RealClimate logo

Climate and network connections

Filed under: — rasmus @ 1 April 2010

by Rasmus & Jim

Who would think that Internet, ideas, disease, money, birds, and climate literacy have anything in common? Recent progress on complex systems and network theory suggests that they all can be described in terms of a ‘Levy flight‘. A recent and lengthy paper with the title ‘A study on interconnections between climate related ideas in complex networks’ (Ann. Trans. ICCPRS Soc. 52(3):1647-71; subscription required) by John McVenus argues that new ideas can be traced over the Internet just like dollar bills are traced at Wheresgeorge. Our take on this is that this study muddles things more than clarifying the facts – probably because McVenus tries to explain almost everything.

Random walks (RW) may have a much wider applicability than just describing climatic processes (see ‘Naturally trendy?‘). Recent progress on complex systems and nonlinear network information theory suggests that many information transfer and evolution processes exhibit characteristics that are effectively modeled by RW or its variants. These concepts can help us to understand the transmission and evolution of ideas in science, particularly when an extensive communication network (i.e. the internet) is a dominant communication medium, as it very much is today, and probably will be for some time.

There is, in particular, one type of random walk known as a “Levy flight“, which is simply a walk in which a highly skewed distribution of step distances leads to a small percentage of steps that are much larger than average (“jumps” or “flights”), altering the system state rather abruptly. Such behaviour can be studied with methods such as the agent-based approach for describing the spread of disease and meta-population models, but are used in McVenus to describe how information travels. Similar “agent-based” approaches are also used for example, in ecology for the modeling of metapopulation dynamics and the spread of diseases and wildfires.

After briefly laying out some conceptual and mathematical bases for Levy flight behavior and analysis, McVenus gets quickly to details. He begins a long litany of interesting examples with the recently proposed idea that orbital patterns in Jupiter and Saturn can in fact affect the solar center of mass, which in turn influences the level of solar activity, and hence the climate.

The McVenus paper also cites a small group in Norway which argues that changes in the moon’s orbit affects the climate through changes in ocean circulation, sea-ice cover, and hence the climate. This group coordinates a project called ‘Luna-Ticks’, and is interested in the idea of Jupiter and Saturn. But nobody has ever seen a Jupiter-tide or Saturn-tide here on Earth, and hence, they fear that critics convincingly will argue that the effect of the planets is pretty weak. But they really do like the idea, and instead proposed that the general principle could be translated to the moon and its measurable effect here on Earth. Everything but greenhouse gases, they argue, affects our climate.

Some bloggers have dubbed the process through which such arguments spread as ‘dispersion of confusion‘, which does not follow a simple diffusion law, but exhibits strange characteristics in addition to distant leaps in space. In addition to spreading, the ideas also change over time, morphing into new concepts, according to the McVenus paper.

While much more investigation into this topic is needed to get any sort of reasonable estimate of when and exactly how such conditions might be important, from an information flow analysis perspective, it is a fairly easy trace from there to the recent proclamation that astronomical alignments (astrology) can cause the climate to change, however strangely misguided such a pronouncement may be. Fair and straightforward enough; a good choice of examples with which to illustrate McVenus’ overall approach. But from here things start to get more complex–and highly interesting–pretty quickly.

McVenus further proposes that there is also a wealth of information to derive from all the “gates” and network analysis, because their number is rather limited and their identification is easy. Usually, a “gate” is a label telling the media to start a hype, being proposed by someone with limited imagination. But there are exceptions to this rule, such as “Colgate”. This notion also exists in plural form, such as “Billgates”.

The recent “Cowgate” appears to be a highly noteworthy Levy flight example. However, the gender of this gate turned out to be wrong – it later turned out really to be a “Bullgate”. It was traced by McVenus back to its press source via a principal system node in the propagation and evolution (usually via catastrophic mutation) of multiple climate science ideas at a web site called ‘the Gate Depot’.

It could have been no small task for McVenus to accurately trace these ideas as they went through the conceptual sausage grinder, rarely resembling anything remotely like their original form, much less some aspect of external reality as we know it. But perhaps this is just the typical warmist nitpicking about evidence, discernment, truth, reality and larger scale meaning.

