A History Of Scientific Uncertainties (on their way to policymaking oblivion)

I know this story well about climate science. I am pretty sure it happens all the time in every scientific field that has social implications.

  1. The scientific paper details the uncertainties
  2. The IPCC chapter mentions the uncertainties
  3. The IPCC SPM (summary for policymakers) contains some indication of the uncertainties inside one item in the bibliography
  4. The Press Release doesn’t have space for the uncertainties apart from a side remark in the middle of the text
  5. The interviewed scientist is not asked about the uncertainties
  6. The journalistic article isn’t interested in the uncertainties
  7. The policymaker either doesn’t know the uncertainties exist, or pivots all his/her career about some of the uncertainties as reported to him/her third- or fourth-hand.

Broken telephones all around…

Mooney’s Folly (in two steps)

Just read the “Conclusions” of Mooney’s book on Amazon. He has obviously gone way out of his competency and freely speaks of things he can’t possibly understand. As far as I am concerned, anybody who believes it possible to measure Liberals and Conservatives has an infantilistic view of “measure” and of “politics”.

Think about it…there are decades of studies about the meaning of “political spectrum” and everybody agrees even the usage of two axes isn’t really good enough. There comes Mooney though, and we’re back to a single axis, left and right, and we should throw all that previous work away? Unlikely.

The pages about “conservatism and the amygdala” will surely be read in the future, in comedy sketches though, like we read today about the scientist who couldn’t believe the flight abilities of the bumblebee.

Anyway, the icing on the cake is the fact that the Conclusions aren’t that idiotic really, and Mooney says he now admires “conservatives”, and goes as far as to recommend “conservatives” and “liberals” “need be operating together“. Well, Brainy Boy, that’s not achieved really by calling your book “The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science–and Reality“, is it??

A Sea-Surface Miracle!

Overlong “On the adjustments to the HadSST3 data set” blog post just out (after a few technical glitches) at Judith Curry’s comes to a conclusion that aounds like yet another climate-related miracle

HadSST3 selectively removes the majority of the long term variations from the pre-1960 part of the record. ie. it removes the majority of the climate variation…

…that cannot be attributed to anthropogenic global warming!

How unexpected!

THIS IS The #Climate Question

Everything else, is a corollary….

From Bishop Hill’s “Nobel laureate on temperatures” (Feb 2012):

The question is not whether temperatures have risen or whether mankind has affected the climate. Temperatures have always risen and fallen and mankind has always affected the climate. The question is whether we have a problem on our hands. The poor performance of the climate models suggests that the problem is much less than we have been led to believe.

Perspective Amiss At @AmSciMag

Summary of the latest email edition of “Science In The News Weekly“, “a digest of science news stories appearing in the mainstream media. It is delivered every Monday afternoon (or Tuesday afternoon in the case of a Monday holiday) as part of Sigma Xi’s public understanding of science program area, in conjunction with American Scientist magazine

Science-y news

Another science-y news

Yet another science-y news

World to end(*)

More science-y news

More more science-y news

In particular the (*) bit is of the form:

Scientists say that if carbon dioxide emissions don’t begin to decline soon, the complex fabric of marine ecosystems will begin fraying–and eventually unravel completely.

Evidently reason takes a momentary leave of absence at American Scientist like in many other places, whenever carbon dioxide is mentioned.

BTW the link is to the study that used naturally-occurring CO2 seeps to try to figure out what might happen in 2100, an impressive collection of “might’s” if you ask me.

Is Thickness of Mind Mandatory To Become A Distinguished Climate Scientist?

My answer is of course “not”. However, there are some worrying signs. A guy in East Anglia is unable to use Excel, a bunch of guys from the US and elsewhere don’t know how to use Acrobat.

No wonder they haven’t got a clue where their missing heat has gone to. And no wonder they are foreign to the scientific method.

Nothing New About Fudging – Mass Delusions Among Scientists

I’m sure nowadays the NYT would not even mention such a book as Alexander Kohn’s “FALSE PROPHETS“, if it said anything about climate science:

BOOKS OF THE TIMES
By John Gross
Published: December 30, 1986

[...] Deceptions as blatant as this are -as far as anyone can tell – rare in the annals of science, but they represent only one end of a broad spectrum of possible scientific cheating. At the other extreme are errors that are at least partly the product of wishful thinking or a failure to guard against bias; in between come numerous gradations of what the Victorian scientist Charles Babbage classified as ”trimming” and ”cooking” (manipulating the data, suppressing inconvenient facts), along with plagiarism, making bogus claims about the probable course of research and the more subtle varieties of Babbage’s third category of misconduct, outright ”forging.”

[...] here are errors, as Mr. Kohn says, that ”are nothing to be ashamed of,” and he begins by considering some examples – in particular, those cases of collective error where a scientist’s initial mistake has been taken up and repeated by other scientists until it assumes the proportions of a mass delusion.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s, for instance, some 500 publications in reputable quarters were devoted to the phenomenon of ”mitogenetic rays” – ultraviolet rays that were erroneously thought to be emitted by plant or animal cells while they were dividing. Mr. Kohn observes that ”mythogenetic rays” might have been a better name; but he also tries to account for what it was that predisposed so many scientists to believe in them, and in subsequent mirages such as ”polywater” (a supposedly anomalous form of water – one eminent authority, J. D. Bernal, referred to it as ”the most important physical chemical discovery of the century”) and ”scotophobin” (a substance said to induce fear of darkness in rats). [...]

As I already said, this stuff should be mandatory reading in all science schools.

