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Hey Ya! (mal)

Filed under: — group @ 30 September 2009

Interesting news this weekend. Apparently everything we’ve done in our entire careers is a “MASSIVE lie” (sic) because all of radiative physics, climate history, the instrumental record, modeling and satellite observations turn out to be based on 12 trees in an obscure part of Siberia. Who knew?

Indeed, according to both the National Review and the Daily Telegraph (and who would not trust these sources?), even Al Gore’s use of the stair lift in An Inconvenient Truth was done to highlight cherry-picked tree rings, instead of what everyone thought was the rise in CO2 concentrations in the last 200 years.

Al Gore apparently confusing a CO2 curve for a tree

Who should we believe? Al Gore with his “facts” and “peer reviewed science” or the practioners of “Blog Science“? Surely, the choice is clear….

Yamal sub-fossil larch trees in river sedimentMore seriously, many of you will have noticed yet more blogarrhea about tree rings this week. The target de jour is a particular compilation of trees (called a chronology in dendro-climatology) that was first put together by two Russians, Hantemirov and Shiyatov, in the late 1990s (and published in 2002). This multi-millennial chronology from Yamal (in northwestern Siberia) was painstakingly collected from hundreds of sub-fossil trees buried in sediment in the river deltas. They used a subset of the 224 trees they found to be long enough and sensitive enough (based on the interannual variability) supplemented by 17 living tree cores to create a “Yamal” climate record.

A preliminary set of this data had also been used by Keith Briffa in 2000 (pdf) (processed using a different algorithm than used by H&S for consistency with two other northern high latitude series), to create another “Yamal” record that was designed to improve the representation of long-term climate variability.

Since long climate records with annual resolution are few and far between, it is unsurprising that they get used in climate reconstructions. Different reconstructions have used different methods and have made different selections of source data depending on what was being attempted. The best studies tend to test the robustness of their conclusions by dropping various subsets of data or by excluding whole classes of data (such as tree-rings) in order to see what difference they make so you won’t generally find that too much rides on any one proxy record (despite what you might read elsewhere).

****

So along comes Steve McIntyre, self-styled slayer of hockey sticks, who declares without any evidence whatsoever that Briffa didn’t just reprocess the data from the Russians, but instead supposedly picked through it to give him the signal he wanted. These allegations have been made without any evidence whatsoever.

McIntyre has based his ‘critique’ on a test conducted by randomly adding in one set of data from another location in Yamal that he found on the internet. People have written theses about how to construct tree ring chronologies in order to avoid end-member effects and preserve as much of the climate signal as possible. Curiously no-one has ever suggested simply grabbing one set of data, deleting the trees you have a political objection to and replacing them with another set that you found lying around on the web.

The statement from Keith Briffa clearly describes the background to these studies and categorically refutes McIntyre’s accusations. Does that mean that the existing Yamal chronology is sacrosanct? Not at all – all of the these proxy records are subject to revision with the addition of new (relevant) data and whether the records change significantly as a function of that isn’t going to be clear until it’s done.

What is clear however, is that there is a very predictable pattern to the reaction to these blog posts that has been discussed many times. As we said last time there was such a kerfuffle:

However, there is clearly a latent and deeply felt wish in some sectors for the whole problem of global warming to be reduced to a statistical quirk or a mistake. This led to some truly death-defying leaping to conclusions when this issue hit the blogosphere.

Plus ça change…

The timeline for these mini-blogstorms is always similar. An unverified accusation of malfeasance is made based on nothing, and it is instantly ‘telegraphed’ across the denial-o-sphere while being embellished along the way to apply to anything ‘hockey-stick’ shaped and any and all scientists, even those not even tangentially related. The usual suspects become hysterical with glee that finally the ‘hoax’ has been revealed and congratulations are handed out all round. After a while it is clear that no scientific edifice has collapsed and the search goes on for the ‘real’ problem which is no doubt just waiting to be found. Every so often the story pops up again because some columnist or blogger doesn’t want to, or care to, do their homework. Net effect on lay people? Confusion. Net effect on science? Zip.

Having said that, it does appear that McIntyre did not directly instigate any of the ludicrous extrapolations of his supposed findings highlighted above, though he clearly set the ball rolling. No doubt he has written to the National Review and the Telegraph and Anthony Watts to clarify their mistakes and we’re confident that the corrections will appear any day now…. Oh yes.

But can it be true that all Hockey Sticks are made in Siberia? A RealClimate exclusive investigation follows:

We start with the original MBH hockey stick as replicated by Wahl and Ammann:

Hmmm… neither of the Yamal chronologies anywhere in there. And what about the hockey stick that Oerlemans derived from glacier retreat since 1600?

Nope, no Yamal record in there either. How about Osborn and Briffa’s results which were robust even when you removed any three of the records?

Osborn and Briffa (2006) Supplemental Material

Or there. The hockey stick from borehole temperature reconstructions perhaps?

No. How about the hockey stick of CO2 concentrations from ice cores and direct measurements?

Err… not even close. What about the the impact on the Kaufman et al 2009 Arctic reconstruction when you take out Yamal?

Oh. The hockey stick you get when you don’t use tree-rings at all (blue curve)?

