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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. 201
  2. 202
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Barn E. Chucklehead,
    Saying “will” about a hypothetical future situation is not science but rather fortune telling. Perhaps you’d be more at home on an evangelical website?

    What you are failing to take into account–either because you are too obtuse or because it doesn’t fit your narrative–is that people WILL not participate in studies of their health where their anonymity is not guaranteed. It is the same thing we WILL now witness when it comes to FBI informants now the Devin and Trumplethinskin have succeeded in outing a certain Cambridge professor.

    Finally, it is a pity that you are too dim to appreciate the delicious irony of using the technological marvel that is your computer to claim science doesn’t work.

  3. 203
    Mal Adapted says:

    Russell,

    While El Caballo still has admirers among ‘ordinary’ Cubans, I personally mourn him not at all. I suspect he wasn’t the USA’s most dangerous enemy during his lifetime, though. Words are cheap whether or not the speaker is sincere, if he lacks the ability to implement them himself. Nor is the potentially existential threat he evidently proposed (though not directly posed) no longer in the realm of probability, though perhaps less likely in 2018 than in 1962. To be sure, I’m proportionately glad to have that much reassurance.

    Fortunately for the two of us at a minimum, Premier KissoffKrushchev, though he may have been inebriated with some frequency, wasn’t actually a fool; General TurgidsenLeMay actually was a jingoistic yahoo but wasn’t our Commander in Chief; and Dr. StrangeloveKissinger delivered ominous-sounding bafflegab in a funny accent, but had sufficient hold of himself not to slaauughter us all inadvertently. And from what I’ve been able to find out, our relatively-inexperienced POTUS got good advice from people he trusted in that perilous historical moment, while crafty warmongers swarmed around him like sharks. Too bad about our precious bodily fluids, though 8^(.

    One guy I do miss is the great Peter Sellers!

  4. 204

    Barn, #197–

    BER: “And you’re OK with that?”

    Yes. Typically, those with a legitimate interest (such as a replication study) don’t have trouble getting access to data. That’s how the system/culture has worked for lo, these several centuries. And it has worked pretty well.

    BER: “To repeat: one set of researchers.”

    Not what was said, at all… see response in the preceding paragraph.

    BER: “Unfortunately, it happens a lot… Are you aware of: https://retractionwatch.com/

    Yes, I’m aware of retractionwatch, and of retracted papers generally. There are, according to the site, 500-600 retracted papers annually, which is far too many, but still a tiny, tiny fraction of all papers published. (I also note that quite a few of the retractions are either pretty innocent, such as duplicate submissions/publications, or small potatoes, such as an author self-plagiarizing (presumably, trying to pad their publication count for a tenure committee.))

    A relevant quote from the link you provide:

    When EPA develops significant regulations using public resources, including regulations for which the public is likely to bear the cost of compliance, EPA should ensure that the data and models underlying scientific studies that are pivotal to the regulatory action are available to the public.

    That’s pretty consistent with the concerns expressed previously. The EPA document does go on, however, to add that:

    Nothing in the proposed rule compels the disclosure of any confidential or private information in a manner that violates applicable legal and ethical protections. Other federal agencies have developed tools and methods… data masking, coding, and de-identification techniques…

    Which sounds fine, but could still be implemented in manner to impose costs or practical obstacles to researchers. In other words, who pays? With regard to Pruitt’s EPA, there is currently very little trust that the agency is operating in a neutral fashion, or that its motives are as benign as they are presented to be.

  5. 205
    Mal Adapted says:

    BPL, to Dan DaSilva:

    I find your efforts to tie environmentalists and climate scientists to the Communists distasteful, inaccurate, rude, and downright stupid.

    Not just inaccurate, but frankly delusional. It’s not like there’s the slightest probability AGW-deniers and/or other ecologically disinformed persons will actually be rounded up and imprisoned in horrific conditions, at least not just for that.

    One might, as well, raise an eyebrow at DDS’s willingness to assume Joe Stalin’s honest intent, when he turned out to be the paradigm of a brutal, ruthless autocrat whose paramount intent is absolute power. Perhaps DDS imagines Utopia as a place where everyone who might speak truth to him is locked up or dead.

  6. 206
    ab says:

    Zebra @186,
    What do you say, ab?

    The Earth’s system is like a sink with the tap turned on and a sink stopper preventing the water to evacuate. So the water level increases, and you call that global warming. You can not turn off the tap. You have to remove the sink stopper. But climate scientists are preoccupied with the chemical composition of the water… It has no relevance to the problem. Reforesting the Earth is an equivalent for removing the sink stopper.

    Steven Emmerson @191,
    You appear to believe that the temperature of anything on the Earth should be the same as that of the International Space Station.

    No, the temperature of the ISS is deducted from the radiations it receives, and the temperature of anything on Earth considered as a black body, can also be deducted from all the radiations it receives to which we can add the conduction and convection mechanisms.

  7. 207
    Carrie says:

    Research ref identifies why current climate models have underestimated the decadal variability of Pacific Ocean.

    This variability is directly tied to ENSO variability, and as climate variability is directly tied to the magnitude of ECS; it follows that if or when models (including CMIP6 models) are corrected to minimize their current faults/bias they will probably project higher values of ECS than projected by AR5:

    Research sheds new light on understanding Pacific Trade Winds

    https://phys.org/news/2018-05-pacific.html

    Extract: “Now a new international study, featuring Professor Mat Collins from the University of Exeter, has for the first time been able to identify a deficiency thought to underpin this model under representation of Pacific Trade Wind trends.