Open Letter To Heartland From The Don't-Do-As-We-Do Climate Team

I’ll believe the sincerity of the Open Letter to the Heartland Institute when, say,

After all, these are climate scientists that keep writing the patently-untrue, such as passing as “fact” this total fantasy

Climate change is already disrupting many human and natural systems.

that is contrary to the latest IPCC assessment.

No surprise there.

Missing Heat 3 – Implications For Policymaking

Trenberth’s “missing heat” should be a problem of physics, only it’s handled by amateur homeo-climate-paths.

Actually, it’s much more than a problem of physics. It has vast policy implications.

If models are not useful in a decadal timescale, such as they can predict a strong warming for a period of minimal or even no warning, then what use is there for models? What government (apart from North Korea…) would make it difficult for people to heat up their homes in the next decade with the explanation that is going to be warm in 2070 anyway?

People do not average-out their lives across decades or centuries: each and every one of us have to go through each and every day first.

If I freeze to death today at -10C, I will not enjoy the warmth of July at +30C even if the average is +10C, perfectly compatible with human life. The same can be said of plants and animals. If I plant an olive tree in my London garden, it will die of cold in February even if the yearly average is in theory just enough to make olive trees survive in the open. If a nasty mosquito species migrates from warmer places during an August heatwave, still if that species cannot survive the following winter it will not be around until next migration opportunity during a future heatwave.

A purely statistical, multi-year approach to modelling the climate is in theory useless for policymaking (similar considerations could be made for non-regional projections, but that is too long a story here – read “How Space-Time Digested AGW” if interested). And if we end up with 15 years of incorrect projections without even a volcano for an excuse, then whatever physical explanation there is, policymakers would be much wiser in keeping climate scientists at arm’s length.

Missing Heat 2 – The Climate Coincidence Revisited

The Missing Heat of homeo-climate-path Kevin Trenberth is not just a matter of increasing the number of measurement points. Something else is…amiss.

As noticed by David Whitehouse of the GWPF for quite some time (my emphasis):

In the past decade the atmospheric CO2 levels have increased from 370 ppm to 390 ppm and using those figure the IPCC once estimated that the world should have warmed by at least 0.2 deg C. The fact that the world has not warmed at all  means that all the other climatic factors have had a net effect of producing 0.2 deg C of cooling.

But there is more. The counterbalancing climatic factors have not only compensated for the postulated AGW at the end of the decade they have kept the global annual average temperature constant throughout the past 10-15 years when the AGW effect wants to increase it. The key point that makes this constancy fascinating is that for every value of CO2 there is an equilibrium temperature that is higher the greater the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. In other words, the higher CO2 concentration at the end of the decade exerts a stronger climate forcing than at the beginning of the decade.

This makes what has happened in the past decade all the more remarkable. Because the greenhouse effect wants to force the temperature up which in the absence of a cooling influence is what would have happened, the fact that the temperature has remained constant indicates that whatever has been cooling the planet has had to increase in strength at precisely the same rate as the CO2 warming in order to keep the temperature a constant straight line.

This means that for 10-15 years the combined effect of all the Earth’s climate variability factors have increased in such a way as to exactly compensate for the rise in temperature that the increased CO2 would have given us. It is not a question of the earth’s decadal climate cycles adding up to produce a constant cooling effect, they must produce an increasing cooling effect that increases in strength at exactly the same rate as the enhanced greenhouse effect so as to keep the earth’s temperature constant.

Can it really be the case that over the past 15 years the sum total of all the earth’s natural climatic variables such as changes in solar irradiance, volcanoes, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, and the Arctic Oscillation, all of which can change from cooling to warming over decadal timescales, have behaved in such as way as to produce a cooling effect that is the mirror image of the warming postulated by the anthropogenic climate forcings from CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, from the changing water vapour, from tropospheric ozone, and from a clearing aerosol burden?

This can be visualized as following. Imagine there is a quantity ExpT that can be computed beforehand (x(t)=x(t-1)+0.1) (blue in the graph). Consider also the actual measured MeasT values (y(t)=0.5*rand()) (red). Fix x(0)=y(0)=1 and plot their evolution (and divergence).

Now, of course DiffT=y(t)-x(t) (yellow) becomes increasingly larger as x(t) increases whilst y(t) hovers around 0.5. A centered running 5-point average AvgDiff5Cent (green) will mimic ExpT, entering progressively more negative territories. In fact the correlation between AvgDiff5Cent and ExpT is for all intents and purposes, one.

So if ExpT is going up because of CO2 emissions, what kind of magic is intervening to generate the AvgDiff5Cent counterforcing so that the total is zero on a decadal timescale? (And yes, the small small small amount of warming actually reported should obviously be taken as close to undetectable, ie zero).

Even if we had perfect 100% coverage of the whole planet, this question would remain open.

I’m sure Kevin “saying it is natural variability is not an explanation” Trenberth understands this point. It’s a case of missing physics, more than heat.

(Just noticed Judith Curry has hit on the same nail – great minds really think alike :-) )

Missing Higgs vs Missing Heat: When Trenberth Is Stranger To Physics

The below elucidates Dr Ivar Giaever’s question about the American Physical Society (APS) attitude to global warming, at the time of his resignation:

In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?

In a sentence, the APS’s behavior is perfectly consistent: because Physics goes one way, whilst Climate “Science” goes another. Trenberth, we have a problem.

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The Climate Change Consensus – In Five Points

Seems like everybody who’s ever mentioned the 97% figure to shut down debate is now a certified idiot.

