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The Guardian disappoints

Filed under: — gavin @ 23 February 2010

Over the last few weeks or so the UK Guardian (who occasionally reprint our posts) has published a 12-part series about the stolen CRU emails by Fred Pearce that are well below the normal Guardian standards of reporting. We delineate some of the errors and misrepresentations below. While this has to be seen on a backdrop of an almost complete collapse in reporting standards across the UK media on the issue of climate change, it can’t be excused on the basis that the Mail or the Times is just as bad. As a long-time Guardian reader and avid Guardian crossword puzzle solver, I’m extremely unhappy writing this post, but the pathologies of media reporting on this issue have become too big to ignore.

We highlight issues with three of the articles below, which revisit a number of zombie arguments that have been doing the rounds of the sceptic blogs for years. Two follow-up pieces will deal with two further parts of the series. Hopefully some of the more egregious factual errors can be fixed as part of a ‘group experiment‘ in improving the stories, though the larger misconceptions probably can’t be (and readers should feel free to use this information to comment on the articles directly). Why the Guardian is asking for group input after the stories were published instead of before is however a puzzle. Some of the other pieces in this series are fine, which makes the ones that get it so wrong all the more puzzling. The errors consist of mistakes in the basic science, misunderstandings of scientific practice, more out of context quotes and some specific issues that are relatively new. (In the text below, quotes from the articles are in italics).

Part 3: Hockey Sticks

Some of the more egregious confusions and errors were in the third part of the series. In this part, a number of issues that were being discussed among the paleo-community in 1999 were horribly mixed up. For instance, there was a claim that arguments on the zeroth-order draft of the 2001 IPCC report were based on Briffa’s reconstruction showed the 11th century as being almost as warm as the 20th century, while Mann’s graph found little sign of the earlier warming. But this is simply untrue since at the time Briffa’s curve only went back to 1400 AD (not the 11th Century) and the discussions had nothing to do with the medieval warm period, but rather the amount of multi-decadal variability in the three different reconstructions then available. This was corrected in the online edition, but the description of the dispute in the article is still very confused.

That discussion was conflated with a completely separate April 1999 issue based on a disagreement about a perspectives piece in Science (which appeared as Briffa and Osborn, 1999) and which was in any case amicably resolved.

That discussion is then further confused with the discussions about the framing of the SPM text which despite Pearce claiming that ‘the emails reveal how deeply controversial it was at the time, did not get discussed in the emails at all. And while the article claimed that the uncertainty was not discussed in the IPCC report, the discussion in Chapter 2 was actually quite extensive.

Part 5: Chinese weather stations

This piece concerns the response of Phil Jones at CRU to a FOI request for data that had been used in a 1990 paper on the urban heat island (UHI). This now-20 year old paper was an early attempt to try and assess the possible magnitude of the UHI impact on the global temperature records. (Note that this is not the same as thinking that UHI does not exist).

Starting from the headline “Leaked climate change emails scientist ‘hid’ data flaws” on down, the article is full of misrepresentations. To start with, the data in question (and presumably it’s flaws) were not hidden by anyone, but rather had been put on the CRU server in 2007 response to a FOI request. Hardly ‘hidden’. Exactly contrary to the truth of the matter, the article incorrectly asserted that ‘Jones withheld the information requested under freedom of information laws’.

These data assumed a much greater importance later in 2007 when they were used for a completely unsubstantiated claim of ‘fabrication’ and ‘fraud’ against Wei-Chyung Wang (a co-author on the paper) at SUNY Albany by a certain Douglas Keenan. These charges were found by the university to be baseless in 2009 and the matter was dropped. However, the Guardian noted that a couple of the emails mentioned the issue, and that one in particular had Tom Wigley asking Phil Jones about the situation. Curiously enough, Phil Jones’ response was not part of the archive, and Wigley’s current thoughts on the subject (presumably that have been informed by Jones’ answers) were not reported.

Pearce describes this conversation saying that ‘new information brought to light today indicates at least one senior colleague had serious concerns about the affair‘. However, Tom Wigley has subsequently passed on later conversations to me showing very clearly that he did not support Keenan’s allegations of ‘fabrication’ and the implication that he does here are very misleading. Indeed, the statement that ‘Tom Wigley, harboured grave doubts about the cover-up‘ is completely false. There was no ‘cover-up’; the email was written two years after the data had been posted online.

The line in the 1990 paper that has apparently caused the furore is the following:

“The stations were selected on the basis of station history: we chose those with few, if any, changes in instrumentation, location or observation times.”

For fraud to have been proven, it would have been necessary to show that Wang – at the time of the 1990 paper – deliberately misled in the line as it was written. It would not be enough to show that the statement was mistaken because of incomplete histories available to him at that time, nor that some stations had in fact moved. The statement is a declaration of a good faith effort to pick suitable stations. Instead, you would have to demonstrate that Wang was aware of substantial and important moves that made a material difference and deliberately concealed this fact. And for this there is absolutely no evidence. Keenan’s assumption of fabrication is merely that, an assumption.

Wigley’s ‘grave doubts’ were a suggestion that the key line be rewritten as

“Where possible, stations were chosen on the basis of station histories and/or local knowledge: selected stations have relatively few, if any, changes in instrumentation, location, or observation times”

A change that doesn’t undermine the paper in the slightest, and would hardly be likely to set the blogosphere aflame.

Quite frankly this whole allegation is absurd – why would anyone do this? All the authors involved have written many papers on the problems in the temperature record and on Urban Heat Islands in general, and even in China. Indeed the story here is that information was provided under FOI rules, and that it was not used to constructively examine the science, but rather to provide ammunition for baseless accusations that led to pointless university inquiries into alleged misconduct. That might be a good reason for why FOI requests are now being viewed with suspicion.

Other claims that this ‘may yet result in a significant revision of a scientific paper that is still cited by the UN’s top climate science body‘ . and that ‘what data is available suggests that the findings are fundamentally flawed‘ are simply made up. The findings of the 1990 paper was that UHI was unlikely to be contaminating the global temperature records in any significant way has been upheld by any number of additional studies in the 20 years since it was published. Oceans are not warming because of UHI, spring is not coming earlier because of UHI, and indeed, glaciers are not melting because of UHI (they are of course melting, recent news reports notwithstanding). No evidence of significant UHI contamination was found by Parker (2004, 2006), the record from GISTEMP which applies a different UHI correction than HadCRUT does not differ substantially at the global or regional scale. Other studies by Peterson, Jones, and others all show similar results. Even the more recent analyses of the Chinese stations themselves and even in an environment where urbanisation is happening faster than ever, UHI effects are still small (Jones et al, 2008).

As an aside, Keenan has made a cottage industry of accusing people of fraud whenever someone writes a paper of which he disapproves. He has attempted to get the FBI to investigate Mike Mann, pursued a vendetta against a Queen’s University Belfast researcher, and has harassed a French graduate student with fraud accusations based on completely legitimate choices in data handling. More recently Keenan, who contacted Wigley after having seen the email mentioned in the Pearce story, came to realise that Wigley was not in agreement with his unjustified allegations of ‘fraud’. In response, Keenan replied (in an email dated Jan 10, 2010) that:

.. this has encouraged me to check a few of your publications: some are so incompetent that they seem to be criminally negligent.

Sincerely, Doug

This kind of knee-jerk presumption of misconduct (and criminal misconduct at that) when people disagree with you has no place in the scientific discourse, and serves only to poison scientific debate. Indeed, Jones adds in one of the emails: “I’d be far happier if they would write some papers and act in the normal way. I’d know how to respond to that”. For the Guardian to dignify this kind of behaviour – especially after the charges had been investigated and dismissed – is unconscionable and a public apology should be forthcoming to Jones, Wigley and Wang.

Part 6: Peer review

The discussion of peer review is the most replete with basic misconceptions about the scientific process. Pearce appears to conflate any rejection of a paper or even a negative review for any reason as a prima facie case of mainstream climate scientists … censoring their critics. But in none of the cases highlighted were anyone’s view ‘censored’. To have your opinion published in peer-reviewed literature is not some fundamental right – it is a privilege that depends on your ability to do the analysis and the marshal the logical arguments and data to support your point.

Pearce, surprisingly for someone who has been on a science beat for a long time, states that peer review is the supposed gold standard of scientific merit. This is not the case at all. As we’ve outlined in many articles, peer review is just a first (necessary) step towards scientific acceptance and as the number of badly flawed papers that do appear in the literature attest, it is no guarantee of merit. For it to work of course there need to be some standards that should ideally be met, and this will lead to the rejection of some submissions. Thus automatically equating rejections of bad submissions with squashing of ‘dissent’ is like assuming that anyone who gets an F on a test is being unfairly discriminated against.