This node represents what McVenus calls (using the slanderous invective of scientists, which has generated 99% of the bad blood in public discussions) “a mad man with an affinity for black listing”. The language here is unfortunate, even if the idea sleuthing is still first rate. And speaking of bloodsucking and bad blood, we apparently now have a ´Draculagate‘, fresh from the Gate Depot. But here we note that McVenus may have misinterpreted things slightly. Is that really the blood bank Dracula is in charge of, or is he rather just caught up fang-deep in ketchup? Where’s the photographic, or even metaphoric, evidence? What’s up with that? Caution is urged; the analysis is good but not without errors.

It is in illuminating such otherwise opaque connections that we simply would not otherwise make, that McVenus is at his best. For example, he tracks down how the longer term surface temperature increases are based exclusively on the completely untrustworthy HadCRUT data, which are contaminated by siting issues and more generally by the impossibility of calculating a global mean temperature. These issues also affect the regional to local scales that really affect the man in the street, where urban heat island effects are exceedingly extreme, notwithstanding all the snow this winter.

But the temperatures are still not a problem to humans in the summer because of manifest human adaptability exemplified by air conditioned buildings and vehicles, even in the third world where they are just not as obvious because of there being fewer of them. And even if we jump back to the first world, the European heat wave of 2003 that killed a lot of people in urban areas cannot be due to AGW because for the umpteenhundredth time weather is not climate, and thus the hyperbolic and incendiary alarmist exaggerations based entirely on the now utterly discredited computer modeling of Pachauri’s IPCC in Himalayanglaciermeltrategate need to stop forthwith. One does not often run across comprehensive arguments of this magnitude in one place. McVenus shines like the morning star.

But an even stranger change is seen in the disperion of confusion process in terms of a combination of the the Jupiter-Saturn hypothesis with the intelligent design (ID) concept. This aspect is not really fully acknowledged in the McVenus paper. To give some quick and concise background on this vast subject, it is important to note that Richard Bawkin, the author of “The Evil Particle” is critical to ID, and has argued that due to symmetry, everything has opposites in the universe. The particles have anti-particles, there are opposite spins in quantum physics (e.g. top spin and bottom spin), and so on. If there is intelligent design, there has to be stupid design too if symmetry holds. A quote from Oscar Wilde puts it nicely into perspective: “Where the devil is the Devil in intelligent design?”.

In logical terms, idiotic designs just proves natural selection, because over time, idiotic design doesn’t survive. A new research project proposed by John Spence had an objective to try to prove the existence of the anti-intelligent design. Colleagues have informally and jokingly threatened to nominate him for the igNobel prize. Anyway the project proposal had changed when it was submitted to the Norwegian Research Foundation: Instead of looking into evil issues, the project proposed to look for stupid designs. In particular it aims to look into stock markets, Icelandic banks, Greek economy, and accelerator pedals in hybrid cars.

However, the McVenus paper turns into a more tangled mess when it at great length discusses the propagation of ideas based on the church of ‘The Flying Spaghetti monster‘ (FSM) and almost neglects ID. The paper should have noted that FSM is an anti-thesis to the ID. Nevertheless, FSM has a say on global warming and hence influences the dispersion of confusion. According to FSM, global warming is inversely related to the number of pirates in the world. In November 2003, ‘Pirate Bay‘ was founded in Sweden, correctly acknowledged in McVenus, and the Swedes managed to elect representatives from their Pirate Party into the European parliament. Since then, some FSM-climate-protagonists have argued that the recent levelling off in the global mean temperature (from CRU!) can be explained. We think that this idea is unconvincing, even though the global mean temperature from CRU hasn’t really increased much since 2003.

An interesting and somewhat related point is that John Spence also has claimed that there must be anti-blogs too, and that there exists an unrealClimate-site. It’s not so straight forward to find it, as it uses a different name, however. Bart Verheggen from wuttsupwiththat, has pointed out the site UnrealClimate’s real name may be “blogal cooling”, but others suggest that the name of the anti-site is just made up with ‘real’ and ‘climate’ in reverse order (although they would have to swap ‘.org’ with ‘’).

There are also experts and un-experts, and organizations such as the Hartland institution provides a list of known experts in the world – and they say that an ‘expert’ is a person who does not think that an increase CO2 can lead to climate change. Many of these men and women provide part of the nodes in the agent-based approach models.

