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Whatevergate

Filed under: — gavin @ 16 February 2010

It won’t have escaped many of our readers’ notice that there has been what can only be described as a media frenzy (mostly in the UK) with regards to climate change in recent weeks. The coverage has contained more bad reporting, misrepresentation and confusion on the subject than we have seen in such a short time anywhere. While the UK newspaper scene is uniquely competitive (especially compared to the US with over half a dozen national dailies selling in the same market), and historically there have been equally frenzied bouts of mis-reporting in the past on topics as diverse as pit bulls, vaccines and child abductions, there is something new in this mess that is worth discussing. And that has been a huge shift in the Overton window for climate change.

In any public discussion there are bounds which people who want to be thought of as having respectable ideas tend to stay between. This is most easily seen in health care debates. In the US, promotion of a National Health Service as in the UK or a single-payer system as in Canada is so far outside the bounds of normal health care politics, that these options are only ever brought up by ‘cranks’ (sigh). Meanwhile in the UK, discussions of health care delivery solutions outside of the NHS framework are never heard in the mainstream media. This limit on scope of the public debate has been called the Overton window.

The window does not have to remain static. Pressure groups and politicians can try and shift the bounds deliberately, or sometimes they are shifted by events. That seems to have been the case in the climate discussion. Prior to the email hack at CRU there had long been a pretty widespread avoidance of ‘global warming is a hoax’ proponents in serious discussions on the subject. The sceptics that were interviewed tended to be the slightly more sensible kind – people who did actually realise that CO2 was a greenhouse gas for instance. But the GW hoaxers were generally derided, or used as punchlines for jokes. This is not because they didn’t exist and weren’t continually making baseless accusations against scientists (they did and they were), but rather that their claims were self-evidently ridiculous and therefore not worth airing.

However, since the emails were released, and despite the fact that there is no evidence within them to support any of these claims of fraud and fabrication, the UK media has opened itself so wide to the spectrum of thought on climate that the GW hoaxers have now suddenly find themselves well within the mainstream. Nothing has changed the self-evidently ridiculousness of their arguments, but their presence at the media table has meant that the more reasonable critics seem far more centrist than they did a few months ago.

A few examples: Monckton being quoted as a ‘prominent climate sceptic’ on the front page of the New York Times this week (Wow!); The Guardian digging up baseless fraud accusations against a scientist at SUNY that had already been investigated and dismissed; The Sunday Times ignoring experts telling them the IPCC was right in favor of the anti-IPCC meme of the day; The Daily Mail making up quotes that fit their GW hoaxer narrative; The Daily Express breathlessly proclaiming the whole thing a ‘climate con’; The Sunday Times (again) dredging up unfounded accusations of corruption in the surface temperature data sets. All of these stories are based on the worst kind of oft-rebunked nonsense and they serve to make the more subtle kind of scepticism pushed by Lomborg et al seem almost erudite.

Perhaps this is driven by editors demanding that reporters come up with something new (to them) that fits into an anti-climate science theme that they are attempting to stoke. Or perhaps it is driven by the journalists desperate to maintain their scoop by pretending to their editors that this nonsense hasn’t been debunked a hundred times already? Who knows? All of these bad decisions are made easier when all of the actually sensible people, or people who know anything about the subject at all, are being assailed on all sides, and aren’t necessarily keen to find the time to explain, once again, that yes, the world is warming.

So far, so stupid. But even more concerning is the reaction from outside the UK media bubble. Two relatively prominent and respected US commentators – Curtis Brainard at CJR and Tom Yulsman in Colorado – have both bemoaned the fact that the US media (unusually perhaps) has not followed pell-mell into the fact-free abyss of their UK counterparts. Their point apparently seems to be that since much news print is being devoted to a story somewhere, then that story must be worth following. Indeed, since the substance to any particularly story is apparently proportional to the coverage, by not following the UK bandwagon, US journalists are missing a big story. Yulsman blames the lack of environmental beat reporters for lack of coverage in the US, but since most of the damage and bad reporting on this is from clueless and partisan news desk reporters in the UK, I actually expect that it is the environmental beat reporters’ prior experience with the forces of disinformation that prevents the contagion crossing the pond. To be sure, reporters should be able and willing (and encouraged) to write stories about anything to do with climate science and its institutions – but that kind of reporting is something very different from regurgitating disinformation, or repeating baseless accusations as fact.

So what is likely to happen now? As the various panels and reports on the CRU affair conclude, it is highly likely (almost certain in fact) that no-one will conclude that there has been any fraud, fabrication or scientific misconduct (since there hasn’t been). Eventually, people will realise (again) that the GW hoaxers are indeed cranks, and the mainstream window on their rants will close. In the meantime, huge amounts of misinformation, sprinkled liberally with plenty of disinformation, will be spread and public understanding on the issue will likely decline. As the history of the topic has shown, public attention to climate change comes and goes and this is likely to be seen as the latest bump on that ride.

Eppure si riscalda.

1,168 Responses to “Whatevergate”

  1. 1001
    John Peter says:

    BPL 992

    I liked your suggestion and want to try myself. I’ve never looked at real climate data before.

    Do you think http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/timeseries/AMO/
    is as good a place as any to start?

    TIA

  2. 1002
    David B. Benson says:

    MartinJB (998) — Using decades was partly suggested by various reports of decadal average temperatures and partly by the two box model in
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/volcanic-lull/
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/not-computer-models/
    in which some form of delayed response is evident. Decades have the advantage of being long enough to mostly average out both ENSO and the sunspot cycle and short enough to take full advantage of the 13 decades of the GISTEMP global temperature anomaly product. I’ll consider your suggestions and likely try a 20 year prediction.

    stevenc (989) — Thank you. I can’t find the purported cycle in GSIP2 using the entire Holocene and it does not show up in Antarctica over the entire Holocene either: see Figure 8 in
    http://bprc.osu.edu/Icecore/masson.pdf
    For now I’ll take it to be one of the impermanent features of ocean oscillations.

