Climate Science Process

Climate Model Validation

I am sorry that posting has been light, but I am currently working to migrate this site to Wordpress from hosted Typepad.  This is a real hassle, as described at my other blog where I just completed a succesful migration.  I hope to have this blog moved over this weekend. 

In the mean time, I thought my readers might need some help understanding James Hansen's recent comments that flat world temperatures over the last 10 years and substantially cooler temperatures in 2008 were entirely consistent with the climate models that forecast  0.2-0.3C (or more) warming for this decade.  Most other natural sciences are stuck in the old and outdated practice of questioning forecasts when actual observational data diverges from the forecast by several standard deviations.  Not so modern, enlightened, consensus-based climate science.  Below is my graphical representation of how climate scientists evaluate their models in light of new data.


Deconstructing the Hockey Stick

Will there ever be a time when sane people are not having to deconstruct yet another repackaging of Mann's hockey stick, like some endless wack-a-mole game?  Mann is back with a new hockey stick and, blow me away with surprise, it looks a heck of a lot like the old hockey stick:


Willis Eschenbach, writing at Climate Audit, outlines a new statistical approach he claims can help determine the signal-to-noise ratio in such a multi-proxy average, and in turn determine which proxies are contributing the most to the final outcome. 

His approach and findings seem interesting, but I need to withhold judgment and let the statistical geeks tear it apart.  I am always suspicious of algorithms that purport to sort or screen samples in or out of a sample set.

However, his climate-related finding can be accepted without necessarily agreeing with the methodology that got there.  He claims his methodology shows that two sets of proxies -- the Tiljander sediments and the Southwestern US Pines (mainly the bristlecones) -- drive the hockey stick shape.  This is reminiscent of Steve McIntyre's finding years ago that just a few proxies in the original MBH 1999 drove most of the hockey stick form.  Interestingly, these two series are the very ones that have received the most independent criticism for their methodology and ability to act as a proxy.  In particular, the Tiljander Lake sediment data is out and out corrupted, and it is incredible that they could get past a peer review process (just reinforcing my feeling that peer review passes shoddy work that reinforces the professions prejudices and stands in the way of quality work by mavericks challenging the consensus).

Anyway, with these proxies removed, less than a quarter of the total, the hockey stick disappears.


Update:  If you still have any confidence at all in climate scientists, I urge you to read this discussion of the Tiljander sediments.  Mann managed to make two enormous mistakes.  One, he used a series that the authors of the series very specifically caution has been disturbed and is not a valid proxy for the last 200-300 years.  And two, he inverts the whole series!  instead of showing it decreasing in the last 200 years  (again due to corruption the authors warned about) he shows it upside down, increasing in the last 200 years, which then helps him build his hockey stick on absolutely false data. 

One might argue that this is just the indictment of one scientist, but everyone in the profession seems to rally around and defend this one scientist, and the flaws listed above have been public for a while and absolutely no one seems interested in demanding Mann correct his numbers.  In fact, most climate scientists spend their time shooting the messenger (Steve McIntyre).

Uh Oh. I Think I Am On NASA's S-List

This screen shot was sent by a reader, who titled the email "you have hit the big time."  I suppose I have, or at least I have really ticked off James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt at NASA.  It appears that this site has been added to the list of sites blocked by the NASA servers as ostensiblybeing sexually explicit.  Well, I guess we have caught the GISS with their pants down a few times....


As usual, you may click on the image for the full-size version.  Thanks to a reader, who asked only that I hide his/her IP address.

Update: From the archives:

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.

OK, I kindof mostly don't think there is anything sinister here.  Coyote's Law tells us that this is much more likely to be incompetence rather than evil intent.  But it would be interesting to see how Dr. Hansen would react if, say, the RealClimate site had been similarly filtered.  Anyone want to bet he would have thrown a conspiracy-laden hissy fit?

Responses to Gavin Schmidt, Part 2

OK, we continue to the final paragraph of Gavin Schmidt's postadmitting a minor error in the October GISS numbers, and then proceeding to say that all the folks who pointed out the error are biased and unhelpful, in spite of the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that they found this error.

As I reviewed in part 1, most of the letter was just sort of petulant bad grace.  But this paragraph was worrisome, and I want to deal with it in more depth:

Which brings me to my last point, the role of models. It is clear that many of the temperature watchers are doing so in order to show that the IPCC-class models are wrong in their projections. However, the direct approach of downloading those models, running them and looking for flaws is clearly either too onerous or too boring. Even downloading the output (from here or here) is eschewed in favour of firing off Freedom of Information Act requests for data already publicly available - very odd. For another example, despite a few comments about the lack of sufficient comments in the GISS ModelE code (a complaint I also often make), I am unaware of anyone actually independently finding any errors in the publicly available Feb 2004 version (and I know there are a few). Instead, the anti-model crowd focuses on the minor issues that crop up every now and again in real-time data processing hoping that, by proxy, they'll find a problem with the models.

I say good luck to them. They'll need it.

Since when has direct comparison of forecast models against observation and measurement been the wrong way to validate or invalidate the forecast or model?  I am sure there were lots of guys who went through the Principia Mathematica and tore apart the math and equations to make sure they balanced, but most of the validation consisted of making observations of celestial bodies to see if their motion fit the predicted results.  When Einstein said time would change pace in a gravity well, scientists took atomic clocks up in high-altitude airplanes to see if his predictions matched measured results.  And physicists can play with models and equations all day, but nothing they do with the math will be as powerful as finding a Higgs Boson at the LHC.

Look, unlike some of the commenters Schmidt quoted, there is no reason to distrust a guy because his staff made a data error.  But I think there is a big freaking reason to distrust someone who gets huffy that people are using actual data measurements to test his prediction models.

There is probably a reason for Schmidt to be sensitive here.  We know that Hansen's 1988 forecasts don't validate at all against actual data from the last 20 years (below uses the Hansen A case from his Congressional testimony, the case which most closely matches actual CO2 production since the speech).


More recent forecasts obviously have had less time to validate.  Many outsiders have found that current temperatures fall outside of the predicted range of the IPCC forecasts, and those that have found temperatures within the error bars of the forecasts have generally done so by combining large error bars, white noise, and various smoothing approaches to just eek actual temperatures into the outer molecular layers of the bottom edge of the forecast band.

As to the rest, I am not sure Schmidt knows who has and has not poked around in the innards of the models - has he studied all the referrer logs for their web sites?  But to some extent this is beside the point.  Those of us who have a lot of modeling experience in complex systems (my experience is in both econometrics and in mechanical control systems) distrust models and would not get any warm fuzzies from poking around in their innards.  Every modeler of chaotic systems knows that it is perfectly possible to string together all sorts of logically sound and reasonable assumptions and algorithms only to find that the whole mass of them combined spits out a meaningless mess.  Besides, there are, what, 60 of these things?  More?  I could spend 6 months ripping the guts out of one of them only to have Schmidt then say, well there are 59 others.  That one does not really affect anything.  I mean, can't you just see it -- it would be entirely equivalent to the reaction every time an error or problem measurement station is found in the GISS data set.  I am sure Schmidt would love us all to go off on some wild goose chase in the innards of a few climate models and relent on comparing the output of those models against actual temperatures.

No, I am perfectly happy to accept the IPCC's summary of these models and test this unified prediction against history.  I am sure that no matter what temperature it is this month, some model somewhere in the world came close.  But how does that help, unless it turns out that it is the same model that is right month after month, and then I might get excited someone was on to something.  But just saying current temperatures fall into a range where some model predicts it just says that there is a lot of disagreement among the models, and in turn raises my doubts about the models.

The last sentence of Schmidt's paragraph is just plain wrong.  I have never seen anyone who is out there really digging into this stuff (and not just tossing in comments) who has said that errors in the GISS temperature anomaly number imply the models are wrong, except of course to the extent that the models are calibrated to an incorrect number.  Most everyone who looks at this stuff skeptically understand that the issues with the GISS temperature metric are very different than issues with the models. 

In a nutshell, skeptics are concerned with the GISS temperature numbers because of the signal to noise problem, and a skepticism that the GISS has really hit on algorithms that can, blind to station configuration, correct for biases and errors in the data.  I have always felt that rather than eliminate biases, the gridcell approach simply spreads them around like peanut butter.

My concern with the climate models is completely different.  I won't go into them all, but they include:

  • the inherent impossibility of modeling such a chaotic system
  • scientists assume CO2 drives temperatures, so the models they build unsurprisingly result in CO2 driving temperature
  • modelers assume WAY too much positive feedback.  No reasonable person, if they step back from it, should really be able to assume so much positive feedback in a long-term stable system
  • When projected backwards, modeler's assumptions imply far more warming than we have experienced, and it takes heroic assumptions and tweaks and plugs to make the models back-cast reasonably well.
  • Its insane to ignore changes in solar output, and/or to assume that the sun over the last 40 years has been in a declining cycle
  • Many models, by their own admission, omit critical natural cycles like ENSO/PDO.

By the way, my simple hypothesis to describe past and future warming is here.

