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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. 251
    aka_kat says:

    Response to #91
    “Maybe it’s different in your field, but while it isn’t commonplace, it is not rare for reviewers to sign their reviews. People do it so that there can be follow-up on technical points, or because the review makes use of very specific knowledge and anonymity is pointless, or simply as a general rule (not everyone is happy with anonymous reviewing for instance). This is not any sign of a problem and it is up to the individual reviewer to decide to do this or not (AGU has a box you can tick for instance), and it is not up to the editor to second guess that decision.”

    As a scientist from a different area of research I am shocked by this answer. It sounds to me as if Briffa followed common practice and hence did nothing wrong. However common practice does not sound like good practice.
    Anonymity is integral to the peer-review process to avoid making it a personal matter. One of the common criticisms of the peer review process is that it has a tendency to suppress minority opinion, without anonymity you are strengthening this tendency. “I give you a good review sign my name to it and you will be more inclined to give me a good review the next time”, “I want to keep in the good book of the big names in the field so cannot be too positive about a paper contradicting them” etc.
    You say that reviewers makes use of specific knowledge that makes anonymity pointless – that suggest to me that reviewers make use of their own unpublished research when reviewing, this is unacceptable because the author have not had access to this data when writing their paper and this data has not yet gone through the peer review process itself – no research is finished until published!
    Any suggestion that the review process should result in follow up discussions is also not good practice as it compromises the anonymity and these discussions can wait till after publication –most journals do this pretty quickly online after the paper is accepted. Publication also requires you to give access to your data, by submission to appropriate databases, willingness to give away new bacteria strains created for the research etc – a necessity for others to be able to replicate your results, which greatly increases the value of these follow up discussions.
    Peer review is not perfect but if you do not aim for high standards you are never going to get decent standards, and I am clearly not the only one concerned about the review process in the field of climate science. See the submission by Institute of Physics to the Parliamentary committee:
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc3902.htm

    [Response: Having the potential to be anonymous is very important. But it is not essential for a good peer review process. Of the reviews I have received that were signed (maybe 10 to 20% of them), almost every one has been courteous, constructive and substantive. That people are willing (though not forced) to put their name to the review enhances it’s credibility for both the authors and editor. Anonymity is important – since it allows one to criticise friends or big names without repercussions, but not essential. A review I am working on now will be signed because the submission is a direct comment on a specific paper of mine, and I am adding further calculations to address a point that the authors made. There is no point in remaining anonymous in such a case. Anonymity can be abused, of course, by people pretending to be uninterested parties when they are not, or through the use of intemperate language, or by people making specious criticisms that they know they don’t ever have to defend. But overall, my experiences with the peer review system in this field (as an author on dozens of papers and reviewer on dozens more) have been very positive. The reviews have measurably improved the papers that were published (both mine and others) and for the ones that were not (again, both mine and others), the literature is better off. Absolutist statements such as yours just don’t fit comfortably in the real world, and I doubt would improve the outcome if adopted. – gavin]

  2. 252
    Chris S. says:

    Furher to #251 (asa_kat): An anecdote from my personal experience. A recent paper of mine had two reviewers, the first remained anonymous and was restricted to a few typos, a request to remove some extraneous references and aome other minor points. The second – a professor of stats chose not to remain anonymous and invited further discussion on his concerns about my analysis – the result of that productive (and at times robust) discussion was a much better paper, a greater understanding on my part of some more advanced statistical methods and some interesting ideas for further work on my data. None of these would have been possible if the second reviewer had retained his anonymity.

  3. 253
    Chris S. says:

    Re #241 “Two grad students, half a year should do it, I’d think.” Oh for the money to employ two grad students for half a year, the things we could do with that extra bit of help. Of course we’re lucky in my group to be able to hold on to the staff we have let alone get any more in. Another round of redundancies coming up too…

  4. 254

    DM (220):

    [Number of wind start-ups in Texas, apparently: -BPL]
    2005 702
    2006 744
    2007 1617
    2008 2760
    2009 2290
    2010 302

    BPL: One word: “Recession.”

  5. 255

    AB (229),

    What’s the point? Why are you looking for these biases among climate scientists unless you intend to argue from those biases to the scientific findings being wrong? If you think the scientific findings are correct, who the hell cares about the scientists’ biases? Or what they had for breakfast the morning of publication? Either they got the right answer or they didn’t.

