A Chinese translation is available here.
Gavin, this post exemplifies why we need RealClimate.org. What you are doing is important. Keep at it.
‘c) the consensus on hurricane/global warming connections has moved from uncertain to ambiguous’
While some of the other points have problems, I did not see any good counter to the above in your post.
[Response: But it isn't a point at all. There is no effective difference between ambiguous and uncertain. Read the IPCC text on the subject. - gavin]
For those of us who on occasion actually hike the Appalachian trail, I’m afraid I will have to start adding a caveat that no, my weekend plans are not a euphemism.
Thanks for this post, Gavin. It’s been puzzling watching Tom Fuller and everybody over at SF Examiner freak out at this non-event.
I’ve been monitoring “skeptic” websites and press commentary. In the last few months there has been a lot more talk about climate change, all of it escalating in intensity as well as number of articles (non-scientific of course) and harping on a few points such as Ian Plimer’s book in Australia, the globe-is-cooling mantra etc.
It’s probably conservatives trying to seize the attack ground in view of a possible pending debate about climate change in Washington, but the chorus of denialist opinion is so coordinated and their “logic” so simple it is convincing many, even among educated people (science PhDs) who cannot be bothered to look deep into things but try to form an opinion based on a few journalistic pieces. We should expect a very hard fight ahead.
Detection and attribution? I detect years of political appointments and attribute that to the environment inside the beltway from 2000 to 2008.
In the 1990s, I worked at sites closely regulated by the US-EPA, and those folk were smart, knowledgeable, and dedicated. They were as wonderful a group of people as ever populated a regulatory agency. My boss was an ex-EPA guy, and he always worked out a way “to do the right thing”, even when he had to do things that our corporate management did not expect.
More recent contacts with the EPA have left me less impressed. Let us hope the EPA can be fixed.
[Response: Let me be clear that my interactions with EPA - over the endangerment review process, with air quality/climate connections - have been extremely positive. I very much doubt this level of non-scholarship is typical of the EPA as a whole. Like most big organizations, I'm pretty sure there is a wide range of competence. - gavin]
Actually, this post exemplifies why you should read the *draft* report yourself.
Ph.D., Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
B.S., Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
Joe Romm is also a Physicist. Is MIT insufficient? What about Caltech?
To be honest, working for the government is a larger shortcoming that the schools or degrees.
[Response: What's your point? He isn't a climate scientist, he's an expert in environmental economics. How much Earth Science did you get in physics degree in the 1970s? Even now? One might have expected some basic statistics, but even that is not evident in the paper. - gavin]
Consummate dumbassery. Just read the first paragraph of the preface and you’ll see their level of awareness.
“It ain’t that I don’t hear, I just don’t listen no more”
Poor Fuller at the Examiner–he’s got an anonymous source, CEI, and WTF as his sources on this. A reminder for journalists:
If you really want to choke and splutter, read Kimberley Strassel in today’s WSJ. The writer Mary McCarthy once said of the American author Lilliamn Hellman “Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘a’ and ‘the’”. One does not know where to start with the pack of compostable nonsense–Ian Plimer?
[Response: Plimer. - gavin]
“They call it peer-review, we call it suppression.”
The concern is that the EPA might be discouraging dissenting ideas. It’s a dangerous path for a government agency to take no matter how much you agree with their policies or not.
[Response: There is not going to be any shortage of nonsense any time soon. EPA doesn't need to start a strategic nonsense reserve just in case. - gavin]
It’s been puzzling watching Tom Fuller and everybody over at SF Examiner freak out at this non-event.
Not puzzling at all if you remember there’s a rather crucial vote scheduled for the House today. Just call it the “Wednesday surprise”.
Expect Rush and other right wing morons to pick up on this “news” now that Michelle Malkin has jumped on:
Note that she doesn’t address any of the bad science – it’s really all about a cover up!
The concern is that the EPA might be discouraging dissenting ideas. It’s a dangerous path for a government agency to take no matter how much you agree with their policies or not.
So if an economist in the EPA insists the earth is flat, all scientific assessments done by the EPA must include that statement?