As a final note, the last little dig on Steve McIntyre (the bit about FOIA requests) is really low.  First, it is amazing to me that, like Hogwarts students who can't say the word Voldemort, the GISS folks just can't bring themselves to mention his name.  Second, Steve has indeed filed a number of FOIA requests on Michael Mann, the GISS, and others.  Each time he has a pretty good paper trail of folks denying him data (Here is the most recent for the Santer data). Almost every time, the data he is denied is taxpayer funded research, often by public employees, or is data that the publication rules of a particular journal require to be made public.  And remember the source for this -- this is coming from the GISS, which resisted McIntyre's calls for years to release their code  (publicly funded code of a government organization programmed by government employees to produce an official US statistic) for the GISS grid cell rollup of the station data, releasing the code only last year after McIntyre demonstrated an error in the code based on inspection of the inputs and outputs.

At the end of the day, Hansen and Schmidt are public employees who like having access to government budgets and the instant credibility the NASA letterhead provides them, but don't like the public scrutiny that goes with it.  Suck it up guys.  And as to your quest to rid yourself of these skeptic gadflies, I will quote your condescending words back to you:  Good Luck.  You'll need it.

Sorry Dr. Schmidt, But I am Not Feeling Guilty Yet (Part 1)

By accident, I have been drawn into a discussion surrounding a fairly innocent mistake made by NASA's GISS in their October global temperature numbers.  It began for me when I compared the October GISS and UAH satellite numbers for October, and saw an incredible diversion.  For years these two data sets have shown a growing gap, but by tiny increments.  But in October they really went in opposite directions.  I used this occasion to call on the climate community to make a legitimate effort at validating and reconciling the GISS and satellite data sets.

Within a day of my making this post, several folks started noticing some oddities in the GISS October data, and eventually the hypothesis emerged that the high number was the result of reusing September numbers for certain locations in the October data set. Oh, OK.  A fairly innocent and probably understandable mistake, and far more minor than the more systematic error a similar group of skeptics, (particularly Steve McIntyre, the man whose name the GISS cannot speak) found in the GISS data set a while back.  The only amazing thing to me was not the mistake, but the fact that there were laymen out there on their own time who figured out the error so quickly after the data release.  I wish there were a team of folks following me around, fixing material errors in my analysis before I ran too far with it.

So Gavin Schmidt of NASA comes out a day or two later and says, yep, they screwed up.  End of story, right?  Except Dr. Schmidt chose his blog post about the error to lash out at skeptics.  This is so utterly human -- in the light of day, most will admit it is a bad idea to lash out at your detractors in the same instant you admit they caught you in an error (however minor).  But it is such a human need to try to recover and sooth one's own ego at exactly this same time.  And thus we get Gavin Schmidt's post on, which I would like to highlight a bit below.

He begins with a couple of paragraphs on the error itself.  I will skip these, but you are welcome to check them out at the original.  Nothing about the error seems in any way outside the category of "mistakes happen."  Had the post ended with something like "Many thanks to the volunteers who so quickly helped us find this problem," I would not even be posting.  But, as you can guess, this is not how it ends.

It's clearly true that the more eyes there are looking, the faster errors get noticed and fixed. The cottage industry that has sprung up to examine the daily sea ice numbers or the monthly analyses of surface and satellite temperatures, has certainly increased the number of eyes and that is generally for the good. Whether it's a discovery of an odd shiftin the annual cycle in the UAH MSU-LT data, or this flub in the GHCN data, or the USHCN/GHCN merge issue last year, the extra attention has led to improvements in many products. Nothing of any consequence has changed in terms of our understanding of climate change, but a few more i's have been dotted and t's crossed.

Uh, OK, but it is a bit unfair to characterize the "cottage industry" looking over Hansen's and Schmidt's shoulders as only working out at the third decimal place.  Skeptics have pointed out what they consider to be fundamental issues in some of their analytical approaches, including their methods for compensating statistically for biases and discontinuities in measurement data the GISS rolls up into a global temperature anomaly.  A fairly large body of amateur and professional work exists questioning the NOAA and GISS methodologies which often result in manual adjustments to the raw data larger in magnitude than the underlying warming signal tyring to be measured.  I personally think there is a good case to be made that the GISS approach is not sufficient to handle this low signal to noise data, and that the GISS has descended in to "see no evil, hear no evil" mode in ignoring the station survey approach being led by Anthony Watt.  Just because Schmidt does not agree doesn't mean that the cause of climate science is not being advanced. 
The bottom line, as I pointed out in my original post, is that the GISS anomaly and the satellite-measured anomaly are steadily diverging.  Given some of the inherent biases and problems of surface temperature measurement, and NASA's commitment to space technology as well as its traditional GISS metric, its amazing to me that Schmidt and Hansen are effectively punting instead of doing any serious work to reconcile the two metrics.  So it is not surprising that into this vacuum left by Schmidt rush others, including us lowly amateurs.
By the way, this is the second time in about a year when the GISS has admitted an error in their data set, but petulently refused to mention the name of the person who helped them find it.

But unlike in other fields of citizen-science (astronomy or phenology spring to mind), the motivation for the temperature observers is heavily weighted towards wanting to find something wrong. As we discussed last year, there is a strong yearning among some to want to wake up tomorrow and find that the globe hasn't been warming, that the sea ice hasn't melted, that the glaciers have not receded and that indeed, CO2is not a greenhouse gas. Thus when mistakes occur (and with science being a human endeavour, they always will) the exuberance of the response can be breathtaking - and quite telling.

I am going to make an admission here that Dr. Schmidt very clear thinks is evil:  Yes, I want to wake up tomorrow to proof that the climate is not changing catastrophically.  I desperately hope Schmidt is overestimating future anthropogenic global warming.  Here is something to consider.  Take two different positions:

  1. I hope global warming theory is correct and the world faces stark tradeoffs between environmental devastation and continued economic growth and modern prosperity
  2. I hope global warming theory is over-stated and that these tradeoffs are not as stark.

Which is more moral?  Why do I have to apologize for being in camp #2?  Why isn't it equally "telling" that Dr. Schmidt apparently puts himself in camp #1.

Of course, we skeptics would say the same of Schmidt.  As much as we like to find a cooler number, we believe he wants to find a warmer number.  Right or wrong, most of us see a pattern in the fact that the GISS seems to constantly find ways to adjust the numbers to show a larger historic warming, but require a nudge from outsiders to recognize when their numbers are too high.  The fairest way to put it is that one group expects to see lower numbers and so tends to put more scrutiny on the high numbers, and the other does the opposite. 

Really, I don't think that Dr. Schmidt is a very good student of the history of science when he argues that this is somehow unique to or an aberration in modern climate science.  Science has often depended on rivalries to ensure that skepticism is applied to both positive and negative results of any experiment.  From phlogistan to plate techtonics, from evolution to string theory, there is really nothing new in the dynamic he describes.

A few examples from the comments at Watt's blog will suffice to give you a flavour of the conspiratorial thinking: "I believe they had two sets of data: One would be released if Republicans won, and another if Democrats won.", "could this be a sneaky way to set up the BO presidency with an urgent need to regulate CO2?", "There are a great many of us who will under no circumstance allow the oppression of government rule to pervade over our freedom—-PERIOD!!!!!!" (exclamation marks reduced enormously), "these people are blinded by their own bias", "this sort of scientific fraud", "Climate science on the warmer side has degenerated to competitive lying", etc… (To be fair, there were people who made sensible comments as well).

Dr. Schmidt, I am a pretty smart person.  I have lots of little diplomas on my wall with technical degrees from Ivy League universities.  And you know what - I am sometimes blinded by my own biases.  I consider myself a better thinker, a better scientist, and a better decision-maker because I recognize that fact.  The only person who I would worry about being biased is the one who swears that he is not.

By the way, I thought the little game of mining the comments section of Internet blogs to discredit the proprietor went out of vogue years ago, or at least has been relegated to the more extreme political  blogs like Kos or LGF.  Do you really think I could not spend about 12 seconds poking around environmentally-oriented web sites and find stuff just as unfair, extreme, or poorly thought out?

The amount of simply made up stuff is also impressive - the GISS press release declaring the October the 'warmest ever'? Imaginary (GISS only puts out press releases on the temperature analysis at the end of the year). The headlines trumpeting this result? Non-existent. One clearly sees the relief that finally the grand conspiracy has been rumbled, that the mainstream media will get it's comeuppance, and that surely now, the powers that be will listen to those voices that had been crying in the wilderness.

I am not quite sure what he is referring to here.  I will repeat what I wrote.  I said "The media generally uses the GISS data, so expect stories in the next day or so trumpeting 'Hottest October Ever.'"  I leave it to readers to decide if they find my supposition unwarranted.  However, I encourage the reader to consider the 556,000 Google results, many media stories, that come up in a search for the words "hottest month ever."  Also, while the GISS may not issue monthly press releases for this type of thing, the NOAA and British Met Office clearly do, and James Hansen has made many verbal statements of this sort in the past.

By the way, keep in mind that that Dr. Schmidt likes to play Clinton-like games with words.  I recall one episode last year when he said that climate models did not use the temperature station data, so they cannot be tainted with any biases found in the stations.  Literally true, I guess, because the the models use gridded cell data.  However, this gridded cell data is built up, using a series of correction and smoothing algorithms that many find suspect, from the station data.  Keep this in mind when parsing Dr. Schmidt. 

Alas! none of this will come to pass. In this case, someone's programming error will be fixed and nothing will change except for the reporting of a single month's anomaly. No heads will roll, no congressional investigations will be launched, no politicians (with one possible exception) will take note. This will undoubtedly be disappointing to many, but they should comfort themselves with the thought that the chances of this error happening again has now been diminished. Which is good, right?

