Climate Wattage

By Keith Kloor | October 21, 2011 8:42 am

This story can BEST be told in a series of headlines, tweets, and quotes.

Andy Revkin kicks it off:

Skeptic Talking Point Melts Away as an Inconvenient Physicist Confirms Warming

Pshaw, says Anthony Watts:

The Berkeley Earth Station Surface Temperature project puts PR before peer review

Leo Hickman:

What a surprise: Anthony Watts is crying foul over Muller’s BEST results

Watts on the real inconvenience:

Today is a day I got not one thing done for myself due to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature release sucking all the oxygen out of the climate debate with their pre-peer review release shenanigans.

Oh, and never mind about this:

I’m prepared to accept whatever result they [BEST]  produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.

So why is this news even a story, wonders Michael Oppenheimer:

The whole episode is a bit like the continual re-measurement of the gravitational constant (assuming the BEST study stands up).

It’s all part of the man/bear/pig climate science hoax, bleats Marc Morano:

Of my, what a con this whole project was.

The reactions of Watts, Morano et al are instructive, says Stephen Sherwood:

Sociopolitically it shines a spotlight on the distinction between true skepticism and denialism. The way contrarians treat Muller now, compared to a year ago, is very revealing.

To be continued…

CATEGORIZED UNDER: climate change, climate science
  • Tom Fuller

    Shall we revisit what Romm and his buddies were saying about Muller while we’re at it?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Et tu, Joe Romm?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Have you ever tried storify.com, Keith?

  • Keith Kloor

    Tom,

    Revkin covers that in his post. I’ve beat up enough on poor Joe the past few days. 

    Are your Watts defense reflexes kicking in? Nothing to say about that, since he’s a central character in this story.

  • kdk33

    Tempest in a teapot.

    Watts might not revel in the result, but I think his complain is the press release angle.  And he’s right.

  • Tom Gray

    Can we get back to the science and leave the tit for tat name calling politics behind.

    The real issue that Anthony Watts pointed out was that climate scientists were making statements for which they had no justification. They were using data from meteorological stations to make statements about global temperature. Unfortunately for these statements, they had no knowledge of the quality of individual measurement stations. and many stations were clearly not adequate to the task.

     

    That is the issue. Just what amount of credibility should one put in the collective pronouncements of climate scientists given that in this instance they have made pronouncements for which they had no knowledge of confounding factors. And just as importantly, showed no interest and even opposition to the work needed to resolve these confounding factors. Now consider this in relation to the mathematical blunders and ignorance displayed in widely cited climate science papers, the current issues with the make up of the IPCC etc. This all leans to a justified concern that climate science pronouncements do not justify the certainty with which they are made.

     

    Can we just leave all of this juvenile name calling behind and concentrate on a mature rational assessment of a potentially very serious problem

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Romm and Revkin both make the point that Muller’s attacks on climate scientists, like Mike Mann, were inappropriate. And they’re correct.

    The scientifically-interesting stuff about the BEST project (if, as Oppenheimer notes, it holds up) is really the least-relevant to the “skeptics” complaints.

    No one in the mainstream thought that- if the BEST analysis was done honestly- it would find something vastly different than NASA GISS, Hadley-CRU, NOAA, the various reanalyses, et al. in terms of the land-only mean, UHI, etc. In that sense, this is all a non-story.

    I think the person this reveals the most about isn’t Anthony Watts, who was more or less expected to 180 on his earlier vow, but rather Roger Pielke Sr. Pielke was spinning desperately for some way to downplay the results, claiming the data used weren’t independent of the other records so it’s not actually an independent test (in fact BEST used some 30,000+ “new” stations’ data, and in some of their analyses used samples only from the new stations).

    If all that BEST did was confirm (yet again) what we already knew, it would be a waste of time. Fortunately, the mythbusting is not all there is to it. Robert Rohde and the other people that contributed to the science end of the project deserve kudos for their work, and I am looking forward to their final product.

  • Tom Gray

    Now consider the fact shown in discussions on Climate Audit. Climate scientists (skeptical and consensus) are studying feedback in the climate system. However the idea of Bode plots is apparently unfamiliar to them (skeptical and consensus). The idea that delay/lags might be present in feedback is a matter of debate and not a fundamental part of how feedback works. This again does not lend credibility to the pronouncemnts of climate scientists (skeptical and consensus).

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @5 kdk33:
    I think his complain is the press release angle.  And he’s right.

    I’m not sure what he’s complaining about. Curry and other “skeptics” have taken to opening up their work to wider review before publication. Putting pre-publication drafts (and even sometimes doing press releases about them, e.g. superluminal neutrinos) online isn’t unheard of in physics, and that’s where many of the BESTies are from. It would be one thing if a) they weren’t inviting people to pick their work apart, and b) we didn’t already have multiple analyses and data sets already showing the same thing.

    Surely you can see how Watts looks from the perspective of those who remember him saying he would accept their results no matter what they were. Or those that remember his countless insinuations that the surface record was biased warm based on nothing but cherry-picked photos and blog posts.

  • sharper00

    #6

    “Can we just leave all of this juvenile name calling behind and concentrate on a mature rational assessment of a potentially very serious problem”

    Or in other words, can’t we please just focus on absolutely anything but the reality of the warming planet. Let’s all take lessons on the proper relationship between peer review and PR from the guy that publishes his conclusions through think tanks years before he gets around to writing a paper (which then reverses those conclusions). 

    Lest we forget Watts in Surface Temperature Records: Policy Driven Deceptions?

