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Oregon Institute of Science and Malarkey

Filed under: — group @ 10 October 2007

A large number of US scientists (to our direct knowledge: engineers, biologists, computer scientists and geologists) received a package in the mail this week. The package consists of a colour preprint of a ‘new’ article by Robinson, Robinson and Soon and an exhortation to sign a petition demanding that the US not sign the Kyoto Protocol. If you get a feeling of deja vu, it is because this comes from our old friends, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and is an attempt to re-invigorate the highly criticised 1999 “Oregon Petition“.

The article itself is just an update of the original article, minus an author (Baliunas), with a switch of Robinson children (Zachary’s out, Noah is in), but with a large number of similar errors and language. As in previous case, this paper too, is not peer reviewed.

Since this is a rehash of the previous paper plus a few more cherry-picked statistics of dubious relevance, instead of tediously going through the whole thing ourselves, we are going to try something new – an open source debunking.

As we’ve mentioned previously, we’ve set up a Wiki to provide a one stop shop for articles debunking some of the worst climate contrarian pseudo-science. So, we’ve therefore set up a page for the new OISM paper, and what we’d like to do here is to start collecting material on this paper.

So, in the comments, please catalog any:

  1. links to articles dealing with debunkings of the previous incarnations of this paper
  2. obvious errors
  3. clear cherry-picking of data
  4. interesting edits between versions

and we’ll collate all the pertinent stuff on the RC-Wiki page. To make things easier, please label all comments by the section or figure numbers.

Just to get you started, all versions of the paper make a mistake in the dating of Keigwin’s Sargasso Sea record by 50 years (Figure 2 in early versions, Figure 1 now) since they do not notice that the published dates are in ‘years BP’ (Before Present) which is conventionally dated from 1950, not 2000. And that’s even without getting into the question of why this is the only paleo-record they highlight, or on what logical basis they put the ‘2006’ value on.

In another example, the authors appear to think that human breathing out of CO2 is contributing to accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. (Actually since that carbon comes directly and indirectly from recent plants taking it out of the air, our breathing is carbon neutral). Additionally, they take the ratio of temperature change to CO2 change in the ice core record and assume that is the climate sensitivity of climate to CO2 as opposed to the other way around.

There is much, much more. Have at it!

Title of this post courtesy of an email correspondent


138 Responses to “Oregon Institute of Science and Malarkey”

  1. 1
    Alfio Puglisi says:

    The link to your’s wiki OISM page is not working. :-)

    [Response: fixed. – gavin]

  2. 2
    Peter Buck says:

    Great idea. I registered at the wiki, intending to add Lomborg’s latest denial (as reported 10/7 in the Washington post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/05/AR2007100501676.html). But I found the page locked for editing.

    I’m no more a climate scientist than Lomborg, but even I begin to recognize his creative use of statistics–for example, not mentioning well-established severe weather increases, or creating a false dilemma between spending to combat global warming and spending to combat malaria. Seems to me that this article is another candidate for the wiki. – Peter Buck

    [Response: We’ve decided to keep the RC-wiki editors restricted for the time being to prevent spam/vandalism etc., but we will transfer all information from these comments to the wiki page at regular intervals. Lomborgs piece may well be worth doing as well. So comment away! – gavin]

  3. 3
    Figen Mekik says:

    I was wondering when you guys were going to comment on that. The thing is, some people may just sign it thinking it says we need to take action to mitigate the damage caused by global warming without reading it through (because we are all so pressed for time). It is really obscene that so called scientists, MD’s no less, can send this through the mail.

  4. 4
    The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley says:

    Perhaps you would be kind enough, in the interest of balance, to include in your Wiki item listed under my name a reference to the correction which The Guardian were obliged to print 24 hours after Monbiot’s scientifically-inaccurate article. Also in the interest of balance, please reference the rebuttal of the RealClimate item entitled “Cuckoo Science” which is published by the Science and Public Policy Instutte and available at scienceandpublicpolicy.org. If you are not willing to include these items, then I should be grateful if you would take down the page referencing me. – Monckton of Brenchley

  5. 5
    David B. Benson says:

    MDs are not scientists, IMO. (Two of my children are MDs.)

