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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. 851
    CM says:

    manacker,

    > climate models … are just multi-million dollar upgrades of the
    > slide rules of bygone days.

    No, the models are not, the computers they run on are (sort of). Climate models are representations of the climate system. Slide rules are calculation aids.

    Anyway, my question was not what you “have against” models, it was about your misrepresentation of the roles played by models and observations in the attribution of climate change to man-made emissions. Just as Gavin’s question was not the one you chose to answer, but about how attribution would be at all possible without comparing observations with a model of some sort. Are you evading the questions, or don’t you understand them?

    (PS. Thanks to Heinlein, I grew up thinking of slide rules as essential kit, especially for when you’re kidnapped by bug-eyed space aliens, but I’m too young to have ever actually used one.)

  2. 852
    JBowers says:

    JLS says: 13 December 2009 at 6:18 AM
    “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.”

    This may be worth a read?:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/How-do-we-know-CO2-is-causing-warming.html
    >>”Measurements of downward longwave radiation

    What happens to longwave radiation that gets absorbed by greenhouse gases? The energy heats the atmosphere which in turn re-radiates longwave radiation. This re-radiated energy goes in all directions. Some of it makes its way back to the surface of the earth. Hence we expect to find increasing downward longwave radiation as CO2 levels increase.

    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.”<<

  3. 853
    CM says:

    Richard Lawson, Re: “Copenhagen Climate Challenge” 10 demands for proof,
    note that point 5 (malaria) is a bit of a strawman. The IPCC (AR4 WG2 section 8.2.8.2) discusses various regional studies and draws no such general conclusion. Nor is it clear why anyone needs to prove this very specific point in order to justify action against global warming.

  4. 854

    JBowers,

    Thanks for posting that! I’ve just looked over the Evans and Puckrin 2006 poster, and it is a stunning piece of work. There’s our smoking gun for AGW–as if we needed another one!

  5. 855

    Rod B: 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.

    BPL: That’s the nominal rate. The effective rate is way, WAY under that, due to the vast panoply of tax breaks corporations can qualify for for this, that and the other thing. And, BTW, multiple regression analysis by myself and others show that the economy responds positively to HIGHER corporate income taxes. They’ve been calling that “cointerintuitive” since the ’70s, but the same result keeps coming up.

    The actual collections declined from a peak of 6% of GDP in the early ’50s to about 1.5% in 2003. The chart against time is stunning:

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1321

  6. 856

    Max: 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,

    BPL: Not true.

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Correlation.html

  7. 857
    JBowers says:

    @ BPL. Glad to be of help ;) I’ve been referring to your website as well, so thank you also.

  8. 858
    Dendrite says:

    Rod B (#841) says:
    ‘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.’

    I’m not a climate scientist, but epidemiological research into the health risks of tobacco is right up my street. The evidence is absolutely overwhelming. As in any area of science, new data are continually emerging and the details change over time. However, the basics are very well established. There is no ‘mass circle jerk’ – just a steady accumulation of scientific evidence that demands a response.

    In fact, I’d say that anyone who rejects the mass of evidence on tobacco probably is incompetent to weigh in on AGW.
    Especially if they’ve got links with the tobacco industry.

  9. 859
    Timothy Chase says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote in 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).

    JLS responded in 850 four days later:

    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.

    Cummulative nature of scientific knowledge, JLS.

    For example, when making measurements of starlight being bent by the gravitational field of the sun it isn’t up to scientists to test the principles of optics as they apply to the instruments they are using. Science could never move forward if they did.

    Likewise, Newton’s gravitational theory stands in for and economically summarizes a vast body of experimentation in weak gravitational fields. As such we are able to apply a principle of correspondence in which it is not necessary to test Einstein’s gravitational theory under the conditions under which we already know Newton’s gravitational theory applies. It is only necessary to mathematically demonstrate that Einstein’s gravitational theory arrive at the same results as Newton’s over the domain over which we already know Newton’s theory applies.

    Same thing with quantum mechanics and classical mechanics. Same thing with special relativity and classical mechanics.

    The physical principles that climatology is based upon are well supported by other branches of science. They don’t have to be demonstrated each time they get applied. Climate models get tested, but they are being tested primarily for whether they left out important physical processes and whether the approximations they make use of are good enough for predicting the phenomena they are being applied to.

    Now where does this leave you?

    I suppose you could try and construct your own climate model, one which fits all the data coming in yet has a low climate sensitivity and is based upon well-understood principles of physics. But I would assume that one of the fossil fuel companies would have beaten you to it if that were possible.

