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CRU Hack: More context

Filed under: — gavin @ 2 December 2009

Continuation of the older threads. Please scan those (even briefly) to see whether your point has already been dealt with. Let me know if there is something worth pulling from the comments to the main post.

In the meantime, read about why peer-review is a necessary but not sufficient condition for science to be worth looking at. Also, before you conclude that the emails have any impact on the science, read about the six easy steps that mean that CO2 (and the other greenhouse gases) are indeed likely to be a problem, and think specifically how anything in the emails affect them.

Update: The piece by Peter Kelemen at Columbia in Popular Mechanics is quite sensible, even if I don’t agree in all particulars.

Further update: Nature’s editorial.

Further, further update: Ben Santer’s mail (click on quoted text), the Mike Hulme op-ed, and Kevin Trenberth.

1,285 Responses to “CRU Hack: More context”

  1. 801
    Rod B says:

    Lee A. Arnold (776), now you’re just plain silly. Is it fair that the corporations subsidize individuals by paying the taxes that the individuals would have paid had they not claimed exemptions (which corporations can’t BTW…)? Or is it just your fair tax rate (as opposed to the legal IRS fair rate that all corporations pay) not being paid that bothers you?

  2. 802
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “While manacker is busy with homework, can Real Climate prove that internal variability is unforced?”

    If undorced is “without energy making the change” then none of it is.

    But variability is best defined as “what we can’t rely on happening”.

    We can’t rely on this winter 12th December being warmer than last 12th December, so the temps on 12th December are variable.

    But we CAN rely on Dec-Feb being cooler than Jul-Sep.

    And that’s “climate”

    Or near enough.

  3. 803
    Rod B says:

    ps to my 799 to Gavin: my negatives got all tied up in my jock, but you know what I mean… ;-)

  4. 804
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Only 15 years i’m afraid but enough that I can recognise
    sloppy software when I see it.'”

    Can you recognise software IN ERROR when you see it?

    ‘Cos it isn’t there, kid.

  5. 805
    Anonymous Coward says:

    JLS (#792),
    Hank (#793),

    The world economy is not withing the scope of climate models so the fact that future climates can not be predicted by climate models because of uncertainties regarding future emissions does not mean the models are lacking. Models have of course not improved since then in that respect and following citations will yield nothing this time.

    The interactions between the world economy and climate change are more within the scope of the Limits to Growth (Club of Rome) approach. I’m skeptical but there are people trying to work this out:
    http://www.inf.ethz.ch/personal/fcellier/AGS/AGSME_program.html

    JLS, please cut on the jargon and the irrelevant quotes and tell us in what way exactly you believe the science to be inadequate as a basis for the implementation of the sort of climate risk mitigatation policies that are being proposed today. The observed CO2 concentrations are still climbing briskly. Do you figure that unknown non-linear economic or biological negative feedacks are likely to kick in any time soon or something?

  6. 806

    Rod B #746, is that worldwide? Because top U.S. corporate income tax rate is around 35%, isn’t it?

  7. 807
    manacker says:

    Secular Animist

    You opined (791):

    “Give me liberty or give six billion people death” is the cry of a sociopathic idiot.”

    Possibly. I have seen these guys on the street with cardboard signs over their bodies proclaiming “The End Is Near!”

    Maybe they are not “idiots” in the true sense of the word, but they may well be “sociopathic” (or at least psycho-neurotic or paranoid).

    But let’s leave out the hysterical hyperbole and have a rational discussion of the issues at stake (scientific, political, economic, environmental, etc.)

    We are not talking about the demise of “six billion people” here, SA.

    Max

    [Response: Max, please answer the Pinatubo attribution question. – gavin]

  8. 808
    Doug Bostrom says:

    isotopious says: 11 December 2009 at 8:26 PM

    “While manacker is busy with homework, can Real Climate prove that internal variability is unforced?”

    Oh, brother, another wingman, rehashing magical “unexplained forcing factors”, aka the joker in the deck, the get-out-of-jail-free-card, the handy cloud bank available for escape once discussion swerves ineluctably toward reality.

    Isotopious, you’ve already fired this round. Check the cartridge; it’s empty.

    https://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/07/warminginterrupted-much-ado-about-natural-variability/comment-page-8/#comment-131623

  9. 809
    Patrick 027 says:

    isotopious – “can Real Climate prove that internal variability is unforced?”

    1. that’s actually a matter of definition. Internal variability is variability that occurs spontaneously or in a self-organized manner, with specific episodes/cycles/events having no causal linkage to a variation in external forcing on those timescales (of course, a change in external forcing can set the stage for shifts in the patterns of internal variability, but the internal variability would still continue to occur indefinitely while leaving the external forcing constant at a new value).

    2. Models produce internal variability (such as ENSO). There isn’t any reason to expect improvements in models to eliminate internal variability, although we can expect improvements in how well the model output matches reality.

    3. We see variability occur in the atmosphere that can be labelled as internal variability. The formation, growth, maturation and decay of a single thunderstorm happens over various minutes and hours at various locations without being directed to happen that way by topography and the diurnal cycle of solar heating (this is different than identifying statistical tendencies which are shaped by such things). It’s a similar picture for individual synoptic-scale eddies. Of course, there will proximate causes for these things – but these occur within the system, as part of an ongoing web of causality, hence the variability is internally driven.

