Misrepresentation from Lindzen

Thus, instead of correctly attributing the difference to the different methods and source data, he has jumped to the conclusion that GISS is manipulating the data inappropriately. At the very minimum, this is extremely careless, and given the gravity of the insinuation, seriously irresponsible. There are indeed issues with producing climate data records going back in time, but nothing here is remotely relevant to the actual issues.

Such a cavalier attitude to analysing and presenting data probably has some lessons for how seriously one should take Lindzen’s comments. I anticipate with interest Lindzen’s corrections of this in future presentations and his apology for misleading his audience last month.

Update: Lindzen did indeed apologise (sort of) though see comments for more discussion.

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539 comments on this post.
  1. Ray Ladbury:

    Simon, You seem not to have parsed the question I asked.

    If we are to assume that Lindzen is not dishonest, then he must assume the argument about other celestial bodies is valid–despite their having utterly different climate systems and energetics than Earth. Jupiter gets about 3% of the solar radiation Earth does. Most of its energy is generated by slow gravitational collapse.

    Is it your contention that this is so–and please justify this contention if you do indeed think so? We’d love to hear it.

    Or is it your contention that Lindzen is so deluded that the thinks this is so, despite it being an utter load of dingo’s kidneys?

    I cannot think of another alternative interpretation that would allow us to reach the conclusion that Lindzen is an honest man.

  2. MarkB:

    Lindzen: “I asked Howard to check how he arrived at this conclusion”

    I would ask Dr. Lindzen why he so naively accepted Hayden’s informal analysis instead of taking a minute to ask this question prior to using the analysis. Surely, a significant conclusion, particularly one involving NASA nefariously manipulating data, might warrant a closer examination. It’s not as if he was citing a study in a scholarly journal.

    Seems “confirmation bias” may be the appropriate conclusion.

  3. MarkB:

    Lindzen stated this a few years ago

    “it has become standard in climate science that data in contradiction to alarmism is inevitably ‘corrected’ to bring it closer to alarming models. None of us would argue that this data is perfect, and the corrections are often plausible. What is implausible is that the ‘corrections’ should always bring the data closer to models.”

    The recent incident is obviously not the first time Lindzen has implied widespread nefarious or biased manipulation among his colleagues, as he does in the first sentence quoted. What the recent incident indicates is that these sorts of statements have no basis. Are Christy and Spencer of UAH fame “alarmists” too? The big corrections in the record they manage, dwarfing the small surface record changes, have gone in the upward direction, more closely matching model expectations.

    What to make of the conclusion? For the sake of argument, let’s say most data corrections did bring data closer to models. Lindzen’s conclusion carries with it a hard assumption that models are useless or very inaccurate. If a model is a reasonable representation, then one would expect model-data discrepancies to resolve with data more closely matching models. Lindzen doesn’t appear to want to consider this possibility…

  4. dbostrom:

    Lindzen’s sort of a fascinating case; many layers.

    Here’s a piece he wrote detailing his thinking about climate science, politics and ideology. It’s more informative about what and why Lindzen thinks than any other I’ve run across. Apologies if this is old information; new for me.

    Lindzen also presents some fairly specific complaints of research misconduct on the part of various scientists. Geophysics turns out to be a riddled, smelly cheese of skullduggery. Maybe these have already been treated on RealClimate? See the section “Science in the Service of Politics”.

    Climate Science: Is It Currently Designed To Answer Questions?

    By the way, it turns out that RealClimate is part of what can only be described as a sort of loose cabal, not quite a conspiracy, described by Lindzen.

  5. simon abingdon:

    #351 Ray Ladbury. You don’t seem to understand the word “parse”. (You’re not the only one). FYI it means to resolve a sentence into its component parts and describe their syntactic roles.

    Ray, you still seem to cherish the hope that I might be able to answer your continuing stream of (admittedly very interesting) questions. But I’m afraid I’m not nearly well enough informed to do so.

  6. Kevin McKinney:

    On ‘ibeling’ Lindzen: it’s well to remember that truthfulness is an absolute defense against libel claims–IIRC.

  7. dbostrom:

    While rummaging on Lindzen, I bumped into this:

    “Firstly, it is clear that Lindzen only signs up to the first point of the basic ‘consensus’ as outlined here previously, that the planet has indeed warmed significantly over the 20th century. While he accepts that CO2 and other greenhouse gases have increased due to human activities, and that this should warm the planet, he does not accept that it is necessarily an important component in the 20th century rise. His preferred option (by process of elimination) appears to be intrinsic variability, but he provides no support for this contention.”

    The only difference between six years ago and today being that Lindzen no longer appears to agree the planet has warmed significantly, or possibly at at all depending on speech or radio appearance he’s doing. That and he’s mostly boxed into aerosols when he makes an attempt to treat this topic with a degree of rigor– which is never when he’s in front of the broader public.

    Amazing to think how many minds he’s helped shape over the past six, twelve, eighteen years.

  8. Kevin McKinney:

    #354–“Ray, you still seem to cherish the hope that I might be able to answer your continuing stream of (admittedly very interesting) questions. But I’m afraid I’m not nearly well enough informed to do so.”

    You’re really too funny, Simon–Ray has been asking if various things were “your contention.” And you say you don’t know?

    Really?!?!

  9. Susan Anderson:

    Threats now! For shame if real. But I smell tactics.

    “taking liberties with the truth” seems rather gentle to me. There is a vast quantity of specific information so for distraction our quasi (I can’t help thinking this is organized, but note I am not coming right out and saying so, hence “as if”) professional detractor chooses a few statements that seem like they might by an extreme stretch be libelous and emphasize them to point away from all the real material herein.

    The most respect accrues to those who are specific and analyze and point to direct material, and there is a lot of that here.

    Doug Bostrom, I’d hold your coat anyday. Great work!

  10. Martin Vermeer:

    I would ask Dr. Lindzen why he so naively accepted Hayden’s informal analysis instead of taking a minute to ask this question prior to using the analysis.

    MarkB, to paraphrase something that was said of another scientist very very recently:

    After you’ve convinced people that you really are this gullible when you see a claim you like, you’ve lost the power to convince them of anything else.