    You might try falsifying one of the well-supported physical principles from one of the other branches of science that gets applied by climate models, something from radiation transfer theory, for example. Perhaps the principles of quantum mechanics as they apply to quantum states of of molecular excitation that underlies our ability to explain absorption spectra and the greenhouse effect.

    Or perhaps something from fluid dynamics, chemistry, Newton’s gravitational theory, classic mechanics. Heck, if you are ambitious enough you might as well try going after the principle of the conservation of energy.

    Or you could try identifying some physical process that will cancel out the warming that would be expected given the well-established principles of physics and chemistry and observations. Then all you will have to do is identify a physical process that will result in the observed warming. That and suggest ways of testing your theory.

    Whatever you choose to do I’m rooting for you.

    One more thing: the principle of falsifiability met the dustbin — essentially before it was a twinkle in Karl Popper’s eye. Duhem’s Thesis, 1890s.

    Please see:

    A Question of Meaning, Part 9: Foundations, Coherence and the Principle of Falsifiability, Section 3: The Refutation of Karl Popper
    http://axismundi.hostzi.com/0/033.php#3

  10. 860
    Phil. Felton says:

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

    OK so why don’t you use the correct scientific terminology, which for the reduction of pH by the addition of an acid is ‘acidification’, regardless of the starting and finishing pH?

  11. 861
    Dendrite says:

    Talking about links between climate change deniers and previous denial campaigns, Anonymous Coward (#849) said:
    “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?”

    I may just be stubbornly naive, but it’s my impression that there are still some mainstream news and media organizations in Europe that are still relatively neutral. I would have put the BBC in that bracket, although they have done one or two scary things recently – I’m still not sure if that’s down to bias or ignorance.

    Surely there must be some that would find a crisp, authoritative summary, well-researched and written in a moderate tone, worthy of some exposure?

  12. 862
    dhogaza says:

    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.

    OK so why don’t you use the correct scientific terminology, which for the reduction of pH by the addition of an acid is ‘acidification’, regardless of the starting and finishing pH?

    It’s warming today in Portland, Oregon, despite being friggin’ cold.

    Gee, Rod B, you must find common and technical english usage very frustrating.

  13. 863
    Ray Ladbury says:

    JLS@850: OK, so let me get this straight. Are you saying that the only way you’ll accept that we are warming the planet is if we let our current “experiment” on the only habitable planet we know run to its conclusion? Sorry, Dude, but I think maybe we might want to put that one to a vote. Like it or not, science works. The science says we are warming the planet. It also tells us that that is a potentially serious concern on a planet with human population pushing toward 9-10 billion folks, all of whom have rising expectations. Now we have a choice. We can listen to the scientists and try to implement policies that science tells us might give us a snowball’s chance in Hades of surviving, or we can do the exact opposite of what science counsels. Science or anti-science. Pick one. Simple, huh?

  14. 864
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “I would have put the BBC in that bracket, although they have done one or two scary things recently – I’m still not sure if that’s down to bias or ignorance.”

    It’s down to fear.

    Sky et al have kept hammering on about how biased they are (which is defined by “doesn’t agree with me and refuses to say I’m right”).

    After the government whipping out the surgical knife on the Beeb after they embarrassed tony, they have been excessively careful not to be *too* honest and keep some things under wraps, ‘lest the gove whip off more than the family jewels next time.

    So the Beeb doesn’t dare show too much controversy to anyone with the ear of the government.

  15. 865
    Silk says:

    BPL – http://bartonpaullevenson.com/Correlation.html is brilliant, simple and elegant.

    How can one rationally hold the position “CO2 doesn’t cause warming”, or rather, “There is NO EVIDENCE that CO2 causes warming” as we so often see here?

    I’m not even going to mention those who hold that the CO2 isn’t anthropogenic.

  16. 866
    Paul Tonita says:

    Max (835)

    Gavin asked you how you can attribute the Pinatubo eruption to the cooling, without the use of models. How do you think they found that the Pinatubo eruption was linked to a shift in the Arctic oscillation?

    If you want to find out which variables are responsible for cracks forming in nickel-titanium aircraft turbine parts, you perform an experiment with the factors and levels you think are important. How do you perform an experiment on the climate to determine what caused the cooling after Pinatubo?

  17. 867
    Eric says:

    [NOTE* please disregard and post link if you have already done this somewhere on this site]

    Gavin, if you want to put things in context to show that there was a true debate internally about the minutia of the various scientific reports/data I submit that the best way to achieve this end is to have the entire scientific community post ALL their email correspondences to each other so we may have them in FULL context. You can start by beginning to post your own. While it may seem like massive overkill, it’s the only way to give full context. It’s not as though you are dealing with highly sensitive security matters. Anything less than that is by definition going to be open to interpretation of said emails and at risk of cherry picking which email strains are dealt with and which are not.

