Cognitive Dissonance

Mann’s got an interesting problem.  His various hockey sticks show incredibly low temperature variability until about 1850 or so.  But his and his counterparts models assume the climate temperature system is dominated by very high positive feedbacks that multiply even tiny changes to forcings into large temperature swings.  These two points of view are extraordinarily hard to reconcile.

Similarly, climate alarmists assume that some sort of natural phenomenon is hiding or masking warming for the last decade.  Given their forecasts, this has to be a pretty muscular phenomenon, but at the same time they have to argue that natural factors are not muscular enough to have cause much or any of the temperature increases in the 1980s and 1990s.

The ability to handle cognitive dissonance is important in climate science.

CRU Emails: Responding to the Responses

Finem Respice takes on a number of the insider responses of the “nothing to see here, move along” type.  My favorite:

“The language used by scientists in the emails in question is indicative of scientists under a great deal of political pressure from the outside.”

The heart bleeds with an anguish and despair so palpable, so imbued with the darkly iridescent and sickly sweet venom of suffering that it is plainly visible out to 50 meters as a colorful aura, brightly fluorescing through the ribcage, glowing like a beacon of sorrow to any empath with the skill level of a Freshman at Vassar who thinks she remembers once reading a book on shamanism.

As a group one rarely sees scientists (or, indeed, any vocational group other than politicians) so deeply in love with the by-hook-or-by-crook of politics, the grand import of jetting off to Nice for the next climate meeting and the limelight that accompanies all these world-saving goings on as those few, those lucky few exposed in the CRU emails. (Just throw in a bit of expense scandal and you might as well be in the House of Commons- oh, wait a second….) It is all but impossible not to come away with a sense of what is plainly a naked lust for naked ambition simply oozing out of those texts. I am utterly devoid of sympathy for any such that later claim to have been forced to compromise their composure, their decorum or their data because of the unfortunate realities of politics.

When I think back to all the thousands of words I have written on positive feedback on this site, only to have it all said in two lines of a post at the same site:

On Positive Feedback

Name three positive feedback systems in nature. Get back to me on that when you’re done.

I might have said added “long-term stable” between name and three, but its pretty close.

Where Was the CRU’s Outrage

The issue of non-publication agreements has come up before as an excuse for EAU-CRU not to release FOIA’d data.

The U-turn by the university follows a week of controversy after the emergence of hundreds of leaked emails, “stolen” by hackers and published online, triggered claims that the academics had massaged statistics.

In a statement welcomed by climate change sceptics, the university said it would make all the data accessible as soon as possible, once its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had negotiated its release from a range of non-publication agreements.

This excuse had a certain credibility problem even before the email release, as it was something like the fifth or sixth excuse, used only when the others failed.  Now we see from the emails it was more of a “strategy” for avoiding scrutiny rather than a real concern.

These aren’t corporations arguing over iPod code.  These are universities and public institutions.  Where was the outrage from East Anglia?  Where was the guy saying “What do you mean non-publication agreement – this is scientific information gathered at public expense affecting enormous public policy decisions — of course its going to be freaking published.”  Instead, EAU’s response to the request for non-publication seems to be “good, that gives us another excuse not to release anything so that skeptic’s can pick us apart.”

The Enablers of Fraud

From Hugo Rifkind

‘But there were these climate scientists at the University of East Anglia,’ you’ll chirrup, excitedly. ‘And leaked emails show that they were conspiring to conceal research that…’ Yeah, whatever. Not interested. So some of them are crooks. It’s like giving up on doctors because of Harold Shipman. I appreciate that you lot don’t like to be called ‘climate change deniers’ because of the implied Holocaust equivalence but, melodramatic as it is, the comparison hasn’t come from nowhere. You are the forces of anti-science, anti-reason and anti-fact. Your natural bedfellows are the 9/11 Truthers — people who believe that the way to deal with something frightening which they don’t understand is to recast it as part of a convoluted fantasy which they do. Go back a few hundred years, and it’s people like you who would have cried ‘witch’ and run for the kindling when the village crone predicted that bad things might happen if you shagged your sister.

Translation: I don’t care if he is beating his wife, she probably deserved it.

I will bet a million dollars this guy has not even spent 5 minutes at a science-based skeptics site. He is basically saying “once I willfully ignore all science-based skeptics, I come to the conclusion there are no science-based skeptics.”