  6. 256
    aka_kat says:

    #251 response
    Dear Gavin, I am sorry that you misunderstood me – the described peer review process is not a result of my fantasy it is my real world experience of what peer review is like. Like you my experiences are mainly positive which is why I believe the process is so important that it is worth speaking up to defend it.
    You say that the possibility of anonymity is vital yet if you choose not to remain anonymous that enhances the credibility of that review – that is the kind of argument that makes me worry about making anonymity non-compulsory. Also the reviewer is not anonymous to the editor and hence there is a level of accountability there, however small. I have seen examples of editors overruling reviewer who clearly had a different agenda than objective review.
    Finally a question – you say that you are currently reviewing a paper that is a direct comment on a paper of yours. The fact that you are saying this seems to indicate that this might be more commonplace than just a one-off mistake by the editor, can that really be the case? And do you genuinely see nothing wrong with this?

    [Response: I’m not following you. What is the ‘one-off’ mistake by the editor you are referring to? Do you mean that I shouldn’t be reviewing and responding to a comment submitted on a paper of mine? Well, I respectfully disagree. This is absolutely standard practice since it is an effective way to see whether there is a real issue or merely a misunderstanding. However, the editor certainly has additional independent reviewers on the submission, and I am sure that he is cognizant of the fact that my opinion should not be determining given the potential conflict of interest. If I gave this an anonymous review, I think that would be far more problematic since the author would not be cognizant of where it came from – it would be akin to sock-puppetry on the internet. In such a case therefore, openness and transparency can make it clear to everyone concerned what is going on, and they can form their own judgments on whether my review is useful. I have submitted a number of direct comments on papers that have appeared and in every case that submission was reviewed and responded to by the authors concerned and both submissions and responses reviewed by independent parties. – gavin]

  7. 257
    Anand says:

    RL
    “You have a threat that could wind up pushing civilization over the edge, and you think climate scientists should cave in the face of a pair of fascists…”

    Your ‘civilization-over-the-edge’ trope obviously allows any rationalization, any logic to prevail. :). Honesty and level-headedness obviously get thrown by the wayside at some point.

    Inhofe and Barton have turned into fascists in your mind, precisely because they went senatorial on Mann, and thereby Mann does not have to reply to such fascists!

    The pre-designation of inconvenient political and scientific opponents into a no-touch vilifcation category…. I wonder who is practising McCarthyism here.

    “The CRU has a staff of 13…”
    We have so few staff,..McInytre knows this and flooded us with FOI requests…this is a wrong reason to file requests…therefore we don’t have to reply to FOI. And he is not a good scientist too…he has only one GRL paper…

    Gavin
    So Pachauri is not the IPCC. Susan Solomon obviously is not. Pachauri, by your own words is ‘IPCC manager’. Is that ok?

    When ‘Glaciergate’ story broke, Pachauri said that he cannot be responsible for the report content, the lead authors of that chapter should be. The lead authors then threw Hasnain in the line of fire. Hasnain then said, “I was speculating, but why did Fred Pearce have to put down a number ‘2035’ on my speculation?’ So, by this logic Fred Pearce and New Scientist are the IPCC? Why don’t you declare there is nothing called the IPCC- it is just a bunch of secretaries and a manager? Curiously enough, the IPCC goes poof! – out of existance when problems arise.

    I am interested to see where this reducto ad absurdum argument leads us all.

    [Response: 3 volumes and 4000 pages did not go ‘poof’. Those are what ‘the IPCC says’ – not Pachauri, Solomon or Hasnain (who I don’t think had any role in IPCC). The lead authors on that chapter and the review editors did not sufficiently follow their roles and the existing comprehensive guidelines were not fully followed. The current heads of WGII correctly took responsibility for that, issued a erratum and promised to ensure that procedures are better followed in future reports. However, if Chris Field said that the date should be 2350 or 2530 or whatever, that still wouldn’t be ‘what IPCC says’. You will just have to wait until the next report to get an update on that and there are no short cuts. – gavin]

  8. 258
    Dan M. says:

    In response to fixible #250. I think your point is very valid. Without the ability to audit my work, there is always the chance the my committee was comprised of less than observant folks, and I pulled one over on them. That’s fair enough. There are people with Phds in physics who I have had work for me who’s work was substandard….I have no idea why their committee passed them.

    But, my point about the data is not to audit the work in the sense that I think that, without the raw data, I must suspect that the CRU applied biased corrections towards the data in order to fake global warming. I would guess that the odds on this are in the 1 in a billion range. (If anyone thinks this is an insultingly high estimate, it’s off the cuff and I’d be happy to read why someone thinks the odds are lower than this).