Basic problem is that the EPA is supposed to review all scientific data itself, and the IPCC reports possibly haven’t even been submitted for review. As written in the draft, just accepting these reports at face value is not acceptable procedure. They don’t do this with medical studies, chemical studies, etc. Why should IPCC reports get a special break?
[Response: Because the level pf peer review they got is vastly more than EPA could do on it's own. From their guidelines:
"For the purposes of the Guidelines, EPA recognizes that if data and analytic results are subjected to formal, independent, external peer review, the information may generally be presumed to be of acceptable objectivity."
, and from the technical draft:
"EPA is relying most heavily on these synthesis reports because they... 3)have been reviewed and formally accepted by, commissioned by, or in some cases authored by, U.S. government agencies and individual government scientists and provide EPA with assurances that this material has been well vetted by both the climate change research community and by the U.S. government; and 4) in many cases, they reflect and convey the consensus conclusions of expert authors."
"In addition to its reliance on existing and primarily recent synthesis reports from the peer reviewed literature,it also underwent a technical review by12 federal climate change experts, internal EPA review, and interagency review."
And you want to replace that with a bunch of blog posts and Miskolczi? Get real. - gavin]
Since I’m mentioned here in the comments thread, I hope I can jump in with a few points, such as commenter 14′s hint that Congressional legislative agendas actually impact my editorial calendar are a bit laughable.
First, after talking with Alan Carlin and the source I cited yesterday, I would advise playing the ball, not the man. Although you may be certain he is wrong–it seems that way from this post–the man is painfully honest and seems to have a lot of integrity. He’s also intelligent. In my conversation with him yesterday I asked him point blank if he felt competent to analyse and form an opinion on climate change issues. He said certainly with regards to the efficacy of general circulation models and climate modelling overall, and that much of the rest of the science was accessible. If you believe him to be wrong, a snarky post like this one here is probably not going to contribute much to the conversation.
Eventually your ‘team’ will find out that this particular series of events is a microcosm of climate change issues overall. Carlin (and I) don’t believe his opinion was suppressed, as the CEI wants to claim. It’s worse. His six years of research on climate issues was ignored by a bureaucracy that has absolutely no education on climate change simply because the policy was already decided, and no evidence was needed. Your ‘team’s’ failure to engage with skeptics and your insistence that the issues are all settled is killing you in so many ways, that if I were truly a skeptic I would keep silent and watch you continue.
But I’m not. I’m a ‘lukewarmer’ and as a journalist I’m trying to be fair to both sides. I find it truly bizarre that you (or one of the skeptic blogs) has not yet realized that weblogs are the absolutely perfect mechanism for conducting a proper debate on an issue like climate change, and that you all prefer ragging on each other with posts like this one. But you, like some of the skeptic blogs, seem to know what brings regular readers back, and it seems to be snark.
I have not used the Competitive Enterprise Institute as a source for any of my reporting. For that matter, Alan Carlin did not provide them with any of the materials that were released publicaly, something I find a bit troubling. If someone would like to be interviewed at the Examiner to respond to Carlin’s position feel free to contact me.
[Response: Mr Fuller, the thing is with science is that it isn't just a matter of opinion. I would love to more gentle about it, but the inconsistencies and incoherence of the Carlin submission are painfully obvious to anyone who knows anything about the subject. While Carlin may be a perfectly sincere and well-meaning fellow (and I have no reason to doubt it), that doesn't make his work credible or interesting. The idea that a blog post on WUWT that doesn't even deal with attribution overturns all the work on detection and attribution in the IPCC reports is laughable. (And, if you are genuinely interested in the subject, I recommend you read them). Peer review is not perfect, but it is the first level of defense against the tide of well meaning (and not so well meaning) nonsense that people want to push. You also fail to read what you are criticising - please point me to any statement I've made on this blog that indicates that I think all questions are settled? On the contrary, our posts are full of discussions of actually interesting uncertainties that are at the cutting edge of research. But that doesn't mean that every uncertainty that any Tom, Dick or Alan comes up with (for the twenty-seventh time) is interesting. Things that have been looked at for years and addressed multiple times are not a 'devastating critique', they are just a waste of everyone's time. Finally, if I might offer some advice, journalists are rightly wary of sources with vested interests- but if you want to check the credibility of a scientific claim, ask a relevant scientist or two. Relying on partisan blogs is a recipe for being spun.