So what made this fabled “climate change consensus”? Here is what I’ve reconstructed from James Painter’s “Poles Apart“:

  • Global temperatures are warming, and
  • The anthropogenic contribution (burning fossil fuels) to global warming or climate change is not over-stated, compared to other factors like natural variations or sun spots, and
  • It is known with enough certainty what the main causes are, and
  • It is known with enough certainty what the impacts will be, as climate models are adequate and no other doubt is relevant enough, and
  • Urgent action by governments and/or substantial government spending (on all or some aspects of mitigation or adaptation) to counter AGW is necessary

All sorts of humor could be built thereupon, including the demonstration that the IPCC is a group of…climate skeptics. The climate farce is nearing the end.

Dark Of The Night At The AMS

Comment of mine at Judith Curry’s Climate Etc about the Dec 2011 entry in the “45 Beacon: Letter from Headquarters” column of the “Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS)”, written by Keith Seitter, Executive Director of the AMS:

Judith – I don’t think you’ve read what he’s written. And I am not sure he read what you wrote either.

Mr Seitter is still entrenched in his CAGW bubble and can’t possibly understand much about the Uncertainty Monster.

First of all, he acknowledges to have “overly simplified the situation” by separating people in “convinced” and “unconvinced“, then towards the end of his piece he goes back addressing “the unconvinced crowd“.

He has also no clue about the possibility that, among the “convinced by the evidence that anthropogenic climate change [is] occurring“, there could be people unconvinced it’s anything to be afraid of, or not overall beneficial.

Third, It is illogical to state “Scientists generally welcome any avenue of research that is carried out with integrity and scientific rigor — especially when the results of that research challenge our thinking” just before writing “Many climate scientists will be angered by this paper“. The two sentences can’t be true in the same universe.

You should also take note of Mr Seitter’s militant (fundamentalist?) approach to the topic. He can drone on and on about wholly uncalled-for references to “a standard of scientific honest[y] that most of the[i]r blogs and opinion pieces simply cannot meet” and “unscientific noise that seeks to obscure real scientific results“. All one should read is of course “We have the Truth and everybody not perfectly adhering to our Truth is wrong and dishonest“.

In short, Mr Seitter has not understood what your paper was about, and still lives in-between the “monster hiding” and “monster exorcism” phases. And I wouldn’t trust him with an ice core extracted from a Coca-Cola deposit.

PS And are you [JC] sure that your paper should be considered just a “reminder that our desire to develop a self-consistent and coherent picture sometimes impedes our ability to work toward unraveling the full complexity of the climate system“? Does Mr Seitter understand climate?

Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’ _by Professor Cliff Ollier

Infamous Soviet scientist Trofim Lysenko has become topical again after the recent WSJ “Don’t Panic (about global warming)” letter (read about it also here and here). In the interest of historical record, I am posting here the recovered text of “Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’” written some years ago by Professor Cliff Ollier and mentioned in this blog almost four years ago.

The original link does not work any longer (and the WaybackMachine hides the text for some reason). There is also a slightly different version in the Lavoisier Group website. (h/t Justin Ert)

Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’
by Professor Cliff Ollier

Trofim Denisovich Lysenko [Трофи́м Дени́сович Лысе́нко; pictured left] (1898 – 1976) was an insignificant agriculturalist who thought he had a new way of developing crops that would vastly increase food production in the starving Russia of Stalin. It was called ‘vernalisation’, and it included treating seeds before cultivation to affect their behaviour.

Significantly, Lysenko introduced his ideas first through politics, in which he benefited from weighty support. Some argue that his precepts had a Marxist flavour, because they asserted that biology could be modified in the way that communists wanted to control people’s behaviour. The government was anxious to increase food production and to quell disturbances among the growers, while Lysenko was an adept propagandist. He became a cult leader who impressed the peasants.

Lysenko was the head of the Soviet Lenin All Union Institute of Agricultural Sciences, and he ran the nation’s research in this field. He promised to triple or to quadruple crop yields.

He demonised conventional genetics, which again suited his masters, who believed this to be the basis behind fascist eugenics.

No Opposition Tolerated

Opposition to Lysenko was not tolerated, and was labeled ‘bourgeois’ or ‘fascist’. Lysenko used his position to denounce Mendelian geneticists as “fly-lovers and people haters”, which had serious consequences. From 1934 to 1940, with Stalin’s blessing, numerous geneticists were shot, and others exiled to Siberia. Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov [Николай Иванович Вавилов; pictured left] (1887 – 1943), for example, a truly great geneticist and biogeographer, was sent to Siberia, where he died of starvation in 1943, while Lysenko, in person, took over his role as Director of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Any survivor of the purge had to keep quiet. In 1948, genetics was officially labeled a ‘bourgeois pseudoscience’, and genetic research came to a halt. Krushchev also supported Lysenko, but, after his departure in 1964, the Academy of Sciences investigated the records, and a devastating critique of Lysenko was made public. The ban on genetics was finally lifted in 1965.

When Lysenko denounced Mendelian thought as reactionary and decadent, he also announced that his speech had the approval of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The parallel for the ‘Global Warming’ movement is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, which works through national and international organisations. The IPCC claims its reports are written by 2500 scientists, but in reality they are drawn up by only about 35 people, and are effectively ‘controlled’ by an even smaller number.

Opposition to ‘Global Warming’ is often likened to ‘Holocaust Denial’. We are repeatedly told that there is no debate – hardly a scientific approach. The influence of the IPCC has spread, and it has become increasingly difficult to get research funding without being a ‘believer in Global Warming’.

