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Unforced variations 2

Filed under: — gavin @ 1 January 2010

Continuation of the open thread. Please use these threads to bring up things that are creating ‘buzz’ rather than having news items get buried in comment threads on more specific topics. We’ll promote the best responses to the head post.

Knorr (2009): Case in point, Knorr (GRL, 2009) is a study about how much of the human emissions are staying the atmosphere (around 40%) and whether that is detectably changing over time. It does not undermine the fact that CO2 is rising. The confusion in the denialosphere is based on a misunderstanding between ‘airborne fraction of CO2 emissions’ (not changing very much) and ‘CO2 fraction in the air’ (changing very rapidly), led in no small part by a misleading headline (subsequently fixed) on the ScienceDaily news item Update: MT/AH point out the headline came from an AGU press release (Sigh…). SkepticalScience has a good discussion of the details including some other recent work by Le Quéré and colleagues.

Update: Some comments on the John Coleman/KUSI/Joe D’Aleo/E. M. Smith accusations about the temperature records. Their claim is apparently that coastal station absolute temperatures are being used to estimate the current absolute temperatures in mountain regions and that the anomalies there are warm because the coast is warmer than the mountain. This is simply wrong. What is actually done is that temperature anomalies are calculated locally from local baselines, and these anomalies can be interpolated over quite large distances. This is perfectly fine and checkable by looking at the pairwise correlations at the monthly stations between different stations (London-Paris or New York-Cleveland or LA-San Francisco). The second thread in their ‘accusation’ is that the agencies are deleting records, but this just underscores their lack of understanding of where the GHCN data set actually comes from. This is thoroughly discussed in Peterson and Vose (1997) which indicates where the data came from and which data streams give real time updates. The principle one is the CLIMAT updates of monthly mean temperature via the WMO network of reports. These are distributed by the Nat. Met. Services who have decided which stations they choose to produce monthly mean data for (and how it is calculated) and is absolutely nothing to do with NCDC or NASA.

Further Update: NCDC has a good description of their procedures now available, and Zeke Hausfather has a very good explanation of the real issues on the Yale Forum.

1,394 Responses to “Unforced variations 2”

  1. 51
    Hank Roberts says:

    Andrew, as far as I know (that is, as far as Google Scholar shows) there are no journal articles yet citing the Lindzen and Choi paper. Several scientists who publish in the field have blogged on it; here’s one:

    —- begin excerpt —

    (1) I am not completely comfortable with their averaging of the satellite data, (2) I get such different results for feedback parameters than they got; and (3) it is not clear whether their analysis of AMIP model output really does relate to feedbacks in those models, especially since my analysis (as yet unpublished) of the more realistic CMIP models gives very different results.

    Of course, since the above analysis is not peer-reviewed and published, it might be worth no more than what you paid for it. But I predict that Lindzen and Choi will eventually be challenged by other researchers who will do their own analysis of the ERBE data, possibly like that I have outlined above, and then publish conclusions that are quite divergent from the authors’ conclusions….

    I found that here:

    —- end excerpt —

  2. 52
    Foobear says:

    Please do an article analyzing the various geo-engineering solutions out there.

    In the past you’ve just tried to hand-wave it away, which is really disappointing from a site as prestigious as If you’re serious about stopping AGW, you should do an in-depth analysis and not just say that “it’s spooky” or “we don’t have enough information”, because that makes you sound just as ignorant as the AGW deniers.

  3. 53
    Alan of Oz says:

    Re #38 Y2K – Yes a bad date in a report was the most -common- problem but this is not to say there weren’t others (me) working on more serious problems that could have brought certain companies (a large telco) to their knees.

    What Y2K demonstrates is that industry can act responsibly when asked to perform tedious but essential due dilligence. It would have been nice to see the politicians at COP15 apply similar due dilligence toward the environment.

  4. 54
    Mark A. York says:

    Of course headlines are written by copy editors or higher ups, not reporters. They tend to over reach or just plain blow it quite often.

  5. 55
    Deech56 says:

    RE Andrew

    Hank Roberts:

    Thanks for the feedback regarding Lindzen paper.