    Lead study author Dr. Shayne McGregor, from the Monash School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment added: “Numerical models are known to have biases in their representation of the long term average climate, these same models are also known to have biases in their representation of variability, which includes the underrepresentation of decadal variability in the Pacific Ocean.

    “However, these two issues have often been treated separately as there was little evidence linking the two until now. Our results identify biases in the representation of the model long term average appear to play a prominent role in the under representation of this recent Pacific Ocean trade wind strengthening.”

    Since all of the ocean basins are connected by the atmosphere and ocean, it is not just the mean state in the Pacific Ocean that is important, according to Dr. McGregor.”

    See also:

    McGregor et al. (2018), “Model tropical Atlantic biases underpin diminished Pacific decadal variability”, Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0163-4

    http://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0163-4

  8. 208
    nigelj says:

    David Young @198 maybe I worded that badly. I’m certainly aware of the criticisms of the way science is being done but 1) any field of human endeavour is under constant criticism and 2) as I stated the problem areas appear to be primarilly the life science and pharmaceutical testing areas. Curiously you had no comment on that.

    Even more curious, I read from Mal Adapted’s posts, a reliable source of information in my experience, that you are a climate change sceptic, and deny that there has been a campaign by business and fossil fuel interests to cast doubt on climate science, despite the vast evidence that there has been. There are even peer reviewed papers on climate denial and its causes, if you look up climate denial on wikipedia and check the references. Since you put so much faith in peer reviewed sources.

    My observations lead me to think you like to spend your time writing general statements on the intenet about problems with “science” hoping to smear climate science by association, while ignoring any discussion that gets into specifics on the issues, and ignoring the overwhelming evidence for the toxic influence on the science debate by business interests and their use of misleading rhetoric. I would say this is far more relevant to the climate issue.

    I would suggest the best place for you is an environmental gulag, as suggested by DDS. Freedom of speech is so overrated.

  9. 209
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 204
    Kevin McKinney says: 24 May 2018 at 1:36 PM

    “Typically, those with a legitimate interest (such as a replication study) don’t have trouble getting access to data.”

    I do not think that is true. Then again, perhaps I misunderstand who you believe are among ‘those with a legitimate interest’ are? Who decides that? Are ‘those with a legitimate interest’ Buddies, paid for a nod and a wink? Are perhaps (and I’m guessing here’s where the problem lies) someone whose ‘aim is to try and find something wrong with it’?

    BER: “To repeat: one set of researchers.”

    “Not what was said, at all… ”

    I believe I quoted you word for word. Please advise.

    “. . .Which sounds fine, but could still be . . .”

    But ‘could’ still be . . . sounds like conjecture to me.

  10. 210
    ab says:

    Urbanisation and animal-based foods are the cause of global warming. It is the case now:

    “Deforestation driven by urban population growth and agricultural trade in the twenty-first century”
    https://www.nature.com/articles/ngeo756

    And it was also the case in the last two centuries by transforming most forest lands on Earth into agricultural lands for animal agriculture or urbanisation.

    You can not pretend act for solutioning the problem of global warming and at the same time have meat and dairies into your daily plate.

    Each time you eat meat and dairies, you are contributing to species extinction, soil, air and water pollution, deforestation and global warming.

  11. 211
    Karsten Vedel Johansen says:

    As the last fifty years’ or so history demonstrate all too clearly, no scientific efforts whatsoever has been, are or will be able to overcome the ever more dominant parts of mankind, who, whatever the costs, will always ignore any reality they don’t like. It seems more and more plausible, that the mutations which led to the development of the human brain, in fact was the beginning of a colossal disaster for most other lifeforms on the globe, and consequently also for homo sapiens itself.

    At least since the election of Reagan etc., it was obvious that the victory over fascism 1945 was only to be temporary. Totalitarianism came back in a liberal form. That communist leaders disbanded state capitalism and stalinism 1989, only led to the strengthening of the already blooming hubris of western monopoly capitalism and totalitarian liberalism.

    It makes me utterly sad to say this, but I can come to no other conclusion of what I am confronted with in the media etc.: Endless stupid lies and self-deceptions. False “agreement”s as the Paris accord, rightfully called “pure bullshit” by Jim Hansen already in november 2015. Which since has proved very correct: everybody are running away from their “commitments” as fast as they can. Then we have again new “commitments” further into the future etc. In the meantime everybody among the politicians are doubling and quadroupling their pressure on the scientists to alter the “carbon budget” so they can continue with business as very usual. Which they would have done anyway. Because they don’t understand the problem and they don’t want to. They don’t give a shit about anything than money and votes, their own success. The climate thus will continue to drift towards more chaos as will society.

    The pretense that the climate models will be able to tell with any precision what will happen to food production, glaciers etc. in the next 50 years, is urealistic. Because what happens now has not happened before as far as we know climate history. It’s impossible to calibrate the models with any certainty. We can only say that it will not benefit us as it will destabilize the climate and the ecosystems. It’s already happening. We ought to cut all emissions as fast as possible. But that is not going to happen, nothing but talk will happen, everything will go on just as it has been since the problem with AGW was first put on the agenda, but of course under a thicker and thicker blanket of lies and hypocrisy.

    Democracy has descended into democrazy and oiligarchy. The light nihilism of hyperconsumerism. Time is long overdue for scientists to tell the truth clear and loud. To stop the cosying up to the official scam. It will propably not change anything, but at least they will have tried. “Better to perish than to live as slaves” (Churchill).