    The posting you do on this site is great for SOME transparency, but it’s a far cry from giving the raw information for people to make up their own minds. It’s not free from agenda, bias, presupposition and to your credit have acknowledged this already on this blog. I would question any scientist’s motivation who is opposed to this. You either believe in an open process or not.

    [Response: There is a big difference between doing replicable science and having your entire life open to examination by anyone. No-one can live with there every key stroke/phone call/message being streamed to the outside world on a continuous basis, and your demand that the entire climate science community be the first to do so in order to satisfy your impossible standards strikes me as extremely dubious. If you want that level of transparency, then post the password to all your email accounts first. – gavin]

  18. 868
    manacker says:

    BPL

    Thanks for link to your table showing the correlation between temperature increase and CO2 increase (856).

    I think a picture is worth a thousand words, so I have plotted the HadCRUT temperature record and the CO2 record (after 1958) of Mauna Loa and (prior to 1958) of IPCC, based on ice core data.

    There were several observed distinct warming/cooling cycles over the entire period, with an underlying long-term warming trend of 0.04°C over the entire period. The length of each entire warming/cooling cycle was around 60 years.

    The CO2/temperature correlation has been broken down to cover these multi-decadal warming/cooling cycles:
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2768/4182731844_5804a17ca2_b.jpg

    The columns (red/blue) show warming/cooling over the period, while the dots on the line show the change in atmospheric CO2 over that period.

    As you can see, the correlation is anything but robust, with significant warming occurring in early periods where there was hardly any increase in CO2 and cooling occurring over periods where there was greater increase in CO2.

    The only period that appears to fit well is the late 20th century warming period, which is also the period cited by IPCC (AR4 Ch. 3, p.240):

    The 1976 divide is the date of a widely acknowledged ‘climate shift’ (e.g. Trenberth, 1990) and seems to mark a time (see Chapter 9) when global mean temperatures began a discernable upward trend that has been at least partly attributed to increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere (see the TAR; IPCC, 2001). The picture prior to 1976 has essentially not changed and is therefore not repeated in detail here.

    Any comments on this?

    Max

  19. 869
    manacker says:

    CM

    No doubt the “hardware” (computer versus slide rule) is only part of the picture, as you point out. I can accept this.

    The “software” that has bee programmed in is only as good as the assumptions made. (This was also true in the slide rule days.)

    If empirical data based on actual physical observations are programmed in, this would appear to be more realistic than if theoretically-based assumptions without an empirical reality check are programmed in.

    Now to Pinatubo. I understood the question very well. Climate models have helped to explain the Pinatubo impact. They were, however, unable to explain everything that was physically observed, as the latest study I cited conceded. And that was my point, which I am not sure you or Gavin understood (or wanted to understand).

    But let’s leave this discussion. We are getting into fine points of semantics.

    Max

    [Response: Sigh… I’m pretty sure I didn’t misunderstand my own question. The reason I asked was because you don’t appear to have a very strong notion of the issue of attribution (which to be fair, is not widely understood), and I was hoping that by taking a relatively uncontroversial issue like Pinatubo, you would have some kind of realisation about what it was we were talking about. I’m not completely ready to give up though, so let’s try one more time – how would you go about trying to ‘prove’ that the cooling was caused by Pinatubo without using a model of some kind? If the answer is you don’t know, then we will already have moved forward. – gavin]

  20. 870
    manacker says:

    Paul Tonita (866)

    Believe my post to CM has answered your question as well.

    Max

  21. 871
    Fred Staples says:

    Very true, Silk, 865. Correlation does not imply causation, of course, but it does look as if rising sea temperatures increase the atmospheric CO2 levels. Any reason for that, I wonder?

    Perhaps we could try opening two cans of coke, one from the ‘fridge and one from the kitchen.

  22. 872
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    re: 850

    Argument by syllable!

  23. 873

    Rod B #843, “realized income” is your big definition here, but I have to agree that it depends on where you draw the line. I managed to overlook your comment at #801 — and had I answered it, we might not have gone on this detour.

    Max at #575 claimed “the taxpayer funding for climate research in support of the AGW premise as promulgated by IPCC far exceeds any funding by the fossil fuel industry for research to prove the contrary.”

    That is wrong, in three ways: (1) it is a smear upon government-supported scientists, who studied the questions before they came to a consensus on warming, (2) it is a falsehood about how much corporations have actually spent on denying it; and — as I was pointing out — (3) it draws an arbitrary line in actual taxation and expenditure.

