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L&C, GRL, comments on peer review and peer-reviewed comments

Filed under: — gavin @ 10 January 2010

I said on Friday that I didn’t think that Lindzen and Choi (2009) was obviously nonsense. Well, a number of people have disagreed with me, and in doing so, have presented some of the back story on the how the response was handled. I think this deserves to be more widely known in the hope that it will generate some discussion in the community for how such situations might be dealt with in the future.

From Chris O’Dell:

Given the large number of comments on the peer-review process in general and in the LC09 case in particular, it is probably worthwhile to give a bit more backstory to our Trenberth et al. paper. On my first reading of LC09, I was quite amazed and thought if the results were true, it would be incredible (and, in fact, a good thing!) and hence warranted independent checking. Very simple attempts to reproduce the LC09 numbers simply didn’t work out and revealed some flaws in their process. To find out more, I contacted Dr. Takmeng Wong at NASA Langley, a member of the CERES and ERBE science teams (and major player in the ERBE data set) and found out to my surprise that no one on these teams was a reviewer of LC09. Dr. Wong was doing his own verification of LC09 and so we decided to team up.

After some further checking, I came across a paper very similar to LC09 but written 3 years earlier – Forster & Gregory (2006) , hereafter FG06. FG06, however, came to essentially opposite conclusions from LC09, namely that the data implied an overall positive feedback to the earth’s climate system, though the results were somewhat uncertain for various reasons as described in the paper (they attempted a proper error analysis). The big question of course was, how is it that LC09 did not even bother to reference FG06, let alone explain the major differences in their results? Maybe Lindzen & Choi didn’t know about the existence of FG06, but certainly at least one reviewer should have. And if they also didn’t, well then, a very poor choice of reviewers was made.

This became clear when Dr. Wong presented a joint analysis he & I made at the CERES science team meeting held in Fort Collins, Colorado in November. At this meeting, Drs. Trenberth and Fasullo approached us and said they had done much the same thing as we had, and had already submitted a paper to GRL, specifically a comment paper on LC09. This comment was rejected out of hand by GRL, with essentially no reason given. With some more inquiry, it was discovered that:

  1. The reviews of LC09 were “extremely favorable”
  2. GRL doesn’t like comments and is thinking of doing away with them altogether.
  3. GRL wouldn’t accept comments on LC09 (and certainly not multiple comments), and instead it was recommended that the four of us submit a stand-alone paper rather than a comment on LC09.

We all felt strongly that we simply wanted to publish a comment directly on LC09, but gave in to GRL and submitted a stand-alone paper. This is why, for instance, LC09 is not directly referenced in our paper abstract. The implication of statement (1) above is that LC09 basically skated through the peer-review process unchanged, and the selected reviewers had no problems with the paper. This, and for GRL to summarily reject all comments on LC09 appears extremely sketchy.

In my opinion, there is a case to be made on the peer-review process being flawed, at least for certain papers. Many commenters say the system isn’t perfect, but it in general works. I would counter that it certainly could be better. For AGU journals, authors are invited to give a list of proposed reviewers for their paper. When the editor is lazy or tight on time or whatever, they may just use the suggested reviewers, whether or not those reviewers are appropriate for the paper in question. Also, when a comment on a paper is submitted, the comment goes to the editor that accepted the original paper – a clear conflict of interest.

So yes, the system may work most of the time, but LC09 is a clear example that it doesn’t work all of the time. I’m not saying LC09 should have been rejected or wasn’t ultimately worthy of publication, but reviewers should have required major modifications before it was accepted for publication.

To me this raises a number of questions. Why are the editors at GRL apparently not following the published editorial policy on comments? The current policy might not be ideal, and perhaps should be changed, but surely not by fiat, and surely not without announcing that policy change? This particular example has ended up divorcing the response from the original paper and clearly makes it harder to follow the development of this analysis in the literature. Additionally, in cases where there appears to have been lapses in peer-review (for whatever reason), is there not an argument for having a different editor deal with the comment/response? Perhaps a new online journal which independently publishes peer-reviewed comments and responses is called for?

Everyone involved in the peer-review process knows full well the difficulty in finding suitable reviewers who have the time and inclination to do a good review. The pressures on editors both to be seen to be fair, and to actually be fair to the authors (and the readers!) are strong, and occasionally things will go wrong. The measure of such a system is not whether it is perfect, but whether it deals appropriately and quickly with problems when they (inevitably) arise.

NB. Comments on how to improve the situation are welcome, but please avoid simply criticising papers that you personally think shouldn’t have been published in the form they were.


264 Responses to “L&C, GRL, comments on peer review and peer-reviewed comments”

  1. 201
    Tilo Reber says:

    RodB: #197
    “I don’t know about the “safety valve” thing, but (if this is what it is) I don’t see how the increase in TOA emission can be greater than the surface’s increase.”

    I’m not talking about a safety valve thing or even an increase at TOA that is greater than the increase at the surface. I’m saying that if you increase the radiation at the surface by one unit, given the same spectrum, the same climate sensitivity, and the same other atmosperic conditions, then you will get at least some fraction of that unit escaping into space. If it didn’t, then anytime you put in extra energy the earth could never reach equilibrium and it would cook.

  2. 202
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Tilo, the portion in the window would escape. However, you cannot arbitrarily increase the energy radiated without either
    1)changing the temperature
    2)changing the albedo
    3)imposing some artificial flux that takes the system out of equilibrium.

    You mentioned nothing about 1 or 2, and you did not specify the distribution for 3. Your problem was and is ill posed.

