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Climate cynicism at the Santa Fe conference

Filed under: — group @ 19 December 2011

Guest commentary by Mark Boslough*

The Third Santa Fe Conference on Global and Regional Climate Change was held during Halloween week. It was most notable for the breadth of opinion — and the span of credibility — of its speakers. I have long complained about the lack of willingness of most contrarians to attend and present their arguments at mainstream scientific conferences. After three years of convening climate-related sessions at AGU, I have yet to receive an abstract that argues against anthropogenic global warming. Such presentations can usually only be seen at conferences held by the Heartland Institute. There isn’t much chance of a mainstream scientist attending a meeting organized by a political think tank known for its anti-science activism, so opportunities for interaction between the groups are rare.

The conference was the third in a series (the first was held in Halifax ten years ago) that actively solicits participation from conventional scientists as well as those on the fringes. Organized by the Center for Nonlinear Studies of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, with co-sponsorship from the International Arctic Research Center, Brookhaven, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the meeting has sufficient credibility to attract speakers like Richard Peltier and Gerald North, while also providing the podium to Christopher Monckton and Don Easterbrook. Travel grants from LANL were provided to assist some of the speakers.

It quickly became apparent that the meeting would be run with a firm, no-nonsense approach to confrontation. In my original abstract, I used the term “contrarian,” which I have always considered to be a polite, non-judgmental descriptive term. Petr Chylek, LANL Laboratory Fellow and chair of the conference program committee responded by telling me, “I would like to ask you for some revision. The designations like ‘contrarians, skeptics, deniers, etc.’ may be offensive to some scientists present. Perhaps you can re-write your abstract and your presentation without using such words.” Fair enough, given the potential for contentiousness. Later, a generalized request went to all speakers: “Please, do not use any demeaning labels like deniers, contrarians, warmers, alarmists, … Please, stick to science. Stay away from personal attacks on other scientists present or not.”

I was disappointed, however, that the poster abstract I submitted with Lloyd Keigwin (WHOI), “Misrepresentations of Sargasso Sea Temperatures by Global Warming Doubters,” was rejected. This abstract was essentially the same material we presented at last year’s GSA meeting in Denver, and revealed the fact that a graph in Lloyd’s 1996 Science paper had been redrawn for the paper “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide” by Arthur Robinson and coauthors. Some of the original data on Lloyd’s graph had been removed and replaced by fabricated data, apparently in an attempt to argue that temperatures are lower now than the 3000-year average. The doctored version of the graph has been used repeatedly in opinion pieces and was reprinted by Fred Singer in the NIPCC report. It is arguably one of the most widely reproduced graphs in contrarian literature, and in one form was sent out to tens of thousands of scientists to solicit signatures for the so-called “Oregon petition”.

Petr Chylek, explaining his reason for rejection, said, “This Conference is not a suitable forum for type of presentations described in submitted abstract. We would accept a paper that spoke to the science, the measurements, the interpretation, but not simply an attempted refutation of someone else’s assertions (especially when made in unpublished reports and blog site).” Of course, I’m not sure that a correction by the author of a graph that has been improperly reproduced in the primary contrarian literature is not the same thing as an “attempted refutation”.

The first day of the conference was buzzing with news of Richard Muller’s announcement of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) results. Just a week earlier, he had published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, titled, “The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism (There were good reasons for doubt, until now)”. Then, only one day before the conference, David Rose of the Daily Mail broke a supposed “scandal”: “Scientist who said climate change sceptics had been proved wrong accused of hiding truth by colleague”. Muller’s coauthor, Judith Curry, was quoted saying, “There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn’t stopped. To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data, which is very unfortunate.” This story was picked up by Fox News and the narrative that spread throughout the blogosphere was that “Curry has turned on Muller.”

Reading about climate change in the mainstream media — let alone on blogs — can be like looking at reality in a funhouse mirror. When Muller got up to discuss the BEST results on Tuesday morning, the first thing he did was point out that the title of the WSJ piece did not come from him. His original title was “Cooling the Global Warming Debate.” But since his name was under the title he didn’t write, it was automatically attributed to him, as a direct quote. In fact he said, he had been misquoted more times since this was published than he had in the rest of his life. The Daily Mail/Fox News story seemed just as distorted. If Curry and Muller had a major scientific disagreement, wouldn’t a scientific conference be the appropriate place for the debate? If they were at loggerheads over the fundamental question of whether “global warming hasn’t stopped” wouldn’t one of them have mentioned it? They each gave two presentations, and this never came up in public or in any conversation I was aware of.

The conference was remarkably well run. For the most part, participants were well behaved and adhered to Petr Chylek’s strict rules—avoiding inflammatory terms, and steering away from personal attacks and interruptions. The one exception was Judith Curry, who apparently did not get the memo. She gave a banquet presentation entitled, “The Uncertainty Monster at the Climate Science-Policy Interface”. My impression was that her presentation was intended to be more of a vehicle to criticize her adversaries than to talk about uncertainty.

