Forecasting

One of the defenses often used by climate modelers against charges that climate is simple to complex to model accurately is that “they do it all the time in finance and economics.”  This comes today from Megan McArdle on economic forecasting:

I find this pretty underwhelming, since private forecasters also unanimously think they can make forecasts, a belief which turns out to be not very well supported.  More than one analysis of these sorts of forecasts has found them not much better than random chance, and especially prone to miss major structural changes in the economy.   Just because toggling a given variable in their model means that you produce a given outcome, does not mean you can assume that these results will be replicated in the real world.  The poor history of forecasting definitionally means that these models are missing a lot of information, and poorly understood feedback effects.

Sounds familiar, huh?  I echoed these sentiments in a comparison of economic and climate forecasting here.

  • Alex

    “Thus, I find no reason to doubt the science and so, as a lay-person, trust the experts rather than the amateurs.”

    Go ahead, mate. You don’t realize how silly you look repeating this mantra for the hundredth time while all other lines you are trying are being thoroughly destroyed, but well…

  • Alex

    By the way, speaking of things that went unanswered by Waldo…

    Back when we were talking about the availability of climate data, Ted said: “What I find fascinating is the reluctance of many AGW researchers and proponents to have their work questioned and discussed.”

    To which Waldo replied: “Bullshit. It’s all out there Ted. Peeps cling to the CRU thing and ignore the multiple, free downloads and computer codes only a Google search away.”

    To which I responded: “Oh, really? Please provide a link for the exact list of stations participating in HadCRUT3. Or, you guessed it, GTFO.”

    That list of stations is just one, albeit important, example, there are many other directly relevant yet unavailable pieces of data I could have asked for. No need to say, Waldo have never provided the link. He can’t. Yet he continues to yell that “it’s all out there”. It’s not.

  • hunter

    I find the arguments that justify the team based on the idea that only a few e-mails should not be used to judge a massive body of work highly amusing.
    It is like the inevitable interview with the neighbor or friend of a captured criminal talking about how nice and quiet the criminal was, and how he was a good neighbor or family member: completely irrelevant.

  • Russ R.

    It appears that activists have a new, and unexpected, ally in their campaign for action against climate change: Osama bin Laden.

    And in a remarkable coincidence, the UK-based 10:10 climate change campaign today released its latest publicity video, which seems to have drawn its inspired from Al-Qaeda’s methods for dealing with opponents: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/sep/30/10-10-no-pressure-film

  • Russ R.

    Whoops… that should have read “…drawn its inspiration…”.

    I definitely need a proof-reader.

  • hunter

    Russ R,
    That 10:10 fiasco may well be seen as the turning point when people started to see through the vile nature of much of the AGW moevement.
    10:10 has issued a statement rationalizing their call for murder of skeptics disguised as an apology.
    It is nothing of the sort. It is a complaint that people saw it for what it was: a call to violence against skeptics.

  • Waldo10:10

    Russ, certainly you understand that the movie you linked to was written by a Brittish comedy writer and that it is satire? I mean, I know that hunter is not, but I do assume that you are intelligent enough to, first, read the Guardian article and, second, even if you hadn’t, to recognize black humor when you see it. This should actually make you happy because it ridicules the 10:10 movement.

    Please tell me you understood this.

  • Russ R.

    hunter,

    “a call to violence against skeptics.”

    I think your interpretation is taking it too far.

    Yes, 10:10’s “No Pressure” video sets a new bar for extreme poor taste, but I don’t for a moment believe its intent is to incite violence. I see it as a case of activists trying to use the “edgy viral video” phenomenon to attract attention, but getting carried away and totally leaping over the boundaries of inappropriateness. Clearly they misjudged popular sentiment, and have been quickly rebuked by just about everyone.

    At least they got the message quickly and had the sense to beat a hasty retreat by retracting the video and issuing their ‘apology’ (which I agree is pretty half-assed). Unfortunately for them, you the damage has been done, and copies of their video will circulate for a while, indeed going viral, but with the opposite of the desired effect.

  • Russ R.

    Waldo,

    Yes, I did read the Guardian article, and yes, I do have enough of a sense of humour to recognize the attempt at being funny. It certainly had me laughing, but more in the way one might laugh at a footballer who scores an own goal.

    To 10:10’s credit, they quickly admitted they “missed the mark”, and they’ve say they won’t try to censor or remove copies of the video that are currently being circulated.