    But, I think it highly likely that they didn’t do the best job possible correcting the data. Why? I had just read some really interesting stuff on Jeff Master’s Wunderblog about how anti global warming folks showed that a majority (75%) of US stations are placed in less than ideal areas, and that this might contribute to the measurement of warming.

    OK, if true, that sounds like a major problem. Clearly, the raw data would be needed here.

    Fortunately, it was available. And, it turns out that when a climatologist looked at the data from their “good” and their “bad” stations, he found out that the “bad” stations showed less warming over the last 40 years than the “good” stations. The reason was that there was a strong correlation bewteen using a more accurate temperature measuring device at the better stations, and that the “bad” stations tended to use a thermometer that had a small error in the gain of it’s measurement: they didn’t measure the full temperature range. Thus, the data from those thermometers would have to be renormalized to take this effect into account.

    Without raw data, this would be impossible. If corrected data, without the correction function included were given, we would have an uncertainty in the data that we don’t have now.

    Obviously, since these were fairly recent US measurements, the raw data was still there. My point is that, since the historical temperature trend is an active investigation, keeping the raw data would allow new research relating to the original measurements to be incorporated into the analysis. One would recorrect the raw data, and then go. If there was a difference over which correciton to use, both would be run and the differences in the final results would be seen. If they were negligible (say +/- 0.01C differences in warming in one province in France), then the community would spend few resources in resolving this difference. If they were noticable (say +/- 0.05C difference in global warming worldwide), then solving this problem would be an important task for the scientific community.

    I’ll readily admit, if the university threw out the original data, then if my results contradicted other experiments, I’d have a hard time showing that they were right. But, alas, my work on 300 Gev proton-neon interactions have long since been eclipsed by high energy heavy ion collider results, and folks are not hanging on every number in my thesis. :-)

    Just like in my field, we now know more about correcting raw data than we knew 30 years ago. It’s a pity the CRU doesn’t have the raw data so we can apply our improved knowledge. No conspiricy theory needed here, just the assumption that, in science, the next guy/gal can add something to your work.

  9. 259
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Anand, You don’t get it. Inhofe and Barton are trying to impose by legal means and intimidation an orthodoxy that is not supported by evidence. This is Lysenkoism! Politicians do not belong in the scientific process: PERIOD.

  10. 260
    aka_kat says:

    #256
    Of course an author should have the right to respond to a commentary to his/her article; this is hopefully common sense and little to do with peer review. I was mistakenly thinking you were talking about peer review of a paper. I would regard it as an error by any editor to send a paper to a reviewer who would have a direct interest in the publication/rejection of a paper.

    [Response: Again, I disagree. As long as all interests are clear, it can be very useful for the editor to know what the criticised authors think. The editor is under no obligation to follow the recommendation. This is a situation where there is an inevitable conflict between the original authors rights not to be unfairly trashed, and the criticising authors wishes to be dealt with objectively. I fail to see how more information (whose provenance is clear) taken with additional independent reviews is harmful to the process of helping the editor make a fair decision. Take the situation where a comment is padded out somewhat and submitted as a new paper – is it your position that it is absolutely right for the criticised author to have seen the paper as a comment, and absolutely wrong for them to see it as a new paper? Even if the difference is a completely orthogonal extra section of analysis? That seems like a pointless distinction, and so cases like that are always going to require the editors to exercise judgment. Which is, after all, their role here. – gavin]

  11. 261
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan M. says, “But, my point about the data is not to audit the work in the sense that I think that, without the raw data, I must suspect that the CRU applied biased corrections towards the data in order to fake global warming.”

    OK, now, to your credit, you do at least suggest it is improbable. But, a question: If you suspect the integrity of the researchers in the slightest, then why would you trust that the original data you get from them as a source had not been altered? Would you not have to go to the original source to compare the data received from the suspect source? If so, why not do so to begin with and do a fully independent analysis?

    And if you can’t get access to the data, what could you do? Well, you could look to any of the 4 main datasets and see if you get consistent results. You could look at ice melting, phenological data, etc. and see if they are qualitatively consistent. Come on, this is science, you know how it’s done!

    And you can look into the allegations of the surface stations project–deftly deflated here:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/about/response-v2.pdf

    And you’ve almost got it right–science doesn’t tend to dwell on past results. Instead it improves on them. That’s one way you can tell the difference between science and anti-science. Science marches on, while anti-science keeps “auditing” the same results over and over and over again.

  12. 262
    Rod B says:

    BPL (254), it’s not intuitively obvious why a general recession would cause a 80% decrease in new power generation. Power requirements are non-cyclical and follow economic cycles poorly. Though power is not perfectly non-cyclical and possibly the new wind generation is picking up most of the minor reductions in expected demand. Your thoughts?