I'm narrowly fine with the outcome.  Certainly no heads should roll over a minor data error.  I'm not certain no one like Watt or McIntyre suggested such a thing.  However, the GISS should be embarrassed that they have not addressed and been more open about the issues in their grid cell correction/smoothing algorithms, and really owe us an explanation why no one there is even trying to reconcile the growing differences with satellite data.

In contrast to this molehill, there is an excellent story about how the scientific community really deals with serious mismatches between theory, models and data. That piece concerns the 'ocean cooling' story that was all the rage a year or two ago. An initial analysisof a new data source (the Argo float network) had revealed a dramatic short term cooling of the oceans over only 3 years. The problem was that this didn't match the sea level data, nor theoretical expectations. Nonetheless, the paper was published (somewhat undermining claims that the peer-review system is irretrievably biased) to great acclaim in sections of the blogosphere, and to more muted puzzlement elsewhere. With the community's attention focused on this issue, it wasn't however long before problemsturned up in the Argo floats themselves, but also in some of the other measurement devices - particularly XBTs. It took a couple of years for these things to fully work themselves out, but the most recent analysesshow far fewer of the artifacts that had plagued the ocean heat content analyses in the past. A classic example in fact, of science moving forward on the back of apparent mismatches. Unfortunately, the resolution ended up favoring the models over the initial data reports, and so the whole story is horribly disappointing to some.

OK, fine, I have no problem with this.  However, and I am sure that Schmidt would deny this to his grave, but he is FAR more supportive of open inspection of measurement sources that disagree with his hypothesis (e.g. Argo, UAH) than he is willing to tolerate scrutiny of his methods.  Heck, until last year, he wouldn't even release most of his algorithms and code for his grid cell analysis that goes into the GISS metric, despite the fact he is a government employee and the work is paid for with public funds.  If he is so confident, I would love to see him throw open the whole GISS measurement process to an outside audit.  We would ask the UAH and RSS guys to do the same.  Here is my prediction, and if I am wrong I will apologize to Dr. Schmidt, but I am almost positive that while the UAH folks would say yes, the GISS would say no.  The result, as he says, would likely be telling.

Which brings me to my last point, the role of models. It is clear that many of the temperature watchers are doing so in order to show that the IPCC-class models are wrong in their projections. However, the direct approach of downloading those models, running them and looking for flaws is clearly either too onerous or too boring. Even downloading the output (from here or here) is eschewed in favour of firing off Freedom of Information Act requests for data already publicly available - very odd. For another example, despite a few comments about the lack of sufficient comments in the GISS ModelE code (a complaint I also often make), I am unaware of anyone actually independently finding any errors in the publicly available Feb 2004 version (and I know there are a few). Instead, the anti-model crowd focuses on the minor issues that crop up every now and again in real-time data processing hoping that, by proxy, they'll find a problem with the models.

I say good luck to them. They'll need it.

Red Alert!  Red Alert!  Up to this point, the article was just petulant and bombastic.  But here, Schmidt becomes outright dangerous, suggesting a scientific process that is utterly without merit.  But I want to take some time on this, so I will pull this out into a second post I will label part 2.

Sign This Guy Up for the IPCC!

via FailBlog:


When Computer Models Are Treated Like Reality

On April 28, 2004, the SEC made a significant change in policy in the regulation of large investment banks.  On that day, they "decided to allow the five largest US investment banks to substitute advanced mathematical risk models for traditional capital requirements."  Al Gore has touted the "success" of such models as a reason to feel confident that computer models can accurately predict long-term climate trends.

But it turns out, as everyone is discovering this week, that computer models are not reality.  In fact, computer models are extraordinarily sensitive to their inputs, and small changes in their inputs, or the narrowing of models to ignore certain factors, can make them worse than useless.  Computer models are also very easy to force to a preferred conclusion.

Make Sure "Climate Change" is in Your Grant Application

The best way to get grant money nowadays is to try to draw from a torrent of global warming money.  I would say that the first rule of grant application writing today is "include climate change in your study."

Examples, sent by a reader:

We Can't Think of Anything Else It Could Be

I am still reading the new Douglas and Christy paper, so I won't comment on it yet, but you can see Anthony Watts thoughts here.

However, in reading Anthony's site this morning, I was struck by a quote in another one of his posts.  For a while, I have been telling folks that the main argument behind anthropogenic global warming is "we have looked at everything else, and we can't think of what else it could be other than man."  Lacking positive correlation between CO2 and major shifts in temperature  (particularly when ice core evidence collapsed under the weight of the 800 year lag), scientists instead argue that they have gone through a long checklist (sun, clouds, volcanoes, etc) and have convinced themselves none of these others have caused late 20th century warming, so it must be man -- that's all that is left.

Here is an example, from Anthony's site:

Bill Chameides, dean of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, said Spencer’s arguments are what magicians call “ignoratio elenchi” or logical fallacy.”We’ve looked at every possible form of heat, including clouds, and the only source of heat is greenhouse gases,” he said, adding it’s insulting that Spencer would suggest scientists are paid to come to this conclusion. “Scientists make their reputation on debunking theories.”

Well, a number of folks would beg to differ that scientists have truly eliminated every other possible cause, particularly Mr. Sun (more than really eliminating these effects, they seem to be seeking excuses to ignore them).  In fact, climate models of late have admitted that they don't even include the Pacific Decadal Osculation in their models, or didn't until recently.  So much for thinking of everything.

But if Mr. Chameides wants to talk in terms of logical fallacies, I will as well:  Just because scientists cannot image another cause does not mean that another cause does not exist.  Can you imagine the first astrophysicists to discover pulsars to say "well, we can't think of anything else that would cause this phenomenon, so it must be space aliens."  Well, come to think of it, some people did say that.  But it turned out to be absurd, and after some decades of effort, we think we now understand pulsars.  But it is a bizarre form of arrogance to assume that it is not possible in our current degree of climate knowledge that there is some factor we don't even know about.

Long Postscript:  I am working on a powerpoint presentation for next week on anthropogenic global warming, but here are two charts from that presentation that get at the "we can't think of anything other than man that might be causing late 20th century warming."  The first is the correlation between 20th century temperature and the PDO cycle  (temperature numbers are Hadley CRUT3 and UAH combined as described here).   By the way, there seems to be some argument over exactly where and how often to call the turns in the PDO early in the 20th century -- I have used one frequent estimate but others exist.Pdo 

The second interesting analysis is a sunspot number chart.  To highlight recent increases in activity, I have overlaid on the monthly International sunspot numbers (light blue) a 9.8 year moving average (in black) of sunspot numbers (9.8 selected as an average cycle length).  In the chart below, selection of the 50 average sunspot number as a reference value is arbitrary, but serves to visually demonstrate the increase in solar activity over the last 50 years.


The average monthly sunspot number from 1900-1949 was 48.  The average monthly number from 1950-1999 was 73.1, an increase of 52%.

Some of this increase is real, but some may be a measurement bias related to the ability to better detect smaller spots.  Anyone have any sources on how large this latter effect might be?  We are talking about an enormous percentage increase in the last half of the century, so my guess is that it is not all due to this bias.

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.

A Quick Thought on "Peer Review"

One of the weird aspects of climate science is the over-emphasis on peer review as the ne plus ultra guarantor of believable results.  This is absurd.  At best, peer review is a screen for whether a study is worthy of occupying limited publication space, not for whether it is correct.  Peer review, again at best, focuses on whether a study has some minimum level of rigor and coherence and whether it offers up findings that are new or somehow advance the ball on an important topic. 

In "big boy sciences" like physics, study findings are not considered vetted simply because they are peer-reviewed.  They are vetted only after numerous other scientists have been able to replicate the results, or have at least failed to tear the original results down.  Often, this vetting process is undertaken by people who may even be openly hostile to the original study group.  For some reason, climate scientists cry foul when this occurs in their profession, but mathematicians and physicists accept it, because they know that findings need to be able to survive the scrutiny of enemies, not just of friends.  To this end, an important part of peer review is to make sure the publication of the study includes all the detail on methodology and data that others might need to replicate the results  (which is something climate reviewers are particularly bad at).

In fact, there are good arguments to be made that strong peer review may even be counter-productive to scientific advancement.  The reason is that peer review, by the nature of human beings and the incentives they tend to have, is often inherently conservative.  Studies that produce results the community expects often receive only cursory scrutiny doled out by insiders chummy with the authors.  Studies that show wildly unexpected results sometimes have trouble getting published at all.

Poscscript:  As I read this, it strikes me that one way to describe climate is that it acts like a social science, like sociology or gender studies, rather than like a physical science.  I will ahve to think about this -- it would be an interesting hypothesis to expand on in more depth.  Some quick parallels of why I think it is more like a social science:

  • Bad statistical methodology  (a hallmark, unfortunately, of much of social science)
  • Emphasis on peer review over replication
  • Reliance on computer models rather than observation
  • Belief there is a "right" answer for society with subsequent bias to study results towards that answer  (example, and another example)

It's CO2, Because We Can't Think of Anything Else it Could Be

For a while, I have written about the bizarre assumption made by climate scientists.  They cannot prove or show any good link historically between CO2 and warming.  What they instead do is show that they can't explain some of the warming by understood processes, so they assume that any warming they cannot explain is from CO2.   Don't believe me?

