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Transparency in climate science

Good thing? Of course.*

I was invited to give a short presentation to a committee at the National Academies last week on issues of reproducibility and replicability in climate science for a report they have been asked to prepare by Congress. My slides give a brief overview of the points I made, but basically the issue is not that there isn’t enough data being made available, but rather there is too much!

A small selection of climate data sources is given on our (cleverly named) “Data Sources” page and these and others are enormously rich repositories of useful stuff that climate scientists and the interested public have been diving into for years. Claims that have persisted for decades that “data” aren’t available are mostly bogus (to save the commenters the trouble of angrily demanding it, here is a link for data from the original hockey stick paper. You’re welcome!).

The issues worth talking about are however a little more subtle. First off, what definitions are being used here. This committee has decided that formally:

  • Reproducibility is the ability to test a result using independent methods and alternate choices in data processing. This is akin to a different laboratory testing an experimental result or a different climate model showing the same phenomena etc.
  • Replicability is the ability to check and rerun the analysis and get the same answer.

[Note that these definitions are sometimes swapped in other discussions.] The two ideas are probably best described as checking the robustness of a result, or rerunning the analysis. Both are useful in different ways. Robustness is key if you want to make a case that any particular result is relevant to the real world (though that is necessary, not sufficient) and if a result is robust, there’s not much to be gained from rerunning the specifics of one person’s/one group’s analysis. For sure, rerunning the analysis is useful for checking the conclusions stemmed from the raw data, and is a great platform for subsequently testing its robustness (by making different choices for input data, analysis methods, etc.) as efficiently as possible.

So what issues are worth talking about? First, the big success in climate science with respect to robustness/reproducibility is the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project – all of the climate models from labs across the world running the same basic experiments with an open data platform that makes it easy to compare and contrast many aspects of the simulations. However, this data set is growing very quickly and the tools to analyse it have not scaled as well. So, while everything is testable in theory, bandwidth and computational restrictions make it difficult to do so in practice. This could be improved with appropriate server-side analytics (which are promised this time around) and the organized archiving of intermediate and derived data. Analysis code sharing in a more organized way would also be useful.

One minor issue is that while climate models are bit-reproducible at the local scale (something essential for testing and debugging), the environments for which that is true are fragile. Compilers, libraries, and operating systems change over time and preclude taking a code from say 2000 and the input files and getting exactly the same results (bit-for-bit) with simulations that are sensitive to initial conditions (like climate models). The emergent properties should be robust, and that is worth testing. There are ways to archive the run environment in digital ‘containers’, so this isn’t necessarily always going to be a problem, but this has not yet become standard practice. Most GCM codes are freely available (for instance, GISS ModelE, and the officially open source DOE E3SM).

There is more to climate science than GCMs of course. There are operational products (like GISTEMP – which is both replicable and reproducible), and paleo-climate records (such as are put together in projects like PAGES2K). Discussions on what the right standards are for those projects are being actively discussed (see this string of comments or the LiPD project for instance).

In all of the real discussions, the issue is not whether to strive for R&R, but how to do it efficiently, usably, and without unfairly burdening data producers. The costs (if any) of making an analysis replicable are borne by the original scientists, while the benefits are shared across the community. Conversely, the costs of reproducing research is borne by the community, while benefits accrue to the original authors (if the research is robust) or to the community (if it isn’t).

One aspect that is perhaps under-appreciated is that if research is done knowing from the start that there will be a code and data archive, it is much easier to build that into your workflow. Creating usable archives as an after thought is much harder. This lesson is one that is also true for specific communities – if we build an expectation for organized community archives and repositories it’s much easier for everyone to do the right thing.

[Update: My fault I expect, but for folks not completely familiar with the history here, this is an old discussion – for instance, “On Replication” from 2009, a suggestion for a online replication journal last year, multiple posts focused on replicating previously published work (e.g.) etc…]

* For the record, this does not imply support for the new EPA proposed rule on ‘transparency’**. This is an appallingly crafted ‘solution’ in search of a problem, promoted by people who really think that that the science of air pollution impacts on health can be disappeared by adding arbitrary hoops for researchers to jump through. They are wrong.

** Obviously this is my personal opinion, not an official statement.

295 Responses to “Transparency in climate science”

  1. 151
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 136 Hank Roberts says:
    21 May 2018 at 9:51 AM

    Here’s part of the problem:

    ” . . .EPA officials cited a study . . . But when environmental advocates . . . discovered a problem: The evidence cited was not established scientific research.”

    So, if I understand you correctly ‘part of the problem’ was that the above mentioned EPA study was or was made available to environmental advocates who found a problem with it. I’m thinking a bigger problem would be an EPA study that environmental advocates didn’t know existed or a study they could not get access to the data and code . . . in case there was a problem with it. IE: ‘The evidence cited was not established scientific research.’

    I’m still not getting why there’s any opposition to transparency in science when it comes to government policy. Hank’s example above seems to hi-lite the importance of transparency. IE: ‘Trust us’ doesn’t work.

    Perhaps, I’ve misunderstood Hank’s position. I’ll stand corrected.

  2. 152
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 127 Hank Roberts says:
    20 May 2018 at 12:00 PM

    “. . . by insisting that the identities of all the people studied for health effects of pollutants have to be disclosed, violating confidentiality. Think what that would have done for the tobacco and lead paint industries.”

    Are you suggesting that the plaintiffs in tobacco, lead paint, coal/asbestos mining, etc. lawsuits were not named and had personal health information put on the public record? Courts needed proof. Plaintiffs provided it. Proof = Payout.

    I fully understand the concern over confidentiality. However, I fully believe science needs transparency for policy makers. As the saying goes, “In God We Trust. Everyone else pays cash.”

  3. 153
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 134 nigelj says:
    20 May 2018 at 9:13 PM

    “The problem is not scientists. The problem is denialists, vested interests, . . .”

    So, you’re suggesting all scientists have no vested interests? Good one. Obviously you didn’t read through any of the Climate-gate email thing . . . or have had any professional connection with pharmaceutical companies (which I have). There are those that have a vested interest in science but are scared of the current climate of science to come forward. Too bad.

