Unforced variations

Open thread for various climate science-related discussions. Suggestions for potential future posts are welcome.

(Continued here).

1,159 comments on this post.
  1. Richard Ordway:

    Ooops… scientists getting hit…a new Washington Post-ABC News poll after “climategate.” Scientists “significantly” losing credibility with the public:

    “Scientists themselves also come in for more negative assessments in the poll, with four in 10 Americans now saying that they place little or no trust in what scientists have to say about the environment. That’s up significantly in recent years. About 58 percent of Republicans now put little or no faith in scientists on the subject, double the number saying so in April 2007. Over this time frame, distrust among independents bumped up from 24 to 40 percent, while Democrats changed only marginally. Among seniors, the number of skeptics more than doubled, to 51 percent.”


  2. Mark Schaffer:

    Most of this hit is due to the superficial, at best, coverage given to the non issues of email releases, etc. Without the continuous feed of misinformation from ideological driven anti science people we could get on with addressing the serious ramifications of AGW.

  3. Alexander Ač:

    Hello RC,

    I would like to welcome post on interaction of peak oil and carbon emissions.

    Some people suggest that peak oil might reduce total emissions, but others say, peak oil might even increase emissions – through implementing nonconventional reserves and coal-to-liquids etc…

    Also, there is a strong indication that we are already past the peak oil. As we have seen, high oil prices helped to destroy financial system and the global economomy, and it might be worse (or beter?) in the future. Anything on this topic from climate scientists is highly desirable :-)


    P.S. Ramanathan says we are committed to 2,4°C no matter what wee do (due to dimming aerosol effects) – was this exact number discussed here? (I guess yes!)

  4. Think:

    Richard Ordway: This is not related to climate science but rather to the perception war by the denialists and those who fund them.

    Read “Doubt is their product” by David Michaels,
    Limited preview of “Doubt is their product”

    There is a big business in creating doubt in science so that the public is influenced to a harmful direction. The tobacco industry did it, chemical companies did it, and now it is the big oil companies.

    The sad thing is that some of those denialists are not aware they are being taken for a ride.

  5. John P:

    The earth’s ecosystem and the laws of physics do not care what the Washington Post thinks. The enlightenment still means something in Europe. Here in the USA (I’m in Chicago), what we have is more like what I call the benightenment. It’s a sad day for America when so many do not “believe” in evolution or AGW.

  6. matt:

    Postings like this are the signs of the failure of the denier crowd. The fact that you can only point to polls and opinions (which we both agree should not affect science). Considering that even a brilliant illegal poach of some 60mb of confidential and personal communication…yielded no conspiracy and no evidence of data manipulation. I should think with all of the gigabytes of published data, codes, reports and illegally obtained communication there would at least be a few crumbs for the deniers…but no.

    It must be very frustrating to hold an opinion based on feelings. I’m sorry you feel that the climate scientists are wrong. But we can’t run this planet on feelings.

  7. Bob:

    Any loss in the credibility of scientists, at the hands of ignorant politically motivated pundits, is a huge loss and liability for America as a whole. Huge segments of our lives and livelihood are based on science. A world where people only accept what they want to hear, and dismiss those who are better trained, educated and able to get to the truth of matters is not going to do anyone any good, be it on issues of climate change, pollution, health and medicine, or anything else. This is probably the second great casualty of the Climate Wars, the fact that the ignorant have learned how to wield their ignorance as a powerful weapon, to the extent that trust in the educated and informed has been dangerously eroded at a time in our civilization when we can least afford it.

  8. Martin Vermeer:

    Yep, the gloves are off.

    Bringing up my old idea for a ‘climatology legal defense fund’. The way libel-actionable content is plastered all over the Internet today, I would expect this to be a self-financing operation…

  9. Robert Shomoh:

    It seems to me that the republicans and others were just looking for a reason to go back to business as usual.