    I have now searched this website and see that there are a few comments about the paper, but nothing appears to fully explains it.

    Andrew, I think that people have sort of deferred to Roy Spencer’s critique. Of course, Spencer has his own sensitivity calculation that is below the accepted values. Chris Colose has a post in response to Lindzen’s earlier musings. He also has a more recent post about sensitivity here, although this post does not directly address Lindzen and Choi.

  6. 56
    Steve Fish says:

    Comment by Don Shor — 1 January 2010 @ 5:56 PM:

    There was a topic thread a while back about communicating science to the public and I posted about a Science Communications Skills class that I and a colleague ran for Ph.D. students in a biomedical sciences department. This course was relatively easy to set up and run, but initially we had to buck resistance from faculty members that were protecting their students from distractions from lab or study time.

    The essence of the course was a technique called micro-teaching that required a three minute presentation every week that was video taped and played back for critique by the class. This can be tough, but it served to help students with stage fright, general skills, and irritating habits.

    Initially I had students present an assigned study from the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR, e.g. inducing religion in sea monkeys, aerodynamics of potato chips, the evolutionary tree of trucks) to reduce preparation time and increase fun. Later, students presented difficult short segments from their area of interest, or their thesis research, to help them with perspective taking. Students have to learn that, even though they understand their complicated topic very well, they have forgotten the effort required to learn it initially, and they now have to learn how to lead an audience to a nontechnical understanding. One of the requirements of the course was to give a full lecture to a general audience.

    I think all high level science students should get this training. Steve

  7. 57
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Having done science journalism of a sort, I do have at least some sympathy for the journalists. In my case, I was at least still writing for a technical audience (summarizing cutting-edge physics for the non-expert physicist). It was always a challenge getting the facts right while still preserving a narrative that wouldn’t lose the reader. If you were an expert in the field itself, it was difficult not to get lost in all the minutiae that would iterest and expert but lose a casual reader. And if you weren’t an expert, you had to figure out which experts you could trust, which had an agenda and which had a complete of how the research fit into the broader field.

    I also had the opportunity to attend a conference and workshops with David Perl (former San Francisco Chronicle science writer). Perl was absolutely convinced that it would be too hard for a science writer to identify with his audience if he or she were a scientist. Ultimately, it comes down to being able to write a piece people will read. All too often, especially for a reporter under a tight deadline that means either over-emphasizing conflict or sacrificing technical depth for narrative. On the other hand, if nobody reads the story, it won’t matter if its got the technical detail right.

  8. 58
    John Mashey says:

    Headlines are sometimes done by different people than those who write papers, abstracts, or articles about the papers. It is not necessarily a question of educating scientists about doing all this well, but in assuring end-to-end Q/A. In computing, people who do *good* human interfaces often have usability testing, which includes watching how a variety of users understands or makes errors with the interface, often run by people with relevant backgrounds.

    Headlines, especially in print, are prone to horrible errors, even with no malice involved. I cite The MIPS Stock Glitch, i.e., how a mis-done headline on a great article cost my company about 15% of its market cap in a few hours. This occurred *without* having a bunch of people looking to misinterpret.

    Amusing now, not then.

  9. 59
    Sean Rooney says:

    Many years ago now a friend of mine won a scholarship to attend a “science journalism” course or program at MIT. I was inspired to hear that such a course or program was actually being offered.

    I don’t know what became of that course/program but it might be a thought to find out who organized the thing and see what their latest on it might be.

    The problem with teaching journalists to be science reporters is there’s so few jobs or positions for science reorters these days. CNN fired every science reporter they had just a few months ago.

    Some solid thinking outside the box will be needed to get science reporitng going in the right direction.

  10. 60
    Richard Pauli says:

    The University of Colorado had an excellent press release video just a few weeks ago

    Clear and easy to follow, clearly and dramatically shows the situation with permafrost and sea coast erosion.

    “The northern coastline of Alaska midway between Point Barrow and Prudhoe Bay is eroding by up to one-third the length of a football field annually because of a “triple whammy” of declining sea ice, warming seawater and increased wave activity, according to new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.”

