Fighting Climate Science in DC, Dealing With Climate Change Back Home

By Chris Mooney | February 25, 2011 9:05 am

The Athens Banner-Herald has a subtle but telling story about the Rep. Paul Broun, who is a climate denier, and those in his region who are worried about how climate change is already affecting them. The piece presents quite the contrast:

At the same time as Broun was speaking to constituents at a town hall meeting in Oglethorpe County, fishermen, conservationists, ecologists and environmental activists were meeting at the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology to promote the idea of manmade climate change and talk about how to reverse the trend.

Broun, who became chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee’s subcommittee on investigation and oversight when Republicans took control of the House last month, said he plans to use hearings to show that manmade climate change is not settled science.

“We’re going to get all voices heard about the science of climate,” Broun said. “Right now the (Obama) administration turns a blind ear and eye to opposing views.”

The effects of manmade climate change are already apparent, said Oconee County activist Rich Rusk, who, like Broun, is a member of the fishing group Trout Unlimited.

“They’re already here, and they’ll be increasing,” Rusk said. “I suspect many people who are skeptical about climate change will live long enough to see the impacts and know how wrong they’ve been.”

Well, I don’t know that they’ll admit how wrong they’ve been, but the point is a good one. It’s the same story I just pointed out with Ralph Hall of Texas. They go to DC and fight the science, but doing so is not necessarily in the best interest of their constituents…

Comments (50)

  1. Cathy

    Every time I drive past Broun’s local office I have to resist the urge to flip him the bird, and I fantasize about egging it sometimes. How anyone can go through medical school and still be so ignorant is beyond my ken.

  2. John

    As one of Broun’s constituents, I’m very happy with his stance on Climate Change and look forward to Mr. Broun doing the job he was elected by us to do.

    Its time the public gets to hear the other side of the climate debate, instead of just receiving the alarmist side of Chis Mooney, who is paid to promote alarmist climate change propaganda like this article.

  3. Michael

    Yep. Keep beating the dead AGW horse. It isn’t going to run anymore.

    Proud to be a denier. I was a denier 2 years ago as well.

    Facts are finally overwhelming money-based power politics.

    And, nope, I’m not some creationist, right wing bible-thumper. I believe in evolution, the big bang, gay marriage, the right to abortion, et al. Just can’t abide the B.S. that is AGW.

  4. Robert E

    Oh yea, ’cause we all know that science blogs just rake in the cash.

  5. Jon

    We know you’re doing it for the bling, Chris.

  6. Arch Stanton

    The whole AGW thing turned into a punch line about 2008 or so. Climategate only served to illustrate what most impartial observers had already figured out, that global warming was being hyped for political reasons, not because we’re doomed.

    I think it was about a year ago that the AGW crowd announced that they’d be ‘fighting back’. They actually discussed publicly how they were going to hit back hard against the deniers. And since then, the AGW faithful have double down. We’re seeing a lot more articles like this, written with that ‘it’s a done deal’ tone that completely ignores the fact that AGW rests on a foundation of junk science and politically-motivated spin.

    You guys, the models are a lousy and the raw data is a mess. Give it up, it’s a major fail.

  7. Jon

    Arch, click this link and keep scrolling down:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Statements_by_concurring_organizations

    You can stop scrolling when you reach “dissenting organizations”, because they’re aren’t any.

    If you have a conspiracy theory why all these independent scientific organizations all reached the same conclusion relying on peer-reviewed science, you’ve got the makings of an X-Files script, but not anything that corresponds to reality …

  8. Chris Mooney

    Hmm, have we got any denier bots here? I’m always amazed at how many “skeptics” show up for every GW post at this blog.

  9. Bobito

    @7 – Jon, I’ve seen you paste that same response many times. And, in many cases, it works quite well. But what did Arch actually say? Did he say AGW is not real? No. He said:
    “global warming was being hyped for political reasons, not because we’re doomed”

    Do you have something else you can paste that shows a consensus that “we are doomed”?

    Using the link you provided I found that members of the American Meteorological Society and American Geophysical Union were polled in 2007 and “84% believe global climate change poses a moderate to very great danger”. Unfortunately it doesn’t define moderate or very great, nor does it say what percentage believed which. But, for the sake of argument, lets say it was 50/50 moderate/very great danger. I think we can safely correlate “very great danger” to “doomed”. So, using this logic (yes, not a statistical masterpiece by any means) 42% of the scientist think we are doomed.

    When put that way “42% think we are doomed” it sounds very scary. But when you flip it, 58% of scientist think it’s a moderate risk or less.

    I’ll also add that those were 2007 numbers, and I would doubt it’s moved in the “doomed” direction since then. More likely that number is high at this point due to the amount of new information in the last 4 years…

    If someone has a more scientific example of how many scientist think we are doomed I’d love to see it, that information has proven difficult to find (and it would seem to be a very important stat). But, until then, bobito arithmetic it is…

  10. Nullius in Verba

    #8,

    Mmm. Interesting theory. Is it not possible that there are just a lot of us?
    (You should go have a look at Judith Curry’s blog if you want to see what a lot of sceptics looks like. How does she do it?)

    Although the way #7 keeps on saying the same thing, over and over, ignoring all previous explanations as if they had never happened, does make me wonder…

  11. Jon

    Jon, I’ve seen you paste that same response many times.

    When a thread lacks that context, I paste in the link. Important context, don’t you think?

    When put that way “42% think we are doomed” it sounds very scary. But when you flip it, 58% of scientist think it’s a moderate risk or less.

    Only 42% think it’s a “very great danger?” Oh, whew, I suppose that means the wisest thing to do is nothing.

  12. Chris Mooney

    Nullius…we know you well, nobody is accusing you of being a bot ;>

  13. Jon

    Nullius: Although the way #7 keeps on saying the same thing, over and over, ignoring all previous explanations as if they had never happened, does make me wonder…

    I’ll stop pasting it in when you give a better “explanation” than “all the scientists came to the same conclusion because of their unconscious biases in favor of big government”, or “the bristlecone pine renders all other climate research invalid, whether it has anything to do with tree rings or not,” or “all the research is bad because it’s just like Paul Ehrlich’s books from the 1970′s.”

    (Yeah, actually he’s no bot, he’s a pretty interesting specimen…)

  14. John

    The last desperate attempt at proclaiming yourself a majority is to claim that all the people against you are fake paid shills. The Warmists like Chris have no other cards left to play, or they will be forced to admit they are in the minority.

    Chris is being paid directly by the NAS to publish pro-climate change articles. Chris Mooney is the only person here who is being paid to post. Its not the blog that pays.

  15. Sara

    Chris we are not bots. Is everyone who disagrees with you a bot now?

  16. Bobito

    @10 “Only 42% think it’s a “very great danger?” Oh, whew, I suppose that means the wisest thing to do is nothing.”

    My little analysis was designed to show that even using simple math, your link in no way answered the statement “global warming was being hyped for political reasons, not because we’re doomed” Are you now trying to say that bobito arithmetic should be the basis for panic?

    At this point any rational person agrees, to varying extents, that AGW is real. The question now is how big of a problem is it?

  17. Jon

    Right, Bobito. That’s why you and your fellow ultra-libertarians are saying, with your go-to expert Bjorn Lomberg, “Cool it!”