  3. 203
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    #196, Brian. I liked that image — “It appears that the various flavors of denialist are slowly coalescing into a circular firing squad – maybe that can be encouraged?” Then all the climate scientists would have to do is duck.

    Unfortunately, illogicality and contradiction don’t seem to faze those denialists.

    Some colleagues and I are just in the process of working up an interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program at our university (we already have an Environmental Science major purely in the physical sciences). We really need to understand the minds of those denialists, and the larger sociocultural factors.

    Right now my diagnosis is — as the little cartoon on a my psychology colleagues door claims — they’re just nuts. We need something better than that. More erudite. Something that will pass peer-review.

  4. 204
    Shirley says:

    All this talk here about a cold snap on Jan 12 and tonight, I’m sitting an hour south of Buffalo NY, after that cold (but no where near record) snap, and it’s 40 degrees outside at 9:40pm in JANUARY, hit 44F earlier in the day when it was sunny. Gorgeous. I actually rolled the windows down when I was out earlier. Get ready, kiddies… we have quite a rollercoaster of regional weather in many places ahead of us, methinks… http://climateprogress.org/2010/01/14/2009-hottest-year-on-record-in-southern-hemisphere-nasa-giss/

    Yep, single digits a few days ago, unseasonable 40s today.

    I really hope this makes the difference between weather and climate grossly obvious.

    As for GRL, I can say that as a junior scientist, I am disturbed by the actions pointed out in this thread and others about the publishing process, and surprising to me after watching the coup the API tried to make on AGU over the last few months regarding climate change, which included unsolicited anti-AGW emails sent to AGU members (like me) which asked AGU to downplay its stance on AGW, which the vote of its massive membership beat back. It was quite the drama and I wish I knew more of the backstory.

    Anyway, if a week’s worth of a cold snap is meaningful to some people, what about the warm spell in the NH now? Are the same people going to brush this under the carpet? Growing up here in the 70s and 80s taught me that winter was cold. Now, it seems like winter is whatever it feels like doing from day to day. In the middle of the “cold snap” (and perhaps snap is a good word to describe it, like a finger snap) I joked that it could be 60F in two days. So I’m off by a couple tens, but it’s still nothing like what used to be normal, nor have the last many winters been anything like ‘normal’ for Western NY state. Times they appear to be a-changing. That doesn’t make them regionally predictable, but certainly the measurements show us that the overall heat budget of the Earth has been pretty consistently growing.

    Equilibrium, or climate stability, isn’t going to happen over night, or even over a few years, especially as we continue with our human modification experiments. In our fast food society, it may seem reasonable to expect “evidence” for this or that right away, in days months or years, but this Earth tends to prefer actions on the scale of 10s of thousands or millions of years to do its thing. We’re poking it for answers and responses in a comparatively few decades.

    Someone who teaches physics, who is somewhat skeptical of AGW (an actual skeptic in that he’s really not sure and listens to all sides and considers them all) said to me earlier today, “Yeah, but the Earth seems pretty resilient, and over time, can shake us off like a bunch of fleas.”

    And so it goes.

  5. 205
    Tilo Reber says:

    Lynn: #203
    “We really need to understand the minds of those denialists, and the larger sociocultural factors.

    Right now my diagnosis is — as the little cartoon on a my psychology colleagues door claims — they’re just nuts.”

    I’m one of your nuts, Lynn. Do you want an interview? You can ask the sociocultural questions if you like. But you also have to ask the science based questions.

    Meanwhile, I would still like someone to answer #195. It didn’t get posted until the page was about to turn over.

  6. 206
    CM says:

    Tilo #195,

    The answers to all your questions, I believe, are in the TFOW in-press paper, clear enough that even yours truly could find them by a quick look-through. If you don’t have access to the paper, that’s fair, let us know and I’ll look it up for you. If you do have access, do try reading first. It saves time for all of us.

  7. 207
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Rod B: “None-the-less I can’t see how an increase in the surface emission can’t increase by some fraction the radiation leaving the TOA.”

    Because the energy leaving increasing without an increase in energy coming in causes cooling.

    The warming surface is because the constituents are changing and slowing heat release.

    The only way you can get more out of the top without cooling is to change the atmospheric constituents so that heat release is quicker.

  8. 208
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Rod B: “But why do simple questions seem to cause everybody so much grief and angst??”

    Did you really just say that, Rod B?

    (this is one way in which you cause grief: if you’re not a troll then you’re a griefer:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griefer )

  9. 209
    Deech56 says:

    RE Shirley

    All this talk here about a cold snap on Jan 12 and tonight, I’m sitting an hour south of Buffalo NY, after that cold (but no where near record) snap, and it’s 40 degrees outside at 9:40pm in JANUARY, hit 44F earlier in the day when it was sunny.

    Growing up in Buffalo, we’d call that the January thaw that came a week early. ;-) And yes, I was there for the blizzard of ’77.

    In Maryland, we’ve had highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s and people are calling this a cold snap that disproves AGW. We had this same nonsense a year ago with that article on sea ice by Michael Asher. There no straw that cannot be grasped. Will the release of the 2009 average stop the cooling argument? I doubt it – the GISTEMP data set can just be called suspect.

  10. 210
    Hank Roberts says:

    > why do simple questions seem …

    Because your and Tilo’s method here is to make an assumption–in this thread, that climate sensitivity over time doesn’t matter–and then ask a “simple” question like “change just one thing, what would happen?

    You’re actually changing two things. First, assuming a fantasy planet. Second, asking what happens if you change only one thing in that situation.

    If you got answer you want, you’d then claim it applied to Earth.

