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Friday round-up

Filed under: — group @ 24 July 2009

Two items of interest this week. First, there is an atrocious paper that has just been published in JGR by McLean, de Freitas and Carter that is doing the rounds of the denialosphere. These authors make the completely unsurprising point that that there is a correlation between ENSO indices and global mean temperature – something that has been well known for decades – and then go on to claim that that all trends are explained by this correlation as well. This is somewhat surprising since their method of analysis (which involves taking the first derivative of any changes) eliminates the influence of any trends in the correlation. Tamino has an excellent demonstration of the fatuity of the statements in their hyped press-release and Michael Tobis deconstructs the details. For reference, we showed last year that the long term trends are still basically the same after you account for ENSO. Nevermore let it be said that you can’t get any old rubbish published in a peer-reviewed journal!

Second (and much more interestingly) there is an open call for anyone interested to contribute to setting the agenda for Earth System Science for the next couple of decades at the Visioning Earth Science website of the International Council for Science (ICS). This is one of the umbrella organisations that runs a network of committees and programs that prioritise research directions and international programs and they are looking for ideas. Let them know what your priorities are.


533 Responses to “Friday round-up”

  1. 401
    Ron Taylor says:

    I just read the comment by john_mcl referred to by Robert in #397. Someone with better qualifications than mine needs to jump on this with a corrective response. They are sticking to their guns, so it is clear that their goal has nothing to doing with science and everything to do with obfuscation and delay. (He also adds three explanatory notes in anticipation of “certain comments,” which need responses.)

    It is important not to give them a free hand.

  2. 402
    John Mashey says:

    Help?
    (This is part of looking at the APS “Open Letter”)

    Does anyone have, or have access to library that has:
    Assessing Climate Change:Temperatures, Solar Radiation and Heat Balance (Springer Praxis Books / Environmental Sciences) (2008). It would be great if someone would review it seriously @ Amazon. (It’s not in our local library, and @ $179, I probably wouldn’t buy it for fun, given the description so far.)

  3. 403

    #399 Rod B

    What I was saying is that when comparing two different bodies of evidence, if one of those bodies of evidence is rather sparse, compared to another body of evidence that is rather robust in scientific method, then one might have more confidence in the robust evidence as opposed to the sparse evidence.

    #400 Rod B

    I don’t think gobbledygook and hooey are in the same category as ratiocination. I think it is much more silly to entertain the musings of icecap.us, scienceandpublicpolicyinstitute whattsupwiththat or friendsofscience along with their fake graphs, out of context data, and cratefuls of red herrings, than the well established understanding regarding climate by institutions more subject to peer review and peer response.

    To quote a fun line from Princess Bride “I wonder if they are using the same wind we are using”. Oh the irony :)

  4. 404
    Ron Taylor says:

    Gavin, your response to Bob Carter’s response to canbanjo in #354 makes me quite uncomfortable. You seem to be treating this paper as a serious scientific effort and its authors as attempting to do serious science.

    They are not that stupid and know precisely what they are doing. This paper is a sham, but they are using it to claim the high ground of scientific objectivity in climate science. You must not let them do that. This needs to be challenged aggressively and consistently. If not, with the money that will fall in line behind their claims, they may push you right off the climate science PR stage, even if the paper is eventually discredited.

    And that is all they care about, since that will largely determine policy choices. Members of Congress are strongly influenced by the communications they receive from their constituents. It is possible for you to be absolutely correct, yet become almost irrelevant in the determination of climate policy at this critical stage.

  5. 405
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Nice article in NY Times on IPCC’s leadup to their next report:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/04/science/earth/04clima.html?hpw

    As opposed to the Times’ lugubrious headline, I’d suggest “IPCC Evolves In Adapting To Changing Climate”

    Teaser: includes quote from some guy named “Gavin Schmidt”.

  6. 406
    Doug Bostrom says:

    “Coal group ‘outraged’ by forgeries

    A coal group sought to distance itself from a grassroots advocacy firm working on its behalf that sent forged letters to Congress in opposition to a climate-change bill, as a key House sponsor of the legislation said he would open an investigation into the matter.

    Stephen Miller, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said he was “outraged” by a report that an employee at Bonner & Associates faked at least six letters from two minority groups based in Charlottesville, Va., that were sent to Congress. The Daily Progress in Charlottesville first reported on the forgeries.

