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Curve manipulation: lesson 2

Filed under: — stefan @ June 14th, 2007

Two weeks ago, we published the first lesson in curve manipulation taught by German school teacher and would-be scientist E.G. Beck: How to make it appear as if the Medieval times were warmer than today, even if all scientific studies come to the opposite conclusion. Today we publish curve manipulation, lesson 2: How to make it appear as if 20th Century warming fits into a 1500-year cycle. This gem is again brought to us by E.G. Beck. In a recent article (in German), he published the following graph:

Notice how temperature goes up and down in beautifully regular cycles since 800 B.C.? At the bottom, they are labelled “Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles” – this refers to the Dansgaard-Oeschger events found in Greenland ice cores during the last Ice Age (but not during the last 10,000 years), about which there is a serious scientific discussion whether they are paced by a 1500-year cycle (see my paper in GRL). Beck’s curve shows a warm phase 400 BC and the next one 1200 AD – that’s 1600 years difference, so it just about fits. (I’m not endorsing his curve, by the way, I have no idea where it comes from – I’m just playing along with it for the sake of the argument). So the next warm phase should be in the year – oooops… 2700 or 2800? Hang on, how come it looks like the current warmth fits so nicely into the cycle? Shouldn’t we be right in the coldest phase? Now I see it… two little lines across the x-axis indicate that the axis has been broken there – tick-marks after the break are in 200-year intervals and before the break in 400-year intervals, and there’s also a gap of 200 missing years there. So that’s how we make the current global warming fit past climate cycles – it’s so easy!

p.s. Beck appeared on German TV last Monday, after the “Swindle” film was shown, and he is announced to appear on the program “Report München” in the first channel of public German TV next Monday (18 June), to educate the viewers about another of his fantasy graphs, namely his CO2 curve. It promises to be a must-see for friends of the unintentionally farcical.


346 Responses to “Curve manipulation: lesson 2”

  1. 1
    Rick says:

    This guy brings new meaning to the phrase “curve fitting”.

  2. 2
    Scaramanga says:

    Its also funny that Beck wrote “Alpen eisfrei” (alps ice free).
    Have a look at the data: http://www.nccr-climate.unibe.ch/people/grosjean/publications/Grosjean_et_el_2007_(JQS).pdf
    Abstract: During the hot summer of 2003, reduction of an ice field in the Swiss Alps
    (Schnidejoch) uncovered spectacular archaeological hunting gear, fur, leather and woollen clothing
    and tools from four distinct windows of time: Neolithic Age (4900 to 4450 cal. yr BP), early Bronze
    Age (4100-3650 cal. yr BP), Roman Age (1st-3rd century AD), and Medieval times (8-9th century AD
    and 14-15th century AD). Transalpine routes connecting northern Italy with the northern Alps during
    these slots is consistent with late Holocene maximum glacier retreat. The age cohorts of the artefacts
    are separated which is indicative of glacier advances when the route was difficult and not used for
    transit. The preservation of Neolithic leather indicates permanent ice cover at that site from ca.
    4900 cal. yr BP until AD 2003, implying that the ice cover was smaller in 2003 than at any time during
    the last 5000 years. Current glacier retreat is unprecedented since at least that time. This is highly
    significant regarding the interpretation of the recent warming and the rapid loss of ice in the Alps.

    Beck’s appearance on German TV showed that he didn’t have a clue.

  3. 3
    Juha Haataja says:

    Nicely spotted. Any time there is a break on one of the axes of a graph the viewer should beware.

  4. 4
    DaveK says:

    Real Climate could do another service to society by monitoring talk radio and responding quickly to the deliberate misinformation they spread. I was recently on the Dennis Prager show(KRLA, Los Angeles) admonishing Prager to apologize to his audience for being a scientific ignoramus. (Prager was ridiculing the idea that scientists could predict changes 60 years from now when they can’t even predict tomorrow’s weather!) I told him that he doesn’t know the difference between weather and climate and told him to apologize. After my call, he labeled me another ‘hysterical left winger’, brought in the subject of heterosexual aids and how he beat the ‘predictions’ of scientists on this subject, then proceeded to name all the ‘scientists’ that were skeptics( including Lindzen, Frederick Seitz, Tim Patterson, Svensmark, Willie Soon and others) along with their scientific ‘credentials’. I got to mention Gavin Schmidt and James Hansen at the beginning. He completely undermined my position of him. These types of broadcasts reach hundreds of thousands of listeners so I hurt the credibility of global warming idea in the public mind. Please pay attention to these broadcasts as they misinform millions. I will never go on talk radio again.