Mr. Rifkind and his lot are welcome to send my any critiques of my video on the science of the skeptics position. Operators are standing by.

Today’s Double-Speak Translation

As a public service, I will translate the double speak coming out of Phil Jones and the CRU

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.

It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.

The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.

The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building…

In a statement on its website, the CRU said: “We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data.”

By “value-added,” the CRU means raw data where arbitrary scaling factors and adjustments have been added to the data in a totally opaque and non-replicable sort of way.  From past experience in other locations (see this post on New Zealand and the US), the adjustments to the raw data tend to drive 80-100% of the global warming signal.  In other words, in areas where we have been able to check, these data adjustments account for 80+% of what the scientists call “global warming.”  Without these adjustments, warming has been more modest or non-existent.

By destroying the raw data and thereby hiding the amount of massaging and adjustment that has been made to the data (“value add”) we are therefore unlike to be able to scrutinize the source of 80% of the warming signal.  More from Anthony Watts here.

Update:  This does not mean that there has been no warming, just that it has been exaggerated.  Satellites have shown warming over the last 30 years and are unaffected by the same biases and issues as at the CRU.  But the whole point is the exaggeration.  Skeptics generally don’t think there is no warming from man’s CO2, just that it is greatly exaggerated.  And this matters.  Ten degrees of warming vs. a half degree of warming over the next century have very very different policy implications.  See my video here for more.

Roy Spencer: Top 10 Annoyances in the Climate Debate

Excellent.  Hard to excerpt because it is all so spot on.  I will give two examples:

2. “Climate change denier”. A first cousin to the first annoyance. Again, thirty years ago, “climate change denier” would have meant someone who denied that the Medieval Warm Period ever happened. Or that the Little Ice Age ever happened. What a kook fringe thing to believe that would have been! And now, those of us who still believe in natural climate change are called “climate change deniers”?? ARGHH….

6. A lack of common sense. Common sense can be misleading, of course. But when there is considerable uncertainty, sometimes it is helpful to go ahead and use a little anyway. Example: It is well known that the net effect of clouds is to cool the Earth in response to radiant heating by the sun. But when it comes to global warming, all climate models do just the opposite…change clouds in ways that amplify radiative warming. While this is theoretically possible, it is critical to future projections of global warming that the reasons why models do this be thoroughly understood. Don’t believe it just because group think within the climate modeling community has decided it should be so.

Yet More Stuff We Always Suspected But Its Nice To Have Proof

Many of us have argued for years that much of the measured surface temperature increase has actually been from manual adjustments made for opaque and largely undisclosed reasons by a few guys back in their offices.  (Update– corrected, I accidently grabbed the old version of the post that did not have the degree C/F conversion right.)

The US Historical Climate Network (USHCN) reports about a 0.6C temperature increase in the lower 48 states since about 1940.  There are two steps to reporting these historic temperature numbers.  First, actual measurements are taken.  Second, adjustments are made after the fact by scientists to the data.  Would you like to guess how much of the 0.6C temperature rise is from actual measured temperature increases and how much is due to adjustments of various levels of arbitrariness?  Here it is, for the period from 1940 to present in the US:

Actual Measured Temperature Increase: 0.3C
Adjustments and Fudge Factors: 0.3C
Total Reported Warming: 0.6C

Yes, that is correct.  About half the reported warming in the USHCN data base, which is used for nearly all global warming studies and models, is from human-added fudge factors, guesstimates, and corrections.

I know what you are thinking – this is some weird skeptic’s urban legend.  Well, actually it comes right from the NOAA web page which describes how they maintain the USHCN data set.  Below is the key chart from that site showing the sum of all the plug factors and corrections they add to the raw USHCN measurements:
Ushcn_corrections

I concluded that while certain adjustments like the one for time of observation make sense, many of the adjustments, such as the one for siting, seem crazy.  Against all evidence, the adjustment for siting implies a modern cooling bias, which is crazy given urbanization around sites and the requirement that modern MMTS stations (given maximum wire lengths) be nearer buildings than any manual thermometer had to be 80 years ago.

Even if we thought these guys were doing their best effort, can we really trust our ability to measure a signal that is substantially smaller than the noise we have to filter out?

