So Much For That Whole Commitment To Science We Were Promised

From the Guardian:

Today’s release of the study, titled Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, was overseen by a San Francisco-based media consulting company…

The nearly 200-page study was scrubbed of the usual scientific jargon, and was given a high-profile release by Obama’s science advisor, John Holdren, and the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Jane Lubchenco.

Wow, that’s sure how I learned to handle a scientific report back when I was studying physics – scrub it of the science and give it to an activist PR firm!   Do you need any more evidence that climate science has become substantially dominated by post-modernist scientists, where ideological purity and staying on message is more important than actually having the science right?

I saw a draft of this report last year, but I am still trying to download this new version.  I expect to be sickened.  Here is a taste of where they are coming down:

If today’s generation fails to act to reduce the carbon emissions that cause global warming, climate models suggest temperatures could rise as much as 11F by the end of the century.

11F is about 6.1C.  I don’t know if they get this by increasing the CO2 forecast or by increasing the sensitivity or both, but it is vastly higher than the forecasts even of the over-apocalyptic IPCC.  I think one can fairly expect two things, though — 1) More than 2/3 of this warming will be due to positive feedback effects rather than Co2 acting alone and 2) There will be little or no discussion of the evidence that such positive feedback effects actually dominate the climate.

Apparently the report will make up for having all the science stripped out by spending a lot of time on gaudy worst case scenarios:

That translates into catastrophic consequences for human health and the economy such as more ferocious hurricanes in coastal regions – in the Pacific as well as the Atlantic, punishing droughts to the south-west, and increasingly severe winter storms in the north-east and around the Great Lakes.

The majority of North Carolina’s beaches would be swallowed up by the sea. New England’s long and snowy winters might be cut short to as little as two weeks. Summers in Chicago could be a time of repeated deadly heat waves. Los Angelenos and residents of other big cities will be choking because of deteriorating air quality.

Future generations could face potential food shortages because of declining wheat and corn yields in the breadbasket of the mid-west, increased outbreaks of food poisoning and the spread of epidemic diseases.

This strikes me as roughly equivilent to turning in a copy of Lucifer’s Hammer in response to a request for a scientific study of the physics of comets.

  • Michael

    I read Steve McIntyre’s post Banned at Sudbury Airport where his site climate audit was banned but realclimate was available. I checked out realclimate and found:

    7 June 2009
    Alert readers will have noticed the fewer-than-normal postings over the last couple of weeks. This is related mostly to pressures associated with real work (remember that we do have day jobs). In my case, it is because of the preparations for the next IPCC assessment and the need for our group to have a functioning and reasonably realistic climate model with which to start the new round of simulations. These all need to be up and running very quickly if we are going to make the early 2010 deadlines.

    While much of the post is condescension towards skeptics for bring up issues that had been answered “years ago”, this first paragraph got my attention.This guy, Gavin Schmidt, is claiming to be a member of the US team to the IPCC and after 20 years its time for the IPCC “to have a functioning and reasonably realistic climate model.” Reasonably?

    If I told my customers and clients I didn’t a reasonably good job, I’d never get call backs or references from them again.

  • Squidly

    I just happened to have read the same thing a few weeks ago and was floored! I have been a practicing computer scientist for some 30 years now, and in that time I have never been in a position where “reasonable” was ever “acceptable”. This Gavin Schmidt is a complete hack. I have further read his comments concerning source control management, SDLC, release management and coding practices. This guy has absolutely not the first clue of what software development is about. He is the poster child of why mathematicians should NOT develop software. I have browsed through the codes for Model-E from top to bottom, and it is one of the worst piles of poorly written garbage I have ever seen, and believe me, I have seen a lot!

  • Michael

    Can you imagine hearing: The house is reasonable built. You account is reasonable accurate. The OR is reasonable clean. When you read posts on climate skeptic or climate audit, the writers strive for their writing to be clear and their science and data to be accurate. The AGW writers seem to have a lot of condescension towards people who might simply ask how they reached a conclusion much less someone who challenges them.

