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CRU Hack: More context

Filed under: — gavin @ 2 December 2009

Continuation of the older threads. Please scan those (even briefly) to see whether your point has already been dealt with. Let me know if there is something worth pulling from the comments to the main post.

In the meantime, read about why peer-review is a necessary but not sufficient condition for science to be worth looking at. Also, before you conclude that the emails have any impact on the science, read about the six easy steps that mean that CO2 (and the other greenhouse gases) are indeed likely to be a problem, and think specifically how anything in the emails affect them.

Update: The piece by Peter Kelemen at Columbia in Popular Mechanics is quite sensible, even if I don’t agree in all particulars.

Further update: Nature’s editorial.

Further, further update: Ben Santer’s mail (click on quoted text), the Mike Hulme op-ed, and Kevin Trenberth.


1,285 Responses to “CRU Hack: More context”

  1. 951
    Fred Staples says:

    Ray Ladbury says:
    14 December 2009 at 6:07 PM
    Fred@908, you’re not smart enough for irony.

    On the evidence of the published comments, Ray, I would probably agree with you. But the unpublished, on the other hand…

    For example, on Tamino’s interesting analysis of the CET record any fair-minded person would have to admit that, within the limits of statistics, I was absolutely right and he was absolutely wrong. (There is not now, and never has been, any sign of the 0.5 degreeC increase per decade that he predicted).

    No one will ever be able to judge because most of my comments were “moderated”.

    I hope Adrian Ocneanu continues to post (and be posted). The web site he cites is a portal to all the raw data. The New Zealand example he quotes has been cited many times (WUWT, for example). What is also claimed is that overall the corrections are not random – the vast majority are warming changes. Is this true? Is there any published data?

    Think about what we are trying to measure (variations in the global average surface temperature – the only long run actual data derives from buckets of water dredged up by ships, the land temperatures are all air temperatures), print the UAH chart, and look at the scales.

    1.0 degrees C equals 5.8 cms on the page. The 3 degrees that alarmists quote as the consequence of doubling the pre-industrial CO2 level would be 17.4 cms above the current zero line, or 5 cms above the top of the page on my print, or 4 times the height of the 1998 El Nino spike.

    Look at the fluctuations during the past 30 years, remember that the 1978 start point temperatures were below the previous peak temperatures 35 years earlier, and ask yourself if you believe that global temperatures will be fluctuating about a line 16.5cms above the current base line in year 2060.

    The whole Copenhagen enterprise is an interesting variant on King Canutes approach to the tide. They are trying to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees centigrade by 2050. Whatever they do, or don’t do, they will succeed.

  2. 952
    CM says:

    manacker (#904)
    wrote in reply to Gavin:

    Of course, climate scientists were attributing cooling to major volcanic eruptions prior to the existence of sophisticated climate models.

    Lamb, H. H., Volcanic dust in the atmosphere, with a chronology and assessment of its meteorological significance, Philos. Trans. R. Soc. London, Ser. A, 266, 425–533, 1970

    But not without using models — in the sense of abstract representations of the weather system, based on physical considerations — to predict patterns for which correlations were sought in the observations.

    Gavin, perhaps this could make an interesting post sometime: What did the increasing sophistication of climate models, and speed of the hardware on which they were run, enable Hansen to do in 1992 that Lamb could not have done in 1970?

  3. 953
    CM says:

    For clarity’s sake, CM (upper-case, who has been discussing attribution with manacker) is not identical with cm (lower-case, at ~944). CM does not share cm’s views on the CRU e-mails. And while CM does not doubt that Hokitika is a pretty place with nice people, he fails to work up much curiosity about its temperature record.

  4. 954
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Fred@951, is it seriously your contention that the globe is not warming? Dude, you need to get out more. The ground stations show warming. The oceans are warming, the satellites show warming. Phenological data shows warming and there’s a few trillion tons of lost ice chiming in as well. If you really expect us to buy the “it’s all an artifact” argument, you’re dumber than even I thought.

  5. 955
    dhogaza says:

    Reading these comments, I found one interesting tidbit about a town I have visited. For Hokitika New Zealand, “GISS lowers the pre 1950 raw data down by 2 degrees”. This makes no sense to me at all, as this is a small coastal town with about 3,000 residents that has not changed in character for years. The 1881 census says there were 2,600 people. So what reason could there be to lower the artificially lower the value for the data? A suspicious person would say that it was done to make the increase in temperature look bigger after 1950. This type of thing makes me suspicious of all the data. Is this happening world wide for most stations?

