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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. 201
    Jon P says:


    You did not seem to take much issue when the media was sensationalizing the “warm” news. And you seem a bit surprised at how the media sensationalizes.

    [Response: Neither of these statements are true. I am on record dozens of times decrying pop-attributions of weather events to climate change, and have written many posts explaining how the Gulf Stream is not going to collapse and what the uncertainties in climate models are. I ceased to be surprised that the media value sensationalism over fact sometime in high school. – gavin]

    I would have thought that a coming climate disaster would motivate those that see it coming to take a more proactive approach in getting the message out. The years of silence when the media reported weather events as proving AGW, the years of insisting that the science is settled, the years of having blogs tell new-comers they are stupid and some not posting comments at all, have to come to an end.

    To your point of what you part of the science should you or anyone give up to “train” in PR. You seem to find the time for this blog. I am sure there is someone, somewhere that could invest time into this, I mean it is rather important.

  2. 202
    Mike G says:

    Back in 1987, Michael Fish, a then well known BBC TV weather reporter, famously commented on a fairly deep looking mid-latitude depression approaching southern England, describing it as nothing much to worry about. 48 hours later, scores of people wered dead, hundreds of cars crushed, tens of thousands of trees uprooted, swathes of forest devastated, perhaps thousands of roofs ripped from houses, roads blocked by fallen telegraph posts and power lines, etc etc etc: it was the famous “hurricane” of 1987 that the British Met Office forecasters comletely failed to see coming. Last winter, the British Met Office, after the UK had suffered two grey, dreary, damp, rainswept summers of floods and gales, promised a “barbecue summer” – and no doubt anticipated hosepipe bans and dried up reservoirs. It didn’t happen. We suffered a third grey, dreary, damp,rainswept summer of floods and gales. The fact is that Britain’s weather is highly unpredictable, due to the island’s location where it may get air masses from the continent, or ocean, from the poles or the sub tropics, with winters sometimes of Siberian coldness, summers perhaps as hot as Cairo, Arctic gales, Saharan dustfalls, long months of more equable weather, anticyclones for weeks on end, or endless successions of mid-latitude depressions, sometimes benign and gentle, sometimes of ferocious intensity. It is a standing joke that when two Brits meet, especially Englishmen, they talk about the weather. And inevitably, they mock the weather forecasts emanating from the Met Office. I think it is this unpredictable weather and the apparent failure of the Met Office to forecast accurately future weather patterns, that creates a general scepticism in the mass of the UK population who dismiss the weather forecasters as incompetent false prophets with not the slightest idea of how the weather is likely to behave. Most lay people make no distinction between weather and climate, and so the scepticism about weather forecasters spills over to affect climate scientists too. If “they” can’t get it right about the 1987 “hurricane” and dream of a 2009 “barbecue summer”, why should their prognoses of long term global warming and climate change be credible? The rabidly right wing British national press, almost entirely , with honourable exceptions (the lefty Guardian is normally wholly reliable on climate change, and the centrist Independent) have a fertile soil in which to scatter their seeds of denialism and doubt, and of suspicion and derision of scientists and experts. And furthermore, these “news”papers are addicted to the national habit of pulling down and ridiculing any renowned public figure, expert, hero, leader, personality, scientist, artist, politician, leader of industry etc. In the UK, if a man or woman achieve some sort of eminence, necessarily the feet of clay have to be found. This, I suggest, is the explanation of the especially rabid newslines coming from the British media.

  3. 203
    kenneth says:

    There is a record high Arctic Ice coverage today!

    Look at these plots from DMI;

    Yes, I know, a small coincidence, but for DMI plots, it still is a record!

    Cause for celebration, me thinks!

  4. 204
    Dan Hughes says:

    Ray Ladbury:

    Accuracy of modeling is determined mainly by limitations on computer time for most computational physics problems.

    Modeling of the Earth’s climate systems is not an exercise in computational physics. Accuracy of modeling Earth’s climate systems is not limited by computer time. There are instead a host of fundamental physical phenomena and processes that are not yet even started to be approached from a fundamental physics level. These are currently addressed by use of parameterizations and modeling of sub-grid processes, for examples.