  3. 1003

    AB (993): Just a few thought with the aim to advance discussion

    BPL: You’ve blown the opportunity for doing that by coming in here with a chip on your shoulder the size of Mount Everest, insulting everybody in the room, and declaring that it’s useless to debate with us. No one wants to discuss anything with you at this point.

  4. 1004
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    986 MartinJB,
    The causality is messy and many actors are involved (that’s why scientists interested in this prefer to talk of “co-production”). The behavior of climate scientists are certainly one factor, especially filtered through the media. Prominent sceptics lies and distortian is another. And media tend to treat it like a political debate which reinforce the sceptics.

    But we must not forget that it is not only a question of information. All actors also have interests, e.g. CC have his “reasons” to not believe, and so do oil companies, alternative fuel business, environmental activists, liberals, etc.

    This is my theory: (1) the scientification of climate change (2) where the authority of science is instrumental for climate politics (3) results in a politization of science by scientists, politicians and sceptics (4) reinforced by the media.

    Climate scientists, of course, gets upset when attacked, but tend to focus on the issue of truth since that is what they care most about. Thus, they tend to focus on step 1, how they turn climate change into an issue for scientific scrutiny and how this gets distorted by sceptics. Climate scientists want to go from 1 and hand over the issue to politics that make rational decisions. But sceptics attack mainly because of 2, i.e. to undermine science since this is the root cause of climate politics. As a consequence, all parts are starting to behave more according to a political logic, also the climate scientists.

    Is that reasonable? How would you alter this model of explanation?

  5. 1005
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    1003 Barton Paul Levenson,
    Sorry that I insulted you (and others), but what you say is not fair. Many here, including you and me, are playing rough. Some opress, others distort, ridicule, patronize …. I have been insulted many time here. And when I declared that discussion was futile, I deliberately employed the arguments from people here defending the physical sciences. To not accept double standards is fair. To only blame me is not fair.

  6. 1006
    David B. Benson says:

    Here are the bidecadal lagged Arrhenius estimates.
    OGTR for 2xCO2 = 3.00 RMS= 0.04 R2= 0.97
    decade GTA AE residual
    1890s -0.26 -0.26 +0.00
    1910s -0.23 -0.18 -0.05
    1930s -0.00 -0.08 +0.07
    1950s -0.02 +0.02 -0.03
    1970s +0.09 +0.11 -0.02
    1990s +0.41 +0.40 +0.01
    2010s ??.?? +0.78
    so that the prediction is of the 20 year average GISTEMP global temperature anomaly for 2010 through 2029.

    The large value of OGTR suggests an equilibrium climate sensitivity in excess of 4 K.

  7. 1007
    John Peter says:

    CFU (829)

    There are two types of banks, commercial banks and investment banks.

    CBs make loa-ns and sell them immediately in diversified packages to IBs. CBs need/use the $$ to make more loa-ns and repeat the process.

    IBs create securities, in this case MBSs by slicing and dicing the CB packages. An MBS, an even more highly diversified security than the CB packages gets AAA ratings and sell readily. The rating is high because real estate values always go up and diversification level is very high.

    As with all investments the buyer pays AIG to insure the MBS purchase.

    All goes well until the real estate bubble bursts. The AAA ratings go to B. No one will buy B rated so the MBS is unpriceable because there is no market and so goes toxic. The security buyer collects from AIG because the security went from AAA to B. Since this happened to all MBSs AIG went broke.

    An individual loa-n that defaults effects hundreds of securities – a little bit. An attempt to renegotiate can not be done because there is no longer a CB to negotiate with there are only hundreds of buyers each owning a bit and with many different financial objectives.. too many deals to make sense of.

    Read MBS at http://www.wikinvest.com/wiki/M-ortgage-Backed_Securities_%28MBS%29. (remove the -)

    Read toxic assets http://www.wikinvest.com/wiki/Toxic_assets but remember the hard problem is the MSB

    cheers

  8. 1008
    Septic Matthew says:

    1006, David B. Benson That’s good. Now some questions.

    In the column headings, does “AE” denote the “lagged” Arrhenius estimate? And is the “lagged Arrhenius estimate” the Arrhenius estimate for the previous bidecade? You seem to be establishing that the temperature change does not lag the predicted temperature change by very much.

  9. 1009

    JP (1001): Sure, go for it.

  10. 1010

    JP,

    I went to that site–hadn’t seen it before–and compiled annual averages for 1856-2008. A regression on time came up with R^2 ~ 0–there’s no time trend in the AMO, which I guess is why they call it an oscillation. I ran it against Hadley CRU temperatures, however, and got R^2 = 16.5% and t = 5.47, which is significant out the wazoo.

    I ran Hadley against ln CO2 and AMO index and got R^2 = 88.5%, t = 30.7 and 12.8 for CO2 and AMO, respectively. Significant out to the stratosphere in each case.

    You’re onto something. Thanks.

    P.S. I haven’t done partial-F tests for Granger causality yet, so the causality might run from temperature to the AMO, in which case it wouldn’t really help. I’ll check that out next.

  11. 1011
    Completely Fed Up says:

    SM: “The cycles + epicycles were excellent (i.e. very accurate) theoretical/mathematical approximations to actual periodicities. ”

    Actual periodicities?

    False.

    If there’s no mechanism, then there’s nothing real about the periodicities except you can do an FFT on any single-valued contiguous plot.

    You’re still saying “it’s ‘ffff'” when I’ve only started saying “fraud”.