Researchers are trying to understand how much of the melting is due to the extreme natural variability in the northern polar climate system and how much is due to global warming caused by humans. The Arctic Oscillation climate pattern, which plays a big part in the weather patterns in the northern hemisphere, has been in "positive" mode in recent decades bringing higher temperatures to the Arctic.

Dr Igor Polyakov, an oceanographer from the International Arctic Research Centre in Fairbanks, Alaska, explained that natural variability as well as global warming is crucial to understanding the ice melt. "A combination of these two forces led to what we observe now and we should not ignore either forces" he said.

The consensus among scientists is that while the natural variability in the Arctic is an important contributor to climate change there, the climate models cannot explain the rapid loss of sea ice without including "human-induced" global warming. This means human activity such as burning fossil fuels and land clearing which are releasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

"There have been numerous models run that have looked at that and basically they can't reproduce the ice loss we've had with natural variability," said Dr Perovich. "You have to add a carbon dioxide warming component to it."

In other words, any warming scientists can't explain is chalked up to, without proof mind you, CO2.  Why?  Well, perhaps because it is CO2 that gets the funding, so CO2 it is.  To show you how dangerous this assumption is, I note that this study apparently did not consider the effect of man-made soot from inefficient coal and oil combustion (e.g. from China).  Soot lands on the ice, lowers its albedo, and causes it to melt a lot faster.  Several recent studies have hypothesized that this alternate anthropogenic effect (with a very different solution set from Co2 abatement) may explain much of recent Arctic ice loss. 

Here is a big fat clue for climate scientists:  It is not part of the scientific method to confidently ascribe your pet theory (and source of funding) to every phenomenon you cannot explain.  Or, maybe climate scientists are on to something.  Why does gravity seem to work instantaneously at long distances? Co2!  What causes cancer cells to turn on and grow out of control?  CO2!  Hey, its easy.  All of our scientific dilemmas are instantly solved.

Absoutely Priceless Example of How Poor Alarmists' Science Can Be

This is absolutely amazing.  I was checking out this article in the Ithaca Journal called "Climate Change 101: Positive Feedback Cycles" based on a pointer from Tom Nelson.

The Journal is right to focus on feedback.  As I have written on numerous occasions, the base effects of CO2 even in the IPCC projections is minimal.  Only by assuming unbelievably high positive feedback numbers does the IPCC and other climate modelers get catastrophic warming forecasts.  Such an assumption is hard to swallow - very few (like, zero) long-term stable natural processes (like climate) are dominated by high positive feedbacks (the IPCC forecasts assume 67-80% feedback factors, leading to forecasts 3x to 5x higher). 

So I guess I have to give kudos to an alarmist article that actually attempts to take on the feedback issue, the most critical, and shakiest, of the climate model assumptions. 

But all their credibility falls apart from the first paragraph.  They begin:

Our world is full of positive feedback cycles, and so is our society. Popular children's books like “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff are excellent examples. In Numeroff's tale, a mouse asks for a cookie, leading it to ask for a glass of milk, and so on, till finally it asks for another cookie.

Oh my God, they go to a children's book to prove positive feedback?  If I had gone this route, I probably would have played the "sorcerer's apprentice" card from Fantasia.  Anyway, they do soon get into real physics in the next paragraph.  Sort of.

Here's an example everyone in Ithaca can relate to: the snowball. If you make a small snowball and set it on the top of a hill, what happens? 1) It begins rolling, and 2) it collects snow as it rolls. When it collects snow, the snowball becomes heavier, which causes gravity to pull on it with more force, making the snowball roll faster down the hill. This causes more snow to collect on the snowball faster, etc., etc. Get the picture? That is a positive feedback cycle.

OMG, my head is hurting.  Is there a single entry-level physics student who doesn't know this is wrong?  The speed of a ball rolling downhill (wind resistance ignored) is absolutely unaffected by its weight.  A 10 pound ball would reach the bottom at the same moment as a 100 pound ball.  Do I really need to be lectured by someone who does not understand even the most basic of Newtonian physics.  (I would have to think about what increasing diameter would do to a ball rolling downhill and its speed -- but the author's argument is about weight, not size, so this is irrelevant."

Do you really need any more?  This guy has already disqualified himself from lecturing to us about physical processes.  But lets get a bit more:

And what happens to the snowball? Eventually the hill flattens and the ball comes to a stop. But if the hill continued forever, the snowball would reach some critical threshold. It would become too big to hold itself together at the raging speed it was traveling down the hill and it would fall apart. Before the snowball formed, it was at equilibrium with its surroundings, and after it falls apart, it may again reach an equilibrium, but the journey is fast-paced and unpredictable.

Two problems:  1) In nature, "hills" are never infinitely long.  And any hills that are infinitely long with minimal starting energy would find everything at the bottom of the hill long before we came into being 12 billion years or so into the history of the universe.  2)  Climate is a long-term quite stable process.  It oscillates some, but never runs away.  Temperatures in the past have already been many degrees higher and lower than they are today.  If a degree or so is all it takes to start the climate snowball running down the infinite hill, then the climate should have already run down this hill in the past, but it never has.  That is because long-term stable natural processes are generally dominated by negative, not positive, feedback. [ed: fixed this, had it backwards]

The author goes on to discuss a couple of well-known possible positive feedback factors - increases in water vapor and ice albedo.  But it completely fails to mention well-understood negative feedback factors, including cloud formation.  In fact, though most climate models assume positive feedback from the net of water processes (water vapor increase and cloud formation), in fact the IPCC admits we don't even know the net sign of these factors.  And most recent published work on feedback factors have demonstrated that climate does not seem to be dominated by positive feedback factors.

It hardly goes without saying that an author who begins with a children's book and a flawed physics example can't take credit for being very scientific.  But perhaps his worst failing of all is discussing a process that has counter-veiling forces butfails to even mention half of these forces that don't support his case.  It's not science, it's propaganda.

Climate: The First Post-Modernist Science?

When I was in college, we mechanical engineers had little but disdain for practitioners of the various social sciences, who seemed more focused on advancing political ideologies than conducting quality science.  Apparently, denizens of these softer sciences have become convinced that the lack of objectivity or objective research that plagues their fields is par for the course in the hard sciences as well.  MaxedOutMamma describes this post-modernist view of science:

If some reader is not familiar with the full-bodied modern explications of post-modernism, the story of the Dartmouth professor who decided to sue her students will serve as an introduction. Here is her version of the problem with her students. Here is an article she wrote about working as a post-doc researcher at Dartmouth Medical School, which may give a hint as to why her students were so, ah, unwilling to assent to her view of the world:

In graduate school, I was inculcated in the tenets of a field known as science studies, which teaches that scientific knowledge has suspect access to truth and that science is motivated by politics and human interest. This is known as social constructivism and is the reigning mantra in science studies, which considers historical and sociological understandings of science. From the vantage point of social constructivism, scientific facts are not discovered but rather created within a social framework. In other words, scientific facts do not correspond to a natural reality but conform to a social construct.

: As a practicing scientist, I feel these views need to be qualified in the context of literary inquiry. My mentor, Chris Lowrey, is an extraordinary physician- scientist whose vision of science is pragmatic and positivist. My experience in his lab has shown me that the practice of science is at least partly motivated by the scientific method, though with some qualifications.

Through my experience in the laboratory, I have found that postmodernism offers a constructive critique of science in ways that social constructivism cannot, due to postmodernism's emphasis on openly addressing the presupposed moral aims of science. In other words, I find that while an individual ethic of motivation exists, and indeed guides the conduct of laboratory routine, I have also observed that a moral framework—one in which the social implications of science and technology are addressed—is clearly absent in scientific settings. Yet I believe such a framework is necessary. Postmodernism maintains that it is within the rhetorical apparatus of science—how scientists talk about their work—that these moral aims of science may be accomplished.

For those of you who cling to scientific method, this is pretty bizarre stuff. But she, and many others, are dead serious about it. If a research finding could harm a class of persons, the theory is that scientists should change the way they talk about that finding. Since scientific method is a way of building a body of knowledge based on skeptical testing, replication, and publication, this is a problem.

The tight framework of scientific method mandates figuring out what would disprove the theory being tested and then looking for the disproof. The thought process that spawned the scientific revolution was inherently skeptical, which is why disciples of scientific method say that no theory can be definitively and absolutely proved, but only disproved (falsified). Hypotheses are elevated to the status of theories largely as a result of continued failures to disprove the theory and continued conformity of experimentation and observation with the theory, and such efforts should be conducted by diverse parties.

Needless to say postmodernist schools of thought and scientific method are almost polar opposites.

Reading this, I start to come to the conclusion that climate scientists are attempting to make Climate the first post-modernist physical science.  It certainly would explain why climate is so far short of being a "big-boy science" like physics, where replicating results is more important than casual review of publications by a cherry-picked group of peers.  It also explains  this quote from National Center for Atmospheric Research (NOAA) climate researcher and global warming action promoter, Steven Schneider:

We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

Additionally, it goes a long way to explaining why Steve McIntyre gets this response when he requests the data he needs to try to replicate certain climate studies (and here):

    We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it. There is IPR to consider.

