact that scepticism is large and groiwing here.
    And leading the fray is the BBC,  which dominates the media here and of course has the largest website in the world.  Daily we are subjected to “reporting” that is nothing short of propaganda.  Reporting by BBC “analysts” who turn out to be graduates in English with nil scientific training.

    As a layman whose interest was intrigued by Climategate,  I have watched what I can only describe as a series of UK whitewashes that failed to call the right witnesses and evidence or even to examine the most relevant published papers.  And none of the enquiries has paid the slightest attention the the Harry_Read_Me file indicating serious worries about data handling and methods.

    Yes, I ammerely a layman, albeit with an MSc.  But I have would wager I now know more about the Hockey Stick debate than virtually all the panjandrums who served on the various UK enquiries – because I have taken the trouble to read around the subject.

    You are also correct in your comments on how laymen are treated at blogsites.   Laymen are frequently treated with scorn or insult at some of the blogs that lead in promoting CAGW,  whereas there is more open discussion and usually civility at sites such as WAWT.

    It happens that much of my career was spent in public administration – in UK Government Departments including a stint in the Cabinet Office.  I feel I have reasonable standing in questioning whether the economic and fiscal policies proposed by the AGW proponents are sensible or reasonable.  In particular I agree with some of the thoughts you have expressed here about ways that any temperature increases may be mitigated according to local effect,  rather than the global IPCC/UN prescriptions.  But again, at some pro-AGW sites,  even comments (if not blocked) on economic issues are mocked – “you are not a climate scientist,  what do you know, go away”.

    Responsible climate scientists should not allow this manner of behaviour on their behalf.
    “There are none so blind as those who will not see”.

    (I might add that each week I happen to drive up Vineyard Hill Road to the ancient village of  Wimbledon.  A constant reminder that arguments that appear to try to erase the MWP start off looking suspect.)

  • JohnB

    @Michael Tobis #253

    I think I didn’t express myself quite clearly. Nobody (I think) expects absolute certainty, it just doesn’t exist in any science. What we do expect is along the lines of “This is what we believe and this is why we believe it. And here is the data and code that shows it.” Anything less is asking people to take it on trust and we ain’t going to do that.

    We will have to disagree that “lack of resources” is a valid reason for lack of debate. If the “team” can put together blog posts, do media interviews and issue a seemingly unending stream of press releases (not to mention JH finding time to fly to England to appear as a witness in a court case or protest mountain mining) surely there is time to actually talk to the sceptics about their concerns. That they prefer a sycophantic audience speaks volumes to me and probably many others.

    Snarkiness may be coming more from your allies, but you do nothing to stop it. On that basis you must condone it, you at least allow it free reign. (Not you personally, but your side)

    I add that my comments about the reluctance to read a book weren’t aimed at you personally and I’m sorry if I gave that impression. They were more a general observation on a prevailing attitude.

    Maybe the citizen scientists can’t come up with a new climate model. So what? I doubt amateur astronomers are going to come up with a new theory about Black Hole formation either. What they do have is numbers. SETI@home has more than 3 million people crunching numbers for them. Rather than thinking of things they can’t do, think of things they can.

    On a general note. Mitigation and adaptation are to me, the only logical things to do. The climate always changes, continue BAU or go to a carbonless economy, stay high tech or live in grass huts. No matter what we do or don’t do, unacceptable climate change will happen. Accepting that fact and dealing with it is more productive than railing against the storm.

    On a personal note. I’d like to thank Keith for being the gracious host that he is and posters in general for keeping the conversation civil. As one of the great unwashed in this debate I feel that I’m walking with giants and really do appreciate the fact that Michael has taken the time to read and reply to me. To be in a thread with the likes of Judith, Keith, Bart and Michael (and others) makes me feel quite humble. 

  • Steve McIntyre

    Phil,  take a look at contemporary CA discussion of Mann 2008.  As observed at the time,  in order to show that bristlecones didn’t “matter”, Mann’s recon “showing” this used upside-down and construction-affected Tiljander. He did acknowledge that there were potential problems with Tiljander and did a reconstruction without Tiljander – this time with bristlecones.  Problems with each of them were known in advance – neither of these things should have been used.

    They had no problem deleting density data after 1960 – so why the insistence on bristlecones and Tiljander.
    Read Ross and my PNAS comment, which had important points in a brief 250 words. Mann’s response is complete obfuscation.

    There remain issues related to the RegEM method that have taken time to winkle out. This is not a statistical method that used off the Island. It’s a homemade method, the properties of which are poorly known.  The usefulness of the work on Steig et al 2009 was that it enabled us (Jeff Id, Ryan , Nic L) to get a bead on RegEM.  Without Climategate, I’d probably have re-visited this by now.   However, by now, people should realize that not a lot of weight can be placed on an article published and reviewed by the Team.





     

  • Barry Woods

    Hi Keith Kloor.
    (posted the same at Bishop hill as a courtesy)
    I only ever thought it was a technical problem. (not like RealClimate)

    I cocked up with a typo in my name, the other day, which must have put one post into your spam, for example

    Or that you were being cautious, and taking time to verify, the links and verification of my post..
    I do not think many people are in the main stream climate science community, (not the team, CRu, Met office, Hadley, Tyndall, ipcc elite, politicians, government science advisors, etc),  are  aware of how ‘normal’ people (ie unimportant members of the public) get treated there. (and other such places..) and by the lobby groups, environment activists, etc.
    A very interesting blog…
    Please keep it up, we probably would agree on 95 % environmental issues.
    the CAGW advocates (for want of a better word, warmists, alarmists, warmistas, etc) just do not come across very well do they!
    Some of the commentators, just do not realise, how they come across (Michael Tobis being one)

    I bet he has not looked at any of the climategate emails, or the code or the emails, but this is not personal.
    Neither has  Sir John Houghton, or a friend of mine that WROTE some of the climategate emails, and co-edited the IPCC reports with him…..

    Such is the consensus thinking, it is NOT personal.

    How can it be, my friend is far more directly involved than many scientists, politicians that would call me names. Yet somehow, we can share a meal, look after each others young children, watch the village summer fete together, etc..

    Just to lighten things up, a comment borrowed back from Bishop Hill of mine, I watched it with my climategate – climate scientist friend and family, then they cameback to our house for  a PIMM’s and lemonade, and icecream.
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/6/19/school-fete.html?currentPage=2#comments

    Barry Woods said:
    “My village fete was much more fun, just got back….
    Walked over to the village hall/green cars parked everywhere.
    At the end the local MP Teresa May (Member of Parliament – UK)called out the raffle prizes.
    And the joy of watching the  now Home Secretary’s personal security officer get squirted in the groin with water, from the children’s entertainer’s nelly the elephant puppet..

    ‘oh look children, he’s done a wee’
    I thought about giving Theresa May my spare copy (accidentally got 2 from amazon) of ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’, but the security guy looked a bit grumpy……    (my home 1 minutes walk away)
    Happy days
    —————————-
    The Home Secretary is arguably the 3rd or 4th most important politican in the UK, so I have stopped sending her any letters about ‘climate change’,  I only ever got a generic consensus statement back, anyway.

    She is still my local MP, good to see she honoured her pre-election commitments, to the local village fete.

  • J Bowers

    Unless “slayings of Hockey Sticks” are published in the peer reviewed literature and themselves remain “un-debunked”, this is all a silly, if not disingenuous and cynical, sideshow. In other words; put up or shut up and walk the walk. When there are complaints about lack of respect from scientists, there is a guaranteed way to earn that respect just as any other professional scientist earns such respect.
    If it’s so obvious and a fait accompli then there should be no problem to slay the Hockey StickS scientifically in the relevant literature.

    This is a gauntlet that’s been laid down a number of times now. To my knowledge, the challenge has yet to be taken up.

  • Barry Woods

    Yet this is the tactics we get:
    Again from Bishop Hill about this blog:

    “Dhogaza has posted a clarion call on Tamino’s site (20/6 4.31) re being on moderation and this -
    “Wouldn’t hurt for people to gang up there. Curry really needs to be held to account, regardless of “manners”.
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/open-thread-19/#comment-42638
    ——————–

    Better watch your back Judith, politically, and funding wise, you have drawn a lot of attention to yourself, from the establishment.

    when will they learn, people with open minds read alternative blogs as well..

    Similar to this:

    Sceptic Alerts
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/4/19/skeptic-alerts.html

    An organised CAGW activist campaign to ‘spin’ comments sections of sceptical to CAGW media articles in the UK media and blogs.
    I get the mailing list, and the Telegraph, Christopher Booker, James Delingpole is amongst those heavily targeted.

    Campaign Against Climate Change  has George Monbiot (guardian), Members of Parliamnet, and Members of the European Parliament, as part of their advisory board. One a former UK Minister for the Environment and Climate.  Yet, they attempt to manipulate the publics percetion of this issue, by packing blogs, etc with activists comments. 

    Remind me who has the well funded organised machinary again!

    I spoted this, sent an email to Bishop Hill, he replied why not write it up yourself.  So that now means, no doubt, that I must be considered a part of an organised denial machine, Yes?

    By that token, as I have had more emails from, the BBC environment team on this subject, (than bishop Hill and others put together) that must make me a part of the UK CAGW believing media/political establishment, Yes?   So am  a double agent? ;)

    It is things like this that got me cross enough to persist in my  ‘denial’ of CAGW, at least the methods and techniques of manipulation and ‘spin’ and peresonal attacks, and appalling use of language, sceptic, deniar, etc, only used to peer pressure people into closing down the debate.

    As Latimer Alder described in his experiences above.

  • Judith Curry

    Keith #328, point taken.  Fine with me to remove the offending  ista word, as you see fit

  • Judith Curry

    James #334,  in principle I agree with you that these debates should be played out in the peer reviewed literature.  However in this particular instance, if you read the CRU emails and Montford’s book, you will understand how difficult it is for McIntyre and McKittrick to get a fair shake in the peer review process.  At the end of the day, its the argument, not who makes the argument or how the argument is disseminated.  Nevertheless, he has published several critiques of aspects of the hockey stick, including the recently published PNAS comment referred to in #332

  • Barry Woods

    I think I  may have made a typo and got into spam again:
    Comment 335 is still awaiting moderation.