A New Religion

Why would governments be persuaded to follow this idea before it was scientifically evaluated? One reason may be that there was a rising tide of what some have likened to a new religion – ‘Environmentalism’. Of course, no politician wants to be seen as ‘anti-environment’, or to lose the votes of the ‘Greens’. The ‘Greens’, for their part, are happy to follow the climate-change line because it gives them enormous political power. As a minor party or influence they hold the balance of power, and the major parties dare not offend them.

The propaganda machine of the IPCC is magnificent, with its greatest tool being the Al Gore film, An Inconvenient Truth. This still has enormous impact, although the High Court in Britain did decide it could not be shown in schools without comment because it contained major errors. I suspect that this film was the reason that the Nobel Peace Prize was given to Al Gore and to the IPCC.

Another propaganda hit was the infamous ‘Hockey Stick Graph’, purporting to show that temperature was rising at an ever-increasing rate. This has been totally discredited, but it still seems to be branded on the collective mind of politicians and the public. Much Government propaganda has been lent to support ‘Global Warming’, and major media outlets, such as the BBC in Britain, have chosen to join in on the ‘Global Warming’ side.

No Siberia

Climate change, like Lysenkoism, is much easier to understand than the complexities of real science. This appeals to the public, and also to politicians and other influential people, who can talk as if they understand it. If questioned about details, they simply refer back to the IPCC reports.

So-called ‘independent reports’ on climate change have been produced by Nicholas Stern in Britain and Ross Garnaut in Australia. Both Stern and Garnaut make it plain that they are not scientists and have based their conclusions on the IPCC reports. Yet, both continue to make public statements warning about the increasing dangers of climate change. This merely keeps their reports in the public eye, and echoes the flawed science of IPCC ‘Global Warming’.

At a lower level, without the need for evidence, everything can be blamed on ‘Global Warming’ – droughts, floods, malaria, hurricanes, and even global cooling! The IPCC rhetoric continues, although their predictions have failed to come true, just as Lysenkoism continued when the promised crop-yield increases never arrived. The IPCC forecast ever-increasing temperatures, but average global temperatures have become lower since 1998. They have now put off ‘Global Warming’ for 15 years because some other factors have intervened. The models did not predict this, but such details do not affect ‘the faithful’.

Some scientists sided with ‘Global Warming’ in the early days, and are so committed that they cannot now get off the bandwagon. Others worked for the IPCC, but resigned when they realised how their work was being used, or that real science did not support the claims that were being made. Luckily, we do not have the equivalent of Siberia to deal with these scientists.

‘The Global Warming Affair’ has already lasted over twenty years, and many administrative and scientific research centres have sprung up – most of the latter involving computer simulators. Computer simulation has a part to play in science, but it should not replace observation, hypothesis-testing, and falsification. There are now ‘Departments of Climate Change’, for which read ‘Departments of Global Warming Blamed on Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide’.

A Lesson From History: Parallels With Lysenkoism

We should not forget a basic fact, namely that the one villain of the piece – and the one that is costing billions of dollars – is anthropogenic carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent of ‘vernalisation’ in the Lysenko era.

In summary, the comparisons between Lysenkoism and ‘Global Warming’ can be rehearsed as follows:

1. Work first through political organisations;

2. Claim that the science is settled. There is nothing to debate;

3. Disregard, or deny, all the accumulating evidence that the predictions might be wrong;

4. Demonise the opposition (Mendelian geneticists; ‘Global Warming’ Deniers);

5. Victimise the opposition (execution and exile; loss of jobs or research funds, public and media humiliation);

6. Relate to a current ideology (Stalinism; Environmentalism);

7. Support a vast propaganda machine; and,

8. Create a huge bureaucracy where many people have careers dependent upon ‘the ruling concept’.

The parallel can be seen perfectly in a work by Helena Sheehan(1), who wrote of Lysenkoism:

“What went wrong was that the proper procedures for coming to terms with such complex issues were short-circuited by grasping for easy slogans and simplistic solutions and imposing them by administrative fiat.”

Lysenkoism was eventually replaced by real science. The same will happen to ‘Global Warming’, because real science will not go away. _____________

(1) Helena Sheehan, 1993. Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: A Critical History. (Humanities Press International, Inc.).

Further Reading: Paul Reiter, 2004. ‘Passion and politics cloud the climate debate.’ (Nature 431, 739, October 14, 2004|doi:10.1038/431739c).

My Solar Cycle 25 Amplitude Prediction

Solar Cycle 25 will peak somewhat lower than the current one (SC24) but far higher than the nothingness currently predicted (see here).

Solar cycle record

Solar cycle record

My prediction is based on the fact that predictions are hard especially about the future and doubly especially when they imply a wholesale change compared to the present.

Humans Are Not Vermin

Letter sent to the IHT-

Dear Editors

So you’ve finally realized there’s a set of simple innovations that could save the lives of millions right now, help the environment and perhaps even slow down global warming (see John Tierney’s “A renegade climate idea that could work“, IHT, Jan 18, 2012).

The fact that those actions have been neglected thus far because of lack of “glamour” and an obsession with cutting carbon dioxide emissions tells everything one needs to know about the inhumanity sadly intrinsic to many environmental activist organizations.

Humans are not vermin. Children dying as we speak because of black carbon filling their lungs in windowless huts are not trade-offs to sacrifice in a fight to convince the world to use fewer SUVs.