    There’s a reason why Climatology falls somewhere below Astrology and (maybe) above Numerology among the majority of North Americans. Trust. And it’s not the public’s fault.

  4. 154
    CCHolley says:

    ab @142

    Can you or someone explain why, in the Earth’s energy budget mentioned , on one hand, there are only 78 W m-² of solar infrared energy absorbed by the atmosphere, while in another hand, there are 333 W m-² of ground infrared energy absorbed and backradiated by the atmosphere ?

    Considering that half of the sun spectrum is in infrared energy, that is, approximatively 170 W m-² it seems that there is an unexplained imbalance and discrepancy there…

    Because most of the sun’s infrared radiation is of higher frequency than the absorption bands of greenhouse gases while the surface radiation is mostly within these bands.

  5. 155
    David Young says:

    Mal, Your handle is quite descriptive of your comment.

    The problem with science is by now quite well documented in the most prestigious journals of science itself. I gave a couple of references. You might benefit by responding to the substance. It’s a pretty obvious conclusion from this that in the literature the best face is put on modeled results and the uncertainty is not fully documented.

    If you acknowledge that there is a problem in science generally and that there is a tremendous positive bias in the literature, it would seem to be an urgent problem requiring strong actions. As the second reference I gave points out however, nothing substantial has in general been done.

  6. 156
    nigelj says:

    Dan DaSilva @144

    “The “argument from authority” is overwhelmingly prevalent in the respondents here. It goes like this example:

    Quote:”That’s because it’s all you know from dealing with aircraft design.”

    This is not an argument from authority. He is not claiming he knows better because he is better qualified. He is pointing out aircraft design can’t be translated onto climate science models, which sounds reasonable to me.

  7. 157
    Carrie says:

    146 Mal Adapted

    The following is good and valuable. It’s even probably correct.

    “Due to the quantifiable uncertainties around ECT and TCR estimates, there is more than sufficient certainty for policy-making that both are non-zero. We know beyond a reasonable doubt that the accelerating secular rise in GMST is the result of the economically driven large-scale transfer of fossil carbon from geologic sequestration to the climatically-active pool in the past three centuries. We know with equal confidence that weather is changing all over the world as a result, most conspicuously at the extremes, which are ever more costly in money and human tragedy.

    Now, we know from publicly-available data as well that the costs and risks of increasingly severe weather fall disproportionately on those who have the least resources to adapt. We know, from our own experience if nothing else, that human beings typically assign higher value to costs to ourselves and our loved ones than to strangers on the other side of the world.”

    The rest is fluff and unnecessary and not useful. The personal adhom about David is disingenuous flakiness and a waste of everyone’s time (including Ray typing it out and thinking about it in the first place.

    Now all we need is for someone (Ray maybe) to explain in plain english what the useful take away meaning is of that quoted section. To put it into a meaningful framing and context grounded in the real world where people actually live their life. Including the certain specifics of what and how the average person and policy maker could put it to good use to motivate or lead to positive sustainable change. Until then that too will be a waste of everyone’s time.

    To put it another Ray’s statements need to be transparent in their meaning and thus the natural conclusions it will then lead normal people to arrive at.

    What deniers do or think is obviously irrelevant to the desired outcome. Ignore them and their rhetoric as if they do not even exist. That is the only sane and rational approach to take. :-)

  8. 158
    Carrie says:

    104 Dan DaSilva

    (big smile) and thanks.

  9. 159
    Carrie says:

    107 Ray Ladbury says:
    19 May 2018 at 5:41 AM

    “Carrie,
    When scientists emphasize uncertainty, it is because the subject matter is uncertain. It may be at the leading edge of the field (e.g. the effects of warming on the Jet Stream or Gulf Stream). Or it may be because the problem is fundamentally difficult–e.g. climate sensitivity.”

    Thanks but I know that already, I am not stupid or uneducated like all those other ‘normal people in the public’ whom you come across as detesting with much intolerance.

    Ray continuing “They are unequivocal on the conclusions that matter–that we are warming the world and that this is going to create challenges–likely severe challenges–for our progeny. They’ve been saying for over 30 years.”

    Unequivocal on conclusions that matter? Far from it but I won’t waste my time listing the many examples of all ifs buts maybes and uncertainties plus the error bars or the revised forecasts nor the totally vague “reduce emissions” calls. I have been clear enough what I am addressing, and it isn’t the validity of John Tyndall’s experiments or that trace gases increase overall global temps until stabilization.

    then “They’ve been calling attention to the problem and to likely solutions for a generation now.”

    There you go Ray “likely” is not “unequivocal”. It’s prevaricating. There has been absolutely no certainty nor consistency or consensus from climate scientists or the (premier) IPCC reports summaries or contents in their proscriptions of “solutions” at all. They are all over the place like a bag of woolen thread kittens have gotten into.

    I gave a ref before to a paper where they repeatedly used the term uncertain and uncertainty. Those comments were not about “error bars” or effects of warming nor climate sensitivity. They were all specifically about models and what went into them and pointedly about what did not go into them. The scientists in that paper will essentially saying those particular models were unreliable because they were so uncertain in the methodology being used. The science based methodology being used by climate scientists Ray. It was one easy to find example of such statements of uncertainties by climate scientists that go far beyond how and “when scientists typically emphasize uncertainty” (your words) in their data and in the Likely & Probable conclusions of their analysis in their Papers.

    The hard conclusion was one of abject Uncertainty (unreliability) of the Models themselves – not the uncertainty of the ranges of the outputs.

    It is clear to me for a long time that as a community the climate scientists are not totally open or transparent about these kinds of issues. They rarely address them publicly and never explain them to anyone but each other if rarely. This “type of behavior” happens here and everywhere you find a climate scientist. It’s another form of Denial in my opinion.

    Meanwhile there is an almost total silence (side-stepping) from Climate Scientists about definable clear practical logical Solutions to the Problems their science does prove. They do not put numbers on anything. They not set definitive timescales or dead lines. That cannot and do not tell the public what would be an Optimal Outcome with any degree of certainty or Consensus. They do not and cannot define even an Idealized Goal for the kind of Climate parameters that would be SAFE and accommodating and with no substantial risk.

