Dahlia Lithwick Trashes Cuccinelli's Attack on Climate Research

By Chris Mooney | May 5, 2010 3:35 pm

I missed this late yesterday in Slate, but it is priceless. Among other things, Lithwick shows that Cuccinelli’s investigation holds no benefit for Virginia taxpayers:

State Sen. Donald McEachin estimates that the Cuccinelli lawsuit will cost Virginia taxpayers between $250,000 and $500,000 if it goes all the way to the Supreme Court. Spending half a million dollars of taxpayer funds to possibly recover some part of half a million dollars of misspent grant money doesn’t even begin to make sense.

But it’s not just Mann on the hook here. “With a weapon like this in Cuccinelli’s hands, any faculty member at a public university in Virginia has got to be thinking twice about doing politically controversial research or communicating with other scholars about it,” says Rachel Levinson, senior counsel with the American Association of University Professors. UVA environmental science professor Howard Epstein, a former colleague of Mann’s, puts it this way: “Who is going to want to be on our faculty when they realize Virginia is the state where the A.G. investigates climate scientists?” If researchers are really afraid to do cutting-edge research in Virginia, the state’s flagship university is in enormous trouble.

Well, yeah. But is UVA standing up for itself and its scientists? Two important new points from Lithwick’s piece are 1) even many of Mann’s critics think Cuccinelli is going way too far and 2) UVA is not defending itself, or scientific inquiry, strenuously enough. On the latter point:

In March, when Cuccinelli tried to revoke legal protections for its gay workers, UVA responded with outrage. University President John Casteen said that he was “alarmed” by Cuccinelli’s reading of the state anti-discrimination laws and that the attorney general’s letter “cuts to the core of our common claims to the most fundamental kinds of personal security under the rule of law.” About the Mann investigation, thus far what we have heard from the university is muted. UVA has “a legal obligation to answer this request and it is our intention to respond to the extent required by law,” said Carol Wood, a UVA spokeswoman. Well, yes. But it’s probably time to point out that harassing the faculty for thousands of 10-year-old e-mails from a respected former colleague cuts to the core of intellectual and academic freedom as well.

Yes indeed. The University of Virginia is a massive institution and not without power. It should defend itself, and its scientists, much more vigorously.

Comments (48)

  1. Nullius in Verba

    Well, from a political point of view, this probably has more to do with Cuccinelli’s fight with the EPA than it does the $0.4m grant money. The EPA regulations are probably going to cost the state a lot more.

    But you could make the same argument about prosecuting anybody for petty theft. Steal $10 from the till, and the subsequent investigations and prosecutions will cost thousands. The problem is, if you don’t prosecute stealing $10 from the till, then lots of people will steal $10 from the till. Lots x $10 = $Lots.

    However, all the other faculty members can relax. It’s not making statements that are controversial, or that the government doesn’t likes, or that turn out to be wrong that is the problem.

    It is reporting results that you already know are wrong, when you’re being paid by the state to get them right. And hopefully, few to none of the academics there are doing that. You don’t have to conform, just be honest.

  2. ChrisD

    @Nullius in Verba #1

    It is reporting results that you already know are wrong, when you’re being paid by the state to get them right.

    In point of fact, you have no idea why the demands were issued, since Cuccinelli hasn’t said.

    One does wonder, though, if Cuccinelli would be doing the same thing if this involved, say, the science of kissing. One can hazard a guess.

  3. Josh

    It is reporting results that you already know are wrong, when you’re being paid by the state to get them right. And hopefully, few to none of the academics there are doing that. You don’t have to conform, just be honest.

    And Mann has already been cleared by an ethics panel, establishing that he did not. There is intellectual dishonesty going about, but it isn’t being done by Mann, or the majority of fellow climate researchers. You may hold whatever opinion you choose, but there are one set of facts, and you aren’t using them.

  4. moptop

    We all know that trillions of dollars are NOT at stake based on the “science of kissing.”

  5. ChrisD

    Gotta love how that “trillions of dollars” number is casually tossed around as though it were an actual fact.

    But perhaps I’m too harsh. After all, those numbers do come from economists and other financial types, and, for heaven’s sake, we know they’re never wrong.

  6. I do not think anyone, even a devote climate skeptic, should be happy about the behavior of Cuccinelli. Polluting science with a social agenda is what started the climate problem in the first
    place. Although it is good that the climate cult is being stopped
    before doing irreversible damage to our personal liberties and livelihoods, making climate scientists wear a scarlet “C”
    isn’t going to help prevent such problems in the future. Let scientists be judged for there misbehavior in the court of public opinion. Punishing a scientist for advocating a certain worldview, even if it conflicts with your own, is not the way to handle this.

