Thanks for the additional information. It does indeed sound as if perhaps the reviewers may have let this one get past them. In my experience, this usually happens when a paper straddles lines between disciplines/expertise. Could this have been the case here? After all, GRL has a very broad audience, and not every reader/reviewer is going to appreciate the subtleties of an analysis.
Second, although I’ve been critical of Lindzen in the past, in this case, it sounds as if he might have been short-changed by the review process. After all, I’m sure he wanted to state his case as strongly as possible, and he certainly isn’t helped by the fundamental errors in the paper. After all, Lindzen was playing the game by the rules.
In fact, I wonder if people here really appreciate that the system worked pretty well. A paper was published that made some remarkable claims. Those claims and the methodology are examined by the community at large (not there’s no “AUDIT”, no congressional hearings…). The independent researchers discover shortcomings in the paper that invalidate the results. A couple of these independent groups get together and compare notes. They also publish–in a peer-reviewed paper rather than a comment–and the shortcomings of the LC’09 are manifest.
Note that while there may be some griping about the quality of the peer review and how flaws that should have been clear made it through into the final paper, there’s no need for any of the individuals to get personal. The treatment is factual and methodological. That’s how science works!
LC’09 stuck to evidence. Others point out that the evidence doesn’t say quite what they thought. No talk of conspiracies. No talk of “groupthink” or “confirmation bias” or whether the authors involved like each other or not, because such questions are irrelevant. A paper is published. Its conclusions are not independently confirmed. The original authors say they’ll go back and try again.
Contrast that to the blogosphere, with its insinuations, character assassination and general nastiness. The climate debate cannot be a civil scientific debate, because one side has all the evidence. All the other side can do is attack small pieces of that evidence or the character of the scientists who generate it. That’s science vs. anti-science. We see it in the creationists, among the anti-vaccine movement, the power-lines-cause-cancer conspiracy theorists.
If the denialists would simply stop concentrating on decade-old studies and start trying to generate understanding on their own, I think the debate would be a lot more civil, as the case of LC’09 demonstrates.
IMO the problem here for Lindzen is not that he’s corrupt, or that he’s saying what important people want to hear, but that he’s over-ready to avail himself of any limelight he can manage.
And that’s not necessarily *wrong* but now it comes back to bite him.
As Ray says above, Lindzen’s been shortchanged by peer review and may well want the best argument possible for his stance and his paper.
But his chasing the limelight here makes it hard to put much faith behind that reading of it.
It’s just as easy to read into it that he likes the poor review process undertaken because it get him in the spotlight again.
David Bellamy found just the same sort of limelight that was easy to garner, hence his changed story on how he has been done wrong (cue blues riff…).
Does he have the courage to risk losing the fame by going “my bad” and countering his paper? It depends on how much of a career he thinks he has left, I think.
But that’s not a nice way to think, is it.
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 10 Jan 2010 @ 2:22 PM
“Perhaps a new online journal which independently publishes peer-reviewed comments and responses is called for?”
I couldn’t let that comment slip without hoisting the flag for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (http://www.atmospheric-chemistry-and-physics.net). This is an online, open-access initial submission, reviews and responses are all available online, although the official reviewers can still remain anonymous if they want. Additionally, third parties are free to put comments into papers at the discussion stage.
Personally I think this has indeed brought the overall standard of the science up, simply because the there is much more openness in both the initial submission and the review process. One might argue that this has been partly responsible for its very impressive impact factor (4.9, which is pretty good for a relatively new journal), although I’d admit not everyone sees it that way (some people attribute it to it attracting a large number of special issues due to its streamlined publishing). But whichever way, our group is currently sending most of our papers there now at the expense of journals like JGR.
“The measure of such a system is not whether it is perfect, but whether it deals appropriately and quickly with problems when they (inevitably) arise.” Perfect! That sums the whole situation in one nice, neat package!!
Comment by jeff in Cincinnati — 10 Jan 2010 @ 3:28 PM
I have to wonder how carefully GRL has been screening people who answer their call to volunteer to review submitted papers. Anyone know?
I am not a climate scientist, but I will say that I think that the peer-review process could be made better in most fields of science. one review to a paper I submitted was riffled with spelling mistakes, grossly erroneous suggestions for statistical analysis, and off-topic comments. What is clear is that people are submitting more and more papers, academics are getting busier and busier, and the supply of potential reviewers is not realy increasing fast enough.
Having said that, how can we improve peer-review? here are a few suggestions:
1. Make the process doubel blind, so that the authors as well as the reviewers are anonymous.
2. Insist that the selected reviewer is the person to perform the review, not his graduate students or research assistants.
3. If you are an editor, read and pass judgement on the damned review – spelling mistakes and ad-hominem attacks are clear indicators of a shoddy review.
4. Reward scientists for performing this vital service – either through points on their annual assessment, by weighting reviews highly in tenure applications or through other means.
I am sure there are many others
[Response: Thanks. Double-blind reviewing doesn’t have much of a track record in Earth Sciences (I’ve never come across it), but where it might matter is pretty much the only examples in which you’d be able to guess correctly anyway. As for point 2), I think it should be the other way around. We need a bigger pool of reviewers, not just a cadre of big-name scientists doing it all. Passing reviews to more junior members of the team (with supervision if necessary) is both good for them (experience) and for the authors (people have more time to do a good job). With you on 3+4 though! – gavin]
Any chance of GRL volunteering who the reviewers were? I smell a rat as to how those reviewers were selected.
Were they the same reviewers that Lindzen recommended to the editor? While I understand that journals and editors find it difficult to find reviewers. Really, it does not take much tome to go through the literature to find the big names in that field or names associated with the data at the centre of the paper. It places authors in a very awkward position if they have to provide two or three names of people to review their paper. If it can be shown that Lindzen provided inappropriate names (e.g., names of people who have conflict of interest or favourable bias or we not qualified to review the material), then the editor and he have a lot to answer for.
I find it odd to hear people claim that Lindzen is a victim of a faulty peer-review process at GRL. He is not a novice researcher (not even close), he has been around long enough to know when he is overstating his case, or to know when he does or does not have a good paper. Lindzen is not naive nor is he stupid; he very likely submitting this paper to provide those in denial with more fodder. Given his track record and strong beliefs that AGW is not a concern, to dismiss that (fodder) idea outright would be naive and irresponsible.
Why did he choose GRL and not JAS, or MWR (i.e., AMS journal) or JGR-A? Maybe there was no particular reason, but just maybe there was. And this fiasco points to the latter.
This fiasco at GRL needs to be looked into closer by the journal and the findings made public. I sincerely hope that this is not another “Climate Research” incident.
“While I understand that journals and editors find it difficult to find reviewers. Really, it does not take much tome to go through the literature to find the big names in that field or names associated with the data at the centre of the paper.”
Consider, if editors direct most papers to “big names”, how can those papers be given adequate scrutiny?
Truly it is too easy to underestimate the problems editors face in seeking reviewers, just as it is too easy to dismiss the amount of work involved in scrupulously reviewing a paper.
Review is a first pass. Completely validating a submission in detail would essentially require duplicating all of the work presented in a paper, an unreasonable request of reviewers who after all are doing this work gratis, using time borrowed from professional or personal duties.
Detailed validation happens after publication, as we see here. For a field with a high level of activity and interest coupled with professional egos at stake the system works very well.
Could you (anyone) just briefly review the main arguments for and against open review, by which I mean peer review in which (1) reviewers are not anonymous and (2) reviewers’ comments are openly available?
Or point me to a quick summary of these arguments, relevant to this field?
I agree with James #7 and not Andy #10. The more open the process the better. I have found the reviews of may papers where the reviews are published online along with the paper and the author responses at the draft stage has led to better and more on point comments from the reviewers. There needs to be more of an emphasis on reviewing, I enjoy reviewing papers, learn something everytime. Can each review be counted toward page charges for examples.
@MapleLeaf: “Any chance of GRL volunteering who the reviewers were?”
I most certainly hope not.
“I smell a rat as to how those reviewers were selected.”
The editor should be happy to explain that selection, up to the point where the referees might be identified.
Letting the occasional loose cannon paper into a Letters journal is a minor sin for the editorial board. Mishandling a duty of trust like anonymity of the referees? That one would be inexcusable under most circumstances I can imagine.
In a scientific sense there isn’t a problem – the problem is more of a political one.
So perhaps GRL might be thought of as a bit of a rag-bag journal where short papers are allowed through an overworked editorial/reviewing system, without the scrutiny that is appropriate for a journal that publishes more substantial analyses. So the community recognises that GRL papers might be outstanding, interesting or flawed, but individuals and the community can make a scientific judgement on the quality of any paper that they consider interesting enought to read. In terms of scientific progress, the liklihood of flawed papers isn’t so problematic and one might have to accept this in the context of an overworked editorial system (if the community really wants a very rapid turnaround “Letters” style journal of this form).
And perhaps it’s understandable that GRL, in such a circumstance, should find “Comments” problematic, since the system may promote exotic, controversial, and even “political” papers since these will be likely to be allowed through even if flawed. The journal presumably doesn’t want to be overloaded with “Comments”.
I don’t think the situation is satisfactory ‘though. In my field (Molecular Biology/Biophysics) there is at least one “Letters” journal, but this has a seemingly higher degree of quality control, even if this puts the editors and we reviewers under additional workload.
Essentially the journal is a representation of the community, and perhaps it’s up to the community to decide whether it wants a “Letters” journal that operates in such a manner as to allow flawed papers through. This doesn’t matter too much in terms of scientific progress, but in the current climate, it’s unfortunate that it appears slightly disreputable, and seems to promote a drip feed of papers that are used to support a non-scientific view….
@10: Point 3 has arrived in the theoretical computer science community in the past two years. Note that our idiom is slightly different: we publish at peer-reviewed conferences, so there’s a program committee rather than an editorial board; they fill the same function. The answer is accept / reject, the former meaning we should make slight revisions, the latter meaning we should make more important revisions and submit to another conference, or the same conference a year later (or simply give up).
Whereas previously the reviewer comments came back verbatim with a congratulations / sorry email, now we get the notification on time, but the program committee edit the reviewer comments and send the edited comments about a week later. Particularly egregious comments are excised, others come with a note from the PC.
I’m not sure it has much affected decisions — the committees already did this in their discussions — but it does improve submitters’ blood pressure.
I couldn’t let that comment slip without hoisting the flag for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (http://www.atmospheric-chemistry-and-physics.net). This is an online, open-access journal, where the initial submission, reviews and responses are all available online, although the official reviewers can still remain anonymous if they want. Additionally, third parties are free to put comments into papers at the discussion stage.
I have seen something along these lines before. For example, Eugene V. Koonin was the lead author of a paper on the coevolution of viruses and cells a while back and W. Ford Doolittle was one of the reviewers. The paper was quite illuminating, but so was the exchange between two individuals who have contributed so much to evolutionary biology, and I found the latter to be a rare treat — almost equal to the paper itself. In particular, Doolittle put forward a view of science that seemed at once Popperian and post-modernist which included the view that theories of early evolution are in essence a useful fiction and not really scientific since they lack falsifiability.
Eugene V. Koonin responded in part:
It is true that the scenarios are not falsifiable in their entirety, and neither is any historical narrative (the same applies to many generalizations of non-historical sciences – indeed, it is quite dubious that a general Popperian model of science is realistic – see, e.g., Godfrey-Smith, Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science). We believe that, in general, the verificationist framework is more relevant as the epistemological foundation of the research into fundamental aspects of early evolution. More specifically, we think that the “complete evidence” approach (more or less, sensu Carnap), i.e., convergence (consilience) of various lines of evidence, none of which might be compelling in itself, has the potential of rendering some scenarios of early evolution substantially more likely than others – on some occasions, to such an extent that they closely approach the status of “truth”.
Personally, I found Koonin’s views quite similar to my own as well as those that light the path taken by climatology, or for that matter, modern science in general. Without the exchange being made public like that I believe the readers would have missed out on a great deal, but instead they were invited in. At a certain level it had much the same feel as attending a performance of one of Shakespeare’s plays.
The lack of any reference to Forster & Gregory (2006) was something that struck me very much on looking over the paper. It’s strange that the authors failed to include it… it is outright surreal that no reviewers noted the omission.
Mapleleaf says “…he very likely submitting this paper to provide those in denial with more fodder. Given his track record and strong beliefs that AGW is not a concern, to dismiss that (fodder) idea outright would be naive and irresponsible.”
I strongly disagreee. If all he’d been doing was attempting to give fodder to the denialists, he would not have published, but instead simply submitted the idea on various sympathetic blogs and lamented the inability of dissenting voices to be heard in the “mainstream scientific literature”. He did at least put the idea in front of his peers rather than scoring points ex cathedra.
And I agree that Lindzen is not naive–that is why I think he actually thought he was on to something rather than trying to fool peers he knows he can’t fool.
“A case in point: Greenpeace has filed a Virginia Freedom of Information Request with both Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine’s (D) office and the University of Virginia demanding an array of correspondence concerning Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow at both the conservative Cato Institute and at George Mason University. Michaels also held the title of Virginia’s official climatologist starting in 1980 until Kaine announced in August 2006 he did not consider Michaels as holding that honorary post.
The FOIA to Kaine requests any “letters, email, faxes, reports, meeting and teleconference agendas, minutes, notes, transcripts, tape recordings and phone logs generated by or involving Dr. Patrick Michaels regarding global climate change (a.k.a. global warming).”
Since Chris O’Dell has come forth with some background on his experience at GRL, I’m going to add some details on mine.
In the fall of 2008 I submitted a Comment to GRL on a paper published the previous spring, which I took serious issue with. The response from GRL led to a very Rick Trebino-like episode that lasted over a year and went through several rounds of review by 5 different reviewers and 2 Editors-in-Chief; it should have taken a couple of months, and two rounds of review by two reviewers. There were a number of suspicious or unclear decisions made during the review of the original paper, and especially, in the handling of my Comment.
Although I muddied the waters some by including data from an unpublished analysis in the Comment, which is frowned upon, GRL did not really want to publish the Comment, as evidenced by long delays in the review process, and an attempt to reject it on procedural grounds, after a previous acceptance of an earlier version. It was only through the writing of several long letters, detailing both my scientific points and the details of how the review had been handled, and sending these to the highest level of the AGU hierarchy, that my Comment was published. I simply refused to budge from a position I felt very strongly about, and which was bolstered by support from someone who has published in GRL (and had some similar difficulties, unknown to me at the time), and with whom I shared the details as the process unfolded.
Now Chris says that GRL wants to do away with Comments altogether. I’m not surprised, and as Gavin mentions, this cannot be done as some sort of whim, just because they don’t want to deal with these issues, or to follow other journals (e.g. PNAS).
Very interesting story Jim – thanks for sharing it with us. It’s not clear to me though what are the underlying reasons driving GRL’s behavior. Part of me thinks it is simply driven by their incredibly quick timescale. For instance, if you submit a letter and it requires any revision of any kind, they just reject it, but tell you to make the revisions and resubmit. You do and most times it is accepted the 2nd time, now requiring no revisions. Then they get to say that they average such-and-such from submittal to publication. Comments sort of screw this up, because they go through more rounds and have to go back to the original author for his comments and the process is just lengthy. They seem to have no appetite for lengthy processes, however warranted they may be. This is my hope of what is going on.
One has to be extremely cautious about not publishing a paper. The “only” criteria for this might be that
1- it is repetition of previous
2- methodology is somehow fundamentally flawed
But basically the conclusions should not be touched by the reviewer.
For instance, In my area there are long-standing feuds about fundamental causes of swelling in gels. Are they due to eg ion-exchange, or the Donnan effect, or both, or….???? If the editor selects a reviewer from the “opposite camp”, the comments are always brutal. It is then up to the editor to see past the animosity and publish the paper anyway. Hopefully. Science wars should not be allowed to repress the other opinions.
But, of course, then there are papers that are nonsense… ;-)
Ray Ladbury, with much respect, I do not agree with your comments on my ‘fodder’ hypothesis. If the ‘skeptics’ can get a paper which strongly challenges the theory AGW into a mainstream journal (and not E&E), then that really bolsters the case for the denialist camp, while also giving them the credibility that they crave. LC09 is now cited widely by denilaists as evidence that 1) the models are wrong and 2) that the climate sensitivity is so small that there is no reason for concern. Sadly, this flawed paper will be cited by ‘skeptics’ ad nauseum.
Lindzen id fiercely loyal to the “skeptic’s’ camp, and nowadays I suspect the climate science he woks on has very little to do with advancing the science, but rather focusing on muddying the waters of climate science.
He almost got away with it. One can argue that he would not be so silly as to overreach, but then one would be assuming rational and reasonable thought. People do unreasonable things when they are overzealous. My suspicion is that they took a calculated risk, a risk which was minimized b/c they knew that they could specify some friendly reviewers to help rubber stamp the paper.
I could be wrong, and it could be that in his single minded obsession with his beloved iris hypothesis, he honestly thought that he had nailed it with this paper.
Only Lindzen knows why he did this, but we will probably never know the truth.
PS: I and others have tried to give him the benefit of the doubt (not me here, those thoughts were in my private musings), but in the end we must not be naive and must be pragmatic/realistic, and accept that Lindzen has an agenda. This concerns me, b/c people in that position are not really interested in advancing the science. We also have to keep in mind Lindzen’s less than stellar track record. Denying the link between smoking and lung cancer, for example. Why was he even involved in that debate? That and the fact that he has admitted to taking money from the FF in the past.
If all he’d been doing was attempting to give fodder to the denialists, he would not have published, but instead simply submitted the idea on various sympathetic blogs and lamented the inability of dissenting voices to be heard in the “mainstream scientific literature”. He did at least put the idea in front of his peers rather than scoring points ex cathedra.
And I agree that Lindzen is not naive–that is why I think he actually thought he was on to something rather than trying to fool peers he knows he can’t fool.
He doesn’t have to fool his peers — in order to create for non-academics the illusion that there is a controversy as to whether feedback is positive or negative. He doesn’t have to fool his peers — in order to add to an alternative literature that can be referenced by fellow “skeptic” academics.
As they approach a certain critical mass it becomes easier to have a list of references that entirely sidesteps the mainstream and become insular like certain “traditions” in the humanities. Hard deconstructionism would be one example of this but there have been others. It would be a bit like Pielke referencing Pielke referencing Pielke all the way down — only at the level of a “community.”
And he and other “skeptic” academics don’t have to convince any of the mainstream academics at any point that there actually is a controversy. They only have to create the appearance of a controversy by generating a list of “peer-reviewed” articles that question anthropogenic global warming, its seriousness, etc..
That is enough justification for politicians in Congress or the Senate to argue that there is no consensus regarding global warming — and that we should “wait and see” until there is. After all, “The problem can’t be that urgent if scientists are still debating whether or not the problem actually exists.”
Creating fodder for the sympathetic blogs is one thing — creating “peer-reviewed” alternative literature with which to confuse the newspapers or make further excuses for politicians is another. And you need to make excuses for the latter if you are to “bring onboard” those who are closer to the political center in a time when many of the more extreme have been driven from office.
Admittedly it is a lot of trouble to go to. But it is capital — an investment in the future, particularly as it adds to the alternative literature and helps to create a platform for the efforts of others. It is a puzzle with which to exercise the mind. And it is a chance to prove to yourself how much more intelligent you are than everyone else — assuming they can’t figure out what it is that you are doing and prove it. Certain minds would find that a reward in itself.
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you…”
Lindzen has a near-religious belief in the “stable equilibrium” notion of climate – i.e. that the system is robust with respect to perturbations (like CO2 forcing), more or less. He doesn’t seem to have much rational evidence to base this on, and he is very testy when criticized on the basis of facts.
Searching around, I came across a pretty good analysis here:
The central gist of their argument is that the authors used a suite of atmospheric models that were forced by historical SST data for comparison purposes, which seems like a strange choice (unless, of course, those were the subset of models which gave them the results they wanted) – and they didn’t look at fully coupled AOGCM results – but I’d read the post yourself.