    The QBO is a nice example of a multiyear-scale variation that is nearly cyclical and is not forced by anything external to the system – it is like an internal clock, self-organized, driven by acyclical Rossby-gravity and Kelvin waves that are themselves excited by spatial variations in tropical convection (? – right?) that have no such cycle or at least have no reason to have such a cycle except for the effects of the QBO itself (I’m unaware of a significant feedback from the QBO back to those tropospheric drivers of the QBO in so far as having importance to the QBO…)

  10. 810
    Patrick 027 says:

    … Of course, the specific events ultimately would be traced back to external forcings, since the Earth has only existed for ~ 4.5 or 4.6 Gyrs; but it isn’t all that meaningful to try; in the real world it can’t practically be done; there is a butterfly effect.

    But the point is that whatever such external forcing occured to so as to make a single cumulus cloud start to grow in a specific way at 10:40 AM on Dec 12, 2009, at latitude x and longitude y, we could completely eliminate that forcing, and still see a similar pattern of cumulus cloud statistics.

    Perhaps most accurately, internal variability is that variability whose specific timing is not linked in any predictable way to external forcing, except if one has a computer model that is identical to the universe out to a radius of y light-years or whatever (imagine a laboratory that is another universe that is identical over some region of space-time), setting aside quantum uncertainty.

  11. 811
    manacker says:

    Gavin

    Did some checking on the Pinatubo eruption, as you suggested (786).

    A 1997 USGS Survey Fact Sheet (Newhall et al.) estimates the impact:
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/1997/fs113-97/

    “Nearly 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide were injected into the stratosphere in Pinatubo’s 1991 eruptions, and dispersal of this gas cloud around the world caused global temperatures to drop temporarily (1991 through 1993) by about 1°F (0.5°C).”

    A 2003 NASA-funded study shows that the Pinatubo eruption caused winter warming over land areas in the high and middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere due to a strengthening of the Arctic Oscillation.
    http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-99573125.html

    “For two years following the volcanic eruption, the Arctic Oscillation caused winter warming over land areas in the high and middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, despite a cooling effect from volcanic particles that blocked sunlight.”

    A 2008 study (Thomas et al.) uses a model to simulate the climate impact of the Pinatubo eruption.
    http://www.atmos-chem-phys.org/9/757/2009/acp-9-757-2009.pdf

    “The model simulates the stratospheric temperature response to the volcanic aerosols correctly, but, the simulation of the dynamical response still remains a challenge. A recent study by (Stenchikov et al., 2006) showed that also 20th century simulations made for IPCC AR4 could not reproduce the surface winter anomalies after volcanic eruptions. Hence, further investigations are necessary to understand better the difficulties in modelling the surface warming pattern derived from the winters after major volcanic eruptions of the 20th century.”

    Interesting.

    Max

  12. 812
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Isotopious, you seem to have a misunderstanding of what “unforced variability” is, but then it is not a term I much like in any case. I prefer to look at things in terms of short-term and long-term variations. There are many, many causes of short-term variation–volcanos, ENSO, perhaps cosmic ray fluctuations–but the thing about all of them is that they are short term. It’s not that they aren’t interesting. Climate scientists are studying them all the time.

    However on scales of multiple decades to millennia, these short-term variations are simply noise. On long timescales, the forcers are far fewer and we understand them pretty well. Changes in insolation (due to solar changes or orbital changes) and greenhouse forcing due to CO2 stand out in stark contrast here. Because there really isn’t anything that mimics these forcings on such long timescales, it is pretty easy to see their influence on climate. That’s why we are very sure of their effect–and coincidentally quite sure that we are causing the current warming epoch.

  13. 813
    Deech56 says:

    Max, you’re not done yet. Next check out some of the citations and do some more searching on those authors and the term “Pinatubo”. I can think of one off the top of my head, but that would ruin the thrill of discovery.

  14. 814
    Joe says:

    Re 804 comletely fed up:

    “Can you recognise software IN ERROR when you see it?

    ‘Cos it isn’t there, kid.”

    That really doesn’t matter – what matters is that the software wouldn’t know if the DATA is in error, even in very obvious ways. Even if the homogenisation algorithms in this software are correct, if the raw data is corrupt (which at least one data value was) then the results will be wrong. So even if the algorithms are right, the output couuld be wrong and it’s that output that is relied on by an awful lot of research.

    None of that proves the science wrong overall, but it does alter the confidence levels that can be attributed to anything based on that data.

  15. 815
    Hank Roberts says:

    > if the raw data is corrupt (which at least one data value was) then the results will be wrong.
    > …
    > it does alter the confidence levels that can be attributed to anything based on that data.

    But by how much? This isn’t a rhetorical question — it’s routine to make corrections and rerun analyses and comment on whether the change in the input data changes the confidence in the conclusions. Often enough it makes no difference at all.

  16. 816
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Joe, OK, what would you say the chances are that you would get 4 separate analyses using two very different types of data making mistakes sufficiently similar that they produce consistent trends? Wouldn’t a real skpetic think about that?

  17. 817
    Paul Tonita says:

    Max (811),

    That NASA-funded study didn’t say that Pinatubo caused warming. It says that the Arctic Oscillation caused winter warming despite the cooling influence of Pinatubo.

    I think your confusion about this illustrates why Gavin asked you about attributing causes without using a model. How can you determine which phenomenon are responsible for specific outcomes in a dynamic system without using experiments? Observational data will include the influence of all the factors we know and do not know about.

  18. 818
    Joe says:

    Re 816 Ray Ladbury:

    Yes, Ray, there is a big question there, which my statistical abilities are nowhere near strong enough to answer.

    It seems to me that all the “very different types of data” have to be calibrated against something. Otherwise they remain data about ice cores / mud / tree rings / whatever with no real meaning in terms of temperature.