  7. Dan

    That Mann’s research stands largely unaltered after the myriad of witch hunts to which it has been subjected, is a testament to its legitimacy. He has been cleared so many times by so many different tribunals from so many different countries that to go after him again is beyond absurd and willfully ignorant. And what a shameful waste of the state’s resources and clear case of political grandstanding by it’s A.G.

  8. Nullius in Verba

    “He has been cleared so many times by so many different tribunals…”

    His work was found to be flawed by every tribunal that actually examined the scientific evidence. All the other tribunals were carefully scoped to avoid controversial areas – or in at least one case, the chairman of the enquiry changed the scope he was given without telling anybody he was doing so, resulting in great confusion amongst the panel when one of the witnesses put up a slide with the original scope listed on it. That’s the level of honesty we’re dealing with here.

    But at the end of the day, you can have as many enquiries as you like to declare that 2+2 = 5 and there’s nothing to see here, but the facts are the facts, and mathematics is unaffected by opinion. Mann used biased methods that extracted a spurious correlation, the statistical tests proved it, and Mann hid the fact that his methods were non-standard, that the verification tests had been failed, and that he had known it for years. Even after it had been found out, and published in the peer-reviewed literature. Even after his own student Ammann was forced to publish the evidence of that same failure in his own replication of it.

    Everybody knows it, it’s been reported on and published ad nauseam, and yet the believers seem to think that if they continue in point blank denial that anything is wrong or that any of this has happened, or that any of it matters, that they can get away with it.

    So far, they seem to be right.

  9. moptop

    “After all, those numbers do come from economists and other financial types, and, for heaven’s sake, we know they’re never wrong.” – ChrisD.

    Listen to yourself, think about the context.

    “That Mann’s research stands largely unaltered after the myriad of witch hunts to which it has been subjected, is a testament to its legitimacy.” – Dan

    Well, it’s a start Dan. At least you seem to understand that without skeptical examination, no proposition can have any kind of scientific legitimacy. After all, Einstein was always trying to shoot holes in quantum mechanics, the most accurate set of physical laws devised by man so far. We all know that he was a know nothing denier. [that's intended as irony, guys]

    Where you fall short is your reading comprehension of the conclusions of those reports. Don’t feel bad, the NAS report was ultimately under control of politicians and they made sure that there would be ambiguous quotes in there that were easily subject to misinterpretation and could be used to defend the stick. For example, “We find it plausible…”

    What does “plausible” mean? It means possible, somewhat likely, but *unproven*. Nobody says it is plausible that plants depend on sunshine, do they? They count on you to misinterpret the meaning of “plausible.”

    The panel talks about other supporting evidence that has come in, but don’t seem to name it. I have asked for it here time and time again, and all I ever get is recycled Mann. I haven’t seen the first truly “independent” study that supports him. I have seen lots of peer reviewed studies that don’t use his data as input, but alas and alack, none of them show a hockey stick.

    My mind is honestly open on this. I am subject to persuasion. I just want to see the evidence before supporting the outlay of trillions of dollars.

  10. Everybody knows it, it’s been reported on and published ad nauseam, and yet the believers seem to think that if they continue in point blank denial that anything is wrong or that any of this has happened, or that any of it matters, that they can get away with it.

    So far, they seem to be right.

    Since I am part of “everyone” and I do NOT KNOW this, can you please provide some references? Links to the journal articles you mention? Anything of substance to back you up? See, if I go to Google Scholar and look up Prof. Mann, I get a lot of hits, and none of them claim what you claim. Makes it tough to know if your refutation is based in fact, is just wishful ploitical thinking, or a troll among the students at Hogwart’s.

  11. moptop

    Alright, I will give you guys a hint. When Jinchi gets on my case, there is usually blood in the water.

  12. moptop

    Philip H,
    Read all three threads on this topic before asking people to start over. Then you can look at all of the evidence so far, and tear holes in it if you can. Don’t just say it’s wrong or pretend that your question isn’t asked and answered.

  13. Nullius in Verba

    10.

    “Since I am part of “everyone” and I do NOT KNOW this, can you please provide some references?”

    Happy to oblige.

    The most comprehensive exposition for the layman I know of is the book ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’, I think. It gives links and references to everything else – in particular, the history of the undisclosed verification statistics.