In fact, the best test of the models so far has been Pinatubo, which did indeed work out as predicted – despite the wildly erroneous and roundly refuted claims of Douglass & Knox on the issue…
Gosh, where did they publish? In fact, the whole episode seems like deja vu… with a rather important difference vis-a-vis comments and so on:
“Robock, A. (2005), Comment on “Climate forcing by the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo” by David H. Douglass and Robert S. Knox, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32”
Douglass and Knox [2005, hereinafter referred to as DK] present a confusing and erroneous description of climate feedbacks and the climate response to the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Their conclusions of a negative climate feedback and small climate sensitivity to volcanic forcing are not supported by their arguments or the observational evidence. As pointed out by Wigley et al. [2005a], this is the consequence of assuming a one-box representation for the climate system, and ignoring energy exchange with the deep ocean…
You see, the nice thing about comments is that if you search for, say, Douglas Knox Pinatubo GRL, on Google or other sites, you get the original paper plus the comments on the paper – each and every time. A separate paper (unless titled, “A comment on…” etc.) will not automatically show up.
Why does this matter? Well, the denialist crowd has an unfortunate habit of ignoring comments on and revisions to published papers that work in “their favor” – let’s see, for example, does Pielke Sr. still cite Lyman on the cooling of the oceans, even though it was retracted?
“This mystery is a critical question, as it is not known if this is just a “speed bump”, or indicates that we have a poorer understanding of the climate system, even in terms of global average radiative heating, than has been advocated by the international climate assessments such as the IPCC.”
That’s how the tobacco science boys operate – just get the message out there as often as possible. First, of course, they have to get their work into a “reputable journal.”
However, the fundamental point here remains: why did GRL allow comments on the Douglas-Knox nonsense (they used ridiculously oversimplified 1D-“feedback models” lifted from electronic circuit analysis methods as well, I think) but not on Lindzen-Choi?
I know that this is somewhat off-topic, but I saw this preprint today and was very pleased: http://arxiv.org/abs/1001.0776 Apparently IceCube, a neutrino detector near the south pole, was able to detect temperature in the ozone layer, and it correlates well with the NOAA record.
Having worked in publishing, I can attest to the pressure to be “timely”. One year, the organization that published the magazine (call them the International House of Pompous Physicists–IHOPP) gave every staff member a clock to remind us to be “timely”. (Another year, it was an umbrella to remind us we were an “umbrella organization”. How fricking clever and creative!)
Most journals have you propose some reviewers, but some also ask you to propose an editor (PNAS). How about that? Is that not a dangerous practice?
@23 Chris ODell: As an author you ofcourse want as short a process as possible. So you want to avoid journals that have an ineffective process. Like you, I suspect that GRL is trying to beef up their statistics on this. I.e. they’d rather reject and have you re-submit than having than have a revision. Probably that is also why they dont want comments (if that is their new policy). I really think that is a shame. You are no longer adressing a specific review. Further, while it appears to be faster then i think it is actually a slower process (you might get assigned a new editor, and a new set of reviewers which obviously needs more time).
I always remember a piece of advice I had. “If the results are not as you expect check them carefully: if they are as you expect check them carefully twice.”
I don’t think that there is any need to assume that the LC09 paper was a deliberate attempt to muddy the evidence. The authors were doubtless happy with the results they got and did not check further. I am sure other researchers, in both climate ‘camps’, have been happy with their results and not gone looking for errors.
You recently had an article headed “Unsettled science”. Until it is settled there will continue to be (and should indeed be) a series of apparently contradictory articles published in reputable journals.
It’s a bit ironic for you people to be complaining about the flawed peer review process in a rather similar way to how the skeptics are complaining! With such a strong over-reaction to any such paper that doesn’t support your view, you merely give L&C more publicity while lending weight to the skeptics who say that you are biased and are not behaving like objective scientists. Anyway, you now have your response accepted so I don’t think there is much to complain about (with a comment, you would have got less space and lindzen would have been allowed a reply!)
The main conclusion of L&C seems to be that warmer SST leads to more radiation. This seems natural. I wonder why Chris O’dell finds it amazing and incredible?
BTW I have a suggestion of why they didn’t cite Forster and Gregory – editors often select referees from the authors in the reference list :)
Mapleleaf, In my opinion, the proper criticism of Lindzen and other dissenting scientists is not that about what they publish in peer-reviewed literature, but about what they publish for credulous lay audiences.
Science worked. LC’09 raised what the authors considered a serious challenge to the consensus. Knowledgeable people in the community took up the challenge, pointed out significant flaws that invalidated the results. L&C acknowledged the flaws and are back to the drawing board. Done!
Contrast this with the obvious dreck published by G&T, Miskolczi, which lives on and on because the authors published in obscure journals and refuse to engage seriously with the community. And worse, just try to get a denialist to admit there might be a mistake in a blog post on WUWT or CA.
In this case, they cite LC’09. We cite TFOW and mention that L&C acknowledged the flaws in their paper. No muss, no fuss and nobody gets hurt. It doesn’t have to get personal, because the argument is about evidence and methodology, not personalities. That is the way science is supposed to work.
If you make the debate about evidence, then the side that is most effective at explaining the phenomena under study and predicting future behavior wins. That is an objective standard, and it favors the experts who have devoted their lives to the study of the subject. If you make it about personalities and motivations, then everybody feels equally qualified, because everyone has their own theories about personalities and motivations.
By all means, I will be among the first to attack a scientist who takes a doubtful position in front of a lay audience, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to criticize them for playing within the rules of the game, whether or not they played the game particularly well.
It’s a bit ironic for you people to be complaining about the flawed peer review process in a rather similar way to how the skeptics are complaining”
Begging the question “are ‘we people’ complaining in the same way?”.
And the answer is “no”.
Denialists (your “skeptics”) argue that peer review process is inherently broken and coopted and should be scrapped for trial-by-jury.
Here we’re arguing that poor papers get past peer review.
NOT that this shows that the peer review process is inherently and unfixably flawed. Nor that the peer review process is biased to not showing opposing viewpoints.
The question was begged and the begging went unwarranted.
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 Jan 2010 @ 9:33 AM
PaulM, Sorry, but I’m not sure that you get it. In this case peer review did let one get by them. The referees let a paper into the literature that had obvious flaws. This is a disservice to the authors of the paper as well as the community. L&C would undoubtedly have liked to present their case in the best possible light. The failure of the process deprived them of this opportunity.
I rather doubt that L&C would have been able to make their case even under tha best of circumstances. There are simply to many insurmountable flaws in their argument. By allowing them to publish such a flawed paper, the referees allowed them to score an “own goal” rather than taking the ball out of play.
You also seem confused about what the paper was attempting to show. Clearly a warmer world will radiate more. That is not the point. The question is whether the radiation that escapes from a warmer world with both more CO2 and more water vapor is sufficiently greater that it negates the greenhouse feedback even with a very small increased temperature. That is not at all obvious and is contra-indicated by the vast majority of the evidence.
What are we to think when you don’t even understand the arguments being made by papers that support your position?
> warmer SST leads to more radiation
Citation to some actual sentence in the text needed; do you pull this out as “the main conclusion” based on something you read somewhere? Or your own analysis of the text?
“If you make the debate about evidence, then the side that is most effective at explaining the phenomena under study and predicting future behavior wins.”
As long as it’s a “debate”, denialists win because the denialists win by delay. There’s an article on the blog Desdemona Despair about the collapse of pine forests in British Columbia due to the advance of the pine bark beetle. (A billion dead trees in 2 years!) The pine bark beetle isn’t a climate forcing and figures in no GCM, but it’s advance is a result of warming. Undoubtedly there will be others. The process reminds me of lines from the final stanza of “The Hill Wife” by Robert Frost:
We had double-blind reviews for Weather and Forecasting back when I was Co-Chief Editor. The review process worked well and most people liked according to the surveying we did. Younger reviewers seemed to be particularly enthusiastic, with comments along the lines of not being intimidated by big-name authors. (After a paper finally appeared, much improved over the original, one sent me an e-mail expressing shock at who the author was that he had bashed in the original review.) It was also amusing when some of the more senior reviewers would erroneously guess who the authors were. One told me, “I know why you asked me to review this paper” and I couldn’t for the life of me think of any reason other than I thought he was interested in the topic and a good reviewer until I realized he thought that one of the authors was someone he had had “vigorous” discussions with in the past. He was wrong.
The experiment ended when we started having more and more problems with the initial manuscript processing system and the people at AMS headquarters repeatedly accidentally revealing the authors’ identities to reviewers. Despite our requests to take care of the problems, there seemed to be no interest at AMS.
Personally, I don’t like open reviews. I’m not sure I’d be as aggressive as I might be. I’m perfectly willing to go out on a limb occasionally in a review when I’m not completely confident (something related to, but just far enough out of strengths that I might not know the subtleties) and have the authors respond strongly in the review and explain their points.
As I wrote over a MasterReource.org a few weeks back, I think that a double-blind system is probably better than the current single-blind system, and that perhaps a more open system is preferable than either. However, as you point out, there are very few journals covering general climate topics that offer either of these review methods. I suppose it is the case that the latter (open-review) has on really become possible in recent years as the use of the internet as expanded, but the former (double-blind) has always been possible. I am not sure why it has not been the standard. Perhaps others can offer some insight.
I think the Association of American Geographer publications are double-blind (which publishes some climate stuff) and also is the International Journal of Forecasting (which publishes very limited climate stuff). There are perhaps a few others. The choice of open-review journals is equally limited, mostly, as far as I know, confined to some selects EGU journals (e.g. The Cryosphere, Climate of the Past) that are niche journals rather than a place for general climate findings.
Hopefully, the future will see more options become available. As recent examples suggest, the current system, at least as applied by and to particular editors/reviewers/authors could use a little tweaking.
Suggestions for double blind reviewing often fail to recognize how easy it often is to infer the authors from a blinded manuscript. LC2009’s heavy citation of previous Lindzen work (see paragraphs 3-5 and 18 in particular) would tip referees off to the high probability that it was a Lindzen paper even with authorship blinded. So might the discussion of the iris hypothesis in the conclusions.
People don’t write papers in a vacuum; a new paper connects to an author’s previous work and connecting a new paper to that work is often not so hard, especially in those cases where an author has a high profile (which is exactly the case where many folks want doubly-blinded review to protect a controversial author from prejudice by referees).
Moreover, since it’s so common to give talks on work in progress or circulate preprints, there’s a good chance a referee would connect the manuscript with its author, again this would matter particularly with high-profile authors.
Double-blind review might help some problems, but it would be no panacea and would be counterproductive if its effect was more to produce the illusion of anonymity than actually to address problems with review.
Comment by Jonathan Gilligan — 11 Jan 2010 @ 12:27 PM
Chip – the sociopolitical issue here is more related to how journals deal with comments – as in “a timely response to published work” – consider how it works in Science or Nature – go read the letters sections sometimes. Again, why would GRL allow comments on Douglas-Knox but not on Lindzen-Choi?
PaulM says – “The main conclusion of L&C seems to be that warmer SST leads to more radiation. This seems natural.”
Seems natural? What does that mean with respect to the planetary temperatures?
The surface temperature also reflects warming of the ocean, doesn’t it? It also means that the CO2 blanket in the atmosphere is going to be absorbing more radiation from the surface, yes?
So, Lindzen and Choi neglect the transfer of heat to the deep ocean, on one hand, and also neglect the inevitable re-radiation from the mid/upper-tropospheric CO2 blanket.
Sounds like a re-hash of their old debunked theory about “the sky opening up to release infrared radiation to space”, doesn’t it?
It’s not too hard to see what is really going in the American-British science communities, if you bother to open your eyes – corporate fossil fuel interests (among others) and associated financial interests are exerting a great deal of pressure within the confines of the “university-industrial complex” in order to get bogus nonsense published, while also suppressing lines of research that are contrary to their interests – and clearly, the leading scientific journals (as well as the most prestigious universities) are participating in this to varying extents – a trend that has been building for several decades, at least:
I agree with you Chris(23): they’re simply trying to pump too many articles through the system, too fast, for the number of available reviewers. This policy generates the problem, and is why I commented elsewhere that this high volume, “late-breaking” mentality is a serious problem. The rejection/acceptance practice you mention is disturbing and there is no better explanation for its existence than the one you’ve given. The idea that they’re considering dropping Comments altogether is a logical extension of that, and it burns me. And there is no better explanation for why some journals don’t allow them, then Rick Trebino’s, which is that they simply don’t want to admit that they published bad stuff. Having said that, the next time I dispute something, it will be as a stand-alone paper, given the amount of time and frustration I invested, only to have the original authors dismiss my points and get the last word on top of it all.
Any chance of GRL volunteering who the reviewers were? I smell a rat as to how those reviewers were selected.
Okay, first of all a demand for GRL to out anonymous reviewers coming from a person who signs their post “MapleLeaf” is a bit ironic. Most of us understand that anonymity allows people to speak openly on a potentially controversial subject. This is doubly true when the subject is a famous MIT scientist and the reviewer may be a post-doc at Random State University. We need to keep the debate on the science, not the personalities. My opinion is that double-blind reviews (mentioned above) are the best solution to this problem.
Second, some of the reactions to peer review and GRL in particular are over the top. Peer review typically involves 2 or 3 reviewers plus the editor. It’s meant as a first order check on the paper presented and will never be as good at spotting errors as the entire community can provide once the paper is published. Rebuttal articles like Trenberth et al. are the next, more rigorous stage in getting the science right. GRL published LC09 in June and it accepted a rebuttal by December. That hardly seems like they’re actively blocking criticism. Whether this should have been published as a Comment to the paper or as a standalone article is a separate argument.
Jonathan Gilligan@42 : Suggestions for double blind reviewing often fail to recognize how easy it often is to infer the authors from a blinded manuscript.
I don’t think anyone is arguing that a double-blind system would be perfectly blinded, but even in your example, you don’t know the author’s identity until you’ve read a significant portion of the paper and presumably begun critiquing the science. In the current system, the author’s identity is the first thing you really know. My guess is that if most of us commenting here received a request to review a paper by Richard Lindzen, we’d start under the assumption that he did something wrong. I don’t think the same would be true if we received a request to review a paper titled On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data. In the second case, we begin with our focus on the science. Our biases would be reversed if we were asked to review a paper by Michael Mann.
And as Harold Brooks points out @40, people often think they can guess an author even when they can’t.
completely fed up: the point is the skeptics are saying that pro-AGW papers get waved through peer review by their friends, so poor papers get published, the same thing as you guys are complaining about.
Ray and Hank: the paper does not have obvious flaws. I wonder if you have even read L&C. I was referring to the 2nd sentence in the abstract.
“completely fed up: the point is the skeptics are saying that pro-AGW papers get waved through peer review by their friends,”
That’s only the veriest fraction of what the denialists say, PaulM.
Go have a look here. See anyone saying that this proves peer review is broken?
Then you’re wrong: they are different.
That you have to ignore what you said and try to rewrite the past is merely icing on the cake.
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 Jan 2010 @ 1:49 PM
A final irony here – I was asked to review a comment of McLean et al. from JGR (one of the papers Gavin has cited as being particularly egregious) at the same time I received the “we’re not fielding comments” response from GRL on LC09. The paper sent for my review was not even a comment but a purported corroboration of McLean et al. via an independent analysis and should have been rejected for this reason alone. Nonetheless it did get sent out for review while ours did not!
Me asking if they would reveal the reviewers seems to have raised some ire. Jinchi, I use a moniker for very special reasons and b/c of threats made against me in the past, but I see the irony from your perspective.
There are a few open review journals out there on the internet where the names of the authors and reviewers are known. There is no simple solution here. What I do not like and think needs to be stopped is asking authors to provide two or more names of potential reviewers before one can even submit a paper– as I was recently asked to do when publishing in an Elsevier journal.
The reason for me asking whether or not GRL would volunteer the names (note I did not say I demanded that GRL do that), is b/c I am curious who would have rubber stamped this paper. It strikes me as odd that someone in the know in this field would have done that. So either the reviewers were not suitably qualified to critique the work and/or they were not clearly being objective. I would not have been so curious had Lindzen not provide names of prospective reviewers. Maybe I am wrong and he wasn’t, but is sounds like standard procedure at GRL.
The reviewers are as much to blame as are the authors and the editors. Would it not be intriguing if Lindzen had specified sympathetic and less than objective reviewers? If he did, why did the editors not practice due diligence, see this and then see out more suitable candidates. Should the reviewer’s in question (of LC09) be asked to review more papers in view of their questionable performance on the LC09 paper? Is nobody here concerned as to who rubber stamped questionable work in question?
PaulM, had you read the paper by Fasullo et al., you would know that the LC paper has numerous and quite serious flaws, some of which are very obvious.
How does one get around the problem that people tend to cite their own work quite frequently? For example, I have reviewed a few papers in which although it was a blind review (i.e., I did not know who the authors were), I had a pretty good idea who they were upon completion of reading the manuscript. That is not an issue, unless the reviewer has an ax to grind or a personal agenda, or is competing to with the author to make a key break through in a particular field.
I guess more resources are required to help editors identify suitable reviewers. And I understand that is easier said than done.
If I may, I think that many of the issues being brought up in the publication process are only issues in the area of AGW, and only because it has become such a heavily politicized debate. You won’t often see Fox News pundits and hordes of blogs attacking some physicist’s revolutionary position on String Theory and the existence of D-Branes. In GRL’s defense, their reason for reticently not wanting to publish comments on LC09 may well have been a result of the number of and angry content in comments that had been submitted, if the paper was that flawed, and if the primary author is as much of a lightning rod as he seems. I don’t know that that’s true, but it’s a possibility.
My point is, I don’t think that either science or the peer review system is suddenly broken. It works fine. It’s just not well suited to a topic that has become a global, bubbling cauldron of multiple branches of science, politics and economics, and one that’s motivated by its own implications to advance as rapidly as any area of science in history, and one that provokes an emotional instead of intellectual response in too many people.
Quite honestly, too, I’m partly grateful for the emotional response. I was the son of two teachers who would come home and roll their eyes at all of the kids in school that raised their hands to say “why do I have to learn this? I’ll never need this.” Well, now all those kids are adults, and they learned 1/100th of the science they needed to understand the climate “debate” and weigh in. They all have the arrogance to think they know the answers and that their opinions matter, while at the same time their understanding of the problem and the science and the mathematics barely scratches the surface. The end result is that you go to comment boards like this one and hear arguments like “CO2 can’t be bad, it’s plant food” and “don’t these scientists know that the sun controls the climate?” and “but it’s cold out now, so where’s this supposed global warming?”
My point is… the current process works well enough, AGW is going to remain a supercharged issue (and it should be) for a long time, and maybe that’s good, because maybe this generation of school children will realize that learning science, even if you don’t intend to become a scientist, is the right, human thing to do. The only measure of the worth of knowledge should not be how much more money you’ll make if you know it.
And maybe if this generation is better educated than ours, they’ll know when to listen to themselves, when to listen to the scientists, and when to ignore the pundits.
I agree with 43 Ike Solem that you have to check very often on whether or not your favorite journal has come under the influence of the fossil fuel industry. They certainly have the money to do so with a cash flow of $1 TRillion per year. Have you done that check recently with this journal? You have to get financial disclosures from the editors and the publisher as well as from the ownership on perhaps a weekly basis.
RE #10, & “4. Reward scientists for performing this vital service – either through points on their annual assessment, by weighting reviews highly in tenure applications or through other means.”
Some journals as a reward are giving access for 30-90 days to all the journals their parent company publishes, like ALL the Sage articles or ALL Elsevier articles (or Science Direct) or ALL Springer articles. This is really great for social science scholars, though it might not be much of a perk for those in the physical sciences who have free access through their university library to all the journal articles they need.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 11 Jan 2010 @ 2:22 PM
Here are two of the eminently sensible, EGU-inspired suggestions from Annan:
a) Identifcation of the responsible editor for each paper
b) Obligation of the editor to choose at least one reviewer outside the list suggested by the authors
I do not believe that LC2009 rises to that level of abuse of the peer-review system. However, I agree with Annan in his statement on the matter:
As for the paper itself, it seems hard to defend it as merely honestly mistaken, given the errors identified. However, I haven’t seen LC’s defence…
Journal review policy should always include sending the paper out to those most likely to criticize it – and pretending that scientists are unemotional objective calculating machines is ludicrous.