    Now, the only thing that they can be calibrated against to have meaning for temperature is, err, temperature data. In this way, all the “independent” data that confirm the instrument record are dependent, at least to some extent, on the instrument record they’re confirming.

    So they’re not entirely independent, as we would be led to believe, any more than the various temperature sets datasets (generally from shared raw data) are.

    Given that the very nature of the science requires enormous extrapolations beyond the calibration period, a small error in the calibration data could, conceivably, produce quite meaningless results in the extrapolation itself.

  19. 819
    JBowers says:

    Has anyone got any comments on this article?:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/How-do-we-know-CO2-is-causing-warming.html
    “Philipona 2004 finds that this is indeed the case – that downward longwave radiation is increasing due to an enhanced greenhouse effect. Evans 2006 takes this analysis further. By analysing high resolution spectral data, the increase in downward radiation can be quantitatively attributed to each of several anthropogenic gases. The results lead the authors to conclude that “this experimental data should effectively end the argument by skeptics that no experimental evidence exists for the connection between greenhouse gas increases in the atmosphere and global warming.”

    So we have multiple lines of empirical evidence for CO2 warming. Lab tests show CO2 absorbing longwave radiation. Satellite measurements confirm that less longwave radiation is escaping to space. Surface measurements detect increased longwave radiation returning back to Earth at wavelengths matching increased CO2 warming. And of course the result of this energy imbalance is the accumulation of heat over the last 40 years.”

  20. 820
    Hank Roberts says:

    > they’re not entirely independent, as we would be led to believe

    Joe, there’s only one real world — behind all the different data sets.
    If you don’t have the statistical skill yourself, who are you going to rely on?

    http://www.google.com/search?q=correlation+data+sets+climate+paleo
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=correlation+data+sets+climate+paleo

    Look at how this kind of thing is handled.

  21. 821
    Rod B says:

    Lee A. Arnold (806), the taxes paid by E-M were Federal and State. My calculated tax rate comes from simply dividing the taxes by the sum of taxes and net income. It actually a bit more complex than that but the answer is a good estimate. The federal corporate tax rate is 34% for most with income over $75,000, 35% for over $18 million, with goofy variances of up to 39% in between; in any event we have the 2nd highest corporate rate of all industrialized countries. There are solid arguments of equity and economics for a very low, even zero, corporate tax rate.

  22. 822
    Timothy Chase says:

    Dendrite wrote in 665:

    I have been shocked and appalled to read of the connections between the AGW deniers (I now feel justified in using the term) and other denial campaigns such as those associated with the health risks of tobacco and the environmental risks of acid rain. This may be old news to some in the US, but I suspect that many of us in Europe are not as clued up on these things and will be as outraged as I am.

    These connections:
    1) call into question the motives of the denialists, and
    2) call into question their scientific judgement and competence. At best, they have a history of backing the wrong side, at worst they have shown a total disregard for scientific evidence and the principles of scientific practice.

    To think that I have spent hours being preached at, in print and even on TV, about ‘standards’ and ‘how science should be conducted’ by people with this kind of pedigree.

    Thanks to Timothy Chase (posts 594, 602, 653) for the info.

    ‘Climategate’ has certainly been an eye-opener for me.

    I am glad you liked the posts. Sorry it took a while for me to get back to you.

    It took very little “research” on my part to uncover the 17 organizations I found that were involved in both the tobacco and AGW campaigns. Only a few minutes. But then of course so many people have already been digging into this for quite a while — and I am more or less just reporting their results and linking to it (i.e., SourceWatch.org). However, I also have some intimate familiarity with libertarianism — but that is another story.

    Anyway, I was Reading “Climate Cover-up” (a new book by James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore) and happened on something that may be of considerable interest — from a memo regarding the proposed foundation of an organization to defend the tobacco industry called TASSC – The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. It seems that they thought that if TASSC was specifically devoted to just defending the tobacco industry and received all of its funding from Philip Morris they might be taken less seriously by the media. So to increase the sources of funding and make TASSC look more credible they started looking at other industries:

    As a starting point, we can identify key issues requiring sound scientific research and scientists that may have an interest in them. Some issues our European colleagues suggest include:

    * Global warming
    * Nuclear waste disposal
    * Diseases and pests in agricultural products for transborder trade
    * Biotechnology
    * Eco-labeling for EC products
    * Food processing and packaging

    pg 3 of Memorandum: Thoughts on Tassc Europe
    March 25, 1994
    To: Matt Winokur / From: Tom Hockaday, Neal Cohen
    http://tobaccodocuments.org/pm/2024233595-3602.html

    Actually there is a lot of information in there that would be of interest interest to people, how for example the tobacco industry knew that as long as the topic of tobacco were framed in scientific/medical terms the tobacco industry would be at a disadvantage. However, framing it in terms of “personal choice” (i.e., along libertarian lines) would work to its advantage.

    Likewise, they quote from the following paper:

    Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism CTTs are non-profit, public policy research and advocacy organisations that promote core conservative ideals such as ‘free enterprise’, ‘private property rights’, ‘limited government’ and ‘national defense’ (Schumaker et al. 1997). Unlike traditional think tanks that aimed to provide reasonably ‘objective’ policy analyses, CTTs are ‘advocacy’ organisations that unabashedly promote conservative goals (Weaver 1988; Fischer 1991). Launched in the 1970s in reaction to social activism and an expanding federal government, CTTs were an institutional answer from American business leaders who during this time ‘voiced fears of ‘creeping social-ism'” (Austin 2002, p. 79). The strategy was to create an activist counter-intelligentsia to conduct an effective ‘war of ideas’ against proponents of government programmes designed to ameliorate presumed social problems such as poverty (Blumenthal 1986; Fischer 1991). As Allen (1992, p. 90) puts it, CTTs ‘are professional social movement organisations that have been sponsored by economic elites as a means of influencing public opinion and the agendas of political elites’.