    If you want the results of formal enquiries, then I recommend the Wegman report. The authors of the NAS report said they agreed with it, but they worded it a little more ambiguously for political reasons. And for the peer-reviewed journal articles you need McIntyre and McKittrick, the 2003 and the two 2005 papers, which you can probably find most easily from McIntyre’s ClimateAudit website. (Under ‘Articles’ in the left hand column.) There are others, but those are the main three. The failure of the R2 verification statistics was finally published in Wahl and Amman 2007, Climate Change, Table S1 on page 63. (The paper was intended as a defence of Mann’s hockeystick submitted in 2005, but the journal review insisted that the R2 statistics be included, which held the publication up for years.)

    Professor McKittrick gave an early summary of the issue for the non-specialist in an essay here. There’s also an entertaining (but unofficial) essay on a later part of the story ‘Caspar and the Jesus Paper’.

    All these results are hotly disputed, of course, but then they would say that, wouldn’t they?

  14. Guy

    @Nullius #13,

    The book you cite is junk science published by that also publishes things like Middle East and Islamic informational sources and Children’s books (mostly on Middle East religion).

    The McIntyre and McKittrick paper has already been soundly refuted by experts in the field. How they got it past the peer review process is a detective story itself.

    There are numerous other books and articles by climate deniers but so far that hasn’t worked to falsify the hockey stick. If anything, the case for AGW has been made stronger by it because more detailed explanations follow any attacks on it. Again, it has been independently verified by other scientist using their own data sets and code.

    This AG is just going on a fishing expedition where there is nothing to find. He is misusing his office for his own agenda. If this is allowed to go forward it sets a bad precedent. It will make doing anyone doing science, in his state, think twice before doing something even as mundane as emailing other scientists.

  15. Guy

    “If you want the results of formal enquiries, then I recommend the Wegman report.”

    Time Lambert at Deltoid has been going over the Wegman report.

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/wegman_and_black_helicopters.php

    The report seems to have sourced some junk science from conspiracy theorist.

  16. moptop

    “The McIntyre and McKittrick paper has already been soundly refuted by experts in the field” – Guy

    Here is something unusual for Guy, a testable statement. My guess is that instead of providing a link, he is going to say that he wont waste his time dragging up a citation for us, or that we should do it ourselves, then he will ask a rhetorical question, or engage in some other rhetorical flourish.

    Or more likely, he will ignore this post and continue on in his denial as if it had never happened.

    One thing I guarantee will not happen is that he will produce a peer-reviewed reference that “soundly refutes” M&M.

  17. Nullius,
    Thanks for having the integrity to respond and provide what I asked for. I wish some of the other commenters were willing to do that.

    Two questions: Why are you relying on an economists (McKittrick) work to refute a climate scientist? To me, as an oceanographer, that’s like asking a podiatrist to do catch per unit effort analyses. Second, how do you answer this:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/07/the-missing-piece-at-the-wegman-hearing/

    Seems Prof. McKittrick’s analyses contained as much error and bias as Prof. Mann is accused of.

    Look folks, this all boils down to the following:
    1. There is, always has been, and always will be natural climate variation. The Medieval Warming is a prime example of that.

    2. There is, and likely will be in the near and far future, an interaction between the emission of carbon and other green house gasses by human activities, and natural climate variation. To pretend there isn’t is to ignore our experience – ever been inside a steel mill? Ever get hot there? To say that 6 Billion humans, and ther concomitant carbon emmissions can have NO EFFECT on climate is flooy, pure and simple.

    3. Actual, measured temperature data (made freely available at dozens of places on the Internet) for the last 4 decades show that global average temperatures are going up, ocean pH is going down (acidification), glacial melting rates are going up, sea leave is going up and arctic summer ice cover is going down. and all at rates ABOVE the natural trends computed for the “natural cycle”

    4. Further, those measurements and their associated change rates exceed the rates of change predicted by the first climate models developed in the 1970′s. Yes, you read that correctly – the available, measured data exceed the predicted values.

    5. IF these trends continue, and the available measured data say they will, humans will begin to suffer a series of climate-related impacts, which will disrupt economies. Life styles will be forced to change, whole sectors of the economy will have to either shift geographically, or become obsolete, and the current Great recession may end up looking like a minor blip on the historical radar.

    6. Thus, the debate here first and foremost is about life style, political control and economics. Plainly put, too many people are too politically and economically invested in retaining the status quo. Too few people are willing to ask the what if questions that science is primed to answer, because too few people are able to deal EMOTIONALLY with uncertainty.