     “The startling conclusion that we cannot tell whether there was any significant “global warming” at all in the 20th century is based on numerous astonishing examples of manipulation and exaggeration of the true level and rate of “global warming”.
    That is to say, leading meteorological institutions in the USA and around the world have so systematically tampered with instrumental temperature data that it cannot be safely said that there has been any significant net “global warming” in the 20th century”

  • Eric Adler


    Tom Gray @6,
    In fact, a paper comparing Watts’ good and bad stations was published a long time ago, showing that there was no significant difference in the average temperature rise in the US.
    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2010/01/28/205416/watts-not-to-love-new-study-finds-the-poor-u-s-weather-stations-tend-to-have-a-slight-cool-bias-not-a-warm-one/
    Watts could have done this study, but chose not to. He preferred to list anecdotal evidence of bad stations, and charge that global warming was just a myth.
    Tom Gray @8
    This is really funny. You are trying to change the subject. Why?
    Pathetic!

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    The PR strategy might be suboptimal, but I think Keith is talking about the reactions of Watts, Morano et alii.  And he’s right to consider them instructive.

    Teapot in a tempest. 

  • Jeff

    Did Muller say anything bad about scientists other than what they did wrt Climategate?

    If so, anyone have a link?

  • Tom Fuller

    The chronology of this is being truncated. Cast your memory back to 1990 and a certain paper in Nature and let’s
    Examine the story and it’s characters anew.

  • kdk33

    TB,

    Watt’s complaint, as I read it, is that the results are being advertised to and through the media as finished work prior to peer review.  He has a legitimate complaint.  If you think not, then you must also cede that peer review really doesn’t mean much.

  • kdk33

    I have an idea.  Let’s everybody practice good manners today – the kind that mommy would approve. 

    It’s free, and it can’t hurt.
     

  • Keith Kloor

    @5
    You don’t see the hypocrisy of what Watts is charging? It pretty much jumped out at me right away and I’ll be writing a follow-up post on it.

    Meanwhile, TB (#9) nails it. 

  • Keith Kloor

    Tom,

    While both knees are popping out knee-jerk style, feel free to roll back the narrative to where you think it should begin, with links. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @15
    see @10 and link therein. the first rule of holes… 

  • hunter

    The BEST results are basically what I have noted for a long time: Trivial warming inflated into a nice way to make a living for those promoting the climate apocalypse.

  • kdk33

    Whether he’s being hypocritical is a different question – I don’t like it when people steal from me; it’s a legitimate complaint, my criminal past notwithstanding.

    If Watts has announced that he will not accept the results, I’m not aware of it, but I don’t follow WUWT too much.  If he agreed to accept the results assuming certain conditions that, in the end, weren’t met, maybe he can legitimately back off that claim (I don’t know that this is the case).  If memory serves, I think Watts initially supported the Best project, but this isn’t the first time he has complained.

    Regarding the press release angle, I think his complaint is legitimate.  Opinions may vary, but again I would ask, of what value then is peer review?

  • NewYorkJ

    tb (#7): Romm and Revkin both make the point that Muller’s attacks on climate scientists, like Mike Mann, were inappropriate.

    That Revkin did this is notable, and I agree with Gavin Schmidt’s take:

    GS: The only thing I would take issue with is the description of Muller as ‘brave’. It isn’t brave to slander people in many talks (including Jim) without having done the work required to justify such a claim. I do give him some credit with following the data as they emerged from their analysis (mostly from Rohde), but it would have been foolish not to. But this notion of a ‘prodigal scientist’ being braver than the people who worked out the answer before is not tenable.

    It’s much closer to re-inventing the wheel than any groundbreaking new research.

    As for Pielke Sr.’s views, they aren’t the least bit surprising.  Over at SkS, I asked him his view on some very specific claims made in the piece sharper00 linked to in #10, but received no reply.

    kdk33: Watt’s complaint, as I read it, is that the results are being advertised to and through the media as finished work prior to peer review.

    Ha ha ha ha ha!

  • sharper00

    #21

    “Whether he’s being hypocritical is a different question ““ I don’t like it when people steal from me; it’s a legitimate complaint, my criminal past notwithstanding.”

    Ah yes, please discuss let’s anything except the reality of a warming planet or Watts’ directly relevant hypocrisy on this topic. Let’s for the sake of argument have more of an argument because the alternative is to reach conclusions. Conclusions lead to actions so let’s dismiss anything that would prevent further argument.

    “If Watts has announced that he will not accept the results”

    Whether he does or does not, funnily enough a lot of his followers will walk away the impression he does not and little will be done to correct them.

  • http://amac1.blogspot.com/ AMac

    At first glance, the BEST results look informative. 

    IIRC, the Berkeley project had three main points. (Correct me where I’m wrong.)

    First, incorporate as much weather station data as possible, arranged so that sub-analyses could be done readily.  Among other things, this would allow apples-to-apples comparisons (e.g. BEST’s results if only high-quality/urban/etc stations are considered, vs. others’ anayses of same).

    Second, use a superior algorithm to account for data discontinuities, station moves, and the like.  The chosen approach has been endorsed by a diverse bunch of eggheads that includes Jeff Id, Tamino, and Roman M (ClimateAudit).

    Third, perform the work in an open and transparent manner, with both data and code available for others to verify and critique.

    I understand (from comments at Zeke Hausfather’s post at The Blackboard) that some folks have had difficulties in accessing data and/or code.  So #3 doesn’t seem to be fully checked off, yet.  I assume that this will be resolved in short order.

    “I don’t like the shape of the resulting curve” is a bogus criticism.  Let the chips fall where they may.  If there are deficiencies in the datasets or the code, they should be discussed — and I’ll bet they will be.  Though if the criticisms are only about data, the BEST project’s structure should allow the same algorithm to generate curves from “better” data (with “better” in the eye of the beholder).

    These findings and publications look like a significant step forward in understanding the temperature history of the past ~150 years, to me.

  • Eric

    While publishing pre-prints of submitted papers is common practice, especially in the physics community, it is not common, as far as I know, to coordinate a bunch of interviews with major media outlets and otherwise take steps to gin up a media frenzy about unpublished papers. It seems even crazier to do so for a paper that confirms long-known results! And finally, to have done so after going around giving talks disparaging the very scientists who’s work you have just confirmed is, to me, the height of arrogance.