The ideal peer review team might include a passionate supporter, a harsh critic, and a neutral outsider. If the reviewer’s comments are then not addressed by the authors – if the paper is not revised to take them into account – then the paper should be rejected by that journal.
If published, the journal then has a responsibility to publish comments that address specific issues within the paper, particularly if they refute the overall conclusions of said paper.
If you don’t take such steps, you’ve simply abandoned the peer review process (which by the way, tends to work similarly in the even more contentious issue of grant applications to federal financing agencies – although apparently the DOE doesn’t use peer review at all in that process, preferring to give grants to private contractors and corporate-public “partnerships” – talk about conflict of interest and gross negligence in dispersal of taxpayer funds, as compared to the NSF or NIH).
Even with good peer review, erroneous papers still can make it through, and second-rate research proposals can still get financed – but usually they’re exposed as such over time – or are simply ignored and never referred to again.
The final stage of peer review is actually whether or not other people build on the work – the citation count – and heavily cited papers make it into the reviews, and hence into the textbooks, and hence into the public perception of the scientific enterprise, as “commonly accepted knowledge” – but even that can be overturned by some startling new scientific discovery, rare though that is.
That’s the real difference between science and ideology/religion – prejudices are discouraged, an open mind is encouraged, and there are no shibboleths or sacred cows that cannot be discussed or challenged. Of course, as long as religion and ideology stay out of scientific questions, there is no real conflict between the two – but historically, that has not been the case, has it? Communist and fascist governments of the 20th century clearly tried to make scientists conform to their various ideological views, as did the Church in centuries past… but the new point of ideological conformity in scientific institutions now seems to revolve around, for lack of a better phrase, “capitalist ideology” – dogmatic alignment with the so-called “profit motive” is now becoming a condition of employment in our public and private universities (look at the growing administrative obsession with patents if you doubt this).
This even extends to universities supporting blatantly nonsensical notions like “clean coal” and “zero-emission combustion” and “carbon offset trading” – all of which which pleases their corporate partners to no end (witness the Stanford-Exxon-Schlumberger-GE-Toyota GCEP program).
Regardless, pursuing science is a lot more fun and interesting than conforming to dogma, isn’t it?
OK, let’s say you are an editor or reviewer and get a paper like LC’09 from a prominent “skeptic”. The paper has some serious flaws, but it has already made the rounds of the blogs where they are saying denialists can’t get published.
1)Take it on yourself to recommend rejection, knowing the howls of righteous indignation that will echo through the denialosphere?
2)Attempt to reject the most egregious of the errors, put in a boatload of work doing so, but ultimately recommend publication.
3)Let it be published as is, knowing the community will see through the errors and show the work for the flawed example it is.
Me, I would choose 2, but 3 would be a lot less work and the end result is the same in terms of the science. Not saying this happened, but the current outcome is a lot cleaner than it is with many pieces that are much more flawed.
My take on the source of the problem at GRL is that they made a decision to speed up the turnaround time on articles for the sake of “rapid communication.” They only give reviewers two weeks to complete a review. Since many of us can’t fit a review into our schedule on that time scale, more people say no, so it’s hard to find reviewers. And then when you do find reviewers, often that two weeks can get squeezed into a rather perfunctory review on the last day if something unexpected comes up. Short papers should be fast to review, but the creeping growth of supplementary material offsets that. In addition, even a short paper can have techniques in it that are time-consuming to check (though the disturbing thing about Lindzen and Choi is that many of the things wrong with the paper can be spotted with even a cursory review, which evidently didn’t happen).
MapleLeaf @53 Me asking if they would reveal the reviewers seems to have raised some ire.
That wasn’t ire. I was simply pointing out that there are perfectly good reasons for anonymity and your use of a pseudonym demonstrated that you were well aware of them. GRL can’t simply volunteer the names of the reviewers, now.
So either the reviewers were not suitably qualified to critique the work and/or they were not clearly being objective.
And there is a perfect example of one of those reasons. You’re making a judgment on both the character and competence of people about whom you know nothing more than that they reviewed this paper. Reviewers are unpaid, volunteers. Nobody wants to be held responsible for the flaws of someone else’s research. If you want to guarantee that nobody again agrees to review potentially controversial papers, then by all means, renege on a pledge of confidentiality.
Ray @52 In a small community, you get to know the players. I can often even identify my reviewers.
But the community in this case isn’t nearly so small. Otherwise, we’d all know who reviewed this paper, wouldn’t we.
OK wrt James Annan’s comment, “As for the paper itself, it seems hard to defend it as merely honestly mistaken, given the errors identified. However, I haven’t seen LC’s defence…”
Why does the paper need defending at all? It was flawed, but it was put before the community. The motivations do not matter. What is more, Lindzen has no need to “establish himself” in the community, so while I think you could question the authors’ judgment somewhat, he will continue to receive attention.
There are worse things than being wrong in the published literature–one of them is never publishing in the first place.
RE, #43 & “the university-industrial complex.” I’ve seen the impact at my campus, in a situation of ever decreasing state funding (it’s now at 12%) at this state university, and ever increasing industry funding.
A year or so ago I suggested that our campus environmental club show WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? (mainly bec of the technology it discusses, not even thinking about the political issues), and a science prof objected, saying “We can’t show that; we’re funded by Exxon, GM, [and so on].” I responded that maybe YOU (the physical sciences) are so funded, but the social sciences are not so funded. But I didn’t pursue my suggestion at that time, so shooked was I about the REAL SITUTATION of things.
But I did run into a poli sci prof, who was heavily involved in trying to stop CIA funding in the soc sciences, and I told him “The CIA is the least of our worries; it’s big oil and industry that are jerking us around, creating a chilling effect re showing such films as ELECTRIC CAR.” He was surprised, then enflamed, and guaranteed that film would be shown on campus that year. And it was — in the social science building to soc sci students.
But really it is the industrial-military-government-media-university complex.
I’ve been listening to religious radio, and “Faith 2 Action” and “CrossTalk” are both heavily denialist “Christian” media orgs. When I wrote to CrossTalk, they sent me back this: “We recommend ClimateDepot.com for a more scientific assessment of the fraud called ‘climate change.'” I haven’t found their connection to Exxon, so maybe it’s to some other big biz interest.
So it’s the industrial-military-government-media-university-church complex. About the only social instition not involved in the greatest denialist hoax that ever threatened life on planet earth is the family.
But this is not saying that the journal in question or the editor’s university is involved. There are still good folks out there, like the RC people. And I guess big oil/coal doesn’t have enough money to buy off everyone, though they can do slights of hand and make it seem so — like getting big subsidies and tax-breaks from government (a good return on their campaign contributions to the Repubican and Democrat politicos), which, of course, we the people have to pay for April 15th, but are too not-smart to realize that, happy as we are with lower gas & electricity costs, not realizing the true costs or the really true costs.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 11 Jan 2010 @ 3:32 PM
Jinchi: “Reviewers are unpaid, volunteers. Nobody wants to be held responsible for the flaws of someone else’s research. If you want to guarantee that nobody again agrees to review potentially controversial papers, then by all means, renege on a pledge of confidentiality.”
I am occasionally an “unpaid volunteering” reviewer, and I definitely hold myself responsible for potential flaws in someone else’s research, if I were support its publication … and I wouldn’t be shocked if others were holding me responsible too (in the present case of anonymity, that would be the editor only). I can see a few good reasons for the anonymity of reviewers, but allowing them to not be held responsible for what they declare worth publishing is not one of them.
@59: “OK, let’s say you are an editor or reviewer and get a paper like LC’09 from a prominent “skeptic”. The paper has some serious flaws, but it has already made the rounds of the blogs where they are saying denialists can’t get published.
1)Take it on yourself to recommend rejection…”
We can stop right there. If I don’t think the paper should be published, I’m going to say so. Full stop.
I do not believe in allowing any non-scientific considerations into the question of what should be in the scientific literature.
Frankly, I was occasionally a reviewer for a Letters journal, and I did once have a paper that I recommended rejection – it was clearly a Ph.D. thesis, joint with an extremely highly regarded adviser. It was a really really hard experiment, but they had overlaid some mathematics over their results, and pretty badly. I was able to infer that their incorrect mathematical interpretation had led them to suppress observations which I was sure they must have made which would have suggested to them the correct theory. Presenting only the data which supports a particular theory? Well that one won’t wash with me.
So I let ’em have it with both barrels. Yes I did understand this was a kid’s thesis and that he had apparently spent many years doing this painstaking experiment. Did I mention this was the first paper I ever reviewed? And that I was an unknown first semester assistant professor? I still am unknown but that’s another story. Thumbs down, said I.
OK so what happened is that the editor took the time to reconcile my brutal, but detailed and clearly stated criticisms, with the two other completely positive reviews. I think the other referees stopped reading when they saw who’s lab it was. Well, the editor decided to require substantial revisions, which boiled down to incorporating my criticisms. When this was done, the famous great scientist author actually asked if I would like to be a coauthor, which I declined on grounds of my idea of anonymous review. The end result? A paper well worth publishing.
So call ’em as you see ’em and let the freaking chips fall. Just stick to what you know (that’s whey they asked you to review) and make sure you’re right. Science is supposed to be about getting it right.
Peer review won’t improve much if we don’t stick to the truth as much as possible.
Before I decide to review a paper amongst the questions that I ask myself are 1) Am I qualified to do this (I have received requests to review manuscripts in the past on a subject that I was not 100% comfortable, and believe that I would be doing the science and authors a disservice by agreeing to review the paper) 2) Do I have a conflict of interest?
It is an immense responsibility, in my opinion, to review a paper. For me, my reputation is also on the line when I review I paper; even if the review is anonymous, the editor still knows who I am and may not invite me back or may caution others about using me as a reviewer in the future.
So the fact that the editors, and two (?) reviewers missed so many serious flaws is of concern to me. This strikes me as more than a coincidence. Maybe it was a fluke, but I am not going to be naive and assume that it was not just b/c that would raise uncomfortable questions as to possible motive.
Maybe part of the solution is to have editors more involved in the review process and to have at least three solid reviewers chosen by the journal, not the author/s.
If you want to see some psychological wreckage emanating from the peer review process, take a look at this:
“Innocuous enough on the surface. What makes this sentence interesting (and I noticed it because I looked for something like this) is that, in my opinion, the sentence is sufficient to identify the paper in question. Further, there is convincing evidence that Jones did in fact carry out the requested review (after May, as he says here) and, even though the review is not in the Climategate documents, it is nonetheless accessible and, together with other Climategate Letters, leads on to many backstories.
Heike of the Climategate Letter 1080257056 can conclusively be identified as Heike Langenberg of Nature – enabling us to conclude that, around March 9, 2004, Jones was asked to review a submission to Nature.
There’s another strand of evidence suggesting that Jones was the added reviewer. Elsewhere, we’ve seen Jones’ tendency in reviews to self-cite. The added reviewer cited Jones and Mann (2004) on matters M&M – an article that was not even published until May 6, 2004 – after our re-submission to Nature in late March 2004.
Right now the evidence is circumstantial. (The question could be easily settled by either the University of East Anglia or Nature.) I suppose that it is remotely possible that, in March 2004, Nature asked Jones to review another paper and asked someone else to review our submission. But that seems a bit farfetched. For now, let’s work with the assumption that Jones was the added reviewer (and I’ll refer to the review by the added reviewer for the rest of the post as the “Jones Review” ).
Amusingly, the “Jones Review” used the word “tricky” – a word that Jones notoriously used elsewhere (as “trick”) in his es’ email about a “trick… to hide the decline”.”
“The climate debate cannot be a civil scientific debate, because one side has all the evidence.”
That’s certainly a point of view, not too far removed from:
“The climate debate cannot be a civil scientific debate, because one side refuses to concede it does not yet have all the evidence.”
You go one to make your political fears plain enough, (“enough justification for politicians in Congress or the Senate to argue that there is no consensus regarding global warming”), and why you fear any concession to there being any debate will undermine the cause. It is easy to see why you are so torn between acknowledging Lindzen’s legitimacy on the one hand, and sneering at his obvious incompetance on the other. It’s simply too hard for you to imagine he might have some contribution or other to make if it does not fit with your pre-determined view of AGW science. It’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’s” sentence first, trial second with you: A) Lindzen has to be wrong. B)Lindzen has published. C)Let’s find out what he did wrong.
The problem with that tautological approach, though, even if Lindzen proves to be wrong when he resubmits, is that it gives the impression of a closed-mindedness that so many scientists would prefer not to have ascribed to their profession.
That said, what is written by the regulars here is beside the point. Lindzen, as you say, is the published climate scientist in the arena, not Hank and Ray and the gang. It will be interesting to see what develops, and I note that Lindzen sounds eerily like Mann (and thousands of others, I’m sure) when he comments that despite the criticisms, which he and Choi have addressed, the results remain, especially the discrepancy between the models and observations.
The worst-case situation is where the reviewers chosen are exclusively the ones recommended by the submitters. Annan appears to be an advocate of the open review system employed by other journals (EGU), which would eliminate such problems.
Well, so much for my html skills (preview would be a big help). In #71 I had intended to reproduce this passage from Bob’s (#54) post:
I was the son of two teachers who would come home and roll their eyes at all of the kids in school that raised their hands to say “why do I have to learn this? I’ll never need this.” Well, now all those kids are adults, and they learned 1/100th of the science they needed to understand the climate “debate” and weigh in. They all have the arrogance to think they know the answers and that their opinions matter, while at the same time their understanding of the problem and the science and the mathematics barely scratches the surface. The end result is that you go to comment boards like this one and hear arguments like “CO2 can’t be bad, it’s plant food” and “don’t these scientists know that the sun controls the climate?” and “but it’s cold out now, so where’s this supposed global warming?”
It is an immense responsibility, in my opinion, to review a paper.
Again, you’re making a huge assumption about the character of the people who reviewed this paper. Note that we don’t expect every published paper to be free from error. Neither do we expect every reviewer to catch every flaw, no matter how seriously they take the responsibility.
Remember that this is what gavin wrote about this paper just yesterday having read the paper, the critique, and the RC post specifically written to rebut the paper:
First off, LC09 was not a nonsense paper – that is, it didn’t have completely obvious flaws that should have been caught by peer review
He may have changed his mind after convincing argument in discussions here and elsewhere, but to claim that LC09 had obvious flaws simply doesn’t hold water. Or do you think gavin’s reputation suffers for having missed the “obvious flaws” before?
Walter Manny, Well, when I say one side has all the data, the wonderful thing about science is that you can prove me wrong in an instant–just publish your data. Failing that, after awhile assertions that the denialists have a scientific case being to sound like a third grader saying “Oh yeah, well my dad’s a professional wrestler and he’ll rip out your dad’s spleen!”
And nowhere did I ever disparage the abilities of either Lindzen or Choi. I think they are quite bright. The problem is that their ideas don’t have much explanatory power because they reject a crucial aspect of the consensus model.
In this particular case, he did at least publish–after first blogging about it on WUWT, but he did publish. Now, what happened next what his colleagues–you know, scientists–tried to reproduce his results and found problems. How is this outside the norm of science? It is how the game is played. Would you prefer they let a flawed analysis stand?
And as to the models and observations, there is absolutely no reason why the observations should have agreed with these particular models–that wasn’t what the models were constructed to do.
Walter, even Roy Spencer said this analysis was flawed. I think you really should look at your reaction to this. In this case, science worked as it should.
My main complaint was that, because of space restrictions, articles in GRL (and Science and Nature) are unlikely to contain enough information to be reproduceable, or properly evaluated, or even useful. My proposed solution: Any such short publication ought to be followed up with a long-form publication (a manuscript of regular length) [in an appropriate journal], so that the methods and results can be fully explored by the authors and by the readers.
I would propose that climate papers in GRL, Science, and Nature should only be cited within the first two years of publication. By the end of that time, the corresponding full-length paper should have been published (or rejected), and the early-release short-form paper should be ignored in either case.
I agree with most of what you just wrote other than the “denialists” having no case. For the sake of argument, though, let’s stipulate that they have no case, but that they do have a place. I, for one, am glad they are out there kicking the tires given the consensus’ reluctance to close the book on anything (sorry, metaphor too many) other than scary long-term forecasts. I don’t see much evidence of the Jones and Manns of the world aggressively seeking holes in their models, searching for negative feedbacks that might damage their political cause. Perhaps you can cite some cases where that is not true.
To be sure, Lindzen is predictable and is looking for results that show less warming, just as the AGWers predictably look for results that show the opposite. You would say the latter find warming all the time because that’s where the evidence, peer-reviewed, takes them, and fair enough. I would say that agendas that have long since polluted this scientific field are at least partly responsible, as many of the UEA emails show no matter how hard folks try to parse them into oblivion.
I read the Spencer piece when it came out (November?) and was impressed that there was debate in the “denialist” camp (or that the “conspiracy” had come off the rails for a moment :). I am equally impressed that there seems to be the opening of a debate here about the legitimacy of Lindzen’s [erroneous] publication, perhaps as a concession to the bad PR from UEA, and that there might even ensue an open debate about Lindzen and Choi’s alleged fixes when they are published. So, yes, the science worked, and perhaps it will keep working.
many of the contributors and their quals are well known to me after now having spent some time here, not so the people that i ask to visit
“who the hell is Ladbury, etc,
would it be possible to have a post listing such ,
like ” who the hell is gavin?
he is a NASA climatologist cloth head ,
I don’t see much evidence of the Jones and Manns of the world aggressively seeking holes in their models
Which models are “theirs”? Mann’s not one of the GISS modeling team, and Jones isn’t part of the Hadley Centre modeling team. Kinda hard to seek holes in their models when they’re not working on models. They both work on paleoclimate, i.e. reconstructions of what climate was like in the past.
You really need to bone up more on what’s what, and what’s not.
Walter Manny says, “I don’t see much evidence of the Jones and Manns of the world aggressively seeking holes in their models, searching for negative feedbacks that might damage their political cause.”
OK, two things wrong with this. First, we are talking about a community of a few thousand researchers. Is it your contention that NONE of the 97% of actively publishing climate scientists on the consensus side are actively looking to overturn the current model? Do you really think that they would say no to the fame and adulation they would receive if they overturned the current theory and made the threat of climate change disappear? Do you think that if there were an adverse outcome of an investigation that any real scientist would sweep it under the rug? If you really think this, then you don’t know jack about scientists!
Look, Walter, climate scientists don’t become climate scientists to save the world. Their motivation is to understand Earth’s climate. Period. If they wanted to save the world, they could have joined the frigging EPA or Greenpeace. If they wanted money, they could have used their skills to much greater advantage on Wall Street and bought the frigging world. There is simply no way that they would sacrifice that goal for any political expedient. It would mean dedicating their lives to a lie.
And what is more, even in the unlikely event that you could get some sort of confirmation bias among a couple of thousand climate scientists and a further 20000-30000 physicists and chemists, etc., why can’t the dissenting scientists find evidence themselves that supports their position? These people aren’t dumb. You know they are looking for evidence. Why can’t they find any?
LC’09 is a deeply flawed paper. The fact that they the wrong calculation of sensitivity is good for about a factor of 2 alone. And it is difficult to see how the signal they are cliaming persists over different intervals that are not cherry picked. Now maybe they will surprise us. But Walter, there’s a mountain of evidence weighing in against it.
42, Jonathan Gilligan:
“Suggestions for double blind reviewing often fail to recognize how easy it often is to infer the authors from a blinded manuscript.”
I don’t see why that’s a problem. In the worst case, the reviewer guesses the author and they’re in the same boat as a normal, single-blind review. Moreover, as Harold Brooks said, sometimes they guess wrong.
I like double-blind reviewing — having the author’s name there is a distraction (it’s hard not to think about) and so not having it allows you to focus on the science. So what if you guess who it might be by the time you get to the end of the paper? Do you go back and change your comments and re-evaluate your thinking? That would be a conscious decision to be unscientific.