    …Oops:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100831/sc_yblog_upshot/noted-anti-global-warming-scientist-reverses-course

  18. Bobito

    Jon, so you are saying that it is a bad thing to be able to change your opinion on a subject as you learn more about it and/or information changes? I’d say if your opinion on AGW has not changed, in any way, over the past few years you have your head in the sand. As more people get involved, the science has matured.

    Then again, what does NASA know! http://hendrawanm.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/nasa-lowers-estimate-of-carbon-dioxide-warming-effect-climate/

    Certainly more topical than your tired old link… And can you provide an answer for “how big a problem is it” or just sling insults?

  19. Bobito

    Oh, ya, sorry. I should be more careful with my links. That .3 C, over 150-200 years, makes all the difference.

    Again, you missed the point. IPCC had it at 3-5C. The more recent, and more complete, model produced by NASA has it at 1.94C.

  20. Bobito

    Upon further review, I was only off by .04 not .3 using the information in the article you provided. According to your first link, the egregious error The Register and I made was that we didn’t factor in that NASA rounded .26 to .3 in the article. And, in fact, NASA’s model predicts 1.68C when CO2 doubles.

    So, I should have started out my last post with “That .04C, over 150-200 years, makes all the difference.”

    Thanks for that info, I’ll be sure to not make that mistake in the future…

  21. Jon

    I’m not going to bother debating someone who doesn’t bother to read my links:

    Another mistake [the Register reporter made] was in not understanding that the 1.94C of warming came from a control model. The researchers weren’t announcing to the world that they had just discovered the correct warming of the Earth. On the contrary, they stated that their control result was at the low end of a range of other models from 2C to 4.5C. The purpose of the control was to plug in evapotranspiration data and work out the difference. There’s nothing to suggest that the control model is any more or less correct than all the other models that have been produced.

    So while Page appears to have taken this control figure, subtracted what he thinks is the negative feedback of evapotranspiration, and tells us we no longer have a problem with CO2 concentrations, the researchers who actually wrote the paper came to a completely different conclusion:

    “Bounoua stressed that while the model’s results showed a negative feedback, it is not a strong enough response to alter the global warming trend that is expected,” read the Nasa press release.

  22. LRH

    This article about the lack of liberal bias in academia might interest you: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/25/AR2011022503169.html

  23. Bobito

    Jon, I obviously read them since I quoted them. I was first assuming you were arguing the .04 variance due to the rounding issue. But I’m now assuming you are arguing that I quoted the low end model, certainly a valid complaint. It would have been better to have supplied a link that quoted the range.

    I’m not sure why you bold “control model” as all climate models are “control models” as I understand the deffiniton.

    So, if not quoting the range is your complaint, I’ll concede. But there is certainly nothing erroneous about the quote “The more recent, and more complete, model produced by NASA has it at 1.94C.” And, again, that doesn’t count the predicted .26C negative feedback.

  24. Jon

    So anyway, the Register story is misleading. His timeline is way off too. The formatting on this page is a bit easier to read:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/dec/17/register-climate-myths?intcmp=122

    But anyway, so .26C negative feedback for evapotranspiration. Does that “change my opinion” that we should be doing significantly more about climate change? No.

  25. Ozonator aka Robert Rhodes

    It is telling that all the extremist Republicans and Christians in congress are missing the chance to make LABI Limbaugh’s “sciencey” textbook mandatory for all little skulls filled with mush after more union-bustin.

    For example, approved by Sarah Palin and Marc Morano:

    Piled high and deeper in lazy, “Global Warming Update … RUSH: All right, we got big, big, big global warming news … NASA reported … the sun. … Algore said yesterday that the science was all settled … who the hell are we to say what’s possible and impossible on the sun?  There’s nobody from here that’s ever been there.  There’s nobody from here that’s ever been close enough to get any kind of idea what’s possible and not possible on the sun.  How many people have the IQ, even the most learned among us, how many have the IQ to understand the physics and the concept of a star like Earth … What kind of vanity do we have that we would dare admit that there are things on the sun that are impossible?” (3/22/07) and “Gibbs Stonewalls on Climate Hoax; Two Geologists Call in to Respond … RUSH: … They also do not factor the sun at all” (11/30/09) (the old, ugly and evil Rush “LABI” Limbaugh with Hannity/Noory extremist Republican and Christian outlets for legally killing thy neighbors, SS – Storm Sewer rearing his Pilodinal Cyst Phalanx of willing accomplices and sham brides, EIB coli, red-g-string and mitten silencers in the gift shop, trying to harvest more Americans than Esso-Koch; rushlimbaugh.com).

  26. Nullius in Verba

    #13,

    “I’ll stop pasting it in when you give a better “explanation” than…”

    I already did. (And of course I haven’t used any of the reasons you give, but I assume you’re just being humorous.)

    For me, such a list would be like every scientific organisation in a world making statements affirming that the mean of a set of numbers is calculated by adding the maximum to the minimum and then dividing by two.

    There is no doubt that any scientific organisations making such a statement is very surprising, let alone all of them, and clearly something unusual must be going on for this to happen. Your reasoning appears to be that once you eliminate the improbable, whatever remains, no matter how impossible, must be the truth. You demand an explanation for the improbable consensus before proceeding. And yes, it is very important that we investigate and find out how this came to be.

    I have looked into a few cases, and they all appeared to be small ‘climate change’ committees of around half a dozen people, usually dominated by passionate global warming activists, who made a form statement of what they perceived to be the IPCC orthodoxy without any investigation or critical research – their idea of research was sitting through presentations given by other activists. I haven’t come across one yet that gets into details of the arguments, addresses any of the concerns, asks any questions, or does anything other than regurgitate the simplistic factoids they’ve been given. They all assume that it wouldn’t be a scientific consensus if it hadn’t been checked thoroughly, so there’s no need for them to do so. Mostly, they seem to be motivated by political considerations of fitting in with other learned societies who have made statements, and not wanting to be perceived as socially irresponsible.

    Certainly, organisations not set up specifically to take on the issue feel very unwilling to make political waves and receive adverse publicity by declaring themselves to be sceptics, and potentially impacting their core business, which is protecting and promoting the professional interests of their members. They’re trade associations, not organisations for doing research.

    So yes, I can speculate over plausible explanations, but that’s missing the point. The main point is that Argument from Authority ad Populum is classic fallacious reasoning, and cannot be used to counter actual evidence.

    The fact that all your listed organisations would declare the average of {1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 5, 99} to be 50 cannot make it so. All it proves is that the listed organisations are clueless.

  27. Sean McCorkle

    Nullius,

    I think the lists and counts of scientists who agree that global warming is anthropogenic are being presented to counter a tactic, in use for a couple of decades now by industries threatened by scientific results, which is to find outliers from the scientific consensus and have them disproportionally represented on political committees, in the news etc., to mislead the public into thinking there’s a lack of consensus when there isn’t, and thus sow doubt. This is not really addressing questions about the science. And as you say, its not strictly logical. However, most if not all of the public DO rely at some point or other on authority reasoning as a shortcut in our daily lives. Its a time saver. (Robert Cialdini uses the example of looking for the American Dental Association Seal of Approval when he’s selecting a toothpaste. Many motorcyclists buy helmets meeting Snell or U.S. D.O.T. standards. That kind of thing). Some of more than others. This is insidiously short-circuited by the disproportionate outlier tactic,in the bulk of the population who—for whatever reason— don’t spend much of their time digging into the science. Therefore it deserves to be countered.