  11. dbostrom:

    After all this, what are we naifs– those of us on the outside of professional scientific practice looking in– to make of Dr. Richard Lindzen?

    As he traduces other senior figures in climate science such as James Hansen, accusing them of altering research results to fit ideological objectives, Dr. Lindzen himself is fairly nakedly ideological in his presentations to the public ear. We don’t really have to guess about his political philosophy because it’s thoroughly mixed with his discussions of climate science; indeed when listening to interviews such as those he’s done with Alan Jones Lindzen seems almost eager to move the conversation along to political matters.

    We can see and hear for ourselves that Lindzen unquestionably colors his presentations of science to the lay public to fit his ideological perspective. The layperson who does not unwittingly swallow Lindzen’s pointedly truncated and unreliable descriptons of climate science is left wondering: if Lindzen’s publicly stated opinions on this topic are so selectively tilted, so tinged by his distrust of governance, what of his research?

    Judging from his opinions as delivered to the public at large, Lindzen has cleaved almost entirely from the rest of his colleagues on this matter, gradually diverging until his picture of climate science has become more a matter of interpretation through a set of filters than a dispassionate examination, exactly the same behavior he claims to see almost universally practiced by his colleagues.

    This schism has become so deep and dramatic that Lindzen has pushed some boundaries in a way notable to his colleagues. Earlier in this thread we heard a bit of discussion of the dramatic sequence of Lindzen & Choi 2009, Trenberth et al 2010 and Lindzen & Choi 2011. Lindzen complained bitterly about the handling of the 2011 paper by PNAS, leaving unresolved the question of whether PNAS would eventually have published this work as he chose to withdraw and then submit it to another journal, claiming that resubmitted papers are rarely accepted.

    What with the later drama over the review process of the 2011 paper, it’s easy to overlook just how much of a stir the 2009 paper elicited.

    In the dry language of Trenberth et al:

    “…their selection of dates for the intervals (LC09’s Figure 1, and Figure 1 (top) here) is frequently not justifiable. This is evident if an objective method of identifying the intervals is employed, for example, to identify local minima and maxima exceeding 0.1°C in low‐pass filtered data (see Figure 1 (top)). For example, for the warming event in 1997/98, the warming declared by LC09 ceases in mid-1997 rather than at the obvious SST peak in Jan 1998. Also, the warming during the 1986/87 ENSO is assumed to begin in mid-1986 when it can alternatively be proposed that warming began in 1985. Warming is declared by LC09 to end in early 1993, well prior to the peak in SST in the middle of the year.

    As shown here, the approach taken by LC09 is flawed, and its results are seriously in error. LC09’s choice of dates has distorted their results and underscores the defective nature of their analysis.”

    Between games, from the locker room, Trenberth expressed the situation more bluntly to a journalist:

    ‘In a telephone interview today, Dr. Trenberth told me that the flaws in the Lindzen-Choi paper “have all the appearance of the authors having contrived to get the answer they got.”’

    That’s a serious problem, and goes a long way to explaining the desperation Lindzen felt to have the 2011 paper published. By employing those words Trenberth performed the scientist’s equivalent of dropping a glove in front of Lindzen. From Lindzen’s perspective, Trenberth delivered a powerful insult, one that absolutely could not go unchallenged. Lindzen did what he could to salvage the situation, choosing for whatever reason not to go the full distance with PNAS and submit a revision there after being invited to do so.

    Presumably the paper eventually published nonetheless benefited from reviewer remarks gathered during the PNAS submission process. Lindzen considers that the 2011 paper resolves the issues found in the 2009 work:

    We have corrected the approach of Lindzen and Choi (2009), based on all the criticisms made of the earlier work (Chung et al., 2010; Murphy, 2010; Trenberth et al., 2010). First of all, to improve the statistical significance of the results, we supplemented ERBE data with CERES data, filtered out data noise with 3-month smoothing, objectively chose the intervals based on the smoothed data, and provided confidence intervals for all sensitivity estimates. These constraints helped us to more accurately obtain climate feedback factors than with the original use of monthly data. Next, our new formulas for climate feedback and sensitivity reflect sharing of tropical feedback with the globe, so that the tropical region is now properly identified as an open system. Last, the feedback factors inferred from the atmospheric models are more consistent with IPCC-defined climate sensitivity than those from the coupled models. These results differ from what others like Trenberth et al. (2010), and Dessler (2010) obtain.

    We in the bleachers are left largely to figure out for ourselves if there’s still a fully intact firewall between Lindzen the demagogue, the man who likens other climate scientists to eugenicists and Lindzen the scientist who became an AGU Fellow at a remarkably young age, for his virtuous research. Lindzen’s own careless remarks about scientific integrity may leave us mystified. What are we to believe?

    But how did such a person come to this pass, that other scientists should speak of his work in terms so shocking? As early as 1992 Lindzen was expressing major discomfort with what he termed “hysteria” and indeed seems by then have adopted opinions on the topic of anthropogenic warming that he has not allowed to be changed since. Fully two decades of subsequent research leave him addressing essentially the same issues bothering him while there was still a Soviet Union.

    What we find in common through all of these years– even as Lindzen continued to function as an IPCC collaborator– is a steady drumbeat of politics and ideology in his language and woven through his discussion the science of climate change. The 1992 article for Cato is stuffed with fear of acceptance of the need for C02 mitigation, leading Lindzen to speculate about regulatory apparatus that “would restrict individual freedom on an unprecedented scale” and “advocacy groups looking for profitable causes.” By 1992 Lindzen was fixated on this, willing to take to the public the message that virtually all modern science has been seized by a horde of carpetbaggers, going so far as to suggest that “…as ever greater numbers of individuals attach themselves to the warming problem, the pressures against solving the problem grow proportionally; an inordinate number of individuals and groups depend on the problem’s remaining.”

    Even as a participant in IPCC and NAS reports on climate science, Lindzen has characterized the fruit of that work as propaganda weapons, tools to “bludgeon political opponents and propagandize uninformed citizens.” He simply can’t separate science from politics and ideology.