  • Pingback: Is there any reason left to doubt global warming? | Climatide()

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @24 AMac:
    Third, perform the work in an open and transparent manner, with both data and code available for others to verify and critique.
    I understand (from comments at Zeke Hausfather’s post at The Blackboard) that some folks have had difficulties in accessing data and/or code.  So #3 doesn’t seem to be fully checked off, yet.  I assume that this will be resolved in short order.

    They released their code, but it hasn’t been cleaned up and made ready to work for someone outside of the project. That takes a non-trivial amount of work.

    I have the feeling that many “skeptics” (not you necessarily) don’t understand that demands for “code” entail quite a bit more effort than simply providing the code that was used in an analysis, but quite a bit more.

    The final public version of the code should be more or less “turnkey” and compatible with an open-source language (Octave, as the code is in Matlab). There are people ready and waiting to port it into R as well.

  • kdk33

    Sharper00, and NYJ,
    I very much appreciate your thoughtful responses…
     

  • Stu

    I certainly see a difference in hashing stuff out on blogs in an extended community type format, and making large pronouncements in the press and hoping things will continue to stack up after all of the i’s have been dotted and the t’s crossed. I think Watt’s objections are fair in this regard. However I agree with TB that the results already look to be uncontroversial (perhaps it also slipped Sherwood and Revkins mind that Watt’s own paper confirms warming). I also have little confidence that the changes that Watt’s requests will have a significant effect on the results. It seems like a done deal to me. 

     

  • grypo

    Actually no, Watts is not just limiting his criticisms to the “PR”.  He is directly saying:

    “Both [Fall et al. 2011 and Menne et al. 2010] (and cited by Muller et al) do an analysis over a thirty year time period while the Muller et al paper uses data for comparison from 1950 ““ 2010….I see this as a basic failure in understanding the limitations of the siting survey we conducted on the USHCN, rendering the Muller et al paper conclusions highly uncertain, if not erroneous….I consider the paper fatally flawed as it now stands, and thus I recommend it be removed from publication consideration by JGR until such time that it can be reworked.” 

  • NewYorkJ
  • Eric Adler

    KDK33 @21,
    The people, including Watts, who attack GISS, HADCRUT and NCDC records, which have published their methodology in the peer reviewed literature,  did not do it through peer reviewed papers.  They did it online through the blogosphere. It is interesting that you now consider this to be criminal behavior.  I think it is exercising freedom of speech.
    It will be interesting to see if Watts, or McIntyre, or people of that ilk,  have any substantial complaint about the methodology used by Rhode and the BEST group, that justifies their whining.
    Mullers findings only confirm what we knew before.   Over 1 1/2 years ago, a paper comparing good and bad stations showed there was no significant difference in  the annual average temperature record between Watts’ good and bad stations in the US.  Look at the link I provided  @11.
    Muller gave testimony to Congress and released a study of a 2% sample of his data on March 31 of this year, and Watts blew up at that time.
    When leaks of the content of the report surfaced a few days before the testimony appeared, Watts  falsely claimed that Muller wasn’t talking about a sample of the global record, but rather it was just data from Japan. He reasoned as follows:
    “That 2% subset they refer to is some weather stations in Japan. They chose Japan because it made for a compact insular test case for the code, combining rural, urban, and airport stations under one organization’s output to keep it simple.”
    When I pointed out this couldn’t be true, because the data was described as a random sample of global data,  Watts pooh-poohed me.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/22/the-not-evil-just-romm-2-solution/
    “I see you are immediately back to wasting everyone’s time here, so I’ll waste some of yours with some sarcasm.”
    He had to apologize to the public for getting it wrong a few days later, and said he was hard of hearing. He did not apologize to me for his remarks.
    Shortly therafter, he banned me from commenting on his web site. 
    It is a sad commentary on the intelligence of the public that Watts has so many followers.

     

  • kdk33

    Eric,

    Would you please point to where in my comments I referred to this behavior as “criminal”. 

    I said Watts has a legitimate complaint regarding the press release angle. You seem to agree in #25.  I don’t know if he is being hypocritical or not, and it is a different question. 

    I also think it is a tempest in a teapot for the reasons already enunciated – specifically, I don’t think many skeptics doubt that there has been warming, so this changes the debate… not much.

    With all due repsect, I don’t see the point of your #31.

  • Howard

    Watts is mostly upset that his paper cited by BEST contains a typo (Fell, 2010 instead of Fall, 2010) where he documents the email-trail of notification and the lack of a correction.  Watts is celebrating his inner teenage girl while bleating about it on Curry’s blog

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/20/berkeley-surface-temperatures-released/#comment-124977

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33 @33
    You said previously,
    “Whether he’s being hypocritical is a different question ““ I don’t like it when people steal from me; it’s a legitimate complaint, my criminal past notwithstanding.”
    It seems to me you describe as criminal behavior, the  making scientific statements outside prior to the publication of a peer reviewed paper. 
    I am ecouraged,  however that you see Watts as a hypocrite.

  • Tom Fuller

    Sorry Keith, probably won’t have time today. I’ll just briefly note that Phil Jones’ 1990 paper minimized the implications of the urban heat island effect and estimated it at 0.05C. But his paper was based on stations of uncertain provenance, especially in China.

    He wouldn’t release his data on request, because he thought the only reason people were asking for it was to find something wrong with it. Eventually in 2005(?), he published a study that showed that something was indeed wrong with it, upping his estimate of UHI to 0.3-0.5(?) (Somebody help me with the right numbers, please).

    Because of the surface stations project (and other factors–it certainly wasn’t Anthony’s group alone), the real implications of the urban heat island were recalculated to about 10 times Jones’ original figure. Which is what BEST basically has confirmed.

    It isn’t enough to change our thinking about global warming–not enough of the earth’s surface is land, let alone urban. But it does bend the curve down quite a bit–closer to reality, actually.