Pearce also declares that the mere act of reviewing a paper that is critical of your own work is mired in ‘conflicts of interest that would not be allowed in most professions‘. This is wrong on multiple levels. First of all, peer review of the literature is hardly unique to climate science, and so his claim about improper conflicts of interest is an accusation against the whole of science, not just climatology. Secondly, he confuses the role of the reviewer with that of the editor. Editors often solicit reviews of a critical comment directly from those being criticised, since that is often the easiest way to judge whether the critique is substantive. That is not the same as giving the right of veto to the criticised authors since, of course, it’s the editor’s job to weigh the different reviews from different sources, and use their own judgment as to the merits of the critique. Not asking the original authors for comment can certainly be (and has been) problematic and unfair to them. The problems most often arise – such as in Soon and Baliunas (2003) or McIntyre and McKitrick (2003;2005) when the criticised authors are not involved at all.

In the cases mentioned in this article, there is absolutely no evidence of unfair discrimination. Indeed, in one case of a submission by Lars Kamel, the reasons for rejection are obvious and Pearce appears not to know what the criteria for acceptance even are. He states that “the finding sounded important, but his paper was rejected by Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) that year“. But papers are not accepted or rejected because a finding ‘sounds important’, but because that finding is backed up by analysis and logic while acknowledging the prior work on the topic. In this case, the author did not “however, justify that conclusion with any data or analysis“, and so a rejected manuscript would have been very likely, regardless of who the reviewers were. Similarly, the assumption that “some would have recommended publication” purely because it called into question previous work is unsupportable as a general rule. Filling the literature with papers ‘just asking questions’ that ‘sound important’ but not demonstrating any actual results is a recipe for wasting everyone’s time with poorly thought out, and even mendacious, critiques of mainstream science from HIV-denial to perpetual motion machines. Papers in the technical literature are not just opinion.

Pearce also assumes (without evidence) that Kamel was discriminated against because Jones “would certainly have been aware of Kamel’s [negative] views about mainstream climate research“. But why should this be assumed? Most scientists (luckily) go through their whole career without wasting their time investigating and cataloguing the cranks in their field. Some climate sceptics get addressed here on RC a fair bit, but it would be a big mistake to think that these people, particularly the more obscure ones, are the subject of water cooler conversations at climate research labs across the world. Indeed, I can find no reference to Kamel on RC at all and I was unaware of his peculiar views until this story emerged. Why Jones should be assumed to omniscient on this topic is unclear.

Pearce quotes McIntyre discussing “CRU’s policies of obstructing critical articles in the peer-reviewed literature” slowing the resolution of unspecified “issues”. This is simply disingenuous – what papers have been obstructed that would have resolved what issues? We are unaware of any such papers, and certainly none from McIntyre. Prior therefore to declaring that “evidence, flawed though it might be, is actively being kept out of the journals” it behoves Pearce to actually find such evidence. Otherwise, the simple non-appearance of these mythical critiques is apparently proof of the corruption of the peer review process.

As an additional example of problematic practice, Pearce highlights a June 2003 email from Keith Briffa, who as an editor ‘emailed fellow tree-ring researcher Edward Cook, a researcher at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, saying: “Confidentially I now need a hard and if required extensive case for rejecting [an unnamed paper] to ­support Dave Stahle’s and really as soon as you can.”‘. However, without context this is meaningless. People often sign reviews and this could well have been a second go around on a particular paper whose first round reviews would have been seen by everyone concerned. Briffa (like many editors) can have a feeling that a paper should be rejected for multiple reasons but would like to have the reasons gone into in some detail, mostly for the benefit of the authors. This is one reason why reviewing bad papers is so much more work than good ones. Quoting this as if it absolutely demonstrated bad faith or misconduct is simply a smear.

Pearce then accuses Cook of some unjustified quid-pro-quo because he wanted to use some of Briffa’s data to assess the practical implications of a new analysis technique, that Pearce interprets as “attacking his own tree-ring work“. However, this too is a misreading. The work in question has subsequently been revised and the authors themselves have said that the current submission is improved over the initial submission. It goes along with the overall point made above, that pure criticism is not particularly useful – it is much better to demonstrate that some technical point actually matters. This is what Cook appears to be asking for help to demonstrate.

The article then moves on to the issue of the 2003 Soon and Baliunas paper in Climate Research. Pearce nowhere acknowledges that it is (and was) widely regarded as a complete failure of the peer review system. Six (very independent minded) editors resigned from the journal because of the publisher’s inaction on tightening up peer review standards and even the publisher himself declared that the paper’s conclusions were not supported by the data or analysis of the authors. Is this not germane?

Pearce suggests that the reaction to the demonstrably low standards at Climate Research involved “improper pressure“. This has no validity whatsoever. The suggestion was made that maybe people should not submit work to the journal or cite work that appeared there. But how can a suggestion made among colleagues and not transmitted more widely be ‘pressure’ of any sort? People have their impressions about journals determined by many factors, and if they are seen to be publishing bad papers, that will be noted. Compare the reputations of Science and E&E for instance. Which would you rather be published in if you had a good paper?

The one email that Pearce declares “means what it seems to mean” refers to the declaration (along with exclamation point) that Jones would “redefine peer-review!” rather than include two flawed papers in the AR4 report. But it should be obvious that no-one gets to redefine what ‘peer reviewed’ means, and the exclamation point underlines the fact that this was hyperbole. The two papers referred to (McKitrick and Michaels, 2004; Kalnay and Cai, 2003)) were indeed discussed in Chapter 2 of AR4 as the contributing lead author of that chapter Trenberth rightly pointed out. As an aside neither have stood the test the time.

The problem with lapses in peer review (which will inevitably occur) is that they are sometimes systematic, indicating a more institutional problem instead of simply an unfortunate combination of poor reviewers and a busy editor. This appeared to occur at Geophysical Research Letters over the period 2005-2006. There was a string of bad papers published – ones that did not properly support their conclusions and made basic errors in the science. For instance, Douglass and Knox (2005), Douglass, Patel and Knox (2005), Douglass, Pearson and Singer (2004), Douglass, Pearson, Singer, Knappenberger, and Michaels (2004), and Loáiciga (2006).

Science is indeed a ‘self-correcting’ process, but someone has to do that correcting, and scientists do get frustrated when they have to spend weeks dealing with the aftermath of bad papers in the media and putting together the comments that almost every single one of these papers generated. (For amusement and for an example of the lack of standards being talked about, look at the response of Bjornsson et al to the Douglass, Patel and Knox paper).

Are scientists supposed not to notice these patterns? Or never discuss them among colleagues? The implication that the mere discussion of the situation is somehow a corruption of the peer review process is completely unjustified. Peer review only holds the status it does because scientists are on guard against failures in the system and try to correct them when they occur.

Update: Coincidentally, David Adams on the Guardian makes many of the same points as we do.

In two follow-up pieces we will host a letter from Ben Santer on Part 7 and on the skewed reporting of the ‘Yamal‘ issue in Part 9.


362 Responses to “The Guardian disappoints”

  1. 151
    Anne van der Bom says:

    Dan M says:

    …or looked at the high and relatively flat costs of solar power over the past 20 years…

    Since 1990 PV panels have gone down from $ 10 per watt to $ 2 per watt. Could you explain what you mean by ‘relatively flat’?

  2. 152
    Tim Jones says:

    Previous version has unacceptable typo. Please use this.

    Fred Pearce and the Guardian are indeed disappointing. And then there’s the full weight of an office of the United States Senate coming into play.

    United States Senate Report ‘Consensus’ Exposed: The CRU Controversy
    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=7db3fbd8-f1b4-4fdf-bd15-12b7df1a0b63
    United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
    Minority Staff February 2010

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    “In this report, Minority Staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works examine key documents and emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU). We have concluded:

    • The emails were written by the world’s top climate scientists, who work at the most prestigious and influential climate research institutions in the world.

    • Many of them were lead authors and coordinating lead authors of UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, meaning that they had been intimately involved in writing and editing the IPCC’s science assessments. They also helped write reports by the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).

    • The CRU controversy and recent revelations about errors in the IPCC’s most recent science assessment cast serious doubt on the validity of EPA’s endangerment finding for greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The IPCC serves as the primary basis for EPA’s endangerment finding for greenhouse gases.

    • Instead of moving forward on greenhouse gas regulation, the Agency should fully address the CRU controversy and the IPCC’s flawed science.”

    It goes on, ad nauseum.

  3. 153

    EH (65): Id rather see a fight between this site and mcintyre, for instance.