    Additionally, while the statement is an accurate characterization of some problems, for other problems it is less than a complete characterization. Some problems being worked on today would require hundreds of years of computer time based on the performance level of today’s most powerful machines. This is a little more than a computer time limitation.

  5. 205
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    re: 150 and Christopher Horner

    It looks like Horner confuses US and world temps in his discussion. The reference to 1934 (a very hot year in the US) means, I think, that US temps were under discussion (Horner is sketchy in his details) but Horner uses that to cast doubt on global rise.

    And throughout Horner seems to think that one scientist’s comments, if they agree with Horner, are sufficient to establish a fact.

  6. 206
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    @190 Ray Ladbury

    Yes, rules are much needed. You are not following your own rules, as you acknowledge in the 190 post, but you break them again a couple of times at 195.

    “Anyone interested in actual dialogue?”

    I am, but it feels kind of lonely …

  7. 207
    Chris Dudley says:

    It might be worth reviewing what C.S. Lewis had to say about manipulation of the British in his novel “That Hideous Strength.”

  8. 208
    Jay says:


    As a former advocate of global warming I must say that your reference to anyone who does not believe as you do as a “crank” offensive to say the least.

    [Response: Well, if I’d said that, you might have a point. But you have a serious logic fail if you think that the following statements make logical sense “Cranks exist. Cranks disagrees with me. Therefore everyone who disagrees with me is Crank”. If you want to discuss something I actually said, please try again. If you want to tilt at strawmen, do so somewhere else. – gavin]

    It would seem to me that one of the tennants of science is to constantly approach “truths” from different angles to ensure they can always stand up to scrutiny. Surely you understand that not all skeptics are earth hating, energy wasting, fools. When you start talking about taking large ammounts of peoples money away and giving it to other people, they tend to get upset. Otherwise I doubt people would pay attention. That is why there must be a very rigorous and intensive study of both the methodology and the people behind the numbers. I
    am sure that you are in a vulnerable position and are being hounded. But you have to understand the fear that is out there. Doomesday scenarios tend to get people worked up. Those same media who you say are hyping up the controversy have done the same for global warming.
    I hope that you weather through this and the science comes out the better for it. Remember, a rollercoaster gets put through lots of testing before letting the public get on. If the science is flawed, only by public scrutiny and open methodology can you be above reproach.

  9. 209
    David C says:

    If you keep on doing the same thing you will get the same result. If you keep on with the condecending (you got to stop the sigh thing), ridiculing and shouting down you will only encourage and stir up dissent.
    Stick to the science people.

  10. 210
    Walt The Physicist says:

    To #195 Ray Ladbury. I beg to differ. We can generate nice pictures from the models. However, except for very few instances (and those guys are getting crazy money working for private sector) this is pretty much it. Collapse of supernova and birth of the Universe? Give me a break this is for History channel. No one in serious science would insist that these nice pictures generated by the computer are accurately reflecting reality. They might give insight into contributions of certain physical phenomena. What is the reason of modeling dynamics of transistor struck by a Xe atom? What is the application of this model results? Now regarding my “non-physicistness” and you being a real physicist. Seriously, are you so confident? I hope you are bluffing that you are a physicist. The simulation accuracy is not a monotonous and increasing function of computation time. Students know this. If the explicit computational scheme is used the delta time can’t be lesser than a value determined by the square of delta space. And more, if ever thought of this, you should conclude that, one can’t decrease computational space interval indefinitely because the physics should be changed – from classical to quantum to string to nobody knows what. So, here is a philosophical statement: even providing infinitely high computing speed, the infinitely high accuracy can’t be achieved since we don’t have infinite knowledge of universe. There is less glamorous constriction. Do you know what rounding error is and how it affects computations? Because of the rounding error the decrease of the time and space step the increase of accuracy at certain point changes to decrease of accuracy. Now, although students are taught that implicit schemes and some more advanced variations allow independent change of time and space intervals, in practice, however, there is the same old limitation. I am an experimentalist and theoretician and I do a lot of modeling and computer simulation using my own codes. Saying all that, let me ask you do you really have ok gut feeling if one tells you that the accuracy of average GLOBAL temperature measured in 1850 was 0.2C? And with all your experience in modeling of the complex systems can you really say with complete honesty to you layman neighbor: man made global warming is accurately predicted by our climate models?