“People don’t write papers in a vacuum; a new paper connects to an author’s previous work and connecting a new paper to that work is often not so hard, especially in those cases where an author has a high profile (which is exactly the case where many folks want doubly-blinded review to protect a controversial author from prejudice by referees).”
That’s not why I favour it. I favour it for the same reason that the prosecution isn’t allowed to bring up past convictions during a trial to assess a defendant’s guilt or innocence — the case (or, in this case, paper) has to stand on its own merits. We recognise that it’s hard for a jury to objectively decide whether the person is guilty in this case if they’ve been told that the person has committed similar crimes in the past, so we should recognise that it’s hard to decide if this paper is good science or not if the person who wrote it is (in)famous in that particular field.
It cuts both ways — we want to filter out poor papers by well-respected people just as much as we want to ensure good papers by controversial authors get published. A reviewer might find it hard to give honest critical feedback to a well-regarded figure in their field.
“Double-blind review might help some problems, but it would be no panacea”
Nothing ever is, so being a panacea is an unreasonably high hurdle; simply being better than the current system should be sufficient. I’m surprised to see Gavin say that he’s never come across double-blind reviewing in the Earth Sciences; I thought it was pretty normal and uncontroversial.
I thought the part of your blog piece on problems in publication research was dead on. The thing I really can’t stand, being a sort of methods freak, is the way complex methods are short-changed. The reader who doesn’t have the methods is the reader that can’t truly judge validity. A couple of points however: (1) it seems that at least at Science and Nature, there are more papers providing lengthy supplemental material (doesn’t help those without electronic access though) and (2) many biology articles need length just as much as climate science articles do, as many are just as complex.
The link to the letter from the GRL Editor in Chief is broken. Do you have a valid one?
Sorry to post what may be off-topic, but a search of RealClimate has not turned up what I’m seeking, which is a rebuttal to a comment by David Rose in the Daily Mail saying that we are entering a new ice age, as evidenced by INCREASING Arctic ice. Is this the area vs. extent thing? Thanks.
“According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 per cent, since 2007 – and even the most committed global warming activists do not dispute this.”
This is certainly off topic – but can someone help?
The UK and Europe are suffering a serious cold snap, as, I gather, is the USA and the south of Canada. (OK, it is warmer elsewhere, like central America and the Sahara, but for a British denialist that is quite irrelevant – if it is cold in London, that’s global AWG finished forever :-))
Europe suffered serious cold periods in the winter of 1947 and 1963, both of which I remember.
What is known about the global weather pattern for 1947 and 1963? Were they similar to 2009/2010?
These winters were before satellite measurements, etc, of course.
The denialists are wetting themselves with excitement at the present cold snap, (including the Lord Monkton clan).
My main complaint was that, because of space restrictions, articles in GRL (and Science and Nature) are unlikely to contain enough information to be reproduceable, or properly evaluated, or even useful
I recently downloaded a paper from Nature (4 pages) plus Supplementary Methods. Thought nothing of quickly printing the Supplementary section to read at home and discovered when I went to pick it up that it was 34 pages long.
Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 11 Jan 2010 @ 11:52 PM
Why bother rebutting nonsense? It only serves to switch the focus of the debate away from the core issues.
Ray Ladbury – you should consider what it means to use sea surface temperatures as forcing for climate models – how is that any different from using the day-to-day water vapor content of the atmosphere as a forcing in climate models? It’s a ridiculously backwards approach – SSTs vary seasonally and with ENSO, but any long-term trend is a response to forcing, not a forcing itself, within the climate model context:
Watch this site for one year and you’ll understand why driving climate models with SSTs is nonsense – it’s the other way around, as usual with Lindzen:
SSTs are used as forcings in short-term weather models, but those rapidly diverge from reality in a week or two. Why on earth would Lindzen use models forced with SSTs unless he was simply out to spin the research for his personal agenda? Why would any rational journal not use “skeptical” reviewers to vet such research? Who cares what some flea-bitten fossil fuel blogs say about it? That’s like catering to the Flat Earth Society, isn’t it?
Are you really saying that GRL should cater to the fossil fuel peanut gallery on this? And what about the refusal to publish comments?
You’re looking at something a bit worse, I’m afraid – the wholesale breakdown of peer review at a leading journal is nothing to gloss over. Science has to have standards or it becomes nothing but propaganda – your defense of the GRL editors is thus unfortunately a bit misguided, in my opinion.
MapleLeaf, I’m sorry you’re being “threatened”, but if you don’t want to identify yourself out of some ingrown paranoia, then don’t post comments on websites – lock yourself in your house, close the curtains, and it’ll all be okay. Or maybe you think that this is the Soviet Union, and dissent will land you in the gulag, on a Siberian train detail? Things aren’t quite that bad, yet… so please, grow up. Reviewers are kept confidential so that they can speak freely without “causing bad feelings” (yes, scientists are an emotionally sensitive lot, and do tend to hold grudges, etc. The phrase, “prima donna” has even been bandied about…).
Peer review isn’t perfect, but it’s the best system anyone has come up with – and the problem with GRL is that they apparently didn’t follow the standard peer review steps. Why didn’t they?
Maybe the AGU itself needs to revise the following policy:
For AGU journals, authors are invited to give a list of proposed reviewers for their paper.
Ha ha ha! I like to pick my critics, too – let me give you a list to choose from, okay?
American science is in deep trouble, if policies like this are the norm.
The way internet standards are developed is something the scientific community could learn from. The first stage is an Internet Draft available for general review but not formally considered to be published. An I-D can migrate to a Request for Comment RFC with further review and editorial correction, before it becomes a standard. Unlike with academic papers, any interested party can comment on an I-D. An I-D is withdrawn from the I-D site, but an RFC is an archival publication, and not altered once published.
This process ensures wide checking before a document becomes a standard. The downside is that embarrassing errors may see the light of day in an I-D. An advantage is that you can get your ideas out quickly long before they have been formally reviewed, to discourage others from scooping you. And of course you are not relying on a selected and limited pool of reviewers.
I agree that revealing the reviewers’ names is not an option. However, publishing the text of the reviews in a case where there is some controversy about the process should be considered.
It’s informative to read all the examples here of how soft a ride contrarian papers are getting. The evidence for the big conspiracy points more at them than the other way — even without anyone stealing their emails.
Theo, yeah, they are certainly wetting themselves, while ignoring the unprecedented heat waves in southern AU (Melbourne was almost 100 degrees at the night time low temperature the other night).
Here in Colorado we had extremely low temperatures during that cold snap that covered the whole US (in the mid teens at the highest), but it was almost 60 today, will hit 60 tomorrow for sure. I was wearing no coat at all. In the middle of winter.
I tend to avoid these weather pattern discussions and tell denialists up front that I don’t believe they represent climate. It makes me look like I’m conceding the point, but I’m not really.
Jeffery @ 37 – Some things about the pine beetle and the destruction that sometimes are missed:
Due to our extensive forest fire fighting efforts, a lot of the pine trees are older then normal. If nature had taken its course, we probably would not be seeing this devastation that we do today.
Older trees, from what I have read, are generally considered to be poor CO2 uptakers. New growth absorbs more at a higher rate.
The CO2 being released from the dead trees is considered to be nuetral, as most of the carbon that is bonded within the woody structure would have been from “natural” sources as opposed to GHG emmisions.
The bigger problem lies with the bacteria and fungus that emit methane as they consume the trees.
On a bit of a pendantic note, the pine beetle does not kill the trees directly. They harbour a bacteria that actualy does the dirty deed by growing dense enough to stop the upwelling of water and nutriants from the roots.
On a convergence note, on Pielke Jr.’s site today, there is a blog about how the tax regime in the USA is diverting much needed wood product from pulp and fibre board mills to bio-fuel. My solution, suspend the softwood lumber tarrif and let Canada ship all of the needed product from these trees!
Theo Hopkins #83: the low temps in northern countries are accompanied by unusually high temperatures in the Arctic and Greenland, with a peak anomaly of 8K.
John Mayer #82: you can find data on the same page at NSIDC on sea ice. Yes, 2007 was a very low year for summer sea ice extent, but we are still below the historical average and most of 2009 was much closer to the 2007 figures than this isolated period. In any case sea ice extent is not the whole picture: the longer-term concern is the decline in multi-seasonal ice.
Theo #83 said, “The denialists are wetting themselves with excitement at the present cold snap, (including the Lord Monkton clan).”
Errr, quickly, not all areas on Earth are currently getting colder if only the contrarians would take the time to read it… especially Canada, Alaska and the Mediterranean which has currently been warmer than average.
Meanwhile, the WMO reports that parts of the southern hemisphere are currently having record highs (remember, it is summer there!). Bur this doesn’t mean much as it is averages, averages, averages that count now and pretty much have since the defintion of climate change started even in 1824 with Fourier.
NOAA also reports that the ocean temps are some of the warmest ever recorded (not that this matters much for 30 year averages), but it shows that it is the 30 year averages that mainstream scientists are measuring not natural variations such as the warmest oceans right now, the warmest parts of the globe which are breaking records or the coldest records.
2009 was also the hottest year in history in most parts of South Asia and Central Africa. This doesn’t really mean anything for human-caused climate change except to show that were getting record highs along with other parts of the Earth getting record lows…and were still getting global warming which is averages, averages, averages.
This also means you shouldn’t concentrate on individual years or extremes which only ignorant people dealing with climate change would do.
Secondly, the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) is (was as of last week) in a sharp negative phase which is weakening the polar jet stream (westerly winds and storm tracks) and letting the polar air come far south in parts of the USA and parts of Europe.
Forgive me for absolutely scientifically butchering the following definition, but it gives a general feel in case someone has no idea). For understanding the NAO a little, think of kind of-like-an El Nino-like effect of two intertwined semi-permanent counterpoised high and low pressure areas, except it is north and south near Iceland and the Azores instead of East West between the coast of Australia and the coast of South America.
Certain people are on purposely ignoring this highly visible and understandable information although it is publicly available. It is unbelievable that people are falling for this.
John Mayer #82: David Rose of the Daily mail is hoping you don’t go and look at what the National Snow and Ice Centre actually says about the last Arctic sea ice minimum extent. Yes it is above the 2007 record low, but it is dead on the trend line for a continuing decline of 11% per decade.
And as for the current extent:
“December 2009 had the fourth-lowest average ice extent for the month since the beginning of satellite records, falling just above the extent for 2007. The linear rate of decline for December [since 1979] is now 3.3% per decade.”
Can someone at RC do a short post on the present “cold” snap? OK, off topic :-(
If this could be related to the winters of ’47 (much worse, and the war-torn infra-structure of Europe nearly collapsed) and ’63 (not so bad but fresh in many peoples’ memories) it would help this side of the ditch. Indeed, was there a big cold snap in USA those two years?
Ike: “MapleLeaf, I’m sorry you’re being “threatened”, but if you don’t want to identify yourself out of some ingrown paranoia, then don’t post comments on websites”
Nope, that’s completely fair to post on websites with a pseudonym.
What’s not fair is to do that and complain about other people’s anonymity.
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 Jan 2010 @ 5:37 AM
John Mayer @82 “According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 per cent, since 2007 – and even the most committed global warming activists do not dispute this.”
The short answer is that the Daily Mail is cherry picking. 2007 was a year of massive ice loss, down about 30% from the 2006 (strangely, the skeptics don’t consider that evidence of global warming). I think the figure that best clarifies what they’re doing is here: http://nsidc.org/images/arcticseaicenews/20091005_Figure3_thumb.png. It’s akin to the argument that there has been no global warming since 1998.
Ike, I agree that using SST as a forcing is a bit bass-ackward, but in the case of LC’09, where what they are really trying to do is demonstrate a particular negative feedback, it makes some sense. I think it is all to easy–especially wrt a subject that arouses passions to resort to allegations of incompetence or fraud. Well, in this case, we know with certainty that Lindzen is not incompetent. And misconduct is not an allegation to be thrown around lightly. Any decent scientist knows if they fudge the data they will get caught. The ease with which climate scientists discovered the serious flaws of this piece is an indication of the ruthless efficiency of the process. Lindzen and Choi are both smart enough and experienced enough to know they couldn’t fool the community. A GRL faces a much tougher crowd than that found at WUWT.
At most, we might think that L&C were perhaps overeager. They saw a hint of what they were looking for in the data and teased (or toutured) it out. That they could have been more diligent in quality checks is beyond doubt. I also think that the piece could have benefited from a third set of critical eyes. However, I see nothing that rises to a level even approaching misconduct, nor do I see any advantage in making such an allegation.
Lindzen and Choi deserve credit for publishing and putting their ideas in front of a critical and expert audience. We all count on our peers to correct us if we are going off into the weeds. All scientists make mistakes, and it is up to the collective of scientists to correct them. There are far worse things than being wrong. One of them is not publishing. And worse still is presenting a complicated analysis to a credulous lay audience who have no hope of spotting the errors. Give the authors credit for making the attempt and give them the opportunity to correct the errors in the analysis if they can. I am sure they (and the reviewers) will be much more circumspect with any new analysis.
One additional criticism might be made of the authors–the decision to publish in GRL. GRL is really intended for short, straightforward, newsworthy developments. As a Letters publication, peer review will always be more cursory than it will be for more deliberate publications. As L&C were arguing for some rather revolutionary ideas, it would have been more appropriate to publish in a journal where the peer-review process is more rigorous. Perhaps the authors felt that they needed to get the paper published before Copenhagen. If so, they did themselves and the community a disservice.
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 Jan 2010 @ 6:22 AM
WM: Lindzen, as you say, is the published climate scientist in the arena, not Hank and Ray and the gang.
BPL: Ray is not only published in the field, he has done famous work in the field. It was Forget and Pierrehumbert 1997 that finally nailed down the fact of the outer edge of the ecosphere being way out at 1.7-2.4 AUs, not close in as Hart and even Kasting had thought. Ray has a long, long list of publications on planetary astronomy and climatology. You know not whereof you speak.
[Response: Thanks for the advert, Bart, but I think that the “Ray” being referred to there was Ray Ladbury, not me; I adopted raypierre as a nom de plume here to avoid confusion of that sort, most particularly with Ray Bradley. –raypierre]
WM: Lindzen is predictable and is looking for results that show less warming, just as the AGWers predictably look for results that show the opposite.
BPL: Psychological projection. Professional scientists do no such thing. They may have a hypothesis in mind, but they look at ALL the evidence, WHATEVER it says. They don’t set out to prove their point by ignoring anything to the contrary.
You sound like a creationist who says evolutionary biologists do all their research “to prove evolution,” and are therefore too biased to trust.
OK, this dude cites WUWT and the OISM petition. That is self-refuting. My question would be why would you pick a nonscientist, undegreed TV weatherman or your climate information over actively publishing climate scientists?
The current cold snap is notable basically in how far South the cold went.
Here in the middle we got down to around 0 a couple of nights, but that’s nowhere near our record cold. (-21F)
20 years ago, on Christmas Eve, I remember bundling the kids in blankets for the trip to the family farm because we were facing -15F temps and -45F wind chills. And 20 years before that, my room mate and I were driven from our house for a month because the cold (-20F) had frozen the ground 4 ft deep and snapped about some megaboss percent of the city’s water mains and pipes.
0 is cold in the face of recent years, but it’s more of a case of cold air going where cold air doesn’t usually go than exceptionally cold air generally. It’s a disruption in wind patterns.
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 Jan 2010 @ 10:13 AM
Looking back, I recommend Ike Solem’s comment above (11 January 2010 at 1:31 AM) and examples about how important it is (or should be!) for a journal to facilitate finding comments and subsequent references to papers.
This is fundamental to library research AKA “how to look things up” — and how a journal or ‘review letters’ publication can make this easier or harder for people to do.
> … let’s see, for example, does Pielke Sr. still cite Lyman on the cooling of the
> oceans, even though it was retracted?
> Well, gosh, yes he does!
Sounds big, right? It’s tiny. For example they break out their signatures by qualifications, in which they claim 693 mathematicians. OK the AMS combined membership is 32,000. OK there will be some membership in AMS by people who describe themselves as qualified in other fields (e.g. physics, etc.) but I suspect not all that much.They claim 3,128 chemists, but the membership of the American Chemical Society is about 160,000. Yes, again there could be some overlaps, but in both these cases the rate of signing their denialist petition is about 2%.
If the actuaries there are any good, they shouldn’t need too much help figuring out how strong the denialist case is when that sort of petition subscription is a major exhibit in the case.
I found some of the RC story fairly shocking (e.g., “This comment was rejected out of hand by GRL, with essentially no reason given.”). Does GRL have some apologizing to do? I don’t think this is complicated:
* Reviewers should remain anonymous — always.
* Comments should NEVER be rejected by editorial fiat: Comments are part of the process of science and should be accepted if they pass peer review.
* There is no basis for rejecting any manuscript because it is critical of a previously published one.
* Authors should NEVER be allowed to suggest reviewers (which idiot dreamed that one up?).
* Editors should pull their fingers out and find appropriate reviewers — or resign.
* Editors should follow published editorial policy — or resign.
* Editors hold enormous power but that comes with enormous responsibility.
* Peer review is the least bad of all the alternatives.
Jinchi (#84) – Maybe it’s just me, but if a paper is 4 pages long and has 34 pages of supplemetary material, I’d much rather read a coherently-written 38-page paper than constantly skip back and forth between two separate documents. In my experience, “supplementary information” is more often essential than supplementary and should be integrated into the paper.
Fox News gets it wrong. This from the Washington Monthly:
January 12, 2010
QUOTE OF THE DAY…. The British Daily Mail ran a report yesterday with the headline, “Could we be in for 30 years of global COOLING?” The piece told readers, “According to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, the warming of the Earth since 1900 is due to natural oceanic cycles, and not man-made greenhouse gases.”
It led Fox News to report, “30 Years of Global Cooling Are Coming, Leading Scientist Says.”
There are, of course, two small problems. First, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said no such thing. The director of the NSIDC said, “This is completely false. NSIDC has never made such a statement and we were never contacted by anyone from the Daily Mail.”
Second, the Fox News report cites the research of IPCC scientist Mojib Latif, one of the world’s leading climate modelers. The story completely mischaracterizes his work, and gets the story largely backwards.
Latif told Dr. Joseph Romm:
“I don’t know what to do. They just make these things up.”
Yes, they do. And as long as there are news consumers who prefer the alternative universe these outlets provide, they’ll keep making these things up.
I think GRL’s always been poorer than average for peer review, and that should be borne in mind.
Other than that, I do have a suggestion generally:
Recently, checklists have become an issue for hospitals/surgery. The analogy made is that pilots need checklists to prevent crashes.
Peer reviewed journals should work up a checklist for peer reviewers – steps that you ALWAYS take when reviewing a submission.
That eliminates the carelessness and oversight problem. The problem of bias in finessing peer review, e.g. Climate Research, or the worse problem of being a fraudulent publication, e.g.Energy and Environment, at least then become your main problems and are easier to set out.
Comment by Marion Delgado — 12 Jan 2010 @ 11:57 AM
Melty, Regarding your points
* Reviewers should remain anonymous — always.
* Comments should NEVER be rejected by editorial fiat: Comments are part of the process of science and should be accepted if they pass peer review.
However if you get 10 pages of comments on a 4-page letter, it kind of clutters up the works. Comments require a response by the original author and so on. In part this is just a limitation of the “Letters” format.
* There is no basis for rejecting any manuscript because it is critical of a previously published one.
* Authors should NEVER be allowed to suggest reviewers (which idiot dreamed that one up?).
OK, here’s the thing. In a broad field, there may not be very many potential reviewers who have expertise in a particular subfield. This often leads to a few reviewers being inundated with each others papers over and over. An author who is applying a new tecnhique might want to recommend a reviewer who is expert in that technique.
Yes, there is the potential for abuse, but it’s not as idiotic as you make out.
* Editors should pull their fingers out and find appropriate reviewers — or resign.
Not always easy–particularly with 2 week turn-around.
* Editors should follow published editorial policy — or resign.