    BPL: I’m sure you wanted to see a fight between Stephen Jay Gould and Duane Gish, too. Or Allan Sandage and Immanuel Velikovsky. Or Howard Carter and Erich von Daniken.

  4. 154
    Dan M. says:

    Steven Sullivan wrote

    “Then again, if it isn’t anything of that sort, but simply a matter of a historical lack of resources to maintain other people’s data, then it all becomes rather less diabolical, doesn’t it.”

    Well, then it would have to happen quite a while ago. Even in late ’07 a couple of years ago a terabyte disk drive was quoted as under $400, retail. Certainly, half a petabyte coule be available wholesale for somewhere in the 150k$ range, not prohibitive for a big institute.

    Your reference discusses over 3000 land stations, now, plus sea surface, and points out that the number of stations was much lower 150 years ago. So, generously, we’d have 5000 total stations, now, with the numbers lower as we go back in time. More than 50 years ago, we’re probably talking closer to 1000 stations. But, lets be very generous and say there were, on average, 2500 stations for the last 150 years. With 365.25 days/year, we have 137 million station-days of readings. This allows, with 500 teraabytes (1/2 petabyte), about 3.7 megabytes of data per day.

    Are you arguing that the essential records taken by a station during a day cannot be crammed into 3.7 megabytes. FWIW, I go back to the days where we used punch cards and data was kept on tape, because disk space cost $3.50/mByte/week.

    For example, take temperature. Storing a temperature to 0.1C accuracy over a range of 100C takes only 10 bits: 1.25 bytes. Relative humidity, wind speed and direction, precipitation, etc. can similarly be compacted.

    Maybe the data needs to be much more precise than I’m thinking….but I’m guessing a days worth of one station’s data would easily fit in 15kbytes of storage, which would mean that only a couple of terabytes would be fine.

    Look, if I’m missing the precision that’s needed for the data, or the number of different types of data that are needed, I’d very very much appreciate you, or someone else who knows, walking me through why we are talking about more than 500 terabytes of info here.

  5. 155
    Jimi Bostock says:

    I think that this article reveals why the RC team is looking more likely to be isolated from the ongoing discussions.

    Indeed, note that I use the word discussions. Going forward, it would be better for us to consider that we are in a discussion, as opposed to a debate.

    But, for my next point let us consider that it is a debate.

    The post’s use of the term “zombie” in referring to skeptic points of view would be stuck down by any primary school teacher as being a slack use of derogatory terms. So, on that basis alone, it is not a good sign.

    But back to the real world. If the author can not see that the world is no longer prepared to accept that the contrary opinions have been truly canvassed, then they do have a problem. It is a testable fact, even just via casual observation, that the people of the world are increasingly not going to accept the RC team’s proclamations on face value.

    I am not talking about what I would do. Anyone that knows me has known for more than a decade what my AGW position is. No, this is about the author of this blog not understanding that the people of the world are going to want to know that all sides have been given equal time and consideration. After all, is that not the sacred foundation of a debate.

    Like I said to a senior ‘warmist’ scientists here in Australia, as boring as it must be to him, he is going to have to go over much old ground again. Alas, he has still not accepted this glaring truth. He still thinks it is just my opinion. Yeah, forget about the thousands of media articles across the globe that have made the point.

    Alas, the RC team seem to have still not understood this. I strongly suggest the avail themselves of the wisdom of Judith Curry’s latest blog. I think that she spells out the issue in a way that the RC team should find easier to understand than the tabloid coverage that they, probably reasonably, detest.

  6. 156

    Jobnls (93): Apart from my response above the fact that you compare the anti vaccination lobby to climate sceptics is a further indicator that you might not exactly be in touch with reality. We are talking about numerous studies where we can with a high probability rule out a correlation i.e. a situation where correlations are actually informative. This is in stark contrast to your own field where correlations are not so informative to put it mildly.

    BPL: Look again:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Correlation.html

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Sun.html

  7. 157
    dhogaza says:

    Dan M. sez

    Doug, in another post, I agreed that the raw data still exists in scattered form. Scattered, and isolated, it tells little about temperature trends, because there are many reasons influencing readings at individual stations. But, the CDC had, by all accounts, a fantastic set of raw data. I asked, and got now answer for how easy it would be to recompile that set of raw data. I’d argue the folks here at RealClimate probably have a good idea of how much time/effort it would take to recompile it…especially on the gross scale I provided. I’d guess, from the fact that the CDC got some of the data only after negociations, that the set of data that the CDC had was rare.

    Once again, it’s CRU, not CDC.

    Go to the GHCN data site, which contains the public domain data. If you poke around, you’ll see that you can get a variety of data from them.

    For instance, digital scans of the paper forms filled in by those monitoring weather stations around the world. It doesn’t get any more raw than that.

    I’m not sure what you’re “throwing away”. Apparently some of the digitized data was lost in an office move 25 years ago. That would’ve been back in the days of 9-track magnetic tape which typically would store a bit over 100 mb of data when blocking, etc is taken into consideration. If you go to the ghcn data site, you’ll see that the daily tarball runs to about 280 mb, close to three tapes.

    That’s over 1,000 old nine-track tapes a year.

    If you’ve been involved in an office move, well, movers lose things at times. And, at the time, Jones et al would not imagine they’d be flooded with requests 25 years in the future for these *copies* of digitized data, and accused of perfidity if they didn’t have them.

    They also didn’t retain records for station data they rejected as being unreliable.

    Other than that, what has supposedly been thrown away?

    People are talking about data storage back in the 1980s or even early 1990s as though it were today, where you can buy gigabytes of storage for the price of a good meal in Manhattan. It was tremendously expensive back in those days to keep large volumes of data.

    Same with making data available to people. Copying gigabytes of data 20 or 25 years ago was expensive.

    People forget – or perhaps don’t know – that back in the mid-80s 200 megabyte disk drives looked like this, and ran $36,000 retail bought from DEC (for example).

  8. 158
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re #150

    “Iain Stewart’s excellent series

    “Excellent” only when compared to to almost no other coverage. I suppose we must be grateful for a few crumbs such as a good account of Keeling, a good shot of a river disappearing into a hole at the top of a glacier and one or two criticisms of the denialosphere. Not nearly good enough for such a major item of news, which the BBC does not cover in the scientific sense (except perhaps partially on the web). Even the IR from a candle being blocked by a tube containing CO2 could have been done more convincingly (e.g. by measuring the rise in temperature of the gas and the radiation from the sides) but I don’t want to bore people with a long list of its failings except for this:

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2008/09/iain_stewart_is_wrong.php

    Yesterday he did a new program called “Its us”

    (not Americans but all of us). This appeared better to me; it was quite entertaining and closer to his expertise but almost avoided the topic of the CO2 mechanism. The BBC fails to realise that bland assertions about CO2 are not good enough; the population are hungry for some explanations.
    ———————————————-
    * It continues. Newsnight tonight reported that the Met Office is going to prepare a new database for temperature. Big news that! They never reported this kind of detail before until it looked as if something else might look wrong.

  9. 159
    Anne van der Bom says:

    John Peter,

    You quoted from Dr. Curry’s letter:

    3. Take the “high ground:” engage the skeptics on our own terms (conferences, blogosphere); make data/methods available/transparent; clarify the uncertainties; openly declare our values

    Until lately much of the “skeptic” blogs used to contain some ‘science’. Most of it was not very good or just plain bad or wrong or both. Obviously (with a few exceptions) it was only for window dressing, serving as a vehicle to deliver the message that climate scientists can not be trusted.

    Since the CRU email hack, they have gone into overdrive and ditched the science altogether. They’re not even trying to keep up appearances anymore. And amidst this flurry of gossip, they still maintain that they seek an honest and open debate. Who’s gonna believe that? It saddens me to say: more people than I am willing to admit.

    Anyone coming up with such a proposal is naive to the extreme. The last thing the skeptics want is a debate, especially not if it is ‘on our terms’. They’re perfectly happy with the current confusion and will want to stretch it as much as they can.

  10. 160
    Dan M. says:

    Anne van der Bom asked:

    “Since 1990 PV panels have gone down from $ 10 per watt to $ 2 per watt. Could you explain what you mean by ‘relatively flat’?”

    Sure. For the last 7 years, even though the amount of installed PV has increased tremendously

    http://www.solarbuzz.com/ModulePrices.htm

    which seems like a pro-solar website to me, and which also gives its methodology for determining prices, which is good, has a graph which shows a drop early in this decate, a rise from about ’06 to ’09, and then a drop back to $4.30 in the US and about $4.20 in Europe (the difference probably has to do with the Euro falling like a rock). Given the fact that solar panels are not selling as well as in the summer of ’08, the recent drop in price most likely reflects a shortage of capacity turning into excess capacity. If you include the price of storage units, which is needed but not included, you get at best 30 cents/kWh for massive units.