    I can’t see that people like Michael Mann or James Hansen do what they do to advance science. Is it because people stroke their ego? Do they get to use Al’s plane? I can’t see them being successful in any other field of science with their current level of conduct.

  • Hunter

    Your stupidity never fails to amaze me. Do you think a report for the public should be written in the same style as a scientific paper? We know that you don’t understand the science, no matter how clearly it’s presented, but many other people with basic intellectual capabilities can.

  • Ken

    My Lord, they’re not still doing these lame fear monger studies, surely.

    The public does not believe these bad studies anymore, they are so last year. People know that these reports are only designed to scare and fool. An increase of 6 degrees? Gad! I think the public is aware now that these predictions are done with multiple computer runs and they cherry pick the most extreme results. They are not lying, they just choose the scariest numbers which appear to sell it best. This is worse than those loudmouth Skeptic groups that are being paid by Exxon. It’s an embarrassment to me as an environmentalist, it’s a step backwards. The timing could not be worse. Sheesh!

  • hunter

    This must be a good post, since the troll is already attacking.
    AGW is a social movement like eugenics was, and from what we see of the trolls and wannabes who glom on to it, attracts the same types of people.

  • Andrew

    One has to wonder why, rather than addressing the fact that the report is so badly flawed, the trolls make excuses “Its for the public, who are too stoopid to get science, like u, so it no need good science” or misdirect “Wow, yeah, and you are so much better, huh?” Well, uh, yeah, when a report has its facts flat out wrong it is hard to imagine being worse. I am unable to count the distortions and lies I have already identified in the report…It’s just crap. But the gate keepers don’t let anyone dare touch their golden idols, not even to polish them, for fear that the will crumble…

  • Andrew

    No doubt the gate keepers will complain that “the” should be “they”.

  • the other coyote

    From what I can see, the entire report was created by political hacks whose livelihood depends on the “facts” matching up with their conclusions.

    For example, ABC news reports that Dr. Jerry Melillo was the lead scientist. A google search shows that Dr. Melillo makes a pretty good living just off grant money. http://face.env.duke.edu/pubpage.cfm?type=Grants&id=208 is just one example; Dr. Melillo got $2.6 million from the NSF for silly studies being conducted in Duke Forest. I worked for the primate center located in Duke Forest one summer when an undergrad at the other school down the road … Even in the ’80s, nobody in a three mile vicinity of Duke Forest was familiar with the concept of “reality.” He’s also a director of NEON, Inc. which looks like a front group for collecting even more NSF and other grant money.

    Further, Dr. Melillo’s raison d’etre is establishing that humans are wrecking the planet; in virtually every biography entry located on google, Dr. Melillo notes that his interest lies in the human effect on the planet (and I quote from Brown University’s Environmental Change Initiative website: “I am interested in how human activities are altering the biogeochemistry of terrestrial ecosystems. My research includes studies of carbon and nitrogen cycling in a range of ecosystems across the globe including arctic shrublands in northern Sweden, temperate forests in North America, and tropical forests and pastures in the Amazon Basin of Brazil. I have become increasingly committed to studying the large-scale effects of global change on terrestrial ecosystems, including effects on the chemistry of the atmosphere and on the climate system. I use a combination of field experiments and simulation modeling. Together with a number of collaborators, I am presently conducting soil warming experiments at the Harvard Forest in western Massachusetts and at the Abisko Research Station in Sweden to study the effects of warming on soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics, plant growth, and potential feedbacks to the climate system.”) http://www.brown.edu/Research/ECI/people/jmelillo.html

    In other words, he’s moved on from “save the rainforests” to “humans are wrecking the planet.”