Agreed, but there will always be situations the policy doesn’t cover.
* Editors hold enormous power but that comes with enormous responsibility.
Yes they have enourmous responsibilities, but very little power–especially if they are doing their job right.
* Peer review is the least bad of all the alternatives.
However, you are deluding yourself if you think things are as clear and easy as you imply.
John N-G says: In my experience, “supplementary information” is more often essential than supplementary and should be integrated into the paper.
I agree. Often times I find the methodological details in there that I’m looking for. I never cease to be amazed at how crucial methods descriptions are omitted or castrated in papers. You can’t really evaluate them. Waste of everyone’s time and resources.
Not to mention the uselessness to those with only a paper copy.
Jim Bouldin, the letters are not meant to be full-on papers.
I do not think that what is being done requires changing. All that needs to change is the idea that gentlemen will be gentlemen when it comes to climate studies (because there’s a lot of money to be lost and therefore a lot of pressure). Therefore the what would be ACCEPTED as a GRL as opposed to a full paper needs to be tightened up with that in mind.
But not how a full paper or a letter is reviewed.
In this case, the expectation of the paper (AGW isn’t real, here’s an alternative that gets us off the hook) is far too extraordinary for a mere letter.
If this had been written in the 1950’s-60’s, then probably would: there was a lot less evidence and testing on whether GW is anthropogenic in origin and a paper now purporting to throw it all away is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary proof.
Something this paper wasn’t put through the mill to ascertain.
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 Jan 2010 @ 1:40 PM
If editors had so much power, why did three have to resign because they couldn’t get a clarification of why an earlier (terrible) paper was printed?
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 Jan 2010 @ 1:42 PM
Recommended: Joe Romm’s piece, which the Washington Monthly points to, about the original Latif figure and interpretation.
“What they mean is what the lead author, Dr. Noel Keenlyside, wrote me [in 2008] when I asked for a clarification:
Thus, based on our results we don’t expect an increase in the mean temperature of the next decade (2005-2015).
They are predicting no increase in average temperature of the “next decade” (2005 to 2015) over the previous decade, which, for them, is 2000 to 2010! And that’s in fact precisely what the figure shows — that the 10-year mean global temperature centered around 2010 is the roughly the same as the mean global temperature centered around 2005.
@101 “What’s not fair is to do that and complain about other people’s anonymity.”
Point taken. Thanks “fed up”.
That said, one of the many factors which compel me to do a decent job when I review a paper is that I have never assumed that I would remain anonymous, especially if I happened to screw up badly. I operate on the assumption that if I screw up, then the editor will hold me accountable, and my reputation will take a hit. I do not wish for that to happen, so I do the very best that I can, and do not review papers which I am not qualified to critique, or if I have a conflict of interest.
What ‘m trying to say is that I personally do not believe that anonymity when reviewing papers is a fundamental right, especially if one compromises the science or someone’s work in a big way. There are also journals out there which use an open review process quite effectively.
@melty: “* Authors should NEVER be allowed to suggest reviewers (which idiot dreamed that one up?).”
No, asking the authors to suggest referees is not a bad idea, editors just have to avoid using it as a crutch.
There are lots of papers that come in where it can honestly be hard to figure out who can review it well from among the pool of referees for a journal. There’s usually nothing wrong with the editor having the option of choosing one referee from among the authors’ suggestions.
It’s where the other two referees come from that makes the difference.
It doesn’t hurt to again (and again and again and again) draw the distinction between weather and climate, and between local & regional weather (and even climate) and global climate and global warming. The reason I even asked about whether there were also areas right now warmer than usual, is bec all I get here is local/regional and perhaps national weather…..not world weather. Before I got that reply from Andreas, I had been thinking 1st law of thermodynamics (it must be hotter elsewhere), also short-term downs (& ups) during a longer-term upward trend, solar minimum irradiance, perhaps the thermohaline slowdown or stoppage, etc., but “strongly negative phase of the arctic oscillation” also works. Enquiring minds need to know. And I’m impressed that the TV weather news programs I’ve been watching have been referring to this cold snap as an “ARCTIC BLAST,” which at the least indicates this cold snap is coming from up north (for us north latitude people), with the implication at least that is not due to a general global cooling. I remember when a certain weatherman (with a relative in some biz) used to deny GW, and would have used this cold snap to deny it.
There are new people tuning in all the time to the global warming issue, whenever the weather becomes the front page story or gets their attention. They need to learn some basics about GW, just like a new batch of school children are entering the educational system each year. At least some of them will be amenable to bona fide science on the topic.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 12 Jan 2010 @ 2:17 PM
Hank Roberts says: 12 January 2010 at 1:50 PM
At Deep Climate David Rose puts in an appearance to defend his presentation:
He claims to be outraged by “intellectual bullying”, but if true he’s strangely selective about rising to the defense of hapless victims. So far McIntyre has been the only beneficiary of his ire, even while we see myriad baseless charges leveled against actual practicing climate scientists.
Jim Bouldin and John,
Having been on both sides of these issues, I think there are a couple of things going on. First, LC’09 was not an appropriate candidate for a “Letters” format. Even if their analysis had been correct, it had a number of novel components that should have been fleshed out, and they were making some rather astounding claims. However, there are some results that are pretty straightforward and are “newsworthy” enough that the community would benefit from rapid publication. I think the question is whether there are enough such results to sustain a dedicated publication like GRL.
Also, in regard to supplementary material:
In some particularly broad fields, it can be difficult to define the technical savvy of the audience. It may be that techniques introduced in a paper are quite familiar to the author and a subset of the community, but unheard of in the rest of the community. In that case, it can be a judgment call whether to treat the novel techniques in the body of the text or in a supplementary section. The latter strategy often leads to a more readable paper as it allows a narrative flow to be maintained.
Ray: I’m firmly on your side but I have to disagree on these points:
* if a 10-page comment is *required* to rebut a 4-page letter, so what? An editor or reviewer can suggest shortening it but the author is free to argue that all the material is necessary to make the point. I’m not aware that comments *require* a response from the authors of the original (or are you discussing specific GRL policies?).
* “This often leads to a few reviewers being inundated” …I am one of those inundated reviewers. Sure it’s tough work and stretches my schedule to breaking point (ask my wife) — but s/one has to do it. Peer review is an under-rated part of our profession (but we knew this already). So I still contend that allowing authors to suggest reviewers is a really bad idea.
* a 2-week turn-around? Isn’t this rushing things just a tad? It takes me 6-12 months to get from first submission to print but I’m not complaining. Let’s not go for the 24-hour news cycle model of science publishing — please!
* well according to Chris O’Dell’s post, they can block submission of a relevant comment submission prior to peer review. That is not acceptable.
Btw, I’m hardly naive (deluded was a little OTT, no?). I publish and review regularly , and I’m on the editorial board of a science journal (not climatology). Oh — and my first publication was a comment.
126: So when I submit a ms it’s OK I for me to simply suggest all my friends (aka colleagues who are sympathetic to my views)? No. I actually like tough manuscript reviews because it makes me think harder — and I have to demonstrate to the reviewer(s) and editor that my ms holds up. Please, guys, I’m a reasonable person (go look for melty on Dot Earth sometime).
“Of Mice and Models: Response to S. Green, December 2009
It is easy to forget that all sciences rely on models although they prefer to call them laws and theories. They are widely accepted until they are proved wrong, which most of them are, given time.”
Tell them most of us would be dead and hideously scarred of diseases, dead from a single cut on our fingers, having almost all our kids die in infancy, be dead by age 50, walking in our own poop in the streets, and murdering ourelves in Salem witch trials (my family was from there, oooops)without mainstream science to methodically work things out with journals and the written scientific process. Yeah, it has problems, but it works over time. There is no alternative to replace it except anarchy…and humans wisely gave that up for good reason.
Melty says, “So when I submit a ms it’s OK I for me to simply suggest all my friends (aka colleagues who are sympathetic to my views)? ”
Well, it would be OK if you were a moron who didn’t care about the quality of your work (and no, I don’t think you are). Moreover, what kind of “friend” allows you to publish crap? Remember the reviewer’s reputation is on the line here as well. Oftentimes the only people who are really expert in a technique will be people who have published together in the past. That is one reason why you want multiple reviewers.
Ask yourself: If the choice is having a reviewer who is knowledgeable about the subject matter but who is a “friend” of the author or having a reviewer who knows bupkis about the subject matter, which do you take?
Ray (#127) – It would be great if supplementary material would be restricted to that purpose: a convenient repository for (mostly methodological) information that readers would otherwise have to dig for in other referenced papers.
To demonstrate that this is not the norm, I decided randomly to check out the most recent climate-related paper in Nature Geosciences: it turns out to be http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n1/abs/ngeo706.html Lunt et al. 2010. Gavin Schmidt turns out to be a co-author, so maybe we can get an author’s perspective too!
The paper is five pages long. The supplementary information (SI) is 18 pages doublespaced, which would probably come out to about four pages in a Nature-format journal.
The caption to Figure 1 of the article (there are three figures in the article and four in the SI) is:
“Figure 1: Charney sensitivity and Earth system sensitivity. a, Cs = delta Tc (C). b, ESS (C) calculated from Supplementary Equations S16 and S17.”
This illustrates my objection to the format of short papers plus supplementary information perfectly. According to the text of the paper, the term “Earth system sensitivity” is introduced for the first time here: “We term this temperature response the ‘Earth system sensitivity'” (no references cited). Furthermore, equations S16 and S17 are derived in the Supplementary Information, not obtained from another cited reference. So S16 and S17 are apparently novel equations, fundamentally part of this work itself and inseparable from its results.
It seems to me that any logically defensible presentation of this material would have Figure 1 and equations S16 and S17 in the same document, not two separate documents. The choice to include S16 and S17 in the supplementary information rather than the main text was made, I would hazard, not to improve readability but rather to meet the paper length requirements for publishing in a prestigious journal.
Gavin, please correct me if I’m wrong. For better readability and scientific presentation, absent Nature-imposed restrictions, would you prefer to have arranged your text differently? Do you regard S16 and S17 as important mathematical statements essential to your paper or as merely supplemental information whose absence would not weaken your analysis?
Interesting paper, by the way.
[Response: Thanks! (I think) The concept of Earth System Sensitivity is not difficult to grasp – it’s what you get when you allow everything to vary and come into equilibrium rather than just the subset of processes that were included in GCMs when Charney wrote his 1979 report. Estimating this from a finite set of experiments with an imperfect model combined with uncertain Pliocene boundary conditions is a little trickier and can get technical. How a paper is organised is ultimately concerned with what it is you want to communicate though. In this case, I think the concept and the approach are more important than the technical details and that is reflected in the organisation of the paper. The SI was part of the peer review and we had a lot of issues that we went back and forth on with the reviewers with respect to those details and we ended putting in more explanation and alternatives there to satisfy everyone without it making any substantial difference to what we considered the bottom line result. If the paper were written as a single narrative, I don’t think we would have included so much detail because it would have unbalanced the presentation – but I don’t really know, because the paper as published is a fair bit different from the initial paper we submitted. The process of getting a paper through Nature or Science or Nature Geoscience or PNAS is very much a factor in determining what the end product looks like. – gavin]
Hi Ray, You wrote “If the choice is having a reviewer who is knowledgeable about the subject matter but who is a “friend” of the author or having a reviewer who knows bupkis about the subject matter, which do you take?”
Your question is a good one but here’s the answer: THAT is why we have editors. The good ones spend time on finding appropriate reviewers. If my paper is reviewed by s/one who knows bupkis (zip?) about my field, it’s easy (oh so easy) to shoot the review down and hence increase the chances of my ms being accepted. Of course, I would prefer a reviewer who knew something — criticism helps to strengthen the ms.
On your other question: “what kind of “friend” allows you to publish crap?” You are missing that fact that there is more than one valid point of view, or approach, to many problems. In my field, people tend to push particular interpretation techniques or instrumentation types: most are useful to some extent but I’m not going to hope that I’m able to push my particular approach by having “friendly” reviews.
Call me an altruist — and bring on the tough reviews.
“… without Steve’s brilliant work and this magnificent website, it could not have been written. May I also pay tribute to Ross McKitrick….
I am not a scientist, but an open minded investigative journalist. I have not written on climate before. …”
— David Rose, after an instant education at Climateaudit.
Reflecting a bit more on this I’m giving Lindzen and GRL some second thoughts.
I’ve been hesitant to give some of my views on the peer-review process, because the social sciences, especially anthropology, might be different from the physical sciences. Clifford Geertz commented on this distinction in his essay “Thick Description”: “Anthropology, or at least interpretive anthropology, is a science whose progress is marked less by a perfection of consensus than by a refinement of debate. What gets better is the precision with which we vex each other.”
The peer-review process in such a field, it seems to me, involves more subjective considerations; it pays to speak to “the old boys club” of a particular journal; and there are some tricks to getting an article accepted; it helps to know the publisher; at least he/she will make sure your ideological enemies are not the reviewers — a Marxist “critical school” reviewer would never tick-mark “accept for publication” a structural-functionalist framed paper, or even a symbolic interactionist framed paper, no matter how good; and if it’s an anthropology paper, be sure to include all the latest fadish jargon (a physical scientist actually did this trick — wrote a bogus anthropology paper imbuing it with plenty of postmodernist jargon and got it published, then revealed the hoax).
That’s not to say that mainly crud gets published in cultural anthropology (the above being a rare case), or that empirical information and data count for nothing, or that great ideas and analyses are constantly chucked overboard. I’ve found the peer-review process greatly improves my mediocre and even good papers.
What I’m thinking here is that in the physical sciences things are not completely nailed down either, and there is room for debate, though it is not as subjective/ideological as in the social sciences, and eventually the (as close as we can get) objective truth wins out and there is a movement toward “perfection of consensus.” And if this Lindzen/GRL type of thing had occurred in some other field, one that was not impacting our lives (at least not in ways that we people would be called on to act and mitigate), such as the debate between continental drift v. stationary continents, or big bang v. cyclical theory, it would be just as acrimonious within those narrow areas, and some scientists may privately grouse about some less worthy articles passing peer-review or their own being rejected, but no one outside the confines of those subfields would really care much about it. Science buffs might think, oh well, it will eventually be sorted out; meanwhile I’ll stick with Dr. XYZ’s theory.
For the past 2 decades I’ve had a fairly negative view of the skeptics and contrarians within the climate science community (who are now just a handful), especially when the media trot them out to create a balanced format (as if AGW were a matter of opinion rather than scientific fact), but now I’m not as negatively disposed toward either the contrarian scientists or the peer-review process flaws (whether they be accidental, structural, human bias, or special interest flaws). This is how science bumbles through to the truth, to the empirical, objective scientific facts. (And let the Piltdown Man type hoaxes be revealed.)
What I’m most opposed to is how the non-scientists are responding, the general public and policy-makers. If they can say that pro-AGW climate scientists are wrong, then they should also realize that the anti-AGW climate scientists could be wrong, and that we need to use Pascal’s wager in making our own decisions, apart from scientific standards. That’s the real problem here.
But since people are refusing to act sensibly to avoid possible great harm from AGW, and are assuming mitigation will cause great harm, without even giving it a try, the whole burden has fallen back on scientists and the peer-review process, making inhuman demands on them both.
And worst of all, even if climate scientists were perfect and knew everything, and even if the peer-review process were perfect, it wouldn’t do any good at all, it seems to me. The non-scientist denialists are simply not going to accept that AGW could be real and dangerous, no matter what. The last ones to “convert” and come on board were Pat Robertson and William F. Buckley, and I think there will be no more conversions — maybe just a trend nearly as slow as AGW itself in which denialists eventually die out, and not as many proportionately are born or inducted into such denialism. Maybe that will happen, but it will end up being much too little much too late.
I’m also thinking, what do the scientists know, maybe it already is much too little much too late — not that we should ever give up mitigating and making the total catastrophic disaster on into the future into a not-as-bad disaster.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 12 Jan 2010 @ 5:46 PM
Hank Roberts says: 12 January 2010 at 4:58 PM
And don’t lets forget Rose’s paean to McIntyre, “Sir, I salute you. Bravo!”
Mind you, this is the same McIntyre who has apparently organized some kind of Dewey decimal-like indexing system for a file of pilfered email obtained by hook or crook and is currently preoccupied not with science, instead is obsessively stirring the ashes of a long-dead article review process, babbling about “evidence” of a editor/reviewer plot against him.
Pretty sorry situation, when journalists attached to a paper with circulations of millions are besotted with crackpots.
Hi. The ‘Wheres The Data’ post of November was a good move, but given it’s importance I think that it deserves to be more obvious than the current link on the side menu. Do you guys have any plans to promote it to a top level tab?
RE #135, thanks, Hank. I still would like to see an RC post on the cold snap. And yes, the whole issue is to get people to understand the difference between weather and climate, and that one cold snap in some regions a global cooling trend make (as in one bee does not a hive make).
And it is also helpful (since many people can’t see the forest for the trees), if it can be shown that this cold snap is not just (or even) a brief dip in global average temp, but also due to the arctic blast, the weather pattern shifting from a more typical west-east thing to a north-south swing.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 12 Jan 2010 @ 6:12 PM
melty @132: So when I submit a ms it’s OK I for me to simply suggest all my friends (aka colleagues who are sympathetic to my views)? No. I actually like tough manuscript reviews because it makes me think harder — and I have to demonstrate to the reviewer(s) and editor that my ms holds up.
Let’s take a step back for a second and remember that we expect scientists to behave ethically in suggesting a list of reviewers for their work, just as we expect them not to doctor the data to fit their conclusions. When a journal asks authors to submit a list of potential reviewers, it’s because they are more likely than the editor to know of people who are experts with a specific data set or a numerical technique. I don’t know of any professional who simply suggests all his friends to get through peer review. Often I’ve never even met the reviewers I suggest. On the other hand, authors are under no obligation to recommend reviewers who are openly hostile, and the editor is not required to take their suggestions.
Authors should NEVER be allowed to suggest reviewers (which idiot dreamed that one up?)
That comment suggests that you think most scientists will cheat whenever possible. Honestly, it would be much easier to tweak results, throw out inconvenient data and modify model output in ways that would never be spotted in peer review. But science is self correcting. If you’re wrong, nobody will be able to work with your results and all your hard work gets tossed into the garbage bin.
It just struck me, there’s a kind of beautiful, weirdly twisted mirror symmetry here, staring us in the face.
Woven into this thread dissecting the demanding peer review process are a few snippets regarding a journalist who is writing Dadaist syntheses of reality and fiction regarding climate change, at the behest of editors beholden to a billionaire climate change doubter. This journalist has declared his admiration and respect for a person who is inventing cabalistic conspiracies to explain why he has had so much trouble getting his climate change doubting research published in peer-reviewed journals.
Opposites, linked by McIntyre. It’s almost poetic.
First, stop with the cold snap stuff, or at least have the intellectual honesty to admit that using weather in a climate debate is, well, intellectually dishonest. During the late drought in Georgia (USA), we heard lots about how it was proof of AGW. When the drought broke, credibility for AGW went with it for many. Using a cold snap to “prove” anything related to either side of climate political debate is short-sighted and counter productive.
Second, I’m really shocked at the number of “Big Oil/Coal” conspiracy posts. If a journal can be “taken over” by oil industry interests it can be taken over by ANY interest. The only difference is who’s signing the check if the journal is up for bid in the first place. While meant as a slur for big corporations, it was really a slur against the folks who put out journals and do peer reviews.
While I consider myself a skeptic, I have nothing but respect for the researcher’s professionalism doing the work. Saying they can be co-opted by one entity is saying they can be co-opted by any entity.
Third, we used to have a saying about predictive models (I did statistical analysis very unrelated to climate change): all models are wrong; some are better than others. Applying a zero defect criteria for models is incorrect on both ends of the spectrum. Saying a model is imperfect is mutually exclusive from saying it is invalid for use, unless one can show that the model’s imperfections amount to baseline errors.