    If you change a _bunch_ of things — assume a pure nitrogen atmosphere surrounding a spherical iron elephant, or a cold water world exposed to vacuum like Enceladus — answers differ.

  11. 211
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    #205, Tilo, I was referring to those who make contradictory or illogical assertions to deny global warming (as per #196). I’ve known of a few cases, especially among non-scientists.

    So, if you’re being logically consistent, applying appropriate laws of physics, considering paleoclimate, including all parameters that affect climate, evidence to date, and the best, most sophisticated climate models, and you still come out that global warming is not happening or is very unlikely to happen over this next century, then my comment does not include you.

    I don’t have access to the GRL paper, nor do I have expertise to analyze it (or be its peer-reviewer). But I do trust the scientists here at RC, and Jim Hansen, plus as a lay person my standard for rejecting the null hypothis on AGW is much much lower than scientific standards. .50 is enough for me, considering the seriousness of the issue; and luckily I’ve found (by surprise, since I was willing to sacrifice) that mitigating AGW actually saves money without lowering living standards.

    So, now there is this further irrational thing going on — people refusing to mitigate AGW, even if doing so will be good for them and solve many other problems to boot. That is actually the area I am more interested in as a scholar.

  12. 212
    Susan Anderson says:

    On what motivates denial, wishful thinking is high on the list. We’ve lived on cheap fuel for 200 years and it would be nice to think nothing needs to change. Driving on the roads in a small car is dangerous because most people have switched to bigger ones which are more convenient. Walmart etc. are full of cheap goods. Electronics are constantly getting bigger, faster, more elaborate, and using more energy (3D now so the population can throw away more toxic materials in the form of outdated machinery, for example). (I was fascinated to find a disposable toilet plunger the other day. Industry is busy thinking up more waste all the time.

    When I heard “give us our America back” I thought, that’s just it. People want something to blame for the price we are paying for out universal dependence on consumption and population growth.

    Then, of course, many people believe God won’t let “his” chosen people go. They have made this God in their image (not being very imaginative) and could not believe the planet doesn’t think like them.

    In addition to trusting the large preponderance of mainstream scientists over the last many decades, one might also trust one’s senses and memory. I’m always puzzled how many extreme events are totally dismissable, not individually but in the aggregate. A close observation of the crescendo of extreme floods, droughts, storms, etc. would seem to make it obvious that something is happening. But there is always a singular storm that beats the current avalanche of extreme events.

    Even the Arctic thing is a bit scary, as it appeared that the cold weather actually exchanged with extreme warmth to the north, not to mention the recordbreaking heat in Melbourne (110 F) which is about to host some tennis. In addition, it appears to me that Gulf Stream neighbors are beginning to feel the diminution of its warming force, but the scientists among you may be able to tell me that I am being premature.

  13. 213
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Tilo@205,

    Whether or not Lynn is interested in interviewing you, I would be interested in what motivates your attitude toward the science. I mean, you clearly are not a physical scientist–I’m guessing an engineer or programmer. What is it about the veritable mountain range of independent lines of evidence that favor anthropogenic causation that you do not find cogent?

    And if the root of your crusade against the science is ideological rather than scientific, then why not accept the science and propose solutions that are consistent with your ideological outlook? If your ideology does not afford you such solutions, then doesn’t that indicate that your ideology has a conflict with fundamental realities?

  14. 214
    Rod B says:

    This little set-to has the makings of a semantics debate except there is a basic principle of radiation physics at stake. One sets up a simple physics problem with varying only one variable, keeping all other parameters constant and determines the results. In Physics 101 this is routine (and one does not have to know the cause of the variance) as is ignoring all other factors — you really don’t need to know the gravitational effect from general relatively to determine the momentum transferred between two balls. (How did you guys get through Physics 101?)

    Ray is stewing over the three ways that IR radiation can increase. Actually I think there is only one (for Planck function) and that is increasing the surface temperature of the radiating body. You can not get more IR emanating the earth without increasing its surface temperature. Duh! Why is that so difficult? And who gives a rat’s ass how the temperature is increased? Hank says but that ignores climate sensitivity. So?? So what? My Physics 101 momentum problem ignored general relativity, too. So what? Does that mean you can’t come up with a correct answer? Hank further says that I’m assuming, “…that climate sensitivity over time doesn’t matter…” I’m not assuming that at all; never did; never said I was; climate sensitivity does matter over time, but it’s totally irrelevant to the simple question. Ray further says, “…If you change the outgoing IR, you change the absorption unless you do it in the window region of the spectrum…” which is certainly true but still doesn’t answer the simple question one way or the other.

    I suspect Hank is knocking on the door. It’s paranoia. You’re afraid that someone will take your answer out of context and twist it around and do really nasty stuff with it. Well, their might be a grain of truth to that here and there but it sure gets in the way of scientific discussion. The assertion is that, all other things being equal as currently exists (on Earth not Vulcan or someplace) if the IR emission from the Earth’s surface increases the TOA emission has to increase, at least some, which until now I thought was a no-brainer. In all the attempts, no one has refuted that or explained why it is incorrect. The first of that requires only a simple YES or a NO (though NO has been the clear implication), though the WHY would be much more instructive and believable.

    Whew.

  15. 215
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Rod B says: 16 January 2010 at 5:40 PM

    “The assertion is that, all other things being equal as currently exists (on Earth not Vulcan or someplace) if the IR emission from the Earth’s surface increases the TOA emission has to increase, at least some, which until now I thought was a no-brainer.”