    Peter Jacques, Riley E. Dunlap and Mark Freeman (June 2008) The Organization of Denial: Conservative Think Tanks and Environmental Scepticism, Environmental Politics
    http://ucf.academia.edu/PeterJacques/Papers/71776/The-Organization-of-Denial–Conservative-Think-Tanks-and-Environmental-Scepticism

    … so basically what you are dealing with are advocacy groups that are concerned more with pushing economic interests and ideology – where the ideology serves both as a means to an end and as an end in itself.

    There is a great deal of research that went into “Climate Cover-up” — and much of the material it refers to is available on the web.

  23. 823
    Timothy Chase says:

    JBowers wrote in 819:

    Has anyone got any comments on this article?:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/How-do-we-know-CO2-is-causing-warming.html

    … then quotes in part,

    “Philipona 2004 finds that this is indeed the case – that downward longwave radiation is increasing due to an enhanced greenhouse effect. Evans 2006 takes this analysis further. By analysing high resolution spectral data, the increase in downward radiation can be quantitatively attributed to each of several anthropogenic gases. The results lead the authors to conclude that this experimental data should effectively end the argument by skeptics that no experimental evidence exists for the connection between greenhouse gas increases in the atmosphere and global warming…”

    Lets see…

    Regarding the reduction in outgoing longwave (thermal) radiation and the CO2 signature, both Griggs 2004 and Chen 2007, the author of what you link to himself links to both papers. Regarding the downwelling thermal radiation (think heat lamp), he links directly to the Philipona 2004 and Evans 2006 can be found on the web.

    Comments…? Well, if you mean besides the fact that the papers are available on the web, I suppose with regard to bringing this to my attention, “Thank you!”

  24. 824
    Completely Fed Up says:

    ““Can you recognise software IN ERROR when you see it?

    ‘Cos it isn’t there, kid.”

    That really doesn’t matter ”

    Your Jedi tricks don’t work on the internet, Joe.

    It does matter. It doesn’t matter HOW badly it’s written if it works. Just like you can edit a file by using “copy con” rather than, say, Notepad. If the right edit went in, the way you edited the file is irrelevant as to whether the file is correct.

    Same here: doesn’t matter if it uses GOTO statements up the wazoo if the code works. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t bound check if the writer knows that the data given to it is within bounds.

    So have a look for how the code DOESN’T DO WHAT IT SHOULD (i.e. a BUG) and then you can go on about how it’s proof of any falsity in the output.

  25. 825
    CM says:

    manacker,

    Did any of the Pinatubo references you found, help you answer Gavin’s question (“how you would attribute the two year cooling event caused by Pinatubo without some kind of model”)? Because you haven’t, yet.

    Have you given any thought to my suggestion (at #787 or thereabouts) that you were mistakenly opposing climate model simulations to empirical observations, whereas the detection of anthropogenic climate change requires putting both together? Again, what is un-empirical about looking for consistency between observations and models?

  26. 826
    Timothy Chase says:

    I ran across something else which may be of interest at DeSmog Blog — run by the same people who wrote the book “Climate Cover-Up”:

    The oily echo machine behind “climategate”
    3 December 09
    http://www.desmogblog.com/oily-echo-machine-behind-climategate

    They state, “Here’s a few of the groups I’m talking about and a very brief background on their previous activities, as well as funding sources: …” then lists the following organizations…

    Center for a Constructive Tomorrow, American Enterprise Institute, Media Research Center, Cato Institute, Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, National Center for Policy Analysis, and Competitive Enterprise Institute,

    … gives some details regarding each one, then links to additional information.

    Now two of these organizations were not in the lists I gave of organizations involved in both the tobacco and AGW campaigns, so I decided to look them up.

    The SourceWatch on the National Center for Policy Analysis is here:

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=National_Center_for_Policy_Analysis

    It does not mention tobacco, so I searched on the web for the name of the organization along with the word tobacco. There were hits and what was floating to the top was material on levying taxes on cigarettes.

    However, what caught my interest was another article at DeSmog Blog. It lists organizations and dollar amounts.

    Please see:


    National Center for Policy Analysis – $60,000

    Big Tobacco then, Global Warming Now
    14 November 07
    http://www.desmogblog.com/big-tobacco-then-global-warming-now

    They are from a Philip Morris draft document from 1995 titled “Public Policy Grants.” Actually if you go to the document itself:

    http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/orw87d00

    … you will find more organizations listed, and after a cursory look I believe the good majority of organizations are in the list of denialist organizations in Exxon’s disinformation network — and weren’t on my list.

    You can check the list of organizations Exxon gives money to here:

    Organizations in Exxon Secrets Database
    http://www.exxonsecrets.com/html/listorganizations.php

    Same is true of the Philip Morris Public Policy Contributors (1998)
    http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/fwo83c00

    … which also lists organizations (a good many more) once you filter out the organizations devoted to agriculture.

    The Exxon Secrets database lets you map the individuals and organizations that are part of the Exxon disinformation network, who belongs to what, gives you quotes, dollar amounts, dates, pdfs of tax returns with lists of organizations and dollar amounts, etc..

    CFACT is the other organization that wasn’t on my lists of organizations in tobacco denial — but it got its start in propaganda/”public relations” devoted to nuclear power.

    Please see:

    Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Committee_for_a_Constructive_Tomorrow

  27. 827
    intrepid_wanders says:

    I have a challenge in the spirit of the Pinatubo study.