  10. Lance Olsen:

    I take it as fact that 1) public opinion can be volatile and that 2) volatility can be a two-edged sword. A recent case in point was demonstrated when Business Week could quote an auto company exec exclaiming that the Ameerican public’s retreat from gas-guzzlers was surprisinngly rapid once gasoline cost rose to $4 a gallon, and by subsequent reports that gas-guzzlers were selling fairly well once gas prices sunk to about $2 a gallon. None of which means that public perception of science and scientist will be reversed soon. But I think that all of science can take some encouragement from an anticipation that public opinion about deniers and skeptics is no less volatile than any other sudden, swarm-like shift of mass opinion.

  11. John Atkeison:

    Here is something I would like to see y’all discuss:

    Has the onset of climate changes and their symptoms been accelerating beyond expectations? (Seems that way to me.)

    Was this unexpected?

    If the acceleration is real and it was not uniformly unexpected, why was there not more outcry by the human beings who are scientists in the relevant fields?

  12. REL:

    I would love to have your response to a YouTube video that is making the rounds, “The Hockey Stick vs. Ice Core Data”. The graphs are obviously dubious in their “correlation” but it would be great to have more specific comments from someone who knows the science.


    It is exactly these types of things that help the public feel comforted in their dismissal of climate science.

  13. Jonathan:

    There’s a push to grow tree’s to offset emissions, rather than simply lowering said emissions. Could someone tell me if my thinking is correct when I conclude that an area the size of the USA would be needed to be reafforested every year to offset annual CO2 emissions from burning fossile fuels. From what I can gather the annual CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels are 28 billion tonnes, and forests capture 25 tonnes of CO2/ha/year. ie about 1 billion ha required.

    My conclusion- an unfeasible solution to rising CO2 levels and one destined to affect lands that would be suitable for reafforestation, chiefly agricultural.

  14. Sufferin' Succotash:

    As a scientific semi-literate but also as a political semi-professional, I’ve been trying to follow Climategate while simultaneously reading Mark Brown’s Science in Democracy (just published by MIT Press) which deals precisely with some of the science-and-society issues raised by Climategate.
    And I’m wondering if there’s some very dumbed-down but nonetheless scientifically valid way of presenting the methods by which climate change data is collected and produced. I realize this may seem like squaring the circle (or maybe passing a camel through the eye of a needle), but this is one of those situations where esoteric methods, if they remain esoteric, can become a major political liability.

  15. Tony Clifford-Winters:

    There are two technical aspects of climate change that, as far as my research can tell, are not covered well in the scientific literature and these are the latency between CO2 emissions release and, to a lesser extent, the rate of release of methane from permafrost. I know that work is being done on the latter but I have not, so far, found any projections on permafrost melt and concomitant methane release. But on the first issue, of CO2/temperature latency, I can find little. Any comments please.


  16. Jaime Frontero:

    “Suggestions for potential future posts…”

    I’d like to have you deal with the nuclear power issue, as relates (especially) to its contribution to climate change, potential to come online quickly, and its security issues. Oh – and the likelihood of a solid and continuing fuel supply…

    Personally, I don’t see it. Not that I’m adamantly opposed.

    But my understanding is it takes 10-20 years to bring a new nuclear plant online (*one!*), it can’t (won’t) be insured unless the government underwrites the whole package, and that – aside from various potential nefarious uses for the fuel and waste products – peak oil’s got nothing on ‘peak uranium’.

    On the other hand, solar power produces power right now, and from the first panel installed in any location, it does considerably less damage to the environment (even aside from warming gasses), it has no appreciable waste products, and is politically and strategically benign.

    I have a tremendous respect for Jim Hansen… but his focus on nuclear power is something I don’t get.

    I’d like to see RC do a thorough examination of nuclear vs. solar.

  17. greywolf:

    It is regaining that trust that is paramount (the trust in science and its integrity). I wish all folk involved in research could just be like the average Joe, but that isn’t possible, especially now. Transparency, complete contemporary updates, sharing (I note a recent post concerning a scientist unwilling to share an algorithm, which, although perhaps a technically unimportant point, was, in fact, at the heart of this entire recent debacle…that pettiness has no place any more in the process)and ultimately successful public dissemination are critical. Americans in particular are science-deficient, and it will only get worse if scientists themselves participate in gamesmanship and unguarded sniping, even in their private e-mails. We all need to vent, but do it in person, or over the phone, perhaps. The unscrupulous part of the skeptic camp has decided on an all out, unethical war on science. It has potent spokespersons in such personalities as the late Michael Crichton, George Will, and the weepy but effective Glenn Beck. Even Aw Shucks Six-Pack Sarah Palin weighs in as though she had some valid contribution to make. And we must remember this: CNN promptly gives her a prominent quote. Think about that.