  12. 1012
    Completely Fed Up says:

    SM: If your periodicities are real, please give us the temperature for June 2010.

  13. 1013
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “1. Corus steelworks closes and Tata (its owners) receives £100s millions in carbon credits.”

    Not causally related.

  14. 1014
    stevenc says:

    David Benson, my understanding is the AMO is limited to the north Atlantic so it would be reasonable not to see an influence in Antarctic ice cores. I’m reading up on the GSIP2 issue. I did read in ATMS 571 Ice Core Notes by D. L. Hartmann that Broecker and Henderson 1998 argue that the O18 in the atmosphere and preserved in the ice is more a function of the amount of ice in the world then it is a measurement of temperature. I have no idea if this has been disproved or not. If it hasn’t then it seems quite possible to have fluctuations of these time periods without major changes in the total amount of ice. Interesting topic. If I run into anything reading on this I’ll make sure to post.

  15. 1015
    CM says:

    Andreas (#1004),

    Your model sounds reasonable, depending what you want to explain, and on what you mean by problematic key terms:

    1) The “scientification” of climate change. I take your meaning to be that part of the debate has been removed from political debate by framing it as a scientific question. But surely what we’re doing to the climate really is inherently a physical sciences question, not a matter of political opinion. So what does it mean to “scientify” it, how do we know that it has been (overly) scientified, and by whom or what? I get the impression you want to attribute any “scientification” to the rhetoric and organization of scientists. I’d take a broader look and place more weight on the failure of political leadership to engage squarely with the political issues, leaving the scientists, by default, to come up with guidance e. g. on “dangerous interference” and acceptable risk.

    “Politicization of the science” is ambiguous. The important role played by scientific authority in the debate no doubt motivates various interests to seek to use scientific and pseudo-scientific arguments as proxies for political ones, or slinging mud at scientists to discredit climate policies. The science has clearly become politicized, if by that you mean it has become a contested issue in public debate. It is not nearly as clear that the science has been politicized in the sense that it reflects and embodies political views. If that is what you mean, your model needs to take into account the self-correcting mechanisms of science.

    Returning to “scientification”, I’d like to take issue with an earlier suggestion of yours that opponents of action are in some sense “forced” to politicize the science. We agree that the descriptive premise A (“anthropogenic global warming”) does not by itself lead to the conclusion C (“cap carbon”), not without the additional normative and descriptive premises B_1, B_2, … B_n (“our grandchildren matter”, “market failure needs intervention” etc. etc.). “B” is the point where value preferences and political prejudices come in, much more so than in the research or the IPCC process. Those who (pretend to) distrust the science because they dislike the likely policy outcomes could instead debate the political and ethical premises and design their own policy alternatives. There remains wide scope for them to do so; science/the IPCC has obviously not swallowed up all these issues and rendered them politically hors de combat.

    I’d venture the suggestion that when they choose the strategy of sowing doubt about the science, it’s because they are unlikely to win the battle on their value preferences and political ideas. In many cases these are either too wacky to convince the public (“government conspiracy”), or too unappealing for them to articulate clearly even to themselves (“party on and never mind our grandchildren”).

  16. 1016
    David B. Benson says:

    Septic Matthew (1008) — In an earlier comment I did the decadal lagged version and explained the notation. In both versions AE uses the average CO2 of the previous period to estimate GTA for the following decade; that estimate is in the AE column.

    stevenc (1014) — Yes, d18O is still thought to be a better predictor of sea level, hence ice, than temperature, but GISP2 is obviously also a record of northern North Atlantic temperatures; as examples Younger Dryas and the 8.2 kya event show up quite nicely as do even the European MWP and LIA. In
    http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/005/Y2787E/Y2787E06.HTM
    the 55 year oscillation shows up in a Greenland ice taking only the last 1500 years or so. But nothing theree is stated about whether d18O or dD is the proxy used although given when the work was done I suspect d18O. It is possible that this will show up in the last 1000–1500 years of GISP2 as well but I haven’t tryed that. By the way, NGISP probably has the better time resolution.

  17. 1017
    Completely Fed Up says:

    re 1007: irrelevant. Off Topic and also not germane to my description nor the reason for bringing it: the destructive nature of commerci alism and the immunisation of the powerful from consequences in the capitalist system, requiring a government intervention, same as you have to have to stop your house or business being burgled: you cannot rely on the free market to stop burglary.

  18. 1018
    Rod B says:

    CFU (1012), assuming the periodicities are not real, “please give us the temperature for June 2010.”

  19. 1019
    David B. Benson says:

    Here are the results for the semidecadal lagged Arrhenius estimator (AE).
    OGTR for 2xCO2 = 2.08 RMS= 0.07 R2= 0.92
    decade GTA AE residual
    1880s -0.27 -0.27 +0.00
    1885s -0.28 -0.24 -0.04
    1890s -0.33 -0.23 -0.10
    1895s -0.18 -0.22 +0.04
    1900s -0.22 -0.21 -0.01
    1905s -0.30 -0.20 -0.10
    1910s -0.29 -0.18 -0.11
    1915s -0.26 -0.16 -0.11
    1920s -0.21 -0.14 -0.07
    1925s -0.14 -0.12 -0.02
    1930s -0.09 -0.10 +0.01
    1935s +0.00 -0.08 +0.08
    1940s +0.09 -0.06 +0.15
    1945s -0.02 -0.06 +0.04
    1950s -0.03 -0.06 +0.03
    1955s -0.01 -0.05 +0.04
    1960s -0.01 -0.02 +0.01
    1965s -0.02 +0.01 -0.04
    1970s -0.00 +0.05 -0.06
    1975s -0.00 +0.11 -0.11
    1980s +0.17 +0.16 +0.00
    1985s +0.19 +0.23 -0.04
    1990s +0.24 +0.30 -0.06
    1995s +0.39 +0.36 +0.03
    2000s +0.48 +0.42 +0.06
    2005s +0.55 +0.50 +0.05
    2010s ??.?? +0.58
    The prediction is for the 5 year average of GISTEMP, 2010–2014.