    However, in this instance there may be some issue of ethics violations on the part of those authors which are MDs, and using that information in their blurb.

    Somebody might like to check that out.

  6. 6
    Roger Smith says:

    I’d suggest renaming it “Oregon Institute of Scientific Malarkey” so as not to imply they do actual science when not working on utter malarkey.

  7. 7
    Richard T says:

    Most of the graphs show amount of fuel burnt, rather than CO2 concentrations, or better still radiative forcing. Perhaps this is to allow them to state that “hydrocarbon use has increased 6-fold”.

    And then we have this nonsense:
    “the sources and amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere are of secondary importance … it is human burninig of coal, oil and natural gas that is at issue. CO2 is merely an intermediate”

  8. 8
    John Mashey says:

    This isn’t the only thing at OISM:

    At http://www.oism.org/pproject
    near the bottom left of the page, one finds a link to an article by Mary Tiffany Gilder “debunking” Al Gore.

    Why would anybody care?
    Who is Mary Tiffany Gilder?
    Well, she’s:
    a) George Gilder’s daughter.
    b) A medical student at Albany Medical College.
    c) Such an expert at climate science that Steve Forbes featured her “debunking” Al Gore in the Sept 3, 2007 main editorial in Forbes magazine:

    http://www.forbes.com/free_forbes/2007/0903/021.html?partner=yahoomag

    I of course wrote a letter complaining about this to a friend at Forbes … but Steve Forbes does own the magazine, which makes it hard.

    The original version of this was at the Discovery Institute, which surprised me at first (DI is most famous for Intelligent Design):
    http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=4022

    But, then it turned out that George Gilder is involved in DI:
    http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=10&isFellow=true

    Perhaps Forbes didn’t want to point at a DI site…

    At least Schulte (of the Monckton/Schulte/Morano v Oreskes flap) was already a published medical researcher, not just a medical student… but at least, editors of serious medical journals like The Lancet or BMJ actually understand.

    However, after the petition project wiki is done, maybe people want to go after this one…

  9. 9
    FigureThree says:

    Can somebody, anybody, explain figure three of this paper? Where did that data originate?

  10. 10
    Jim Brasseur says:

    I am an engineer at Penn State who got the packet from GWPP and immediately discounted it as nonsense. However then I received an email from a colleague that let me to this website. My first reaction was to think that you would be more effective if you simply presented clearly data and arguments that prove that the Robinson et al. arguments are riddled with important errors and based on bias rather than scientific arguement, without blatantly ridiculing of the people who wrote the article.

    I have two questions about the packet that came from GWPP that I am wondering if someone could respond to:

    1/ I find that the “Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons” is within the Penn State Universitty library system. The journal web-page says that as of 2003 it is peer-reviewed. Clearly, this journal is not the right place for a what is claimed to be a technical review of CO2 emmisions and consequences on global warming, however I do not understand why the author of “Oregon Institute of Science and Malarkey” wrote that the paper was not peer reviewed if the journal is a peer reviewed journal. The supplied link did not help me answer that question.

    2/ The GWPP packet also included a note from “FredercK Seitz” who identifies himself as past president of the National Acadamy of Sciences and Rockefeller University. I looked him up on the web and it appears this is true. These are pretty serious credentials. I ask myself: why would a highly respected scientist put his name out as supporting a review that is such poor science? Regardless of his personal biases, a good scientist, we believe, does not support a paper that is scientifically erroneous. Do we conclude that Dr. Seitz has no scientific ethics? Do we conclude that a former NAS president has allowed personal biases to overcome scientific scrutiny? There was no mention of Dr. Seitz made in the commentary “Oregon Institute of Science and Malarky,” yet the inclusion of his letter urging support for the petition is probably much more important to the “anti Gobal Warming cause” than the article. Is Frederick Seitz a dishonest person and a poor scientist? How did he get to be president of the NAS? I really would like to understand this.

  11. 11
    Edward A. Barkley says:

    Most objections to the US signing the Kyoto Protocols have little to do with science and everything to do with politics – and rightly so.

  12. 12
    Mark A. York says:

    Oh come on John can’t a well-connected med student with Google offer up a counter theory? It seems they always come up with the same one!