Prof Roger Pielke Jr’s “iron law of climate policy” says CO2 emission cuts policies always lose against economic growth pushes. Such a rule ought to be expanded : because we’re humans, and we should remember our humanity. Therefore policies that save human lives have to take precedence over attempts at defining global environment-related treaties. Always.

HadCRUT4…not what it pretends to be!

Ungracious loser James Annan couldn’t wait posting about the new all-singing all-dancing HadCRUT4 dataset, showingthat reports of the death of global warming have been somewhat exaggerated“.

It’s really really hard to avoid laughing when adjustments come out of thin air but anyway…let’s consider HadCRUT4 less of a joke for a moment.

Since temperatures go up by including the upper Arctic, it is obvious that the rest of the world, and especially the inhabited regions, have not warmed as expected.

And a 5C increase in an area where the average is -20C is _not_ the same thing as a 5C increase where the average is +10C. The former is inconsequential, the latter a change in all seasons.

So HadCRUT4 simply confirms things are going as predicted only in faraway places where there are few measurements and nothing is really changing anyway.

If this doesn’t kill global warming, it certainly helps putting it in the right place.

Why Everybody Seeing Climate Changes Now Is Uninformed Or A Liar

In its latest “Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)”, whose “Summary for Policymakers” (1) is dated November 18, 2011, the IPCC writes (my emphasis):

(p9) “Projected changes in climate extremes under different emissions scenarios generally do not strongly diverge in the coming two to three decades, but these signals are relatively small compared to natural climate variability over this time frame. Even the sign of projected changes in some climate extremes over this time frame”

Therefore people trying right now to discern/portray climate change of the extreme variety, (“disasters [that] produce widespread damage and cause severe alterations in the normal functioning of communities or societies“, according to the IPCC – in other words the only changes of actual practical interest), are placing themselves outside mainstream science, perhaps out of naivety, perhaps due to personal gain.

In any case, not one of the usual suspects will lament such a manipulation of the best evidence we have. Who needs skeptics when believers are so determined to sustain each other through long-distance charades?

(1) IPCC, 2011: Summary for Policymakers. In: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation [Field, C. B., Barros, V., Stocker, T.F., Qin, D., Dokken, D., Ebi, K.L., Mastrandrea, M. D., Mach, K. J., Plattner, G.-K., Allen, S. K., Tignor, M. and P. M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, US

Solutionizing And The Near-Death Of Watts Up With That

Recently, there’s been plenty of gnawing of climateblogging teeth for the silliest of reason. Simply, Willis “Rooster Cogburn” Eschenbach took umbrage of Tallbloke and posted at WUWT what was later revealed an act in some kind of psychodrama (with plenty of censored comments – my own comment to the latter, including a “GET A LIFE” exhortation, hasn’t has finally seen the light of day as yet).

Tallbloke has responded here and here. The end result has been that WUWT has apparently transmogrified into Climate Progress, after celebrating its 100M hit. Not sure how long I’ll hang around it, unless things change.

And the topic that has caused so much heating? If there is any gravitational explanation for the “greenhouse effect”. Cue millions of words written for nothing.

The actual problem as I see it is called “solutionizing”.

People tackle the problem of why bumblebees fly, some ideas are thrown around, those ideas are incomplete, so people come to the conclusion that since there is no solution to the problem, bumblebees don’t fly.

In the meanwhile, bumblebees fly. Back to square one.

In management circles, this is all pointed out as a fundamental error…the fact that you don’t have a solution doesn’t mean the problem is impossible to solve. It simply means you should concentrate on analysing the problem and in collecting more data, rather than immediately try to identify a solution.

For those harder in understanding, the observation is that independently from the composition of the atmosphere and the presence of a solid surface underneath it, every planetary atmosphere in the solar system has a “troposphere”, defined as the part where downward lapse rates are positive, i.e. temperatures increase as the distance from the top of the troposphere increase.

The same thing applies to any self-standing gas cloud anywhere in the universe. There is always a surface “below” which temperatures increase with pressure. Otherwise stars won’t ever ignite.

Now if this is because of whatever Hans has said, or N&Z, or it’s Tooth Fairies, that is not a question that will ever be answered in blogs (and especially, in their comment sections). But anybody stating that what the whole cosmos is alight by is “impossible”, they do have a problem telling truth from fantasy.

On The Slow, Painful (and Deadly) Demise Of The IPCC

Climategate 2.0 is helping filling some knowledge gaps, for example in the way the IPCC has been slowing killing itself, and several thousands humans to. The following concerns Regional Projections, and it’s a tragedy of communication.

Willingly or not, the IPCC has become a source of deadly confusion exactly because it has provided the information its audience wanted, even if it was scientifically unprepared to prepare that information.

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The Beginning Of The End

I have a confession to make…it ain’t much fun to talk climate change at a time where AGW and especially Catastrophic AGW are taking blows left, right and center. So in order to keep this blog lukewarm, here’s a heartful “thanks!” to New Scientist for providing the context for planetary temperatures so far:

Around 500 million years of Earth temperature

Around 500 million years of Earth temperature

And yes, our current climate WARMING catastrophe is at the bottom right.

0435: Briffa: Pathetic GRL Hockey Stick Paper A Step Backwards In Time And Understanding

Briffa speaks out about the “Pathetic Paper“, with the added bonus of Edward Cook’s thoughts about multi-century temperature reconstructions:

cc: t.osbor
date: Wed Sep 3 14:00:06 2003
from: Keith Briffa
subject: Re: An idea to pass by you
to: Edward Cook

[...] The basic point is that I (and I think [Tim Osborn]) agree that Mike and Phil’s latest contribution is a step backwards ( in time and understanding ) – well in reality I do not believe it is a step forward.