    The letters in question were sent to Rep. Tom Perriello, a freshman Democrat from Virginia who was heavily lobbied by both sides leading up to the House vote on the climate bill. Perriello voted in support of the bill, which would cap carbon dioxide emissions and could curb coal use.

    “The standards and practices that we require for grassroots advocacy outreach were not adhered to by Bonner and Associates,” Miller said in a statement released Monday.

    ACCCE, which represents coal producers and utilities, opposes the climate bill passed by the House. Miller said as part of its efforts against the bill, ACCCE hired Hawthorn Group, a grassroots lobbying firm, which then hired Bonner and Associates.”

    http://thehill.com/business–lobby/coal-group-outraged-by-forgeries-2009-08-03.html

    I’ll bet they’re outraged. Paying good money for quality astroturf, then having some bumblers expose them to the light of day? Shocking, really.

  7. 407
    John Mashey says:

    re: #402 Donald Rapp book

    If anyone is looking, thanks, but never mind. Google Books Preview worked, and I think I now have sufficient information:

    Given that the PREFACE begins:

    “THE GLOBAL-WARMING DEBATE

    Global-warming alarmists believe that human production of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, with its concomitant water vapor feedback mechanism, has begin to add to the natural greenhouse effect, thereby raising global temperatures inordinately during the 20th century, with predictions of further increases in the 21st century that could be catastrophic…. (James Hansen, AL Gore…)

    Naysayers have maintained blogs and circulated reports, but generally ahve not penetrated the scientific literature that is dominated by alarmist publications. While the alarmists provide the impression of scientific integrity through peer-reviewed publications, the naysayers often lack the credentials of alarmists. But the important thing is data, not credentials.”

  8. 408
    John Mashey says:

    re: #407 and APS Open Letter, in general

    In rummaging around, I found that the list of signers included:

    Mike Gruntman,
    Joseph Kunc,
    Donald Rapp (who wrote the book mentioned in #407), and whose website says:

    “I have surveyed the wide field of global climate change energy and I am familiar with the entire literature of climatology.”

    All are members of USC Climate Change Research Group, which says:

    “The framework of the Institute will revolve around national and California climate change research programs (see Appendix), which are the expected sources of funding for the institute’s various endeavors.”

  9. 409
    simon abingdon says:

    John #393 “Assuming the planet is warming, and human caused, do you agree or disagree with my reasoning in the Lomborg refutation?” In other words “assuming I’ve got it right, do you agree with me?” Yes, OK. Certainly seems better than your birth certificate argument.

  10. 410
    simon abingdon says:

    #394 Hank, you wouldn’t answer my question (#388) and that makes it difficult for me to get my point across because you might deny that we were talking about the same thing.

    However, suppose you knew someone who had declared himself “utterly convinced” of something that he didn’t realize had long ago been shown to be false and this same person was for example also convinced that it was possible to predict shall we say the course of biological evolution or what the climate of the planet might be like in 100 years time. In the light of what you knew about him, how much trust would you have in his judgment?

    You quote Chris Dudley (#387) with approval and so shall I; “What one can say is that “We must know — we will know!” is an expression of wishful thinking”.

  11. 411
    Martin Vermeer says:

    John #407: are the spelling errors and generally poor language in the original? They should pay you to read it…

    I bet you could easily get a free copy… I also suspect that book sales is not the author’s largest source of revenue from this book. Perhaps I shouldn’t be judgmental, if the alternative wss going hungry…

  12. 412
    Thomas Palm says:

    I came across this article about bowhead whales:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090729074523.htm
    “But now the situation has changed and adult bowhead whales, which can grow up to 18 metres long and weigh 100 tons, have returned to the bay. This is probably because global warming has opened up the Northwest Passage, making it ice free at certain times of the year for the first time in 125,000 years. This gives bowhead whales from the northern Pacific a chance to reach Disko Bay and mate with the small local population.”

    Has anyone done genetic studies of how isolated the two populations have been? This seems like a potentially useful test for how unusual the current melting in the Arctic is.

  13. 413
    Hank Roberts says:

    Simon, I answered you; so have several others, refuting the Newton quote proffered with the implication that he was speaking generally (he wasn’t) and the more vague implication that seems to underly your postings about what we can understand and how we approach doing science.