  13. 13
    Raymond Arritt says:

    A couple of my colleagues received this as well. I found it interesting that several people in geology, engineering, and other people mentioned having gotten the package, but it wasn’t sent to anyone in the meteorology program.

  14. 14
    CobblyWorlds says:

    Were the Robinson Robinson Soon (RRS) team behind that “schoolgirl who debunked global warming” thing?

    The Sargasso Sea and the good ol’ US of A are not the whole of the world. And the theory is that the global energy balance is perturbed by enhanced greenhouse effect. So a real scientist would try to refute the theory by looking at the global level. Otherwise it’s like guessing the size of a sheet of paper using a 1cm square piece. So it seems RRS have totally given up all pretence of science by now.

    Aside from the starter RC give. RRS state “The average temperature of the Earth has varied within a range of about 3°C during the past 3,000 years.”
    That should read:
    “The average temperature of the SARGASSO SEA has varied within a range of about 3°C during the past 3,000 years.”
    A real scientific summary would use a range of peer work. Such as the studies used for this wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:1000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png RRS have obviously taken their 3 deg C from that graph – they have no alternate source.

    “It is currently increasing as the Earth recovers from a period that is known as the Little Ice Age, as shown in Figure 1.” Well again it’s not the Earth they’re talking about, it’s the Sargasso Sea.

    Here are the 3 main surface dataset graphs.
    GISS http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/
    CRU http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/
    GHCN http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/trends.html

    RRS have an odd notion of “rebound”, in their world a rebound tends to wait for a couple of centuries before really setting in. I have never found a peer reviewed paper that proposes a theory of rebound (rather than just handwaving speculation).

    And anyway the LIA is associated with the Maunder Minimum and vulcanism.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age

    As a hobbyist reader of the science, the problem for me is highlighted by the reference to Neptune, I’ve not been able to get access to Hammel & Lockwood (refs 43 & 44) although Sromovsky et al “The nature of Neptune’s increasing brightness: evidence for a seasonal response” is here:
    http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pr/2003/17/paper.pdf And the title speaks for itself.

    If I had the time I could continue, I’ll see what others come up with and try to make time over the coming weekend.

    Based on this performance my impression is that Robinson, Robinson, and Soon should be working as lawyers. The problem that their approach poses both for them and for those who swallow this nonsense (not at insult – a supportable statement) is that physical processes are not amenable to persuasion by obfuscation.

  15. 15
    Wat Tyler says:

    “..no lord should have lordship save civilly..”

    http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/HoLNotice070307.pdf

  16. 16

    Interesting that Viscount Monckton wrote in. For those who want to see a debunking of his famous editorial, try:

    http://members.aol.com/bpl1960/Monckton.html

  17. 17
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. #10, Jim Brasseur:

    Frederick Seitz is a condensed matter physicist, and has never been a climate scientist.

    Seitz is a former Chair of the George C. Marshall Institute; is Chairman of the Science and Environmental Policy Project; is on the Board of Academic and Scientific Advisors of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and has been a Science Advisor to The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. All four organisations actively lobby against any measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, all four are well known for publishing disinformation concerning science in order to achieve this objective; and all four are funded by sections of the fossil fuel industry.

    Seitz has also worked as a consultant to the tobacco industry, and was described in an internal memo by Phillip Morris Co. in 1989 as “quite elderly and not sufficiently rational to offer advice.”.

    Seitz was instrumental in organising the original “petition project” of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine or OISM: a petition that led the National Academy of Sciences to take unprecedented step of issuing a statement disassociating itself from the project and from its former president.

    The petition, despite being frequently cited by global warming critics as showing that thousands of scientists disagree with the consensus on global warming, contains almost no people with relevant expertise; and its vetting was so lax that it included fictional signatories such as Star Wars characters and a member of the Spice Girls.

    Seitz is also known for a highly disingenuous article that he published in the Wall Street journal in 1996, purporting to criticise the IPCC review process, and implying he was privy to this process, without revealing that he has never had any involvement with the IPCC and has never been a climate scientist (see also here).

  18. 18
    Karen Street says:

    Re Seitz:

    By 1989, the CEO of R.J. Reynolds, William Hobbs, concluded that “Dr. Seitz is quite elderly and not sufficiently rational to offer advice.”

