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  1. It’s just not news.

    Too true. It doesn’t even rise to the level of “Dog bites man.” It’s “Dog messes carpet.”

    Comment by thingsbreak — 27 Jan 2009 @ 11:27 PM

  2. “reversing the “Antarctic cooling” meme that has been a staple of disinformation efforts for a while now.” That line strikes me as a bit incorrect and contradicts some of the other comments in the post. Obviously, the tone of the posts supports some exaggeration or sarcasm throughout (so maybe this is a pointless comment), but it’s not “disinformation” if “Antarctic cooling” was widely considered a valid statement prior to the most recent Steig et al paper. (perhaps misuse of information?).

    Comment by Colin A — 27 Jan 2009 @ 11:43 PM

  3. Seems that the denialists want to ‘eat their cake and have it’, they were caught on the hop by this news (else they would have predicted it) and it was a scientific conspiracy that existed a year ago. Surely, it can only be one, not both.

    Isn’t it a shame that so much effort and money goes into dreaming up scientifically implausible explanations that can bamboozle the ignorant public and convince them falsely that scientists are:
    a) corrupt and b) stupid. Hence stirring the public up into fervent inaction, rather than educating the public about the immense efforts that go into unravelling the workings of the planet and increased understanding of what it all probably means for the living scum – us!

    Shame on the deceitful Ross Hays, Anthony Watts, Morono, Inhofe et al. I am concerned at the Christy quote, but he may have been misquoted.

    Well done Gavin for your article and naturally Eric, Mike and the other authors.

    Comment by ScaredAmoeba — 28 Jan 2009 @ 2:47 AM

  4. People like Inhofe and Morano are prime examples of human being at their best.
    That said, and that digested, here is some news coming soon to a newspaper
    near you, maybe even your local paper. The Associated Press bureau has finally agreed to to do
    a story on polar cities, and it will be appearing soon on the AP
    wire. Interviews this week, wire story early February. These things take
    time. A year ago, nobody had even heard of polar cities, and those who had,
    tried to laugh me off the face of the Earth. But I persisted, and despite
    all the angry posts and emails, the news will surface on AP wires soon enough.
    And go ahead and attack me now, you stat-ladened experts! SMILE. Kidding, kidding, I love you all!

    Comment by Dany Bloom — 28 Jan 2009 @ 3:30 AM

  5. Quote: Retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist, Dr. John S. Theon, 15th Jan 2009,”My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit. Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy.”

    Anyone at Real Climate care to comment?

    [Response: Dr. Theon appears to have retired from NASA in 1994, some 15 years ago. Until yesterday I had never heard of him (despite working with and for NASA for the last 13 years). His insights into both modelling and publicity appear to date from then, rather than any recent events. He was not Hansen's 'boss' (the director of GISS reports to the director of GSFC, who reports to the NASA Administrator). His "some scientists" quote is simply a smear - which scientists? where? what did they do? what data? what manipulation? This kind of thing plays well with Inhofe et al because it appears to add something to the 'debate', but in actual fact there is nothing here. Just vague, unsubstantiated accusations. - gavin]

    Comment by Calum — 28 Jan 2009 @ 4:32 AM

  6. I am doing a masters thesis on how TV affects science understanding and this is a case in point. Most journalists do have any understanding of science or scientific method and always look for “story”. The science gets skewed and distorted as a result. Until journalists get some science background and there is responsibility inferred to them for the misinformation, scientists will always find it difficult to get the science in the media, especially TV.

    Comment by richard zurawski — 28 Jan 2009 @ 4:51 AM

  7. This must mean that real climate is closing down soon then, no more contrarians to bash over the head with rational thought and scientific work. Boo hooooo!!

    Comment by Alan Neale — 28 Jan 2009 @ 5:03 AM

  8. this reminds me of the Asimov story, The Gods Themselves. What do you have to do to convince some people???

    Comment by Tony Wildish — 28 Jan 2009 @ 5:39 AM

  9. Hay’s one or two summers there, his personal anecdotes and misreadings of the temperature record, don’t really cut it.

    Since the guy’s called ‘Ross Hays’, shouldn’t the first word be: Hays’

    [Response: Yes. - gavin]

    Actually, it should be “Hays’s”. See e.g. Chicago Manual of Style ;) –eric

    That just goes to show how overly prescriptive grammar manuals get caught up in themselves. Hays’ is perfectly acceptable. – gavin

    Comment by Anne van der Bom — 28 Jan 2009 @ 7:20 AM

  10. “It would be nice if this demonstration of intellectual bankruptcy got some media attention itself”

    - You ARE the media and so far you have done a great job of mythbusting while at the same time explaining the basics of scientific philosophy to the X number of visitors the site has had. I particularly like the philosophical examples, stuff like “skepticisim is the heart of science” will indeed be news to a lot of people who come here. Regardless of wether they understand/believe it or not, the psuedo-skeptical columnists certainly aren’t going to explain that part of science in public.

    Dawkings may be blunt and humourless but he is correct in one thing, the vast majority of people simply do not know that science has a philosophy let alone how to use it. To most people science is like a dictonary of facts and in the main that’s the way it’s taught. Columnists are like preachers they summarise the “facts” and disseminate them to the laymen.

    I dropped out of HS at 16, in my late twenties I obtained a BSc, nowhere in HS or uni do I recall anyone even mentioning that science was a philosophy. Look at the big science sites like NASA, CSIRO, IPCC, ect, I rarely see it mentioned let alone explained. Just today on the BBC site I read a survey where IIRC 48% of people believed science will have “cured cancer in 30yrs” but only 3% believed science had a “large impact on their lives”.

    I was lucky enough to read a book about 30yrs ago. It was writen by a magician called “The Great Randi” (for those who don’t know this guy google his long standing challenge to anyone claiming paranormal abilities). I understood the philosophy, it’s so simple a magician had explained it to a HS drop out! Uri Geller, Eric Von Daneken and a whole slew of other rubbish collected from the “science” section of the newstand dissapeared in the proverbial “puff of logic”.

    I know “The enlightenment” is certainly not news but a wet-finger estimate says that 95% of mandkind have yet to hear about it.

    Comment by Alan — 28 Jan 2009 @ 7:35 AM

  11. An excellent post, Gavin. It had me laughing out loud (something that is rare in the recession-torn UK these days)- thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Re#6: this is a very interesting field. I have said to anyone who will listen that, as well as science, the scientific method & philosophy should be compulsory teaching at schools. If more people understood how the whole thing works, there would be (hopefully, at least)a lot less public confusion regarding matters scientific – including climatology.

    All the best – John

    Comment by John Mason — 28 Jan 2009 @ 8:20 AM

  12. Well done! And I too couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

    Comment by tamino — 28 Jan 2009 @ 8:45 AM

  13. As a layperson, I’m a bit puzzled by this report. I seem to remember in the past that cooling in the Antarctic “was predicted by the models” or words to that effect. So doesn’t Steig’s warming trend invalidate the models on which all the forecasts are made?

    But, more worryingly, the report talks about “a classic cherry pick” in connection with the Antarctic cooling claims. To a layman’s eye, it looks like a classic cherry pick to select the 50 year time period for the data, when if the start date had been chosen as 1980, say, it looks by eyeballing as though the temperature is cooling rather than climbing. And if that’s true, what would dates earlier than 1958 show? And in any case, isn’t a trend of 0.1C/decade incredibly small in such a noisy dataset? I’m no statistician, obviously, but I’d like to know the degree of confidence in that trend, and for other time periods as well.

    [Response: The statistical significance is discussed in the paper, and the 50 year trends are indeed significant. The issue with the models depends enormously on what is being discussed. The first issue is that because of the large heat capacity of the southern oceans, warming trends are in general going to be smaller than in the northern hemisphere. That means that the potential for natural variability to be more dominant on shorter time scales is high - and indeed, Connolley and Bracegirdle show a lot of variance in the model output on those time scales. On top of that there is the influence of the ozone hole, which only comes into play from the 1980s onwards which seems to have influenced the wind patterns and led to consequent cooling in the interior. Some modelling supports this mechanism, but this forcing was not universally applied in the AR4 models (see Miller et al, 2006). However, the longer the time period used, the more the models expect Antarctica to warm and the clearer that warming should be. - gavin]
    [Allow me to say more here. This accusation of cherry-picking by me and my co-authors has come up more than once. We started in 1957 (not 1958) because THAT’s WHEN THE DATA START. The year 1957 is when most of the weather stations began to be installed, under funding under the umbrella of the International Geophysical Year. If you read the paper (or indeed, just the title) this would be obvious.–eric

    Comment by Axeld — 28 Jan 2009 @ 9:01 AM

  14. I have two questions.

    1) In the last few years the argument against Antarctic cooling squawkers has been that the situation fit the models. Now that a warming trend has been uncovered do the models still match the observations?

    [I think Gavin's post (and mine before it) fully answer this question. If not, then read this.]

    2) This post advocates that a 50 year trend trumps a 20 year trend in determining the direction of change. At what period can a current trend be generally accepted as being an indicator of a peak or trough being passed.

    [Response:I don't think the post is "advocating" anything, and you're misreading our results. We find that West Antarctica has been warming essentially monotonically, just like the Antarctic Peninsula. 20-year, 30-year, 50-year, you'll get the same answer. Still, your question does apply to some extent to East Antarctica and is reasonable if you frame it differently: How long does a change in the direction of a trend have to last for it be meaningful. The standard textbook answer is 30 years (not 20). See also several of our earlier posts on this topic, starting here. --eric]

    Comment by Tom M — 28 Jan 2009 @ 9:04 AM

  15. If the op-ed run by the Detroit News (http://detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090127/OPINION01/901270306) is any measure, it looks like the Denier Industrial Complex has chosen at least one line of attack on these latest results.

    I also strongly recommend Joe Romm’s post about Eric Pooley’s critique of the mass media’s coverage of climate change. Joe’s post is at (http://climateprogress.org/2009/01/25/eric-pooley-media-coverage-climate-economics-harvard-stenographer/), and he links to Pooley’s work.

    [Response: Look out for a direct response to the Detroit News drive-by to appear sometime later today in google news search (this is a new feature google is trying out). -mike]

    Comment by Lou Grinzo — 28 Jan 2009 @ 10:07 AM

  16. Thanks, gents, for some great work and even better response to the jackals whose hackles you’ve raised.

    Query: once things are so bad it’s impossible for even the most uneducated among us to deny ACC (Anthropogenically-forced Climate Change/Chaos), can we march people such as Exxon and Inhofe off to the Hague for crimes against humanity?

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 28 Jan 2009 @ 10:24 AM

  17. The next significant step is for Antarctican regulars to notice a substantial increase in brightness at greater lasting intervals during the long night daily twilights, as experienced by High Arctic habitants of this world. Its a phenomenon caused by refraction, when light gets trapped at the interface between a cold surface cooled by the long night and encroaching warmer Upper Air not readily disappearing after warm cyclonic incursions.
    This brightness is not new, but it use to be irregular, to the point of not being noticed, now given
    that the atmosphere as a whole is warmer, the interface periods last a great deal longer.
    I give a recent example on my website.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 28 Jan 2009 @ 10:54 AM

  18. Any comments on this quote:

    “This looks like a pretty good analysis, but I have to say I remain somewhat skeptical,” Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in an e-mail. “It is hard to make data where none exist.”

    Source

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090121/ap_on_sc/sci_antarctica

    [Response: See above. It is hard to know what's going on when you only have sparse information. People are trying to fill in data as best they can using as much of what's available as possible. In this case, they have the long records from the weather stations, and the relationship of the wider temperatures to those stations over the satellite period, and this is what you get when you put that together. - gavin]

    [I would add that Kevin's comment is careless, and belies a very hasty reading of the paper before talking to reporters (as he admitted to me in an email). I don't really blame him; the tempation to say something when reporters call is difficult to resist. But his statement -- while not only brushing over the details of the analysis we did -- ignores the fact that there is *NO* data infilling required for the most recent 25 years of the record. As shown e.g. here, the satellite data alone show the large warming in West Antarctica. (Quote: "The temperature increases were greater and more widespread in West Antarctica than in East Antarctica..."). That figure and statement were posted by NASA in November 2007]. No need to “make data”. The infilling calculations we did merely show that West Antarctica warming very likely persists further back in time, prior to the satellite era.–eric]

    Comment by Steve Case — 28 Jan 2009 @ 10:56 AM

  19. Based on the new info, NSIDC needs a correction on their faq page?

    Quote … “Antarctica is an example of regional cooling”. …

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/faq.html#wintertimeantarctic

    [Response: Yes. And I will harass them about this. Note, though, that that same paragraph also (correctly) states: "Even our earliest climate models projected that Antarctica would be much slower in responding to rising greenhouse gas concentrations than the Arctic." They don't say anything about the "models predicting cooling" that Roger Pielke and others have blathered on about. In fact, a Swedish reporter I was talking the other day asked me if I knew of *any* published study either showing or predicting long-term cooling (other than for a limited time in East Antarctica). If there are any such papers, I'd definitely be interested in hearing about them.-eric]

    Comment by pat neuman — 28 Jan 2009 @ 11:55 AM

  20. One aspect I think you missed in determining what gets coverage – the abstract. If the abstract is too technical or describes results that a journalist cannot understand, they will not read the details. Only if the abstract has something stated in a way that the non-technical reader can understand and sees as newsworthy, will they pursue it further.

    So for you working climatologists – if you make your abstract contain enough techno-speak to scare journalists away – you’re probably safe from misinterpretations!

    Comment by Dean — 28 Jan 2009 @ 12:25 PM

  21. “can we march people such as Exxon and Inhofe off to the Hague for crimes against humanity?”

    That would be fine by me! The level of reprehensible irresponsibility seems criminal.

    Great post, Gavin! Thank you!

    Colin A.: Whether it was “widely considered a valid statement” depends on your sample. For the average member of the public who takes in scientific data only if it can be contained in a 30-second media soundbite, probably so. For the scientific community, the portion of the public that bothers to read books and papers on the subject, and for anyone who claims to be “edumacated” ;) on the subject, mmmm … not so much.

    [Response: I think it may be true that quite a number of people -- including some scientists that weren't paying close attention -- may have thought the "Antarctic cooling" myth was reality. Yes, even we scientists can be misled by reading the popular press. But I'm aware of no published paper that showed this, and the IPCC graph Gavin put up on this post makes it very clear that the idea of widespread cooling was never supported by any data.--eric]

    Comment by Maya — 28 Jan 2009 @ 1:16 PM

  22. Gavin, in your reply above to Axeld [28 January 2009 at 9:01 AM] you say “The statistical significance is discussed in the paper, and the 50 year trends are indeed significant.”

    Which trends do you mean exactly? The two straight lines in the graph in your original post are not, if I’ve understood correctly, both significant, only the one using non-detrended data (continent-wide mean trend 0.12 +/- 0.07 deg C per decade). From Steig et al. 2009 “In the reconstruction based on detrended T(IR) data … the continent-wide mean trend remains at 0.08 deg C per decade although it is no longer demonstrably different from zero (95% confidence).” I’d be interested to hear from Eric (or anyone) which type of reconstruction is better and why both are reported.

    Comment by Swann — 28 Jan 2009 @ 1:34 PM

  23. I’m confused. In February last year, you had an article titled “Antarctica is cold? Yeah we knew that”, (link http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/02/antarctica-is-cold/). In this you explained how the data (as it was represented at that time) was consistent with the climate models.

    Now s new study claims that Antarctica is a lot warmer than previously thought, and you are again saying that this is consistent with the climate models. Does this mean you were wrong before? Because it seems to me that you can’t have it both ways.

    [Response: Perhaps you should actually read the post you are pointing to. It discusses the only the impact of the ocean on rates of warming and how that reduced expected trends in Antarctica with respect to earlier simulations that did not include such effects. All of that is still valid. And, Antarctica is indeed still cold. If you want a discussion about specific comparisons of models and data over recent decades, go to our earlier post on the subject. - gavin]

    Comment by Annabelle — 28 Jan 2009 @ 2:04 PM

  24. When I write a scientific paper, I try to write in a way that will encourage citation but I have not thought about appealing to the general media. Of course a cover story in Nature is a good starting point and a catchy title should help with both the scientific community and the popular media. Is there any link between scientific citation and media appeal?

    My first climate change paper is under review and I am really excited about the data and the story. As a lake ecologist (limnologist) my study will not contribute to debates about the causes of climate warming but it will show that the indirect effects of warming on food chains (over the past 30 years)can be very substantial (even dramatic).

    I’ve only started reading this and other climate blogs in the last month and I am only just getting into the climate change literature in my own field. Right now I am in The Netherlands for a six month sabbatical from my position in the US. I really appreciate your efforts with this blog and recently read the long thaw.

    I think that it’s very unfortunate that the general public and even many undergraduate science majors do not understand how the peer review system works and the breadth and depth of the scientific literature. This is a topic that needs to be emphasized and described. The notion of conspiracy among reviewers of manuscripts and research proposals is difficult for scientists to comprehend.

    Comment by Bill DeMott — 28 January 2009 @ 1:59 PM

    Comment by Bill DeMott — 28 Jan 2009 @ 2:09 PM

  25. I don’t find Morano at all funny. He is employed by the taxpayers.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 28 Jan 2009 @ 2:40 PM

  26. This issue illustrates why some of us don’t have a great deal of confidence in the models.

    Look at Figure 10.7 in Chapter 10 of AR4 WG1. This is the chapter on “Global Climate Predictions”. The document is here:

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Print_Ch10.pdf

    Figure 10.7 is on page 765.

    Looking at the figure “a”, which covers the period from 2011 – 2030, the graph shows surface cooling from 70 degrees South on down (which is the great bulk of Antarctica).

    So here we have what is ostensibly the “official” ensemble of models predicting surface cooling in Antarctica for the next 21 years. Yet, in a comment left on Pielke’s site, Mr. Steig notes that his results are consistent with a group of 19 Antarctic models reviewed by Connolley and Bracegirdle in GRL, 2007. Apparently, THAT collection of models shows warming consistent with Mr. Steig’s study.

    It certainly seems, then, that the range of outputs from the models is broad enough to encompass many differing observations. This is the same thing that became evident when RealClimate used that broad range of outputs to explain why there are “no” clear model-data inconsistencies regarding the tropical troposphere temperature observations.

    [Response: There is a little cooling in the mean in that figure, but it is restricted to the ocean portion, and looking at the individual models (here) you can see that the continent has warmed in every case. The models looks at by C+B07 are basically these same models. But in one sense your are correct - where the models are noisy or don't give consistent results, it is very hard to make useful comparisons to data. That doesn't mean the models are right, but that that test isn't useful for determining whether they are or not. The answer is to find better tests. - gavin]

    Comment by Michael Smith — 28 Jan 2009 @ 3:36 PM

  27. Dean #20 says: “If the abstract is too technical or describes results that a journalist cannot understand, they will not read the details. Only if the abstract has something stated in a way that the non-technical reader can understand and sees as newsworthy, will they pursue it further.”

    Abstracts are not written for journalists, nor should they be. They are supposed to contain technical information so others in the specific discipline know what the paper is about. They get right to the nitty-gritty. If abstracts were written for everybody to understand or written to ‘hook’ lay readers, they would become useless to those in that specific field. Press releases and other media releases (e.g., review articles in front part of Science or Nature) are meant to be non-technical.

    Comment by Brian — 28 Jan 2009 @ 3:58 PM

  28. Hey, you’re both right (grin).

    Chicago Manual 5.26
    Possessives of … names

    The possessive… is formed by adding ’s … even when the word ends in a sibilant {Dickens’s novels} …. But if a word ends in a sibilant, it is acceptable (especially in journalism) to use a final apostrophe without the additional s {Bill Gates’ testimony}. See also 7.19–23.

    and

    5 : Grammar and Usage
    5.2 Schools of thought

    … Grammatical theories are in flux, and the more we learn, the less we seem to know: “An entirely adequate description of English grammar is still a distant target and at present seemingly an unreachable one ….”
    _____________
    Thank you for invoking the Grammar Troll, it’s been a pleasure. Back to my box now.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Jan 2009 @ 4:00 PM

  29. Hey, you’re both right (grin).

    Joe Haldeman (“The Forever War” etc) at one time had lecture notes from his writing scifi course at MIT up, and discussed the issue somewhat endlessly in one lecture’s write-up.

    Conclusions:

    1. There’s no consensus on which is “right”

    2. Editors from different publishing houses/magazines fall on both sides of the issue.

    3. You’re writing science fiction. PICK NAMES THAT DON’T END IN “S”, DUMMY! :)

    Kinda funny in a practical way.

    Comment by dhogaza — 28 Jan 2009 @ 5:33 PM

  30. There is also a lot of forums involving the last 8 years cooling off. They point to a few graphs and say that global warming is over . They point to the new sea ice in Antarctica and say that global warming is over. Response from Gavin would be appreciated.

    Comment by EdnaMenschtein — 28 Jan 2009 @ 6:04 PM

  31. Eric writes (#19):

    “They [NSIDC] don’t say anything about the “models predicting cooling” that Roger Pielke and others have blathered on about.”

    Would Spencer Weart be among those “blathering on about” cooling?
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/02/antarctica-is-cold/

    According to Eric Steig, Weart was talking about models predicting cooling:

    “I have to admit I cringed when guest writer Weart wrote the article on RealClimate, which I didn’t get a chance to read first. I’m not sure what models he was talking about that said Antarctica should be cooling.”
    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/consistent-with-chronicles-antarctic-edition-4897#comment-11629

    If RC posts an article about models predicting cooling, and Eric acknowledges such, perhaps you might understand the confusion among your readers who may then blather about what you post here.

    [Response: Well, if the blatherers bothered to read the articles they were citing, they might understand the point. Spencer's article discussed why there is expected to be a lag in Antarctic temperature rise because of the large heat capacity of the Southern Ocean. Quote: "...the Southern Hemisphere would experience delays decades longer than the Northern." or "[models] continue to show that Antarctica cannot be expected to warm up very significantly until long after the rest of the world”. Indeed, given those reduced trends in the south, internal variability would be expected to sometimes “even [give] a slight cooling” (referencing Bryan et al, 1988). All of these statements are true and are important points within the historical development of this issue (and Spencer is a historian remember). However, is cooling a robust prediction over the last 50 years? No. Connolley and Bracegirdle (2007) show that expected trends in a much larger sample of models are very varied (though the ensemble mean warms at about the rate seen in the Steig et al paper). Is cooling over the short term related to ozone depletion a model prediction? Yes, at least in some models. Does this contradict anything that Spencer said? Not in the slightest – he didn’t mention ozone issues at all. Do ozone hole related trends contradict longer term warming trends? No. Different timescale, different response.