    Lindzen’s mind was made up on this affair a long time ago and he appears unable to allow subsequent developments to infect his thinking, to the point that even his scientific work is beginning to smack of desperation, if Trenberth’s remarks are a guide.

    Beyond ideology, there’s another more charitable way to look at all of this. Lindzen has spoken of research that he believes did not or could not happen, eliminated by what he saw as a rush to consensus on climate science. It does not require much effort to contradict these wistful remarks but as he said them we must presume there’s some sincerity in this thinking even as it is plainly wrong.

    In sum a confusing spokesperson for climate science if ever there was one.

  12. Ray Ladbury:

    Simon, I do indeed understand the word parse, and your failure to do so is the only explanation I can come up with as to why you are unable to ascertain the meaning of and respond to what are after all fairly simple questions. The issue is how one could possibly conclude Lindzen was an honest man. I contended that for him to be honest, he must believe what he is saying in front of lay audiences (and scrupulously avoiding saying in front of experts). The contentions in question have to do with his contention that warming on the outer planets could have anything to do with warming here on Earth. To believe this, you must:

    1)believe that there is some magical mechanism that causes the spheres to warm in synchrony, despite the fact that insolation doesn’t even play a significant role for Jupiter and is very weak for the others. Please specify said mechanism, and we’ll get a Nobel Prize together.

    2)believe that Lindzen erroneously believes this, and is therefore a moron.

    3)believe this yourself, in which case you are a moron.

    4)I’d love to hear a fourth alternative.

    Over to you, and please try to say something that at least rises to the level of “wrong”.

  13. MARodger:

    dbostrom @357
    Your comment “The only difference between six years ago and today being that Lindzen no longer appears to agree the planet has warmed significantly, or possibly at at all…” prompted me to revisit the London seminar because there were indeed glaring symptoms of this that I had skimmed over.
    pdf of seminar here
    P13-14 Here Lindzen compares the spread of All Station Anomolies v. Average Global Anomoly. He does this just for the “wow” factor which is hardily scientific but Lindzen goes all Winston Smith & only presents temperatures 1851-1984.
    P35-36 Lindzen does a conjuring trick by shuffling the deck. The sequence of Artic temperatures he presents his audience is (filling in the gaps from here ) 2004, 2009, 1958, 2000, 1968, 1978, 1988, 1990. (His assertion that there is no trend is easily debunked as done by SkS.)
    And finally, the real unscientific stuff.
    P15 & his thin red line. (The 93rd Highlanders will be spinning in their graves!)
    Comparing Boston’s weather with global climate is saying that variations in global mean temp of +/-4 deg C is not a problem (still “nomal”) and +/-20 deg C would not be unprecidented. (Pretty sure my F -> C convertion is correct.)
    In all this I now conclude Lindzen’s membership of the Global Village Idiot Club has been upgraded to Full Life Membership.

  14. Alex Harvey:

    Gavin, #335:

    Before I continue, I’d like to say I do appreciate you taking the time to discuss the issue with me.

    You write,

    If one assumes a priori that the system has a low sensitivity, then using a method that might only work in such a case is simply begging the question. If the method is unreliable if the sensitivity is higher (for which plentiful evidence exists), then its result regardless of the numerical value is just not going to be useful. Imagine a watch that only told the time accurately in the morning, but in the afternoon was unreliable and could give any time. Now, imagine that the watch said 9am. What time is it?

    I do not think this is a reasonable response or analogy.

    1) The authors do not assume a priori that the system has a low sensitivity. Their method shows that the system is dominated by negative feedbacks and climate sensitivity is constrained at 99% confidence within the range of 0.5 – 1.3 K per doubling of CO2. You can be skeptical about their result, but I see no justification for claiming that their argument is circular.

    [Response: They have a method that tells them it is 9am. When they’ve used the method at other times when we know it is the afternoon, their method gives completely wrong answers. How then do you know that they have 9am because it is actually 9am, or 9am because it is actually 2pm and they method is screwy? You can’t. Therefore, to conclude that it is actually 9am, you have to also assume that it is the morning, and thus their result can’t demonstrate on it’s own that it is morning. – gavin]

    2) The complaint that their method fails to tightly constrain sensitivity for systems with a strong positive feedbacks looks to me a bit like a two-edged sword. The AR4 section 9.6.2 shows how well the other methods do. At 95% confidence, these are 2.1 – 8.9, 1.9 – 9.3, 2.2 – 9.2, 1.1 – infinity, 1.2 – 11.8, 1.2 – 8.6, 1.2 – 4.3, 1.9 – 4.7, 1.7 – 4.5, 1.5 – 6.2.

    Of these, I guess that all employ models with positive feedbacks constrained in some way by data, with the exception of Forster and Gregory (2006), which presented a new method completely independent of models. For Forster and Gregory, the IPCC recalculated their range using a prior distribution as 1.2 – 14.2 K at 95% confidence. However, it appears that James Annan had shown that the upper bound is actually infinity – as with Lindzen and Choi. As for the others, I wonder if they really properly consider all sources of uncertainty?

    [Response: The twentieth century is not a good target for constraining the high end of sensitivity because of the uncertainty in aerosol forcing, and I generally focus on the LGM for this (as in Annan and Hargreaves, 2006). – gavin]

    It’s not obvious to me, therefore, that you can make this argument against Lindzen and Choi and at the same time say that the IPCC methods are fine.