    We can, and must, know enough to manage what we’re doing.
    It’s not wishful thinking to rely on math and science, nor to make a hypothesis to test, nor to build based on probability without certainty.

    It’s the best we can do.
    Semiconductors, lasers, radiation physics, climatology.

  14. 414
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Bowhead whales

    There’s much you’ll find with Scholar. One example from a minute’s browsing:
    http://folk.uio.no/bachmann/Publications/Borge%20et%20al%20-%202007.pdf
    Molecular Ecology (2007) 16, 2223–2235
    doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2007.03287.x

    “… most of the evidence for stock identification
    is circumstantial and indirect, and currently the five
    bowhead whale stocks are questioned and still await a
    proper characterization in population genetics terms
    (Moore & Reeves 1993; Rough et al. 2003; Heide-Jørgensen
    et al. 2006).
    The close association of bowhead whales with the sea
    ice edge has caused fluctuations in the distribution and
    abundance with climate changes (Dyke et al. 1996b). Some
    10 000 years ago bowhead whales moved into the Arctic
    Ocean via the Bering Strait (Dyke & Savelle 2001) and
    seasonally colonized the eastern Beaufort Sea. They reached
    maximum abundance between 10 000 and 8500 bp. The
    Davis Strait stock may originate from the Bering Sea stock,
    or alternatively from a palaeo-stock in the Gulf of Saint
    Lawrence, or from the Spitsbergen stock (Dyke et al. 1996a).
    The Hudson Bay stock might also have arisen from the
    Saint Lawrence stock (Dyke et al. 1996a). The Spitsbergen
    stock presumably originates from a refugium in the east-
    ern North Atlantic (Fredén 1975). According to the data of
    Dyke & Savelle (2001) migration between Pacific and
    Atlantic bowhead whale stocks was unrestricted during
    the period 10 000–8500 bp. Later, the M’Clintock Channel
    sea-ice plug prevented migration until 5000–3000 bp
    (Dyke et al. 1996a).
    Due to exploitation over several centuries, the once
    abundant bowhead whale went nearly extinct in most of its
    former range (Moore & Reeves 1993). ….

  15. 415
    simon abingdon says:

    #413 Hank, may I remind you of the background to our recent exchange:

    In #370 I felt reluctantly obliged to make some response to a question (#367) from John P. Reisman (OSS foundation) which he had apparently directed at me. Mindful of the fact that he is by his own admission not a mathematician, I thought I could respond in a humorous and lighthearted way by imagining Newton in a modern context saying about climate change (the Latin for) “I frame no hypotheses” (the famous “Hypotheses non fingo” remark he made in connection with his theory of gravity and like the “shoulders of giants” and “boy playing on the seashore” a Newtonian quote that springs readily to mind).

    In #371 for some reason of your own you made the assumption that it sounded like I was thinking of the “Ignoramus” (the nineteenth-century Bois-Reymond’s “we do not know and will not know”) rather than the “Fingo”, saying that Hilbert had refuted it (the “Ignoramus” that is) and that you found the refutation “utterly convincing”, and giving a link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignoramus_et_ignorabimus

    In #383 I responded that you might not have read your own link carefully enough, in that the concluding sentence of the first section (Hilbert’s reaction) refers to his work being subsequently undermined by Godel´s discoveries. (“Gödel’s incompleteness theorems showed in 1931 that no finite system of axioms, if complex enough to express our usual arithmetic, could ever fulfill the goals of Hilbert’s program, demonstrating many of Hilbert’s aims impossible, and establishing limits on mathematical knowledge”).

    Hank, it was you who introduced the strawman “ignoramus et ignorabimus” into the discussion. Any consequent misunderstanding has to be of your making.

  16. 416
    John Mashey says:

    #411 Martin
    General language is his; typos are mine; it was late.
    In any case, see #408 for more context for U Southern Cal astronautics efforts.

    USC does have a climate science group within Earth Sciences, and the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies.

  17. 417
    Mark says:

    “Any consequent misunderstanding has to be of your making.

    Comment by simon abingdon”

    With your very willing participation/interference, simon.

    PS you were the one starting with the Newton quote mine. This would still tend to indicate you as the progenitor of that “problem”.