    However, he continued to, on toxins, the ozone hole, and climate change.

    A long time ago, a friend and I each checked 10+ names from a long list of scientists opposing the conventional thinking on climate change. She got some who had published, but a long time ago. I got some oil geologists, and one who listed his typing skills above his environmental credentials on his resume.

  19. 19
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. #4, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, I am aware that the Guardian published a response from you, under its right of reply policy; but that is not the same thing as publishing a correction. If they did indeed publish an actual correction rather than just an article written by you, can you provide a url where one can read it?

    Regarding the Science and Public Policy Institute, see here.

  20. 20
    Karen Street says:

    Re the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

    The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS), until 2003 named the Medical Sentinel, is the journal of the association [of American Physicians and Surgeons]. Its mission statement includes “… a commitment to publishing scholarly articles in defense of the practice of private medicine, the pursuit of integrity in medical research … Political correctness, dogmatism and orthodoxy will be challenged with logical reasoning, valid data and the scientific method.” Articles in the journal are subject to a double-blind peer-review process.

    Articles published in the journal have argued that the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are unconstitutional, that “humanists” have conspired to replace the “creation religion of Jehovah” with evolution, that HIV does not cause AIDS, and that the “gay male lifestyle” shortens life expectancy by 20 years. A series of articles by pro-life authors also claimed a link between abortion and breast cancer; such a link has been rejected by the National Cancer Institute.

    The journal is not listed in the major literature databases of MEDLINE/PubMed nor the Web of Science. Quackwatch lists JPandS as an untrustworthy, non-recommended periodical. The World Health Organization found that a 2003 article on vaccination published in the journal had “a number of limitations which undermine the conclusions drawn by the authors”, although it noted that the matters raised in the paper were of sufficient importance that “WHO and GACVS will continue to keep the issue under careful and ongoing review.”

    Perhaps the people studying contemporary society asked for this magazine to be put in your library.

  21. 21
    guthrie says:

    For information purposes, it would be useful to check the IP of comment number 4 and see if it matches relevant IP’s of Monckton as mentioned by Monbiot and Tim Lambert:
    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/10/watch_monckton_squirm.php

    But as MOnckton has no grasp of climatology or physics, he hardly needs debunking, so no need to waste a page on him unless he continues to peddle his mistakes as being correct.

  22. 22
    AdrianJC says:

    In light of RealClimate’s endorsement of Al Gore’s film getting the science essentially right, I wonder what RC’s view of a court case in the UK finding 9 errors in it:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article2632660.ece

  23. 23
    Invictus says:

    Re: 10

    You must not have read the Wikipedia entry on Seitz.

    To summarize:
    -Seitz was a professor of physics at Illinois from 1949-1968 where he did seminal work on the nature of unit cells in crystalline solids
    -During much of this time (1962-1969) he was also president of the NAS
    -Seitz ended his active research role in 1968 to take on an administrative job as president of Rockefeller university
    -After retiring from academia altogether in 1979, he became a ‘permanent consultant’ for RJ Reynolds Tobacco
    -In 1989, CEO of RJ Reynolds let Seitz go because “Dr Seitz is quite elderly and not sufficiently rational to offer advice”
    -Seitz has continued to work for the Marshall Institute and other such think tanks
    -He is currently 96 years old

    So for the past 38 years, Seitz has been working for special interest groups. Despite his impressive credentials, the last time that he held an active research position was in 1968. Furthermore, his work involved solid state physics, not atmospheric dynamics. Based on this, I think that it is fair to question his motives.

  24. 24
    John Mashey says:

    re: #10
    I must help out a fellow Penn Stater:

    Sometimes even great scientists sometimes later go off into strange things, and Seitz has made a second career of it.

    Karen Street’s link in #14 is worth examining.

  25. 25
    jre says:

    Re/ Jim Brasseur at #10:

    The journal web-page says that as of 2003 it is peer-reviewed.

    I do not understand why the author of “Oregon Institute of Science and Malarkey” wrote that the paper was not peer reviewed if the journal is a peer reviewed journal.