  13. 263
    Dan M. says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “This is Lysenkoism!”

    This brings up a rather interesting bit of information. As many, but not all, know, Lysenkoism had a lot to do with millions starving to death in the Soviet Union. In opposition to conventional evolutionary theory which uses (correctly of course) natural selection, they thought they could train generations of wheat to produce abundent harvests in colder temperatures by subjecting “parent” generations to cold. The classic example is “Momma giraffe streatches her neck for leaves, causing baby giraffe to have a longer neck.

    This had been well falsfied by the time it was used; the USSR just ignored data. They had what ammounts to a post modern view of science: it is not an objective model of the world, it is part of politics. That’s why they rejected “Jewish physics” until the A-bomb exploded.

    However, what’s really neat is that, recently, scientists have found a gene that is responsible for changing the mutation rate. And, this gene’s actions are influenced by the environment.

    Clearly, this isn’t an overthrow of evolution; it is a refinement of it. I just think it’s a neat example of how someone can show how even a strongly faslfied theory can have a germ of truth in it, and how good scientists can be open to refinements.

  14. 264

    [edit – this has gone too far]

  15. 265

    Dan M (258): It’s a pity the CRU doesn’t have the raw data so we can apply our improved knowledge.

    BPL: Read my lips: 95% of the data the CRU used is in the public domain, the other 5% is available from the same national met services they got it from. You want the data–go get it yourself.

  16. 266
    John Peter says:

    Anne van der Born Tim Jones

    You can add the SF Examiner to your list of mistaken MSMs, or you can notice that climate-gate is, in fact, spreading:

    “Faced with falling public confidence in climate science, the United Nations announced it would conduct a review of its climate arm, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The panel’s work has come under heavy fire in recent months and its leader, Rajendra Pachauri, now is lacking support from international climate ministers themselves…”
    http://www.examiner.com/x-25061-Climate-Change-Examiner~y2010m2d26-UN-announces-independent-review-of-IPCC-climate-agency-as-skepticism-grows

  17. 267
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    231 Hank Roberts,
    Tnx for the link and the advice. The notion of interdisciplinarity is actually a couple of decades older than the earth day, it sure was not my idea. I especially liked the “Bridging the divides” post.

  18. 268
    John Peter says:

    Tim Jones (176)

    Joe Romm is doing alarm and scarem, the 20th century approach to CS. My opinion is that it won’t work this time, the winters are too cold.

    “Science” is supposed to have review by independent practitioners to avoid mistakes. Audits are supposed to do the same, avoid mistakes. I was trying to get you to accept internal auditors like Curry (yes, and McIntyre also). Instead I guess you’re going to have to learn to live without side auditors. Maybe it won’t be as bad as I expect.

  19. 269
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    255 Barton Paul Levenson,
    The point is that I want to say something on how disciplinary bias has implications on how we understand, evaulate and respond to climate change.

  20. 270
    John Peter says:

    Anne van der Born (188)

    Thank you for reading Curry’s whole letter.

    I appreciate your very complete and annotated examples of your problem attempting to convince stubborn blogger/authors to look at the facts and then to express themselves more clearly. Although I have no understanding of the specific focus of your differences, I can certainly feel your pain.

    I agree that truthful and correct statement of facts is basic to good science. I hope that Prof Curry shares that view and tries to pass on these same ideals and practice to her students

    I am becoming more aware of the nature of dueling blogs. Your reaction to Curry’s letter seems to be in part due to where it appeared – watts – and who it mentioned – McIntyre. Perhaps Curry was more interested in attracting and retaining good grad students than in trying to get climate science right. I could understand that because my grandson now tells me he is changing his major from environmental engineering partly because of all the bickering.

    Since so much of climate science seems to depend on personalities and history rather than particular scientific facts or judgments, I give myself almost no chance of convincing RC bloggers that internal auditors like Curry (and McIntyre) could be any better than external attacks (and auditing) by government representatives and committees.

    Many thanks for your successful efforts in and contributions to improving my education.

  21. 271

    AB: I want to say something on how disciplinary bias has implications on how we understand, evaulate and respond to climate change.

    BPL: No doubt it does, but since that has no relevance to whether the scientific findings are correct or not, I’ll continue to ignore it.

  22. 272
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan M. on Lysenkoism: “I just think it’s a neat example of how someone can show how even a strongly faslfied theory can have a germ of truth in it, and how good scientists can be open to refinements.”