    [Response: Not sure what you are arguing – My claim is that L&C gives no information about sensitivity absent an assumption that sensitivity is low. This is not true for any of the other methods. – gavin]

    3) The primary purpose of the Lindzen and Choi paper is not to measure climate sensitivity but to compare the feedback factors from observations with the models. The first point that reviewer #3 makes may be relevant here. I will quote the reviewer’s comment in full:

    The authors state that their approach tests equilibrium climate sensitivity, and they also present tables comparing the present results to sensitivities (including equilibrium climate sensitivity) of various models. While their approach may indeed be a useful test of some aspects of climate response, I do not think it is correct to refer to it as a test of equilibrium climate sensitivity, and ‘apples and oranges’ comparisons are important to avoid. For example, not all feedback is tropical in the long term. It is well established that snow and ice retreat influence equilibrium climate sensitivity. Some studies suggest that this effect represents a substantial feedback in the total equilibrium climate sensitivity (see e.g. Hall, J. Clim, 2004 among many others). This important effect will not be captured with the analysis approach used here and is one example of a shortcoming that is important but not acknowledged. Further, in the longer term such factors as land/sea temperature contrasts, and gradients in temperature between low and high latititudes, etc. are also expected to change, which can be expected to change the distribution/frequency/optical properties of clouds and hence the long-term equilibrium climate sensitivity as compared to shorter term responses. Changes in cloudiness at middle and high latitudes are likely to make significant contributions to equilibrium climate sensitivity, and are not captured in the current approach. Again, these phenomena will not be captured using the present approach. The paper therefore should not refer to its approach as a test of equilibrium climate sensitivity, and should avoid presenting tabular comparisons that are not appropriate. The paper would benefit by being much clearer as to what it is testing, and what the limitations of those tests could be.

    Personally, I would have been interested in more discussion on this point, so let’s suppose for the sake of argument that Lindzen and Choi are wrong to extrapolate the climate sensitivity from their method – as you seem to be saying and as reviewer #3 certainly says.

    If so, they may still have demonstrated that whereas the atmospheric component of all the models are dominated by positive feedbacks, the actual atmosphere has negative feedbacks.

    [Response: I disagree – they have not demonstrated that their method has any power to determine any specific parameter in the models or the real world. – gavin]

  15. Alex Harvey:

    Chris Winter, #343:

    You write,

    “To get to the crux of the matter, if Lindzen believes what he says in these public appearances, he has abandoned competence in science. If he doesn’t believe what he says, he is a sellout.”

    Is it really so absolute – one or the other? Am I the only person here who understands that humans are complex and tend to defy these sorts of simplistic explanations of their behaviour?

  16. Paul Vincelli:

    Gavin, I provide some leadership for Extension programming on climate change in the Univ. of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Being a scientist but not a climate scientist, I value the peer-reviewed literature immensely, as the keystone forum for scientific progress. Not that you have any free time, but putting your criticisms of LC11 into a peer-reviewed paper provides me with so much more weight in defending the existence of an Extension effort on climate change. I hope you will consider it. Thanks again for letting us non-experts listen in.

  17. dbostrom:

    Further to Alex Harvey, 13 Mar 2012 at 7:53 AM, we could wish Lindzen and Choi had stuck with PNAS and assiduously responded to reviewer input there submitted their invited revision so all these issues could have been thrashed out. To my untrained eyes it appears that without doing so the conclusions of the 2011 paper ended up lacking important caveats as to its scope, and those conclusions considerably overreach what the paper can tell us.

    Some kind of definitive workup on this for the ignorant (such as myself) would sure be helpful. At the end of the day it’s really not possible to proxy expertise but even so a distillation would be appreciated.

    Further Alex: Is it really so absolute – one or the other?

    Go to the source, don’t listen to what others say, read Lindzen’s collected works for the public square. For my part I don’t think it’s absolutely the case that he’s either ignorant or sold out; the evidence he’s provided us points more to passionate attachment to ideology.

  18. Ray Ladbury:

    Alex Harvey: “Am I the only person here who understands that humans are complex and tend to defy these sorts of simplistic explanations of their behaviour?”

    Really, Alex. The dichotomy between honest and dishonest ain’t that subtle. A man who advances arguments he doesn’t believe is dishonest. If said man is a scientist possessed of special knowledge to ascertain that the arguments he is advancing are bullshit and he advances them in front of lay audiences, he is doubly dishonest. This isn’t subtle. It isn’t esoteric. An honest man does not act as Lindzen has. And since actions are all we have to judge him by, I would say that Diogenes would not be remiss in not spending much time with Dr. Lindzen.

  19. Kevin McKinney:

    #365–“Am I the only person here who understands that humans are complex and tend to defy these sorts of simplistic explanations of their behaviour?”

    No.

    But how much meaning does the phrase “a little bit pregnant” actually have?

  20. simon abingdon:

    #349 Lotharsson. The moderators sent my reply to you to The Bore Hole. It is #740.

  21. DSL:

    I can’t resist:

    No, Alex, he could also be both a sellout and incompetent.

  22. Chris Winter:

    Alex Harvey, #365:

    In Lindzen’s case, I believe it is really so absolute. As noted here by dbostrom and by the late Stephen Schneider in Science as a Contact Sport, Lindzen was expressing this kind of contrarian view in 1992. He still does so today. In the interim the scientific case for AGW has gotten stronger, and the current effects more evident.

    You have to look at the pattern of Lindzen’s behavior. Here’s my take on one op-ed (no longer online.) You can go here and scroll down to the fourth item: “A Climate of Fear: Lindzen (2006)”.

    If you can give a third reason for this pattern of behavior, I’d love to hear it.

    Now, there are contrarian scientists in many fields. Gil Levin, I believe, still thinks the consensus on the 1976 Viking missions’ discoveries on Mars is mistaken. Another example is the book The Big Splash in which Louis Frank argues forcefully that thousands of water comets hit Earth’s atmosphere every day — an untenable position since no artificial satellite has been affected. They are entitled to believe whatever they wish, but not to harangue the rest of the world with their beliefs.

    Of course, they’re not haranguing the public these days. But Lindzen is. It grows tiresome. I don’t think the government, or MIT, or the AGU*, should stop him. I do wish the people giving him a forum, from the Wall Street Journal to Britain’s Guardian, would have the sagacity to point out the shortcomings of what he presents.

    * The AGU might say something like this: “Dr. Lindzen has done groundbreaking research in the past, and earned his position as an AGU Fellow. He continues to publish research papers in reputable journals. However, his unsupported remarks in op-ed columns and public speeches questioning the integrity of other scientists’ work makes his own integrity questionable. In any case, his position does not reflect the position of the AGU.”

  23. simon abingdon:

    #362 Ray Ladbury. “The contentions in question have to do with his contention that warming on the outer planets could have anything to do with warming here on Earth”. Ray, the sun’s multidimensional influence extends throughout the solar system. May it not be reasonable to suppose that variations in solar output (perhaps involving effects hitherto unsuspected) cause all the planets to be affected (to a greater or lesser extent) contemporaneously? Who knows for sure? (By all means correct this ill-informed view).