    There are many reasons, as others have pointed out and you could learn on your own if you didn’t immediately leap to the “fraud” conclusion.

    1. Change in site

    2. Change in thermometer

    3. Moving thermometer into a stevenson screen (white painted ventilated box)

    4. Change in time of day at which temps are recorded

    That’s off the top of my head. Surely you could’ve thought of these yourself, and might even be able to think up some more possibilities if you put your mind to it?

    From looking at both the CRU e-mails and code, it seems I was wrong. It seems to me that the conclusion that carbon dioxide was causing global warming was more important than the route taken to get there…

    there is global warming caused by carbon. But everything I have read over the last 3 weeks has made me unsure about it. I would feel much better if the review of CRU was being done by a Astronomer or Physicist as they seem to treat science as science and not like a religion.

    Sounds like you’re unaware that CO2′s role as a greenhouse gas come from physics and that AGW is a prediction of that physics, going back over a hundred years with the details worked out in the 1950s?

    And that observed warming is a confirmation of the physics?

    Speaking of e-mails … I wonder if we were to peek at the correspondence of every astronomer in the world looking forward to using the Hubble for research when the initial testing showed the main mirror had been ground to an extremely fine tolerance but the wrong shape, if we might not find some nasty words in there aimed at those in charge of grinding the mirror? Maybe even the “f-bomb”? Maybe even one astronomer saying something like “if I meet the project manager I’ll be tempted to punch him in the nose!!!!”

    Also, how many of the astronomers you work for get death threats because of their work? How many are flooded with FOIA requests for all of their e-mail over the past several years? How many are accused of scientific misconduct and fraud thousands of times a day on the internet?

    IF all of the e-mail of the astronomer community were stolen and combed through, are you sure all the laundry would be clean? Are you sure that over say 13 years of correspondence a half-dozen or so e-mails, taken out of context and willfully misinterpreted by politically-motivated operative, couldn’t be produced that would be seemingly embarrassing?

    Be sure your house isn’t made of glass before casting stones.

  6. 956
    Ken W says:

    Fred Staples (951):
    “The 3 degrees that alarmists quote as the consequence of doubling the pre-industrial CO2 level ”

    Giving extremist labels to moderates is a cute debate tactic, but it does nothing to convince or inform anyone. 3 degrees is a moderate projected warming for a doubling, not an alarmist one. For a 2100 temperature increase worthy of the label “alarmist”, you’ll have to point to one of those that conclude 6C – 10C is plausible.

    If Adrian keeps posting here and takes the time to properly educate himself (many a mathematician has been wrong when they failed to understand the context/meaning of the numbers they were analyzing) on the details of the analysis, it’s highly unlikely he’d come to an understanding significantly different than that presented by the mainstream climate science community.

  7. 957
    cbm says:

    To CM,I apologize and will use cbm from now on. I did not notice the username until you just pointed it out.

    Gavin, If possible, could you please change the names on 926 and 944 to cbm.

    [Response: done. - gavin]

  8. 958
    Phil. Felton says:

    Re #951

    What is also claimed is that overall the corrections are not random – the vast majority are warming changes. Is this true? Is there any published data?

    Try this which shows that corrections are approximately normally distributed.

    http://www.gilestro.tk/2009/lots-of-smoke-hardly-any-gun-do-climatologists-falsify-data/

  9. 959
    Completely Fed Up says:

    cbm: “So Monckton is lying, fine, but due to the fine folks at CRU behaving in such a blatantly unscientific manner, more people will be willing to listen to his message.”

    But if Monckton is behaving in a WORSE manner scientifically, why are they willing to listen to his message and ignore those who haven’t actually provably lied?

    Because Monckton’s lies are comforting.

  10. 960
    Hank Roberts says:

    `And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five what remains?’

    `Three hundred and sixty-four, of course.’

    Humpty Dumpty looked doubtful. `I’d rather see that done on paper,’ he said.

    Alice couldn’t help smiling as she took out her memorandum book, and worked the sum for him:

    365
    -1

    364
    —-

    Humpty Dumpty took the book and looked at it carefully. `That seems to be done right –’ he began.

    `You’re holding it upside down!’ Alice interrupted.

    `To be sure I was!’ Humpty Dumpty said gaily as she turned it round for him. `I thought it looked a little queer. As I was saying, that seems to be done right — though I haven’t time to look it over thoroughly just now — and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents –’

    `Certainly,’ said Alice.