  11. 61
    sarah mcintee says:

    Gavin, et al, It may be that some scientists do not handle the big picture well, but I think there are scientists out there who can, and should, be encouraged to listen to the common concerns and jump into the conversation in the public sphere. Retired scientists who do not have to fear career threats, interdisciplinary scientists, and, yes, even social scientists and psychologists.

    Scientists could help most by using their labor in specifically changing the minds and motivations for the most charismatic leaders of the denialist universe: those people who are propagating the pap and planting doubt. It they change their minds and become emotionally settled, then they they might, at least, change the topic off climate.

    These “leaders” have reasons for causing trouble, don’t they? Ask them, to their faces, “Why are you doing this?”, “What do you gain by pushing this agenda?”, and “What are you afraid of losing?” What it their motivation for perpetuating this?

    Maybe it is not just reasoning that they need as much as some reassurance? People who stand to lose something will make up their own reality if it will help them keep what they have. Can we give them the answers that will make them feel better about the changes that we, as a country, must make? Can we reassure them that this will work, and that we will be better for it?

    Do we need to present a fanciful vision of what we must become? Can this vision depict a better future?

    Human beings rarely push a political agenda, especially one like this one, for rational reasons. The motivation is almost always irrational. There is fear and anxiety about something. It is not enough to use reason alone in convincing a skeptic

    It wasn’t too long ago that this was not a politicized issue. Didn’t President Bush I help sign the IPCC into being because of his concern?

  12. 62
    Ken W says:

    Sam (45):
    “Anyone who thinks the folk who run this site are proper scientists ”

    Actually, I KNOW the folks running this site are proper scientists. I’ve read many of their papers, checked into their educational background (yep, looks like real degrees in real scientific fields), and sough independent collaboration of what they write enough times to know that they are a reliable source of scientific information. You, on the other hand, are posting a link to a conspiracy theory site seemingly run by the lunatic fringe.

  13. 63
    Edward Greisch says:

    The state of, I think it was Iowa, had a problem with license plates having a series of 3 letters that could be interpreted to have an inappropriate or sexual meaning. The license plate letters were generated as a simple mechanical numberings, as in 1, 2, 3. The “meanings” were purely coincidental. The state hired some “dirty minded” people to sort out the letter sequences that would be skipped from then on.

    Perhaps AGU needs to do something similar: Hire some people who are “good” at misinterpreting headlines. In other words, hire people with low reading comprehension to help sort out headlines that could be misinterpreted. Since practice at the job might lead to improved reading comprehension, there would have to be turnover in the job. They would also need people who are good at intentional misinterpretation.

    A few bad headlines would still slip through, but not as many. Sigh again.

    Third sigh: Whole articles and books need the same treatment. This is more difficult to nearly impossible, but worth trying to do. There is really no way that difficult ideas can be made easy enough for everybody, including the malicious, to understand correctly.

  14. 64
    Edward Greisch says:

    Topics that unfortunately need to be covered: Rush Limbaugh. Vast numbers of people actually believe him. Get guest articles from psychiatrists, psychologists and sociologists. We need to know how to pry people away from Rush. Rush says AGW is a hoax. Most people have no way to know that he is wrong. We also need a talk radio show that debunks Rush.

  15. 65

    Re #44. David, thanks for your concern but I am quite wary of the old trap of “can we specifically link a particular climatic event to climate change?”. Please take a look at the contribution by prof. Karoly that I refer to ( He concludes that climate change indeed strongly exacerbates drought conditions in Australia.
    Given the fact that Big Dry now lasts for over 7 years, and that temperatures in Australia have risen by a full degree C since the 1950s, it does seem likely that this “exacerbation” shows up in some of the Big Dry conditions over those years, doesn’t it?

  16. 66
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Mike Roddy #49, looked at your text and no, this isn’t my thing. But if you want to do this, make a point of getting the facts right.