  • hunter

    Waldo,
    It is funny like the jokes about Jews were funny in Germany in the 1930’s.
    It is funny like the jokes about counter revolutionaries were funny in the Cultural Revolution.
    It is funny like humor about suicide bombers is funny.
    That it backfired by showing people the putridness behind AGW fanatics is only a good thing.
    That you would attempt to brush it off is expected, like a turd crawling with maggots.

  • Russ R.

    FYI:

    Registered supporters at the 10:10 website received the following email this morning, announcing the video’s release:

    “Hello 10:10ers,

    Even by my not-entirely-downbeat standards, I really am extremely over-excited to tell you that our Richard Curtis-written mini-movie, “No Pressure”, is premiering right now on the front page of the Guardian website, see pic below. (If it’s off the Guardian by the time you get this message, you can watch at: http://www.1010global.org/no-pressure )

    The 4-minute mini-movie stars The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson, together with Spurs players past and present – including Peter Crouch, Ledley King and David Ginola – and features music donated by Radiohead. It’s a fairly simple and to-the-point premise, I’m sure you’ll agree: we celebrate everybody who is actively tackling climate change… by blowing up those are aren’t. So if you’ve ever wondered what the inside of David Ginola looks like, here’s your chance to find out.

    I am completely blown away, pun intended, by the sterling efforts from our 40-person professional film crew, who all donated their time and equipment for free. Please, please, please, please forward the info below to as many friends and pretend facebook friends as you possibly can manage without getting sacked from your job, as that’s by far our best chance of going viral and waking a whole load more people up to the climate crisis.

    Thanking you all very much. And looking forward to seeing everybody in action next weekend for 10:10:10.

    Onwards and upwards,

    Franny
    Founder of 10:10 and
    Director of The Age of Stupid”

    Indeed.

  • Alex

    Well, that “Climate scientists feel pressure to exaggerate in order to attract attention and funding” quote is simply an opinion of a misguided person with no grounds in reality, right, Waldo?

  • Alex

    And, yes, I totally grasp that 10:10 campaigners are not climate scientists themselves, but they have been inspired by the believers’ wing of climate science, and drop phrases like “scientists say that we only have 10 years to react” left and right.

  • Shills

    Russ says:’ Now go look up the definition of integrity. I’ll await your apology.’

    Was the word play too subtle for you, or you think ‘integrity’ only has one definition??

  • Alex

    I have to admit I didn’t get the word play either. Could you please educate us, Shills.

  • Alex

    The last sentence in my post above was a question and should end with the question mark. Sorry for this.

  • hunter

    Russ,
    That e-mail kind of sums up AGW extremists pretty well: They will blow up those who dare to disagree.
    Waldo, Shills, Joe Romm, Hansen, Suzuki, the RC gang, etc. etc. etc. must feel right proud.

  • Russ R.

    hunter,

    So far, I’ve seen no comments from “Hansen, Suzuki, the RC gang,…”. Their best approach would probably be to keep quiet and hope it all goes away. Somehow, I don’t think it will.

    Joe Romm wrote “The video is beyond tasteless and should be widely condemned.” before immediately launching into a diatribe taking jabs at Watts, Morano & Monckton. (http://climateprogress.org/2010/10/01/bill-mckibben-days-that-suck/)

    Shills has made no comment (perhaps wisely).

    Waldo has dismissed it as merely “British comedy” which is apparently too sophisticated for those of below-average intellect. (I wonder if he’d feel the same way if it was a different minority being blown up… say atheists, homosexuals, or ethnic minorities instead of skeptics).

    As far as comedy goes, use of such shock devices (i.e. unexpectedly blowing people up) is only successful when the targets are clearly identified by the audience as “the bad guys” (e.g. Osama bin Laden, Dick Cheney, your boss, the guy in an expensive business suit talking loudly on his mobile phone in a restaurant, etc.). It backfires horrendously if used on anyone whom the audience might empathize or identify with (“good guys”, “underdogs”, or worst of all “weak or helpless victims”).

    But somehow the film-producers apparently failed to grasp a concept so simple that even scriptwriters for children’s cartoons “get it”. (Think “Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner” or “Sylvester and Tweety Bird”). What it reveals is that the producers were so seriously out of touch with public opinion, they made the mistake of projecting their own dislike for skeptics onto their audience, and assumed virtually everyone would view the skeptics in the film as the “out-group”.