    The value of OGTR corresponds to a value of equilibrium climate sensitivity of close to 3 K or maybe a bit less. The value of R2 means that 8% of the variance is unexplained; too bad. The autocorrelations (not listed) suggest autoregressive behavior in the residuals. (Maybe the AMO?)

  20. 1020
    MartinJB says:

    David Benson,

    the r2 for the 20-yr analysis is remarkable, and still impressive for the 5-yr analysis. Interesting to note that the bias in the residuals becomes more negative the shorter the period for the analysis (if I may use 3 points to illuminate a trend…).

    –MartinJB

  21. 1021
    Alexa Ponti says:

    I think that is ridiculous. They should only be printing the truth and not telling lies. They want to make global warming into a hoax so they get more money for their goverment.

  22. 1022
    Septic Matthew says:

    1011, Completely Fed Up: If there’s no mechanism, then there’s nothing real about the periodicities except you can do an FFT on any single-valued contiguous plot.

    I think that you, like BPL, are trying to outsmart yourself. The reality modeled by the cycles + epicycles was the periodicities of repeated observable astronomical phenomena. The model was false but accurate. You are trying to argue that because we now have a better model the old one was not accurate. We now know, of course, that the full model is chaotic but not periodic, but before the invention of modern computing one of the successes of Newton’s dynamics was that it reproduced the almost periodicities observed in the record.

    1012, Completely Fed Up: SM: If your periodicities are real, please give us the temperature for June 2010.

    They are not mine. If you want those of Latif and Tsonis, you can, as Ray Ladbury says, look them up yourself.

    1016, David B. Benson, thank you. does your analysis imply that the lag from CO2 change to steady-state temp change is only about 10 years? It seems to.

  23. 1023
    John Peter says:

    BPL 1010

    Glad you like the site. I’m still crawling my way around so I’m glad you think it’s good.

    Your results sound exciting. In a month os I might even to confirm some. 8<))

  24. 1024
    Charlie Chutney says:

    Ref 994 Ray Ladbury

    The “logic” is about my cynicism and scepticism – I think you agree when you say “What does a poorly done carbon trading scheme implemented for political reasons have to do with the science”?

    My view is that the carbon trading schemes exists for political reasons – however the “establishment” line says it is vital to save the planet! The people that tell me the carbon trading scheme will save the planet are the same people telling me the Hockey Stick is a fair representation of historical temperatures and that the computer models that forecast doom are correct.

    If I can see that people are telling me lies in one area then why wouldn’t I assume that they are telling me lies in other areas – particularly when one lie feeds another and results in the likes of Al Gore and Dr Pachauri end up making fortunes from the totally useless carbon trading scheme?

    In your final paragraph, you say I am attacking the science supported by 97% of the experts. Firstly, I am not attacking it. Secondly, 97% is complete projection – and there is the problem. You cannot possibly know what 97% of scientists think.

    As an example, our previous intercourse on the subject of the Phil Jones Q & A proves that. I read what Phil Jones carefully (I hope) allowed to be published and so did you – and we have different interpretations of what he said/meant.

  25. 1025
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    1015 CM,
    Yes, that is kind of what I mean with the problematic key terms. “Scientification” is a process that turns climate into (quantitative) science and frame out politics and lots of other things. In the beginning, climate and weather is tied to culture and has symbolic meaning, with societal cultural theories of climate (quite qood once actually, farmes and traditional cultures pay close attention to weather, seasons, temperature, precipitation …). Gradually the western world start to use natural science to understand it. In the 19th century we have a global system of weather stations that collect data, by the end of the 19th century the first quantitative models (Arrhenius). Today the issue is so “scientified” by the physical sciences that it is hard to gain authority in the discussion without belonging to the physical sciences. The discussion at this site is a good illustration. People frequently ask others if they have a PhD degree in physics, extended experience in modelling, etc. and other aspects of climate than the physical are often seen as irrelevant. One could argue that this is mere the focus on this site, yet I think this is true more generally. Also for media, they want someone from the physical sciences to be the climate expert.

    For example, Joe Romm write this “”The question is why waste any time on him (Roger Pielke Jr)
    at all? He isn’t a climate scientist” This is a rather typical argument, I would say. Only a strongly reductionistic view of climate change is legitimate in the debate…

    No, I do not want to attribute any “scientification” to the rhetoric and organization of scientists. From my material (interviews) this is clearly not true. Politics do submit themselves to science more than they should, e.g. we do not understand this issue, please help us, tell us what to think and do…

    “I’d venture the suggestion that when they choose the strategy of sowing doubt about the science, it’s because they are unlikely to win the battle on their value preferences and political ideas.”

    One interesting aspect is that sceptics in Sweden behave the same way as in the US, but the political context is much different. Sweden have a very strong scientific and political concensus, not a single person object to climate politics (although at least a few probably would like to). This imply that it will be much harder to win a value debate in Sweden for the sceptics. But in the US? Why? US citizens know very little about the rest of the world and US foreign politics give a strong priority to self-interest.
    Would not it be possible to win a value debate based on the self-interest of the USA and the green communist threat etc? I don’t know, cause I´m not close to US politics, but in Europe we tend to have a very negative view on the US foreign politics …

    That sceptics are forced to politicize the science is probably too stong, but I do think it is a combination of “force” from the physical sceinces and political strategy from the sceptics.