    I really think that Judith should be made aware of what has been said about her, with ref to this blog, elsewhere

     Judith,
     please look at 335 when it gets draggd out of the spam filter (my mistake)

  • http://arthur.shumwaysmith.com/life/ Arthur Smith

    I am astonished that Judith Curry brings up Miskolczi’s paper (comment #170): “The Miskolczi paper is an interesting case. [...] he does make a few good points, particularly with regards to neglect of the virial theorem. [...] Hopefully somebody in the blogosphere will tackle this (e.g. Eli or scienceofdoom).”

    The reason for my astonishment is that there *was* a significant blogospheric discussion and rebuttal of Miscolczi’s claims – particularly his nonsense regarding the “virial theorem” (he does not, actually, use it, and there are several significant errors in his logic and equations). The paper  was not actually really a theoretical paper, despite the many equations, it was largely a result of the author’s phenomenological observation of a certain ratio in radiative fluxes, and his attempts to explain them. Given his complete neglect of convective issues, for example, and his mixups regarding clear sky and clouds, well, the paper’s a complete mess.
    Now, where is this analysis, you ask? Why, it went through hundreds of comments on Steve McIntyre’s site, here: http://climateaudit.org/phpBB3
    Oh, but that link doesn’t work any more, now, does it? This is one of the primary gripes I have about McIntyre – his cavalier disregard for large quantities of comments and information posted at his site that he doesn’t personally care for. The entire bulletin board, which had some quite good discussions, vanished with some website problem he had. Hours of many people’s efforts, wasted. What a joke.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    Arthur Smith,
    Do you run a blog yourself? If not, you might be a bit surprised at the level of administrative effort it requires. And if you try to migrate from one hosting platform to another, you might be surprised at the risks for data loss. Ask Keith.
     

  • Phil Clarke

    Stephen Mc: Phil,  take a look at contemporary CA discussion of Mann 2008.

    Well, I will but perhaps to save me some time somebody could point me to the specific place where Mann claims that Bristlecones ‘don’t matter’ (Or is that an interpretation of his actions?) and the specific posts where the assertions above are substantiated. I had a quick search but nothing jumped out at me …..

  • cagw_skeptic99

    Reading the lack of willingness from the CAGW tribe to admit any substantial error on this (or any other) blog reaffirms my judgment that the tribe or Team behaves like members of a conspiracy would behave.  To copy a quote from SM above:

    “Ammann said that this would be “bad for his career”. He did not even acknowledge follow-up emails formally documenting the offer. I presume that he consulted more senior members of the Team on this course of action.”

    Consider also the activities in the UK as well documented here.

    What we have here is maybe an example of the prisoner’s dilemma.  As long as no one talks to the prosecutor, and there isn’t any concrete proof of their misdeeds, the Team is safe.  The Team has effective control of the career paths and funding of junior members, and unless something really unusual happens, they will never be submitted to actual prosecution.  (The Virginia AG is one of those really unusual risks that the Team faces.)

    I wonder if a few cold years in a row will be enough to remove their political protection.  I also wonder if the persistent efforts to highlight the really unprofessional and unethical behavior by the leading lights of the CAGW tribe will eventually motivate management at a major university to step into the fray.

    You can apparently fool lots of people for a very long time, but the UK for example appears to be a place where the revolt could easily start.  And it is a place where a few really cold winters, combined with meaningful taxes and utility costs, just might trigger the review.

    As the whole CAGW structure starts to crumble, it will be interesting watching the public players manage their pirouettes and also interesting to see how many manage to salvage their reputations along the way.  The public does have short memories, but it will take years to undo the windmill subsidies and remove the eyesores, so that memory will perhaps be refreshed.

    It is a crying shame that a researcher cannot correct errors in important research without risk to his career.  There is plenty of circumstantial evidence that this is widespread in the community.  How long will Judith Curry be the only prominent climate scientist willing to stand up and take the heat by calling a spade a spade.   Would eating more cheese or taking calcium pills help some of the rest of you grow a spine?

  • Judith Curry

    Barry #338  Thank for the warning.  I am well aware that people at tamino, stoat, rabett run, climateprogress do not like what I am doing (realclimate mostly ignores what I am doing).  But I am probably one of the few scientists on either side of this debate speaking out publicly that is not receiving email threats, that says something.

    With respect to the professional risk I am taking, I am well aware of this.  Since I am a tenured professor at Georgia Tech, I am not worried about my job (as I’ve stated before, the Georgia Tech admin has responded favorably to what I am doing).  Re how I will be treated in peer review (publications, funding), I doubt it will be a big problem, but it could be.  I don’t require much funding for what i do, and if a journal won’t publish something i want to say, well i can post it in the blogosphere.  So I am hoping that I am immune from any adverse consequences, we’ll see.

    I hope that some of the people from tamino or wherever will come over here and try to argue specific points, would be interesting to see how that goes.  I’ve tried checking in before at stoat or rabett run, but it seemed pointless.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    CAGW_Skeptic99
    There are many who have enough calcium in their spine.
    Michael Tobis:
    Sir, I have followed your comments and occasionally your blog posts for quite some time now. Your comments viz:
    “We have not come far from the situation where the oppositions to consensus science are vastly better funded, staffed and organized than the defenders of science”
    is perfectly in line with your denial of the 1) importance of the hockey stick to the theory of CAGW 2) the theory of CAGW itself.
    What are you implying? That those who attack the ‘consensus’ of the IPCC are attacking science itself, and those who defend the IPCC consequently are ‘defenders of science’ – is that what you are saying?
    .
    Or are you implying that those within the establishment and academia cannot find the time to keep abreast of general science issues in climate change unless supported actively by their parent organizations monetarily, whereas clutches of skeptical commenters, with lots of money in their pockets, are able to do so?.
    .
    I am 100% sure that the vast majority of skeptical commenters – the ones who are baseline knowledgeable and above (you can make out by their comments) put in time, effort and personal sacrifice over and beyond their day jobs in order to understand and contribute to their online commenting. If they can find time and put in the effort, the learned professors surely can.
    Bowers:
    1) The numerous hockey sticks cancel out each others’ overarching scientific rhetorical implications.
    .
    2) Slaying of ‘the’ hockey stick has been published in the scientific literature. Many of us know where to find it.
    .
    3) Some comments and observations made by the dendrochronologists and the IPCC Chapter 6, in *support of the hockey stick* are more damaging to the stick than the published rebuttals.
    .
    Regards

  • http://bishophill.squarespace.com Bishop Hill

    Phil

    You seem to accept the findings of the NAS panel that bristlecones should not be used (they are all stripbark – Graybill was looking for stripbark trees because he thought they would show CO2 fertilisation).

    Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether the use of bristlecones matters or not, how comfortable are you with papers published subsequent to the NAS using bristlecones and in particular how comfortable are you with their use not being discussed in Mann et al 2008?

  • http://arthur.shumwaysmith.com/life/ Arthur Smith

    By the way, as proof that this discussion of Miskolczi’s paper did take place at the climateaudit bulletin boards, see the comments from “Pliny” here, pointing to that phpBB3 url:
    http://landshape.org/enm/greenhouse-heat-engine-2/
    and a google search will find you many favorable references to the climateaudit phpBB3 board on sites like climateaudit.org, wattsupwiththat.com, etc. It perhaps did some good while it lasted; it would have done a lot more, including avoiding great loss of goodwill to McIntyre from some of us, had it been preserved.

    To Tom Fuller – yes, I have run and managed several blogs on a variety of different platforms, all for fun with no remuneration or compensation, no advertising or fund-raising, all on my own free time. It certainly does take some effort. But loss of data these days is pretty inexcusable – as some people have been telling the scientists lately.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    Arthur, are you equating weblog comments with paleoclimatic temperature reconstructions?

  • hunter

    Until the CAGW apologists actually read the books and papers of the skeptics, their dismissive attitude has no credibility.
    Even after reading, if they simply perform the equivalent of the whitewashes of CRU, Mann, etc. and ignore inconvenient ideas and continue supporting non-rational claims of CAGW infallibility,  the discussion will not progress far.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    I do find it disturbing on more than one level that there seems to be a concerted effort to ‘debunk’ skeptic arguments without reading or evaluating them.
    That’s not ‘post-normal’ science. It’s sub-normal reasoning. But it does have antecedents in this debate, sadly. It’s not so different from people refusing to engage with skeptics by dismissing them as deniers or paid lobbyists for big energy.
    Maybe if you ignore us we will go away. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    JC:
    “I hope that some of the people from tamino or wherever will come over here and try to argue specific points, would be interesting to see how that goes.  I’ve tried checking in before at stoat or rabett run, but it seemed pointless.”

    Have your really made as much effort to engage other academic climate scientists on the web, as you have the ‘auditors’ on their sites, and the interested onlookers on sites like this?

    Because really, I find most of this very unilluminating.  I’d be much more interested in watching professional scientists in the germane fields hash it out,  and reading  a *variety* of ‘insider’ viewpoints in addition to yours,  than in watching ‘citizen scientists’ scrape away at the Hockey Stick and the hacked emails for the nth time.











     

  • http://climateaudit.org Steve McIntyre

    Climate Audit used to be hosted on a dedicated server paid for by myself and CA readers.  I migrated to wordpress in December because the CA server site pretty much stopped functioning  – it had already run into volume problems on other occasions – it has nearly 200,000 comments and over 2000 posts, so it’s a load for a single server relative to many blogs.   wordpress doesn’t support bulletin boards and it could not be accommodated in the move.  I presume that the files could be moved somewhere by John A or someone with equivalent skills.

  • Latimer Alder

    @phil clakre #304

    ‘HARRY_READ_ME was the work log ““ jottings ““ of a developer covering 4 years of work on a specialised, secondary product of the CRU. By its very nature such a document will focus on the problems and frustrations that crop up.’