  11. 211
    Jimbo says:

    Further to my last comment I just hope that we don’t get a new kind of alarmist – that of “new ice age”. I’d be sceptical about that too as I require observational evidence not shrill warmings and hype.

    “It’s two months into the winter, and much of Europe has become mantled in unusually deep snow cover.”

    Also note that the Northern Hemisphere snow extent is second highest on record.

  12. 212
    Jimbo says:

    # 15
    [Response: Someone who thinks that GW is a hoax is a crank. And stealing people’s emails from a central server and publishing them is a hack regardless of where you do it from….]

    Gavin, are you sure you are on solid ground here? Are you sure about UK laws, public and private servers, privacy laws? I don’t know much but you should check carefully first before making such a sweeping pronouncement about email and data ownership, hacking and leaking.

    [Response: You think it is legal in any western democracy to hack into your officemate’s computer and put their emails on a public server? No way Jose. Unauthorized access to a computer and unauthorised use of any data you find there is a crime almost everywhere. – gavin]

  13. 213
    David Saxton says:

    Let us look at it from another angle, Many people say/quote the supposed fact that during The Roman Occupation of Britain that they grew vineyards in the north of England around about the 3rd Century, and this is something we can’t do today.

    [Response: Except that isn’t true. There are commercial vineyards in Yorkshire, while the most northerly known Roman vineyard is near Lincoln (Selley, 2nd edition). – gavin]

    Another supposed fact is that there was a so-called Medieval Warm Period in about the 12thC, which is supposed to have been much warmer that today, (but I cannot recall the proof of this supposed fact). However, if those 2 facts were actually true and could be proved as true, then that would presume that the climate back in those periods was warmer than today and simply could not have been caused by human activity and therefore, perhaps any climate warming supposedly happening today might also not be caused by human activity.
    I just wondered…

    [Response: Attribution of today’s change is independent of whether it was hotter in the past. No one disagrees that the Pliocene was warmer for instance. But just like the existence of natural forest fires in the past is not proof that arson cannot happen now, the fingerprints of current changes are the only thing relevant for attribution of present day trends. – gavin]

  14. 214
    Ron Taylor says:

    Walt, I want to add to Ray’s comment to you.

    When I am reading comments on a blog, I immediately discount the opinions of people who are anonymous, but claim titles like PhD, physicist, etc. Such a claim is an appeal to authority among the uninitiated. Such an anonymous claim would get you laughed out of any meeting of scientists. If you are going to imply special knowledge in support of your opinions, you need to at least back it up with your complete name. Google, you know…

    I wish RC had some rule about this.

  15. 215
    Jimbo says:

    Also remember that in the UK there is legislation that protects whistleblowers. Would you call someone in the UK who leaks information from a file in an office (whether private or public) a thief – if it is in the public interest? You are on shaky ground Gavin and should stick to the science and keep away from UK laws and interpretations thereof.

    [Response: Sorry, but I will continue to call a theft a theft, and you can continue to cling to the comforting thought that the theft was by a modern day Robin Hood. Whistleblowing only works if you are revealing illegal activity. Arguments about paleo-reconstructions don’t count. This is now OT. – gavin]

  16. 216
    Completely Fed Up says:

    erol says:
    17 February 2010 at 3:46 PM

    Even if the warming of the earth was true, taxation would not make a dent in it.”


    However, you tax people to get them to stop speeding their cars and putting children at risk (speed fines). You tax people for selling dodgy goods to other people (criminal fines). You tax people for throwing their sewage into the municipal water (fines for dumping).

    Yet taxing doesn’t slow cars down, make dodgy goods disappear, or make sewage jump back out of the water and into the oildrums.