    Rod B., I think your (was it? this thread is so baroque) basic assertion got lost there so just thought I’d highlight it…

  16. 216
    Tilo Reber says:

    Ray: #213
    Lynn: #211

    I would like to get into a psychology and motivation discussion with you and Lynn, but I doubt that Gavin would let it go on. So I’ll just leave you with a lesson from Chuang Tzu. About 300 BC I believe.

    “Tell me,” said Lao Tzŭ, “in what consist charity and duty to one’s neighbour?”

    “They consist,” answered Confucius, “in a capacity for rejoicing in all things; in universal love, without the element of self. These are the characteristics of charity and duty to one’s neighbour.”

    “What stuff!” cried Lao “Does not universal love contradict itself? Is not your elimination of self a positive manifestation of self? Sir, if you would cause the empire not to lose its source of nourishment,—there is the universe, its regularity is unceasing; there are the sun and moon, their brightness is unceasing; there are the stars, their groupings never change; there are birds and beasts, they flock together without varying; there are trees and shrubs, they grow upwards without exception. Be like these; follow Tao; and you will be perfect. Why then these vain struggles after charity and duty to one’s neighbour, as though beating a drum in search of a fugitive? Alas! sir, you have brought much confusion into the mind of man.”

    And maybe one from Alan Watts.

    “This is why moralistic preaching is such a failure; it breeds only cunning hypocrites – people sermonized into shame, guilt, or fear, who thereupon force themselves to behave as if they actually loved others, so that their “virtues” are often more destructive, and arouse more resentment, than their “vices”.

  17. 217
    Tilo Reber says:

    Rod B: #214

    I like that smoke coming out of your nostrils, Rod. You seem like a “get to the point” kind of guy. Maybe you can help me with #195.

  18. 218
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod, “if you increase radiation at ground level” is not a sufficient premise.
    That’s all of the problem right there. That’s not changing even one thing.

    Turn on a flashlight. Unbox a radioactive material. Broadcast on your CB.

    Why not help him out? You can certainly pose an answerable question for him, one that he’ll accept, using your knowledge of physics.

    Show us how it’s done.

  19. 219
    Lawrence McLean says:

    Tilo Reber, Rod B,
    An simple analogy that may help you understand the Greenhouse effect.

    There are three elements: An open faucet (tap in Australia), a bucket underneath the faucet and at the bottom of the bucket an open valve.

    The initial state is such that the level of water in the bucket is half full. The flow of water into the bucket and out is balanced. The water level in the bucket is analogous to surface temperature.

    Adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere has an analogous effect in this model to closing the valve (at the bottom of the bucket) a little. The incoming flow, equivalent to incoming solar radiation, remains unchanged. What happens in this model when the valve at the bottom is slightly closed is that the level of water in the bucket rises until the rising pressure at the bottom causes the outgoing flow to again match the incoming flow, with the water level in the bucket at a higher level than before the “single variable” was changed.

    The situation with regards to the greenhouse gasses that we have added to the atmosphere is that the surface temperature has not yet reached the new equilibrium for what we have currently added, plus we are continuing to close the valve i.e. adding more greenhouse gasses.

    Maybe a better analogy is a pond in a stream. closing the outlet of the pond will result in the pond increasing in level, however the ring level may result in the breaking of little sand bar that may temporarily lower the level of the pond in spite of the blockage to the outlet. This (breaking the sand bar) is analogous to the melting of the glaciers, heating the water at the bottom of the ocean.

    Rod, Tilo, Does this analogy help you? To any others, is this analogy OK, if it is wrong or inappropriate please let me know. Cheers.

  20. 220
    Tilo Reber says:

    Lawrence: #219
    “Rod, Tilo, Does this analogy help you?”

    It’s not bad, Lawrence, but it’s not really what we are talking about. We are not trying to resolve the Lindzen debate or reject the greenhouse principle. Using your example, we are saying something very simple. Increase the pressure and more water comes out the bottom. That’s it. Increase surface radiation, more goes out the TOA. Deciding if Lindzen is right or wrong is a much more complex issue and involves all of the other things that people are wanting to bring into the discussion.

    In a more general sense, however, your point above is not really the point of contention in the AGW debate. The point of contention is more like – if I shut one valve down a little, does that cause other valves to shut down a little also (more greenhouse h2o in the air) or does it open some other valves just a little (cloud albedo), or does it do some combination of all those things and how can we figure out what the summed effects give us.

  21. 221
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oh, wait, Ray already suggested how to pose the question so it’s answerable.
    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=2710#comment-154605

    I think Rod’s trying for something like the “if you instantaneously doubled the number of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere, holding everything else constant” — which is a simple question with a simple answer.

    That’s specific, can be put into one of the online calculators, and gets something that at least can be talked about.
    Here’s one example– http://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=2287979&postcount=27
    I don’t promise anything about the content there — there are some confused people in the thread– but “double the CO2″ is the premise for a question that can be answered, probably.*

    Reading the confused questions elsewhere in that thread may give a better idea why “increasing the radiation” isn’t clear.
    ————-
    * http://www.xkcd.com/683/

  22. 222
    James says:

    I don’t understand …
    Recent discussion about some 40% of produced CO2 remaining in the atmosphere the rest going to the various sinks. This percentage has not changed in recent decades.

    If 60% is sequestered rapidly why does the remaining 40% have a atmospheric lifetime of 100s years.