Finally, one remarkable conclusion about the spread of confusion in the McVenus paper, published by the Silly Paper Publishing Inc (SPPI), is that it’s distribution has a strong resemblance to the migration of cuckoos. In addition, cuckoos do lay eggs, and hence form new generations with new characteristics, thus changing over time, just like the ideas. Hence, he concludes, it is very likely that the confusion is spread by birds.

UPDATE: Apparently the recent story regarding the global warming activist who froze to death was missed by us. We apologize for this rank oversight; fortunately numerous other highly reputable news outlets known for their thorough fact checking have been all over it, even if their original reports of this tragedy have in some cases gone missing for some reason.

UPDATE AGAIN! Apparently, there are some who deny this story about network – they claim there are disrupted networks!

173 Responses to “Climate and network connections”

  1. 51
    CM says:

    “Ecneics”, that’s great. Best RC neologism since “rebunking”.

    It sounds vaguely like something L. Ron Hubbard might have come up with for Scientology. You know, like “engrams”, and “Dianetics”, and, what’s the name of that central practice of theirs…

    …oh yes, “auditing”.

  2. 52
    Hank Roberts says:

    And the very highest quality grade, of course, is:

    Ecneics Golb!

  3. 53

    There’s plenty of things besides the climate being stochastic/random. I just figured my body weight is indepedent of what I eat, just as climate is independent of what we emit. ( )

    [Response: Bart, this is brilliant! Nicely done. –eric]

  4. 54
    Joseph Sobry says:

    I would think that the denioscience with science spelled chaotically would be more likely to come out as senescience, sorry for the typo. After all they love the chaos caused by the climate so that we cannot know anything about it. It is also more likely because of the etymology. It comes from latin senex and it’s derivative senatus, meaning old and is best examplified by senescientist senator (even older) Inhofe.
    Add to that the fact that chaos (etymologically speaking) got bastardized to gas and you all know that the climate tragedy plays out mainly in the atmosphere which is also very chaotic i.e. full of gas. And so forth ex absurdo ad absurdum and ad nauseum.

  5. 55
    doug de vos says:

    There was a John McVicar , maybe an ancestor of the one quoted, who entertained the Scottish clansmen with fabulous tales on the eve of the battle of Culloden. That battle was fought on April 2nd (or sometime during the ensuing year). The Scots lost.

  6. 56

    I would argue that state change can also be easily accomplished when you consider the ‘Trip Mechanism’ similar to the ‘Butterfly Effect’, whereas by when applied to ‘Levy Flight’ and ‘Chaos Theory’ one can see that a random misstep can significantly alter a path.

    This can be applied to meta and well as physical systems in my estimation. Now, one can see that in meta systems be they figmented by the pathology of a belief system, or real, the confirmation bias may or may not align with the physical state of the system.

    But actual alignment of the meta and physical are not required to produce a figmented result that is satisfactory to the subset meta system. IN this sense we can deduce that belief systems, thought they can not override the physics of a particular system, certainly can produce the perception that a figment is real, at least when viewed form the perspective of the meta figment system in question.

    NEW VIDEO: AGW Climate History

    Enjoy :)

    Our best chance for a better future ‘Fee & Dividend’
    Understand the delay and costs of Cap and Trade
    Sign the Petition!

  7. 57
    Craig Allen says:

    I just looked up that climaterealist site you mentioned. The entire site seems to be an April Fools joke!

  8. 58

    Re. 20 Velocity

    “The ocean rules. The atmosphere is a thin byproduct of the tenth planet” as Dr Jeffrey Gassman puts it. His new paper (27/03/2012) is titled;

    The Fingerprint of the never-before observed tenth planet is on the Earth’s 6000 year temperature record, contradicting Rush Limbaugh’s conclusions: the liberals’ & Greenies’.

    Have a good read and by all means submit your illusion that the Sun, volcanoes, natural cycles, the Earth’s interior heat, the tenth planet, UFOs, the Mayan calendar and the “unseen one” moves the oceans as well as Earths climate!! Enjoy…

  9. 59

    I did it. Just started my own blog today. Not only is the April Fools, but also Holy Thurday for Christians, so I wrote something about that….(link is on my name)

  10. 60
    TAC says:

    Levy T absolutely greater than 3. Bravo!

  11. 61
  12. 62
    Mac Crawford says:

    Maybe after peer review this could go into the Journal of Irreproduceable Results. I think my favorite was “blogal warming.”