    Wrong. Lysenkoism was utterly, irremediably false–so bad it wasn’t even wrong. There is nothing surprising about this discovery. It has nothing to do with inheritance of acquired characteristics ala Lysenko.

  23. 273
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B. says, “BPL (254), it’s not intuitively obvious why a general recession would cause a 80% decrease in new power generation. Power requirements are non-cyclical and follow economic cycles poorly.”

    Rod, go to a bank and try to get a lo-an–for any purpose. Report back to us on what you find. Capital is a coward.

  24. 274
    RobM says:

    John Peter said: (268)

    “Joe Romm is doing alarm and scarem, the 20th century approach to CS. My opinion is that it won’t work this time, the winters are too cold.”

    You do realize that December, January, and most likely February have been record warm for their respective months according to satellite data, right? (data analyzed by that arch-Warmist Roy Spencer and his group :) ) Granted, their records only go back to 1979, but still. The instrumental record also shows it was very warm globally the last 3 months. Not only have the last 3 months of temp data *not* been something embarrassing for proponents of AGW to try to explain away, it’s been really warm overall. It shows how easy it is for people to look out their windows and think what is going on where they are is what is happening over the whole planet.

  25. 275
  26. 276
    Ron R. says:

    Oh that’s right, now the professional skeptics (well some of ’em at least) acknowledge glacier loss but claim that it is being caused by “geothermal activity”, (anything but man).

    http://tinyurl.com/yzkoqer

  27. 277
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Dan M. says: 27 February 2010 at 10:12 AM

    That’s so much better than getting lost in the weeds over storage technology that has been melted into scrap and is long gone.

    Dan, everybody seems to agree the most raw of station data and thus arguably the best data still exists. A lot of reasonable people could also agree the best way to attack possible problems with CRU’s work is run a new analysis. If some of us want to characterize CRU’s analysis as preliminary work, fine, no harm or foul there. This matter has ballooned from something that was more a matter of academic curiosity into what appears to be a potentially significant threat on an unprecedented scale so it’s not at all surprising that people care more now than they did in 1980. If CRU could have seen the future when they began this process we can be sure they’d have taken a different approach to archiving. Happily, what happened in the past is not a barrier to improvement today.

    Rather than obsess on what CRU was doing 30 years ago, it makes complete sense to spend a rather small amount of cash on a do-over starting at the basement, namely station temperature records. No equipment need be commissioned, no experimental infrastructure need be built, all that requires to be done is collation of records followed by processing.

    Fortunately this is apparently in the works and this time we can be quite sure the data collected as part of the process will be scrupulously preserved because we’re all now clear on the context of the research.

    Meanwhile, as that work is being done we’re confronted with a plethora of other information indicating the basic message of CRU’s analysis is not trended in the wrong direction. Some small number of persons should maintain a healthy obsession with CRU’s work (CRU staff, for instance) while the rest of us ought to look to our own oars or whatever part of the lifeboat we’re responsible for.

  28. 278
    Rod B says:

    Ray, so the reason wind installs dropped 80-some percent since 2007 is they could not raise capital?

  29. 279
    Dan M. says:

    Doug Bostrom wrote:

    “Dan, everybody seems to agree the most raw of station data and thus arguably the best data still exists. A lot of reasonable people could also agree the best way to attack possible problems with CRU’s work is run a new analysis.”

    I’d certainly go for a re-do for on recompiling raw data into a data base (which is what I think you mean by re-analysis). The problem I have with the present analyzed base is that it’s foundation is less certain than what I thought it was 6 months ago. I had assumed that what I call due diligence was done. But, the suggestion you propose (if I understand it correctly), is a total reboot; with the raw data base put back together and, hopefully, available to numerous researchers so different papers can be writting arguing for slightly different sets of corrections. I’d go for tracability, as much transparancy as possible, etc.

    Now, those folks who know _a priori_ that there is no global warming will not be convinced. But, there are a number of folks who still think global warming is highly probable, but are disturbed about undertainties in the data. Attack those uncertainties, and we all win. IMHO, that’s good science.

    So, it’s probably true that I was caught up arguing about what should have been done, but it was all done with a “therefore we should do X” clause in my head with “X” being very close to what I think you are saying. So, I hope you are not too insulted by this, but I think we generally agree on what to do now. :-)

  30. 280
    John Peter says:

    RobM (274)

    Thanks, no I didn’t know that.

    Can we get some of the MSM to pick up on some such facts? My impression is they only print junk like my post…

  31. 281
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan M. says, “The problem I have with the present analyzed base is that it’s foundation is less certain than what I thought it was 6 months ago.”