    We need about a factor of 8-10 improvement in price. Even if I took your optimistic number, which I’d like to see a good source for, it would be 20 years or so before they were competative in the US.

    One final question, where did you get the $2.00/Watt figure? Does that include subtracting government subsidies from the cost? If not, what’s wrong with SolarBuzz’s measurement of present cost….it’s a factor of 2 higher than what you quote.

  11. 161
    John Peter says:

    gavin (144)

    I agree, RC is well done strategy 2, excellent, we all know, mostly due to Gavin.

    However, in these sovereign debt times, strategy 3 (inside pissing out) might be more effective. Think NASA budget.

  12. 162
    John Peter says:

    Hotrod (85)

    “…So how did this group of bloggers succeed in bringing the climate establishment to its knees (whether or not the climate establishment realizes yet that this has happened)? Again, trust plays a big role; it was pretty easy to follow the money trail associated with the “denial machine”. On the other hand, the climate auditors have no apparent political agenda, are doing this work for free, and have been playing a watchdog role, which has engendered the trust of a large segment of the population…”

    More Curry, from another Hotrod good find.

    I don’t think RC has “got it” yet. How about you?

    [Response: Watts. Jeff Id and Morano have no political agenda? That's funny. - gavin]

  13. 163
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    128 CFU,
    “does anyone know why Andy in 110 …” It is simple (but I´m also rather fed up so I just sketch it roughly for you. As I told you, you have to do your homework by yourself):

    Part of the IPCC strategy is to use the authoritative voice of “objective” science to advocate policy. Peer review is a central component in this. The IPCC concequently communicate that they rely mainly on peer review material (the truth it that 60 % are peer reviewed) to be able to establish “objectivity”. To be able to understand why objectivity is a prefered way to gain political power for scientists in a policy context you must have scientific expertise on the interface of science and policymaking.

    Ok, that was my brief reply. Please, come back with some distortion, personal attacks , ignorance and political opionions, you know the routine …

  14. 164
    John Peter says:

    Anne van der Bom (159)

    Thanks for noticing.

    Trust is tough but it’s important. Judith thinks the climate scientists are losing the public’s trust and there is a lot evidence that she’s right.

    Judith does not want that to happen. She has written about that recently and includes her view of history with an explanation of exactly how the skeptics have turned to “auditors” challenging the public’s trust in climate science. If you can make the time to read her latest piece “Toward Rebuilding Public Trust” at http://curry.eas.gatech.edu/climate/towards_rebuilding_trust.html I think you will find it enlightening and worthwhile.

    BTW Judith Curry is a Professor at Georgia Tech, on the staff of four CS departments and Chair of Remote Sensing one. She is a dedicated CS researcher. Her cv can be found at http://www.eas.gatech.edu/people/Judith_A_Curry#

  15. 165
    Edward Greisch says:

    87 RandyL: “But, as we all know, the facts presented do not always mean the truth. It takes enough facts from a variety of sources and points of view to lead to the truth. It is this search for the “truth” that leads to confrontation and battles between and among the many participants in AGW. The scientists have produced undisputed facts. The “skeptics” have presented human centric non-factual reaction. Neither side is completely right or wrong. Somewhere in this there (hopefully) is the search for the truth. It is that truth that is the ‘real world’ perspective. Sadly the discussion has broken down and there is no longer any apparent search for the truth; only defensive battles to protect self interests.
” IS COMPLETE AND UTTER NONSENSE.


    TRUTH MEANS THE RESULTS OF SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENTS. There is no truth outside of science.

    Get a life; by which I mean get a degree in science. If people do not accept the [scientific] truth, then evolution will happen. Global Warming will kill billions of people. It has happened that way before. Rapid climate cycling made Homo Habilis out of Australopithecus by killing large numbers of individuals, but killing a few more of the less intelligent. Nature is rather indiscriminate and inefficient. It is a rather simple choice.

  16. 166
    Robert says:

    Re: United States Senate Report ‘Consensus’ Exposed: The CRU Controversy:

    Wait, wait, wait…just a sec. You mean to tell me (an American) that this “Report” by “United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works” comes from the same idjits that had Crichton testify on climate change?
    Seriously? Well, then! [edit - keep the rhetoric down please]

    -sTv

  17. 167
    Jeremy C says:

    Reading the various articles by Fred Pearce et al left me with the impression that the Grauniad’s intention was to stop the noise of the denialists over the CRU hack and the Leake articles from spinning into the wider population and resulting in a popular mistrust of climate science. Lancing the boil if you like. That fred Pearce got some things wrong is unfortunate but those mistakes represent an opportunity to build better relationships with media outlets on science reporting in general and climate science in particular, not to shoot them down. We shouldn’t, by our response, make the mistake of pushing the media into the arms of Monckton etc.

  18. 168
    John Peter says:

    Michael K (123)

    RealClimate is a well known public blog. This topic is about public trust in climate scientists and how to keep/recover it. MSMers like RL are delighted to get posts like yours from a staffer, cherry pick it as I did, and spend 15 minutes of his air time describing the climate “scientists” and their desire to sicken, maim and kill some of us to get data supporting their scatterbrained theories. This unfair abuse is a widespread recognized problem of scientists dealing with the public. Your cherry-pickable comments do not belong to you any more than the email contents belonged to the CRU scientists.

    Say what you mean, mean what you say.

    BTW you can still find some who will say that FDR got the Japanese to attack us in 1941 so he could get the nation into WWII and others who claim that Dick Cheney told the air force jets protecting NYC not to shoot down the terrorist planes before they crashed into WTT. These urban legends persist despite all facts and logic. It’s a nasty world in the MSM arena.
    get some AGW disaster data from all of his listeners

  19. 169
    Edward Greisch says:

    [edit - nuclear power is OT]

  20. 170
    John Peter says:

    fixible (113)

    Thank you very much. It never would have occured to me to search for anthropogenic heat

  21. 171
    Anand says:

    Gavin
    “but you are very wrong – senatorial threats, threats of subpoenas, calls for investigations based on alleged misconduct, frivolous FOIA requests, improper pressures on granting authorities etc. are happening all over…”

    There is a contradiction in your argument. Were all these things done to climate scientists, just to harass them? Or was there any substance in these actions? If
    there is any substance, the harassment argument is superceded and therefore irrelevant.

    [Response: You aren't paying attention - all of those things are happening right now. This is not historical revisionism - it is daily reality for dozens of scientists. And no, there is no substance to the attacks. Disputes about science should be settled in the literature, not in court. - gavin]

    For each of what you list, the opposite party clearly thinks there is enough reason to do what they did – senatorial threatening, FOIAing etc – and not to just harass.

    Let’s take the ‘senator threatening’ as an example. Nature magazine felt that Rep. Barton has no moral right to ask Mann for data because he “was no friend of the environment” and went by the name “Smoky Joe”, and therefore there was “no doubt as to his agenda”. But Barton believed he was within his rights and rightly so, to direct requests to scientists who were federally funded.

    Where is the harassment here? There is only two choices here – you either believe in Barton’s right to ask for this information, or you don’t.

    The harassment is a figment of the fertile imagination (whoever feels harassed) because you don’t like what you are doing, or forced to do. If you feel that letters, subpeonas,FOI requests are legal, whether they are irksome or not is immaterial. In the world I live in. Irrespective of climate scientists’ ability to get prestigious journals like Science and Nature to whine about it.

    See: 10.1038/436007a. Nature: Questions to Pachauri.

    1)What was your first thought when you read the letter?
    2)Do you feel obliged to respond?
    3)Is it appropriate for a US House committee to make these demands?
    4)Do you think individual scientists such as Mann need to be better protected against pressure from politicians?

    William T
    The general malaise that can affect a peer-review system can affect any of the many disciplines you list. The transmittal of alarmist advocacy pressures into the science community accelerated the process of slow self-correction that would have taken place anyway. I do not believe that the scientists involved in Climategate to be fundamentally dishonest. Just a touch enthusiastic, that is all.

    Regards

  22. 172
    Dan M. says:

    dhoggins stated:

    I’m not sure what you’re “throwing away”.

    Well, I’ve read this quote from the director of the CRU, Dr. Phil Jones, from many places, including a number that didn’t seem like sites that were engaged in polemics. It was:

    “Since the 1980s, we have merged the data we have received into existing series or begun new ones, so it is impossible to say if all stations within a particular country or if all of an individual record should be freely available. Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e., quality controlled and homogenized) data.”