Anyway, in the last week a similar example has been found in New Zealand, via Anthony Watts:

The New Zealand Government’s chief climate advisory unit NIWA is under fire for allegedly massaging raw climate data to show a global warming trend that wasn’t there.

The scandal breaks as fears grow worldwide that corruption of climate science is not confined to just Britain’s CRU climate research centre.

In New Zealand’s case, the figures published on NIWA’s [the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research] website suggest a strong warming trend in New Zealand over the past century:

NIWAtemps

The caption to the photo on the NiWA site reads:

From NIWA’s web site — Figure 7: Mean annual temperature over New Zealand, from 1853 to 2008 inclusive, based on between 2 (from 1853) and 7 (from 1908) long-term station records. The blue and red bars show annual differences from the 1971 – 2000 average, the solid black line is a smoothed time series, and the dotted [straight] line is the linear trend over 1909 to 2008 (0.92°C/100 years).

But analysis of the raw climate data from the same temperature stations has just turned up a very different result:

NIWAraw

Gone is the relentless rising temperature trend, and instead there appears to have been a much smaller growth in warming, consistent with the warming up of the planet after the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850.

The revelations are published today in a news alert from The Climate Science Coalition of NZ:

Again, even before we consider the quality of the adjustment, we see the signal to noise — the adjustments for noise are equal to or greater than the signal they think exists in the data.

The obvious response is that these adjustments are somehow justified based on site location and instrumentation changes.  But we know from looking at US temeprature stations that the typical station has a warming bias over time due to urbanization and the warm bias of some modern temperature instruments, thus requiring a cooling adjustment and not a warming adjustment.  Watts provides such evidence for one New Zealand site here.

Update: Boy, this is certainly becoming a familiar curve shape.  It seems the main hockey stick curve is the shape of temperature adjustments coming out of these guys.  ESR (via TJIC)  took this code from a Briffa North American proxy reconstruction

;<p> ; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!<p> ;<p> yrloc=[1400,findgen(19)*5.+1904]<p> valadj=[0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,- 0.1,0.3,0.8,1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor<p> if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,’Oooops!’<p> ;<p> yearlyadj=interpol(valadj,yrloc,timey)

and reproduced this curve, representing the “fudge factor” Briffa added, apparently to get the result he wanted:

esr_agw_gnuplot

“The Trick”

Steve McIntyre explains the “trick” referred to in the CRU emails.  The trick is subtle, which allows the scientists to weasel out, saying things that are technically true but in essence false and misleading.

Most of the proxy series are smoothed in some way.  Most smoothing algorithms adjust a data point by averaging in data both forwards and backwards in the series.  A simple algorithm puts high weights on nearby data points in this averaging and relatively lower weights on data points further away.

The problem occurs when the series reaches its end.  There are not points forward in the data series to average.  By the last point in the series, fully half the data necessary for smoothing does not exist.  There are various techniques for handling this, all of which have trade-offs and compromises (at the end of the day, you can’t create a signal when there is no data, no matter how clear one’s math tends to be).

The trick involved taking instrumental temperature records and using these records to provide data after the end point for smoothing purposes.  This tends to force the smoothed curves upwards at the end, when there is no such data in the proxy trend to substantiate this.  The perpetrators of this trick can argue with a semi-straight face that they did not “graft” the instrumental temperature record onto the data, but the instrumental temperature records does in fact affect the data series by contributing as much as half of the data for the smoothed curve in the end years.

Another Problem

I have always considered the “we-don’t-graft” claim disingenuous for another reason.  This is driven in large part because I have spent a lot of time not just manipulating data, but thinking about the most effective ways to represent it in graphical form.

To this end, I have always thought that while folks like Mann and Briffa have not technically grafted the instrumental data, they have effectively done so in their graphical representations — which is the form in which 99.9% of the population have consumed their data.

Below is the 1000-year temperature reconstruction (from proxies like tree rings and ice cores) in the Fourth IPCC Assessment.  It shows the results of twelve different studies, one of which is the Mann study famously named “the hockey stick.”

S_1000years

All the colored lines are the proxy (tree ring, ice cores, sediments, etc) study results.  The black line is the instrumental temperature record from the Hadley CRU.  There is no splice here – they have not joined proxy to instrument.  But they have effectively done so by overlaying the lines on top of each other.  The visual impact that says hockey stick is actually driven by this overlay.