    So basically one has choice. One can either join the ranks of the misquoters and cherry-pickers and play sophmoric games trying to find supposed contradictions, or one can actually try thinking and clarify a complex situation for both oneself and any readers. Your call. – gavin]

    Comment by Roger Pielke Jr. — 28 Jan 2009 @ 6:19 PM

  32. Guys,

    The reason the article got so much attention was that it was on the front cover of Nature magazine and was accompanied by comments to the press that indicated that it was a direct refutation of a skeptic allegation (also the timing probably helped a little—while the authors may not control the publication date, Nature’s staff surely does).

    [Chip, you're kidding right? Do you really think Nature timed this with respect to Gore? Really? Please tell me you're kidding so I don't go crazy!]

    While Eric claims not to know of any paper that describes continent-wide cooling (comment 21), there are in fact several—just none that describe the period 1957-2006. Throw in a collection of model results that are hard to interpret, and it is quite reasonable to understand why people (on both sides) are confused.

    [Find me such a study. Since you said "several", I'll ask you to find just two.]

    What caught a lot of people’s eye is the image on the front of Nature—it represents spatially the reconstructed trends from 1957-2006, but it is hard to verify because in locations where there are actual observed data, they don’t match that well. A situation which you describe in the paper (see Figures 3a, 3b, first full paragraph of page 461, that the reconstructed trends for the Peninsula are less than the global average and yet you describe is as one of the most rapidly warming places on earth, that your Figure 4e has spatial differences compared with Supplemental Figure 1c and 1d or the image you linked to in comment 18), and which renders that spatial detail of the cover image difficult to interpret. In fact, you wouldn’t put Figure 4e (your reconstruction from 1979-2003) on the cover of Nature because it is inferior to the actual data. And yet you allow the full period Nature cover when you know that it doesn’t spot check.

    [I submitted that figure because it is a beautiful rendition summarizing our results. Not only was it not intended to mislead anyone, I don't agree that it is misleading (except perhaps to those that want to make it so). It's a pretty picture for heaven's sake. Don't read more into it than that.]

    I understand the issue—that when considered as a whole, the data on the Nature cover may better capture the trends over time than any other method of determining the average trend over the continent—but that said, it is not accurate on the fine spatial scale that it is presented. Thus I would suggest that Figure 2 is a better summary of your findings. For the data contained in Figure 2 can be compared against all other determinations of Antarctica’s temperature history, over any subperiod of interest, and represents a spatial scale that you are comfortable with. Your spatial reconstructions (trend maps) help provide some insight as to why the trends in Figure 2 are different from others’ trends, but I would argue that, in terms of robustness, Figure 2 should be your highlighted result, not the image that appeared on the cover, which is really just a step along the way towards producing your ultimate result (Figure 2). But, clearly it is a lot less flashy and wouldn’t have made the cover and thus perhaps not draw the attention that it did. So it was good PR, but not the most robust piece of science in your well-done paper and part of what has led to the confusion (in my opinion, of course).

    -Chip Knappenberger

    [Response:I'm glad you think the paper is well done. The point of the cover is to entice people to read the paper, not to run with their first impressions of the findings from glancing at the cover. I think you have made a lot of good comments and asked some good questions. But (and I hope you don't take this wrong), you sure have a lot of suggestions. Next time, why don't you do the work, write the paper, and submit the cover figure?--eric]

    Comment by Chip Knappenberger — 28 Jan 2009 @ 6:34 PM

  33. EdnaMenschtein (30) — Read

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/what-if/

    and two or three closely related thread on Tamino’s Open Mind.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 28 Jan 2009 @ 6:46 PM

  34. RC comment #30 says … “They point to the new sea ice in Antarctica and say that global warming is over”. … (comment #30)

    However, text at the NSIDC says … “Unlike Arctic sea ice, Antarctic sea ice disappears almost completely during the summer, and has since scientists have studied it”.

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/faq.html#wintertimeantarctic

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 28 Jan 2009 @ 7:42 PM

  35. Gavin, I was glad to see you take on the conspiracy theory regarding the timing of the press conference for this article. I tried to get Anthony Watts and company to flesh out exactly how, mechanistically, such a coincidence in timing could be arranged given that the press conference timing is dictated by Nature’s publication schedule (and Gore’s speech was announced only like the day of or day before the press conference occurred)…and never did really get any reasonable responses.

    Re #30 and 33: You might also want to look at this RealClimate post showing what sort of variations one sees for temperature trends in climate models forced with steadily-increasing levels of CO2 over such short time periods: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/what-the-ipcc-models-really-say

    Comment by Joel Shore — 28 Jan 2009 @ 8:37 PM

  36. When I look at the ups and downs in the graph of Antarctic temperature between 1957 and 2006, the highs and lows seem to correspond to the solar cycle.

    http://sidc.oma.be/html/wolfmms.html

    This isn’t based on any sophisticated analysis but it is more of observation that could be mistaken.

    Is it possible this study is simply showing that Antarctic temperature (or at least part of it) is extremely sensitive to the solar cycle? In other words, by including a weak solar cycle at the front end of the time series, have you biased the result in favor of warming?

    [Response: hmm.... correlation with annual sunspot numbers r=0.17, and with the low number of degrees of freedom in the solar timeseries, I doubt that is particularly significant. Even if you cut it off at 2000 (solar max), the trend is still up. - gavin]

    Comment by Jim Cross — 28 Jan 2009 @ 9:39 PM

  37. Gavin

    Are you going to comment on your bosses former bosses,
    Dr. John S. Theon, recent comment?

    Theon declared “climate models are useless.” “My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit,” Theon explained. “Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy,” he added.

    Anne

    [Response: He was not my boss's former boss. And what is there to comment on? What study is he alluding to? What papers does he reference? If this is just his opinion, how can it be refuted? Who are these scientists who do such terrible things? When did they do them? Where? As for sub-grid scale processes, we've just done two dense FAQ posts that address precisely those issues. His conclusion about climate models does not appear to be based on anything, and is patently false. Climate models have proved useful in myriad ways - for prediction (effects of Pinatubo, strat cooling), for assessment of data consistency (ice age tropical temperatures, MSU trends), as test beds for new instrumentation or methodologies, for explaining past climate changes, and indeed for being more skillful at future projections than any naive expectations of no change. Asking me to comment on Theon's remarks, is like asking me to duel a ghost. There is nothing there. - gavin]

    Comment by Anne — 28 Jan 2009 @ 10:04 PM

  38. #31 Roger Pielke:
    I’m not sure why Eric Steig characterized Weart’s article in this way: “I’m not sure what models he was talking about that said Antarctica should be cooling.”

    But we do know what made him “cringe”: “I meant that I thought he wasn’t clear enough that he [Weart] was referring to the models show a slower warming in Antarctica than e.g. in the Arctic, which was and remains the correct assessment of what the model show. And I suspected that his article would be used in exactly the way Roger Piekle Jr. has used it; to give the impression that scientists are being careless and inconsistent. But as I said above, this is a red herring.”

    Obviously, the second statement is a lot clearer, and corrects what may well be a slight misremembering in the first statement. Yet Pielke continues to harp on the first Steig statement as if Steig had never corrected it.

    In the original post, Pielke quoted liberally from Weart before concluding : “So a warming Antarctica and a cooling Antarctica are both “consistent with” model projections of global warming.”

    And yet in passages quoted there is no reference to Antarctica cooling (as a whole). Not in the observations and not in the models. But now that Piekle has been set straight (great response, Gavin), will he correct the record? Not a chance.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 29 Jan 2009 @ 2:43 AM

  39. My question above (28 Jan 1.34pm) wasn’t answered so I’d like to repeat it.

    According to the paper, the continent-wide warming is significant if the reconstruction is done using non-detrended data but not using detrended data.

    Eric, are both types of reconstruction equally valid? Can one say for sure that the reconstruction that leads to a significant warming trend is more valid than the one that does not?

    [Response: Using detrended data results is much poorer verification statistics -- large areas in both East and West Antarctica cannot be reproduced (RE scores <0) when using the detrended data. So the detrended results are demonstrably less valid. Having said that, we thought it important to include this because spurious trends in the satellite data could not be a priori ruled out. This is why we say the detrended results are a conservative lower bound on trend magnitude. As we point out, the significant warming in West Antarctica remains in either case.--eric]

    Comment by Swann — 29 Jan 2009 @ 4:11 AM

  40. http://kestencgreen.com/naiveclimate.pdf

    Anyone at Real Climate like to comment on this submission?

    [Response: This is old news. We commented when they first did this - nothing has changed. - gavin]

    Comment by Calum — 29 Jan 2009 @ 6:55 AM

  41. The idea of Global Warming or ‘area warming/cooling’ may also be directly linked to the polar shifts that occur periodically, could they not? Polar shifts (when the Earth slightly shifts on its’ axis) seem to be documented in studies and would also significantly contribute to the stronger area temperature changes in the northern and southern areas more than areas closer to the equator. I’m no rocket scientist, but it does raise more questions as to the data intake, whether it’s complete or incomplete, and whether its’ source is bias or unbias. There are so many modern discoveries, research and data that are standardly ‘denied’ if it doesn’t fit the ‘old school’ ways, ideals or chriteria, which in itself, is a crime against science, and moreover, against humanity as a whole (the general population), don’t you think? It seems as though this is just another story of ‘The Wolf Pulling The Wool Over The Sheeps’(Our) Eyes’. I would like to see a much broader and open-minded approach to science, even if it means changing the history books. Mistakes happen, that’s a given, but it is how we learn from our mistakes and move on to overcome our shortcomings that define us, as well as history itself, is it not?

    Comment by Don — 29 Jan 2009 @ 10:08 AM

  42. May writes:

    “can we march people such as Exxon and Inhofe off to the Hague for crimes against humanity?”

    That would be fine by me! The level of reprehensible irresponsibility seems criminal.

    This kind of talk makes our job much harder. It makes AGW defenders sound like people with a political agenda.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 29 Jan 2009 @ 11:01 AM

  43. As a geologist I have seen the effect of climate change on the geologic record. These effects can be seen globally in the rock record and have occurred as far back as our rock record exits. These changes can be dramatic and appear to occur rather quickly(in geologic terms). My point is, there had to be something causing these sea level changes. Obviously, it wasn’t man, as mans time here on earth is miniscule when compared to our geologic time scale. The real driver to climate change(warming or cooling) is the sun and the cyclic nature of the suns solar activity. How else do you explain it?

    [Response: Sea level change? Most geologic sea level changes are related to tectonic processes (rates of ocean spreading, continental subduction etc.) or the waxing and waning of ice sheets (particularly over the last 2.5 million years). Those are paced by orbital variations, which have nothing to do with solar activity. - gavin]

    Comment by rokdoc — 29 Jan 2009 @ 11:39 AM

  44. Speaking of polar temperature changes (this is my lame attempt at looking like I’m staying on thread), does anyone here have some expertise they can share regarding the potential (or lack thereof) for tropospheric impact resulting from the ongoing sudden stratospheric warming event in the Arctic?

    Comment by Matt — 29 Jan 2009 @ 11:51 AM

  45. Eric (re:32),

    Thanks again for your thoughts and reply. I appreciate your time.

    The only reason I commented on the timing of the paper appearing when it did was that Gavin brought it up in the main post with the implication that there is no manipulation of what is published when. I don’t believe this to be the case. Perhaps the authors don’t have much of a say, but Nature exists to make money and so they closely control their PR, which includes what to release when (probably not for all articles, but definitely on occasion). Whether this was one such occasion, I can’t say. I am just saying the timing (more with the new Administration than with Gore) perhaps helped explain some of the popularity.

    As far as papers that find cooling over Antarctica for some periods, how about:

    Doran et al. (2002):

    “Although previous reports suggest slight recent continental warming, our spatial analysis of Antarctic meteorological data demonstrates a net cooling on the Antarctic continent between 1966 and 2000, particularly during summer and autumn.”

    And, Chapman and Walsh (2007):

    “Linear temperature changes calculated using starting dates prior to 1965 [and ending in 2002] are positive for land only, ocean-only, and total area. Starting dates of 1966–82 have negative trends for the Antarctic land-only grid points with mixed results for ocean-only and total area. Interestingly, most of the recent literature has determined trends using starting dates from the 1966–82 period and therefore show negative trends of varying degrees over much of Antarctica.”

    My point here is that claims that there has been cooling over Antarctica are not simply figments of some skeptics’ imagination.

    [Response: I've never said that the idea of Antarctic cooling has no origin. Gavin's post gives an accurate summary of where the idea came from. But that is a far cry from the claim (and yes, that claim has been made, repeatedly, on skeptics blogs and public statements (e.g. Singer, Christy)) that Antarctic has been cooling in the long term. Most such claims use a single weather station (South Pole) to back up the claim, but conveniently ignore that most other weather stations show warming (as is clear in Figure 3.7 from IPCC, shown in Gavin's post). Both of the papers you suggest indicate overall warming in the long term, with some cooling over some areas in the short 1960s to ~2000 interval. Our paper shows that too (not a suprise, since we are using the same data). You have not found me a single paper showing average cooling over the long term. You won't because there isn't one (at least, not one I can find).--eric]

    I agree with you that the cover picture is pretty—and I think that it brought added attention to the article.

    And, truthfully, I wish that I had more opportunity to spend more time actually doing research than simply commenting upon it. But, that it not the situation that I currently find myself in. I do have a few things in the works (this for instance), but unfortunately, finding the resources to support even a minor research effort has proven difficult in recent years.

    -Chip

    Comment by Chip Knappenberger — 29 Jan 2009 @ 12:07 PM

  46. [Response: Sea level change? Most geologic sea level changes are related to tectonic processes (rates of ocean spreading, continental subduction etc.) or the waxing and waning of ice sheets (particularly over the last 2.5 million years). Those are paced by orbital variations, which have nothing to do with solar activity. - gavin]

    Gavin

    I think you make it up as you go along. Ice ages end due to solar activity.
    Harlech Castle in North Wales constructed late 13 Century the sea is now 500 metres from the sea gate

    The Cinque ports granted thier royal Charter in 1155 were silted up by the 15 Century.

    Whenever you are presented with facts you either dismiss them or answer showing yourself to be out of your depth. Or of course you demean the critic as you have done above.

    [edit]

    [Response: Local sea level is much more complex than global changes which is what we were talking about. How Harlech Castle is relevant to the ice ages escapes me though (the last one ended 20,000 years ago). - gavin]

    Comment by Stuart Harmon — 29 Jan 2009 @ 12:54 PM

  47. Barton Paul Levenson wrote: “It makes AGW defenders sound like people with a political agenda.”

    Any “agenda” for dealing with AGW will necessarily be, at least in part, “political”.

    Should those who, for purposes of personal and corporate profit, deliberately deceived the American people for more than two decades about the reality of anthropogenic global warming, be subject to some sort of legal penalty? I don’t know. Should tobacco company executives and others who deliberately deceived the American people about the reality of tobacco and cancer be subject to legal penalty? Their deceit arguably caused many deaths. The deceit of the AGW deniers will arguably cause many more deaths — perhaps billions of deaths that would have been preventable by early action to reduce emissions. Should the deceivers be held to account for that somehow? I think it’s not an outlandish suggestion.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 29 Jan 2009 @ 12:55 PM

  48. Don @41, look up Milankovic Cycles. Everyone here at Real Climate is well aware of them, and well aware that they operate over periods of 10s or thousands of years.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 29 Jan 2009 @ 12:57 PM

  49. And, Don, Milankovich Cycles are measured with astronomical precision – orbital mechanics.

    Why do you think climate science is ignoring this? How do you think climate scientists model and otherwise study past ice ages if they ignore their cause?

    You need to read up on basic science, always best to understand a subject before you declare that it’s bull.

    Comment by dhogaza — 29 Jan 2009 @ 1:07 PM

  50. Stuart Harmon:

    The Cinque ports granted thier royal Charter in 1155 were silted up by the 15 Century.

    Siltation happens. Look up “river delta” in wikipeda. Has nothing to do with ice ages, especially the one that happened 20,000 years before the ports were built (as gavin points out above).

    In honor of the reference to ports, captcha says:

    “Warship calling”

    Comment by dhogaza — 29 Jan 2009 @ 1:11 PM

  51. My point is, there had to be something causing these sea level changes. Obviously, it wasn’t man, as mans time here on earth is miniscule when compared to our geologic time scale. The real driver to climate change(warming or cooling) is the sun and the cyclic nature of the suns solar activity. How else do you explain it?

    Oh, gosh, it’s the old geologists argument that “we know that if a large boulder falls on your head, it will kill you, without human involvement. Therefore a bullet to the head is harmless”.

    i.e. the fallacy that if event A can cause consequence C, then no other event can possibly have similar consequences.

    Comment by dhogaza — 29 Jan 2009 @ 1:14 PM

  52. Re rocdoc @44, that Earth’s climate always has and always will change due to natural causes in no way implies that CO2 has not played an amplifying feedback role in those changes. Nor, in the absence of a natural initial forcing, does it in any way refute the ability of direct massive increases in CO2 to itself act as a direct climate forcing. Indeed, the geologic record contains evidence of greenhouse gas forced climate change events.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 29 Jan 2009 @ 1:16 PM

  53. Stuart Harmon (47), Talk about making it up as you go!

    Ice ages do not end due to changes in solar activity, they end due to changes in Earth’s orbit and axial tilt that result in increases in solar insolation.

    Oh, and you might want to take note that the Little Ice Age was not a real ice age.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 29 Jan 2009 @ 1:24 PM

  54. rokdoc #44 says: “My point is, there had to be something causing these sea level changes. Obviously, it wasn’t man, as mans time here on earth is miniscule when compared to our geologic time scale.”

    I am also a geologist and do not understand why other geologists continue to make this statement (although the number is diminishing). Of course climatic fluctuations over the vast majority of geologic time are not from human influence. And? So? Why does that fact lead to a conclusion that we can’t possibly have an effect now? I don’t see the logic.

    Another form of this line of reasoning goes like this: The Earth has experienced much bigger swings in climatic change and came out just fine.

    It’s not whether the Earth can make it through, it’s the impact on habitability. For example, while the Earth made it through the PETM, a significant part of its biosphere did not fare so well.

    [Response: Actually, the PETM really did most of it's damage to benthic foraminifera - mammals did quite well eventually. But your point is good - though the PT extinction event would have been more apropos. - gavin]

    Comment by Brian — 29 Jan 2009 @ 1:31 PM

  55. re Gavin #55 — Agreed, I only cited PETM since it was a warming event that occurred relatively quickly. Another analog, as has been discussed here before, is the middle Pliocene … although I have not done my homework re impacts on biosphere.

    [Response: Definitely. The PETM has a lot of resonance, as does the mid-Pliocene... - gavin]

    Comment by Brian — 29 Jan 2009 @ 1:40 PM

  56. New peer-review study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Solomon et. al also discusses sea level rises and possible parameters:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/01/28/0812721106.full.pdf+html

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 29 Jan 2009 @ 1:44 PM

  57. re #52 dhogaza “bullet to the head…the fallacy that if event A can cause consequence C, then no other event can possibly have similar consequences.”

    Ha. How true that equifinality applies to both climate and death.

    Comment by Al Z — 29 Jan 2009 @ 1:52 PM

  58. Stuart Harmon (47), Talk about making it up as you go!

    Ice ages do not end due to changes in solar activity, they end due to changes in Earth’s orbit and axial tilt that result in increases in solar insolation.

    Oh, and you might want to take note that the Little Ice Age was not a real ice age.

    Sorry Jim maybe I wasn’t precise enough. But at least we are agreed that the sun has some part to play in climate and its not all down to CO2 Emissions.

    [Response: Who ever said it was? - gavin]

    Gavin at least you allowed me to post I was getting worried that what they say in the other place is true?

    Comment by Stuart Harmon — 29 Jan 2009 @ 2:26 PM

  59. “This kind of talk makes our job much harder. It makes AGW defenders sound like people with a political agenda.”

    I’m sorry, you’re probably right. I have no *political* agenda, however, at least not the way I think of it. What I said was an expression of the frustration and outrage I feel when I see public figures or media stories that try to convince us there’s no scientific consensus on climate change (yes there is some disagreement on particulars, but it’s here and we’re causing at least most of it, and can’t we just move on and figure out what to do next?) or that it isn’t even real, just “natural cycles” or something.

    Global climate change, although slow when compared to the frenetic pace of our lives, is now very rapid in terms of geologic time. There will be consequences – for us, for the other species with whom we share the planet, for our children, and for all the generations that come after us. Unchecked, it amounts to a disaster of epic proportions that dwarfs economic crises, national spats over turf, or any number of other things that are considered newsworthy.

    To downplay it, try and claim that it isn’t real … yeah, I do think that’s irresponsible, reprehensible, morally bankrupt, ethically corrupt, and any other venomous words I can think of. If the FDA released a drug that they knew was going to kill people and didn’t put out a warning about it, that would be criminal. If a food company released a batch of something that they knew was going to poison some of the people who ate it, that would be criminal. Yet when a group of whoever tries to tell us that AGW is a myth, even though the evidence points to the likelihood of it claiming millions, eventually maybe billions of lives and a significant number of other species, if left unchecked, that’s … free speech? Meh.

    If it could somehow be proved – and I know it never will be, just speaking hypothetically – that the AGW-is-a-myth deception was being perpetrated upon us on purpose, by people who KNOW it’s a lie, I could make the case that it’s tantamount to genocide. So yeah, that really IS criminal. It’ll never be proved, of course, and maybe Inhofe and the others are simply deluded. Nevertheless, my outrage remains.

    So, as I said, my “agenda” – if I even have one – isn’t political, per se, except to try to convince our leaders to do what is in their power to do. It looks like we’re going to be ramping up production of power from renewables, that California and other states are going to be allowed to set their own standards for automobile emissions, and hopefully more stuff is in the works. That’s what I want to see – encouraging that is my “agenda”. I don’t write letters to politicians and lend people books and all that because it’s political, though – I do it because I sincerely, down in my bones, think that doing what I can to help slow AGW is the right thing to do. (And yeah, I drive a high MPG car and I turn off lights and replace lightbulbs and recycle and buy local produce and grow my own and a dozen other things, too.)

    And my sincere apologies if I damaged the reputation of AGW defenders in any way.