    You’re joking, right? If not, then look me up. I’m gonna start my own peer-reviewed journal, and you will know it’s peer-reviewed because it’ll say so, right on the website. Don’t try looking for it, or JPANDS, on Medline — it would spoil the fun.

  26. 26
    F Mackenzie says:

    re: #10, http://www.desmogblog.com/friends-of-science-friends-of-tobacco also has some pertinent information about Seitz.

    Also, re: whether Robinson, Robinson & Soon was “peer reviewed”, peers are people with whom the author shares a field of expertise. A doctor’s peers are doctors, a climate scientist’s peers are climate scientists. I am sure there are matters of method and data confirmation that will overlap, but the subtleties of a medical paper would be lost on a climate scientist, and the reverse is true. I doubt very much whether a peer review undertaken by The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons of a climate science paper really qualifies.

  27. 27
    Joel Shore says:

    Note that for the journal that is apparently publishing this (Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons), it is not the first foray into publishing garbage of this sort. Here is a link to something that they published in regards to DDT a few years back: http://www.jpands.org/vol9no3/edwards.pdf

    I guess that journal is trying to become a sort of multidisciplinary counterpart to “Energy and Environment”.

  28. 28
    Joel Shore says:

    Here is a blogger who has done a pretty thorough investigation of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons and the sort of junk that they publish: http://neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/91/strange-bedfellows

  29. 29
    Aaron Lewis says:

    First, I would like to note that “An Inconvenient Truth” as been adjudged political by a British Court (http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article3047673.ece) because of the errors in it. Under this ruling, a teacher that wants to show the movie in class must tell their students that it is political rather than scientific in nature. That is a ruling that I believe the Heartland will come to regret.

    As for the current Marlarkey, my favorite pair of sentences are:

    Glaciers regularly lengthen and shorten in delayed correlation with cooling and warming trends. Shortening lags temperature by about 20 years, so the current warming trend began in about 1800.

    1) This in only plausible when the temperature is near 0C. (I.e, if the temperature in 10C and it cools 2C, the glacier will continue to shorten. If the temperature is -40C, there is likely to be no response to either a cooling or warming trend.)
    2) In many scenarios, warming results in increased snowfall resulting in glacier lengthening as a direct result of climate warming.
    3) Response time is dependent on a variety of factors, and this is not a constant.

    Three serious mistakes in two sentences. Under the precedent of the British court ruling, this is a political tract, rather than a work of science.

  30. 30
    Ed M. says:

    Thank you for setting up the page for the new OISM paper. I hope some of the good points listed here by contributors will be compiled there quickly. I’m an engineering professor who works on global warming issues, so the stench of this article was apparent as soon as I opened the envelope. However, as noted by #10 above, it would be very helpful to have a concise, sober, and solid website to which I can direct my colleagues who also received the article and may not be as familiar with the confusion sowed by these science deniers.

  31. 31
    Eli Rabett says:

    Here is some more information about Seitz which shows how he signed on and how much he was paid by the Tobacco Institute.

  32. 32
    Eli Rabett says:

    Oregon Institute of Silly Malarkey, and that is an insult to the Irish.

  33. 33
    Kim says:

    Thanks for the wiki-debunking and for collecting the info in one place. I received the letter (I’m a geologist), and although it was clear that the article was nonsense, I didn’t know the history behind this group.

  34. 34
    mbeb says:

    I noticed that Robinson’s Figure 1 is an incomplete reproduction of Keigwin’s figure. In the original, station “S” data are provided, showing that recent SST has been more than a half degree above the 23 C line on the plot. For some reason this data was removed by Robinson, and replaced with a single blue circle below the 23 degree line. The caption says that the SST rose by .25 degrees between 1975 and 2006, but no data are provided, and the data showing a larger increase at station “S” was stripped out of the original figure. The recent SST data were also taken off of the figure when it was reproduced in the Wall Street Journal. To actually remove data from a figure before reproducing it, without explaining why, seems like scientific fraud to me.

  35. 35
    CraigM says:

    OFF TOPIC:

    Didnt know where to put this. BUT… The IPCC AR4 FAQ link in the START HERE section seems to be dead.

    It was:

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Pub_FAQs.pdf

    but seems to be now:

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Print_FAQs.pdf

    I often share the ‘start here’ page. Its a great page…but i hate dead links. Thats all. Thanks for a great resource.