    They are silent. They prevaricate when asked. They totally avoid the obvious relying instead on plausible deniability type platitudes of “rapid reductions on GHG emissions is the solution.”

    Throw away comments like that are typically quickly followed by a “It’s not our problem not our job to provide specific answer to workable solutions OR how rapid is rapid OR how much is X. That’s for politicians to decide.”

    You know, those same people Ray keeps saying are dumb stupid ignorant uneducated who do not understand anything about science and the denier shills as well as everyone who gets to vote in an election the last 30 years and the next 30 years.

    Meaningless comments like the above example I have seen repeated for decades now. That’s not science. That’s a cop-out. Those are not based on any science nor any data. It’s prevaricating or at best equivocation and avoidance. A kindergarten child could work out the “rapid reductions” aspect by themselves in 5 minutes if told the basics of global warming.

    Stop the denial by distracting onto blaming the deniers for everything. Marriage equality, gay marriage and adoption by gay couples is a legal reality. The religious and conservative belligerents still deny these things should be legal.

    So please stop with the Sophistry, this endlessly repeated Logical Fallacy Trope that “it was dem dat did it”! :-)

    The responsibility lies upon the climate scientists (IPCC environmental science activists lawyers et al) to point the way and to be very clear, definitive and certain what the destination is!

    What it will look like when we see it, how to get there, how fast and by when, and why we must do it starting right now! Their audience is the entire world. All 7 billion of us where ever we live.

  10. 160
    Carrie says:

    134 nigelj says:
    20 May 2018 at 9:13 PM

    Carrie @124, you are right when climate scientists mention specific uncertainties it probably does cause more general doubts with the public.

    ====

    Oh if only you had stopped writing right there.

  11. 161
    ab says:

    ab @142,

    Can you or someone explain why, in the Earth’s energy budget mentioned , on one hand, there are only 78 W m-² of solar infrared energy absorbed by the atmosphere, while in another hand, there are 333 W m-² of ground infrared energy absorbed and backradiated by the atmosphere ?

    At first sight, the blue sky in the diagram is misleading because the data on the budget represents both daytime and nighttime. Therefore 333 W m-² of ground infrared energy is a daily data (both night and day), while 78 W m-² of absorbed solar radiation is only diurn data. And if one adds to it, the diurn 79 W m-² reflected by the clouds, it gives 157 W m-² of solar radiation, so a little bit less than half of ground IR radiation.

    But as Trenberth mixes both visible in IR solar radiation in his budget, the diagram is a bit confusing, making climate models difficult to debug if they are based on this data. Moreover, ground IR radiation seems quite high compared to absorbed solar energy and both visible and IR solar energy absorbed or radiated back into the space by the atmosphere.

    Indeed as Trenberth points out in his paper:

    considerable uncertainties remain concerning the surface and how the energy cycle may respond during climate change.

  12. 162
    ab says:

    Hank Roberts @137,@138
    CCHolley @143,

    Thanks, those documents will be helpful.

  13. 163
    ab says:

    We know from the public record that particular corporations, families and individuals invested at least hundreds of millions of dollars between 2003 and 2010 alone

    Such statement should be relativized by the fact that the world policy concerning climate change mitigation has been estimated to USD $437 billion for the year 2015 alone, and is every year superior to 1 billion dollars per day.

    Climate change mitigation costs are comparable to the whole world public debt of all countries combined (55 trillion U.S. dollars in 2015), if such expenses continue until 2100.

    Every once in a while, IPPC is negotiating the share of the cake with their partners (Earth Negotiations bulletins).

  14. 164
    ab says:

    Something very strange appears in Trenberth’s “Earth’s Energy Budget”, the same one which is quoted by the IPCC.

    On one hand, a body on the Earth’s surface is radiated on average with 987 W m-².

    On the other hand, at daytime, the International Space Station can get as hot as 121°C, but according to the budget, it only receives 682 W m-²…

    How do you explain that 682 W m-² give rise to a temperature of 121°C on one hand, and on the other hand, 987 W m-² give rise to a mean temperature of 10-14°C on Earth ?

  15. 165
    Ray Ladbury says:

    DDS,
    Argument from authority is a fallacy only when the authorities are not truly expert. Citing Al Gore as an authority would NOT be a valid use. Citing a peer-reviewed publication or an expert speaking within his area of expertise is fine.

    David Young,
    The question is to what you choose to tune the models. In climate science, one cannot tune merely to temperature, as there are many other behaviors of interest. Basically, what winds up happening is that you cannot get a model that looks even vaguely Earth-like unless you have a fairly high sensitivity. So, far from being a source of consolation for the denialati, this winds up being pretty strong evidence for anthropogenic climate change being a significant issue.

    To quote Richard Hamming: “The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.”

  16. 166

    #142, ab–

    ab asks:

    Can you or someone explain why, in the Earth’s energy budget mentioned , on one hand, there are only 78 W m-² of solar infrared energy absorbed by the atmosphere, while in another hand, there are 333 W m-² of ground infrared energy absorbed and backradiated by the atmosphere ?

    In general terms, yes, I think I can.

    As shown in some of the graphs I linked, the absorption by GHGs in the atmosphere is pretty specific to certain wavelenghts, and the IR spectrum of the Sun very broad. So a lot of incoming IR is not at a frequency which will interact with the CO2, water vapor, methane or nitrous oxide.

    Of course the surface is much closer to the mythical ‘blackbody’, so everything not actually reflected gets absorbed. It then reradiates the energy, frequency-shifting it downwards into the what’s sometimes called the ‘long-wave infrared band’. A lot of the GHG absorption is down in that range, so it’s absorbed more than the higher frequency ‘near-IR’. You can see that in the linked graph.

    Additionally, and (I think) more importantly, absorption and emission are essentially mirror images of each other (as Tyndall already realized). That is, if a particular gas absorbs radiation at 8 nm, it’s also going to emit at 8 nm. And, of course, it will emit when its energy is raised by any mechanism–it may be by absorption of radiant energy, or it may be by collision with another molecule. So a selection effect develops in the atmosphere, because emitted frequencies are also good frequencies for being re-absorbed. That’s the ‘heat-trapping’ effect, if I may be forgiven the common explanatory short-hand that’s used.