    So why are people fined for speeding? Or selling goods that are inherently dangerous? Or any other reason that people are fined rather than made to undo the act?

  17. 217
    Ron Taylor says:

    Jon P, you are clueless about this blog and the time, energy and expertise that Gavin and his colleagues put into it. Its major purpose is to counter the false and misleading information in the media on either side of the issue. Instead of throwing out irresponsible accusations, why not take a little time to go through the index above, for example. You will find that you are quite wrong.

  18. 218
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Dan Hughes says:
    17 February 2010 at 4:01 PM
    Modeling of the Earth’s climate systems is not an exercise in computational physics.”

    Yes it is.

    “Accuracy of modeling Earth’s climate systems is not limited by computer time.”

    Yes it is. A forecast that turns up 1 day after the validation period is no forecast.

    “There are instead a host of fundamental physical phenomena and processes that are not yet even started to be approached from a fundamental physics level.”

    And diodes haven’t? So I take it you’ve solved the whole problem with Quantum Physics, then?

    Where’s your paper?

    “These are currently addressed by use of parameterizations and modeling of sub-grid processes, for examples.”

    Well, one reason for sub-grid processes is because a grid small enough not to need them would take too long to run. See your assertion above about computer time limits.

    “Some problems being worked on today would require hundreds of years of computer time based on the performance level of today’s most powerful machines. This is a little more than a computer time limitation.”

    No, that’s EXACTLY a time limitation.

    Why else would your assertion that it would require hundreds of years of computer time be relevant if it weren’t merely a time problem? You’d be saying “it would be impossible under ANY currently available computer”.

    Can I ask: do you read your posts?

  19. 219
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Jimbo says:
    17 February 2010 at 4:30 PM
    “It’s two months into the winter, and much of Europe has become mantled in unusually deep snow cover.””

    Yes. How unusual?

    Not seen for decades.


    So it USED to be colder.

    See where I’m going..?

  20. 220
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    @196 Completely Fed Up,
    “Ray, I’ll give it a shot” … and in the next sentence you break the rule: “I figure the denialists will explode with frustration, and that’s a worthy reason too.”

    Give it a try again ;-D

  21. 221
    Stuart says:

    One thing that would be interesting would be a statistical analysis of global warming pro/con articles in newspapers broken down by the season/month. I would predict that the “controversy” has now run on long enough to have a reasonable chance of a statistically significant trend of more “hoax” style articles in winter and less in summer (based Northern Hemisphere seasons/news sources).

  22. 222
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Jimbo says:
    17 February 2010 at 4:42 PM

    Also remember that in the UK there is legislation that protects whistleblowers”

    Then why doesn’t the whistleblower reveal themselves?

    They’re protected by law if they’re a whistleblower.

    It seems like even they don’t believe they are a whistleblower, jimbo.

    Why do you?

  23. 223
    GSW says:

    Other than the emails, I think the various ‘gates’ refer to statements in the IPCC WG2 report ‘Impacts, Adaptability and Vulnerability’.

    What I consider the ‘real’ science (DON’T ALL SHOUT AT ONCE)is contained in WG1 report ‘Physical Science Basis’.

    The reason the report is constructed this way (in theory at least) is that the impacts should be assessed in the light of, and as a natural follow on from, the best Physical Science we have available (WG1).

    However, future impacts are harder to quantify ‘categorically’ than the physical science and seem to have relied, at least in part, on ‘Grey Literature’. WG2 is therefore a softer target for sceptics. I don’t think it is a coincidence the various ‘gates’ refer to this part of report.

    The problem is, the public do not distinguish between these two distinct challenges:

    A claim is made, they are told, supported by the science. If the claim is demonstrated to be wrong – the simplistic view is that AGW science must be wrong – no distinction.

    Trying to communicate otherwise does not make a good sound bite.

    Ideally, “the science” and “the impacts” (some refer to it as “the alarmism”) could be debated separately, but this does not appear to be possible. Richard Lindzen gives an insight on this in his “Deconstructing Global Warming” video.