    7. Attacking the scientists (i.e. shooting the messengers) is a reflexive, EMOTIONALLY based response to the news being presented. Pretending its all about the science, when it isn’t, is intellectually dishonest, and thus gives the accusers shaky moral ground from which to attack.

  18. moptop

    Tim Lambert is a fairly competent mathematician, I would venture, given the kind of matrix algebra that is required for computer graphics, he is a “computer scientist” after all. You would think if he was going to take down McIntyre, he would do so based on the maths?

  19. Guy

    @moptop #16,

    McItyre himself admitted to using the wrong data for his report.

    “In response to your point that I wasn’t “diligent enough” in pursuing the matter with the Russians, in fact, I already had a version of the data from the Russians, one that I’d had since 2004.”

    http://climateaudit.org/2009/10/05/yamal-and-ipcc-ar4-review-comments/#comment-360284

    Deltoid has it fully broken down with references

    “McIntyre had the data all along.”
    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/10/mcintyre_had_the_data_all_alon.php#more

  20. Nullius in Verba

    Guy,

    Thanks for that detailed technical explanation of exactly what the mathematical problems with the analysis are.

    * The book’s publisher also publishes non-scientific books. (Yet another strange new variant on the ad hominem! Is that really your best argument against it?)

    * The same people who pushed the Mann paper without checking it in the first place are the experts you trust to judge between the competing cases. (Argument from Authority.)

    * An assertion that none of the arguments have “worked”. I’ll give you that one – bare-faced denial seems to be an effective strategy if you have the political support.

    * And we’ve already discussed the “independent verification” by other scientists (see especially the Wegman report), in which it has been shown that the scientists are mostly not independent, the data is not independent (consisting of minor permutations on the same small set of series), and in several cases rather than verifying the original, in fact reproduced McIntyre’s and McKittrick’s results exactly.

    You’ve been given links to the papers, the data, and the code that demonstrates all this. You’ve been given details on two public enquiries that confirmed this. You’ve been given references to expositions that explain the technicalities and gather up the tangled history so they are understandable to the layman.

    But the Hockey Team’s authority remains intact by virtue of the authority of the Hockey Team. It reminds me of those arguments for Biblical infallibility – it’s infallible because the Bible says so. Against such circular logic I can make no headway.

    Once people have found out what the sceptic arguments are, then yes, they ought to go over to see how Mann’s friends answer the points. But there’s too much debate where the people arguing don’t even know what the argument is about, because they only know one side of it. It’s very difficult to condense every detail of a complicated argument into a blog comment – it would help enormously if people started already knowing what it was they were refuting.

    “p.s. I know I probably don’t need to mention this, but just to insure absolutely clarify on this, I’m providing these for your own personal use, since you’re a trusted colleague. So please don’t pass this along to others without checking w/ me first. This is the sort of “dirty laundry” one doesn’t want to fall into the hands of those who might potentially try to distort things…”

    Can you show me where in any of the enquiries “vindicating” Mann that they addressed this novel version of the scientific method? Is this what you would defend?

  21. ChrisD

    @moptop 9

    Listen to yourself, think about the context.

    Right, the context is that these “trillions of dollars” outlays that you keep tossing around are based on nothing. You won’t admit that there’s anything to a dozen or more hockey sticks done by different scientists and based on different data, yet this number, based on no evidence whatsoever, has achieved mythic status. It is Not To Be Questioned. It is the Revealed Word of God.

    You say, we can’t do anything on this because it’s going to cost trillions of dollars and the research is impure. Yet you ignore the fact that the cost you’re using to rationalize this has been manufactured out of thin air.

    Fascinating.

  22. Nullius in Verba

    Philip H,

    “Why are you relying on an economists (McKittrick) work to refute a climate scientist?”

    Because he’s an expert in Time Series Analysis, the branch of statistics that these sort of calculations fall within. These sort of statistical issues are standard in econometrics, and have been for 40 years. To the extent that they cite dendrochronological issue, they cite the recognised expertise of Greybill and Idso, the people who first sampled the trees Mann relied upon, and who said in the paper in which they were published that they were not temperature proxies.

    You could just as well ask why Mann, who is not a statistician or at all expert on the subject, is publishing papers on new and untested statistical algorithms.

    And you should bear in mind that this sort of thing is trying to judge the truth of an argument by looking at the person making it. That’s known as an ‘ad hominem’ argument.

    “Second, how do you answer this:”

    That question is answered in detail in the book I mentioned. As are many others.

    But to put it briefly, the problem is that tree ring sampling isn’t geographically uniform – huge numbers come from the US, and relatively few from the rest of the world. The reason they use PCA to condense down a large number of samples into a handful is so that these regions don’t get over-represented. What RealClimate did was to skip this step and put them all in, which of course results in the US getting over-represented again.