    Comment by Maya — 29 Jan 2009 @ 2:27 PM

  60. The year is 2025 theres been a great deal of wobble tilt and solar activity all at once.
    A man is looking for a bar in antarctica when he comes across a sign outside a pub :-

    “A pint
    A pie
    and a Friendly Word”

    This seems fine so in he goes.

    Gavin This has something to do with

    Customer: “A pint please”

    Customer: “I’ll also have a pie”

    Silence

    Customer: “Landlord what about the Friendly Word”

    Landlord: “Don’t eat the pie”

    Comment by Stuart Harmon — 29 Jan 2009 @ 2:37 PM

  61. Don @41; Uh, did you have a point or did you turn a bunch of chimps loose at your keyboard? Where on Earth did you get the idea that discoveries are being ignored?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Jan 2009 @ 3:33 PM

  62. Theon is quoted, by Morano, saying something that goes beyond the silly claim that he was Hansen’s boss that has propagated through the blogosphere:

    “As Chief of several of NASA Headquarters’ programs (1982-94), an SES position, I was responsible for all weather and climate research in the entire agency, including the research work by James Hansen, Roy Spencer, Joanne Simpson, and several hundred other scientists at NASA field centers, in academia, and in the private sector who worked on climate research,”

    That is a pretty sweeping claim…. responsible for all weather and climate research in NASA? Really? What does “responsible” mean?

    [Response: NASA has two parallel structures. There are the centers (GSFC, JPL, etc.) which have a great deal of autonomy about who they hire, and how they organise themselves and what they should be doing who report directly to the administrator. Then there are the directorates - for space and earth science, aeronomy the manned program etc. These have varied over time as administrators have organised them with different themes. The role of the people at HQ is to see how much money goes to each theme, and apportion research funds based on proposals and/or specific initiatives. That money gets spent at the individual center level. Thus the chief of Earth Science could rightly be described as being in charge of Earth Science research activities, but they don't employ any of the people who are doing it. Individual decisions on funding are generally made lower down the ladder though. Thus Theon is unlikely to have made specific decisions concerning Hansen's funding, though he might have been influential on deciding which satellite programs got how much money (and note that satellites are far more expensive than GISS). - gavin]

    Comment by John Mashey — 29 Jan 2009 @ 3:53 PM

  63. Maya, let me introduce you to another world view that says climate science is in its infancy, and jumping to conclusions is reckless. A point of view where there are many other causes in this world that could be arguably more in need of our money and energy, such as people dying of Aids, hunger, and wars. I don’t have to be “irresponsible, reprehensible, morally bankrupt, ethically corrupt” to take this view.

    [Response: No one is advocating taking money away from Aids, hunger and peace keeping in order to pay for climate change mitigation and adaption. An implication that anyone who thinks something should be done about climate change is advocating that more people should die of Aids is reprehensible. None of these things are large pieces of anyones budget, and I'm sure we could find other items that we would all be happier cutting. - gavin]

    Comment by Michael — 29 Jan 2009 @ 4:37 PM

  64. Maya (59), I appreciate your ardor and strongly felt beliefs, even though I don’t share all of them. But to pick at a couple of details: you justify criminalizing skeptics because, among other reasons, you assume they “know” otherwise.. When in fact you’re simply projecting your solid belief and concluding if anyone does not have the same insight and belief as you, they must be criminal.

    Second: a minor thought re California etc. If Obama’s initial suggestion takes hold (and it may — assuming it wasn’t just a trial balloon) to require an average 36 MPG over the entire company’s fleet in the 2010 model year in order to sell any, the result will be no — that’s zero — vehicles being sold after about Nov 09. (Except for a possible loophole — they could maybe sell 2009 model year vehicles for a long time.)

    Comment by Rod B — 29 Jan 2009 @ 5:41 PM

  65. Gavin, my views that money and energy spent on climate change mitigation would be better spent on other humanitarian causes might be wrong, but they don’t make me “irresponsible, reprehensible, morally bankrupt, ethically corrupt”. I don’t know if you noticed recently, but there aren’t a whole lot of Benjamins to go around.

    [Response: Yet they just found $800 billion of them. Given that $50 billion is the price often quoted for providing everyone on earth with clean water, why are you not criticising that, rather than making it seem that it is the as-yet imaginary money going towards climate mitigation and adaptation that is holding the world back? - gavin]

    Comment by Michael — 29 Jan 2009 @ 6:06 PM

  66. Michael says, “I don’t have to be “irresponsible, reprehensible, morally bankrupt, ethically corrupt” to take this view.”

    No, you only have to be ignorant: Ignorant to think that climate science is in its infancy (it’s more than 150 years old). Ignorant to think climate scientists are jumping to conclusions (Climate change has been studied intensely for ~20 years, reviewed and endorsed by the National Academies and every professional organization of scientists that has looked at the issue). Ignorant to think that we must choose between our duty toward the dispossessed and the downfallen and our environment.

    Ignorance is 100% curable. Willful ignorance eventually evolves into a nasty case of stupidity.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Jan 2009 @ 6:18 PM

  67. #63
    Our civilization faces many threats, including climate change. You in fact have to deal with all of them. Climate science uncertainties are no excuse for not dealing with the risks that it represents. If you care about hunger and war, then you had better care deeply about climate change – too rapid a change and you will increase both of those. Just do a risk analysis.

    Comment by Phil Scadden — 29 Jan 2009 @ 6:29 PM

  68. Maya, let me introduce you to another world view that says climate science is in its infancy, and jumping to conclusions is reckless

    There are many world views held by a wide variety of people which have no basis in reality.

    Climate science has its roots in 19th century physics, and no one is “jumping to conclusions”.

    As far as the rest of your post, along with Gavin’s point there’s also the fact that the third world, with its limited financial resources, will suffer far more from the consequences of global warming than the first world. Spending money now to minimize warming might very well be far more cost-effective than pretending the problem doesn’t exist.

    Comment by dhogaza — 29 Jan 2009 @ 6:37 PM

  69. Hi there, I was just wanting to know- several contrarians are effectively stating the data for Antarctic warming shows 0.1degrees per decade, with an error of + / – 3 degrees? Having read the paper, I can’t find that data- any pointers? Also, what, if any, is the significance of such a massive confidence interval (if, indeed, it’s accurate)? I must admit, my stats knowledge is somewhat lacking.

    Regards,

    Mike.

    [Response: Several contrarians (indeed, the same ones) are also saying that Antarctic has been "cooling for the last 50 years", that our data contradict the "well established science", that "many scientists" are highly critical of our work, and that we "adjusted the data" to get the result we wanted. You can choose to believe them if you like, but that won't change the fact that they are wrong on all counts. On the statistics: If they were right about +/- 3 degrees, it would obviously mean that there is no detectable change in Antarctic temperature. However, that's wrong too. 3 degrees of cooling per decade would give you 15 degrees in the last 50 years. Look at the data from IPCC in the post, above. There isn't even enough room on the graph to fit that large a change in!--eric]

    Comment by Mike — 29 Jan 2009 @ 6:56 PM

  70. Re: Post 63 29 January 2009 at 4:37 PM

    Excellent response Gavin. This false dichotomy is traceable back to Lomborg. I find it amusing that this meme depends on (ugh!) “modelling” yet at least in the blogosphere, “computer models” are code for “bullshit”.

    As you point out here (and to some extent did in discussions of Copenhagen a while back) there really is no conflict with doing any of the MDG stuff and GHG mitigation — and indeed, it would be far better for these to be done coextensively as part of a general program of development.

    Thanks once again for your answer and the effort you put into this site. It remains a corner of sanity in a blogosphere where discussion of climate change is dominated by loudmouthed, disingenuous or ignorant poseurs.

    Comment by Fran Barlow — 29 Jan 2009 @ 7:23 PM

  71. Re Gavin’s response to #46 Stuart Harmon:

    I think Stuart Harmon’s (specious) point relates to possible isostatic rebound (presumably not being accounted for in sea level rise figures!) of on the order of 2 mm/year these last 800 years on the west coast of the UK (though I thought that was principally Scotland at that sort of rate) resulting in the sea now being ~3 km from the castle’s sea gate.

    I think it probably has as much, if not more, to do with siltation and dune development, judging from what I recall from my last visit to the Glaslyn Estuary surrounds about 5 years ago (think Patrick McGoohan and The Prisoner at Portmeirion on the other side of the estuary).

    Some people never seem to get away from the idea that the many professionals looking at such sea level/tidal data over many years never take this other information into account. Sheesh!

    Comment by P. Lewis — 29 Jan 2009 @ 7:55 PM

  72. Response: Sea level change? Most geologic sea level changes are related to tectonic processes (rates of ocean spreading, continental subduction etc.) or the waxing and waning of ice sheets (particularly over the last 2.5 million years). Those are paced by orbital variations, which have nothing to do with solar activity. – gavin]

    Gavin. Global sea level changes are thought to be caused by geotectonic and glacial phenomena. The melting and cooling of the polar ice caps are considered the main culprit in global sea level changes seen in the geologic record. Subsidence due to sediment loading and tectonic events tend to be more local in extent. Geologists are able to identify sea level changes that occurred world wide in all the open ocean basins and they use these to correlate and identify the ages of the sediments from basin to basin. Sequence stratigraphy is based on these global sea level changes.
    My point in bringing this up is that 99.99%+ of the eustatic sea level changes have occurred prior to mans existance. Over 500 million years back to the Cambrian Period we see global sea level changes. How can you ignore the cause of these previous sea level fluctuations? What are your thoughts on what caused the polar ice caps to melt or grow during the past 500 million years? If its orbital variation, as you say, or variable solar activity, it looks like these changes will occur(as they have over the last 500 million years) whether we like it or not.

    [Response: Of course. Nothing has stopped plate tectonics or the orbital cycles, and eventually they will make their presence felt. However, the issue is timescale. The best calculations to date indicate we are not due another ice age for ~30,000 to 50,000 years - even if we don't do anything more to CO2. That's not something I worry about too much. As for tectonic changes, basins growing at about the speed of a fingernail, again, don't have much potential for short term dramatic impact. Melting ice sheets because of global warming turns out to be a much more rapid and potentially worrisome source of sea level rise. We know that melting ice sheets have contributed to meters of sea level rise per year century (sorry for the error!) - meltwater pulse 1 A for instance, or even the early Holocene final collapse of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. - gavin]

    Comment by rokdoc — 29 Jan 2009 @ 8:39 PM

  73. Thanks for your response. The +/- 3 they’ve been referring to comes from the Nov. 21 2007 NASA press release, although for the life of me I can’t work out its relevance to your paper.

    Comment by Mike — 29 Jan 2009 @ 8:44 PM

  74. Rokdoc (65), so, since these changes will occur–on a geologic time scale, I must add–as they have over the last 500 million years, then we shouldn’t worry about human actions inducing these same changes on the scale of human lifetimes?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 29 Jan 2009 @ 9:10 PM

  75. Stuart Harmon (58), Science is all about the details. Changes in solar activity are simply not at all the same thing as orbital-induced changes in solar insolation.

    Yes, we can all agree that the sun has some part to play in climate. No one here would contend otherwise. Yet some people all too readily abandon logic and take that to mean that increasing CO2 in the absence of a initial change in insolation will not warm the atmosphere and thereby change climate.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 29 Jan 2009 @ 9:16 PM

  76. If its orbital variation, as you say, or variable solar activity, it looks like these changes will occur(as they have over the last 500 million years) whether we like it or not.

    Teach me to live 500 million years and maybe I’ll care about thing I have no control over.

    Until you do, I’m staying focused on the next century or so, when my nephews and neices and their future children will be struggling with the consequences of global warming over the next few decades.

    Meanwhile, since you think that human timescale events of no consequence, I hope you’re logically consistent and don’t wear your seatbelt, see your doctor, and that you smoke like a chimney and drink like a fish. Because in the 500 million year timescale, it doesn’t matter, does it?

    Comment by dhogaza — 29 Jan 2009 @ 9:16 PM

  77. re: #63, #65, #70
    False dichotomy, good things to do, Lomborg…
    Good answers, so far … but I’d claim there’s a stronger one, because this is a lot more sophisticated than the usual false dichotomy, and people need to understand it better.

    People criticize Lomborg for bad science and bad economics, but I think those act as misdirections to obscure the very, very clever political arguments, which conflict progressive/centrists, but make certain conservatives *very* happy (like, CATO, CEI, Fraser, heartland, Hoover, Manhattan, Reason). These entities are not usually known for pushing hard to raise taxes to pay to help third-world countries get better water, for example.

    Consider reading the detailed analysis Lomborg and Playing the Long Game, which ThingsBreak kindly posted for me, which goes through the nature of the Cool It! / Copenhagen Convention stuff, with pointers to comments by economists about the broken process.

    If the CC made any sense at all, one of the items for prioritization would be phase-out tobacco smoking worldwide”. WHO thinks ~1B people will die of smoking-related diseases in the coming century.

    It makes *no* sense to spend money to fix third-world water systems while happily letting children get addicted to something that will kill many of them.

    It’s hard to understand how a fair economic analysis would put smoking-phase-out anywhere but the top (since it actually *saves* money).

    But, of course, *that* doesn’t make the lists beloved of Lomborg, CC, conservative thinktanks … a hint about what those lists are really about.

    Comment by John Mashey — 29 Jan 2009 @ 9:57 PM

  78. Rod B, disagreeing with me is not criminal in any way. It’s expected, actually. :) But IF someone KNOWINGLY puts millions or billions of lives at risk, then yep, I call that criminal. It has nothing to do with being a skeptic (which I take to mean, “thinking in a critical manner”), but being a denialist for one’s own – dare I say it? – agenda, so don’t twist my words to mean something they don’t. I happen to believe that there is enough evidence for AGW to go forward with the assumption that it’s real, but as has been pointed out many times on this site, my belief or yours or anyone else’s has nothing to do with it – it’s all in the science. The evidence.

    Sorry, I don’t want to get into the whole car MPG thing. It was just an example I thought of off the top of my head, and I’m too tired to go digging for more specifics.

    Comment by Maya — 29 Jan 2009 @ 10:08 PM

  79. “I don’t know if you noticed recently, but there aren’t a whole lot of Benjamins to go around.”

    We cant afford to NOT do something about climate change and other environmental issues. The consequences are too grim. Okay, I’ll admit it. I dont think there is an alternative to some pretty serious life style changes that I would rather not make, but it sure beats the alternatives. I would rather my children and hopefully grandchildren looked back on me with affection and pride, rather than as someone so willfully ignorant or totally selfish that I contributed to their misery.

    Comment by Phil Scadden — 29 Jan 2009 @ 10:36 PM

  80. John M. (77): If an AGW skeptic came up with an argument that had similar rationale, credibility, support, and tone as your referenced WHO screed on tobacco, you’d stomp him into the ground.

    Comment by Rod B — 29 Jan 2009 @ 10:53 PM

  81. Maya (78), I don’t disagree with you rationale. But the rub is: who is “knowingly” incorrectly refuting AGW — as in the definition of perjury — who should be prosecuted? Exxon-Mobil’s CEO??

    Comment by Rod B — 29 Jan 2009 @ 10:59 PM

  82. Hey Phil #79,
    Your comment makes it sound like you haven’t yet made the “serious lifestyle changes”. What’s holding you back?

    Comment by Joel — 29 Jan 2009 @ 11:32 PM

  83. Re: #59 Anna: “If it could somehow be proved – and I know it never will be, just speaking hypothetically – that the AGW-is-a-myth deception was being perpetrated upon us on purpose, by people who KNOW it’s a lie, I could make the case that it’s tantamount to genocide. So yeah, that really IS criminal.”

    and…

    “Re: “Barton Paul Levenson Says:
    29 January 2009 at 11:01 AM

    May writes:

    ““can we march people such as Exxon and Inhofe off to the Hague for crimes against humanity?”

    That would be fine by me! The level of reprehensible irresponsibility seems criminal.”

    This kind of talk makes our job much harder. It makes AGW defenders sound like people with a political agenda.”

    Anna,

    That has already been shown. See: Exxon and the BuCheney administration. There is zero doubt Exxon funded denialists and there is zero doubt the BuCheney administration altered and/or muzzled legitimate climate science. Both are crimes against humanity. The only sticking point would be proving the frame of mind, but there is always a paper trail a good team of forensic computer techs could track down.

    Besides, a little logic goes a long way: If the published science is on the order of 1,000:1 in support of the ACC conclusion and if the natural observations not only confirm, but show they are inadequate in that they are far too conservative, then it is virtually impossible to accept that those hyping an anti-ACC message are doing so on ethical and moral bases.

    That is, they are, by and large, lying and we should not be afraid to say so. This fear of being labeled an extremist, or impolite, or whatever it is that drives virtually everyone to tuck their tail when confronting clear cases of lying and obfuscation, has enabled the potentially fatal delays we have seen.

    As was well-stated in Climate Code Red, when you have an emergency on hand, you don’t bother with platitudes and niceties when or if they prevent taking action. People are too afraid to call liars liars. I’m not. Join me. Our lives, our children’s lives and future generations’ lives appear to depend on it.

    For reference: http://newmatilda.com/2008/07/04/perils-playing-nice

    As for whether there is any legitimate doubt about climate science:

    “Two questions were key: have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels, and has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures.

    About 90 percent of the scientists agreed with the first question and 82 percent the second.

    In analyzing responses by sub-groups, Doran found that climatologists who are active in research showed the strongest consensus on the causes of global warming, with 97 percent agreeing humans play a role. Petroleum geologists and meteorologists were among the biggest doubters, with only 47 and 64 percent respectively believing in human involvement. Doran compared their responses to a recent poll showing only 58 percent of the public thinks human activity contributes to global warming.

    “The petroleum geologist response is not too surprising, but the meteorologists’ is very interesting,” he said. “Most members of the public think meteorologists know climate, but most of them actually study very short-term phenomenon.”

    He was not surprised, however, by the near-unanimous agreement by climatologists.”

    I point out that 97% of active climate researchers agree ACC is a problem.

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 30 Jan 2009 @ 12:41 AM

  84. Testimony given at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday may be relevant to some of the issues raised here.

    The following were the opening remarks:

    We’ve Arrived at a Moment of Decision
    Al Gore
    Posted January 28, 2009 | 10:43 AM (EST)
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/al-gore/were-arrived-at-a-moment_b_161627.htm

    … and this is the full testimony:

    Fmr. V.P. Gore Testifies on Global Climate Change
    Wednesday, January 28, 2009
    http://cspan.org/Watch/watch.aspx?MediaId=HP-R-14776

    *

    Captcha fortune cookie: Steel matter of

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 30 Jan 2009 @ 1:05 AM

  85. Rod B Says (29 January 2009 at 5:41 PM:

    “…to require an average 36 MPG over the entire company’s fleet in the 2010 model year in order to sell any, the result will be no — that’s zero — vehicles being sold after about Nov 09.”

    I think you need to think about that some more. The requirement is that the average mpg of the vehicles a manufacturer sells in California be 36 mpg or better. So all any manufacturer need do is not sell very many of the models that get less than that.

    So what is so hard about a 36 mpg average? Lotus is pretty close to that now, fer cryin out loud. The 2000 model in my driveway has been averaging over 70 mpg for the 5 years I’ve owned it. It’s not impossible, or even that difficult, if you start thinking of cars as transportation first.

    Comment by James — 30 Jan 2009 @ 1:10 AM

  86. Historically speaking, has the earth’s climate ever been stable? If your answer is yes; How do you know that?
    I have heard stories about extreme warm climates, and extremely cold climates (IE.the ice ages, including the last one about 10,000 years ago). Are these stories true? If they are, it seems kind of silly to be going back and forth about “+/- 3 degrees celsius” this and “CO2 levels” that.
    I mean, climate change is real. I know that. I watch Discovery channel. According to them, woolly mammoths once lived where my favorite titty bar is now located. They wouldn’t be woolly if it was warm out. But what is the big deal?
    Don’t think I’m just trying to be funny (although I am). I’d really like to hear your answers. Don’t bore me with the “+/- celcius” crap; Just explain why you’re so convinced that a changing climate is bad, and why you think we can stabilize it, where so many species before us have failed.

    Thanks,
    Chris

    Comment by Chris Colbert — 30 Jan 2009 @ 1:52 AM

  87. “We know that melting ice sheets have contributed to meters of sea level rise per year – meltwater pulse 1 A for instance, or even the early Holocene final collapse of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. – gavin]”

    Seriously? How many meters? Isn’t a meter, like, bigger than a yard? I better go out back and move my toolbox.

    [Response: here and here. - gavin]

    [Update: I meant meters/century sorry for the confusion! - gavin]

    Comment by Chris Colbert — 30 Jan 2009 @ 1:57 AM

  88. 78 + 79…I agree.

    I’m with Maya. I think there is plenty of scintific evidence for our leaders to say, OK lets reduce emissions.

    In watching the blogs for the last couple of years, the arguments are mostly about the detail — is PART of antarctica warming or did it cool for a few years. This is not realy relevant to the practical problem of our emissions being set to quadruple as China and India get their electricity grids going!

    This IS NOT A POLITICAL QUESTION. It is one of our future survival.

    One simple example. All the local estuarine swamps/mangroves in my home town will be drowned with a SLR of around 0.4 to 0.5 m. My understanding is that this is basically garuanteed to happen already (even if we suddenly stopped emissions overnight). So where will I go to find the fish that need these places to breed!

    And the swamps can’t move up hill, because we have built housing on those areas or blocked them off with sea walls (to protect the doomed houses and roads, etc).

    So it does not matter if you are left wing or right wing, it will impact on you and your children.

    I appeal for the debate to rise above politics and focus on getting momentum for change underway. The scientists have done their job and got the evidence. It has been repeatedly stated and well understood that this is a serious problem.

    It is now up to: 1. the average person to make changes to their lifestyle; 2. the governments to build new renewable electricity generation plants; 3. our leaders to agree on international action (they did this for CFCs, why not for GHGs). We have to face the -do nothing- people and say -It must be done-.