As for blogs being good for debate, my experience is the opposite. The amount of regurgitated nonsense, logical fallacies, appalling personal comments and smears against the whole scientific community that pass for argument on WUWT and similar, simply preclude most reasonable conversations on the subject. What is the point in trying to make a logical point if everything one says is immediately dismissed because you're part of a giant scientific fraud? There is no learning process. You can spend as much time as you like explaining the basis of the paleo-climate constraints on climate sensitivity, only to have the next comment claim that it's tiny based on an unpublished back-of-the-agenda calculation he read online. The issue is that the science that is understood is uncomfortable for some people and unfortunately they're much more attached to their prejudices than they are to the scientific method. - gavin]
Yep, Jim Galasyn, I’m one of those everybodies “over at SF Examiner” who was freaking out “at this non-event.”
I can’t speak for the other people. My primary concern is that the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) generators were doing their best to fog up the vote today on HR 2454. That’s a tough enough pill for Congress to swallow without adding to the size.
I took the time to read the last 6 published papers Mr. Carlin has published at EPA and in Symposia. The document up at CEI strongly resembles the *N*IPCC report sponsored by the Heartland Institute, a paper that seems to have been peer reviewed by the, “I like it, don’t you Mr. Co-author” method. Not sure why the resemblance exists.
Mr. Carlin brings up some very valid points in his previous papers. Perhaps after this tempest in the teapot calms, I can ask Mr. Carlin for what he really attempted to submit… the CEI document being an “early draft” and all.
By the way, Mr. Carlin’s previous papers seemed to have been about his concern that GHG reduction was not going to be fast or strong enough to handle the problem. He was advocating geoengineering with Solar Radiation Management, something that would be a pretty tough sell politically. I can see why EPA officials might have wanted to avoid the appearance of endorsement for re-engineering the planet’s atmosphere, regardless of the correctness of the position.
“The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility. And vice versa…”
“So if an economist in the EPA insists the earth is flat, all scientific assessments done by the EPA must include that statement?”
There are a lot of people out there who don’t view Carlin’s paper as nonsense. The EPA has the responsibility to address internal dissent, not suppress it. If the paper is nonsense they need to explain why it’s nonsense. I don’t know why I have to explain the concept of transparency here.
[Response: Nobody has suppressed anything. And I'm sure that the public comments that went to EPA cover all this ground and much more. - gavin]
The document up at CEI strongly resembles the *N*IPCC report sponsored by the Heartland Institute, a paper that seems to have been peer reviewed by the, “I like it, don’t you Mr. Co-author” method. Not sure why the resemblance exists.
Good catch, Larry!
I have to applaud this much-more-direct-than-usual-rebuttal. While it seems a good many climate scientists are privately scared spitless, few will speak directly about the state of the environment. Worse, strong rebuttals of the nonsense that has slowed/prevented action for the last couple decades have been largely absent.
Too many scientists don’t understand that a polite rebuttal is seen by the public as a non-rebuttal. They see it as implying the boneheaded statements and outright lies are still viable since nobody actually said they were boneheaded and full of lies.
This type of muck work is unfortunately necessary.
You mention that this document cites Landscheidt – but presumably without a direct reference since i cannot find his name. Can you point us to the reference please.
[Response: section 2.4.6. - gavin]
“Basic problem is that the EPA is supposed to review all scientific data itself, and the IPCC reports possibly haven’t even been submitted for review.”
You haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.
such as commenter 14’s hint that Congressional legislative agendas actually impact my editorial calendar are a bit laughable.
You had this on your editorial calendar before the CEI and WUWT publicized the “scandal”?
No, I didn’t think so.
I have no doubt that the CEI timing was intentional, and of course you picked it up and ran with it, just as they hoped the press would do.
Eventually your ‘team’
And using denialist code-words for mainstream climate scientists will do nothing to enhance your credibility ’round here.