  5. 5
    cat black says:

    I saw the tick-marks right away, even before I knew what the topic was, and was going “WTF is that supposed to mean?” I’ve taught some “visualization of information” classes in the past, and had much to say about such nonsense to my students then (including the “when the lower axis is implied to be, but is not actually, zero” gambit). That such things can slip past editors and become mainstream data for serious consumption points out either that media really are out to undermine this discussion, or that these editors should have taken my class while it was offered.

    What a bunch of clowns. Seems we’re in for a long and bumpy ride.

    cb

  6. 6
    Ray Ladbury says:

    My God! That is at the very least scientific fraud, if not criminal fraud. If you are trying to demonstrate periodicity, any break in the graph invalidates the graph–unless you are excluding an interim period where the effect of interest is not extang, and then you would break the curve as well.
    One of the questions I always have when I confront a denialist argument is whether they know what they are doing is invalid. This leaves no room for doubt, just as Lindzen’s resorting to the canard about warming on other celestial bodies demonstrates his own insincerity.
    The other question I have is why this particular field of inquiry generates such vehemence that denailists feel it’s OK to resort to fraud to win the point. That seems to invalidate the thing I love most about science–the fact that even if we fail or are ultimately proven wrong, the very activity of sincerely trying to find out ennobles us. It is truly the best example of the means justifying the end, whatever that end may be.

    [Response: Indeed - I think one of the strongest indications that the science behind anthropogenic global warming is very solid by now, is the lack of quality and intellectual honesty of the counter-arguments and the lack of credibility of the skeptics personnel. The recent "Swindle" film illustrates that it is impossible to fundamentally question anthropogenic global warming without resorting to manipulated graphs, distortions and omissions of facts and debating tricks that exploit the lack of background knowledge of the lay audience. If there were still serious arguments and reputable scientists that challenge anthropogenic global warming, surely film-makers like Durkin would have found and presented them? stefan]

  7. 7
    Mike Donald says:

    And if you want a straight line. Log-log scale and a thick marker pen!

  8. 8
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    I’m not a scientist and do not deal with data on a regular basis. Before even reading the text, I looked at the x-axis, saw this thing and was like “what’s this”. How could something so egregious make it to any sort of publication, even not peer-reviewed?

  9. 9
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    If there are any sincere skeptics out there, they should be up in arms against this and instructing anyone engaged in discussions to completely ban all “Beck products.”

    It will be interesting to see what actually happens. If there is no contrarian outcry, it will demonstrate that contrarians somewhat approve of data manipulation and fraud, and that their only concern is how their point of view fares in the public’s perception, not that it better reflects reality.

    I am waiting for opinions of our regular skeptic writers in this thread. What do you think of Beck?

  10. 10
    gerald spezio says:

    Beck’s blatant doctoring of the data tragically illustrates the rampant escalation of “the age of rhetoric.” It will surely get much worse. Linguistic determinism and the social construction of reality writ small by a very small man.

  11. 11
    Arthur Smith says:

    I recently looked through the arguments on the Medieval warm period business over at “co2science.org” – here’s the link, though I hesitate to give it any more publicity:

    http://www.co2science.org/scripts/CO2ScienceB2C/data/mwp/mwpp.jsp

    If you think scientific fraud is unusual in the “skeptic” community, the analysis there should put that thought to rest. Look at their “quantitative temperature differentials” graph, based on “level 1″ studies, and then compare with the references to the actual studies! What they’ve done is pick the highest temperature in any individual record from the entire 800-1200 period (and sometimes they extend it all the way to 600 AD or 1400 on the other end), and compare it to the most recent record of whatever proxy is involved. Sometimes that high point is in the year 800, sometimes around 1000, sometimes later. No matter, if at any point there was an indication of a higher temperature, it counts as proof of the “MWP” being warmer than today.