  18. 418
    David B. Benson says:

    John Mashey (408) — With soemthing like 10,000 papers per year mentioning “climate”, nobody can be familiar with the entire literature.

  19. 419
    Brian Dodge says:

    Re the Dickens et. al. paper about modeling the PETM and the denialist blogosphere – I found a site touting it as “Peer Reviewed Study Shakes Foundation Of Climate Theory”.

    About 2/3 of the way through the post there was this nugget – [Update: Co-author
    Zeebe says results may possibly mean "future warming could be more intense."
    "If this additional warming which we do not really understand, was caused as
    a response to the CO2 warming, then there is a chance that also a future
    warming could be more intense than people anticipate right now," Zeebe told
    Reuters.]
    The end of the post announced “Discussion subject changed to “Peer Reviewed Study IS OF NO VALUE WHATSOEVER SINCE BASED ON UNIVERSITIES BRAINSWASHED CRETINS ‘”

    I think if anyone is going to follow this story on denialist blogs, they should look out for a sever case of whiplash

  20. 420
    Chris Dudley says:

    Doug (#406),

    Seems that a couple of reps from PA who voted against the bill also got letters. http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/04/climate-letter-forgeries-stir-outrage/

    And, apparently, the “clean coal” group that was paying for this knew about the fake letters at least two days before the vote. http://thinkprogress.org/2009/08/04/accce-silent-fraud/

    More info is still needed. Thanks for keeping up with this.

  21. 421
    Chris Dudley says:

    Doug (#406),

    Also interesting is the fact that the NAACP expressly supports Waxman-Markey http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/15/naacp-endorses-climate-ch_n_233529.html

    I wonder if the forgers thought the NAACP would not care about the issue or if they were trying to directly undermine them.

  22. 422

    #409 simon abingdon

    First, please pardon my elementary approach.

    Since you’re a mathematics guy, can you explain to me how, since the big numbers add up, why the small numbers are so important when it comes to merely understanding that this global warming event is human caused?

    - We know Co2, CH4, N2o are GHG’s
    - We know we have increased Co2 40%, CH4 148%, N2o 18%, (and of course high GWP’s) since pre-industrial
    - We know how much warming to expect from that
    - We can see that the planet has warmed as expected
    - There are no alternative explanations for this that have made it through peer review and survived peer response

    When I add all this up in the scientific understanding, reason tells me that we have solid understanding and know this global warming event is human caused.

    Why would the ‘small’ numbers that are still buried in the noise, and apparently, reasonably, observationally, and evidentially, be of a ‘large’ concern (especially since those numbers could not have the capacity to explain the amount of radiative forcing that has caused the current warming), in the sense that those numbers can’t have the capacity to explain global warming any other way?

    Of course it’s complex, but look at the signal to noise ration and what we see in the signal. The signal and the observations are have strong correlation. There currently are not other explanations, unless of course you have one that can explain it (which would be interesting). Just because a system is complex does not mean one can’t understand major drivers in the system. Just because you may not understand how every part of your car works or is supposed to work does not mean that if you hit the accelerator and add more gas, it won’t go faster.

    If you add it all up, sitting on the fence actually does not make sense. As a mathematician, why are you having so much trouble with what looks to me to be rather elementary addition?

    To summarize, since the small numbers in the noise don’t have the capacity to alter what the big numbers show, why would you, a mathematician, still be sitting on the fence?

    PS I still think the birth certificate argument is valid when considering the amount of investigation and evidence involved in either case. You can extrapolate though and use the same argument in other instances to illustrate the confidence problem.

  23. 423

    #422 John P. Reisman

    While the post is general in nature regarding the understanding please note the following:

    To summarize, since the small numbers in the noise don’t have the capacity to alter (significantly, or in a meaningful manner with regard to altering the view of human cause of the event) what the big numbers show, why would you, a mathematician, still be sitting on the fence?

  24. 424
    MarkB says:

    James Annan has a good commentary on the McLean at al. paper and on the standards of the peer-review process of AGU journals. He suggests that AGU editors should attach their names to the papers they deal with which would provide some level of accountability, similar to how it’s done with EGU journals. EGU journals also have an open peer review system, which would easily have resulted in the errors discovered before it was published. Is this standard practice in other journals? Comments?

