Another Climate Report Written Backwards

I simply do not have the time to plow through the entire NOAA/NASA CCSP climate change report, so I focused on the 28-page section labeled Global Climate Change.

I will post my comments when they are done, but suffice it to say that this is yet another report written backwards, with the guts of the report written by politicians trying to push an agenda.  This is an incredibly shallow document, more shallow even than the IPCC report and possibly even than the IPCC summary for policy makers.  Call it the NASA summary for the mentally retarded. 

The report is a full-force sales piece for catastrophic global warming.  Not once in the entire chapter I read was there a hint of doubt or uncertainty.  Topics for which scientists have but the flimsiest of understandings, for example feedback effects, are treated with the certainty of Newtonian mechanics.  Any bit of conflicting evidence — whether it be the fact that oceans were rising before the industrial era, or that tropospheric temperatures are not higher than surface temperatures as predicted, or that large parts of Antarctica are gaining ice — are blissfully omitted. 

Many of the most important propositions in the report are stated without proof or citation.  Bill Kovacs wrote the other day that of the 21 papers that were cited, only 8 are available to the public prior to the August 14 deadline for public comment.  Just like with the IPCC, the summary is written months ahead of the science.  Much of the report seems to be cut-and-pasted from other sources  (you can tell, be graphs are reproduced exactly as they appear in other reports, such as the IPCC fourth assessment).  In many cases, the data between these various charts do not agree (for example, their charts have three or four different versions of 20th century global temperatures, none of which are either sourced or consistent). 

And, of course, the hockey stick, the Freddy Krueger of scientific analysis, is brought back yet again from the dead.

Let me give you just one taste of the quality science here.  Here is a precipitation chart they put in on page 28:


This is like those before-and-after photo games.  Can you see the sleight of hand?  Look at the legend for the green historic line.  It says that it is based on "Simulations."  This means that someone has hypothesized a relationship between temperature and precipitation (the precipitation line in this chart is tellingly nearly identical in pattern and slope to the "human + natural" temperature model output as shown at the top of page 26) and built that relationship into a model.  So the green line is a result of a) a model projecting temperature backward and b) the model taking that temperature and, based on a series of assumptions that temperature drives heavy precipitation events, generating this graph of heavy precipitation events.

Now, look at the caption.  It calls the green line "observed…changes in the heaviest 5 percent of precipitation events."  I am sorry, but model output and observations are not the same thing.  Further, note the circularity of the argument.  Models built on the assumption that temperature increases cause an increase in these events is used as proof that temperature increases these events. 

By the way, look at the error band on the green line.  For some reason, we have near perfect knowledge for worldwide precipitation events in the 1960’s, but are less certain about the 1990’s.

  • Scientist

    On the bottom of every page it says First Draft – July 2008 Do not cite or quote. You’ve found an error in a draft report. Your post simply describes proofreading for the mentally retarded.

  • Dio Gratia

    Is the uncertainty in rain observations around 1960 due to the International Geophysical Year (IGY)? You’d expect some of the effort to continue for some time, perhaps suffering from funding discontinuities eventually.

  • mbabbitt

    It is disheartening to see such rubbish posing as the work of professionals. Or … Professional what? GW Propagandists? Or Scientists? Who cares which draft or version it is; the very silliness of the presentation says it all. Everything is posed to scare people into believing the sky is falling and this Truth will set us free. How does that saying go? “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bs.” Here they are trying to dazzle us with BS. More BS from a culture that has mastered the art.

  • “Your post simply describes proofreading”

    Draft 1: “‘Scientist’ likes to molest chickens in his spare time, and is really a closet 911 Troofer.”

    Final Draft: “‘Scientist’ is a rational, objective observer with a thorough knowledge of scientific concepts… and a great respect for chickens.”

    Now, don’t read anything into that first draft – it was just a typo. Honest mistake, my fingers slipped and hit the wrong key. Don’t quote it or cite it.

  • Mark

    Also, notice the error terms for the different scenarios. They completely overlap each other, meaning that this “simulation” cannot even forecast a different level of precipitation based on the emmision outputs.

  • Keith

    Actually, as the authors invite comment on their work here, I would suggest the author of this blog post submit his views directly to them. This is the final draft for the report, and they are only allowing public comment for two more days. Anthony Watts has also blogged about this report, and did find it interesting that the authors only allowed two weeks for open review and contest before it would be submitted for printing. Considering it is a U. S. federal government document, any recommendations it will make will have implications in the future concerning policy decisions in this area of debate. We should be making sure that any mistakes in the science of the piece are highlighted far and wide so that they are removed, corrected, or explained in specifics so that the report cannot be used as a propaganda piece, but instead as a true scientific document.

  • Demesure

    Between low and high emission scenarios – assuming models can predict – the difference in heavy precipitation would be 2 percentage points in one century.
    Even dirt poor humans have been able to cope with moonsoon for ages (you can’t have more heavy precipitations than this) and those “scientists” assume we should spend money to mitigate the +2% heavy precipitations by 2100 ???
    Only people ready to spend other’s money can’t see the absurdity. It’s crazy, no it’s maddening.

  • This is a typical waste of NASA budget. NASA was supposed to be a space program, not a shill for political crusades like catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW). A pathetic decadence has set in at all government agencies that are becoming hooked on climate-hysterics to secure their budgets.

  • Tony Edwards

    scientist, this may be a draft, but to give only a month or so to comment would suggest that this “draft” is very close to, or expected to be, the final edition. Yet this report contains, in a section dealing with precipitation, a picture purported to be of a flooded house, but which is actually a graphically modified photo.
    Are there not enough photos of flooded buildings around, that they needed to use a doctored one? Also worth noting, perhaps symptomatically,is the return of the hockey stick, complete with the spliced graphs.
    This is supposed to be a scientific report?
    Oh well, it’s only climate science.