    I have a real hard time understanding what is going on here. I’ve lived in environments in which we had tons of data and had to compress it into small packages. I worked with massive amounts of data in the latter 70s, so I understand it can be a pain.

    Now, you’ve stated that three tapes a day were required for the data. That confuses me. Back in the ’80s, there weren’t as many stations as today, so if you had, say, 2000 reporting stations, that would probably be a high number. Yet, you are talking about 380 mbytes of data per day. If I can do the math, that’s about 170 kbytes of data per station per day.

    I’m begininning to understand when the technique started, but still shake my head at why it was done. The way you and Dr. Jones appears to describe it, they got 10 different sets of data from, say, Lusaka, but none of them spanned the whole time sequence, etc. In order to save space and time, someone made an on-the-spot judgement on how to reconcile the data, and one compiled set was given. Later, this compiled set was merged with another compiled set, and further judgements were made.

    No-one can go back to the original data because there just wasn’t space to keep it.

    I don’t doubt that there are digitized images of hand written sheets. If all that happened was that many of the sheets were lots in a move, but the numbers that were hand input from the sheet into a primitive data base (I’ve written my share of those in the late 70s and the 80s), are still here, then it’s not a problem. But that doesn’t sound like what happened.

    So, I now see why storage wasn’t always trivial, but I don’t see how each station had 170 kbytes of raw information per day. I’m not suspecting malfesence here, just very sloppy technique. We’re talking about trying to find out what the temperature was. Keeping hourly temps, humidities, wind direction and speed, rainfall would probably need (assuming temps were kept with 0.1C precision, there’s 10 bits, humidity to percent, 7 bits; wind direction to 16 points, 4 bits; wind speed to km/hour, 8 bits, rainfall to mm, 10 bits (a meter/hour is quite a rain), we have just over 4 bytes/hour. Add overhead, check bits, etc., and we could go to 6 bytes/hour. Add comments every day, restricted to 500 characters, and you have a nice compressed, standardized data set of less than 1k.

    Now, that’s close enough to raw for me. So, I’m still puzzled, why does it take so much room to store the data unless folks were not taking proper care.

    I’m not talking anything wild here. I’m talking SOP from what I’ve done _during that time period_ to save space.

    Was the CRU really that small back then?

    I certainly don’t think things were done with malice aforethought. I am just thinking that whoever did the work didn’t take the care of the data that I was trained to do.

    Now, there is one more possibility. The quote from Phil Jones was fabricated. Can you point me to his saying that “I never said that, we never did that?”

    BTW, I admit that my conversing here is not fully rigorous. But, this isn’t my job…..I’m just interested in what happened. If it’s no more than some tapes didn’t make the move, and they are only 1/2% of the raw data, and the statement that we had this claim on our website and then removed it is false, then someone is doing a very bad job of getting that out. At the very least, the CRU website should clearly state that.

  23. 173
    Martin says:

    133>….
    [Response: You are confusing papers. The author of the paper Cook was talking about appears to be M. Auflhammer, the author(s) of the paper Stahle and Cook reviewed is unknown. But please let me know if I am mistaken. - gavin]

    You are right about the paper but my point still stands.
    CA and the like seem to be turning into a sort of clearing house for the climategate press. That seemed to be McIntyre’s goal from the start and now he’s getting more traction than was expected.
    M

  24. 174
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Dan M. says: 24 February 2010 at 4:06 PM

    Dan, just quickly its CRU, not CDC. If one is typing in a hurry it’s easy to pick the wrong acronym so no big deal but it’s sort of interrupting the flow your words for this reader, anyway.

    Like I said earlier, words matter. Carelessly remarking about lost or destroyed “raw” data that is not vanished is imprecise; counting on context to correct a poor choice of words leaves room for ambiguity. You may have noticed, public discussions about this field are substantially distorted by rhetorical opportunists seizing on second hand accounts, rumor, innuendo and even outright fabrications and then launching forth to repeat their misunderstandings far and wide, leading to degenerate understanding of the topic.

    The missing CRU data is a case in point of taking a shred of truth and inflating it into a balloon of exaggeration.

    The actual fraction of the copies of the total data set in question lost, misplaced or retired through whatever means by CRU is rather small– apparently ~5%– compared to that remaining fraction which is available* and by its relative size presumably dominates the results of CRU’s analysis. You’re right that duplicated effort would be needed to reproduce CRU’s results with exacting numerical precision, but would simply leaving that 5% out make any substantial difference in the conclusions? Is the missing data even strictly necessary to validate CRU’s methods? That’s for somebody else to say with authority, but judging just by sheer bulk I doubt it.

    I’m not sure how your insight into experimental physics makes you uniquely qualified to form conclusions about this matter. My daily activities include plumbing also, having to do with making sure microwave radio links behave as predicted and sometimes explaining why they don’t. This activity includes an unfortunate amount of what I’ll presume to call “desperation science”, investigations into complicated artifactual features. I am presented with a phenomenon in the form of a malfunction in equipment that is thousands of miles away, must then form a hypothesis to explain the misbehavior, make a prediction about how to correct it, then commit to an experiment in the form of sending somebody into the jungle to climb an isolated tower to test my reasoning by various manipulations. Faulty hypotheses are expensive and embarrassing. So, while my scientific training was limited, I may reasonably say my practice of the actual scientific method has been refined by constant practice and occasional costly punishment in the particular arena I deal with.

    So thanks to my activities I’m familiar with the value of observational data. Just so, I’m capable of recognizing which data is irreplaceable and which is not. Nothing fundamentally unique has been lost by CRU, not in the form of data. If they were to lose track of or somehow forget their methods that would be surely be worse than having to call on their original sources for copies of data they’ve lost.

    *
    ‘Over 95% of the CRU climate data set concerning land surface temperatures has been accessible to climate researchers, sceptics and the public for several years the University of East Anglia has confirmed.

    “It is well known within the scientific community and particularly those who are sceptical of climate change that over 95% of the raw station data has been accessible through the Global Historical Climatology Network for several years. We are quite clearly not hiding information which seems to be the speculation on some blogs and by some media commentators,” commented the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research Enterprise and Engagement Professor Trevor Davies.’

    http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2009/nov/CRUupdate

  25. 175
    John Peter says:

    Dan M

    As dhogaza has pointed out these were scientific programmers. At various places in blog-space are complaints about poorly documented IDL(?)code embedded in the data. If you’ve dealt with scientific programmers there is not commercial tracking here – they’re doing experiments and just keeping a couple of current versions. Probably without records beyond individual programmer recall.

    CRU could have reordered copies of the data but it’s the missing data modification code that was and is the problem. At least that’s where my head is.

  26. 176
    Tim Jones says:

    Re: 162 John Peter says: 24 February 2010 at 7:25 PM
    “I don’t think RC has “got it” yet. How about you?”

    RC’s got it all right.

    On the Credibility of Climate Research, Part II:  Towards Rebuilding Trust
    http://curry.eas.gatech.edu/climate/towards_rebuilding_trust.html
    excerpt
    “So how did this group of bloggers succeed in bringing the climate establishment to its knees (whether or not the climate establishment realizes yet that this has happened)?  Again, trust plays a big role; it was pretty easy to follow the money trail associated with the “denial machine”.  On the other hand, the climate auditors have no apparent political agenda, are doing this work for free, and have been playing a watchdog role, which has engendered the trust of a large segment of the population.

    The last sentence is patently ridiculous. I’m not sure why she’s currying favor with these blogs… so they’ll lay off?
    Whatever the case she’s lost my trust.

    Climate science hasn’t been brought to its knees. It’s all in your heads. You will wear out all the thin leads you’re following in no time. Climate science, the IPCC and all the rest will survive your wishful thinking of irretrievable
    harm to the message. Time is not your friend. It is the friend of the science.

    What you’ll find interesting too is that when what’s coming comes, the world will know exactly who has blood on their hands. And they’ll have to live with it.

    Here’s what Joe Romm of Climate Progress has to say about Judith Curry.

  27. 177
    Tim Jones says:

    Here’s what Joe Romm of Climate Progress has to say about Judith Curry.

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/02/24/my-response-to-dr-judith-currys-unconstructive-essay/

  28. 178
    dhogaza says:

    Dan M.

    Now, you’ve stated that three tapes a day were required for the data. That confuses me. Back in the ’80s, there weren’t as many stations as today

    This demonstrates exactly the problem working scientists in the field have to deal with.

    On the one hand, there’s this tremendous disinformation campaign going on over “Stations being deleted! Data being deleted! Why are there fewer stations reporting today than decades ago!”

    Now, we have Dan M. treating us to an “authoritative” statement that the data storage problem 3 decades ago wasn’t really significant because “back then, there were more stations!”.