M08

No. Well what about the hockey stick blade from the instrumental record itself?

And again, no. But wait, maybe there is something (Update: Original idea by Lucia)….

Nah….

One would think that some things go without saying, but apparently people still get a key issue wrong so let us be extremely clear. Science is made up of people challenging assumptions and other peoples’ results with the overall desire of getting closer to the ‘truth’. There is nothing wrong with people putting together new chronologies of tree rings or testing the robustness of previous results to updated data or new methodologies. Or even thinking about what would happen if it was all wrong. What is objectionable is the conflation of technical criticism with unsupported, unjustified and unverified accusations of scientific misconduct. Steve McIntyre keeps insisting that he should be treated like a professional. But how professional is it to continue to slander scientists with vague insinuations and spin made-up tales of perfidy out of the whole cloth instead of submitting his work for peer-review? He continues to take absolutely no responsibility for the ridiculous fantasies and exaggerations that his supporters broadcast, apparently being happy to bask in their acclaim rather than correct any of the misrepresentations he has engendered. If he wants to make a change, he has a clear choice; to continue to play Don Quixote for the peanut gallery or to produce something constructive that is actually worthy of publication.

Peer-review is nothing sinister and not part of some global conspiracy, but instead it is the process by which people are forced to match their rhetoric to their actual results. You can’t generally get away with imprecise suggestions that something might matter for the bigger picture without actually showing that it does. It does matter whether something ‘matters’, otherwise you might as well be correcting spelling mistakes for all the impact it will have.

So go on Steve, surprise us.

Update: Briffa and colleagues have now responded with an extensive (and in our view, rather convincing) rebuttal.


759 Responses to “Hey Ya! (mal)”

  1. 201
    CM says:

    Patrik (#188), what does the sensitivity to the choice of starting year tell you about alleged climate trends based on a time series ~10 years? Discuss.

  2. 202
    Tuomas says:

    Was these irregularities in McIntyre’s critique noted somewhere already:

    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/comments-on-mcintyres-claims-on-briffa/

    According to this blog posting there seems to be some mis-referencings in the critique in ClimateAudit. Check it out and confirm if you will.

  3. 203
    John says:

    Mr Levinson

    BPL:

    Al Gore was one of Roger Revelle’s students in the 1960s, which means he’s taken at least one more climatology course than George Will has. Do you know who Revelle was? Do you know what he did?

    I would be embarrassed to cite a single undergraduate course as qualification to weigh in as an authority in anything. A curiosity and interest can lead to great knowledge, but put in the hands of a politican scares me to death (no confidence in politicians whose livelyhood depends on deception – republicans and democrats alike)

    Revelle pioneered the greenhouse effect and CO2 contribution – common knowledge.

  4. 204
    Luis Dias says:

    Oh sure. He’s just ‘asking questions’ – and yet the innuendo and implication was perfectly clear to his friends and to the greek chorus and no correction of McKitrick’s or Watts’ comments were made. Strange that. At absolute minimum McIntyre is complicit in propagating slander – and if that makes you feel better about this, than good for you. It doesn’t do much for me. – gavin

    Perhaps I’ll be snipped, but I think this is important. You do realise the difference between imagination on your part and real empirically proven “slander” (didn’t you mean “libel”?)? What McIntyre says is what he says. You accuse him directly of something he did not do, and this is a fact, innuendos aside. If you want to accuse Anthony Watts, that strange newspaper and others of misrepresenting SM, be my guest, release the panters, I’ll enjoy the show personally! But if the quality and rigor of your accusations is of this quality, I do not hope for the best. You are making a disservice to this site, mr Schmidt, specially considering how much you have complained of how bad the press is to misrepresent what scientists are actually doing. In those cases you cautioned everyone against thinking that what goes into blogs and newspapers is a good objective representation of a paper or finding. I hope a less boiled blood will convince you to do the right thing.

    [Response: If there was a paper or a finding, then one would clearly prefer to discuss that. That there isn't a paper is exactly the point. Sometimes the press does get things wrong - people are misquoted or misrepresented - and in those cases the people (especially if they have a blog) can make that misrepresentation clear. Perhaps this is all just a mistake. Maybe "suspect" means something else in Toronto than elsewhere. I'm happy to acknowledge that McIntryre now claims that he didn't mean this at all. Great. Maybe all of his supporters can dial it all back too. - gavin]

  5. 205
    Rene says:

    James Allan #31 seems to capture the feeling of many here who resent the calling into question the entire peer-review process, eg by The Registry. This negative attitude will surely only come across as a smoking gun of ongoing systemic academic finagling.

  6. 206
    greg kai says:

    160 >> Oakden Wolfe – AGW pseudo-skeptics have been reduced to a fringe group like creationists, truthers, birthers, etc. I simply can’t see how a detached observer could possibly believe hundereds of thousands of man-years, numerous sattelites, and billions of dollars have been spent looking at our climate over the last few decades but for some reason nobody spotted that it was all based on the rings of 5 fossilised trees.