    `And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!’

    `I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘

    `But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.

    `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master — that’s all.’

    http://www.sabian.org/Alice/lgchap06.htm

  11. 961
    Hank Roberts says:

    So — is Manacker’s goal just to kill discussion of the CRU hack?
    Why not go back to that, since questions will keep coming up and this is the thread where people will find them, if they skip over Manacker’s digression? It’s far easier to search in a single thread. For new readers, here’s how:

    Click on the popup to get all the replies in one long window:
    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=2177
    Use the ‘find’ function in your browser to find discussion on all the common questions.
    They’re all here.
    Ignore Manacker and those of us who have been foolish enough to reply to his diversions. Sorry.

  12. 962
    Nick Barnes says:

    Adrian Ocneanu, if you want to understand the way in which GISTEMP processes the data, you have to either read the papers, to which Gavin has referred you, or read the code, to which Gavin has also referred you, or preferably both.
    Those are the only definitive sources of information on the subject.

    You say the Clear Climate Code project website, to which Gavin has also referred you, “has only generalities”. Maybe you didn’t look very closely: we deal in nitty-gritty, as specific as you like. Two clicks away from the home page, there is the Google Code project to clarify GISTEMP. Please feel free to browse the complete source code there, to download it and run it yourself, or even to join the project and help to clarify the code. We don’t have much of GISS’s original code left (it should all be gone soon) but we take particular care to preserve their algorithms, so any dodgy or nefarious data manipulation in GISTEMP would certainly still be there in our code.

  13. 963
    Phil. Felton says:

    GISS and I both look at the same set 120 years of raw data from a rural weather station, Hokitika in New Zealand (I once had a conference nearby). The only other data, available to both GISS and me, is the general geographical data, such as location, historical population (small!) and such.

    GISS lowers the pre 1950 raw data down by 2 degrees, so that the adjusted data exhibits a strong warming tendency not present before. Surely the adjustment was made by a program, but hopefully that program is transparent enough so that it satisfies some clear goal of its builder, understandable and explainable in any particular instance like this.

    It took me less than 5 mins to find out that at Hokitika South the ‘screen’ was changed in 1912 accompanied by a significant drop in measured temperature, in 1943 the screen was found to be in bad repair and ‘the instruments’ moved to a new site (Hokitika Southside), in 1963 the station was closed down and future measurements were made at the new station at Hokitika Aeroport. Plenty of reasons for adjustments there!

    [Response: Plus, I looked at the GISTEMP data.... and there is no adjustment down because the changes are not in the GHCN homogeneity adjustments. They are in the NIWA adjustments though. So whether they are or are not justified, this issue has bog all to do with GISTEMP. If anything, it means that GISTEMP is underplaying warming in that region. - gavin]

  14. 964
    Ron R. says:

    U.S. Business Interests Suspected in ‘Fabricated’ Climate Scandal

    http://tinyurl.com/yewwdqs

    Not a lot of evidence yet but I wouldn’t doubt it for a second. I read that some think it was the Russians and maybe so but that sounds like diversion to me. I put nothing past US business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and their rightwing “think” tank liars for hire. These people would gladly sell the earth down the river for a buck today.

    One way to help stop it, make it illegal for a lobbiest to give any money to a politician at all. Let their arguments stand or fall on their own merits. Right now it’s no different than legal bribery. Or as they say in Asia, baksheesh.

  15. 965
    gator says:

    Adian O @ 930: “As a mathematical physicist, my training is to take nothing for granted, no matter who writes it. One has to go line by line through the proof oneself. It is even better to try to reproduce the result from scratch by oneself, from its statement alone – in our case that would correspond to the raw data. Any anomaly is a sign that something very interesting, more important than the result under study, is going on.”

    I am a PhD experimental physicist. Your equating theoretical proofs of math statements with experimental data is frankly silly. Dealing with “raw” data means one is always confronting imprecision, inaccuracy and error. One must have a deep understanding of the experimental apparatus. One must make measurements and estimates of error sources and then try to back those errors out of the measurement made. No one uses “raw” data in physics for anything. One is always making corrections for instrumentation. Why would historical temperature data, made over a century with varying technologies and methodologies be any different?

    If you really want to understand the error sources and corrections made you will have to read the papers. There is no other way to understand what is being done. This is no different from any other scientific endeavor.

    In any case, like all of science, it is the collection of many disparate facts pointing in the same direction that makes the case that the world is in fact warming.