    Questions about the ins and outs of the science deserved to be raised and discussed openly and honestly and publicly, but the anti-AGW propaganda machine is NOT doing this. Demagogues like Broun, Cuccinelli, Inhofe, Barton, Morano, and the hooligans at Fox news are NOT playing by the rules.

  28. Sara

    Sean,

    Many of us who believe AGW is somewhere between a hoax, fraud and religion don’t judge science by a hand-vote of scientists. We judge science based on the evidence and the data.

    We don’t judge scientists by what the latest whitewash committee says about them. We read the evidence and decide for ourselves. Climategate let us do that.

    Believing in AGW is easy. Their are many people paid to make you believe, like Chris who writes this blog. If you think corporations are evil, and man is bad for the earth, then climate change is irrelevant, because you believe in the “cure” even if the problem doesn’t exist.

    To deny AGW is hard. You have to ask hard questions. Do tree rings and other “proxy’s” accurately represent historic temperatures, or are they akin to reading the entrails of a sacrificed goat? The more I investigate, the more ambiguous and arbitrary data processing and formulas I find.

    There have been many scientific consensus’s in the past that turned out to be false. Each case looked exactly like man made climate change. There have been many religions that in the past have turned out to be false. They looked just like climate change too.

    Never forget, that “scientific” institutions operate like and grew out of medieval religious institutions. They are self selected “experts” who survive on the public taxpayer’s money, and produce the belief system for the political power brokers.

    The scientists give the reason, the journalist like Chris disseminate it, and the politicians use the fear to tax you, which funds more “reasons”.

    Ignore the lists of scientists, ignore the entertainment journals like Nature and Science, pay attention to the science itself.

  29. Eric the Leaf

    @29
    I suggest joining the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. I have. Anybody can. “May we live long and die out.”

    http://www.vhemt.org/

  30. Sara

    @30

    A wonderful example of the climate propaganda machine.

    You may have noticed that every few days, a new scientific study comes out with a new reason to fear climate change. Other days the study’s subject is how deniers are evil, corrupt, or stupid, to give you reason to ignore their message and not asking questions.

    http://www.grist.org/article/2011-02-23-maybe-no-one-cares-about-climate-change-because-wired-extinction

    Just this week the new meme is that humans are wired for extinction, and that’s why the general public won’t panic and pay climate taxes.

    Chris hit on another meme of the week. The newest idea being given providence by George Monboit at the Guardian, is that everyone who disagrees with Climate Change publicly, or on message boards like these is a robot.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2011/feb/23/need-to-protect-internet-from-astroturfing

    Yes that’s what Chris means by “bots”. He means that be believes all his enemies are paid actors or robotic deniers.

    Now who believes in conspiracy?

  31. Jon

    Sara in 29 sounds like an exponent of Irving Kristol’s political axiom that:

    “There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people. There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy.”

    http://reason.com/archives/1997/07/01/origin-of-the-specious

    Sara is giving us the “truth” (in quotes) that certain movement conservatives think are appropriate for children (although the people who are making the argument know better themselves).

    Of course, sprinkle in a few plausible-sounding but superficial factoids from the hockey team, and hey, it sounds like it might be a scientific argument. Who can tell the difference?

    (Chris, this is a perfect example of what I meant by populism and actively reinforced alienation, and why movement conservatives are vulnerable to attack on this, although you have to do it with some care…)

  32. Eric the Leaf

    @31,
    I’m glad you provided that link because it dovetails nicely with what I’ve argued here before. To wit: that the our big brains are our big problem. In literature Kurt Vonnegut has said it best, but the ecologist William Catton said it like this: “The Tragic Story of Human Success.”

    This thesis does not depend in the slightest on whether global warming is occurring or if it caused by humans. If global warming did not exist, we’d still be up a creek.

    So, my philosophy is stop to worrying and learn to love overshoot and collapse.

  33. harrywr2

    “We’re going to get all voices heard about”

    In a representative democracy,giving a fair ‘hearing’ to all the voices on a given subject is called ‘good governance’.
    There wouldn’t be a ‘Tea Party’ if a large segment of the population hadn’t felt their views weren’t being ‘heard’.

  34. Sean McCorkle

    Sara@

    Many of us who believe AGW is somewhere between a hoax, fraud and religion don’t judge science by a hand-vote of scientists.

    Hoax implies a deliberate intent to deceive. Presumably you mean that climate scientists are attempting to mislead the public about the issue? NOAA, NASA, various university scientists are all in on it?

    We judge science based on the evidence and the data.

    Well, okay…

    We read the evidence and decide for ourselves. Climategate let us do that.

    … oh I thought you meant scientific evidence, such as temperature histories, etc. A few purloined emails are hardly that. If I’m not mistaken, whenever these are presented as evidence of fraud, the issues seem to confined to one document file (Harry’s README), which includes a lot of moaning about shoddy record keeping (something which happens a lot in science) and some email exchanges about not responding to a denial-of-service spamming flood of FOI requests. And some hostility towards a couple of statisticians (with connections to various fossil fuel industries themselves) who are publicly critical of a few of the AGW publications. Do I have that right? And this somehow proves the entire body of global warming research is fraudulent? Some kind of conspiracy of an entire field of researchers, who live for the opportunity to cut each other down if they’re wrong?

    Their are many people paid to make you believe, like Chris who writes this blog.

    Honestly, I’m having a hard time swallowing that given given the fossil-fuel funded think tanks dedicated to sowing misinformation and confusion about the subject, and their direct beeline connection to an entire news network. Perhaps a list of the people paid to make me believe otherwise? And how much money is paid?

    Do tree rings and other “proxy’s” accurately represent historic temperatures, or are they akin to reading the entrails of a sacrificed goat?

    Since temperature records only go so far back in time, older temperatures have be inferred from proxies, which involves more deductive steps, which could introduce problems to be sure. However, because several different independent methods end up with similar looking profiles, which builds confidence in them. But anthropogenic global warming doesn’t hinge on the proxy records. One can make the case for AGW with historic temperature records and the historical records of fossil-fuels burned.

    The more I investigate, the more ambiguous and arbitrary data processing and formulas I find.

    One must drink deep from the well of knowledge. Be sure to thoroughly understand the basic underlying physics before claiming its all wrong.

    Never forget, that “scientific” institutions operate like and grew out of medieval religious institutions.

    The birth of Astronomy and Physics involved casting off religion and establishing the importance of testing ideas rather than accepting dogma. Thats what made it science.

    They are self selected “experts” who survive on the public taxpayer’s money, and produce the belief system for the political power brokers.

    Large scale public financing of science is a post-WWII invention in the United States—it doesn’t have that long of a tradition. This has been justified by the long chain of results, inventions, knowledge which has greatly improved the daily lives of citizens.

    Ignore the lists of scientists, ignore the entertainment journals like Nature and Science, pay attention to the science itself.

    The science is pretty convincing, especially given the radiative energy balance, temperature records, CO2 concentration history, solar flux measurements, etc. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth on this blog and nothing’s turned up that refutes the basic idea that additional CO2 WILL block more outgoing IR radiation, and while this may be offset by opposing factors, such as albedo increases or water vapor decreases, the fact that the temperature is climbing means that the net effect of all the other factors is not enough to fully compensate for the CO2 increase. Can you provide evidence or an argument which refutes that?

  35. Nullius in Verba

    #36,

    “Hoax implies a deliberate intent to deceive.”