  18. José M. Sousa:

    One interesting subject is to talk more about the future of climate change rather than the past, to feature the consequences of different temperature increase. What would be the consequences of 2, 3, 6ºC to living beings in this planet.

  19. Luc Binette:

    From the outside, it is obvious to me that information system in the US is manipulative and ideological, with the exception maybe of Public channels and Democracy Now (internet). These meadia are so arrogant that they apparently cannot conceive that, in this regard, various other countries are much ahead because their news are based on facts and Science. I listened this morning to the German TV news (ARD channel) over internet. The Director of the Potsdam climatology reaserch center was interviewed at length in this news broacast (a full third of the journalistic report on Copenhaguen). He said that the science was vindicated in Copenhaguen, but the politicians of the greatest poluters (US, China) were the cause of the conference failure to come up with real targets. You may wish to consider that America too has really great scientists in the field of climatology, like James Hansen and many others, but they are not given a chance to be heard properly. Why is that? Why are the East Anglia UK scientists be the only ones that interest the US media for the last 7 weeks? Interesting, Dr Hansen was not mentioned once in the East Anglia email leak. Because of this, I would have expected that he would benefit from a renewed attention by the US media. But no! His research group benefits from an independent data set, distinct from the Brithish data set, and with a more complete temperature record of the polar regions. I recommend reading his latest article on world temperature records (up to 2009! almost), where one finds that 2005 was likely the warmest year in record, rather than 1998. The role of the El niño and La niña are analysed and appear to explain why 2008 was somewhat cooler than, say, 2007. You may read his letter here

  20. Slioch:

    re. #1 Richard Ordway

    Worrying, but not surprising, statistics.

    My own view is that there is far too little effort made by scientists and scientifically literate individuals into combating denialist views in the places where it is most frequently expressed – newspapers and the various denialist websites. Websites like Realclimate do a fine job and one could not expect those who write articles for Realclimate to do more, but one often looks in vain for scientifically literate contributions at the lower end of the spectrum of comments. As a result, torrents of ignorant and misleading comments go unchallenged. Is it any wonder that large numbers of people become misinformed?

    Those of us who have looked into the science of climate change have had to begin to accept that the cosy world we knew as children, where, whatever else was wrong, we at least could rely on the climate, is coming to an end. Unless far more effort is made by the scientific community as a whole into combating AGW denial at a basic level, we may also have to start to accept that the world where science is regarded in high esteem may also be ending.

  21. Petteri Karvinen:

    Weaknesses of non-AGW theories could be interesting to read about.

  22. Dave Rado:

    Re. Richard Ordway, #1 – this is part of an extremely depressing trend. The important question is, what can be done about it? The anti-science lobby is very effective and extraordinarily powerful. Realclimate and similar efforts aren’t denting the trend: in fact the anti-science trend has greatly accelerated in recent years, despite the best efforts of educational efforts such as Realclimate – both in intensity and effectiveness. My own attempt at countering the misinformation if anything backfired.

    A few years ago the media appeared to be starting to move away from providing a false “balance” that gave the public a highly misleading impression of where the centre of gravity of scientific knowledge lies; but in the last year they have gone rapidly in the opposite direction, with denialist voices being given massive unchallenged exposure in many mainstream media.

    Do you have any constructive ideas?

  23. Ed Davies:

    Something that I’ve been wondering about for a while and which has come to the fore a bit in recent discussion (e.g., surrounding the “travesty”) is the matter of ocean heating. As I understand it, a lot of the wibbles in surface temperatures (e.g., the “cooling” of the last few years) are a result of the varying rate of heat storage in the ocean.

    Therefore, a post giving an overview about what is currently known about the way heat is stored and what is being done to improve measurements would be very welcome.

    Following on from this, I wonder if it would be better to publish heat information rather than surface temperatures (MJ·m⁻² relative to some baseline or whatever) to give a better understanding of the heating process.