  12. 212
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 201 Hank Roberts says:
    24 May 2018 at 11:09 AM

    “If you read nothing else about epidemiology, read this”

    Interesting article. The last line: “What is necessary now is to develop the epidemiologic methods relevant to public health surveillance; to apply computer technology for efficient data collection, analysis, and graphic display; to apply surveillance principles to practice; and to routinely assess the usefulness of surveillance systems.” I’m wondering what the follow up was/is. The article is almost 30 years old. Is there any updates?

  13. 213
    zebra says:

    @ab 206,

    ab, I gave you a simple test. If your physics level is not able to answer such an easy question, then you are clearly not competent to criticize “climate scientists”.

    As I said in an earlier comment, you seem completely confused about physical/quantitative relationships– and even the meaning of the terms you are using. But, now we have established that you really aren’t interested in improving your understanding. If you were, you would have answered the question.

  14. 214
    oaktree says:

    “here is a link for data from the original hockey stick paper. You’re welcome!)”

    gavin. You well know the main issue with that paper was that the authors were (1) very slow to provide data and (2) were not specific about which data sets they used and how they processed them. In the interests of transparency and integrity, paper authors should provide this.
    An analogy to what information they provided is: Someone asks me what I ate today. I open my kitchen cabinet and say: ‘from there’.
    You know that, so I’m not sure why you would suggest the authors were compeltely open, co-operative and transparent.

  15. 215

    ab, #206–

    Some free editorial assistance: to “deduct” is to subtract from; to “deduce” is to use a logical operation (or, more broadly, a calculation of some sort) to draw a conclusion. So, you must have meant:

    “…the temperature of the ISS is deduced from the radiations it receives…”

    Clearly, you can’t subtract a temperature from a radiative flux.

  16. 216
    David Young says:

    Nigel and Mal, I hope you feel proud of your ad hominem arguments. What you say about the causes of bias in the scientific literature is quite untrue and if you read the references you would know that. There is little to no emphasis on the “evil” influence of money and corporate interests in either paper I referenced.

    The positive bias in the literature is due to the tendency to not punish negative results, p hacking, and the culture of modern science itself. Your transparently ideologically driven thesis lacks any evidence or support in the scientific literature.

  17. 217
    Hank Roberts says:

    I do not think that is true. Then again, perhaps I misunderstand who you believe

    Who do you believe? Is there some specific study you’re trying to get data to replicate?
    Or someone you trust who tells you this is a problem?

    If not, your continued expression of mistrust in general says little about the actual situation.

    You can look up the actual policies on sharing data — how costs of having collected a data set are expected to be shared by those wanting use of the data; how long the original researchers have to do their work and publish before releasing the data for others.
    And so on.

    Where is the problem you are saying you believe exists? Who is trying to resolve it and how?

  18. 218
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Barn E. Chucklehead,
    Sharing a dataset represents a commitment. The new recipient may have questions about the data that the donor of the dataset might be expected to answer. As such, I think one would be appropriate in asking the potential recipient what they plan to do with the data and whether there is a reasonable expectation that they will publish and whether their publication will advance the state of knowledge in the field.

    It is clear that you don’t understand the motivations of science. Of course, everyone wants to be right, but more than that, they want to understand their object of study. So the mere fact that another group might prove you wrong is not a sufficient deterrent that it would cause data not to be shared.

    The biggest obstacle to obtaining datasets the denialist community faces is not that climate scientists fear being proved wrong, but rather the fact that denialists don’t publish. In part, this is because many of them do not have the ability to understand the data, but even those few competent denialists have a poor publishing track record. They lack interest in understanding climate, and their denial of established science proves a severe liability when it comes to understanding.

  19. 219

    Barn, #209–

    Kevin: “Typically, those with a legitimate interest (such as a replication study) don’t have trouble getting access to data.”

    Barn: I do not think that is true.

    YMM always V. I still do.

    Then again, perhaps I misunderstand who you believe are among ‘those with a legitimate interest’ are? Who decides that?

    Whom I think should (and generally does) receive access: anyone who has a good reason: researchers of numerous stripes, legal and policy folk, legitimate journalists, etc. Who decides: the folks who bear legal responsibility under the agreement by which they received access to, or custody of, the data in the first place.

    Are ‘those with a legitimate interest’ Buddies, paid for a nod and a wink?

    One hopes not, but we live in a world populated by imperfect people. Such things do happen ocassionally, and the culprits do (at least sometimes) get busted.

    Are perhaps (and I’m guessing here’s where the problem lies) someone whose ‘aim is to try and find something wrong with it’?

    Identifying problems with previous work is a highly-sought ‘win’ for any researcher, according to what I hear.

    BER: “To repeat: one set of researchers.”

    Kevin: “Not what was said, at all… ”

    Barn: I believe I quoted you word for word. Please advise.

    Well, I’m not going to go back and bird-dog exactly when the phrase ‘one set of researchers’ first came in; but what I meant when I wrote “Not what was said,” was that, by the rhetorical repetition you were suggesting that only one set of researchers potentially had access, whereas I had said that in principle at least, access to the data is generally available to anyone with a good-faith reason for needing it.

    So–since you ask me–I’d advise you to avoid rhetorical devices that have the potential to confuse.

    But ‘could’ still be . . . sounds like conjecture to me.

    To be forthright, it is conjecture, so yes, you are correct. However, from my perspective, it’s conjecture firmly based on Mr. Pruitt’s past (and on-going) behavior. He’s met with polluters, but refused access to pollution victims. (By a strange coincidence–and as a matter of public record–he has benefited from large campaign donations from the former throughout his entire political career.) He’s slow-walked implementation of previously-approved regulations, while fatalities it would have prevented pile up (ie., methylene chloride regs). He’s suppressed and ignored his own scientific advisors. He’s bullied staff he thinks disloyal, and promoted and cosseted his toadies.

