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The IPCC is not infallible (shock!)

Filed under: — group @ 19 January 2010 - (Italian)

Like all human endeavours, the IPCC is not perfect. Despite the enormous efforts devoted to producing its reports with the multiple levels of peer review, some errors will sneak through. Most of these will be minor and inconsequential, but sometimes they might be more substantive. As many people are aware (and as John Nieslen-Gammon outlined in a post last month and Rick Piltz goes over today), there is a statement in the second volume of the IPCC (WG2), concerning the rate at which Himalayan glaciers are receding that is not correct and not properly referenced.

The statement, in a chapter on climate impacts in Asia, was that the likelihood of the Himalayan glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035″ was “very high” if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate (WG 2, Ch. 10, p493), and was referenced to a World Wildlife Fund 2005 report. Examining the drafts and comments (available here), indicates that the statement was barely commented in the reviews, and that the WWF (2005) reference seems to have been a last minute addition (it does not appear in the First- or Second- Order Drafts). This claim did not make it into the summary for policy makers, nor the overall synthesis report, and so cannot be described as a ‘central claim’ of the IPCC. However, the statement has had some press attention since the report particularly in the Indian press, at least according to Google News, even though it was not familiar to us before last month.

It is therefore obvious that this error should be corrected (via some kind of corrigendum to the WG2 report perhaps), but it is important to realise that this doesn’t mean that Himalayan glaciers are doing just fine. They aren’t, and there may be serious consequences for water resources as the retreat continues. See also this review paper (Ren et al, 2006) on a subset of these glaciers.

East Rongbuk glacier 1921 and 2008East Rongbuk glacier just below Mt. Everest has lost 3-400 ft of ice in this area since 1921.

More generally, peer-review works to make the IPCC reports credible because many different eyes with different perspectives and knowledge look over the same text. This tends to make the resulting product reflect more than just the opinion of a single author. In this case, it appears that not enough people with relevant experience saw this text, or if they saw it, did not comment publicly. This might be related to the fact that this text was in the Working Group 2 report on impacts, which does not get the same amount of attention from the physical science community than does the higher profile WG 1 report (which is what people associated with RC generally look at). In WG1, the statements about continued glacier retreat are much more general and the rules on citation of non-peer reviewed literature was much more closely adhered to. However, in general, the science of climate impacts is less clear than the physical basis for climate change, and the literature is thinner, so there is necessarily more ambiguity in WG 2 statements.

In future reports (and the organisation for AR5 in 2013 is now underway), extra efforts will be needed to make sure that the links between WG1 and the other two reports are stronger, and that the physical science community should be encouraged to be more active in the other groups.

In summary, the measure of an organisation is not determined by the mere existence of errors, but in how it deals with them when they crop up. The current discussion about Himalayan glaciers is therefore a good opportunity for the IPCC to further improve their procedures and think more about what the IPCC should be doing in the times between the main reports.

Update: This backgrounder presented by Kargel et al AGU this December is the best summary of the current state of the Himalayas and the various sources of misinformation that are floating around. It covers this issue, the Raina report and the recent Lau et al paper.


1,804 Responses to “The IPCC is not infallible (shock!)”

  1. 1451
    Tim Jones says:

    Re:1428
    Leighton says:
    6 February 2010 at 5:44 PM
    “Tim Jones (#1426) expresses an ignorant opinion on a topic far removed from climate science, namely, a recent US Supreme Court decision on the intersection between the Speech Clause of the First Amendment and campaign-finance reform legislation. I’d be happy to explain why Tim is wrong but am concerned that First Amendment jurisprudence might be, you know, just a tad off topic for this blog. (Is there an emoticon for “rolling eyeballs”?)”

    Leighton, you’re “concerned” but you still crawl out with a paragraph of off topic aspersions, neither offering supporting evidence nor anything to do with climate science but the use of the words. Is it perhaps because you’re incapable of offering anything but ignorant opinions at all?

    In the first place what I wrote is hardly an “ignorant opinion.” Nor is it irrelevant. With the corporate campaign expenditure ban now being declared unconstitutional, there will be enormous corporate financial contributions to candidates opposing climate legislation. It’s an additional obstacle advocates of the science will have to cope with.

    “Stevens: “Decision will “cripple” government’s ability to prevent “corporate domination of the electoral process.’”
    http://mediamatters.org/research/201001280003

    “The Court’s blinkered and aphoristic approach to the First Amendment may well promote corporate power at the cost of the individual and collective self-expression the Amendment was meant to serve. It will undoubtedly cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress, and the States to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process. Americans may be forgiven if they do not feel the Court has advanced the cause of self-government today.”

  2. 1452
    Gilles says:

    Hank :”Nonsense. Rate of change is the problem.

    If you accept paleo studies you can look at the rate of change and the rate of adaptation to change, repeatedly, in Earth’s past history. (If you don’t accept the paleo work, and evolution, you can’t imagine this.)”

    Oh really, are there paleo studies concerning civilization consuming several dozen times their biological power under the form of fossil fuels in the past ? I didn’t think there were any before ours !

    could you please indicate me what you mean by “rate of change” compared with the rate at which everything has changed for 50 years ? have you seen pictures of your grand parents ?

    I told you : the most rapid effect on our civilization will be the peak and the decline @ – a few % yr-1 of fossil fuels, NOT the climate change. Obvious orders of magnitude show that. Mathematically the growth of GDP per capita is equal to the sum of
    * the growth of energy consumption- the demographic growth. – the growth of energy intensity (which is usually negative)

    Currently the first two cancel approximately (energy /capita approx . constant) ,a and the growth of GDP per capita is (was?) almost entirely equal to the improvement of energy intensity. BUT if the energy resource decreases instead of increasing, by say -1.5 %/yr instead of +1.5 % /yr, then you have to improve the energy intensity by +3% more each year – that is if you want a +2 % growth, then you have to improve the E.I. by 5 % each year. This has – to my knowledge- never been reached in the history – every “paleo” or modern study will confirm it.

    Ray :”Gilles, You are the master of the impertinent response. What the hell does migration from Europe have to do with forced migration due to climate change? I really have to wonder:”

    It just shows that people can adapt very easily to different climates if political and social conditions are good enough. It is not impertinent. Again it is facts. The problem is that you impute to climate change all the feeling of guiltiness we have for poor people – forgetting that their poverty stems from much different reasons than climate. Classify me as a troll if you don’t want to hear my arguments. I already said it : facts don’t cease to exist because they are ignored.

  3. 1453
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Jim Galasyn #1403, that’s interesting, but what would really interest me is their new official value for pi…

  4. 1454
    ge0050 says:

    Since coal is the largest contributor of CO2 by unit of energy produced, is it not more likely that the oil industry is promoting AGW? If a tax is introduced on CO2 then coal will be affected the most. This will make oil and gas more competitive as compared to coal for base-line power generation, effectively increasing demand worldwide for oil and gas, increasing the price of oil and gas.

    Coal remains the most plentiful, low cost fuel source on earth to industrialize the third world and end global poverty. Without a CO2 tax countries such as China and India will continue to industrialize using coal. Raising the price of CO2 will force countries to replace coal with oil and gas, increasing the profitability of the oil industry at the expense of the coal industry.