  24. Jeffrey Davis:

    re Richard Ordway’s comment and the sentiment behind it.

    It’s a nonsensical sentiment. Pure manufactured hokum. If you spend enough money and fling enough pooh, you could turn the “public sentiment” against Ann Frank, Mother Teresa, and Albert Schweitzer.

  25. Magnus:

    RC’s view on this http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/12/a_climatology_conspiracy.html would be of interest.

    [Response: DCPS contains a statistical test that is absolutely and fundamentally in error. It is the equivalent of comparing the uncertainty in the average of a finite number of die throws (3.5 +/- some small number) with the range of valid throws of a die (1-6). Their test (as shown in Fig. 5b in Santer et al) would reject perfectly valid realisations more than 60% of the time, when the claimed rejection rate is 5%. That Douglass and Christy still fail to acknowledge this mistake is very telling. The original RC piece is here (and follow-ups here and here). These were not ‘unsigned’, they were group pieces implying input and support from the whole RC team. There is no ‘conspiracy’ when multiple authors with interests in the issue discuss how best to proceed in rebutting a bad paper, and indeed going forward in exploring how best to look at the problem. The Santer et al paper was significantly more than a rebuttal to DCPS, even though that is how it was originally conceived. If Douglass and Christy think that there are mistakes in Santer et al, they are at liberty to submit a comment or new paper pointing this out. To date they have not done so (AFAIK). – gavin]

  26. Mesnowedin:

    So what’s the best response to the people who are saying loudly this morning that yesteday’s north-eastern record snow proves there is no such thing as global warming?

  27. Chris Colose:

    I’ve pointed it out elsewhere, but for those who haven’t seen, I highly recommend watching the talk by Dr. Richard Alley at AGU 2009 on the role of CO2 on Earth’s climate over geologic time. It is very well put together, and demonstrates very nicely the predictive and explanatory power involved in CO2’s influence on climate. This also puts into perspective the intellectual bankruptcy of those who insist on “CO2 lagging temperature” or those who believe no paleoclimate evidence exists to support the strong role of Carbon Dioxide in maintaining Earth’s climate.

  28. Dr. B. Gerard Bricks:

    This is absolutely to be expected. It is completely consistent with:

    1.) The well-known fact that we of the scientific community have over time, in general, done a relatively poor job of communicating things scientific to the general public.

    2.) The overall poor level of scientific education, even at the ‘Physics for Poets’ level, of the general public.

    3.) The right-wing, anti-science, noise machine led by pundits such as Will, Stossel, etc., and by the corporate-funded, right-wing think tanks such as Heritage, Heartland, AEI, etc., who feed the punditry with dubious, politically motivated information.

    4.) The ‘fair and balanced’ mentality of the traditional media which give equal time to those of #3 without fact checking, thereby allowing them to distribute mis- and dis-information on things scientific in a ‘he said, she said’ type of discourse where truth is assigned equal value with untruth.

  29. Rich:

    On the social science side, I’d be very curious to see the Venn diagram between those who do not believe in climate science and those who do not believe in evolution. Also, it would be interesting to know what percentage of the people who believe in evolution, believe in climate science. It seems to be that if someone does not accept evolution, there is little hope of explaining climate science to him or her.

  30. Charles Raguse:

    Seniors tend to be suspicious by nature. After having watched the world for six, seven or even eight or more decades, they have seen too many promised occurences that inevitably either failed to materialize, or faded away with little influence on the future, never to be seen again.

  31. Marcus:

    Subjects that would be interesting to see posts on (in my opinion):

    Ocean heat content: What’s the best current reconstruction of the past 50 years, what are the uncertainties, where is the science going in this field?

    Satellite temperature trends: there’s UAH, there’s RSS, and there’s the Fu analysis which has a different correction for stratospheric temperatures: what are the strengths and weaknesses of each, and how well do the satellite “surface” level measurements correspond with GISS/NCDC/HadCrut on a regional basis. Given that satellites don’t capture the very high latitudes (as I understand it), how much difference is that expected to make in trends?

    Natural variability: how much variability do unforced models have, and how does that correspond to observed variability. How does one even do such a comparison?