    It’s a somewhat ambiguous point. Some people believe you need to deceive in an immediate sense in order (they believe) to avoid misleading people who would not understand the true subtleties. If you know of certain evidence that tends to support a conclusion you believe to be true, but which does so with neither strict logical rigour, nor without good counterarguments, is it justified to distort and be selective about what you say in order to trick people into the interpretation you want? Is that deception, when you are doing it to persuade people to a position you genuinely believe to be true? As they say: “Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.” You can hope for both, but only if you’re lucky enough to be right.

    As a sceptic, I have been accused of having a deliberate intent to deceive too often for me to count. Is that different? Do you think we’re all in on it?

    “oh I thought you meant scientific evidence, such as temperature histories, etc.”

    There’s some of that in Climategate, too.

    “If I’m not mistaken, whenever these are presented as evidence of fraud, the issues seem to confined to one document file…”

    If you think that, then you’re missing an awful lot. The problem is that Climategate is not a neat, simple, black-and-white confession, as some demand. Understanding it requires a lot of knowledge of the context, the history, the arguments, and in many cases the science. A damning quote can be produced, that shorn of all context could mean anything, and we end up arguing endlessly over the minutiae. It is right that we do so, but it means that we cannot progress very quickly, and we start with the easiest and most obvious cases first.

    Regarding fraud, the example most people cite is the following:
    “Seems to me that Keenan has a valid point. The statements in the papers
    that he quotes seem to be incorrect statements, and that someone (WCW
    at the very least) must have known at the time that they were incorrect.”

    This comment refers to an actual fraud investigation, but to be able to understand it you have to know what papers, what statements, why they’re incorrect, how it happened, about the dispute that arose when somebody noticed, who the author of this email is and why he is commenting this way, the vary strange history of the enquiry, what happened aftwerwards, and why it matters. It’s not a short tale, and if you’re going to quibble with details every step of the way, we’ll never get to its end. So we find something that it’s much harder for you to ignore, and if we can get as far as a few more of you accepting that ‘Harry’ is a serious problem, we might get on to ‘Kafka at Albany’.

    “a lot of moaning about shoddy record keeping (something which happens a lot in science)”

    Which is a problem – that shoddy record keeping is common in science, and you don’t even see anything wrong with that. The tiniest corner grocery store would be ashamed to keep records like that. It’s a big problem from a scientific point of view, a professional point of view, and from a so-you-think-you’re-saving-the-world point of view. Even for ordinary science, there is a question of whether the taxpayer is getting value for money. And to be acting like that in the face of what is claimed to be a planetary emergency… it beggars belief.

    Can you imagine if the astronomers were that sloppy with their orbit calculations in the face of that proverbial world-destroying asteroid, hid from everybody what they were doing, and then expressed puzzlement at everybody’s shock when they found out?

    “and some email exchanges about not responding to a denial-of-service spamming flood of FOI requests”

    I already explained this one to you – were you not listening? The emails about not responding were sent long before any FOI requests were submitted. They continued while FOI requests came in ones and twos. There was never any denial of service – the “flood” you referred to took virtually no time at all to respond to, because they were requests for details of the legal agreements that CRU had previously used to excuse not responding to an earlier FOI request, but which in fact they did not have. It only takes a moment to make a general announcement to everyone: “we don’t have any”.

    It takes real talent to refuse a legitimate request for information on the grounds that legal agreements prevent you passing it on to non-academics, be forced to admit that you have no such agreements, and then get everyone’s sympathy that the nasty sceptics asked you all those awful questions, and how that made your earlier unwillingness to respond totally reasonable.

    The truth is, it should never have needed any FOI to get them to provide data. They did so for colleagues they could trust not to expose them. It was only sceptics that they were non-responsive to.
    “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…”
    Again, unless one understands the technical significance of residuals being “red”, and the history of this particular data, it’s possible to misunderstand this as a reasonable request. What it means is that he knew the results he had published were invalid, McIntyre had already recalculated them using his own version and said so, but he wanted to keep maintaining that McIntyre was doing his calculations wrong.

    “(with connections to various fossil fuel industries themselves)”

    The CRU was funded in part by BP, Shell, and a half dozen power generating companies. The statisticians, assuming you mean McIntyre and McKittrick, had no such funding.

    “an entire field of researchers, who live for the opportunity to cut each other down if they’re wrong?”

    Go on then. Why did one researcher say “It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically” instead of eagerly taking the opportunity to “cut his colleague down”? Or even just allow valid criticism to be published unmolested?

    “Perhaps a list of the people paid to make me believe otherwise? And how much money is paid?”

    Al Gore alone reputedly paid $300m. Have you ever thought to ask where it went?

    “Since temperature records only go so far back in time, older temperatures have be inferred from proxies, which involves more deductive steps, which could introduce problems to be sure.”

    More than “could”.

    We know, and knew before MBH98 was published, that the particular trees in question are not temperature proxies. They are not correlated to local temperature. They don’t even match other cores taken from the same tree. They’re the consequence of distorted growth resulting from major damage to the tree, or from meandering rivers crossing a flood plain.

    You occasionally get tree samples with huge anomalous growth spikes, and those that happen to have growth spikes in the early 20th century get pulled out as “sensitive to temperature” and heavily weighted in the reconstruction (more heavily than it should, due to statistical errors), which therefore matches the early 20th century temperature it was fitted to. It doesn’t match the temperature outside that interval. It diverges in the opposite direction after 1960, and it has virtually no correlation with temperature prior to the interval. (The r-squared correlation coefficient between the critical 1400-step and actual temperatures being about 0.018, a fact they must have known, but vigorously resisted reporting).

    It’s NOT temperature they’re measuring. There’s some debate about what it actually is measuring, but it’s very hard to investigate because they so often make it impossibly difficult to check.

    “However, because several different independent methods end up with similar looking profiles, which builds confidence in them.”

    They’re NOT independent. They all pick from the same small subset of growth-spike datasets. Many of them use the same data as MBH98.

    We don’t normally address the other studies, firstly because if we can’t even get you to acknowledge problems with MBH98, which has been intensively studied, we’ve little chance of you listening to a far longer detailed demolition of all the rest (my comments here would have to be ten times as long!), and secondly, because doing so misses the main point, which is that this flawed study is still widely accepted and cited. There’s something wrong with the whole system if a study with this many problems can survive. And if there’s something wrong with the system, then you cannot simply take all the others on trust.

    There are plenty of other sets to pick from, but if you do so, you don’t get the same dramatic shape. Past variation looks as large as present variation. Even the MBH team have done so – only they didn’t tell anybody about it. McIntyre found it by accident in a folder labelled ‘backto-1400_CENSORED’.

    “One must drink deep from the well of knowledge. Be sure to thoroughly understand the basic underlying physics before claiming its all wrong.”

    … or all right.

    “…establishing the importance of testing ideas rather than accepting dogma. Thats what made it science.”

    Hurrah!

    “There’s been a lot of back-and-forth on this blog and nothing’s turned up that refutes the basic idea that additional CO2 WILL block more outgoing IR radiation, and while this may be offset by opposing factors, such as albedo increases or water vapor decreases, the fact that the temperature is climbing means that the net effect of all the other factors is not enough to fully compensate for the CO2 increase.”

    Close enough. But by the same token, there’s been nothing to refute the point that this contribution to warming is neither dangerous nor even necessarily detectable against the natural background variation. It’s certainly not detectable yet at any sub-continental scale, where people live.