    CO2 injection is already used by the oil industry to enhance oil recovery. A tax break for CO2 sequestering changes CO2 injection from a cost to a revenue producer. Instead of having to pay to pump CO2 into the ground, the oil industry will be paid to inject the CO2 in the form of carbon credits, further enhancing their profitability.

  5. 1455
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Tim Mason says: 7 February 2010 at 4:33 AM

    “It would be nice to see a robust defense of Phil Jones. It seems that he needs it.”

    Elsewhere (Eli Rabett?) I saw the CRU FOI affair described as a “denial of service attack”, an effort to stop targeted individuals at CRU from accomplishing their ordinary duties. Given what we’ve read of the pattern of FOI requests lodged w/CRU, it seems to me that one might make a case that an abuse of the legal system has occurred here; the law itself was used to perform something roughly analogous to “tortious interference.”

    Unfortunately I suppose an actual lawyer would say the jurisdictional problems arising from the international provenance of the apparently coordinated attack on CRU make a legal resort to demonstrating abusive employment of FOI requests a legal nonstarter.

    On the other hand w/regard to public opinion it is a different matter.

    Seeing how little (nothing) the FOI requests had to do with improving research I’m naturally inclined to take the “side” of Jones and CRU, but even so the situation described in the Times article was a revelation to me. It’s one thing to hear of somebody dodging a single, sincerely intentioned FOI or FOIA request, quite another when it turns out that a relatively tiny agency has been beaten down by abusive, coordinated exploitation of a legal tool whose creators never envisioned it being used as a weapon.

    Is anybody at CRU able to spend time constructing a coherent picture of the FOI requests, where they came from, when, commonalities in demand language? If not, is this information ok to disclose to others who may be able spend the time necessary? Whatever the case, it’s an idiotic distraction but on the other hand an injustice has been committed and the victims ought not to be expected to lay down and simply accept it.

    More background on manner of CRU “DOS” attack:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7017905.ece

  6. 1456

    Gilles wrote:

    “Extrapolating ten or even twenty years for the next 30 years has no scientific basis, if you don’t know the past variability and the amplitude of oscillations at this scale. ”

    And yet he insists that we can’t uncouple from fossil fuels.

    Curious, that. At least in the case of the climate system we’re dealing with mostly the same “equipment.”

  7. 1457
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Don Schor, You and your rose-spectacled compatriots are fond of telling us that Malthus was wrong. You ignore why–namely that the New World took pressure off of the over-burdened Old World. If not, his bleak vision of a dieback would have been realized.

    You also love to tell us that the bleak visions of famine have instead become times of relative plenty as far as food is concerned. You ignore the fact that the green revolution was merely a way of turning the one-time bounties of petroleum and 10000 year old aquifers into food. Even with this, a billion are still hungry.

    Now what I ask is just where are the billions who will be displaced by climate change supposed to go? You got some extra space on a sofa or something?

  8. 1458

    Don Shor, you think that migration will be “a slow-moving problem.” Quite possibly not; many of the precipitating events will be quite sudden, as flooding tends to be.

    But what you and others don’t get is that humanity is going to be hammered at from multiple directions simultaneously. Ecologically, just about every place on the planet could be made “a stranger to itself.” There won’t be many safe refuges, many oases of stability–not if we don’t mitigate emissions.

    That’s why there is the concern to stay below that 2C buffer if at all possible (and “it at all possible” is looking increasingly forlorn, thanks in no small part to the minimizers such as yourself.)

  9. 1459
    Septic Matthew says:

    1448 Georgi Marinov: the goal is to prevent a global Malthusian crash and preserve civilization with the knowledge accumulated so that we don’t get back to caves forever.

    It isn’t the only goal, and accomplishing it does not preclude accomplishing other goals.

    Reducing emissions while necessary to get there is not sufficient … .

    I didn’t say it was sufficient, but that the technology to do it exists already, and it might be necessary, so we should continually prepare.

    I have never argued against switching to renewables – exactly the opposite.

    I am glad that you clarified that.

    What I am trying to get people to understand is that you can not switch to renewables and continue BAU with respect to everything else

    Has anybody written anything different?

  10. 1460
    Septic Matthew says:

    1443, CFU: Most avenues for biofuel production produces more energy than it consumes.

    I agree, but there is a legitimate debate, and I cited one peer-reviewed article that came to the opposite conclusion.

  11. 1461
    Septic Matthew says:

    1356: Techno-optimism coming from people who haven’t bothered to check what the math says about the availability of energy, minerals, water, soils and everything else we are rapidly depleting, as well-meaning as those people are, can only lead us towards path B.

    Techno-optimism is quite well founded on the successes and improvements of ongoing projects, both R and D. When we have this discussion again in 10 years, we’ll know the costs and benefits more accurately: carbon capture and storage, reforestation, biofuels from new strains including halophytes, diverse nuclear reactor designs (including combined fusion/fission devices), concentrated solar, concentrated solar thermal, wind, PV.

    You are not betting that total collapse will occur before 2020, are you?

  12. 1462
    Gilles says:

    “Your continued insistence that GDP cannot be decoupled from fossil fuel consumption is a complete non-sequitor. When someone turns on their office computer and sits down to be more productive than the person using an abacus, the computer doesn’t check the source of those electrons — that increase in productivity is a product of having those electrons in the first place, not their origin’s fuel source.”
    Yes, and naturally computers grow on trees. And all your income goes in computer and electronic devices. No need for cars, nothing made of steel, plastics, no road, no fertilizers….
    Again IF fossil fuels were not necessary there would be NO JUSTIFICATION to allow developping countries to raise their fossil fuel consumption. Mr Gore and Pachauri would not OFFSET their CO2 but SUPPRESS it. Peak oil wouldn’t cause ANY harm to the economy. IEA director wouldn’t say that “the wheels of the energetic system would fall off if peak oil comes. But believe that it’s only me if you want stay with your illusions.

    flxible:”Gilles@140
    In addition, your myopia is further demonstrated by the massive failure of logic shown in your “two assertions”, neither of which include the critical variables of non-temperature effects of climate change, nor the “fact” of declining petroleum supplies, which of course you simply deny.”

    WHAAAT ? I think you totally missed what I’m saying. I never DENIED the declining petroleum supplies, just the opposite : I said this will be the REAL reason for the worst problems we’ll have in the future, and that climate change will be negligible in regards, for two reasons : first the sensitivity to climate is OBVIOUSLY, following all quantitative estimates, much smaller than the sensitivity to fossil fuel avaibility (the crisis did NOT come because of a high change in temperatures , as far as I know). And second because the coming of PO, much sooner than anticipated in all IPCC scenarios, shows basically that these scenarios are bogus, based on irrealistic reserves (made by economists of course), and that we won’t produce much more than the proved reserves.
    So please criticize what I am saying, but not what I am not saying. And first, take a while to understand it.

    BPL: So what? If they’re 23% wind-powered and 77% powered by evil dirty foreign energy (EDFE), and they plan to go to 46% wind and 54% EDFE, doesn’t that help the situation?

    What matters is not the nationality of electrons. What matters is the maximum amount of intermittent energy you can allow in an interconnected grid. I repeat : not more than 20 %, no where. And electricity gives at most 40 % of the energy, limiting the total amount to 8 %. And worse : those who reach these 8 % are among the worst CO2 emitters in the worlds. Again, facts.

    CFU :”Mayan descruction was at the hands of resource loss and climate change.

    Yes, without fossil fuels.