    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/

  25. 425
    Hank Roberts says:

    > AGU editors

    See the message posted here:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/07/24/old-news/#comment-33870
    Joost de Gouw // August 5, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
    A message on behalf of the editors of JGR Atmospheres …

  26. 426
    EGU_Reviewer says:

    I have reviewed for EGU “discussion” journals.
    (But as I use my own name there I want to be anonymous here).

    Anyone can make attributed comments. Mostly though only the reviewers comment. In my opinion way too many of the papers there are substandard. And reviewing is partly to blame.

    Most “reviews” are too short to be useful (1-2 pages). There is a paragraph summarizing the paper. There is a paragraph that most reviewers seem to copy from each other that says: “This is a useful paper that makes a valuable contribution to the field and should be published” and finally there is a short list of typos. No in depth analysis.

    Several European academic systems require PhD candidates to publish a given number of papers and postdocs are always under pressure to publish. Quantity over quality is seldom wise. It is my opinion that too many of the poor quality papers being published by the EGU are there because PhD students and recent postdocs are too afraid to criticize each other.

    Don’t take my word for it. Go there and read some of the reviews. You don’t need to understand the paper. Just marvel at the shallowness and brevity of the review. Gasp at the fatuity of the author responses.

  27. 427
    David Ferrell says:

    Regarding “atrocious papers,” I thought I’d direct some further attention (following Chris Dudley in #5) to a recently-aired junk-science “discovery” that has been hailed as having major implications for greenhouse policy, purporting to “explain” global warming without recourse to heat-trapping gases. This is announced in a paper, “Global energy accumulation and net heat emission,” which masquerades as serious science yet which couldn’t pass honest peer review by a class of incoming freshman physics students. Indeed, some of today’s denialist tracts couldn’t stand up to scrutiny by a family of polar bears, if only the fuzzy animals could read.

    In the rather extended post immediately below, I show why this “discovery” is in fact a non-discovery—or a discovery of nothing whatsoever, less at “the bleeding edge” of science than over the edge entirely—capping the analysis with a challenging and certainly unconventional discussion of the actual warming we’re experiencing. The intent, however, is not so much to debunk an obviously false and/or fraudulent work of “science” as to experiment with what seems to be a robust and versatile way of using the numbers to “communicate climate” to the world at large.

    Because of the failure of the media as well as most of those in the scientific community to seriously engage in such communication, the level of the public discussion about global warming in America today remains low. Polls show that despite some level of concern, Americans don’t take global warming nearly as seriously as, say, the federal budget deficit or the state of the economy (the #1 “issue”). Many see the prospect of global warming as questionable, or as representing nothing more than a change in the weather. What does a difference of a few degrees, up or down, mean to anything? Compared to the size of the current imbalance in the national budget, where the numbers are starkly clear, the numbers commonly associated with global warming are vague. Consequently, there is a tendency to dismiss it as a non-event—“an overblown tempest in an oversold teapot.”

    Yet for reasons clearly implicit in what follows, balancing the earth’s energy budget must now take precedence over other priorities, including balancing the nation’s fiscal budget. The deficit we should really be worried about is the one at the top of the atmosphere, where there is a long-term deficiency in the longwave energy transmitted to space, and not the deficit in the nation’s pocketbook. Not dollars and cents, but the watt-seconds, terajoules, and equivalent giga-Hiroshimas of terrestrial waste heat being deposited in oceans and ice sheets by man-made GHGs should be our primary concern [1 giga-Hiroshima (gH) = 5x10^22 joules]. Otherwise, economics won’t much matter in the end.

  28. 428
    Gareth says:

    A pithy comment on McLean et al has been submitted to JGR, authored by a number of heavy-hitters (including Mann & Schmidt): more info and abstract here.

  29. 429
    MarkB says:

    Hank Roberts,

    I find their comment to be quite uninformative. In summary:

    1. They won’t discuss their peer review process.

    2. Sometimes bad papers get published. Submit a comment if you want to make a contention.

    The fact that the editors decided to make a comment at all on Tamino’s blog (assuming the comment is authentic) is perhaps subtle indication they acknowledge something went badly wrong here. I hope this leads to some changes. It bothers me that a paper like this was published, when you don’t even need much expertise to spot some of the fatal errors. Simply saying a comment should be submitted is a cop-out.