    As Phil (79) said …

    –I would rather my children and hopefully grandchildren looked back on me with affection and pride, rather than as someone so willfully ignorant or totally selfish that I contributed to their misery.–

    Comment by Ricki (Australia) — 30 Jan 2009 @ 5:02 AM

  89. Phil, ‘misery’ is being too cold and or dry to grow food which brings starvation and war; historically, it tends to do that. All predictions I’ve ever seen indicate that a warmer world will have more food and less disease on average. The current temperature trend over the last 10 years indicates that global warming, (IF it is still lurking under there somewhere), is NOT something happening quickly or suddenly accelerated due to human CO2 emission. If human CO2 does actually have something to due with increasing the rate of global warming, whatever scientific evidence you wish to choose shows that the puny amount we add, (less GHG than what termites emit), not only doesn’t amount to anything worth worrying about at all – it is so small that it is IMPOSSIBLE to have an effect worth worrying about. Forget the models, they leave out so much science that they are nothing more than curve fitting routines tweaked to death in order to predict the past. Are there any models that include the fact that plant life grows faster with more CO2 and therefore energy is TAKEN out of the equation at an ever increasing rate as that plant life grows more quickly and therefore converts energy from solar radiant energy to potential chemical energy at a faster rate? Not that I’ve heard..that’s a negative feedback. Do the models correctly account for the latent heat of evaporation of water being carried up thousands of feet before releasing that heat energy well above the bulk of our atmosphere when it condenses back into liquid? Not that I’m aware of .. that’s another negative feedback.

    The danger is not inaction, the real danger is in climate alarmism itself. My prime example is bio-fuel. It’s the most arrogant, elitist ‘solution’ imaginable; feeding FOOD to our machines. The 10% ethanol mandate used up over 1/4 of the USA corn crop and did virtually NOTHING to reduce CO2 emissions. But it DID increase the price of food. In some poor places they spend 100% of their income just to get enough food for their families and here we are buying it right out of their mouths! If that ain’t arrogant then nothing is and this global warming hystaria is largely responsible for the death destruction coming to those people.

    I’ll rest my case on the fact that CO2 has averaged 5 to 10X HIGHER on this planet for 100′s of millions of years (GEOCarb III), and temperature over that period had zero correlation to its concentration. Geologically speaking, we are at a LOW point in CO2 concentration and the fact that most plants can easily handle 1000 or even 1500PPM CO2 is PROOF that their genetics already experienced it and put it to good use a long time ago. Additionally and regardless of CO2 over 600 million years, temperature never went over about 10C degrees above where we are now – WHY WAS THAT? Nobody really knows yet…

    Comment by Mike M — 30 Jan 2009 @ 5:18 AM

  90. Re:#87 Gavin,
    one meter per year seems really too much, at least on average over a century. May be up to 4 to 5 meters per century.

    [Response: Of course - my mistake. Thanks for catching it. - gavin]

    Comment by Uli — 30 Jan 2009 @ 8:13 AM

  91. @Mike M (89) – If you really can’t believe what difference a tiny amount of stuff can make, here’s an nice self-experiment for you to try:

    Put 50 micrograms of lysergic acid diethylamide in 500 grams of water. So the lsd concentration is 0.1ppm (in words: on tenth of a part per million). You’re sure not afraid to swallow that. Report back what you’ve seen.

    Comment by Florifulgurator — 30 Jan 2009 @ 8:18 AM

  92. “What determines how much coverage a climate study gets?”

    In the U.S., or elsewhere? In the U.S., the main determination of coverage is the economic impact of the story on fossil fuel and financial interests, which in the U.S. are closely linked. The major news outlets in this country are owned by banks with large holdings in fossil fuels; those banks select the media CEOs, who control promotions to editorial positions, and the editors assign stories to journalists.

    Let’s test this theory: The antarctic story got some coverage, but it only points toward the reality of global warming. To the global economy, the issue of a warming or cooling Antarctica is irrelevant; there are no immediate economic effects, so the story gets some coverage. As a result of the coverage, the public opinion will move towards concern about global warming.

    Now, let’s consider another robust global warming prediction: expansion of the subtropical dry zones around the world due to changes in atmospheric circulation (Hadley cell expansion). Affected areas include the American Southwest, sub-Saharan Africa, and others. The basic notion is described in Lu et. al, GRL, 2007,”Expansion of the Hadley cell under global warming”.

    http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=18724246

    The data to support this theory includes changing stream flow patterns across the Southwest, diminishing snowpack, increasing winter temperatures and the current drought, estimated to be the worst ever in California’s recorded history.

    Nevertheless, out of the some dozen articles in California newspapers on the looming drought, not one mentions the role that global warming is playing. The one execption was the global news service, Reuters, who included this statement from a political appointee in California’s Water Department:

    “Climate change does indicate the possibility of more frequent droughts,” said Lynn, “but it’s hard to tell over a short time span.”

    This year ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific are cooler than normal in a weather system called La Nina. In northern California, that means less precipitation. Last year was also a La Nina year, but precipitation didn’t slow until March and April.

    Not one mention of the dozens of studies pointing towards the inevitability of a drying Southwestern climate, however – and that was the best of the bunch. The collection of California newspapers owned by the MediaNewsGroup, i.e. Dean Singleton’s media empire, refuses to mention drought and global warming in the same article, as does the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, etc. MSNBC also covers the drought, but not the role of global warming. The same goes for the Modesto Bee, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Santa Cruz Sentinel. It’s an across-the-board phenomenon – but the SF Chronicle did publish an article about “decreased public concern over global warming”: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=49&entry_id=34985

    The other thing is that La Nina has not developed, despite claims made by reporters as well as by state Department of Water officials – take a look at the current forecasts: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/

    In addition, most current model outlooks, and the eastward propagation of warmer sub-surface water from the western equatorial Pacific, suggest that the cooler surface conditions in the Pacific may not persist much beyond summer 2009. The most likely scenario is for the central and eastern Pacific to warm further over the coming months and to remain neutral.

    Thus, claims by newspaper reporters and government officials about La Nina being responsible for the drought are unsupported. Can we put this down to honest mistakes by government officials and reporters – or is this a deliberate program to distort the science? It surelooks like the latter – and in the case of drought in California, there are clear and immediate economic impacts, especially to agricultural production.

    Comment by ike solem — 30 Jan 2009 @ 8:27 AM

  93. All predictions I’ve ever seen indicate that a warmer world will have more food and less disease on average.

    Mike M, you need to get out more. Your comment makes it clear that your *only* source of information about climate change is denialist sites.

    Is there any particular reason you get your science from those who deny science, rather than those who practice science?

    Comment by dhogaza — 30 Jan 2009 @ 9:19 AM

  94. Mike M.,
    There’s so much garbage in your comment it’s hard to know where to start. global food production may indeed increase with a rise of less than 2 C from pre-industrial levels, after that it will almost certainly fall. Even short of that, melting of Himalayan glaciers will deprive much of eastern Asia of its main source of water for irrigation, so the increase will not last. It is simply ludicrous to pretend that the amounts of CO2 emitted by human activity are insignificant: the rise in atmospheric CO2 has been copiously documented, and is known to be caused by human activity: fossil fuel use, deforestation and land use change. Do you really think modellers are so stupid they would not notice the negative feedbacks you mention, and incorporate those that are significant? Or perhaps they are all in the pay of evil governments/greens/leftists/whatever?

    The corn-to-ethanol subsidy in the USA was not aimed at reducing GHG emissions, or even its ostensible purpose of reducing dependence on foreign oil, but at raising the price of corn to put money into farmers’ pockets. Your claim that “global warming hysteria” is responsible is absolutely false. As for charges of arrogance – those are best applied to the denialists, who dismiss the expertise of the vast majority of climate scientists on utterly spurious grounds such as yours.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 30 Jan 2009 @ 9:26 AM

  95. #89: Mike M: “Are there any models that include the fact that plant life grows faster with more CO2…?”

    Um, yes? Any model that’s integrated with an ecosystem model. For example, the MIT IGSM which is coupled with the Woods Hole Terrestrial Ecosystem Model, which certainly has a CO2 fertilization effect imbedded. Also, the amount of energy converted from solar to chemical energy will be a small effect compared to the reduction in greenhouse warming resulting from taking CO2 out of the atmosphere (much like burning coal doesn’t release much energy compared to the increase in greenhouse effect warming), so you don’t even have the right negative feedback.

    “Do the models correctly account for the latent heat of evaporation of water being carried up thousands of feet before releasing that heat energy well above the bulk of our atmosphere when it condenses back into liquid?”
    Wait – the answer to this is yes, too. Maybe your problem is that you aren’t actually “aware” of much about climate models.

    Comment by Marcus — 30 Jan 2009 @ 10:04 AM

  96. “Just explain why you’re so convinced that a changing climate is bad, and why you think we can stabilize it, where so many species before us have failed.”

    Ok. So, obviously the earth as a whole has dealt with pretty large climate changes in the past. Some of these large climate changes have either been the cause or a contributing factor to massive extinctions (eg, woolly mammoths). While the earth has survived massive extinction events, I don’t think that living through the extinction event would be a lot of fun for most species except a few opportunistic ones who get to evolve into new niches in the millions of years after the disaster, and probably not even for most organisms _within_ those lucky species. I’ll point out that in addition to extinctions, a large climate change can include: large sea level rise changes (let’s move all our coastal cities!), large precipitation and temperature pattern changes (let’s move all our agriculture – to Canada! and all those people whose water supplies depend on Himalayan snowpack melt to… um, somewhere?), and other changes that will be annoying because all of our infrastructure is built around assuming a relatively stable system today. So, to sum up, large climate changes: no fun to live through.

    On stabilizing climate: In the absence of large human-induced GHG changes and of large disaster events like Yellowstone becoming a massive volcano or a massive meteor strike, I think it seems fairly likely that over the few centuries global mean temperature wouldn’t vary by more than 1, maybe 2 degrees Celsius given the past thousand+ years of temperature history and our understanding of the system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png).

    If we don’t control our CO2 and other GHG emissions, we’re looking at possibly 5 degrees C or more of global mean temperature change in _this_ century (see IPCC AR4 Summary for Policymakers and the projections graph). That’s comparable to the difference between an ice age and an interglacial. So, by controlling our emissions, we can, in fact, likely reduce temperature changes by a lot.

    Note that other species in the past have massively changed the earth system: the first photosynthetic organisms, for example. We’d just be the first to try to do it intelligently. At least, I hope we’ll do it intelligently, rather than just blindly as we’ve been doing it so far…

    Comment by Marcus — 30 Jan 2009 @ 10:21 AM

  97. I just posted this article in the comments section of a major US newspaper. Unfortunately, my name and email address appeared. I hope the global warming deniers don’t flood my email box with nasty comments.

    Is there a way to erase my name and email address when linking your articles in other blogs?

    [Response: Your email address should never appear on this site. - gavin]

    Comment by Jack Roesler — 30 Jan 2009 @ 10:29 AM

  98. Chris Colbert (86) and all those who use the argument that climate has always changed naturally, and that there is no “ideal” stable climate, overlook, deliberately or naively, a very important fact: Earth’s climate has in fact been remarkably stable for the past 10000 years, long enough that every single thing we know as civilization, including agriculture and all technology beyond simple stone and bone tools, has been developed during that period.

    The question is not whether or not climate has changed naturally in the past and will in the future–it has and it will.
    The question is how will current climate change impact our civilization, our built infrastructure, and every single plant and animal species that we depend on?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 30 Jan 2009 @ 11:30 AM

  99. ccpo, your post 83 (30 January 2009 at 12:41 AM) sounds quite erudite. But, alas, it’s lengthy scholarly nonsense. You’re saying simply that anyone who espouses something different from what you know to be true (in an important matter, I assume…) deserves to be criminally prosecuted. That’s known as a society of man, not of law. Same problem with, as you say, them disagreeing with the majority thought: you claim that is prima facie proof of fraudulent perjury. That borders on the tyranny of the majority. Though it seems majority, minority, nor any number is necessary for your tyranny; only your strongly held beliefs are. That’s pushing fascism. Sorry.

    Comment by Rod B — 30 Jan 2009 @ 11:35 AM

  100. Mike M (89), what you don’t know about climate science can and does fill library shelves. There is so much misinformation—and I’m sure more than a little deliberate disinformation that you’ve swallowed–and flat out wrong assertions in your post to take it seriously. I suggest you start reading about the actual science of climate change. A good place to start is Spencer Weart’s The Discovery of Global Warming. It’s available free on-line at the American Institute of Physics website here: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    Comment by Jim Eager — 30 Jan 2009 @ 11:40 AM

  101. Mike M. (89), I (for one at least) agree that warmer climate will likely produce more food, but I’m not sure about the “less disease”. Do you have any reference(s) for that?

    [Response: On what basis do you agree with this. Did you not see the recent article in Science about what will happen to food security in the tropics under warmer-than-present conditions (here)? Simply assuming that warmer climate will be "good" for food production is very very naive.--eric]

    Comment by Rod B — 30 Jan 2009 @ 12:06 PM

  102. Mike: rate of change.

    You can eat one hot dog every day of the year.
    Try to eat 365 hot dogs all in the same day.

    Urp.

    Natural systems handle rates of change.
    We’re changing much, much faster.

    Enormous amounts of carbon dioxide can be dissolved in the ocean, over thousands of years, very slowly, without nasty rapid consequences.

    We’ve overloaded the ocean’s ability in 100 years.
    Rate of change too fast.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Jan 2009 @ 12:13 PM

  103. James (85), that’s not the way I heard it, but I could easily be wrong. In that case a manufacturer just can’t sell any trucks and very few large-sized automobiles. How much more of a GM, say, bailout will that cost us, since they will otherwise surely go broke.

    But more to the practicalities, which seem to be missing in the grandiose bravado pronouncements, the 2010 model year vehicles have fully completed their design work and manufacturing plans are already finalized. To upset the fruit basket means that if the 36MPH average is to be met it’s likely with the 2012 model year at best, probably more like 2015 model year. I think Obama (and others) ought to know some stuff before running off at the mouth.

    Comment by Rod B — 30 Jan 2009 @ 12:21 PM

  104. We already knew West Antarctic was warming, but I thought this recent paper in GRL would be a good supplement to the topic at hand. Different methodology and applicable only to WAIS, but here it is

    Barrett, B. E., K. W. Nicholls, T. Murray, A. M. Smith, and D. G. Vaughan (2009), Rapid recent warming on Rutford Ice Stream, West Antarctica, from borehole thermometry, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L02708, doi:10.1029/2008GL036369.
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2008GL036369.shtml

    [Response: Thanks. Yes, this is very nice confirmation of our results -- at one location at least. It is probably good luck to some extent (since there are uncertainties in both methods), but it happens that they get the same number -- 0.17C/decade -- as we do for West Antarctica, but for the last 80 years, not just the last 50.--eric]

    Comment by Chris Colose — 30 Jan 2009 @ 12:29 PM

  105. I was looking at the result from Johanson and Fu (2007) based on MSU data:

    Johanson, C.M., and Q. Fu, 2007: Antarctic atmospheric temperature trend patterns from satellite observations. Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L12703, doi:10.1029/2006GL029108.

    The trend estimate from Steig et al. seems pretty similar:

    figure

    [Response: Thank you. However, the comparison -- while very very good-- may not be quite as good as that juxtaposition shows. Johanson and Fu find cooling in both summer and fall, even in West Antarctica, whereas we find cooling only in fall and only in East Antarctica. On the other hand, the agreement in Spring and Winter -- the seasons we emphasize in our paper -- is excellent. And Bromwich showed at AGU that his calculations for the troposphere are more in line with our results for the surface in other seasons as well. In any case, this all shows that the comments by Singer, Christy, and others about the MSU data are flat out wrong.--eric]

    Comment by Khebab — 30 Jan 2009 @ 12:51 PM

  106. Rod B (81): I don’t know. If the evidence points to perjury, then it/he should be investigated.

    Comment by Maya — 30 Jan 2009 @ 1:08 PM

  107. RE #89 & “The danger is not inaction, the real danger is in climate alarmism itself. My prime example is bio-fuel. It’s the most arrogant, elitist ’solution’ imaginable; feeding FOOD to our machines.”

    This raises an interesting issue. I, for one, have always been against turning food crops into biofuel right from the get-go, tho I’ve always thought ag wastes make good candidates, such as manure, which otherwise pollutes localities near industrial livestock farms. And I understand the remainder from getting biogas from manure actually makes better crop fertilizer, so it’s a win-win-win situation. Add an extra “win” for the facility not getting fined for the pollution.

    There are many win-win-win situations in reducing our greenhouse gases (good for mitigating GW, other problems, & saving money without lowering productivity or living standards), and the environmentalists I know are promoting those solutions, which can get us down to a 75% or more reduction.

    The problem is those who have not taken GW seriously for years and decades (as they should have) suddenly jumping on the bandwagon & coming up with ill-considered quicky solutions. Or, the vested interests getting on the bandwagon to attract money or political capital their way — e.g., farmers & politicos representing farm districts/states — without concern that biofuels from food actually increase GHG emissions. Think of all the energy that goes into farming, watering, ag schools, manufacture of farm equipment, tearing up rainforest floors to mine bauxite for the aluminum for that equipment, shipping it, smeltering it, all the paperwork (& trees) at each stage, etc etc; think of the real GHG emissions (and other harms) per calorie of energy obtained from the biofuel-from-food crops.

    Just heard a great idea from a British farmer — harvest & send the entire corn stalks to a facility that will separate the corn for food and the stalks for cellulosic biofuel.

    If people were REALLLLY concerned about life on planet earth, they would be able to come up with 1000s of such solutions AND implement them.

    I don’t see ANY evidence whatsoever of alarmism. The U.S. has increased its GHG emissions by 20% since 1990 (while we & a few others substantially reduced ours cost-effectively). At the very least, if alarmism would frozen people stiff with fear, and that in itself would have helped reduced GHG emissions. They wouldn’t have been going around willy nilly in an enhanced BAU mode, as they obviously have been doing from the evidence of increased emissions.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 30 Jan 2009 @ 1:15 PM

  108. Re: Disease incidence and climate change. A case study can be made of the spread of Blue Tongue Disease, as seen here: http://www.nature.com/nrmicro/journal/v3/n2/full/nrmicro1090.html it seems that warmer winters lead to increased survival rates of both the disease & its vector, and the northward spread of this disease seems clear.
    Re: Food production & climate change. It seems that the effect of climate change on crop pests goes relatively unnoticed, there is a summary of potential impacts on the UK here: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/whri/research/climatechange/cgpests/ it makes for some interesting reading (IMHO)

    Comment by Chris S — 30 Jan 2009 @ 2:03 PM

  109. Rod B #101

    Just some thoughts. Climate stability and regional shift are definitely factors. Having a longer growing season or warmer temps sounds nice on the surface but think about the likely potentials. Regional climate shifts causing short and long term drought events. This leading to the need for infrastructure shift.

    Pretend the climate system shifts north, sort of like it seems to be doing now. Just how easy is it to pick up a farm and move to where the rain is?

    So a farmer can sell the farm, in the now worth-less region he/she is in, because of the climate shift; and then with all that money lost, go buy land in the area where the water is, which is now much more expensive because that’s where the water is.

    Then of course in those areas north, there will be other climate problems, like more floods probably, and cold spells destroying crops.

    Generally the picture has some challenges. Of course there was the idea floated that more Co2 in the air will increase crop output, but studies have already shown that increased Co2 increases biomass, but does not increase produce output.

    As I recall, in the paleo history, really big plants and increased food came with increased oxygen in the atmosphere, not increased Co2.

    So warmer might sound nice, but from a crop production output perspective it has many challenges to contend with.

    Just some thoughts.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 30 Jan 2009 @ 2:44 PM

  110. 64 Rod B says, “to require an average 36 MPG over the entire company’s fleet in the 2010 model year in order to sell any, the result will be no — that’s zero — vehicles being sold after about Nov 09″

    Rubbish. CAFE imposes a $5.50 USD fee per 0.1 mpg under the standard. A manufacturer could pay the small fee, or reduce the price of more efficient models and increase the price of inefficient models and let the market adjust. Heck, increase the price of a larger engine! “zero vehicles being sold!” :eyeroll:

    Comment by RichardC — 30 Jan 2009 @ 2:55 PM

  111. Rod, do you have that issue of Science, to read the whole article Eric points to answering your question? Or is the abstract enough?
    30 January 2009 at 12:06 PM

    Joel, 29 January 2009 at 11:32 PM, the decisions are made every day.
    It’s not going to some other world, it’s living differently in this one.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Jan 2009 @ 3:31 PM

  112. Can anyone put me onto a good annual time series for methane? CDIAC has good monthly figures for 1992-2007, but I’d like them back to 1880 if possible. I have Law Dome figures for 1841-1978, but they’re spotty, with many individual years and long stretches of years missing.

    Captcha: “this Cloud”

    [Response: Doesn't exist. The time series you see published are blends of Law Dome, Siple Dome and the CDIAC numbers. - gavin]

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 30 Jan 2009 @ 4:07 PM

  113. re: 107 the problem is that it was to be marginal land use, interstitial crops and waste plant product that was to be used for biofuel.

    But that has lots of problems with the farming voting bloc:

    1) Marginal land use. Now there’s no need to pay farmers to leave land fallow. The fallow land now becomes a non-food crop source.

    2) interstitial crops. Many of them reinvgorate the ground meaning less need for chemical fertilisation and for the farmers another reason not to pay to leave land fallow (free money)

    3) Waste plant product. Nothing for the farmers here either.

    But a biocrop that is based on, say, corn, means that lots more money is available for corn and the “green taxes” that some seem so petrified of can be funnelled into the already primed arms of the corn producers, leaving everyone else learning how to grab that cash. And a first-mover advantage means that the first one to take, gets it. Best of all, for the corn growers, they don’t have to change a thing.

    Comment by Mark — 30 Jan 2009 @ 4:10 PM

  114. Further to the reply in #52 (re #44) and just because heart failure is a natural death doesn’t mean that if I zap someone across their heart and stop it it isn’t murder.

    Comment by Mark — 30 Jan 2009 @ 4:27 PM

  115. I don’t understand the fixation with mandating Auto MPG levels. All it does is hobble the Auto companies while they try to develop hybrids or electric cars. If they do not get the development dollars we’ll all be driving vehicles with a Chinese nameplate on them. The amount of CO2 emitted by autos is irrelevant. My question is , when are they going to start a crash building program to get enough nukes to power not only electric cars but the increasing levels of electricity required to power the air conditioning required to keep us all comfy after the planet warms?

    Comment by william — 30 Jan 2009 @ 4:46 PM

  116. RicharC #110 – 30 January 2009 at 2:55pm.

    CAFE is a ridiculous attempt to legislate improved fuel economy by requiring automakers to build cars no one wants. When fuel is cheap, Americans don’t want small cars. Fuel prices have come down dramatically in the past few months and sales are already shifting back to larger cars. The automakers lose because they have to produce and sell enough small cars at a loss to enable them to sale the cars the consumer really wants. In the end you have more fuel efficient cars plus cheap gas which encourages suburban sprawl because people can afford to commute long distances, so then you end up with people buying bigger houses (which use more energy) further out into the ever expanding suburbs.