    Of course your four conditions were not meant to be taken seriously. 1) refers to magic, 2) and 3) involving non-sequiturs are plainly wrong but 4) is probably acceptable, though confusingly self-referential.

  24. John E Pearson:

    Thanks for you hard work on this Gavin. Just for giggles and grins I reproduced your 2012 to 2006 comparison . I found the same “trend” of about .05 C/century that you did. On my first whack at it my software tool (xmgrace) produced numbers that looked like the sort of thing Lindzen was claiming. It was obvious to me that I had done something wrong since a 0.2C/century difference in the two data sets would stick out like a sore thumb if you plot them both together. (I rechecked my work a couple of times to make sure my answers were reproducible.) Maybe Lindzen did something similar and it didn’t occur to him to do a sanity check. Mistakes were made?

  25. Hank Roberts:

    “May it not be reasonable to suppose … effects hitherto unsuspected … to a greater or lesser extent … ? Who knows for sure? (By all means correct this ill-informed view).”

    You’re asking about Things We Were Not Meant to Know …

    There’s another article linked at that page you may also find relevant.

  26. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    My general thoughts on ‘words’.

    Based on the evidence it is reasonably clear Richard Lindzen is not representing ‘climate science’ honestly (in a truthful, fair, or honorable way). It’s not as if he does not have access to the papers that show his perspectives are not on solid ground. He may still use the excuse, such as S. Fred Singer, that as long as he does not acknowledge the ‘other’ relevant science (supposedly because he has not looked at that science), his perspective stands on his limited view. So he may be honest on that point, but it remains that his limited view is not an honest representation of the state of modern climate science on whole and in context.

    He also tends to infer that climate scientists that think global warming is a serious problem are being alarmist, which infers they are misdirecting and providing the public with misinformation. In other words he is inferring they are being dishonest or as has been pointed out in this thread, even going further than that.

    Some folks in the thread did not seem to like the way I used ‘words’. Of course, to each his own perspective. However, I have found that having a common framework for the meanings and usage of words, though potentially imprecise at times, gives us all a strong basis from which to attempt to communicate ideas.

    So until the courts rule that words and their definitions should not be used to describe things, I think we should all use those words and their definitions.

    And while it’s true that ‘words’ do have specific definitions, the rules of English usage are not so strict as to outlaw connotative usage and parsing of definitions to convey meaning and construct new ways to achieve greater precision.

    Until the Supreme Court rules that we can not use English to describe things, and of course offers another means of communication that is better, then communication that is honest and fair, and hopefully not mean spirited, is and should be considered a very good way to communicate and discuss ideas.

    I do think Lindzen believes what he says, but is what he says honest “free of deceit and untruthfulness;” I think not.

  27. Meow:

    @373: Your solar idea is untestably vague, and suggests the nihilist view that mysterious unknowns explain earth’s climate better than testable (and tested!) theory.

    If you really do want to find out what drives earth’s climate, please create a testable hypothesis, marshal the appropriate data to test it, do the applicable analysis, write a paper summarizing your method and results, and submit it for review at a reputable journal.

    Or, if that’s too much work, just read the science — which extensively examines the question of solar influences on climate — with an open mind.

  28. MARodger:

    Adding to my comment @363 having had a quick look at the pertinent bits if the videos (links below).

    Videos
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRAzbfqydoY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz_EYi2U3Wg
    .
    pdf of seminar slides
    http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02148/RSL-HouseOfCommons_2148505a.pdf

    p13-14 The likely reason Lindzen uses a 24 year old graph is because as Lindzen says “No one’s done this (analysis) in 20 years.” Lindzen should have asked himself ‘Why hadn’t they?’
    p15 The comparison between Boston’s daily max/min temperatures & global average temperature anomalies was introduced to the lay audience thus “But here’s something that’ll give you a little perspective on it.” and after explanation “Put in perspective of your regular experience.
    If that doesn’t make plain his message, his words following the messages on p17 which provided Some take away points of the global mean temperature anomaly record were “Say, at least so far, I mean if some day I see there are changes 20 times what I’ve seen so far, that would be certainly remarkable. But nothing so far looks that way.” This is 20 times ‘several tenths of a degree.’ In other words anything less than a 10-14 deg C rise in average global temperatures remains doubtfully remarkable!

    Now I thought somebody said this Lindzen was a respected climatologist. Or is the important word here use of the word “was

  29. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #373 simon abingdon

    “(perhaps involving effects hitherto unsuspected) cause all the planets to be affected (to a greater or lesser extent) contemporaneously?”

    So you are refusing to answer Ray’s actually sound questions and counter with your own ‘magic’ formula that somehow can supposedly supersedes what is known about the physical science.

    Well, let me just say this. WOW!!!

    Is that why you have chosen a moniker or been named after a little know town?

  30. richard pauli:

    Errant science can approach a boundary where it is open to “Pauli’s Dismissal” which says “This isn’t right, this isn’t even wrong!”

    Lindzen risks having his a new rule named after him.

    The Lindzen Blunder, or the Lindzen Rule of Stubborness – Or the Lindzen rule of Corporate Contributions.

  31. dbostrom:

    Earlier here I wondered about precedents for Lindzen et al v. The World. The relative scale of the problem may be different but it’s still worth reading Jeff Masters’ analysis of The Skeptics vs. The Ozone Hole for lessons from history with an eye to thinking about where Lindzen fits in the current picture. For me, the following passage was particularly redolent:

    One CFC industry magazine stated in 1975, “The whole area of research grants and the competition among scientists to get them must be considered a factor in the politics of ozone” (Roan, 1985). A publication by the conservative think tank, The Cato Institute, argued that NASA’s 1992 warnings of a potential ozone hole opening up over the Northern Hemisphere “were exquisitely timed to bolster the agency’s budget requests” (Bailey, 1993)

    Not so many years later, Lindzen could be found contributing to the Cato Institute with thoughts essentially identical except for selected nouns. He continues reciting the same ideas today.