  16. 966
    CM says:

    cbm,
    thanks, that’s very civil of you.

    Hank,
    point taken about goose chases with manacker, I’ll lay off soon. But the original topic ain’t happenin’ anymore… not on this thread, anyway, and it hasn’t been for a long time. Even the denialosphere must be bored stiff with picking over the e-mails, or we wouldn’t be learning all these fascinating things about Wellington and Hokitika.

    By tomorrow morning or so, Gavin will have screened through more than 3,000 comments under the CRU heading, aside from untold numbers too psycho to print. There cannot be much more to say.

  17. 967
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Ron R., It is pointless to speculate until there is evidence. It winds up being the same sort of rumor mongering we are deploring among the denialists, because after all, the retraction is never as loud as the accusation.

  18. 968
    RaymondT says:

    @920 Ray Ladbury and @914 Doug Bostrom, Thank you both for your replies. I can understand that the troposhere is now blocking off progressively more long wave length IR radiation as CO2, CH4 and CFCs concentrations are increasing as convincingly shown in Fig. 1 of the document which Doug has sent me showing the change in brightness versus wavelength from 1970 to 1996 for trace gases. What I am trying to understand is how you can explain higher troposphere and lower stratosphere temperatures solely on the basis of trace GHGs. What was the change in brightness for the water vapour ? Also, would you also have a power spectrum of the emmitted brightness temperature (not just the change) at all wavelengths including that for water vapour to show the relative importance of the trace gases?

  19. 969
    manacker says:

    BPL

    Some basic logic in semantics (that has nothing to do with statistics).

    A statistically significant trend needs to be statistically significant.

    A trend that may or may not be statistically significant is still a trend, although it may not be a statistically significant trend.

    Max

  20. 970
    Hank Roberts says:

    > CM … about goose chases with manacker

    Oh, I agree, if anyone can ever nail Max down to any of his slippery claims for his PR poster boards, it’ll be worth doing.
    Max Acker (manacker), how about answering this one?

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=2177#comment-149092
    “… Can you explain how you calculated your temperature anomaly? Can you explain why they are so far off from the time series from which you claim to have sourced your data? Seeing as so much data is available from your source, why did you winnow 160 anomaly data points down to 6?”
    – Comment by jay — 14 December 2009 @ 6:0 PM

  21. 971
    manacker says:

    BPL

    An example to illustrate my previous point.

    dhogaza (928) wrote

    However, the most recent biannual trend is steeply upwards, showing that model predictions of warming by 2100 falls grossly short of what will really happen.

    So dhogaza writes of a “biannual trend”, which I think we can both agree is not a “statistically significant” trend, but yet it is a “trend”, as he puts it.

    Max

  22. 972
    manacker says:

    Hank Roberts (969)

    You asked:

    Can you explain how you calculated your temperature anomaly?

    I’m getting sort of a déjà vu feeling here, Hank.

    I already explained that the raw HadCRUT temperature data were downloaded and plotted in Excel. Quite simple.

    Then a linear trend line was drawn for the various observed multi-decadal warming and cooling oscillations. Also quite simple.

    To your next (loaded) question:

    Can you explain why they are so far off from the time series from which you claim to have sourced your data?

    They are not. They have been directly downloaded from the cited source.

    To your third question:

    Seeing as so much data is available from your source, why did you winnow 160 anomaly data points down to 6?

    I simply summarized the change in CO2 and temperature for the various observed multi-decadal oscillations, to verify whether or not there is a robust correlation. There isn’t.

    Hope this answers your questions.

    Max

  23. 973
    dhogaza says:

    So dhogaza writes of a “biannual trend”, which I think we can both agree is not a “statistically significant” trend, but yet it is a “trend”, as he puts it.

    Science isn’t the only thing that apparently goes over manacker’s head – apparently sarcasm does, too.

  24. 974
    CM says:

    manacker ~971, re: dhogaza’s “biannual trend”,

    That was irony. If you’ve mastered semantics, you should give pragmatics a try.

  25. 975
    David B. Benson says:

    Max von Anacker (and maybe others) needs to see

    Main Entry: trend
    Function: noun
    Date: circa 1777
    3 : the general movement over time of a statistically detectable change; also : a statistical curve reflecting such a change
    from
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/TREND

    To determine trends which are easily shown to be statistically significant, consider the data in
    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/Correlation.html
    to see that this data implies a (form of) transient climate response of about 2 K, in good agreement with GCM computations of actual TCR. Not only do we see that the trend in both ln(CO2) and temperatures is up, even the Arrhenius formula does quite well; for that see BPL’s page.