S_1000years_inflection_high

To prove it, lets remove the black instrumental temperature line as well as the gray line which I think is some kind of curve fitted to all of the above.  This is what we get:

S_1000years_inflection

Pretty different visual impact, huh?  The hockey stick is gone.  So in fact, the visual image of a hockey stick is driven by the overlay of the instrumental record on the proxies.  The hockey stick inflection point occurs right at the point the two lines join, raising the distinct possibility the inflection is due to incompatibility of the two data sources rather than a natural phenomenon.

More here.

Hide the Decline

A lot of folks have asked me why I wasn’t more energized initially about the climate emails.  One reasons is that they don’t really reveal much that I and others who did not go along blindly with the orthodoxy knew for years.  The emails are kind of like getting a written confession from OJ Simpson to Nicole Brown’s murder-  newsworthy, but it wouldn’t be confirming anything I didn’t already know.

Here is a good example.  I wrote this November 10, 2007:

By the way, here is a little lesson about the integrity of climate science.  See that light blue line [in this graph from the IPCC Fourth Assessment]?  Here, let’s highlight it:

S_gwmovie_ff2

For some reason, the study’s author cut the data off around 1950.  Is that where his proxy ended?  No, in fact he had decades of proxy data left.  However, his proxy data turned sharply downwards in 1950.  Since this did not tell the story he wanted to tell, he hid the offending data by cutting off the line, choosing to conceal the problem rather than have an open scientific discussion about it.

The study’s author?  Keith Briffa, who the IPCC named to lead this section of their Fourth Assessment.

The recent data release apparently includes this chart of Briffa’s proxy data discussed above (from Steve McIntyre via Anthony Watts):

For the very first time, the Climategate Letters “archived” the deleted portion of the Briffa MXD reconstruction of “Hide the Decline” fame – see here. Gavin Schmidt claimed that the decline had been “hidden in plain sight” (see here. ). This isn’t true.

The post-1960 data was deleted from the archived version of this reconstruction at NOAA here and not shown in the corresponding figure in Briffa et al 2001. Nor was the decline shown in the IPCC 2001 graph, one that Mann, Jones, Briffa, Folland and Karl were working in the two weeks prior to the “trick” email (or for that matter in the IPCC 2007 graph, an issue that I’ll return to.)

A retrieval script follows.

For now, here is a graphic showing the deleted data in red.

briffa_recon
Figure 1. Two versions of Briffa MXD reconstruction, showing archived and climategate versions. The relevant IPCC 2001 graph, shown below, clearly does not show the decline in the Briffa MXD reconstruction.

Contrary to Gavin Schmidt’s claim that the decline is “hidden in plain sight”, the inconvenient data has simply been deleted.

I think his hockey stick looks a little flacid.  Fortunately someone invented Tiljander sediments, a form of data Viagra (as long as one flips it upside down) and such games were no longer necessary.

Good Summary of the Climate Pentagon Papers

From Lou Glazner via Anthony Watts

1. The scientists colluded in efforts to thwart Freedom of Information Act requests (across continents no less). They reference deleting data, hiding source code from requests, manipulating data to make it more annoying to use, and attempting to deny requests from people recognized as contributors to specific internet sites. Big brother really is watching you. He’s just not very good at securing his web site.

2. These scientists publicly diminished opposing arguments for lack of being published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In the background they discussed black-balling journals that did publish opposing views, and preventing opposing views from being published in journals they controlled. They even mention changing the rules midstream in arenas they control to ensure opposing views would not see the light of day. They discuss amongst themselves which scientists can be trusted and who should be excluded from having data because they may not be “predictable”.

3. The scientists expressed concern privately over a lack of increase in global temperatures in the last decade, and the fact that they could not explain this. Publicly they discounted it as simple natural variations. In one instance, data was [apparently] manipulated to hide a decline in temperatures when graphed. Other discussions included ways to discount historic warming trends that inconveniently did not occur during increases in atmospheric CO2.

4. The emails show examples of top scientists working to create public relations messaging with favorable news outlets. It shows them identifying and cataloging, by name and association, people with opposing views. These people are then disparaged in a coordinated fashion via favorable online communities.