    If I can find a clean link to this I’ll post it later.

  24. 224
    Completely Fed Up says:

    AB: nah, that’s not breaking any of them. At least not by any realm which doesn’t also have you hauled over for them.

  25. 225
    Jon P says:

    Ron Taylor
    Please explain your post. I have no idea what you are arguing against as my initial post had nothing to do with the Realclimate blog but the Public Relations disaster the scientific community has had with AGW.

  26. 226
    Sloop says:

    Media coverage of AGW and the community of climate scientists since Nov.09 has been impoverished and misleading in the US as well as the UK. The NYT and Washington Post coverage has focused on discussing the situation “arguments between warring camps”. I agree that this is a bogus framing of what’s truly going on. There are no legitimate arguments in this sense. The denialist attacks are political ones dressed up with language that seeks to mimic science.

    It is worth noting that the goal of many traditional news orgs these days is simple survival. Their means of achieving this goal continues to be what has worked best in the past: blow by blow narratives of visceral, heated dispute and conflict that the general public loves to follow in the same manner they do with soap operas, football matches, and public melt-downs of celebrities.

    There unquestionably has been a decline in the quality and comprehensiveness of print-based journalism (just ask any environmental journalist working for a US newspaper) as the developed world shifts to electronic/WWW media. The proliferation of television channels and networks and internet-based news sources has also stimulated conflict-driven, low-cost journalism.

    nevertheless, I am worried but not discouraged by the current dismaying state of MSM debate regarding AGW. Americans (and Europeans)live in information-saturated societies. We learn early to distinguish between hyped and credible information. Our distrust of commercial news media has increased recently and our confusion about where to find credible information on important public issues has increased correspondingly. When confused we tend to turn away from learning and debating difficult public issues from AGW to ‘peak water’ to Afghanistan. It is however a rapdily evolving dynamic. Tangible impacts such as changes in ecological phenology and hydrology are being noticed by many folks from birdwatchers to skiers to garden clubs. MSM discussions rarely ever tie such observations to the what I generally see as highly contrived debates about the UEA emails, surface temp. networks, scientific “tribalism”, etc.

    (BTW, could someone please articulate credibly for us on this blog the details of Dr. J. Curry’s hypothesis about tribalism in climatology? How is this apparent phenomena any different from how most scientific disciplines work? Dr. Curry???)

    Finally, the international, and US federal and state executive agencies that will utlimately have to take action to mitigate and adapt to AGW are not able to so turn away and are generally not affected by poor or defamatory media coverage. They can’t move into this kind of work very far without legislative action and funding of course. But at this juncture, perhaps they should step forward collectively to affirm the science, condemn the denialism of some, and in general act as a credible info source on AGW to the public. Easier said than done, but I suggest that their potential, generally, to so aid the scientific community is insufficiently appreciated. In fact, we as executive agencies have done the scientific community a disservice by not doing so already. In the US at least this relative silence can indisputedly be tied to the policies and internal instructions of the GW Bush Administration.

  27. 227
    harrywr2 says:

    Comment by tamino — 17 February 2010 @ 8:40 AM

    “What they’re doing to global warming is no different from what they did to tobacco”

    RJ Reynolds profits are up 71%

    What the anti-smoking lobby did for big tobacco was to line their pockets with gold.

  28. 228
    Completely Fed Up says:

    David Saxton says:
    17 February 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Let us look at it from another angle, Many people say/quote the supposed fact that during The Roman Occupation…
    [Response: Except that isn’t true…”

    Which makes me wonder why David Sexton here put it down as “supposed fact” yet continued on as if it WERE fact.

    Maybe David is trying to say that people believe supposed facts, but then he fails to hypothesise why the supposed fact of Roman vinyards (where you couldn’t go to the nearest Threshers to buy New Zealand Chardonay and the only alternative was the water… eeew) is accepted when even to the most devout denialist, they would accede that the warming trend is at least a *supposed* fact and yet isn’t believed.