  13. 63
    Chris Dudley says:

    With Inhofe channeling Joe McCarthy, I wonder if “séance” might not be better than “ecneics”?

  14. 64
    Mohammad Firoz Khan says:

    In science “critical thinking” has always been the first step in the evaluation of scientific results and claims, then, comes under scrutiny methodology and replication, though the latter is not always possible. By critical thinking I mean the end purpose that scientific results and claims against received theory and established findings serve, as is the case of contradictory claims with tag of scientific research in the world of commerce.
    In my opinion persons who claim CO2 not responsible for climate change even felt by an illiterate person anywhere not aware of this discourse in the community of scientists, are themselves no more than themselves “agents” serving the cause of nations which are responsible for the state of climate affairs. The purpose of these arguments is to absolve them of their misdoings and let them continue spew CO2 so that they need not to compromise with their lifestyle and standard of living as well as to provide them logical grounds to turn away from their moral duty to undo their misdeeds. However, no amount of arguments and scientific claim can convince a majority of scientists interested in the process of climate change that CO2 is not responsible for it.

  15. 65
    Ike Solem says:

    The real issues in climate network connections mostly involve water vapor responses and associated flooding and drought. These “teleconnnections” (a poorly defined word of dubious value) mostly involve the year-to-year fluctuations, but it’s also clear the overall background water vapor is increasing, in line with climate predictions – but there’s a lot of regional variability based on atmospheric and ocean circulation patterns.

    The earlier claims, that global warming would lead to massive reorganization of global circulation, reversal of the Gulf Stream, the “Day After Tomorrow” scenario and so on – have been largely rejected. What you are seeing is alteration of existing patterns, such as the northward expansion of the Hadley Cell and the associated expansion of subtropical dry zones.

    Likewise, you have temperature and pressure differentials over land and oceans in many regions. In the southeastern U.S., this leads to drought – but as you go north into mid-latitude dominated regions, you get more rainfall and flooding.

    It’s kind of humorous how realclimate is restricting itself to criticizing (and hence publicizing) the most absurd blogosphere claims of a handful of diehard denialists, while entirely ignoring the real issues in climate.

    The usefulness-relevance factor is falling here – and as far as biogeochemistry and the carbon & nitrogen cycles, realclimate hasn’t a clue – witness the apparent support for coal-based carbon capture, idiotic cap-and-trade proposals with zero scientific backing – what is an offset, biogeochemically speaking, anyway?

    This points to some rather serious problems with the U.S. academic science community as well as within the U.S. media institutions, don’t you think? For example, a complete refusal to discuss drought and flooding in relation to climate change?

  16. 66
    Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Bart (53)–well done!! Wish I’d thought of that analogy myself.

  17. 67
    Steve Fish says:

    RE- Comment by Ike Solem — 2 April 2010 @ 12:12 PM:

    Ike, you seem to have wandered off into non sequitur land. Please try to find your way back.


  18. 68

    “Where the devil is the devil in intelligent design?”

    Probably lurking in the details again. . .

    [Response: :-)]

  19. 69
    Brian Dodge says:

    Bart, I don’t know diddle about econometrics, or stochastic pants sizes, but according to wikipedia “As noted above, a unit root process has a variance that depends on t, and diverges to infinity”. You may be facing some serious dry goods yardage issues.

  20. 70
    Jimbo says:


    [Response: Au contraire! Your post here is far more appropriate than you realize–thanks for making the connections that would otherwise have escaped most of us.–Jim]

    Keep your eyes on this crappy link:

    Call it flippy floppy, wibbly wobbly, thin or rotten ice it shows the indadequacy of the climate computer models due to the admitted bias of modellers themselves.

    Modellers have an inbuilt bias towards forced climate change because the causes and effect are clear.”
    “General circulation modelling of Holocene climate variability”,
    by Gavin Schmidt, Drew Shindell, Ron Miller, Michael Mann and David Rind, published in Quaternary Science Review in 2004.)

  21. 71
    Jimbo says:

    I don’t want any of you warmists to be taken by surprise but here is SPIEGEL ONLINE 2010 which has its own take on climate scientists and the IPCC. (In English in 8 parts!!!),1518,686697,00.html

  22. 72
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jimbo, What a load of Sheist. Get back in touch when you have something from an actual science journal.