What the emails/files don’t do is completely destroy the possibility that global climate change is real. They don’t preclude many studies from being accurate, on either side of the discussion. And they should not be seen as discrediting all science.

The Heart of the Scandal

Free speech and transparency are meaningless unless they apply to the critics of the government as well as to its supporters.  Here is the heart of the scandal:

Wei-Chyung and Tom,

1. Think I’ve managed to persuade UEA to ignore all further FOIA requests if the people have anything to do with Climate Audit.
2. Had an email from David Jones of BMRC, Melbourne. [EMAIL NOT FOUND IN CRU EMAILS – Willis] He said they are ignoring anybody who has dealings with CA, as there are threads on it about Australian sites.
3. CA is in dispute with IPCC (Susan Solomon and Martin Manning) about the availability of the responses to reviewer’s at the various stages of the AR4 drafts. They are most interested here re Ch 6 on paleo.
Cheers
Phil [Phil Jones, head of the University of East Anglia CRU]

Climate Audit is a site dedicated to science.  You will seldom see any political polemic there, even in the comments.  Unlike sites like RealClimate, dissenting voices are not edited out of the comments.  And it is a site that has dedicated itself (thus the title) to backchecking, verifying, and attempting to replicate various climate studies, particularly historic temperature records and paleo-climatology work.

Essentially, Phil Jones is saying that, as a government official, he is going to ignore legal information requests under FOIA from certain groups that seek to hold him accountable — information requests, I might add, that should not have even been necessary in the first place by any reasonable rules of scientific openness.

Update: You really have to read the whole long post above.  It is a story of the CRU trying to stay one step ahead of those who want to make them accountable, as most scientists are to replication efforts.   One approach they took that really requires chutzpah – in response to the constant CRU stonewalling, more and more people began pinging them with FOIA’s.  Remember, this deluge of FOIA’s was only necessary due to the CRU’s constant stonewalling.  Their next tactic – use the volume of FOIA’s as evidence that it is somehow a concerted attack and therefore can be ignored:

I’ve saved all three threads as they now stand. No time to read all the comments, but I did note in “Fortress Met Office” that someone has provided a link to a website that helps you to submit FOI requests to UK public institutions, and subsequently someone has made a further FOI request to Met Office and someone else made one to DEFRA. If it turns into an organised campaign designed more to inconvenience us than to obtain useful information, then we may be able to decline all related requests without spending ages on considering them. Worth looking out for evidence of such an organised campaign

Update #2: I am curious how many other scientific fields support this attitude towards defending and replication one’s work

Dear Tom,

One of the problems is that I’m caught in a real Catch-22 situation. At present, I’m damned and publicly vilified because I refused to provide McIntyre with the data he requested. But had I acceded to McIntyre’s initial request for climate model data, I’m convinced (based on the past experiences of Mike Mann, Phil, and Gavin) that I would have spent years of my scientific career dealing with demands for further explanations,
additional data, Fortran code, etc. (Phil has been complying with FOIA requests from McIntyre and his cronies for over two years). And if I ever denied a single request for further information, McIntyre would have rubbed his hands gleefully and written: “You see – he’s guilty as charged!” on his website.

You and I have spent over a decade of our scientific careers on the MSU issue, Tom. During much of that time, we’ve had to do science in “reactive mode”, responding to the latest outrageous claims and inept science by John Christy, David Douglass, or S. Fred Singer. For the remainder of my scientific career, I’d like to dictate my own research agenda. I don’t want that agenda driven by the constant need to respond to Christy, Douglass, and Singer. And I certainly don’t want to spend years of my life interacting
with the likes of Steven McIntyre.

I hope LLNL management will provide me with their full support. If they do not, I’m fully prepared to seek employment elsewhere.

With best regards,
Ben [Ben Santer]

Missing the Point, Perhaps on Purpose

Anthony Watts has a statement from the American Meteorological Society about the Hadley CRU emails.  The basic message is “nothing to see here, move along:”

For climate change research, the body of research in the literature is very large and the dependence on any one set of research results to the comprehensive understanding of the climate system is very, very small. Even if some of the charges of improper behavior in this particular case turn out to be true — which is not yet clearly the case — the impact on the science of climate change would be very limited.