    What Anthony is complaining about is process, not science. He’d be better off (in your eyes at least) if he did not. He’s probably correct on about half of what is ticking him off right now. 

    But you are taking his complaints about the publishing and PR process and conflating it with criticism of the science. I haven’t seen that yet, but point me to where I’m wrong.

    We have better science available to us today because of what Anthony Watts did with his surface station project. He is wrong frequently, hot-headed almost as often as I am, and over-reaches. We still owe him and the surface station project a debt. Obviously that doesn’t last forever. But for me it is still operative. 

  • kdk33

    Eric,

    I’m afraid you are reading something into that passage that is not their.  Everything after the hyphn is simply meant to illustrate that being hypocritical is irreleveant to whether or not he has a legitimate complaint. 

    You seem to agree with me in #25.  Was I mistaken?

    Nowhere did I say Watts was a hypocrit.

  • Keith Kloor

    Leslie Kaufman in the NYT has a new piece just up, titled “Climate Study does not placate skeptics.” Excerpt:

    Similarly, Steven Mosher, a co-author of “Climategate: The Crutape letters,” a book critical of climate scientists, was not inclined to give his seal of approval, saying that the study still lacked transparency. “I’m not happy until the code is released and released in a language that people can use freely,” he said. 

  • Tom Fuller

    Mosher just wants it all in R so he doesn’t have to work as hard.

  • Tom Fuller

    If you’ve been following this since the creation of BEST, Mosher (and others) have been saying all along that the results would be exactly what was released yesterday.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    “it does bend the curve down quite a bit”“closer to reality”

    Tom can you clarify what you mean by ‘quite a bit’ in this context?

  • Tom Fuller

    Have a drink, Marlowe.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    too early for that Tom :-)

  • hunter

    It is always 5:30pm someplace….. ;^)

  • Barry Woods

    THe press response has been disapointingly simplistic..
    Ie the earth has warmed in the last 150 years, the sceptics are wrong..

    Find me ANYONE I know that argues that the earth hasn’t warmed in the last 150 years.. That has NOT been the point, except in the eyes and pre-conceptions of the AGW proponennts..

    Taking a look at the one of the papers (not the press release).. this is perhaps of interest:
    http://www.berkeleyearth.org/Resources/Berkeley_Earth_Decadal_Variations

    If the long-­”term AMO changes have been driven by greenhouse gases then the AMO region may serve as a positive feedback that amplifies the effect of greenhouse gas forcing over land.

    On the other hand, some of the long-­”term change in the AMO could be driven by natural variability, e.g. fluctuations in thermohaline flow. In that case the human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated.

    ——————–

    So all this paper has done, is confirmed the world has warmed, ALL serious sceptics would agree with that, and it shows decadal oscillations and coolin and warming trends within that period, again nothing new..

    But somehow, this is being trumpeted as sceptics are wrong?

    No causation has been shown, just that the earth has wamred.. we know that !!

  • Tom Fuller

    Barry, were you expecting the press to get up to speed overnight on this issue? They are happy to paint with a broad brush, and you actually can navigate to something close to the truth using their stories, if you try hard enough.

  • Fred

    The real controversy in this area is about the causes of warming observed and much less about the extent of changes observed.  This makes Muller’s results yawn inspiring.  Also, Muller’s findings appear to show a greater correlation between temperature and the Atlantic Deacdal Oscillation and temperature rather than with CO2. 
    I understand that a lot of people are desperate to “prove” the AGW hypothesis, but Muller’s results are mute as to the cause of any observed warming.
    After all those billions spent on climate research still no evidence that increased CO2 can cause harmful warming.
     

  • huxley

    By the topic title apparently this post is about Anthony Watt rather than the BEST project itself.

    To me the story is science proceeding on as it should. Data is collected. Objections are raised. Data is improved. Yay.

    Assuming the BEST work holds up, this is good news, no?

  • sharper00

    #45

    “Find me ANYONE I know that argues that the earth hasn’t warmed in the last 150 years.. That has NOT been the point, except in the eyes and pre-conceptions of the AGW proponennts..”

    I quoted Anthony Watts and Joe D’aleo in comment #10 of this post claiming it was impossible to tell if it had warmed or not due to the systematic manipulation of the temperature record. 

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @45 Barry Woods:
    Find me ANYONE I know that argues that the earth hasn’t warmed in the last 150 years..

    A majority of self-identified Republicans (51%) and Tea Partiers (59%) believe that there is no solid evidence the Earth has warmed. That’s not from an old poll from 1995, it’s from a month ago.

    Taking a look at the one of the papers (not the press release).. this is perhaps of interest:

    Why is that “of interest”? Other than you think it casts some doubt on the reality of anthropogenic warming, that is.

  • Barry Woods

    should have been more specific.. i know !!!

    i don’t know any tea partiers, refering to scepitical bloggers…. 

  • Tom Fuller

    The Tea Partiers are taking a political stance on a scientific issue. These are the people who didn’t believe Barack Obama was born in the United States. And I’m not even arguing that they are stupid–I’ll bet their IQ profile closely matches the country as a whole.

    An issue provides them the chance to take a position. They take the position. They don’t look at the science at all. 

  • huxley

    thingsbreak @ 50: A Yale study from last month shows 34% and 53%:
    Q47. Recently, you may have noticed that global warming has been getting some attention in the news.
    Global warming refers to the idea that the world’s average temperature has been increasing over the
    past 150 years, may be increasing more in the future, and that the world’s climate may change as a
    result. What do you think? Do you think that global warming is happening?

                        Y    N    DK
    Republicans  53   34   18
    Tea Partiers  34   53   13

  • sharper00

    In addition to the Watts quote above “Steve Goddard” regularly does “No warming in location X” posts on his blog. Does he outright claim the globe hasn’t warmed in the 20th century? I don’t know but he spends a good chunk of time arguing there’s no warming in various places and heavily implies it.