Her most personal attack was against Michael Mann, who she used to illustrate “uncertainty hiding” by showing a caricature of him standing next to the “uncertainty monster” holding a hockey stick and hidden by a sheet, with the cartoon-Mann saying “what uncertainty?” Next to the cartoon was and image of the cover of the book “The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science” illustrated with the multiproxy time series that Mann and his coauthors made famous. Ironically, Mann’s carefully plotted uncertainty bands were not visible on the presentation graphic, just as they were not reproduced in Fred Singer’s NIPCC report. “What uncertainty?” indeed!

Curry described her transition from a scientist who felt that it was the responsible thing to do to support the IPCC conclusions to someone who is “about 50% a denier”. She attributed this change to “climategate” and the reaction she received due to her initial comments about it. She was the only speaker who ignored the policy against the word “denier.” She used the banned “d-word” repeatedly for effect when setting up a straw-man argument against what she called “IPCC/UNFCCC ideology” — a term she coined to label notions such as “anthropogenic climate change is real” and “deniers are attacking climate science and scientists”. She assured the audience that she didn’t think there were any “IPCC ideologues” at the conference but she had heard rumors that some were invited and had declined. She called out Kevin Trenberth as a supposed example of such an ideologue (again rejecting the policy against personal attack).

Among her straw-man arguments was her dismissal of standard risk-reduction methodology for low-probability high-consequence events as a mere “precautionary principle” (the same principle that nuclear weapons engineers are taught when they told to always ask “what can go horribly wrong?”). One colleague later remarked that her approach to uncertainty quantification reminded him of an English major who had just finished reading Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.”

I met most of the conference participants during the course of the week, and had cordial conversations with all those with whom I disagreed. One thing I have long suspected was strongly reinforced: there is no common scientific understanding amongst contrarians. Many of them are just as critical of one another’s ideas as they are of conventional science. William Gray stood up after many of the presentations on solar influence to declare that solar variability is not important. It’s even less important than CO2, he said. It’s ocean variability that is the cause of most climate change. Petr Chylek stood up after Fred Singer’s presentation (in which Singer presented old uncorrected UAH MSU data that suggested cooling) and said emphatically, “Denying the warming makes no sense!”.

monckton_boslough I spent a lot of time talking to Christopher Monckton, who may have been the only non-scientist to give a presentation. He has no understanding of science or the scientific method, and when I asked him about scientific prediction, he called it a “fool’s errand”. He has a strong authoritarian approach to those with whom he disagrees, and his conspiracy theories run deep and dark. He names specific names and calls IPCC contributors “malevolent”. I asked him to share the very worst hacked email he could remember. The only specific example he gave was the one in which someone referred to him as a “charlatan”.

Several of us had beers at the Marble Brewery overlooking the Santa Fe plaza on Thursday evening, where Monckton recounted his efforts to get the police involved in an investigation of one IPCC lead author who (he says) committed criminal fraud associated with a graph in the IPCC report. (His own adventures in graphical misrepresentation are of course completely unproblematic).

The main lesson I took away from the conference was this: there is no consistent contrarian science, and there is no defining contrarian ideology or motivation. Some are sincere. Others are angry at their lack of funding. Some appear to be envious of the IPCC scientists’ success, and others have found a niche that gets them attention they would not otherwise get. Only a few appear to be motivated by politics. No single label applies to them, and I found myself referring to them as “contrarians/skeptics/deniers/enablers/provocateurs/publicity-seekers”.

The one common thread I found among them was the fervent belief that “Climategate” was a conspiracy and that the IPCC is rigged. This faith-based belief seems to be unshakable, and is the antithesis of true skepticism. Those I met were uniformly cynical about the honesty and motivations of mainstream scientists. If I were forced to use a single label, I would be inclined to call them “science cynics”.

*These comments reflect the personal opinion of the author and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of his employer or his funding agencies.

212 Responses to “Climate cynicism at the Santa Fe conference”

  1. 51
    Ed Beroset says:

    I have long been curious as to how the contrarians have arrived at their conclusions. One way to draw a conclusion is to look at available, relevant data with an open mind and go where the data leads. Another is to draw a conclusion based on political affiliation and then seek only facts that seem to support it. I suppose there may be other ways. Did you get a chance to find out how participants arrived at their conclusions?

  2. 52
    John Mashey says:

    re: 43 Edward
    “Mark Boslough, Petr Chylek and Scott Denning: you are giving accreditation to Christopher Monckton, Judith Curry and Fred Singer. You are thus helping the fossil fuel industry prevent action on GW. Don’t give any more conferences like that.”

    Edward: Mark didn’t run this conference, he just attended.

    To assess the reason for all this, see Wikipedia or DeSMogBlog on Chylek. The latter is a bit out-of-date, lacking the LANL information, but has other bits.

    You might check the program committee, which has some people that seem reasonable. If you know any of them, ask them what was going on. Note: I once was involved on program committee with a conference where someone rammed a terrible speaker in by a fait accompli, so one cannot assume everyone on program committee was keen for all the speakers. But again, it would be interesting to know where travel funds went (since Mark didn’t get any.)