    Trusting someone like that would be a bad mistake–unless, of course, one is ‘trusting’ him to keep operating for the good of large corporate polluters–especially in the fossil fuel industry–just as he has been doing for decades.

  20. 220
    MA Rodger says:

    Concerning the comment @206 (which replies to #191), the problem with the International Space Station temperature is that it demonstrates that temperatures you would calculate from Trenberth’s Global Energy Balance are all wrong, apparently. This was explained up-thread @62. When you dig deeper, this problem is explained by the radiation received by a body close to the Earth’s surface (perhaps a Space Station awaiting loading onto the top of a skyrocket). From the Trenberth diagram this absorbed radiation totals 890Wm^-2, apparently, that being 396Wm^-2 from the ground below and a total of 494Wm^-2 from the sky above. Elsewhere multiple attempts have been made to explain that, because this body has a top and a bottom and that a one-square-metre body would thus have a total top-plus-bottom-area of 1 + 1 = 2 sq m, the radiation it received would be 980/2 = 445Wm^-2. However the complexity of this mathematics proved too difficult for the denialist commenter to grasp, apparently.

  21. 221
    Mal Adapted says:

    nigelj:

    My observations lead me to think you like to spend your time writing general statements on the intenet about problems with “science” hoping to smear climate science by association, while ignoring any discussion that gets into specifics on the issues, and ignoring the overwhelming evidence for the toxic influence on the science debate by business interests and their use of misleading rhetoric. I would say this is far more relevant to the climate issue.

    nigelj’s point is precisely mine, and if I said his comment wasn’t gratifying you’d know I was lying. Scruple compels me to point out, however, that readers should verify my allegations regarding virtual Mr. Young’s history of AGW-denial-denial by tu quoque insinuation, false equivalence and curt dismissal of documentary evidence. I haven’t cited them explicitly because for one thing, it would almost certainly have no effect whatever on him; and for another, I’m really not interested in prosecuting him for consignment to some fantasy ‘gulag’. Rightly IMHO, the US Constitution protects every citizen’s freedom to propagate false facts and fallacious logic on public fora, voluntarily or for profit, without criminal sanction. I don’t even know where he lives!

    OTOH, he’s easy enough to trace with a search engine (try “David Young” with “site:planet3.org” or “site:andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com”). He surely knows as well as “Mal Adapted” does, that the Internet holds our virtual identities responsible for everything we say, forever. If virtual Mr. Young feels free to post ludicrous undead AGW-denier memes here, then our equal freedom to engage with him ‘robustly’ is limited only by RC’s moderation. He’s fair game, IOW. Have at him 8^D!

  22. 222
    Russell says:

    Mal, I worked for Nitze , not Kissinger, and Kubric was no more an historian than Peter Sellers, whom we all miss.

    It’s too bad El Maximo Lider didn’t copy his Kremlin démarche to Hunter Thompson, as it is one gonzo document.

  23. 223
    Al Bundy says:

    Mal spoke of the intentional transfer of carbon to the atmosphere because of profit motive.

    You reminded me of my bio-mom’s exclamation that Nebraska MUST generate its electricity with coal
    “We need coal now”

    That Nebraska sits dab smack in Tornado Alley and has abundant solar resources is irrelevant to her. Yep, Nebraska’s electricity needs spike when winds blow in winter and when the sun bakes us in summer. But solar and wind are useless because they are intermittent in exactly the fashion that would be useful to Nebraska.(for absolute proof, visit her house any time and listen to God, aka Fox News)

    Thus, there is no alternative to coal.

  24. 224

    MAR 220: From the Trenberth diagram this absorbed radiation totals 890Wm^-2, apparently, that being 396Wm^-2 from the ground below and a total of 494Wm^-2 from the sky above.

    BPL: Of the 396 W/m2 from the ground, only 20-40 W/m2 makes it to space.

  25. 225
    Hank Roberts says:

    I do not think that is true. Then again, perhaps I misunderstand who you believe

    Turn that around. Who do you believe on this subject? Can you identify some specific study where you or someone you trust has had a problem?

  26. 226
    Hank Roberts says:

    The article is almost 30 years old. Is there any updates?

    Put the cite into a Scholar search and find out.

  27. 227
    JRClark says:

    At least 211 Karsten Vedel Johansen says something cogent, intelligent and true here for once. The rest of the commentary on this page could be equated to garbage. A real life miracle has occurred on Real Climate. Maybe there is a God after all.

  28. 228
    Mal Adapted says:

    David Young:

    Nigel and Mal, I hope you feel proud of your ad hominem arguments. What you say about the causes of bias in the scientific literature is quite untrue and if you read the references you would know that. There is little to no emphasis on the “evil” influence of money and corporate interests in either paper I referenced.

    Heh. Posers can’t help giving themselves away. If I dismissed your claims solely because you’re the one making them, I’d be arguing ad hominem. That’s not the basis of my criticism. I readily acknowledge that within the 500 year old, global cultural institution of Science (capitalized), the sub-discipline of Biomedicine is exceptionally vulnerable to bias for positive results, and that the credibility of published research on medical treatment efficacies is therefore compromised. As I’ve made perfectly clear, it’s your tacit claim that positive bias is equally manifest in the Earth Sciences comprising the peer consensus for AGW that I reject, not just because you’re making it but simply because there is no evidence for it. It’s legitimate to wonder why you persist in making it!

    DY:

    The positive bias in the literature is due to the tendency to not punish negative results, p hacking, and the culture of modern science itself. Your transparently ideologically driven thesis lacks any evidence or support in the scientific literature.