I sent this letter to their executive director:

I really believe your group’s statement is missing the point.  Your group’s position seems to be that this episode can be safely ignored as it taints only a small volume of a large mass of research.  But a large body of research is not useful if that body systematically excludes any work critical of the orthodoxy.  In fact, you should re-reread this paragraph from your own letter:

The beauty of science is that it depends on independent verification and replication as part of the process of confirming research results.  This process, which is tied intrinsically to the procedures leading to publication of research results in the peer-reviewed literature, allows the scientific community to confirm some results while rejecting others.

The Hadley emails describe a large conspiracy to corrupt exactly this process.  We see scientists conspiring to keep secret results and working papers that would have allowed their worked to be checked, verified, and replicated.  We see researchers working to prevent publication of any research that might falsify their work.

Sure, we see a few examples of researchers fudging their work.  But the issue is not necessarily the specific cases of fudging — in fact, I don’t care if its sloppiness or chicanery — from a science standpoint it almost doesn’t matter.  The problem here is the creation of a system and a culture where such fudging and sloppiness can occur without any of the independent scrutiny you seem to laud as part of the scientific process.  How much more exists?  We’ll never know, until organizations like yours stop enabling this climate Omerta and start demanding true scientific openness.

The Program Code – Perhaps Far More Damning than the Emails

A reader wrote me that the comments found in the Hadley CRU program code are possibly far more damning than the emails, and in fact this appears to be the case given these excerpts at Anthony Watts’ site.

In the past, I have written that as an experienced modeller, I am extremely suspicious when anyone’s models very closely match history.  This is a common modelers trick – use various plugs and fudge factors and special algorithms to force the model to match history better (when it is used to “back-cast”) and people will likely trust the model more when you use it to forecast.   For a variety of reasons, I have been suspicious this was the case with climate models, but never could prove it.  One example from the link above

Looking back over history, it appears the model is never off by more than 0.4C in any month, and never goes more than about 10 months before re-intersecting the “actual” line.  Does it bother anyone else that this level of precision is several times higher than the model has when run forward?  Almost immediately, the model is more than 0.4C off, and goes years without intercepting reality.

Now we are closer, with programming code comments in the various climate programs that say things like this (from the code that apparently does some of the tree ring histories)

. FOIA\documents\osborn-tree6\mann\oldprog\maps12.proFOIA\documents\osborn-tree6\mann\oldprog\maps15.proFOIA\documents\osborn-tree6\mann\oldprog\maps24.pro ; Plots 24 yearly maps of calibrated (PCR-infilled or not) MXD reconstructions
; of growing season temperatures. Uses "corrected" MXD - but shouldn't usually
; plot past 1960 because these will be artificially adjusted to look closer to
; the real temperatures.

or this

  • FOIA\documents\osborn-tree6\briffa_sep98_d.pro;mknormal,yyy,timey,refperiod=[1881,1940]
    ;
    ; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
    ;
    yrloc=[1400,findgen(19)*5.+1904]
    valadj=[0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,-0.1,0.3,0.8,1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,$
    2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
    (...)
    ;
    ; APPLY ARTIFICIAL CORRECTION
    ;
    yearlyadj=interpol(valadj,yrloc,x)
    densall=densall+yearlyadj

The link above has 30+ similar examples.  The real insight will be when folks like Steve McIntyre and his readers start digging into the code and replicating it — then we will see what it actually does and what biases or plugs or overrides are embedded.  Stay tuned.

Catastrophe Denied — Video From My Climate Lecture

Note- If you are reaching here from Google, there is an updated version of this video with better sound, and it can be found here.

The video from my climate lecture on November 10, 2009 is now available online.  This lecture is a fairly comprehensive overview of the science of the skeptic’s position.  I have overlaid the slides on the video so you can see them better.    I am currently re-recording the presentation in the studio to get better quality and when that is done I will offer the video as a DVD purchase or free bittorrent download.

The HD video is available full length via Vimeo embedded below.  This is a lower resolution version — to see it in its full high-resolution glory click here. This higher resolution version is greatly recommended – the Vimeo engine works well and I find it streams even better than low-resolution YouTube videos on most computers.

Catastrophe Denied: A Critique of Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming Theory from Warren Meyer on Vimeo.
Full Resolution Version Here

You can also view it on YouTube, though by YouTube’s rules the resolution gets crushed and it has to be broken up into nine (9!) parts.  The YouTube playlist is embedded below or is here.