  3. 53
    Bernard J. says:


    Judith Curry seems to be hell-bent on pursuing the professional equivalent of chewing her own head off.

    She would do well to remember that in matters of scientific truth, as there was in Highlander, there can be only one. To wrench another oblique reference from aforementioned film, her professional judgement really seems to be suffering from a bad case of The Slowing…

  4. 54
    CM says:

    Re: IPCC information for the general public

    The FAQs were a very nice addition to AR4 WG1.

    We already have SPMs, and Technical Summaries, and Synthesis Report, and the actual Working Group reports… I’m not sure it makes life simpler to have yet another IPCC product. There probably is a niche for “The IPCC Brochure,” though. It would have to be written by real people, though, not by committee. A shorter Archer and Rahmstorf?

  5. 55
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Amoeba #46, I must be missing something: how is the time axis faked? Keigwin gives dates “before present” (i.e., 2000AD according to Figure 3 in Keigwin (1996) comparing to Figure 4b), and Singer uses years of the Christian Era. It seems to me the conversion used is correct. So seems the temperature axis.

    (Singer knows how to display time for left-to-right reading Christians. And always impeccably dressed. Grrr.)

  6. 56
    Mark Boslough says:

    Martin # 53

    “Before present” is usually defined to mean “before 1950”. The problem with the modified graph is that the 2006 temperature data point is entirely fabricated. It is significantly lower than the modern temperature record measured at hydrographic station “S”. The station “S” instrumental data was included by Keigwin in his 1996 paper, but was removed and replaced with the made-up data by Robinson et al. (2007). This graph with the faked data was cut and pasted into the Non-IPCC report and has been the basis for the claim that temperatures are lower now than the 3000-year average. It is easy to see it’s exactly the same graph created by the Robinsons, but the aspect ratio of the entire graphic (including the text) was stretched horizontally.

    I pointed this problem out to Singer in Santa Fe, and he told me he would make sure to use Keigwin’s original graph in the next edition of the Non-IPCC report. We’ll see.

  7. 57
    deconvoluter says:

    Re #53.

    Smoke and mirrors.
    If people wish to refer to this topic, I recommend the original 2010 text written and linked to by Mark, rather than these graphs which don’t provide an adequate summary of the Sargasso stunt.


  8. 58
    Ray Ladbury says:

    I’m not sure what you are calling on scientists to do that they are not already doing. They are already confirming the predicted increase in drought and extreme precipitation events. They are monitoring loss of sea ice in the Arctic, melting of glaciers and release of methatne. They are already tracking decreasing pH in the oceans. They are already tracking and publishing wrt decreases in crop yields with temperature. What specific action would you have them do that they are not doing already. All science can do is give us reliable information and understanding. It is up to us whether we choose to accept or ignore reality.

  9. 59
    deconvoluter says:

    Re my last comment: # 53 should be #54 now.

    Also the clarification in #55 helps. Perhaps it merits yet another article combining the points from #55 and the 2010 text?

    [By the way, this is reminiscent of the date-fabrication used by Channel 4’s Swindle program * which showed a graph going up to about 1980 which was labeled NOW]

    * Certainly in the version which I saw.

  10. 60

    All science can do is give us reliable information and understanding. It is up to us whether we choose to accept or ignore reality.

    Error. Beep.

    Accepting reality doesn’t change it. Acceptance is just the next first step after completing the four previous stages of grief.

    Science gives SCIENTISTS the knowledge and tools necessary to change reality. The question is will those who are in the best position to change the reality of the problems accept the challenge of changing the outcome.

    I posit those people are scientists. So far I haven’t seen a whole lot of any credible ideas from ANY scientists, let alone climate scientists. I have seen some good ideas from people who have moved beyond acceptance.

  11. 61
    Hank Roberts says:

    > the original 2010 text written and linked to by Mark

    Is the text illustrated with the graphs in one place, somewhere?

  12. 62
    Mal Adapted says:

    As John Mashey suggests, conference co-chair Petr Chylek is a key figure. Chylek thinks the consensus for AGW is all a conspiracy:

    For me, science is the search for truth, the never-ending path towards finding out how things are arranged in this world so that they can work as they do. That search is never finished.

    It seems that the climate research community has betrayed that mighty goal in science. They have substituted the search for truth with an attempt at proving one point of view. It seems that some of the most prominent leaders of the climate research community, like prophets of Old Israel, believed that they could see the future of humankind and that the only remaining task was to convince or force all others to accept and follow. They have almost succeeded in that effort.

    I don’t suppose he said that at the conference, did he?

  13. 63
    pihlstro says:

    Hello there,

    I am not an expert in anyway, but lately have spent some time,
    intermittently, reading blogs from both sides.
    Mark Boslough above cites possible reasons for contrarian positions,
    which differs a little from my perception. I have a strong
    feeling that the root cause is predominantly a particularly
    aggressive strain of right-wing ideology. But, maybe my
    sample is a multitude of laymen sceptics and you refer to the few scientists/near-scientists?