  26. 976
    manacker says:

    CM (947)
    manacker (#907)

    You wrote:

    Max, stating my question clearly and concisely enough to find out whether we do in fact agree is obviously going to be a challenge. I’ll opt for clarity.

    Then you listed three rather long statements with questions.

    Statement 1 is a summary of how climate models are used in an attempt to understand our planet’s climate. As long as reasonable input assumptions are made, there is no problem with this approach. When input assumptions start to be skewed in favor of anthropogenic forcings to the exclusion of significant natural forcings (see IPCC SPM 2007 p.4), then they become suspect (GIGO principle).

    Statement 2 builds on statement 1 but involves the “leap of faith” from empirical data based on actual physical observations to computer model simulations, which are only as good as the assumptions fed into the models. The statement that “IPCC attributes climate change to man-made GHGs based on empirical data in conjunction with model simulations” is misleading. It would be more correct to say ““IPCC attributes climate change to man-made GHGs based on model simulations in conjunction with the limited empirical data which are available”. Unfortunately, there are still so many unknowns concerning natural forcing factors and their impacts, that these model simulations are inconclusive. A good example of this can be seen in the 21st century cooling of 0.1°C (attributed by the Met Office to “natural variability”, a.k.a. natural forcing factors), more than offsetting the impact of all-time record increase in atmospheric CO2 (which should have produced 0.2°C warming, according to the models).

    Statement 3 is simply a rehash of “IPCC-talk” regarding confidence limits or “probabilities of occurrence”, as it envisions them. These are nice but meaningless. In SPM 2007 (p.8), for example, it is stated that “warm spells/heat waves” and “heavy precipitation events” are “likely” (>66%) to have occurred more frequently in the late 20th century than before, that a “human contribution to the observed trend” is “more likely than not” (>50%), with the footnote “magnitude of anthropogenic contributions not assessed. Attribution for these phenomena based on expert judgement rather than formal attribution studies”. From this dicey input on past events based on educated guesses by “experts”, IPCC projects the “likelihood of future trends based on projections for 21st century using SRES scenarios” at “very likely” (>90%). This obviously involves another unsubstantiated “leap of faith”.

    Hope this answers your questions, CM.

    Max

  27. 977
    manacker says:

    David B. Benson (975)

    I am not going to engage with you into a discussion of statistical significance of trends.

    Let’s see if the current cooling continues for another decade or two.

    If so, it will certainly have become “statistically significant”, although it will not have changed the fact that “the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest on record”.

    If not, then both statement above will have been disproven.

    Max

  28. 978
    manacker says:

    David B. Benson (975)

    Thanks for posting third definition of “trend”

    Here are the first two, which you failed to mention:

    1 : a line of general direction or movement
    2 a : a prevailing tendency or inclination : drift b : a general movement : swing c : a current style or preference : vogue d : a line of development : approach <new trends in cancer research

    Max

  29. 979
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “I am not going to engage with you into a discussion of statistical significance of trends.”…

    Because I’m losing…

  30. 980
    David B. Benson says:

    Max von Anacker (978) — You do understand we are attempting to do science, do you not? Science depends upon statistics, as actual data is required. Obviously the first two meanings do not apply to science, properly done.

    Completely Fed Up (979) — :-)

  31. 981
    dhogaza says:

    Because I’m losing…

    Lose the present tense, he’s been around for years :)

  32. 982
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Max, have you ever heard of “inflexion points”?

    How do you know this isn’t one?

    After all, as warm in 2007 as it was in 1998.

    Go ahead. Fit the graph

    ax^3 + bx^2 +cx = d

    to the temperature records and reduce the RMS errors.

    Then have a look where the graph is going on that.

    Up.

    NOTE: I’ve seen a few others use such graph fitting and proclaiming a 60 year cycle out of 120 years data, and I didn’t see you rush over to educate them.

    This is as rigorous a treatment as that.

  33. 983
    Completely Fed Up says:

    And if we’re to wait, why not stop doing something in the meantime: a GENUINE “wait and see”:

    Stop burning fossil fuels.

    Or is this wait not a wait but a “continue to do stuff”.

    I.e. “not wait”, alternatively, “delay”.