Tom Fuller says “I find it truly bizarre that you (or one of the skeptic blogs) has not yet realized that weblogs are the absolutely perfect mechanism for conducting a proper debate on an issue like climate change
Strangest thing, but that statement reminds me of John McEnroe for some reason.
In skimming through the draft, what I find most amusingly disturbing is in Section 3, where they claim that human welfare has increased over the 20th century. We could have a long (and probably pointless) debate over just how that’s measured, but one of their claims is that “our general air quality has increased”, as “evidence” of which they present their Figure 3-3, showing a (slight!) decline in ozone levels between 1980 and 2007.
Anyone wonder what happened between 1900 and 1979?
> weblogs … perfect … for conducting a proper debate
It’s been debated: making science the basis for for policy won!
Mr. Fuller, are you suggesting web debate to decide science facts?
Can you suggest an example of success using weblogs to debate science?
vaccination, homeopathy, evolution, antibiotic resistance, lead, asbestos, tobacco, phthalates, DDT, Alar, zinc nasal spray — or anything else you can point to?
Pointers, please, to sources you consider reliable?
If you are looking at the same report as me, it opens ‘We have become incresingly concerned that EPA and many other agencies and counties have paid too little attention to the science of global warming….’, later on, unusually for an academic paper, they pose the question what is science?‘, and give a nice Feynmann quote in part response.
Their own answer to the question ‘what is science’ becomes apparent when one reads the references …
- Monkton (2008) Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered. How the … did that get in there? Instant credibility destroyer.
- WhatsUpWithThat – specifically the Basil Copeland/Anthony Watts series of posts on solar cycles [the basis of which was demolished by Tamino].
- Icecap – including the BS ‘update’ of IPCC AR4 Fig TS26 (which is no such thing)
- A huge chunk copied out of Gray (2009) published where? On his web page?-
- Beck’s impossible CO2 measurements
- Ken Gregory of FOS.
- Miskolczi – ‘I’ve discovered a new law of Physics’
‘Science’ seems to be being done on anti-scientific blogs, self-published web pages, oh and Energy & Environment according to these guys. BTW Grist has a quote from an EPA guy…
““Certain opinions were expressed by an individual [Carlin] who is not a scientist and was not part of the working group dealing with this issue,” said EPA spokesperson Adora Andy.
“Nevertheless, several of the opinions and ideas proposed by this individual were submitted to those responsible for developing the proposed endangerment finding. Additionally, his manager allowed his general views on the subject of climate change to be heard and considered inside and outside the EPA and presented at conferences and at an agency seminar. The individual was also granted a request to join a committee that organizes an ongoing climate seminar series, open to both agency and outside experts, where he has been able to invite speakers with a full range of views on climate science. The claims that his opinions were not considered or studied are entirely false.”
The timimg of this is interesting, no?
Philip John Clarke.
Contrary to your articles introduction
“Carlin is a senior operations research analyst who has worked in EPA’s economics office since 1983. He has a doctorate in economics and a bachelor’s degree in physics. He specializes in cost-benefit analysis and the economics of global climate change control, EPA said. The co-author of the report, John Davidson, is an environmental scientist in the economics office who holds a doctorate in physics. Davidson also joined the program in 1983.”
[Response: Why is this contrary? I didn't discuss their education. The issue is whether they have any expertise in climate science - perhaps you would care to show me any of their peer-reviewed papers in recognisable climate-related journals? Cost-benefit analysis is not radiative transfer oddly enough. - gavin]
There are a lot of people out there who don’t view Carlin’s paper as nonsense.
Yes, but none of those people are competent in climate science. There are a lot of people who think we never landed on the Moon, too. There are even more who think the Earth is 6-10,000 years old. Doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about.
James, are you arguing against the fact that cheep energy (and the CO2 it causes) and quality of life are linked?
‘If you restrict CO2, you restrict human welfare’ may not be a totally correct hypothesis, but it is an idea that absolutely does belong in the debate.
On a related note — this article from one Jay Lehr, Ph.D.
published In: Environment & Climate News Publication date: 07/01/2009
The yahoos of the far right never give up!
People here reading this piece of slop can have a big laugh. It resembles some of the stuff put out by the anti-evolution crowd.