  14. 64
    KEVIN B says:

    Chris G, #18 says:
    Unlike evolution, climate change will affect your students in their lifetime.

    Evolution affects us every day! Multi- drug resistant pathogens, mutating HIV, just to name a couple. And the reason you need a new flu shot every year? Evolution!

  15. 65
    wili says:

    Anna @ #19, thanks. It was precisely the Tobis graph that I was thinking of, though I think even that understates the disconnect between public perception of the range of ‘debate’ and the actual range of the discussion now going on in scientific circles.

    For another view of how far the public and policy makers are from fully grasping the realities we now face, this is well worth a look and listen:

    And even this admits (~at 43 minutes) that he is leaving out ‘discontinuities,’ presumably like the massive methane release that seems to be going on right now in the Arctic.

  16. 66
    Anna Haynes says:

    Comparing the original and “modified” Sargasso Sea Surface Temp graphs – am I correct that these are the original and “modified” SSST graphs referred to?

  17. 67
    Anna Haynes says:

    wait a minute – they *are* flipped relative to each other, Keigwin starts in the present & OISM starts in the past. So I’m confused & need to go back & understand.

  18. 68
    Matthew L says:

    Chick Keller, #16
    I think you have absolutely nailed the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

    There is an ongoing disconnect between the predictions of warming from models and the recent trend. A 60 year cycle in ocean temperatures would explain most of the post 1979 warming and if scientists are going to convince the remaining “true” sceptics they need to counteract that argument effectively. I don’t think you will ever convince the Watts, Lindzens, Spencers and Monktons of this world, but maybe Curry could be brought round with a convincing paper.

    I have done linear regression graphs on Hadcrut3 over 50, 35, 25 and 15 year periods and they clearly show a rough 60 year cycle with a pronounced downward dip in the last 10-15 years in all but the 50 year analysis. However even that is clearly levelling off. Viewed in isolation it looks like we are in for a period of, if not cooling, at least a reduced rate of warming.

    This is reinforced by the recent reduced rate of sea level rise, and levelling off of ocean heat content figures.

    I am waiting for a convincing argument that these trends are illusory, or explained by other factors. I read Tamino’s recent paper on the matter but did not think it particularly convincing. Maybe only time will tell.

    I am no scientist, just a member of the public with a copy of Excel who tries to view these things as objectively as I can!

  19. 69
    Tokodave says:

    Re 59: “Science gives SCIENTISTS the knowledge and tools necessary to change reality.” ? Explain how that works? As a geologist, science gives me the knowledge and tools to understand and explain geology. Unless I have some powers I’m not aware of, it doesn’t give me the power to “change” geological reality.

  20. 70
    Phil Scadden says:

    Matthew L – perhaps you could explain what you didnt find “convincing” in F&R. Can you explain why you think that analysis is flawed? Surely removing known causes of variation is a good way to show the underlying trend?

  21. 71
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Matthew L., A little bit of understanding of the science will save you spinning your wheels a lot. Take a look at the data. Look specifically at the last 10 years. Now look at the period 1977 to 1987. Determine a trend. Now determine a trend from 1987 to 1997. Both are near zero. Now determine the trend from 1977-1997. The trend is significantly positive.

    Moral of the story: Global temperature data are noisy. Trying to draw conclusions based on short times is like being told to go pee in the corner in a round room.

    Learn what the models are actually do. It is not a prediction. The prediction was made in 1896.

  22. 72
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Thomas Lee Elifritz: “Science gives SCIENTISTS the knowledge and tools necessary to change reality.”

    Thomas, I believe it is customary to end a statement like that with “BWAAAH
    AAAAAHAAAAAHAAAAA!!!!” And then you’re supposed to stroke a cat.

  23. 73
    Anna Haynes says:

    I’ve emailed Keigwin asking to see the incorrect OISM graph; unless someone else has a copy?

  24. 74
    Anna Haynes says:

    “The first thing I do when I read an editorial or blog entry is check to see if the supposed science has been published in scientific literature. If not, I don’t see why I should bother to read what nobody could be bothered to put through scientific peer review.”

    I guess that’s a good way to filter out hoaxsters (most of them, anyway)

  25. 75
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #7, Alastair, I was about to write, but you said it for me.

    I would only point out that the 3rd party (aside from the denialists and the scientists) should have an equal voice in all this: the party of the people — those who are at risk of harm from climate change, or do not like the idea of harming others through climate change and its impacts and effects.

    I haven’t been following the Judith Curry debate, but I would hope this would help her to understand our (the people’s) position and not feel so sorry for the denialists or appease them, or whatever it is she is doing; I’d like scientists and denialists to start appeasing “the people.”

    Here goes, Judith, if you are reading: Scientists strive to avoid the FALSE POSITIVE of making untrue claims; they and their works like the IPCC are inherently VERY reticient and conservative; they cannot afford to be the “boy who called wolf” when there is no wolf. I understand and am even somewhat sympathetic to that position; if they make a false claim their reputations will be harmed, and people won’t heed them anymore.