    U.S. federal subsidies to the entire fossil fuel industry total in the low tens of billions, annually. This does not include national security spending around oil issues. I believe this exceeds government spending on climate science, which I imagine is directly and indirectly (weather satellites, etc.) around $5 billion.

    And of course at the same time, under the category of “private expenditure,” the fossil fuel industry appears to be massively outspending environmentalists on lobbying and public opinion.

    But let me shift the subject, and pose the important question to you, since Max declined to answer it:

    Why hasn’t the fossil fuel industry disproved any of the main findings in climate science?

    Because if it were truly damning evidence being shown in the emails, then it ought to be easy, and disproving it should not have taken a lot of money. Most of the evidence has always been available, they certainly could afford the proprietary data owned by the national weather bureaus.

  24. 874

    Paul Barton Levenson at #855 writes, “analysis by myself and others show that the economy responds positively to HIGHER corporate income taxes. They’ve been calling that “counterintuitive” since the ’70s, but the same result keeps coming up.”

    Well, it is almost certainly the case that the U.S. would have higher growth rates with a slightly more equitable distribution of income. It did before. For the testimony of one of the greatest economists of all, and a fine literary hand too, here’s Alfred Marshall in the 19th century:

    “…[E]arly in the present century, the commercial classes in England had much more savings habits than either the country gentlemen or the working classes. These causes combined to make English economists of the last generation regard savings as made almost exclusively from the profits of capital.

    “But even in modern England rent and the earnings of professional men and hired workers are an important source of accumulation: and they have been the chief source of it in all the earlier stages of civilization. Moreover, the middle and especially the professional classes have always denied themselves much in order to invest capital in the education of their children; while a great part of the wages of the working classes is invested in the physical health and strength of their children.

    The older economists took too little account of the fact that human faculties are as important a means of production as any other kind of capital; and we may conclude, in opposition to them, that any change in the distribution of wealth which gives more to the wage receivers and less to the capitalists is likely, other things being equal, to hasten the increase of material production, and that it will not perceptibly retard the storing-up of material wealth…

    “A people among whom wealth is well-distributed, and who have high ambitions, are likely to accumulate a great deal of public property; and the savings made in this form alone by some well-to-do democracies form no inconsiderable part of the best possessions which our own age has inherited from our predecessors…”

    Marshall, Principles of Economics, book IV, ch. VII, section 7 (1890)

  25. 875
    JLS says:

    Timothy,

    on your 683 (https://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/cru-hack-more-context/comment-page-14/#comment-148189)

    [If carbon dioxide is anthropogenic — due to the burning of fossil fuel — the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 will increase over time.

    Falsifiable? Yes. The result? The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 has increased over time, strongly suggesting that it is anthropogenic in origin…

    …if we keep emitting carbon dioxide it is quite possible that the major source of carbon dioxide will be “natural” (in a sense) — due to positive feedback from the carbon cycle…]

    Agreed, a falsifiable hypothesis explaining the Carbon 12>14 process provides a compelling signature statement for the idea that human activities contribute most of the rise in CO2 levels beyond natural trend. This appears to be good candidate argument to add to a stricter model purposed for testing against predictions.

    Your explanation of modelled carbon trends cycling from “forced” to natural mode on a trigger is an ironic take on how the climate simulations further understanding. Although hard determinations in parts cannot really substitute for experimental testing for causation in whole, other ways to resolve the modern conundrum is possible. If enough explanations of great predictive as opposed to schematic power can accrue to a presentable subset of the most probable scenarios, sounder basis for public policy can be formed. IPCC managers apparently realized this long ago and have been pursuing this line of inquiry FWIW.

    I haven’t gone through all forums but from what I’ve read so far this recognition appears to inform the premises of many advocates of majority-view AGW. The modellers and data folks are due our sympathies as they have no other choice but to earn merits the hard way. No foreseable experimental crux is coming along to relieve their burden in what has become a court of inquiry.

    [Then again, there is a general problem with the principle of falsiability in that strictly speaking no modern theory can be tested independently of all other theories.]

    I slot into the traditional line-up of suspects who believe scientific inquiry is best served by pursuing strict theoretical correspondence with observations. This limits what can be categorized as hard-science, but doing otherwise only increases the risk of skirting analytical approaches leading to “groupthink”, of the type featured in the DoD analyst community prior to the Iraq War.