    No, Mr. Young. The positive bias you’re referring to is an urgent problem for medical patients regardless of ideological persuasion: i.e. all of us, sooner or later. Not content with my previous stipulation to that, you continue your transparent insinuations that “the culture of modern science itself” allows you to deprecate the urgency of AGW, if not deny its reality altogether. I said I wasn’t interested in prosecuting you, but I’m bound to respond to your rhetorical counterattack: your history of activity on climate blogs, from your very first comment on RealClimate through as recently as last fall at OnlyInItForTheGold, leaves little doubt of your position.

    My present ‘thesis’ is that you have stubbornly denied the influence of concentrated fossil fuel wealth on the failure of US citizens to act collectively to decarbonize our economy, as is urgent to cap the warming and limit its aggregate cost. While that influence is not as well documented in the public record as we might wish, what is available is probative. Once again: it can’t honestly be called a conspiracy as that connotes intent to conceal illegality, whereas AFAIK it’s all nominally lawful (especially after legal rulings that only a fool would believe were entirely free of pecuniary motive) and is actually concealed rather poorly. ‘Evil’ (your word) is a common private judgment, however, so machinations by de facto plutocrats to make the record less public aren’t mysterious.

    In any case the existence of a long-term strategy by named individuals, families and corporations, to re-invest a fraction of their fossil fuel revenues in a lobbying and public disinformation campaign to preserve the rest, is beyond reasonable doubt. As shrewd investors, they’d be fools not to! Admittedly, with annual profits to US and Canadian coal, oil and natural corporations in 2012 of $471 billion dollars, the re-investment between 2003 and 2010 of 0.01% of that amount in total may seem paltry. OTOH, it’s been pointed out more than once that politicians, and voters, are dismayingly inexpensive.

    Now, Mr. Young: as I also said, I have no way to be certain of your cognitive motivations, but your earlier comment on this thread is telling (my emphasis):

    It’s a left wing meme to always blame money for integrity or cultural problems.

    That isn’t true in my case, I can assure you. The specific proposal I support, revenue-neutral Carbon Fee and Dividend with Border Adjustment Tariff, is a minimal nudge on the ‘invisible hand’ of the ‘free’ market for energy (free of targeted collective intervention, that is) by the ‘visible hand’ of legislation, to drive buildout of the carbon-neutral economy by internalizing a fraction of the marginal climate-change cost of fossil carbon in its market price. CF&D with BAT is revenue-neutral: it divides the combined fee and tariff revenue monthly (I think quarterly would be better, FWIW) by the number of federal tax filers, and gives the quotient back to each of us as a dividend (that’s why it’s called that 8^D). That means the gubmint don’t git none! Did I say CF&D with BAT is revenue-neutral?

    Since AGW is redundantly shown to be an urgent (for reasonable values of ‘urgent’) problem for every person now living and yet to live, it’s exasperating to hear friends and neighbors deny it for expressly ideological reasons. Sadly nonetheless, we’ve all heard multiple variations on “climate change is a left-wing plot”. Please, Mr. Young, tell us you’re not afflicted with that tragicomic delusion!

    I’d be astonished if anyone, least of all Mr. Young, is still with me. Meh. At worst, I’m stockpiling boilerplate ;^). Did I mention that CF&D with BAT is revenue-neutral?

  29. 229
    ab says:

    Zebra @213,

    I’m not going to play silly intellectual games with you zebra, the games that you repeat from other websites.

    Kevin McKinney @215,

    Easy to criticize the form, but still escaping from the facts.

  30. 230
    ab says:

    @206,

    It is a shame that english should be the main scientific language, and not everyone needs to know english to make good science.

    Enough playing now. Good luck.

  31. 231
    nigelj says:

    David Young @216

    “There is little to no emphasis on the “evil” influence of money and corporate interests in either paper I referenced.”

    Ok there isn’t in the papers you referenced, but those are only a couple of papers. The fact is corporate influence are a factor sometimes, particularly in the life science and pharmaceutical industries that get corporate funding, where the hard sciences get more government funding.

    Obviously scientific papers are not going to make these sorts of accusations and risk defamation lawsuits, but this doesn’t make the influence any less so.

    For example the pharmaceutical industries do their own product testing, and they obviously have vested interests in having positive test results. We are reliant on their integrity.

    It is known a lot of these test results are worthless. The real test results for Prozac for example show it is only slightly better than a placebo. It’s now known many other pharmaceutical products are of no value. So anyway, this evidence means its a reasonable conclusion that corporate profit motive leads to cheating and other poor quality practices sometimes. The solutions could include more testing by independent agencies, or more transparency and scrutiny of testing.

    “The positive bias in the literature is due to the tendency to not punish negative results, p hacking, and the culture of modern science itself. ”

    Sometimes yes in all sciences. But it’s more apparent in the life sciences and drug testing for the reasons stated, and other obvious reasons.

    “Your transparently ideologically driven thesis lacks any evidence or support in the scientific literature.”

    No my view is not ideologically based. It is evidence based and commonsense. Obviously scientific literature is not going to accuse corporate’s of dishonesty and risk defamation lawsuits, but this doesn’t make wrong doing non existent.

    I’m also prepared to admit there are problems generally in all sciences, although it appears more so in the life sciences.

    You are in complete denial about the industry and corporate problems, so clearly you have an ideological bias in favour of the corporate sector.