    Indeed they did. And many of the frustration arose because the data he was trying to use was in a shambolic state. There was not even a rudimentary data dictionary.  There was no version control. There was no amendment history. There was no reliable way to know what the data was supposed to mean.
    These are not shrug your shoulders aw shucks type quirks as propounded by Jones (I wrote some awful e-mails didn’t I, he archly quipped). These are fundamental failings in basic professional standards for an institution whose primary raison d’etre is to keep supposedly top quality data on which the fate of humanity is possibly to rest. To achieve the highest professional standards should be in the DNA of such an institution – in this case it doesn’t seem to be something that anyone ever gave much thought to.
    As I stated before, bad data leads to bad conclusions….and here we have a great deal of evidence that CRU wouldn’t know the difference between a professionally run data storage shop and a whelk stall. And even if they do, none of them should ever be allowed to work at either.
    od

  • GaryM

    <!– @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>
    Reading the various blogs and articles about “climategate,” the CRU, Phil Jones, etc., for the last year or so, one thing has amused me.  It is the difficulty that Judith Curry and Steve McIntyre sometimes evince in understanding the vitriolic response to their comments/criticism from much of the climate scientist community. From reading their comments, I understand that both Ms. Curry and Mr. McIntyre agree that there is global warming, that it is in part caused by man’s carbon emissions, and that there is at least the potential that the results could be catastrophic. Why then the anger of so many of the climate scientists and their supporters?

    At the risk of oversimplification, Ms. Curry seems to be merely suggesting that the scientists more openly admit the degree of uncertainty in various models and projections, and Mr. McIntyre apparently just wants them to get their math right, while both favor more disclosure of data and methods.  In short, when it comes to CAGW, both seem to be supporters of the A, G and W, but want better proof of, and more understanding of the uncertainty regarding, the C.

    But climate scientists, with the help of Al Gore, the IPCC, James Hansen, the movie The Day After Tomorrow, and others, have become the rock stars of science almost exclusively because of the C, the “catastrophic” predictions regarding global warming. With this status comes the funding, the fame (for some), and the sense that you are on the cutting edge of an effort to save the world. Even for the (apparently) relatively new initiates like Mr. Tobis above, there is the sense of being a member of an elite vanguard, sometimes poorly understood, who are simply trying to save the world from itself before it is too late.

    The reason Ms. Curry grates on so many of the established climate scientists is, in my opinion, her statements like: “Well ok, this is still frontier science, we can’t expect the scientists to have it exactly right, otherwise it wouldn’t be the frontier.” and “The overall assessment is arguably at the frontier of knowledge, and not something we can argue conclusively. ”

    In one word, humility. Humility in our current culture is seen as a weakness by most people, rather than the virtue it was taught to be for most of our history. Climate scientists are no exception to the pervasiveness of this failing, nor are skeptics. But this vanity that has become the norm in our culture and prevents all too many from being able to even consider whether some of their most deeply held beliefs might not be as rock solid absolute as they have believed.

    Many climate scientists and their political and media supporters understand (better perhaps than Ms. Curry and Mr.McIntyre) that both catastrophic consequences, and the degree of certainty of those consequences, are central to climate science’s privileged place in funding and media attention. Humility, ie. admission of uncertainty and disclosure of disputed data and methods, is a stake to the heart of that position. How does one go from being the savior of mankind, back to being just one of any number of scientific disciplines, competing on an equal footing for attention and funding? If you want to enrage someone whose sense of self worth is founded on the importance of his position, earned after years of admittedly intense labor, just ask him to reevaluate some of the core beliefs that put him there in the first place.

    Despite all this, one sees occasional glimpses of humility even from the climate vanguard in the context of the climategate affair. Phil Jones’ unforced admission that there was no statistically significant warming over the last decade, and Briffa’s resistance in the emails to downplaying uncertainty being just two examples. Time will only tell whether those will remain rare exceptions, or be harbingers of a different future.

    In my great unwashed opinion, Ms. Curry’s and Mr. McIntyre’s prescriptions are the only chance climate science has of redeeming itself. It is true that most politicians and NGO leaders are in the grip of group think regarding CAGW, and are in fact abetting the denial mechanism of many climate scientists (denial of their uncertainty and fallibility). But the ultimate deciders are not the UK Parliament or the US Congress; they are, in fact, the great unwashed who vote them in and out of power. In both the US and much of Europe, the election returns have been moving steadily (albeit slowly) away from the political supporters of CAGW. Revelations of conflicts of interest, exaggerated claims and altered or sloppy data in climate science just accelerate that movement.

    Condescend to us and ignore the mere common man all you like. But climate scientists can either be well educated, valued, humble contributors to the discussion of a real cost/benefit analysis regarding the risks of and responses to climate change; or they can stand on soap boxes, in their white robes and beards, holding high their signs proclaiming that THE END IS NEAR – as the world walks by.

  • Phil Clarke

    At present I am refamilarising myself with the material I read a few years ago and at the moment I have no strong view. I need to re-read W&A and MBH99 before I would be comfortable expressing a firm view, especially in the company of folk who live and breathe this stuff.  Also conscious of S Sullivan’s comment above.

    However I have now read CA on Mann 2008, for which I am grateful to Steve Mc, in particular this post, [though wading the usual accusations of petulance, 'stonewalling', cherry-picking etc by climate scientists quickly gets tiresome. Its a turnoff and adds nothing]

    Here at least the dispute about Bristlecones boils down to: Mann says they are useful (RC have previously stated that ‘ the fact remains that including these data improves the statistical validation over the 19th Century period and they therefore should be included.) and refers to ‘new material’in  the W&A paper. McIntyre describes this as the ‘absurd’ W&A paper and repeats Wegman’s view, but gives us no further clue as to why it deserves that adjective. So I am going to have to re-read it to see who’s telling the truth.

    However McIntrye helpfully produces a comparison plot of the network without Tiljander and the Graybill Bristlecones (in cyan):
     

    To my Mark 1 eyeball that graph seems to demonstrate no ultra-damaging consequences of including Bristlecones, to be consistent with the conclusions of the paper and to be consistent with Mann et al’s own no-dendro, no-lake-proxies graph.

    cheers, PC.

  • gilbert

    Arthur Smith (346)

    Twas I that raised the issue of Miskolczi’s paper.  I thought it curious that there has been no response in the peer reviewed literature.  Judith’s response was reasonable, but, not completely satisfactory.

    It was not my intent to open a discussion of the paper itself.

    But loss of data these days is pretty inexcusable ““ as some people have been telling the scientists lately.

    So you think that a privately operated blog should be held to the same standard as a publicly funded scientist?

  • http://bishophill.squarespace.com Bishop Hill

    Phil

    In the post, McIntyre notes that removing the two problem proxies (Tiljander and bristlecones) swings the medieval/modern differential by 0.7 degrees. This is surely “damaging”.

    Are you comfortable with RC’s argument? This is ex-post data selection they are talking about here. It should also be pointed out that Mann’s own tree ring expert, Hughes, agrees that the shape of the bristlecone chronologies is non-climatic.

  • Phil Clarke

    BH: In the post, McIntyre notes that removing the two problem proxies (Tiljander and bristlecones) swings the medieval/modern differential by 0.7 degrees.

    By ‘swing’ he seems to mean the ‘draw a line from the lowest trough to the highest peak‘. That earns a big Hmmmmmm from me.
    Enough with the questions. I need some reading time.

  • JamesG

    Phil
    I’ve often thought that if Mann had actually made these corrections that all sides could have been reasonably content: There clearly was a medieval warm period (which in any event Mann now acknowledges in his other papers) yet you can still make a claim about a more recent rapid increase. And of course we could put the whole hockey stick saga behind us, including climategate, funny videos and lawsuits.

    An admission from a scientist that he previously wasn’t correct usually increases his standing because it’s honest! We don’t expect perfection but we do like honesty and we respect someone who can admit to being wrong. Emanuel already did a similar about-face, so why didn’t Mann do it? Seemingly because he just can’t bring himself to admit that McIntyre was right and he was wrong! Arguing that these lake proxies being upside down didn’t matter just made him a laughing stock. Anyone who parroted the same argument showed themselves up to be even worse – arguing up is down for heavens sake, how low can you sink!

    Now we are quite entitled to ask just how many more in this “consensus” have the same hubris? Clearly Jones has. And we’ve already noted that Tobis complains that others don’t want to seek knowledge while boasting of being unconcerned about the correctness of past climate reconstructions. If you’d visited Bart’s blog you’d see he claimed to debunk the solar argument without actually knowing what the argument is! I had to link to a Lockwood paper to inform him.

    And there’s no point saying that skeptics bend the truth or just make stuff up  too – I know they do – but policy doesn’t depend on them.

  • Judith Curry

    An interesting/relevant new paper in PNAS has just hit the streets, entitled “Expert Credibility in Climate Change“, Steve Schneider is a coauthor. The data they used is found here.
    Eli Kintisch interviewed a few people on this, including me. I’ll wait before posting my entire reply to Kintisch.  Does anyone find this a convincing analysis of credibility?
     

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    James G:
    “There clearly was a medieval warm period (which in any event Mann now acknowledges in his other papers)”

    As a *global* *warming* phenomenon?    That’s new to me.  What are the boundary dates for it?

  • JamesG

    Judith
    I define an expert as someone with a track record of actually being correct with their predictions. I’m not sure that noting a rising trend* and predicting it will keep rising qualifies anyone – especially when the trend stops rising and nobody knows where the expected extra heat has gone.

    *Or with Schneider a cooling trend.

  • JamesG

    Steven
    Maybe just Northern Hemisphere! Due to a lack of data I don’t expect anyone could say more than that (though Mann08 did have Peruvian MWP’s). He now tries to link the MWP in the Caribbean with hurricanes so it comes in handy :)

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Folks,

    RE that new PNAS study: hold off on commenting on this thread. I’m going to put up a very short post momentarily and ask for everyone to comment over there. It deserves a new thread.

  • Phil Clarke

    BH It should also be pointed out that Mann’s own tree ring expert, Hughes, agrees that the shape of the bristlecone chronologies is non-climatic.