  23. 73
    Eli Rabett says:

    You didn’t cite Wegmann and Said. Plagiarism.

  24. 74
    Steve Fish says:

    RE- Comment by Jimbo — 2 April 2010 @ 7:48 PM:

    Jimbo, I was able to get through parts 1 and 2 of the Spiegel Online piece. Do you really expect anybody with more than two neurons connected by a spirochete to pay any attention to an opinion piece that starts off with unsupported allegations regarding a scientist’s medications and emotional upset resulting from attacks on his character? Whether true or not, this sort of journalism is obviously not serious regarding the important scientific issues that inform us regarding how we all are going to deal with a future threatened by several looming ecological and economic problems. Evers, Stamph and you need to start looking beyond popular culture.

    Unfortunately I am not surprised. Steve

  25. 75

    #69–Doesn’t sound like “its own take.”

    In fact, it sounds decidedly familiar. Faux news-style “balance.”

    Blah, blah, blah. . .

  26. 76

    German journalism lives! This is the greatest reporting since the Hitler Diaries.

  27. 77
    jyyh says:

    Referring to April 2007… We happen to be near Easter 2010, and massive lamb feasts. There’s the rule that no dyeing is done during the festivities so the albedo should start decreasing on tuesday.

  28. 78
    john says:

    The Apr 1 post was no more or less idiotic than the daily phlegm posted. OK, a little funnier, but not as funny as the concept of CO2 as a primary driver.

  29. 79
    JiminMpls says:

    #70 Ray – Lets see, 460 comments under the Guardian Responds article – which is what, the fourth RC article dealing with Guardian coverage? And how many comments have complained about Andy Revkin or other British, American or Australian media coverage? It’s rather chauvanistic to dismiss Der Spiegel coverage because it’s not a scientific journal.

    Der Spiegel is a very influential, generally left-leaning and pro-environmental magazine in what is arguably the country that is most committed to climate change mitigation.

    I found the Der Spiegel article pretty disturbing. Maybe the left in Germany is mirroring the US GOP by opposing anything that Merkel stands for regardless of merit?

  30. 80
    Ray Ladbury says:

    I find the hard left in any country disturbing. They are as reality-challenged as the far right–look at Alex Cockburn. It is just that they are not in a position to impose their silly beliefs.

    I think that the basic problem is the same–journalists do not understand science and science does not lend itself well to the usual formats imposed by the “craft” of journalism. First and foremost, a story must hold the interest of the reader. It can do this by
    1)Telling the reader what he wants to hear–e.g. a feel-good piece about a group he identifies with or a hatchet job against a perceived enemy.
    2)Exploding myths about a subject that are widely held by the public–the Man bites dog story.
    3)Imposing a narrative–often the inspiring story of an individual triumphing over “the establishment” or against amazing odds.
    4)Imposing conflict, whether any is actually present or not. And the journalist tries to be impartial by taking a “middle road” between the antagonists.

    Science–especially mature science like that relating to climate change–does not lend itself to any of these, and some of its implications are disturbing. So when they cover it at all, the media tend to try to fit it into one of the above boxes. The narrative does probably the least violence to the facts–at least potentially. However, the Man Bites Dog and conflict formats are a very tempting to lazy journalists as well. The Der Speigel story seems to be trying all of the above.

    Frankly, I generally don’t read popularized accounts of science at all. They so rarely get anything right that I wind up angrily throwing the magazine/paper away. Andy tries, but he is especially guilty of “taking the middle road”, a tack that works poorly when the dispute is between scientists and liars.

    The thing to remember is that none of this affects the evidence. It’s still there. If we ask nature the same questions 10 years from now, she’ll give us the same answers. This is not a contest the liars can win. They can delay. They may even delay long enough to die fat and happy in their own beds. Ultimately, though, people will know the truth, and they’ll know they’ve been lied to. The only question is whether it will then be too late to do anything to avert catastrophe.

  31. 81
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Poor John @77 doesn’t realize that he IS the joke.

  32. 82
    Sue Jones says:

    Where is Plimer when you need him?
    What happened to him by the way- has he fallen from denier grace?

  33. 83

    #79 john

    I see poor john moved to 79. What john seems to not realize is that there can be different drivers of the same car at different times and if there is more than one driver in the car, side seat and back seat drivers can actually have an influence on the main driver.