    But the simplest explanation is that Dai here was going for the weasel words so that he couldn’t be considered one of them in case he got caught out. He believes that this is an irrefutable smoking gun against AGW and the IPCC, but doesn’t want to associate with a statement that is precise and open to actual refutation or acceptance.

    A passive voice version of “I’m not saying anything, I’m just asking the questions”, as it were.

  29. 229

    elliot: Joe isn’t entirely wrong to judge AGW based on this measure after all predictions were made that snow would reduce

    BPL: WHAT predictions? Care to cite any?

  30. 230
    Tom Wiita says:

    “Find some single example where I’ve done anything to mislead or deceive the public about the nature of the science. Just one. And then rethink your rather offensive “You people” comment. – gavin”

    Before I consider providing my own answer to the challenge in the response to 17 (reproduced just above), I’ve got some reading to do first, at this web site:

  31. 231
    Steve says:

    Gavin, here in the UK you can whistleblow if it is in the public interest. Illegal doesn’t come in to it. These things have to be tested in court here though. The drugs industry is a classic example. If a whistleblower from a drugs company reveals information that his company is charging the National Health Service extortionate amounts (even if he gets this info illegally) then he wouldn’t face prosecution. Not only are you on dodgy ground with what you are saying, Jimbo is correct, and you should stick to dodgy science!

    The pro-AGW past ridiculous stance is reaping what it sowed with regard to the UK media. If you had cut the pro-warming nonsense back then…

  32. 232

    Balasz Fekete: I am under the impression that we purposely abandoned monitoring so modelers don’t have to face observations.

    BPL: A very reasonable impression–if you’re a conspiracy-theory lunatic.

  33. 233
    David B. Benson says:

    Walt The Physicist (210) — The answer to your final question is yes, with great confidence. Here are some resources on climate modeling:
    “A Climate Modelling Primer” by Henderson-Sellers
    Introduction to Three-Dimensional Climate Modeling 2nd Edition
    Warren M. Washington and Claire Parkinson
    not to mention the historical views in “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:

  34. 234
    Jimbo says:

    # 36
    “The fossil fuel industry has a massive incentive to show conclusively that the science is flawed.”

    But some of them as well as nuclear fund the CRU (University of East Anglia)

    British Petroleum (Oil, LNG)
    Broom’s Barn Sugar Beet Research Centre (Food to Ethanol)
    Central Electricity Generating Board
    Eastern Electricity
    KFA Germany (Nuclear)
    Irish Electricity Supply Board (LNG, Nuclear)
    National Power
    Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (Nuclear)
    Shell (Oil, LNG)
    Sultanate of Oman (LNG)
    Tate and Lyle. (Food to Ethanol)
    UK Nirex Ltd. (Nuclear)

  35. 235
    Steve says:

    Completely Fed Up, you miss the point! We were told (here in the UK) that we would be getting, and I quote, “Hotter, drier summers and wetter winters”. This hasn’t happened. In fact, the reverse has happened (check the online info from the Met Office). In 2006 we were told by the Met Office to plant drought-loving plants that “…are more likely to grow in hotter conditions”. So we did…I did. Guess what happened to them this winter? This is the point you are missing; the temperatures haven’t got warmer, and this year they’ve got a whole lot colder. We used to get cold weather…and we still do! See where I’m going?

  36. 236
    Mark A. York says:

    Well on CNN David Gergen just pronounced a climate bill this year, dead. The whole argument is fueled by the Himalayan mistake and other charges from climate skeptics. Never mind that the skeptics are completely wrong. Apparently the mission worked and the doubt has taken over the president’s advisory staff. Isn’t that the idea with the BS attacks? Of course it is.

  37. 237
    oakwood says:

    To quote gavin directly:

    “the GW hoaxers are indeed cranks”

    Yes, I agree with that.

  38. 238

    Undertone, I recommend reading Genesis in French. The French are smart enough to have two words for “to know”–savoir and connaitre. The former means to know intellectually, the second to know by experience. Adam and Eve already knew what obedience was, who God was, and what he had told them. They knew they were doing the wrong thing. The knowledge they gained by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was knowledge of evil gained by committing evil.