    People, OTOH, you’d think would be striving to avoid the FALSE NEGATIVE of failing to address a true serious catastrophe. They do not need high levels of certainty about AGW, or about whether the lump in the body is cancerous to take preventive and precautionary action. ESPECIALLY WHEN, AS CONFUCIOUS SAY, TURNING OFF LIGHTS NOT IN USE (and 1000s of other measures to reduce GHGs) SAVES MONEY (and helps the economy and solve many other environmental and non-environmental problems too)!!! We people cannot afford to be “the villagers who get eaten by the wolf.”

  26. 76
    Steve Metzler says:

    #66 Anna Hayes:

    Your Keigwin figure is not the original. I’m going to go out a bit on a limb here, and observe that it is unlikely that a scientist would label a graph with a reference to the ‘Medieval Warm Period’. That’s an obvious tell that the graph has been fiddled with by a contrarian. The original was linked to by Mark Boslough back in post #37:

    Original Keigwin1966.png

    What’s interesting to me (though infuriatingly vague) is that in post #56, Mark Boslough says:

    The problem with the modified graph is that the 2006 temperature data point is entirely fabricated. It is significantly lower than the modern temperature record measured at hydrographic station “S”. The station “S” instrumental data was included by Keigwin in his 1996 paper, but was removed and replaced with the made-up data by Robinson et al. (2007).

    Well, Mark, what exactly *was* the modern temperature record there in 2006? In any case, the takeaway point for me here is that the Sargasso Sea does not represent *global* average temps!

  27. 77
    Peter Hartmann says:

    Lubos Motl has a reply to this post. It’s at his usual level of hysterical rantings. Sometimes I wonder who still takes him seriously.

    [edit – some things really are too stupid to link to]


  28. 78
    Matthew L says:

    Phil and Ray, I saw nothing wrong with Tamino’s methodology, just that he wasn’t really covering the main point I am interested in, which is that the AMO and PDO might be enough to explain a large part of the warming trend his graphs so clearly show.

    The AMO appears to run on an approximate 60 year cycle whereas his study only covered the period since the mid ’70s. He covers the point about recent cooling fairly well. If he is right, we will all know soon enough after the current La Nina is finished.

    I am making my charts up into a series of images and will post links. The signal is pretty apparent and looks persuasive to those of us with limited statistical expertise. I am more than happy to be shot down in flames. I would expect nothing less in this forum and why I am posting here.

  29. 79
    Matthew L says:

    Further to my earlier post, here are my very basic charts:

    Hadcrut3, 50 year linear regression

    Hadcrut3, 30 year linear regression

    Hadcrut3, 25 year linear regression

    Hadcrut3, 20 year linear regression

    Hadcrut3, 15 year linear regression

    Seal level annual change in mm (linear regression)

    Interesting to look at the AMO chart in comparison?

  30. 80
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Matthew L., Great. How does your AMO/PDO model do on reproducing cooling of the stratosphere? Polar amplification? And isn’t it odd that, given these oscillations are quasi-cyclic that we have never seen as rapid a rise in global temperatures as we are seeing right now? I mean, you’d think a cyclic forcing ought to produce behavior that sort of repeats, wouldn’t you? Gee, I wonder what could be different about now compared to, say 70 years ago? What could it be?

  31. 81
    David B. Benson says:

    Matthew L @78 — The traditionally defined AMO is not independent of the known forcings. Therefore it looks quite a bit like a cycle’ without actually being one. A test for Granger causality will show that this G-causality runs from the forcings to the AMO.

    The PDO expalins too little of the variance to bother with on a first cut. Stick with the known physics, as in Ray Pierrehumbert’s “Principles of Planetary Climate”.