    A critique of the Lindzen-Choi paper.

    An analysis of how much the recent “deep solar minimum” would be expected to decrease temperatures compared to the counterfactual, with appropriate uncertainty bounds.

    Impacts posts: An analysis of Arctic sea ice retreat and projections, given the last few years data. Greenland/Antarctic melt. Permafrost melt + high-latitude methane release. An ocean acidification post.

    That’s my personal wish list, anyway. Or at least, a small portion of it. =)


  32. Dappled Water:

    Comment #1, yup plain to see how this is going to play out – when it starts to turn to custard for western societies, people will be saying “By why weren’t we told?”.

  33. Al Solomon:

    A fairly insightful editorial appeared in the L.A. Times on Dec 16 (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-sarewitzthernstrom16-2009dec16,0,3859887.story) by Daniel Sarewitz (AzStUniv Prof) and Samuel Thernstrom (Am Enterprise Institute) describing the fundamental problem of climate-gate as being oversimplification of science as being perfect and pure, versus its being full of lies and obfuscations. That Fox News should be so fair and balanced! I take from it that the public requires a more realistic view of how science is accomplished, by people with human strenghts AND weaknesses, which does very little to diminish the value of scientific information for policymaking.

  34. Tenney Naumer:

    Would anyone like to post on what the models say happens in the Arctic and mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere as temperatures in the Arctic keep rising and that nice cap of once relatively stable cold air weakens and gets shoved hither and thither by warmer water vapor streams coming from the south?

  35. Nick:

    I agree with a suggestion from above:

    “What would be the consequences of 2, 3, 6ºC to living beings in this planet.”

    Perhaps reach out to a few evolutionary biologists to discuss specific environmental changes, time frames, and natural selection.

  36. Spaceman Spiff:

    I am an avid reader of articles at RC, and in the climate science literature. I think I have a decent grasp of many of the important issues, but a question has lain in the back of my mind.

    Q: My understanding is that in the past, many or most of the large swings in climate have been due largely to radiative forcings from variations in Earth’s orbital and rotational characteristics (Milankovitch cycles). This drove up the water vapor content, and resulting increased temperatures eventually drove CO2 (and methane, …) into the atmosphere, which then acted as additional positive feedback(s).

    But for the first time since some catastrophic volcanic/tectonic event in the distant past, CO2 is being used as a hammer to Earth’s climate — it’s the radiative forcing agent. So my question is this:

    how does this difference matter, either in the short term or long? Or does it?


  37. Deech56:

    Future posts: Mann, et al. Science 2009? Any other new publications of interest.

  38. Wes:

    For Molnar (#157 on Hansen comments) and general discussion:

    In addition to Mann, Thomas J.Crowley has also explored warming over the past 1000 years, and has published some results different from Mann in potentially critical ways. Paying particular attention to the years between 1840 and 1910 in Fig. 2 of the article by Crowley and Lowery,


    shows that Crowley displays rapid warming during that interval that is absent from the Mann plot for the same period.

    Crowley infers that Mann was aware of the apparent warming during this period but chose not to show it for reasons I don’t yet understand. Crowley remarks on this “considerable deviation”, saying:

    The deviation occurs in 5 of our records (White Mountains,
    Colorado, Urals, and west and east China records), has
    been observed before (10, 33) and been attributed to (10) anomalous
    tree-ring growth due to the late 19th century rise in CO2.
    Mann et al. (10) addressed this problem by removing the postulated
    CO2 growth effect before estimating past temperatures.
    However, because this response also occurs in the Chinese phenological
    data set, another source of variance for high tree-ring
    growth rates cannot be excluded.

    Obviously, Crowley understood Mann’s reasons for omitting this warming trend, but nonetheless chose to include the trend in his presentation. I take this as Crowley believing the warming trend real. As shown in Fig. 4, this decision clearly makes the Crowley and Mann graphs dramatically different in the late 1800s.

    It seems vital that we understand and evaluate [edit] this possible important
    feature of the warming record.

    Any help here would be welcomed.