    Are we sure enough about it to limit our freedoms, our democracy, as some suggest we must?

  36. Nullius in Verba

    PS. Apologies for the length.

  37. ThomasL

    Jon,

    You need to catch up. I strongly suggest you read Judith Curries several part dissection of the “hide the decline” stuff. It starts here: http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/22/hiding-the-decline/ -> read all the parts, and especially read the comments, there are *lots* of scientists, and their take is not pretty. Apparently when not in charge of moderating the explanations aren’t going over quite as well. It’s a conversation that has pulled in a few other blogs, and I suggest reading them as well as you will find posts such as this one from Jonathan Jones over at Bishop Hill (http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2011/2/23/the-beddington-challenge.html?currentPage=2#comments). It is a good example (and might answer a hell of a lot of your questions in here in regards to all the other scientists who agree posts…):

    “People have asked why mainstream scientists are keeping silent on these issues. As a scientist who has largely kept silent, at least in public, I have more sympathy for silence than most people here. It’s not for the obvious reason, that speaking out leads to immediate attacks, not just from Gavin and friends, but also from some of the more excitable commentators here. Far more importantly most scientists are reluctant to speak out on topics which are not their field. We tend to trust our colleagues, perhaps unreasonably so, and are also well aware that most scientific questions are considerably more complex than outsiders think, and that it is entirely possible that we have missed some subtle but critical point.

    However, “hide the decline” is an entirely different matter. This is not a complicated technical matter on which reasonable people can disagree: it is a straightforward and blatant breach of the fundamental principles of honesty and self-criticism that lie at the heart of all true science. The significance of the divergence problem is immediately obvious, and seeking to hide it is quite simply wrong. The recent public statements by supposed leaders of UK science, declaring that hiding the decline is standard scientific practice are on a par with declarations that black is white and up is down. I don’t know who they think they are speaking for, but they certainly aren’t speaking for me.

    I have watched Judy Curry with considerable interest since she first went public on her doubts about some aspects of climate science, an area where she is far more qualified than I am to have an opinion. Her latest post has clearly kicked up a remarkable furore, but she was right to make it. The decision to hide the decline, and the dogged refusal to admit that this was an error, has endangered the credibility of the whole of climate science. If the rot is not stopped then the credibility of the whole of science will eventually come into question.

    Judy’s decision to try to call a halt to this mess before it’s too late is brave and good. So please cut her some slack; she has more than enough problems to deal with at the moment.

    If you’re wondering who I am, then you can find me at the Physics Department at Oxford University.

    Feb 23, 2011 at 10:29 PM”

    I have in the past posted other comments by other active researchers and scientists who echo the same concerns. A few threads back the argument ended up being “what percent had to agree” before action should be taken.

    The simple realization that almost no one in the thread recognized such is a *social science* question and *not* a scientific one speaks volumes. Perhaps this is what happens when everyone thinks it’s about the “framing”. Science “framed” its methods centuries ago. They aren’t open for reinterpretation.

    Has even our educated citizens understanding of science and its requirements in regards to the methods and procedures that must be followed for an action to be considered “doing science” rather than doing something else -> say evangelizing, fallen so low as to be meaningless?

  38. Sean McCorkle

    Nullius @37

    Regarding fraud, the example most people cite is the following:
    “Seems to me that Keenan has a valid point. The statements in the papers
    that he quotes seem to be incorrect statements, and that someone (WCW
    at the very least) must have known at the time that they were incorrect.”

    And the quoted assertion is in fact correct? This is not one guy blowing off some steam, thinking out loud, etc via email? This somehow demonstrates actual fraud, that data was faked or something?

    The problem is that Climategate is not a neat, simple, black-and-white confession, as some demand. Understanding it requires a lot of knowledge of the context, the history, the arguments, and in many cases the science.

    and mostly importantly, scientists and how they think and operate and communicate and their culture, and not to be biased by our projections of what we think they are like or ought to be like.

    Which is a problem – that shoddy record keeping is common in science, and you don’t even see anything wrong with that. The tiniest corner grocery store would be ashamed to keep records like that.

    Shoddy is in the eye of the beholder. And why at all should science be like a small business? Thats an example of projection: “I don’t run my BUSINESS that way, so therefore SCIENCE shouldn’t be run that way, by gum!”

    I already explained this one to you – were you not listening?

    Okay – I’ll concede the point for the sake of argument. Can you now demonstrate that this is not a Fallacy of Hasty Generalization: a few bad scientists mean that MOST of them are bad! ?

    They’re NOT independent. They all pick from the same small subset of growth-spike datasets. Many of them use the same data as MBH98.

    Ice cores, stalagmites, and boreholes do not. The are independent.

    former minerals prospector

    Go on then. Why did one researcher say “It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically” instead of eagerly taking the opportunity to “cut his colleague down”? Or even just allow valid criticism to be published unmolested?

    Hasty Generalization again?

    Are we sure enough about it to limit our freedoms, our democracy, as some suggest we must?

    No. But not all are, and take note that freedoms can also be limited by business and corporations.

  39. ThomasL

    Sean,

    I suggest you also read what has been coming out on Judith Curry’s blog. Really, there is no apologizing going on over there about how this has damaged science. And that is all of science, not just climate science.

    You may want to think hard about what you wish to defend, because it is very clear that the entire attention of every part of the scientific community is now engaged, and they aren’t just keeping quiet and letting the trade groups post lists suggesting they all think what goes on in that science feild is all hunky dory…

  40. Sean McCorkle

    Apologies for the errors in my post above – I was counting on a proofreading cycle and a lot of mistakes slipped through. (note to self: don’t try commenting while waiting for a train in the station)

    ThomasL@41

    I did a quick scan (although not very thoroughly, I admit) of the Judith Curry link in #39. This helped gel an understanding of a confusion I’ve been having. It stems from mixed messages that I’m hearing from global warming skeptics here in the comments on this blog. The general messages, as I understand them, are:

    (1) Don’t trust the scientists. Examine the data, investigate the science.

    (2) Scientists X, Y and Z in climategate have committed forgery or worse. Therefore global warming is a hoax.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with message 1. However, message 2 is a logical fallacy, and its very much at odds with the investigative spirit of 1. Message 2 is saying, because some scientists got it wrong, there is no need to investigate further—its ALL wrong. That’s incompatible with the attitude in message 1, that the scientific process transcends “who said what”. It doesn’t matter if its an expert or a hooligan making the hypothesis—the truth will come out in the wash of testing and further examination. The veracity of the claim does not depend on the trustworthiness of the scientists.

    In fact your statement here

    Really, there is no apologizing going on over there about how this has damaged science. And that is all of science, not just climate science.

    carries message 2 to an even greater extreme.

    The other cautionary note I would add is to be aware of the sampling bias of commenters on blogs and such. Chris and others have brought up the subject of the fragmenting nature of the internet and other media. People tend to tune in and focus on sites and shows that share their values. I don’t think the dialog on that link is necessarily representative of anything other than folks who are interested enough to comment on that issue.

  41. TTT

    Nullius:
    As they say: “Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

    As I say, post-editing and mangling quotes is a more grotesque dishonesty than anything you have ever accused the climate science community of doing. Schneider’s quote did not end there, you know very well that he then went on to say that people should be both effective AND honest. Stopping before the end can ONLY be meant to mislead.