    Pat Michaels’ claim “each increment results in less and less warming” is formally correct: CO2 forcing behaves logarithmically. The dishonesty is in that it suggests ‘saturation’ without saying so, which is bollocks as we know.
    (I don’t know where he gets 1872. As far as I am aware, that should be Arrhenius 1896).

  17. 67
    Dan Martin says:

    As a lay person who has a basic understanding of how science works but only took High School level Physics and Calculus, I would really like it if you guys would address in much greater detail, the “lists” that people like Senator Inhofe and the “Copenhagen Climate Challenge” and the Heartland Institute’s list of 500 “peer reviewed studies” that contradict AGW (or whatever they call it) have gathered.

    After having read “The Steve Project”, I understand the basic fallacy behind most of these lists but the general public does not and I’m finding a number of my friends and family who are being convinced, or at least have significant doubts about them.

    Could you please address this subject?

    Dan Martin.

  18. 68
    David Watt says:

    I think there has already been far too much done along the lines proposed by Edward Greish for dealing with Rush Limbaugh.

    One can’t go around saying that anyone who disagrees with one’s views is automatically in need of being locked up.

  19. 69
    pete best says:

    This issue is that the media from the left and right (as it is framed in both Europe and the USA) pedal that which interests them and influences politics and hence the economics.

    If we look at 250 years of growth for coal usage and 150 years for coal and gas then we can see that politics and economics has come to rely on these primary industries for the mantra of war (machinery and logisitics of moving it and troops around as well as bombing from the air) and of economic growth and its cost effectiveness (fossil fuels are conisdered cheap). All other fuels except nuclear are considered too expensive and not energy dense enough to be worthy of researching or deploying. This was all before AGW came along of course and now that it has and the projections are somewhat and potentially alarming for the worlds peoples then we are left floundering as to what to do about it.

    30 billion tonnes annually of CO2 emissions rising by 2-3% per annum makes for 60 billion tonnes annually come to 2040 – 2050. If we add it all up then it comes to around another 400 ppmv added to the atmosphere.

  20. 70

    FF: Any claim to measure CO2 emission level from a specific source must be viewed with suspicion, since one cannot distinguish the CO2 that originated from source A or CO2 that originated from source B and so forth.

    BPL: Sure one can. Carbon comes in different isotopes, and you get different ratios of them from different sources. For instance, carbon from the biosphere or the ocean has a normal complement of 14C, but carbon from fossil fuels, which are 100-300 million years old, have little or no 14C.

  21. 71
    David Wojick says:

    People are easily confused by math concepts like unchanging fractions. Speaking of which the term “remaining airborne fraction” is surely incorrect. It implies that the annual CO2 increase is made up entirely of anthro-emmitted molecules. Given the huge natural CO2 flux this is far from true. It would be a miraculous mechanism indeed that tagged and saved just our molecules. But then a surprising number of people do not know about the huge natural flux. They do not know where food comes from. Go figure.

  22. 72

    re: comment #9

    Andy, if you read only the abstract which says:

    ‘This diversity arises due to the fact that the droughts are driven by different climatic teleconnections with the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans.’

    I don’t know if you read the entire paper, but the abstract only refers to the teleconnections. This cannot lead to the assumption that what occurs in the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans is not related to climate change due to increased CO2!

  23. 73
    David Wojick says:

    This thread is featured on Yahoo News at the moment: where 3 blogs are listed lower middle.

    So I came by to see what the public would get. The repetitive use of the derogatory term “denialosphere” and its variants is interesting. I suppose the skeptic’s counter name is “scareosphere” or some such. This language marks the site as ideological, as opposed to scientific, along the lines of the Climategate emails. It is this, not the actual content, that people find most offensive. Being very old I am reminded of the Nixon tapes.

  24. 74
    Edward Greisch says:

    Please program your spam filter to point out the actual problem. I find it too hard to find the problem. The spam filter should print the comment with the offending word highlighted, please.

    Open thread topics: Links to actual free online courses in things as simple as high school math and as complex as graduate level free courses in climatology.

    I know that you don’t want to because it would lower book sales [I haven’t done it either] but you could put your books on line.