    Bullpuckey! There is simply no reason to posit any serious errors–if for no other reason that the other 3 temperature data series show pretty much the same trends. If you don’t like that, then look at the data for melting ice and the phenological data. Come on! If you are really a scientist, you know how to check validity of data!

  32. 282
    flxible says:

    Andreas – “The point is that I want to say something on how disciplinary bias has implications on how we understand, evaulate and respond to climate change.”

    Now if you made that “The point is that I want to say something on how political and cultural bias has implications on how we understand, evaulate and respond to climate change science“, not only might quite a few here agree, but you’d have a much better basis for actual useful sociological research.

  33. 283
    flxible says:

    Ron@275 – There’s some excellent photographic work ongoing here as well, check the video at the top for some info

  34. 284
    Anand says:

    Gavin
    “3 volumes and 4000 pages did not go ‘poof’. Those are what ‘the IPCC says’ – not Pachauri, ….”

    Recall the original post where you claimed “can you show me an instance of where the IPCC advocates a specific policy?” or something to that effect.

    How was anybody supposed to know that the answer to that trick question was “that’s because there is nothing called the IPCC”? Here they were, commenters coming up with example(s) of Pachauri’s ‘specific advocacy’ and you were hitting sixers out of the park with your “he is no IPCC” and “AR4=IPCC”.

    Implicit therefore in your definitional jugglery is the tacit admission that if there was indeed something/someone called the IPCC in corporeal existence, as opposed to the ethereal 3000-page tome floating around in transcendental vapors and if that someone/something practiced advocacy of any kind, it would be a wrong thing to do?

    Because in the outside world, that is what is being done by the IPCC, in the very name of the policy-neutral AR4, which you equate to the IPCC.

    You can only save the IPCC by defining it out of its existence. It does go poof. :)

    Regards

    [Response: Not at all. I’m making the point that the ‘IPCC’ is not the technical support unit or it’s management but the sum total of all the work put in by the authors, contributors and reviewers that made the reports. No single person’s opinion defines the ‘IPCC’ precisely because the assessment process is not a reflection of any single persons opinion. What the IPCC says is what is written in the reports. No more, no less. Criticism of the reports is a valid criticism of the IPCC – criticism of some random quote by Pachauri is not. – gavin]

  35. 285
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Dan M. says: 28 February 2010 at 6:21 PM

    Isn’t it nice when reasonable people can find agreement?

    More on reexamination of data here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/25/climate-change-data-science

    and an already-completed project here:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2009/pr20091218b.html

  36. 286
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “278
    Rod B says:
    28 February 2010 at 5:06 PM

    Ray, so the reason wind installs dropped 80-some percent since 2007 is they could not raise capital?”

    Well, this happens in a recession. You keep what you have (what has happened to sales of coal fired power stations in this year so far?) and don’t buy new, just make it last longer.

  37. 287
    Didactylos says:

    “the ethereal 3000-page tome floating around in transcendental vapors”

    3000 pages is about as real as it can get. Drop it from a height, and it could do considerable damage.

    Maybe, Anand, you should actually buy the report.
    http://www.cambridge.org/features/earth_environmental/climatechange/wg1.htm
    http://www.cambridge.org/features/earth_environmental/climatechange/wg2.htm
    http://www.cambridge.org/features/earth_environmental/climatechange/wg3.htm

    When you hold all ~3000 pages in your hands, maybe it will feel less “ethereal”. And maybe you will finally read it, having shelled out all that money.

  38. 288
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    282 flxible,
    To study the public perceptions of science is also possible, of course. But I started with an interest in expertise and the debate on interdisciplinarity. I believe that this is important of cource, and hopefully useful. At least the reviewers thought that my paper was an meta-study that makes a strong case for the possibility to alter climate research at large to that it becomes more useful …

  39. 289
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    208 Hank Roberts 227 Ray Ladbury

    I know that the actual nature of science and scientists is not emotionless etc. but I do assert that the culture of the natural science tend to believe so, it is a matter of degree. For example, when a collegue of mine studied nano-scientists in a laboratory and ask them about gender roles and similar themes, they tend to answer that there is no gender roles in the laboratory because they wear space-suits. The answered similar to many other issues, i.e. that they live in an objective world without human subjects. They argue that it is their machines and methods and special ways of thinking that gives them these super-powers. That is one example of how natural scientists tend to believe that they are almost completely beynd the social world, they belong to the world of objectivity. I also read a study of NASA that reached the same conclusion. The NASA scientists could not comprehend subjective risk and therefore underestimated the degree of risk. They were only about numbers.