  36. 36
    petefontana says:

    The IPCC did a comparison of different climate models. I can’t seem to find it. I am hoping that they have p values (or equivalent probability statistics). I would be interested in seeing which the top model is these days. Does anybody have a favorite? Thanks!

  37. 37
    Cliff says:

    I would like to make a request of the authors of this outstanding blog. I read a lot of the Scienceblogs and get really tired of their attempts to be personable and fill their pages with aggressive, colorful language (PZ Myers in particular). At first I thought it was cool, when there was just a little bit of it. But after a while, it just becomes another crappy voice. And I find myself appreciating Real Climate for the tone of professionalism you generally bring. I notice this post uses the word “malarky” — please try to avoid sliding down into the gutter of so many other blogs. This is a great blog in large part because it has a strong, clear and professional voice to it. As much as I used to want scientists to be “more like real people,” after a while, real people can kind of get tiresome. Please keep your great dignity. It really is appreciated.

  38. 38

    Re: #29 – I am an environmental lawyer in Australia and a presenter for Al Gore’s Climate Project so I read the UK decision criticising “An Inconvenient Truth” (AIT) with interest. This is one topic that I feel I can contribute to on RealClimate and this seems like an appropriate thread for the post (I am a regular reader but I normally just follow the scientific discussion without contributing).

    The decision, Dimmock v Secretary of State for Education & Skills [2007] EWHC 2288 (Admin), is available at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2007/2288.html

    The case arose from a decision of the UK government to distribute AIT to all UK state secondary schools. A father of two school children and a school governor claimed that the distribution of AIT infringed sections 406 and 497 of the Education Act 1996 (UK), which forbids “the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in [UK schools].”

    There are a couple of preliminary points to note about how the case was conducted. First, the case was defended by the UK Government and Al Gore was not a party to it or called as a witness so he had no opportunity to respond to the criticisms of his film by the plaintiff. Second, the main witness for the plaintiff was an Australian climate skeptic, Bob Carter. See Deltoid’s profile of him at http://timlambert.org/category/science/bobcarter/

    Turning to the decision, the judge accepted at paragraph 17 of his judgment that the following propositions are supported by a vast quantity of research published in peer-reviewed journals worldwide and by the great majority of the world’s climate scientists:

    “The Film advances four main scientific hypotheses, each of which is very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC:
    (1) global average temperatures have been rising significantly over the past half century and are likely to continue to rise (“climate change”);
    (2) climate change is mainly attributable to man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (“greenhouse gases”);
    (3) climate change will, if unchecked, have significant adverse effects on the world and its populations; and
    (4) there are measures which individuals and governments can take which will help to reduce climate change or mitigate its effects.”

    However, the judge then went on to find there are nine errors in AIT. The judge said that these errors “or departures from the mainstream, by Mr Gore in AIT in the course of his dynamic exposition, do arise in the context of alarmism and exaggeration in support of his political thesis.” The nine “errors” include, for example, that a sea-level rise of up to 20 feet would be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland “in the near future”. The judge found “This is distinctly alarmist and part of Mr Gore’s ”wake-up call“. It was common ground that if Greenland melted it would release this amount of water – “but only after, and over, millennia.”

    While skeptics will claim this decision “proves” Al Gore and AIT are alarmist and false and will use it to spread disinformation, in the context of the acceptance by the judge that climate change is real and happening, the nine alleged errors are relatively minor matters that do not challenge the major message in the film: that climate change is real and that individuals and governments need to take action to prevent it.

  39. 39
    Timothy says:

    “Correlation does not prove causality, but non-correlation proves non-causality.” – Para 19 of Atmospheric and Surface Temperatures

    I suppose this is true, in the sense that if you had zero correlation it would be hard to justify causation. Although, I’m not sure it constitutes proof.

    However, there is some correlation between CO2 levels (and even annual fossil fuel use) and temperature. All it demonstrates is that there is more than one causal factor, as is well known, with aerosols (from fossil fuels and volcanoes), land-use changes (through affecting CH$ and CO2 levels and albedo) and solar irradiance all playing a role.