    Before I close, I should address a slight misconception in your question. You said “there are only 78 W m-² of solar infrared energy absorbed” in the atmosphere. However, that’s actually 78 W m-² across the entire spectrum–SW and IR both. As you can see on the linked graph that I’ve been referring to, a significant amount of that comes from the visible light portion. (Compare yellow and red ‘peaks’ in that range.) I’m not sure of this, but I suspect a lot of that is absorption by atmospheric aerosols such as dust, volcanic ash and–a big one, I believe–marine haze.

    Finally, I’m going to anticipate a question–you may not actually be worried about this, but a lot of people who are troubled by the Trenberth-Kiehl-Fasullo diagram have difficulty making sense of the thermodynamics. It has seemed to some as if energy is somehow being ‘created’. It isn’t–if you do the sums, the energy ‘books’ in the diagram do close–but that backradiation does bother some. Where does it all come from? And really, does it make sense that the surface radiates more than actually comes in at the top of the atmosphere? How can that be?

    The question is addressed with a neat analogy here:

    https://scienceofdoom.com/2010/07/26/do-trenberth-and-kiehl-understand-the-first-law-of-thermodynamics/

    The physical mechanisms involved in the thought experiment are different, but the energetic results quite parallel.

  17. 167

    ab 142,

    A beam of light encountering a medium can have five things happen as a result:

    1. It can cause a phase change (e.g. liquid to gas) in the medium.
    2. It can cause a chemical change (e.g. oxygen to ozone).
    3. It can be reflected (or scattered).
    4. It can be absorbed.
    5. It can be transmitted.

    The Solar constant is 1361.5 watts per square meter, but because Earth is a sphere, that gets reduced by 1/4 to ~340 watts per square meter over the whole Earth’s surface. Of that, 30% is reflected away by clouds, ice, and other surfaces, and even by Rayleigh scattering by molecules. That leaves 238 W/m2. That’s all incoming wavelengths, from about 0.1 to 4 microns, about half of which is infrared.

    Of that, 78 W/m2 gets absorbed, mostly by carbon dioxide and water vapor, before reaching the ground. 160 W/m2 or so gets to the ground.

    The back-radiation is because is the parts of the atmosphere which radiate back down to ground are at an average temperature of about 277 K on average. From the Stefan-Boltzmann law (F = ε σ T^4), you get about 333 W/m2.

  18. 168
    jb says:

    ab at 142

    Congratulations, you have discovered the greenhouse effect. You have begun your journey to having a clue.

    Maybe you shouldn’t make any more statements about scientists until you actually have a clue.

  19. 169
    Don Cox says:

    To nigelj:
    “climate mitigation requires we reduce our materialism”

    I don’t see that. It does require that we stop using fossil fuels (and “biomass”), but nothing except the capital cost stops us from building plenty of nuclear power stations to provide as much power as we use now, or twice as much if all cars become electrical.

    I think that families in India and Africa have as much right to own fridges and washing machines as families in Europe. Nuclear power can make this possible without increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

  20. 170
    Steven Emmerson says:

    ab@142, Regarding the Kiehl-Trenberth graphic on global energy flows, what imbalance and discrepancy? Do you think that the amount of back-radiation from the atmosphere should only equal the amount of solar energy it directly absorbs? If so, why?

  21. 171
  22. 172
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 131 nigelj says:
    20 May 2018 at 4:23 PM

    “. . . Instead he is trying to argue science based on confidential health records is invalid and should be ignored, which of course is absurd.”

    If the above is true, I completely agree with you. It would be absurd and alarming. However, I don’t believe that’s what he is saying will happen. I stand to be corrected.

    “Read below.”

    I did. Apparently, Mr. Numbnut Ladbury did as well, although he seems oblivious to the difference between opinion and fact, as in, ‘could be’ vs. ‘will be’. That article contains more conjecture than certainty. In fact, it’s almost entirely conjecture based on the opinion of the writer on what ‘could’ happen. Perhaps we keep our powder dry until certainty has been stated. I understand how Trump Derangement Syndrome has infected the opinions of many/most writers on everything/anything from the Trump Administration and thinking the worst. On the upside, any legislation enacted over the next 2 years can be undone in 2 years.

  23. 173
    Carrie says:

    156, thankyou for the effort in seeking understanding, but mayeb it would be easiler if you sought that about something I had said?

    In a general sense it’s related I suppose, maybe, perhaps. I need to do more background research as I have never seen that blog space before or know of the issues or personality of the one whose quoted comments triggered that post. I’m uncertain now!!!

    I could comment on the original post (which I do consider quite distorted and lacking in objectivity and so he fails to grasp the meaning of his quote and the person who made the statement) and I could comment on the responses made but that’s a waste of my time too. What I do have time to do is copy and paste a few links back to that page.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/the-adults-in-the-room/#comment-120939

    Victor Venema says:
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/the-adults-in-the-room/#comment-120948

    and this one is much better than the original comments made about the quote.

    To oversimplify from memory, Largent started the project with an interest in tracing the anti-science “vaccine/autism” beliefs, but ended by concluding that one of the main drivers of vaccine hesitancy was what parents perceived as the arrogant, domineering attitude of the medical establishment.

    But don’t believe me–read the book! Plus you may want to invite him in to better articulate, or disavow, or etc. his view.
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/the-adults-in-the-room/#comment-120953

    None of those comments are really inline with my comments here. I am very specific here and cannot control how well others parse my statements nor their abilities to grasp the context in which they are specifically placed.
    Everyone has their personal point of view and it is that which defines where they are looking from. That in itself changes the observations being had; as an example Paranoid people do not see reality as it objectively is based on the evidence, right? The evidence doesn’t change, it’s the interpretation and the meaning it carries as a result. Data and Information are useless gibberish without the fullest context (place and time and problem) and absent an overt clearly articulated unambiguous meaning assigned to it.

    If the author doesn’t define that meaning clearly then every reader will assign their own version or no meaning at all. This is not complex stuff impossible to understand. However recent events here have forced me to be much less certain about that opinion assumption observation. Apparently it is way too complex for even the scientific literate (or at least those whom think they are).