Some Day Climate May Be A Big-Boy Science

In big-boy science, people who run an experiment and arrive at meaningful findings will publish not only those findings but the data and methodology they used to reach those findings.  They do that because in most sciences, a conclusion is not really considered robust until multiple independent parties have replicated the finding, and they can't replicate the finding until they know exactly how it was reached.  Physics scientists don't run around talking about peer review as the be-all-end-all of scientific validation.  Instead of relying on peers to read over an article to look for mistakes, they go out and see if they can replicate the results.  It is expected that others in the profession will try to replicate, or even tear down, a controversial new finding.  Such a process is why we aren't all running around talking about the cold fusion "consensus" based on "peer-reviewed science."  It would simply be bizarre for someone in physics, say, to argue that their findings were beyond question simply because it had been peer reviewed by a cherry-picked review group and to refuse to publish their data or detailed methodology. 

Some day climate science may be all grown up, but right now its far from it.

Savanarola Apparently Working for NASA

In 1497, Savonarola tried to end the Italian Renaissance in a massive pyre of books and artwork (the Bonfire of the Vanities).  The Renaissance was about inquiry and optimism, neither of which had much appeal to  Savonarola, who thought he had all the answers he needed in his apocalyptic vision of man.  For him, how the world worked, and particularly the coming apocalypse, was "settled science" and any questioning of his world view was not only superfluous, it was evil.

Fortunately, while the enlightenment was perhaps delayed (as much by the French King and the Holy Roman Emperor as by Savonarola), it mans questing nature was not to be denied.

But now, the spirit of Savonarola has returned, in the guise of James Hansen, a man who incredibly calls himself a scientist.  Mr. Hansen has decided that he is the secular Savonarola, complete with apocalyptic predictions and a righteousness that allows no dissent:

“James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the “perfect storm” of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.”

It will be interesting to see if any champions of free speech on the left can work up the energy to criticize Hansen here.  What we have is a government official threatening prosecution and jail time for Americans who exercise their free speech rights.  GWB, rightly, would never get a pass on this.  Why does Hansen?

That's A Mighty Thin Branch You Have Climbed Out On

Leo Tolstoy, obviously not writing explicity about climate science, but his words resonate nonetheless:

“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”

This is quoted in a very nice article by Dr. Tim Ball on how the UN IPCC operates to supress dissenting science and keep up the illusion of "settled science" behind global warming catastrophism.  An excerpt:

It is claimed the scientists set the final summary content, but in reality governments set the form. The SPM [summary for policy-makers] is then released at least three months before the science report. Most of the scientists involved in the technical or science report see the Summary for the first time when it is released to the public. The time between its release to the public and the release of the Technical Report is taken up with making sure it aligns with what the politicians/scientists have concluded. Here is the instruction in the IPCC procedures. “Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) or the Overview Chapter.” Yes, you read that correctly. This is like an Executive writing a summary and then having employees write a report that agrees with the summary.

Lessons for Climate Panic from the Y2K Panic

This is kind of interesting, and comes via Odd Citizen.  The author links this Australian study looking retrospectively at the Y2K scare, trying to understand why an irrational collective hysteria developed that allowed for no skepticism (seem familiar).  The whole thing is interesting, but here is the money quote:

From the perspective of public administration, the two most compelling observations relate to conformity and collective amnesia. The response to Y2K shows how relatively subtle characteristics of a policy problem may produce a conformist response in which no policy actors have any incentive to oppose, or even to critically assess, the dominant view. Moreover, in a situation where a policy has been adopted and implemented with unanimous support, or at least without any opposition, there is likely to be little interest in critical evaluation when it appears that the costs of the policy have outweighed the benefits.

The article is written without any reference to current climate issues, but wow, does this sound familiar?

Quality Science

There once was a scientist who was testing a frog.  He said, "jump frog," and the frog jumped 8 feet.  He pulled out his handy scientific notebook and wrote "Frog, four legs, jumps 8 feet."

The scientist then cut off one of the frog's legs.  "Jump frog," he said, and the frog jumped 6 feet.  He wrote in his book "Frog, cut off one leg, jumps 6 feet."

He then proceeded to cut off another leg.  "Jump frog."  He measured and wrote in his book "Frog, cut off two legs, jumps 3 feet."

He then cut off another leg.  Again he said "jump frog," and the frog jumped one foot.  He wrote, "frog, three legs cut off, jumps 1 foot."

Finally, he cut off the last leg.  "Jump frog."  No response.  "Jump Frog!"  No movement.  So he pulled out his notebook at wrote, "cut off all four legs, frog goes deaf."

Which brings us to this story:  Drive your SUV, fish goes deaf.

HT: Tom Nelson  (the bad joke is all mine)

Inspecting the Sausage Factory

A very interesting discussion about the foibles of climate modelling.  Here is but a taste:

A major thrust of the debate was because Schlesinger had put the same data into the five models and each produced results that he claimed were meaningful. Somebody pointed out that the results differed considerably from model to model. For example, they differed by 180° in their predictions for large areas. Schlesinger's reply was the models were not accurate for small regions. The person pointed out that the small regions were continental in their dimension. Much laughter at this point. Schlesinger then said the models were not quantitatively correct but they were qualitatively correct. When asked to explain what he meant he said well they all showed global warming with increased CO2. It was quickly pointed out that if you program them to have temperature increase with a CO2 increase (ceteris paribus) then that was an inevitable result of the programming not the reality. The noise volume increased at which point a bizarre incident occurred.

During Schlesinger's presentation, titled, "Model projections of the Equilibrium and Transient Climatic Changes induced by Increased Atmospheric CO2" there were general rumblings in the audience about the nature and assertiveness of the presentation, something that I had come to know as normal for modelers. This erupted in the question period. However, prior to that there were strange noises coming from behind me. I did not want to look around based on my experience at english soccer matches. In the question period voices were raised and frustrations expressed about the inadequacy of the models. Suddenly at the height of the din a shoe flew upon to the platform from behind me. There was shocked silence and a strange voice said, "I didn't have a towel." He then asked permission to go onto the platform. It turned out the strange noises were from the shoe thrower who had a voice box. He explained he had two Ph.Ds one in Atmospheric Physics and proceeded to put a formula on the blackboard. Schlesinger agreed it was the formula for the atmosphere at the basis of his models. The man then eliminated variables one at a time, each time having Schlesinger agree he eliminated them from the final model. The man then said what you have left no longer represents the atmosphere and any results from such as model were meaningless.

But of Course, Money Only Influences Skeptics

Via Tom Nelson:

Pollack (2005) addresses the first ethic, noting that the paramount motivational factor for scientists today is the competition to survive. A scientist’s most pressing need, which supersedes the scientific pursuit of truth, is to get her grant funded – to pay her salary and that of her staff, to pay department bills, and to obtain academic promotion. The safest way to generate grants is to avoid any dissent from orthodoxy. Grant-review Study Sections whose members’ expertise and status are tied to the prevailing view do not welcome any challenge to it. A scientist who writes a grant proposal that dissents from the ruling paradigm will be left without a grant. Speaking for his fellow scientists Pollack writes, "We have evolved into a culture of obedient sycophants, bowing politely to the high priests of orthodoxy."
The grant system fosters an Apollonian approach to research. The investigator does not question the foundation concepts of biomedical and physical scientific knowledge. He sticks to the widely held belief that the trunks and limbs of the trees of knowledge, in, for example, cell physiology and on AIDS, are solid. The Apollonian researcher focuses on the peripheral branches and twigs and develops established lines of knowledge to perfection. He sees clearly what course his research should take and writes grants that his peers are willing to fund. Forced by the existing grant system to follow such an approach, Pollack (2005) argues that scientists have defaulted into becoming a culture of believers without rethinking the fundamentals.

Where "Consensus" Comes From

Via Tom Nelson:

I hate to burst the bubble here, but the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) climate ‘consensus’ statement does not hold up to even the lightest scrutiny.

It appears that the AGU Board issued a statement on climate change without putting it to a vote of the group’s more than 50,000 members. Its sweeping claims were drafted by what appears to be only nine AGU committee members. The statement relies heavily on long term computer model projections, cherry-picking of data and a very one-sided view of recent research. As with the recent statements by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the AGU statement is the product of a small circle of scientists (again apparently a 9 member panel according to AGU) who all share the same point of view, and who failed to put their statement to a vote of the AGU members on whose behalf they now claim to speak. As such it amounts to nothing more than a restatement of the opinion of this small group, not a ‘consensus’ document.

A Metric of Climatge Science Health

If one wanted to measure the "health" of climate science, a good approach would be to compare the zealous pursuit of even the tiniest errors in analyses that show the world to be warming slowly or naturally with the absolute and total apathy at correcting or even uncovering massive errors in anslyses showing substantial man-made warming (example).

Anyone who made this check would have to come to the conclusion that there are not enough skeptical analyses coming into print, rather than the opposite point of view from folks like James Hansen and Al Gore that skeptics are harming the process and need to shut up.

Isn't Gavin Schmidt Out on Strikes By Now?

From the Washington Post today"

According to the NASA analysis, the global average land-ocean temperature last year was 58.2 degrees Fahrenheit, slightly more than 1 degree above the average temperature between 1951 and 1980, which scientists use as a baseline. While a 1-degree rise may not seem like much, it represents a major shift in a world where average temperatures over broad regions rarely vary more than a couple hundredths of a degree.