    [Response: Your reading in of motivations and actions is very far from reality. I suggest you read the appropriate papers for more understanding – Mann et al 1999 for instance. Also have a look at more up to date literature to see how this feature is represented in reconstructions with far more data than was used in 1998. – gavin]

  39. J.G.:

    I think Tocqueville can give us some insight as to why Americans are so unwilling to believe science:

    “The nearer the people are drawn to the common level of an equal and similar condition, the less prone does each man become to place implicit faith in a certain man or a certain class of men (scientists in particular). But his readiness to believe the multitude increases, and opinion is more than ever mistress of the world.”

    “At periods of equality men have no faith in one another, by reason of their common resemblance; but this very resemblance give them almost unbounded confidence in the judgment of the public; for it would seem probable that, as they are all endowed with equal means of judging, the greater truth should go with the greater number”

    So we see that American culture tends to foster a skepticism of any idea or any set of ideas that do not come from public opinion. This is a source of America’s uneasy relationship with science. Science is NOT democratic, simply because public opinion believes that a certain idea is closer to truth does NOT make it so – and people hate that.

    In regards to talent (especially scientific talent):

    “They do not fear distinguished talents, but are rarely fond of them. In general, everyone who rises without their aid seldom obtains their favor”

    I believe this may be another source of the American public’s uneasy relationship with science, it is exactly because scientists rose to their positions of authority without their aid or advice that they are unwilling to believe their ideas or theories.

  40. Completely Fed Up:

    “I note a recent post concerning a scientist unwilling to share an algorithm, which, although perhaps a technically unimportant point, was, in fact, at the heart of this entire recent debacle…”

    You mean this one?


    re #11 Yup, I liken this to someone swimming in the ocean and someone on a boat nearby. The one in the boat shouts out “there’s a shark in the water”.

    “There’s no shark. That’s a dolphin.

    Boat: “No, a dolphin has a horizontal tail, that one’s vertical”.

    Sea: “Well, it’s half a mile off, stop bothering me”

    Boat: “It’s getting closer”

    Sea: “No it isn’t and like I say it’s probably a dolphin. Anyway there’s no proof I’ve seen of sharks attacking humans in open water”

    Boat: “No, it’s a shark all right. And it’s coming straight for you!”

    Sea: “Rubbish. It’s a dolphin and sharks don’t eat people and you just want the sea for yourself and stop bothering me!!!”

    (we are at this point)

    Sea: “Hang on, that’s a shark” starts swimming frantically for the boat. Sweating and scared and frantic, climbs aboard:


  41. Completely Fed Up:

    re 13, Charles, like “Germany wouldn’t invade France”?

  42. NikFromNYC:

    It is a myth that thermometer records only extend back to the 1800s. Abundant records do kick in precisely in1850 (see a scatter plot of them from GHCN here: http://statpad.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/ghcnadj_a.jpg), but there are lots of records from classically old cities that extend the record much further back. Thermometers were not that accurate prior to the updated Fahrenheit scale of the mid 1700s in absolute value readings but they were likely quite good at recording variability over time and what they suggest is that recent variation in temperature is not a strong argument for AGW:


    A couple sites do show a suggestive upturn from the usual trend as can be seen here:


    A few other sites show various slope changes here and there (e.g. Paris slopes up in 1885). However, none of the longest running non-proxy records support a hockey stick version of the past as shown in Mann’s recent spaghetti graph (PNAS 2008):


    My plots use raw data. They are all from urban areas. My point isn’t that this proves AGW to be false. My point is that since thermometer records do not support it, AGW is a more speculative theory than its supporters are usually willing to admit.

  43. Steve R:

    Yet another hit job: on the 17th. CRU emails are the tip of the iceberg, I should know, my articles have been rejected, blah blah blah, peer review has been corrupted, blah blah blah. And 330 comments, and among them only one voice of reason. And yet there are so often dozens of voices of un-reason in the comments here. Perhaps journalists are monitoring blog comments, when they should be monitoring science sources.

    (My apologies if the link doesn’t work; I’m a little clumsy with even basic html.)

  44. MapleLeaf:

    This form the UK Met office:


    “New analysis released today has shown the global temperature rise calculated by the Met Office’s HadCRUT record is at the lower end of likely warming. ”


    “The new analysis estimates the warming to be higher than that shown from HadCRUT’s more limited direct observations. This is because HadCRUT is sampling regions that have exhibited less change, on average, than the entire globe over this particular period.”