    Do you have to rape a woman to understand that rape is wrong? I don’t think so. That kind of “knowledge” isn’t worth having.

    And look how wise Adam and Eve became as a result of eating the fruit–they became ashamed that they were naked, and thought they could avoid God by hiding behind trees.

    Read carefully. Even if you don’t believe the story is literal history (and I don’t), try to figure out what the author was actually saying before commenting on it.

  39. 239
    Walt The Physicst says:

    to #214 Ron Taylor. Ron, I guess this discussion is on substance not on our credentials. I actually never paid attention to the names. Second, there is no requirement by RC to post real name, affiliation, SSN, etc. Third, how do I know that Ron Taylor is your real name? Fourth, have you ever published? Where you upset that the reviews of your work were anonymous? Did you write prickly notes to the reviewers asking to “back up their opinion by real name”? Sometimes I do feel like that about my reviewers – who are you? I guess you didn’t if you are publishing scientist or you are unfamiliar with system of anonymity accepted in science reviews. Or all this exercise is just to make you feel better knowing that your PhD is bigger than mine?

  40. 240
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Steve says:
    17 February 2010 at 5:23 PM

    Completely Fed Up, you miss the point! We were told (here in the UK) that we would be getting, and I quote, “Hotter, drier summers and wetter winters”. ”

    And we’ve got them.

    It never said we’d ONLY get hotter drier summers and wetter winters.

    PS snow is like, water. Wet. Water. Make the connection.

  41. 241

    Jimbo says:

    “”””Further to my last comment I just hope that we don’t get a new kind of alarmist – that of “new ice age”.””””

    Give it to me…give me a few examples of where the science literature was alarmist about the “1970s ice age”?

    Give it to me…give me a few examples of where the science literature is alarmist about the current human-caused warming.

    ….So why should the scientific literature get alarmist about a cooling which does not even exist in the global average record?

    Your words are extremely scary.

  42. 242
    Eve says:

    The AR4 Summary For Policymakers contains this item:

    Antarctic sea ice extent continues to show interannual variability and localised changes but no statistically significant average trends, consistent with the lack of warming reflected in atmospheric temperatures averaged across the region. {3.2, 4.4}

    The reference is Comiso, J.C., 2003: Large scale characteristics and variability of the global sea ice cover. In: Sea Ice – An Introduction to its Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Geology [Thomas, D. and G.S. Dieckmann (eds.)]. Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK, pp. 112–142., a non peer reviewed book chapter.
    They could have used peer reviewed literature such as
    Zwally et al., 2002, which found that:

    The derived 20 year trend in sea ice extent from the monthly deviations is 11.18 ± 4.19 x 103 km2yr-1 or 0.98 ± 0.37% (decade)-1 for the entire Antarctic sea ice cover, which is significantly positive.

    A recent 2009 paper by Turner et al. (on which Comiso was a co-author), concluded that:
    Based on a new analysis of passive microwave satellite data, we demonstrate that the annual mean extent of Antarctic sea ice has increased at a statistically significant rate of 0.97% dec-1 since the late 1970s.

    This rate of increase is nearly twice as great as the value given in the AR4 (from its non-peer-reviewed source).

    The peer reviewed literature, both existing at the time of the AR4 as well as published since the release of the AR4, shows that there has been a significant increase in the extent of sea ice around Antarctica since the time of the first satellite observations observed in the late 1970s. And yet the AR4 somehow “assessed” the evidence and determined not only that the increase was only half the rate established in the peer-reviewed literature, but also that it was statistically insignificant as well.

    This plus the other errors in the IPCC report show that the UN and the IPCC are beyond recovery from corruption. Any thinking person (who is not making money on this) will have to conclude the same.


  43. 243

    “””but claim titles like PhD, physicist, etc. Such a claim is an appeal to authority among the uninitiated. Such an anonymous claim would get you laughed out of any meeting of scientists.”””

    The literally world’s most published climate publishing PHDs at NCAR go to pains to be informal and not mention the words “doctor” or “PhD.”

    You would indeed be laughed out of the room.