    If you actually averaged all of those different proxies in any give year, as the Hockey Stick analysis does, you’d see nothing. But no, they have *proof* that the MWP was warmer. Wow.

  12. 12

    Short of a Constitutional Amendment banning the use of rubber graph paper, only an improbable rise in statistical numeracy can save us from infinite replays of this sort of thing.

    I need not remind some RC syndics that _Nature_ started grumbling editorially about this bipartisan plague back in the days when the hockey stick was a pliable ash sapling, and rubbermeister Pat Michaels was still a State Climatologist.
    http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/02/the_day_after_t.html

  13. 13
    Theo H says:

    If this graph were to appear in a UK newspaper it would fall foul of our Advertising Standards Agency … and the ASA is a trade body, not a government outfit!

  14. 14
    Dan says:

    And yet despite the obvious scientific fraud, the silence from the skeptic/denialist/anti-science crowd here is deafening. Perhaps they can only attack something if it is peer-reviewed and can’t understand it. ;-)

  15. 15
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Beck’s graph is pathetic. The distance on the x-axis between 400 and 1200. representing 800 years, is about the same as the distance between 1200 and 1600, representing 400 years. Because, as Stefan perceptively pointed out, he conveniently dropped several centurys. There are such things as semi logarithmic curves, but not on the same axis!It’s ridiculous but dangerous because many in the general public won’t notice this chicanery.

  16. 16
    Eli Rabett says:

    There should be no bewilderment at these tactics. Plus which for clowns second raters like Beck and Benny, there is the chance at a bunch of fame.

  17. 17
    John says:

    OT – IMO “smoothing” of data sets can also create problems under the ruberic of “curve manipulation”. Looking at the global CO2 dataset, current smoothing obscures a rather dramatic connection to ENSO, which I find truely bizarre. The surge in atmospheric CO2 that accompanies an ENSO warming event is obviously measured in gigatons, and this from a temperature change in a relatively small portion of the total ocean. Does this make sense? The large 1997 ENSO event apparently pumped an additional 2 ppm CO2 into the atmosphere? Which if measured in gigatons is quite a bit.

    [Response: Our recent brief Science paper shows the unsmoothed monthly CO2 data. -stefan]

  18. 18
    Alan says:

    HaHa – (Nelson laugh)

    The politcal shoe is now on the other foot, people like this guy are destined to be remebered as something akin to the original “April fools”.

    Regarding the talk back radio comment. The only way to deal with the far-right provocateurs is to change the station and advise others to do the same.

  19. 19
    Trev says:

    I was confused looking at that for a while, it is not the just the break that causes the issue though is it.. its the fact that the scale is changed to the right of the break, to the left one interval is 400 years, to the right one interval is 200 years.. sneaky!

  20. 20
    pete best says:

    Ha, brilliant. However it points to a far deeper concern about science and scientists to me. What can’t the media treat science better. Its all gotta be ge whizz and hype or nothing at all. The media it would seem cannot allow anything dull and boring to fill it pages or screens. Scientific journalists and media communicators need to get their act together an get the message out better in the tabloids etc.

    I would imagine that climate scientists with the help of some politicians (AL Gore most notably) have finally got the message out to a significant portion of Europes masses. What about the USA though as its more ultra right wing and they are well organised and well funded to provide misleading information.

    Science needs a bigger voice in the media.

  21. 21
    Roger says:

    Interesting, my 8th grade students would have 2 points deducted for the inconsistent interval, and another 2 points deducted for not showing a corresponding break in the graph plot (assuming it was unintentional). However if I felt they were intentionally altering their graph to match their hypothesis they would fail. Science doesn’t do that.

    Seems like someone wasn’t paying attention in middle school.

  22. 22
    Andrew Dodds says:

    You can get put in prison for impersonating a policeman. Why not for impersonating a Scientist?