  24. 174
    nigelj says:

    barn E. rubble @153

    “The problem is not scientists. The problem is denialists, vested interests, . . .” So, you’re suggesting all scientists have no vested interests? Good one. Obviously you didn’t read through any of the Climate-gate email thing . . . or have had any professional connection with pharmaceutical companies (which I have).”

    No, by vested interests I meant in a different sense, for example business executives of oil companies sceptical of climate change. To some extent we all have vested interests, because most of us own automobiles. This is part of the problem: peoples vested interests sometimes translate into downplaying the science.

    Scientists are just doing their jobs, and you can call that a vested interest if you want but so what?

    Perhaps you are implying they have a vested interest in exaggerating global warming, a common accusation made with no proof of course, but its so nonsensical because of so many reasons. For example the research goes to great lengths to admit uncertainties and avoid strident language, and any exaggeration would be quickly exposed by peer review or other scientists wanting to get attention for themselves. I would not exaggerate anything, because you run the risk of annoying politicians who would in most cases prefer the whole climate problem to not exist and they really, really dont want more bad news.

    I have read the climategate issue. It’s a nothing burger, including a couple of grumpy emails and criticisms of some rubbishy sceptical paper. This does not demonstrate a conspiracy or some form of toxic vested interests. Multiple investigations of the issue found no wrong doing, so if thats your smoking gun its hilarious.

    “There are those that have a vested interest in science but are scared of the current climate of science to come forward. Too bad.”

    So you claim.You are posting innuendo.

  25. 175

    David Young:

    “Paul, Yes, many flows have large scale “features.” Referring to them as standing waves is a bit unusual. But this is tangential to model tuning and validation which is what I was talking about and the importance of reporting your less convincing tuning runs.”

    How is that considered unusual? A climate behavior such as ENSO is a standing wave that is fixed by the Pacific Ocean boundary conditions.

    “Your second assertion however about turbulence is quite wrong. The problem here is that turbulence has a big effect on flows in which it occurs. “

    This is contradicted by the recent findings of climate scientists such as Deplace and Marston who find that the topologically insulating properties of the equator prevent disturbances from destroying standing waves such as ENSO in the ocean and QBO in the stratosphere. These are not turbulent behaviors.

    Just because you see turbulence behind an aircraft wing doesn’t mean that it applies everywhere.

  26. 176
    nigelj says:

    barn E. rubble @172

    Just to clarify. My understanding is research linking fossil fuels to lung disease was based on confidential medical records. Your suggestion that the records could all be fake is pretty outrageous.

    My understanding is Trump and Pruitt want to either force confidential medical records to be made public, or exclude environmental research that uses them. Either way its stupid policy by Trump and Pruitt driven by the fact they dont like the findings of the research.

    I think RL is pretty right about the issue.

    Personally I can’t see a problem in the future with making the research public but omitting peoples names, just use a number or something. Or make it available for scrutiny by a select review body only, so partly public. However its essential to use medical information for research, and peoples confidentiality must also be adequately protected,thats the bottom line.

    As far as I’m concerned the Trump Administration is a danger to the whole of humanity, and very hostile towards science, and the evidence for this is monumental. The sooner they are gone the better.

  27. 177
    Carrie says:

    157 Carrie,

    sorry about the seniors moment there. In the text Ray should be read as Mal.

  28. 178
    David Young says:

    #165, Ray you are framing this in the simplistic sceptic vs. alarmist political doctrine. The scientific importance here is that ECS is uncertain within a factor of 3 or 4 and that’s critical for scientists to address if we really want to help mankind. My only point is that in fact uncertainty is probably understated in the literature.

    Your Hamming quote is intellectual rubbish. Colorful fluid dynamics is good for fooling people, but quantifiable outputs are quite helpful when public health or safety is at stake. We need better science and we need to dispense with the vague verbal formulations that some scientists peddle as the real purpose of “modeling.” That lowers the bar so far that any rubbish will pass. We can and should do better.

  29. 179
    nigelj says:

    Carrie @ 160, I recall a climate scientist wrote a good article in my newspaper, on the problems of climate change, with no mention of uncertainties in the science. As you say mentioning uncertainties could create more general doubts with the public.

    However the next day the newspaper published a sceptical point of view that attacked the previous article and highlighted uncertainties in research.Obviously the research has uncertainties, error bars etc because thats how science works. It made the orginal article look less than transparent and even dishonest.

    I can only suggest scientists writing for the general public mention uncertainties, but only briefly in passing rather than over emphasising them, as does happen sometimes. This is rather a less than groundbreaking answer, but its probably the right answer.

  30. 180

    Barn e. Rubble asks :

    “Are you suggesting that the plaintiffs in tobacco, lead paint, coal/asbestos mining, etc. lawsuits were not named and had personal health information put on the public record? ”

    For as long as the mills of the gods grind exceeding fine, this will remain a two pipe problem.

    What in the name of transparency did you say your name was ?

  31. 181
    nigelj says:

    Don Cox @169

    I think we should move to renewable electricity generation, preferably mainly wind, solar, and hydro power.

    I disagree about building a lot of nuclear power. I dont oppose it in principle, but I think there’s just a limited place for nuclear power, because it has a lot of problems for example its very, very slow to build, and theres a lot of intractable public opposition. Compromising safety to build it faster or more cheaply is not going to be acceptable.

    The real problem is we are unlikely to build any form of renewable generation and reduce other emissions fast enough. On that basis we need to reduce our per capita consumption of energy and carbon intensive materials like cement and technology, reduce waste etcetera as well as building renewable electricity generation. Read Kevin Andersons various analyses. There are other well known benefits in reduced consumption.

    I agree about Africa. We can’t expect poor countries to reduce consumption, and they have a right at least to the basics like refigerators.

    Its a complex problem, but these things have to be faced head on.

  32. 182
    nigelj says:

    ab @115, with respect you simply don’t read or understand what people are saying, for example:

    1) The amount of CO2 in the air in Tyndall’s tube was negligible compared to the amount of CO2 in the the atmosphere … now read this next part again: “consider the length of Tyndall’s tube compared to the depth of the atmosphere”.