    And I second everything Sean has said about “Climategate”. The whole thing is nothing but persecuting scientists for thoughtcrime: the thoughtcrime of hating their critics (“I wanna punch that guy…. I wish so-and-so could never publish again…”), the thoughtcrime of wanting to be more powerful than they actually are (“I wish only our side could ever be heard, period!”), the thoughtcrime of wanting to bend the rules (“I can’t figure out how to shoot down this article, can anybody help me?”), with absolutely not one shred of evidence whatsoever that anything inappropriate was ever actually done, by anybody. Our “Climategate” worrywarts would, I am certain, lock up the majority of the male population as being rapists, for thoughtcrime is such a dangerous thing.

    What’s really amazing about “Climategate” is the bitterness and ideological desperation that it shows from the denial wing, as this most paltry and personality-based “evidence” is tarted up as being THE FINAL NAIL IN THE COFFIN!!!!111one. This is exactly, exactly what happened with Bjorn Lomborg a few years ago. “Wow–that guy wore a Greenpeace button for two weeks in 1985, and he says environmentalists are lying about global warming?! FINAL NAIL FINAL NAIL!” I guess it wasn’t final enough, and there had to be another final nail that was even more finally final-er.

    It’s like hearing Linus rave about how he’ll surely see the Great Pumpkin rise out of its pumpkin patch next year. Everybody who actually understands how the science works does not believe you, and such frenzied over-promising really sounds like it is only meant to convince one person of the rightness of his own cause. Good luck.

    Re: Judith Curry–you’ll forgive me for not caring what OrcSlayer3:16 in some blog comment thread says. The more the deniers try to spiral these conversations into a Silmarillion of link-following over more and more minutiae (“what did Steig say about what Watts said about what Steig said about what Watts said about what Steig said?!? READ ALL ABOUT IT!”), the more it becomes clear that they are trying to run pell-mell away from the foundational facts of atmospheric chemistry, to which they are ideologically opposed.

  42. Bobito

    @43 – There is certainly a “FINAL NAIL IN THE COFFIN!!!” crowd. But there is also an “another chink in the armor” crowd. One can be skeptical, and correct in their skepticism, about bits and pieces of the science and how it was handled while still being open minded and accepting of the science.

    Defending the IPCC and CRU to the death is not helping the message that AGW is real. If someone can easily discredit one bit it’s easier to sell all as bogus.

    The most strident defenders of AGW (just like the most strident deniers) would be well served to occasionally agree with valid points on “the other side” as to not appear blinded by their bias. If one is defending anything and everything that supports their argument and dismissing everything that goes against it they can be easily discredited. The us versus them mentality just hardens the other side when what we need is for both sides to be open to new information.

    I agree with your assessment of the bloggers at Judith Curry, but the same can be said of bloggers here (when is the last time Chris or Sherill posted anything that doesn’t promote a “the end is near” mentality when it comes to AGW). However, check out the new article posted this morning on Judith Curry’s blog, it’s about all the things she believes are correct about AGW science: http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/26/agreeing/#more-2548

    As the science matures, those that dug their feet in long ago will be left behind by those that can look at each piece of new information and judge it without bias.

  43. TTT

    Bobito: the absolutely most valid point on the “skeptical” side–and it’s valid enough that one hardly needs to give it partisan identity–is that it very well may be impossible to stop whatever the magnitude of AGW will turn out to be, while hanging onto anything like what we consider to be a democratic process.

    Between the ramp-up of Asian industry; the some decades-long “lag time” of already released ghg’s having not fully contributed to AGW yet and with their contributions, whatever they are, being inevitable since they’re already out the pipe; with even the most serious reasonable impact suggestions not being likely to impact the wealthy world for many years; and with all of the solutions on the “prevention” end falling squarely in the middle of everybody’s quality-of-life issues…. AGW seems almost like an Intelligent Designer decided to put together an environmental problem that not enough of the people with the power to solve it would ever WANT to, even if they actually could.

    I’ve worked for many environmental NGOs and I can tell you directly that this is what many of the management-level executives believe. There were articles in the Guardian in the last 18 months about leadership of many climate groups–behind closed doors of course–saying it is already too late, and that the time for any reasonable hope of “prevention” was maybe 30 years ago, before the evidence was as good as it is now.

    A lot of the people I call “deniers” already believe this, of course, but they believe it at the same time as they believe that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas at all and that this can’t all be demonstrated in the laboratory–so they’re basically right by accident, throwing every excuse to do nothing at the wall and that one piece was what stuck. If they’d come out and admitted the scientific basis, and if enough of the scientists had come out and admitted that there is no political will (or any justifiable political action) to undertake such radical change for such a slow-moving and unpredictable threat, then probably 10 years ago we would have achieved a perfectly adequate legislative response based around national construction projects and tax breaks geared towards mitigation, resettlement, and insurance claims. It wouldn’t have been particularly great, but it would have been the best we could have done and there’d have been no real point fighting about it afterwards. The Montreal Accords did nothing to heal the ozone layer–they just slowed down the rate at which further damage could be done. It worked–it has and will continue to have eventual benefits–and it did not do unacceptable, unwithstandable immediate damage to the economy.

  44. ThomasL

    Sean,

    You might want to do more than glance. Yes, there is the normal B.S. going on, it is a blog after all -> but it is easy enough to pick out who’s who (Galvin and his gang even showed up…). There are numerous practitioners from other fields commenting (a substantial number of posts are linked to peoples actual “who am I page”…), but hey, dismissing everyone’s concerns is sort of par for the course in this field. Perhaps one of its most unique aspects as a uniquely identifiable area of thought, and one that has me most interested…

    It’s easy to downplay the trust aspect of science and society. I would, however, advise you to pay attention to that part of the conversation going on in the threads over there. Like most other things in the real world, the final outcome of all this has but barely started to form. Things take a *long* time to play out in the world (we all seem to have the 30 minute everything has to be settled T.V. sitcom mentality anymore… but reality is much different…), and the clamoring for all this to go away is rather comical for one who understands how knowledge and society dance (which Chris does -> or at least we hope he does as he writes for a living and “teaches” communication…). Sort of like everyone cheering Egypt’s turn towards “democracy” -> we’ll see how that goes over the next 50 years, because it will take at least that long to actually know. We would rather pretend that such events are quick and sanitary rather than their having a history of being slow as molasses and filled to the brim with examples of our species being as flat brutal as we can be to one another. But hey, the revolution did look good on T.V., didn’t it? So glad it’s all over now…

    I would not say there is only choice 1 or 2. You are showing *your* bias with such choices. There is also 3 -> don’t trust the scientist, examine and verify (supposedly a foundational part of science) *and*, as I would in ANY OTHER AREA OF MY LIFE, don’t trust those who have shown a willingness to lie -> in fact it would be better to just not deal with such at all for one can never tell what such types real motivations are… Just an example, there are a few others, but I suppose one must be interested in theory and logic for them to matter. You do see the problem though, yes? Once you take a short cut and present it to me as “settled” I’m going to have a problem not just trusting you -> but believing you in the future. You’ve already shown me I shouldn’t do either and you will sacrifice integrity for “results”. Rather like a grade schooler doing their homework -> the answer only matters if you showed your work. If you failed to show your work, you failed -> “right” answer or not.

    I wonder why we start teaching such a lesson so damn early… Something you might want to ponder.