Lastly, the publishing of a paper that goes against the grain (and the subsequent criticism of it based on facts) makes skeptics like me take a second look. I have no qualms when a majority of scientists agree on a general body of work; I have bells and whistles going off in my head when only papers which agree with it are allowed to be published. Proper consensus is formed when dissenting views (when, like the LC09, they are put into the formal debate) are allowed to be taken into consideration.
Perhaps it is the difference in our professions. In my profession, there are people whose work is sufficiently specialized that they have published with everyone who does anything similar. And in my own case, I often bring in statistical techniques that are well known in other fields but unfamiliar in my own–I’ve actually had editors come back and ask me for potential reviewers.
I think that the thing you are neglecting is that the reputation of the referee or editor suffers if he does a poor job or shows favoritism or prejudice. If it happens enough, the reputation of the journal suffers. This is a situation where all the incentives line up on the side of proper behavior.
I have bells and whistles going off in my head when only papers which agree with it are allowed to be published. Proper consensus is formed when dissenting views (when, like the LC09, they are put into the formal debate) are allowed to be taken into consideration.
You need to read more carefully. The problem here isn’t that LC09 puts forward a dissenting view, it’s that it’s stunningly wrong.
Completely Fed Up says: Jim Bouldin, the letters are not meant to be full-on papers.
What do you mean by “full-on papers”? Did you read the statement by Famiglietti, linked to by John N-G? GRL papers are designed to be cutting edge, newsworthy stuff that supposedly needs to get out right away. It’s a very high profile journal. I don’t see how Lindzen and Choi’s paper doesn’t qualify for submission.
I do not think that what is being done requires changing.
Have you read any of the comments here at all? Or the post itself?
The deniers are instigated by efforts from Big Oil. The methodology is to fund non-profits and think tanks (CATO Institute, Heartland Institute, etc) that can promote anything they are paid for.
This process is not new to the climate issue. It was first done with the tobacco industry in the early 50s, then with chemical companies and now with fossil fuel companies.
RE #147, Frank & “During the late drought in Georgia (USA), we heard lots about how it was proof of AGW.”
You need to distinguish between scientists and lay persons — Scientists, as far as I know, do not make such claims; it’s people like me who even use Hurricane Andrew in 1992 to speak of “here we come, global warming,” tho in my best moments I point out, “If Katrina or the Georgia drought & water shortage are not due to global warming, then we only have worse to expect in the future.” The scientist, bless their hearts, don’t make such claims.
Hansen, however, has come up with a 6-faced die example in which 1951-1980 only 2 faces were painted red (meaning hotter than usual avergage global temperature in a particular year), while now it’s more like 4 faces of the die — though even then he points out that would be 67%, and the actuality is more like 60% (see p.145 of his STORMS OF MY GRANDCHILDREN).
RE “If a journal can be ‘taken over’ by oil industry interests it can be taken over by ANY interest” — Bingo. I think it was a JAMA or the J. of New England Medicine editor that did something unethical, and was being funded by a company that led to his bias, I think in a review about Steingraber’s, LIVING DOWN STREAM. I’ll look into it and let you know exactly. I think he was removed, so ultimately the system works. However, with AGW, we just don’t have a whole lot of time to let the system ultimately work. I think I read in Hansen’s STORMS that we only have about 5 more years to get this GHG emissions ship turning around.
RE “Third, we used to have a saying about predictive models (I did statistical analysis very unrelated to climate change): all models are wrong; some are better than others,” Hansen puts paleoclimate science and actual current empirical data before models. So I don’t think climate scientists are so enamoured by models that they are unable to see or accept empirical evidence. That’s just a strawman.
RE your last point, I think it’s fine people look seriously at scientific skeptical arguments and theories; scientists, at least, have to address such. From my point of view, I tend to look at “what’s the worse that could happen” & try to avoid that while hoping for the best. So if science says there’s no link between the TCE in the Woburn water and ill health effects (mostly due to small sample size), I tend to think there may likely be a link; and if science says AGW is yet unproven, as it did before 1995, I think, well, it seems to me it may be happening, and I should mitigate — which I’ve been doing (along with Pope John Paul II) since 1990. That’s just me. I do feel really bad that climate science has panned out with “AGW is happening and it is (& will be) much worse than we initially thought.” I’m hoping to wake up & find it’s just a bad dream.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 12 Jan 2010 @ 9:08 PM
Frank Giger (#147): You are far too trusting. Do you realize how much money $1 TRILLION is? People have killed each other over a paltry $1 Million! Somebody once said: “Everybody has a price.” I don’t doubt the honesty of scientists, but I believe in human nature, just like Lou Grant. The “paranoid” scale on the MMPI has 2 ends, with normal in the middle. Isn’t it possible that many scientists are on the naive/anti-paranoid end just a little too far from the middle? In the present circumstance, with a $trillion/year cash flow working against you, I would say that just a little paranoia would be healthy. There are so many stockholders who would be better off temporarily with all climate scientists dead/exterminated.
I hope it is bravery on RC’s part rather than naivety/anti-paranoia.
Question: How much would it cost to buy an MIT professor?
Answer: A lot less than $1 Trillion.
“The deniers are instigated by efforts from Big Oil…Read on at Doubt is their product for evidence. You can also google for more material (videos) on this book.”
Yes, also read the book by a Pulitzer Prize winner, Boston Globe Ross Gelbspan, The Heat is On. It was required reading at a pilot climate change course I took at the University of Denver.
By the way (and I did not make this up), the Boston Globe had to issue a statement that yes, Gelbspan did indeed receive the Publizer Prize after the contrarians publicly claimed that he had never received it. It is like a house of mirrors.
Hidebound orthodoxies are often maintained by dogmatic insistence that tautologies be accepted as reason.
LC09 can be undermined in one of two ways –
(1) attack the process by which it got published, thereby reinforcing all of the suppositions to motive that surround “climate gate”
(2) write and publish a paper that eviscerates the claims with firm research available for others to examine and verify.
What would Einstein do?
Gavin – your first impulse was the correct one. Going “meta” and trying to attack the process of peer review is both counterproductive and unnecessary.
RE 152, RE the editorial review of Steingraber’s LIVING DOWNSTREAM, it was the J. of New England Medicine, and the editor was working for W. R. Grace, which polluted the Woburn water. But I’m not sure if he was removed from his editor position or not.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 13 Jan 2010 @ 12:05 AM
Edward Greisch wrote:
“Isn’t it possible that many scientists are on the naive/anti-paranoid end just a little too far from the middle?.” Not really to disagree with you…
It really doesn’t matter what scientists think (and neither should it)… that is the beauty of it. It is what is in the permanent peer-reviewed juried open world wide published journals and conferences…and that is overwhelmingly that human-caused climate change is happening (fast) with published studies dating back to 1824 (-Fourier and that human-caused global warming is an energy imbalance problem of how much energy is coming into the atmospheric system vs. leaving it).
(1) attack the process by which it got published, thereby reinforcing all of the suppositions to motive that surround “climate gate”
What would Einstein do?
Oh, good effing grief, do you really believe that Einstein would support reviewers who, in essence, pass a paper based on premises as off- base as “1+1 = 3”?
I don’t think so.
You are essentially arguing that “peer review” be so weakened that anything that anyone submits should be published, because the process shouldn’t be subjected to quality control assessment, because if you insist on quality, it reinforces all the insistence on quality control that real scientists at CRU were bitching about.
Because that’s obviously the motive uncovered by so-called “Climategate” – *improve quality control so crap doesn’t get published so often”.
You, of course, want the opposite. Insistence on quality control, in your eyes, is somehow evil, because it excludes bullshit that supports your political view which, if subjected to honest assessment, would be laughed out of existence.
You’re the equivalent of a young-earth creationist who insists that dinos and man walked hand-in-hand in the garden of eden.
If it is truly a matter of “1 + 1 = 3” (which isn’t a premise, BTW, but an operation) then demonstrate it in a paper and get it published. Along with everyone else.
I am not arguing that the peer review process is “so weakened” … The whole idea is a self correcting system. It will correct itself. People insisting that a new orthodoxy be imposed that over rides the existing protocols simply plays into the hands of the “Climategate” crowd (notice the quotes?)
Even the best will get it wrong and get corrected – Einstein wasn’t too hot on Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle when he made the “God doesn’t play dice” comment. He later admitted he was wrong.
Point is – let the process run its course.
Then again you could try the self appointed enforcer of the orthodoxy routine that you just tried on me (a confirmed atheist not by any stretch a denier) and make an ass of yourself.
157 Richard Ordway: I have no disagreement with you on how science is supposed to work or on how science does work. I understand that science is organized to cancel the mistakes of individual SCIENTISTS.
The problem is the outsiders with trillions of dollars at stake. We don’t live in a world of scientists. Scientists make up a very small percentage of all people. Science is also a very recent phenomenon. Remember Giordano Bruno. There are a lot more people who wish Climate Science would go away than there are climate scientists.
Keep up the good work, but always remember: There are those who wish you ill. Be safe. Protect your computers from break-ins. There are lots of not-so-nice people in this world. Enough said?
@Adam Sullivan: “Going “meta” and trying to attack the process of peer review is both counterproductive and unnecessary.”
The process of peer review is not perfect, and there might very well be a better one.
However the real question in this case is that the editor was out of his competence in one or another way. The referees are reported to have been uniformly positive, fair enough, that could happen, even if only by chance. Still, the editor is supposed to do more than just look at a box ticked “publish” or “perish” and pretend that it’s all up to the referees. The editor has to make an assessment of the content of the paper in order to correctly assign referees. In the paper in question, the authors straight up contradict the results of many other studies – probably tens of thousands of man hours of work by many scientists and a reasonably well traveled chunk of the literature.
I would have thought the editor would have considered a second look. Yes, there is undoubtedly a press of business and a short turn-around time. But how many of those papers claim that most of the climate models in the world wear socks made of anti-matter?
I suppose if people want a non-politically charged example of a letters journal with a paper that had to be retracted, the 1999 non-production of element 118 is one. In that case, a faulty data analysis misled the authors to conclude that they had produced element 118, and it took several other experimenters’ failure to confirm for the problem to come to light. In that sort of case, I think one does not really blame the editorial process for not finding the error.
That one is documented in Simon LeVay’s book “When Science Goes Wrong”.
Jefferey Davis..The dead pine forests in British Columbia have now moved from the category of victim of AGW to that of climate forcing mechanism and are now reseasing carbon as they decompose. They are reputed to be capable of challenging (perhaps out doing) that released by Alberta’s tar sands.
“GRL papers are designed to be cutting edge, newsworthy stuff that supposedly needs to get out right away. It’s a very high profile journal.”
They are meant to get an idea out right away and therefore, in the rush to print, what gets left behind?
All the dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s.
“I don’t see how Lindzen and Choi’s paper doesn’t qualify for submission.”
Because it’s throwing away a LOT of other work, saying “they are wrong and here’s the proof”, they are making an extraordinary claim.
And you really MUST make sure that you’ve dotted i’s etc.
And I can’t be held responsible for what you can or cannot see.
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 Jan 2010 @ 4:21 AM
MApleLeaf: “What ‘m trying to say is that I personally do not believe that anonymity when reviewing papers is a fundamental right, ”
Some journals don’t let that happen.
It *is* the right of a journal to decide what processes they follow. If they’ve chosen unwisely, they’ll get no respect (see E&E). And a journal without respect is a rag.
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 Jan 2010 @ 4:27 AM
While I am happy that the paper appeared in the peer-reviewed literature where
1)there would be a single, definitive version, rather than a bunch of versions floating around on various blogs
2)it could receive attention from the experts
I do think the editorial process was substandard. I don’t think it failed badly, but I think this paper would have benefitted significantly had it been published in a more deliberative journal than GRL, which ought to be devoted to short, newsworthy, uncontroversial work.
If it is truly a matter of “1 + 1 = 3″ (which isn’t a premise, BTW, but an operation) then demonstrate it in a paper and get it published.
Well, no, it’s a conclusion, not a premise. But you’re essentially saying that if I submit a proof to a mathematics journal that 1+1=3, that the journal should publish the proof. As I said in my original post responding to you, you’re suggesting dropping quality control altogether.
Any journal that might do so on a routine basis would quickly become ignored by mathematicians.
Or, if they cared about the journal, they might bitch amongst themselves about how that journal has become, effectively, non-peer reviewed. And they might discuss getting better editors and review standards in place.
An interesting question is how Lindzen confronts his critics.
a) Dig in
b) Admit he was wrong
b1) Admit he was wrong specifically but dig in on low climate sensitivity and try and find new mechanisms/data
b2) Admit that best understanding gives a climate sensitivity of 2-4.5 K
A good indication is whether he sticks to the low sensitivity in the wsj. Anyone want to take bets?
The reason that this is interesting is that his reputation in the climate science community is going to take a hit. A lot of his ability to manipulate public opinion rests on his reputation in the science community and he is in serious danger of entering the crank zone.
Must we really begin over with our A-B-C lessons, yet again? There’s no opportunity for education here, help is not what’s being requested, this is about something else we can only guess at. Please, no.
Of course it does, BPL! Didn’t you know that putting a blanket on yourself makes the TOP of the blanket even warmer than the bottom!!!
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 Jan 2010 @ 3:35 PM
Adam Sullivan #159: there is no reason that 1 + 1 = 3 couldn’t be a premise as proposed by dhogaza. A premise is the starting point for a logical proof. If a logical proof has a bogus premise, then the conclusions are meaningless. If a mathematical journal published a paper with an obviously bogus premise, of course its reputation would be in tatters. If on the basis of valid premises and laws of proof someone proved 1 + 1 = 3, that would be a different matter, but you’ve changed the argument by insisting that 1 + 1 = 3 isn’t a premise.
On the bigger picture: the argument here is not that no contrarian papers should be published but that contrarian papers appear to be accepted with a much lower standard of review than the mainstream. I’m sure some bogus papers supporting the mainstream do get published. But almost no contrarian papers are published without some obvious flaw (even obvious to the non-special-ist, e.g. McLean, de Freitas and Carter 2009). Contrast this with the hockey stick “imbroglio”. (Note the quotes.) No one found a substantial basis for criticising the original paper; some details of procedure and methodology could have been better, but not to the extent of overturning the results. Here, by contrast, we have a paper that falls apart under critical scrutiny. Senate enquiry? Any bets on that happening?
Please accept my apologies in advance for this off-topic post.
Well-known AGW “skeptic” weatherman John Coleman is will be hosting an anti-AGW special on San Diego’s KUSI TV channel Thursday (1/14) at 9PM. Rick Roberts, a right-wing San Diego radio host, has been flogging this special on his show. Roberts will be featuring Coleman’s special on his Friday morning time slot (5-9AM IIRC). And he says that he’ll be taking callers to discuss it.
I have this fantasy of folks at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography calling into Rick’s show to set the record straight. So if anyone here knows any folks at Scripps, could you pass this along to them?
(This is probably all a waste of time; I can’t imagine that Rick Roberts’ call-screeners ever letting knowledgeable scientists onto his show — but I can fantasize, can’t I?)
Of course not, Rod. You know where the energy he calls “radiation” at ground level comes from, and the various routes by which it gets there. You understand the picture. Try to help the nice newbie understand the basics, please.
WRONG!!! Tilo needs to discover the greenhouse effect.
What does the greenhouse effect have to do with it? We are talking about changing one variable, not two. Given a certain level of greenhouse effect, increasing the radiation at sea level still means more will escape to space.
“Changes the sign of the answer.”
I’m not saying how is it relevant if the argument for extra radiation escaping is true; I’m saying how is the argument relevant that if the sea is not next to space it means that more radiation doesn’t mean more escaping radiation. As far as changing the sign goes, I assume that you are talking abour the feedback sign. Maybe, maybe not. If feedback without the effect is, say, 2C per CO2 doubling, then you can get a lot smaller before going negative. Unfortunately your comments are so cryptic, Hank, that I don’t know what to respond to.
Tilo says, “Given a certain level of greenhouse effect, increasing the radiation at sea level still means more will escape to space.”
No, it does not. It depends on the wavelength of the radiation. If it is in the greenhouse absorption spectrum, many of the additional photons will also be absorbed–or do you think the CO2 molecules are smart enough to discriminate between old and new photons?
Tilo “I’m not saying how is it relevant if the argument for extra radiation escaping is true;”
It’s not just that a wrong argument is both irrelevant to the thread but it is VERY relevant to how you waste time and have absolutely no qualms about lying your a** off and wasting everyone’s time.
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Jan 2010 @ 4:12 AM
Tilo revels in his idiocy: ““Are you sure?”
So please explain the physical process that makes more energy leave the top of the atmosphere, Tilo.
I’ll get the popcorn…
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Jan 2010 @ 4:14 AM
Rod B, if the radiation leaving TOA increases, are you saying that this would NOT cool the surface? Because if so, where is that extra energy coming in to the system?
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Jan 2010 @ 4:20 AM
Rod B: Are you guys saying that an increase in the radiation leaving the surface will not cause any increase in the radiation leaving the TOA??
BPL: Depends on what’s happening in the atmosphere in between, doesn’t it? Maybe the surface is hotter BECAUSE less is leaving the TOA. In which case, in the long run, TOA radiation will have to go up. But TR (and Lindzen and Choi) have the idea that you can cool the Earth off that way; that it’s an IR “safety valve” which counteracts the greenhouse effect. It isn’t.
Tilo, you’re making an absolute statement that’s impossible, thinking it’s clever.
You’re ignoring climate sensitivity, short-term vs. long-term; it changes over time.
You’re asking a question too simple to answer. Rod supports people who ask unanswerable questions, usually by making them look even simpler.
If there’s no atmosphere? No greenhouse effect? Enceladus. You know how to look it up.
Looking at the “Unraveled” paper I see the statement:
“They didn’t provide an objective criterion for selecting these endpoints and in some instances (see their Fig. 1), the selection of these intervals actually appears to be quite odd.”
So I look at the chart and I see that Lindzen and Choi have uptrend lines that end before their peak in 93 and before their peak in 98. That does seem a little odd. Looking at the chart, I tried to make some sense out of their choice of start points and end points. Looking at the first start point for their first up leg and the last end point for their last down leg, it looks like they started and ended at very close to the same SST level. Looking at the start and end points for “present analysis”, it looks like the first start point was picked at the absolute lowest point of -0.4 and it looks like the last end point was picked at the absolute highest point of > 0.6. It also looks like the “present analysis” uses four up phases (one of which is split into two parts) and only three down phases.
Can anyone explain the asymetric choices that were made in the TFOW paper.
Then the “Unraveled” piece says:
“In TFOW we show that the apparent relationship is reduced to zero if one chooses to displace the endpoints selected in LC09 by a month or less.”
I don’t know if this is true, because the starting point for the first leg up is displaced by more than a year, and the last leg down is left out completely. And that leg also extends for more than a year. If the relationship can be reduced to zero by displacing by only one month, then why have a “present analysis” with start and end points that are so radically displaced.
In the last bullet TFOW say that they correct LC09 from having a climate sensitivity of 0.5K to one having a climate sensitivity of 0.82K. Well … okay. And what is the variation in climate sensitivity that is produced by the various models?
Then they say:
“TFOW results yield a positive feedback parameter and greater sensitivity estimate”
Fine. But what is that positive feedback parameter and greater sensitivity estimate. Is that positive feedback 0.1K or is it 4.0K. That would seem to be important. Why is no number given?
“…and I think there will be no more conversions…” Lynn Vincentnathan — 12 January 2010 @ 5:46 PM
Maybe not any voluntary conversions, but some may be tarred, feathered, an ridden out of the “no” camp on a rail. Roy Spencer did a guest post.on how UAH temperature data is derived at WUWT and got some snarky comments –
“If so, then isn’t the satellite baseline point “corrected” (er, corrupted) as well by being set against those manipulated average earth temperatures?”
“With that explanation it is obvious that none of the data from these satellites can be trusted.”
“without this, there is no reason to believe that we have any more than a bunch of aliased nonsense. sorry to be so sceptical”
“We have seen how surface data has been corrupted, so my concern really is what measures are in place to ensure the same does not happen for satellite data.”
“If ever there was an example of how AGW theory is being used to justify outrageous research expenditure on the wrong things, this was it.”