  23. 23
    ghost says:

    Rather than admit that his view of the data was wrong, Beck chose to take his charts, leave the tent, and walk off into the storm. His famous parting words were “I am going out; I may be some time.” From then forward, those who fabricated data or turned in the work of others as their own were said to have “taken a Beckie.” Athletes who broke game rules or resorted to pathetic short cuts were said to “bend it like Beck.” Young girls returning from dates without their underwear and aging rock stars who lost their voices claimed that Beck took them. Beck’s writings inspired the obscure but important political philosophy that “you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you!” Beckludean Geometry was abandoned, reluctantly and with great handwringing, after a Mars mission based on it landed in Saskatoon instead. Eventually, the claim that the “question mark” should have been called the “Beckstion mark” was refuted after its inventorship was called into doubt. He was last seen on the premises of Not At All Naughty Chemists, Ltd., drinking Woolite and loudly disputing the existence of water.

  24. 24
    Lawrence Brown says:

    RE 20, Pete Best says:”I would imagine that climate scientists with the help of some politicians (AL Gore most notably) have finally got the message out to a significant portion of Europes masses. What about the USA though as its more ultra right wing and they are well organised and well funded to provide misleading information.”

    It’s worse than we think. During a recent debate of candidates for the 2008 Presidential nomination, three of the debaters raised their hand when asked if they did not believe in Darwinian evolution. In an op-ed article days later, one of the prospective candidates modified his stance and said he accepted those parts of Darwin that didn’t interfere with his beliefs.(Hello?)Smorgasbord science? Take the parts you like and leave the rest? Is it possible that we could have somebody in the White House who thinks the world is 6000 years old? Will we have to recalibrate the ages of the ice core samples? Faith based science continues to rear it’s non-scientific head.

  25. 25
    Ike Solem says:

    This is very surprising – I thought that Germany had a good reputation in the area of science education. It’s not surprising that some crackpot could come up with this curve – for example, there are ‘museums’ in the United States that portray dinosaurs living side-by-side with early humans. We all know it was much, much warmer when dinosaurs were around – so obviously, global warming is no big deal – when do we get to hear that one?

    What’s surprising is that media outlets would put such crackpots on – even in the US, where the media gives grossly undue coverage to a few contrarian scientists who are in denial about the problems involved with burning fossil fuels, it’d be hard to imagine this getting much airplay.

    On the other hand, maybe they German press is just putting this guy on just to show how ridiculous the diehard climate skeptics have become.

    As far as global warming denialist responses on this thread, you can be sure that the only responses will be efforts to take the discussion in some other direction. Take a look at the thread, ‘the weirdest millenium’ to see how this works.

  26. 26
    Koen says:

    When I was at university, two students passed their thesis. They had a drawing showing a lot of dots, moreorless on a horizontal line, implying there was no relation between the two parameters under study.

    But the curve they fitted to the dots was a straight line at 45°, indicating a linear relationship.

    Questioned about this curve not really fitting the measurements, they told that their curve was a better fit to the expected results, and that their supervisor had instructed them to do this creative data fitting.

    Since that day, I’ve been a consistent sceptic of ‘new’ or ‘breakthrough’ discoveries, and wait until some confirmation comes in.

  27. 27
    Nick Odoni says:

    As a further point re. Beck’s latest, even if his cycle were correct and he hadn’t fudged the x-axis scaling, it wouldn’t disprove the forecasts derived from the physically based climate models. All it would mean is that there appeared to have been been a cycle (cause unexplained, note!) during the Holocene, most of it experienced in the absence of anthropogenic forcing; it certainly wouldn’t mean that we should rely on that cycle continuing in the future, and thus saving us from Man-assisted climate change. One is reminded of Russell’s tale of the inductive Christmas turkey: relying on ‘Beck’s curve’ turns us all into inductive turkeys.

    Re. the talk radio problem, we get similar instances over here in the UK, and it’s very worrying. In particular, it seems to me that the quick-witted, clever response (well, superficially clever) is often given far more credence than a careful, deliberated argument; the former can be reduced to a soundbite, the latter can’t. The problem is multiplied by having to explain the behaviour of complex, multi-factorial systems, and their inherent uncertainties, all of which are well exemplified by our climate. I can’t suggest a solution, I’m afraid, only that we have to keep putting up the best science we can, without exaggeration or dumbing it down. It’s going to be a long, hard slog, I suspect.