    So much for allegations of CRU “fudging” the data to “amplify” the warming.

    [Response: Indeed. But I wish press releases would put in links or at least references to the actual study they are talking about. Anyone have a clue? – gavin]

  45. Jim Bouldin:

    Less attention to bad science and junk claims. Let that crap die of neglect, as it should.

    More attention to the enormous amount of behind-the-scenes and otherwise unknown (to the public), but utterly crucial, work.

  46. Deep Climate:

    From Deep Climate http://www.deepclimate.org

    Contrarian scholarship: Revisiting the Wegman report

    Update, Dec. 19: This post has been substantially revised to remove speculation about Donald Rapp’s possible role in the Wegman report. I apologize for any embarrassment caused to Donald Rapp or Edward Wegman by that speculation.

    The post has also been updated to reflect new information about the provenance of Wegman et al’s section on tree ring proxies, as well as more background detail on some of the events leading up to the Wegman report. There are also more details about large swathes of unattributed material found in the Wegman report and in Donald Rapp’s book Assessing Climate Change.

    It is clear that the circumstances and contents of both the Wegman report and Rapp’s text book deserve closer scrutiny.

    Dec. 20: Comments are now open again.

    Key paragraph:

    Part of the answer lies in the close examination of the Wegman report. Surprsingly, extensive passages from Wegman et al on proxies have turned up in a skeptic text book by contrarian author Donald Rapp. And at least one of these common passages on tree ring proxies closely follows a classic text by noted paleoclimatologist Raymond Bradley, but with a key alteration not found in the original. Moreover, Wegman’s section on social networks appears to contain some unattributed material from Wikipedia and from a classic sociology text.

  47. CL:

    I’d be interested in a discussion on the implications of the recent NASA press release about AIRS:
    “NASA Outlines Recent Breakthroughs in Greenhouse Gas Research”

    Perhaps a guest post by Dessler?

  48. Jim Bouldin:

    I would be very interested in a discussion of strategies and methods for climate model evaluation–what types of data are most limiting to that enterprise (e.g. paleo vs current), prospects for obtaining or improving such, possible workarounds or shortcuts, etc.

  49. Rumble:

    Future post suggestion:
    Scientific theories with predictive power have great credibility because their testability stands them apart from conjecture e.g. the discovery of Neptune was made based on Newtonian theory.
    In the following paper . . .
    (URL: http://www.pnas.org/content/105/suppl.1/11466.full)
    David B. Wake and Vance T. Vredenburg. “Are we in the midst of the sixth mass extinction? A view from the world of amphibians.” Proc Natl Acad Sci; (12 August 2008). 105(Supplement_1): 11466–11473

    . . . the authors state without qualification:
    “The first event predicted by the IPCC panel,
    ‘Amphibian Extinctions Increasing on Mountains,’ is now an empirical fact.” With 200-plus upland and montane species now gone suddenly extinct and a third of all amphibians now threatened with extinction, one can only agree.
    Contrarians and non-scientist can too easily dismiss long-term climate projections and sneer that “they can’t even tell us what the weather will be next week”. But they can’t dismiss what was PREDICTED earlier and HAS happened. The growing toll of dead frogs, mass mortality events in trees, coral bleaching, the sudden disappearance of the 18,000 year old Chacaltaya Glacier in Bolivia etc.
    Could RC put together for lay readers a score sheet, if you like, a reality check of the story so far – this is what science said would happen, this is what has, and hasn’t, happened.
    It would be very useful and instructive for may reasons.

  50. Sandra Kay:

    “Most of this hit is due to the superficial, at best, coverage given to the non issues of email releases, etc. Without the continuous feed of misinformation from ideological driven anti science people we could get on with addressing the serious ramifications of AGW.”

    There is no doubt that Climategate has severely damaged the credibility of Pro-AGW advocates. Another factor is the doom and gloom, catastrophic scenarios that have been predicted over the decades that have NOT come to fruition.
    There is only so much crying wolf that people will take before ignoring the fear mongering.