    Clearly I’ve missed the plot, can anybody explain please

    Thanks
    James

  23. 223
    Ray Ladbury says:

    James, the 40% is not sequestered long term. It goes into the biosphere, but plants die and decay, giving off CO2 and CH4. It goes into the oceans, but the oceans give it right back–with the equilibrium determining how much goes into the atmosphere and how much goes into the oceans. In fact, eventually when CO2 starts to decrease in the atmosphere, the oceans become a source and slow the decrease.
    The only way CO2 is removed from the environment long-term is by reacting with certain minerals. Such geologic processes take place on timescales of centuries.

  24. 224
    Doug Bostrom says:

    James says: 16 January 2010 at 8:12 PM

    Other could probably explain it better, but in the past the amount of C02 entering and leaving the atmosphere has been balanced, by biological and geochemical processes.

    Now we’re adding C02 faster than it can be soaked up.

    If we think of the Earth as a toilet, and we do tend to treat it that way, we’re using too much paper. It can’t flush fast enough, so it’s overflowing onto the floor, where the mess remains for a long time. Or something like that. Didn’t somebody say we’re suppose to use analogies?

  25. 225
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Tilo Reber, I think it is quite germane to ask what could motivate someone to reject mountains of evidence when he clearly did not have a thorough understanding of the science in the first place.

    And what is more, there is nothing moralistic about the argument. It is simply a matter of whether it is better to accept physical reality even when it has unpleasant implications or whether it is better to keep telling ourselves comforting lies.

    I wonder, Tilo, what you will do the next time we get a really big El Nino. Will a new record warm year convince you, or will you merely start saying, “Oh look. It’s cooling again.”

    See, the thing is, if your philosophy can’t cope with reality, it’s not a very effective philosophy, is it?

  26. 226
    Radge Havers says:

    Re: The psychology of deniers

    If I had to venture a guess, I’d say a critical point may be some time in adolescence. Formative habits of thinking could be driven by an emotional investment in establishing social rank and improperly linked to the development of a world view. That might explain some of the strange, irony-challenged styles of argument and the tendency to see presentations of AGW as either personal attacks or attacks on a way of life.

    Hard to fix once ingrained, but you might be able to nip it in the bud in classrooms…

  27. 227
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B. says, “You can not get more IR emanating the earth without increasing its surface temperature.”

    Not true, Rod. A medium powering a laser actually has a negative temperature. A system only has a well defined temperature if it is in equilibrium. Shining a laser up into the sky increases the photons emitted.

    And then there is the question of what happens to the photons on their path through the atmosphere.

    Sorry Rod, but reality is complicated. In a system as complicated as Earth, it is difficult to change just one thing.

  28. 228
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Jim Hansen comes to the rescue re explaining the cold snap, while telling us that 2009 is tied for the second hottest year on record. See: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2010/20100115_Temperature2009.pdf

    RE climate sensitivity — there is also the paleoclimate data that indicates sensitivity to be about 3C with doubling of CO2 — see Hansen, STORM OF MY GRANDCHILDREN, esp. pp. 44-46.

    Did Lindzen take that into consideration? How could warmings/coolings have happened in the past the way they did with such a low sensitivity as claimed by Lindzen. Does he include some discussion of that in the caveat section at the end of his article?

  29. 229
    Tilo Reber says:

    Ray, #225
    “I wonder, Tilo, what you will do the next time we get a really big El Nino. ”

    Probably much the same thing that you will do if we get a really big La Nina.

    “See, the thing is, if your philosophy can’t cope with reality, it’s not a very effective philosophy, is it?”

    I can say the same to you, Ray.

    But this is all kind of pointless, Ray. If you want all of my scientific reasons we will be going over much of the same ground again. If you want to tell me what my psychological reasons are, then I’ll want to tell you what your psychological reasons are. And that would be inappropriate to this forum. So if you want to mud wrestle, then suggest a forum where it is appropriate; because I’m going to try to avoid it here.

    Ray: #227
    “In a system as complicated as Earth, it is difficult to change just one thing.”

    Lindzen would undoubtedly agree with you. He would say that it’s more complicated than just increasing CO2, or even more complicated than just increasing CO2 and H2O.

  30. 230
    Phil. Felton says:

    Rod B says:
    16 January 2010 at 5:40 PM
    The assertion is that, all other things being equal as currently exists (on Earth not Vulcan or someplace) if the IR emission from the Earth’s surface increases the TOA emission has to increase, at least some, which until now I thought was a no-brainer. In all the attempts, no one has refuted that or explained why it is incorrect. The first of that requires only a simple YES or a NO (though NO has been the clear implication), though the WHY would be much more instructive and believable.

    If the rise in surface temperature is achieved without changing the incoming radiation then there will be no increase in the TOA emission, the atmosphere will warm up and the TOA will move up to the new equilibrium point. Over time incoming must equal outgoing.

  31. 231
    CM says:

    Tilo, since you continue (#217) to press for answers to the questions you raised in #195, I’ll assume you don’t have access to the pre-print article where you could look this up for yourself, and try to look it up for you. My qualifications in this field are strictly limited to knowing how to read English, so hopefully someone will spot it if I get something wrong.

    In #195 you wrote:

    > Looking at the chart [from TFOW], I tried to make some sense
    > out of their choice of start points and end points. (…)
    > Can anyone explain the asymetric choices that were made
    > in the TFOW paper.

    Here’s how TFOW describe their objective method (which is given only as an example): “to identify local minima and maxima exceeding 0.1°C in low-pass filtered data”.

    > If the relationship can be reduced to zero by displacing by
    > only one month, then why have a “present analysis” with start
    > and end points that are so radically displaced.

    I think you are conflating two different analyses.

    As I understand it, first, they test the robustness of LC09, displacing the endpoints chosen by LC09 by a month or less, and the correlation pretty much goes out of the window. The graph does not show these one-month-displaced endpoints.