  28. 28
    catman306 says:

    For all you denialists, skeptics and dubious curve fitters, here’s the real reasons why climate change is NOT a good thing.

    Gone: Mass Extinction and the Hazards of Earth’s Vanishing Biodiversity
    http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/05/gone.html

    Incidently, National Geographic Magazine was warning of exactly this in 1991.
    Why do you supposed it has taken 15 years for this to reach Americans through the main stream media?

  29. 29
    Timothy Chase says:

    Nick Odoni (#27) wrote:

    One is reminded of Russell’s tale of the inductive Christmas turkey: relying on ‘Beck’s curve’ turns us all into inductive turkeys.

    Never heard of the inductive turkey before. I came up with an inductive chicken – might have been in the context of the problem of universals. Good paper, borderline problems for the nominalists, anti-borderline problems for the realists – and humor that put my father-in-law in stitches!

  30. 30
    Timothy Chase says:

    Koen () wrote:

    as at university, two students passed their thesis. They had a drawing showing a lot of dots, moreorless on a horizontal line, implying there was no relation between the two parameters under study.

    But the curve they fitted to the dots was a straight line at 45�°, indicating a linear relationship.

    Questioned about this curve not really fitting the measurements, they told that their curve was a better fit to the expected results, and that their supervisor had instructed them to do this creative data fitting.

    Since that day, I’ve been a consistent sceptic of ‘new’ or ‘breakthrough’ discoveries, and wait until some confirmation comes in.

    Good for you!

    There should always be a fair amount of confirmation before something in science is regarded as established.

    The good news is (at least from the perspective of science) that the role of carbon dioxide in climate change is very well established – at the theoretical level in terms of quantum physics, at the experimental level in terms of the study of the absorbtion and re-emission of radiation by carbon dioxide, at the numerical level (when equations get a little too complicated – but a good approximation can result from intensive computation by means of our fairly advanced computers), in terms of historical trends going back more than 500,000 years – and countless studies.

    I assume that you now fully accept the fact that carbon dioxide is currently driving climate change.

    Me too!

  31. 31
    Stephen Missal says:

    Just a general comment…Beck’s junk is typical of what I’m debating here in the southwest (Arizona) for past couple of years. I’ve been trying to engage my local newspaper in Phoenix to write some articles related to the whole global warming issue. Their new policy is to allow only 500 words; my article was 1300. Oops. I got directed to their online guy (newest trend in papers) and have received no reply. My insistence that they actually look at data and sites like yours has fallen on basically deaf ears. The clear case for anthropogenic forcing is too complex and un-sexy for mass media. Their funding is from conservative camps anyway. They continue to quote people from contrarian camps and junk from folks at such places as the Cato Institute, funded from the right and, as an example, a denier of second-hand smoke health issues. Great source for scientific debate. Sigh. With the general public utterly scientifically ignorant, and fed daily the nonsense of these folks, I’m not optimistic that the US can move quickly enough once the effects of warming and other environmental catastrophes begin to shrink their wallets. I hope I’m wrong.

  32. 32
    Ike Solem says:

    I think the real problem here isn’t the crackpot nonsense, but rather the press coverage of climate issues.

    As another example, the AP ran this headline today: Doubt Over Climate Change Forecasts

    Just looking at the headline, it gives the impression that the is scientific doubt over whether ‘climate change’ (notice: not ‘global warming’) is happening. However, the entire article is about the thermohaline circulation in the Atlantic. It has been fairly well understood for quite some time that reduced deep water formation in the North Atlantic (due to freshening surface waters) will not plunge Europe into a new Ice Age. The Gulf Stream is a western boundary current that arises due to basic physical processes involving the coriolis force and the North Atlantic Gyre; a similar current exist in the Pacific Basin.

    Furthermore, even if the net meridional overturning circulation, which is broader than just the Gulf Stream, slows, that doesn’t mean that the poleward heat transport will be reduced, as a warmer wetter atmosphere can also transport a great deal of heat (latent heat) to poleward regions, which seems to be what has been happening.