The slides from this presentation can be downloaded here.

Dangers of a Monoculture — Reactions to the CRU Emails

I am disappointed to see folks like Lord Monkton calling for scientists to go to jail over what has been discovered in the Hadley CRU emails.  No one is going to jail, at least based on what we know so far.  Laws were broken, but of the type that perhaps people lose their jobs but not their freedom.  And demanding that people go to jail just paints skeptics as opportunistic, over-the-top and vindictive.   We sound like the looniest of the alarmists when we say stuff like this.

This is not to say that the emails (as well as the source code, which Steve McIntyre and his readers are starting to dig into) don’t give us useful insights about the climate science process.  And what they really point to for me is the danger of a monoculture.

For years, with the media’s active participation, criticism of the mainstream scientific position on global warming has been painted as somehow outside the bounds of reasonable discourse.  Skeptics are called “deniers,” with the intent to equate them with those who deny the Holocaust.  At every turn, global warming activists with the help of the media, have tried to make it uncomfortable, even impossible, to criticize the science of catastrophic man-made global warming.  In the extreme, this has degenerated into outright threats.

NASA’s James Hansen has called for trials of climate skeptics in 2008 for “high crimes against humanity.” Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. lashed out at skeptics of 2007 declaring “This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors” In 2009, RFK, Jr. also called coal companies “criminal enterprises” and declared CEO’s ‘should be in jail… for all of eternity.”

In June 2009, former Clinton Administration official Joe Romm defended a comment on his Climate Progress website warning skeptics would be strangled in their beds. “An entire generation will soon be ready to strangle you and your kind while you sleep in your beds,” stated the remarks, which Romm defended by calling them “not a threat, but a prediction.”

In 2006, the eco-magazine Grist called for Nuremberg-Style trials for skeptics. In 2008, Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki called for government leaders skeptical of global warming to be thrown “into jail.” In 2007, The Weather Channel’s climate expert called for withholding certification of skeptical meteorologists.

The examples go on ad infinitum.  Several folks have emailed me and asked why I have not joined the feeding frenzy over the “climategate.”  In part, this is because I don’t think there is anything in the emails that is a whole lot worse than what many of the actors have been saying publicly.  The media has played along not only because many of its members were sympathetic to the message, but because the catastrophe played well into the “if it bleeds, it leads” culture.  Even when the media was not “picking a winner” in the science, it supported the catastrophist message in its editorial decisions, choosing to cover (for example) ad nauseum a 30-year low in Arctic sea ice but failing to even mention a 30-year high in Antarctic sea ice which occurred on nearly the same day (more here).  Ditto hurricanes, tornadoes, floods droughts, etc — only events and records in one particular tail of the normal distribution were covered.  Even when they worked to be fair,  the media were frequently criticized by alarmists for  allowing even a mention of the skeptic position in an article otherwise generally supporting the orthodoxy.  The term “false balance” was coined.

The result was a group who were effectively exempt from criticism — and knew it.

The most amazing thing to watch has been the absolute scorn and obstructionism piled on Steve McIntyre and his readers and partners.  I  have read Steve’s work for years, and find it to be incredibly fair and deeply analytical.  I took as one of my early roles at my climate site the explanation to laymen of exactly what McIntyre was talking about in his posts.  He often challenged the climate orthodoxy – which in most scientific disciplines is highly valued, but in climate science is a crime.  In the emails we even see scientists within the monoculture raising the exact same issues that they have blasted McIntyre for — apparently it is OK to raise such issues as long as 1) you are an insider and 2) such concerns are suppressed in any public document.

Perhaps the single most abusive part of the monoculture has been its misrepresentation of peer review.  Peer review was never meant as a sort of good housekeeping seal of approval on scientific work.  It is not a guarantee of correctness.  It is really an extension of the editorial process — bringing scientists from relevant fields to vet whether work is really new and different and worthy of publication, to make sure the actual article communicates the work and its findings clearly, and to probe for obvious errors or logical fallacies.

Climate scientists have tried to portray peer review as the end of the process–  ie, once one of their works shows up in a peer-reviewed journal, the question addressed is “settled.”  But his is never how science has worked.  Publication in a peer-reviewed journal is the beginning, not the end.  Once published, scientists attempt alternatively to tear it down or replicate its conclusions.  Only work that has survived years of such torture testing starts to become “settled.”