At 08:32 AM 9/3/03 -0400, [Edward Cook] wrote:

[...] I am afraid the Mike and Phil are too personally invested in things now (i.e. the 2003 GRL paper that is probably the worst paper Phil has ever been involved in – Bradley hates it as well) [...] Without trying to prejudice [a newly proposed] work, but also because of what I almost think I know to be the case, the results of this study will show that we can probably say a fair bit about < 100 year extra-tropical NH temperature variability (at least as far as we believe the proxy estimates), but honestly know fuck-all about what the > 100 year variability was like with any certainty (i.e. we know with certainty that we know fuck-all)..

I Am Somebody!! Got A Mention In Climategate 2.0!! – 0701.txt

This has been quite a night and I’ll conclude it with two bangs. First of all, I’ve been blocked on Twitter by @MichaelEMann. T-shirts and celebratory jacket to follow.

I was wondering though, why would somebody like Mann go through the trouble of blocking an unimportant minion like me? Well, I wonder no more. I am somebody in climate circles. Finally!!

Why? Because my name appears in Climategate 2.0. From 0701.txt:

Cc: Maurizio Morabito

I shall soon start collecting cheques in exchange of autographs.

By the way…much of 0701.txt is Phil Jones arguing that, even if it is possible to relate temperature changes to changes in climate indices better than to climate models, still that means nothing:

“It is quite easy to take any temperature series and show that it can be related to circulation indices. Just because the circulation explains more variability than the climate models doesn’t mean that anthropogenic climate change isn’t happening. What is causing the circulation to change!”

Lucky us, the Good Prof showed his usual irony.

For the record, the paper mentioned in 0701.txt was recommended publication by the reviewers, and then binned at the last moment by the Nature Geoscience editors.

A Truly Climategate Pathetic Paper

<3373> Bradley:

I’m sure you agree–the Mann/Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should never have been published. I don’t want to be associated with that 2000 year “reconstruction”.

And here it is: “Global surface temperatures over the past two millennia” aka “Mann, M. E., and P. D. Jones, Global surface temperatures over the past two millennia, Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(15), 1820, doi:10.1029/2003GL017814, 2003.”

We present reconstructions of Northern and Southern Hemisphere mean surface temperature over the past two millennia based on high-resolution ‘proxy’ temperature data which retain millennial-scale variability. These reconstructions indicate that late 20th century warmth is unprecedented for at least roughly the past two millennia for the Northern Hemisphere. Conclusions for the Southern Hemisphere and global mean temperature are limited by the sparseness of available proxy data in the Southern Hemisphere at present.

[...]

Reconstructions of hemispheric mean temperatures over roughly the past two millennia employing proxy surface temperature data networks with sufficient spatial and seasonal sampling, temporal resolution, and retention of millennial-scale variance, support previous conclusions with regard to the anomalous nature of late 20th century temperature at least about two millennia back in time for the Northern Hemisphere. To the extent that a ‘Medieval’ interval of moderately warmer conditions can be defined from about AD 800– 1400, any hemispheric warmth during that interval is dwarfed in magnitude by late 20th century warmth. The sparseness of the available proxy data in the Southern Hemisphere lead to less definitive conclusions for the SH or global mean temperature at present.

QED.

Orwell Explains Simon Singh (And Other Intellectual Bankruptcies)

It’s been a source of constant surprise the fact that Simon Singh, “a British author who has specialised in writing about mathematical and scientific topics in an accessible manner” would be willing to tell Wired wholly antiscientific statements such as in response to a question “How are we supposed to know what’s true?“:

Don’t come up with a view, find everybody who agrees with it, and then say, “Look at this, I must be right.” Start off by saying, “Who do I trust?” On global warming, for example, I happen to trust climate experts, world academies of science, Nobel laureates, and certain science journalists. You have to decide who you trust before you decide what to believe.

Throwing oneself into the hands of the experts? That’s a total abdication from reason, an open-armed welcome to complete foolishness as a tool for scientific debate, and a justification for chiropractors if they had any working brain cell left. It’s the “death of knowledge“, as pointed out by Karl Popper in “The Myth of Framework” (already mentioned here by Nicholas Hallam Mar 31, 2011 at 2:43 PM):

[...] in my view, the appeal to the authority of experts should be neither excused nor defended. It should, on the contrary, be recognized for what it is – an intellectual fashion – and it should be attacked by a frank acknowledgement of how little we know, and how much that little is due to people who have worked in many fields at the same time. And it should also be attacked by the recognition that the orthodoxy produced by intellectual fashions, specialization, and the appeal to authorities is the death of knowledge, and that the growth of knowledge depends entirely upon disagreement

Singh repeated the same foolish argument at the Spectator “Global Warming Hysteria” debate(London, March 29 2011), as reported by the Bish:

Simon Singh’s presentation was memorable, but unfortunately mostly for the wrong reasons. He set up what he called a credibility spectrum, with scientists and academies on one side and sceptics on the other and called on us to trust the establishment on the climate change issue. His whole presentation, while outstanding in terms of slick delivery, was an intellectual void, amounting to little more than ten minutes of argument from authority, a point later made by Graham Stringer. It struck me as a little ambitious to even try this sort of fallacious approach to an audience that was likely to be both hostile and well informed on climate science itself. As catcalls of “what about the hockey stick?” rang out, it was clear that many people knew exactly what has been happening. Asking these same people to trust the word of the scientists struck me as a foolish mistake.