    Some people also still feel the same way about CFCs as did earlier ozone hole doubters. The rest of us are also mostly behaving the same way as we did decades ago. Conversely, PR mills financed by the fossil fuel industry do seem to have learned from the ozone affair; missing from Masters’ list are the plethora of synthetic “grass roots” support organizations for anachronistic behavior, an oversight that has been fully corrected during this iteration of “Yesterday v. Tomorrow.”

  32. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #380 richard pauli

    It seems an obvious form of hypocrisy. He accuses scientists and scientific organizations of not telling the truth and being alarmis (and I honestly don’t know if Gavin has every used the word ‘alarm’ 13 times in any of his presentations on the science), and then claims that his unfounded and even disproven ideas are truth, which to me is alarming, while claiming the … crowd is alarmist…

    makes my head spin.

    I just did a presentation recently and I don’t think I used the word even once. Although I think I will in the future, but only when talking about the denialists who use the word all the time.

  33. simon abingdon:

    #379 John Reisman (OSS Foundation).

    John, I think that you’re basically a very nice guy. But some of the things you write are just bizarre.

    In #372 you continue to give us your views on words:

    “So until the courts rule that words and their definitions should not be used to describe things, I think we should all use those words and their definitions.

    And while it’s true that ‘words’ do have specific definitions, the rules of English usage are not so strict as to outlaw connotative usage and parsing of definitions to convey meaning and construct new ways to achieve greater precision.

    Until the Supreme Court rules that we can not use English to describe things, and of course offers another means of communication that is better, then communication that is honest and fair, and hopefully not mean spirited, is and should be considered a very good way to communicate and discuss ideas.”

    Yes, let’s talk to each other using language John. Great idea.

    Then in #379 you turn your attention to me, saying apropos an exchange between Ray Ladbury and myself:

    “Is that why you have chosen a moniker or been named after a little know town?”

    Actually in the UK it’s a very well-known town (on the Thames near Oxford) but why should you query my being “named after a little know[n] town” anyway? Would a city have been more acceptable? simon stockholm perhaps?

    Anyway John, I give you my best regards. simon

  34. Ray Ladbury:

    Simon Abingdon, so you’re proposing to explain Earth’s climate with astrology? Are you going to use Bishop Ussher’s chrolology?

    Thank you for revealing yourself for the clown you clearly are.

  35. Mark Shapiro:

    Lindzen accomplishes two things for his audiences:

    1) He reassures them that burning unlimited amounts of coal and oil is okay;
    2) He helps them feel superior to 97% of the climate science community (“I’m with Lindzen/Galileo, not those trivial alarmers”)

    This makes debating him challenging. BUT, it is critical to point out that he is simply entertaining and pandering to his audiences, AND that even if the odds are 10 to 1 that he’s right, it still makes sense to decarbonize quickly and reap all the benefits.

    Don’t get mad. Get effective. Every time.

  36. dbostrom:

    Mark: Don’t get mad. Get effective. Every time.

    The question is, “what’s effective?” We’ve been doing the same things for over 20 years now* and so far even though all the things you say are true C02 concentration (the final arbiter of success) says we’re failing, badly. Effort to ignite urgency under C02 mitigation are -less- effective than the entertaining and pandering antics of Monckton, Lindzen, etc.

    What evidence of efficacy do we have to suggest the curve is going flatten and then level off at 450ppm, let alone -sink-? Should we do anything differently? What?**

    *Where was the celebration of two decades of futility, by the way? I missed it?

    ** Do I use too many question marks??

  37. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #383 simon abingdon

    Yes,, of course, it’s a joke on multiple levels of silliness. Look, I’m confident you’re probably, or possibly, a pretty nice guy too. But that’s not the point. The point is you can’t or won’t answer Rays questions. They were direct questions. But instead of answering you toss up more red herrings. You have avoided my questions in the past as well. That just means you like playing politics though, and in my mind shows that you have little integrity in such matters of open and honorable communication.

    It doesn’t matter if you or I are nice guys really though. What matters is the plain pragmatic truth. We are discussing climate, and climate has everything to do with our economy and our food supply, and costs, and infrastructure, and capacity, etc. So your distractions and evasions are essentially non productive regarding building a stronger understanding of these important relationships. You are evasive of that truth and regularly, instead of answering questions, avoid answering by using distraction and evasion.

    Speaking of Oxford (dictionary) look up the word irony. So why didn’t you choose the name simon oxford? Or simon london? Are you from Abingdon? Or did you just choose that moniker to sound academic?

    I understand that Abingdon is much better known in the UK, and yes I know where Oxford and Abingdon is. I was once invited to get a masters degree at Oxford on the recommendation of Lord Parry, Baron of Walton. It was Jonas Salk that recommended I not go for reasons I need not mention here.

  38. dbostrom:

    Another analogy, older than rogue hairspray and refrigerators:

    Changing Climates, Changing Minds: The Great Stink of London.

    What would Lindzen do?

    “Microbes -may- exist, we’re not really sure. Look in your chamberpot. Do you -see- any microbes? Why would you let Big Government tell you how and where to sit when you can’t even see what they’re talking about? It’s just plumbers and bureaucrats trying to tell you what to do.”

  39. Susan Anderson:

    Simon Abingdon, you see here a collection of individuals who are extremely irritated with your insistence on not paying attention to science on a science blog. It was suggested repeatedly that you do so, but when you went back you did so in order to make a bunch of threats and sneers and ignore the subject matter again.

    While I deplore offside attacks, you have done almost nothing but. It is not surprising that you are collecting such a random bunch of complaints.

    It is so obvious that you are trying to change the subject. This is a science blog that gives you access to a number of top people in the field, so you are wasting the time of people who have better things to do. It seems increasingly likely that that is your intention.

  40. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #389 Susan Anderson

    You pretty much nailed it. simon abingdon has been exercising his free speech and abusing reason for quite some time in RC’s threads showing little respect for the questions posed to him/her (never confirmed a real name, so I still don’t know).