    You can see an example of what happens to the data if you do PCA correctly, or leave out the Bristlecones, in McKittrick’s essay, figure 6. The last row was the one that Mann himself calculated, but never published. It was found by accident on his ftp site in a directory marked “CENSORED”. Make of that what you will.

  23. Nullius in Verba

    “Right, the context is that these “trillions of dollars” outlays that you keep tossing around are based on nothing.”

    Can’t say if it’s where Moptop got the numbers from, but the standard source is Nordhaus and Boyer 2000 ‘Roll the DICE again: economic models of global warming’, in which they use the RICE and DICE economic models to derive costs of various mitigation strategies. The total present-value cost of limiting warming to a 2.5C increase is $7.8 trillion, limiting it to a 1.5C increase would be $37.6 trillion.

    Hope that helps.

  24. Guy

    ” The book’s publisher also publishes non-scientific books. (Yet another strange new variant on the ad hominem! Is that really your best argument against it?)”

    No. The #1 reason that it’s junk science is the whole line of argument it makes is based on junk science by McIntrye and McKittrick. Their report used the wrong data.

    You keep mentioning “ad hominem.”

    You do have to realize that people would want to know the motivations behind the attacks on climate science. There a lot of people that stand to lose a lot of money because of the implications of AGW theory. Some of the worst crimes in history were motivated by greed. It isn’t too far fetched that those who stand to lose money will try to undermine the science at all costs.

  25. moptop

    “You won’t admit that there’s anything to a dozen or more hockey sticks done by different scientists and based on different data” – ChrisD

    You haven’t shown me even one hockey stick that doesn’t rely on Mann’s recycled data and discredited methods. I know why too, because if they don’t rely on Mann’s cherry picked data, there is no hockey stick and the Medieval Warm Period pops right back up. Hence Dr Phil Jones, former head of the CRU’s public statement a couple months back that he “did not know” if it was warmer than today in the MWP or not.

    Show me on of these studies you claim exist, and I will be forced to shut up on the subject.

    Guy, I should have thought of the possibility that you would answer with some totally irrelevant point. Or maybe you could explain to me why it is relevant? What does a mistake by McIntyre of record keeping have to do with the validity of Mann’s methods?

    I can’t help but notice that every attack on Wegman’s and McIntyre’s results I have seen on this extended thread has nothing to do with the actual method itself, but are personal attacks on the motives and character of the authors. Why is this? What if all of your accusations were true and in spades, wouldn’t it be possible to prove their maths were wrong?

  26. moptop

    “Their report used the wrong data.” – Guy

    This is like playing tennis with a blind man, but I will ask again. Somewhere there must be a peer reviewed takedown of M&M? Why not link to it. Can’t you find a link to one on Deltoid?

  27. moptop

    “It isn’t too far fetched that those who stand to lose money will try to undermine the science at all costs.” – Guy

    In other words, it is “plausible” that moneyed interests could be behind attempts to undermine the science. So, what do we do? Why we check the arguments from all sides rigorously. On the other side there is “machlust,” lust for power over other people’s lives disguised as altruism. You mentioned in an earlier thread on this subject that you thought that “denialists” where defending a “plutocracy.” Isn’t it also possible that proponents of AGW see it as a way to overthrow a plutocracy?

    Hence, verify everything on scientific merits alone. There are plenty of bad motives to go around.

  28. ChrisD

    @NiV 23

    Can’t say if it’s where Moptop got the numbers from, but the standard source is Nordhaus and Boyer 2000 ‘Roll the DICE again: economic models of global warming’, in which they use the RICE and DICE economic models to derive costs of various mitigation strategies.

    Ah, it’s based on a decade-old economic model. Now, considering what the “skeptic” community generally thinks of basing decisions on the output of models, this doesn’t strike you as just the teensiest bit hypocritical?

    And what, by the way, did these uber-reliable economic models say will be the cost of not limiting the temperature increase?

  29. Nullius in Verba

    Guy,

    Ah! A more traditional ad hominem! It’s McIntrye, so it’s wrong! Well, how can any sceptical argument survive that? I ask, if all scepticism is by definition ‘junk’, is your hockeystick theory falsifiable?

    They of course used the data provided by Mann himself via Rutherford. It hardly seems reasonable to expect for them to play some sort of guessing game to figure it out, when Mann (when asked) wouldn’t tell them. And when Mann provided what he said was the “correct” data via his own FTP site, it proved to be identical to the original.