    They are not, and, as a recently-turning-skeptic myself, I think that it is quite counterproductive to compare AGW-denyalist to creationist, or even flat-earthers…

    When you are scientifically-minded and educated but not a specia-list in the domain (my case in both both paleontology and climatology), it is still extremely easy to see that creationist claims are a pile of junk. Flat-earthers are even more easy, just look at the huge amounts of satellite photos….

    But on the other hand, the case for AGW is much much less clear. In fact, I was by default not doubting the global warming classic interpretation till I started reading multiple sources on the net, and as my self-confession as a recent skeptic shows, the argument from the denialist camp are not only convincing to petrol gulping rednecks, but also to a very scientifically minded, atheist european (although, I must admit, I like motor sports ;-) ). As a friendly advice from someone moving more and more to the “adverse” camp, I would suggest not to underestimates the denialists (and then maybe forge another ephithet, denialist let you think they will be easy to debunk). This debate is, objectively, in a completely different class from flat-earthism or creationism, and just mentioning those is in fact detrimental to official AGW theory…

    BTW, I am an engineer working in numerical simulation, and it was (here?) mentioned that those seems to be surprisingly highly represented in the “denialist” camp. I agree with that, and kindly suggest to think of this type of guy as worth to try to convince. The arguments, and kind of opposition you will get, will not be the same as with a creationist…

  7. 207
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #155 (John N-G): Like Ray, I missed the irony on the first pass. Until I saw your clarification, I was going to refer you to the WP article on “dog whistle” politics, but obviously you already got the point. After all this time, our friend McI knows just how to cue the response he wants without himself saying anything unseemly.

    An interesting and gratifying aspect of this recent outburst is that, in sharp contrast to some prior episodes, McI didn’t get any traction with the media. For them, it seems, his pitch has become audible and very much off-key.

  8. 208
    pete best says:

    Re #200, Tony, I say the public perception is generally (60-80% of the general population) informed and influenced in their opinions of issues by the media rather and hence that story told by that reporter needs to be factual and not just a political one to suit the agenda of people who only wish to hear what they can find to back all their already distored version of the truth of the matter.

    The Daily Telegraph (DT) is considered to be a right wing paper (in UK terms) and the right is sympathetic to the BAU approach and hence listen to denial stories that attempt to undermine the rational orthodox scientific explanation for AGW.

    The Guardian (UK left wing newspaper) does sometimes over state climate change (alarmist cry from the right most often) but its and the Independents coverage of AGW is fair and balanced relative to the DT sometimes.

    The science rejects the deniers submitted papers on their take on the subject from denying that the temperatures have risen at all to other explanations for the recorded (and accepted) warming from to its the Sun (totally wrong) to Galactic Cosmic Rays. If any of the work was submitted as it should be via the peer reviewed scientific process (as all valid scientists have to do) that it has been rejected on scientific grounds.

    The truth is that only scientists working in or a related field can with any certainty state what is causing observed AGW. There is no reason apart from selfish ones (political and economic more than likely) to not try and tell the public the real take on AGW and it cause. Its not funny to lie.

  9. 209
    Patrik says:

    CM #201>> It tells me that the selected time span is of utmost importance – which is exactly why this hockey stick issue is totallu decisive when it comes to deciding our future attitude towards climate changes.

  10. 210

    To quote Michael Tobis: “I’m surprised when global trends aren’t hockey sticks.”
    http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2009/04/hockey-stick.html

  11. 211
    SamG says:

    What’s an ‘AGW pseudo-skeptic’?
    You mean to say that I’m only pretending not to believe?

    Damn it, you got me!

  12. 212

    Here we go for the nth time:

    Skeptics of the current global warming now refer to the period between 1998 and 2008 and claim that global warming has ended. Some go one step further and claim that global cooling has begun. Of course, the observed data shows that this is nonsense. GISS, HadCRU, RSS, and UAH represent the four organizations that publish online the global average temperature estimates.

    View the data and trends between 1998 and 2008 at:

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/images/temperature_trends_1998-2008.png

    Three of the four global average temperatures indeed are decreasing in their trends (although the actual global mean temperatures are still warmer than the previous decades).

    Now view the data and trends between 1999 and present at:

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/images/temperature_trends_1999-2009.png

    Simply by shifting our starting point by one year, all four global average temperatures are increasing in their trends!

    So why did the 1998 – 2008 plot show cooling? 1998 experienced an historic El Nino event (more than 2 standard deviations above the mean) which caused a large warming spike that year. 2008 experienced a La Nina which causes cooling and also an absence of sunspots which also caused some cooling.

    The point made here is that if one cherry-picks a small subset of the data, one can make just about any claim with a nice plot to back it up. The correct way to view global temperature trends is to look at ALL of the data.

    View: http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/images/temperature_trends_1880-2009.png

    This plot shows the global average temperatures along with trends from 1880 to present. (Note: UAH and RSS data does not exist before 1980) It is quite obvious that global temperatures have been increasing since 1880 and at a faster rate in the past two decades!

    Here is a more technical analysis of why global temperatures have not “cooled since 1998″ nor “cooled since 2001″ as some global warming critics claim: Embarrassing Questions from the Open Mind Blog at: http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/embarrassing-questions/

    Furthermore, much of the heat that is delivered by the sun is stored in the Earth’s oceans while only a fraction of this heat is stored in the atmosphere. Therefore, a change in the heat stored in the ocean is a better indicator of climate change than changes in atmospheric heat.