It’s a point made also by Fraser Nelson:

the argument “trust the experts” is becoming less persuasive as the information revolution progresses. Hierarchies are being flattened in every walk of life, and this includes intellectual hierarchies. As Mark Penn says, elites are more impressionable than the masses — so more likely to be persuaded by a scientific consensus. The public want to be persuaded, not told that they should believe the Clever People.

Fraser goes on to describe Singh’s foolishness number two, the complete misunderstanding of the debating point:

Simon Singh [...] seems to be anxious to have a ding-dong with someone who doesn’t think the planet is warming and that mankind is, at least in part, responsible. I’m afraid I can’t help. My problem is with the political response to the science.

As for foolishness number 3, well, nothing better than having Singh write a web article about global warming showing zero-to-nothing knowledge of the topic beyond a quick reading of the IPCC and an insane trusting of Skeptical Science.

It’s a catalogue of offenses against thoughthood (sadly, same applies to others who should know better, such as Phil Plait and Bill Nye), a completely irrational behaviour that had been left unexplained. Until now. Note in fact how during the debate, Singh had some sort of slip of the tongue, saying that “the smart money was in Global Warming“, fully justifying James Delingpole’s rebuttal:

Unless Singh can raise his game and actually engage with the argument rather than bullying his opponents with the help of Sleb Twitter pals and his Ipse Dixit logical fallacies, I think we all know who the real muppet is.

However, if we look at it from a different point of view, it had all been described by George Orwell in “James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution” (my emphasis – there’s more to it but I’ll leave that to a different blog):

Power worship blurs political judgement because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible. [...] Within the space of five years Burnham foretold the domination of Russia by Germany and of Germany by Russia. In each case he was obeying the same instinct: the instinct to bow down before the conqueror of the moment, to accept the existing trend as irreversible.

There we have poor Simon Singh then, simply continuing an established tradition among intellectuals. He believes that the pro-AGW lobby is winning, that the IPCC and the Skeptical Science’s of this world are where the “smart money” is: therefore, he “decides” to “trust” them, “decides” to “believe” in them (note the mixing up of science and faith), even roam the world to proclaim his servile, antiscientific, unreasonable stance on the topic.

Just wait until the climate wind changes then, and in 2021 Singh will be out presenting a new book on “Why people wrongly believed in catastrophic climate change“.

The New York Times (Inadvertently) Demolishes Mann's Defence

If this doesn’t kill Mann’s attempts to avoid FOI, I don’t know what will. The New York Times reports about the latest example of (massive) scientific fraud:

Outright fraud may be rare, these experts say, but they contend that Dr. Stapel took advantage of a system that allows researchers to operate in near secrecy and massage data to find what they want to find, without much fear of being challenged. “The big problem is that the culture is such that researchers spin their work in a way that tells a prettier story than what they really found,” said Jonathan Schooler, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s almost like everyone is on steroids, and to compete you have to take steroids as well.” [...]

Dr. Stapel was able to operate for so long, the committee said, in large measure because he was “lord of the data,” the only person who saw the experimental evidence that had been gathered (or fabricated). This is a widespread problem in psychology, said Jelte M. Wicherts, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam. In a recent survey, two-thirds of Dutch research psychologists said they did not make their raw data available for other researchers to see. “This is in violation of ethical rules established in the field,” Dr. Wicherts said.

For the reading-challenged amongst us, the point is that secrecy and refusing to share research material is the perfect environment for fraud. That’s why every sharing tool is important including FOI.

And before anybody asks I don’t believe Mann is a fraudster. His emails will likely be as interesting as Sarah Palin’s or even less. But the principle of FOI must be defended to protect ourselves from the fraudsters out there.

Thank you Skeptical Science

Congratulations to myself. I have just graduated to having a dedicated blog post by Skeptical Science no less.

Surely I’m not yet in the Big League (the author over there is only honesty-challenged dana1981) but for the very same reason I can proudly describe myself now as a Big Minion!

As for what SS has to say about my arguments …well, there’s little to discuss. That post sounds more like the umpteenth attempt to rally the usual, tired troops. Good luck with that.

Socrates, Or Pointing The Way For The Future Of Climate Science

Roger Pielke Jr laments the withering of climatology:

Climate science — or at least some parts of it — seems to have devolved into an effort to generate media coverage and talking points for blogs, at the expense of actually adding to our scientific knowledge of the climate system

Actually, it was December 2009 when I wrote in the pages of the Spectator (UK):

This might be the most important lesson of the 1974 report on global cooling: that we need to grow up, separate climatology from fear, and recognise — much as it pains politicians and scientists — that our understanding of how climate changes remains in its infancy.

Here we are, almost two years later. For example, what do we understand about the past? Willis Eschenbach at WUWT shows it in the non-smoothed BEST reconstruction graph:

"BEST global surface temperature estimates. Gray bars show what BEST says are the 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) for each datapoint"

And what do we understand about the future? Patrick Frank in Skeptic.com’s Reading Room:

"The Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES-SPM-5) A2 projection from Figure 1 showing the physical uncertainty of the projected temperature trend when including ±10.1% cloud error (light shading), or the uncertainty in greenhouse gas forcing (dark shading). Inset: A close-up view of the first 20 years of the A2 projection and the uncertainty limits."

In other words: for the past, all we know for sure it’s that the error bars cover from -5C to +3C if we go back to 200 years ago. For the past, all we can estimate for sure it’s that error bars cover an enormous span if we move forward 100 years (even removing cloud uncertainty, still the 2100 error goes from -10C to +16C).