    So why did the AP run the headline, “Doubt Over Climate Change Forecasts”? Why not run the headline, “Scientists Say a Warming Arctic is Unlikely to Lead to a Cooler Europe?” Wouldn’t that be a more accurate description of the article in question?

  33. 33
    Timothy Chase says:

    I (#29) wrote:

    Good paper, borderline problems for the nominalists, anti-borderline problems for the realists…

    Strike that!

    borderline problems for the nominalists, anti-borderline problems for the realists…

    Reverse it.

    anti-borderline problems for the nominalists, borderline problems for the realists…

  34. 34
    Richard Ordway says:

    By sheer *definition* (Read Merriam-Webster and Wikipedia’s definition for “scientist”) skeptics such as Lindzen, Pilke, Singer et. al are *not* GW scientists but are simple frauds…Don’t believe me, believe the defintions.

    ie. they *don’t* do the scientific method (submitting evidence in an open way for the whole world to debate for veracity and let it be tested..and then ignore results if they are tested)on GW ie.:

    Merrian Webster:

    Scientist:

    “a scientific investigator”

    Science:
    “exhibiting the methods or principles of science”

    Science:
    “knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method”

    http://www.webster.com/dictionary/science

    Wikipedia:

    “A scientist is an expert in at least one area of science who uses the scientific method to do research.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientist

    Scientific Method:

    “a thorough peer review of the experimental results as well as conclusions of a study”

    “Often scientists have a preference for one outcome over another, and scientists are conscientious that it is important that this preference does not bias their interpretation. A strict following of the scientific method attempts to minimize the influence of a scientist’s bias on the outcome of an experiment.”

    Well, that concludes it for Lindzen, Singer and most skeptics. They don’t do peer review and let their results be tested or just ignore the results if they are tested.

    “The scientific method seeks to explain the complexities of nature in a replicable way, and to use these explanations to make useful predictions.

    “It provides an objective process to find solutions to problems in a number of scientific and technological fields. Often scientists have a preference for one outcome over another, and scientists are conscientious that it is important that this preference does not bias their interpretation. A strict following of the scientific method attempts to minimize the influence of a scientist’s bias on the outcome of an experiment. This can be achieved by correct experimental design, and a thorough peer review of the experimental results as well as conclusions of a study.”

    Merriam-Webster:

    “Principles and procedures…systematic pursuit”

    “principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.”

    http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/scientific+method

  35. 35
    Matthias says:

    Who cares?

  36. 36
    John Mashey says:

    re: #32 I & #31

    I used to spend a fair amount of time with the press, so:

    a) Reporters and editors range from awful to excellent, and oddly enough, most are closer to average. The Gaussian distribution strikes again.

    b) “Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.”
    – Napoleon, supposedly, although I’ve not verified that.

    This is usually true, although occasionally someone is out to cherry-pick; I did an interview for Business Week where it turned out the writer was 100% dedicated to doing a hatchet job, and one for WSJ where I think somebody was hoping to dig up dirt, but failed. But, more problems come from incompetence.

    c) They have frequent deadlines, sometimes every day.

    d) It is unrealistic to expect a reporter to also be an expert in a complex technical domain, and it’s even harder for an editor. It’s even worse when they move people around: I once did an interview with a reporter who’d just taken over the technology column, … having mostly written for the food section.

    d) Some things don’t work in the obvious way. In particular, quite often the writer of the article does *NOT* pick the headline:

    I once did an interview for the WSJ, with a *terrific* writer, but the article’s unfortunate headline cost my company 15% of its stock value in an hour or two, which was not viewed with favor by my CEO & CFO. Fortunately, it was temporary, and in talking withe the reporter, he told me that *he* ahdn’t pikcedthat headline.

    If all that seems too bizarre to be true, here’s the story, including the WSJ article:
    http://yarchive.net/comp/mips_stock_glitch.html

    All of this happened because I’d written a report that used real data to analyze computer performance and get better metrics to replace marketing fantasies…

    ADVICE:
    Try to find a few good reporters and editors to cultivate, remembering a), be patient and help the ones willing to learn. If you can find one who’s really good, and gets well-educated, they can be priceless, because if they get to trust you, they call you up to check out stories *beforehand*.