    Fred Singer regularly claims “hide the decline” refers to a real decline in temperatures from the 60s which was hidden by scientists for example:

    “The UEA e-mails tell us of attempts to “hide the decline” (of temperature) using “Mike [Mann]’s Nature trick.” 
    […]
    “Fortunately for climate alarmists, the upturned “blade” of the hockey stick is still there, showing rapidly rising temperatures over the past thirty years — thanks to the valiant efforts of Prof. Phil Jones. We are breathlessly waiting for expert scrutiny of his methods of selecting data from thousands of weather stations to arrive at a single number for “global temperature.” Perhaps Jones will reveal the algorithms he devised to “adjust and correct” the raw data. But unfortunately, he did not save the original temperature records; as the saying goes, “The dog ate them.”
    […]
    “Beyond this, the “Climategate” e-mails released in November 2009 put Mann at the center of an international conspiracy to manipulate the temperature data that form the basis of worldwide political action (including by the U.S. Congress) to “combat climate change.” We also learned that the same group of scientists actively urged the deletion of any e-mails that might implicate them in this conspiracy to “hide the decline” of temperatures that were supposed to be rising. Unfortunately, the Post editorial ignores these relevant facts.”

    Arguing that “The planet isn’t warming” is not a serious position put forward by a lot of skeptics requires either some type of “No true Scotsman” fallacy or a lot of sticking fingers in ears.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @53 huxley:
    Thanks.

  • huxley

    sharper00 @ 54: I can see how you might construe the second bolded quote from Singer as a real decline, but I think he is just quoting Phil  Jones’s Climategate language.

    Elsewhere Singer makes clear that he does believe in global warming:

    “The most fundamental question is scientific: Is the observed warming of the past 30 years due to natural causes or are human activities a main or even a contributing factor?”

  • sharper00

    huxley,

    Since climategate Singer has repeatedly argued that “hide the decline” refers to a real decline in temperatures that was hidden by Jones et all

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/19/fred-singer-on-the-best-project/

    “However, the most serious revelation from the e-mails is that they tried to “hide the decline” in temperatures, using various “tricks” in order to keep alive a myth of rising temperatures in support of the dogma of anthropogenic global warming.” 

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/03/singer-on-climategate-parliamentary-inquiry/

    “So what do the e-mails really reveal?  We know that Jones and his gang tried and largely succeeded in “hiding the decline” of temperature by using what he termed “Mike’s [Mann] Nature trick.”  Most people think it refers to CRU tree ring data after 1960, which do show a decline in temperature.  However, I believe that it refers to Michael Mann’s “trick” in hiding the fact that his multi-proxy data did not show the expected warming after 1979.  So he abruptly cut off his analysis in 1979 and simply inserted the thermometer data supplied by Jones, which do claim a strong temperature increase.  Hence the hockey-stick, suggesting a sudden major warming during the past century.”
    Only a thorough scientific investigation will be able to document that there was no strong warming after 1979, that the instrumented warming record is based on data manipulation, involving the selection of certain weather stations, [and the de-selection of others that showed no warming], plus applying insufficient corrections for local heating.” 

    Whether Singer is consistent with his own statements or not (probably not) you have to stretch a long way to avoid interpreting him as arguing that the warming was not purely a matter of manipulation and that it was used to hide declining temperatures. 

  • NewYorkJ

    And elsewhere, Andrew Dessler this week on Fred Singer…

    I find it amusing that the skeptics now claim that NO ONE ever doubted the Earth is warming. In fact, Fred Singer give a lecture to my senior-level climate change class TODAY (about 10 hours ago) via Skype and during it he flatly declared that the warming since the mid-1970s was, to use his exact word, fake. I checked to make sure that I had not misunderstood him, and he was quite clear about it. And I have 50 witnesses that will attest to this. So some skeptics clearly do still contest whether the Earth is warming.

    http://community.nytimes.com/comments/dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/20/skeptic-talking-point-melts-away-as-an-inconvenient-physicist-confirms-warming/?permid=66#comment66

    As WC would say, Singer had “gone emeritus” long ago, but consistency isn’t exactly a common trait of deniers.

    I’m also wondering if at least some small part of Watts wants to axe the link in #10 entirely at this point, and maybe all those Fox News interviews.  Admitting his past claims were a bunch of nonsense (as any climate scientist could tell you long before the Muller project) would do.

  • huxley

    Hmm. Here’s a PBS interview with Singer from 2000. He makes a distinction between surface and satellite temperature readings:

    But since 1979, our best measurements show that the climate has been cooling just slightly. Certainly, it has not been warming.

    The surface record, however, continues to go up.

    The surface record continues to go up. But you have to be very careful with the surface record. It is taken with thermometers that are mostly located in or near cities. And as cities expand, they get warmer. And therefore they affect the readings. And it’s very difficult to eliminate this–what’s called the urban heat island effect. So I personally prefer to trust in weather satellites.

  • sharper00

    huxley,

    It’s not simply the case that Singer has made ambiguous statements in 2010 and 2011 which can be clarified with reference to earlier statements. Singer of pre-2009 contradicts Singer of post-2009 to be sure but his statements and arguments are not ambiguous: He clearly and plainly states the temperature record has been manipulated to introduce warming that just isn’t there.

    Your reference to him in 2000 doesn’t help your case in any event. At the time there was a flaw in the UAH temperature record which introduced a cooling bias, when it was corrected it showed warming similar to the surface temperature record. Singer is making a distinction between “reliable – shows cooling” and “unreliable – shows warming”.

    In other words Singer has a consistent pattern of using anything he can find to argue that warming just isn’t happening at all. 

  • NewYorkJ

    Satellites don’t show cooling since 1979, although they may have in the late 90’s.  There’s far less discrepancy between surface and satellite these days.  Since the late 90’s, satellite problems were identified and corrected (orbital decay & diurnal drift being big ones), and numerous studies, including Muller’s, have shown UHI to be of little impact on the global surface products.  So this, and Singer’s more recent comments, seems to be further indication that “gone emeritus” is a fitting description for him.  Science moves in one direction.  Singer and the deniers move the other way.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33 @ 37
    Post number 25 is by a different Eric. It is not me.
     