“Dr Spencer seems to have overlooked that fact. More propaganda dressed up as science.”
“Were these satellites callibrated by “consensus”?☺”
“So any “trend” measured over the last ten years of operation can be discarded as merely measurement noise.”
I’ve posted on denialist sites about the inconsistencies and contradictions in the stuff they post, ranging from a single paragraph on WUWT that claimed ~”it can’t be CO2 because CO2 is saturated and besides H2O is a stronger absorber and it controls the greenhouse effect anyway” to a paper on Idso’s site about the MWP that claimed warming in NZ about 450-900 AD and “”Of equal interest in the reconstruction is the sharp and sustained cold period in the A.D. 993-1091 interval. This cold event is easily the most extreme to have occurred over the past 1,100 years.”(Cook et al GRL, VOL. 29, NO. 14, 1667, 10.1029/2001GL014580, 2002). It appears that the various flavors of denialist are slowly coalescing into a circular firing squad – maybe that can be encouraged?
To get back to peer review, how about if the editors of Nature, Science, Nature Geoscience, PNAS, GRL. & Proceedings of the Royal Society A, Naomi Oreskes, Peter Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman did a real world study where every paper was reviewed by 4 people, 2 double blind and 2 open, 1 in each group suggested by the researcher, the other chosen “at random” by the editor(s), and then a comparison of cites versus review factors to see where improvements in peer review could be made.
IMHO, peer review should be like medical diagnosis – a tolerable level of flawed papers/false positives is unavoidable in order to insure no knowledge missed/no diagnosis missed. Surely there are examples of often cited flawed papers that advance science despite, or even perhaps because of their mistakes?
Maybe I misunderstood the question, like I’m not certain of my use of “surface” versus the term “sea” or “sea level” or “SST” — though the basic theory ought to be the same it seems. None-the-less I can’t see how an increase in the surface emission can’t increase by some fraction the radiation leaving the TOA. I’m guessing that, maybe part of your all’s argument stems from also increasing GH gases or some other variable. Is that it? Though that wasn’t the question asked (as far as I can tell…).
If everything else remained constant and the surface emission, as the only independent variable, increased, how could the TOA emission not increase somewhat? I’m assuming (guessing?) the surface emission is a continuous Planck function. And I’m assuming the physical process is because of more surface emission (DUH!) that doesn’t get all absorbed in the constant concentration of GHGases. (That’s O.K., Fed Up, finish your popcorn!) I don’t know about the “safety valve” thing, but (if this is what it is) I don’t see how the increase in TOA emission can be greater than the surface’s increase.
This admittedly is a very simple question as Hank says. But why do simple questions seem to cause everybody so much grief and angst??
Tilo Reber says “What part of “changing only one variable” don’t you understand, Ray?”
The part where it has anything to do with reality. If you change the outgoing IR, you change the absorption unless you do it in the window region of the spectrum. That’s reality. You should really get to know it sometime.
“I don’t know about the “safety valve” thing, but (if this is what it is) I don’t see how the increase in TOA emission can be greater than the surface’s increase.”
I’m not talking about a safety valve thing or even an increase at TOA that is greater than the increase at the surface. I’m saying that if you increase the radiation at the surface by one unit, given the same spectrum, the same climate sensitivity, and the same other atmosperic conditions, then you will get at least some fraction of that unit escaping into space. If it didn’t, then anytime you put in extra energy the earth could never reach equilibrium and it would cook.
Tilo, the portion in the window would escape. However, you cannot arbitrarily increase the energy radiated without either
1)changing the temperature
2)changing the albedo
3)imposing some artificial flux that takes the system out of equilibrium.
You mentioned nothing about 1 or 2, and you did not specify the distribution for 3. Your problem was and is ill posed.
#196, Brian. I liked that image — “It appears that the various flavors of denialist are slowly coalescing into a circular firing squad – maybe that can be encouraged?” Then all the climate scientists would have to do is duck.
Unfortunately, illogicality and contradiction don’t seem to faze those denialists.
Some colleagues and I are just in the process of working up an interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program at our university (we already have an Environmental Science major purely in the physical sciences). We really need to understand the minds of those denialists, and the larger sociocultural factors.
Right now my diagnosis is — as the little cartoon on a my psychology colleagues door claims — they’re just nuts. We need something better than that. More erudite. Something that will pass peer-review.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 14 Jan 2010 @ 9:20 PM
All this talk here about a cold snap on Jan 12 and tonight, I’m sitting an hour south of Buffalo NY, after that cold (but no where near record) snap, and it’s 40 degrees outside at 9:40pm in JANUARY, hit 44F earlier in the day when it was sunny. Gorgeous. I actually rolled the windows down when I was out earlier. Get ready, kiddies… we have quite a rollercoaster of regional weather in many places ahead of us, methinks… http://climateprogress.org/2010/01/14/2009-hottest-year-on-record-in-southern-hemisphere-nasa-giss/
Yep, single digits a few days ago, unseasonable 40s today.
I really hope this makes the difference between weather and climate grossly obvious.
As for GRL, I can say that as a junior scientist, I am disturbed by the actions pointed out in this thread and others about the publishing process, and surprising to me after watching the coup the API tried to make on AGU over the last few months regarding climate change, which included unsolicited anti-AGW emails sent to AGU members (like me) which asked AGU to downplay its stance on AGW, which the vote of its massive membership beat back. It was quite the drama and I wish I knew more of the backstory.
Anyway, if a week’s worth of a cold snap is meaningful to some people, what about the warm spell in the NH now? Are the same people going to brush this under the carpet? Growing up here in the 70s and 80s taught me that winter was cold. Now, it seems like winter is whatever it feels like doing from day to day. In the middle of the “cold snap” (and perhaps snap is a good word to describe it, like a finger snap) I joked that it could be 60F in two days. So I’m off by a couple tens, but it’s still nothing like what used to be normal, nor have the last many winters been anything like ‘normal’ for Western NY state. Times they appear to be a-changing. That doesn’t make them regionally predictable, but certainly the measurements show us that the overall heat budget of the Earth has been pretty consistently growing.
Equilibrium, or climate stability, isn’t going to happen over night, or even over a few years, especially as we continue with our human modification experiments. In our fast food society, it may seem reasonable to expect “evidence” for this or that right away, in days months or years, but this Earth tends to prefer actions on the scale of 10s of thousands or millions of years to do its thing. We’re poking it for answers and responses in a comparatively few decades.
Someone who teaches physics, who is somewhat skeptical of AGW (an actual skeptic in that he’s really not sure and listens to all sides and considers them all) said to me earlier today, “Yeah, but the Earth seems pretty resilient, and over time, can shake us off like a bunch of fleas.”
The answers to all your questions, I believe, are in the TFOW in-press paper, clear enough that even yours truly could find them by a quick look-through. If you don’t have access to the paper, that’s fair, let us know and I’ll look it up for you. If you do have access, do try reading first. It saves time for all of us.
All this talk here about a cold snap on Jan 12 and tonight, I’m sitting an hour south of Buffalo NY, after that cold (but no where near record) snap, and it’s 40 degrees outside at 9:40pm in JANUARY, hit 44F earlier in the day when it was sunny.
Growing up in Buffalo, we’d call that the January thaw that came a week early. ;-) And yes, I was there for the blizzard of ’77.
In Maryland, we’ve had highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s and people are calling this a cold snap that disproves AGW. We had this same nonsense a year ago with that article on sea ice by Michael Asher. There no straw that cannot be grasped. Will the release of the 2009 average stop the cooling argument? I doubt it – the GISTEMP data set can just be called suspect.
Because your and Tilo’s method here is to make an assumption–in this thread, that climate sensitivity over time doesn’t matter–and then ask a “simple” question like “change just one thing, what would happen?
You’re actually changing two things. First, assuming a fantasy planet. Second, asking what happens if you change only one thing in that situation.
If you got answer you want, you’d then claim it applied to Earth.
If you change a _bunch_ of things — assume a pure nitrogen atmosphere surrounding a spherical iron elephant, or a cold water world exposed to vacuum like Enceladus — answers differ.
#205, Tilo, I was referring to those who make contradictory or illogical assertions to deny global warming (as per #196). I’ve known of a few cases, especially among non-scientists.
So, if you’re being logically consistent, applying appropriate laws of physics, considering paleoclimate, including all parameters that affect climate, evidence to date, and the best, most sophisticated climate models, and you still come out that global warming is not happening or is very unlikely to happen over this next century, then my comment does not include you.
I don’t have access to the GRL paper, nor do I have expertise to analyze it (or be its peer-reviewer). But I do trust the scientists here at RC, and Jim Hansen, plus as a lay person my standard for rejecting the null hypothis on AGW is much much lower than scientific standards. .50 is enough for me, considering the seriousness of the issue; and luckily I’ve found (by surprise, since I was willing to sacrifice) that mitigating AGW actually saves money without lowering living standards.
So, now there is this further irrational thing going on — people refusing to mitigate AGW, even if doing so will be good for them and solve many other problems to boot. That is actually the area I am more interested in as a scholar.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 15 Jan 2010 @ 9:54 AM
On what motivates denial, wishful thinking is high on the list. We’ve lived on cheap fuel for 200 years and it would be nice to think nothing needs to change. Driving on the roads in a small car is dangerous because most people have switched to bigger ones which are more convenient. Walmart etc. are full of cheap goods. Electronics are constantly getting bigger, faster, more elaborate, and using more energy (3D now so the population can throw away more toxic materials in the form of outdated machinery, for example). (I was fascinated to find a disposable toilet plunger the other day. Industry is busy thinking up more waste all the time.
When I heard “give us our America back” I thought, that’s just it. People want something to blame for the price we are paying for out universal dependence on consumption and population growth.
Then, of course, many people believe God won’t let “his” chosen people go. They have made this God in their image (not being very imaginative) and could not believe the planet doesn’t think like them.
In addition to trusting the large preponderance of mainstream scientists over the last many decades, one might also trust one’s senses and memory. I’m always puzzled how many extreme events are totally dismissable, not individually but in the aggregate. A close observation of the crescendo of extreme floods, droughts, storms, etc. would seem to make it obvious that something is happening. But there is always a singular storm that beats the current avalanche of extreme events.
Even the Arctic thing is a bit scary, as it appeared that the cold weather actually exchanged with extreme warmth to the north, not to mention the recordbreaking heat in Melbourne (110 F) which is about to host some tennis. In addition, it appears to me that Gulf Stream neighbors are beginning to feel the diminution of its warming force, but the scientists among you may be able to tell me that I am being premature.
Whether or not Lynn is interested in interviewing you, I would be interested in what motivates your attitude toward the science. I mean, you clearly are not a physical scientist–I’m guessing an engineer or programmer. What is it about the veritable mountain range of independent lines of evidence that favor anthropogenic causation that you do not find cogent?
And if the root of your crusade against the science is ideological rather than scientific, then why not accept the science and propose solutions that are consistent with your ideological outlook? If your ideology does not afford you such solutions, then doesn’t that indicate that your ideology has a conflict with fundamental realities?
This little set-to has the makings of a semantics debate except there is a basic principle of radiation physics at stake. One sets up a simple physics problem with varying only one variable, keeping all other parameters constant and determines the results. In Physics 101 this is routine (and one does not have to know the cause of the variance) as is ignoring all other factors — you really don’t need to know the gravitational effect from general relatively to determine the momentum transferred between two balls. (How did you guys get through Physics 101?)
Ray is stewing over the three ways that IR radiation can increase. Actually I think there is only one (for Planck function) and that is increasing the surface temperature of the radiating body. You can not get more IR emanating the earth without increasing its surface temperature. Duh! Why is that so difficult? And who gives a rat’s ass how the temperature is increased? Hank says but that ignores climate sensitivity. So?? So what? My Physics 101 momentum problem ignored general relativity, too. So what? Does that mean you can’t come up with a correct answer? Hank further says that I’m assuming, “…that climate sensitivity over time doesn’t matter…” I’m not assuming that at all; never did; never said I was; climate sensitivity does matter over time, but it’s totally irrelevant to the simple question. Ray further says, “…If you change the outgoing IR, you change the absorption unless you do it in the window region of the spectrum…” which is certainly true but still doesn’t answer the simple question one way or the other.
I suspect Hank is knocking on the door. It’s paranoia. You’re afraid that someone will take your answer out of context and twist it around and do really nasty stuff with it. Well, their might be a grain of truth to that here and there but it sure gets in the way of scientific discussion. The assertion is that, all other things being equal as currently exists (on Earth not Vulcan or someplace) if the IR emission from the Earth’s surface increases the TOA emission has to increase, at least some, which until now I thought was a no-brainer. In all the attempts, no one has refuted that or explained why it is incorrect. The first of that requires only a simple YES or a NO (though NO has been the clear implication), though the WHY would be much more instructive and believable.
“The assertion is that, all other things being equal as currently exists (on Earth not Vulcan or someplace) if the IR emission from the Earth’s surface increases the TOA emission has to increase, at least some, which until now I thought was a no-brainer.”
Rod B., I think your (was it? this thread is so baroque) basic assertion got lost there so just thought I’d highlight it…
I would like to get into a psychology and motivation discussion with you and Lynn, but I doubt that Gavin would let it go on. So I’ll just leave you with a lesson from Chuang Tzu. About 300 BC I believe.
“Tell me,” said Lao Tzŭ, “in what consist charity and duty to one’s neighbour?”
“They consist,” answered Confucius, “in a capacity for rejoicing in all things; in universal love, without the element of self. These are the characteristics of charity and duty to one’s neighbour.”
“What stuff!” cried Lao “Does not universal love contradict itself? Is not your elimination of self a positive manifestation of self? Sir, if you would cause the empire not to lose its source of nourishment,—there is the universe, its regularity is unceasing; there are the sun and moon, their brightness is unceasing; there are the stars, their groupings never change; there are birds and beasts, they flock together without varying; there are trees and shrubs, they grow upwards without exception. Be like these; follow Tao; and you will be perfect. Why then these vain struggles after charity and duty to one’s neighbour, as though beating a drum in search of a fugitive? Alas! sir, you have brought much confusion into the mind of man.”
And maybe one from Alan Watts.
“This is why moralistic preaching is such a failure; it breeds only cunning hypocrites – people sermonized into shame, guilt, or fear, who thereupon force themselves to behave as if they actually loved others, so that their “virtues” are often more destructive, and arouse more resentment, than their “vices”.
Tilo Reber, Rod B,
An simple analogy that may help you understand the Greenhouse effect.
There are three elements: An open faucet (tap in Australia), a bucket underneath the faucet and at the bottom of the bucket an open valve.
The initial state is such that the level of water in the bucket is half full. The flow of water into the bucket and out is balanced. The water level in the bucket is analogous to surface temperature.
Adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere has an analogous effect in this model to closing the valve (at the bottom of the bucket) a little. The incoming flow, equivalent to incoming solar radiation, remains unchanged. What happens in this model when the valve at the bottom is slightly closed is that the level of water in the bucket rises until the rising pressure at the bottom causes the outgoing flow to again match the incoming flow, with the water level in the bucket at a higher level than before the “single variable” was changed.
The situation with regards to the greenhouse gasses that we have added to the atmosphere is that the surface temperature has not yet reached the new equilibrium for what we have currently added, plus we are continuing to close the valve i.e. adding more greenhouse gasses.
Maybe a better analogy is a pond in a stream. closing the outlet of the pond will result in the pond increasing in level, however the ring level may result in the breaking of little sand bar that may temporarily lower the level of the pond in spite of the blockage to the outlet. This (breaking the sand bar) is analogous to the melting of the glaciers, heating the water at the bottom of the ocean.
Rod, Tilo, Does this analogy help you? To any others, is this analogy OK, if it is wrong or inappropriate please let me know. Cheers.
Comment by Lawrence McLean — 16 Jan 2010 @ 6:56 PM
“Rod, Tilo, Does this analogy help you?”
It’s not bad, Lawrence, but it’s not really what we are talking about. We are not trying to resolve the Lindzen debate or reject the greenhouse principle. Using your example, we are saying something very simple. Increase the pressure and more water comes out the bottom. That’s it. Increase surface radiation, more goes out the TOA. Deciding if Lindzen is right or wrong is a much more complex issue and involves all of the other things that people are wanting to bring into the discussion.
In a more general sense, however, your point above is not really the point of contention in the AGW debate. The point of contention is more like – if I shut one valve down a little, does that cause other valves to shut down a little also (more greenhouse h2o in the air) or does it open some other valves just a little (cloud albedo), or does it do some combination of all those things and how can we figure out what the summed effects give us.
I think Rod’s trying for something like the “if you instantaneously doubled the number of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere, holding everything else constant” — which is a simple question with a simple answer.
That’s specific, can be put into one of the online calculators, and gets something that at least can be talked about.
Here’s one example– http://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=2287979&postcount=27
I don’t promise anything about the content there — there are some confused people in the thread– but “double the CO2” is the premise for a question that can be answered, probably.*
Reading the confused questions elsewhere in that thread may give a better idea why “increasing the radiation” isn’t clear.
James, the 40% is not sequestered long term. It goes into the biosphere, but plants die and decay, giving off CO2 and CH4. It goes into the oceans, but the oceans give it right back–with the equilibrium determining how much goes into the atmosphere and how much goes into the oceans. In fact, eventually when CO2 starts to decrease in the atmosphere, the oceans become a source and slow the decrease.
The only way CO2 is removed from the environment long-term is by reacting with certain minerals. Such geologic processes take place on timescales of centuries.
Other could probably explain it better, but in the past the amount of C02 entering and leaving the atmosphere has been balanced, by biological and geochemical processes.
Now we’re adding C02 faster than it can be soaked up.
If we think of the Earth as a toilet, and we do tend to treat it that way, we’re using too much paper. It can’t flush fast enough, so it’s overflowing onto the floor, where the mess remains for a long time. Or something like that. Didn’t somebody say we’re suppose to use analogies?
Tilo Reber, I think it is quite germane to ask what could motivate someone to reject mountains of evidence when he clearly did not have a thorough understanding of the science in the first place.
And what is more, there is nothing moralistic about the argument. It is simply a matter of whether it is better to accept physical reality even when it has unpleasant implications or whether it is better to keep telling ourselves comforting lies.
I wonder, Tilo, what you will do the next time we get a really big El Nino. Will a new record warm year convince you, or will you merely start saying, “Oh look. It’s cooling again.”
See, the thing is, if your philosophy can’t cope with reality, it’s not a very effective philosophy, is it?
If I had to venture a guess, I’d say a critical point may be some time in adolescence. Formative habits of thinking could be driven by an emotional investment in establishing social rank and improperly linked to the development of a world view. That might explain some of the strange, irony-challenged styles of argument and the tendency to see presentations of AGW as either personal attacks or attacks on a way of life.
Hard to fix once ingrained, but you might be able to nip it in the bud in classrooms…
Rod B. says, “You can not get more IR emanating the earth without increasing its surface temperature.”
Not true, Rod. A medium powering a laser actually has a negative temperature. A system only has a well defined temperature if it is in equilibrium. Shining a laser up into the sky increases the photons emitted.
And then there is the question of what happens to the photons on their path through the atmosphere.
Sorry Rod, but reality is complicated. In a system as complicated as Earth, it is difficult to change just one thing.
RE climate sensitivity — there is also the paleoclimate data that indicates sensitivity to be about 3C with doubling of CO2 — see Hansen, STORM OF MY GRANDCHILDREN, esp. pp. 44-46.
Did Lindzen take that into consideration? How could warmings/coolings have happened in the past the way they did with such a low sensitivity as claimed by Lindzen. Does he include some discussion of that in the caveat section at the end of his article?
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 16 Jan 2010 @ 9:56 PM
“I wonder, Tilo, what you will do the next time we get a really big El Nino. ”
Probably much the same thing that you will do if we get a really big La Nina.
“See, the thing is, if your philosophy can’t cope with reality, it’s not a very effective philosophy, is it?”
I can say the same to you, Ray.