  32. 232
    nigelj says:

    Ab @210 , “Urbanisation and animal-based foods are the cause of global warming. It is the case now:“Deforestation driven by urban population growth and agricultural trade in the twenty-first century”

    Urbanisation and meat eating are not “the cause” of global warming. The article in Nature you quoted certainly doesn’t support your assertion. The article doesn’t state anywhere that deforestation or meat eating is the principal cause of global warming. It states “Maintaining carbon stocks in tropical forests is widely recognized as a relatively low-cost option for mitigating climate change”. However other research shows it can only achieve a limited effect and is not a panacea, because we just don’t have infinite quantities of spare land lying around.

    Urbanisation and meat eating contribute to global warming, but the main cause of recent climate change is demonstrably the burning of fossil fuels, as quantified in the last IPCC report. The effects of deforestation from urbanisation and methane emissions from cattle are much smaller in scale than CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. There’s a clue in the fact that only 3% of the worlds land surface is urbanised, so too small to be significant.

    William Ruddiman has argued deforestation and crop land farming going back many centuries was a significant factor in the rather stable interglacial), but the data suggests the effect was small. Recent fossil fuel burning has been more dramatic in scale.

    “You can not pretend act for solutioning the problem of global warming and at the same time have meat and dairies into your daily plate.”

    Correct in very general terms, however its more complicated that people think. Cattle farming on prairie grasslands if properly managed can encourage high levels of soil sequestration of carbon, and much more so than farming crops. This creates quite a dilemma on how much of the planet should be forested. It may be that the solution is a diet of low to moderate meat and dairy, rather than strict vegetarianism, however its just my instinct and I haven’t been able to find any research quantifying the right solution.

    There are certainly many reasons to keep meat consumption a little on the low side related to health and water use.

  33. 233
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @223 says “But solar and wind are useless because they are intermittent in exactly the fashion that would be useful to Nebraska.(for absolute proof, visit her house any time and listen to God, aka Fox News). Thus, there is no alternative to coal.”

    I know you are being sarcastic, but this is interesting on just how fast solar and wind is overcoming the intermittency problem: Its getting off topic so I will just give the reference.

    https://reneweconomy.com.au/plunging-costs-make-solar-wind-and-battery-storage-cheaper-than-coal-83151/

  34. 234
  35. 235
    Mal Adapted says:

    ab:

    Urbanisation and animal-based foods are the cause of global warming. It is the case now:

    Uhhm, both of those are causes of global warming, but neither is the cause. According to the Worldwatch Institute, agriculture overall contributes greenhouse gases directly, but is outweighed by fossil fuel consumption:

    In 2010, global greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector totaled 4.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO₂) equivalent, up 13 percent over 1990. Agriculture is the third largest contributor to global emissions by sector, following the burning of fossil fuels for power and heat, and transportation. In 2010, emissions from electricity and heat production reached 12.5 billion tons, and emissions from transport totaled 6.7 billion tons.

    As well, both agriculture and urbanization diminish the capacity of land to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

    ab:

    You can not pretend act for solutioning the problem of global warming and at the same time have meat and dairies into your daily plate.

    Each time you eat meat and dairies, you are contributing to species extinction, soil, air and water pollution, deforestation and global warming.

    To be sure, livestock raising, primarily cattle, contributes disproportionately to warming by emitting relatively large amounts of methane. A molecule of methane in the atmosphere traps about 20 times more heat than one of CO2, before it oxidizes to CO2 itself. The carbon emitted by livestock, OTOH, is part of the short-term (years to decades) carbon cycle, from fixation by plants, to consumption as feed and forage, to oxidation back into the atmosphere by metabolism, decay, or combustion. Livestock emissions therefore do not increase the climatically-active carbon pool. You can easily look all this up yourself, ab.

    In a more inclusive analysis, you can minimize your contribution to “species extinction, soil, air and water pollution, deforestation and global warming” most effectively by not being born, and failing that, by dying childless. Each time you eat, put on clothes or take shelter in your house, you are contributing to all those things. Vegans aren’t innocent: all forms of agriculture simplify ecosystems, by killing off or driving away all but our favored species in order to divert a larger fraction of the energy and nutrient flows through that patch of ground into human biomass; otherwise, why bother? There’s evidence, BTW, that global atmospheric methane began rising when rice cultivation expanded across China 6,000 years ago.

    Under the mediocrity principle, you know, there’s no cosmic requirement for any of us to exist, nor are 750 vegans superior to 75 beef eaters.

  36. 236
    nigelj says:

    Mal Adapted, my suggestion that certain climate denialist and similar people be locked up in an environmental gulag was tongue in cheek, because freedom of speech is just too important, but its a little tempting all the same…. And they may have to be locked up for their own protection from the angry mob eventually.

  37. 237
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 219 Kevin McKinney says:25 May 2018 at 9:55 AM
    Barn, #209–

    “Well, I’m not going to go back and bird-dog exactly when the phrase ‘one set of researchers’ first came in; but what I meant when I wrote “Not what was said,” was that, by the rhetorical repetition you were suggesting that only one set of researchers potentially had access, whereas I had said that in principle at least, access to the data is generally available to anyone with a good-faith reason for needing it.”

    Kevin, I quote posts precisely, and comment directly on what was written. I would appreciate it if you showed the same respect. Or at least remember what you wrote. The above quote is not true. Call it ‘bird-dogging’ if you want. I’d call it bullshit.

    Here is what you said (word for word) #187: “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 to repeat, you were the one who said “one set of researchers”. I can’t fully comprehend how you wrote, “. . . it would likely be made available to another set working in the same (or a related) area.” as to now mean, ” . . . whereas I had said that in principle at least, access to the data is generally available to anyone with a good-faith reason for needing it.”

    You said no such thing. I quoted you accurately and questioned it. Again, if you wish to comment on my posts, quote me as accurately as I do you. And comment on only on what I wrote. Too much to ask?