    Then, they move on to considering whether the LC09 endpoints are even reasonably chosen, and show how a (sample) objective method would give a different result. The resulting endpoints shown in the graph are not the ones that were used in the first step to test robustness.

    > In the last bullet TFOW say that they correct LC09 from
    > having a climate sensitivity of 0.5K to one having a climate
    > sensitivity of 0.82K. Well … okay. And what is the variation in
    > climate sensitivity that is produced by the various models?

    Irrelevant, because the correction you refer to is only for LC09’s failure to include the Planck function in their feedback parameter when estimating climate sensitivity, not for the other flaws in their argument.

    > But what is that positive feedback parameter and greater sensitivity
    > estimate [yielded by TFOW]. […] Why is no number given?

    They consider several cases with different choices of data giving different results, to look for possible sources of error. For instance, the values are 0.6 and 2.3K, respectively, for TFOW’s case 4 (i. e. based on “All 36-day anomalies excluding missing ERBS data and the Mt. Pinatubo period, but with anomalies for 1985 to 1990 and 1994 to 1999 calculated relative to 1985-1989 and 1994-1997 means, respectively, to remove the low frequency ERBS changes”).

    Immediately after reporting these results, however, they move on to caution that calculating such values based only on tropical results is misleading anyway, which I think is the bottom-line message. My guess would be that this is why they don’t bother giving a number in the blog post: to avoid misplaced concreteness.

  32. 232
    Deech56 says:

    RE Lynn

    Jim Hansen comes to the rescue re explaining the cold snap, while telling us that 2009 is tied for the second hottest year on record. See: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2010/20100115_Temperature2009.pdf

    Apparently, this is a draft, and Dr. Hansen is taking comments. Joe Romm has the scoop.

    There is a lot of good information in this essay. So 2009, despite the solar minimum and the end of La Nina, was tied for second warmest year in the GISTEMP record. That’s a sobering thought.

  33. 233

    Rod B: You can not get more IR emanating the earth without increasing its surface temperature.

    BPL: Yes you can, on a planet with an atmosphere. Unless you mean “emitting from the Earth’s surface.”

  34. 234

    TR, here’s another lesson from Lao Tze. The master said, “He who is truly in the way will dislike no one.” But you wear your dislikes on your sleeve.

  35. 235

    TR: Increase surface radiation, more goes out the TOA.

    BPL: That would always be true on a planet with no atmosphere. On one WITH an atmosphere it is NOT necessarily true. That’s why your “only change one thing” is so idiotic. It’s like saying, “let’s imagine an object being propelled by a force. Now let’s imagine that the force changes, but the mass and acceleration stay the same.”

  36. 236
    Radge Havers says:

    “I can say the same to you, Ray.”

    “But this is all kind of pointless, Ray.”

    Well in practical terms, it’s appropriate to the extent that moderators allow it, Tilo.

    It’s interesting that you assume psychology = mud wrestling. Why smart people persistently pursue faulty lines of reasoning should be of interest to anyone with the least bit of curiosity, particularly if it could interfere with important policy decisions.

    I suspect if there’s a problem here, it is–once again–one of being able to effectively evaluate the relative strengths of differing arguments and instead seeking resolution by banging away with symmetrical positioning.

    You might as well just go do what you need to do to produce a viable alternative model, get better data or whatever, because AGW simply won’t be nibbled away by angry ducks.

  37. 237
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Tilo, The difference is that you have not proposed any cogent physical reasons for your opposition to the consensus. As with LC’09, move the endpoints just slightly, and your 12 years of cooling becomes 13 years of warming or 11 years of warming–even with MEI corrected data. And looking at your website, I see the same cherrypicking and distortion of the science. In no case do I see evidence of any effort to really understand the science you seek to disprove. Instead you insist on thursting and parrying against straw men.

    What I do see a lot of on your site, Tilo, are arguments against government power, taxation, regulation.

    So, it seems natural to wonder whether your motivation stems from a deep seated fear that there may not be a libertarian, free market solution.

    Of course, the fallacy here is that nature does not give a rat’s tuckus for our beliefs or our economic system or our politics. And if our belief system does not provide us with a solution to our surviving our own ingenuity, then she will be equally happy to see how some other species rises to the environmental challenges. Roaches should do fine, or perhaps giant dragon flies will make a comeback.

    As to my own psychological motivations, I am happy to share them. I believe that science works. I believe that it can tell us when we are deluding ourselves and telling ourselves comforting lies not supported by evidence. Further, I believe that such a methodology is a prerequisite to our longterm survival. Indeed,, since I believe that is what the science is telling us now, it’s probably key to our continued viability even in the medium term.

  38. 238
    Jim D says:

    In the standard CO2 global-warming model, the CO2 increase drives an atmospheric warming which in turn leads to ocean warming (not direct SST warming). Therefore the ocean has a negative feedback on the atmospheric warming, and what LC09 have demonstrated is a negative feedback to a negative feedback. Global warming is completely different from the SST-driven response they studied. Basically they have it backwards. You have to assume the atmosphere warms first.

  39. 239
    Rod B says:

    Ray, the laser analogy is a non sequitur. It has nothing to do with the earth’s planck radiation and escape of some of that radiation from the TOA. You’re saying you can put something in low earth orbit, e.g., and generate IR into space without heating the earth’s surface. Well, DUH!

    Some of the emanating photons get absorbed and converted to kinetic energy, radiated back to earth, radiated some more upward, or go straight out into space. That’s what this whole nonsensical debate is about. If you increase the earth’s surface IR radiation, ALL FOUR of those possibilities will also increase.