But this is all kind of pointless, Ray. If you want all of my scientific reasons we will be going over much of the same ground again. If you want to tell me what my psychological reasons are, then I’ll want to tell you what your psychological reasons are. And that would be inappropriate to this forum. So if you want to mud wrestle, then suggest a forum where it is appropriate; because I’m going to try to avoid it here.
“In a system as complicated as Earth, it is difficult to change just one thing.”
Lindzen would undoubtedly agree with you. He would say that it’s more complicated than just increasing CO2, or even more complicated than just increasing CO2 and H2O.
Rod B says:
16 January 2010 at 5:40 PM
The assertion is that, all other things being equal as currently exists (on Earth not Vulcan or someplace) if the IR emission from the Earth’s surface increases the TOA emission has to increase, at least some, which until now I thought was a no-brainer. In all the attempts, no one has refuted that or explained why it is incorrect. The first of that requires only a simple YES or a NO (though NO has been the clear implication), though the WHY would be much more instructive and believable.
If the rise in surface temperature is achieved without changing the incoming radiation then there will be no increase in the TOA emission, the atmosphere will warm up and the TOA will move up to the new equilibrium point. Over time incoming must equal outgoing.
Tilo, since you continue (#217) to press for answers to the questions you raised in #195, I’ll assume you don’t have access to the pre-print article where you could look this up for yourself, and try to look it up for you. My qualifications in this field are strictly limited to knowing how to read English, so hopefully someone will spot it if I get something wrong.
In #195 you wrote:
> Looking at the chart [from TFOW], I tried to make some sense
> out of their choice of start points and end points. (…)
> Can anyone explain the asymetric choices that were made
> in the TFOW paper.
Here’s how TFOW describe their objective method (which is given only as an example): “to identify local minima and maxima exceeding 0.1°C in low-pass filtered data”.
> If the relationship can be reduced to zero by displacing by
> only one month, then why have a “present analysis” with start
> and end points that are so radically displaced.
I think you are conflating two different analyses.
As I understand it, first, they test the robustness of LC09, displacing the endpoints chosen by LC09 by a month or less, and the correlation pretty much goes out of the window. The graph does not show these one-month-displaced endpoints.
Then, they move on to considering whether the LC09 endpoints are even reasonably chosen, and show how a (sample) objective method would give a different result. The resulting endpoints shown in the graph are not the ones that were used in the first step to test robustness.
> In the last bullet TFOW say that they correct LC09 from
> having a climate sensitivity of 0.5K to one having a climate
> sensitivity of 0.82K. Well … okay. And what is the variation in
> climate sensitivity that is produced by the various models?
Irrelevant, because the correction you refer to is only for LC09’s failure to include the Planck function in their feedback parameter when estimating climate sensitivity, not for the other flaws in their argument.
> But what is that positive feedback parameter and greater sensitivity
> estimate [yielded by TFOW]. […] Why is no number given?
They consider several cases with different choices of data giving different results, to look for possible sources of error. For instance, the values are 0.6 and 2.3K, respectively, for TFOW’s case 4 (i. e. based on “All 36-day anomalies excluding missing ERBS data and the Mt. Pinatubo period, but with anomalies for 1985 to 1990 and 1994 to 1999 calculated relative to 1985-1989 and 1994-1997 means, respectively, to remove the low frequency ERBS changes”).
Immediately after reporting these results, however, they move on to caution that calculating such values based only on tropical results is misleading anyway, which I think is the bottom-line message. My guess would be that this is why they don’t bother giving a number in the blog post: to avoid misplaced concreteness.
TR: Increase surface radiation, more goes out the TOA.
BPL: That would always be true on a planet with no atmosphere. On one WITH an atmosphere it is NOT necessarily true. That’s why your “only change one thing” is so idiotic. It’s like saying, “let’s imagine an object being propelled by a force. Now let’s imagine that the force changes, but the mass and acceleration stay the same.”
Well in practical terms, it’s appropriate to the extent that moderators allow it, Tilo.
It’s interesting that you assume psychology = mud wrestling. Why smart people persistently pursue faulty lines of reasoning should be of interest to anyone with the least bit of curiosity, particularly if it could interfere with important policy decisions.
I suspect if there’s a problem here, it is–once again–one of being able to effectively evaluate the relative strengths of differing arguments and instead seeking resolution by banging away with symmetrical positioning.
You might as well just go do what you need to do to produce a viable alternative model, get better data or whatever, because AGW simply won’t be nibbled away by angry ducks.
Tilo, The difference is that you have not proposed any cogent physical reasons for your opposition to the consensus. As with LC’09, move the endpoints just slightly, and your 12 years of cooling becomes 13 years of warming or 11 years of warming–even with MEI corrected data. And looking at your website, I see the same cherrypicking and distortion of the science. In no case do I see evidence of any effort to really understand the science you seek to disprove. Instead you insist on thursting and parrying against straw men.
What I do see a lot of on your site, Tilo, are arguments against government power, taxation, regulation.
So, it seems natural to wonder whether your motivation stems from a deep seated fear that there may not be a libertarian, free market solution.
Of course, the fallacy here is that nature does not give a rat’s tuckus for our beliefs or our economic system or our politics. And if our belief system does not provide us with a solution to our surviving our own ingenuity, then she will be equally happy to see how some other species rises to the environmental challenges. Roaches should do fine, or perhaps giant dragon flies will make a comeback.
As to my own psychological motivations, I am happy to share them. I believe that science works. I believe that it can tell us when we are deluding ourselves and telling ourselves comforting lies not supported by evidence. Further, I believe that such a methodology is a prerequisite to our longterm survival. Indeed,, since I believe that is what the science is telling us now, it’s probably key to our continued viability even in the medium term.
In the standard CO2 global-warming model, the CO2 increase drives an atmospheric warming which in turn leads to ocean warming (not direct SST warming). Therefore the ocean has a negative feedback on the atmospheric warming, and what LC09 have demonstrated is a negative feedback to a negative feedback. Global warming is completely different from the SST-driven response they studied. Basically they have it backwards. You have to assume the atmosphere warms first.
Ray, the laser analogy is a non sequitur. It has nothing to do with the earth’s planck radiation and escape of some of that radiation from the TOA. You’re saying you can put something in low earth orbit, e.g., and generate IR into space without heating the earth’s surface. Well, DUH!
Some of the emanating photons get absorbed and converted to kinetic energy, radiated back to earth, radiated some more upward, or go straight out into space. That’s what this whole nonsensical debate is about. If you increase the earth’s surface IR radiation, ALL FOUR of those possibilities will also increase.
Phil Fenton (230) says, “…If the rise in surface temperature is achieved without changing the incoming radiation then there will be no increase in the TOA emission, the atmosphere will warm up and the TOA will move up to the new equilibrium point…”
I’m not sure what ‘TOA moving to a new equilibrium point’ means, but sans that I contend your statement is flat out wrong (within the constraints of the question.)
It’s true that “Over time incoming must equal outgoing.” It’s also true that acceleration is force/mass. Neither one affects the question as posed.
BPL, “emitting from the Earth’s surface.” is precisely the question posed.
BPL (235): good example of the semantics. I’m saying if you only change force then acceleration will change. The counter argument is more like you can’t just change force by itself; you also must know about friction variances and air density and current velocity and a myriad of other stuff. I say that is nonsense — if it were true one could never get through Physics 101.
btw, there are two Tilo initiated issues going on here. I’m commenting on only one.
Rod, Precise phrasing is important, especially with somebody like Tilo, who is eager to misinterpret anything you say.
For the situation you are describing, why not simply say” Raise Earth’s surface temperature.” This removes all ambiguity, and yes, any extra photons generated in the IR windows take the express train out of the atmosphere. But raising Earth’s temperature also raises its humidity–it has to. It may melt ice, and so on. It doesn’t just increase IR emission. In fact, a non-thermal source like my laser example is just about the only way to increase IR emission from the surface holding all other variables constant.
Sorry, Rod, but Earth does not lend itself to changing only one variable at a time.
Have just Read Climate Audits analysis of LC09. Its good to see a common view from RC and CA that
LC09 is a very poor piece of science. A view with which I concur
Comment by colin Aldridge — 18 Jan 2010 @ 11:48 AM
“Not true, Rod. A medium powering a laser actually has a negative temperature.”
Which is because of the population of the power levels in a laser are in the reverse to population in a rational temperature state: lower states are more populous than higher energetic states (IIRC from Quantum Optics and Laser Physics course so very long ago…)
Similarly if you place a magnetic material like iron in a field and then swap the field around, you get more magnetic domains pointing the wrong way and that can only happen with beyond-infinite temperatures which result in negative temperatures.
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Jan 2010 @ 12:13 PM
Ray (240) says, “…For the situation you are describing, why not simply say” Raise Earth’s surface temperature.”
I’ll buy that. I would suggest that some of the photons not in the window will also escape, though not many, and, highly unlikely the very same photon.
Also, “…Earth does not lend itself to changing only one variable at a time.”
True in the real complete world. But as I said you just killed any pragmatic Physics 101 course.
“Tilo, The difference is that you have not proposed any cogent physical reasons for your opposition to the consensus.”
No, Ray, you don’t produce any cogent physical reasons for your acceptance of the consensus. The entire argument centers around climate sensitivity. And that number is nothing more than a modeling result. There is no reason to believe climate sensitivity numbers like 3C per CO2 doubling unless you want to tell yourself that you are saving the world by fighting against AGW. If you want to delude yourself by telling yourself that you are only following the science, then by my guest. But every comment that you make here is dripping with the tone of a moral crusader who enjoys playing up the pretense that he is motivated by science while others are motivated by ignorant self interest.
“As with LC’09, move the endpoints just slightly, and your 12 years of cooling becomes 13 years of warming or 11 years of warming–even with MEI corrected data.”
This is a perfect example of you ignoring the data. I gave you an explanation in my blog and all that you did was come back with the same argument that you started with. You never showed for even a moment that you understood my arguments. You simply repeated your own faulty assertions – again and again. Now if you had come back and said something of the sort like “Tilo, I understand the argument that your are trying to make, but that argument is wrong for this reason”, then I could respect your position. But considering the fact that you did nothing more than repeat the same faulty line without ever acknowledging my argument or proposing a counter argument, I can only assume that your are a propagandist and a moral crusader who is in it for his own ego.
“As to my own psychological motivations, I am happy to share them. I believe that science works. I believe that it can tell us when we are deluding ourselves and telling ourselves comforting lies not supported by evidence. ”
Yes, and I’m sure that you were simply following the science when you believed that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035. In the meantime, we found out that that was a scientific error and that the more likely number is 2350. And I’m sure that you believed the science of the IPCC when they told you that hundreds of millions of people more would suffer from water stress as a result of AGW, when in fact it turned out that the net number of people suffering from water stress as a result of AWG would decrease by hundreds of millions. If you think that AGW is a scientific issue only, look at the protestors outside of Copenhagen that were carrying signs saying “climate justice” and “down with capitalism”.
“Climate change (provides) the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world” “No matter if the science is all phony, there are still collateral environmental benefits” (to global warming policies) –Christine Stewart (former canadian environmental minister)
With such people fighting for the AGW position, it’s a fantasy to think that only the motivation of people on the skeptics side need to be reviewed.
[Response: So justice and equality are now bad things? And the ancillary benefits of renewables over coal, or the air pollution benefits of plug-in hybrids, or the money saved from energy efficiency can’t be discussed? Regardless, we are here to discuss science, and the motivations of campaigners have nothing to do with the radiative impact of CO2 molecules, nor on the fragility of trends based on 12 year periods rather than 11 or 13 year periods. – gavin]
“So justice and equality are now bad things?”
Justice is a bit too much of an abstraction to be dealt with here. But equality, in the way that the word is now being used, is definitely a bad thing. The kind of equality that we are talking about now is a government imposed equality. It is an artifical equality that requires government to cut down the tall trees so that they won’t overshadow the short trees. It is the forcing of an outcome upon the human race that is not natural to the human race. Such a forced outcome causes more misery and suffering than it prevents because it requires government to exercise a fascist level of control over the individual. Every experiment into Communism has already shown that government determined social outcomes are a disaster.
“And the ancillary benefits of renewables over coal, or the air pollution benefits of plug-in hybrids, or the money saved from energy efficiency can’t be discussed?”
Of course they can be discussed. But let’s discuss them on their own merits, not in the context of a contrived emergency. The one place where I’m in complete agreement with Jim Hansen is in going to nuclear. I think that a steady (non emergency) conversion process should be under way. In a hundred years we could be mostly nuclear across the globe. The cost would be reasonable, no one in the developed world would need to change their living standards, and the developing world could be allowed to continue development without concern about their contribution to pollution. Furthermore, most of the people who call themselves skeptics will not object to going nuclear and it should accomplish most of the things that the AGW people say they want to accomplish – at least with regards to CO2. Of course it won’t provide much leverage in the fight for “equality and justice”.
“nor on the fragility of trends based on 12 year periods rather than 11 or 13 year periods. – gavin]”
“The kind of equality that we are talking about now is a government imposed equality. It is an artifical equality that requires government to cut down the tall trees so that they won’t overshadow the short trees. It is the forcing of an outcome upon the human race that is not natural to the human race. Such a forced outcome causes more misery and suffering than it prevents because it requires government to exercise a fascist level of control over the individual.”
Ayn Rand partially digested, vomited? Climate science? What is going on here?
This fellow has his own thread at Deltoid, why not take it there.
TR: The entire argument centers around climate sensitivity. And that number is nothing more than a modeling result.
BPL: Wrong. You get the same figure from paleoclimatology evidence:
Hegerl Gabriele C., Crowley Thomas J., Hyde William T., Frame David J. 2006. “Climate Sensitivity Constrained by Temperature Reconstructions over the Past Seven Centuries.” Nature 440, 1029-1032 (letter).
Hoffert, Martin I., Covey, Curt 1992. “Deriving Global Climate Sensitivity from Palaeoclimate Reconstructions.” Nature 360, 573-576.
Tung, K.K. and C.D. Camp 2008. “Solar Cycle Warming at the Earth’s Surface in NCEP and ERA-40 data: A linear Discriminant Analysis.” Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, D05114-
BPL: Wrong. You get the same figure from paleoclimatology evidence:
No, you are wrong. From your paper Gabriele paper:
“We use large-ensemble energy balance modelling and simulate the temperature response to past solar, volcanic and greenhouse gas forcing to determine which climate sensitivities yield simulations that are in agreement with proxy reconstructions.”
From your Tung paper:
“It is also established that the global warming of the surface is related to the 11-year solar cycle, in particular to its TSI, at over 95% confidence level. Since the solar-forcing variability has been measured by satellites, we therefore now know both the forcing and the response (assuming cause and effect). This information is then used to deduce the climate sensitivity.”
These guys are saying that if they can filter out solar, they can deduce climate sensitivity. How absurd is that? First of all, we know that there are many other factors than solar involved, and second of all, the current twelve year flat trend indicates that we don’t yet know what all the elements of variation actually are.
The Hoffert paper has to be paid for, and I am not going to do that. How they did a radiative forcing reconstruction and how they derived a sensitivity value from it is unclear from the abstract. For example, how did they reconstruct the H2O portion of the radiative forcing. How does a comparison of radiative forcing with temperature deal with issues like albedo, solar variation, orbital variation, etc. Hoffert claims that it doesn’t matter if the radiative forcing results from temperature change, or the other way around. But if you are basing a climate sensitivity number on the correlation between radiative forcing and temperature, I don’t see how this is possible. Especially considering the fact that the temperature trend would often move from up to down while the CO2 trend continued to go up for long periods of time. To have that happen you would need elements of forcing that are stronger than the CO2 forcing effect to be in operation. And yet such elements are unaccounted for – even though we know that they must exists.
I don’t think that it has been established at all that emperical evidence supports the models.
“nor on the fragility of trends based on 12 year periods rather than 11 or 13 year periods. – gavin]”
I believe that I have already answered that one.
No, you didn’t. You just refused to answer any of the criticisms of your analysis, and continued to insist it was meaningful.
It’s ironic, because you have committed the same error as L&C. In time series analysis, if you get a different answer by shifting your trend window a small amount either way, it should tell you that perhaps your trend is not as significant as you thought it was. Your result is entirely dependent on using 1998 as the start year, as I and others have pointed out. There is no a priori reason to use 1998 as a start point, so your analysis simply is not valid.
““nor on the fragility of trends based on 12 year periods rather than 11 or 13 year periods. – gavin]”
I believe that I have already answered that one.”
Nobody with working neurons believes you have, Tilo.
Tilo stood on the burning deck
“It’s just a light show” he insists…
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 20 Jan 2010 @ 2:48 PM
“No, you didn’t.”
You don’t even know what my argument is. How do you know that I didn’t.
“It’s ironic, because you have committed the same error as L&C.”
Again, showing that you don’t know what my argument is.
“Your result is entirely dependent on using 1998 as the start year, as I and others have pointed out.”
Again, showing that you don’t know what my argument is. I don’t see any reason to answer the same points again and again. Until someone shows that they understand my argument, this is a waste of time. If someone shows that they understand my argument and then shows me why they think it’s wrong, then we will be able to move forward. So far you show that you don’t know what my argument is and you are making the same argument that I have already answered. We either need to drop this argument or move forward from a base of mutual understanding. I understand all your points because I specifically address them in my own argument. But then you continue using the same starting point that I already answered and you don’t address any of the points that I made in my own argument.
Tilo, unless you can explain why 12 is a magic number, it’s kind of hard to have much confidence in a 12 year result that disappears when we look for it at 11 or 13 years.
Likewise, if you are going to reject any argument based on models, then you are rejecting science–all of it. And just how likely do you think it is that it is sheer coincidence that a model finds the most probable value to be the same when analyzing a dozen different lines of evidence?
Finally, I never saw the 2035 estimate. FWIW, having been to Nepal, I think I would have found it somewhat surprising, but it is not a significant factoid in the climate debate. And I have never made the sorts of arguments Ms. Stewart makes, but your umbrage at ideas of equality and justice does start to illuminate your true motivations.
Gee, any other logical fallacies you want to try to include?
Well, he knows “AGW is wrong” but doesn’t know why he thinks so.
Comment by Completely Fed Up — 20 Jan 2010 @ 4:00 PM
“Tilo, unless you can explain why 12 is a magic number,”
I did. You didn’t read it.
“Likewise, if you are going to reject any argument based on models,”
Climate models! There is not enough information about sources of variability to make them work.
“Finally, I never saw the 2035 estimate. ”
Doesn’t matter. It came from the IPCC. And you seem to think that all of their stuff is “science”.
“Gee, any other logical fallacies you want to try to include?”
No, I get my fill looking at yours.
“You got something else in mind that isn’t?”
Many. But for one:
“I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago. I do not believe that global mean annual temperatures have simply cooled progressively over thousands of years as Mike appears to and I contend that that there is strong evidence for major changes in climate over the Holocene (not Milankovich) that require explanation and that could represent part of the current or future background variability of our climate.”
> I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago
September 22, 1999. MBH was barely out. It’s been a while…
Comment by Martin Vermeer — 21 Jan 2010 @ 12:39 AM
Tilo, You don’t understand the first thing about science. The power of science comes not from being infallible, but rather from the fact that it is self-correcting. It was not an “auditor” who found the error in the WG report, but a scientist. And actually, I am not a big fan of the IPCC. It is really not part of the science, but rather a body that summarizes the state of the science. I think it does a reasonable job at this, but unfortunately, it gives denialists like you a target you can focus on. I prefer to get my science from the peer-reviewed literature. In fact, when I am reading an IPCC report and find something interesting, I usually check the reference and look it up.
So, Tilo, if you don’t like the IPCC, that’s fine. Look at the peer-reviewed literature. You will find plenty to be concerned about there–or at least you would if you would take off your ideological blinders.
TR: Until someone shows that they understand my argument, this is a waste of time. If someone shows that they understand my argument and then shows me why they think it’s wrong, then we will be able to move forward. So far you show that you don’t know what my argument is and you are making the same argument that I have already answered.
BPL: If nobody can understand the argument you’re making, making you had better rephrase it–or check to see whether it’s logically coherent.