    Change in energy content in different components of the earth system for two periods: 1961-2003 (blue bars) and 1993-2003 (pink bars).

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/images/energy_content_copenhagen.jpg

    The two links below are plots of ocean heat content which shows warming.

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/images/ocean_heat_content_copenhag.jpg

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/images/heat_content55-07.png

    (Tamino, 2009) clearly shows that surface temperatures north of latitude 60o are warming at an accelerated rate in the past few decades. Tamino (2009) retrieved 113 station records at latitude 60oN or higher with at least 30 years of data.

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/images/tamino_arctic%20warming-1.jpg

    The Arctic has experienced a sudden, recent warming.
    In the last decade extreme northern temperature has risen to unprecedented heights.
    Over the last 3 decades, every individual station north of 70o indicates warming, 13 of 17 are significant at 95% confidence, all estimated trend rates are faster than the global average, some are more than five times as fast.
    Oft-repeated claims that “it was warmer in the 1930s” or “it was warmer in the 1940s” are wrong.
    The idea that present arctic temperatures are about equal to their 1958 values is wrong.

    Further signs of this warming trend can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Extent from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. As the link below shows, sea ice extent has been dramatically reduced since 1979.

    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/n_plot_hires.png

    Sea ice extent is just part of the picture. Sea ice thickness is also being measured since 2004 and there has been a dramatic decrease in thickness according to NASA’s press release, NASA Satellite Reveals Dramatic Arctic Ice Thinning dated July, 2009. (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/icesat-20090707r.html)

    Some excerpts:

    Using ICESat measurements, scientists found that overall Arctic sea ice thinned about 0.17 meters (7 inches) a year, for a total of 0.68 meters (2.2 feet) over four winters. The total area covered by the thicker, older “multi-year” ice that has survived one or more summers shrank by 42 percent.

    In recent years, the amount of ice replaced in the winter has not been sufficient to offset summer ice losses. The result is more open water in summer, which then absorbs more heat, warming the ocean and further melting the ice. Between 2004 and 2008, multi-year ice cover shrank 1.54 million square kilometers (595,000 square miles) — nearly the size of Alaska’s land area.

    During the study period, the relative contributions of the two ice types to the total volume of the Arctic’s ice cover were reversed. In 2003, 62 percent of the Arctic’s total ice volume was stored in multi-year ice, with 38 percent stored in first-year seasonal ice. By 2008, 68 percent of the total ice volume was first-year ice, with 32 percent multi-year ice.

    Figure 27f (NASA, 2009) below shows that overall ice thickness and multi-year ice (MY) thickness are decreasing.

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/images/NASA_sea_ice_thickness.jpg

    Honestly, anybody who claims that “there has been global cooling or that global warming has halted since 2000 (or whatever)” really does not understand climatic trends nor the difference between a long-term underlying trend vs. short-term fluctuations which have a larger magnitude (in both directions) than the trend. Or, if they do, they are purposely misleading (lying) to support some agenda.

  13. 213
    Oakden Wolf says:

    David Harrington and Greg Kai:

    My reply was 159; you are replying to “Alan from Oz” at 160.

    1. Regarding a different name for the denialists, I have suggested “dissonauts”, but agnotologists is better, if you want to get technical.

    2. Greg Kai: some of the most potent creationist proponents were, and many still are, engineers. Research this historically using Google Groups. It is interesting that climate change skepticism also might be appealing to engineers. (I say “might be” because I haven’t really attempted to determine if that is true or not.) When this was discussed vis-a-vis creationism, it was stated ofttimes that scientists and engineers are fundamentally trained for different ways of thinking — and thusly different ways of framing, investigating, and “solving” problems.

  14. 214
    dhogaza says:

    Yes, good old cherry picking – which is exactly what dhogaza chooses to do.

    (and others)

    Jeff, not I, made the “decade” claim, which is why I chose 10 years rather than 8 or 11.

    It’s not cherry picking to use the timespan used by someone who doesn’t realize the “decade” claim was long-used as a cherry pick to use 1998 as the start point, and that as time’s moved on, you can no longer say “decade”.

    It’s a sign that Jeff’s just parroting something he’s read some where.

    Now, when the slope of a linear regression changes drastically when you choose different end points of (say) 11, 10, 9, or 8 years, this tells you something important about the underlying time series.

    Something which every denialist on the planet seems to miss.

    Can you tell us what it is?

  15. 215
    FredB says:

    “May I suggest FredB, that anyone who does not have the nouse to find by themselves the freely available files to which Gavin refers, probably does not also have the requisite understanding to analyse and interpret the data properly?”

    May I suggest, Bernard J., that approaching the general public like that is unlikely to convince many people?

    Gavin, thanks for your answers so far, very helpful. I am managing to locate some of this material, but it’s a bit harder to tell when it was put there. Do you happen to know when Briffa/Melvin first made the data at http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/melvin/PhilTrans2008/ available?