    Phil Fenton (230) says, “…If the rise in surface temperature is achieved without changing the incoming radiation then there will be no increase in the TOA emission, the atmosphere will warm up and the TOA will move up to the new equilibrium point…”

    I’m not sure what ‘TOA moving to a new equilibrium point’ means, but sans that I contend your statement is flat out wrong (within the constraints of the question.)

    It’s true that “Over time incoming must equal outgoing.” It’s also true that acceleration is force/mass. Neither one affects the question as posed.

    BPL, “emitting from the Earth’s surface.” is precisely the question posed.

    BPL (235): good example of the semantics. I’m saying if you only change force then acceleration will change. The counter argument is more like you can’t just change force by itself; you also must know about friction variances and air density and current velocity and a myriad of other stuff. I say that is nonsense — if it were true one could never get through Physics 101.

    btw, there are two Tilo initiated issues going on here. I’m commenting on only one.

  40. 240
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, Precise phrasing is important, especially with somebody like Tilo, who is eager to misinterpret anything you say.

    For the situation you are describing, why not simply say” Raise Earth’s surface temperature.” This removes all ambiguity, and yes, any extra photons generated in the IR windows take the express train out of the atmosphere. But raising Earth’s temperature also raises its humidity–it has to. It may melt ice, and so on. It doesn’t just increase IR emission. In fact, a non-thermal source like my laser example is just about the only way to increase IR emission from the surface holding all other variables constant.

    Sorry, Rod, but Earth does not lend itself to changing only one variable at a time.

  41. 241
    colin Aldridge says:

    Have just Read Climate Audits analysis of LC09. Its good to see a common view from RC and CA that
    LC09 is a very poor piece of science. A view with which I concur

  42. 242
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Not true, Rod. A medium powering a laser actually has a negative temperature.”

    Which is because of the population of the power levels in a laser are in the reverse to population in a rational temperature state: lower states are more populous than higher energetic states (IIRC from Quantum Optics and Laser Physics course so very long ago…)

    Similarly if you place a magnetic material like iron in a field and then swap the field around, you get more magnetic domains pointing the wrong way and that can only happen with beyond-infinite temperatures which result in negative temperatures.

  43. 243
    Rod B says:

    Ray (240) says, “…For the situation you are describing, why not simply say” Raise Earth’s surface temperature.”

    I’ll buy that. I would suggest that some of the photons not in the window will also escape, though not many, and, highly unlikely the very same photon.

    Also, “…Earth does not lend itself to changing only one variable at a time.”

    True in the real complete world. But as I said you just killed any pragmatic Physics 101 course.

  44. 244
    Tilo Reber says:

    Ray: #237
    “Tilo, The difference is that you have not proposed any cogent physical reasons for your opposition to the consensus.”

    No, Ray, you don’t produce any cogent physical reasons for your acceptance of the consensus. The entire argument centers around climate sensitivity. And that number is nothing more than a modeling result. There is no reason to believe climate sensitivity numbers like 3C per CO2 doubling unless you want to tell yourself that you are saving the world by fighting against AGW. If you want to delude yourself by telling yourself that you are only following the science, then by my guest. But every comment that you make here is dripping with the tone of a moral crusader who enjoys playing up the pretense that he is motivated by science while others are motivated by ignorant self interest.

    “As with LC’09, move the endpoints just slightly, and your 12 years of cooling becomes 13 years of warming or 11 years of warming–even with MEI corrected data.”

    This is a perfect example of you ignoring the data. I gave you an explanation in my blog and all that you did was come back with the same argument that you started with. You never showed for even a moment that you understood my arguments. You simply repeated your own faulty assertions – again and again. Now if you had come back and said something of the sort like “Tilo, I understand the argument that your are trying to make, but that argument is wrong for this reason”, then I could respect your position. But considering the fact that you did nothing more than repeat the same faulty line without ever acknowledging my argument or proposing a counter argument, I can only assume that your are a propagandist and a moral crusader who is in it for his own ego.

    “As to my own psychological motivations, I am happy to share them. I believe that science works. I believe that it can tell us when we are deluding ourselves and telling ourselves comforting lies not supported by evidence. ”

    Yes, and I’m sure that you were simply following the science when you believed that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035. In the meantime, we found out that that was a scientific error and that the more likely number is 2350. And I’m sure that you believed the science of the IPCC when they told you that hundreds of millions of people more would suffer from water stress as a result of AGW, when in fact it turned out that the net number of people suffering from water stress as a result of AWG would decrease by hundreds of millions. If you think that AGW is a scientific issue only, look at the protestors outside of Copenhagen that were carrying signs saying “climate justice” and “down with capitalism”.

    “Climate change (provides) the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world” “No matter if the science is all phony, there are still collateral environmental benefits” (to global warming policies) –Christine Stewart (former canadian environmental minister)

    With such people fighting for the AGW position, it’s a fantasy to think that only the motivation of people on the skeptics side need to be reviewed.

    [Response: So justice and equality are now bad things? And the ancillary benefits of renewables over coal, or the air pollution benefits of plug-in hybrids, or the money saved from energy efficiency can’t be discussed? Regardless, we are here to discuss science, and the motivations of campaigners have nothing to do with the radiative impact of CO2 molecules, nor on the fragility of trends based on 12 year periods rather than 11 or 13 year periods. – gavin]

  45. 245
    Tilo Reber says:

    Gavin: #244
    “So justice and equality are now bad things?”