    Rather than mandating stupid policies, the simpler solution is to do what most of the rest of the world does and simply put a tax on gas that makes it expensive. Then Americans will desire fuel efficient cars, the automakers can do like other companies do and produce the products their customers want, and you won’t be simultaneously subsidizing and encouraging big houses in the suburbs. Again, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But our politicans are wimps, so they would rather resort to complex regulation than address the problem head on.

    And the same thing applies to carbon trading. Why implement a complex trading scheme as opposed to a simple straight forward tax? If you want to discourge something, history shows that a tax is the best and simplest way to get less of it. Of course the answer to this question is pretty simple, too. Just follow the money to see who gains from carbon trading and who loses if it were a simple tax.

    Comment by Mike Walker — 30 Jan 2009 @ 4:46 PM

  117. Lynn #107
    You state “Just heard a great idea from a British farmer — harvest & send the entire corn stalks to a facility that will separate the corn for food and the stalks for cellulosic biofuel.”

    Current practice is to till the stalks back into the soil kinda of like recycling them into the soil and sequestering the carbon. How long do you expect the soils to be productive without this recycling process and/or how much additional nitrogen fertilizer will need to be used to replace it? What are the ecological consequences of doing that? Biomass is a highly inefficient way to extract something that will explode to make things move.

    Comment by william — 30 Jan 2009 @ 4:53 PM

  118. CAFE is a ridiculous attempt to legislate improved fuel economy by requiring automakers to build cars no one wants. When fuel is cheap, Americans don’t want small cars.

    Ah, so THIS explains how Toyota grew to become the largest automaker in the world!

    And why I see more japanese than american cars in my west coast city neighborhood (in fairness, quite a few are small trucks/SUVs and even a few full-sized Toyota pick-ups, but Honda has never made a truck-chassis SUV and still does quite well here in the old USA).

    You could try a statement that makes a bit more sense, like Detroit has focused on higher-margin SUVs, a class that was invented when Detroit succeeded in getting a sizable duty charged on every imported vehicle built on a truck chassis.

    Comment by dhogaza — 30 Jan 2009 @ 5:33 PM

  119. > cellulosic

    There’s no industry set up yet; current corn ethanol relies on using the easily digestible food grain. You need different chemistry and/or different enzymes to handle cellulose and for that matter lignin. Remember the plant’s goal is to keep the plant’s structural material intact while making the seed attractive to consumers to spread it.

    > carbon trading [vs.] simple tax

    Yep.

    > CO2 emitted by autos is irrelevant …

    Here’s what I found, looking for any reason to believe that is true. Couldn’t agree based on the numbers. Do you have different numbers?
    http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2006/2006-06-28-03.asp

    “This report details, by automaker and vehicle type, the greenhouse gas contributions from America’s auto sector, for the first time….”

    “… the U.S. light vehicle stock now has a “half-life” of roughly eight years …. It takes 16 years for the American automotive fleet to be 90 percent replaced in terms of the carbon emitted ….”

    http://www.environmentaldefense.org/article.cfm?contentid=5300

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Jan 2009 @ 5:54 PM

  120. Er, but, I got suckered into digression. Sorry, wrong topic for that.

    Back to the reception — what are the scientists hearing from other scientists, if y’all care to update us on your reception?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Jan 2009 @ 5:55 PM

  121. 118 dhogaza 30 January 2009 at 5:33 PM

    My Infiniti Q56 says “made in Japan”. Replaced a GMC Yukon. It pulls the boat better.

    Comment by Mike Walker — 30 Jan 2009 @ 6:18 PM

  122. ATTN: Maya and May

    [edit]

    Boats, planes, freight trains and trucks, construction, mining and agricultural machines, most cars and light trucks with spirit and muscle (i.e., hot V-8′s), motorcycles, motorhomes, snowmobiles, ATV’s, all military vehicles, go-carts, golf course and sports field grass mowers, etc will always require and use liquid fossils fuels becasue these fuels have HIGH ENERGY DENSITY and are easily prepared from readily recoverable crude oil, which exits abundantly free in Nature, by fractional distillation and blending low energy processes that do not require the breaking of chemical bonds. Even catalytic cracking of heavier distillate fractions to lighter hydrocarbons is a low energy process.

    The “Fuels of Freedom” are non-toxic, chemically inert but readily react with oxygen, halogens and several other highly reactive chemicals such as ozone, noncorrosive, highly portable, and can be stored indefinitely in sealed containers (e.g., steel drums) and under an inert atmosphere (e.g., nitrogen) in large tanks. The low solvent power of hydrocarbon fuels ls extremely important because this property greatly reduces the cost of the materials used in fuel handling and delivery systems. These fuels can be formulatrd for use in climates as cold as -40 and as hot as +40 deg C.

    In heavy industy, fossils fuels will always be required for lime and cement kilns, metal smelters, steel mills, foundries and metal casting plants, metal cutting and braising torches, all factories that make ceramics (e.g., bricks, tiles, china, glass, etc), all food production, processing and distribution, space and water heating, cooking and baking, BBQ’s, manufacture of porcelain-coated metals, harvesting of wood and lumber manufacture, isolation of essential oils by steam distillation for prepartion of fine fragrances flavors, etc because the fuels provide HIGH HEAT.

    The reasons we use thermal plants for generating electricity is that these plants have a small footprint, can be located close to consumers, and produce electricity reliably at very high energy-densities.

    Fossils fuels are the feedstock for the petrochemical ndustries (sometimes called the chemical process industries), which manufacture everything from A to Z, such as tough synthetic fibers and exotic material suchas silicones and Teflon. There is not enough suitable land for growing cotton, flax, plants for cordage and sheep to meet present world demand for fiber.

    We will always have lots of fossil fuels because we can always use coal for manufacture of synthetic hydrocarbons. Germany did this on a massive scale during WW II. South Africa use the Fisher-Tropsch process and it supplies about 40% of liquid hydrocarbons which can be manufactured into a wide range of useful materials. GO: http://www.SASOL.com for more info.

    Although the amount of convential oil will continue to decline, there are estimated 10-15 trillion barrels of oil equivalent in unconvential oil which include heavy and extra heavy crude oils and the oil shale and sand. Shell R and D has several project in northwestern Colorado the use in-situ resistive heating to crack kerogen in oil shale to a crude oil that can be pumped out of the formation. If this process can be brought into sucessful commerical production, crude oil will come out the formation like water from a well.

    Go: http:///www.oildrum.com and http://www.heavyoilinfo.com and read about the new technologies that have been develop to exploits these resources.

    If you two have any schemes that will replace fossil fuels for the above applications and uses, I’m quite sure the engineers will gladly welcome your suggestions.

    [edit]

    Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 30 Jan 2009 @ 7:04 PM

  123. Pardon the digression, but…
    The CBC Radio One program Ideas has produced an outstanding 3-part series entitled Climate Wars.
    http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/features/climate-wars/index.html
    The series, conducted by military analyst Gwynne Dyer, explores climate change and it’s potential physical, social and geopolitical impacts.

    Part one introduces the series themes and basically reviews the current state of the science, while part two outlines how climate change impacts could lead to global demographic, agricultural and political instability and even outright armed conflict, including a nuclear exchange in South Asia over rapidly depleting water supplies. Part three will look at the political hurdles that must be overcome in time to avoid triggering critical feedbacks, and if they are not overcome in time, how geoengineering may have to be employed to buy time.

    I can not recommend the series too highly. Parts 1 and 2 have already broadcast, but they can be downloaded as podcasts at http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/podcast.html Part 3 will broadcast on Monday, February 2, after which it, too, will be available as a podcast.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 30 Jan 2009 @ 8:02 PM

  124. Harold Pierce Jr,

    Bwahahaha! Thanks for the laugh.

    Comment by J.D. Gibbard — 30 Jan 2009 @ 8:43 PM

  125. Excellent explanations in the post and responses to comments — thanks to you all at realclimate for putting in so much of your time, once again.

    ReCAPTCHA gone wild: 4:30(2)Mike ALLAN

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 30 Jan 2009 @ 10:14 PM

  126. Re the CBC series Climate Wars, I neglected to mention that RC contributer Stefan Rahmstorf is interviewed in Part 1.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 30 Jan 2009 @ 10:26 PM

  127. Thanks for pointing all that out, Herald Pierce.
    As you have done before.

    Now what do you advise we do about the problem, spread our legs, bend over and kiss our posteriors goodbye?

    How about setting to work on solving the problem, instead of dragging your feet as you continually tell us that it can’t be done?

    If that’s asking too much of you, then how about you just stand aside and keep the f out of our way, eh?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 30 Jan 2009 @ 10:32 PM

  128. Eric at #105:

    Nit picking Eric, but for a global audience you might like to watch that term “fall” (for the season between the (northern) summer and winter). Usage is pretty much restricted to North America. Applying it to the southern autumn season looks seriously odd from down here, and is potentially confusing.

    G.

    [Thanks. Good point! The Nature editors made me change "fall" to "autumn" for the same reason. But now you've added your own confusion to this! The "fall" season (or "autumn" if you like) is between summer and winter, no matter which hemisphere you are in!--eric]

    Comment by GlenFergus — 30 Jan 2009 @ 10:51 PM

  129. ike, “The major news outlets in this country are owned by banks… “??!!??

    Comment by Rod B — 30 Jan 2009 @ 11:05 PM

  130. eric (101), and I would say launching an isolated study or two (or more…) into a global axiom without missing a beat is very very simplistic.

    [Huh?]

    Comment by Rod B — 30 Jan 2009 @ 11:20 PM

  131. Maya (106), yet the question remains: where is there evidence of deliberate perjury? (Not including the hallucinations of the paranoid witch hunters… ;-) )

    Comment by Rod B — 30 Jan 2009 @ 11:27 PM

  132. Mike Walker Says (30 January 2009 at 4:46 PM):

    “When fuel is cheap, Americans don’t want small cars.”

    This, I suppose, is why US automakers now have only about a 50% market share in the US (less if you consider the rebadged foreign products they mostly sell as their small cars), and the Japanese, Korean &c automakers have seen their share of the market steadily increase ever since the first VW Beetle hit these shores back in the ’50s. It seems that plenty of Americans must want small cars, because that’s what they’ve been buying.

    Harold Pierce Jr Says (30 January 2009 at 7:04 PM):

    “Boats, planes, freight trains and trucks, construction, mining and agricultural machines, most cars and light trucks with spirit and muscle (i.e., hot V-8’s), motorcycles, motorhomes, snowmobiles, ATV’s, all military vehicles, go-carts, golf course and sports field grass mowers, etc will always require and use liquid fossils fuels…”

    A lot of that is just plain wrong. Boats work just fine with sails, much of Europe’s rail network is electric, as is a lot of mining machinery. The electric Tesla & Fiskar Karma outperform most IC-engined cars, the military is actively developing hybrid power trains (electric “stealth” propulsion being a tactical advantage), my electric lawnmower works quite well, and there are even electric ATVs http://www.napavalleyregister.com/articles/2008/03/21/wine/doc47e305916bdf0583722222.txt and airplanes http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/08/the-company-cla.html

    Comment by James — 30 Jan 2009 @ 11:53 PM

  133. RichardC (110), what you say is accurate and I agree with it. But that was not the idea that was floated. Try to keep up.

    Comment by Rod B — 30 Jan 2009 @ 11:59 PM

  134. “ATTN: Maya and May”

    Apparently I’m two people, now? lol! Seriously, calling me May was a typo on the part of a previous poster – there’s only one of me, I promise.

    I’m not sure why you directed your post to me — I haven’t had anything to say about the practicalities of replacements for fossil fuels for specific applications. It’s by far not my area of expertise, and not an area I’ve done any research. I’ve been reading up on the possibilities of producing consumer electricity from renewable resources (my favorite is wind so far, with solar a close second) but have not even ventured into the areas you cite.

    Perhaps you have me confused with another poster?

    Comment by Maya — 31 Jan 2009 @ 12:19 AM

  135. James, [edit]

    Go: http://wwww.beferries.com and check out the photos of the new Super C Class Ferry Northern Expedition. You are going to put sails on the biggest passenger-car ever built. I don’t think so. Sails on Cruise ships, a floating city of 5000 passengers and crew? Yeah, right.

    You got 100 G’s for the Tesla? And what happens to the battery pack when a big honkin’ Lincoln Nav
    takes it out in rear ender.

    Come to Canada, go the diamond mines in the far north. The Ekati mine is pit 1 mile wide and 1000 ft deep. No juice plants up there. Everything runs on delightful Diesel. Ore trucks crawl in and out the pit like ants.

    [edit - please stop insulting people]

    Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 31 Jan 2009 @ 1:52 AM

  136. I can’t cite a source, but I think that Steven Chu (Obama’s Energy advisor) is an advocate of higher gasoline taxes. In my opinion, much high gasoline taxes make so much sense for the USA that their implimentation will be an important test of Obama’s energy policy.
    Perhaps tax rebates will help get the general public on board. The transportation lobby might prove a challenge.

    Comment by Bill DeMott — 31 Jan 2009 @ 3:24 AM

  137. I read all of the global warming literature, both pro and con. I wish I were smart enough to know which side is right and which side is wrong, but I am not. I consider AGW potentially the biggest threat to life on earth, which I think most people who visit this blog would concur with. If AGW is real then the consequences of inaction are pretty clear and fatal. If AGW is an overblown and fallacious theory, then any misguided efforts to confront AGW will at a minimum reduce living standards for the entire planet for generations to come. Like most of the visitors to this blog, I am someone who cares very much about the outcome of this problem. I wish it were as simple as applying the precautionary principle so I could say let’s err on the side of caution and therefore go with the AGW believers solutions for saving the planet. The problem is, if the AGW camp is wrong then the consequences of wreaking our ecomomony has severe consequences for my children and grandchildren, and almost certainly their children as well, all of whom I care very much about. For many people here, the answer is much simpler based on their perception of man’s place in the world. Man is destroying the earth and it is very black and white that we must do whatever is necessary to fix the problem. But those solutions will not be painless. It would be nice if all we needed to do were build more wind farms and solar energy stations. But you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know that if that were the solution that would already have been done.

    If wind and solar (and other renewables) were clear and robust solutions for our energy problems, they would already have been implemented. And no, I am not one of those types that believe that Exxon-Mobile is powerful enough to prevent the entire planet from implementing what is an obvious and relatively painless solution to our problems, simply because it would interfere with their monoploy on energy. Wind and solar are expensive alternatives, that require huge direct investments as well as huge investments in transmission capacity and storage while at the same time leaving the system vulnerable to significant disruptions in service. While you may be willing to forego heat in the winter on cloudy days, I am only willing to do so if it is clearly shown that there is no other alternative. And I do have a problem with someone that lives in a huge energy inefficient mansion, that flies around on private jets and that has huge investments in carbon trading firms telling me that I must make very basic and life shattering sacrifices to save the planet, but who obviously believes that because he invented the internet he is exempt from the same.

    I generally find government intervention in the affairs of men as distasteful as the American founding fathers, but I am not a libertarian, and I do realize that there are times that society must put the well being of the many ahead of the well being of the individual. I also believe that Barack Obama may be the smartest person to ever hold the presidency. But brains without backbone is not enough to save the world or America. CAFE is a classic example of spineless politicians trying to solve a problem, while not being willing to take the heat necessary to put the correct solution in place. If it is necessary that we increase fuel efficiency, and I think it is, then why mandate that auto-companies must build cars that consumers do not want, and then blame those companies for failing to be successful in the marketplace when they meet government mandates. While it is true that the Japanese companies have fared better under these regulations than the American companies, and I in no way mean to absolve the American auto-companies of much mismanagement, it is clear that American consumers, when provided with cheap fuel, will not choose energy efficient cars. I myself own an Infinity QX-56, because it provides the utility I need and I can afford the cost of fuel even when it is double or triple the current price. To say that the Japanese are more astute marketers in the automobile industry than American companies is very superficial. I can remember when (not to reveal my age), no one would seriously consider owning a Toyota or a Datsun, except as a second car for the spouse that needed to commute long distances during the Arab oil embargo. But the Japanese were persistant, and focused on quality, then moved into luxury and finally into those areas of the market “owned” by the American brands. The Infinity QX that I currently own is testament that the market demanded large SUVS and that the Japanese, as well as GM, Ford and Chrysler were only too happy to provide what the market demanded.

    Worse than what I have said above, the combination of significantly more fuel efficient automobiles plus the combination of cheap gas in the United States, has promoted the expansion of our suburbs so that Americans have been enticed into commuting huge distances so they can afford large homes in the suburbs. I consider myself as the quintessential example of the McMansion owner who daily braves the Atlanta commute to work so I can live outside the perimeter in my 20 room mini-mansion. Perhaps many of you can feel justified in condemning my choices, but the system we have not only makes this possible, but encourages it.

    If government is going to intervene in our lives, then it should do so in the most efficient way possible, and using the shortest path possible to obtain the stated goals. If government must dictate energy efficiency, then it must provide the incentives to make those policies successful. My point in #116 above had nothing to do with the relative merit of American versus Japanese automakers, but in the fallacy that government can dictate the affairs of the population unless our politicians are willing to make both the difficult decisions necessary to implement good policy, and are also willing to standup and explain why these policies are necessary.

    And my real point in #116 is how CAFE relates to carbon trading and why American taxpayers (or European or Australian taxpayers for that matter) should accept a system of cap and trade that provides subsidies for untold thousands of dubious projects such as building developing world hydro-electric plants that would have been built anyways, or that enriches untold thousands of individuals in cap and trade firms when a simple direct tax would accomplish the same goal more efficiently. I do understand the logic behind cap and trade, but the devil is in the details. How do you evaluate multi-million or multi-billion dollar carbon credit projects, when so much money is in play. Any such system is guaranteed to fail, even if the government weren’t involved. I’m not sure I am inclined to agree with Jim Hansen on very much, but I think if we are going to reduce carbon emissions, a tax is a hundred times more logical than a cap and trade system.

    And please Gavin, Eric or whomever is moderating, please do not edit my post in any way that changes the meaning of what I have said. If it is unacceptable to you, then please just delete the entire thing. If you do though, I really would appreciate an explanation as to why. You have my email address.

    [Response: Mike. Thanks for your thoughts. We don't have much to say here about taxes vs. cap and trade, etc., because we're scientists, not economists. I will say that I think this is a really difficult problem, and solving it is going to involve ideological clashes about *how* to solve it. That's inevitable. We're seeing it right now in a small way with the debate in congress and the senate over Obama's stimulus package. I have no reason to doubt that opinions on both sides of the aisle are sincere, and that the vast majority want to do what is right. My own inclination is to agree with you on taxes vs. cap-and-trade, but I don't know. There are a lot of problems that will arise with either one. But that's not a reason to sit idly by. My advice is stop reading about the "debate" because there isn't one. Instead, get involved in the policy debate. Help the world figure out what to do.

    As for your not being able to tell "which side is right and which side is wrong" in the global warming debate, consider this: When you go to the dentist, and he tells you to put fluoride on your kids teeth, do you do it? If not, why not? The reason some people don't is that they live in a world where dentists are part of a vast conspiracy to poison our kids minds, or at the very least are complete idiots. Me, I live on a planet where dentists actually want to help me and my kids have healthy teeth. Maybe I'm wrong, and the members of the National Academy of Sciences, the leadership of the American Geophysical Union, etc. are all deluded, and the people that publish papers in professional scientific journals are frauds, and I make up data and enter it into my computer in my sleep while preparing my work for publication. On the other hand, maybe the money groups like Heartland Institute and the folks they list as part of their personnel are influenced by the money they get from Exxon Mobil. If you care about your kids, you probably need to think this out, and then go and make your voice heard on the right solution (either buy a Hummer, or get involved in efforts to get the right solution (carbon taxes, carbon trading, whatever) to happen.--eric]

    Comment by Mike Walker — 31 Jan 2009 @ 3:55 AM

  138. Gavin, the point is, I don’t see the time series published. Where I can I find one, however synthetic?

    [Response: Oh, sorry. Try here - gavin]

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 31 Jan 2009 @ 5:23 AM

  139. Harold Pierce Jr. writes:

    We will always have lots of fossil fuels because we can always use coal for manufacture of synthetic hydrocarbons.

    No, we will not always have fossil fuels. If we go on using them on the scale you suggest, our civilization will crash and we’ll be getting our fuels from wood and animal fat.

    To replace fossil fuels, we can use either hydrogen from electrolysis or biomass ethanol or methanol or biodiesel (and no, it doesn’t have to come from corn).

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 31 Jan 2009 @ 5:26 AM

  140. RE #124 ATTN: JD

    I forgot to mention the fourth Fuel of Freedom: methanol.

    Methanex (Vancouver BC) sells methanol for about $1.50 per US gallon. Flexfuel cars could easily be modified to use good ole wood alcohol. Addition of small amounts of dimetyl ether would lower the flash point to -40 deg C so it can be used in cold climates. I just informed T. Boone about this and I am waiting forh his reply.

    The reason people just love and drive their cars is quite simple: A car is absolute Freedom! And nothing ain’t ever goin’ to change that! And the “Fuels of Freedom” would be dirt cheap if it weren’t for taxes!
    Freedom Day for me was Aug 1, 1960, and the Wheels of Freedom was a deluxe Hillman Minx (export edition)
    given to my brother and me by Uncle Bob.

    Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 31 Jan 2009 @ 8:13 AM

  141. Harold Pierce, Jr. says “I just informed T. Boone about this and I am waiting forh his reply.”

    Yeah, Harold. Be sure and update us when he gets back to you…and not before.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 31 Jan 2009 @ 8:56 AM

  142. I’m not sure I am inclined to agree with Jim Hansen on very much, but I think if we are going to reduce carbon emissions, a tax is … logical …

    Tax and dividend is what he says. Divide out the revenue so that millions of paid public servants, and other recipients of government money, aren’t strengthened in their ability and determination to protect the fossil fuel industries.

    I’ve tried to get him to say it the other way: “dividend and tax”. Divide out existing fossil carbon revenue — partially counted here — for the same reason. The public would be in favour of this because it would be a tax reduction. It would be a precedent that would make later increases in fossil C tax acceptable to them.

    Readers in fora I frequent seem to have a costly mental disability: they can’t read past the phrase “tax reduction”, or any words that amount to the same thing. That thread also suggests they can’t remember the parts of the message preceding it, and therefore cannot learn this method of making fossil C tax increases publically acceptable. (The less fossil-fired citizens would anticipate gaining by those increases.) Was anyone here able to hang on?