    Now what process do we have that shows our life DEMANDS ONLY fossil fuels to ascend to “civilisation”?

    Any?

    I don’t know what you call civilization. Most civilizations have lived without fossil fuels, there is absolutely no point that It IS definitely possible. If you accept that 60 % of the population work in the fields, that it takes one day to travel 10 miles, and one month to cross an average european state, etc, etc… there is no problem. This is only a far greater change in lifestyle than all reasonable “changes” due to some degrees more in the atmosphere.

  13. 1463
    Tim Jones says:

    Re: 1438
    Gilles says:
    7 February 2010 at 2:04 AM
    Tim : “The research project involved more than 370 scientists from 27 countries who collectively spent 15 months, starting in June 2007?

    (From: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N05232902.htm )

    Gilles: “Summer 2007 was an exceptional melting season, more due to a special regime of winds than temperature.
    Extrapolation of 2007 data are bogus.”

    Tim: Is the planning for a large research expedition supposed to wait for some sort of nominal weather year to be completed so scientists can hop into their time vessels and catch the beginning of a season that’s ok with you? 2007 may have been an anomaly, but how about an extrapolation including from 6 months of 2007 and 9 months of 2008?

    The 2007 Arctic ice sheet was the least coverage on the chart, but 2008 and 2009 were low coverage as well.
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.arctic.png

    Gilles: “Now we are back to 2005 levels.”

    Tim: “Now” is February, 2010. Is there something about climactic conditions in 2004-05 that makes you surmise 2010 will
    similar?

    Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Anomaly
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/sea.ice.anomaly.timeseries.jpg

    Gilles: “Extrapolating ten or even twenty years for the next 30 years has no scientific basis, if you don’t know the past variability and the amplitude of oscillations at this scale. Precise data are only 30 years old, which is not enough to separate multidecadal oscillations from linear trends.”

    Tim: Maybe they should sort this out with respect to Milankovitch Cycles? Seems the oil and gas boys are plenty interested in extrapolations, scientific or not.

    There aren’t even any papers published yet and you’ve jumped the gun to claim the whole thing is hooey with any findings being without scientific basis and therefore bogus.

    Maybe Gilles is bogus, huh?

    Gilles: “Now for the cost, again, knowing that each t of C produce on average 6000 $, what is the wealth produced by the amount of C that we should not burn to avoid the (putative) melting ?”

    The melting isn’t putative. What will the wealth saved be because we won’t have to rebuild the infrastructure in and around every city in the world near a coastline… if we take this seriously and stop the melting as much as we can?

    Your problem is an old cliché. You can’t see the forest for the trees.

    If we go the way I advise and leave fossil fuels to be used as feed stock for whatever appropriate besides something to burn we flatten the peak in peak oil and stop emissions causing global warming. We have all sorts of new energy producing technologies and all sorts of new jobs. We still have personal transportation and ways of life that we’re used to, except maybe better since the air and water will be cleaner and the seas won’t be an acid bath.
    Even if I’m wrong about climate change we’re ahead of the game.

    If we go your way, and depend on burning all the coal and oil until its gone, and I’m right about climate change then we have an unsustainable way of life well on its way to horrible struggles to adapt to a violent, starving world and possible extinction of the species. If I’m wrong about climate change we still have the peak oil scenario and we have to do all the other anyway. If we can.

  14. 1464
    Leighton says:

    Several responses pending …

    Steve Fish (#1427) thinks that there is no evidence of illegal behavior in reference to CRU’s response to FOIA requests. I guess this makes him a denialist. The Information Commissioner was referring specifically of the response to David Holland’s FOIA request; Steve should read the emails on that topic, and then read the Act. If he still thinks there is “no evidence,” he will be a full-fledged denialist.

    Doug Bostrom (#1430) admits that there was an FOI “failure” at CRU. I think that was my point. Those failures, especially considering the way that the knowing failure was being justified (as we see in the emails), undermines trust in the fairness and objectivity of the scientists. Bostrom may believe it is possible to distinguish the “science” from the credibility of those who analyze, interpret and present the collected data, but I disagree. He also says that based on his own experience, he is not surprised that the CRU personnel acted as they did. Wow. Tell us more.

    It may be tempting (Bostrom #1433) to defend the admitted failure by disparaging the motives of those who made the requests, but after all the law is the law and transparency is transparency. The proliferation of requests may well have been engendered as a result of the attitude that existed all along that critical re-examinations of methods and conclusions were themselves motivated by a desire to be critical — which somehow became illegitimate per se. And to answer Doug’s question, yes, I would at all times have counseled compliance with the law, and transparency in response to criticism, on the ground that transparency is the best answer to criticism. CRU’s different response engendered criticism and critical inspection and it is even now reaping the consequences.

    Completely Fed Up’s comment (#1444) is unintelligible. Try again?

    Barton Levenson (#1393) thinks there’s a difference between breaching legal rules and acting illegally. This could explain much. (You’re not a lawyer are you, Barton?) He also (#1446) thinks I moved the goalposts somehow. Huh? My comments were about lawfulness and ethics, both. I thought it was interesting (but the thought was expressed only in a parenthetical aside) that his response had spoken – mistakenly as it turns out – solely about lawfulness. Why not comment about ethics at the same time?

    I’m pleased to see that it’s not OT to discuss the Citizens United case (Tim Jones # 1451). The quotation from Justice Stevens’ dissent concerned potential future developments and not the direct effect of the decision. Earlier Tim Jones referred to the decision in connection with efforts in California to repeal, through the initiative process, that state’s so-called global warming law. Jones was overlooking that there has never been a limit on contributions to ballot measure campaigns in California, so the Supreme Court decision was utterly irrelevant to the issue cited. Jones propagated a leftist meme by characterizing the decision as “activist.” But merely affirming constitutional values for which there is historical and textual support is not what is meant by activist.

    Citizens United was a non-profit corporation that produced a movie critical of Hillary Clinton; the Court held that producing the movie and buying television time during the 90 days prior to a primary election was constitutionally protected speech. It was unconstitutional under the First Amendment to prohibit the speech from being distributed. If you think that decision was wrong, imagine that Citizens United had instead published a BOOK critical of then-Senator Clinton. Is Tim Jones equally in favor of banning books? This could also explain much.

  15. 1465
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Seems somebody got Super Bowl fever and did a little dancing in the end zone over at the Times of London.

    Isn’t there a penalty for that?

    “Eli wonders if one of the Brit readers might bring this to the attention of the Information Commissioner’s Office asking if they would care to revisit their drive by on Phil Jones. An enterprising reporter might like to ask questions. An enterprising lawyer might wish to explore the area of harassment and the misuse of the FOI process.”

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/ 2010/ 02/ amoeba-gets-underfoot.html

  16. 1466
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Leighton, we’re just concerned that you’re being mendacious in your statements, readying a scourge to beat up people you don’t like under the false banner of “wanting them to do the best”, whilst really requiring that they stop disagreeing with what you wish to believe.

    But you wish to upbraid us for our concern.

    Why?

  17. 1467
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Don, living in California, I’m surprised that you haven’t noticed how the immigrants are demonised, with one political pundit even professing that these immigrants carry disease into the US.

    Then there’s the problem of such immigrants being cheaper to pay, depressing the working lower classes pay because they are in competition with people who have no choice. Even middle class pay has this problem (see the H1B visas for the US).