    However, they failed to realize that a majority of the audience are either skeptics themselves, or have become annoyed with repeated calls for climate action, and thus instinctively identified or empathized with those being “blown up”. Thanks to this serious lack of judgement, the film producers have successfully branded themselves “the bad guys”.

  • Russ R.

    Shills,

    “Was the word play too subtle for you, or you think ‘integrity’ only has one definition??”

    Yes.

  • Wally

    Russ,

    And how on Earth could someone find blowing up maybe a 10 or 12 year old kid funny exactly? Even if doing what ever was clearly good or bad, you can’t expect kids understand their choices. Also it smacks of indoctrination and dictation because of the inequality in the teacher-student relationship (especially when the student is a child). Then of course the movie goes on to have further authority figures pushing that button with the boss and the coach, at which I point I turned the video off, figuring I gotten the point. But to just start off with a teacher blowing up a young student…eh, yeah, you’re not gonna get a lot of laughs.

  • WaldoUSA

    ****”I do have enough of a sense of humour to recognize the attempt at being funny.”

    Good. You had me worried for a moment.

    What did Bin Laden’s comment have to do with anything and why post it here?

  • Waldoguided

    ****”an opinion of a misguided person with no grounds in reality, right, Waldo?”

    Didn’t quite follow this, Alex. I think you are trying to make the case that 10:10’s black humor somehow proves that climate scientists feel pressure to exaggerate (I’m sure you realize that 10:10 is the brainchild of a filmmaker, NOT a climate scientist). But I don’t think it’s an example of that at all — rather, it is simply very poorly thought-out public relations campaign (trying for a Monty Python approach) that back-fired.

    As for being “misguided,” that I might agree with you on.

    By the way, I emailed the Hadley Center and asked them if there is a list of participating stations — I’ll let you know what they say. Or have you done this already?

  • Russ R.

    Waldo,

    “What did Bin Laden’s comment have to do with anything and why post it here?”

    I just find it interesting (or more precisely, some combination of surprising, amusing and disturbing) that three notable coincidences, all linking environmental activism and terrorism, have occurred in the last month:

    1. Malthusian environmentalist James Lee, armed with explosives, takes a number of hostages at the Discovery Channel HQ, demanding they spread his message to save the planet.
    2. Climate activist group 10:10 Global releases their “No Pressure” video, in which they casually blow up people who don’t pledge to reduce CO2 their emissions.
    3. The world’s single most notorious terrorist, Osama bin Laden, decides to rebrand himself an environmental activist, releasing a message calling for climate action.

    (I should note that I have my doubts that Bin Laden is even alive, and that the recording was actually made by him. But that’s an entirely separate issue.)

  • Alex

    As I already said, Waldo, I totally grasp that 10:10 campaigners are not climate scientists themselves, but they have been inspired by the believers’ wing of climate science. As I already said, the producers of the movie think they are seriously pressed for time as the humanity is going to suffer irrepairable damage very soon. Who do you think they got these ideas from? Do you seriously assume we’d see the movie if climate scientists in the pro-CAGW camp didn’t exaggerate??!

    Yes, I asked the Hadley Center for the list of stations twice in the recent years. I don’t have the list. I doubt your attempt will be more successful, but let’s see, of course. If you won’t be able to get the list, will you change your opinion and concede that your original statement that “it is all out there” is false?

  • Shills

    “Was the word play too subtle for you, or you think ‘integrity’ only has one definition??”
    Yes.

    Well… Have you looked in a dictionary? I am alluding to a lack of substance to your argument.

  • Alex

    So, Shills, you posted something that seemed to turn Russ’s point on integrity back to Russ, but really didn’t and only seemed to due to this “word play”? Meh. And you want people to take you seriously…

  • Russ R.

    When people resort to “word play”, it generally means they’ve run out of facts.

  • Wally

    Shills very well could have decided this was word play after the fact as well.

  • Shills

    Wow. I feel so dirty (metaphor) for not upholding the high formalistic standards (sarcasm) of this forum. You three should be travel agents because you’re sending me on an awesome guilt trip (joke). In the future I hope to be oh so more literal in my use of language (sarcasm), but no promises.

    Russ says: ‘When people resort to “word play”, it generally means they’ve run out of facts.’

    When people resort to language nit-picks, it might mean the same? (rhetorical question).

  • Russ R.

    Shills,

    Could you do us all a favour by dialing back the word-play and subtleties and sticking to the facts?

    Many of us are but simple folk, unable to keep pace with your rhetorical flair and linguistic virtuosity.