    Would that be the same Hughes who coauthored this?

    <i>We have shown several new lines of evidence that suggest that at the upper forest border bristlecone pine ring widths have responded to temperature in the past and continue to do so. </i>

    ? ;-)

  • Pingback: Collide-a-scape » Blog Archive » Collide-a-scape >> The Climate Experts

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    All:

    Let’s get a new thread going on that PNAS study on climate expert credibility. The post is here.

  • Colin Davidson

    Bart Verheggen kindly responded to my previous post. He and I disagree on:
    1. The effect of increased CO2 and temperature on food production.
    2. The range of possible future temperature outcomes.
    3. The speed of onset of ice ages.
    In conclusion, Bart said:
    “5. The timescales of the problem make a wait and see approach very risky. It’s like to postpone quitting smoking until you’re on the intensive care.”

    Clearly, then, I think Bart believes in “tipping points”, disastrous sea level rises etc. In other words CAGW, which as we have seen claimed in this thread is not a climate science supported proposition.

    It is my view, having read widely the arguments for rapid sea level rise, ocean acidification, coral reef death, disease proliferation, and so forth, that CAGW is not supported by the facts. We therefore also disagree on the need to take disruptive and destructive action, rather than adapt as circumstances require. I consider the latter course to be sensible.

    There is zero evidence of rapidly approaching doom – rather the recent stasis/cooling portends a gradual change, along the lines of what we have seen in the last few centuries. And Mankind coped very well with climate change in those centuries. [ - and the experience through those years was that cold cropless years were worse than warm rainy ones.]

  • JohnB

    Judith, no it’s not convincing.

    Those who have followed the debate are aware of the perception that to buck the consensus is to commit professional suicide.

    I dare say that an analysis of papers from the USSR during the 20th Century would show great support for Marxist/Leninist theory for much the same reason.

    Actually, speaking of the Russians, where are they in this fight? I’ve not seen much in the way of comments from Russian scientists and those I have seen seem generally dismissive of the CAGW idea.

  • JohnB

    Keith, sorry I was looking at the links when you made the new thread. Please feel free to move my post to it.

  • JohnB

    @Colin #366

    There has to be a “C” in AGW. Without the C there is no reason to assume that society will not be able to adapt to CC. Without the C, the conversation goes like this;

    “We believe that CC is real and man is mostly responsible.”

    “What the likely outcomes?”

    “Over the next hundred years. Growing seasons will gradually get longer. Summer nights will gradually get a bit warmer. Winters might not be as cold. The best growing areas for some crops will gradually move some miles. SEa level might rise a foot or so.”

    “So, no real problems then?”

    That’s why there has to be a “C”. And since CO2 has risen 30% or so without any “C” so far, then the “C” must come in the future. Also, since there is zero evidence for a gradual “C” occurring, then “tipping points” are now required for the “C” idea to have any mental validity.

  • http://arthur.shumwaysmith.com/life/ Arthur Smith

    gilbert (#355) – well, if you’re interested in a scientific analysis of Miskolczi’s theories, the best lengthy discussion I am aware of, with, as I recall, at least a hundred comments on the actual science, was posted on a bulletin board that was hosted publicly by climateaudit. Steven McIntyre (#351) indicates the “files” may be still available, so those interested should ask him for a copy.

    I can’t say I’m particularly interested in Miskolczi any more, myself. It was a grand waste of time, at least as it’s turned out so far.

  • Colin Davidson

    I would like to thank John B (2102 , 21Jun) for his perceptive comment that Catastrophic change is what is being used as the justification for taking intrusive and destructive action.

    In other words, the extreme predictions (but only the warming ones) are the justification.

    The case of the Maldives, Tuvalu and all the other atolls is instructive in this regard. The Planet Savers (is that the right term? Is there a more accurate way to say this without offence?) have long predicted imminent inundation – it has been one of the star scares. Some scientists disagreed and were vilified (though not Darwin, who correctly described the atoll process), but have now been shown to be right all along: atolls rise and fall with the sea level, and this has been known for about 150 years.

    The question is whether the IPCC will arrive at the same indisputable point, or rely again on non-peer reviewed stuff for its WGII and WGIII reports.

  • Shub Niggurath

    Michael Tobis, (and whoever else subscribes to views critiqued below)
    Sir, Since you are quite fond of quoting Randy Olson when he seems to support your views, Here is something he had to say, sometime back:

    “The very best quote of Slouka’s article is this “” as he extolls the “messy” virtues of the humanities, he eventually hits on their ultimate attribute. In reference to how the humanities contribute to the making of a well-rounded mind, he says, “”¦ out of all this work of self-building might emerge an individual capable of humility in the face of complexity.”

    That phrase is incredibly important “” HUMILITY IN THE FACE OF COMPLEXITY. Isn’t this what the Al Gore movie lacked? They got up and presented an astoundingly complex problem “” global warming “” without the humility to couch it all in warnings of, “Nobody can predict the future, this is only our best guess.” There was a marked lack of humility in the tone of the film which had a basic message of,  “Science has got this all figured out, let’s get to work.”

    I’m sorry, but I think that lack of humility helped fan the flames of whoever it was who stole the Climategate emails. You can certainly sense it in all the climate skeptics I interviewed in my movie, “Sizzle.” And you’re welcome to spew all the hatred you want at climate skeptics, but the simple fact is the ones speaking out are just the tip of the iceberg as the streets of America are filled with them as well. The Gallup polls show it. Everyone from my accountant to my landlord to the guy fixing my car a couple of weeks ago “” I tell them I did a movie about global warming and they scoff about the entire subject.

    I don’t think it had to be that way. I’m sure Gore has plenty of humanities training in his background, far more than me. But somehow the very trait of humility that Slouka is talking about has been lost by the climate science voices who rail against the skeptics. They’ll tell you it is a necessary part of their strategy (to be self-certain and project superiority), but I wonder if it isn’t a reflection of today’s overall education policies that are so consumed with the pursuit of certainty.

    Everyone involved with climate science should read Slouka’s article.”

    One has to agree with Olson. Firstly, stop fueling the skepticism.

    Thanks

  • Barry Woods

    For the record (ref e67,370, 372)
    I’m perfectly content to subscribe to AGW theory…
    (with the proviso that uncertainties on feedback sensitivities, are recognised)

    My scepticism is with CAGW, and the fact that CAGW has turned into a socio/poltical bandwagon with semi religious overtones amongst certing politicians, media, environmentalists, activists. 

    The scientists say, that is not our fault, but they must engage with this, fo the following reasons.

    Groups like wwf, greenpaece, campaign against climate change, transition town, countless numbers of  other type of these groups, are evangelical about CAGW. 

    These groups are primed, with worse case scenarios from computer models, 6.0C, tipping points, 12.0c.. doom laden catastrophic climate scenaruios (that really do NOT stand up to much scrutiny, ie tuvalu, etc) become facts.

    When IF you actually look at IPCC  working group 1 reports, the uncertainty is there, the caveats are there, the if’s but maybes are there, there is reference to issues  with computer models, unknowns in clouds, etc.  just lots of different scenrios run in diffewrent models, one or 2 scary ones get cherry picked as real!! – not bythe scientists.

    The fact thatt here is a range of computer models, with a ranges of assumptions, on feedback, sensitivities, etc, is unknown to the general public.  That very many ‘climate scientists disagree on all these issues, is unknown. IN a recent BBC radio program Bob Ward (Grantham Institute) apparently reluctanly conceded, that models had a range of outputs +1.0 to +12.0C.. 

    The lobby/pressure groups cease of the worst case, computer model  outliers, which many scientists, would say that is just a scenario, extraplated into the future, is right at th edge of predictions, and would be very uncomfortable with the ‘alarmism’

    Yet, those scientists seem unable or unwilling to tell the media and politicians this, without being thrown out of the ‘tribe’ for sceptic tendencies, or because they do not do politics, etc, or want to risk damaging the ‘message’ being communicated to the politicians and media.

    I have come face to face with the agreesivenesse of the true believing lobby groups at a personal and very local level.  Some of whose activist member, have very little scientific understanding, many of these are the most passionate in their fight against ‘ perceive’ deniars (like me).

    All tyhey say to me is ’2500′ scientists saty, weather is not climate, think of your childrens future, etc,etc.

    These minds are closed to any debate and will not listen.. 

    The IPCC has been quiet on reigning in alarmism amongst lobby groups, the ipcc has been caught out including things they know to be incorrect, because because these lobby/activist gropus helps get the ‘message’ across to, and puts pressure on the politicians/media

    My Prime Minister – Copenhagen time said:

    “50 days to save the planet”

    Over 200 days later, the politicians seem to have fogotten the urgency.

    We might have some sort of deal, maybe, cobbled together in a year or 2 snd it will be weak and unsatisfactory.

    So why not take, a bit of time, to sort the basic scientific houskeeping out?  without recrimination, working together.

    If the weather station networks have problems.
    Sort them out.
    Fund (compared to the hundreds of billions carbon related spending) more weather staions, get better coverage, etc southern hemisphere,etc

    And a dozen other, boring data related (non exciting to researchers) houskeeping tasks, that keeps the science honest, and most importantly gise everyone ‘absolute’ confidence in the RAW data.

    Build up, national, regional, local databases of that raw data, make it publically accessible on the internet. It is not a state secret.

    Why NOT have a school project on the weather stations in your county (for any reason) using real data.  Endless scientific possibilities..

    Imagine, just one idea/example:
    A project for communities and colleges and universities to get an even BETTER, complete  understanding of the Urban Heat Island effect. maybe there are many more variables, local and otherwise that could be taken into account, if NOT, well that has further the science as well. It has been tested and proven so.

    A more accurate  study, more stations, different types of heat ilsand, verified compliance to all standards, with very many verified more variables taken into account..

    Based on a framework, and methodologies , approved by the ‘climate scientists’.

    I’m sure everyone would learn something, the cost wold be tiny, in light of the ‘carbon economy/government spend on CAGW.