The emails help to shed light on some aspects of peer review that skeptics have suspected for years.  It is increasingly clear that climate scientists in the monoculture have been using peer review to enforce the orthodoxy.  Peer review panels are stacked with members of the club, and authors who challenge the orthodoxy are shut out of publication, while authors within the monoculture use peer review as a shield against future criticism.  We see in the emails members of the monoculture actually working to force editors who have the temerity to publish work critical of the orthodoxy out of their jobs.  We are now learning that when alarmist scientists claim that there is little peer-reviewed science on the skeptic’s side, this is like the Catholic Church enforcing a banned books list and then claiming that everything in print supports the Church’s position.

History teaches us that whenever we allow a monoculture – whether is be totalitarian one-party rule or enforcing a single state religion, corruption follows.  Without scrutiny of their actions, actors in such monocultures have few checks and little accountability.  Worse, those at the center of such monocultures can become convinced of their own righteousness, such that any action they take in support of the orthodoxy is by definition ethically justified.

This, I think, is exactly what we see at work in the Hadley CRU emails.

Temperature Cycles

I have always been fascinated with the chart below, and the apparent strong correlation of global temperature changes and ocean cycles — particularly considering that ocean cycles are not included in climate cycles but never-the-less climate scientists act as if these models are accurate.

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So, just for the fun of it, I tried to see if I could fit a linear trend plus a sine wave to historic temperature (similar to Klyashtorin and Lyubushin, 2003).  This is what we might see if temperature were a function of a constant recovery from the little ice age plus ocean cycles.  It is not the fit we would expect from an anthropogenic-driven model.  This is what I got  (temperature history a blend of Hadley CRUT3 and UAH satellite as shown here):

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I didn’t spend a lot of time on it, and this is what I got — about 0.04C per decade linear trend plus a cycle.  This is one of those things that I can’t figure out if it is insightful or meaningless, but I thought I would share it with you this holiday week, since things are slow around the office here.

As a final set, I tried it again with a linear trend plus the PDO.

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Update: The formula for the first chart is -0.55+0.005*(year-1861)+0.145*cos((2*pi*(year-1861)/64.1453)-1.8)

The formula for the second chart is -0.05+0.008*(year-1900)+0.2*PDO

Can’t Be Explained by Natural Causes

The fact that CO2 in the atmosphere can cause warming is fairly settled.  The question is, how much?  Is CO2 the leading driver of warming over the past century, or just an also-ran?

Increasingly, scientists justify the contention that CO2 was the primary driver of warming since 1950 by saying that they have attempted to model the warming of the last 50 years and they simply cannot explain the warming without CO2.

This has always struck me as an incredibly lame argument, as it implies that the models are an accurate representation of nature, which they likely are not.  We know that significant natural effects, such as the PDO and AMO are not well modelled or even considered at all in these models.

But for fun, lets attack the problem in a different way.  Below are two global temperature charts.  Both have the same scale, with time on the X-axis and temperature anomaly on the Y.   One is for the period from 1957-2008, what I will call the “anthropogenic” period because scientists claim that its slope can only be explained by anthropogenic factors.  The other is from 1895-1946, where CO2 emissions were low and whose behavior must almost certainly be driven by “nature” rather than man.

Sure, I am just a crazy denier, but they look really similar to me.  Why is it that one slope is explainable by natural factors but the other is not?  Especially since the sun in the later period was more active than it was in the earlier “natural” period.  So, which is which?

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You’re Absolutely Wrong and I Agree With You

Despite loads of public scorn heaped on Steve McIntyre and Ross McKittrick for their criticisms of the Mann hockey stick, it turns out in private folks like the Hadley Center’s John Mitchell, the review editor for the relevant chapter of the last IPCC report, shared many concerns identical to those of M&M. The email at the link is pretty amazing – it is practically an outline of the section of my skeptic presentation dealing with the hockey stick.  But not a whiff of this uncertainty was ever made public or was included in the IPCC report.

Mitchell and the Hadley Center have tried every trick in the book to avoid FOIA of anything that would publicly reveal his true concerns about Mann’s study.  When we understand the incentives that are driving him to suppress his own scientific views, and to publicly ridicule those who share his private concerns, we will understand better what is broken in the climate science process.