    Ray Ladbury also asked a very interesting question on this topic somewhere in this blogg. Why sceptics are attacking science, a battle they can not win, instead of debating politics which is legitimate for them as citizens …

  26. 1026

    Okay, I did the Granger-causality tests.

    Both the AIC and the SBC indicated one year was the properly lag period for both Hadley dT and AMO index–I ran all the autoregressions from 1866 to 2008 with periods up to 10 years. I then did the partial-F tests using a 1-year lag.

    Hadley on Hadley-1 and AMO-1 gave
    F(1,140) = 11.84, p = 0.0007644

    AMO on AMO-1 and Hadley-1 gave
    F(1,140) = 1.270, p = 0.2617

    So the Granger causality runs unequivocally FROM the AMO TO temperature anomaly. It’s a cause, not an effect.

    If this holds up to further investigation (I haven’t checked for stationarity yet, or heteroskedasticity, or any of the other things that can royally screw up a regression analysis), it’s an important result. The AMO just affects a relatively small area of the planet. If it really accounts for a sixth of temperature variation, it must somehow be a major dumping ground where the ocean transfers heat to the air. Can anyone think of a plausible mechanism?

  27. 1027
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    Correction: I do not want to attribute ALL “scientification” …

  28. 1028
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic Matthew, so what causes the periodicity in the digits of the base of napierian logs, e? I mean it repeats over 10 digits, right? It must be real? [sarcasm off]

  29. 1029
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “1022
    Septic Matthew says:
    28 February 2010 at 10:44 PM

    1011, Completely Fed Up: If there’s no mechanism, then there’s nothing real about the periodicities except you can do an FFT on any single-valued contiguous plot.

    I think that you, like BPL, are trying to outsmart yourself.”

    I think you’re trying to delude others.

    “The reality modeled by the cycles + epicycles was the periodicities of repeated observable astronomical phenomena.”

    For the climate: what phenomena.

    “1012, Completely Fed Up: SM: If your periodicities are real, please give us the temperature for June 2010.

    They are not mine.”

    How do you know they fit, then? How can you state “The reality modeled by the cycles + epicycles was the periodicities of repeated observable astronomical phenomena.” when you don’t know what the periodicities are?

  30. 1030
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “1018
    Rod B says:
    28 February 2010 at 5:20 PM

    CFU (1012), assuming the periodicities are not real, “please give us the temperature for June 2010.””

    What are you blithering on about now?

    If the periodicities are not real, then a prediction cannot be made upon them.

    If you want to see what the predictions are for June, ask your local long-range weather forecasting service (who do not use periodicities and FFT “analysis” to create predictions, but use physical models)

  31. 1031
    Completely Fed Up says:

    CC: “If I can see that people are telling me lies in one area then why wouldn’t I assume that they are telling me lies in other areas”

    And this is a classic reasoning by false equivalence.

    If someone tells you “two plus two is 8” does this mean that when the maths books tell you it’s four, is that false also?

  32. 1032

    CC: The people that tell me the carbon trading scheme will save the planet are the same people telling me the Hockey Stick is a fair representation of historical temperatures and that the computer models that forecast doom are correct.

    BPL: No, they are not. Hansen is for carbon taxes rather than cap and trade. Most climate scientists haven’t publicly expressed an opinion.

    CC: If I can see that people are telling me lies in one area then why wouldn’t I assume that they are telling me lies in other areas – particularly when one lie feeds another and results in the likes of Al Gore and Dr Pachauri end up making fortunes from the totally useless carbon trading scheme?

    BPL: You could try learning enough of the science to CHECK whether what they’re saying is TRUE or not.

    CC: In your final paragraph, you say I am attacking the science supported by 97% of the experts. Firstly, I am not attacking it. Secondly, 97% is complete projection – and there is the problem. You cannot possibly know what 97% of scientists think.

    BPL: Ray is quoting a recent survey of 3100+ climate scientists. It’s a measurement, not a guess.

    CC: As an example, our previous intercourse on the subject of the Phil Jones Q & A proves that. I read what Phil Jones carefully (I hope) allowed to be published and so did you – and we have different interpretations of what he said/meant.

    BPL: Did you miss where Jones contacted RC and said RC’s interpretation (= Ray Ladbury’s interpretation) was right? Who knows better what Phil Jones meant–Phil Jones or you?

  33. 1033
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Charlie Chutney,
    OK, first, the 97% number. It is based on several independent polls of scientists taken last year, and the margin of error was about 5%, so the number with error bars is between 92% and 99.9%. Happy now?

    OK, Charlie, let’s have a reality check. First, where is your evidence that 1)Gore and 2)Pachauri are getting rich trading carbon credits. I haven’t seen anything to back that up.

    However, independent of the truth or falsity of that allegation, why would climate scientists who get by on University salaries and employ a couple of grad students and post docs with grant money jeopardize their integrity (not to mention their careers) by lying? Do you really think this is credible? Do you really think that thousands of scientists would all meekly take part in such a conspiracy? Even more, do you think that thousands of scientists could keep it quiet if they did?

    And further still, do you really think that even if there were such a conspiracy that established researchers in the National scientific academies, the Royal Society and the professional societies of all relevant disciplines would go along with it? Remember, these guys aren’t climate sicentists, Charlie. Their research funding stands to be negatively impacted as we spend money to deal with climate change (btw, Charlie, I, myself, fall into this group). The science of behind AGW has been looked at more closely by more different scientific fields than any other discipline that I can think of. No responsible professional scientific body has dissented from the picture climate scientists are painting.

    Now, contrast this, Charlie, with the picture you are getting from the denialists? Fossil fuel companies have not just billions of dollars at stake, but billions of dollars per year! And the denialists, have you ever heard them take a consistent position and not constantly shift? Compare their tactics to those of creationists and tobacco companies–they’re exactly the same.