    What is the latest date, for the maximum temperature for any region in your country (state, providence, county, etc.) recorded as a high temperature?

    I have for the states; Danbury, Connecticut, 106F, July 15 1995.

    (Record Maximum (US): Greenland Ranch, California, 136F, July 10, 1913.)

  28. 828
    Doug Bostrom says:

    manacker says: 11 December 2009 at 3:30 AM

    “The globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature record is a bit of a mess, with all the possible UHI distortions, ex post facto corrections, variance adjustments, etc., but it’s what we have, so I cannot argue with that.”

    What do you find messy? Which particular “ex post facto” corrections do you have a problem with? Laconically dropping vague innuendo about the validity of records is not an effective argument. How about some references, hm?

    “It takes a bit of a “leap of faith” to discern a direct correlation between this [temperature] record and the record of atmospheric CO2, which began in the late 1950s, and has shown a steady increase.”

    Except, of course, that if you overlay the two signals you find an increasingly tight correlation, something that must be explained somehow. What’s your explanation? How about some cites?

    “One side effect of increased atmospheric CO2 seems to be an increase in the growth rate of certain crops and trees, which is probably not a bad thing.”

    Oh, so you actually agree that we’re modifying the environment with C02? Excellent, we’ve established that you’re in concurrence with one of the fundamental drivers of climate change. Your apparent faith in the selectively positive nature of the changes you say we’re driving is a bit disturbing, though. I doubt you really believe it.

    “Ocean acidification (technically a misnomer, since the ocean is alkaline and it is actually a miniscule reduction of oceanic alkalinity we are talking about…”

    I’m sure you can do better than quibble over the exact terminology used to describe a forced change in pH in the direction of acidity. A picayune and desperate tactic.

    “…some studies have shown that stabilizing feedback processes may have acted to reduce the ocean-alkalinity and carbon dioxide fluctuations in the geological past.”

    So in sum you agree that we’re changing the pH of the ocean, but you’ve found some shred of comfort in the literature to make this ok, at least for rhetorical purposes.

    Your final paragraph appears to be purely your own opinion, without support. Vapid, and you’ve done way better in the past.

    What about Arctic ice thinning/retreat? What about species population distribution changes? What about calendrical changes in botanical reproduction? I could go on, but I suspect you’ll take my point. As I suggested, you ought to make a comprehensive list of features and observations related to climate change and then reassess your position.

    Actually, come to think of it, I’ve noticed that your basic repertoire is rather narrow. More, it’s becoming relatively even more narrow as you are forced to ignore an steady increase in threads of evidence supporting AGW. You’re in a tough spot because you’re being forced to produce ever more contorted and perilously stretched arguments against the concept.

    Consider, there’s no real cost in just saying “Hey, guess what, I’ve defended my position to the best of my ability but this is becoming ridiculous and I don’t want to make myself look foolish.” It’s tough to admit failure, sure. Yet you’re sufficiently self-confident to use your real name in public, you’ve demonstrated an admirably dogged ability to defend an untenable position so nobody’s going to laugh at you if you fold. Quite the contrary.

  29. 829
    Dendrite says:

    Thanks again to Timothy Chase (#822 and #826) for more important and deeply unsettling information on the links between the AGW denial movement and previous, discredited denial campaigns.

    I think that many people are not sufficiently aware of these connections, and I am amazed that they have not been given more attention. Is there any chance that any of the more neutral mainstream media organizations (perhaps in Europe) would give this stuff a good airing?

    Many people in Europe still believe that most deniers are serious, open-minded individuals who genuinely disagree with aspects of the science. A wider appreciation of the context of the denial movement might open many eyes to the true nature of the campaign (as it has mine).

    As an aside, it’s possible that the respectful and educative tone of (most of!) the responses from Gavin and co. at RC has contributed to the impression that the deniers are more serious about the science than many of them really are – a sort of innocence by association.

  30. 830
    Joe says:

    A shadow was cast over CRU and Nasa when the emails were published. The scientists have lost some of their integrity. There is no question about this.

    On the other hand, clearly the hack was illegal, and pubslihing the emails was unfair.

    What is one supposed to think about this? Well, I for one, think, that fair or not, this will place greater demands on hte scientific community. You are not in the clear anymore. From now on you will be considered both scientists and politicians, and not scientists only

  31. 831

    Rod B #821,

    If you take all U.S. federal, state, and local taxes together, then the total tax rate is FLAT — from the top of the income distribution, all the way down to the top of the bottom quintile (i.e. individuals making about $18,500 a year.)

    You are correct to note that the U.S. has high corporate income tax rate — but most of them don’t pay the full rate, and some of them pay nothing at all.

    You can’t compare countries without incorporating their entire tax structures into your argument. And you have to compare even more things than that: the U.S. is unique for example due to the enormous extent of its markets, and its intellectual culture of technological innovation. I haven’t read any arguments for a low corporate rate that stand up to much scrutiny.

  32. 832
    Ken W says:

    Re: 830
    “A shadow was cast over CRU and Nasa when the emails were published. The scientists have lost some of their integrity. There is no question about this.”

    Buzz, you’re wrong. There is definitely a question about any shadow or lost integrity. The denialist can continue to put all the spin they want on these e-mails, but anyone (without an anti-AGW or anti-scientist bias) willing to spend a little time understanding the context and subject matter being discussed will quickly realize the e-mails are nothing but a tempest in a teapot.

    “From now on you will be considered both scientists and politicians, and not scientists only”

    Are you including every single climate scientist in the world in your “you”? Or only those intellectually honest enough to express concern about the danger of AGW?