    That aside, if you do have concerns with the new EPA proposed rule the public comments closes May 30th. Make your opinion known to those that might matter.

  38. 238
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 217 Hank Roberts says:
    25 May 2018 at 9:41 AM

    “Where is the problem you are saying you believe exists? Who is trying to resolve it and how?”

    Hank, you posted the perfect example above #136. The EPA cites a study; somebody looks into it; finds a problem. That’s where I find a problem exists and who is trying to resolve it. I’m hoping how they resolve it may get easier . . . maybe not.

    As I posted earlier,RE: EPA Proposed Rule, public comments are open until May 30th. You should make your opinion count with those that might matter here (Last time I checked there were just over 550 comments. Perhaps I should’ve said, ‘only about 550’ doesn’t seem like many are concerned.):

    https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/04/30/2018-09078/strengthening-transparency-in-regulatory-science

  39. 239
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 225 Hank Roberts says:
    26 May 2018 at 9:06 AM

    “Turn that around. Who do you believe on this subject? Can you identify some specific study where you or someone you trust has had a problem?”

    Again, I thought you provided the perfect example up-thread on who to believe, specific study and someone I trust had a problem. How’s that for turnaround?

  40. 240
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 226 Hank Roberts says:
    26 May 2018 at 9:13 AM

    “(The article is almost 30 years old. Is there any updates?)

    Put the cite into a Scholar search and find out.”

    If you’re not interested in pursuing something you seemed to think was important when you told me, and important enough for me to know but not important enough pursue yourself. Why would I think it was worth pursuing?

    Just asking . . . I thot the ’88 article was interesting.

  41. 241
    ab says:

    Mal Adapted @235, nigelj @232,

    The reductionist view attributing the cause of global warming to GHG is a misunderstanding of the complexity of climatology.

    If CO2 concentration and temperature increase, it is because of deforestation 1) increasing daily thermal amplitude, 2) releasing H20 & CO2 gas into the atmosphere, and 3) diminishing the creation of natural clouds.

    Climatology is primarily influenced by linked macroscopic factors pertaining to water cycle and daily thermal amplitude.

    And those factors are primarily the results of land modifications such as global deforestation and urbanization.

    That CO2 and temperature increase at the same time is not a cause to effect relationship, the confounding factor being land use modifications, as it has been showed via satellite observations comparing forest covers and open lands: the transition from forest covers to open lands has a net warming effect of several degrees, showing that global deforestation is the primary driver for surface warming, and not GHG concentration.

    And the primary cause of deforestation is historically animal agriculture, transforming forests covers into agricultural lands mostly for rising and feeding cattles for a human demography in constant growth, the human population having been multiplied by five in the XXth century alone.

    So, no, the solution is not about not being born, it is about eating a plant-based diet at global scale, which is 1) healthier for human health, 2) healthier for ecological and environmental concerns, 3) allows for reforestation of agricultural lands.

    You can have zero emission of fossil fuels and still have global warming and climate changes. That is what most climate scientists clearly do not understand.

  42. 242
    zebra says:

    ab #229,

    “silly intellectual games”

    Physics is a silly intellectual game? Some people would say that about string theory, maybe. But I have no idea what you are talking about with reference to other websites.

    I think if I make a comment, someone should be free to challenge whether I really understand the fundamentals of what I am talking about. Using an analogy that doesn’t directly have the baggage of the climate wars is a good way to do that.

    But if you are insecure about your reasoning, you are also free to not answer.

  43. 243
    Dan DaSilva says:

    211 Karsten Vedel Johansen

    Very interesting read, I agree with you on most except your absolute certainty of a man-made climate disaster.

  44. 244
    Dan DaSilva says:

    235 Mal Adapted

    Quote:”Under the mediocrity principle, you know, there’s no cosmic requirement for any of us to exist, nor are 750 vegans superior to 75 beef eaters.”

    Without God, that statement is as wise as anything a man has ever said.

  45. 245
    Mal Adapted says:

    nigelj:

    my suggestion that certain climate denialist and similar people be locked up in an environmental gulag was tongue in cheek, because freedom of speech is just too important, but its a little tempting all the same…And they may have to be locked up for their own protection from the angry mob eventually.

    Dude, it’s OK. We’re largely in accord on the central topic of this blog. I think our customary rhetorical styles complement each other: mine is “savage glee”, while yours is more diplomatic. We’re not required to adhere to them, though 8^D!

    That said, I definitely don’t want to punish anyone. I don’t want to lock anyone up, or impose artificial scarcity. I don’t want to force fossil fuel billionaires to give back the money they made by socializing the climate-change cost of the energy in fossil carbon (I don’t mind if they’re stuck with stranded assets, though). I just want everyone to start paying more of their own marginal costs, at least until nobody wants to buy fossil carbon anymore because carbon-neutral energy is cheaper, and the social (including ‘environmental’) costs of AGW are capped.

    FWIW, my private moral sense is founded on the mediocrity principle: existentially, I’m just as mediocre as everybody else! I really don’t know right from wrong, all I know is what kind of world I want to live in. For better or worse, no singular cosmic moral authority exists, therefore no earthly dictatorship is justified. My political ‘ideology’, if you wish, is “libertarian conservationism”. I’m a consequentialist libertarian: I want the maximum personal liberty compatible with the minimum loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. I’m fully cognizant of the crooked timber from which government must be made, however, so I hope for only enough of it to prevent government at its worst (y’all know I’m paraphrasing a couple of guys here). Since no one can justify a claim of superior moral authority, my responsibility for the actual state of the world is therefore neither more, nor less, than anyone’s.