  • Michael Larkin

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    Keith, Anthony Watts says:

    “The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature analysis methodology is new, and may yield some new and potentially important results on siting effects once the appropriate time period comparisons are made. I welcome the BEST effort provided that appropriate time periods are used that match our work.”

    However, they didn’t use appropriate time periods: they used 60 years when they should have used 30 years if the results were to allow comparisons with Menne et al. and Fell et al. Before 1979, it was difficult to be sure about station sitings, which is why the 30-year period was chosen.

    How can anyone accept conclusions drawn when the comparisons made aren’t like-for-like? To do so would be an error in logic.

    In the view of some, even in comments on his own blog, Anthony offered a hostage to fortune based on a naive trust in Muller et al. One or two even warned him when he said he’d accept the results that he would get outmanoeuvred and end up with egg on his face. And sure enough, they were right.

    If Anthony is guilty of something, it may only be of naiveté.

  • Michael Larkin

    Apologies – I composed my posting in Word and some of the formatting seems to have got carried over during C&P.

  • huxley

    It’s not simply the case that Singer has made ambiguous statements…
    sharper00: That’s why I said “Hmm,” which I suppose is also ambiguous. At this point I’m not clear what Singer’s position is over time or with respect to what or whether it adds up.

  • Keith Kloor

    Nice round-up by Charlie Petit.

  • http://rankexploits.com/musings/ Zeke Hausfather

    Tom Fuller,

    It may behove you to reread the BEST UHI paper. They find that te difference between very rural and not very rural stations is a rather small -0.019 C +/- 0.019 C per decade. This means that they actually found that rural stations warm faster than more urban stations, which is indeed an odd result, though the error bars cross zero.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    sharper00,

    You may be forgetting that Pat J. Michaels, Ph. D., said in 2008 at the Heartland Internation Conference on Climate Change:

    > Make an argument that you can killed on and you can kill us all.

    One can listen to this line at around 2:45 there:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwnrpwctIh4

    At the time this video was made, Pat J. Michaels seems of the opinion that it would be unhelpful to claim that there is no warming.   Are you suggesting that Singer, I believe a mentor and good friend of Michaels, would make such unhelpful claim?

  • kdk33

    Eric,

    Very well  then, We shall return to disagreeing.

    BTW, I’ve looked over the Texas drought data you posted on the “clmate fade thread”.  We will also disagree there.  I explain why in the last (currently) comment.

  • EdG

    Hmmm.

    “Instead, BEST chose a model that is much more simplistic than even AR(1), a model which allows essentially no structure in the time series. In particular, the model that BEST adopted assumes that this year has no effect on next year. That assumption is clearly invalid on climatological grounds. It is also easily seen to be invalid on statistical grounds. Hence the conclusions of the statistical analysis done by BEST are unfounded.”
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/21/a-mathematicians-response-to-best/#more-49696
     

  • hunter

    @Tom 52-
    Do you think that any other groups just maybe latch onto politics and ignore science? BTW, I know very few people who actually bought into the birther stuff.

  • sharper00

    #68

     “Are you suggesting that Singer, I believe a mentor and good friend of Michaels, would make such unhelpful claim?”

    His position appears to be similar to Watts and D’aleo in #10 – that the surface record is corrupt and unreliable thus it’s not possible to say there’s warming. He appears to infer cooling from a supposition that scientists wouldn’t corrupt the record if it already showed warming.

  • kdk33

    Tom #52,

    The tea party does not have a “position” on global warming, or the place of BHO’s birth – as you very well know.

    Low taxes, fiscal responsibility, small government, free markets. Repeat after me:  low taxes, fiscal responsibility, small government, free markets.  Low taxes…

  • huxley

    @52, 71

    People “vote” their politics or other beliefs all the time when answering poll questions. It’s easy to make almost any group look stupid by digging up the right poll.

    Here’s a comparison of truthers vs birthers polls. Not surprisingly, far more Democrats agree or are unsure that Bush allowed the 9/11 attacks than Republicans.

    Personally I find the truther position far more idiotic and malign than the birther.

  • NewYorkJ

    Pew research poll:
    Among Republican registered voters who agree with the Tea Party, fully 70% do not think there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth is warming.
    Typically polls show 30-40% of tea partiers believe that Obama was probably or definitely born in the U.S., a little lower than tea partiers who believe Medicare isn’t worth the costs.

    huxley (#74),

    Note the birther percentage among Republicans is considerably higher than the truther percentage among Democrats.  It would be interesting to see the overlap of birthers, truthers, and global warming deniers.  Some people are just conspiratorial by nature.  Truthers and global warming deniers are united in their tendency to be very untrusting of government.  Further similar qualities are when you show them evidence of something, they dismiss it out of hand or claim the evidence is fudged.

    Where there isn’t overlap, conspiratorial beliefs generally derive from various ideologies and partisanship.  Truther stuff originated from anti-war and to some extent anti-Bush sentiment.  Birther beliefs originate from some combination of anti-Democrat partisanship, anti-Obama sentiment, racism, belief that Obama is a “socialist” or Muslim or what not.  Global warming denial often originates from fear of big bad government infringing on personal freedoms, and there’s a tendency to want to dismiss the problem, or grossly inflate the costs of taking action.

  • Ed Forbes


    LoL”¦the nits I see being picked”¦
    .
    Facts that we know:
    .
    1. It was colder in the mid 1800’s (LIA) than today
    .
    2. It was warmer in the 1930’s than the 1970’s
    .
    3. Temps from about 2000 to date have been pretty flat
    .
    4. Because of the rise in temp between the 1970’s and about 2000, some say the rise in temp is due to CO2.
    .
    The argument is mostly over what date one starts the line on the graph. Start it in 1850’s or 1975 and the world is coming to an end. Start it in 1930’s and people shrug.
     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > Start it in 1930″²s and people shrug.