This is not written as a quote from NASA's Gavin Schmidt, but it is clear in context the statement must have come from him.  If so, the last part of the statement is absolutely demonstrably false, and for a man in Schmidt's position is tantamount to scientific malpractice.  There are just piles of evidence from multiple disciplines - from climate and geophysics to history and literature and archeology, to say that regional climates vary a hell of a lot more than a few hundredths of a degree.  This is just absurd.

By the way, do you really want to get your science form an organation that says stuff like this:

Taking into account the new data, they said, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001

What new data?  That another YEAR had been discovered?  Because when I count on my own fingers, I only can come up with 6 years since 2001.

Cargo Cult Science

A definition of "cargo cult" science, actually in the context of particle and high-energy physics, but the term will feel very familiar to those of us who try to decipher climate science:

Her talk is a typical example of cargo cult science. They use words that sound scientific, they talk about experiments and about their excitement. Formally, everything looks like science. There is only one problem with their theoretical work: the airplanes don't land and the gravitons don't scatter. It is because they are unable to impartially evaluate facts, to distinguish facts from wishful thinking and results from assumptions, and to abandon hypotheses that have been falsified.

They play an "everything goes" game instead. In this game, nothing is ever abandoned because it would apparently be too cruel for them. They always treat "Yes" and "No" as equal, never answer any question, except for questions where their answers seem to be in consensus - and these answers are usually wrong.

Update: False Sense of Security

A while back I wrote about a number of climate forecasts (e.g. for 2007 hurricane activity) wherein we actually came in in the bottom 1% of forecasted outcomes.  I wrote:

If all your forecasts are coming out in the bottom 1% of the forecast range, then it is safe to assume that one is not forecasting very well.

Well, now that the year is over, I can update one of those forecasts, specifically the forecasts from the UK government Met office that said:

  • Global temperature for 2007 is expected to be 0.54 °C above the long-term (1961-1990) average of 14.0 °C;
  • There is a 60% probability that 2007 will be as warm or warmer than the current warmest year (1998 was +0.52 °C above the long-term 1961-1990 average).

Playing around with the numbers, and assuming a normal distribution of possible outcomes, this implies that their forecast mean is .54C and their expected std deviation is .0785C.  This would give a 60% probability of temperatures over 0.52C.

The most accurate way to measure the planet's temperature is by satellite.  This is because satellite measurements include the whole globe (oceans, etc) and not just a few land areas where we have measurement points.  Satellites are also free of things like urban heat biases.  The only reason catastrophists don't agree with this statement is because satellites don't give them the highest possible catastrophic temperature reading (because surface readings are, in fact, biased up).  Using this satellite data:


and scaling the data to a .52C anomaly in 1998 gets a reading for 2007 of 0.15C.  For those who are not used to the magnitude of anomalies, 0.15C is WAY OFF from the forecasted 0.54C.  In fact, using the mean and std. deviation of the forecast we derived above, the UK Met office basically was saying that it was 99.99997% certain that the temperature would not go so low.  Another way of saying this is that the Met office forecast implied 2,958,859:1 odds against the temperature being this low in 2007.

What are the odds that the Met office needs to rethink its certainty level?

Much more from The Reference Frame

This is Science?

It is just amazing to me that the press has granted statements like the one below the imprimatur of being scientific while labeling folks like me "anti-science" for calling them out:

Previously it was assumed that gradual increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere would produce gradual increases in global temperatures. But now scientists predict that an increase of as little as 2˚C above pre-industrial levels could trigger environmental effects that would make further warming—as much as 8˚C—inevitable.

Worse still, a 2˚C increase is highly likely if greenhouse gas concentrations reach 450 parts per million (ppm). They presently stand at 430ppm and are increasing by 2-2.5 ppm per year.

Gee, where do I start?  Well, first, the author can't even get the simplest facts correct.  World CO2 concentrations hover in the 380's (the amount varies seasonally) and is not anywhere near 430.  Second, I have demonstrated any number of times that our history over the past 120 years would lead us to expect at most a 1 degree rise over pre-industrial levels at 560, and thus a 2 degree rise by 450 is not "highly likely."  Third, just look at the author's numbers at face value.  Catastrophists believe temperatures have risen (reason disputed) about 0.6-0.7 degrees in the last century or so.  If we are really at 430 ppm, then that means the first 150ppm rise (preindustrial CO2 was bout 280ppm) caused at most 0.6C, but the next 20 ppm to 450 would cause 1.4C, this despite the fact that CO2 concentations have a diminishing return relationship to temperature.  Yeah, I understand time delays and masking, but really -- whoever wrote these paragraphs can't possibly have understood what he was writing.

But I have not even gotten to the real whopper -- that somehow, once we hit 2 degrees of warming, the whole climate system will run away and temperatures will "inveitably" rise another 8C. Any person who tells you this, including Al Gore and his "tipping points," is either an idiot or a liar.  Long-term stable systems do not demonstrate this kind of radically positive feedback-driven runaway behavior (much longer post on climate and positive feedbacks here).  Such behavior is so rare in physical systems anyway, much less ones that are demonstrably long-term stable, that a scientist who assumes it without evidence has to have another agenda, because it is not a defensible assumption (and scientists have no good evidence as to the magnitude, or even the sign, of feedbacks in the climate system).

By the way, note the source and remember my and others' warmings.  A hard core of global warming catastrophists are socialists who support global warming abatement not because they understand or agree with the science, but because they like the cover the issue gives them to pursue their historic goals.

HT:  Tom Nelson

First Against the Wall

It appears that civil discourse on climate science may soon not be possible, as folks like this are discussing use of violence against those who do not support the religion of catastrophic man-made global warming. 

These are words to contemplate as we head into a 2008 without any significant action taken by the US government (to say nothing of other countries) on climate change. We are in critical battle for this planet, and we need to think seriously about doing whatever it takes to stop the actions which are destroying the land and seas...and contributing to snowballing (or, more appropriately, snow-melting) climate collapse. Are petitions, lobby days, call-ins, protests, and nonviolent civil disobedience enough?

I hear Galileo had the same problem.  By the way, I certainly found it entertaining that the author signs his call to violence against people who do not share the same science as he "in good heart."

(via Tom Nelson)

False Sense of Certainty

Bruce Hall observes that climate forecasters probably need to adjust their confidence intervals.  For example:

  • NOAA predicted a the beginning of this season that there was an 85% chance of an above-normal season.  In fact, the hurricane season was well below average.  I haven't done the math, but my guess is that if their forecast showed 85% probability of above normal, the year probably came in in the bottom 1% of its expected distributions
  • The UK Met Office predicted that there was a 60% probability that world temperatures in 2007 would be the highest in the last 100+ years, ie higher than temperatures in 1998.  In fact, it looks like 2007 will be among the coolest years in decades, and will come in as much as a half degree C below 1998, a huge difference.  Again, I have not run the numbers, but it is safe to say that this outcome would probably have been in the bottom 1% of the original forecast distribution.

If all your forecasts are coming out in the bottom 1% of the forecast range, then it is safe to assume that one is not forecasting very well.  Which reminds me of Michael Mann, who said with famous confidence that there was a 95-99% probability that 1998 was the hottest year in the last 1000, which is an absurd claim.  (Mann now denies having said this, but he is actually on film saying it, about 25 seconds into the linked clip).

A Brief Window into How the IPCC Does Science

I thought I had blogged on this topic of seal level measurement previously, but after reading this from Q&O and looking back, I see that I never posted anything.

As a brief background:

Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner is the head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University in Sweden. He is past president (1999-2003) of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, and leader of the Maldives Sea Level Project. Dr. Mörner has been studying the sea level and its effects on coastal areas for some 35 years. He was interviewed by Gregory Murphy on June 6 for EIR

Climate scientists are notoriously touchy about non-climate folks "meddling" in their profession, but they have no such qualms when they venture off into statistics or geology or even astrophysics without much knowlege of what they are doing.  This story is telling, as told by Dr. Mörner:

Another way of looking at what is going on is the tide gauge. Tide gauging is very complicated, because it gives different answers for wherever you are in the world. But we have to rely on geology when we interpret it. So, for example, those people in the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], choose Hong Kong, which has six tide gauges, and they choose the record of one, which gives 2.3 mm per year rise of sea level. Every geologist knows that that is a subsiding area. It's the compaction of sediment; it is the only record which you shouldn't use. And if that figure is correct, then Holland would not be subsiding, it would be uplifting.

And that is just ridiculous. Not even ignorance could be responsible for a thing like that. So tide gauges, you have to treat very, very carefully. Now, back to satellite altimetry, which shows the water, not just the coasts, but in the whole of the ocean. And you measure it by satellite. From 1992 to 2002, [the graph of the sea level] was a straight line, variability along a straight line, but absolutely no trend whatsoever. We could see those spikes: a very rapid rise, but then in half a year, they fall back again. But absolutely no trend, and to have a sea-level rise, you need a trend.

Then, in 2003, the same data set, which in their [IPCC's] publications, in their website, was a strai-ght line—suddenly it changed, and showed a very strong line of uplift, 2.3 mm per year, the same as from the tide gauge. And that didn't look so nice. It looked as though they had recorded something; but they hadn't recorded anything. It was the original one which they had suddenly twisted up, because they entered a “correction factor,” which they took from the tide gauge. So it was not a measured thing, but a figure introduced from outside. I accused them of this at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow —I said you have introduced factors from outside; it's not a measurement. It looks like it is measured from the satellite, but you don't say what really happened. And they ans-wered, that we had to do it, because otherwise we would not have gotten any trend!