    2) Tyndals experiment is ancient and limited, and not the “last word” on the issue. You need to look at more recent work.

  33. 183
    nigelj says:

    David Young @155

    “The problem with science is by now quite well documented in the most prestigious journals of science itself. ”

    There is not a “problem with science” in the rather general sweeping way you have worded it.

    There’s 1) a problem with medical research funded / carried out by drug companies (what a huge surprise, not) and 2) peer review can always be better – like anything can be better. Science is largely doing quite well on the whole, human genome project, hadron collider etc.

  34. 184
    nigelj says:

    Carrie @159

    “There has been absolutely no certainty nor consistency or consensus from climate scientists or the (premier) IPCC reports summaries or contents in their proscriptions of “solutions” at all. They are all over the place like a bag of woolen thread kittens have gotten into.”

    Ha ha amusing, but somewhat exaggerated. However there are some uncertainties, things are measured in probablities, and measured in error bars and this is all how science has always talked about issues, because thats how it works. You can’t change the reporting of such things in the research, as it would be dishonest.

    The science also isn’t perfect. If you can do better, become a climate scientist!

    However we know most key issues in climate science with good certainty and even climate sensitivity sits within pretty clear boundaries. Some of these things are very hard to be 100% certain about, because we cannot put the planet inside a laboratory.

    However when scientists communicate to the public they should definitely not dwell too much on uncertainties,but they can’t totally avoid them either, or it looks devious.

    “Meanwhile there is an almost total silence (side-stepping) from Climate Scientists about definable clear practical logical Solutions to the Problems their science does prove. They do not put numbers on anything. They not set definitive timescales or dead lines.”

    It’s not really a climate scientists job. They can inform the debate and talk about general solutions, and they already do. So what are you going on about? I think you are venting your fustration that people dont get the message that is already fairly well stated.

    Of course “scientists could always communicate better” however I suggest don’t rub it in so much and so bluntly, as that doesn’t help. The media have a lot to answer for, as they dont give enough space for science issues, despite scientists doing quite a lot to lobby for this space, and I speak from personal knowledge here, although I’m not a scientist.

    The development of renewable energy is a technical matter for the government and corporate sector.

    Setting deadlines like Paris is for politicians. Scientists can only inform this debate and already do.

    The balance between renewable energy, developing carbon sinks, and cutting our consumption and carbon footprints is a complex matter, but clearly not something for climate scientists as its not their field of expertise. Imho it does need some level of scientific input, and is a multi disciplinary issue, and perhaps it could be incorporated within the IPCC reports or developed by some other international body like the UN or OECD. It could certainly be dealt with better than it is.

  35. 185
    nigelj says:

    ab @163

    “We know from the public record that particular corporations, families and individuals invested at least hundreds of millions of dollars between 2003 and 2010 alone (in climate science denial)”

    AB replies “Such statement should be relativized by the fact that the world policy concerning climate change mitigation has been estimated to USD $437 billion for the year 2015 alone, and is every year superior to 1 billion dollars per day.”

    Silly comparison conflating two entirely separate things. Stupid. Bore hole material.

  36. 186
    zebra says:

    @Kevin M 166 and ab

    Kevin, I am not impressed by the analogy you reference– indeed I would consider it a demonstration rather than an analogy, because it involves “the math” as an assumption.

    You have to target the lesson to the student’s level and the student’s misconception, and in this case the problem is with the difference between joules and joules/sec. Here’s what I would ask someone like ab raising the question of conservation of energy:

    Consider two identical tall cylinders, each with an open top and a valve at the bottom, starting with equal levels of water. Periodically we pour a fixed quantity of water into each, and then open the valves, one for say 4 seconds and one for 5.

    After multiple cycles, what will we observe about the water level in the cylinders and the flow rate when the valves are opened?

    Maybe ab will actually try to answer, if he/she is serious about trying to understand. What do you say, ab?

    But my point is that my analogy is more useful because someone at ab’s level of physics could analyze it. That’s more important than trying to make the correspondences “perfect”.

  37. 187

    Barn E. asks (#150):

    Am I to understand that the data collected for ‘some of the most important research of the past decades’ was only available to the authors of those studies?

    No, that is not what you are to believe. The data was made available to one set of researchers; it would likely be made available to another set working in the same (or a related) area. So anyone tempted to ‘just make stuff up’ would be at significant risk of being found out, which would mean the ignominious end of their career.

    Making the data public, however, is a whole other level of access, and that is what is of concern in Pruitt’s proposal.

    No one is against transparency in science. It’s just that sometimes there can be other relevant concerns that also require some respect–such as personal privacy of research subjects. That’s actually a big one, as you presumably know from whatever pharma background you have; there are elaborate protocols in place for any research involving human subjects. Good thing, too, as there are some horrible abuses in the historical record.

  38. 188
    Hank Roberts says:

    For Mr. Rubble:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=epa+reliance+transparent+science+study+confidential

    __________________________
    EPA, Science, and Transparency in Rulemaking – Lexology
    https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=db2a5070-6bf7-45d7-8f28

    Apr 27, 2018 – The proposed rule requires EPA to use the “best available science” in all its … associated with the proposed rule: “The era of secret science at EPA is … block EPA from its long-standing reliance on peer-reviewed studies, …
    E.P.A. Announces a New Rule. One Likely Effect: Less Science in …
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/24/climate/epa-science-transparency-pruitt.html
    Apr 24, 2018 – “The science that we use is going to be transparent, it’s going to be … to break the confidentiality agreements they struck with study subjects in order to collect … [ALSO READ: The E.P.A. Says It Wants Research Transparency.
    Missing: reliance
    EPA Administrator Pruitt Proposes Rule To Strengthen Science Used …
    https://www.epa.gov/…/epa-administrator-pruitt-proposes-rule-strengthen-science-use…

    Apr 24, 2018 – “The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end,” said EPA … recognition that a significant proportion of published research may not be reproducible. … are insufficiently transparent to meet the standard of reproducibility.
    Missing: reliance
    EPA’s Lack of Transparency Is a Breeding Ground for Junk Science …
    https://fee.org/…/epa-s-lack-of-transparency-is-a-breeding-ground-for-junk-science/

    Apr 3, 2018 – EPA’s Lack of Transparency Is a Breeding Ground for Junk Science … EPA’s studies “adhere to all professional standards and meet every expectation of the … to reproduce because of lack of access to confidential data sources. …. reduce its reliance on numerous studies without sacrificing the quality of the …
    Trump EPA Plans New Restrictions on Science Used in Rule Making …
    https://www.bloomberg.com/…/trump-epa-plans-new-restrictions-on-science-used-in-r…

    Mar 20, 2018 – Move could limit reliance on health studies with shielded data … The EPA should rely on science that is “very objective, very transparent and … because its participants were promised confidentiality, according to the university.
    ____________________________

    Surely you don’t insist on an honest explanation first hand from the EPA director about the reason for his changed rule. Like all the fiddling with election criteria, the answer is in the actual result not the claimed justification.