    — G.R.L. Cowan (How fire can be domesticated)

    Comment by G.R.L. Cowan, H2 energy fan until ~1996 — 31 Jan 2009 @ 9:27 AM

  143. RE 107 & 117, I’m wondering if perhaps the remainder from making cellulosic biofuel might also be good fertilizer, which could be then sent back to the farm. And, of course, as Hank mentioned there would have to be some advances to make such a project viable.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 31 Jan 2009 @ 10:13 AM

  144. Just stumbled on a piece of news discussing how 30 satellite instruments have been honing in on a specific area of snow at the Antarctic for the purpose of comparing and improving data quality. This all happened Dec-08/Jan-09 NPL’s Snow Report . Years ago read that 80% of the expected SLR was mitigated by extra snow at the Antarctic. Is that still a current understanding?

    Comment by Sekerob — 31 Jan 2009 @ 11:27 AM

  145. Lynn, nope. Remember there’s simply not enough sunlight to run our business on the energy from photosynthesis. Look up “Overshoot” and “primary productivity” — the extra energy now is coming from old sunlight (fossil carbon), with problems. Look at BraveNewClimate for good sense on this from a biologist.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Jan 2009 @ 12:29 PM

  146. OT, but there’s more lively debate about Hansen over at WaPo:

    Science Group Erred Giving Hansen Top Honor

    …But the AMS, which is a scientific society comprised of about 12,000 atmospheric scientists who mainly specialize in weather and have disparate views of climate science, erred in honoring such a lightning rod of controversy, despite the tremendous value his research has been to the scientific community.

    [Response: He is entitled to his opinion, but AMS don't give these things out casually. If the argument is that no one who ever takes a public stance on something they know something about can ever be honoured for their science, it doesn't make much sense. Scientists are citizens too, and have the right to communicate their political concerns as much as anyone. There is a better discussion at Dot Earth. - gavin]
    [I couldn't have said it better. Thanks Gavin. And with that, I'm closing comments on this post. I'm off to Antarctica and won't have a chance to respond to comments for a while.--eric]

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 31 Jan 2009 @ 12:42 PM

  147. > WaPo
    The column is “Capital Weather Gang” — I don’t see lively or debate.
    Just what you’d expect to hear.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Jan 2009 @ 1:08 PM

  148. SM at CA has identified what appears to be a major error in the Steig et al paper that suggests that the perceived trend is an artifact of this particular error. Perhaps this is an opportunity to mend some fences and work towards a common goal of better data and clearer methods.

    [Response: No-one should be against better data. It would have been nice had SM actually notified the holders of the data that there was a problem (he didn't, preferring to play games instead). If he hadn't left it for others to work out, he might even have got some credit ;). As for the Steig et al paper, the typo in Table S2 is just a typo, as could be seen from examining the location files on Eric's website or noting that the figure S4b has the correct location for Harry. As for the implications of the errors in the BAS Harry file on the study, that too is visible in figure S4b - removing Harry (and a bunch of other AWS stations) doesn't change the answer in any meaningful respect. Correction it has no impact on any of the reconstructions made with the AVHRR data. Thus the answers to the 'questions that are being raised' were obvious all along. We might post some more on this later. - gavin]

    Comment by Bernie — 2 Feb 2009 @ 3:35 PM

  149. re 63

    Gavin states in a reply

    An implication that anyone who thinks something should be done about climate change is advocating that more people should die of Aids is reprehensible.

    Would Gavin please indicate where in the original comment this suggestion was made? For that matter, can he supply an example of where the suggestion was made anywhere?

    I don’t expect this will be published but it will have done its job if it makes an RC editor think before he makes intemperate comments.

    [Response: I didn't say it had been made. It was simply a statement to head off a particularly offensive kind of argument that sometimes erupts when these kinds of issues are raised. If you don't think that this gets implied, try reading some Lomborg-related texts elsewhere. - gavin]

    Comment by Tom Gray — 2 Feb 2009 @ 3:36 PM

  150. Any comments on the Harry/Gill data splicing discovery?

    [Response: See above - gavin]

    Comment by Anne — 2 Feb 2009 @ 3:42 PM

  151. Worrying post on Climate audit about Gill and Harry which appears to undermine Steig’s data. Any thoughts

    [Response: See above - gavin]

    Comment by colin Aldridge — 2 Feb 2009 @ 4:09 PM

  152. Re response to 148: How does a typo like that get past 6 authors and peer reviewer(s)?

    [Response: You've never worked as an editor have you? Typos happen, you just have to deal with it. - gavin]

    Comment by Phillip Bratby — 2 Feb 2009 @ 4:45 PM

  153. Definitely some interesting points about the nature of journalism and how information spreads. This is stuff we need to know if we want to stop climate change.

    Comment by Peter McEvoy — 2 Feb 2009 @ 5:03 PM

  154. gavin: “It would have been nice had SM actually notified the holders of the data that there was a problem (he didn’t, preferring to play games instead). If he hadn’t left it for others to work out, he might even have got some credit ;)”

    Isn’t it rather petty (as well as possibly unethical) to refuse credit because you don’t like the source or their methods of communication?

    [Response: People will generally credit the person who tells them something. BAS were notified by people Sunday night who independently found the Gill/Harry mismatch. SM could have notified them but he didn't. My ethical position is that it is far better to fix errors that are found than play around thinking about cute names for follow-on blog posts. That might just be me though. - gavin]

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 2 Feb 2009 @ 5:15 PM

  155. Isn’t it rather petty (as well as possibly unethical) to refuse credit because you don’t like the source or their methods of communication?

    First, there has to be an attempt to communicate…

    Or are you suggesting that scientists have to monitor every whackjob blog out there in hopes that one author has found an error in the scientist’s work?

    Comment by dhogaza — 2 Feb 2009 @ 5:59 PM

  156. RE 148: gavin,

    Steig asked SM not to communicate with him anymore. The only way to take this beyond personalities is for scientists to publish their data and publish their code so that others can reproduce the results and point out errors if any exist. Part of the appeal of CA is the “detective story.” That goes away when data and source code are freely published. As before when SM has found errors the best course of action is to thank him and move on with the science. It’s not that hard. “Thank you SM for finding this error.”

    [Response: This data error has nothing to with Steig or any of his co-authors. SM should have contacted BAS. I'm sure BAS are grateful that someone told them about the data mess up - it just didn't happen to be SM. If he wasn't so set on trying to embarrass people or stir up fake 'accusations against Hansen' then he'd probably find people would be more willing to deal with him. But it is the same pattern every time. Some trivial thing is blown out of all proportion and the greek chorus start piling on, because of course, they knew it was wrong anyway. SM could have easily seen that the typo in the Table was just a typo (the actual lat/lon used are here) - but he chose not to bother for some reason, thus sprouting all sorts of ill-informed nonsense. By continually overblowing trivialities, he lacks credibility on anything more serious. Science is not a game of gotcha, it's a serious endeavour to make sense out of a complex and confusing world. It's difficult enough at the best of times, and very few people have the patience to deal with people who aren't constructive. Life is just too short. - gavin]

    Comment by steven mosher — 2 Feb 2009 @ 6:10 PM

  157. Maybe this will be helpful thought. There is big difference between the level of analysis generally found on blogs, or the backs of envelopes, and what goes into a proper article in the literature. Technical papers like Steig et al don’t consist of just one calculation. Quite rightly, the results from such a calculation might be suspect because of the dependence on a single input dataset and a single methodology. Thus in preparing a paper, authors are generally careful to make use of alternate methodologies (in Steig’s case, using the AWS data or the AVHRR data, using PCA or RegEM, trending vs. detrending the data that goes into the covariance matrix etc.). In this way, the robustness of the results to relatively arbitrary choices can be assessed. This is the kind of thing that reviewers insist on and it is generally only the robust results that get published.

    The other key point is that science works because it builds on the work of others – not because everyone else’s work is assumed to be perfect (it never is), but because it is impossible to progress otherwise. When issues are found in data that went into an analysis (such as in this case), the downstream work is re-assessed, but since the papers have already tested the robustness of the conclusions to including or not this source of data, the implications are generally going to be small.

    Comment by gavin — 2 Feb 2009 @ 6:30 PM

  158. Gavin said

    My ethical position is that it is far better to fix errors that are found than play around thinking about cute names for follow-on blog posts. That might just be me though.

    I generally agree. SM could be more constructive and I do think he has a quite remarkable talent for missing the wood for the trees in terms of his overall approach. That said, there does need to be a two way street. [edit]

    [Response: This wasn't Steig's data. The communication should have been with BAS. - gavin]

    Comment by SteveF — 2 Feb 2009 @ 7:11 PM

  159. So what do the errors noted by SM do to the results of Steig’s report? The error was used in the Steig analysis, was it not?

    [Response: Very little, but we'll post something on this tomorrow. In the meantime, note that it is basically only figure S3 that uses the Harry AWS data (along with a correlation used as validation in fig. S4b and the dashed line in fig 2). - gavin]

    Comment by AllenM — 2 Feb 2009 @ 8:54 PM

  160. Has Steig archived all code and data used in the Steig et al paper to a publicly available website? Or did he just provide a reference to various sites holding the data (that can get revised)?

    [Response: You raise a good question. Steig's archiving is at http://faculty.washington.edu/steig/nature09data/ and you can see that the data sources are referenced to the originating organisations (who can and do update data, fix errors etc.). Ideally, for 'movable' datasets, one would want a system where snapshots in time were recoverable (and citable), along with pointers to the up-to-date versions, forward citation to publications that had used various versions and the ability to update analyses as time went on. What you don't want is mostly duplicate data sets that aren't maintained floating around in the grey zone - that will just lead to confusion. Google were actually working on such a system, but have unfortunately lost interest. Other organisations such as BADC are thinking along those lines, but it is a sad fact that such a system does not yet exist. - gavin]

    Comment by John Norris — 2 Feb 2009 @ 9:46 PM

  161. Gavin, you say:

    In the meantime, note that it is basically only figure S3 that uses the Harry AWS data (along with a correlation used as validation in fig. S4b and the dashed line in fig 2). – gavin]

    Are you saying that Harry is not used in the full reconstruction?

    [Response: That is correct. - gavin]

    I thought you earlier said:

    As for the implications of the errors in the BAS Harry file on the study, that too is visible in figure S4b – removing Harry (and a bunch of other AWS stations) doesn’t change the answer in any meaningful respect.

    How can Harry be removed if it isn’t in the reconstruction in the first place?

    [Response: I think I misspoke there. Figure S4b is what you get if you use only 15 of the 42 manned weather stations. The correlations to the others and to the 4 AWS stations are given just as validation. What I should have suggested is that you compare fig S3a, with fig S4a - or indeed, fig 2. I will correct the comment above. - gavin]

    It would be great if you could clarify this, as the Steig SI is frustratingly vague on this point. It says

    In the full reconstructions, we used the complete weather station data (1957-2006) from all 42 of the READER database locations listed in Table S2.

    However Table S2 has 46 series (including Harry). So is Harry in the full reconstruction or not?

    [Response: Table S2 says it has "List of the 42 occupied weather stations ... and four automatic weather stations (AWS)" (i.e. 46 entries). Only the 42 occupied stations are used to provide the data back to 1957. The AVHRR data, or the AWS data are used only for calculating the co-variance matrices used in the different reconstructions. Thus the reconstruction can either use the covariance with AVHRR to fill the whole interior back to 1957 (the standard reconstruction), or the covariance with the AWS data to fill the AWS locations back to 1957. - gavin]

    Comment by James Lane — 2 Feb 2009 @ 9:49 PM

  162. RE Gavin’s response to my post #137, Gavin said, “When you go to the dentist, and he tells you to put fluoride on your kids teeth, do you do it?”
    I place a lot of value on my dentist’s recommendations, but I would make sure that my decision was an informed decision. I am actually old enough to remember the flouride debate, and I would not need to discuss this particular issue with my dentist, but, I do take L****** (a anti-cholesterol) on my doctor’s advice, and I did ask questions of both my doctor and my pharmacist and did my own research before beginning the treatment.

    [Response:I am going to jump in here, although I am very busy getting ready for my trip to Antarctica. First of all, I said this, not Gavin. Second, you are missing my point because you are quoting it out of context. My comment was made in response to someone saying "I don't know who to believe." The point is that we all have to make decisions in life, and we can't possibly all research everything in great detail. We all constantly make decisions based on our trust in experts. It is impossible to operate otherwise -- our society works because of it. I was not saying "trust everything scientists say". I was saying "use your head and make an informed decision." One has a responsibility to oneself -- and one's children, whether in the dentist example or in the case of environmental issues --- to either inform yourself fully, or figure out whom to trust. What is irresponsible is to wallow in an "I don't know whom to trust" limbo.--eric]]

    I think this point is quite relevant to the AGW debate. While I do not reject most of the arguments supporting AGW, I do think it is somewhat arrogant of AGW supporters to use the argument that we should defer to the experts and accept their opinions without critically examining all of the aruguments ourselves. I think it is every citizens responsibility to make informed decisions on important topics, even if that means spending a great deal of time to understand the issues involved.

    While the core science supporting AGW is sound, easily understandable and accepted even by a large number in the denialist camp (although not everyone), which is that the direct response to a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial levels can be expected to increase global temperatures by approximately 1.2C, plus or minus some small uncertainity. Where the science is much less certain is both, what is the scale of the feedbacks and what are the consequences of the total effects (direct plus feedback) of CO2 warming?

    I think that AGW science could benefit enormously from better transparency and spending less time being critical of its critics. It is my understanding that science is the process of developing a hypothesis, testing that hypothesis and then putting everything out in the open for others to prove or disprove. That is certainly the process by which the theory of relativity gained acceptance (way back at the beginning of the 20th century). It was not through peer review and consensus. And if climate science embraced this approach, then there would be much less room for debate.

    Gavin said, “My ethical position is that it is far better to fix errors that are found than play around thinking about cute names for follow-on blog posts. That might just be me though.”

    I fully agree with your statement Gavin, but don’t you think that if AGW papers such as the Steig analysis provided more transparency by providing all of the code and data upfront, that this would greatly disarm the opponents and contribute to advancing the science more than these blog wars do?

    [Response: ALL of the data that were used in the paper, and EXACTLY the code used in our paper have been available for a long time, indeed, long before we published our paper. This is totally transparent, and attempts to make it appear otherwise are disingenuous. This has always been clear to anyone that asked. If you wanted to do the work yourself, for legitimate reasons, you could do so. If the point is to "audit" our work, it makes no sense whatsoever to provide all the intermediate products used in our analysis. That would defeat the purpose of the supposed "audit".--eric]

    Comment by Mike Walker — 2 Feb 2009 @ 11:00 PM

  163. Gavin, it’s simple question : “So is Harry in the full reconstruction or not?”

    [Response: And he gave a simple answer, which is the same answer that is very very obvious to anyone reading our paper. The answer is NO.--eric]

    Comment by James Lane — 2 Feb 2009 @ 11:37 PM

  164. Eric’s response in #162, “ALL of the data that were used in the paper, and EXACTLY the code used in our paper have been available for a long time, indeed, long before we published our paper. This is totally transparent, and attempts to make it appear otherwise are disingenuous.”

    My mistake Eric, Gavin’s response on archiving in #160 showed up after I posted #162. Just one more question: Excluding your study, would it be your opinion that code and data archiving practices are adequate in the climate science community, overall? This is a common complaint on sites like CA.

    Have a nice trip.

    [Response: Yes, I think we do a fine job. We could do better, but we do very very well. I've never had trouble getting data that I need from others. Indeed, our Nature study was based entirely on freely available data and code.--eric]

    Comment by Mike Walker — 2 Feb 2009 @ 11:53 PM

  165. “attempts to make it appear otherwise are disingenuous”

    Eric, perhaps you know something I don’t, but don’t you think that statement is a bit strong? Maybe people were jumping to conclusions but disingenuous?

    Personally, I would prefer to see open and unqualified access to data and code. Quackery would be exposed and legitimate scrutiny would advance the science.

    [Response: Nope I don't think it is a bit strong. I released an electronic version of our data and links to all the original data and code almost as soon as our paper was published. Anyone paying attention would know that. Releasing it earlier would have broken the embargo policy that I signed in agreeing to have my work published in Nature. The embargo policy is designed precisely to avoid the rampant speculation that we were seeing on the web, even before the paper was published. To wit: "This [policy] may jar with those (including most researchers and all journalists) who see the freedom of information as a good thing, but it embodies a longer-term view: that publication in a peer-reviewed journal is the appropriate culmination of any piece of original research, and an essential prerequisite for public discussion.”-eric]

    Comment by Layman Lurker — 3 Feb 2009 @ 1:13 AM

  166. “If the point is to “audit” our work, it makes no sense whatsoever to provide all the intermediate products used in our analysis. That would defeat the purpose of the supposed “audit”.–eric”

    Sorry isn’t precisely what auditing is all about? Checking each and every step a CFO takes to create its balance sheet especially when data flaws are found?

    [Response: A good auditor doesn't use the same Excel spreadsheet that the company being audited does. They make their own calculations with the raw data. After all, how would they know otherwise if the Excel spreadsheet was rigged? Mike Mann articulated this distinction very thoroughly in the discussions with the National Academy during the "hockey stick" debate. You should read this material; it's enlightening (I will post the link when I find it). In any case, you're pushing this analogy too far. Science is not the same as business. The self-appointed auditors of climate science don't seem to understand that science has a built-in-auditing system -- the fact that by proving someone else wrong, especially about an important issue, is a great way to get fame and success. There is no comparable mechanism in business. The analogy between auditing business and auditing science is therefore a poorly conceived one. But as long as the analogy is out there, consider how auditors are chosen and regulated in the business world. You don't get to be an auditor merely by launching a blog, and you certainly don't publicly speculate about your findings before (or even after) you've done the analysis. Above all, you have to demonstrate competence and integrity, and the company you work with has to trust you, or they won't hire you.--eric]

    Comment by Antonio San — 3 Feb 2009 @ 1:27 AM

  167. What’s wrong with the Filchner Shelf largest ever measured 331 km by 97 km 31,000 km2 ice shelf collapse “The largest iceberg ever spotted was sighted by the USS Glacier on November 12, 1956″. it measured 208 miles by 60 miles.”? It’s 10 times bigger than the Larsen B of 2002 and it happened over 50 years ago when CO2 level was less than now.

    So either the reference to Larsen B in your post is relevant and thus my comment is by indeed offering a perspective to your readers or if my comment is irrelevant -hence its deletion- then it means your reference to Larsen B is just a cheap shot.

    [Response: You are confusing a normal and periodic calving event with the total collapse of an ice shelf - kind of like the difference between a haircut and decapitation. -gavin]

    Comment by Antonio San — 3 Feb 2009 @ 2:48 AM

  168. Eric wrote: “A good auditor doesn’t use the same Excel spreadsheet that the company being audited does. They make their own calculations with the raw data. After all, how would they know otherwise if the Excel spreadsheet was rigged?”

    Utterly wrong.
    Auditors have access to all the company financial information including intermediate values across subdivisions and inclusive of budgets, forecasts and sales revenue. They rarely run the whole year’s financial data through again, that would be ridiculously expensive. Instead they do a series of tests against the accounts based on subsets of data. It is because of this that they need exactly the intermediate information that has been asked from climate researchers. The data used must (by law) be archived, not subject to the vagaries of external sources. The company directors are liable for the veracity of the data and its maintenance, punishable by imprisonment. No decent sized company uses “spreadsheets” for its accounts, [edit] and needs to have an audit trail that survives for 7 years.

    (former CEO of a publicly listed company, Computer Scientist and researcher)

    [Response: You didn't read what I wrote. Try again.--eric]

    Comment by freespeech — 3 Feb 2009 @ 5:20 AM

  169. re 1666
    Eric Steig comments:

    good auditor doesn’t use the same Excel spreadsheet that the company being audited does. They make their own calculations with the raw data. After all, how would they know otherwise if the Excel spreadsheet was rigged? Mike Mann articulated this distinction very thoroughly in the discussions with the National Academy during the “hockey stick” debate

    A business audit is an assessment of the judgments made by the financial department of a company. Creating the accounts of a company is a major undertaking. For a Fortune 500 company this would take hundreds or thousands of people working overtime to clear the books in time for the quarter or year end. Auditors would not be expected to replicate this work and it would be pointless if they did.

    The auditors are not hired to replicate this work. They are hired to ensure that the judgments made in creating the books are sound. Their work goes far beyond Excel but, if necessary, they would check that the spreadsheets used were competently put together.

    The output of the auditing process is a statement about whether the books can be relied on or not. It is not another set of books.

    Comment by Tom Gray — 3 Feb 2009 @ 6:30 AM

  170. re 160
    Gavin, you have pointed out Steig’s archiving a number of times in these comments: http://faculty.washington.edu/steig/nature09data/
    But every time I try to follow this link it comes up blank. Am I missing something?

    [Response: yes. It works fine for me. Try going to Eric's faculty page and following the link from there. Or try a different browser. There was one very minor html error, which has now been fixed. - gavin]

    Comment by Ole Dyring — 3 Feb 2009 @ 7:08 AM

  171. I managed to find the raw data used in the study even though I didn’t know that Steig et al. had posted links or an archive. I used google.

    I certainly don’t need their computer code. All the methods used are pretty standard these days, they’re well documented in the peer-reviewed literature, and if I wanted to check whether they got it right I wouldn’t use their computer code, I’d write my own.

    But I’m not going to. I actually trust those guys. As for the folks flinging criticism and accusations — I do not trust those guys.

    The accusations and implications of dishonesty and/or incompetence related to the Steig et al. paper are disgusting. The only thing they reveal is that some of the “critics” are ethically bankrupt.

    Comment by tamino — 3 Feb 2009 @ 7:57 AM

  172. Still on the auditor analogy: when an auditor says “how do you get to this number?” you don’t hand him a pile of receipts and tell him “work it out yourself”. If you do that, he will think there’s something funny with your numbers. You let him actually check the work that you’ve done.

    It seems to me that SM constantly complains that he doesn’t get the intermediate workings, which would allow him to see which steps have been taken and replicate the results. And given that he does have a record of finding data errors (in this latest case, errors that had remained undetected for months, including while they were being included in a peer-reviewed paper) he probably has a pretty good idea of what is and is not needed, to check through a data analysis.