  34. 984
    manacker says:

    Completely Fed Up (979)

    You missed most of my message to DBB:

    Let’s see if the current cooling continues for another decade or two.

    If so, it will certainly have become “statistically significant”, although it will not have changed the fact that “the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest on record”.

    If not, then both statements above will have been disproven.

    Got it, CFU (it’s not that complicated, really)?

    Max

  35. 985
    jay says:

    (Sorry about replying to Manacker, I got interested and failed to realize the purpose of this thread is not to discuss his graphic. I also clearly wasted quite a bit of mine and others time.)

    Manacker’s recipe makes clear that he’s taken the OUTLIERS the data (based on these cyclic trends) And proved (?) that the model I stated above fit to ONLY the outliers doesn’t have a positive slope. As someone noted earlier, his obfuscated graph still shows more warming decades than cooling. This, however is beside the point.

    Manacker has presented a confusing and irritating diversionary graphic based on an inexplicable reduction in the sample size of the data available. Importantly, in his presentation of this ‘evidence’ he has repeatedly misused the technical statistical term “robust”.

    Max, if you want to make honest arguments with data, don’t do this.

    See: http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0001et&topic_id=1&topic=Ask+E%2eT%2e

  36. 986
    Ron R. says:

    Ray Ladbury #967 Ron R., It is pointless to speculate until there is evidence. It winds up being the same sort of rumor mongering we are deploring among the denialists, because after all, the retraction is never as loud as the accusation.

    You’re right of course. In fairness we should hold off on definite statements (which I did not make) until we know for sure. That’s way more slack than the denialists gave climate scientists.

    I’m just saying that given their track record so far I wouldn’t be surprised.

    I just hope someone’s on the case.

  37. 987
    CM says:

    manacker (#976)

    Max, thanks for the answers.

    I note that, first, you now endorse the procedure described by the
    IPCC for attributing climate change to anthropogenic or natural
    causes. Or at least, you say there is no problem with it in principle,
    though you add a qualification and an assertion about assumptions used
    in the models.

    Second, and in contrast to the misleading way you initially
    represented this procedure, you would now agree that the “IPCC
    attributes climate change to man-made GHGs based on empirical data in
    conjunction with model simulations,” though you would add a
    qualification about the limits of the data.

    For some reason, getting your assent to these simple propositions has
    been akin to pulling teeth.

    You are clearly not going to come out and agree that, for the purpose
    of attribution, we have no alternative but to compare observations
    with some kind of model, which was Gavin’s point all along. But you
    have not come up with any alternative, or any account for how
    empirical observations in and of themselves could be used to clinch an
    attribution. Not because we haven’t been asking you to. So at this
    point I’ll take it that you don’t actually see any alternative.

    If this means you won’t be repeating the claim that attribution is not
    “based on empirical data (as opposed to climate model simulations)”,
    we have made progress!

    Unfortunately, your claim that my second question involves a “leap of
    faith” from empirical observations to models suggests your thinking on
    this is still muddled.

    You didn’t answer my new, third question about what you consider
    “conclusive” demonstration. Instead, you attacked the IPCC “confidence
    limit” terminology for lack of rigour, with reference to statements
    other than the one I actually cited. But never mind.

    Your qualification that the models must be based on reasonable
    assumptions is fine. But your added qualification, that the
    assumptions become suspect when “skewed in favor of anthropogenic
    forcings”, is itself suspect, because it merely shows your own bias to
    be skewed in favor of natural forcings. You cite no reason to think
    that the radiative forcing estimates on p. 4 of the SPM are
    constrained by any considerations other than the evidence (admittedly
    patchy in parts). As for GIGO, invoking that principle in the abstract
    doesn’t do any work; you need to be able to point to actual garbage
    going in and out. Your contrived nine-year “21st-century cooling” may
    invalidate imaginary models that predict monotonous warming on a
    subdecadal timescale, but real models seem to do well over time scales
    long enough to produce significant trends.

    Your other qualification, “…based on model simulations in
    conjunction with the limited empirical data which are
    available
    “, is practically meaningless. Noone has claimed that we
    have unlimited empirical data, and of course
    available data are used, not unavailable data.
    Everyone agrees we need more and better data than we have, but a lot
    more and better data have become available since the first IPCC report
    in 1991 and the case for anthropogenic warming has only become
    stronger.

    I’ll leave it there.

  38. 988
    manacker says:

    CM

    Your 510 word dissertation (987) is a masterpiece. Congratulations.