  26. 876
    jay says:

    Max:

    First, I should mention that your graphic (http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2768/4182731844_5804a17ca2_b.jpg) is very confusing, and perhaps misleading. This is primarily because of the dual-scaled axes.

    That said, it might be instructive to consider YOUR MODEL for how CO2 causes temperature rise, i.e. the model that your graphic tests:

    Your model: Change in temperature anomaly, WITHIN an arbitrarily binned time period, is proportional to the change in co2 ONLY WITHIN that same arbitrarily binned time period.

    This very clearly ignores the well-understood inertial nature of CO2’s impact on temperature. Consider another way to plot your data:

    http://img138.imageshack.us/img138/3366/crazyrevised.jpg (cumulative temp anomaly in top panel, cumulative CO2 in the bottom panel)

  27. 877
    dhogaza says:

    it does look as if rising sea temperatures increase the atmospheric CO2 levels. Any reason for that, I wonder?

    Perhaps we could try opening two cans of coke, one from the ‘fridge and one from the kitchen.

    Or you could take two cans of sea water, one from the ‘fridge and one from the kitchen, and put them into an atmosphere of pure CO2…

    In which situation, Fred, would the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere rise above 100% CO2?

    In which situation, Fred, would the CO2 concentration drop below 100% CO2?

  28. 878
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    Re: Eric (#867)

    There is a difference between transparency and harassment. Often the requests for transparency are similar to requests for information in contentious litigation, where demands for information are done just to make your opponent’s life difficult.

    Opening up emails to scrutiny would be time consuming. Just processing them and getting them ready for release is hard. I had to help prepare them once upon a time.

    Even so, releasing all of the emails would only be the first step for some. The next step would be phone records or something else more onerous, maybe setting live webcams in the offices and labs where everyone can go online and make sure scientists aren’t misbehaving.

  29. 879
    Steve Fish says:

    Comment by Eric — 13 December 2009 @ 4:11 PM:

    As a retired professor and scientist, I want to reinforce Gavin’s response to you regarding making all correspondence public. I find this notion very inappropriate and the suggestion very offensive. Open science has to do with publications and data, not correspondence and pre-publication decisions. The only people who care about this are those with an anti-science agenda.

    It is reasonable to ask for data from a large repository, such as the CRU, but I find the strident requests for just the tiny bit that is legally unavailable, and then the theft of e-mails that are related to the request, and then the stolen e-mails are widely spread about and discussed by organizations that are actually, or ideologically related to the requests, and then further requests for more private communications, such as yours, to be very suspicious. You should be ashamed of your complicity in this.

    I dare you to visit the chair of a science department at your local public university and request the e-mails of his faculty on the basis that it is public information and science should be open to all.

    Steve

  30. 880
    Steve Fish says:

    Comment by Fred Staples — 13 December 2009 @ 4:51 PM:

    I don’t suppose that the fact that ocean CO2 concentration is increasing might affect your reasoning? The correlation is an illustration of causation supplied by other direct measurements.

    Steve

  31. 881
    Paul Tonita says:

    Max (870)

    No, your response to CM doesn’t address the question. How would you explain the Pinatubo impact on climate without a model? You already admit that models help us understand some of the impacts. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that a model can explain everything in the climate system. But that’s a red herring. Can they help us explain some of the impacts in the climate system? Of course.

    To confirm that one event causes anything would require an experiment, and properly designed to control the factors and levels. Observational data will confound many, many variables. A model allows you to sort out the plausible explanations by examining the ‘fingerprint’ you would expect, provided that the competing explanations can be distinguished.

    Can you think of any other method to this in the climate system? I experiment with fish; I can rear them under specific conditions which are set to test my hypotheses. I can block facotrs that aren’t of interest. Gavin can’t alter the Earth system to test his, so he needs a model that closely resembles the Earth. Many people don’t like or understand that, but he has to work with the tools he has available. If you can come up with a better tool, I’m sure he would be very interested to hear of it.

  32. 882
    Steve Fish says:

    Comment by manacker — 13 December 2009 @ 4:28 PM:

    I am sorry to tell you that, in terms of clarity and elegance, your choice of data presentation is the worst I have ever seen. This is significant because I used to mentor Ph.D. students on how to present their data and have critiqued some pretty bad slides. Your presentation choice gives me some insights.

    Steve

  33. 883
    Timothy Chase says:

    JLS wrote in 875:

    Agreed, a falsifiable hypothesis explaining the Carbon 12>14 process provides a compelling signature statement for the idea that human activities contribute most of the rise in CO2 levels beyond natural trend.

    Well, strictly speaking I prefer to talk about testability rather than falsifiability.