    Put Al Gore’s actual movie on line, if he will let you.

    Link to or mirror public television shows like NOVA that are on the subject of climate. NOVA-like shows are the best method of getting the message across.

    Climate Progress ran a cartoon of some animals discussing AGW recently. Don’t imagine that only children need that level of
    education. Many adults do too. Put the same cartoon on your web site. Right wing bullies Build-A-Bear into removing videos about manmade climate change

  25. 75
    Ray Ladbury says:

    David Wojick@73,
    Well, what name would you suggest for those who refuse to acknowledge the mountains of evidence that support the proposition that we are warming the planet? Jim Lippard has suggested pseudoskeptic or ersatz skeptic, but I still contend that their attitude has nothing to do with skepticism.
    Personally, I favor a 4-tiered classification system:
    Ignorance–they simply have not been exposed to the evidence but are sincerely trying to understand–this is a curable condition
    Willful Ignorance–They are ignorant but obstinately refusing to look at the evidence
    Denialist–They refuse to acknowledge the evidence despite repeated exposure
    Tin-foil-hat conspiracy theorist.

    That seems to me to encompass all the subtlety we find among denialists–for lack of a better encompassing term.

  26. 76
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Sean Rooney @59 brings up an interesting point: Journalism, and especially science journalism is in steep decline. Are we perhaps planning to fight the last war? Since it is likely that what few true news outlets last well into the new decade will be regurgitating press releases rather than reporting, then perhaps our target ought to be PR offices of research institutions. I suspect that there will be a lot of sensationalism coming from PR offices as they strive to include enough buzz words to catch the attention of the few remaining news outlets.

    And as far as blogs, we may be looking at the future right here. The staff at RC have found a way to get the science out to the tiny fraction of the population who are in fact interested.

  27. 77
    Nelson says:

    I have been reading posts here during the last couple of weeks. I appreciate the efforts you guys put into making climate science understandable to those of us in different fields (i.e. social science). I want to recommend this site where ecological issues are framed within a larger socio-political context.
    Happy New Year!

  28. 78
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Ray #75: s/ignorant/uninformed/g. I know “ignorant” is an OK term in science, but not outside.

  29. 79
    Jiminmpls says:

    #75 Ray

    I think you have to add a fifth category: Conspirators or perhaps Propagandists. These are people who are actively conspiring to prevent climate change mitigation legislation in order to protect the short-term profitability of the fossil fuel industry. This goes beyond denialism. The intentionally deceive.

  30. 80
    David Wojick says:

    Re Ray Ladbury #75: The problem is that the other side also has “mountains of evidence” and nobody knows how to measure these mountains. In fact both sides make the ridiculous claim that the other side has no evidence. So your taxonomy is based on a false premise.

  31. 81
    wildlifer says:

    @80 David,
    Your claim is silly, the scientists here, and elsewhere, waste mountains of time exposing why the “evidence” of the skeptics et al, doesn’t hold water as well reponding to criticisms of their own work (most times unjustified). The skeptics et al’s standard MO is to ignore the criticisms and just keep repeating the claims.

  32. 82
    Ray Ladbury says:

    David Wojick@80

    Really, mountains of evidence from the denialists? And where might they be hiding it? I certainly haven’t seen it in the peer-reviewed journals. I haven’t seen it coming from any responsible group or organization of scientists. Gee, David, where is all this evidence?

  33. 83
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE the scientific stupidity in the denialsphere —

    Now I understand why some Americans prefer to medically treat themselves rather than have professional health care and go to doctors. It’s not the high cost of the medical-insurance complex or being denied health care by insurance companies, or their desire/need to save money. They truly think they know more about medicine than the doctors, who have studied medicine for 10 years and have practiced it for many more.

    Likewise they think they know better than scientists about global warming.

    This whole thing is very irritating to me, because I myself am having to learn more about climate science than I really want or need to learn. Back in 1990, it was plenty enough for me to know that the scientists said AGW could be happening (they had not quite reached .05 on it….which did happen in 1995) and it could be very dangerous. It didn’t require me being a rocket scientist to conserve energy & resources, become energy and resource efficient, and go onto alternative energy. I didn’t have to know the internal electronics of energy efficient gismos.