    [No, he doesn't. He has a good record of blowing typos in a paper all out of proportion, and using trivia and speculation to try to insinuate that researchers purposefully manipulated data, leading to a huge amount of wasted time on the part of researchers, not to mention government officials and the National Academy of Sciences. Nothing has been learned from this exercise other than one should be extremely careful in dealing with SM.--eric]

    What I don’t understand is simply, why don’t you routinely publish those intermediate steps. Most people don’t have the scientific background, or the free hours, to truly dig into the data. However most people with real-world experience know transparency when they see it. And I don’t think most people would consider this transparency:

    “If the point is to “audit” our work, it makes no sense whatsoever to provide all the intermediate products used in our analysis. That would defeat the purpose of the supposed “audit”.–eric”

    [Response: I do routinely make all our data available, as does everyone else that I know. In this particular case, anyone legitimate who has asked for all our data, including the intermediate steps, has received it. To continue with the analogy with financial auditing, let me very clear on what I mean by legitimate: In the business world, auditors 1) don't publicly accuse a company of withholding data prior to requesting said data; 2) are not self-appointed; 3) have to demonstrate integrity and competence; 4) are regulated. On this point, if you are suggesting that Steve McIntyre be regulated by an oversight committee, and have his auditor's license revoked when he breaks ethical rules, then we may have something we can agree on.--eric]

    Comment by Gg, — 3 Feb 2009 @ 10:13 AM

  173. RE: tamino – 3 February 2009 at 7:57 AM

    I don’t think that it is a matter of trust or honesty. Science is advanced by others being able to replicate and confirm a study’s results and all of its methodologies. The more information that is provided to facilitate this process the more science is advanced. I realize that many people’s motives are questionable, but that shouldn’t be a consideration for determining how much documentation is provided. The goal should be to allow others to easily perform critical analysis of a given study and either confirm its conclusions or identify any problems that exist in its methodology or results. Science is advanced either way.

    I work for a software development company that develops computer models for business and life science applications. I realize this is more of an engineering scenario, but we meticulously archive all of our code and data using an advanced version control system so that every step in the process can be revisited and evaluated at anytime there is a question about how we got to our final results. We want there to never be any ambiguities in any of our processes.

    While I may be comparing apples to oranges here, it would seem to me that science would benefit from the same meticulous approach. And please don’t misunderstand me, I am not suggesting that there was anything sloppy in the way this was handled in this study or in any other particular study. But, I do think there is somewhat a lack of emphasis in climate science in performing the level of detail archiving (including intermediate steps) that is considered standard operating procedure in both business and engineering.

    Comment by Mike Walker — 3 Feb 2009 @ 11:19 AM

  174. [Response: You are confusing a normal and periodic calving event with the total collapse of an ice shelf - kind of like the difference between a haircut and decapitation. -gavin]

    Sorry, that’s a [edit] judgement call, especially if the total collapse is 10 times smaller than the calving…

    [Response: Not in percentage terms. Filchner is just a much larger system, and you will note, it is still there. - gavin]

    Comment by Antonio San — 3 Feb 2009 @ 11:23 AM

  175. Dr. Steig,

    As to your comments on auditors I think this analogy has been stretched beyond the breaking point. In the financial world there are lots of people who work outside of companies analyzing their financial results. Many companies find them very irritating, but they serve a useful function for investors, and sometimes find issues that the paid auditors didn’t find. As much as you seem to dislike Mr. McIntyre this seems to be how he is functioning in this area.

    When you say that you will only supply data to people who are “legitimate” it would be possible that there is selection bias on your part, which would not be productive.

    Comment by Nicolas Nierenberg — 3 Feb 2009 @ 11:50 AM

  176. On this point, if you are suggesting that Steve McIntyre be regulated by an oversight committee, and have his auditor’s license revoked when he breaks ethical rules, then we may have something we can agree on.

    This is where SM’s auditing analogy breaks down.

    In the US at least, auditors are required to be CPAs. They are subject to regulations designed to ensure ethical behaviors. These include confidentiality rules and the like.

    What SM does is in no way analogous to how the auditing of business works.

    Not that the auditing paradigm is particularly useful in the context of science. But if it were, if SM were serious about establishing such a system of accountability, he’s be pushing for licensing and ethical regulations that would very like put an end to most of his activities at CA.

    Comment by dhogaza — 3 Feb 2009 @ 11:53 AM

  177. Eric, intermediate operating processes are docmented and audited all the time. It is a way of checking to see if the steps taken to produce a product have followed pre-determined procedure. Whether the pre-determined procedure is “rigged” is a separate matter subject to other angles of quality scrutiny.

    Comment by Layman Lurker — 3 Feb 2009 @ 11:56 AM

  178. Nobody who knows anything about Excel or spreadsheets goes into a company to assess anything and relies on their Excel spreadsheets.
    You’ve heard the phrase “Trust, but verify.”?
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22spreadsheet+errors%22

    Note that auditors, at least in the USA, are not licensed. The successful resistance to the attempt to license auditing was one of the great victories of the opposition to the New Deal. We have “generally accepted auditing principles” as the measure of good work.
    A history well worth reading on this is slowly being written, e.g.:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=merino+auditing+history

    ReCaptcha assesses auditors:
    ____________________
    “available creative”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Feb 2009 @ 12:02 PM

  179. There is one thing I do not understand. My company’s software products are used by businesses to make multi-million dollar tactical and strategic planning decisions. Our systems collect data from many sources within a company, including from ERP systems such as SAP. We make no assumptions about the quality of the data, and the first thing we do is perform a myriad of quality checks before we use the data ourselves. Neither the Harry data nor the NOAA/GISS Septemeber/October Siberian data would have made it past our filters.

    [Response: Could you pass them along then? Filters are great at finding issues that have been seen before and can be tested for. Filters that find errors independent of any context or history would be of great use in many fields. - gavin]

    Given that these trivial data issues such as Harry provide so much fodder for your detractors, why is more effort not made to quality check the data. I really think the reasoning that the data belongs to someone else and it is their responsibility to perform the quality checks is a very weak and indefensible argument. The statistical checks to catch these types of errors are well known in the software industry and readily available in open source as well as commercial packages.

    We could never allow our software and our company’s reputation to be subject to this type of embarrassment. Blaming a multi-million dollar failure on SAP because that is where we got the data from would just not be an option for us.

    [Response: So how many millions of dollars do you invest to prevent it? Perhaps you could write to NASA and request an equivalent level of funding? The point being that millions of dollars don't depend on a single Antarctic weather station. - gavin]

    Comment by Mike Walker — 3 Feb 2009 @ 1:00 PM

  180. Not that the auditing paradigm is particularly useful in the context of science.

    From this Home Page you’ll see the first item under Highlights an item that starts;

    “NEW Geochemical Data Quality Control Issue:
    Quality control issue identified with some geochemical data produced by the Denver Energy Geochemical Laboratory from 1996-2008.”

    and these two links:

    http://energy.usgs.gov/geochemstatement.html

    http://energy.cr.usgs.gov/gg/geochemlab/labqc/labissue_table.html

    Auditing and Verification are important.

    [Response: Oh please. No-one is saying that quality control is not important, nor that lab-standards shouldn't be checked. - gavin]

    Comment by Dan Hughes — 3 Feb 2009 @ 1:01 PM

  181. re 176.

    But I don’t remember seeing part of the documentation “Checked the spreadsheet they used for accuracy and errors”.

    And look at how well they’ve done auditing accounts for Enron, et al…

    Comment by Mark — 3 Feb 2009 @ 1:25 PM

  182. RE 171. Tamino.

    Let me suggest that you might not have found the raw data used in the study. What you found was the current version of the data cited or referenced in the study. The difference is subtle but sometimes important.
    I’ll explain. Let’s suppose that you write a paper in 2006. And lets suppose that you cite or point to a GISS dataset for GMST. In 2006 that dataset will have temperatures for 1880-2006. All well and good.
    Now, in 2009 I seek to replicate the analysis and perhaps run some sensitivity analysis on your methods. What do I do? I go to the dataset you cite. I download the current version of GISS GMST, circa 2009. Correct? And I look at the data from the years 1880-2006. The assumption here is that

    1. GSMT for 1880-2006 circa 2006 IS THE SAME AS
    2. GSMT for 1880-2006 circa 2009.

    But anyone who has looked at GISS GSMT over the months and years knows that is not the case. As new data comes in, changes are made that cascade back years and decades. I’m not criticizing that feature of GISS GSMT. It’s simply a fact. It’s not a fact that contradicts AGW, but it’s a fact. The subtle difference comes down to this. You actually want the data AS USED in the study, not the data AS CITED. Now if data were provided with versioning, change logs, etc then it would be easy to figure out the data AS USED. Does any of this make a difference WRT to the truth of AGW? I suspect not. But that’s not the point. What one really wants wants is the data AS USED, the code AS USED, and a description of the computer system the study was completed on.

    [Response: Actually no. You want to know what is actually happening to the world. Well, scientists do. Knowing whether someone did their rounding correctly, or used the right formula for a linear trend 3 years ago is purely of academic interest (i.e. of no interest at all). If there is an analysis that uses the global mean temperatures, you definitely want to know whether the original conclusions are robust to updates in the data. That is much more scientifically interesting. Would it be nice if everyone used clever software that included a time history of all changes? sure. Is that scientifically interesting? no. For a product that is updated every month, and then periodically has tweaks to it's algorithm, the only sensible way to do this is to have it built in to the design from the start, so that storage and accessibility don't become burdensome. As I said above, Google developed a product that did this, but have since lost interest. Doing it on an adhoc basis just leads to confusion and a proliferation of out-of-date, unreferencable and orphaned datafiles. If you want to develop an open source software package that allows this - go ahead, there would be a lot of interest. Maybe it exists already? - gavin]

    Comment by steven mosher — 3 Feb 2009 @ 1:54 PM

  183. Gg Says (3 February 2009 at 10:13 AM):

    “What I don’t understand is simply, why don’t you routinely publish those intermediate steps.”

    It might be instructive to discuss some of the details of scientific publishing, such as page counts and charges. I’m sure the contributors could do a better job than I can (one of the benefits of being where I am is that I’m seldom a lead author or PI, and so can leave such nitty-gritty details to others), but the short message is that it takes money to publish a scientific journal, and part of the cost is often recouped by a per-page charge on published papers.

    Each journal is also going to have a fixed number of pages available in each issue. If that number is for instance 80 pages, it can accept 10 8-page papers, or just one with all the intermediate steps included. So if you submit such a paper, guess what your chances of acceptance are going to be?

    Comment by James — 3 Feb 2009 @ 1:58 PM

  184. Re: 170

    I can now successfully follow the link to the Met READER data, found here: http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/met/READER/data.html That web page currently shows the following text:

    —-
    Note! The surface aws data are currently being re-proccessed after an error was reported in the values at Harry AWS (2/2/09)

    The incorrect data file for Harry temperatures will be made availabe once they are recovered from backups
    —-

    Let me just say, that I am not accusing anyone of anything, except perhaps having bad luck picking data that were not entirely correct. Which unfortunately went undetected.

    What I am wondering is, with the corrected Harry data, will the calculations done in the paper still yield the same results and lead to the same conclusions?

    [Response: Yes. Already done it. No meaningful change (except at Harry itself of course). Furthermore, the main figures in the paper use no AWS data in the first place. None. This is totally clear in the text, if you read it. The AWS data are only a double-check on the results from the satellite data.--eric]

    Comment by Thor — 3 Feb 2009 @ 5:33 PM

  185. People are making an error common to those comparing science to commercial software engineering.

    Research: *insight* is the primary product.
    Commercial software development: the *software* is the product.

    Of course, sometimes a piece of research software becomes so useful that it gets turned into a commercial product, and then the rules change.

    ===
    It is fairly likely that any “advanced version control system” people use has an early ancestor or at least inspiration in PWB/UNIX Source Code Control System (1974-), which was developed by Marc Rochkind (next office) and Alan Glasser (my office-mate) with a lot of kibitzing from me and a few others.

    Likewise, much of modern software engineering’s practice of using high-level scripting languages for software process automation has a 1975 root in PWB/UNIX.

    It was worth a lot of money in Bell labs to pay good computer scientists to build tools like this, because we had to:

    - build mission-critical systems
    - support multiple versions in the field at multiple sites
    - regenerate specific configurations, sometimes with site-specific patches
    - run huge sets of automated tests, often with elaborate test harnesses, database loads, etc.

    This is more akin to doing missile-control or avionics software, although those are somewhat worse, given that “system crash” means “crash”. However, having the US telephone system “down”, in whole or in part, was not viewed with favor either.

    We (in our case, a tools department of about 30 people within a software organization of about 1000) were supporting software product engineers, not researchers. The resulting *software* was the product, and errors could of course damage databases in ways that weren’t immediately obvious, but could cause $Ms worth of direct costs.

    It is easier these days, because many useful tools are widely available, whereas we had to invent many of them as we went along.

    By late 1970s, most Bell Labs software product developers used such tools.

    But, Bell Labs researchers? Certainly no the physicists/ chemists, etc, an usually not computing research (home of Ritchie & Thompson). That’s because people knew the difference between R & D and had decent perspective on where money should be spent and where not.

    The original UNIX research guys did a terrific job making their code available [but "use at your own risk"], but they’d never add the overhead of running a large software engineering development shop. If they got a bunch of extra budget, they would *not* have spent it on people to do a lot of configuration management, they would have hired a few more PhDs to do research, and they’d have been right.

    The original UNIX guys had their own priorities, and would respond far less politely than Gavin does to outsiders crashing in telling them how to do things, and their track record was good enough to let them do that, just as GISS’s is. They did listen to moderate numbers of people who convinced them that we understood what they were doing, and could actually contribute to progress.

    Had some Executive Director in another division proposed to them that he send a horde of new hires over to check through every line of code in UNIX and ask them questions … that ED would have faced some hard questions from the BTL President shortly thereafter for having lost his mind.

    As I’ve said before, if people want GISS to do more, help get them more budget … but I suspect they’d make the same decisions our researchers did, and spend the money the same way, and they’d likely be right. Having rummaged a bit on GISS’s website, and looked at some code, I’d say they do pretty well for an R group.

    Finally, for all of those who think random “auditing” is doing useful science, one really, really should read Chris Mooney’s “The Republican War on Science”, especially Chapter 8 ‘Wine, Jazz, and “Data Quality”‘, i.e., Jim Tozzi, the Data Quality Act, and “paralysis-by-analysis.”

    When you don’t like what science says, this shows how you can slow scientists down by demanding utter perfection. Likewise, you *could* insist there never be another release of UNIX, Linux, MacOS, or Windows until *every* bug is fixed, and the code thoroughly reviewed by hordes of people with one programming course.

    Note the distinction between normal scientific processes (with builtin skepticism), and the deliberate efforts to waste scientists’ time as much as possible if one fears the likely results. Cigarette companies were early leaders at this, but others learned to do it as well.

    Comment by John Mashey — 3 Feb 2009 @ 5:48 PM

  186. Dr. Schmidt,

    I really don’t understand your point about data archiving. Since many data sources might be involved in a single paper, the simplest thing is for the author of the paper to archive the data that is actually used. A far more complex problem would be to allow any data set to be accessed as of any point in time. This is in fact not something that could be accomplished easily by someone like Google AFAIK.

    It also seems quite simple that the actual code used to get from the data to the result be published.

    These are very small things to ask from someone who is publishing a statistical paper. As Dr. Steig said, he has all this information he is just selective about who to send it to.

    Comment by Nicolas Nierenberg — 3 Feb 2009 @ 6:03 PM

  187. > many data sources might be involved in a single
    > paper, the simplest thing is for the author of the
    > paper to archive the data that is actually used

    Er. No. First rule of database management: one list, many pointers.

    A list of errata and corrections is appropriate in journals (in data source A, after publication, an error in this number was corrected, and changed to that number; the difference in the result that was published, when recalculated using the corrected data, amounts to so-much). That’s what’s being accumulated here; wait and see how the journal, more tersely, handles it.

    Once you get multiple copies of database sources that appear to be complete copies, as over time errors in the original are found and corrected, the number of wrong versions and secondary copies of the wrong versions grows.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Feb 2009 @ 6:58 PM

  188. Google’s idea, as of a year ago. Did anybody reading get one of the data drives they were handing out?

    http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2008/01/rumors-suggest-google-is-set-to-open-scientific-data-store.ars

    “… Google has been helping scientists distribute large datasets, three terabytes at a time. That’s the capacity of the RAID cabinets that Google was shipping—on its dime—to scientists and other researchers that needed to get large volumes of data to other researchers around the world. As we noted, Google was keeping a copy of the data as well ….”;

    That’s what got cancelled, apparently.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Feb 2009 @ 7:05 PM

  189. Hank (re. #187),

    While I agree that when working with databases, you only want 1 version, but that’s not what this is about. This seems more akin to working with reports from the databases. Those reports are rather easy to copy and archive (with the appropriate dating/version). A change log in the database proper can track what adjustments are made and it’s then a trivial matter to go from the “report” to the current version.

    Comment by dean — 3 Feb 2009 @ 7:27 PM

  190. Mr. Roberts, Dr. Steig has already said that he has a copy of the data, and that he sends it to “legitimate” researchers. I am not at all surprised since there would be no way to do this type of research if you had to scrape the data each time you ran the program. So the only question is whether he should just post it up and let everyone have at it, or selectively release the program and data. I don’t see why everything has to be a political debate with everyone taking sides.

    Comment by Nicolas Nierenberg — 3 Feb 2009 @ 8:36 PM

  191. > A change log in the database proper can track what
    > adjustments are made and it’s then a trivial matter

    Ah, problem solved then.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Feb 2009 @ 9:20 PM

  192. Hank (#187): Surely the point of this is that you want someone to be able to replicate the identical statistical calculations at any point in the future. Then if there is a change to the data, they can rerun the exact calculations and see if this makes any difference. To remove the data, as if it never existed, means the initial analysis cannot be replicated and is therefore not very useful.

    James (#183): I agree that publishing intermediate steps in a scientific journal would be a non-starter, just as publishing (in a journal) the underlying data would be. However wouldn’t posting those intermediate steps along with the underlying data be absolutely straightforward?

    On: “[No, he doesn’t. He has a good record of blowing typos in a paper all out of proportion, and using trivia and speculation to try to insinuate that researchers purposefully manipulated data, leading to a huge amount of wasted time on the part of researchers, not to mention government officials and the National Academy of Sciences. Nothing has been learned from this exercise other than one should be extremely careful in dealing with SM.–eric]”

    Is it being suggested that this Harry data error is merely a typo? My understanding was that it was a case of SM finding a genuine data error, in which two different time series had been merged, and the resulting output used to make a point which would not have been justifiable if the correct data had been used. (The point made was to lend support to the conclusion, without being the primary data leading to the conclusion in its own right).

    It looked to me like a good catch, given that the data had been out there for so long and given that the error had not been found in the peer review process.

    [Response: You say "My understanding was ..." but that's exactly the point. Your understanding is wrong, because McIntyre has misled you. Yes, fair enough, it was useful to catch the error in the automatic weather station data. But then you say "the resulting output was used to make a point which would not have been justifiable if the correct data had been used." SM doesn't show that. He insinuates it, but it is wrong. We'll have a blog posting on this up tomorrow to explain it (though it should actually be obvious to anyone thinking about the calculations carefully; certainly it should have been obvious to SM, who clearly understands the methods reasonably well). So no, sorry, this does not constitute a good track record. What it constitutes is a demonstration of lack of integrity, or, at best, a remarkable lack of competence.--eric]

    Comment by Gg — 3 Feb 2009 @ 9:21 PM

  193. Gavin, how much money does NASA spend yearly on climate research?

    Jim N

    [Response: Something like 1 billion dollars, the vast majority of which goes to satellites. GISS's annual budget is ~$10-12 million for ~120 people. - gavin]

    Comment by Jim Norvell — 3 Feb 2009 @ 9:34 PM

  194. John Mashey #185: hear hear.

    Let me further point out that what constitutes proper documentation of intermediate steps depends a lot on who is on the receiving end. Competent scientists don’t need a lot for successful replication. What Eric terms “legitimate” is actually an euphemism for non-moron. What busy working scientists want to avoid ending up doing is hand-holding morons, and additional demotivation is if the morons are of the delusionally paranoid, intellectually dishonest kind.

    You don’t have to be formally a climatologist to qualify: John van Vliet single handedly replicated GIStemp, with his own code, and without access to more than what is already on the Web. I interacted with an RC scientist that shall remain unnamed, who didn’t know me or my reputation — zero in the field of climatology — yet he went out of his way to provide me with unpublished model runs from his archive and Matlab snippets to work with it.

    It’s really not that hard to understand: scientists — real scientists — are compulsively interested in figuring out things, and will help whoever helps them do so. Replication is a small part of that picture. Interesting replication means varying things: use your own code — nobody wants to replicate other folks’ bugs –, try variants and new approaches to get to similar findings, etc. What interests scientists is whether what a colleague found out is actually true, not so much whether what that colleague did is step-by-step correct. Or even the precise version of the data used, or the presence of data errors, which should be immaterial for a real result.

    [Response: Martin (and John) above. Thank you. Exactly. For the record though, I didn't actually mean to refer to anyone as a 'moron'. 'Intellectually dishonest' though, yes.--eric]

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 3 Feb 2009 @ 9:51 PM

  195. Re Martin Vermeer #194

    “What interests scientists is whether what a colleague found out is actually true, not so much whether what that colleague did is step-by-step correct. Or even the precise version of the data used, or the presence of data errors, which should be immaterial for a real result.”

    You can’t actually mean this…right?

    [Response: What Martin means is that some errors may be trivial enough to be immaterial to the conclusions. Such errors are not very interesting. That's not to say they shouldn't be corrected; they should. But this is simply about seeing the forest for the trees. In this case, the forest is understanding Martin's obvious point -- "What interests scientists is whether what a colleague found out is actually true" -- which you appear to have missed. --eric]

    Comment by ChrissyStarr- — 4 Feb 2009 @ 1:06 AM

  196. 194: What interests scientists is whether what a colleague found out is actually true, not so much whether what that colleague did is step-by-step correct. Or even the precise version of the data used, or the presence of data errors, which should be immaterial for a real result.

    Huh? How can something be “true” but not step-by-step correct? If it isn’t step-by-step correct then there’s something fishy going on, sort of like proving 2+2=4 by adding 3/0 to each side and viola they are equal.

    What you’re describing is akin to the ends justify the means.