    Some are simply too religious in their beliefs and relish being non-sensical while exercising their right to exemplify that ‘there are none so blind as those that choose not to see’. simon lavishes himself in a bath of nonsense almost every time before he attempts to make a point. Unfortunately he/she does not realize that the bath oils of false logic, non sequiturs, argument to emotion, and red herring salads that he/she uses, are actually quite repugnant to the rest of the people he pretends to engage with here in the thread.

    Most of the regulars here enjoy the sweet smell of pragmatism over the repugnant odor of ignorance.

  41. T. Marvell:

    I’m not a climate scientist, but it seems to me that this data squabble misses the mark concerning Lindzen’s presentation. He accepts that temperature is rising. What he questions is the use of positive feedback in the climate models, saying that without feedback the impact of greenhouse gases is modest. He says that CO2 doubled in some two centuries, and temperature only rose 1 degree C, as would be expected without positive feedback. That’s where the attacks on Lindzen should be directed.

    [Response: Discussing likely values of climate sensitivity is not an ‘attack’ on anyone. If you are interested, start here, or here – gavin]

    First, as a layman I’m frustrated with the climate scientists’ reliance on models only they can understand. They seem to take a “trust the experts” position. The climate scientists should write versions of their models that can be understood by others. One question I like to ask climate scientists is how quickly an increase in CO2 results in higher temperatures. They just say “a long time” or something like that. If they cannot tell how quick the impact is, I’m a bit suspicioous. Maybe someone can respond to this post and tell me what the time lag is.

    [Response: We have discussed simple models that you can learn a lot from (here for instance). As for time lags due to increases in CO2 (or any other forcing), this has been discussed in the literature – for instance in Hansen et al, 2011 – the key figure is here (figure 3). The bottom line is that there are some fast responses that get you 30% of the way to the new equilibrium within a few years, then slower responses that get you to 60% by 100 years, and then a long tail as the ocean slowly responds (~1000 years). – gavin]

    In any event, this state of affairs, relaying on models that are black boxes to Lindzen’s audience, allows him creadiibly to cast suspicion on the idea of “positive feedback”.

    [Response: Yes. Andy Dessler has a good video where he explains the observational evidence for positive feedbacks quite effectively. – gavin]

    Second, Lindzen’s comparison of 100% change in CO2 to 1 degree change in temp looks suspicious. Comparing percent change to absolute change is comparing expodential change to linear change. CO2 trends indeed look exponential, but temperature change also does, but less obviously. A rough estimate based on trends since 1958 when Hawaii CO2 data started suggests that CO2 grew by about a quarter and temperature by roughly half a degree. That suggests 2 degees for a doubling of CO2, compared to Lindzen’s 1 degree taken over a longer time period. One would expect such a difference if Lindzen’s exponential/linear comparison is incorrect.

    [Response: Fair point, but neglecting all the other forcings is probably a bigger error. – gavin]

  42. dbostrom:

    John: Look, I’m confident you’re probably, or possibly, a pretty nice guy too.

    You’re right. We should all go bowling together or find some other activity we can share.

  43. Alex Harvey:

    Gavin, #364:

    You write,

    They have a method that tells them it is 9am. When they’ve used the method at other times when we know it is the afternoon, their method gives completely wrong answers. How then do you know that they have 9am because it is actually 9am, or 9am because it is actually 2pm and they method is screwy? You can’t. Therefore, to conclude that it is actually 9am, you have to also assume that it is the morning, and thus their result can’t demonstrate on it’s own that it is morning.

    Okay, but you are ignoring that for all 12 models – even at 99% confidence – not one of them includes the possibility that sensitivity could be as low as 0.7 K, which is the best estimate when the method is used on the observations. In other words, you are assuming that their 99% confidence error bars are wrong without offering any argument. Or in your analogy, you are not conceding that the accuracy of the watch at 2pm is known to rule out 9am.

    I don’t think Lindzen and Choi is going to settle the matter of climate sensitivity – but they seem to have demonstrated quite vividly that “something” in the real world, a “something” that relates very closely to the atmospheric feedbacks in the tropics, is behaving completely differently to how it behaves in 12 IPCC models. It looks like reviewer #3 & #4 were both convinced of this much – as was Prof. Chou, and three reviewers at APJAS.

    [Response: I’ve got no problem with models not being perfect in the tropics. Many of the models they considered had rather poor simulations of ENSO variability, and many of them suffer from the double ITCZ problem (in CMIP5, the former is better, the latter, not so much). Their method is very tied to a specific series of ENSO variability and a volcano, the variance you would get picking a different period of similar length with a different history is unknown (though they could have checked this with at least some of the models). But the bigger problem (which plagues all attempts to constrain sensitivity from the satellite data) is that you are looking at short term analogs for long term responses, and they aren’t necessarily the same (and in models they definitely aren’t). – gavin]

  44. Rob Dekker:

    Paul Vincelli #366
    And actually this counts for Alex Harvey also :

    Is it really neccesary for climate scientists to publish a peer-reviewed paper on L&C’11 and show it’s flaws ? What about your own ability to investigate a scientific paper in an objective way ?

    Suppose we are living in Jan.2010. Lindzen did not publish L&C’11 yet, and we only had L&C’09, and Trenberth did not yet publish his rebuttal on the paper yet, and Lindzen did not yet admit the fundamental mistakes he made.
    This is the time that L&C’09 was promoted heavily on Fox News and other news networks as “the end of the AGW scam”, by our very own Lord Monckton.

    At that point in time, would you believed Lindzen and Monckton and Fox News ?
    Or would you be able to determine that Lindzen eliminated the Stefan Bolzmann radiation from his feedback formula, and that he extrapolated his conclusions, and cherry-picked the ERBE data to obtain the negative feedback he was looking for ?

    If you did believe Lindzen and Monckton and Fox News at that time, then would you not be more cautious this time around, especially since Lindzen did not use different data in L&C’11 and there are strong indications that his (new) lead-and-lag method have a negative feedback bias and cherry-picking built-into the algorihm ?

    As the saying goes : Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me

  45. Jim Larsen:

    373 Simon speculates, “suppose that variations in solar output (perhaps involving effects hitherto unsuspected) cause all the planets to be affected (to a greater or lesser extent) contemporaneously?”