    But there are a lot of “signatures.” Atmospheric 12C/13C rising (indicating that the carbon has come from a geological source), O2/N2 falling (indicating that the rise in carbon dioxide is due to the combustion of a carbon source), the increasing backradiation with the signature of carbon dioxide, the warming trend at the surface and in the troposphere being accompanied by a cooling trend in the middle and upper stratosphere indicating an enhanced greenhouse effect (an increase solar radiation would result in the stratosphere warming while the troposphere warms), a stronger warming trend at night indicating an enhanced greenhouse effect, and a stronger warming trend during the winter indicating an the same. All off the top of my head, of course.

    JLS wrote in 875:

    I slot into the traditional line-up of suspects who believe scientific inquiry is best served by pursuing strict theoretical correspondence with observations. This limits what can be categorized as hard-science, but doing otherwise only increases the risk of skirting analytical approaches leading to “groupthink”, of the type featured in the DoD analyst community prior to the Iraq War.

    Don’t like the “historical sciences,” eh? A creationist I take it.

  34. 884
    Rod B says:

    Lee A. Arnold (873), I don’t see why “…taxpayer funding for climate research…” is a smear against climate scientists. Maybe depending on the context of “..in support of AGW…” there could be some misconceptions. But the government knows where its money is going and the researchers know what they are doing. They’re looking to bolster the case for AGW; though if they stumbled over a disproof they (well, most anyway) would loudly proclaim that. I don’t see them as prostituting themselves in any way.

    Anytime I see figures of fossil fuel industry support they’re in the tens (maybe exceeding one hundred in unique cases) of millions of dollars over many years. Secondly the federal subsidies to the industry has virtually nothing to do with climate science, as neither does industry subsidies to government (gasoline tax, e.g. hitting over $100B each year). As an aside (as stated before) the cost of maintaining our security by protecting current oil supplies is no more a “subsidy” that a Pentagon contract for new fighters is.

    I suppose the industry antagonists haven’t disproved AGW because, despite your implication of ease, it would be damn hard. (I’m not referring to the philosophical arguments of proving a negative, or that only math, not science, has proofs.) The broad problem with the evidence is that at the end of the day a conjecture or proposition has to be made by subjective (albeit smart) people looking at the data. IMO sometimes that is near solidly substantiated, sometimes not so much. The best the aginers can do is raise substantial doubts with this or that aspect of the science.

  35. 885
    Rod B says:

    Lee A. Arnold (874), Good post. I too have always felt that human capital has gotten the shorter stick as the other kind. A couple of comments. 1) Taxing corporate profits is not obviously the best way to apply more wealth to the wage earners. It can actually be a detriment. A current example: small business employment is likely to not make any big improvements as long as the taxation uncertainty, mainly from proposed health care and cap-and-trade, remains dominant. Ergo the potential for corporate tax has a direct effect on the wealth given to wage earners. 2) Since Marshall wrote this fine piece, savings by the working class has increased enormously; through things like IRAs and pension plans the class has become owners of the corporation that’s getting taxed (and getting it from both ends with the tax on dividends.)

  36. 886
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Thoughtful commentary from a climate scientist in Copenhagen:

    “For the conference as a whole, I, my students, my colleagues, new people I meet, the discussion in the plenary sessions – from all of these sources, I hear no serious discussion about any challenge the CRU emails present to the basic conclusions that the Earth will warm, ice will melt, sea level will rise, and the weather will change. I have had a small number of interviews, and the question is asked almost as a curiosity. It’s more like the scandal of the emails is really a scandalous aspect of the US culture, like displays of disfigured animals in the back lot of a traveling freak show.

    Some of my American colleagues, those closest to the IPCC, these people spend time developing rational responses to calls for investigations, allegations of lies, searches for conspiracies, and efforts to control the participation of individual US scientists in IPCC assessments. They work to craft rational responses to the irrational. Members of the Congress form and dissolve COP delegations. The rationalist’s response to a process that is being managed to be irrational is, itself, irrational. As the rationalist counters the irrational, their irrationality becomes more and more damaging.

    It took me several years of management at NASA to realize that there were some people who thrived on the fight. There were those who were disruptive and sometimes deliberately hostile. Others, who benignly fueled chaos. These efforts to cause organizational dis-structure, to increase organizational entropy – these efforts were their strategy for success. Or if not a strategy for success, it was a strategy to keep others from succeeding, of using the distraction to outlast efforts they viewed to their disadvantage.