That is terrible! As a matter of fact, it is a falsification of the data set. Why? Because they know the answer. And there you come to the point: They “know” the answer; the rest of us, we are searching for the answer. Because we are field geologists; they are computer scientists. So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don't find it!

More on IPCC Reports

It has been said many times, but it is always worth pointing out again at the time of this new IPCC report just how flawed the IPCC process is and how little the IPCC summaries have to do with, you know, science.

The IPCC involves numerous experts in the preparation of its reports. However, chapter authors are frequently asked to summarize current controversies and disputes in which they themselves are professionally involved, which invites bias. Related to this is the problem that chapter authors may tend to favor their own published work by presenting it in a prominent or flattering light. Nonetheless the resulting reports tend to be reasonably comprehensive and informative. Some research that contradicts the hypothesis of greenhouse gas-induced warming is under-represented, and some controversies are treated in a one-sided way, but the reports still merit close attention.

A more compelling problem is that the Summary for Policymakers, attached to the IPCC Report, is produced, not by the scientific writers and reviewers, but by a process of negotiation among unnamed bureaucratic delegates from sponsoring governments. Their selection of material need not and may not reflect the priorities and intentions of the scientific community itself. Consequently it is useful to have independent experts read the underlying report and produce a summary of the most pertinent elements of the report.

Finally, while the IPCC enlists many expert reviewers, no indication is given as to whether they disagreed with some or all of the material they reviewed. In previous IPCC reports many expert reviewers have lodged serious objections only to find that, while their objections are ignored, they are acknowledged in the final document, giving the impression that they endorsed the views expressed therein.

Declaring the Science Complete Before It Was Even Started

Many of us who hear the frequent phrase "the science is settled" understand that no such thing is true.  We barely understand much, if anything, about climate.  We have been studying it seriously, with modern tools like sattelites and historical proxies, for perhaps 30 years.  From a historical perspective, no system as complex as science was cracked by man in as little as 30 years, but it is not unusual that people try to declare that the debate is over (The phlogiston theory of combustion is settled science!)

However, I found this article by Richard Lindzen in 1992 particularly fascinating.  I don't think any serious climate scientist today would say that we really understood much about climate in 1989.  But that didn't stop folks from calling it settled:

By early 1989, however, the popular media in Europe and the United States were declaring that "all scientists'' agreed that warming was real and catastrophic in its potential.
In the meantime, the global warming circus was in full swing. Meetings were going on nonstop. One of the more striking of those meetings was hosted in the summer of 1989 by Robert Redford at his ranch in Sundance, Utah. Redford proclaimed that it was time to stop research and begin acting. I suppose that that was a reasonable suggestion for an actor to make, but it is also indicative of the overall attitude toward science. Barbara Streisand personally undertook to support the research of Michael Oppenheimer at the Environmental Defense Fund, although he is primarily an advocate and not a climatologist. Meryl Streep made an appeal on public television to stop warming. A bill was even prepared to guarantee Americans a stable climate.

Hat tip to Tom Nelson who is doing as good a job as any skeptic site of providing links to interesting articles every day.  I hope he can keep up his early blistering pace.

A Critique of the IPCC

Via Tom Nelson, a in-depth critique of the UN IPCC climate assessment process.

The State of Climate Science

No matter whether we agree with the conclusions of climate scientists or not, this kind of thing should worry everyone:

The idea that there would be inconsistent versions of something from Lonnie Thompson is not something that will surprise previous readers. Here is a collation of different “grey” versions of one of the components in the above graphic (Dunde). Dunde was drilled in 1987 and is a staple of multiproxy studies. It has about 3000 samples containing not just dO18 values but relevant dust and chemistry information. Thompson has refused to archive original sample data. I’ve made many efforts to get this data but have been rebuffed by Thompson himself, the National Science Foundation, Science magazine and the National Academy of Sciences (both in their capacity as publishers of PNAS and in their capacity as organizers of the Surface Temperatures panel). This is important data which cannot be duplicated by third parties - Thompson has an obligation to archive all sample information and NSF and the journals have an obligation to require him to archive it: none of them are living up to these obligations. Maybe Al Gore could ask him.

The results of different Thompson versions of Dunde make a spaghetti graph all by themselves. Note that one version with annual data ends at a very low value. This inconsistency is not isolated to Dunde - as you can see from perusing the posts in the Thompson category.

Dunde Versions. Heavy black - Yao et al 2006 (3 year rolling average); thin black - MBH98 (annual); red - PNAS 2006 (5-year averages); blue - Clim Chg 2003 (10-year averages); purple - Yang et al 2002 (values in 50 -year intervals); green - Crowley and Lowery 2000 (original in standardized format, re-fitted here for display by regression fit to MBH98).

What you see is a climate scientist  who refuses to release a critical experimental / observational data set to the broader community, while at various times releasing what appear to be wildly different versions of the data.

And this is frightening as well:

In 2003, Thompson took a new ice core at Bona Churchill. We haven’t heard anything about it. On previous occasions, e.g. here , I’ve predicted that 20th century values at this site would be lower than 19th century values - using the mining promotion philosophy that if Thompson had had “good” results, we’d have heard about them. The prediction has a little more teeth than that as dO18 values at nearby Mount Logan obtained and already published by Fisher et al went down in the 20th century.

Here, we see that Steve McIntyre is able to make reliable predictions of a climate scientist's actions using the simple prediction heuristic "if the study does not end up getting published, it means that the results did not support the catastrophic man-made global warming proposition."  Call it, I gues, the Inconvinient experimental results.

Oh, and by the way -- Thomson was the source of many of the temperature reconstructions, including the "hockey stick," shown by Gore in An Inconvinient Truth.

Climate News Roundup

The Reference Frame has posted a good roundup of climate news, not just limited to Al Gore.

The Studies Do No Such Thing

Today the USA Today announced in a headline:

Studies Link Man-Made Causes to Rise in Humidity

From the article:

One study, published in today's edition of the journal Nature, found that the overall increase in worldwide surface humidity from 1973-99 was 2.2%, which is due "primarily to human-caused global warming," according to study co-author Nathan Gillett of the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, U.K.

Here is what makes me immediately suspicious, even at this point in the article:  No one can acurately come up with an empirical proof of how much of the warming from 1973-99 was due to man's activities and how much was due to natural effects (the best you can find are studies that say "most" or "a lot of" or "some".  Therefore, it is impossible that anyone was able to attribute a humidity rise just to the man-made portion of the warming, since we don't know how much that was.

Second, there are been a number of good studies that have shown that man can have a substantial effect on air humidity, but that these effects tend to be due to land use (e.g. agriculture, irrigation, urbanization, and even swimming pools) rather than CO2 caused warming.  To throw all of the humidity rise only on CO2, and not these other anthropogenic effects, seems facile.

So how did the study author's get to their conclusions?

It turns out the only empirical work anyone did was measure humidity.  And yes, humidity did seem to go up over the these decades.  But this is the end of the empirical work in the studies. 

Both studies relied primarily on computer models of the Earth's climate system to reach their conclusions.

Great.  For years I have called these computer models scientific money-laundering.  They take unproven assumptions, plug them into something they call a model, and then get results they claim to be proven.  They are washing garbage unproven assumptions through these black boxes and then calling them clean results on the back end.  Garbage In - Scientific Proof Out. It is crazy.  The models are built on the assumption that anthropogenic effects drive the climate, and so they therefore spit out the results that... anthropogenic effects drive the climate.

Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, says, "The main thing they're trying to show is that the recent warming and moistening in the last 30 years is outside the range of natural variability, and that man is causing the warming. The use of climate models to do this is not convincing. … The idea that you can use climate models as a surrogate for reality is circular reasoning."

I often tell my friends that when you really flay away all the bullshit, the main argument by climate catastrophists for anthropogenic origens of climate change is that scientists "can't think of anything else it can be."  In other words, having exhausted all the natural causes the current state of the science knows about, they assume the cause must be man.  My friends never believe me when I say this, but here is a climate scientist in his own words:

"Natural variability in climate just can't explain this moisture change. The most plausible explanation is that it's due to the human-caused increase in greenhouse gases," Santer says. His study also discounted influences from solar activity and the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

This is the heart of the "link" trumpeted in the article's headline -- that scientists can't imagine that the cause is natural varaiblity and that it is plausible man is the cause.  Wow, that's good science.  And by the way, can you imagine if, say, astrophysics took the same approach?  "We don't know of any natural phenomenon that would cause pulsars so they must be man-made."  This is science Percival Lowell would have loved.

Are Pirates Behind Global Warming?

The LA Times had a great article on correlations and causations:

AGITTARIANS are 38% more likely to break a leg than people of other star signs — and Leos are 15% more likely to suffer from internal bleeding. So says a 2006 Canadian study that looked at the reasons residents of Ontario province had unplanned stays in the hospital.

Leos, Sagittarians: There’s no need to worry. Even the study’s authors don’t believe their results.

They’re illustrating a point — that a scientific approach used in many human studies often leads to findings that are flat-out wrong.