    There was also the problem that Mann had extrapolated data or filled in gaps in about 30% of the series. In 10% of cases the figure for 1980 was identical. There were blocks in which the same number was copied from year to year. In one case the entire period from 1962 to 1982 were copied from the previous series.

    McIntyre and McKittrick spent a considerable amount of time identifying the series involved, (since Mann had mislabelled a lot of them) and then had also downloaded clean data from the public archives precisely to get round all these issues.

    You would already know this if you had ever read the book you’re so keen to dismiss. I deduce from that you have concluded that it is ‘junk’ without actually having read it, relying entirely on Mann & Co.’s unexamined assertions.

    McKittrick also discusses exactly this point at the bottom of page 7 of his essay.

  30. Nullius in Verba

    28.

    I personally place no more reliance on economic models than I do climate models. You asked where the numbers came from. I told you.

    But you should be aware, they’re the same models relied upon by the IPCC to claim that mitigation is worthwhile. If you’re happy to dismiss them, then that’s fine by me.

    No more problem.

    (PS. Cost of “business as usual” was 4.8 trillion.)

  31. ChrisD

    @moptop 27:

    Isn’t it also possible that proponents of AGW see it as a way to overthrow a plutocracy?

    All of them? 85% of all US scientists, 90% of all climate scientists, 97% of publishing climate scientists, and literally every national science academy on Earth are all doing this because they see it as a way to overthrow a plutocracy?

    Stop it, you’re killing me. I just can’t stop laughing.

    Excuse me, I have to go get a hankie.

  32. ChrisD

    @NiV #30:

    I personally place no more reliance on economic models than I do climate models. You asked where the numbers came from. I told you.

    Accepted. Interestingly, moptop completely ignored that portion of my post.

    BTW–and this is considerably more recent than 1999–”there is a broad consensus [among economists] that the cost of climate inaction would greatly exceed the cost of climate action—it’s cheaper to act than not to act.”

    http://bit.ly/13912l

  33. Nullius in Verba

    “there is a broad consensus [among economists] that the cost of climate inaction would greatly exceed the cost of climate action—it’s cheaper to act than not to act.”

    There’s that ol’ “consensus” science again. :-)

  34. ChrisD

    @NiV 33

    There’s that ol’ “consensus” science again.

    Smiley or no, I sense some underlying seriousity.

    Consensus obviously doesn’t prove correctness. But if someone is touting an opinion, supposedly of experts, it is not amiss to point out that most experts don’t share that opinion.

    I’m not even going to get into economics as a “science”. And economic models–pfeh. At least climate models have some well-understood, measurable physical processes they can work with. Economic models are just voodoo. IMO.

  35. moptop

    ChrisD, I have my own model. It is going to be expensive. I have paid $8 a gallon for gas over the in UK, where they buy into this crap. They want to raise the cost of electricity through carbon taxes, which, if they are not passed along to the consumer, will have no effect but to bankrupt the utility. They want to keep oil and coal in the ground, which will raise the price of those commodities and replace these technologies with more expensive ones.

    You are deluded if you think that this is free, or if you believe that it is cheaper to act than to not act if, by change, the science, which nobody here seems able to back up, is wrong? If the science is wrong, it will be a huge blunder to act on it.

    You guys assume you are right in every argument, then go from there. I would have no problem if you said “Assuming they are right, it is more expensive….”

    “All of them? 85% of all US scientists, 90% of all climate scientists, 97% of publishing climate scientists…”

    I think what you are doing is mixing in a wide band of opinion, and presenting it as exclusively from the leftmost side of the spectrum. I accept the high probability that humans are causing some warming. So does McIntyre, so does Pelke, so does Motl, for that matter. I don’t know any mainstream skeptic who denies this. I am betting that includes NIV.

    What we do argue with is that you can take a calculation, that is little disputed (Even Dr Jones concedes this in one of the emails) That CO2 alone can only cause 1.2C temp increase per doubling, and is logarithmic. The second part is important because it means the majority of the warming comes in the first part of the doubling. So we should have seen by now 60% of the increase that we will see from a doubling of CO2. Based on observation, it is likely that feedbacks are negative, see Lindzen, for example, among others. So we are probably looking at an increase of 1C after the doubling. Which is within the bounds of natural variability.

    Where alarmists get off base is when they only take worst case scenarios regarding feedbacks, regardless of observation, to feed into their climate models. If you think that 97% of climate scientists believe that it is going to be 5C warmer at the end of the century, I would like to know where you get that figure.