    Of course, it’s better to be a real scientist accused of politicizing things, than to be a political ideologue pretending to be a scientist (which is what makes up the vast majority of AGW “doubters”).

  33. 833
    manacker says:

    Doug Bostrom

    You asked me of the temperature record:

    “Which particular “ex post facto” corrections do you have a problem with?”

    I have personally noticed two in the HadCRUT series (although I believe there may have been others): one was a “correction” of the annual record made in 2008, “tweaking” the 1998 through 2004 values downward, changing a 1998-2008 trend of slight cooling to one of slight warming. The original data are no longer on the site (I downloaded them before the correction in 2007). I did plot the initial and adjusted values for comparison: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3106/3089974324_634ce5dc43_b.jpg

    Another correction was made in summer 2008 to the first four months of 2008. This was a sharp upward adjustment averaging 0.08°C, which made the early 2008 cooling look less significant. I also plotted this with a comparison with the other three records, which all showed a much greater 2008 cooling than Hadley after the correction. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3074/2720385677_7af5ccfd90_b.jpg

    See my exchange with “Phil” plus other bloggers (including Steve McIntyre) on how and why the Hadley record was adjusted (July 20-31). Many possible reasons were mentioned, but the cause for the adjustment was not identified.
    http://climateaudit.org/2008/04/06/rewriting-history-time-and-time-again/#more-2964

    (The lead article above “Rewriting History, Time and Again” by John Goetz refers to the GISS record.) The article below points to similar “ex post facto” adjustments in the NASA record since 2000; these all apparently cause the warming to look more extreme: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/05/goddard_nasa_thermometer/print.html

    Another CA report points out:
    http://climateaudit.org/2008/02/09/how-much-estimation-is-too-much-estimation/#more-2703

    (1) the number of stations / records has been dropping dramatically in recent years and (2) with that drop the quality of the record-keeping has also dropped dramatically because we are seeing a corresponding rise in estimated annual temperatures and/or insufficient data to calculate an annual temperature. Using this data, GISS is showing that the temperature anomaly in recent years is the highest recorded in the historical record.

    There is more, but that should do it.

    As far as the temperature correlation with atmospheric CO2, I would suggest you go to the CO2 record according to Mauna Loa (after 1958) and IPCC (from ice core data, prior to 1958) as well as the HadCRUT temperature record, to convince yourself that the correlation is weak, making the case for causation quite dicey.

    I explained to you already why our ability to even measure global ocean pH is limited, why the measured changes have been miniscule and why studies of past periods show that natural processes tend to balance out changes.

    But hey, Doug, it is not up to me to disprove your premise that AGW is (a) caused largely by human CO2 emissions and (b) represents a serious potential threat.

    It is up to you to provide empirical data based on actual physical observations, which support your premise. And so far you have only provided rhetoric.

    Max

  34. 834
    manacker says:

    CM (825)

    The Pinatubo case showed that climate models were able to simulate the observed 2-year cooling but could not simulate the observed Arctic warming that resulted indirectly from the Pinatubo eruption.

    I have nothing against climate models, CM, as long as one realizes that they are just multi-million dollar upgrades of the slide rules of bygone days.

    And as the Pinatubo example showed, they can do some things (if fed the correct input data) but cannot yet do others, since our climate is extremely complex and the models are still too rudimentary.

    Max

    [Response: You’ve completely misunderstood my question. I want you to tell me how you would be convinced that Pinatubo caused the two year cooling that was seen without using a model of some sort. I’m well aware that the models do a good job on this already (and check out Shindell et al (2004)) . – gavin]

  35. 835
    manacker says:

    Paul Tonita (817)

    I am not going to get into a “cause and effect” discussion with you on the Arctic warming that followed the Pinatubo eruption, but the report states:

    A recent NASA-funded study has linked the 1991 eruption of the Mount Pinatubo to a strengthening of a climate pattern called the Arctic Oscillation.

    Gavin simply asked me to look at the value of climate models in being able to simulate actually observed events, such as the cooling that ensued after Pinatubo, which I have done.

    And, as I have pointed out, I have no objection to climate models, per se, as long as one recognizes their limitations.

    Max

  36. 836
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re manacker (quotations by way of Doug Bostrom)

    “One side effect of increased atmospheric CO2 seems to be an increase in the growth rate of certain crops and trees, which is probably not a bad thing.”

    How can you know this without a model/theory? Otherwise you’ve just got changes in CO2, some changes in plant growth, and no reason to connect them besides correlation.

    “…some studies have shown that stabilizing feedback processes may have acted to reduce the ocean-alkalinity and carbon dioxide fluctuations in the geological past.”

    It takes time for dissolution of carbonate minerals, and more time for ion fluxes from chemical weathering of various silicate minerals, to buffer such pH changes, so a quick dump of CO2 into the atmosphere-ocean can cause a larger change in pH, even though it will eventually be buffered.

    Anyway, how would you know any of this without some model/theory?

  37. 837
    Hank Roberts says:

    > http://www.skepticalscience.com/How-do-we-know-CO2-is-causing-warming.html
    Thanks for the reminder; that’s gotten better since I last looked at it, pulling together a lot of references and summarizing quite clearly.

  38. 838
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Joe @818 says “Now, the only thing that they can be calibrated against to have meaning for temperature is, err, temperature data. In this way, all the “independent” data that confirm the instrument record are dependent, at least to some extent, on the instrument record they’re confirming.”