    Charlie, I admit scientists are human. They make mistakes. They do dumb things. Some few are even dishonest. However, scientific methodology has evolved over the past 400 years to deliver reliable understanding of the physical world even when practiced by just such fallible creatures. Look at the track record of science. Then look for the folks who are actually doing science–publishing, increasing understanding, educating. That is as close as you are going to come to truth in an imperfect world.

  34. 1034
    Stefan N says:

    #1025 Andreas Bjurström
    With Sonja and Andreas (and others) entering the discussion, this has turned into a epistemological discussion.

    You question the validity of climate science simply because scientists are human? What are you suggesting? That a postmodern hermeneutical perspective is preferable in climate sciences? Or that the current and historical endeavours of explaining and pursuing a deeper understanding of nature’s processes is futile and inherently flawed? Try jumping….

    I’m usually a lurker around here, simply because I know I don’t have the appropriate toolbox. But the more I’ve read your posts, the more I felt compelled to comment. IMHO, you’re off the charts at the moment, though I applaude your valiant efforts.

  35. 1035
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    Stefan N,
    I agree that this has turned into an epistemological discussion (mainly driven by me, although many jumped the train or tried hard to wreck it) that should continue somewhere else (Sorry for that).

    The question is where? Is there an appropriate blog (driven by prominent researchers with high impact on the bloggosphere) to discuss climate change without limiting the debate to the physics and neither limit the debate to only political opinions? Since I believe that the factual battle between climate science and sceptics (by proxy for a political debate) is a dead end, that is important from my point of view. I would like to see a network of say five serious bloggs with different emphasis with some dynamics between them ….

    ps
    “You question the validity of climate science simply because scientists are human?” NO! I did not question validity :-)

  36. 1036
    Hank Roberts says:

    S.M., why are you going on about epicycles now?
    Have you published any of this opinion? Citation needed.

  37. 1037
    stevenc says:

    The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation: Impacts, mechanisms & projections
    David Enfield, Chunzai Wang, Sang-ki Lee
    NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Lab Miami, Florida

    Coupled numerical models suggest that the engine for the AMO involves the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) of the Atlantic Ocean… …aka the “global conveyor belt”

    References:
    Delworth and Mann (Climate Dynamics, 2000)
    Knight et al. (GRL, 2005)°+

    Coupled GCMs with a dynamical ocean & without external foring suggest that the engine for the AMO involves the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (A-MOC) …

    References:
    Delworth (1993)
    Delworth and Mann (2000)
    Latif et al. (2004)
    Knight et al. (GRL, 2005)

    The A-MOC mechanism is also consistent with observations …

    Reference:
    Dima & Lohmann (2006)

    BPL, this is what the NOAA web page had for possible mechanisms and their references.

  38. 1038
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Andreas,
    I’ve said this before, but I think it bears emphasis. Scientists are very conservative in terms of methodology, and they have good reason to be so–namely the success of science. The scientific method has evolved over time very slowly, and each innovation was adopted to increase the reliability of scientific consensus.

    In particular, there is a very good reason why science tries to confine itself to matters of objective fact while excluding considerations such as politics, religion, etc. Presumably, reasonable humans can at least agree on matters of fact. The next step, of course, is to try to place the facts in a theoretical framework. There can be disagreements about which theoretical framework gives the best fit, but there are standard statistical methods for resolving most of these issues.

    Those who dispute or refuse to consider facts or who do not deign to place them in some sort of theoretical framework are not playing science.

  39. 1039
    Stefan N says:

    #1035 Andreas Bjurström
    It sure looked like you critized the scientific methodologies, hence merits, of climate science. Did I misread you? Maybe you were unclear?

    Anyhow, as you probably can tell by now, your chosen and expressed angle of critique on climate science doesn’t seem to resonate very well around here, for reasons that has been pointed out to you repeatedly. I’m not saying that because I necessarily disagree with you. But in my opinion, it’s obvious that your relativist POLSCI context is just derailing a scientific discussion which inherently is deeply rooted in a positivistic tradition. I guess most would agree that such discussions heads south immediately.

    IMO, I think we all should be grateful for having the opportunity to parttake in an open discussion and have our questions and misconceptions addressed by the best and brightest in the field.

    I have more to say, but I guess that’ll do for now.

  40. 1040
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Stefan N., I would say science is more rooted in Pragmatism than Positivism.

  41. 1041
    David B. Benson says:

    MartinJB (1020) — Works fairly well, does it not? The OGTR parameter estimation minimizes the RMS of the residuals.

    Barton Paul Levenson (1026) & stevenc (1037) — I haven’t yet the time to check the references, but the idea that AMO is related to the rate at which A-MOC is transporting some heat to the deep ocean came to this amateur’s mind.

  42. 1042
    John Peter says:

    BPL 1026

    You’re way over my head but I think Mike Mann’s interview was because he found “non intuitive behavior and the AMO was right in the middle.

    The paper is here:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/326/5957/1256

    cheers

  43. 1043
    CM says:

    For those who find Andreas baffling: The following example shows why expert claims to be arbiters of climate change issues on the grounds of scientific objectivity might attract scrutiny from the social sciences.

    Some 15 years ago, a mighty stink was raised over an attempt at the statistical valuation of human lives in cost-benefit analyses for the IPCC SAR (WG3). As the critics saw it, by using an income-dependent measure (“willingness to pay”), the economists had assigned 15 times more value to a human life in a rich country than to one in the third world. IIRC, the nonplussed economists — Tol, Nordhaus — tended in their rebuttals to defend the approach as a technical methodological choice, saying there was no objective reason to prefer the critics’ alternatives, and so on. Andreas might say they were “scientifying” what many of us would see as an ethically and politically value-laden issue par excellence.