    It’s a clever scheme – if the real answer is that there were more stations back then, the “deleting stations!” crowd proves “fraud!”. If the real answer is Dan M. is right, then the “they deleted data!” crowd wins.

    A perfect catch-22 of denialism.

  29. 179
    dhogaza says:

    dhoggins

    What’s with this crap? A “dho gaza” (my handle) is a trap used to catch raptors (which I’ve done for years as a volunteer field worker), invented 1,000 or more years ago by arabs to catch falcons for use by “noble people” for falcronry.

    “dhoggins” is childish, as is “Dan Moran”, which I will use to describe you if you continue to do bullshit to my handle.

    Now, you’ve stated that three tapes a day were required for the data. That confuses me.

    No, I said based on the daily data available at GHCN, the current daily compressed files would take about 3 (actually about 2.5, but for simplicity most folks back then would’ve kept the daily data on separate sets of 3 tapes for simplified physical filing/recovery) tapes. I just gave that as an indication of the scope of the data storage problem.

    Go to the GHCN ftp site, and check the sizes of the daily files.

    I’m not confused, I ftp’d in and said “ls” and the daily tarballs are 280 mb.

    You can check this stuff out yourself, big brain.

    Or … can you or not?

    After all, I told you were I got that figure. Why didn’t you go check it, rather than go “oh, oh, I’m confused, it can’t be that big?”.

    Is it *really* too much to ask that people do simple stuff like that? ftp … login: anonymous password: your e-mail address … a couple of cd commands, and “ls”, and …

    Why didn’t you do this?

    I’m begininning to understand when the technique started, but still shake my head at why it was done. The way you and Dr. Jones appears to describe it, they got 10 different sets of data from, say, Lusaka, but none of them spanned the whole time sequence, etc. In order to save space and time, someone made an on-the-spot judgement on how to reconcile the data, and one compiled set was given. Later, this compiled set was merged with another compiled set, and further judgements were made.

    No-one can go back to the original data because there just wasn’t space to keep it.

    Of course they can. They can go back to the source of the data, build their own database, and do their own temperature reconstructions. The data’s there. Other people just have to work to get it. That’s not uncommon in science, or engineering.

    Other people do it. What do you think GISTEMP is based on?

    How do you think GHCN got their data?

    I don’t doubt that there are digitized images of hand written sheets. If all that happened was that many of the sheets were lots in a move

    None of the sheets were lost in a move. CRU never *had* the sheets.

    How hard is it to understand the phrase “digitized copy”?

    How obtuse are you? How many times do you need to be told?

    The various national met services keep the sheets of paper (or, as the world has advanced, the raw electronic records). Not CRU.

    but the numbers that were hand input from the sheet into a primitive data base (I’ve written my share of those in the late 70s and the 80s), are still here, then it’s not a problem. But that doesn’t sound like what happened.

    No, it’s not what happened. The sheets never went to CRU.

    Again, how hard is it to understand?

    So, I now see why storage wasn’t always trivial, but I don’t see how each station had 170 kbytes of raw information per day. I’m not suspecting malfesence here, just very sloppy technique. We’re talking about trying to find out what the temperature was. Keeping hourly temps, humidities, wind direction and speed, rainfall would probably need (assuming temps were kept with 0.1C precision, there’s 10 bits, humidity to percent, 7 bits; wind direction to 16 points, 4 bits; wind speed to km/hour, 8 bits, rainfall to mm, 10 bits (a meter/hour is quite a rain), we have just over 4 bytes/hour. Add overhead, check bits, etc., and we could go to 6 bytes/hour. Add comments every day, restricted to 500 characters, and you have a nice compressed, standardized data set of less than 1k.

    Nice pontification.

    Now, again – go to the FTP site and look at the actual size of the daily tarball.

    If you want to propose a more efficient data reporting format, feel free to contact the appropriate authorities.

    For now, though, “ls” tells us the size of the daily file.

    Was the CRU really that small back then?

    Are they big, now?

    Take a guess at the difference between, say, the CRU budget and CERN’s budget. Today. Not back then.

    BTW, I admit that my conversing here is not fully rigorous. But, this isn’t my job…..I’m just interested in what happened. If it’s no more than some tapes didn’t make the move, and they are only 1/2% of the raw data, and the statement that we had this claim on our website and then removed it is false, then someone is doing a very bad job of getting that out. At the very least, the CRU website should clearly state that.

    I will agree that the CRU has been slow to realize that they’re not involved in a scientific discourse, but rather a take-no-prisoners, scorched-earth war.

    Dr. Santer realizes this. I think a lot of other researchers in the field realize it. There’s been a long-term sniff of it in evolutionary biology. It’s been clear in fields like population ecology where researchers poke into things like the effects of natural resource extraction industries. It was there in weakened form during the CFC debates.

    The older stuff were simply skirmishes in the anti-intellectual war on science, with a lot less at stake than today.

    What we see today is an all-out war on science.

    Which side are you on?

  30. 180
    Hank Roberts says:

    > the climate auditors have no apparent political agenda

    Yeah — the only way the political agenda can’t be apparent to her is because she shares it so completely. She described herself a few years back as libertarian of some sort; within that world view, anyone sharing it I guess just seens normal, no agenda, just life as it should be lived.

    Spooky, for those with other perspectives from which the political agenda is utterly obvious, of course.

    I mentioned this elsewhere but this brief excerpt sums up the problem seeing the agenda from inside that worldview, I think:

    “… it is one thing to generate policy-relevant knowledge to bolster your side in the political arena, it is quite another to have the ambition to change the very nature of knowledge production about both the natural and social worlds. Analysts need to take neoliberal theorists like Hayek at their word when they state that the Market is the superior information processor par excellence. The theoretical impetus behind the rise of the natural science think tanks is the belief that science progresses when everyone can buy the type of science they like, dispensing with whatever the academic disciplines say is mainstream or discredited science.”

    THE SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL, JULY 2008
    The Rise of the Dedicated Natural Science Think Tank
    By Philip Mirowski

    http://www.ssrc.org/workspace/images/crm/new_publication_3/%7Beee91c8f-ac35-de11-afac-001cc477ec70%7D.pdf

  31. 181

    I just read Judith Curry’s piece, and — just, wow. She’s seriously messed up. Can you say “Stockholm Syndrome“?

  32. 182
    Anne van der Bom says:

    Dan M,
    24 February 2010 at 7:14 PM

    For the last 7 years, even though the amount of installed PV has increased tremendously…

    That is moving the goalposts. You said 20 years, not 7.

    Demand has skyrocketed over the past decennium with manufacturers lagging behind in production capacity. The simple law of supply and demand. That has changed since the crisis, and therefore prices have dropped significantly.

    If you include the price of storage units, which is needed but not included…

    At this point in time, no. There is no need for storage since the capacity is small enough to deal with fluctuations in the same way as power companies deal with fluctuating demand. That will not change in the forseeable future. Only when the need for storage arises it is fair to put that in the calculation because only then we will know what we really need and what the actual cost will be.

    which seems like a pro-solar website to me

    Is it really necessary to split the world in pro and contra camps even if it concerns such an easy-to-check fact as pv module prices?

    The source for my $ 2/W figure was this spot market price overview from the German Photon magazine. Spot market prices are of course not comparable to the retail prices from solarbuzz. I can find much lower retail prices than their $4.30/W.

    This Dutch PV installer offers pv panels for less than € 2 per watt, including 19% sales tax. If you shop around, you can get good quality panels for € 1.75 per watt. At the current exchange rate, that is (excluding tax) $2 per watt

    The lowest price I could find in the US was thisthis offering of a Kyocera panel for $2.43 per watt. Many other shops and pv brands hover around the $3 mark.

  33. 183
    John Peter says:

    Michael K (142)

    Head up, chest out

    “This above all:
    To thine own self be true,
    for it must follow as dost the night the day,
    that canst not then be false to any man”

    Shakespeare or Socrates or someone

  34. 184
    Nick Myerscough says:

    Gavin.
    Unfortunately, this article comes across as ” shoot the messenger”. Because of the recent controversy, it is no longer enough to simply try and rebut the errors because the currency of your view has been devalued. It is too easy for the sceptics to rubbish your opinions – ” oh , he is just another of those weasely climate scientists – did you see those e-mails” You no longer have the scientific authority you once enjoyed. The crux of the problem is how to get that authority back – I don’t have a clue!
    I think it is a bit excessive to claim that Pearce has ” gone over to the other side” as some people have commented. Firstly, having sides is completely counter- productive.Secondly Pearce is not an ill-educated fool ( as witness his previous writings) – I think he has some genuine concerns about some of the climate science. Does this not make you stop and think also?
    I enjoy reading your site although I have to be honest , I don’t always agree with you.