  32. 82

    While I share Mark’s concerns on the noisy extreme edges of the Santa Fe climate conference, they were a small fraction of the agenda and a distraction from the science focus. I reinforce Chick Keller’s observation that in Santa Fe we learned a lot about the challenges of predicting our complex climate system, recent progress and new strategies for forecasting and prediction. In particular the value of semi-empirical approaches including simplified and intermediate complexity modeling in conjunction with data was highlighted. The last IPCC interpretation of the1970s-1980s cooling from aerosol pollution was shown to involve natural variability components as well. The Berkeley group’s finding were a nice affirmation of the IPCC warming trends. There were cutting edge talks on our understanding of the role of clouds-aerosols, the sun, cosmic ray induced nucleation (CERN study), fires, forest die-off and Arctic change, global GHG surveys and climate treaty verification. We can’t change how the Singer’s and Monkton’s think or behave but clearly they were unable to defend their position technically and came across as unreliable in a science forum. Only by exposing them in discussions like ours can we neutralize their confusionism. Climate science is complex but the science elements clear and undisputed. The case for climate change is built on data and understanding of underlying mechanism, Keeling curve of CO2 rise caused by fossil fuels, IPCC reported warming confirmed by Berkeley group, positive water feedback observed after Pinatubo. Its the variability that confounds both public perception and science and we are gaining a handle on this as we learned. Also some things we will never know well enough like clouds (aerosol and feedbacks) as Graeme Stephens eloquently conveyed in his Charney lecture at AGU (and long term feedbacks/tipping points to new climate states). We have to act now in light of uncertainty given that the risks of impacts will grow with rising CO2 and the both the climate system and energy infrastructure have a lot of inertia. Its like insurance, there will be some winners and many losers. My 2 cents, (1) its important for us to focus on the science and recognize what we know and what we don’t and (2) The skeptics need to be as critical of their work as they are of the climate science community, which in turn will benefit from us all being open and resilient rather than closed and threatened by them. There will be a technical summary of the conference that will focus on the science presented and a special issue of JGR that will be peer reviewed science and more lasting than the blog. Unfortunately, Mark’s experiences at the conference were rather skewed and I wish he had focused a bit more on the science as Chick Keller noted, clearly he was distracted by Monkton et al. We were very fortunate to have talks by V. Ramaswamy, Phil Rasch, Steve Wofsy, Graeme Stephens, Peter Huybers, Bill Cotton, Gerry North, Bjorn Stevens, A. Tsonis, D. Rosenfeld, Q. Fu, P. Webster, Paul Brekke, Jim Coakley, Dave Lawrence, Bill Lipscomb, Mark Flanner etc.., that spanned spectrum of accomplished climate scientists as well as senior scientists (activists!!) who are pushing us all to new approaches to enhance climate science in critical ways (and its is very important for us to discriminate them from the so called skeptics who are weak on substance but high on hype, critique and propaganda). Unfortunately, Mark’s summary is skewed by his personal experiences and unfortunately he missed the main message-science. These are my personal opinions and it continues to be my privilege to jump in and help with these conferences. I am glad to report that the last Santa Fe conference’s BAMS summary by me is suggested reading in the NASA GISS climate website (Manvendra K. Dubey) and clearly the questions we posed 5 years ago were constructive and progress was made. In closing a leader like the late Steve Schneider (whom I was lucky to have interacted with at Stanford) would see value in venues like this for climate science and his constructive legacy challenges us continue this.

  33. 83
    Hank Roberts says:

    “Global Warming And The Next Ice Age” By Dubey Et Al 2008
    Is there a copy available to read online?

  34. 84
    deconvoluter says:

    Re : #77

    who still takes him seriously

    Perhaps the answer to your question is the president of his country, V.Klaus , an economist, who should never be confused with his predecessor, who had the same first name and has just died.

  35. 85
  36. 86

    #75, Lynn, the argument about Curry is about a farcical spot light diversion effort to divert attention from the reality of climate change to herself. Being a star jester in contrarians court,
    she claims comedy to compensate from her own lack of evidence proving IPCC 50% right, or wrong. Mike Mann is accurate not about a stick, but about the progression of Global Warming,
    seriously occurring big time in the Arctic even since 2006, well past “Global warming has stopped since 1998, or 2002”? contrarian propaganda. Citing stollen E-mails scribblings as prime proof of a massive fabrication of a false reality is a politician swaying practice, not a scientific presentation Having read some of her papers, especially about Arctic boundary layers, I don’t know if this Judith at this conference in California
    is the same person as the one who tried to elucidate a rather complex matter factually , without self, the observer/scientist in the picture, I don’t think she has realized how great she was by being selfless,
    and how much she has been corrupted by fame.

  37. 87
    Mark Boslough says:

    [Response: Dubey #82. Thanks for all this additional information. As I pointed out to Chick, my essay was not intended to be comprehensive or to summarize the science. As suggested by the title, the focus was on the “cynics” who attended the meeting. I agree with virtually everything you say about the conference. But you say, with respect to Monckton and Singer, “Only by exposing them in discussions like ours can we neutralize their confusionism.” We already know about their confusionism, but if the intent is to expose and neutralize it, it doesn’t do any good to keep that information to ourselves, among only the hundred or so attendees of the conference. Part of my motivation for writing this essay was to share this information with the larger community.

    I don’t think it is fair to say that I missed the science at the conference; I attended virtually every presentation and was there for all five days. I had conversations with most of the participants and made a special effort to interact with contrarians. My experiences were not skewed. What made this conference different from the other climate-related conferences I’ve attended over the past two or three years (e.g. AGU Fall meetings and a couple Chapman Conferences) was the relatively large attendance by contrarians. If my essay appears to be skewed, it is because it was focused on that aspect, and never intended to be a comprehensive summary of the science, which (as you say) will be available elsewhere.

  38. 88

    Thanks Mark. Appreciate the clarification. If we had polled the audience, after the conference, which had a much larger number of contrarians than most venues we would have the outcome that the science for climate change is much much much stronger and rigorous than that against it. I think this may be worth doing in an objective survey, since it would offset the skewness and hype created by the media that is impossible to control. As you stated, the discussions were polite and the contrarians were civil and the mainstream scientists listened to them patiently and tried to understand where they came from. I was exposed to Monkton for the first time and it was quite a revelation to see he could rebut everything including himself and facts did not matter. Singer was exposed in his inconsistency, and could not understand or answer questions since he does not listen, some one should say that. Lindzen was very professorial and asked probing questions to many, enriching the science, even as he is dug in deep in his point of view as his talk demonstrated. By giving all the chance to participate and present and listen we helped the climate science community at large. It was good to have you there.