    And Dr. Melillo is quite fond of the modeling systems that our host has repeatedly disproved: “My research team focuses on understanding the impacts of human activities on the biogeochemistry of ecological systems using a combination of field studies and simulation modeling. Our field studies include two soil warming experiments at the Harvard Forest in central Massachusetts. We have developed and use a simulation model, the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM), to consider the impacts of various aspects of global change (climate, chemistry of the atmosphere and precipitation, land cover and land use) on the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems across the globe. TEM is part of the Integrated Global Systems Model, an integrated assessment model, based at MIT.” http://ecosystems.mbl.edu/staff/melillo.html http://ecosystems.mbl.edu/staff/images/modeling.jpg

    {As we all know, garbage in = garbage out.}

    The other coyote agrees with you: How can anybody call this science?

  • Carbonicus

    Hunter, you’re dead on. This has all the characteristics of the eugenics movement. Michael Crichton even suggested as much in his Author’s Notes at the conclusion of “State of Fear”.

    If any of you know the history of PBO’s National Science Advisor, John Holdren, this doesn’t surprise you. Holdren is a disciple/compadre of the infamous neo-Malthusian Paul Ehrlich (The Population Bomb). Holdren, for example, helped Ehrlich choose the basket of metals for his famous bet with Julian Simon which attempted to prove that Ehrlich’s and Holdren’s views on resource scarcity were right and Simon’s cornucopian views were wrong (if you haven’t heard of this famous bet, Google it…).

    If you’re not familiar, here are just a few of Holdren’s predictions, to give you a clue what you’re dealing with:

    – “Some form of ecocatastrophe, if not thermonuclear war, seems almost certain to overtake us before the end of the century” (by 2000). John Holdren & Paul Ehrlich, 1971.

    – “it is possible that carbon-dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.” Holdren 1986. (With 11 years to go, I think it’s safe to say this one will turn out to be wrong, too.)

    – in 2006, Holdren predicted that sea levels “could rise by 13 feet by the end of the century”. Even the high church of global warming scare mongering, the UN IPCC, only predicts 13 INCHES by 2100 in its FAR (2007).

    These are just a few of his beauties.

    This is the guy PBO promised us would “return science to its rightful place”. If this report is any indication of how Holdren will return science to its rightful place, then those involved in science should be very scared. This report is an affront to real science. It is political science. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • the other coyote

    Hunter’s take is quite fascinating. I’ve never, in 15 years of practicing law, seen the government give a rat’s ass whether the general public can read or understand a publication. Nothing that DHHS, the IRS, the EEOC, the DOT, the NLRB, the SSA or any other government agency has EVER put out has been even remotely user friendly. Why the effort to use marketing and PR firms for this one lone document?

    “A person shall not be treated as suffering from a physical disablement such that he is either unable to walk or vitually unable to do so if he is not unable or virtually unable to walk with a prosthesis or an artificial aid which he habitually wears or uses or if he would not be unable or virtually unable to walk if he habitually wore or used a prosthesis or an artificial aid which is suitable in his case.” My all-time favorite quote from a Dept. of Health and Human Services publication explaining mobility allowances for the disabled.

  • the other coyote

    I’m not sure where my post on “you call this science” went, but just google Jerry Melillo if you want an inkling into how (1) Melillo’s rather nice livelihood depends on selling this stuff and (2) how weak his “science” really is. He basically hangs out in Duke and Harvard forests (not bad gigs, if you can get them), is the director of a front group that probably gets even more grant money (having played the grant game, you need to have 2 different names to get the money you think you need, because there are generally caps per applicant), got $2.6 million from the NSF for a 5 year Duke Forest study on dirt temperatures (not a real expensive undertaking), and he likes to use computer models. As we all know, Garbage in = Garbage out. A five minute google review has put Melillo in the same category, for me, as Hansen. Snake oil salesmen. If only I was this charismatic, perhaps I could be traveling the world on grant money.

  • the other coyote

    P.S. ABC News reporting that Dr. Jerry Melillo was the lead scientist on the report, which is why I’m discussing my google look-see in the previous post.