    And this is at a rate of some hundred thousand for visas a year.

    How long would it take to empty, say, Mexico City at that rate?

  18. 1468
    Completely Fed Up says:

    PS, Don, the reason why it requires urgent immediate action is that the consequences build momentum. A ten-ton block on a frictionless surface can be moved by a single human pushing. But to get it moving requires a long time pushing.

    It seems safe enough until you realise that there’s someone trapped on the other side and that there’s no way to stop the momentum in time.

    Squish.

    Your doctor doesn’t tell you to stop smoking until you’re just about to have cancer. PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE requires he try as soon as it’s liable to cause cancer.

  19. 1469
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Georgi, #1448, you’re right that reduction is the easiest and definitely the cheapest way to cut CO2 and mitigate climate.

    Much of the reason for that is the profligacy of energy in many “developed” (hardly that, given the short-sightedness and self-interest these countries display) countries.

    There is, however, nothing ***in principle*** that says we cannot have renewables replace fossil fuels.

    But if you’re going to brush your teeth for a date, why not brush your teeth every day and have better teeth (even if this costs you time and money in the short term buying this stuff)?

  20. 1470
    Curmudgeon Cynic says:

    Ref 1395 Tim Jones Above

    URL of Part 1 of Pachauri Interview:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ge2behfkn4I&feature=related

    PArts 2, 3 & 4 are offered on same page.

  21. 1471
    David Walker says:

    I am relatively new to the AGW “debate” because as far as I was concerned, there was no debate – as the scientific case was proven.

    Now, I have become a sceptic. Sceptic in the sense that the recent stories that have hit the national TV and press painting a picture of exaggeration and obfuscation and I want to know why.

    The BBC’s recent poll suggests that the average citizen’s belief in man’s contribution to GW is/has collapsed.

    Why? Well for one, I believed (wrongly it would appear) that all of the science and conclusions in the IPCC reports were peer reviewed and represented the consensus of 2500 of the world’s leading scientists. Now I find out that there is the peer reviewed science but also references to what I now understand to be “grey” sources (i.e. non peer reviewed, non-consensus) such as WWF, Greenpeace, etc.

    I have no problem with either of these two organisations – but I wouldn’t necessarily expect unbiased information from them and I wouldn’t expect their views being represented (to me) as a consensus view.

    Here in the UK, we are watching the enquiry into the Iraq war and the existence of WMDs, we are also witnessing the fall out of the MPs expenses enquiry.

    In both cases, my natural cynicism refused to accept that world leaders and politicians would be so conspiratorial such that they would lie, obfuscate and exaggerate in such important and difficult areas.

    Sadly, I now know what I should have always known, i.e. that leaders and politicians will say whatever they want to say in order to achieve their goals – whatever they may be.

    Many of the comments above talk in terms of a couple of errors on 3000 pages not changing anything. Well sorry, it does. Not because of the errors themselves but because of the nature and style of the errors (exaggeration and non-peer reviewed headlines being allowed to go un- tempered) and, more importantly in my mind, the new knowledge that there are lots of references to grey reports that are not a “consensus”.

    Despite the statements above, I am also concerned about the CRU emails which at the very least suggest that there is a small number of people in a position to attempt to control what gets published in the science journals. Arguing a case is one thing, attempting to suppress other points of view is another – and simply not the right way to behave.

    [Response: Sorry - but this is exactly what peer-review means. - gavin]

    So I am left with potential evidence of obfuscation and exaggeration coupled with attempts to cover-up.

    For me, the term “Sceptic” is about being unsure i.e not being certain anymore i.e. I am sceptical in its literal sense – not a “denier”.

  22. 1472
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2010/02/anatomy-of-ipccs-himalayan-glacier-year-2035-mess/

    —-excerpt follows—-
    Dozens of articles and analyses of this situation, whether dashed-off blog posts or New York Times coverage, exhibit a curious consistency. Not a single article or analysis appears to include all relevant issues without introducing at least one substantial error. It’s as though the original documents contained a curse which has spread to infect every commentator and reporter. The curse seems to stem from not reading sources carefully (or at all), which, ironically, was the IPCC Working Group II’s central failing, and also a major issue in the documents that were the basis of the defective paragraph.

    For a good, brief, but cursed summary of these events, see Canadian geographer Graham Cogley’s letter to Science. Cogley, who was an important early investigator of this issue, gets a lot right, but – the curse! – he does not mention that an Indian environmental magazine was likely the source that the IPCC copied and pasted.

    Having identified “the curse,” one runs the risk of falling prey to it. The authors here vow to respond quickly to correct any error in this account.

    Considering the sources carefully and in context clarifies some aspects of the story and complicates others. An extended investigation of this controversy leads to a more nuanced understanding of the tremendous – and frequently unacknowledged – challenges of reading and reproducing electronic information in our globalized world. …
    —–

  23. 1473
    Steve Smith says:

    Re: Comment 1422

    This post makes a good point. There are problems with the report. Expect more. That kind of attitude engenders trust. It looks even handed. Fair.

    Now what if it had come from a “contrarian.” Oh Lord. The eyes would roll. The egos would get puffed up. Language like denier, idiot, corporate hack, etc. would fly.

    Please try to remember that you who are scientists are not what you do. Part of science is certainly advocating your position. But the rules governing political persuasion and scientific persuasion are different. Even conduct re: dissent or criticism that might be kosher at a conference isn’t helpful in persuading Joe Public. He is the only one left for you to persuade. How you try to persuade is just as important as what conclusion you are trying to drive home.

    For the sake of the work that you have done, don’t turn into a political party. The ends don’t justify the means. Unfair criticism from moneyed corporate interests doesn’t excuse hyperbolic claims. Science doesn’t create ideologues that ignore flies in the ointment.

    Already I’ve seen uneducated comments about Supreme Court opinions on this climate change/environmentalism site. What’s next? Abortion? The death penalty?

    Remember. . . I’m not conflicted or interested in the outcome of the climate scientists’ work in any way other that how everyone in general is conflicted or interested. I don’t derive any benefit in how this issue shakes out. I’m the kind of guy that needs to be persuaded. I’m the jury. This false dichotomy of bad “skeptic denier” or holy “climate science paladin” isn’t bringing me over to your side. Facts matter. If the fact section (Himalayan glaciers, land in Holland, crops in Africa) of a report is wrong but it doesn’t undermine the conclusion, why are those “facts” included in the report in the first place?

    As someone commented earlier about one of my posts that I “obviously have never written anything longer than a four page essay,” I was taught brevity is a virtue. Thats was just as true in the scientific writing class I took in undergraduate school as it was in law school.

    If you all are right about the end of the world as we know it, good luck. I really mean it.

  24. 1474

    Giles @ 1438:

    Now for the cost, again, knowing that each t of C produce on average 6000 $, what is the wealth produced by the amount of C that we should not burn to avoid the (putative) melting ? if you don’t compare the two values, the argument is useless. I already said that cars, even electric ones, will cause dozens of millions of casualties, and nobody asks for their banning.

    Since solar panels and wind turbines produce MORE energy than they require to manufacture, and since coal only produces the amount of energy it contains, can’t you see that renewables are a multiplier? That if a ton of coal, or whatever “t” and “C” are, produces $6,000 in wealth, and if a solar panels produces, say, four times the energy it requires to be manufactured (it’s closer to 15 or 20 times), that instead of $6,000 of wealth being created from carbon-based energy, we’re looking at closer to $100,000 of wealth.