    On Earth, there are lags, but for other planets, dwarfs, and moons, heating of the surface due to an increase in solar output is fairly instantaneous, and solar output has been declining for 54 years, so if you’re detecting warming since ~1960 on planets other than Earth, it wasn’t caused by the sun.

    Also, the data is non-existent. According to Skeptical Science, Jupiter’s warming is a prediction while Mars’ is just two photographs ~20 years apart, analysed for albedo changes due to dust storms – i.e, which day was windier.

    Surely Lindzen knew all this, but I think Lindzen’s moral compass is set by what he feels to be a larger Truth: that climate sensitivity is low and carbon mitigation attempts at this time would be disastrous. A misrepresentation? Most assuredly, but supposedly in the service of the greater good. A lie? Welll, he merely held up a common talking point. Pondered it, explored a possibility or two, and concluded with science’s handy and technically true “we just don’t know”. Lindzen can comfortably say he’s mostly not lying. (I think it’s an acquired skill.)

  46. Ray Ladbury:

    Jim Larsen,
    Motive is immaterial in discussions of honesty. If one is advancing arguments one knows to be false, one is lying even if one has the most simon pure of motives. Lindzen is certainly smart enough to know that the energetics of the outer planets bear no resemblance whatsoever to those of the inner planets. He is lying like a rug.

    What is more, he is doing so only where it advances his standing with lay audiences, while scrupulously avoiding such arguments with colleagues and audiences who are more knowledgeable. This is more than lying. It borders on scientific misconduct.

  47. Paul Vincelli:

    Rob Dekker:
    I am a plant pathologist, not a climate scientist. I do pretty well in understanding and evaluating much of the climate-science literature, but some is frankly beyond me. That’s why you climate scientists are so important. I understand that LC2009 has been soundly refuted. No matter how kooky Lindzen acts in public, it sounds like LC2011 is a refereed paper that challenges an important aspect of the scientific understanding on global warming. If his scientific ideas are poor, then the paper should be challenged vigorously in the refereed literature. I understand that Dessler challenged its findings, but if there is more to say, I am encouraging you experts to do so. Please. Otherwise, what is an educator like me to say if a skeptic refers to LC2011?

    [Response:Good point.–Jim]

  48. dbostrom:

    T. Marvell: The climate scientists should write versions of their models that can be understood by others.

    Not to be insulting, but that’s like asking somebody to do a version of “War and Peace” in the Russian language but in a way that may be read by people who don’t speak Russian, don’t know there was a 19th century and don’t know there were opposing forces in a great war in the early part of that century. Except it’s worse, because Tolstoy’s plot is easier to understand assuming you already do speak the necessary language and have the historical background to appreciate the story.

    Scratch the surface of this stuff and the first thing you run into is a deeply rumpled and detailed surface of maths that is being employed in service of simulating aspects of physics which are themselves another complicated surface. These topologies become the warp and woof of yet another descriptive language, software, the three combining to do something useful.

    These can’t really be simplified in a way that everybody may readily understand; it’s a problem of conservation of information wherein simplification fatally loses details needed to fully describe the system under scrutiny.

    What to do, if you don’t speak the languages employed? At the end of the day, you place your faith in others. The difference with this kind of faith as opposed to spiritual faith is testability. Should you wish to devote enough effort you can actually pursue the justification for your faith to the last details, ending up at the bleeding edge of research if you please. First you need to learn some languages, then you can tackle the implications of those.

    This matter of testable faith is why Lindzen’s directed presentations fail for those who doubt what he says; unlike the case of a revival tent preacher we may look under his presentation and see what’s really going on. The caveat is that significant effort must be applied to do so.

    Science of Doom does a great job of explaining climate science topics from a “first principles” starting point. Even the admirably skilled pedagogy of SoD inevitably ends up ploughing into a myriad of interlocking, intellectually challenging details but it’s a great place to start if you want to test your faith in climate science.

    Also very helpful is Skeptical Science, which offers various levels of treatment of climate science topics. Simplified levels leave you relying on faith but you can move upwards as you wish.

  49. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation):

    #397 Paul Vincelli

    I’m an idiot, not a climate scientist. But not your average idiot, I happen to be an extraordinary idiot. Although I thought about studying to be a plant psychologist at one point.

    [Response:A what?–Jim]

    Why should you question LC2011?

    Reality is a good start. 0.8º C T rise in 100 years with 40% increase in CO2. Add the other 60% for a doubling and you get around 2.0º C. of course there is lag due to thermal inertia.

    The largest year to year variation in the instrumental record is 0.29º C. A big El Nino with a positive PDO can get you around a 0.24º C or better bump.

    March in the natural variation of ocean heat content overturn and check that we are negative PDO

    http://ossfoundation.us/the-leading-edge/projects/environment/global-warming/current-climate-conditions/oceans#section-35

    and then you start to realize that something is afoot.

    Now add in the ESS of Lunt et al 2009 and the work that is built and refined from the Charney Sensitivity… Then, realize that peer review is not the end all be all but it is in fact peer response that counts…

    Now, add in the fact that formal peer response is different than informal. Some peer reviewed papers never even get refuted simply because they are so off base that the community doesn’t even bother… and Trenberth already responded to LC2009… and someone probably will respond formally to LC2011.

    Now, add to that that thousands of climate scientists agree this is an important issue and only a tiny fraction of climate scientists think it’s not (largely because they simply are not that good at climate science)…

    Like I said, I’m no expert, but LC 2011 looks like they may have tried a different color of lipstick on the LC 2009 pig. So you can dress up a pig with fancy lace to distract people by cherry picking inappropriate time scales to use as your comp values, but that don’t change the fact that there’s still a pig under the dress.

    BTW I wrote a pretty decent book that covers a lot of this type of stuff, and a lot more, and you might like it:

    Exposing The Climate Hoax: It’s ALL About The Economy

  50. dbostrom:

    John, is there any chance you can exert your influence to get your book published for Kindle or another remunerative ebook format? We’re reached the “one in, one out” equilibrium in our household for 3-D, meatspace books, something that has caused me to reluctantly adopt the electronic mode where possible.