    I’m sure Atlas would. 

  • Eric Adler

    Ed Forbes @76
    “The argument is mostly over what date one starts the line on the graph. Start it in 1850″²s or 1975 and the world is coming to an end. Start it in 1930″²s and people shrug.”
    You are totally wrong on a global basis. In the US the 1930’s rivaled the temperatures in the beginning of the 21st century, but that was a regional phenomenon. I the global average temperature the 21st century temperatures are warmer by far.
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/
    How you can be so confused about such a basic point,  with all of the posts you have made, and posts that you have read on the topic of global temperatuer is a real mystery.

  • huxley

    Note the birther percentage among Republicans is considerably higher than the truther percentage among Democrats.

    NewYorkJ @ 75: True, but consider which is the wackier, more outrageous “” trutherism or birtherism?

    Al-Qaeda admitted upfront that they were responsible for 9-11 and even defended that claim just this past month against Iran’s “truthers.” IMO it’s sad for any American to be so partisan to assume that a President would allow the horrific 9-11 attacks to happen.

    Birtherism is the belief or suspicion that the most secretive candidate in recent American history, who has concealed all his records and whom the media barely vetted, might not have born in Hawaii. It’s not a bizarre speculation that a politician might hide his birth certificate for a reason. For the record, we still have not seen a legal paper copy.

    Likewise the belief that Obama is a socialist or a Muslim gets into arguable gray areas. There is no question that he has spent much time with and expressed sympathy for hard leftists and Muslims than the average American.

    I could argue that he is a Muslim because I’ll bet that while he was a child in Indonesia he recited the Shahada (see wiki) with sincerity at least once. Technically that is all you need to do become a Muslim and such a conversion is irreversible.

  • Keith Kloor

    Huxley (79)

    I could argue that you are a wizard, because I’ll bet that while you were a child, you believed in the tooth fairy at least once, and that is all you need technically to become a wizard believing person.

    Please, where do you get this stuff? Did you miss the news about Trump and Obama (who happened to be giving the go-ahead to take out Bin Laden) the same day he was eviscerating Trump for this nonsense.

     

  • huxley

    Keith @ 81: Don’t recall saying that I was a wizard. What are your specific objections?

  • Keith Kloor

    huxley, I know you didn’t. (I said I could argue it.) I don’t recall Obama saying he was a Muslim, either.

  • huxley

    Keith @ 82: And I never said Obama said he was a Muslim as an adult. I was making a different argument and I didn’t say I believed it either.
    If you want to get into the weeds with this we can, but I’m not attached to this stuff.

    My point was that the beliefs about who Obama really is aren’t as bizarre and outrageous as believing that President Bush allowed al-Qaeda to smash four jet liners into three of our most important buildings and kill approximately 3000 people.

  • Tom Fuller

    Aww, Huxley… c’mon. You make sense on other things…

  • huxley

    Tom: I make sense here too. But I notice I’m only getting ridicule instead of clear specific questions or objections.

  • Eric Adler

    Barry Woods @45
    You are ignoring the evidence of causation in your post. There are a number of different phenomena that strongly indicate global warming is due to GHG’s.
    GHG’s are increasing.
    The temperatures are warming at night and in the winter time.
    The stratosphere is cooling.
    The spectrum of escaping radiation shows less radiation escaping at the CO2  and CH4 absorption absorption lines.
    The height of the tropopause is increasing.
    Down-welling radiation is increasing.
    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/08/10/286691/global-warming-graphic/
     

  • Eric Adler

    Huxley, @85
    The percentage  of people who believe Bush purposely crashed planes into the Pentagon and WTC was  3.8% based on the Zogby poll in 2007.
    A recent poll found that 45% of Republicans believe Obama was not born in the US.
    What is the point of throwing up an conspiracy theory no one believes in,  in order to argue that the theory, that Obama was not born in the US, which 45% of Republicans believe is somehow not outlandish? Reality doesn’t cut any ice with such people.  
    In fact, Obama has shown his birth certificate which was issued by the state of Hawaii.  Political bias rather then facts are driving the beliefs of a large fraction of the Republican party.

  • Ed Forbes

    Eric #78:  In the US the 1930″²s rivaled the temperatures in the beginning of the 21st century, but that was a regional phenomenon. I the global average temperature the 21st century temperatures are warmer by far.

    Eric, Threre are issue with your statement, but for discussion I will stipulate that the above is true.    How does this address my points in #76 ?

    Do you disagree that the 30’s and 40’s were warmer than the mid / late 70’s? 

  • Ed Forbes

    ok…2 posts went to byte heaven. Will try again later. good night

  • Barry Woods

    With respect to birthers…. 

    so what…. who cares.. why have the law in the first place!

    Isn’t the American dream, a land of immigrants, that an immigrant should be able to aspire to the presidency…

    A silly law, that the president has to be born there.. 

    (then again… ‘the terminitor for president’ – forget every thing I just said ;-) !!!!)

  • Eric Adler

    Ed Forbes @76
    “The argument is mostly over what date one starts the line on the graph. Start it in 1850″²s or 1975 and the world is coming to an end. Start it in 1930″²s and people shrug.”
    If you claim the argument about whether AGW or “natural causes” depends on the starting date the, because global warming seems to have plateaued for while between 1930’s and 1975, you are also wrong. It is an argument that is based on ignorance.
      Your statement implicitly assumes that AGW or natural cycles could be the only factor outside of GHG’s. You are neglecting the cooling effects of sulfate aerosals which increased radically as a result of rapid industrialization in Europe and the US in the wake of WW2, and subsequently decreased as regulations begun in the ’70’s reduced sulfate pollution. The fact that sulfate aerosols were an issue in this era has been known for a long time.
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/aerosol.htm




     

  • harrywr2

    Barry Woods Says:
    October 24th, 2011 at 4:05 am
    A silly law, that the president has to be born there..
    Unfortunately or fortunately it is not a ‘law’ it is a constitutional requirement. Substantially less silly then having a constitutional requirement that only members of a single family can be the formal head of ones government.