Such studies make headlines every day, and often, as the public knows too well, they contradict each other. One week we may hear that pets are good for your health, the next week that they aren’t. One month, cellphone use causes brain cancer; the next month, it doesn’t.

“It’s the cure of the week or the killer of the week, the danger of the week,” says Dr. Barry Kramer, associate director for disease prevention at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. It’s like treating people to an endless regimen of whiplash, he says.

Take the case of just one item: coffee. Drinking two or three cups per day can triple the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a 1981 study. Not so, concluded a larger follow-up study published in 2001.

Coffee reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, found a 1998 study. Not so, according to one published later, in 2005.

“I’ve seen so many contradictory studies with coffee that I’ve come to ignore them all,” says Donald Berry, chair of the department of biostatistics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

I wrote about some similar examples in my guide to global warming, in the chapter on the dangers of modelling based on past regression data:

How is it possible that a model that accurately represents the past fails to accurately predict the future?  Financial modelers, like climate modelers, look to history in building their models.  Again, like climate modelers, they rely both on theory (e.g. higher interest rates should generally mean lower stock prices) as well as observed correlations in the historic data set.  The problem they meet, the problem that every modeler meets but most especially the climate modeler, is that while it is easy to use various analysis tools to find correlations in the data, there is often nothing that will tell you if there is really a causal relationship, and which way the causality runs. For example, one might observe that interest rates and exchange rates move together.  Are interest rate changes leading to exchange rate adjustments, or vice versa?  Or, in fact, are they both caused by a third variable?  Or is their observed correlation merely coincidence?

It was once observed that if an old AFL football team wins the Superbowl, a bear market will ensue on Wall Street in the next year, while an NFL team victory presaged a bull market.  As of 1997, this correlation held for 28 of the last 31 years, a far better prediction record than that of any Wall Street analyst.  But of course this correlation was spurious, and in the next 4 years it was wrong every time.  Had someone built a financial model on this indicator, it would have looked great when he ran it against history, but he would have lost his shirt using it. 

Want a better prediction record?  For seventeen straight US presidential election cycles, from 1936 to 2000, the winner of the election was accurately predicted by…the Washington Redskins.  In particular, if the Redskins won their last home game before the election, the party that occupies the White House holds it in the election.  Otherwise, if the Redskins lose, the opposition party wins.  Seventeen in a row!  R-squared of one!  Success against odds of 131,072:1 of guessing all 17 right. But of course, the input was spurious, and in 2004, soon after this relationship made the rounds of the Internet, the algorithm failed.

Note that the historic relationship between football and elections is much stronger than the historic relationship between global warming and CO2.  In the last 12 decades, CO2 levels and temepratures have only moved in the same direction in half the decades. 

Finally, as promised in the title of this post, here is the stunning relationship between global warming and the number of pirates in the world, via the Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid:


We Love Open Debate, as Long as You Are On Our Side

Virginia state climatologist Patrick MIchaels was fired from his job because he did not support catastrophic man-made global warming theory.  Luboš Motl observes that he has co-authored over 400 papers which have hundreds of citations, and is being replaced by a man who has co-authored 9 papers that have been cited 1 time.

It Has To Be Man's Fault. We're Just Not Sure How

No, I am not going to get into ozone depletion theory.  While the science of anthropogenic ozone depletion has some uncertainties, the costs of abatement are radically lower, by order of magnitude, than for CO2-caused warming.  This changes the cost-benefit ration of action radically, resulting in it making more sense to take action on CFC's "on the come" or "just in case" than is the case for CO2.

However, I just could not resist the last paragraph below from Nature, via Hit and Run (emphasis added):

The rapid photolysis of Cl2O2 is a key reaction in the chemical model of ozone destruction developed 20 years ago2 (see graphic). If the rate is substantially lower than previously thought, then it would not be possible to create enough aggressive chlorine radicals to explain the observed ozone losses at high latitudes, says Rex. The extent of the discrepancy became apparent only when he incorporated the new photolysis rate into a chemical model of ozone depletion. The result was a shock: at least 60% of ozone destruction at the poles seems to be due to an unknown mechanism, Rex told a meeting of stratosphere researchers in Bremen, Germany, last week....

Nothing currently suggests that the role of CFCs must be called into question, Rex stresses. "Overwhelming evidence still suggests that anthropogenic emissions of CFCs and halons are the reason for the ozone loss. But we would be on much firmer ground if we could write down the correct chemical reactions."

Exxon Was Only Offering $10,000

Recently, Newsweek staked out the position that a) Much of global warming skepticism is tainted because Exxon was paying $10,000 honarariums for skeptical articles and b) James Hansen is a man we can all trust and is above reproach and untainted by bias.


How many people, for instance, know that James Hansen, a man billed as a lonely "NASA whistleblower" standing up to the mighty U.S. government, was really funded by Soros' Open Society Institute , which gave him "legal and media advice"?

That's right, Hansen was packaged for the media by Soros' flagship "philanthropy," by as much as $720,000, most likely under the OSI's "politicization of science" program.

That may have meant that Hansen had media flacks help him get on the evening news to push his agenda and lawyers pressuring officials to let him spout his supposedly "censored" spiel for weeks in the name of advancing the global warming agenda.

Hansen even succeeded, with public pressure from his nightly news performances, in forcing NASA to change its media policies to his advantage. Had Hansen's OSI-funding been known, the public might have viewed the whole production differently. The outcome could have been different.

Look, I don't really care if Hansen took private money freely given to espouse his global warming opinions.  However, I am tired of skeptics taking media pot-shots for being "tainted" and "biased" for being funded at levels that are orders of magnitude lower than are climate catastrophists.  As I pointed out in the post linked above, James Hansen, Al Gore & Co. are to skeptics in terms of funding as is Hillary Clinton is to Mike Gravel in campaign contributions.  Never before can I remember the side getting outspent 1000:1 being the one targeted for being tainted by money.  Maybe we can stop and put real scientific scrutiny on James Hansen's work.

Less than Meets the Eye in Peer-Reviewed Studies

This comes out of the medical field but sounds about right for climate (WSJ$, emphasis added)

Dr. Ioannidis is an epidemiologist who studies research methods at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece and Tufts University in Medford, Mass. In a series of influential analytical reports, he has documented how, in thousands of peer-reviewed research papers published every year, there may be so much less than meets the eye.

These flawed findings, for the most part, stem not from fraud or formal misconduct, but from more mundane misbehavior: miscalculation, poor study design or self-serving data analysis. "There is an increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims," Dr. Ioannidis said. "A new claim about a research finding is more likely to be false than true."

The hotter the field of research the more likely its published findings should be viewed skeptically, he determined....

Statistically speaking, science suffers from an excess of significance. Overeager researchers often tinker too much with the statistical variables of their analysis to coax any meaningful insight from their data sets. "People are messing around with the data to find anything that seems significant, to show they have found something that is new and unusual," Dr. Ioannidis said.

Reciting the Litturgy

In a number of past posts over at Coyote Blog, I have noticed the phenomenon of published studies whose data does nothing to bolster the theory of anthropogenic global warming adding in a line or two in the article saying that "of course the author's support anthorpogenic global warming theory" in the same way movies routinely assure audiences that "no animals were hurt in the filiming of this movie."

Here is one example:  If you have seen An Inconvinient Truth, then you may remember a Really Big Chart shown by Gore with 650,000 years of temperature history.  In case you missed it, here is the data, derived from ice cores:

The red line is CO2 concentrations, while the black line is a proxy for temperatures.  When it first came out, it was compelling evidence that CO2 was not only a major driver of temperature, it may be the main driver.  However, followup work showed that when you zoom in on the scale, the temperature in each spike starts rising 800 years before the CO2 rises, implying instead that temperature is driving CO2 (via outgassing from oceans) rather than the other way around.  Many call this problem the 800-year lag.  Anyway, the scientists who discovered this 800-year lag felt compelled to add this line to their publication.  They said the team

... is still in full agreement with the idea that CO2 plays, through its greenhouse effect, a key role in amplifying the initial orbital forcing ...

You can just see the fear.  Please, don't take our climate funding away.  We didn't mean to find this evidence.  We're sorry.  We're still believers.  Another example here.

Anyway, this week Steven Milloy has an even more stark example:

Veizer reluctantly told me the "text" of the Nature study, that is, the above-quoted conclusion, represented a "compromise" between the study’s disagreeing authors where Veizer’s side apparently did all the compromising for reasons that had little to do with the science.

While Veizer didn’t want to elaborate on the politics of the Nature study, he told me "not to take the tone of the paper as the definitive last word."...

There’s another point worth spotlighting in all this. It seems that the politics of global warming including the multibillion-dollar-funding of global warming research resulted in the publication in a prestigious science journal of a "compromise" conclusion that is not supported by the study’s own data.

"Science should never be adjusted to fit policy," was the reprimand the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency received from its own Science Advisory Board in 1992. But that’s exactly what seems to be happening to climate science. It’s a situation reminiscent of George Orwell’s "1984," in which Ministry of Truth worker Winston Smith wonders if the State could get away with declaring that "two and two made five."

Who’s wondering now? A recent series of reports from the Science and Public Policy Institute spotlights problems with the
peer review process of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and efforts to create the illusion of scientific consensus on global warming.

Visits (Coyote Blog + Climate Skeptic)

Powered by TypePad