    It’s the “renewable” property of renewable energy that creates this multiplication effect. Instead of requiring fuel, in addition to the physical plant, renewable sources just require the physical plant (and maintenance, the same as non-renewables).

    I realize much of your argument is “I disagree” or “That won’t work”, but I’d like to see a more formal rebuttal of the multiplicative effects of renewable energy systems on wealth creation. Anecdotally, I sure feel “wealthier” being able to walk into the garage and drive a motorcycle that was powered by the sun hitting my roof. Assuming I purchase an electric car later this year, I suspect I’m going to feel “wealthierer” when I’m driving my car that same way. Since “carbon” equals 0, how does that affect wealth per ton of carbon consumed? And does this mean I’m now infinitely wealthy?

  25. 1475
    Gilles says:

    “It’s the “renewable” property of renewable energy that creates this multiplication effect. Instead of requiring fuel, in addition to the physical plant, renewable sources just require the physical plant (and maintenance, the same as non-renewables).

    I never denied that. But
    a) the multiplication factor A is around 1,2 ( 0,2 mainly through hydro and nuclear power), and there is no hint it could be much larger
    b) 0*anything = … 0.
    c) even if we optimize the use of fossil fuels, it means only that we increase the A factor. It is still unreasonable not to use them fully (multiplied by A), so basically it doesn’t change anything in the total amount of fossil fuel you use : you have just increased the wealth (good thing, why not do it ???).

    So the final amount of CO2 produced is the same, and the temperature as well. You just have been a little bit richer on a longer time – with same climate consequences. That’s reasonable economics.

  26. 1476
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Leighton:

    Bostrom may believe it is possible to distinguish the “science” from the credibility of those who analyze, interpret and present the collected data, but I disagree. He also says that based on his own experience, he is not surprised that the CRU personnel acted as they did. Wow. Tell us more.

    You disagree that if a scientist makes a claim that falls apart under peer scrutiny, the scientist’s own human foibles are inseparable from professional work?

    And of course in this case, it’s not even a matter of science being infected with foibles. The human failings emerged as the people in question were badgered in what is being revealed as a concerted campaign to abuse the law in pursuit of what seems purely a vendetta, an outcome of human failings on the part of those conducting the assault.

    Whose failings are more germane here?

    Regarding my personal history, an amusing but instructive anecdotal illustration relevant to this situation, telling of how unstable people can lose all perspective and do things like inciting followers to attack scientists. Would you believe, threats of bodily harm over radio broadcast schedules from anonymous cowards? Jazz music is really that important!

    And to answer Doug’s question, yes, I would at all times have counseled compliance with the law, and transparency in response to criticism, on the ground that transparency is the best answer to criticism. CRU’s different response engendered criticism and critical inspection and it is even now reaping the consequences.

    No, I don’t want to hear about your counsel, I want to hear how you personally would have complied with hundreds of FOI requests arriving within a space of weeks. Specifically, how would you have arranged your day? Specifically, when colleagues were quizzing you about work product that was not being finished, how would you respond? Specifically, when deadlines agreed to prior to the arrival of the FOI requests loomed, how would you have handled that? You need to explain exactly how you in a real world context would have dealt with the situation, not from a relaxed position in your easy chair but as a person actually trying to do your job.

  27. 1477
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “1471
    David Walker says:
    8 February 2010 at 6:02 AM
    Now, I have become a sceptic. Sceptic in the sense that the recent stories that have hit the national TV and press painting a picture of exaggeration and obfuscation and I want to know why. ”

    Why aren’t you skeptical of the reports?

    Or do you believe the newspapers when they question AGW and don’t believe them when pushing AGW?

    Problem is that the picture of exaggeration and obfuscation is exaggerated and obfuscated.

    “Now I find out that there is the peer reviewed science but also references to what I now understand to be “grey” sources (i.e. non peer reviewed, non-consensus) such as WWF, Greenpeace, etc.”

    Not in WG1 paper: the scientific basis. Peer reviewed science there.

    In WG2 and 3, there is a lot of information from, say, Manganese mining company CEOs about what manganese mining produces as CO2 output of its efforts and what mitigation can be done and what its effect on manganese production would be.

    Where, exactly, should this be peer reviewed?

    The respected journal of “manganese mining monthly”?

  28. 1478
    Jim Galasyn says:

    David Walker says: The BBC’s recent poll suggests that the average citizen’s belief in man’s contribution to GW is/has collapsed.

    This poll?

    Poll shows unprecedented global concern about climate change

    According to the GlobeScan/BBC World Service poll, nearly two-thirds of people now consider climate change is a “very serious” problem. This year’s results indicate the greatest overall concern for the climate since GlobeScan began international tracking in 1998.

  29. 1479
    Georgi Marinov says:

    FurryCatHerder @ 1747

    The fundamental quantity you should be looking at is EROEI (Energy Return On Energy Investment). Forget about $ signs, they are meaningless for physics. Wind and solar do have positive EROEI over their lifetime (in the 10-20 range) but they aren’t as positive as fossil fuels were in the beginning (~100). What is worse, there are serious issues with the scalability and the total amount of energy realistically obtainable from them. Which is a problem because we are reliant on high EROEI and exponential growth to run our society.

    [Response: You have to include a full lifetime energy cost to make this fair and appropriate. Where does the energy to build sea walls where they wouldn't have been needed? Or the new dams needed to replace snow storage of water? Or the mining of the calcite and trnsportarion and grinding into the ocean to prevent acidification? This changes the calculus dramatically- and just assuming that these energy costs are exactly zero doesn't cut it. - gavin]

  30. 1480
    Georgi Marinov says:

    Completely Fed Up @ 1469

    We should be switching to renewables, and we should have started a long time ago. The problem is that in practice you can not have 10 billion people living a western lifestyle on renewables (although the energy is there), and even if it was possible, you don’t have the time to make the switch before Peak Oil + Climate Change knock you down. Add to that the fact that in the long and not so long term these aren’t your only problem because you also run out of high-grade ores for most metals, and you can easily see that the only reasonable thing to do is organized retreat and contraction of everything, of which a 100% switch to renewables for energy (and saving the hydrocarbons for plastics and chemicals) is a major component.

  31. 1481
    Georgi Marinov says:

    Septic Mathtew:

    Techno-optimism is quite well founded on the successes and improvements of ongoing projects, both R and D. When we have this discussion again in 10 years, we’ll know the costs and benefits more accurately: carbon capture and storage, reforestation, biofuels from new strains including halophytes, diverse nuclear reactor designs (including combined fusion/fission devices), concentrated solar, concentrated solar thermal, wind, PV.

    You are not betting that total collapse will occur before 2020, are you?

    2020 is probably too early, but one never knows, while it is on the left tail of the probability distribution, it is not excluded as a possibility. I would say middle third of the century (more like the beginning of it) but this is just a guess.

    Technology is a good thing, I don’t argue against it. What I argue against it short-sightedness. Technology is dumb – it solves technical problems but doesn’t provide you with solutions to complex systemic problems, unless you approach those in a systemic way, and we aren’t doing this. No amount of technology will save you, if you are only addressing the symptoms and not the underlying cause when the underlying cause is exponential growth, much less if growth is religiously worshiped.