    Causality of CO2 influence on climate is, after all, proved by experiments of its effect on absorbing longwave radiation. The only question is the relative importance of CO2 (and human influence more generally) and other factors. Clearly this relative balance changes with time.

  40. 40
    Hank Roberts says:

    The IPCC asks that people link “through the front door” here:

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/wg1-report.html

    They make that clear right at the top:

    “Please access the Summary for Policymakers (SPM), the Technical Summary (TS), chapters and other material from the following table of links. Links to the Supplementary Material pages are also provided.”

    Within that table, the links do change whenever docs get revised.

  41. 41
    Robin Levett says:

    #22 Adrian JC

    In light of RealClimate’s endorsement of Al Gore’s film getting the science essentially right, I wonder what RC’s view of a court case in the UK finding 9 errors in it

    I suspect that the Realclimate contributors would point to this passage:

    “17. I turn to AIT, the film. The following is clear:
    i) It is substantially founded upon scientific research and fact, albeit that the science is used, in the hands of a talented politician and communicator, to make a political statement and to support a political programme.
    ii) As Mr Chamberlain persuasively sets out at paragraph 11 of his skeleton:

    “The Film advances four main scientific hypotheses, each of which is very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC:
    (1) global average temperatures have been rising significantly over the past half century and are likely to continue to rise (“climate change”);
    (2) climate change is mainly attributable to man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (“greenhouse gases”);
    (3) climate change will, if unchecked, have significant adverse effects on the world and its populations; and
    (4) there are measures which individuals and governments can take which will help to reduce climate change or mitigate its effects.”

    These propositions, Mr Chamberlain submits (and I accept), are supported by a vast quantity of research published in peer-reviewed journals worldwide and by the great majority of the world’s climate scientists.

    That is: the film is essentially scientifically correct.

    #29 Aaron Lewis:
    First, I would like to note that “An Inconvenient Truth” as been adjudged political by a British Court (http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article3047673.ece) because of the errors in it.

    That’s not the case. That the film was political, and partisanly so, within the meaning of those words in the statute was pretty much common ground between the parties. On political:

    Paul Downes, using persuasive force almost equivalent to that of Mr Gore, has established his case that the views in the film are political by submitting that Mr Gore promotes an apocalyptic vision, which would be used to influence a vast array of political policies, which he illustrates in paragraph 30 of his skeleton argument

    and on partisan:

    Although there was some earlier suggestion on behalf of the Defendant that partisan might relate to ‘party political’, it soon became clear that it could not be and is not so limited. Mr Downes pointed to dictionary definitions suggesting the relevance of commitment, or adherence to a cause. In my judgment, the best simile for it might be “one sided”.

    (all quotes taken from the judgment).

    As to the errors in the film, they are all points at which the film departs from the mainstream consensus, defined by the IPCC reports. What the DoEaS was required to do was simply to point these out. The judge accepted the proposition that “…in any event, nothing in the 1996 Act (or elsewhere) obliged teachers to adopt a position of studied neutrality between, on the one hand, scientific views which reflect the great majority of world scientific opinion and, on the other, a minority view held by a few dissentient scientists.”

  42. 42
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Timothy,
    “Correlation does not prove causality, but non-correlation proves non-causality.” – Para 19 of Atmospheric and Surface Temperatures

    We’ve known since well before Hume that the notion of causality is understood intuitively much more easily than it is pinned down rigorously. Hume originated the association between correlation and causation, with its implication that causation can only be established by repeated trials, etc. I would contend that the scientific criterion for causation is correlation + a scientific model for how the cause brings about the effect. The model may be based all or in part on repeated trials, but I would contend that it is a more stringent criterion.

  43. 43
    Nick Odoni says:

    Well done on these posts, everyone, and good to see ‘nonsense’ being jumped on so quickly.

    That said, and regarding “AIT”, much as I admire Al Gore’s sentiment, I think the use of exaggeration and apocalyptic language actually works *against* the clarity of the climate science, such as it stands at present, rather than promoting clarity. Such language merely makes us sound like another voice in a clamour of competing, apocalyptic religions, each one warning in its own way of “the end of the world” and our need to repent, worship the true God/prophet/cause etc. Indeed, much of the criticism and hostility aimed against those of us who would wish to warn of the dangers of unrestrained CO2 emissions is that the proponents of CO2 warming hold their views ‘religiously’. I don’t think they do, actually, far from it in fact.