    Your closing conclusion that:

    “Everyone agrees we need more and better data than we have, but a lot more and better data have become available since the first IPCC report in 1991 and the case for anthropogenic warming has only become
    stronger.”

    sounds OK, but I would modify it slightly, as follows:

    “Everyone agrees we need more and better data than we have; fortunately, there are not enough data to conclusively support the premise that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, poses a serious potential threat.”

    Are you OK with that slight modification?

    If so, we are in agreement.

    Max

  39. 989
    manacker says:

    jay (985)

    Yes, indeed. There has been an overall warming trend since the late 19th century, as we have emerged from a colder period called the Little Ice Age.

    By definition, this means that the observed multi-decadal warming cycles have been stronger than the observed multi-decadal cooling cycles (as you pointed out)

    This has nothing to do with OUTLIERS, jay.

    The temperature record shows several warming and cooling oscillations, with each total cycle lasting around 60 years.

    The atmospheric CO2 record shows no such multi-decadal oscillations, but rather a gradually accelerating rate of increase.

    The observed individual multi-decadal temperature cycles show no correlation with the observed atmospheric CO2.

    And that was my point, jay.

    Max

  40. 990
    CM says:

    Max,

    Pardon the verbiage. There was much to address.

    I’m *not* OK with your modification. It’s not “slight”: it denies there’s enough data to demonstrate even a *potential* treat from AGW. That’s untenable.

  41. 991
    Dendrite says:

    ‘Completely Fed Up’ (#864) argued that fear is the main reason why the BBC will not give airtime to anything negative about the climate change denial movement and its links with other, discredited denial campaigns.

    You might be slightly cheered up to read the following comment by a climate scientist that was reported in an article yesterday by Richard Black, the BBC’s environment correspondent:

    “I’ve been debating the science with them for years, but recently I realised we shouldn’t be talking about the science but about something unpleasant that happened in their childhood”.

    Judging by some of the irrational and almost unhinged comments that the article triggered, I think he may have a point.

    And the BBC wasn’t too scared to print it.

  42. 992
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “And the BBC wasn’t too scared to print it.”

    And when George W Bush failed to give Libby a pardon on leaving office, does this mean he wasn’t at all under the thumb of Dick Cheney?

    No. It just showed that he didn’t *have* to pass decisions over to Dick, but did so anyway (easier?)

    Likewise the BBC is not proving anything there.

    Maybe because I’m completely fed up, but you just have to look at the number of times “Volcanoes produce much more than humans ever will” gets allowed on to any HYS or BBC blog page to see they can’t be bothered (yet will kill off any further posts because you’ve corrected 8 people saying the same damn thing 8 times which is spamming the system).

  43. 993
    Gail says:

    I can’t prove it, but I believe that tree rings do not reflect warming because the same pollution that is causing warming is simultaneously damaging trees and reducing their growth.
    See this information about decades-long impacts of ozone, far from the source of emissions: http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2009/12/revelations-from-honest-forester.html and this research from Stanford published 2 days ago about ethanol, which has emissions WORSE than gasoline: http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2009/12/aauuuuuggghhhh-no-duh.html for human health and vegetation.

  44. 994
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Max: “You missed most of my message to DBB:”

    Nope, I got it completely. Which is why you didn’t answer it.

    The message you want is “lets wait until we know”. Which is no different in result from “Say I’m right” because BOTH require that we continue business as usual.

    Now if you’re willing to say “lets do something about CO2 now and work dilligently to see if this is all wrong and when it turns out the next decade is cooler than this one, then we can forget CO2 controls”, then maybe you have a point.

    But you aren’t going to accept that, are you.

  45. 995
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “I can’t prove it, but I believe that tree rings do not reflect warming because the same pollution that is causing warming is simultaneously damaging trees and reducing their growth.”

    Hence the comments within the IPCC and accepted journals (where the REAL skeptics work) about how it’s a travesty we don’t know what’s going on come from.

    That is one option.

    As is increased pesticides. Or forest clearing. Or warming improving the lot of invasive species from south. Or…

    There are plenty of reasons why after the 60′s the tree rings of some species in some places become a poor temperature proxy.

    But given they spent 100 years before that agreeing broadly with many other proxies (which don’t show a divergence), jumping to the conclusion “therefore the tree rings were NEVER good proxies” is just that: a jump to a conclusion.

  46. 996
    Dendrite says:

    Sorry, Completely Fed Up (#992) – I wasn’t trying to undermine or contradict your point.