  16. 216

    Aaron:

    climate science is perched on a statistical argument and nothing more.

    Garbage! It’s based on physics! The theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming, in particular, is based on radiation physics. Statistics can only give confirmation.

  17. 217
    dhogaza says:

    Steve McIntyre has offered to allow someone from this side of the debate a post on his Climate Audit site which will be without editorial interference. Will anyone here take u that offer?

    I hope not. McIntyre needs to play by the rules, write up a proper paper, and submit it for review and publication.

  18. 218

    David Harrington:

    That statement only holds true if you use GISS as your source rather than the more accurate, and global, sattelite data.

    “Satellite.” That’s only true for UAH satellite data; the RSS series shows the same warming as the surface measurements. And satellite temperatures are less, not more, reliable guides to the surface temperature. When you estimate the Earth’s temperature from a satellite, you have to weigh how much of the signal is coming from each layer of atmosphere, which means you have to build a model and hope it’s accurate. UAH is notorious for getting it wrong (see the work of Santer et al. in Science for a good overview).

  19. 219
    dhogaza says:

    But on the other hand, the case for AGW is much much less clear.

    Actually, the notion that laboratory-proven physics is less clear than the notion that over billions of years, selection on self-replicating chemicals will lead to creatures as complex as human beings is just bizarre.

    If evolutionary theory is so clear, why do so many people conflate it with abiogenesis and why do so many get “survival of the fittest” (selection) wrong?

    In fact, I was by default not doubting the global warming classic interpretation till I started reading multiple sources on the net

    In other words, you’re letting liars and the lies they tell cloud your mind.

    and as my self-confession as a recent skeptic shows, the argument from the denialist camp are not only convincing to petrol gulping rednecks, but also to a very scientifically minded, atheist european (although, I must admit, I like motor sports ;-) ).

    Apparently you’re overestimating your science skills, or at least your bullshit detector needs fine-tuning.

    As a friendly advice from someone moving more and more to the “adverse” camp, I would suggest not to underestimates the denialists (and then maybe forge another ephithet, denialist let you think they will be easy to debunk). This debate is, objectively, in a completely different class from flat-earthism or creationism, and just mentioning those is in fact detrimental to official AGW theory…

    1. The same techniques are used by AGW denialists as are used by creationists.

    BTW, you’re using one of them here – “I used to believe in [evolution/HIV/AGW] until I started studying about it myself on the internet”. This makes you suspect right off the bat, I’m afraid.

    2. They’re often the same people, i.e. Roy Spencer is a creationist, creationist sites like Uncommon Descent post fairly often on “AGW fraud” which they explicitly link to the “evolution fraud” as being evidence that science is thoroughly corrupt.

    3. They grasp at tiny uncertainties in science and proclaim that it overthrows vast amounts of knowledge (in AGW, primarily the “hockey stick”, which isn’t even the basis for the AGW hypothesis).

    This list could go on and on but you get the idea.

    BTW, I am an engineer working in numerical simulation, and it was (here?) mentioned that those seems to be surprisingly highly represented in the “denialist” camp. I agree with that, and kindly suggest to think of this type of guy as worth to try to convince. The arguments, and kind of opposition you will get, will not be the same as with a creationist…

    Really? Engineers are over-represented among creationists, too…we see supposedly scientific arguments from engineers applied to evolutionary biology all the time.

  20. 220

    Tony Hirst, who appears to have put on horse blinders, writes:

    There is nothing in Steve’s writings to suggest that he was accusing anybody of malpractice,

    I take it you haven’t been reading his site very long. His whole shtick is to insinuate that mainstream climate scientists are frauds. If you’ve missed that, you don’t know how to read.

  21. 221
    dhogaza says:

    “May I suggest FredB, that anyone who does not have the nouse to find by themselves the freely available files to which Gavin refers, probably does not also have the requisite understanding to analyse and interpret the data properly?”

    May I suggest, Bernard J., that approaching the general public like that is unlikely to convince many people?

    Your suggesting that the general public believes they have the requisite understanding to analyze and interpret the data properly?

    I rather doubt that.

  22. 222

    John:

    Revelle pioneered the greenhouse effect and CO2 contribution – common knowledge.

    Well, no. The greenhouse effect was proposed by Fourier in 1824, the greenhouse agents responsible were identified by Tyndall in 1859, and the theory of AGW was proposed by Arrhenius in 1896. Revelle was instrumental in setting up regular CO2 readings and in showing that new CO2 in the air was coming from fossil fuels (Revelle and Suess 1957).

  23. 223

    greg kai:

    As a friendly advice from someone moving more and more to the “adverse” camp…

    BTW, I am an engineer

    No comment.

  24. 224
    James Allan says:

    #205 Greg:

    There are plenty of AGW sceptics out there who come from a wide range of intellectual angles. Like it or loathe it, there are cartloads of deniers whose arguments mainly stem from incredulity and romanticised notions of how they think science works. I would say talking to them is indeed very akin to debating a creationist and thanks to the nature of the denyosphere, it is often difficult to separate this kind of thing from those who have more thought-out objections. And even when talking to the more scientifically literate objectors, it is often then difficult to separate the genuine sceptics from the cynics who will never be convinced no matter what.