    I spent some time as a manager of scientists trying to find the rational arguments that would help people see the intent and advantage of what I was trying to do and to develop buy in. I had some success, but there was always a group that worked, deliberately or subconsciously, to sabotage. Their strategy was often to create disorder. Their tactic was often to isolate facts or conjecture that in their isolation suggested rationality, compelled a rational response. The rational response was, ultimately, parried with the next isolated fact or conjecture. This is a tactic to build selective doubt.

    As a manager, I became more aware of fear and the fear of change. I tried to make my contribution as organizing disorganized systems. I hired a sociologist to work with me at NASA. What I learned is that this tactic of developing the rational response to the isolated assertion, conjecture, or fact was, fundamentally, ill posed. I learned that irrationality and sabotage were a natural part of getting the job down. I learned that if you allow the isolated assertions, conjectures, and facts to grow to dominate the job, then progress will be slowed, perhaps stopped. I learned that if you want to make progress then the leader has to differentiate her/his self from the turmoil, objectify the irrationality and sabotage as part of the whole – and manage it. Place the disruption in its place – the place of the disruptors.

    I also learned that it is important to listen to the disruptors, to truly understand the motivation of the disruption. Almost always a sound foundation of the disruption is offered. It was my job to determine if the stated foundation was the real foundation – what is the subtext? It was my job to determine if I needed to accommodate the concerns of the disruptors into the direction the project or organization needed to take. The reason people disrupted ranged from a true conviction that a certain path was wrong to strong emotional attachments to particular ideas and, even, pieces of software. There were always some who where, often by their own admission, contrarian. And, if one is contrarian, it is usually because being contrarian has been a successful strategy in their lives. There are a host of reasons to disrupt, to resist, and to sabotage change.

    As long as the community of climate scientists engages in the disruption and the creation of selective doubt, the disruptors will garner attention and an exaggerated amount of success. The march forward will be slowed. The behavior of all will be reduced to one where it makes sense to question decency. The disruptors cannot be convinced by the exposition of the rational totality; they are not looking to be convinced. Their motivations are elsewhere.

    This behavior of disruption is an old and common tactic. It is always in present in politics and management – really throughout life. It is something one imagines as absent in the purity of science, but it is not absent in the best of worlds; it is a community peopled by scientists. We in the US have allowed it to grow to a way of doing business that threatens our relevance and our viability.”

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/RickyRood/comment.html?entrynum=145

  37. 887
    Ken W says:

    Eric (867):
    “I submit that the best way to achieve this end is to have the entire scientific community post ALL their email correspondences to each other so we may have them in FULL context.”

    Are you really as naive as this statement sounds? Even the most carefully written, peer reviewed journal research articles are misinterpreted and intentionally used by deniars to deceive on a regular basis. Quickly written e-mails (often not even spell checked or containing references that only the intended recipient could possibly understand), would be a treasure trove for the deniar camp to misrepresent, cast suspicion, and character assassinate honest hard working scientists who have devoted their lives to increasing human understanding of the physical world.

    I’ve got a better idea. How about Watts, McIntyre, Sen. Inhofe and the other deniars publish all their personal e-mails first? Then they’d be leaders of scientific openness.

  38. 888
    Eric Rasmusen says:

    I keep checking RealClimate for responses to the ClimateGate emails— either “Here’s why it’s OK,” or “That’s awful, I agree,” but I don’t find any new posts. Please post more.

  39. 889
    Silk says:

    “Very true, Silk, 865. Correlation does not imply causation, of course, but it does look as if rising sea temperatures increase the atmospheric CO2 levels. Any reason for that, I wonder?”

    As someone else has pointed out, ocean CO2 has gone up, not down.

    If you truly believe that the reason CO2 has gone up is because of ocean degassing, you need to do some background reading.

    Try “Start here”

  40. 890

    Eric (867),

    Perhaps a good idea to read 1984 again.

  41. 891
    CM says:

    manacker (#~869)

    Max, you continue to duck the question.

    I did understand that you were making a point about models not being able to explain everything about Pinatubo’s aftermath. That’s fine, but it’s a subsidiary point. We can discuss it if we ever get that far but it’s just a sidetrack right now. Please first answer Gavin’s question (he restated it, for the umpteenth time, inline at your reply).

    My question was meant to help you get it. My point was not that empirical data are “programmed in” to the models, but simply that attribution involves comparing empirical data with model results. Please show us you understand that, and answer Gavin’s question about whether there is any alternative way of doing this that dodes not involve using a model of some description. Then we can also return to whether the climate models actually used are based on what you call “theoretically-based assumptions without an empirical reality check”.

  42. 892
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “I believe this exceeds government spending on climate science, which I imagine is directly and indirectly (weather satellites, etc.) around $5 billion.”