    Justice is a bit too much of an abstraction to be dealt with here. But equality, in the way that the word is now being used, is definitely a bad thing. The kind of equality that we are talking about now is a government imposed equality. It is an artifical equality that requires government to cut down the tall trees so that they won’t overshadow the short trees. It is the forcing of an outcome upon the human race that is not natural to the human race. Such a forced outcome causes more misery and suffering than it prevents because it requires government to exercise a fascist level of control over the individual. Every experiment into Communism has already shown that government determined social outcomes are a disaster.

    Gavin: #244
    “And the ancillary benefits of renewables over coal, or the air pollution benefits of plug-in hybrids, or the money saved from energy efficiency can’t be discussed?”

    Of course they can be discussed. But let’s discuss them on their own merits, not in the context of a contrived emergency. The one place where I’m in complete agreement with Jim Hansen is in going to nuclear. I think that a steady (non emergency) conversion process should be under way. In a hundred years we could be mostly nuclear across the globe. The cost would be reasonable, no one in the developed world would need to change their living standards, and the developing world could be allowed to continue development without concern about their contribution to pollution. Furthermore, most of the people who call themselves skeptics will not object to going nuclear and it should accomplish most of the things that the AGW people say they want to accomplish – at least with regards to CO2. Of course it won’t provide much leverage in the fight for “equality and justice”.

    Gavin: #244
    “nor on the fragility of trends based on 12 year periods rather than 11 or 13 year periods. – gavin]”

    I believe that I have already answered that one.

  46. 246
    Doug Bostrom says:

    “The kind of equality that we are talking about now is a government imposed equality. It is an artifical equality that requires government to cut down the tall trees so that they won’t overshadow the short trees. It is the forcing of an outcome upon the human race that is not natural to the human race. Such a forced outcome causes more misery and suffering than it prevents because it requires government to exercise a fascist level of control over the individual.”

    Ayn Rand partially digested, vomited? Climate science? What is going on here?

    This fellow has his own thread at Deltoid, why not take it there.

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/05/the_tilo_reber_thread.php

  47. 247

    TR: The entire argument centers around climate sensitivity. And that number is nothing more than a modeling result.

    BPL: Wrong. You get the same figure from paleoclimatology evidence:

    Hegerl Gabriele C., Crowley Thomas J., Hyde William T., Frame David J. 2006. “Climate Sensitivity Constrained by Temperature Reconstructions over the Past Seven Centuries.” Nature 440, 1029-1032 (letter).

    Hoffert, Martin I., Covey, Curt 1992. “Deriving Global Climate Sensitivity from Palaeoclimate Reconstructions.” Nature 360, 573-576.

    Tung, K.K. and C.D. Camp 2008. “Solar Cycle Warming at the Earth’s Surface in NCEP and ERA-40 data: A linear Discriminant Analysis.” Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, D05114-

  48. 248
    Tilo Reber says:

    “What is going on here?”

    Why don’t you look at what your partners are posting. I said that I wanted to stay on climate science – but everyone else insisted on talking about psychology and motive.

    “Ayn Rand partially digested, vomited?”

    I don’t read Ayn Rand. If you have a real contribution, why don’t you make it.

  49. 249
    Tilo Reber says:

    Barton:
    BPL: Wrong. You get the same figure from paleoclimatology evidence:

    No, you are wrong. From your paper Gabriele paper:

    “We use large-ensemble energy balance modelling and simulate the temperature response to past solar, volcanic and greenhouse gas forcing to determine which climate sensitivities yield simulations that are in agreement with proxy reconstructions.”

    From your Tung paper:

    “It is also established that the global warming of the surface is related to the 11-year solar cycle, in particular to its TSI, at over 95% confidence level. Since the solar-forcing variability has been measured by satellites, we therefore now know both the forcing and the response (assuming cause and effect). This information is then used to deduce the climate sensitivity.”

    These guys are saying that if they can filter out solar, they can deduce climate sensitivity. How absurd is that? First of all, we know that there are many other factors than solar involved, and second of all, the current twelve year flat trend indicates that we don’t yet know what all the elements of variation actually are.

    The Hoffert paper has to be paid for, and I am not going to do that. How they did a radiative forcing reconstruction and how they derived a sensitivity value from it is unclear from the abstract. For example, how did they reconstruct the H2O portion of the radiative forcing. How does a comparison of radiative forcing with temperature deal with issues like albedo, solar variation, orbital variation, etc. Hoffert claims that it doesn’t matter if the radiative forcing results from temperature change, or the other way around. But if you are basing a climate sensitivity number on the correlation between radiative forcing and temperature, I don’t see how this is possible. Especially considering the fact that the temperature trend would often move from up to down while the CO2 trend continued to go up for long periods of time. To have that happen you would need elements of forcing that are stronger than the CO2 forcing effect to be in operation. And yet such elements are unaccounted for – even though we know that they must exists.

    I don’t think that it has been established at all that emperical evidence supports the models.

  50. 250
    CTG says:

    Re #245 Tilo

    Gavin: #244
    “nor on the fragility of trends based on 12 year periods rather than 11 or 13 year periods. – gavin]”

    I believe that I have already answered that one.

    No, you didn’t. You just refused to answer any of the criticisms of your analysis, and continued to insist it was meaningful.

    It’s ironic, because you have committed the same error as L&C. In time series analysis, if you get a different answer by shifting your trend window a small amount either way, it should tell you that perhaps your trend is not as significant as you thought it was. Your result is entirely dependent on using 1998 as the start year, as I and others have pointed out. There is no a priori reason to use 1998 as a start point, so your analysis simply is not valid.


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