  39. 89
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Mark Boslough #56,

    The problem with the modified graph is that the 2006 temperature data point is entirely fabricated.

    Indeed. Added after the fact based on what seems a bogus computation.

    “Before present” is usually defined to mean “before 1950″.

    That is the convention… but Keigwin (1996) appears to use the 2000 convention: the station S data is all after 1950 but within the graph 4b.

  40. 90
    Mal Adapted says:


    If we had polled the audience, after the conference, which had a much larger number of contrarians than most venues we would have the outcome that the science for climate change is much much much stronger and rigorous than that against it.

    Does Petr Chylek still think that the AGW consensus is a conspiracy by the climate research community (see my comment #56)?

  41. 91
    David Wright says:

    As a catastrophic AGW skeptic interested in the preservation and advancement of all science, I applaud Jim the moderator’s treatment of Alastair’s comments. IMHO that’s exactly how scientists should behave.
    Anything less and we can just combine the fiction and non-fiction sections of the library.

  42. 92
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #86, Hi Wayne & “#75, Lynn, the argument about Curry is about a farcical spot light diversion effort to divert attention from the reality of climate change to herself. Being a star jester in contrarians court, she claims comedy to compensate from her own lack of evidence proving IPCC 50% right, or wrong.”

    Thanks for the insight. 50%, huh? That’s my whole point (RE #75), .50 on the null is plenty enough for me to start turning off lights not in use, etc. Don’t need .05, which was first reached in some studies back in 1995 — I think it was .04 for winter temps and .06 for summer temps, .05 combined.

    Which means everyone who is a man (or a woman, for that matter) should have been reducing GHGs back in 1990 or even before.

    And whatever happened to theory, like “the greenhouse effect”? I thought science was composed of both theory and evidence. It’s like the man in a freefall doubting gravity because he hasn’t splattered on the ground yet.

  43. 93
    Hank Roberts says:

    > a catastrophic AGW skeptic

    One who, by delaying mitigation, turns inconvenience into catastrophe.

  44. 94
    Hank Roberts says:

    Want a good analogy to how policymakers are reacting to climate change?

    Here it is:

    Donella Meadows
    quoted Jay Forrester, who summed this up long ago:

    “People know intuitively where leverage points are …. Time after time, I’ve … figured out a leverage point …. and discovered that there’s already a lot of attention to that point. Everyone is trying very hard to _push it in the wrong direction!_”

  45. 95
    Petr Chylek says:

    “All good scientists are skeptics”
    Below is a paragraph (unedited) from my 2010 discussion with late Steve Schneider concerning the skeptics, a hockey stick and some other aspects of climate science. Today we know much more about uncertainty in aerosol forcing, cloud feedbacks, ocean circulation, and natural climate variability (perhaps much more means that in reality we know much less). There is no place for denial of the recent warming or of an anthropogenic contribution to that warming. The question is of a scale. In the Arctic it is likely that up to 50% of the recent post 1970s warming can be explained by the natural climate variability. What fraction of recent global mean warming is due to a natural climate variability – I do not know yet. Steve says: “All good scientists are skeptics”. I say, a scientist who is not a skeptic becomes a cheer leader.

    So yes, Petr, I fully agree all good scientists are skeptics and should be challenging every aspect of what we do that has plausible alternative hypotheses–I personally published what was wrong my my own original 1971 cooling hypothesis a few years later when more data and better models came along and further analysis showed AGW as the much more likely outcome–the story is in Chapter 1 of my new book. In fact, for me that is a very proud event–to have discovered with colleagues why our initial assumptions were unlikely and better ones reversed the conclusions–an early example of scientific skepticism in action in climatology–as we are all supposed to be doing as you said well. But the very existence of remaining uncertainties does not by itself refute AGW as the most plausible explanation of the century-long observations. In systems analysis we could crudely break up conclusions into three groups: well established, competing explanations and speculative (as Moss/Schneider suggested in 2000 in the TAR uncertainties guidance language). The existence of the non-well established categories must be both acknowledged and investigated openly–I fully agree–and should lead assessors to lower confidence in conclusions than for cases where there are fewer non-well-established aspects. But the difference between legitimate scientific “skepticism” and “denial” is the refusal to accept a preponderance of evidence as the best current understanding–with confidence levels attached, of course–just because some elements of a complex system remain in competing explanations or speculative categories. That is why I object to the characterization that anything that has recently happened by this climatic Watergate-like internet burglary has changed very much the AGW conclusions of the IPCC or the NAS or CSIRO or Hadley Center, since those conclusions depended primarily on fingerprinting studies over time frames less than two centuries, not the millennium of the debatable wavy-handled hockey stick.