    A common number passed around by the denialerati is $50Bn in 25 years worldwide spending on weather prediction, though they change the weather prediction to “climate change” alone and usually forget the 25 years.

    But even from their figures, unless the US does all of the spending, they’re spending less than a billion dollars a year on weather prediction (including weather satellites, etc).

  43. 893
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Very true, Silk, 865. Correlation does not imply causation, of course, but it does look as if rising sea temperatures increase the atmospheric CO2 levels. Any reason for that, I wonder?”

    Very Strange, Fred.

    How come you don’t know that you don’t HAVE to imply causation from correlation WHEN YOU HAVE A THEORY ABOUT THE CAUSE!!!!

    You know, that 150 year old theory from Tyndall.

    Surely someone of YOUR stature has heard of it..!

  44. 894
    isotopious says:

    #869 Re: Red Herring.

    “so let’s try one more time – how would you go about trying to ‘prove’ that the cooling was caused by Pinatubo without using a model of some kind?”

    Tell everybody that global warming is unnatural.

    Please, make it official.

    Tamino has: http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/07/24/old-news/#comment-33305

  45. 895

    Thanks, Silk! You made my day. :)

  46. 896

    Max: Any comments on this?

    BPL: Yes. You’re saying an aanlysis of a shorter time period with a lot more fitting factors is somehow more robust than a simple two-variable linear regression over the whole period. That’s hard to believe.

    It’s also hard to see a 60-year cycle in 128 years of data. That would be barely more than two cycles. You have to have a physical theory behind your sine curves to use finding such a term as confirmation. Otherwise you’re doing what Ptolemy did to sky observations–adding epicycles. You can Fourier-analyze ANYTHING, any data at all, to whatever precision you like, if you add enough terms. But that doesn’t make them either statistically significant or physical meaningful.

  47. 897

    kevin king #788: how do you know the stuff in this archive is the complete picture? The emails for example represent an average of 6.5 per month, a ludicrously small number for an individual let alone a group.

  48. 898
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Fred Staples slyly asks “Correlation does not imply causation, of course, but it does look as if rising sea temperatures increase the atmospheric CO2 levels. Any reason for that, I wonder?”

    Conveniently ignoring the fact that the isotopic signature of the carbon entering the atmosphere clearly indicates a fossil source. Sorry, Fred, but science is based on evidence–and you haven’t got any. Thank you for playing and have a nice day.

  49. 899
    Paul Tonita says:

    CO2 outgassing from the ocean due to this warming? Can’t be true. CO2 concentration in the atmosphere lags temperature change by about 800 years, or so my conspiracy-minded friends tell me all the time. Plus that darn isotope fraction and the acidification of the ocean…perhaps their is an easier answer :D

  50. 900

    Rod B #884, 885. Yes, the smear above was that they are doing the science to support AGW. They are not, and there’s a Nobel prize in there for anyone who could conclusively disprove it. The CRU emails show they were trying to streamline the message for the public report, the IPCC TAR, and that is actually a different issue than doing the science. None of the actual science is crooked, so far as I can see.
    _____________________

    For a nice overview and discussion of subsidies to fossil fuels, see this, from the Ann. Rev. Energy Environ.:

    http://www.mindfully.org/Energy/Fossil-Fuel-Subsidies.htm

    Basically, you have to RESTRICT the definition to “direct fiscal subsidies” to get the annual amount down to under $100 billion.

    We never hear about this stuff from the people complaining that alternative energy should be made to compete in the “free market.” Certainly not from the nuclear advocates, who would have to admit to a long line of government spending.

    It doesn’t matter whether corporate subsidies are for climate science or not. Money is fungible. Similarly, PART of the cost of a Pentagon contract for new fighters should be in the broader subsidy to fossil fuels, IF the fighters are used to defend oil interests, even indirectly. Because it keeps the cost of gas down. That’s economics.
    _____________________

    I don’t see how it could be hard to disprove AGW, if it weren’t likely to be true.
    Just answer “no” to one of the following questions: Wiithout using tree rings, do we still have a temperature hockey stick, that MATCHES a CO2 hockey stick? With both of them going almost straight up — and much, much too fast? And for thousands of years there was nothing like the one, and for millions of years nothing like the other? And do we see a basic theory of physics that links them tightly?
    _____________________

    P.S. In the United States the savings rate has fallen continuously in the Reaganomics era:

    http://heyna.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/savings_rate.gif

    Basically the middle and lower classes have been gutted, and Marshall gave the age-old reason.

    There has been a slight uptick since the end of that graph, due to holding of money through the financial crisis.