    Of course, that controversy was itself over a social-sciencey section of the IPCC report. It’s hard to imagine a parallel in the kind of science that is the focus of this blog. But if you read e.g. the analyses of prominent U.S. climate-change contrarians by Lahsen (2008) or Oreskes et al. (2008), you may see the point of considering scientists’ values and culture, even in the hard sciences.

    Andreas started out arguing, with particular reference to the physics for some reason, that the IPCC needs to systematically address that kind of stuff. I don’t think he’s made a case for that.

    Andreas, maybe http://www.postnormaltimes.net/ would be a better venue?

  44. 1044

    stevenc — thanks! Valuable stuff.

  45. 1045
    L. David Cooke says:

    Hey All,

    If any would like to review the House of Commons Science and Technology Inquiry of the CRU e-mails from 3pm this afternoon (local UT) here is a link to the the recorded session:

    http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=5979

    Cheers!
    Dave Cooke

  46. 1046
    David B. Benson says:

    I found the Enfield et al. slide presentation that stevenc noted in comment #1037 via web search and recommend it for at least pointing out the anthropogenic causes do not explain the full variation of the instrumental record; illuminating graphic.

  47. 1047
    Septic Matthew says:

    1036, Hank Roberts: S.M., why are you going on about epicycles now?
    Have you published any of this opinion? Citation needed.

    It’s just to show that you can have an accurate mathematical model for a rhythm, and have a real rhythm, without knowing the mechanism. Other examples are biological rhythms like heartbeat (partially known mechanism); breathing (partially known mechanism); and circadian rhythms in body temp, melatonin secretion, cortisol secretion, heartrate, activity, and blood pressure (partially known mechanisms.) For references, check out any issue of the Journal of Biological Rhythms: most real biological rhythms have only partially known mechanisms. Ignorance of the mechanisms of a rhythm, or disputes over the best math models and mechanistic explanations, are not arguments that the rhythm is not real.

    Humans have a well-documented rhythm with a 90-minute period called the basic rest activity cycle; to the best of my knowledge its mechanism is not known, but the mechanism, whatever it is, might be responsible for the appx 90 minute rhythm of night-time rapid eye movements.

    Of course, no one knows for sure that the apparent cyclical nature of the warming since LIA is real. More than 3 apparent cycles are necessary to establish its reality. However, there is no good reason for asserting that the autocorrelations are real when the periodicities are not: stationary series can have either a Fourier representation or a AR representation, and the two are interconvertable. The evidence for periodicity is too great to ignore, and it has been incorporated into the models of Latif and Tsonas.

    1029, Completely Fed Up: I think you’re trying to delude others.

    I deny it. You are wrong.

  48. 1048
    Charlie Chutney says:

    Ref 1033 Ray Ladbury

    You have invested time in communicating with me and I am, truly (with no sarcasm or insult intended), grateful for that.

    You say: “OK, first, the 97% number. It is based on several independent polls of scientists taken last year, and the margin of error was about 5%, so the number with error bars is between 92% and 99.9%”.

    My apologies, I was unaware of the survey. With the greatest respect though, a poll is only valid if it is representative of all of the potential participants. Do we know how the 3100 scientists were chosen (obviously there are thousands upon thousands of scientists).

    You say “First, where is your evidence that 1)Gore and 2)Pachauri are getting rich trading carbon credits. I haven’t seen anything to back that up”.

    In both cases, the individuals in question have admitted or declared that organisations they work/with for are involved in these areas.

    You say “Do you really think that thousands of scientists would all meekly take part in such a conspiracy? Even more, do you think that thousands of scientists could keep it quiet if they did?”

    This is indeed a problem for me. How do I rationalise their behaviour? I can only guess. You must accept though that if one was a scientist that held a contrary opinion on these matters then to speak out could be potentially career threatening.

    You will be aware of scientists that have resigned from various posts in protest at conclusions and stances taken by the organisations they worked for. You must also accept that for a scientist to publicly hold a contrary position is to immediately open themselves up to insults along the “denier”, “flat-earther”, “big oil” lines from, for instance, Realclimate.com.

    You will also be aware that there are a number of examples where scientists have spoken out or offered contrary views – and been completely ignored by the central body. I know you won’t like it but the high profile “Himalayagate” is one such example. In this particular example, the scientists that doubted the settled science were accused, by the Head of the IPCC on the world stage, of “Voodoo Science”. This example actually illustrates a number of the points I have made above and you must at least accept that this occurs.

    [Response: The report Pachauri was referring to was not very good and did not address the 2035 issue at all. – gavin]

    There is also the matter of finance. All of these scientists have lives, families and insecurities. Most research scientists, one way or the other are, understandably, funded through government sources and grants. From a financial point of view, it would be very unhealthy to hold contrary views.

    [Response: Contrary to what? Was there some wholesale shift in opinion during the Bush administration that has now changed again? Is there any evidence whatsoever that scientists’ opinions on the subject are aligned to whoever is in charge of their government at any one time? The answer is no. – gavin]

    Then there is peer pressure. All scientists are being told day after day that the debate is over and the science is settled. Again, it would be difficult for a young scientist (or one that needed to earn money!) to go against the grain wouldn’t it?

    [Response: You have absolutely no idea how science works. Every young scientist is encouraged to go in a new direction in order to make a name for themselves. Agreeing with everyone is not a recipe for moving ahead. However, the smart ones come up with something new in areas where there is genuine uncertainty. – gavin]

    Whilst you may choose to reject the relative importance of each of these observations you must at least accept the possibility that they could have validity in some cases and could explain the lack of contrary scientific opinion. You may personally not comprehend it – but you must accept that this happens?