  • Alex

    “When people resort to language nit-picks, it might mean the same?”

    Just in case, it was you who, being unable to defend an argument, said that you have been misunderstood and suggested that you used a language trick in the form of “word play”.

  • Waldo’s kids

    Jeeze, I’m gone for a mere 31 hours and the whole thread breaks down. I can’t leave you kids alone for a minute, can I?

    Russ, we might all agree that we disagree on the “facts,” many of which are very subjective (and yes, my brother, that means you too), and the interpretation of said “facts” is also highly subjective (so ignore not the beam in your own eye). And Alex, Shills argument was perfectly defensible–in fact, it was pretty clear what he was saying and why he was saying it.

    So Russ, may I conclude that you think there is a connection between…what exactly? Are you suggesting that the global warming campaign is inspiring random acts of vigilante violence? Or were you just posting coincidences?

  • Shills

    Russ says: ‘Could you do us all a favour by dialing back the word-play and subtleties and sticking to the facts?’

    There were facts in my post, you guys just had other things on your mind. The no-frills point I was making was that your interpretation and use of quotes was shown, under scrutiny, to be crap. And so your interpretation of other quotes is similarly coloured.

    Alex says: ‘Just in case, it was you who, being unable to defend an argument, said that you have been misunderstood and suggested that you used a language trick in the form of “word play”.’

    Lol. Umm, so you think I originally intended to use ‘integrity’ the Russ way, but seeing my mistake, I suggested the other definition of the word? Gee, aren’t I lucky that this switch could have been done, how convenient for me (what are the odds?). Get. Over. It.

  • Alex

    So, Waldo, how is it going with the Hadley Center? To repeat my previous question, if you won’t be able to get the list of stations for HadCRUT3, will you change your opinion and concede that your original statement that “it is all out there” is false?

  • Alex

    “Umm, so you think I originally intended to use ‘integrity’ the Russ way, but seeing my mistake, I suggested the other definition of the word?”

    Exactly.

  • Shills

    ‘Exactly.’

    You are mistaken.

  • Alex

    Shills, you aren’t fooling anyone.

    Russ said ‘I routinely distrust people, especially when they demonstrate a lack of integrity.’ You said that then you don’t trust Russ, because he demonstrated a lack of integrity himself, and cited some of his posts as a ‘proof’. You then had to take that back and say that you used ‘integrity’ in a different sense than Russ, all the while rolling eyes and accusing others in language nitpicking. It has been pointed out that it was you who started evoking language issues, at that point you started accusing others in prejudice.

    Feel free to continue, but don’t be surprised if people will ignore you.

  • Shills

    Lol. Prove it Alex…

    You can’t. But here are some things to think about:

    Niether of the points I made said anything about honesty/dishonesty.

    The second point doesn’t even make sense in that context because it is about what Russ ‘thinks’. Hence he can be accused of being mistaken, but not dishonest.

    The first point was regarding Russ’ bad interpretation of quotes which he apologised for. Why would I accuse him of being dishonest when he could very easily refute my accusation by recalling his earlier admittance of mistake to me (which he did)? Give me some credit, please.

    You say: ‘It has been pointed out that it was you who started evoking language issues, at that point you started accusing others in prejudice.’

    Umm, not sure what you’re saying. Russ was the one who initially told me to look up the definition of the word. And I am just trying to defend my post. What is your issue here??

    This is a bizarre argument. So much time and effort arguing whether I accused Russ of being dishonest or fallacious. But anyhoo, I racket it back your way Al’dog: Feel free to continue, but don’t be surprised if people will ignore you.

  • Nate

    Fascinating thread. Has the analysis of 22 quotes ended? I’d be keen to see a short summary on each quote from Waldo, if possible.

  • Russ R.

    Can we please put an end to this entirely irrelevant debate about whether or not Shills should or should not judge me trustworthy?

    In short, it’s irrelevant because I’ve never asked for Shills (or anyone else) to trust me or take my word for anything. I’ve always said people should look at the evidence and judge for themselves.

    I will continue to do my best to be fact-based, honest and objective; however, being human, I’m still subject to making errors and falling prey to misinterpretations. As such, I’ll also continue to acknowledge my mistakes as and when they are pointed out, and reassess my thinking accordingly.

    Since Shills says he wasn’t accusing me of being dishonest, merely mistaken, I’m satisfied. There’s no need to continue this any further.

  • Russ R.