  32. 1482
    t_p_hamilton says:

    Steve Smith said:”For the sake of the work that you have done, don’t turn into a political party.”

    For the work that has been done, don’t turn TO a political party (that includes political people masquerading as scientists – if you can’t tell – go to the national or international scientific organizations, go to scientific journals and see who is actually working on the problem). If Joe Public is going to be the judge, he has to exercise JUDGEMENT.

  33. 1483
    Tim Jones says:

    Re:1464 Leighton says: 7 February 2010 at 6:50 PM
    L: “I’m pleased to see that it’s not OT to discuss the Citizens United case (Tim Jones # 1451).”

    It seems you’re more interested on throwing stuff at a wall to see if it sticks than having a discussion.

    L: “The quotation from Justice Stevens’ dissent concerned potential future developments and not the direct effect of the decision.”

    So what? The contention is meaningless. The law of unintended consequences comes into play here and you know it.
    Though I don’t think the consequences were unintended. To hide behind the ruling’s supposed specificity without grasping the far ranging implications of the precedent is misleading.

    L: “Earlier Tim Jones referred to the decision in connection with efforts in California to repeal, through the initiative process, that state’s so-called global warming law. Jones was overlooking that there has never been a limit on contributions to ballot measure campaigns in California, so the Supreme Court decision was utterly irrelevant to the issue cited.”

    Absolutely not true.

    http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/stand-up-to-corporate-power/democracy-unlimited
    “In 2006, Humboldt County, California, became the latest, and largest, jurisdiction to abolish the legal doctrine known as “corporate personhood.”
    “Measure T was successful because our all-volunteer campaign came together to pass a law that bans non-local corporations from participating in Humboldt elections. The referendum, which passed with 55 percent of the vote, also asserts that corporations cannot claim the First Amendment right to free speech.”

    Except statewide “no ban” in California appears to be true:
    Impact on state campaigns
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/judicial/2010-01-21-campaign-law_N.htm

    I stand corrected insofar as it goes.

    L: “Jones propagated a leftist meme by characterizing the decision as “activist.”

    It’s not just a leftist meme. Are you claiming that 4 out of 9 Supreme Court justices are leftist?

    “With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics,” Obama said. “It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates.”
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/judicial/2010-01-21-campaign-spending-supreme-court_N.htm

    L: “But merely affirming constitutional values for which there is historical and textual support is not what is meant by activist.”

    Merely?

    The justices put the case on a fast track by holding oral arguments in September, a month before their usual early October start. The Court went above and beyond TWO previous rulings upholding the corporate campaign expenditure ban.

    “When the case first came to the Supreme Court last term, the justices focused on the narrow question of the video-on-demand offering by a corporation. But a few months later, in June 2009, the justices ratcheted up the stakes by saying they wanted to look at a more consequential question: How far may government go to restrict corporate and union spending in elections without breaching the First Amendment protection for political free speech.”
    [...]
    “Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Russ Feingold, D-Wis., had warned in a “friend of the court” brief in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that any reversal of the 1990 precedent “would severely jolt our political system.” The 1990 case, they said, “was rightly concerned with the corruption of the system that will result if campaign discourse becomes dominated not by individual citizens — whose right it is to select their political representatives — but by corporate and union war-chests amassed as a result of the special benefits the government confers on these artificial ‘persons.’”
    [...]
    “U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan had urged the high court not to overturn any limits on corporate campaign money. “For over 100 years Congress has made a judgment that corporations must be subject to special rules when they participate in elections and this court has never questioned that judgment,” she had said when the case was argued in a special session last September.”

    There was nothing “mere” about this decision.

    And it does amount to the court legislating from the bench. The Supreme Court had upheld the law twice. Now, on a 5 to 4 decision by a majority of right wing activist judges it was overturned and expanded to allow any corporate and labor campaign spending at any time.

    L: “Citizens United was a non-profit corporation that produced a movie critical of Hillary Clinton; the Court held that producing the movie and buying television time during the 90 days prior to a primary election was constitutionally protected speech. It was unconstitutional under the First Amendment to prohibit the speech from being distributed.”

    The First Amendment was designed to protect the rights of people, not corporations. Why are you diminishing the right of the people to fair elections to advance the right of corporations to dominate government?

    L: “If you think that decision was wrong, imagine that Citizens United had instead published a BOOK critical of then-Senator Clinton. Is Tim Jones equally in favor of banning books?”

    Do you really expect this forum to entertain this twisted nonsense? I’ve admitted an error regarding a certain state campaign.

    It remains that corporate spending for federal candidates and state candidates and campaigns in 22 states advocating anti-science and anti AGW memes will have a leg up on other candidates by right of receiving unlimited corporate campaign contributions.

    L: “This could also explain much.”

    I’ll say. Do you really equate money with speech? Do you really consider a corporation to be a person?
    Do you really want corporations to buy elections?

    You’re gaming the First Amendment. What you’re standing for here is enormous corporate corruption, not freedom of speech for citizens of the United States.

    [Response: It's OT now. -gavin]

  34. 1484
    David B. Benson says:

    David Walker (1471) — There are many ways to see for yourself that the world is warming. You don’t actually require IPCC to determine that. As for why, I recommend reading “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart, first link in the science section of the sidebar. Far more informative, IMO, than slogging through IPCC AR4.

  35. 1485
    Ernst K says:

    Just to put these $6000 of wealth per ton of coal into a better context …

    Assuming we’re talking about wealth created from electricity generated from coal, at 40% efficiency, a coal plant can produce about 2500 kWh/tonne

    that works out to $2.4 of wealth/kWh

    In 2009, the US average industrial price of electricity was about $0.07/kWh (http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_a.html)

    The industrial cost of electricity from solar is about $0.20/kWh (http://www.solarbuzz.com/SolarPrices.htm)

    So while solar power costs about 3 times the industrial average, it’s difficult to see how the costs of solar would cripple wealth generation, if that $2.4/kWh is reasonable.

  36. 1486
    Steve Fish says:

    RE: Comment by Leighton — 7 February 2010 @ 6:50 PM.

    You say–
    “Steve Fish (#1427) thinks that there is no evidence of illegal behavior in reference to CRU’s response to FOIA requests. I guess this makes him a denialist. The Information Commissioner was referring specifically of the response to David Holland’s FOIA request; Steve should read the emails on that topic, and then read the Act. If he still thinks there is “no evidence,” he will be a full-fledged denialist.”

    In your original comment to Gavin (4 February 2010 @ 2:05 PM) you say — “Aren’t you overlooking the official finding, now, that Dr. Jones engaged in unlawful conduct,” and later for proof you cite (5 February 2010 @ 10:41 AM) a BBC news article as “evidence” of your assertion, but all the article references are opinions. There has been no investigation or official finding; instead the article discusses a “probe,” an “independent review,” and an “enquiry” to find out whether wrongdoing actually occurred.

    All that Graham Smith said was that “it was an offence under section 77 of the Freedom of Information act to prevent intentionally the disclosure of requested information,” which is a factual explanation of the law, but this has yet to be determined. I am sure that Mr. Smith is aware that it would have been highly unethical for him to make such an assertion regarding the CRU incident prior to an investigation because it would be just an opinion, so he stated what the law requires.

    So, it is your opinion that an offense has occurred, and having read way too much of the stolen e-mails my opinion is just the opposite. Opinions. Further, I am apparently a “full-fledged denialist” because I am actually able to read a news item accurately.