  35. 185
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    [Response: Perhaps you'd like to point to a document where the IPCC has advocated a specific climate policy? Just one. - gavin]

    I did not say that the IPCC advocates SPECIFIC climate policy. Quote: “It is evident that the IPCC strategy is to use the authoritative voice of “objective” science to advocate policy.” I intended to say that 1) the IPCC advocate that action should be taken. Thus, the IPCC prefer action over non-action and acts consistently with this policy objective. 2) the IPCC favors some basic policy approaches over others, e.g. technological fixes and economic market based instruments over societal planning and behaviour change. The IPCC is NOT explicit on particular policy details, e.g. we should build lots of nuclear power plants in China (Gavin, you attack a straw men, as always).

    [Response: No, I'm trying to make you be more precise in your language. When people read that the 'IPCC advocates policy', they interpret this as IPCC is backing Kyoto or cap-and-trade or the CDM or similar. They do none of these things. Instead they have laid out the probable consequences of BAU and discussed options for taking us off that track. That is not the same thing at all. Do climate scientists have a preference for action over inaction? Yes. But just in the same way that we would all like the number of little old ladies being mugged to be reduced to zero. Confusing this with specific policy advocacy is one of the biggest misconceptions out there. Please do your part in reducing confusion. - gavin]

    You guys work in the stealth mode (fronting science and hiding your politics), so I do not expect to find explicit political documents in print (as you want me to show you). However, you guys do make blunders that undermine the chosen strategy to stealth advocate policy. So I make an effort to prove you wrong (and you are wrong, it is beyond doubt).

    For example, this is clearly a value laden statement that advocates policy:

    “Tomorrow Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist and author of part of the IPCC third assessment report, along with IPCC participant Dr. Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton, and Dr. Gavin Schmidt of NASA, will discuss the mounting scientific evidence since the IPCC’s 2007 assessment report, and why it is in fact more clear now than ever before that we must take action to solve the global climate crisis.”

    And this also clearly demonstrates policy concerns (not disinterestedness):

    “We are not going to get better climate policy by agreeing that the smearing, misquoting and misrepresentation of scientists is ‘ok’.” (Gavin)

    And so is this statement by Pachauri:

    “I mean, let’s face it, that the whole subject of climate change having become so important is largely driven by the work of the IPCC. If the IPCC wasn’t there, why would anyone be worried about climate change? It’s also certainly to be expected that there are some interests who would not want to take action against climate change. I mean, I don’t want to name a country, but you know during the Copenhagen meeting there was one country that was saying that there should be no agreement simply because the IPCC, after the e-mails, the scandal of the hacking e-mails, the IPCC’s report shouldn’t be taken as a basis for any agreement. And you know what the motivation behind that statement was and where it was coming from? Are we going to fall prey to vested interests?”

  36. 186
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Anand says of FOI requests:
    “For each of what you list, the opposite party clearly thinks there is enough reason to do what they did – senatorial threatening, FOIAing etc – and not to just harass.”

    Well, we could look at the number of peer-reviewed publications McI et al have produced with the data so far. Hmm, I get zero.

    Re Barton and Inhofe: Pull the other one. It’s got bells on it. Come on, how naive do you think people are here. The sole purpose of these actions is to intimidate scientists.

    From mothballing satellites to McCarthyite hearings to email hacking to fabricating quotes to death threats. These are the tools used by the denialist contingent. Funny, that doesn’t look like the tool box of a group that is interested in the truth!

  37. 187
    HotRod says:

    Re: 162 John Peter says:

    “More Curry, from another Hotrod good find.” – Why, thank you, kind sir.

    “I don’t think RC has “got it” yet. How about you?” – er, nope. that was the whole point of the Curry piece. You can nitpick it if you want, as gavin did in response to your post, but I think she says it pretty well.

    Also John try this piece – not scientific, but representative of how the bien-pensants are now prepared to listen to different music from the press.

    http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2010/02/too-hot-to-handle/

  38. 188
    Anne van der Bom says:

    John Peter,
    24 February 2010 at 8:39 PM

    I read Dr. Curry’s article from your link.

    The first thing that strikes me is the ‘gate’ this and ‘gate’ that. I am still trying to understand how the handful of incidents from the CRU emails can be so easily explained as EVIDENCE of widespread malfeasance.

    In our society, the ‘gate’ moniker stands for a REAL scandal, the exposure of widespread corruption, fraud and/or criminal behaviour. How many FOI requests have been frustrated? One. How much data is lost? 0 bytes. How many skeptic papers have been kept out of the mainstream scientific publications without justification? I wouldn’t know of one, but if anyone does, please come forward and PROVE that the peer review process is somehow broken and massive amounts of skeptic scientific evidence has been suppressed. For the CRU email hack to be called a ‘gate’, the emails themselves are not enough. Real world evidence is needed and without it, it is not worthy of a scientist to attach this heavyhanded ‘gate’ moniker to the CRU email affair and the glacier typo.

    She tries to paint a history that sort of goes like this. First there was big bad oil spoiling the debate with questionable PR. Then big oil stopped funding climate change denial and the era of climate change skepticism began. The new breed of blogs in that arena are worthy of the title ‘climate auditing’ sites.

    She offers no evidence, but before believing this version of history, I demand evidence from her. She should have no problem with this, she is a scientist after all. I have a hard time imagining how climate change skeptics’ disinformation once was even worse than it is today. Can it be any worse? I may have missed it, but I see no trace of this catharsis.

    And what to make of this quote:

    As a result of the IPCC influence, scientific skepticism by academic researchers became vastly diminished

    The bleeding obvious explanation of diminished skepticism is of course that the evidence has become overwhelming and that the IPCC reports made it available in an accessible form so anyone could take note. But no, what we are instead being offered is the allegation of a conspiracy: the IPCC used its influence to squash opposition. No evidence. This does not seem to bother her. But it should. She is a scientist.

    Where she scores an own goal is by suggesting that WUWT is worthy of the ‘climate audit’ seal of approval. Huh? That’s the site consistenly labeling Pachauri as ‘choo-choo Pachewy’ and ‘The love guru’. I wonder how much climate auditing was necessary to come up with that.

    Let me support my opinion on WUWT further with my recent experience on a confrontation with Steven Goddard. He had written this piece claiming a failed prediction by Hansen about Antarctica. Turns out Hansen had made a prediction about the effects of 2x CO2, and (I assume) equilibrium. We will not pass the 2x CO2 mark before ~2060 and add a few decades for reaching the equilibrium and you’re talking about a prediction for 2100. We’re now in 2010 and Goddard already declares Hansen’s prediction a failure. When I engaged him on this point, he made some evasive manoeuvres, shifting his opinion from ‘the prediction has failed’ to ‘it looks bad for the prediction’ in the blink of an eye. He did not correct the article. Read on further down the thread how he brings up the perceived discrepancy between January 2010 southern ocean temperatures and Antarctic sea ice to make his point (whatever that is, I’m still wondering). One month! And in the comment below that he completely distorts my meaning of the choice we have regarding fossil fuels and how that influences CO2 levels and thus climate predictions. At that point I simply gave up. You can observe the same pattern in almost any article posted on WUWT. If that is the climate auditing that Dr. Curry endorses, I think she is the one with credibility problems.

    She also says:

    Steve McIntyre started the blog climateaudit.org so that he could defend himself against claims being made at the blog realclimate.org with regards to his critique of the “hockey stick” since he was unable to post his comments there.

    I don’t know what happened back then. Perhaps the RC crew can comment on whether Steve McIntyre was not allowed to comment as she suggests in that sentence. I can imagine he was not allowed to POST on realclimate, but I have a hard time believing he was not allowed to COMMENT, which is what she accuses RC of.

    Then she also has no problem talking about global warming alarmism (without quotes) and “denial machine” (with quotes). As if the term global warming alarmism is logical and justified, but global warming denialism is somehow denigrating and unjustified. The terms ‘alarmism’ and ‘denialism’ are opposite sides of the same coin. The fist implies making up a problem that doesn’t exist, while the latter means pretending that a real problem does not exist. She should therefore treat the terms equally.

    Perhaps she is leaning towards the skeptic side on purpose to not alienate them. But I think some of her choices are ill advised and she should have kept her integrity by giving due credit to her collegues in climate science that have been working their butts off to get to the level of understanding where we are today.