    Waldo:

    “Are you suggesting that the global warming campaign is inspiring random acts of vigilante violence?”
    Nope.

    “Or were you just posting coincidences?”
    Yep.

  • Waldate

    ****”Has the analysis of 22 quotes ended?”

    Oh Heavens no — we just got sidetracked and I have been out and about lately. We’ll get back to our infamous quote selection soon enough, so stay tuned.

  • Waldo Hears From Hadl

    ****”So, Waldo, how is it going with the Hadley Center?”

    Well Alex, I got this reply with these links:

    “Dear Waldo,

    “The Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia are the owners of the CRUTEM data set. They have a list of the stations used here:

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/landstations/

    The monthly updates can be found here:

    http://hadobs.metoffice.com/crutem3/data/station_updates/ey

  • Waldex Hadley

    Now Alex, if this is not what you are looking for you might try here:

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/

    This has a complete list of papers as background and links to multiple sources of information. Or you might simply do a Google search on your own.

    So no, my brother, I am not ready to concede anything yet.

  • Pauld

    This thread is getting to be a bit old. For anyone interested in an excellent post climate models, along with a series of thoughtful comments, take a look at this post on Judith Curry’s blog. http://judithcurry.com/2010/10/03/what-can-we-learn-from-climate-models/#comment-3329
    Judith Curry, by the way, is the department chair, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Russ R.

    Waldo,

    I’ll score you a point for proving a link to “the exact list of stations participating in HadCRUT3”.

    BTW, your second link is broken. Corrected here: http://hadobs.metoffice.com/crutem3/data/station_updates/ Also, the site seems to be incomplete, only providing monthly data for some 2774 of the 4138 stations in the network. (Not a particular concern for me, but definitely a problem for anyone trying to audit results.)

    Getting back to the big issue, I might be mistaken, but my understanding is that the data at the heart of the controversy are not the adjusted data that you’ve linked to, but rather the raw data from each station, before any “homogenizing” adjustments are made.

    Here’s CRU’s stock response to data requests:

    “We receive numerous requests for these station data (not just monthly temperature averages, but precipitation totals and pressure averages as well). Requests come from a variety of sources, often for an individual station or all the stations in a region or a country. Sometimes these come because the data cannot be obtained locally or the requester does not have the resources to pay for what some NMSs [National Meteorological Services] charge for the data. These data are not ours to provide without the full permission of the relevant NMSs, organizations and scientists. We point enquirers to the GHCN web site. We hope in the future that we may be able to provide these data, jointly with the UK Met Office Hadley Centre, subject to obtaining consent for making them available from the rights holders.”

    Also: “Since the 1980s, we have merged the data we have received into existing series or begun new ones, so it is impossible to say if all stations within a particular country or if all of an individual record should be freely available. Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e. quality controlled and homogenized) data.”

    Of course, none of this can be construed in any way as evidence of improper data manipulation. However, when one looks at the adjustments in the NOAA USHCN data, it certainly does raise concerns:
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/epubs/ndp/ushcn/ts.ushcn_anom25_diffs_urb-raw_pg.gif

  • Alex

    I have seen the list and no, it is not what I asked for. My reason for asking the list is that I need it to reconstruct HadCRUT3 and analyse adjustments made to raw data. The list you linked can not be used for this purpose as it is:

    1. Incomplete – there are 4138 records instead of 4349.

    2. Contains garbage data – each record should correspond to a separate station, yet there are 3 records referring to station 753030, 3 records referring to station 753100, 3 records referring to station 754130, 2 records referring to station 750060, 5 records referring to station 754090 and so on.

    There are numerous other problems as well.

    Where can I find the list that works? Two other URLs do not contain it. Google search does not help either.

  • Alex

    For some perspective, this is the exact point where I got stuck in my previous attempts at getting the list. I heard of others getting stuck here as well, and never heard of anyone progressing further. That’s just anecdotal evidence, of course.

    “Here is your list” -> “It contains the following flaws which make it useless, where can I get the original list without these flaws” -> “Go away”. That’s it.

  • Alex

    Russ, you scored a point prematurely. Waldo did not provide a link to the exact list of stations participating in HadCRUT3.

  • Alex

    And, sorry for making several small posts instead of a single large post, but, yes, Russ, the big issue is precisely the adjustments which can not be reproduced in no small part due to issues with access to raw data, but let’s first concentrate on getting the exact list of stations as that’s a simpler issue (just one small file instead of many large files, thus no spread between databases, for one thing).