  • the other coyote

    GAG. Jane Lubchenco, also identified as having a hand in the report, is a climate change activist who believes scientists are supposed to be political hacks.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/24/science/earth/24prof.html

    Here’s a link to the ABC story. Not surprisingly, also full of fear mongering and not a single question about whether the facts are as the “scientists” say.

    http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2009/s2600327.htm

  • hunter

    the trolls act like they do because they know, at some deep level, that they are on the wrong side of this issue.

  • http://tekkie.wordpress.com Mark Miller

    A few comments.

    I think the author of this post is quite right that AGW is political post-modernist thinking in scientific garb, promoting “facts” when they believe there’s no such thing as absolute truth, only a political reality. Affirmative post-modernists believe just this, that “facts” are just a narrative that exists in a world of competing narratives, but the narrative that’s worth promoting is the one that they deem exemplifies social justice. I’m not so sure that the AGW crowd is interested in “social justice”. It’s more about population control, but the same sort of political thinking goes into it.

    Quoting “Hunter” (I don’t think this is the same hunter who posts later)

    “Your stupidity never fails to amaze me. Do you think a report for the public should be written in the same style as a scientific paper? We know that you don’t understand the science, no matter how clearly it’s presented, but many other people with basic intellectual capabilities can.”

    This is anti-intellectualism at its best. The Puritans would be proud. I suppose the “basic intellectual capabilities” hunter speaks of are the ability to read and write. But oh no, don’t require us to THINK for God’s sake! To heck with non-universals!

    the other coyote, re: Jane Lubchenco:

    I did not draw the same conclusion you did from the article, but then maybe I don’t know Miss Lubchenco. There is a problem with academic researchers staying in their labs and not sharing their knowledge with the public. The public would benefit from some outreach from scientists. The state of American math and science education is not so good, and I think a part of that is the fact that the people who really get math and science (math in particular) are off in their ivory towers or out in the fields doing their research all the time and are unconcerned about educating the next generation. We do need to change this notion in the academy that in order to be considered a good research scientist or mathematician that you need to spend 100% of your work time doing science and math. Part of that time should be devoted teaching, without the risk of being considered a less than stellar researcher for doing so.

  • http://tekkie.wordpress.com Mark Miller

    Re: Lubchenco

    Okay. I re-read the post. It was bad judgment on Lubchenco’s part to be associated with this report. It’s hard to know why she did it. I searched the report and it looks like she was cited as a source, but not for any critical information related what causes GW. She’s not listed as an director, author, or reviewer. She may have done it because she was asked, as a political gesture to the Obama Admin. (being a good team player and all). She may not have even known what was in it.

  • Highlander

    Mark Miller wrote:
    —————
    “We do need to change this notion in the academy that in order to be considered a good research scientist or mathematician that you need to spend 100% of your work time doing science and math. Part of that time should be devoted teaching, without the risk of being considered a less than stellar researcher for doing so.”
    —————
    The thought is ~perhaps~ an honorable one, but most ‘professional scientists’ don’t qualify to ‘teach,’ inasmuch that the cadre of insiders whom control the matter of ‘qualified’ are not unlike the cult of the Masonic: You must ‘belong’ in order to be recognized.
    .
    And of course ‘belonging’ carries its own baggage as well, in that you MUST follow certain procedures or be ostracized and expelled as ‘qualified.’

  • Russell

    Highlander says “And of course ‘belonging’ carries its own baggage as well, in that you MUST follow certain procedures or be ostracized and expelled as ‘qualified.’”

    I quite disagree. The last I looked, the guy over in east asia who faked the cloning was still a member of the scientific community and still getting new papers published.

    One of the failures of the modern scientific community is the failure to eject those who use shoddy data or methods to reach desired conclusions. Sadly it all goes back to Gore and his movie, where everyone decided it was okay that he lied about the science, because it convinced people there was a problem…

    (which still makes me go.. wait… WTF? Run that by me again…)