    Persistence helps: the San Jose Mercury News once gave a big Op-Ed section to serious denialist ranting, as well as often printing similar Letters to Editor.
    ["Sea-level isn't going up: see Stockholm!" ... by an oceanic meteorologist].

    I stirred up friends of the editor, wrote letters [indeed, it’s hard to do sound-bites) and pointed out that there were world-class scientists handy like Stephen Schneider at Stanford,and might well write much better Op-Eds. I doubt I was the only one to point this out, but in any case, they ran a nice Op-ED by Stephen a few weeks later. The frequency of rant letters printed went down. Their reporting on climate issues is now pretty good, with good reporters being given time to do more in-depth articles that run several pages for several days.

    Of course, Silicon Valley is one of the easier places on the planet for this, so I sympathize with the writer from Arizona, where it may not be so easy.

    On the other hand: Stephen: you at least have a Senator (McCain) whose AGW views are clear enough to outrage Patrick Michaels, and AZ certainly is one of the states that will suffer seriously from AGW, so maybe there is some way for you to leverage McCain’s influence in AZ.

  37. 37
    Theo H says:

    Re 32.

    The Doubt Over Climate Change Forecasts link sends me to my own newspaper, the UK�s Guardian. The Guardian is the newspaper of choice of the liberal left in the UK and my own chosen national daily. It is also the newspaper that weekly caries the op-ed/opinion column of George Monbiot (scourge of the climate sceptics/sceptics, and �constant guest� in RC�s pages). I will take a chance, and guess that the Guardian is the chosen newspaper of UK scientists.

    The Guardian generally accepts that global warming/climate change is a reality.

    I did a quick check on the Guardian�s own internal search engine. �Climate change� scored 6637 references, while �global warming� scored 5106 references.

    Might be interesting to have the comment of UK readers of the Guardian on this?

    Alternatively, why not have a go at e-mailing to John Vidal, the Guardian�s environmental editor jvidal@guardian.co.uk (that�s from memory) so; perhaps alert him to this somewhat dodgy graph. It�s just the sort of thing that might be suitable for the �Eco-soundings� shorts item on his Wednesday two page environment slot.

    Or try George Monbiot http://www.monbiot.com with the dodgy graph.

  38. 38

    This picture you mentioned is qute simplified.
    I think the amount of heat and the amount of light have to be considered as a unified variable and not separeted like the graphic did.

    Thank you for sharing this story with me !

  39. 39
    ray ladbury says:

    Re 36. John BTW, the quote per Wikiquote is due to Napoleon:
    “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
    although it is also known as Hanlon’s Razor. And good advice it is. I used to be of the press of sorts–editor at a quasi-popularized physics trade publication, so I know the frustration from both sides. Every month I would have to immerse myself in a topic and learn it well enough to discuss it with Nobel Laureates without appearing to be a complete idiot. Awesome training. I cannot imagine doing it on a weekly, let alone a daily basis and not having a background in the subject to start with. On the other hand, I had a long talk with William Broad one time about science journalism. Broad did not think his lack of science background was a hindrance as a science journalist, since ultimately he had to make his piece understandable to his readers. The thing is that people are lazy–or maybe just busy–and they have limited patience with a piece they have to work at understanding. So, a journalist tries various tricks to make the piece interesting–highlighting conflict (the old science as sporting event ploy), manufacturing a narative (the old pretence of human interest in th sciences), or they oversell the importance or novelty of the research (aka the “read my piece or die” ploy). All of these do violence to the science, but it’s hard to present science to the general public if you don’t “dumb it down”. Even writing for physicists, we had readers who complained about very well written articles: “If I’m going to work that hard, I want to get paid for it.” Scientists need to keep in mind that while this is a complicated issue, it ultimately boils down to conservation of energy: The energy of the system is changing. The energy has to come from somewhere, and the only reasonable candidate is anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing.

  40. 40
    Steve Reynolds says:

    9>If there are any sincere skeptics out there, they should be up in arms against this …

    While not exactly an AGW skeptic, I am sometimes considered one here, and I think I am sincere.

    I certainly condemn this kind of manipulation.