    Steve

  37. 1487
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Gilles, how much does it cost to create a ton of coal?

  38. 1488
    Dendrite says:

    I have become something of an RC addict lately, to the point of interference with my paid employment. I have found this thread especially interesting, with its wide-ranging discussions on economics and alternative energy sources etc.

    For me, the scientific case for AGW is compelling. An important factor in my judgement has been the weak, almost desperate, arguments emanating from the denialist camp. My impression is that they have invested enormous time and energy (and no little intellect) in their task, but have simply failed to dent the science base in any serious way.

    However, the end goal of the science is surely to provoke appropriate actions to avert the impending disaster. Such actions are essentially driven by politicians, and many politicians are influenced, to a worrying degree, by public opinion, even misguided public opinion. I therefore find myself having common ground with some earlier contributors who argued (sometimes clumsily) that public perceptions are now as important as the underlying science and that the denialist camp is currently winning the war for ‘hearts and minds’. Some of these contributors were battered mercilessly by the regular science posters.

    I recently listened to a lecture by a prominent UK climate scientist, who spent a lot of time trying to understand and explain the reasons why the science is not being widely accepted. At the time, I was very disappointed – why didn’t he just take the opportunity to hammer home the main scientific points? Surely that would be the best way of convincing people? But now I’m beginning to think differently.

    In an ideal, science-literate world, the role of the scientist would not go beyond presenting the evidence as loudly and clearly as possible. However, the current situation where the anti-science lobby is rampant and is gaining ground all the time maybe calls for a more subtle, less directly confrontational ‘charm offensive’ from the scientists.

    Sadly, charm has been in short supply in some of the above posts, and it can’t be good to even take the risk of turning neutrals into enemies.

  39. 1489
    David Horton says:

    Steve #1473 “If the fact section (Himalayan glaciers, land in Holland, crops in Africa) of a report is wrong but it doesn’t undermine the conclusion, why are those “facts” included in the report in the first place?” They and others were included because, when scientists just said “the planet is warming” they got the response, from idiots, “so what? I like it warmer, bring on global warming, it’s too cold in Chicago” etc. Or, then as now, talk nonsense about warmer temps being good for plants. So scientists started trying to explain that the consequences of temperature rise are a little more serious than getting a sun tan in Chicago, and began giving examples of the kinds of changes we are going to see in the life support systems of the planet. The result? “Huh”, say the deniers, “you can’t prove those things are going to happen, you are just being alarmist.”

    So, Steve, what do you think a suitable strategy might be?

  40. 1490
    Tim Jones says:

    NOAA reorganizes with eye toward assessing warming effects
    http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/2010/02/08/2/ (sub)
    Allison Winter
    02/08/2010

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launched a new climate service today, a reorganization effort aimed at improving long-range assessments of climate change, sea-level rise and severe weather.

    The effort is aimed at providing long-term forecasts to assist fisheries managers, farmers, state governments, renewable energy developers, water managers and others.

    Commerce Secretary Gary Locke likened the new climate shop to the 140-year-old National Weather Service, recounting how weather forecasting helped citizens prepare for the blizzard that slammed the mid-Atlantic region last weekend.

    “This will provide a single point of contact, a one-stop shop for businesses and government that need NOAA’s high-quality forecasting for making predictions,” Locke said. “They turn to the Weather Service for making predictions in the short range, now we need the climate service … because increasingly climate change is affecting everyone’s bottom line.”

    The NOAA initiative would bring together existing climate science, currently spread through various branches at the agency.

    Thomas Karl, currently director of the National Climatic Data Center, would serve as transitional director of the climate service, which would also have six regional directors.

    Since the reorganization would require shifting some agency funds into a new climate service fund, it will need congressional approval in the Commerce Department’s spending bill. Locke said he hopes to have the reorganization fully implemented by October, the beginning of fiscal 2011.

    The new climate service would initially rely on existing resources, according to NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, but would eventually need additional funds to provide additional service in the future.

    But even without congressional action, NOAA can do some of the reorganization on its own. For instance, the service has already launched a new online portal for the climate service. http://www.climate.gov/

    Scientists and government officials have discussed for years possibilities for a National Climate Service, akin to the Weather Service. Efforts heated up in recent years. The George W. Bush and Obama administrations both endorsed the concept, and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have taken a stab at bills to authorize the service.

    The administration’s fiscal 2011 budget request includes $1.5 million for the new NOAA climate services portal.

  41. 1491

    ge0050: Coal remains the most plentiful, low cost fuel source on earth to industrialize the third world and end global poverty.

    BPL: If you don’t worry about human civilization collapsing when our agricultural base implodes.

  42. 1492

    Gilles: What matters is not the nationality of electrons. What matters is the maximum amount of intermittent energy you can allow in an interconnected grid. I repeat : not more than 20 %, no where.

    BPL: Did you wipe that factoid off before you showed it everyone here?

  43. 1493

    Leighton: Doug Bostrom (#1430) admits that there was an FOI “failure” at CRU. I think that was my point. Those failures, especially considering the way that the knowing failure was being justified (as we see in the emails), undermines trust in the fairness and objectivity of the scientists.

    BPL: No, it just shows they’re human. They got 53 FOI requests in 48 hours. I’m surprised they had the restraint not to burn them or throw them out the window. Why you think people are wrong to be irritated by pointless harassment escapes me.

    And it was POINTLESS. CRU COULD NOT release the proprietary data, and everything else was already in the public domain. The break-in was simply a disinformation operation to discredit and bring down CRU, and saps like you bought the whole thing.

  44. 1494
    vic says:

    PS, Don, the reason why it requires urgent immediate action is that the consequences build momentum. A ten-ton block on a frictionless surface can be moved by a single human pushing. But to get it moving requires a long time pushing.

    You guys just keep getting your high school physics wrong.

    Hint!

    “Frictionless”

  45. 1495
    Tim Jones says:

    Coal ad blitz launches new spot as industry sees political gains
    http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/2010/02/08/1 (Subscription)
    Anne C. Mulkern, E&E reporter
    02/08/2010

    “An advertising campaign that previously pushed the phrase “clean coal” launches new spots this week focused on jobs and low-cost power, the latest offering in a three-year, nearly $120 million effort to sell Congress and the White House on coal’s future. Increasingly, there are signs that it is working.

    “Coal companies and utilities that use coal in the past year have won a number of gains. Top policymakers, including President Obama, are echoing a key message from the ads, that technology in the future could reduce coal’s carbon pollution and keep coal a part of the energy mix.
    [...]
    “Coal has gotten other recognition, too. Climate legislation in the House and Senate offered coal-fired utilities help adjusting to a proposed cap on carbon emissions. The bills also contained funding for carbon capture and sequestration. And the industry’s arguments about jobs and low-cost power have resounded in Congress. The energy and climate bill from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) stalled in the Senate, in part, as many lawmakers voiced concerns that coal interests had made: The legislation was too draconian and would kill jobs and raise energy prices.