The scientific facts clearly show carbon dioxide is a good thing, not something we should fear.
CO2 is not a pollutant.
On the contrary, carbon dioxide makes crops and forests grow faster. Satellite mapping shows the Earth has become about 6 percent greener overall in the past two decades, with forests expanding into arid regions. The Amazon rain forest was the biggest gainer, with two tons of additional biomass per acre per year.
Certainly climate change does not help every region equally, but careful studies predict overall benefits—fewer storms, more rain, better crop yields, longer growing seasons, milder winters, and lower heating costs in colder climates. The news is certainly not bad and on balance may be rather good.
CO2 is merely a trace atmospheric gas.
The world will laugh when we finally understand the pursuit of economic ruin in the name of saving the planet from carbon dioxide has been a terrible joke. It is an unarguable fact that the portion of the Earth’s greenhouse gas envelope contributed by man is barely one-tenth of 1 percent of the total.
Do the numbers yourself. Carbon dioxide is no more than 4 percent of the total atmosphere—with water vapor being more than 90 percent, followed by methane and sulfur and nitrous oxides. Of that 4 percent, man contributes a little more than 3 percent. Three percent of 4 percent is .12 percent, and for that we are sentencing people to numerous damaging economic impacts.
Added CO2 increments have less effect.
The effect of additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is limited because CO2 absorbs only certain wavelengths of radiant energy. As the radiation in that particular wavelength band is used up, the amount left for absorption by more of the gas is reduced.
A simple analogy is to consider drawing a curtain across a window. Much of the light will be shut out, but some will still get through. Add a second curtain to the first, and most of the remaining light will be excluded. A point will quickly be reached however, where adding more curtains has a negligible effect, because there is no light left to stop.
This is the case with the absorption of energy as more carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere.
Anthropogenic warming hasn’t happened.
If greenhouse gases were responsible for global temperature increases in recent decades, atmospheric physics require that higher levels of our atmosphere would show greater warming than lower levels. This did not happen during the 1978-1998 period of 0.3 degrees Celsius warming.
Warming precedes CO2 increases.
A full 900,000 years of ice core temperature records and carbon dioxide content records show CO2 increases follow increases in Earth’s temperature instead of leading them. This makes sense because the oceans are the primary source of CO2, and they hold more CO2 when cool than when warm. Warming causes the oceans to release more CO2.
This wonderous piece is #1 of 3. I can hardly wait!
How long until some misguided member of Congress puts it into the Congressional Record? AT that time, of course, it becomes “established truth.”
They cited Beck????
Gavin, perhaps you could thoroughly prove your point by publishing the annual forecast data from Model E from 5 or 10 years ago and then everyone would be swayed by the accuracy.
[Response: Sure, it's all online - what did you have in mind? (bear in mind a well that there are multiple simulations and that weather noise causes substantial spread over short periods of time). - gavin]
Classic. You hate ad hominem, but…. before going into the arguments you have a whole paragraph about how the authors are ‘unqualified’. That sets the scene.
And Al Gore, apart from being an Oscar and Nobel prize winner is….?
All the best. You efforts are commendable.
[Response: You must have us confused with someone else. When have we ever claimed that Al Gore is scientist? Or cited anything he has highlighted in lieu of going to the actual source? Gore does a very good job at explaining the science and has reached far more people than us poor scientists can. He is also one of the few politicians who actually bother to ask scientists what they think before making a statement (a strategy I'd highly recommend by the way). PS. Ad hom is declaring someone wrong based on who they are, not what they say. Carlin and Davidson are wrong based on what they say. I was also not aware that stating someone is an economist was insulting. Maybe it's the recession? - gavin]
John Burgeson quotes one Jay Lehr, Ph.D @34:
“Do the numbers yourself. Carbon dioxide is no more than 4 percent of the total atmosphere—with water vapor being more than 90 percent”
I sure as hell better do the numbers myself because one Jay Lehr can’t do them to get, let alone save his “PhD.”
John, did you really have to publish that entire string of ridiculous nonsense?
“‘If you restrict CO2, you restrict human welfare’ may not be a totally correct hypothesis, but it is an idea that absolutely does belong in the debate.”