    In fact I sort of thought it a total waste of time (time I really needed to pursue my own field) to learn anything more than the simple basics about global warming, bec, afterall, I figured if people I met doubted what I said about it, I could refer them to the scientists. Plus, I always used my “better safe than sorry” line about avoiding very dangerous false negatives and not being put off by fear of false positives that actually lead to economic windfalls & solve many other problems. But all I ever met was a brick wall of stupid-anti-science from non(anti)-scientists and talk-radio/TV hosts who figure they know more science than scientists.

    Now I have to know everything there is to know about climate science to argue against such stupidity, even though it’s absolutely no use, because they will never accept ANY evidence or scientific theory or research that proves global warming, until some beam conks them over their head during a cat 5 hurricane and they’ve breathed their last, and they go to a much hotter place than a globally warmed world for their absolute arrogance.

    On the last thread there was this guy, Matthew, who first accuses me of a distorted “belief” and cogitive dissonance re global warming because I’ve been mitigating it for 20 years and am supposedly psychologically invested in global warming, and accuses me of arrogance for my impugning the motives of denialists. When I respond about how I learned about global warming from documentaries and science articles in the late 80s (I forgot to mention, however, that I already had learned about the natural greenhouse effect decades earlier, which facilitated my understanding of AGW), which THEN (notice my time sequence, a crucial element for establishing cause & effect in science) made my heart go out to the people suffering (past, present, and on into the future) from global warming effects, he accuses me of being unobjective, aying that emotional entanglement is bad for science, as if I’m the one and only scientist doing research on global warming, and I’ve destroyed the science because I’m human and not a Vulcan, and ergo all global warming science is false — because of me.

    You cannot carry on an intelligent discussion with such people. Reminds me of how some students dabbling in Freud during my college days attacked a person’s psychology with meta-Freudian pop-analysis to gain superiority points, while refusing to engage in straight-forward discussions.

    I used to read about “the rise of science” as a 50s/60s kid, but now it’s like “the rise and fall of science.” I used to think the post-modern, anti-positivist phase in the social sciences sort of silly, but this is serious. It not just the world being destroyed and souls going to that very hot place, it’s also science (which could tell us useful reality things we need to know) that’s being destroyed.

  34. 84
    Radge Havers says:


    “Being very old I am reminded of the Nixon tapes.”

    That’s the idea. Find a dust-up from the past and try to emulate it with a lot of frantic spinning. (Also Google-bomb and energetically digg contrarian sounding articles.)


    “he problem is that the other side also has “mountains of evidence” and nobody knows how to measure these mountains. In fact both sides make the ridiculous claim that the other side has no evidence. So your taxonomy is based on a false premise.”

    How conveniently symmetrical. Kind of turns it into a mind numbingly palatable sports spectacle.

  35. 85
    Todd Friesen says:

    I have a few open questions:

    First of all I’m interested in the various lags between forcing and climate response.

    1)I’ve read that the Sun has a 1-2 year lag (Hansen’s annual summation) to the 11-year solar cycle. I’ve also read that there is maximum correlation with a 10 year lag from paleo-reconstructions. How do I reconcile these? (I suppose it is possible to have multiple lag effects, but it is unclear to me). I also suppose the answer would impact predictions in the now current decade.

    2)I understand that Greenhouse gases take decades for climate to reach an equillibrium response. I’m hoping for something a little more precise. Ideally, some kind of distribution function relating global temperature change to change in greenhouse gas concentrations, as a function of time. (Because of the linear nature of greenhouse gas concentrations, statistical fitting won’t provide a very good estimate.)

    3)I think ENSO seems to have about a 3-6 month lag on average, and statistical fitting seems to provide a more credible adjustment. I suppose there should be some kind of distribution function for this as well that is a little more physics based.