    Just one or  2 +ve possibilities contributions above. 

    Let no one say that sceptics (this one at least) do not further the science,  but maybe the above ideas are NOT exciting enough, ‘cutting edge’ enough for the ‘pure climate science’ at the ‘leading edges of science.

    I say that with a mix of irony, sarcasm and hope, as the ‘cutting edge’ is important, but someone does have to do dirty/boring houskeeping tasks, or just the legwork with all the weather station, that seems to besuch a buredn on the scientists at CRU, who just want to do research, not maintain a database.

    Auditing, checking verifying, getting a null results – may be dull work, but it IS furthering the science. it is also essential to scientific credibility, especially now we have doubts.

    The politicians are in a mess for years on CAGW, rather than bicker, name call, why not just sort outthese issues, it won’t cost that much, it might ruffle a few egos, and will require a little humility from both sides to work together.

    What is then done with the raw data,, after it is secure, audited verified, by different scientists will still be subject to discussion, peer review, competing articles in journals,  but that is science.

  • Barry Woods

    Sorry for the typos above, (bad night wth 2 year old)

    Those communities, colleges, etc if you could get them involved may even be willing to be PAY for the weather station.
    Volunter’s unpaid, science department staff students, willing and interested in collecting the data..
    Not bored phd students, lumbered with collating the data.

  • Barry Woods

    But look, some weblogger cagw activist, has effectively compile a ‘blacklist’ of scientists..  That the National Academy of Science has PUBLISHED..

    http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-Environmental-Policy-Examiner~y2010m6d21-Global-warming-Black-list-a-black-day-for-science

    “All of the elements of climate consensus confusion creation (henceforth to be known as the 4Cs), are contained within this piece of junk. Creation of jargon. Attribution of motive. Assignation to a list because someone else put a scientist’s name on it. Using opinion of where scientists publish and what they say as if it were gospel.”

    How long before we get laws about ‘CAGW denial’?
    They have been proposed  by some lawyers (seeking work ;) ) , and some politicians in the US, and the EU.

  • Barry Woods

    Just to confirm the above, I may have been ambiguous.

    The above is actually aboutsome deluded ‘sceptical’  to CAGW blogger’.. Not Thomas Fuller, the guy he is writing about!!!.

    Which shows that the weblogger that Thomas Fuller is WRITING ABOUT, is an idiot, because the CAGW activists/extremists will cease on the list and use it for their purpose as well..

    Anthony Watts had a stalking type incident recently, why should any scientist pro/anti CAGW, or AGW or whatever theory you want to call it, be hassled by activists of any type with very little understanding.

    BUT, as descibed above, this is what has resulted, because of scientific unwillingness, to explain the uncertainties, caveats, etc. 

    The public, some cease on the fear, some react that is just alarmism, and hence extreme tribalism arises amongstthe public as well.

    They no doubt knows nothing about the science.

    I’m just pointing out how it only seem sto be possible to be one of 2 extreme tribes.  Not somewhere in the middle.
    There is no place for extremism on any side.

    Thomas Fuller,  I  understand, fully believes in AGW, would support many and varied environmental issues. I like his blog, calm and sensible, we may disagree on somethings, the debate there is sane, reasonable and hopeful.

  • Barry Woods

    Actually the guy concerned would appear  be a CAGW activist,
    I’ve had a very good look at earlier posts on his weblog, still confued by it though.

    he says: (remeber not Thomas Fuller, the guy he is writing about says, in an ‘earlier entry.)

    “I could go on and tell everyone to read Randy’s book, and about how Prof. Mann’s work stands up in spite of the harping about the hockey-stick graph, stolen emails and all.”

    so a CAGW believer?  and I’m still confused by what he is trying to acheive, with this list. Either way, it is of no help or benefit. !!

  • J Bowers

    Barry Woods: “Anthony Watts had a stalking type incident recently,”

    Well, no. A citizen journalist (a 50+ year old lady) who is trying to get to the bottom of one of his businesses turned up at his place of business to ask the questions she had directly, after being unable to get a response from him by other means. She turned up, was let into the offices by the staff, and when Watts came out and told her to leave she immediately did so. I don’t believe that could be labelled as stalking by anyone.

  • Barry Woods

    The joy of the internet, is people can check for themsleves, statements made in blogs, and look at another viewpoint.

    Imagine if the roles were reversed, what would be said!
    If someon turned up at a ‘team member’ house, or CRU? and id the same.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/07/a-note-about-boundaries/#more-20287

    Antony Watts said this:
    (caps are mine to highlight, this is stalking in UK law, even the perception of, is considered.)
    “I’m writing this in hopes that the person can see their own behavior as being wrong, by illustrating how it would look if the tables were turned.
    This person has been ADVISED PREVIOUSLY that I’m not interested in having a conversation. This stems from PREVIOUS behavior in the person’s home town where the person has been harassing others on the issue of climate change, making uninvited visits to offices, showing up at local service organization meetings to accost a person with whom a disagreement exists, interrupting conversations with friends at restaurants, and making phone calls to the homes of people with which a disagreement exists over climate change.
    Today, the person continued to ask questions while I was making it clear that the person was to leave the premises. I never heard a one because I was being talked over while repeatedly saying “goodbye” while gesturing to the door.
    I respect the right of disagreement that others have, but I have no respect for a person who invades the personal space and boundaries of people with who that disagreement exists for the purpose of making a scene to write about later.
    This is not cool. It is not respectable or proper behavior. It will not be tolerated again.”

  • Barry Woods

    Back on topic..

    To All Cllimate scientists, passing by
    Have you looked at the contents of the climategate file(leak/hack) Harry_Read_Me.txt.

    ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’ merely touches on this (was due to go to print, just before climategate)

    Judith
    This is my challenge to you and other climate scientists, that have worked with CRU datasets.

    Ask them to Look at Harry_Read_Me.txt file,
    for non programmers, skip the code extracts and data extracts look at the comments.

    Ask experienced software developers, in other fields to take a look, explain what HADCRUT is to them

    Anyone can get a copy of Harry_Read_Me.txt for themselves for FREE, so no excuses there.

    Note the continued reference to databases, data, before they even get around processing it.

    It is 300 pages long, tip of the iceberg problem, and in context much worse.

    Dare your colleagues look?

    Let me show you why, I have no faith in CRU datasets, data handling and code and the culture that presumably remains

    ——–comments from:   Harry_Read_Me.txt   ——————-

    “Am I the first person to attempt to get the CRU databases in working order?!!”

    I’ve read the papers, and the miniscule amount of ‘Read Me’ documentation, and it just doesn’t make sense.”

    “It’s botch after botch after botch.”

    “There is no uniform data integrity, it’s just a catalogue of issues that continues to grow as they’re found.”

    “So with a somewhat cynical shrug, I added the nuclear option “” to match every WMO possible, and turn the rest into new stations “¦ In other words what CRU usually do. It will allow bad databases to pass unnoticed, and good databases to become bad “¦”
     
    “but I really don’t think people care enough to fix ‘em, and it’s the main reason the project is nearly a year late.”

    “Quite honestly I don’t have time – but it just shows the state our data holdings have drifted into. Who added those two series together? When? Why? Untraceable, except anecdotally.”

    “You can’t imagine what this has cost me “” to actually allow the operator to assign false WMO (World Meteorological Organization) codes!! But what else is there in such situations? Especially when dealing with a “˜Master’ database of dubious provenance “¦”
     

    “I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seem to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was.”


    “But what are all those monthly files? DON’T KNOW, UNDOCUMENTED.  Wherever I look, there are data files, no info about what they are other than their names. And that’s useless “¦”

     “It’s the same story for many other Russian stations, unfortunately – meaning that (probably) there was a full Russian update that did no data integrity checking at all. I just hope it’s restricted to Russia!!”

    “Oh, sod it. It’ll do. I don’t think I can justify spending any longer on a dataset, the previous version of which was completely wrong (misnamed) and nobody noticed for five years”


    “OH F”” THIS. It’s Sunday evening, I’ve worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done, I’m hitting yet another problem that’s based on the hopeless state of our databases.”

    “These are very promising. The vast majority in both cases are within 0.5 degrees of the published data. However, there are still plenty of values more than a degree out.”

    “This took longer than hoped.. running out of disk space again. This is why Tim didn’t save more of the intermediate products – which would have made my detective work easier. The ridiculous process
    he adopted – and which we have dutifully followed – creates hundreds of intermediate files at every stage, none of which are automatically zipped/unzipped. Crazy. I’ve filled a 100gb disk!”

    “So, good news – but only in the sense that I’ve found the error. Bad news in that it’s a further confirmation that my abilities are short of what’s required here.”

     “This whole project is SUCH A MESS “¦”

    “ This surely is the worst project I’ve ever attempted. Eeeek.”

    “So, where there are 7 or 8 missing values in each month (1961-1990), a station may end up contributing only in certain months of the year, throughout its entire run! ”

     ——————————————–

    My Msc is IS Engineering – Cybernetics, plus  a career in  software in business critical ‘real time’ telco/banking applications. I do not need advice from climate scientists about how  computer code is ‘different’ in science research


    This documents (help file, notes/log)the notes of an apparently sole developer attempts to knock the code and data into shape for HADCRUT 3.0.

    From the previous data/code for HADCRUT 1.2 and 2.0.

    Any climate scientist will know of these files..

    This file, leapt out at IT  professionals as being FAR MORE DAMAGING, than any of the climategate emails. 

    After I found out the context of the emails, I still think that this is more damaging.

    For reason Latimer Alder summarised above: (ref#303)

    How many climate scientists have work based on HADCRUT datasets.
    Or any other CRU datasets, any one of the comments below should give massive pause for thought, by anyone who has used these dataset for research.

    As the software development, data handling culture appears ingrained, amongst the long standing leadership at CRU.

    There must be a software/data audit by indpendent software professional of all the CRU code and datsets, against governembt stanards for any government IT project. As after all huge government policy descision are being made.

    CRU, according to NASA Giss, has better dataset with less problems, than the other world temp datasets

    How many thousands of scientists use them..