    Knowing how BBC staff tend to phrase things, I took the inclusion of this particular comment (out of the 1000′s of other bits of gossip that could have been included) to be a coded way of saying ‘It’s becoming clear to me that much of the behaviour and attitude of the climate change deniers is not rational’ or something similar.

    And I took that as a small ray of hope.

  47. 997
    Hank Roberts says:

    > If so, we are in agreement.
    > Max

    Loon.

  48. 998
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “And I took that as a small ray of hope.”

    I suppose I should do too.

    But I can’t bring myself to do so. Not yet.

  49. 999
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Watching Max go through yet another iteration of time-wasting (and if I’m not mistaken, he’s just about to morph the discussion again) I’m trying to understand him better.

    Taken as a phenomenon associated w/AGW, Max presents a puzzle. Unlike many contrarians, he combines several attributes in an unusual way. Max appears to be a person willing to suffer endless defeats, in public, only rarely losing his composure and seemingly almost entirely missing the faculty of humility or for that matter the ability to recognize when he’s making a fool of himself. At the same time, Max is clearly quite intelligent, a capable writer, a facile debater well armed with the tools needed to deceive most laymen unless they’re willing to deconstruct his misdirections in a fair amount of detail.

    Intriguingly, Max resides here bravely sporting a birth name. Unlike a lot of folks gabbling about AGW while metaphorically wearing their pants backwards, he’s chosen to be accountable for what he writes.

    Since Max has elicited a lot of strong emotional reactions while sowing his trail of intellectual carnage while at the same time standing beside his identity, Max has simultaneously inspired and fed some speculation about his associations. Max has disclosed that’s he resides in Switzerland. Various rhetorical opponents of Max have noted that in Switzerland is an outfit called Tehag Engineering AG. Tehag’s sole line of business appears to be research, development and production of diesel particulate emission control devices.

    Assuming for a moment that “our” Max is Max Anacker of Tehag Engineering AG, it would be helpful to know that. Tehag Engineering AG seems to be built entirely around the assumption that we will continue exploiting diesel fuel as an energy source for internal combustion engines. If indeed such a relationship existed, it would seem to provide a possible explanation for Max’s continued struggle in the face of insurmountable odds. I’ve not bothered to look for any patents Tehag may control, or whether Tehag actually has succeeded in marketing its products (I’d guess not, from the apparent size of the concern), but the value of the company would seem to depend largely on business as usual.

    If indeed Max is connected with Tehag, I could picture that Max’s dogged defense of the untenable positions he’s taken on AGW could certainly be colored somewhat by commercial considerations. Knowing this information would help to classify him in the taxonomy of contrarians. Clearly we’ve got a spectrum of entities standing in opposition to progress: hobbyists, the mentally unhinged, ideologues, businesses, etc. Of what species is Max?

    Max, you could answer this best. Are you the same Max Anacker associated with Tehag Engineering AG? Inquiring minds would like to know. And pardon me if you’ve already been asked.

  50. 1000
    manacker says:

    Hey guys,

    Gavin has been very tolerant in allowing us to discuss a variety of interesting OT themes here, and even adding his own comments from time to time, but the exchange is becoming a bit repetitive.

    Getting closer to the topic of this thread, I believe we should look at how the general public perception may have changed as a result of the Climategate leaks.

    The perception following these leaks appears to be:

    Through the machinations of a handful of very influential climate scientists acting in collusion to “hide the decline” in late 20th century temperature reconstructions, the world has been “tricked” into believing that “the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1,300 years”.

    And to the current cooling, the quotation “we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty” leads to the public perception (a) that it is not warming at present despite record CO2 increase, (b) that climate scientists are unable to explain this and (c) that these facts represent “a travesty” to the climate scientists.

    As Michael Gerson of the Washington Post put it:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/10/AR2009121003159.html

    This professional objectivity is precisely what the hacked e-mails call into question. Some of these scientists are merely activists, deeply invested in a predetermined outcome. They assume that political change is the goal; the scientific enterprise is the means — like a political ad or a campaign speech. But without trust in disinterested, scientific judgments on climate, most non-scientists will resist costly, speculative, legislative actions. When the experts become advocates, no one believes the experts or listens to the advocates.

    Gerson’s last sentence tells it all.

    Does the perception represent reality? Has the general public lost its trust in climate scientists?

    If so, what do the climate scientists (who are not acting as advocates) have to do to regain this public trust?

    What do others here think?

    Max


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