    “If a scientists breaks the very thin ice of impartiality then it irreparably fractures their standing in a proper functioning scientific community. That this hasn’t happened in the climate science community is perhaps the most cause for concern”
    Philip Finck -Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources

    What some of you are missing is this is far, far more involved than simply “climate science”. The fools have poked the hornets’ nest and *everything* about how and what we call “science” is now open for questioning. There is a reason *why* the rules were laid out in stone centuries ago. It might behoove some of you to go discover that part of history.

  45. Nullius in Verba

    #40,

    “And the quoted assertion is in fact correct?”

    Yes.

    “This is not one guy blowing off some steam, thinking out loud, etc via email?”

    See what I mean? It takes a knowledge of the context to understand why this email is important. You asked whether Climategate had anything in it about actual scientific fraud, and I gave you an example, and just as I predicted you want to start questioning the minutiae. Which is fair enough, except that I know it would likely involve a lot of effort on my part for no return. I’d rather pick easier examples where more is known.

    My intention wasn’t to argue the point in this case. Only to say that just because we’ve only talked about a couple of Climategate cases, you shouldn’t assume that they’re all that’s in there.

    i>”…not to be biased by our projections of what we think they [...] ought to be like.”

    We think scientists ought to behave according to the basic principles of science. Is that unreasonable?

    i>”Shoddy is in the eye of the beholder. And why at all should science be like a small business?”

    It shouldn’t. It should be run a lot better than a small business.

    Unless you want to wreck the reputation Science has built up, that is.

    i>”Okay – I’ll concede the point for the sake of argument.”

    Progress! :-)

    i>”Can you now demonstrate that this is not a Fallacy of Hasty Generalization: a few bad scientists mean that MOST of them are bad! ?”

    I haven’t drawn that conclusion. The only way this reflects on other scientists is to the extent that they failed to detect the problem, refuse to acknowledge the problem or get it corrected, or make statements to the public ostensibly backed by the authority and reputation of Science without ever having investigated sufficiently to even know about the problem.

    That there ‘might be a few bad scientists’ is only step 1 in the argument, and has been a long and difficult struggle in itself.

    i>”Ice cores, stalagmites, and boreholes do not. The are independent.”

    Boreholes don’t go back beyond the little ice age, and are massively uncertain. (The heat diffusion equation is hard to invert with any accuracy.) Ice cores and stalagmites often show past episodes of warming as large as (or maybe larger than) the present. You have to mix them with tree rings to attentuate the past peaks. And because of the methods they use to combine the records, any reconstruction contaminated with growth-spike tree rings is liable to be dominated by them.

    The only reconstruction that shows a flat-handled hockeystick without using tree rings (to great fanfare) was Mann08, which famously did so only by including Mia Tiljander’s lake bed sediments that had been corrupted by modern ditch digging and inserting them upside down – so the warm mediaeval period looked like a cold interval and thus brought the average down. The claims of robustness I’m told were subsequently quietly withdrawn in a cryptic sentence buried deep in the supplementary information to another paper.

    i>”Hasty Generalization again?”

    Do you mean he said “It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically” because he was making a hasty generalisation?

    #42,

    i>”Message 2 is saying, because some scientists got it wrong, there is no need to investigate further—its ALL wrong.”

    No. Message 2 is that because some scientists got it wrong, we now have to carefully check everything else they say, we can’t take it on trust. (Sceptics didn’t take it on trust, anyway, but this point is addressed to all those who do.)

    Message 2 also says that all those scientists who said the science was solid without themselves checking to see if this was true also have a problem.

    #43,

    i>”As I say, post-editing and mangling quotes is a more grotesque dishonesty than anything you have ever accused the climate science community of doing.”

    The quote is exact and unmangled. It’s normal practice to quote only the relevant section of a larger paragraph. And I already knew that you all knew the context, as I’ve quoted it frequently here in the past.

    i>”…he then went on to say that people should be both effective AND honest.”

    No he didn’t. Now it is YOU that is mangling Schneider’s quote. He said “I hope that means being both.”

    He says “Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.” If he’s saying you can always do both, there’s no balancing to be done. What he saying is that he always hopes for situations where there is no conflict, but often there is, and there you have to strike a balance. It is those situations I am interested in, and that the quoted sentence is relevant to. The wider context doesn’t change its sense.

    i>”the thoughtcrime of wanting to bend the rules (“I can’t figure out how to shoot down this article, can anybody help me?”), with absolutely not one shred of evidence whatsoever that anything inappropriate was ever actually done, by anybody.”

    Actually, asking for help shooting down a confidential review by privately giving details to another interested party is widely regarded as “inappropriate”.

    But like I said, there’s lots more in Climategate than the few safe examples you like to bring up. What about incitement to breach FOIA legislation? Are you telling me you don’t consider that “inappropriate”?

    #45,

    i>”A lot of the people I call “deniers” already believe this, of course, but they believe it at the same time as they believe that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas at all and that this can’t all be demonstrated in the laboratory”

    (Sigh) Very few sceptics believe CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas. It’s probably a smaller number than the number of warmists who believe that by 1940 none of the crops will grow and we’ll all be eaten by cannibals, or that within their lifetimes the rising seas are going to inundate a wide variety of famous land marks, (not to mention Bangladesh). Of course CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but so what if it is, if doubling it will lead to a virtually undetectable half a C rise in some abstruse statistical global average? Nobody would be proposing overturning democracy and the global economy if there wasn’t more to it than that.

    i>”…then probably 10 years ago we would have achieved a perfectly adequate legislative response based around…”

    You had a perfectly adequate legislative response ten years ago, called the Byrd-Hagel resolution, which was voted for by both sides of the house. It accepted the scientific basis, and set out the conditions for effective action. And at least up until the present influx of Republicans, it has been the policy of administrations from both sides.

    It’s well worth looking into. Both sides worked out a common policy ten years ago. They just dress it up differently for the public.

  46. Sean McCorkle

    ThomasL@46

    If your point is that the public is losing trust in scientific institutions, I don’t disagree. But a precipitous collapse caused by climategate e-mails seems overly ominous. There have been many cases of scientific misconduct reported in the news in the last decade or two in the life sciences which don’t seem to be suffering any worse for the wear as a result. If one looks outside scientific professions, at banking, law and medicine for example, those all have had their fare share of scandals and the public takes them in stride and continues to make use of those institutions.

    And again, beware of the selection effect when surveying that site. I would argue its hardly representative of the public.

    Regarding the two messages from #42, I suspect you misunderstand me. I’m not presenting them as choices at all, and certainly not saying they’re an exhaustive set by any stretch. I’m just saying that they are the gist what I am repeatedly hearing from the skeptic side (and admit I could be mistaken, but thats how I understand it) and was commenting on their contradictory nature.

  47. Sean McCorkle

    Nullius @47

    Boreholes don’t go back beyond the little ice age, and are massively uncertain. (The heat diffusion equation is hard to invert with any accuracy.)
    Doesn’t look <A HREF="http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~peter/Resources/Seminar/readings/Huang_boreholeTemp_Nature%2700.pdfall that uncertain

    Ice cores and stalagmites often show past episodes of warming as large as (or maybe larger than) the present. You have to mix them with tree rings to attentuate the past peaks

    These ice core reconstructions (fig 6) span the range 0-2 kya and pretty well reflect the general profile of the tree reconstructions and Im pretty sure they didn’t mix them with tree ring data at all. All taken together these are independent of each other and are mutually supportive.

    “And the quoted assertion is in fact correct?”
    Yes.