    Silence is amazing,
    but my bet is no conspiracy, they just have NOT looked at this yet..

  • hunter

    Now that CAGW promoters have thoughtfully put together a blacklist of scientists to ignore irt climate science, we can all just go home and enjoy the brave new world of catastrophic agw.
     

  • Martin A

    Barry Woods, 381, said: “There must be a software/data audit by independent software professional of all the CRU code and datsets, against governembt stanards for any government IT project. As after all huge government policy descision are being made.”

    Professor Jim Norton is a member of the Russell ” Independent Climate Change Email Review” whose report is due to be published shortly.  [I had always understood it was somewhat vainglorious to style yourself "professor" if you merely held a visiting appointment, rather than a university chair.]   He is supposed to have been looking at the IT aspects, data integrity and so on.

    It will be easy to see within a few seconds whether the Russell Review is just another whitewash.  If Norton makes no mention of Harry_Read_me.txt file,  then it will be immediately apparent that the Russell Review can be taken seriously.

    If it turns out to be, as I imagine it will, another whitewash in the  stream of post Climategate whitewashes, no doubt there will be much jubilation over at RealClimate.   But, in the long run, it will not be to the benefit of climate science to have another false vindication, further delaying the time when the field will eventually be sorted out.

  • http://neilsindex.blogspot.com/ Neil Craig

    Once again nobody whatsoever on the CAGW side has been willing to produce any actual evidence of it, as previously requested.

    This is a common element with other warmist sites & spokesmen (though this site differs from most of the rest in not descending to censorship) so the default position must be to assume that no such evidence exists.

    If there is no actual evidence probably the only lesson real scientists (climate & otherwise) can take from it is that the whole scare is an imposture. Science has become so very dependent on state money. State money is now being used to promote political agendas under the guise of “science”.  Such activities must be publicly opposed by anybody who cares about the processes of science. To quote Professor Lovelock “only the sceptics have kept this discussion sane”. The lessons of Lysenkoism should not be ignored.

  • Larry Logan

    Well, I’ve actually read Montford’s “Illusion” — unlike the posters here who find every ad hominem reason not to. The book appears to provide a straight-forward replaying of events. Whether you are aghast at the behavior of Mann, Jones, et al, I’ll leave to you. But otherwise, it sounds like those knocking the book are more afraid than anything, hiding behind “I won’t read it because it might change my belief system. And I certainly can’t have that!”
    Judith is correct. Just read the doggone book, quit your yapping, and maybe there will be some enlightenment.

  • J Bowers

    Martin A: “It will be easy to see within a few seconds whether the Russell Review is just another whitewash. “

    But that was already decided by sceptics four months ago.

    Re. 337 Judith Curry: Thanks for that link. I don’t think it’s the same as fulfilling the request from Phil Jones for Steve McIntyre to produce his own global temperature record. Perhaps someone should finally hire him to do it. I’ll also read Montford’s book, but it’ll be from a public library as I’m choosy on who I give beer tokens to. However, based on a number of posts by Bishop Hill that I’ve read over time, Larry Logan shouldn’t hold his breath in anticipation of me suddenly jumping the fence into the contrarian camp. Let’s just say I’m sceptical.

  • SimonH

    J Bowers Says:
    June 22nd, 2010 at 10:23 am

    “But that was already decided by sceptics four months ago.”

    It will be interesting to see if they were correct.

    In the meantime, how YOU would characterise Lord Oxburgh’s 5-page review, which looked at a list of documents picked by the CRU, but about which the CRU’s Professor Trevor Davies said to the Royal Society’s Rees and Hoskins: “I would be very grateful if you would be prepared to allow us to use a form of words along the lines: “the publications were chosen in consultation with The Royal Society”.”

  • hunter

    If the Russell review of climategate/CRU is honest and thorough, it will be the first that is so.

  • Martin A

    J Bowers Says: (snip) But that was already decided by sceptics four months ago
    Well you can understand why they might assume that, if you look at Russell’s selection of Committed CAGW believers to his panel and his responses to questions about possible bias.

    But I don’t understand the point of trying to score trivial debating points of which this is an example.  It certainly seems characteristic of many CAGW believers that they devote a lot of bandwidth to posting such comments.

    Are such comments  intended to convince somebody of something?  From my perspective, they just come across as a bit pathetic.

  • J Bowers

    Martin A: “Are such comments  intended to convince somebody of something?  From my perspective, they just come across as a bit pathetic.”

    Or maybe I’m reminding ye sceptics of your foregone conclusion that the Muir Russell Inquiry is a whitewash…. even though it hasn’t even concluded. Let’s face it, if it concludes what you don’t want to hear it’ll be a whitewash no matter if it were or if it weren’t.

  • SimonH

    J Bowers Says:
    June 22nd, 2010 at 11:35 am
    “[..] if it concludes what you don’t want to hear it’ll be a whitewash no matter if it were or if it weren’t.”

    If it draws its conclusions in the way that the Oxburgh enquiry drew its conclusions, it certainly will be regarded as a whitewash. There’s no doubt about that. But if you feel the Oxburgh report was NOT a whitewash, I’d encourage you to set out your reasons for drawing that conclusion.

    If, on the other hand, it’s demonstrably diligent and thorough; if it properly addresses the many issues that have been raised by the sceptics, then there will be no reason to presume that the Russel enquiry will be a whitewash.

    But since, despite an appeal from the Parliamentary Enquiry in advance, for it to conduct its affairs in full view, the Russel Enquiry has not been even slightly open and transparent even in its proceedings, and since it has chosen not to involve or make direct contact with any of the principle individuals that have raised questions about the CRU’s activities, it’s perfectly reasonable for sceptics to be cynical of the likely value of Sir Muir Russel’s enquiry. N’est pas?

  • Craig Goodrich

    Jonathan Gilligan asks ( June 18th, 2010 at 11:01 pm) :


    <blockquote>Would folks who support citizen scientists auditing published climate research also support citizen scientists auditing environmental impact statements, drug safety reviews, and the like?</blockquote>
    Of course.  Why do you think the NRC, the EPA, and the FDA have public comment periods and are required to respond to all comments?  Why do you think environmental impact statements and so on are public documents?
    <blockquote>Would it be beneficial if every new nuclear power plant, coal mine, offshore oil well, or food additive permit application had to turn over all its raw data to citizen scientists for a thorough audit before a permit was granted?</blockquote>
    See above.  The FSAR and environmental impact statement of every nuclear plant in the country was publicly available for comment before the license was granted, for example.
    But you completely miss the point.  Whether or not these engineering projects make their data available is irrelevant.  The hallmarks of science since the Enlightenment have always been complete openness as to data and methodology, objectivity, and logic.
    One of the principal reasons that many of us with scientific training and long experience regard “climate science” as an oxymoron is that we find it overwhelmingly characterized by concealment of data and methods, tendentiousness to an absurd extreme, and logic that frequently borders on self-parody (for an example of the last, see almost anything by Santer in the last twenty years).
    “Peer review” is irrelevant; it’s a convenience for academic publishers and would as likely be found at a journal of medieval Norse poetry as at one of oceanography.  The canon of scientific method prescribes complete openness so that anyone who is interested can review and evaluate it.  That’s why 18th and 19th-century scientific publications were full of detailed, expensive, and often quite graceful drawings of the experimental apparatus.
    Albert Einstein was a postal clerk.
     

  • Craig Goodrich

    Keith, the “text block” problem is with the way your editor displays (like a word processor instead of like a text editor, treating Enter as a paragraph break).  It then stores and posts like a text editor.


    If you can, have it insert “<p />” tags when Enter is pressed, insted of “<br />” tags, or alter the spacing for the “<br />” tag in your .css file.

  • SimonH

    Craig, the editor is an HTML editor. In storing the text, though, most of the HTML code is stripped. Paragraphs are replaced with single “<br />” tags. They need to be replaced with “<br /><br />” to retain formatting.

    However, compounding the problem and making it all just a little more difficult to reconcile the text and code combined, the comments are served in an HTML ordered list. I’m guessing that the desire to have comments numbered is stronger than the desire to be free of quote editing on Keith’s part. I’m sure a workaround could be found using Javascript or, depending on the server technology, something server-side. I’ve only coded my own blogs in the past and haven’t used WordPress, Blogger etc, so I’m a bit useless at offering an instant solution to help Keith accelerate his code cleaning. :(

  • J Bowers

    Craig Goodrich: “Albert Einstein was a postal clerk.”

    He was a patent technical examiner at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property in Bern, Switzerland, becoming second class after evaluating patent applications for electromagnetic devices. Quite a lot different to being a postie, and required a certain amount of expertise on transmission of electrical signals and electrical-mechanics. He also held a polytechnic diploma in mathematics and physics at that point.

  • J Bowers

    Martin A: “…if you look at Russell’s selection of Committed CAGW believers…”

    There you go, just proving my point and setting yourself up for the predictable cries of foul.  Maybe if Senators Inhofe and Limbaugh, along with Monckton and Anthony Watts were there you’d feel a bit easier about the whole thing. For anyone who’s interested, here’s the panel:
    http://www.cce-review.org/Biogs.php

  • Craig Goodrich

    Keith #101 –

    “… it would be best if climate skeptics who resent AGW proponents associating them with anti-evolutionists and the Morano types made more effort to put a clear distance between themselves and the ideologically/politically motivated parties that seek to exploit them.”

    I dunno, Keith.  First of all, it would make absolutely no difference to the polemicists infesting the warmist world; witness the silly exxonsecrets site.  The smears and innuendos — which by now only convinced “progressives” pay any attention to; these guys are by and large preaching to the choir to a much larger degree than the skeptics are — will continue indefinitely, and so will the flat refusal to actually engage any of the real issues.

    Second, they are simply not an issue.  Anyone fool enough to be swayed by that sort of smear is either easier to convince by simply buying him a beer or just interested in reinforcing his prejudices anyway.  Waste of time.

    Third, it is bad tactics.  Nixon didn’t convince anyone by saying, “I’m not a crook.”