  30. 430
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Chris Dudley 5 August 2009 at 12:15 AM

    “Seems that a couple of reps from PA who voted against the bill also got letters. http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/04/climate-letter-forgeries-stir-outrage/

    Ah, it’s entered the very edge of the NYT radar screen! That’s the first inkling of this story I’ve seen appear beyond the blogosphere.

    A little more info here:

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/08/forged_letters_now_markey_wants_answers_from_coal.php#more

  31. 431
    Chris Dudley says:

    Doug (#430),

    Sounds like the story was broken by an newspaper so the blogs are part of it but not the whole thing. I see reports in the SF Chronicle, three in the NYT, the WP, CBS and some others.

    Reading between the lines in Markey’s letter, it sounds like the people in congress have been hearing about opposition to Waxman-Markey from minority groups in talking points so that there was broad knowledge of the letters. It will be interesting to know which groups’ names were stolen in PA. Veterans?

  32. 432
    Hank Roberts says:

    MarkB, while you find their comment uninformative, I would imagine they feel the same way about comments on blogs.

    No one argues peer review is the best possible system.

    No one argues that blogs or debates would be an improvement.

    John Mashey and others have been suggesting ways of managing faster-paced conversations in public in ways that keep focus on reliable published work.

    It’ll be interesting to read the comment when it appears and see what people competent in the field have to say.

  33. 433
    simon abingdon says:

    #422 #423 “sitting on the fence?”

    John, I did make response to your question in an way that I felt explained my position and that you might accept as understandable but it apparently failed moderation. It was simply to ask the question “does the Higgs boson exist?” my point being that what happens in reality trumps (and may confound) scientific theory. Try googling turbulence+unsolved+problem bearing in mind the relevance of turbulence to the atmosphere and the oceans. Regards simon abingdon

  34. 434

    For those who have been kind enough to take an interest in the past, I’ve just added another new page. This is nominally a review of Broecker & Kunzig’s fixing climate, but with some rather nice pics of polar research as it is done as a bonus, and quite a few links. It’s at:

    http://hubpages.com/hub/Climate-change-resources–Fixing-Climate–A-review

  35. 435
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Chris Dudley 6 August 2009 at 8:41 AM

    I’m behind the curve! Hopefully the outbreak of transparency will shut off this avenue of corruption for the time being.

    Unfortunately I think the whole sad episode will end up further casting a general pall of unreliability on correspondence to Capitol Hill. Of course it’s already pretty badly degraded; interests groups of all sorts have been organizing letter campaigns for so long that I’m surprised correspondence still carries any weight at all. What’s spontaneous, what’s organized, what’s organized but still legitimate? Who can possibly judge?

    A Bayesian grammatical analysis engine ought to be supplied to every elected representative, something along the lines of the Zdziarski’s DSPAM engine.

  36. 436
    MarkB says:

    That was fast…

    http://hot-topic.co.nz/big-guns-brought-to-bear/

    Another question: What’s the purpose of having so many co-authors behind what is a fairly straightforward refutation? Is it simply to show that reputable names are backing the comment?

    [Response: The various co-authors brought in complementary expertise and knowledge with regard to the climatic and statistical issues at hand. It's fair to say that every co-author contributed meaningfully. - mike]

  37. 437
    David Horton says:

    #436 Mike, write “complementary” 100 times on the blackboard. Unless of course 8 of the 9 were just there to compliment the other one. Yes, I know, I know, usually I can resist, but on a cold windy Friday morning …

    [Response: arggh! thanks-fixed now. - mike]

  38. 438
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Gareth #428, how did you learn about this? Did you see the text of the submitted comment?

  39. 439

    #433 simon abingdon

    Thank you. I’ve been long searching for the most flamboyant straw man argument served as a well cooked red herring. Though there may be better, I think you have presented a true classic to the climate science debate:

    “does the Higgs boson exist?”

    Sure you can toss turbulence, into the mix, but how is what we don’t know relevant in relation to what we do know?

    To say climate is complex (because of turbulence), therefore we can’t understand climate, is in and of itself a non sequitur, wouldn’t you agree? Kinda like saying flying a rocket to the moon is complex, therefore we can’t fly a rocket to the moon.