    Okay. Whats the supporting evidence for this, that the statements in the papers are incorrect and someone knew at the time that they were incorrect?

    “This is not one guy blowing off some steam, thinking out loud, etc via email?”
    See what I mean? It takes a knowledge of the context to understand why this email is important.

    Context can mean many things. It can be the context of the social culture. The social culture of science can very different from business culture – very nonhierarchical, outspoken and freewheeling. It can be the context of the perception of scientists viewing themselves as under siege. It can be the context of much broader conversations and interactions of which these emails are only a fraction. And it can be the context of potential bias in the selection of the emails to be made public. Is there any claim that these emails are fully comprehensive?

    You asked whether Climategate had anything in it about actual scientific fraud,

    well its got be more than allegations of fraud

    and I gave you an example, and just as I predicted you want to start questioning the minutiae. Which is fair enough, except that I know it would likely involve a lot of effort on my part for no return. I’d rather pick easier examples where more is known.

    As ThomasL stated above, the scientific method is a way of life, to be practiced even in daily situations. Detailed scrutiny and examination is at least as appropriate for climategate emails as it is for climate publications, no? So, lets try to come up with some multiple working hypotheses for this, and then see about trying to eliminate some of them.

    Person asserts that Keenan-quoted statements appear to be incorrect. Possibilities include, but not limited to: 1) said statements are in fact incorrect, in which case they may be 1a) honest mistakes, 1b) deliberate mistakes; 2) statements only appear to be incorrect because 2a) statements are quoted out of context 2b) person does not know context 2c) person misunderstands statements 2d) person is wrong for other reasons (i.e up too late, sleep deprived, etc). 2e) person could be lying. yikes, thats really paranoid, probably should scratch that right away. Similarly, if said statements are actually correct, Keenan 3b) may not have known context or 3c) may misunderstand statements, or 2a) again may be misrepresenting them. Someone must have known at the time said statements are incorrect: if that assertion is correct, could be 4a) deliberate (fraud) 4b) incompetence (let it slide when they shouldn’t have). Or 5) that assertion could just be wrong.

    If person is a climate scientist, 2b and 2c can probably be ruled out. I wouldn’t necessarily do the same for for 3b and 3c – I think Keenan is not a climate scientist and switching fields opens up possibilities of inter-field vocabulary & jargon misunderstandings. possible test of 2d) is there a followup email correcting assertion? Lack of followup email may not indicate negative, since that email may have been left out of the climategate correction, or communicated verbally and not on record.

    Just thinking out loud here, of course, but it seems like a whole lot more information is required to rule out more than a few multiple working hypotheses.

    And why at all should science be like a small business?”
    It shouldn’t. It should be run a lot better than a small business.

    Its a mistake to think science is like a business.

    Unless you want to wreck the reputation Science has built up, that is.

    Since is all about “investigating and examining the science for oneself” for the skeptics, reputation should be meaningless. Unless you’re thinking about perception of the public that don’t want to do that, in which case, yeah, this doesn’t help. But neither did a lot of other things. Science and scientists have been perceived as saviors and pariahs off and on by society going back god knows how long.

    Do you mean he said “It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically” because he was making a hasty generalization?

    If you’re asserting that this attitude is typical of climate science based on one statement from one person, then you’re making a hasty generalization.

  48. Nullius in Verba

    “Doesn’t look all that uncertain”

    If you take a look at figure 2, you can see the smooth borehole temperature with its uncertainty, and the jagged temperature record superimposed on top. Obviously, the temperature line extends outside the borehole uncertainty limits. Those ‘error bounds’ are clearly representing something different…

    “These ice core reconstructions (fig 6) span the range 0-2 kya and pretty well reflect the general profile of the tree reconstructions.”

    So long as you don’t look too closely.

    Since I forgot about the Dunde variations when I mentioned ice cores, I suppose I owe it to you to discuss one of the alternative reconstructions in a bit more depth.

    The first two 6A and 6B do show flat histories, with a rise starting around 1700-1800. The third 6C shows temperatures prior to the LIA comparable today. Even for the ones showing rises, the temperature record is far steeper at the end, compared to the size of the peak. The second shows an abrupt change in variance around 1000 AD – it’s possible that different cores have been calibrated to temperature on different scales before being combined, effectively giving them different weightings. We would need to know the details of the calculation before drawing firm conclusions.

    We can’t do that because Lonnie Thompson has for the past 7 years resisted every attempt to get him to fully archive these data series, and a couple of them exist in multiple, inconsistent, ‘grey’ versions. Dunde has seven different variants in the literature!

    For some reason, Dunde is amazingly popular with climate scientists.

    However, we can say a little bit about it all from the graphs here.
    Fig 6A is a composite of the composites shown in 6B and 6C. As noted, 6C shows the period prior to the LIA as just as warm, so the hockeystick shape of 6A comes entirely from the Tibetan composite 6B.

    6C is still interesting, because the series that go to make it up in 5A, (Huascaran, Quelcaya, Sajama) don’t show the same shape. Sajama is flat and missing its last five years, Huascaran is flat after 1750 and missing the last decade. So the last century and the final two-sigma rise, highest in the record, is entirely due to Quelcaya. It’s hard to tell from these graphs that have been averaged in 5-year blocks, but since Quelcaya was partially archived in 2002, the annual data at the end is available and the final peak seems to be due to the disappearance of the 1983 El Nino spike that was visible in the 1984 core but not in the update taken in 2002. Quelcaya is not particularly remarkable in 1995-2000 compared to the rest of the century. Curious, but ultimately still unresolved.

    Now to the Tibetan composite. This is a combination of Dunde, Guliya, Puruogangri, and Dasuopu, and leads to the composite in 5C with the sharp step up in 1950. Guliya shows no step, and although Puruogangri shows a 20th century rise, the peak in 1930 isn’t seen. (Puruogangri is nevertheless the source of the final peak value in the last 5 years, since none of the others have data here.) It appears that the overall shape is, with a little help from Dasuopu peaking in 1940, being dominated by Dunde. What a surprise!

    So in summary, the peak values at the ends of the series are probable artefacts of some of the data series ending before others, and we have those data series with high 20th century rises dominating the Tibetan composite, presumably because they are given greater weight in the combination, which in turn dominates the final result. How these issues play out in the Tibetan series before 1600 we don’t know, because we’re not shown that data. In particular, we don’t know how the flat shape of the Tibetan composite during the MWP arises, although something odd is clearly going on around then because of the sudden change in variance. Coincidentally(?), one of the cores ends at that point.

    I do want to get around to Keenan at some point, but I don’t have the time right now, and I’ve managed to write yet another huge post – far longer than I intended. I’ll finish instead with:

    “If you’re asserting that this attitude is typical of climate science based on one statement from one person, then you’re making a hasty generalization.”

    I wasn’t. (At the least, the email was sent to a second person.) But it has been so hard to get anyone to acknowledge that even this comment is really a genuine example of unscientific behaviour that we’ve never got any further. Everybody dodges the point.

    There is a position, championed by people like Judith Curry, that says that while the overall science is still solid, Climategate does contain evidence of serious failings in the practice of climate science that the scientific community must acknowledge and clean up, and the fact that so few scientists are willing to do so is itself a second scandal. Even though sceptics don’t agree with her position on AGW, it’s a position we can nevertheless respect. It would, in my opinion, go a long way towards repairing the damage done by a small number of climate scientists to science. I’m genuinely impressed to see you slowly edging towards it.

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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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