    Fourth, how much time do warmists spend disassociating themselves from such as Al Gore, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, and other “ideologically/politically motivated parties that seek to exploit them”?

    And finally, I kind of like Morano; he at least has a sense of humor.  I’ve never detected anything but bile in Romm — but then, its been a long time since I bothered to read any of his stuff; perhaps he’s mellowed …   Naah…

  • Craig Goodrich

    Bowers #395 — OK, sorry, a patent clerk.  Your point is?

  • Barry Woods

    The climategate emails led to allegations and evidence of :

    ‘bad behaviour’

    The climategate Harry_Read_me.txt file leads to allegations and evidence of:

    ‘bad science’

    Climate Scientists seem very unwilling to look at the book about bad behaviour..  Which is worse.

    All they need to do is look at Harry_Read_Me.txt to see what the second allegation is about.  They do need to attempt to refute this.. 

    CRU datasets are rolled out to the public, to say things like the warmest year this decade, or since 1998, or some such.

    To make these pronouncemnte if you go and look at the data for each year, they have had to go to the SECON decimal place to achieve this piece of ‘propaganda”

    A -0.05 error, in the results could easily demote one of these years, ruining the ‘ever rising temperature meme’

    The ‘Hockey Stick’ graph, was the pr tool of the IPCC reports reproduced everywhere to convey the ‘message’..
    Not least ‘The Inconvenient Truth’

    The announcements of warmest year is used in the same way as the ‘Hockey Stick’.  I saw that last week, in a presentation from Sir John Houghton.(IPCC luminary)

    As I described in my challenge, above:

    There is reason to doubt the data handling/integrity.  IT is in everybodies interest to deal with the issue. 

  • J Bowers

    Re. Craig Goodrich

    Einstein wasn’t an unqualified everyday Joe as so many members of your tribe attempt to make him out to be in an effort to perpetuate a myth that any amateur bod can revolutionise  a field of science. Attempts to rewrite or misrepresent history to suit an agenda are made in vain.

  • Barry Woods

    please stop the ‘tribe thing – How does that help.
    I have friends that are fully paid up members of climate science, including editing IPCC reports.
    We can be nice.

  • J Bowers

    Sorry, I was using Dr Curry’s terminology. When in Rome and all that.

  • JohnB

    If I might add that the whole “warmest decade” or “warmest year” is essentially meaningless from a predictive standpoint.

    If (hypothetically) the temperature were to drop by 4 degrees over the next decade, putting us into a full blown Ice Age, then the first decade of the 21st Century would still be “The warmest decade on record”.

    This simple fact is very evident to me and I’m amazed that so many far more educated people harp on it as they do. It is a statistical fact that has zero predictive power, why do people behave as if it does?

  • anon

    Don Baccus,
    While I would certainly defer to you in any question regarding programming or databases or Postgresql, the truth is you’re only the barest of citizen scientists with respect to climate science.
    What’s odd is that most of your “friends” would turn on you in a second and dismiss you and label you if you took any position other than the position you take.
    This is something I find so odd about the “debate” such as it is.  So much energy is spent tossing out smart people, intelligent people, physicists, statisticians, mathematicians, chemists, ph.ds, because they don’t have the absolute correct “climate science” background they have to have to participate.  And yet we have the Don Baccuses  who have no background in climate science and many others who are given great credibility by dint of their bullying and taking pro-AGW stances.
    Bizarre.

  • HaroldW

    Dr Curry at #314 recommended Brunner and Lynch, “Adaptive Governance and Climate Change.” Just a note that this book is reviewed at http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/khandekar-review.pdf

  • cagw_skeptic99

    New article points out flaws in IPCC and GCMs.  Might really add fuel to the ruckus:
    http://www.skeptic.com/the_magazine/featured_articles/v14n01_climate_of_belief.html

  • Julian Flood

    J Bowers Says:

    quote Einstein wasn’t an unqualified everyday Joe as so many members of your tribe attempt to make him out to be in an effort to perpetuate a myth that any amateur bod can revolutionise  a field of science. Attempts to rewrite or misrepresent history to suit an agenda are made in vain. unquote

    Faraday

    JF

  • cagw_skeptic99

    Actually the article is two years old. Apologies.

  • Phil Clarke

    Yep – WUWT recycled a 2-year old article from Skeptic magazine. Even the Skeptics were erm”¦ sceptical:
    http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=65&t=9961
    Had the author, Pat Franks been on to something, he would have been awarded the Nobel by now. Sadly his career as a wannabe climate expert was brought to a sudden end by a real climate expert:
    “¦. The fact remains, your toy model is not a good match to any aspect of the GCMs other than the linear temperature trend to which is seems to have been fitted, and has zero information content regarding the actual models. ““ gavin ]
    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=564#comment-95148
    As I write the choir are praising this debunked two year old ferrago for its wisdom and insight “¦.

  • Julian Flood

    <!– @page { size: 21cm 29.7cm; margin: 2cm } P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm } –>

    I’m not sure that the blogosphere science model is a good way ahead. Arrogance and hubris are not the sole province of properly accredited scientists, although bloggers are less likely to stick their picture up on their website. Those pictures alone — I cite Monbiot and Mann — are sometimes enough to make anyone feel like asking awkward questions.

    I think that answering questions from the people who are ultimately paying the wages of many academics is a duty which should be accepted as part of the price of the privilege that is being a researcher.

    Urging this philosophy sometimes works: after pointing out that patiently dealing with stupid questions is a good teaching tool, I even got Tamino to calculate the CO2 forcing for the periods 1910 to 1940 and — damn, I forget, a later 30 year period with the same warming slope. When I pointed out that the difference of 1 and three quarter watts/M^2 should have given different warming rates, he explained that I was using the wrong temperature data. So patience can work — even when you send the questioner away unconvinced.

    Lucia’s blog is an exemplary model: she calculates the graphs (and such graphs, such colours, such horrible, horrible colours) and makes it easy for us to follow. Because of her calculations I’m a lukewarmer, convinced that something’s going on but not convinced that it’s what we’re being told.

    A great recruiter to the sceptic ranks is the little yappy jackal which attaches itself to the big lions of science and spends its time refuting every point, blindly reiterating points made a hundred times before. It was one of these ‘well, if you’re so clever why don’t you explain why it’s warming’ rebuttals which got me into the Kriegesmarine Effect.

    Anyway, I like Lucia’s bets, so now propose three horses for the Climate Change Oil and Surfactant Pollution Stakes (prize, a visit to Stockholm and a chance to meet the king, with an added bonus of loadsa money).


    Carbohydrate-like composition of submicron
    atmospheric particles and their production
    from ocean bubble bursting.
    Lynn M. Russell, Lelia N. Hawkins, Amanda A. Frossard, Patricia K. Quinn and Tim S. Bates


    Laboratory investigations into the effect of marine organic material on the sea-salt aerosol generated by bubble bursting
    J. Cloke, W.A. McKay and P.S. Liss

    Laboratory-generated primary aerosol via bubble-bursting and atomization
    E. Fuentes, H. Coe1, D. Green, G. de Leeuw and G. McFiggans


    I’d give generous odds on the UEA team — they may be scratched by the owner if they show signs of wanting to run….

    JF
    (who is amazed by how complex aerosols are turning out to be. Settled science? I think not.)

  • Pingback: Citizen science as the new skepticism « My view on climate change

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    “Yep ““ WUWT recycled a 2-year old article from Skeptic magazine. Even the Skeptics were erm”¦ sceptical:”

    Mean while, the *latest* issue of SKEPTIC front-covers an article about why climate change ‘skeptics’ often *aren’t*.

    http://www.skeptic.com/the_magazine/

  • http://neilsindex.blogspot.com/ Neil Craig

    OK since nobody at all thinks it is possible to claim any evidence for CAGW by definition no “scientist” can claim claim it as factual. Thus nobody who has ever done so is a scientist. All that can be said of them is that they are practicing what Feynman described as Cargo Cult Science http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm
    which means basically wearing white coats & using the terminology (like “peer review”) without using the scientific method.

    Apart from asking how do real scientists separte themselves  from government funded cargo cultists whay actual quations remain.

    The answer I would give for Judith, who appears to be genuinely trying to get some science back into climate science is that they separate themselves vigorously  – anything else only provides cover for the government funded snake quacks. The analogy may be apt – Lydia Pinkham was financially very succesful but contributed nothing to science. She would have gained credibility but medical science would not have been strengthened if it had embraced her because she made money.

  • dhogaza

    “Don Baccus,

    What’s odd is that most of your “friends” would turn on you in a second and dismiss you and label you if you took any position other than the position you take.”

    Keith, note that this guy’s using my real name.  I don’t care in the sense that learning my name only requires that one be able to type “dhogaza” in google’s search box, but I would point out that this is *very* poor manners on “anon’s” part and, IMO, absolutely uncalled for.

    Apparently some people take pride in having discovered the existence of google …

    Anyway, dear anon, as recently as the mid-90s I was arguing against those who claimed that we could already detect the AGW warming signal in ecological changes taking place in the semi-arid intermountain western United States, where I have done a lot of bird-related field work over the years.