    History of Climate Science

    Our best chance for a better future ‘Fee & Dividend’
    Understand the delay and costs of Cap and Trade
    Sign the Petition!

  34. 84
    wilt says:

    Steve Fish, you wrote (#74): “I was able to get through parts 1 and 2 of the Spiegel Online piece”.
    I agree with you that Phil Jones’ state of mind is not the most important issue when discussing the global warming research. But by stopping at page 2 of the Spiegel overview, you have missed some important conclusions. I will mention here only 2 of them.
    About ‘The Reality of Rising Sea Levels”:
    ‘Two factors influence the sea level. The first one affects it directly: When water heats, it expands. This warming effect, which can be calculated with relative precision, is expected to cause the sea level to rise by about 22 centimeters by 2100. Another effect that is not as easy to calculate is the melting of mountain glaciers and inland ice in Greenland and Antarctica. Most of the melting today is happening in mountain glaciers, from the Andes to the Himalayas. According to IPCC calculations, this melting activity contributes 0.8 millimeters a year to the rise in sea level. Greenland and Antarctica each contribute another 0.2 millimeters.’
    So I suppose that this would all in all lead to approximately 32 cm sea level rise by 2100.
    ‘Der Spiegel’ then adds that there is a possibility that the contribution of melting glaciers might become larger but that this is quite uncertain:
    ‘Meanwhile, satellite observations indicate that the rate at which the ice is melting has increased. Glaciologists speculate that parts of the Western Antarctic and, to a greater extent, Greenland, are melting more quickly than initially assumed. But many scientists are reluctant to make new predictions, because the inner processes in the gigantic ice caps remain insufficiently understood. Reliable data on the behavior of calving glaciers has only existed for about 10 years. Greenland’s glaciers are currently spitting a particularly large amount of ice into the ocean. After such a phase, however, many ice flows become dormant again for a longer period of time.’

    About ‘The Myth of the Monster Storm’
    ‘Last month Landsea, together with top US hurricane researchers, published a study that finally disproves the supposed link between hurricanes and global warming. The study concludes with the assessment that “tropical cyclone frequency is likely to either decrease or remain essentially the same.” Top wind speeds could increase somewhat, says Landsea, but the changes would “not be truly substantial.”’

    Wouldn’t you agree that it makes more sense to formulate counter-arguments, if possible, rather than ignore that an important opinion leader in Germany has written the statements above?,1518,686697,00.html

  35. 85
    Steve L says:

    I’m sorry that the beginning of this article didn’t go on longer and in more depth. When I was in school, ten to fifteen years ago, I was really into metapopulation stuff, the design of conservation areas, and Wright’s shifting balance theory — all as applied to ideas. The notion that ideas evolved similarly to genes has been fairly popular probably since before Dawkins’s “Selfish Gene” and the coining of “meme”. It seemed to me that ideas in different environments would be freer to roam and explore different regions and peaks of an adaptive landscape if there was more limited exchange (more ‘sub-populations’ or fields of inquiry). That is, I kind of thought the world of ideas would be richer somehow if lines of division were strengthened (eg by supporting more non-English journals or something). And I bolstered that idea in my own mind by thinking of the SLOSS argument (Single Large or Several Small) in the design of conservation reserves. Like the metapopulation paper cited in this blogpost, I thought disease was an excellent motivation for restricting movement [of ideas] … because, unlike deleterious alleles which are set up to decline owing to natural selection, bad ideas can act more like aggressive diseases.

    Instead of going on with this, I’ll just point out the irony of me now coming to a climate website, reading this fun April Fool’s piece, and going away a bit disappointed that I didn’t learn much about what the latest research says about evolution of ideas in time and space.

  36. 86
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Wilt, Der Speigel has simply chosen to regurgitate a decades worth of denialist lies. The only appropriate refutation would be to point them to Realclimate’s START HERE button or the Skeptical Science iPhone app.

  37. 87
    Steve Fish says:

    RE- Comment by wilt — 3 April 2010 @ 11:56 AM:

    You say- “Wouldn’t you agree that it makes more sense to formulate counter-arguments, if possible, rather than ignore that an important opinion leader in Germany has written the statements above?”