    Remember to look past the first page of ‘oogle results.

    AND, make sure you search from outside your personal bubble or you’ll get only answers that you find comfortable.

    https://searchenginewatch.com/2017/08/18/how-to-escape-googles-filter-bubble/
    Clear your browser cache first.

  39. 189
    Russell says:

    Chill. Nigel.

    We hit Peak Materialism around the time Castro asked Khrushchev to nuke Kennedy.

    The recent uptick in the heat of the political climate should remind us that what’s left of materialism remains too important to be left to the Marxists.

  40. 190
    Dan DaSilva says:

    What to do with the ignorant person who clings to her/his ideas with willful disregard for the environmental consequences, when mere ridicule has the same effect as throwing mud at a pig already enjoying a wallow in the muck?

    We must take an example from recent history which although not successful (It was not done correctly!) was never the less an honest effort to achieve utopia, presenting for your endearing comments: “THE GULAG ECOLOGICAL”.

  41. 191
    Steven Emmerson says:

    ab@164,
    You appear to believe that the temperature of anything on the Earth should be the same as that of the International Space Station.

    Why?

  42. 192
    David Young says:

    Paul, I’m not sure exactly what you are asserting here or if it really is a criticism of what I said.

    It may be possible to develop simple models that don’t explicitly model turbulence. However, turbulence is a very large influence in most climate flows and most engineering flows too. Your claims about that are ill-informed.

    In any case, climate phenomena are also quite turbulent, particularly convection and indeed Rossby waves as any flyer can tell you. The problem here is that turbulence levels range from negligible to very strong. It’s largely ignored in GCM’s for example.

    I wish you luck in generating interest in your ENSO work. I’m not interested in that because there are more important fish to fry.

  43. 193

    David Young said:

    “It may be possible to develop simple models that don’t explicitly model turbulence. However, turbulence is a very large influence in most climate flows and most engineering flows too. Your claims about that are ill-informed.”

    Sine you are mainly an aerodynamics guy, how do you explain the non-turbulent flow of the QBO in the equatorial stratospheric winds? As with most science and engineering research, you start with the most fundamental behaviors and work your way forward.

  44. 194
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE:180 Russell Seitz says:
    23 May 2018 at 12:58 AM

    “What in the name of transparency did you say your name was ?”

    Barny. I thought that was obvious.

  45. 195
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 188 Hank Roberts says:
    23 May 2018 at 10:19 AM

    “https://www.google.com/search?q=epa+reliance+transparent+science+study+confidential”

    “. . .Remember to look past the first page of ‘oogle results.”

    “AND, make sure you search from outside your personal bubble or you’ll get only answers that you find comfortable.”

    So many links, so little time . . . Did you “look past the first page of ‘oogle results.”? Did you search from outside your personal bubble so you wouldn’t get only answers that you find comfortable? It doesn’t seem like you did based on the links provided. Was there a reason you didn’t post the link to the actual proposed rule, instead of all those opinions of others? Perhaps if you read it you’ll be able to form opinions of your own. If this thread is going to continue, please quote from the actual proposed rule (with your own opinions) and not just quote/link someone else’s conjecture of its contents.

    Here it is, comments welcome:
    https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/04/30/2018-09078/strengthening-transparency-in-regulatory-science

  46. 196
    Mal Adapted says:

    David Young:

    Mal, Your handle is quite descriptive of your comment.

    He can be taught! Congratulations, Mr. Young, you got it ;^D! Well, maybe not quite: my nom du clavier of ten years alludes to my intentional* failure to propagate my personal genes.

    DY:

    If you acknowledge that there is a problem in science generally and that there is a tremendous positive bias in the literature, it would seem to be an urgent problem requiring strong actions. As the second reference I gave points out however, nothing substantial has in general been done.

    Mr. Young, it sounds to me like you have impossible expectations of science, a common cognitive bias readily exploited by mercenary AGW-deniers. How certain do you expect any scientific finding to be? If by “a problem in science generally” you mean science is generally imperfect, then of course I acknowledge it, as I’m fully aware that “out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made” (Kant). Aren’t you? Is there a ‘tremendous’ positive bias in ‘the literature’? For values of ‘tremendous’, there can hardly not be. Humans, including those who publish peer-reviewed research, are motivated by interests, desires, goals and purposes: biases, IOW. Fooling ourselves is what we do. Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Mr. Young, you have dismissed documentary evidence of well-funded and organized AGW denial. I’ll come back to that, but first: how confident are you that you’re not influenced by bias? Do you imagine you can’t be fooled? Do you truly not consider the beam in your own eye?

    Absent your disambiguation, I assume that by “science generally” and “tremendous positive bias in the literature” you’re referring to the global cultural institution of Science and the body of justified, useful albeit imperfect knowledge it has accumulated since approximately 1500 CE, and not differentiating sub-disciplines. I, for one, do not acknowledge that a ‘bias problem’ arguably urgent in the Biomedical Sciences is equally so in the Earth Sciences, the latter being the source of our understanding of the physical mechanisms of anthropogenic climate change. You, OTOH, don’t appear to consider AGW an urgent problem! What comforting illusions do you cherish, Mr. Young? Do you think, perhaps, that you’re harder to fool than the genuine climate experts on RC?