    Ladbury, yes, there is reasons to why scientists have these FALSE believes of “science in action”. They are norms that have an instrumental value for promoting research of high quality. But these believs are a rather poor empirical description of how research is carried out.

    210 CM,
    For WG1, it is hard to say exactly where and exactly how values matters, but I am sure that a competens researcher can demonstrate that (unfortunately, we don’t have the results before someone carry out that research project). I already suggested one way to mitigate this: To incorporate a context to WG1, that describe the history of climate research, from natural science views (e.g. assumptions and limitations of the approaches) and social science views (e.g. societal contexts). That way, a layperson will be less persuaded to read the WG1 results in a too simplistic manner.

  40. 290

    It’s already useful.

  41. 291
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    224 Anne van der Bom,
    “Sceptics: You have allowed your work to be tainted by your values, you are bad. The climate scientist respond: No, I have followed strict methods to prevent that from happening. Don’t you dare to smear me. It is you that refuses to accept my results because of your values.”

    I agree (this is more accurate than my illustration).

    However, I argue that both parts are too factual and invest too much trust in objective science (the climate researcher is right about the strict methods, still false regarding that values have no role for the things that matters in the end. The sceptics behaviour is simply obstruction). A more effective sceptic should not attack facts in a simple manner, but questions and debate the broader context and aim to refraim the whole thing, e.g. that these facts and also the values of researchers are parts of an environmental discourse and a policy process where the values of scientists are important foremost because for their implications. Would not it be more effective for sceptics to question the fact that it is a political process that pick scientists to the IPCC and not a process carried out by a scientific committee? Why this single-minded focus on just one kind of facts?

    “I am of the opinion that the latter part will become severely compromised as soon as you start formalising the ‘openness about values’ that you propose.”

    Yes, that is a risk, yet I want to give priority to intellectual honesty over negative concequences. For example, Mike Hulme (in Why we disagree about climate change) and Stephen Schneider (in Science as a Contact Sport) are open about their values and they both clearly have values that matters. Bert Bolin (first IPCC chief) is less open about his values (in A History of the Science and Politics of Climate Change) although he was very influential and also had values that matters. I confronted him once with this and he answered that he could not see that he had any politicl roles or that his values was of any importance to the issue of climate change. But in the lecture he just had given, it was very clear to be that Bolin was sympatetic to moderate green politics (i.e. Ecological modernization) and that he values equality and was concerned over inequalities between the first and the third world. This mattered to him and was important to why be reached the conclusion that climate change is a problem and why he already in the early 1970´s started to advocate policy but he did this primarily with his status as objective knowledge producer that knows the truth. Sorry, but this is either not fully honest or demonstrate lack of self-understanding or more likely a combination of both that is in part a results from Bolins academic training and in part a concequence of political strategy to advocate policy.

    The practical implementation: The demand is ethical and voluntary, not quasi-juridical. When values matters, a researcher should be clear on this, and he should be critiqued by other researchers when he is not. It is part of the usual scientific process, i.e. the same way as researchers handle disputes over facts, although that values are different in nature (not true or false). The social sciences usually behave in this way, but they are also more impregnated with values that matters.

    For the IPCC about us. I question this formulation “clear scientific view” and also “objective”. They overstate their objective nature throughtout all web-pages and texts and they rarely, if ever, say anything about having values, or a valueladen function, that matters.

    I think that this description of the IPCC is more accurate:
    Global climate change is very complex and hard to perceive without the aid of science. Policymaking is therefore dependent on science for informed responses. This twofold need to assess the complex scientific knowledge on climate change and to facilitate communication between science and policymaking has been formally assigned to the IPCC by the United Nations. Through this assignment, the IPCC has had an instrumental role in establishing the scientific consensus that human activities have altered the climate, and that the effects are serious and far-reaching.

  42. 292
    John E. Pearson says:

    278 Rod B: wrote “wind installs dropped 80-some percent since 2007”

    Huh? The US installed 10GW in 2009 increasing capacity from 25 to 35 GW.

  43. 293
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    It’s already useful (BPL) … so let us NOT try to make it MORE useful, good idea ;-)

  44. 294
    Nick Gotts says:

    Andreas Bjurström,
    The atmosphere couldn’t care less about our values. The climate science that tells us what the results of increased greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be is either fundamentally sound, or it isn’t. What part of that don’t you understand? Values become relevant when we consider what to do with the results of that science, or when we try to take into account impacts that can be modified by, and feedbacks that operate via, human decision-making.