    I partly ask because I learn quite a bit in doing my own independent modeling. I’ve done the best I can with regard to the various lags, but I still aim for further improvement. By the way, I do get a pretty good fit with the temperature record, and since I’ve started doing this, I’ve done pretty good at predicting short term changes in global temperatures (i.e. annual temperatures). And I agree with Hansen’s assessment that there is a >50% chance of 2010 breaking a new global temperature record. Though, it also seems his “>50%” is a conservative probability. I would put it closer to 75%.

  36. 86
    David Wojick says:

    Re Ray Ladbury #82. The peer reviewed journals are full of articles about things like natural variability, the weaknesses of the models, problems with the temperature record, etc. Your problem is that, as we have known since the 1700s, the weight of evidence is in the eye of the beholder. Skeptics can and do cite a mountain of journal evidence. Surely you know this, or is ignorance your problem?

    [Response: If their quality of citation is anything on a par with the conclusions being trumpeted about with respect to the Knorr article, I would adjudge that it is vice versa. – gavin]

  37. 87
    J. Bob says:

    Looks like Cryosphere has changed it’s NH sea ice anomaly period from 1979-2000 to 1979-2008. Any reason?

  38. 88
    Keith says:

    Edward Greisch #63 # 64

    Ever read Orwell 1984?

  39. 89
    Ken W says:

    Lynn Vincentnathan (83):
    “They truly think they know more about medicine than the doctors”

    True, true. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but in the US there’s a University of Google phenomena. That’s where people with little (often no) education or experience in a complex field think they can Google a subject, read a few articles that fit into their world view and suddenly they consider themselves experts. From that point forward, anyone (no matter their credentials, patience, or reasoning skills) who presents evidence contrary to their view is dismissed or accused of all kinds of evil.

    I remember debating Y2K in the late 90’s (telling people we really didn’t need to panic and the actual problem was properly being addressed). I was actually accused of being responsible for the death of millions (because my words might prevent people from “preparing”).

  40. 90
    David Wojick says:

    Re Radge Havers #84. Frantic is not my style, as I do cold logic. What people did not like about the Nixon tapes was the obscene tone of superiority. Same for Climategate, and RC (but I do love Gavin). As for the symmetry, my yes oh dear. Are you unaware of the fact that the game is a draw? Bit of a scrum actually and as of now the skeptics have the momentum. Push boys.(The fact that hell and DC are both freezing over helps a bit.) I just call them like I see them. So sorry.

  41. 91
    Matthew says:

    45, Sam and Gavin:

    an assessment of the CRU / IPPC etc Climategate emails written between them, by John P. Costella, B.E.Elec.Hons./ B.Sc.Hons./Ph.D.(Physics) / Grad.Dip.Ed.

    Of course this site is maintained by scientists. The AGW theory might be true, or at least a good first approximation. (sorry if I imply that all your decades work is a “first” approximation, but I really look forward to the day of more accurate forecasts.)

    That is a good review of the stolen emails, in chronological order and with context. Snark and “framing” aside.

    I am puzzled that the identity of the thief has not been discovered yet. Is it possible that the identity has been discovered but not disclosed? In England, the press is not permitted to write about legal investigation in progress.

    75, Ray Ladbury: what name would you suggest for those who refuse to acknowledge the mountains of evidence that support the proposition that we are warming the planet? Jim Lippard has suggested pseudoskeptic or ersatz skeptic, but I still contend that their attitude has nothing to do with skepticism.

    Skepticism is the acknowledgment of the existence of the evidence while not committing to a belief that the evidence is conclusive. It isn’t unusual for scientific debates to be settled only after decades of research. Consider the claim that “A majority of scientists believe AGW, and therefore the minority of dissidents must be wrong.” No one with some knowledge of the history of science should be persuaded by such a claim, and no one should make the claim with a serious intent. Skepticism and vigorous skeptical debate are among the advantages that the scientific methods have over other paths to knowledge and understanding.