  44. 244

    213 David Saxton and gavin

    Come on guys. It is not worth the wear and tear on our $9 keyboards to talk about the Mediaeval Warming Period. But it is amusing.

    Gavin answers one irrelevancy with another. The Romans had grown nice but tired of life in England, a hundred years later the Anglo-Saxons came and spent another hundred years butchering or enslaving everyone left behind. They got tired of doing that and let St. Augustine restart religion. That was 600 AD. 600 years later the temperature record of uncertain accuracy hit its peak a little after the Norman invasion. Now maybe the Normans were getting a little hot in France and wanted to cool down in England. But in the ups and downs of English weather, it is hard to imagine anyone noticing a 1 to 2 degree Celsius, if that, rise in temperature; let alone planning a wine industry. Planting grapes in Yorkshire would have been off and on an iffy proposition since it would have indicated influence of some religion or other; which might have led to being “examined” by the authorities. So it is most likely that grapes in Yorkshire today do not indicate much of anything about anything. (I remind also that wind is produced in upstate New York as well.) Get a grip guys.

    We started with discussion of this warming period stuff in the IPCC which was not a good indication of the veracity of that study, and from there on it has been a continuum of absurdity. A lengthy discussion of a generally irrelevant non-event made it sound like a snow-job rather than the important study – – that it was.

    We haven’t even touched on the ‘fact’ that the Vikings ‘farmed’ Greenland. One would get the impression that it rivaled the Ukraine or the Midwest USA in productivity. Lets have a go at that one!!!

  45. 245
    Jimbo says:

    Response to #214
    Jimbo says:
    “Further to my last comment I just hope that we don’t get a new kind of alarmist – that of “new ice age”.”

    Give it to me…give me a few examples of where the science literature was alarmist about the “1970s ice age”?

    Give it to me…give me a few examples of where the science literature is alarmist about the current human-caused warming.

    You asked for it, and please don’t attack the messenger, attack the message and source of the report:


    [Response: Try again. The *science* literature does not include Time magazine or Newsweek. – gavin]

  46. 246
    J. Warner says:

    Gavin et. al., there are some fairly significant accusations leveled at you in Horner’s latest piece. As they are based on a FOIA request and the subsequent released emails and not on hacked emails or speculation, I was wondering if Real Climate will release a response?

    I can only imagine that if Part 1 was that bad, parts 2 and 3 might be worse for NASA and you.

    Is your response going to be to let the blogosphere and right-wing media outlets frame this debate, or do you all have a plan to get out in front of this latest assault?

    [Response: Perhaps you’d care to translate what I’ve been accused of? The worst seems to be that I know Jim Hansen and that other people I know have talked to Brazilian journalists. To both crimes I plead guilty. Indeed, I have even spoken to Brazilian journalists myself. There is nothing else there. – gavin]

  47. 247

    That was an interesting slip in my last of 6:33 PM: I meant wine, not wind, but on further thought, for this nonsense it really does not matter.

  48. 248
    Jimbo says:

    Response to # 241

    “Give it to me…give me a few examples of where the science literature is alarmist about the current human-caused warming.”

    There are two ways to answer your challenge. The first is to type in “global warming” in google along with either the words “floods”, “drought”, “sea level”, “hunger”, “water wars”, etc., et.,

    [Response: You still aren’t getting it. Google is not the scientific literature. – gavin]

  49. 249
    Completely Fed Up says:

    As opposed to Mike G’s rendition of ’87, the forecast Michael Fish gave was, in his own words:

    “My forecast, which was quite a long time beforehand, earlier in the morning, actually said ‘Batten down the hatches there’s some extremely stormy weather on the way’.”

    But it’s very British to remember the times when the Busses FAILED to turn up, never when they do.

  50. 250
    Jimbo says:

    Response to #241 [Completely Fed Up] to Jimbo
    “So why should the scientific literature get alarmist about a cooling which does not even exist in the global average record?”

    RESPONSE: Here are a few:
    Mojib Latif (Author at IPCC) says:

    Do you have any more ‘challenges’ Completely Fed Up