    I don’t even know what to make of “presense of data errors which should be immaterial” I suppose the errors are immaterial if they aren’t close to the outcome — but for temperature increases those are on the order of a tenth of a degree. How much error is allowed when that’s what is being predicted?

    Can you give a case of something that is “actually true” but the step by step process isn’t correct? Put it this way: can a creationist use this same argument to prove that intelligent design is correct / true? Is that something to be concerned about?

    [Response: I don’t get your question about creationism, but here is a simple example to illustrate the point Martin was making.
    2+2 = 4 right? OK, good.
    What does 2.01 + 1.98 equal? Answer: 3.99.

    OK, is the answer to the first problem different than the answer to the second problem (is 3.99 different from 4)? Answer: NO.
    Surprised?
    You shouldn’t be if you took highschool science.
    The two numbers 3.99 and 4 have a different number of significant digits, and you have to use the same number of significant digits to answer the question.

    Try again: what is 3.99 to 1 significant digit? Answer 4. So 3.99 = 4.
    The only way the you could meaningfully say that there is a difference between (2.01 + 1.98) and (2+2) is if the latter is actually 2.00+2.00.

    In my little example, I used, in a sense, “different steps” (or a different set of measurements) but I still got the same answer. It’s not about having no errors — that is impossible in the real world. Doing good science means asking questions that are robust to the available data quality. There is no point is asking about Antarctic temperature change based on just one weather station, such as South Pole, because that weather station has errors (that’s inevitable) and because it isn’t going to be very representative — one station gives you indadequate spatial coverage. But use enough weather stations, and your answer is not only better because you have better spatial coverage, but because errors — even pretty large errors — in one of the weather stations probably won’t affect your result.

    Get it?

    Comment by BlogReader — 4 Feb 2009 @ 1:36 AM

  197. A slight disagreement with Martin in this case:

    I’d replace “actually true” by:

    “a better approximation to reality, that yields more insight into something that might actually matter.”

    After all, there are many models that cannot possibly get perfect data and can only ever yield approximations, but are still extremely useful. (~”All models are wrong, some models are useful” – George Box).

    Some people may know of the great statistician, now deceased, named John Tukey. I especially recommend contemplation of:

    “Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.” J. W. Tukey (1962, page 13), “The future of data analysis”. Annals of Mathematical Statistics 33(1), pp. 1–67.”

    Put another way:

    No amount of endless nitpicking equals one real insight on a real problem.

    Comment by John Mashey — 4 Feb 2009 @ 2:19 AM

  198. Thanks Eric, that’s precisely what I mean. Good example. Folks typically don’t appreciate just how scientists use massive redundancy in the data to render any gross data error that slips through, harmless in the end result. In the surface data, e.g., this is the long range correlations in annual averages, that would make some 60 stations globally enough for getting a good global average, when we have thousands of them. Yes, in some parts of the world coverage is dangerously thin, but the USA is not among those…

    And there will always be data errors when working with these very large, heterogeneous data sets. Mr. Murphy will be your co-author.

    [edit]

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 4 Feb 2009 @ 4:26 AM

  199. Far be it from me to teach you about maths. However, surely the real issue is not a 0.25% deviation from the “mean” (the difference between 3.99 and 4.00), but that it appears that some are forming the view that the proposition being sold is that 2+1 = 5, or 2+1 =3. That is, we aren’t talking about rounding errors here – we are talking about much more fundamental differences that seem to be arising, that could in fact invalidate the hypothesis.

    [Response: No. That's only what you 'd like to think you are talking about. - gavin]

    Comment by herbert stencil — 4 Feb 2009 @ 4:43 AM

  200. Re #195 No Eric, I didn’t miss his point, but I still think that statement is outrageous. I know that my colleagues (scientists) would care whether what I did was step-by-step correct, or if I couldn’t produce the precise version of my data for the experiment, or if there was errors in the data, even if they are immaterial for a real result. I’m just going by what he said.

    Mistakes happen, but it just bugs me to see all the nonchalance regarding sloppiness and lack of QC when it comes to data quality (not a comment on your issue- just in general).

    [Response: It's not nonchalance. Errors in data and code should be looked for and fixed when found. It's simply that this is not the most important issue when deciding whether a result is interesting or not. Someone could have perfect data and absolutely correct code, but because their analysis is based on a fundamentally incorrect assumption, the result will be worthless. But errors in data are ubiquitos, as are bugs in code (Windows, anyone?) - interesting results therefore need to be robust to these problems. Which is why we spend time trying to see whether different methods or different data sources give the same result. That kind of independent replication is the key to science, not checking arithmetic. - gavin]

    Comment by ChrissyStarr- — 4 Feb 2009 @ 5:49 AM

  201. Ur shouldn’t mock, but……
    http://n3xus6.blogspot.com/2009/02/parable.html

    Comment by Nexus 6 — 4 Feb 2009 @ 5:59 AM

  202. Please explain how you can exactly reconstruct Harry, including its incorrect splicing with Gill, if Harry was not used in the reconstruction. Thanks.

    [Response: The reconstruction using the AWS stations obviously used AWS stations and the existing data is not 'reconstructed' - the method fills in missing data points, it doesn't change the data that was measured. But the main reconstruction uses AVHRR data, where none of the AWS stations are used. - gavin]

    Comment by Charles Henkel — 4 Feb 2009 @ 6:17 AM

  203. Re #122, the idea of sinking enourmous heaters after freezing the surround of the earth is a non starter from a CO2 perspective and an energy return perspective. I read up on this issue of Shells r&D and it come up as pretty much a load of rubbish simply because of the length of time it takes to heat the earth to make the oil run requires a massive coal fired power station for one and years of energy to. So forget your 15 trillion barrels of tar/shale/heavy oils for its probably not viable for both a carbon reason and an energy return on energy invested reason to.

    Electricity is the only way forward for everything, liquid fuels have a limited lifetime to come and hence its probably best to stop burning it all in vehicles. Electricity is a highly ordered enery (low entropy) and vehicles can run on it and its available in the USA in large amounts via the three wind corridors and the deserts to make it via CSP.

    Comment by pete best — 4 Feb 2009 @ 7:16 AM

  204. Re #200 “Response: It’s not nonchalance. Errors in data and code should be looked for and fixed when found. It’s simply that this is not the most important issue when deciding whether a result is interesting or not. Someone could have perfect data and absolutely correct code, but because their analysis is based on a fundamentally incorrect assumption, the result will be worthless. But errors in data are ubiquitos, as are bugs in code (Windows, anyone?) – interesting results therefore need to be robust to these problems. Which is why we spend time trying to see whether different methods or different data sources give the same result. That kind of independent replication is the key to science, not checking arithmetic. – gavin]#

    Gavin
    VS.
    Steig

    “People were calculating with their heads instead of actually doing the math,” Steig said. “What we did is interpolate carefully instead of just using the back of an envelope. While other interpolations had been done previously, no one had really taken advantage of the satellite data, which provide crucial information about spatial patterns of temperature change.”
    (http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=46448)

    So Gavin are you saying “Someone could have perfect data and absolutely correct code, but because their analysis is based on a fundamentally incorrect assumption”, instead back of an envelope thinking is the correct scientific method to use just as long as it comes to the right conclusion? Who is correct, you or Steig? /Jens

    [Response: Huh? Perhaps it's just me, but I fail to see how the two quotes are contradictory in any way. Your assumption that anyone is advocating using any 'method as long as it comes to the right conclusion' is ridiculous and frankly insulting. - gavin]

    Comment by Jens — 4 Feb 2009 @ 9:08 AM

  205. I think the current discussion illustrates wonderfully why you don’t want a bunch of clueless “auditors” mucking about in science. Science recognizes that errors are inevitable. It also recognizes that some errors are significant–that is, they alter the conclusions of the research. Others are trivial, having only insignificant effects. Knowing which is which is one of the reasons why it takes a decade of schooling and several years of post-doc experience to become a productive scientist. It is also one of the reasons why it is difficult to cross into a different field of research.
    The significance of a study depends on whether or not it advances understanding of the subject. This study obviously does, and it’s pretty unlikely that a bunch of amateur “auditors” looking for misplaced commas or other minor errors would even know a significant error if they found one.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Feb 2009 @ 9:55 AM

  206. > a copy of the data, and that he sends it to “legitimate” researchers

    And if he’d put it all up for everybody and it had been copied widely, the error would be in every single copy out there the day of publication. You imagine every single copy would be corrected later?

    > I don’t see why everything has to be a political debate

    Speak to those making it go that way about this.

    Let us know what they say.

    I think they’ll tell you the most important thing to them is to stop the scientists from being considered credible to prevent policy being based on the science. Look up “sound science” — their alternative.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Feb 2009 @ 10:52 AM

  207. Gavin:
    BAS has now apparently identified who alerted them to the problem with the Harry data:
    http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/met/READER/data.html
    “Note! The surface aws data are currently being re-proccessed after an error was reported by Gavin Schmidt in the values for Harry AWS(2/2/09) ”

    I do not understand why you would not simply have said this and acknowledged what alerted you to the issue. The way you stated this earlier clearly suggests that whoever alerted BAS did so after independently identifying the issue. That I am afraid is now extremely hard to believe.

    [Response: Why? SM made a coy point about Harry, I looked, worked out (independently) that the Gill and Harry had been mashed together incorrectly and let BAS know - others worked it out too. If he'd said what he knew when he knew it instead of playing games, there would have been no need for me to do anything. As it was, he didn't report what the data error was. I stress, the most important thing when finding errors is to get them fixed, not jump up and down declaring how clever you are to see them. - gavin]

    Comment by Bernie — 4 Feb 2009 @ 11:01 AM

  208. Ray: “The significance of a study depends on whether or not it advances understanding of the subject. This study obviously does…”

    It may (even probably will) turn out to ‘advance understanding of the subject’, but to take on faith that it is obvious at this point appears unscientific to me.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 4 Feb 2009 @ 11:16 AM

  209. I think the current discussion illustrates wonderfully why you don’t want a bunch of clueless “auditors” mucking about in science

    And why business doesn’t allow clueless “auditors” (those untrained in financial matters) to muck about their internal financial documentation in order to “prove” some political point.

    The fundamental myth being propagated by SM at CA is that one need no expertise to be an “auditor”, that any joe schmoe running around shouting catchphrases like “open source”, “publish the data”, etc is qualifed to “audit” science they clearly don’t understand.

    There’s a reason why professional firms that do audits employ CPAs. There’s no special license required to perform an audit, but a CPA at least gives one some confidence that the person you’re dealing with understands financial stuff reasonably well.

    Comment by dhogaza — 4 Feb 2009 @ 11:24 AM

  210. > don’t see why everything has to be a political debate

    Here: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22sound+science%22

    Public health has a perspective much like what climatologists are starting to adopt. Industry is actively opposed to that perspective.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Feb 2009 @ 11:31 AM

  211. On the answer to 196.

    One of the problems is that in THE REAL WORLD, unless you’re counting unitary objects, you don’t GET “precisely 2″. Even if you take such a seemingly arbitrarily accurate measurement of “what is my height”, it changes depending on when you take the measurement.

    So you have to ask whether the difference between what you measured and what the measurement difference means. When it comes to fitting me with a pair of trousers or a shirt, no, the errors in measuring my height are irrelevant.

    Hence someone can sell a “17 collar” shirt and I can wear it. As can people who are taller or shorter than me. Even though NONE OF US have exactly a 17″ collar. Or shirts in “S/M/L”, which means a lot of us are all the same height, yes?

    So Gavin’s response is like saying in the real world, can I sell three size L shirts to the three people:

    Mr A: 40.098740374″ chest
    Mr B: 41.837460038″ chest
    Mr C: 39.92003″ chest

    Answer? Yes.

    Which from a mathematical shop assistant POV is the same as

    is

    40.098740374 + 41.837460038 + 39.92003 = 3 x L

    where L = 42

    (the median size of a L shirt chest)

    Yes.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Feb 2009 @ 11:37 AM

  212. Mr. Roberts,

    Yes the error would be in every single copy which would be the exact right result. This is the data that the paper was based on so the person looking at methods and data could see exactly how the result was derived. Knowing that they are starting from the right point they could then apply any changes to the data that they feel are appropriate, explain the changes and demonstrate the change in the result. Alternatively they could start with the same data, apply a different analysis and come up with a confirming or different result. The whole idea is to reduce the number of moving parts.

    Rather than all this bickering I would actually like to see this happen now. Apply the changes to this one particular site, and let’s see the new result. In the paper the comparison with the AWS trends is considered important to confirm the result. Does this affect the comparison or is it indeed insignificant?

    Dr. Schmidt has promised a new post on the topic which I assume will do this.

    [I already answered this question at least once above. The answer should have been obvious from the beginning to anyone that actually sat down and thought about it, but I've done the calculations anyway. I'll give you a sneak preview of Gavin's post: the difference it makes is about 8% at the offending AWS site (Harry) and less than 2% overall. Oh, and less than 1% in West Antarctica. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the reconstructed AWS now agrees better with the satellite data than before. Not suprising either, if you think about it for a minute.--eric]

    Comment by Nicolas Nierenberg — 4 Feb 2009 @ 11:59 AM

  213. There is a reported prayer by St. Francis of Assisi:

    “Lord, give me the power to change what I can, the strength to endure what I cannot change, and the wisdom to understand the difference.”

    Handling errors is similar: you fix or eliminate the ones you can find, and make sure that the ones you cannot find but know are there, cannot hurt you.

    Wisdom is always a useful commodity ;-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 4 Feb 2009 @ 12:25 PM

  214. Martin, I prefer Calvin’s version.

    “The strength to change what I can, the inability to accept what I can’t, and the incapacity to tell the difference.”

    Comment by Mark — 4 Feb 2009 @ 12:54 PM

  215. Gavin:
    “It would have been nice had SM actually notified the holders of the data that there was a problem (he didn’t, preferring to play games instead).”

    Actually, it’s not a game. It’s a story. A mystery. The ironical thing is that you contributing to the “mystery” and “game playing” by referencing “independent people” who reported the error to BAS. You could have just said.
    ‘ I read CA, SM hinted at a problem with Harry, a couple of posters found some interesting similarities between Gill and Harry. I looked at the problem, found the error and reported it.” the simple truth takes all the drama out of this thing.

    [Response: Independent people (including posters on CA and myself) all found the Gill/Harry thing independently once there was a hint that there was something wrong. I have no interest in the issue other than to see that the error is fixed. I didn't claim credit because I don't particularly care who reported it. It was curious that no-one else did. - gavin]

    Comment by steven mosher — 4 Feb 2009 @ 1:45 PM

  216. Mark, I grew up in a calvinist country. No need to rub it in ;-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 4 Feb 2009 @ 2:26 PM

  217. A bit off topic, but regarding data archiving (comment 161): here at the NOAA PMEL lab, we have developed a beta version of a Web site that might be of interest to some of the RC readers. Our site allows users to archive georeferenced datasets that are in the netCDF format. Since it’s a government site, you have to apply and be approved for an account. However, the approval is pro-forma at this point.

    More info:

    FAQ
    Open an account
    Example

    Comment by Joe S — 4 Feb 2009 @ 2:35 PM

  218. Gavin
    It is not 120 people working full-time just working on this product.
    I am guess there is one or two person working one or two days a week on published GISS product. Everything done by scripts. Probably cost less than 100K$ per year.

    Too little humans resource to time to check anything, or chase up data not supplied. What is needed is a serious team with the time to call folks and investigate station locations. But the department see no need to spend the extra money, as the product will look much the same even if you survey the sites in Ireland, and call the Romanian who is late with his data.

    Is that about right? If it is, I am understand your frustration…

    People are taking decisions based of theses figures which have unbelievably high economic consequences. One coal power station is around a billion dollars, and a nuclear a lot more.

    [Response: The main people who deal with data quality and collation are the National Weather Services (UK Met Office, or NOAA in the US), they have much bigger staff and the resources to deal with this. GISTEMP is just an analysis of that data (and not something that I'm directly involved in), and as you say, a much smaller enterprise. If they see problems, they report them to the upstream agencies, but they don't control those databases in any real way. - gavin]

    Comment by sean egan — 4 Feb 2009 @ 3:39 PM

  219. Nicolas, you’re proposing completely changing the way the science journals handle corrections. Why?
    What’s broken?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Feb 2009 @ 4:00 PM

  220. What is the effect on the temperature measured by the weather sensors once it becomes buried in snow ?

    Regards,
    Will

    [Response: The effect on the data actually used by Steig et al for the results featured in the paper (the satellite-derived ice surface temperature estimates) is precisely zero. The effect on the AWS data used as a secondary check by Steig et al could conceivably be non-zero. But for it have any noticeable impact, snow burial between successive AWS checks would have to be decidedly non-random in nature, exhibiting a continental-scale coherence, and a long-term temporal trend to boot. And somehow one would still have to get the same answer using the satellite data, you know, the data that were actually used for the results featured in Steig et al. -mike]

    Comment by Will — 4 Feb 2009 @ 5:13 PM

  221. The key words in Gavin’s statement is that “BAS were notified by people Sunday night who independently found the Gill/Harry mismatch.

    It was not found “independently”. It was not even “found”.

    Unless you found this very same error, with no input from SM, on the very same day, then you were dependent on SM as the original finder of the mismatch.

    As he pointed it out to you (or someone told you about the CA story), it was obviously not “found”.

    I won’t comment on “notified by people”.

    [Response: Wrong on all counts. i) discovering that Gill was mismatched with Harry was found independently by at least three people (SM, myself, and a poster on CA). ii) the source of the confusion was indeed found and not given to me by anyone else, iii) we are all dependent on many things, including that SM had alluded to data problem at Harry - I don't see anywhere that I denied this. And BAS were notified by 'people' (plural) - not just by me. - gavin]

    Comment by Les Johnson — 4 Feb 2009 @ 5:36 PM

  222. So let me get this straight, Gavin.

    You found the very same problem that SM alluded to, on the very same day he did, with no direct or indirect input from CA?

    Is this correct?

    [Response: Huh? Let's try again. He alluded to an unspecified problem, and I looked into it. I found the source of the problem with no further input from anyone. This isn't that complicated. - gavin]

    Comment by Les Johnson — 4 Feb 2009 @ 6:11 PM

  223. So everyone, Gavin’s answer is “Yes”, he found the problem Steve pointed him to with no other help than just the name of the station.

    Comment by Joel — 4 Feb 2009 @ 6:22 PM

  224. So, it wasn’t independent, then. You would not have found it without SM’s alluding to the problem.

    “Found” would also be the wrong word, as SM had already “found” it. “Confirmed” would be more accurate.

    [Response: I disagree. I had no idea what SM thought he had found. I don't think I can confirm something I didn't already know. - gavin]

    Comment by Les Johnson — 4 Feb 2009 @ 6:25 PM

  225. This whole discussion on who got credit for discovery of an error is rather tedious. Let’s get something straight–

    a) No scientist or organization is under obligation (or should be expected) to follow the news coming out of every science blog out there. Blogs are thus not appropriate venues for the spread and sharing of information. If people privately investigating (or ‘auditing’) data find a problem, they should report that issue to appropriate workers who handle the data. Posting that there is a mistake on a blog without doing anything else is quite unproductive… that is, if your goal is to actually advance data quality.

    b) Playing “mystery man” games and flinging around (or allowing and supporting) conspiracies and accusations is also very unproductive. People have much better things to do.

    c) If I am told by someone that there may be a data quality issue but that person doesn’t work out and report the details, I’m not under any obligation (ethically, legally, etc) to reference that person in my work if I go pursue the data myself and independently find and report the problem. If SM noticed an error, then kudos to him, but he obviously has issues on what to do next if he finds errors. Complaining and playing “I’m the victim” is not fooling anyone.

    If I may be so bold, is there something more productive now that we can talk about?

    Comment by Chris Colose — 4 Feb 2009 @ 6:44 PM

  226. Mr. Roberts,

    I didn’t make any comment about how science journals handle corrections, so I have no idea what you are talking about.

    Comment by Nicolas Nierenberg — 4 Feb 2009 @ 7:20 PM

  227. If I may be so bold, is there something more productive now that we can talk about?

    Do the dozen or so people who’ve come here from CA flinging down their gauntlets care about being productive?

    Looks to me like they’re trying to push the same old CA “climate scientists are incompetent, dishonest (“Gavin’s lying when he says he found the problem independently!”)”, etc.

    Certainly productive for those trying to monkeywrench science and any political response to science.

    Undoubtably frustrating and unproductive for those trying to DO science. Oh, yeah, that’s another goal, ain’t it? Waste people’s time.

    Comment by dhogaza — 4 Feb 2009 @ 8:04 PM

  228. “Oh, yeah, that’s another goal, ain’t it? Waste people’s time.”

    Indeed. And behold what a lovely and self-righteous infestation they can mount.

    If only their energy and zeal were directed to something actually useful, say actually understanding the underlying science?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 4 Feb 2009 @ 9:01 PM

  229. Mr. Nierenberg, point is, the paper, and the correction, and the data files, all have routines for correcting information. Adding your notion of giving lots of copies to people doesn’t seem to accomplish anything but opportunities for confusion.

    Why, you’d need an auditor to check every copy anyone claimed was good against the original before doing anything, if people were relying on copies to do work. How can you trust a copy, if you don’t verify it against the source? And as you can get the source, what reason is there not to use it?

    You know journals handle typos and assess whether a change makes a difference in the results — all the time. Look at the satellite weather record where a single character was wrong for years — and the papers were corrected. There are still people making blog arguments based on the old bad information — but only because they don’t go and look up the references and find the corrections.

    You make the opportunity for great mischief if you do what you recommend. Why bother? The data is available, the correction mentioned above is available, ongoing corrections are always made and available. But people have to look to get them.

    This is a _good_ thing, that people have to look to the source files rather than relying on copies.

    Here’s one of the great examples of how it works. I’m sure you know it, but for any youngster looking for a paper topic or home work help, read up on this:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16141071?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_RVAbstractPlus

    Correcting Temperature Data Sets
    Christy et al.
    Science 11 November 2005: 972-973
    DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5750.972

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Feb 2009 @ 9:07 PM

  230. re: data archiving and reproducibility…

    Any who are interested should google “reproducible research”, a widespread initiative begun in the early 1990′s. It works. There are even methods for embedding the latest R language analysis into the body of your journal article so all figures etc can be automagically reproduced.

    Comment by MrPete — 4 Feb 2009 @ 10:11 PM

  231. Any further comments should go on the new thread, thanks.

    Comment by gavin — 4 Feb 2009 @ 10:19 PM

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