    Mr. Young, the burden of support is on those who claim this blog’s principal authors are more motivated to deceive themselves, or you, than other Earth scientists do; or that their scientific specialty is somehow more conducive to deception. Assuming they could adopt a higher standard of knowledge justification, however, how much power do you imagine anyone has to impose it on global Science? Pernicious AGW-denier memes notwithstanding, climate scientists don’t take orders from Al Gore. Do you have a realistic proposal for addressing positive bias throughout the scientific record, Mr. Young? Do you think it will work equally well for the Biomedical and Earth Sciences? If you have better ideas than what you’ve offered so far, let’s see how they stand up to genuinely skeptical scrutiny. Otherwise you’re not helping!

    Of course, I have no way to know just why you aren’t helping. Returning to your tenacious denial of for-profit AGW-denial, however: it’s abundantly verified that AGW is a consequence of human economic behavior, namely the large-scale intentional transfer of fossil carbon to the atmosphere that has accelerated since the first commercial coal-fired steam engine in 1699 CE. Confidence in the consensus of climate specialists for AGW is more than sufficient, therefore, to justify decarbonizing the global economy promptly (for values of promptly), which can only be accomplished collectively. It’s redundantly documented as well, that some economically-motivated human beings have disproportionate ability to impede decarbonization, and are deliberately manipulating public information for that purpose.

    How difficult can that be to understand, Mr. Young? On RC and elsewhere, I and others have repeatedly linked to frequently cited peer-reviewed research (paywalled, but freely available from other sites), as well as investigative journalism backed up by famously diligent fact-checking, sufficient to establish a minimum measure of the tremendous influence of fossil fuel wealth in modern liberal democracies. IMHO, your unwillingness to credit them as substantial represents a tremendous problem. Regardless, lying to conspecifics for private adaptive benefit is what we do, and science is merely better than anything else we’ve come up with to reduce the aggregate cost. But reality still counts, Mr. Young, and denial is neither respectable nor helpful! That’s assuredly not to say, of course, that you don’t have as much right to relentlessly rebunk pernicious nonsense on the Internet as I do to engage with you robustly ;^).

    * no, not for lack of opportunity or, prior to surgical intervention, capacity 8^|.

  47. 197
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 187 Kevin McKinney says:
    23 May 2018 at 7:27 AM

    “. . .The data was made available to one set of researchers; it would likely be made available to another set working in the same (or a related) area.”

    So you’re saying that the data collected for ‘some of the most important research of the past decades’ was only available to one set of researchers and ‘likely’ made available to another set. With ‘likely’ meaning ‘maybe’ or ‘maybe not’ but you’re not certain which it was. And you’re OK with that?

    To repeat: one set of researchers. The most important research of the past decades. This can’t be true.

    “So anyone tempted to ‘just make stuff up’ would be at significant risk of being found out, which would mean the ignominious end of their career.”

    Unfortunately, it happens a lot, whether intentionally or by mistakes. Are you aware of: https://retractionwatch.com/

    “Making the data public, however, is a whole other level of access, and that is what is of concern in Pruitt’s proposal.”

    How so? Please be specific. I’ve posted a link to the actual proposed rule, so please quote directly from it and not from just another opinion piece.

    “No one is against transparency in science . . .”

    Apparently, quite a few are. Again, unfortunately . . .

  48. 198
    David Young says:

    nijelj, You badly mischaracterized the references I cited. This problem is a basic cultural problem with modern science. I’m not going to quote at length from the at least 20 papers and editorials in Nature and elsewhere if you are unable (or perhaps unwilling) to read them.

  49. 199
    Hank Roberts says:

    Mr. Rubble persists in misnderstanding how the EPA’s plan to ignore research that does not name each person studied is being used.

    Are you suggesting that the plaintiffs in tobacco, lead paint, coal/asbestos mining, etc. lawsuits were not named and had personal health information put on the public record? Courts needed proof. Plaintiffs provided it. Proof = Payout.

    Do you imagine that people with lung cancer got paid somehow from the tobacco companies’ legal settlement? Most of the people studied had died.

    It’s perhaps the case that you have been deceived by a known scam:

    The claims about MSA payments – and a host of other potentially misleading claims – are promoted online by a company called Money Morning, which offers investment advice. The ad is actually a solicitation, which appears targeted primarily towards retirees and is framed as an “opportunity” for individuals to claim “a tax-free portion of this settlement,” even if neither they nor anyone in their family has smoked….

    Please be aware that the ad’s information about MSA payments to individuals appears to be a deceptive attempt to make money from individuals already harmed by tobacco use and exposure. There are no provisions in the MSA that would require the tobacco companies or any state to pay individuals for their loss.

    http://www.publichealthlawcenter.org/blogs/2017-06-08/misleading-ad-about-individual-payments-master-settlement-agreement

    Please learn something about public health research and epidemiology.
    Please learn something about statistical studies of populations.
    https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4843bx.htm

    To assess the effects of smoking reduction on lung cancer incidence.

    DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:

    Observational population-based cohort study with up to 31 years of follow-up from the Copenhagen Centre for Prospective Population Studies, which administrates data from 3 longitudinal studies conducted in Copenhagen and suburbs, the Copenhagen City Heart Study, the Copenhagen Male Study, and the Glostrup Population Studies, Denmark. Participants were 11,151 men and 8563 women (N = 19,714) aged 20 to 93 years, who attended 2 consecutive examinations with a 5- to 10-year interval between 1964 and 1988….

    MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:

    Incident primary lung cancer cases assessed by record linkage with the National Cancer Registry until December 31, 2003.

    CONCLUSION:

    Among individuals who smoke 15 or more cigarettes per day, smoking reduction by 50% significantly reduces the risk of lung cancer.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16189363

    The proposed EPA policy would reject that kind of epidemiological/statistical study because the people studied were not identified by name.

    These days, who would participate in any health study if it meant giving your name and contact information to the botspammers who attack people online?

  50. 200

    DDS: We must take an example from recent history which although not successful (It was not done correctly!) was never the less an honest effort to achieve utopia, presenting for your endearing comments: “THE GULAG ECOLOGICAL”.

    BPL: Since I had relatives die in the actual GULAG, I find your efforts to tie environmentalists and climate scientists to the Communists distasteful, inaccurate, rude, and downright stupid.

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