    Uh, Joe, how are adjustments made from one satellite instrument to another in any way correlated to adjustments made to terrestrial temperature data series? It would seem to me that you are questioning the very ability of scientists to measure temperature at all–and we know that is a spurious argument. You seem to be contending that somehow, some way, 4 separate analyses of very different data sets all are wrong and still manage to get the same trend. Now just how likely do you think that is? Have you ever done any data analysis yourself? Because if you have you ought to know better.

  39. 839
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Joe @830 says “You are not in the clear anymore. From now on you will be considered both scientists and politicians, and not scientists only”

    Uh Dude, the only folks who think this will be those ignoramuses who had and still have no idea how science works. The emails reveal zero evidence of significant wrongdoing–peevishness, yes, pettiness, sometimes and perhaps even ill considered counsel, but no suggestion (at least to anyone not already in the anti-science camp) of wrongdoing. Scientists are human. Big news there, huh? However, science is designed to work despite human frailties, and only an absolute moron would dispute its success.

  40. 840
    Timothy Chase says:

    Dendrite wrote in 829:

    Thanks again to Timothy Chase (#822 and #826) for more important and deeply unsettling information on the links between the AGW denial movement and previous, discredited denial campaigns.

    I think that many people are not sufficiently aware of these connections, and I am amazed that they have not been given more attention. Is there any chance that any of the more neutral mainstream media organizations (perhaps in Europe) would give this stuff a good airing?

    I think Europe might stand the best chance, currently.

    I believe the following might help us to understand why the media hasn’t been that interested in the details regarding the “think tanks” in North America (both the US and Canada). It is from a speech by Tom Harris (a Canadian) delivered at a strategy session at “2008 International Climate Science Coalition” as quoted on pg. 58 of the paperback edition of “Climate Cover-Up”, and I have bolded where I believe the most relevant section begins:

    We need regular high-impact media coverage of the findings of leading scientists–not just one or two publications, but we need to have hundreds all over the world. We need to have a high degree of information sharing and cooperation betweeen groups, so that when [the well-known New Zealand climate change denier] Vincent Gray, for example, has an article published in New Zealnad, we can take the same piece and we can submit it to newspapers all over North America and Europe.

    Then we have a nicely well-coordinated response, where letters to the editor and phone calls are made. “Congratulations on publishing that article!” You know, it’s interesting because I’ve had many of my articles opposed so strongly, by environmentalists through phone calls and letters to the editor, that they just simply dry up, they just won’t publish us again. So this does have feedback, I mean, these are people that run these newspapers, and they’re scared, and impressed and encouraged, depending on the feedback they get.

    We have to have grassroots organizations doing exactly that kind of thing: coordinated local activism.

    And finally, as I said, we need unbiased polling and good press coverage.

    [beginning at 15:50 in the mp3]
    http://www.heartland.org/bin/media/newyork08/audio/Monday/harris.mp3

    Now I have bolded a section that I believe has been part of the strategy in the United States for a while — which explains why the media over here has tended to treat these organizations with kit gloves: the news organizations know that such an investigation would be unpopular with the readers that are writing in, and that on the otherhand the propaganda being put out by the “think tanks” is popular. If they deal with these issues honestly they will be accused of liberal bias.

    But the pressure itself isn’t genuine grass roots. It is the product of industry seeding, nurturing and financing organizations that are committed to the views that industry finds useful. And now at an international conference devoted to AGW denialism and cooperation between denialist organizations across the globe, one of our denialists has recommended applying the same strategy in other countries.

  41. 841
    Rod B says:

    Oh, well.

    Guilt by association is valid only if guilt is clear. That the masses in their orgasmic frenzy support some hypothesis does not make it valid. There is fairly good evidence that tobacco can be a factor in lung cancer. There are also indications that it affects other health issues like coughing spasms, maybe emphysema, and other things. There is zero evidence, other than bellowing from the mountaintop, that it is indicated in all of and the degree of the maladies that spring up and grow ala John Lovett’s bit. Have they got to a million US deaths a year directly caused by tobacco yet? If not they must be getting tired. In any case, the point at hand is that just because someone refutes the totality of the mass circle jerk associated with tobacco doesn’t mean he/she is incompetent to weigh in on AGW.

    This attack on the dogma will certainly bring on the rabid hounds (or the squealing pigs — choose your metaphor)…

  42. 842
    Rod B says:

    Doug Bostrom (828) says in part, “…I’m sure you can do better than quibble over the exact terminology used to describe a forced change in pH in the direction of acidity. A picayune and desperate tactic.”

    I guess it’s not fair holding you (all?) to precise terminology since your heart must be in the right place, scientific rules not withstanding.

  43. 843
    Rod B says:

    Lee A. Arnold (831), all corporations pay exactly the same rate of income tax on the same realized income, which is what income tax is designed to do. True, corps with no realized income pay no income tax. How much tax should they pay on their loss? How about an individual who has no reportable income?

  44. 844
    tamino says:

    Rod B (#842) admits that there’s “fairly good evidence that tobacco can be a factor in lung cancer” as a prelude to playing apologist for tobacco denialists.

    When such people are called to account, Rod calls it a “mass circle jerk.”

    Got shame?

  45. 845
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Rod B says 12 December 2009 at 10:56 PM:

    I’m glad you see my point.

  46. 846
    Doug Bostrom says:

    manacker says:2 December 2009 at 7:11 PM

    In support of your “ex post facto” theory, you cite a shambling string of putative interlocking, coordinated misconduct by researchers widely separated in space and time, all perceived by you but amazingly enough unnoticed by the entire rather enormous population of researchers actually engaged in the field. Long story short, you present the archetypal appearance of a crank.