    [Response: Not in the slightest. These are simply speculations that you have come up with because the contrary position that, gosh, the science really is convincing, is problematic for you to accept. I strongly recommend that you go to your local university and find people working on this on in related fields and just ask them why they think what they think. You will not find many (if any) people claiming that they are being pressured by the government, or by the grantmaking bodies or by their peers. Go do some investigations, bring some data to the table. – gavin]

    In this and previous threads we have tried to understand why someone like me (a reasonably intelligent, middle aged, non-scientist) would have the chutzpah to question the research, knowledge and conclusions of learned people that have dedicated much of their lives to the study of the subject. It is a potentially a ridiculous stance for me to take. But take it I do! Like so many things in life it is one’s gut that does the decision making and there is nothing I can consciously do about it.

    I have to pull back to what I believe to be the central tenants of the whole AGW debate i.e. the history of global temperatures.

    Again, you must accept that the creation of graphs going back 1000s of years are based upon proxies (with all of the issues that this raises) and the subjective evaluation of their measurement and relevance.

    [Response: This isn’t an issue of acceptance, it’s simply fact. You don’t get a choice. – gavin]

    Again, you must accept that it would be possible, if a scientist had a mind to do so, to take data, filter it, cherry pick it, add adjustments and homologenisations (is that a word?) and present a slightly, just very slightly, different picture to one based upon another set of filtering, cherry picking, adjusting, etc. You must also accept, that this could be done almost subconsciously.

    [Response: Then there would be plenty of other examples where someone did it differently and got different answers. These opposing studies are remarkably thin on the ground. – gavin]

    I work in business and have to write reports on the pros and cons of particular initiatives that are being considered. It is sometimes very hard to keep going exploring the “cons” if one has already (instinctively) drawn a positive conclusion. I know that I have left out some “cons” from reports because no one else had (or would have) spotted them and it might have damaged support for the initiative. There – I have admitted failings!

    Again, you must at least accept the possibility of parallels in the scientific world.

    Forgive the length of this “comment” but I felt you deserved an attempted reasoned response to your logical and serious questions

  49. 1049
    Completely Fed Up says:

    SM: “1029, Completely Fed Up: I think you’re trying to delude others.

    I deny it. You are wrong.”

    Nope, I really DO think you’re trying to delude others.

    I am right.

    I am also right in thinking that you do not know, do not wish to know, and do not wish to apply skepticism to any theory that debunks AGW, such as, for example, FFT analysis that will somehow cause CO2 not to be a greenhouse gas.

    “Humans have a well-documented rhythm with a 90-minute period called the basic rest activity cycle”

    And this causes climate change HOW?

    “Of course, no one knows for sure that the apparent cyclical nature of the warming since LIA is real.”

    Yes we do. Mathematical artefacts are not real until they predict a causation that obeys that cyclic nature. Therefore a cyclical nature of the LIA doesn’t exist.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wavelet

    has an oscillation but is not cyclic. The bang caused by an explosion has oscillations but is not cyclic. The individual life has cycles but is not itself repeating (unless you ascribe to a continuous reincarnation mythology, which would be a new one).

    “It’s just to show that you can have an accurate mathematical model for a rhythm, and have a real rhythm, without knowing the mechanism.”

    We know the mechanism.

    It isn’t cyclic inherently.

    Why do we need to ignore what we know and throw it ALL away just because you love FFTs?

  50. 1050
    Charlie Chutney says:

    Ref 048 Gavin’s comments.

    Hi Gavin, most of your comments to my points are understandably predictable given our different points of view.

    In the spirit of engagement, I have tried show the obvious flaws in my position and tried to offer explanations. If you re-read your comments you will note that there are a number of points that you don’t comment upon and others where you make complete rejections of the “concept” of the point I made.

    You must accept that I am not alone in my views and that there are lots of reasonably inteligent and very intelligent people that hold similar views to me. Not because we are big oil or anti-science or loonies! We might be making misjudgements, cynical or sceptical (for all sorts of reasons) – but I (we) are not (I hope) completely stupid or biased or on the take.

    You must also accept that there are lots of initiatives and enquiries taking place that would have been unimagined a few short months ago. Many of these enquiries are based around questions relating to the collection of data, the ability to check the data, the adjustments to the data and the conclusions drawn by the data.

    This isn’t as a result of my involvement – it is a result of organisations and issues like UEA, CRU, Penn State, the police in the UK, IPCC, The British Parliament, The United Nations, EPA, etc.

    In general, in each case, it is because of “doubts” being voiced about methods, quality, approach, etc, to research and conclusions drawn.

    You may argue that the “doubts” are ridiculous, unwarranted, illogical or unfair – but you can’t argue that there are no doubts. Demonstrably, evidentially, -there are doubts in some quarters – or why all of the investigations? If you see my point.

    I guess you could argue that these doubts are only getting any airtime because of the efforts of sceptic blog sites. I think this would be a mistake though. Undoubtedly, these sort of sites have had an effect but certain “events” or “non events” have, rightly or wrongly, contibuted to the position.

    The more I think about it, the more I think Phil Jones’ Q & A with Harrabin is a significant contribution to my stance. Whilst Ray Ladbury has pointed out the clarifications subsequently received by Realclimate (and a cynic might say he would wouldn’t he), his actual Q & A, at face value, demonstrates a position not very far from my own and merely states many of the doubts and areas of concern that I have (“science isn’t settled”, “MWP”, no statistical warming, current rate of increase not statistically different to other previous periods of warming.

    Taken at face value, these statements demonstrate a significantly different stance to the “science is settled” mantra.

    I will go quickly and dig a trench and await your bombardment – although it may be more helpful if you could at least try to understand why someone might hold different views to yourself other than because they are uneducated (in science).