    I am sorry but I don’t agree. I find that “opinion leaders” are usually not a good source of scientific information and I have to waste time double checking them. For me, a good standard for reading anything that is supposedly factual is that if an article leads off with obviously biased, inaccurate, or in this case, irrelevant and inappropriate information, the rest can’t usually be trusted.


  38. 88
    Hank Roberts says:

    wypożyczalnia samochodów dostawczych says: 3 April 2010 at 5:03 AM

    That’s a spambot not a person.

  39. 89
    Ron says:

    OT but I hope interesting.

    Is Google biased?

    A year ago my colleague and I did an analysis of popular climate blogs based on Google ‘page rank’. The page rank goes from 0 to 10. The higher the rank the more enquiries Google is likely to send to that site. What we have found is the while non-sceptic sites are more or less in balance, as many sites have moved up as have moved down, for sceptic sites this is not the case. The number of demotions is more than 5 times higher than the number of promotions.

    It is not due to changes in posting frequency. We have also found that non-sceptical sites with few visitors (according to Alexa) sometimes have the same page rank as popular sceptic sites with 100 times as many visitors.

    It seems as if Google is biased against climate sceptics.

    [Response:Hopefully that analysis is better than your tree ring discussion, which I assume was not an April Fool’s joke.–Jim]

  40. 90
    flxible says:

    Site rankings are a result of links to that site, not number of updates or hits, it’s not google that’s biased, it’s everyone else on the net :)

  41. 91
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ron, the problem is there are so many people with so many mutually inconsistent ideas — the sum of all the different “Not the IPCC” opinions is large, but they don’t point to one another because they quite often contradict one another. A few examples here:

    The “Anything but the IPCC” sites do get and make more links than those for sites by people with one firmly held opinion. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, but they tend not to link to other people’s.

    The climate scientists tend to point to one another a lot because they’re all working with attempts to find and understand the same facts — the real world.

  42. 92
    Didactylos says:

    Ron, if the effect you see is real, I imagine it is a result of frustrated users searching for answers to questions and seeing (and ignoring or demoting) credulous nonsense hiding behind the “sceptic” label.

    However, my personal experience is that denier sites are all over the results pages, and hard to avoid. All that oil money being put to good use, one assumes. Gaming search engines is a bad thing, and THAT is pretty much guaranteed to hurt pagerank when Google penalises the SEO attempts.

    Google don’t publish their ranking algorithms, and for good reason.

  43. 93

    Hank wrote in 93:

    Ron, the problem is there are so many people with so many mutually inconsistent ideas — the sum of all the different “Not the IPCC” opinions is large, but they don’t point to one another because they quite often contradict one another. A few examples here:

    …. The climate scientists tend to point to one another a lot because they’re all working with attempts to find and understand the same facts — the real world.

    What Hank wrote really gets to the heart of the issue. The coherence of the scientific case is the result of thousands of scientists all attempting to adhere to reality. Since there is only one reality their views will tend to be more coherent. Those that support modern science will tend to be united by a great deal more than those who are united simply by their often mutually contradictory opposition to modern science.

    And consequently those who are united by science will tend to link to one-another a great deal more.
    However, it isn’t simply the number of websites that link to a given website that determines its rank. It is also a question of the “quality” of those links — where by “quality” one is considering the pagerank of those websites and weighting their links to a given website accordingly. So essentially what Google does is it begins by assigning every webpage the same weight. Then in the next stage it weights each webpage by the number of webpages linking to that webpage.

    In essence, those webpages that are referred to more often are considered more authoritative, and thus so are the links that they make to other webpages. Thus in the next stage it weights each webpage according to sum of the links pointing to it, but where the links are weighted according to the pagerank (from the previous stage) of the webpages making those links.

    This could be continued indefinitely — but in actuality only a few stages are required before the weight associated with each webpage settles on a specific value. And as a consequence of the nature of the algorithm, it has the effect of amplifying the asymmetry that already exists between those who support science and those who are united simply by their opposition to science — where very few of the websites making links are regarded as “authoritative” about much of anything.

    Anyway, to learn more about the pagerank algorithm please see:


    However, note that Google’s algorithm has become “more sophisticated” than the original algorithm — in part to take into account content and to avoid various approaches to game the system. For example, there was something called “Google Bombing” a while back which worked quite well back in 2006, but judging from at least one recent attempt late last year by some fellow called “Morano” it doesn’t seem to work all that well any more. And presumably Google might be taking into account the speed with which a webpage loads soon.