  36. moptop

    Not to mention, as a follow up to a comment that is in moderation. If you read the climategate emails, you can read the fascinating story of a small group of influential people in strong institutional positions who spared no effort to prevent opposing points of view from getting published, “Even if it means we have to re-define what peer review means.” Interestingly, the parson who said this was in charge of assembling the IPCC’s AR4.

    Yeah that’s a quote.

  37. Nullius in Verba

    34.

    Total seriosity, but major flashbacks of deja vu, as well. You should know already what I’m going to say; no point in saying it.

  38. ChrisD

    @moptop 26

    blockquote>Somewhere there must be a peer reviewed takedown of M&M?

    I remember that Mann commented in response to Wegman that MM had already been refuted by “several” peer-reviewed papers.

    I don’t know which papers he had in mind, and I don’t have time right now to find them. Maybe someone else does.

    But Mann, at least, seems to think they exist.

  39. Nullius in Verba

    38.

    There are several that purport to, although when you examine the details they don’t.

    I’ve already cited one of them: Wahl and Ammann 2007. This was supposed to be a rapid takedown of MM05 submitted in 2005, reproducing Mann’s reconstruction. McIntyre was a reviewer, and generated such a long list of faults, omissions, and misrepresentations that it got rejected. In particular, McIntyre asked that the verification R2 statistics be published, which he already knew from his analysis of Mann’s data showed no correlation between the observed and reconstructed temperature in the verification period. Ammann refused, and the paper sat in limbo for a year. Then with the next IPCC report coming round they desperately needed something in the peer-reviewed literature to use as an excuse for not mentioning McIntyre and McKittrick’s results. So Ammann and Wahl was revived, and a deal done with the journal editor to formally accept it, so the draft could go forward to the IPCC, but after the IPCC had met the R2 statistics that showed Ammann’s (and hence Mann’s) reconstruction were bunk were inserted as a condition of publication.

    The IPCC had their “refutation”, and the journal had their fig leaf of respectability.

    There are also Von Storch and Zorita, Huybers, Ritson, and Rutherford. Extended details on all of these in that book, which I’m sure you’re all rushing out now to buy. :-)

    Moptop,

    “I am betting that includes NIV.”

    Yep.

    One minor point – current warming should be about 40-50% of doubling, not 60%. 390/280 is a 40% increase over pre-industrial, and the logarithm of 1.4 (to base 2) is just short of 0.5.

    If CO2 rise is exponential (warning! economic modelling here), we ought to expect another 40% over the coming century.
    (Barring some speculative aerosol masking effects and a ‘pipeline’ full of heat, of course.)

  40. moptop

    ” So Ammann and Wahl was revived, and a deal done with the journal editor to formally accept it, so the draft could go forward to the IPCC, but after the IPCC had met the R2 statistics that showed Ammann’s (and hence Mann’s) reconstruction were bunk were inserted as a condition of publication.”

    If you doubt that this kind of machinations went on, you should read them discuss them in the emails. It is not like one or two emails were embarrassing, almost every one of them was. I can’t imagine what kind of context explains getting a journal editor fired because he let through a paper that you didn’t agree with, rather than just publishing a refutation. Yet that is exactly what they claim in the emails that they did.

  41. ChrisD

    @moptop 35

    If the science is wrong, it will be a huge blunder to act on it.

    And if the science is right, it would be a far, far greater blunder to not act on it.

    As to the rest of your post, you’re changing the rules. You said, without qualification, that it was possible that “proponents of AGW” are in it to overthrow the plutocracy. Now you’re waving your hands and adding a couple hundred words of irrelvancies about degrees per doubling and worst case scenarios.

    I’m calling BS. You’re backing off an extravagant claim that you can’t possibly support.

    If you think that 97% of climate scientists believe that it is going to be 5C warmer at the end of the century, I would like to know where you get that figure.

    This is exactly what I’m talking about. This 5C number suddenly appeared out of nowhere. It wasn’t in your original post, nor was it in mine. So why is it here?

    For the record, 97% is the percentage of publishing climate scientists who answered “Yes” to this question:

    Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

  42. moptop

    Well then I guess we have nothing to argue about, because I would answer yes too.

    What I won’t do, and why the hockey stick is so important and my comments are relevant, is commit huge resources to a non problem, that is, the temperature staying within the bounds of natural variability. Possibly it is even keeping us out of an otherwise inevitable ice age. Ever think of that? How catastrophic would that be? How do you know it would be far worse to not act? Economic depressions have a way of leading to major wars, for one. That is a risk of action, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. Massive starvation due to loss of production is another, whether you acknowledge it or not. You can say that there is no risk of that happening, but you can’t know it.