    I think the main reason it is often difficult to convince a lot of people of global warming science is because it is simply harder to present a tangible and irrefutable example of the science at work. The hockey stick is one attempt at doing so because it provides a very visual impression of what is happening, but this in turn means a lot of people get the false impression that it is some kind of cornerstone that the whole of global warming theory is built on.

    To any genuine sceptics out there, I always suggest reading the WG1 executive summary of the last IPCC report first and take it from there. Many people are just simply unaware of the real nature of the arguments that the scientists are putting forward beyond what they read in the mainstream media (which has this annoying habit of being either dumbed down or oversensationalised) or the bloggosphere (where you can find literally anything).

  25. 225
    pete best says:

    The deniers still appear to have the upper hand in the USA.

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/10/01/george-will-temperature-plauteua-lie/

    20% of 2005 levels by 2020 is not good enough is it ? It needs to be 20% of 1990 levels. The USA is the worlds greatest historic polluter along with the UK and Germany. We here in the UK are just a lamentable as we have mitigated our emissions by expering them via manufacturing to China and demanded emissions be based on production and not consumption.

    Each USA citizen is commited to 20 Tonnes of CO2 per annum and 10 here in the UK. Our cuts have to be deeper and quicker.

  26. 226
    spilgard says:

    Re #200,
    The science community has long awaited the opportunity to engage Mr. McIntyre on his findings. Unfortunately, he has yet to bring his findings to the venue wherein such matters are discussed, i.e., the body of peer-reviewed literature. Until then, he remains merely the science equivalent of the chap who reassures his drinking buddies that all judoka are wussies, yet is perpetually too busy to stroll down to the dojo, don a gi and step onto the mat.

  27. 227
    Jim Eager says:

    Are you innumerate Patrick? (@186)

    1998-2009 is 12 years, except that 2009 is not even over yet.

    How about showing the data 1990-2009, which shows with abundant clarity that 1998 was an anomalous outlier, combined with the actual trend for the “past 10 years” which would be 1999-2008:
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1999/to:2008/trend/plot/gistemp/from:1990/to:2009

    Oh, look, the 10 year trend slope is positive. How inconvenient for Jeff’s argument.

    Or, you may want to use GISSTEMP, which actually includes the Arctic and Antarctic:
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1999/to:2008/trend/plot/gistemp/from:1990/to:2009

    Oh, look, 1998 is not longer so anomalous.
    How very inconvenient for Jeff’s argument.

  28. 228
  29. 229
    Mark says:

    “When you estimate the Earth’s temperature from a satellite, you have to weigh how much of the signal is coming from each layer of atmosphere”

    BPL, you should have said:

    “When you estimate the Earth’s ***surface*** temperature from a satellite…”.

    Since this is what the trees, animals, and all the Stevenson Screens measure.

    Add in that if it’s the sun, the entire atmosphere will warm, since there’s just simply more energy put in to the system, whereas if it is CO2 or other blanketing method, there’s no extra energy put in, therefore the ground will warm and the upper air cool (since the upper air isn’t getting the warming from the lower layers it used to get and the lower layers aren’t losing the heat they used to).

    And satellites measure energy radiance along a line. Which goes *down* through the atmosphere. Therefore the overall effect is to measure the temperature through the entire depth of the atmosphere.

    Teasing out the temperature *profile* is needed to determine even approximately the surface temperature and that is fraught with uncertainties and errors.

    But in measuring at a far greater density of sampling than even the best surface network, and measuring volumetric, rather than spot, values, it is a good indicator of how representative your spot values are compared to their neighbours.

  30. 230
    Mark says:

    “May I suggest, Bernard J., that approaching the general public like that is unlikely to convince many people?”

    May I suggest, FredB, that those who aren’t convinced yet will not be convinced even should the All Mighty appear in front of them and tell them to their face that it’s happening.

  31. 231

    Here’s a crazy idea*:

    In my student town (Wageningen, NL), two competing student organizations with a very different culture and following had the tradition to swap members for one night during the introduction week: The barmen and –women of the one organisation (“Unitas”) would go to the other (“Ceres”) and vice versa. This resulted in the hilarious situation that in an otherwise very alternative, goth-like atmosphere there were suddenly people in suit and tie and tightly trimmed hair serving the beer and managing things, while alternative looking, long haired woolen sock types did the same over at the “corps” (more ‘corporate’ style organisation/fraternity/sorority). This was the best night of the year. Even though it underscored the huge differences between both cultures, it increased mutual understanding and respect.

    How about having Steve McIntyre and/or Anthony Watts put up a post at RC (and engage in the discussion sure to follow) about their ‘bottom line’ and have Gavin and/or other RC contributors do the same over at CA or WUWT?

    Some things should probably be agreed upon beforehand, such as the general focus of the post (e.g. “what do we know and what don’t we know about climate science”), and no allowance of namecalling or broad-brush accusations, neither by the author of the post nor by the commenters.

    Just maybe we could all have a beer afterwards.

    * I don’t claim it’s original; it’s probably been suggested before. Properly executed, I think it could be good though.