    Please see:

    Site Speed, Google’s Next Ranking Factor
    by Barry Schwartz, Nov 13, 2009

  44. 94

    wilt, your (or der spiegel’s?) summary of the hurricane study seems a tad off the mark, according to the original press release (albeit we have learned that press releases are not always accurate!)


    The study offers projections for tropical cyclones worldwide by the end of this century, and some experts said the bad news outweighs the good. Overall strength of storms as measured in wind speed would rise by 2 to 11 per cent, but there would be between 6 and 34 per cent fewer storms in number. Essentially, there would be fewer weak and moderate storms and more of the big damaging ones, which also are projected to be stronger due to warming.

    An 11 per cent increase in wind speed translates to roughly a 60 per cent increase in damage, said study co-author Kerry Emanuel, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  45. 95
    Craig Nazor says:

    This RealClimate is post truly hysterical (even though my girlfriend tells me that word is about as sexist as they come)! But did you ever wonder what kind of jokes denier web sites do for April Fools day? They could do stuff like:

    “Al Gore gets fined for disconnecting his catalytic converter to get better gas mileage”


    “Climatologist gets frostbite from leaving his refrigerator open overnight”

    But they don’t. So far, I can’t find anything nearly as funny as the post here on RealClimate. What do you think it means when a countermovement lacks a sense of humor?

    [Response: Perhaps that they collectively lack the newly discovered humor gene?–Jim]

    [Response: They do have some funny cartoons, and they are funny according to Esquire. -rasmus]

  46. 96
    Hunt Janin says:

    I hope this is not an inappropriate request. If it is, please accept my apologies.

    Re “climate literacy,” I’ve drafted a KISS (keep it simple, stupid) description of global warming for my introductory survey on sea level rise. While I’ve used good sources in writing these few pages, I’m a mere generalist, not a climate scientist, and need to be 100% I have my global warming facts right.

    If (free of charge) you might want to glance at my current draft and tell me what mistakes it contains, please let me know at

    [Response: You forgot the link to your draft.–Jim]

  47. 97

    john (79): The Apr 1 post was no more or less idiotic than the daily phlegm posted. OK, a little funnier, but not as funny as the concept of CO2 as a primary driver.

    BPL: Let’s see, so you think thousands of climate scientists are wrong about a major part of modern climate science. Just a few questions for you, John. Try to answer them WITHOUT going to Wikipedia or an Encyclopedia.

    1. Could you write down the equation of radiative transfer to save your life? Do you know what it is or what it’s used for?

    2. When do you think the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) was first proposed?

    3. Do you think the greenhouse effect exists at all? If so, can you describe how it works?

    Just wondering.

  48. 98
    Andrew says:

    Sorry if this is terribly off topic, but I was revieweing the NCDC state of the climate report for Feb 2010 and thought to document some novice observations.

    What’s interesting to note is that the Southern Hemisphere established a record high temperatures for both land and ocean surfaces. For the Northern Hemisphere, the oceans were also near records highs, but the land surfaces were off from near record levels. NH land was still top quartile, but this seems somewhat odd.

    So, looking closer, I note that the snowfall extent for the NH was very high. It’s not too much of a stretch to realize that this was due to a large number of winter storms and that the extensive snow coverage reduced surface albedo and increased radiational cooling.

    Of course, 1 month or year does not make a trend. However, the IPCC has also observed that snow fall extent is generally trending downward for all months except Nov and December. Feb is removed from the Nov/Dec time period, but could still be part of the stormy winter season as we just witnessed.

    Most climate models pedict increased precipitation in the northern part of the NH, especially in winter. So, it may be that winter storminess may be working toward seasonal biases in the rate of global warming which could also help explain why sea ice extent tends to reach near normal levels in March only to reach abnormally low levels by Sept at the end of the traditionally low storminess period.

    Thanks for any comments.

  49. 99
    Hunt Janin says:

    Jim et al, re my post no. 96, I did NOT send in the draft. It’s too elementary for the experts! If anyone wants to read it, let me know at, and I’ll send it direct to them. Thanks.

  50. 100
    Septic Matthew says:

    I think that this is the most elaborate April Fool’s joke I have ever read.

    Very well done.