    As for 5C

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article694819.ece
    London ‘under water by 2100′ as Antarctica crumbles into the sea

  43. ChrisD

    @moptop 42

    More avoidance maneuvers. You won’t defend your claim about AGW proponents being would-be plutocracy overthrowers.

    As for 5C

    This is like playing tennis with a blind man (I read that somewhere). The 5°C is completely irrelevant. My comment related to your post about plutocracy-overthrowing-AGW-proponents. There was nothing in either your post or my response about 5°C or any other number. You have produced this number as if by magic, but it has no relevance to your post or to my response. You’re trying to make smoke.

  44. Nullius in Verba

    43.

    I think the “plutocracy” generalisation originated on your side.

    “i>”That’s odd coming from the camp of denial and outright fraud. You need only to dig a little deeper into the denial industry to find a whole slew of shenanigans by some of scummiest people on Earth. Some of it is for political reasons to preserve the plutocracy. Mostly it is about greed to preserve the fossil fuel industry, at all cost. “

    There are a few people who do it for or against a perceived plutocracy; or indeed the oil industry. But unless the word “all” is explicitly used, it can’t be assumed. Some do, some don’t, on both sides.

    I can tell you, I’m generally against plutocracies, and I’ve no more interest in the welfare of the fossil fuel industry than anyone else. (Which ought to be everyone, of course, considering the improvement in lifestyle and life expectancy that cheap energy gives us.) I also live on this planet, and I’m not about to advocate destroying it for short term profit. Nobody sane would.

    If you were willing to admit honest intentions on the part of your opponents, I think you would find us more willing to reciprocate. But so long as the rhetoric of ‘evil deniers in it for the oil money’ persists, this sort of conflict is going to continue.

    Are you saying all AGW overthrowers plutocracy defenders? No? Then don’t go assuming that we mean that all AGW defenders should be assumed to be plutocracy-overthrowers. I’m pretty certain that some are, because they’ve said so, but most are not. The world is more complicated than that.

  45. ChrisD

    Ah, but Guy said “some of it” (actually, the minority of it, since he said “most” of it is “greed”). You didn’t. AGW proponent = plutocracy overthrower, end of story. This sort of blanket characterization will bite you every time.

    And, by the way, plutocracy has absolutely nothing to do with Pluto, which is not longer even considered to be a planet. Its mass is only 1.3e22 kg, less than 20% of our own moon’s mass. I’d like to know who you can cite who thinks otherwise.

  46. moptop

    “Isn’t it also possible that proponents…” = blanket statement. Ohhh Kaay

    As a little context, why not read what GM said in a recent thread, then wonder where I am getting this stuff from.

    “If we are to avoid overshoot and collapse, we need to restrain ourselves. The current version of democracy we have is incompatible with such a goal” – GM

    Getting back the original point, What I was saying was that there are possible bad motives on both sides, greed on one, machlust on the other. Examining motives will get you no closer to the truth. Your side is the one that believes that motives are dispositive of the science of AGW, not me. It is certainly possible that bad actors in the quest for power could be using a factually true AGW scenario, just as it is possible that the status quo rich who control fossil fuel resources and are defending their interests also speak the truth. Motives do not prove anything; despite what, for example, Guy thinks about McIntyre.

  47. LRU

    Chris – To your point that UVA isn’t defending itself or scientific inquiry strenuously enough, I would respectfully disagree.

    At this point, I would say there is nothing to defend. If UVA is confident that it has done nothing wrong and stands by its scientists, I would agree the best course of action is not to respond defensively too soon. If Cuccinelli’s investigation is probably meant to intimidate, provoke a heated response to use in the media, or to “chill” scientific research, it would play into his hands to have UVA defend itself even before the AG’s office has made a formal charge. It makes UVA look like it has something to hide. However, by acting as if the investigation does not faze them, UVA looks confident yet law-abiding in its position. I like the phrase “Blood in the Water” because defensiveness and fear are exactly what would spur an aggressive guy like Cuccinelli on. It would make him even more intense in combing through the volumes of documents he’s requesting and might lend some weight to any argument he might make on academic dishonesty misleading the public.

    I’d say UVA’s wait-and-see tactic is pretty good. When and if he does find anything, then I’m sure UVA has a plan in place to circle the wagons and to vigorously defend its scientists. Right now, however, I think playing it cool shouldn’t be seen as a lack of commitment but possibly as a well-thought out response to a difficult situation.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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