Well, I am feeling rather warm and sweaty and I think it’s because my rooms hot may not be a totally correct hypothesis, so does that belong in the debate?
Kevin, #35, what you on about, Beck is a good singer…
John Burgeson, a plea, asking as one reader to another, it’d be a kindness if you don’t repost nonsense in full text form. It just gets the stuff indexed by Google, making it easier to find and more confusing for people who find it at a site like this. I’m sure that’s not what you intend. A brief excerpt at most and a pointer are enough. Maybe more than enough.
Tom Fuller (18), Gavin was playing the ball in his post, not the man.
Gavin’s ‘team’s’ failure to engage with self-described ‘skeptics’–in reality ignorant or willfully deceptive proponents of pseudo-science for the most part–stems from having important and very critical work to do.
It is your desire be ‘fair’ to both sides–one of them with little to zero science to support their assertions–rather than report scientifically supported facts that is truly bizarre and discrediting of journalism.
Tom Fuller has a new post which says RealClimate is rigid and unable to deal with “new facts”:
Second, the entrenched position of these ‘warmists’ as exhibited, for example, at RealClimate, has really left them in a defensive position. They literally cannot react to new facts unless they fall neatly into the categories defined by their previous pronouncements, and it seems to have them at a serious disadvantage right now, as they have not been able to respond in a reasonable manner to new research results.
[Response: Sorry, I must have missed something... what new results? If you want really new and interesting results, look at Bart's recent discussions about aerosols, or Ron talking about dust and hurricanes, but made-up energy transfer theories? lame attempts to correlate solar to anything under the sun? Please. - gavin]
oakwood (37), do look up the definition of “ad hominem” before you use it again.
Gavin, you may have already answered this, but why is “suppressed” in quotes? Was this paper suppressed by EPA or not? If not was it distributed under the aegis of EPA?
Just an idle curious aside: why is the Chairman of the IPCC never pooh-poohed like other non-climate scientists that issue stuff are?
You say, “…What is the point in trying to make a logical point if everything one says is immediately dismissed because you’re part of a giant scientific fraud?”
I’m probably not who you were thinking about, but I can relate to the concern. ;-) BTW, that response to #18 was very astute.
Well, I admire Jim Galasyn for taking him on, but it’s clear that Tom Fuller’s understanding of climate science is based solely on an ability to cut-and-paste standard denialist drivel.
It’s sad that a man like this can get paid for lying.
Sorry, I must have missed something… what new results?
Gavin, I rather doubt Fuller will be back to read your comments. I think it’s pretty clear he came over here to draw a response that he could attack over on his blog.
Oh, BTW, one of the reasons he likes skeptics rather than scientists is because they’re nicer, and hardly ever rude. Yes, he actually says that. He’s a regular reader of WUWT so is fully aware of the nice, polite effort Anthony is leading to get Hansen fired (again).
The man is simply dishonest. Does anyone read the examiner?
Gavin, you may have already answered this, but why is “suppressed” in quotes? Was this paper suppressed by EPA or not?
I think it’s more likely the EPA was trying to save the poor bloke’s reputation … or perhaps the EPA’s reputation. It must be embarrassing all around to have someone so ignorant of climate science spewing such nonsense in public.
re: Tom Fuller
For context, I suggest people visit and review the recent history of Tom’s articles.
There are of course, good climate scientists here in the SF Bay Area, and a reasonable number of public lectures by serious folks, some of whom are pretty good at explaining things, if somebody actually wants to listen.
>Because the level pf peer review they got is vastly more than EPA could do on it’s own. From their guidelines:
Probably true, but the peer-review that is conducted by IPCC does not meet the standards of OMB and EPA guidelines. 
[Response: yes they do and then some. IPCC has four rounds of external review, including by fed. govt scientists and the summaries are approved line-by-line by all signatory governments (including the US). For a fed agency not to accept that as sufficient would be perverse in the extreme. As for the CCSP reports, for at least three of them EPA was the lead agency, and it was the second agency in more. To reject that would imply that EPA was declaring it's own peer review in-sufficient. Not going to happen. - gavin]
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