  39. 189
    Nick Gotts says:

    No, this is about the author of this blog not understanding that the people of the world are going to want to know that all sides have been given equal time and consideration. After all, is that not the sacred foundation of a debate. Jim Bostock

    No. Or do you think HIV-AIDS denialists, creationists, flat-earthers, tobacco-cancer denialists, 9-11 “truthers”, Obama “birthers”, we-didn’t-land-on-the-mooners, the-world-is-run-by-alien-shape-shifting-lizarders etc. ad nauseam should be given “equal time and consideration”? Do tell.

  40. 190
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Andy: “Part of the IPCC strategy is to use the authoritative voice of “objective” science to advocate policy. ”

    OK. But doesn’t say that the IPCC is saying that peer reviewed papers are infallible.

    Maybe you get to that later..

    £The IPCC concequently communicate that they rely mainly on peer review material (the truth it that 60 % are peer reviewed) to be able to establish “objectivity”.”

    1) Only for WG1

    2) and this again is only “mainly”.

    Still nothing about how this is the IPCC saying that peer review is infallible.

    Still, there’s more. Maybe it’s hidden somewhere in there…

    “To be able to understand why objectivity is a prefered way to gain political power for scientists in a policy context you must have scientific expertise on the interface of science and policymaking.”

    Uh, where did this jump from? This pre-supposes that power is the aim of the IPCC.

    Given this is made up from you, this can only be projection of your desires onto all others, thereby making your own failings no longer failings in a “dog eat dog world”.

    But still nothing about how the IPCC says or implies even that peer reviewed papers are infallible. We’re running out of words here…

    “Ok, that was my brief reply. Please, come back with some distortion, personal attacks , ignorance and political opionions, you know the routine …”

    And that’s all, folks!

    Nothing about how the IPCC said or implied that peer review was infallible on its own.

    Just a statement of “dog bites man” non-news information, a psychological projection on to an unknown group of misanthropic tendencies and a final hypocritical jab (I take it that the hypocrisy is obvious to all except Andy here).

    It seems even the originator of the non sequitur doesn’t know of any join between the two rants he’s made to make any sense of it.

  41. 191
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Andreas, OK, so let me get this straight. If, in my day job working on spacecraft, I come across a threat that could result in destruction of a spacecraft and significant loss of life, I am tainting my scientific judgment with policy concerns if I insist that it be addressed effectively?
    Is that what you are contending?

    So, in other words, scientists should check their humanity at the door and watch the frigging temperature climb and mass extinctions occur and agriculture fail? Gee, Andreas, that’s an interesting interpretation?

    My own interpretation is that saying “Do something,” when I see a credible threat is part of my job as a scientist. I am not prescribing what should be done, so I am not prejudging a solution or advocating a policy–merely stating that action is required to avert catastrophe. Every time you start to make sense, you then revert to the same irresponsible Lomborgian dream world.

  42. 192
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    190 Completely Fed Up,
    I am sorry to have to tell you that there is a difference between analysis, theory and refering to peer review literature that have studied these issues on the one hand (this is where I stand) and to be a simple denialist with no expertise in the issue in question that makes you attack other people because you do not like the facts and theories they are bringing to the gathering (this is where you stand). There is also a big difference between serious dialogue and your behaviour at this blog. This is why I rarely reply to your posts, and I will try to not do it again. You guys might get some pleasure from debates with “physical denialists” but I get no pleasure from either physical nor social denialists…

  43. 193

    #155: equal rights for cops and robbers. Sure.

  44. 194
    Anonymous Coward says:

    Edward Greish (#16),
    Of course there are people who have the authority to shut up a foolish jounralist. They’re the editor and the owners of the paper. The First Amendment would have nothing to do with it even it wasn’t an English paper.
    The editor and the owners have names and adresses. You have the authority to make your point of view known to them. And you have the authority to make it known to the people they associate with as well as long as you keep clear of libel and such. There’s a number of things one could do to drive the point home forcefully if need be without resorting to death threats or other denialist methods.

    Dave M. (#17),
    The Guardian is not a leftist publication. Do you have any idea how much the editor is paid? Leftist are not welcome in that kind of society.
    When a controversy-loving journalist writes some denialist-influenced junk in a leftist publication, it doesn’t pass without comment. See for instance the excellent “The Scientific Case for Modern Anthropogenic Global Warming”, written by a physicist in 2008 for the Monthly Review, an actual leftist magazine. Leftists, while they have little patience for economists and for those who take money from corporations, generally value the opinion of proper scientists you see.
    In my local leftist rag, there are no denialist articles. In the latest issue, there’s an article on ocean acidification instead which advocates immediate massive reductions in CO2 emissions.

  45. 195
    Theo Hopkins says:

    You folks should consider how lucky you are with being reported in the Guardian.

    It could have been the Daily Telegraph……

  46. 196
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “192
    Andreas Bjurström says:
    25 February 2010 at 8:57 AM

    190 Completely Fed Up,
    I am sorry to have to tell you that there is a difference between analysis, theory and refering to peer review literature”

    Yes, I would suspect that would be the reason why they gave them different names.

    Still nothing about how you jumped into “know nothing about science/policy interface” from “the IPCC doesn’t give the implication out that peer reviewed paper means infallible” and you still have not managed to show this.

    You’re uttering Calvin’s realisation of what communication is all about to you and to him: the complete obfuscation of meaning.

  47. 197

    Dan M: But, if you look at the cost of storing power for when the wind isn’t blowing (that’s why Texas stopped building wind farms when natural gas prices lowered), or looked at the high and relatively flat costs of solar power over the past 20 years, one sees that neither is close to being a cheap reliable source of energy.

    BPL: And yet 42% of all the new electrical generating capacity put in across the US last year was wind. 35% the year before.

    DM: It’s amazing how most environmentalists believe in the “Captain Piccard” principal of engineering, you just have to tell your engineer “make it so”, and within days it’s done, just like Jordi.

    BPL: “Picard” and “Geordi.”

  48. 198
    Anand says:

    Gavin:
    “You aren’t paying attention – all of those things are happening right now. This is not historical revisionism – it is daily reality for dozens of scientists. And no, there is no substance to the attacks. Disputes about science should be settled in the literature, not in court.”

    I am paying my utmost attention. Bad things happen all the time to scientists, especially to climate scientists given the high-profile. The overall question I considered over is: Does climate science get ample moral support from the science media? I believe the answer is yes. I quoted the Nature and Science examples to illustrate this point as the historic record is complete, unlike current events which are still ongoing.

    Did climate scienctists get support from the Guardian all these years? Yes. By support from the Guardian, at the least – I mean publication of articles about climate change suitable for consumption by the wide public, therefore aligning the ‘public interest’ with increased study of the climate. Did it publish any pieces about this underground community of denialosphericals photographing thermometer sites? Probably not. Did the Guardian publish any major exposition pieces about Climategate for more than two months after Climategate? No. In summa, The Guardian, and other science media outlets have afforded enough support to climate scientists.

    So, finally, two-and-a-half months after Nov 16-17, they work up the courage to shush Monbiot for a while and get Pearce to squeak a bit, which he does in such a tame un-researched roundabout way. And you are picking on that?

    One more clue – the public spat between Pearce, Hasnain and Pachauri had Pearce holding the ball at one point, making him look foolish. See:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fred-pearce-i-wrote-the-offending-article-i-stand-by-it-1876419.html

    The posting comments after publication of articles was just a lame attempt at recapitulating the crowdsourcing model which made the Guardian so popular with the MPs’ expenses scandal.

    The Guardian did carry an absolutely delightful opinion piece from Simon Jenkins, but that is not for general circulation. :)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/04/scientists-fallibilty-self-criticism-question

    RL: In a public battle, if you impugn motives of your opponents (Inhofe and Barton in this case) to bolster your case, you have already lost half the battle.

  49. 199

    Walt the P (135): ordinary people, whom your supporters call names like “ignorant trolls”, are so much against you.

    BPL: Ordinary people aren’t. Deniers on the internet are. Learn the difference.

  50. 200
    HotRod says:

    I’ll try again, been moderated for a moderate post.

    the Joe Romm post on Judith Curry’s post is titled ‘unconstructive’. Judith Curry is unlikely to have written such a long and topical post without there being some sense in it somewhere, and yet he seems unable, despite declaring that she is a friend (and therefore he presumably has some respect for her sense) to find one bit of sense in it. Is that ‘constructive’?

    Her post was a post-climategate post, an event that has triggered 3 independent investigations into UEA/CRU in the UK. It’s an event. It may come to nothing, but ‘the authorities’ feel compelled to investigate. Something has changed from six months ago (obviously not the science) somewhere. And she’s written a post about it, a post from a scientist in the field historically on the ‘inside’. She has been lambasted by sceptics for it (Eschenbach and Watts), and now by Romm. makes me feel there might, surely, be something of merit in it. :)


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