For all we know, Romans were conquering a world that was 50C colder than today, and oceans will boil before the XXII century. Or vice-versa.

=====

Please do not start speculating about uncertainty as a reason for doing nothing – it isn’t.

Think of science instead: what’s the way out of this cul-de-sac made up of giant error bars? How can our understanding finally leave its infancy? The way out has actually being indicated already, by a guy born in 469BC:

Socrates was wise in that he knew the he knew nothing, whereas others were unaware of their own ignorance.

If and when such a realization will become widespread, only then climate science will be able to mature away from silly manipulations, towards the approach so nicely described by Professor Sir Bernard Lovell to David Whitehouse:

One evening we unrolled the pen recorder data in a long ribbon down the corridor outside the main observing room. “Now,” he said, “look at the data. Get to know it.” His point was that before us was what the universe was saying, and that it was more important than any theory.” Data is never inconvenient. It beats theory every time.

An unexamined climate is not worth studying…

Richard Muller Is (And Isn't) A Former Skeptic

Tons of desperate journalists and bloggers couldn’t help themselves when talking about the Muller/BEST’s press release, and filled the net with what must have been one of the largest collective display of idiocy this side of the carpal tunnel syndrome epidemic of old (tellingly, even Tamino was too enthusiastic to bother reading things properly whilst RC’s Steig did, so poor Grant F felt compelled to busy himself in disagreeing with Muller about something).

One of the most popular claims concerns the depiction of Muller as some kind of “reformed skeptic”, some pretty soul who’s finally seen the data, and the light alongside. Here’s the UK’s Independent repeating the party line, for example.

Professor Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been an outspoken critic of the science underpinning global warming, said that there is little doubt in his mind the phenomenon of rising land temperatures is real.

In the meanwhile, Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail and Steven J Milloy of Junk Science fame have posted almost-definitive evidence demonstrating that Muller has never really been a climate skeptic. Muller quotes include:

back in the early ’80s, I resigned from the Sierra Club over the issue of global warming. At that time, they were opposing nuclear power. What I wrote them in my letter of resignation was that, if you oppose nuclear power, the U.S. will become much more heavily dependent on fossil fuels, and that this is a pollutant to the atmosphere that is very likely to lead to global warming

and

Muller estimates 2 in 3 odds that humans are causing global warming

Well, I can now report (with no worry of being refuted) that Richard Muller has been a climate skeptic all along. And he has not. At the same time!

The important point, in fact, is the definition of “climate skeptic”.

In a saner world, a “climate skeptic” would simply be any person approaching the field of climate change with a critical eye, and especially about the more outlandish claims of impending catastrophes caused by humans burning “fossil fuels” and doing all the other nasty things humans do. Of course, in a saner world 99.999% of the people would be “climate skeptic” and there would be little or no discussion about “global warming” or “climate change” being the “the world’s greatest challenge“.

From the sane point of view then, Muller, a guy who resigned decades ago about the “global warming” issue and believes humans are quite likely causing it, is no skeptic at all. From Muller’s own “Physics for Future Presidents” (chapter 10, page 18):

Humans have very likely contributed to global warming, and that suggests that
the worst effects are still ahead of us.

Coming back instead to the insane world we live in, definitions change. In particular, in the eyes of AGW True Believers a “climate skeptic” (aka “climate denier”) becomes anybody that questions anything about the IPCC-led climate change orthodoxy. And by that I mean, anything. It doesn’t matter if one surmises the world has been warming (the very definition of “global warming”), and that humans are “very likely” causing that (the very definition of “anthropogenic global warming”): all it takes is an expression of uncertainty or doubt about whatever topic, and immediately the brainless hordes will descend in full fascistic gear.

From the insane point of view then, Muller, a guy who famously discounted the Hockey Stick graph as “an artifact of poor mathematics“, is a fully-fledged skeptic (ie “denier). From Muller’s own “Physics for Future Presidents” (chapter 10, page 2):

In fact, much of what you hear every day is exaggerated, often on purpose.
People feel so passionately about climate change, and they are so frightened about
what is coming, that they overstate their case (either pro or anti) in an attempt to
enlist proselytes

All in all, it looks like nobody knows who Richard Muller actually is. Expect surprises.

B.E.S.T. Not Yet

Plenty of brouhaha everywhere about the pre-pre-pre B.E.S.T. papers. Ignorant reactions undoubtedly already abound.

I surmise that the four pre-pre-pre-papers will get torn to pieces in the next few days (here’s my biting off the UHI article, followed by Steven Mosher’s). The quality of the BEST work will be measurable in the way they will react to that ( (a) making the necessary adjustments, (b) ignoring the lot, or (c) circling the wagons).

The jury is still much out. In the case of Anthony Watts, so far it’s been a strong (b). Assuming B.E.S.T. is not a collection of unprofessionals, such a reaction makes little sense.

OTOH we do not even know if B.E.S.T. is really about science, or something else. As I commented at Judith Curry’s blog:

Read what you write Judith! A PR strategy! Did Bohr have a PR strategy, or Maxwell, or Dirac.

The BEST PR strategy is not the best PR strategy because it became so important as to become visible. It’s THE news, as you can read at WUWT. And a total failure: science takes once again the back seat, and who cares if BEST does it for visibility rather than politics?

Your results and your work have just been buried by your team. Congratulations! /sarc

No placebo pill will ever work if it’s got “PLACEBO” written on it: likewise, no PR strategy will work if it’s so much in-your-face to its potential audience.