  • Ed Forbes

    Eric #91 :  It is an argument that is based on ignorance.

    Too funny…that is the the argument used by the IPPC. Generaly…They can think of nothing else that could affect temps than CO2 so it must be CO2.  

    Eric: Your statement implicitly assumes that AGW or natural cycles could be the only factor outside of GHG’s.

    Again too funny….you assume that it is not natural cycles. I can show a long list of natural cycles in just the last 7000 yrs. You pin your argument on 1/2 of a cycle.  As I can show a long progression of natural cycles, it is up to you to supply overwhelming prof that it is NOT a natural cycle. And proof does not exist. Lots of hand waving and conjecture, but no proof.
      

    Love this graph from the 70’s

    [IMG]http://i719.photobucket.com/albums/ww195/eforbes100/NewsWeek-coolingworld.png[/IMG]

  • huxley

    Eric Adler @ 88: Thanks for attempting to present a reasonable response, unlike KK and TF who only offered sputter and ridicule, but you miss my argument as well.

    For the third time…

    I was originally replying to NewYorkJ who said that there were more birther Republicans than truther Democrats. My counter was to agree but note that the truther position (Bush allowed the 9/11 attacks) was far wackier and more monstrous than the birther position (Obama was not born in the US or unsure).

    My implication is that Democrats have nothing to brag about in the truther vs. birther matchup.

    It’s somewhat like saying that fewer Democrats believe the moon is made of green cheese than Republicans who believe that NASA never went to the moon.

    Also, a PDF does not constitute a legal copy of a birth certificate and it remains a mystery why Obama has kept his birth certificate — an ordinary document for most of us — under such tight security.

    As I said to Keith, this discussion goes off into the weeds and it’s not a discussion that I care much about. However, if I am ridiculed for making this argument I will press on.

  • Eric Adler

    Ed Forbes @93,
    You are talking nonsense with your claim that an assumption is made that natural cycles are not the cause. Your description is totally wrong.
    The models that are used contain known  climate forcing factors, natural as well as anthropogenic,  and they try to reproduce past climate using them. This does not constitute an argument from ignorance.
    It turns out that without the GHG increases due to human activity, the models can’t account for the evolution of global temperature.
    In addition the fingerprints of GHG increases are present in the detailed analysis of climate as I pointed out @86.
    You haven’t dealt with that argument at all. You are simply recycling old arguments that have been refuted.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-natural-cycle.htm



     

  • Eric Adler

    Huxley @94,
    The official copy of the birth certificate is held by the state of Hawaii. Do you need to go to Hawaii to  see it for yourself; because a photocopy, which  is what a PDF constitutes, is not good enough for you? Maybe the state of Hawaii is holding a forgery. How could you tell?  What is your reason for doubting the copy is not genuine?
    Even if Obama was born abroad, his mother was born a US citizen; and he is therefore a US citizen by birth. McCain was actually born abroad. His qualifications to be president were not questioned by Democrats.
    Let’s face it. A large part of the Republican Party invents its own reality, which bears little resemblance to the real world.
     

  • Eric Adler

    Huxley,
    @84 you said,
    “If you want to get into the weeds with this we can, but I’m not attached to this stuff.”
    So explain why you comment  that the PDF Obama displayed may not be real, and he may have some reason to keep the original under tight security.
    You seem to be very attached to justifying the rationality of the “birthers”.

  • Ed Forbes

    Eric #85 “You haven’t dealt with that argument at all. You are simply recycling old arguments that have been refuted.”
    .
    LoL… and you point to SkS to “refute” me…..too funny. We could get into dueling posts. You use SkS and I will use CA…may the best site win !!!
    .
    But you having not dealt with my posted argument, let us get back on track to what I posted and that I notice that you just skipped over.

    .
    “The argument is mostly over what date one starts the line on the graph. Start it in 1850″²s or 1975 and the world is coming to an end. Start it in 1930″²s and people shrug.”

    .
    The statement says NOTHING about attribution. What causes the warming seen since the mid 1800’s is irrelevant to this post. What is relevant is how much we need to worry about the minor amount of warming seen so far and, if trends continue (straight line on a wave function!!!… lol), what we will likely expect over the next number of years.

  • Eric Adler

    Ed Forbes,
    “The statement says NOTHING about attribution. What causes the warming seen since the mid 1800″²s is irrelevant to this post. What is relevant is how much we need to worry about the minor amount of warming seen so far and, if trends continue (straight line on a wave function!!!”¦ lol), what we will likely expect over the next number of years.”
    Once again you counter with nonsense and misstate the issue.   No one is worried about the amount of warming seen so far, or what we likely expect over the next couple of years.  It is the long term 50 or 100 years that we are worried about, and attribution of the source of the warming is key to understanding what is going to happen.
    If some kind of ocean cycle is responsible for the temperature increase, we can expect it to reverse itself. If anthropogenic GHG’s are causing it, we can expect the increase in temperature to continue indefinitely or even accelerate as new feedback mechanisms are triggered, and it is a real cause for concern.

  • huxley

    The official copy of the birth certificate is held by the state of Hawaii. Do you need to go to Hawaii to  see it for yourself; because a photocopy, which  is what a PDF constitutes, is not good enough for you?

    Eric Adler @ 96:

    No, the state of Hawaii holds the official birth certificate — not a copy. You and I can obtain a legal copy from our birth states and that will be a piece of paper. As I said, a PDF is not a legal copy.

    Try using a PDF for your birth certificate, driver’s license or social security, and see how far you get.

    I explained why I went into the weeds on this three times. Not doing it again.

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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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