  42. 92
    Chris ODell says:

    Re #18,47 Andrew

    There is not currently a thorough debunking of the Lindzen paper in either the literature or the blogosphere. One is hopefully on the way. The Lindzen paper has several fundamental flaws. First and foremost, the way they calculate their slope variable is simply not robust – it depends sensitively on the month endpoints they choose for each “segment”. Secondly, they include the Planck feedback incorrectly in how they calculate climate sensitivity. Third, they do their analysis for tropics only, which no one has shown is a robust estimation for the global-scale response. Finally, they do not include short-term forcing variations (solar, aerosol, etc).

    For a GOOD paper on the subject, see Forster & Gregory (2006), JClim:

  43. 93


    Have you all failed to notice the excellent work of Dr. Gordon Hamilton!?!

    Read here:

    He and others have face-to-face meetings with city councils of the cities all along the Atlantic coastline.

    This kind of activity works.

    We need more. We need scientists to do outreach, but it needs to be well done and face to face.

    He started with the communities most likely to be affected by sea level rise, and communities that have already experienced sea level rise.

  44. 94
    dhogaza says:

    As for the symmetry, my yes oh dear. Are you unaware of the fact that the game is a draw? Bit of a scrum actually and as of now the skeptics have the momentum.

    In science? Are you joking?

    Unfortunately, probably not.

  45. 95
    orpilot says:

    There is something I haven’t seen discussed here which is a major element in the skeptic crowd’s assertions over the airborne fraction article at scienedaily. To quote from sciencedaily: “Many climate models also assume that the airborne fraction will increase.” For those who at least understand that a steady airborne fraction doesn’t equate to total CO2 in the atmosphere there is one basic argument they come away with. If climate models factor in an increasing airborne fraction to predict future warming then the climate models are flawed… you know the garbage in – the garbage out theory. So we have the IPCC AR4 quoted in the skeptical science article saying “There is yet no statistically significant trend in the CO2 growth rate since 1958 …. This ‘airborne fraction’ has shown little variation over this period.”

    Again, sciencedaily says many climate models are based on an increasing airborne fraction. Is this true? Gavin, do you incorporate an increasing airborne fraction in your modeling? Have other climate models done that? If they have, what rate of increase do they use and can we assume it has a minor effect on the output?

    [Response: One needs to distinguish between different kinds of models. The AR4 results I posted on last week, use CO2 concentration scenarios as input i.e. estimates of how fast CO2 will rise through time. The modellers see these as just examples of what might end up happening and they could be equally constructed from low emissions growth plus a strong carbon cycle feedback, or higher emissions growth and weak CC feedback. Most of the scenarios were designed with no CC feedback. Then there are the Carbon Cycle models themselves. They predict what the airborne fraction is as a function of the terrestrial and oceanic processes. They don’t show any dramatic change over the 20th Century, but do start to show changes for the future. Thus, to that extent they are consistent with the observational analysis of Knorr (see figure 7.13 p536). (Note a philosophical point that an analysis of the past cannot prove a prediction of the future wrong, particularly if the hindcast is in line with the observations). Thus the statement “Many climate models also assume that the airborne fraction will increase.” is true, but not contradicted by Knorr. The magnitude of the change by 2100 varies from an extra 20 to 220 ppmv over the nominal ~800 ppmv for SRES A2 (IPCC AR4 10.4.1). – gavin]

  46. 96
    Edward Greisch says:

    68 David Watt: Who said anything about locking up Rush Limbaugh? Not me. I said we have to have an equal radio show.

  47. 97
    Jim Eager says:

    Re David Wojick @80: The problem is that the other side also has “mountains of evidence”

    No, what the other side has is mountains of “evidence.”

    There’s a difference and it is a difference that matters because it is the difference between science and pseudoscience.

  48. 98

    re: #85

    Dear Tod,

    Your question is better posited to tamino at:

  49. 99
    Radge Havers says:

    Well David, there is a difference between sophistry and good science. If all you care about is an entertaining kerfuffle, then you are part of the problem.

    To whomever:
    One thing I think doesn’t get enough emphasis in discussions of method, probably because it’s so hard to get a handle on, is the discipline of constant and rigorous self-examination and developing techniques to avoid fooling oneself. It’s a value that should be celebrated, imo.

  50. 100
    Edward Greisch says:

    88 Keith: Yes.