    Stephen H. Schneider
    Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies,
    Professor, Department of Biology and Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment
    Mailing address:
    Yang & Yamazaki Environment & Energy Building – MC 4205
    473 Via Ortega
    Ph: 650 725 9978
    F: 650 725 4387

  46. 96
    Anna Haynes says:

    Returning to Boslough & Keigwin’s Sargasso Sea surface temp graph & its modification by OISM folks, here are comments from Lloyd Keigwin (who I keep wanting to call “Lord Keigwin”; gotta stay away from that GWPF page) – his comments align with what others have pointed out above, & also he noted the “Station S” error also shows up (as of now, at least) in the graph (at bottom of right sidebar) on this page (from Oceanus) about his research; “could be my error; There’s a reason that magazines…are called ‘gray literature.'”; he agrees the SkS graph (showing Station S “smudge”) looks to be the right one, from the Science paper.

    Keigwin says (reprinted with permission):
    “The differences Mark refers to are subtle. … Where the figure has been used or reconstructed elsewhere, the points seem accurate. … What Mark called to my attention long ago is how the skeptics have used the 50-yr series of thermometer-based measurements that began in 1954. On my 3000 year horizontal axis those data don’t look like much more than a smudged line (1996 paper Fig. 4B).

    When Fred Singer, the Robinsons, et al. reproduced the figure they didn’t bother to try to reproduce the smudge. In one case that I recall… they simply used a “dot.” I think Mark’s point is that the temperature they chose for that dot was offset from the long-term average (which I eyeball to be a fraction above 23 degrees C) such that it strengthened their case against today being especially warm.

    Considering all the other things going on in the climate wars, this is just a little skirmish. Unfortunately, the way the data have been used has used up a lot of time since 1996. The big point the skeptics miss …[is that] long-term cooling in the data since 3000 yrs ago is driven by changes in Earth’s orbit. These have nothing to do with humanity, except that if you want to look for a human-induced change you need to de-trend the data.”

  47. 97
    John Mashey says:

    The funding for the Santa Fe conference is not yet clear to me, although I see a lot of national labs involved, hence Federal tax funds. I’m not into Golden Fleece awards, but I expect tax-funded research entities to spend our funds wisely.

    1) I see a bunch of people on the program that I think would have a hard time getting their talks thorough credible peer review, starting with Monckton, whose presence alone casts serious doubt on the credibility of the conference. At least he didn’t use swastikas this time.
    2) Were there no better “real science” talks to be had?
    3) Consider just a few examples:
    Don Easterbrook
    Howard Hayden*, retired atomic physicist whose book lauded Ernst-George Beck’s infamously-bad paper on CO2.
    Christopher Essex

    Nicola Scafetta*
    N-A Morner

    *’d signed the APS Petition, which sadly included a bunch of LANL and Sandia-related folks. This is especially sad, given AGW’s likely effects on NM.

    Are Singer’s views unknown? Monckton’s? It’s nice that everyone was pleasant, but:

    a) Did they use places that could have gone to real researchers?

    b) How much did this conference cost?

    I don’t just mean the direct costs, but the time/money, much from government grants, as well as govt-paid salaries. One way or another, much of the funding for science conferences eventually comes from taxes … and generally, that’s a good deal for the public. But conferences are not cheap, and their best use is in encouraging high-bandwidth interactions among serious people … which makes every speaking slot precious. Was it good use of time to hear Monckton? Singer?

    c) Did any of those get travel funds?
    Some of those people spend endless time wasting the time/money of real scientists, helping out Heartland and getting paid for it.

    The following may be unfair, but in a time of economic stress for Americans and science funding, maybe not.

    If any of these got travel funds, it may be time to encourage Congress to look into defunding the part of LANL that sponsors this, before the next one happens. Why not invite Chris Horner, Tom Bethell, Lawrence Gould, Will Happer, William O’Keefe, Bjorn Lomborg, Andrew Montford, etc. I mean, if Monckton is invited, why not them? They have opinions also. I don’t expect Program Committees to be be perfect, but I expect them to exercise plausible judgement, especially when spending govt money.

    This isn’t as bad as Singer’s SEPP and Sandia sharing a board member, Donna Bethell, but it is a red flag in a period when certain members of Congress try hard to defund any science they dislike, helped by some of these people.

    As an old supercomputer guy, I used to interact with good LANL folks over the years so this is not a broad complaint against LANL … but giving a platform to Monckton, Singer, et al does not make me a happy taxpayer.

  48. 98

    Giving a platform to Monckton, Singer, et al does not make me a happy taxpayer.

    Indeed, and as an unhappy taxpayer you have the right (through FOIA at the very least) to find out exactly who at LANL ordered up this conference and exactly what their views on the phenomenon are, and how that effecst his or her performance on the job. I want names. Certainly Mr. Boslough should be able and willing to help you out with this minor quest.

  49. 99

    No wait, hold that thought, this was almost too easy.

  50. 100
    dhogaza says:

    Yes, Thomas, Chylek’s skepticism is well-known (but not as off the rails as some of those invited to the conference!).

    Indeed, and as an unhappy taxpayer you have the right (through FOIA at the very least)

    It would be interesting to learn more about the planning process behind this conference …