    Especially weird is “I have personally noticed two [“ex post facto” corrections] in the HadCRUT series (although I believe there may have been others)…”

    You “believe” there might be others? Why? How would you “believe” this without actually being able to cite cases?

    Meanwhile, even if your “ex post facto” theory was not crazy on its evidentiary face, why would I visit any of the links you mention, when you just recently sent me scurrying to view the thousands of hits on the “MAP” you imagined you found, although the “MAP” is a crude fiction and was only intended as a joke? Especially, why would I travel to your fellow conspiracy theorist and crank McIntyre’s site?

    “There is more, but that should do it.”

    I’ll say. What you say has definitely shifted my perception of you away from that of somebody performing cynical cognitive vandalism and more in the direction of a someone less in control of himself.

    “I explained to you already why our ability to even measure global ocean pH is limited, why the measured changes have been miniscule and why studies of past periods show that natural processes tend to balance out changes.”

    Actually, you didn’t, though in you own mind perhaps you think you did. Where did you explain that our ability to measure global pH is limited? How do you justify the generality that “natural processes tend to balance out changes” in pH?

    “It is up to you to provide empirical data based on actual physical observations, which support your premise.”

    Hey, don’t take it personally. It’s not -my- premise, far from it. It’s a whole framework of mutually supportive theory and observation spanning an astounding number of disciplines, all pointing in the same general direction. Nothing to do with me at all, Max, or you. You might think you’re playing some important role here, but you’re not. It’s worth thinking hard about to what purpose you’re sacrificing your dignity by striving so.

  47. 847
    Joe says:

    Ken W@832 “Of course, it’s better to be a real scientist accused of politicizing things, than to be a political ideologue pretending to be a scientist (which is what makes up the vast majority of AGW “doubters”).”

    Whatever you want.. But you completely missed the point. There is a great deal of difference between being asked to spend money against climate change by

    1- scientists w/o political agenda
    2- scientists with political agenda

    Not everyone wants to be a “useful idiot” for your purposes.

    I do not categorize myself either denialist or alarmist. Your thinking is too simple. There is more variation in people’s attitudes toward climate change than you realize.

  48. 848

    Apologies if this is off-topic.

    To debate with the deniers is like fighting a Hydra – cut off one head, and another three pop up somewhere else in the media. We need a battlefield where we can meet and defeat them face to face. They have now presented us with such a battlefield.

    On December 9th the “Climate Realist” website carries a letter to Ban Ki Moon, with a challenge to us, and the usual list of signatories.
    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=4603&linkbox=true

    They will have given this letter their best shot, presenting their full and definitive case, so we should make an effort to rebut all their points fully, and put it out to the media.

    Specifically, they challenge supporters of the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused climate change to demonstrate that:

    “1 Variations in global climate in the last hundred years are significantly outside the natural range experienced in previous centuries;

    2 Humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’ (GHG) are having a dangerous impact on global climate;

    3 Computer-based models can meaningfully replicate the impact of all of the natural factors that may significantly influence climate;

    4 Sea levels are rising dangerously at a rate that has accelerated with increasing human GHG emissions, thereby threatening small islands and coastal communities;

    5 The incidence of malaria is increasing due to recent climate changes;

    6 Human society and natural ecosystems cannot adapt to foreseeable climate change as they have done in the past;

    7 Worldwide glacier retreat, and sea ice melting in Polar Regions , is unusual and related to increases in human GHG emissions;

    8 Polar bears and other Arctic and Antarctic wildlife are unable to adapt to anticipated local climate change effects, independent of the causes of those changes;

    9 Hurricanes, other tropical cyclones and associated extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency;

    10 Data recorded by ground-based stations are a reliable indicator of surface temperature trends.

    They add that
    It is not the responsibility of ‘climate realist’ scientists to prove that dangerous human-caused climate change is not happening. Rather, it is those who propose that it is, and promote the allocation of massive investments to solve the supposed ‘problem’, who have the obligation to convincingly demonstrate that recent climate change is not of mostly natural origin and, if we do nothing, catastrophic change will ensue. To date, this they have utterly failed to do so”.

    On this last point they are wrong, since the projected damages from climate change are so serious that there is a clear onus on the business as usual lobby, if their case is scientific, to present their case in a way that is capable of refutation.

    With the other points, I will be blogging my own response as a scientifically – trained Green party member, but there is a need for the community of climate scientists to issue an authoritative and definitive rebuttal that can be a standard reference point for media commentators on the ongoing debate.

  49. 849
    Anonymous Coward says:

    Dendrite (#829),

    This is new to you because the mainstream media is not neutral. The mainstream media is owned by the same people who own Exxon-Mobil or Philip Morris. How far are you willing to follow the money trail?

  50. 850
    JLS says:

    Ray,

    on your (681)

    [CO2 was identified as a greenhouse gas in 1824 by Joseph Fourier. Global warming due to anthropogenic CO2 has been predicted at various times going back to around the turn of the last Century (Svante Arhennius).

    Warming was observed unmistakably from 1975 through the present, thus confirming the prediction. We have both correlation AND a mechanism, not to mention that the warming has an unmistakable greenhouse signature (e.g. simultaneous tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling).]

    Yes, there are correlated recent warming and rising CO2 trends which for now are not easily accounted for except by majority-view AGW. Most physical processes supporting the underlying statements such as the localized Greenhouse effect you’ve described are well-understood from previous critical experimentation in labs, isolated field tests, etc. What cannot be easily assumed is that this orthodox schema derived from aggregations of coupled observations and modelled behaviors, however nicely summed up as offering a holistic case for AGW, can substitute for a decisive holistic experimental test of the same. Lamentably so, but there it is.