  32. 232
    Mark says:

    “SamG says:
    2 October 2009 at 8:24 AM

    What’s an ‘AGW pseudo-skeptic’?
    You mean to say that I’m only pretending not to believe?”

    Yes, Sam.

    It also applies when someone *says* they are skeptic but actually are merely selectively credulous. I.e. those who point to McIntyre’s paper refuting Mann’s 98 hockey stick and say this proves Mann’s work is wrong, but don’t think to point to Amman’s paper refuting McIntyre’s work as proof that Steve paper is wrong.

    Or indeed those who demand absolute proof (100%) that AGW is right, yet do not require that level of proof anywhere else.

    Merely calling yourself “skeptic” doesn’t make you one. Hence you are at best “pseudo skeptic”.

  33. 233
    Mark says:

    “Since plant life grows faster with increased CO2, could it be that tree rings are better correlated with changes in CO2 than temperature?”

    Did you wear sunglasses to avoid optic nerve damage at that blinding flash of the obvious there, James?

    Here’s another one: since it’s so well known that plant life can grow faster if given increased CO2 concentrations, could it be that the people who study this for a living have already accounted for it?

  34. 234
    Hank Roberts says:

    > this side of the debate
    > publishing in a journal

    If the farmer takes on the pig on the pig’s terms, it’s mud wrestling.
    If the pig takes on the farmer on the farmer’s terms, it’s a barbeque.

  35. 235

    “…..everything we’ve done in our entire careers is a “MASSIVE lie” (sic) because all of radiative physics, climate history,……. turn out to be based on 12 trees in an obscure part of Siberia. Who knew?
    Indeed, according to both the National Review and the Daily Telegraph (and who would not trust these sources?), even Al Gore’s use of the stair lift in An Inconvenient Truth was done to highlight cherry-picked tree rings, instead of what everyone thought was the rise in CO2 concentrations in the last 200 years. ”

    Who are we going to believe on say radiative physics? James Clerk Maxwell or William Krystol, right wing fanatic editor of the national review. A great man or a political hack? The choice is clear.

  36. 236
    Tom P says:

    I have defined on Climate Audit a non-biased sensitivity analysis of the Yamal CRU data for Steve McIntyre:

    “…a sensitivity analysis based on recalculation of the Briffa Yamal plot only using trees with ages above a certain value. It would be very useful to see how sensitive the shape is tree age – we’d see how the snake bends as its bones grow older…”

    The hockey stick might hold up as the shorter cores are removed from the entire record. On the other hand we might see a medieval warm period emerging.

    I have no idea what will be the result, but I am impatient to see it. This is potentially publishable work.

    McIntyre’s original sensitivity test, which was effectively throwing short cores in to the end of the record to suppress the blade of the hockey stick, had no validity, even if it created a stir. This new sensitivity test will really tell us if the original Yamal hockey stick holds up.

    If this test is invalid, it would be good to understand why before it is performed.

  37. 237
    Dean says:

    Gavin says “That’s maybe 5 generations of computer systems and the transition from 8 inch tapes, to floppies, to zip disks, to USB sticks etc.”

    I remember when I once worked on a project for managing arctic ice rafar data in th 90′s, the NASA project manager said that he had access to a room full of computer tapes of satellite data collected in the 70′s that nobody had ever looked at, and that nobody he knew had equipment any more that could even read the tapes. But they couldn’t bring themselves to dump them anyway.

  38. 238
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    Regarding pseudo-skeptics

    I once spoke with a man who wouldn’t believe AGW because Ayn Rand didn’t believe in Environmentalism. And since he equated climate science with Environmentalism, AGW had to be false.

    And there are those who are like the John Cleese character in the Monty Python Argument sketch. They aren’t skeptics. They’re automatons.

    Add in the cranks and the paid hacks and there are lots of pseudo-skeptics.

    To be a skeptic you must have a reason. The word means something. You have to earn your skepticism.

  39. 239
    Steve says:

    dhogaza. #215. No, you chose Gistemp – because it shows what you wanted it to show, namely a rise over the past 10 years. UAH, RSS and HadCRUt all show either flattening or a downtrend in temperatures, but you chose Gistemp – that’s cherry picking. Gistemp is not representative of global temperatures because they use a proxy from over 1,000 miles away for their Arctic temps. Even Phil Jones of the CRU thinks this is wrong!

    Look, the people who believe in AGW cannot have everything their own way. Sceptics have to accept some things, and so do the pro-AGWers too, and you should start by accepting that the last 10 years has either flattened or cooled. Then you have to ask yourself if this was seen by any models? No. Then you may start to ask yourself if models can really foresee little dips? No. Is this a little dip? No, because it’s been a decade. So what good are models? The simple fact is that temperatures have not responded in the way that pro-AGWers thought they would. Fact.

  40. 240
    Aaron says:

    Dhogaza:

    I will accept your criticism on my comment “climate science is perched on a statistical argument and nothing more.” Your comment was:

    Garbage! It’s based on physics! The theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming, in particular, is based on radiation physics. Statistics can only give confirmation.