    That said, and not in any way excusing Beck, are you sure that some of the graphics in Gore’s AIT are not nearly as bad?

  41. 41
    tinna says:

    I wish I could understand German, not to read the article but to read the comments. I can see the article got quite a bit of reaction (343 comments so far) but what are the people saying, do they agree or are they furious?

  42. 42
    ray ladbury says:

    Re 40. Steve, do you have a specific allegation against some of Gore’s figures, or is this just another excuse for an ad hominem attack? To my knowledge, most of Gore’s figures were reviewed by actual climate scientists-and like it or not, Gore is at least sincere. Beck is a fraud, or are the standards in the “skeptic” community that low?

  43. 43
    Aaron Lewis says:

    Re 40
    Is this a troll or science?

    Which of Gore’s graphics do you have a problem with; and what problem do you have with it?

    My view is that most of Gore’s graphics are not perfect. I feel that they understate the extent and immediacy of global warming issues. That is based on that fact that the global warming climate models ignor a large number of known climate warming issues. For example there are changes in albedo of ice when soot is deposited. However, there are also changes in the albedo of snow due to growth of biological communities based on algae when nutrients are deposited on snow.

    Any biologists working on the snow models?

  44. 44
    Dick Veldkamp says:

    Re #41 (343 comments on Beck’s article)

    After a quick scan through the 343 reactions on this article, I would say that about half of the contributions “agree” with Beck’s nonsense (for many contributions it is not that easy to say what side they are on, because the discussion quickly wanders off to wind power, China’s energy policy, etc)

    I don’t know whether we should draw any deep conclusions from this tally. Firstly it’s a general forum so some people probably can’t see this bunk for what it is. Secondly there’s a few contrarians who post many, many times. Thirdly there is bias: it’s mostly denialists that keep posting, most people that are convinced that climate change is a real problem presumably don’t bother writing.

  45. 45

    [[This is very surprising - I thought that Germany had a good reputation in the area of science education.]]

    Oh no, Germany, alongside its respectable intellectual tradition, also has a long pseudoscience tradition. Horlegger’s “World Ice Theory” was a classic of crackpot science, and of course Nazi racial anthropology was a factor in millions of state murders.

  46. 46

    [[Well, that concludes it for Lindzen, Singer and most skeptics. They don't do peer review and let their results be tested or just ignore the results if they are tested.]]

    While I agree in general, there was a time when Lindzen published his research — even anti-global-warming research — in peer-reviewed journals, e.g. his “iris” article. Of course later research shot that one down, so that may explain why he doesn’t bother with peer review these days.

  47. 47
    Vivendi says:

    “I’m just playing along with it for the sake of the argument”
    Do you mean “irresponsibly playful” = mischievous behavior?

    “Notice how temperature goes up and down in beautifully regular cycles since 800 B.C.?”
    Is it really the first time that you look at a graphical representation meant to symbolize a concept: the concept of cyclic recurrence of a phenomenon.
    Nowhere in this graphic do I see suggested that there is a fixed periodicity (the 2 slashes in the time scale clearly indicate a cut) nor does the graphic suggest that it shows real temperatures, in fact there is no scale on the y-axis.

    I haven’t read your entire blog, but I bet I wouldn’t find an article which denounces the fact that Al Gore forgot to mention and adequately explain the time lag between temperature and CO2 concentration. He simply used his technique to dramatize increases.

  48. 48
    ray ladbury says:

    Vivendi, No, you didn’t read the blog. Nor did you do a search, which would have turned up:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/the-lag-between-temp-and-co2/
    which would have explained that in fact, contrary to the propaganda from your neocon mothership, Gore does in fact mention the lag and correctly attributes the reason to the fact that initial warming in past epochs was most often to slight changes in insolation.
    Gee, maybe you should read more of this blog.

  49. 49
    Blair Dowden says:

    I bet you would find an article on exactly that subject. The title says Gore got it right, but the text shows that he blew an opportunity to accurately demonstrate the importance of carbon dioxide on climate.

  50. 50
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 47 Vivendi: “I haven’t read your entire blog…”

    Perhaps you should, you just might learn something about the actual science of greenhouse gasses and climate change.


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