    What still bothers me greatly, though, is that the upper range (‘worse case’ rather than ‘worst case’?) scenarios occupy such a wide possible range of climate outcomes, mainly (as I understand it) because of the long upper tail of estimates of the climate sensitivity. That seems to me the point to hammer home, and keep hammering, presenting realistic outcomes over sensible time-frames. It’s boring and totally attritional compared with religious or political ways of influencing people, but I don’t see we have any alternative to it if we are to avoid ending up seeming like just another interest group.

  44. 44
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 4 The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley “Perhaps you would be kind enough, in the interest of balance…”

    You are mistaken in assuming that science can be balanced by editorial opinion and non-science, sir.

  45. 45
    Pete Best says:

    James Hansens seemingly subsequent work to the AIC stresses that sea level rises are unlikely to as the IPCC recent report states. I am unsre as to exactly how much sea leve lrise Mr Hansen is stating but WAIS and Greenland could be adding 10ft rathr than 80 cm’s.

    Something to do with non linear collpase (is that a tipping point).

  46. 46
    Michael says:

    The attempt to discredit Frederck Seitz is childish, and shouldn’t be considered in the wiki unless there is an effort to dig up dirt on all scientists discussed. What are Mann’s, Schmidt’s, Benestad’s shortcomings – political preferences, industry affiliations, age, negative quips from peers? And who cares? You tell me how their publish work stands up to peer review, the extent of contributions to their field, successes in challenging conventions – that is information I can use. This website has the chance to become something more than a useless spin machine. Don’t blow it.

  47. 47
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re # 39 Timothy (and # 42, Ray’s comment): Correlation does not prove causality, but non-correlation proves non-causality.”

    In biology, there are plenty of complex pathways (such as foodweb interactions, biochemical pathways, and neural responses) in which direct cause and effect relationships between two events may not be clearly correlated because of multiple branchpoints in the pathway, feeback loops, etc. So, a “signal” A may cause predicted response “B” in some cases, but not others; as a result, it can be difficult to see any correlation (the two events appear to occur randomly), though there is a well-understood cause and effect relationship between the two.

  48. 48
    Nick Odoni says:

    Just as a follow-up to my post in #43, it may interest people to see the response of the plaintiff (Mr Dimmock) after the UK court case against AIT, his words reported here from the BBC news website:

    “Mr Dimmock said: ‘I am elated with today’s result, but still disappointed that the film is able to be shown in schools. If it was not for the case brought by myself, our young people would still be being indoctrinated with this political spin.’

    So, as far as he is concerned, Gore’s film is indoctrination, not science, and presumably, by implication, those of us agreeing with the tone or drift of AIT are also no better than other indoctrinators, such as religious or political fanatics. And there will now be a lot of people tempted to follow the same view, or, perhaps worse, to say ” a plague on all your houses ..”, so that they have given up listening altogether.

    So much for the perils of exaggeration, even well-meaning exaggeration by someone like Mr Gore. Well, we can’t say now that we haven’t been warned.

  49. 49
    SecularAnimist says:

    Nick Odoni wrote: “I think the use of exaggeration and apocalyptic language actually works *against* the clarity of the climate science, such as it stands at present, rather than promoting clarity.”

    Someone once wrote that nothing produces clarity of mind like the knowledge that one will be hanged in the morning. “Apocalyptic language” about global warming and its likely consequences is entirely justified given the facts and is not “exaggeration”. Everyone needs to have great clarity about what is going to happen to the Earth’s biosphere and the human species if anthropogenic global warming continues, and clear language describing this will be, appropriately, apocalyptic.

    I think that some people automatically reject such justifiably apocalyptic language as “exaggerated” because they have an a priori bias that such consequences are “unthinkable” and simply cannot happen, which is an understandable bias because we are talking of changes that are entirely outside the realm of human experience throughout the history of our species. But that mental bias — that psychological denial — needs to be recognized for what it is, and set aside, so that we can contemplate with clarity the consequences of our action or inaction.

  50. 50

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