    Turbulence is interesting, but are you saying that the observed and modeled reality is overturned by something not well understood (like the Higgs boson); even though the cause and effect relationship of GHG’s are solidly linked to the ability of the atmosphere to retain more heat et cetera, et cetera, et cetera… compared to the Higgs argument of: We really don’t know.

    That’s a lot of straw you’re laying down, but as they say, if you make your bed out of straw, then you sleep in it. :)

    I understand that the complexity argument is intriguing to some, but it really just doesn’t cut the mustard… whatever that means ;)

  40. 440
    Hugh says:

    The various co-authors brought in complementary expertise and knowledge with regard to the climatic and **statistical** issues at hand.

    Ummm, I wonder which one is Tamino? [/rhetorical question]

  41. 441
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Mike #436, once you’re at at: “its” vs. “it’s”…

    [Response: Now you guys are just getting picky. When will browsers come with AI-driven spell checkers? - mike]

  42. 442
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Simon Abingdon, your discussion with John suggests that you have a fundamental misconception about how science works. Take your question: “Does the Higgs Boson exist?” At the present time, that is not the interesting question. If the Higgs exists, we have a pretty good standard model of particle physics up to the few-TeV energy range, encompassing the weak and electromagnetic forces. That’s good. If the Higgs doesn’t exist, we’re back to the drawing board. That’s also good, because it will lead to greater understanding in the long run.
    Right now, though, the question is what evidence will it take to establish the existence of the Higgs. What decay modes do we look for? What properties do we expect? How many candidates must we observe for a signal to emerge from background sufficiently to say we see the particle with high confidence.

    Climate science may be very complex, but it has a history of nearly 200 years. In that time, some things have been established with very high confidence–so high that we have even applied the principles to the study of other planets with good success. There is still much we do not understand. However, some aspects of the models are so fundamental that there is virtually no way they could be wrong. Climate change due to anthropogenic greenhouse gasses is unfortunately a direct consequence of those knowns. The known unknowns, and even the unknown unknowns are extremely unlikely to invalidate that conclusion.

  43. 443
    simon abingdon says:

    #439 Never mind the ad homs and rhetoricals John. Where’s the clincher, where’s the knock-out punch?

  44. 444
    simon abingdon says:

    #442 Ray “even the unknown unknowns are extremely unlikely to invalidate that conclusion”. Brave words.

  45. 445
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Simon, there are 9 separate strings of evidence all pointing to a climate sensitivity of 3 degrees per doubling. How likely do you think it is that all 9 would conspire not just to point to the wrong value, but to point to THE SAME WRONG VALUE?

    If you are not relying on evidence, you are not doing science. What is so hard for you to understand about that?

  46. 446
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Re #438: Gareth, never mind and thanks. The “comment” is now linked on Deltoid and Romm. Gareth’s site seems to be slashdotted :-(

  47. 447
    Ron Taylor says:

    Simon Abingdon, your reference to turbulence strikes me as misguided. You seem to be saying that since we do not fully understand turbulence, we cannot address complex problems in fluid dynamics and thermodynamics in a useful way. Nonsense. Are the issues fully resolved in climate science? Of course not. But both evidence and analysis (imperfect as it is) are consistent in their support of AGW.

    What point are you really trying to make?

  48. 448
    Gareth says:

    Martin:

    I didn’t post the full paper (although I have a copy) because I wasn’t sure it would be proper to do so. I’m glad someone else has done it.. ;-)

    Given that there are four NZ authors – three working in NZ – it’s perhaps not entirely surprising I might learn about this quite quickly… And NZ always gets to tomorrow first, so I have a timezone advantage.

  49. 449
    simon abingdon says:

    #445 Ray You cite “nine” separate strings of evidence (perhaps you’d enumerate them for me) which point to the same value. They point to consistent ranges of values Ray. Why do you use words that suggest they all refer to a particular value? I call that spin.

    The phrase “unknown unknown” (#442) denies by its very nature any meaningful statement about an effect. Why do you make absurd assertions Ray?

  50. 450
    simon abingdon says:

    #447 Read the background Ron. John P. Reisman (OSS foundation) said (#367) “We are 100% sure the climate is on a different path and we are 100% sure that path is human caused”. I don’t share his confidence. (And nor does the IPCC).


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