    IOW, it’s not all up to me! I clearly can’t take it on myself to revoke anyone else’s civil rights or liberties. That leaves me with nothing but the collective ‘will of the people’, under some form of popular sovereignty. My small but finite hope is placed in government “of the people, by the people, for the people”. The outcome may very well be that it perishes from the earth, taking countless other species with it: so be it. We get the government we deserve, because the universe doesn’t care! Of course that doesn’t mean I can’t, and I do.

    So, even if I could force AGW-deniers to shut up, I wouldn’t. What I will do is to call down shame and social opprobrium on them in public fora, hoping AGW-denial comes to be as unacceptable as racism and other antisocial thought disorders. I’m uncomfortably aware, however, that the re-investment strategy of the ‘Koch Club’ (obviously it isn’t just Charles and David Koch, but they’re appropriate figureheads) has fostered an entire industry of skilled professional bullshit artists, ready to mine AGW-denier gold from the off-hand utterances of random climate realists on the Internutz. In my irredeemably mediocre opinion (IMIMO), the K-Club’s best ROI has been the amped-up fantasy culture war that inspires John Q. Trumpist, and his state’s entire Congressional delegation, to assert “AGW is a liberal hoax” out loud in public. O my people 8^(!

  46. 246
    Mal Adapted says:

    Russell:

    Mal, I worked for Nitze , not Kissinger, and Kubric was no more an historian than Peter Sellers, whom we all miss.

    Oh, and President Muffley didn’t have a merkin on his head 8^D!

    Heh. I’m pretty sure you know satire when you see it, Russell. We give auteurs like Kubrick historical license. Dr. Strangelove may not be historically accurate (although the New Yorker disagrees with you), but IMIMO it’s as lacerating a work of satirical art as Gulliver’s Travels!

    RS:

    It’s too bad El Maximo Lider didn’t copy his Kremlin démarche to Hunter Thompson, as it is one gonzo document.

    Think about it, Russell: if Fidel Castro hadn’t been alpha-gonzo, would you call him El Maximo Lider ;^)?

  47. 247
    Fred Magyar says:

    Re: modeling, coding, data, uncertainties, error bars, what it means to be a scientist, standing on the shoulders of giants, peer review, etc, etc…
    I would like to suggest that especially the following commenters:

    Dan DaSilva
    Barn e. Rubble
    Carrie
    David Young

    And anyone else who might be intersted of course. Take a step back from the politicized discussion about climate science in this thread for just a brief moment and take a look at this website:

    http://www.tng-project.org/about/

    “The IllustrisTNG project is a suite of state-of-the-art cosmological galaxy formation simulations. Each simulation in IllustrisTNG evolves a large swath of a mock Universe from soon after the Big-Bang until the present day while taking into account a wide range of physical processes that drive galaxy formation. The simulations can be used to study a broad range of topics surrounding how the Universe — and the galaxies within it — evolved over time.”

    When you have done so please let me know if any of you think those simulations are useful and scientifically valid.
    If you have any questions about the code, the data or the underlying physics and mathematics.

    Also if you think it is the responsibility of those scientists who are working on said project to educate any lay persons on the underlying science. Why or why not? And last but not least if any of you feel even remotely qualified to criticize their work or the project itself.

  48. 248

    ab 241: That CO2 and temperature increase at the same time is not a cause to effect relationship, the confounding factor being land use modifications

    BPL: If that were so, then introducing a land use modification time series into a CO2-temperature regression would cause the CO2 term to drop out. Show your work.

  49. 249
    Mal Adapted says:

    DDS:

    235 Mal Adapted

    Quote:”Under the mediocrity principle, you know, there’s no cosmic requirement for any of us to exist, nor are 750 vegans superior to 75 beef eaters.”

    Without God, that statement is as wise as anything a man has ever said.

    Congratulations, Mr. DaSilva, in all honesty. You finally said something more than half witty ;^).

    In all honesty though, you’re still an exceptionally cock-eyed AGW denier 8^|.

  50. 250
    nigelj says:

    Mal Adapted @245, I largely agree with your world view. I’m not saying that just to be nice, its actually very close to my own position. My essential economic view is free markets, free trade, private ownership and competition are good things, but market failures are common, especially in small countries and relating to environmental issues, and this is best rectified with government regulation and limited state ownership. And I think we have to collectively help people who are unemployed and so on because private sector schemes simply aren’t workable on the whole.

    I’m also moderately socially liberal. I think we are entitled to do what we like, provided we are not harming other people or doing things that become a cost on society. Moral absolutes are intellectually troubling and unprovable for me, however most conventional moral ideas make some degree of sense as rule of thumb guides to life.

    I considered my views as light handed libertarianism, or pragmatic libertarianism, and I checked your consequential libertarianism, and this is pretty much me. I was rather surprised, and thanks for the link.

    The problem with libertarianism is when it transitions from a light handed to heavy handed form it becomes incredibly stupid and toxic, and the point of change seems quite sudden to me. An example of extremism would be legalising drugs for anyone regardless of age. And in my experience many libertarians who profess to be moderates and accept that markets fail, and to support sensible government interventions, deny it when it comes to actually formulating legislation. They tend to be extremists at heart, and Milton Friedman is close to that category, but you are clearly not in that category.

    Killian has an interesting alternative view, but it needs to be seen operating at some reasonable scale to see whether it really works.

    As to writing style, you have a nice style. I take a slightly diplomatic approach as my little protest against the excessive trolling, rudeness, and screaming for attention. But I can certainly be blunt sometimes. I also try to avoid excessive use of jargon and buzzwords, or over complexity of style. But we are all individuals, and it would be boring if we were all the same.

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