    A more effective sceptic should not attack facts in a simple manner, but questions and debate the broader context and aim to refraim the whole thing, e.g. that these facts and also the values of researchers are parts of an environmental discourse and a policy process where the values of scientists are important foremost because for their implications. Would not it be more effective for sceptics to question the fact that it is a political process that pick scientists to the IPCC and not a process carried out by a scientific committee?

    Excuse me? Where have you been for the past 10 years? Not having even the basis of a case in the science, denialists have done little other than accuse both the IPCC and climate scientists of various forms of corruption and ulterior motive. The last thing we need is a descent in the sort of postmodernist STS tripe you appear to be advocating.

    This mattered to him and was important to why be reached the conclusion that climate change is a problem and why he already in the early 1970´s started to advocate policy but he did this primarily with his status as objective knowledge producer that knows the truth.

    Do you have any actual quote indicating that Bollin thinks he is an “objective knowledge producer that knows the truth”? BTW, what is the epistemic status of the oh-so-confident claims you are making about science, scientists, and “environmental discourse”?

  45. 295
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    294Nick Gotts,
    The atmosphere does not care about anything … but climate scientists do care about many things! What part of my argument do you not understand?

    Why do climate scientists care whether climate change is human induced or natural? It does not really matters because the concequences will be the same and we can adopt to and to some extent also mitigate natural induced climate change. What is natural by the way? Are humans not natural and why so? I think this duality is due to western culture. What do you think? Think about that ;-)

  46. 296
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Andreas, you are becoming vague again. Remember that you ARE talking to scientists. If you want us to agree with ANYTHING you say, you will have to be precise.

    So, let’s start with the values of scientific research, and you tell me which of these don’t work for you:

    1)There is an objective reality that ensures repeated identical trials will be distributed according to the same distribution. Agree or no?

    2)Those with the greatest experience investigating a phenomenon (e.g. as measured by most publications) are most likely to best understand it. Agree or no?

    3)Those whose ideas have been most useful to others (e.g. as demonstrated by citations of their work) are most likely to best understand the subject matter. Agree or no?

    4)Those who have repeatedly demonstrated willingness to put aside personal agendas to further research are most likely to have a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Agree or no?

    5)The consensus of the experts (as defined by the three criteria above) is likely to understand more reliably the subject matter than is the opinion of a single randomly selected expert. Agree or no?

    What other values am I missing? Please be specific.

  47. 297
    Ron R. says:

    flxible #283, I wonder if anyone has actually put all of this photographic evidence in a book. Not just a few token pics but all of them. Then add in the other concrete evidences. It would make a powerful argument for warming. Many people will never be swayed by graphs alone since they can be faked.

    Thawing Tundra
    http://tinyurl.com/yapno4j

    Another representation of Arctic thaw
    http://tinyurl.com/ybjz3h5

    Permafrost loss graph
    http://tinyurl.com/4dqg8y

    Birds and Climate Change: On the Move
    http://tinyurl.com/at48v2

    Coral Bleaching Observations
    http://tinyurl.com/ybfulo4

    Migratory Species and Climate Change
    http://tinyurl.com/ycsfby6 (PDF)

    Boreal Forests Shift North
    http://tinyurl.com/yd496oh

    Change in Number of Category 4 and 5 Hurricanes by Ocean Basin for the 15-Year Periods 1975-1989 and 1990-2004
    http://tinyurl.com/ybcpnfj

  48. 298
    Rod B says:

    John (292), I was asking about BPL’s (if memory serves…) numbers.

  49. 299
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Andre says, “It does not really matters because the concequences will be the same and we can adopt to and to some extent also mitigate natural induced climate change. What is natural by the way? Are humans not natural and why so? I think this duality is due to western culture. What do you think? Think about that ;-)”

    Andre, you are utterly missing the point! First, there are some risks due to climate change that cannot be bounded at present. We literally cannot say whether they will bring about the end of human civilization! You cannot simply assume that we will come up with a solution.

    Anthropogenic causation is different precisely because we can control it. We can control both whether it happens and how quickly. And if we understand the mechanism and how it will unfold, we can better mitigate its consequences (at least those that can be mitigated. This isn’t an abstract matter of philosophy, but rather whether we CHOOSE to inflict this wound (possibly mortal) on ourselves.

  50. 300
    Hank Roberts says:

    > photographic evidence
    Well, there’s

    Climate Change: Picturing the Science
    by Gavin Schmidt, Joshua Wolfe, Jeffrey D. Sachs

    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Climate-Change/Gavin-Schmidt/e/9780393331257