    Naturally all science is based on physics and no educated person is arguing that these laws be suspended. In perhaps a clumsy fashion, my comment was really aimed toward how one goes about understanding the climate record. This crucial and fundament insight is based on the work of dedicated honest individuals toiling in field to bring us various types of raw data from which we carefully attempt to tease out a climate pattern. Rigorous application of the appropriate statistical mathematics is the right tool of the job. My point is simply this: McIntyre’s efforts are purely mathematical in nature and I believe Briffa understands this. It is entirely possible when all is said and done, this episode regarding the Yamal/Ural tree ring growth and its use as a proxy for arctic temperature may strengthen Briffa’s original claims. Of course another possible result is that it may not. In either case climate science will be the ultimate benefactor. Think of it, a collaboration of these two brilliant minds, strained though it may be, will in the end give climate science a vastly improved and powerful statistical protocol for use in handling all complex climate data analysis. I am excited about this prospect, truly cutting edge stuff. However, I remain baffled by the animosity toward McIntyre here at RC. Many RC regulars here simply do not understand who their friends really are. Thank God he is taking the time to sharpen the statistical tools. Think of it this way; he is trying to give climate science a gift. Don’t end up on the wrong side of history on this one. If he is guilty of anything, it is his passion for accuracy.

  41. 241
    Steve says:

    Jim Eager #229. Now you’re at it! For crying out loud, the “last 10 years” is 1998 to 2008! 2009 isn’t over yet! How difficult can it be to understand?

  42. 242
    Deep Climate says:

    #242
    Jim Eager in #229 showed graphs of the linear trend of monthly data from January 1999 through December 2008. That’s 120 months, also known as 10 years.

  43. 243
    dhogaza says:

    “Since plant life grows faster with increased CO2, could it be that tree rings are better correlated with changes in CO2 than temperature?”

    Growth rates are sensitive to many things, this is why so much care is taken to select samples that one might rightly suspect will be highly sensitive to temperature changes (such as trees growing near their altitudinal and latitudinal range extremes, which typically is due to the species limit of cold tolerance).

  44. 244
    Tom Dayton says:

    Re: Aaron #241:

    Aaron, there is much more to statistics than mathematics. If you collect a sample inappropriately to your goal, then it doesn’t matter what mathematical treatments you apply to the resulting data. There is no brilliance in McIntyre’s approach.

    This reminds me of grad students who could compute statistical tests by hand because they paid attention in statistics class, but had absolutely no idea which statistical test to use on their own experiment’s data.

  45. 245
    dhogaza says:

    Jim Eager #229. Now you’re at it! For crying out loud, the “last 10 years” is 1998 to 2008!

    Actually that’s 11 years, not 10 years, not Jeff’s “decade”.

    Here, maybe this will help:

    1998,1999,2000,2001,2002,2003,2004,2005,2006,2007,2008

    Count them yourself. Eleven years.

  46. 246
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    Re:240

    I went to WoodForTrees and every single graph I ran for the time in question was either up or flat. The flat one was for the Southern Hemisphere.

  47. 247
    Patrik says:

    Tom P #237>> Very good initiative! :)

  48. 248
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Steve claims: you should start by accepting that the last 10 years has either flattened or cooled…Fact.

    False:

    Despite the brevity of the time span, there’s still a statistically significant warming trend in both data sets. GISTEMP indicates warming at a rate of 0.028 +/- 0.019 deg.C/yr, HadCRU indicates 0.018 +/- 0.016 deg.C/yr. Note that the time span is so short that these results are far less precise than the 30-year trend; for the trend from 1975 the error range was only 0.003 deg.C/yr, but for the trend from 2000 the error range is +/- 0.019 or 0.016 deg.C/yr. The brief time span of the most recent data, and the strong autocorrelation of temperature time series, combine to make the error range considerable. But even for the brief period since 2000, the trend is still positive, and the estimate is larger than the error range: it’s significant.

    Garbage is Forever

  49. 249
    dhogaza says:

    Steve says:

    dhogaza. #215. No, you chose Gistemp – because it shows what you wanted it to show, namely a rise over the past 10 years. UAH, RSS and HadCRUt all show either flattening or a downtrend in temperatures, but you chose Gistemp – that’s cherry picking.

    1999-2008 RSS trend.

    It goes up, not down. Thank you for playing.

  50. 250
    Dan says:

    “Is this a little dip? No, because it’s been a decade. So what good are models? The simple fact is that temperatures have not responded in the way that pro-AGWers thought they would. Fact.”

    Absolutely wrong! Seriously, you need to learn the fundamental difference between a “fact” and an “opinion”.

    The fact is that a decade is not long enough to separate out the signal (from GHGs) versus the noise (natural influences). This has been discussed many, many times. Thirty years has been determined to be the the length of time needed re: climate trends per the WMO. It’s also used to determined long-term daily temperature averages.

    Another fact: No one is “pro-AGW”. This is a misnomer if ever there was one. Scientists use data to determine the trends. They are not pro or anti. The data speak for themselves. And they are unequivocal.

    Another fact: The idea that a layman somehow knows something about climate trends that literally thousands of climate scientists who have spent their careers working with the subject (and who have published their results in peer-reviewed journals and at scientific conferences) is ludicrous and the height of arrogance.


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