    My friends did not abandon me.  Sorry to dash your hopes, there. [I AGREE THAT IT IS "VERY POOR MANNERS." I'M SORRY I MISSED THAT. THERE'S BEEN A TON OF COMMENTS THE LAST FEW DAYS, AND I NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB OF STAYING ON TOP OF ALL THE THREADS.//KK]

  • anon

    Poor manners on my part?
    First, Don Baccus has long been known as dhogaza, and I have known Don and collaborated with him since the late 1990s on open source software.  That’s how I know and can verify he is an expert on database development and birding, and a complete know nothing layman on climate science.
    Second, is it outrageous for Joshua Halpern, tenured, to blog anonymously or try to as Eli Rabbett?  And blog from a position of power to scorn, mock, dismiss others?   Yeah, actually I think it is.  But is it poor manners for Don, not a tenured academic to blog from some amount of anonymity to similarly mock and dismiss others?  Yeah, I think that’s poor manners to Don, at least as poor as my seeing the user name you have used for over a decade, recalling my efforts with you, and verifying that you are a software expert, and a climate science know nothing.
    And it’s true.  Anyone with Don’s background arguing in any sort of skeptical manner would have been tossed out of Real Climate eons ago, and not allowed to ask as many questions, or be as rude to others as Don is.
    And that’s specifically why in dhogaza’s case it is important for someone outside to remark on who Don is, and what his background is, ESPECIALLY in a thread that focuses on who started this anyway.
    There are many people with backgrounds similar to Don’s, or better even, that the Don’s and the Gavin’s and so many others just scorn and mock and dismiss, and censor and delete and modify the comments of.
    Don doesn’t like it, and calls it poor manners?  Don is worried about poor manners?
    Shocking.


    dhogaza Says:
    June 19th, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    “ I am not interested in engaging with your “gotcha” attempts that are completely peripheral to any arguments of importance or relevance to what I guess is 99% of the people perusing this thread.”
    My interest is your credibility, to be honest.  From what I’ve read, a growing number of climate scientists share that interest.

    Oh hey, look at Don, the non climate scientist impugn the scientific integrity and intellectual honesty of a climate scientist who disagrees.
    That’s certainly real good manners, Don.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Anon:

    This sort of thing vexes me. Personally, I’m not a fan of anonymity, but I recognize that some people have legitimate issues for remaining anonymous. That said, it seems obvious to me that anonymity lends itself to (some) people being impolite at best and slanderous at worst.

    But I’m also not a fan of outing, though in this case, to a subset of the blogosphere both the individuals you named are known.

    I see your larger point, but I’m still inclined to think such outing as bad manners. I dunno, maybe somebody should put this to that ethics guy at the New York Times magazine.

  • JohnB

    anon, I have to support dhogaza here. While I use my name I allow others not to. They may have good and valid reasons for preferring a bit of anonymity. Whether they have good reasons or not, they do not have to explain those reasons to me or anybody else. Personally, I prefer people to use their names, but the choice is theirs.

    As you say, he has used the name for years and his real name is no secret, so he can’t be said to be “hiding” behind it in any way.

    As to being a “know nothing”, by many standards, so am I. From his activities over the years it is apparent that he has read much of the literature, as have I. It doesn’t make either of us Climate Scientists, but we are both I think, far from know nothings.

    I will add that someone calling themself “anon” is not in a strong position to be accusing others of hiding behind internet anonymity.

  • dhogaza

    “This sort of thing vexes me. Personally, I’m not a fan of anonymity, but I recognize that some people have legitimate issues for remaining anonymous. That said, it seems obvious to me that anonymity lends itself to (some) people being impolite at best and slanderous at worst.”

    If I were trying to remain anonymous I wouldn’t use a handle that is also my e-mail address, and that appears in each and every photo caption on my website.

    I’ve been using the “dhogaza” handle since the mid-1990s because I happen to like it.  I’ve never made a secret of my real name.  Back in the days when Alta Vista ruled the search engine world, typing in “nature photography” listed me as the second hit.   Name, e-mail handle, if you looked hard enough, home address and phone number (these are no longer online, the net is not as friendly and cozy as it used to be).

    And I’ve never claimed to be a climate scientist.  Oh, and if you believe that being a layman makes me a “a complete know nothing layman on climate science”, then I imagine you feel the same about, oh, McIntyre, another layman with an undergraduate degree in mathematics?

    So, anon, you claim a personal connection with me, and have “outed” Josh Halpern in your note, too (another “secret” kept in the open, but apparently it makes you feel good to give his name).

    What’s your name?  Why are you hiding, if you object to someone like me using a handle when posting?

    My guess it that “google anon”, unlike “dhogaza”, isn’t going to point to your real name … I’m quite sure that unlike me, you really *are* trying to hide your identity.

    Why?

  • anon

    “And I’ve never claimed to be a climate scientist.  Oh, and if you believe that being a layman makes me a “a complete know nothing layman on climate science”, then I imagine you feel the same about, oh, McIntyre, another layman with an undergraduate degree in mathematics?

    Actually Don, I have the same respect for you as amateur climate scientist as I do for McIntyre.  And I am glad to see you acknowledge that he is at least as capable as you if not more so. Perhaps you can remind people at RC of that and that all of these amateur scientists should be respected, not disrespected and dehumanized.
    And frankly, I think I’m helping you.  I verified that you are considered an expert database guy and well known in photog and birding circles, and that anything you say regarding IT should be well respected.  That includes climategate issues and issues regarding data retention and possibly climate models.
    But you are annoying and in the wrong when it comes to describing scientists in fields you are not expert in as having crossed to the darkside, or speculating about their intellectual honesty.
    And as you point out, it’s trivial to know you’re Don Baccus, and that Eli is Josh Halpern (and on that account, I gather Halpern outed, in a way you never were.)  But at any rate, I have no idea why you think I have somehow outed you, or complain that I do not use your nom-de-net when I am using widely known information.
    I’m not the one attacking other people and saying they are dishonest or not qualified to speak.  I am simply here saying who you are, what you are qualified as an expert in, and telling you your behavior is lousy.

  • anon

    “My guess it that “google anon”, unlike “dhogaza”, isn’t going to point to your real name “¦ I’m quite sure that unlike me, you really *are* trying to hide your identity.

    Why?”
    I often comment at work, which depending on how you read the policies, could get me fired, regardless of how well I do my actual job.  I work in a small town too, I’d prefer not to have to find a new job that doesn’t exist. And yet, I have to admit to a loss if I were unable to read the blogs about one of the most important scientific and policy issues of the day.
    So in that sense, I am nowhere near the position of Josh Halpern, who apparently is tenured, and often funded by NASA and who still finds it necessary to blog anonymously.  Or of a Gavin Schmidt who is directly funded by NASA or many of the tenured professors who finds it easy to smear people or modify comments that could easily lose their jobs.

  • dhogaza

    “I often comment at work, which depending on how you read the policies, could get me fired, regardless of how well I do my actual job”

    And yet, you’re willing to post my real name … without regard to possible consequences for my own ability to get work.

    I think you need a refresher course in ethics.

  • http://www.cartoonsbyjosh.com Josh

    The word ‘Warmista’ sounds like barista to me (which would be my all time favourite job) and so has an affectionate tone, and much nicer than ‘warmist’ or ‘alarmist’.
    So I did this cartoon http://www.cartoonsbyjosh.com/warmista_scr.jpg
    So do let me know if I have got this wrong.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Nice one, Josh. The cartoon is here, for those who want to link right to it.

  • http://www.cartoonsbyjosh.com Josh

    Thanks! My poor linking skills, you would think I’d have learned by now.

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    dhogaza, since ‘anon’ claims to “have known and collaborated with [you] since the late 1990s on open source software” perhaps that narrows down who it is?

    Whoever it is, it seems at once angry, vengeful, afraid, and  incoherent.   Not a good choice for collaborator in science, and I can’t imagine IT is much different.
     

  • Psen

    Re: Read_Me_Harry.txt
    Nobody responded. It bugs me. So…

    Don’t the guys who claim to be great IT mavens know the simple golden rules about “Other Peoples Code”?
    1). This code is teh suck!
    2). What clown ordered the spaghetti?
    3). IDIOT MONKEY!

    …or the rules about “Other Peoples Data”
    1). This like so blows!
    2). What monkey ordered the baloney?
    3). RAGE FEVER!!

    Seriously skepticalistas, all I can see in it (and, yes I have read it) is a stream of consciousness from a man who has been given one of the worst jobs in the world: updating somebody else’s code and data sets. Other people’s
    code is always a foreign language. Heck, your own code from a year ago is a foreign language.

    I can see him grappling with it, getting to grips with it, validating the output against the previous version, the expected ballpark values and the raw files, and also responding at one point to a guy outside their team who found some errors. In short, he is doing what he should be doing and the “colourful stuff” is just a guy being a bit of a drama queen in a personal aide memoir file.

    You do have a point about the data quality: but whose fault is that? My understanding of it is that they have datasets from weather stations all around the world which of course have all kinds of quirks and errors and inconsistent formats. It is a problem, and they are trying to deal with it.

    But how bad is the data really? Does it make any *significant* difference to any results? There is no way of knowing for sure from this file. I take it that other teams (eg. NASA) have been doing the same thing independently
    and are getting results so similar that you can’t put a dime between them.

    So how bad is the code really? Does it make any *significant* difference to any results? Again, there is no way of knowing for sure from this file. And, again, other teams have been doing the same thing independently and are getting results so similar that you can’t put a dime between them.

    Maybe those of you with a backround in mission-critical software have a misapprehension: in your field, a software error can kill you. It is the big show stopper. That is not the case here and you should see this for what it is: a guy working on a beta version of a back-of-the-envelope calculation. If the result isn’t in the ballpark at all, this will get picked up by rival skunkworks and scrapped. If it looks roughly OK, then on to a gamma version, then the epsilon version…etc in a continuous process of refinement, hoping
    to make the error bars smaller until we have confidence.

    In short, take stock: do you really think you have proved anything? Have you proved idiocy, incompetence or larceny beyond reasonable doubt?
    Not to me, so I will stick with the civility of “innocent until proven guilty”.

  • Phil C

    RE: 203, 208 and others.
    I’ve read Dr. Mann’s(et.al.) papers and have a couple of comments.  The graph (NH Land CPS) emphasis in the title(1999) on the variability and error ranges in the paleo record is disingenuous when the main conclusions are that the graph shows a paleo record of a robust, unprecendented warming in the late 20th century, despite “additional strong caveats”.  Even leaving in the late instrumental temperature record(which shouldn’t be on the graph), the graph clearly shows that the paleo records have varied wildly over the last one and a half thousand years and the latest records are not exceptionally warm at all.  The discussion of huge variability in the records and the wide error range is glossed over, when it is supposedly the point of the paper.  My conclusion is that the paper was written to highlight the rise of the instrumental temperature record in the late ’90′s as a precursor to follow on arguments.

     

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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