    “There’s a reason companies do these campaigns,” said Kenneth Green, resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “It’s because they tend to work.”
    [...]
    “Coal’s ad campaign dates back to the summer of 2007, when Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, a precursor of the coal trade group that later became American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), told its members it needed to commit to a lengthy and expensive effort to protect coal. They would have to spend $35 million to $40 million a year through 2010 as Congress decided major energy issues, said Joe Lucas, senior vice president for communications at ACCCE.”
    [...]
    “The coal industry has a stranglehold over the U.S. Congress more than anything that would be reasonable,” said Josh Dorner, spokesman for the Sierra Club. “Whether that’s because of a $120 million in advertising spending,” in addition to spending on lobbying, he added, “remains to be seen.”

    Enough? The right wing dominated Supreme Court has opened the flood gates for this sort of thing to reach past every constraint that ever used to be in place.

    “Climate legislation that the Sierra Club and other environmental groups want sputtered out in Congress “in no small measure due to the scare tactics that have been spread by the coal industry and their allies in the utility industry,” Dorner said.”

    I wonder how Leighton would counsel his clients to enlighten us now. Have them tell the truth about CO2 sequestration?

    “The coal industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars misrepresenting what they do and the health effects on the American people,” said David Di Martino, spokesman for the Clean Energy Works campaign, a coalition of about 60 environmental groups, labor unions, religious organizations and veterans groups that want climate legislation. “It’s hard to believe anything they say when they’ve been caught using phony people and they’ve been caught writing phony letters.”

    Clean coal

    “Testing to determine whether carbon capture and storage is commercially viable will take at least a decade, Green said. Deployment could take 40 years or more, he said, because infrastructure would have to be replaced.”

  46. 1496
    Tim Jones says:

    U.S. proposes new climate service
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/08/AR2010020801696.html
    09 Feb 2010
    “The Obama administration proposed a new climate service on Monday that would provide Americans with predictions on how global warming will affect everything from drought to sea levels. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Service, modeled loosely on the 140-year-old National Weather Service, would provide forecasts to farmers, regional water managers and businesses affected by changing climate conditions.”

    Arctic sea ice vanishing faster than ‘our most pessimistic models’: researcher
    http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Arctic+vanishing+fast+researcher/2532081/story.html
    06 Feb 2010
    “Sea ice in Canada’s fragile Arctic is melting faster than anyone expected, the lead investigator in Canada’s largest climate-change study yet said Friday — raising the possibility that the Arctic could, in a worst-case scenario, be ice-free in about three years. University of Manitoba Prof. David Barber, the lead investigator of the Circumpolar Flaw Lead System Study, said the rapid decay of thick Arctic Sea ice highlights the rapid pace of climate change in the North and foreshadows what will come in the South.”

  47. 1497
    Jim Eaton says:

    Meanwhile, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called studies supporting global climate change a “bunch of snake oil science” Monday during a rare appearance in California, a state that has been at the forefront of environmental regulations.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_14361335?nclick_check=1

  48. 1498
    Taylor says:

    Steve Smith (currently No. 1473@ 8 Feb 2010 11:45 am):

    “Now what if it had come from a ‘contrarian.’ Oh Lord. The eyes would roll. The egos would get puffed up. Language like denier, idiot, corporate hack, etc. would fly.”

    Of course, as you do, others consider the source of information and opinions when evaluating their validity, accuracy, and intent. Is this surprising?

    Indeed, the popular media are, unfortunately, full of deniers, idiots, and corporate hacks, who get far more attention than they deserve. For yet another example, just see the Elisabeth Rosenthal’s article on the front page of today’s NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/science/earth/09climate.html?hp

    Now, why should “Lord” Monckton and Roger Pielke, Jr. deserve to have their opinions and allegations of misconduct rise to the front-page level of coverage by the so-called “newspaper of record?” Simply because they got similar attention from such “authorities” as Britain’s Sunday Telegraph?

  49. 1499
    mondo says:

    Gavin, in post #1471 you make a comment as follows:

    “Despite the statements above, I am also concerned about the CRU emails which at the very least suggest that there is a small number of people in a position to attempt to control what gets published in the science journals. Arguing a case is one thing, attempting to suppress other points of view is another – and simply not the right way to behave.

    [Response: Sorry - but this is exactly what peer-review means. - gavin]”

    I can’t believe that you are serious. Perhaps in your world. And if so, that attitude explains a lot.

    Surely peer review is really all about ensuring that papers proposed for publication are sound, address all relevant prior art, and meet the archiving policies of the journal concerned. To say that peer review is about “attempting to suppress other points of view” is clearly not supportable.

    Perhaps I have misunderstood. If so, please explain.

    [Response: In hindsight it isn't clear - though to be frank your original comment is wrong on many independent levels. Rejecting papers because of unsound logic or for widespread ignorance of the prior art is not 'suppression of POV' (presumably we agree there?). These rejected papers - if they have any merit - usually reemerge in a better form (and sometimes even the the ones without any merit do as well). The technical literature is not like an opinion column where you can submit a paper giving your opinion that someone did something wrong but not providing any actual evidence or analysis to back it up. Decisions on whether a paper is rejected or not are made by a single person (the editor) in light of input from the reviewers (who by themselves do not determine the outcome). Now with respect to your comments - the CRU emails only involve a relatively small number of people, most of whom are friends. It is hardly surprising that any discussions of anything as seen in these emails involve a 'small number of people'. Second, everyone reviews papers - and so being surprised that reviews are used to influence what gets published is... err... surprising. Third, every rejected author occasionally feels like their views are being suppressed. This is however more common in people peddling nonsense who even after having been told a dozen times what is wrong still persist in their ignorance. I have seen not one shred of evidence in the CRU emails that would lead me to conclude that there was any corruption of the peer review process exposed there. Many such claims have been made, but they either conflate responses to already published papers (where the complaints are exactly the opposite - peer review was not strict enough), or where papers were rejected for lacking substance or needing more work - both valid reasons. If you have a specific claim to the contrary, please make it. - gavin]

  50. 1500

    David Walker,

    skepticism is a virtue, and I would hope that you learn to apply it universally. Your “concern” about the CRU emails seems to indicate that you have some learning to do: folks have been lying to you about them, and you didn’t notice. Read them yourself, and then make up your mind whether to believe the over-the-top conspiracy stuff from some quarters, or the more sober assessments like this. I don’t blame you for getting it wrong: the liars are well-resourced and very very loud on this, to the point of compromising Google’s usefulness to the enemy.

    As to the errors in the IPCC report, wherever people work, they make errors. To put it in perspective, read this from John Nielsen-Gammon, discussing the latest nonsense from the usual suspects:

    It turns out to represent a refreshing change from the IPCC reports. While it’s necessary to dig and dig to find errors in the IPCC reports, the errors in what I’ll call STR are right there on the surface, easy to spot.

    Dry wit from a Texan. See how he sticks the rapier in at the end:

    One more quote, from page 8: “Michael Mann in a Climategate email to Phil Jones of CRU and Gavin Schmidt of NASA wrote: ‘As we all know, this isn’t about truth at all, it’s about plausibly deniable accusations.’ But Albert Einstein said: ‘Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.’

    Mann, in his quote, was accusing Steve McIntyre of having little regard for the truth. By taking it out of context, D’Aleo and Watts are intentionally making it look like Mann is admitting to having little regard for the truth. This is perhaps a small matter, but Einstein had something to say about that.

    So, not just making errors; telling lies.

    Skepticism is a virtue. Practice it. As an exercise, try to find a “skeptic” narrative that coherently explains everything we know, or think we know, about climate, the way the standard “consensus” narrative does. You may give up after a finite amount of time ;-)


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