Too hot to handle

Prospect Magazine

Too hot to handle

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Before we embark on drastic plans to combat climate change, we must be sure of the facts

An automatic weather station being installed on Butler Island, Antarctica

The belief that man is warming the Earth’s climate via greenhouse gas emissions is supported by evidence showing a modest increase in global temperatures over recent decades. But what is the scale of these increases, and are they in any way abnormal? To find out, we need an accurate record over a long period. This is where the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) comes in, and why the “climategate” scandal over its leaked emails matters so much.

The CRU is one of the world’s leading climatic research bodies. Its scientists, along with the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, build and maintain the world’s temperature record. This may sound easy, especially as the figures they produce always seem precise: in 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put warming over the past 100 years at exactly 0.74°C. But tracking such tiny temperature changes is tricky—even over the last century when we have had decent thermometer coverage. Do you measure highs, lows or averages? Should readings come from Siberia, Antarctica or Australia—and, if all of them, how do you weight the results for a global average? By land area? What about seas?

To get round this the CRU divides the world into geographical grids. It gathers data from meteorological offices all over the world, makes adjustments and obtains a temperature for each grid. Researchers then compare this result against a baseline of historical temperatures for that grid. The average of the differences across every grid reveals how much global temperatures today differ from historical temperatures.

But there are problems, even if you do this carefully. The first is urbanisation. Ideally, thermometers would be in the same place for long periods and unaffected by people. Yet they are often placed near airports, for example, where they are susceptible to an “urban heat island” (UHI) effect, as traffic increases or runways expand. This UHI effect has happened most in places where the record should be most trustworthy, like Britain and the US, where economic development has been strongest, so the surface temperature record has a manmade upward bias which needs to be adjusted for. The CRU’s adjustment methodology is not disclosed.

Even in the countryside, a thermometer on a farm could be exposed to more machinery today than a century ago. Comparisons of rural and urban thermometers have shown heat island effects of a few degrees celsius. Some studies claim that apparently rising temperatures are correlated with local economic activity rather than global warming. Other problems come when a thermometer is replaced, creating discontinuous data, so the series needs blending. This blending and averaging is far from perfect in places like Britain. But in Siberia and China the CRU has to take data without even observing the weather stations. (For 30 years there has been satellite data too, but this measures only at higher altitudes and has shown less warming than at ground level.)

This is why “sceptics” have, not unreasonably, asked to see the raw data. A scientist cannot say “I have discovered X” if he refuses to share the data to test his discovery. A 2005 email from CRU director Phil Jones to Australian sceptic Warwick Hughes highlighted this: “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?” In another email he wrote that he had deleted “loads of emails” after receiving freedom of information requests, and had asked other scientists to do the same.

The good news is that now, post-climategate, the CRU and the Met Office have released data they had claimed was protected by copyright, or subject to confidentiality agreements. So the scandal has encouraged greater openness. But it has done less to solve a second problem, which arises when you try to deduce temperatures going back thousands of years. Palaeoclimatology (climate study of the history of the Earth) is harder than short term measurements, as there are no records. Temperature changes must be inferred through tree rings or ice cores. Yet some tree cores, for instance, suggest different histories from one side of the tree to the other, while their growth is changed by rainfall and CO2 as well as temperature. Another problem comes with the infamous “hockey stick” graph, devised by US climatologist Michael Mann and featured prominently in Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth. This used tree ring data from Russia and the US to show temperatures gently falling for most of the last 1,000 years, then shooting up from the middle of the 20th century, like the end of a hockey stick. Yet the graph seemed to miss two crucial periods: the “medieval warm period” from the turn of the last millennium to the 15th century, and the “little ice age” at the start of the 17th century, when the Thames regularly froze. Mann claimed these periods were local in nature; sceptics, meanwhile, suspected that the techniques used to create graphs like the hockey stick had been designed to favour the idea that warming in the second half of the 20th century was unprecedented.

There is no conspiracy here. But the scientists involved in climate research for the past 30 years may have enjoyed their golden age too much. Research grants have flowed freely, although not, of course, as freely to scientists with contrary views. I am far from being a climate change denier. It seems perfectly likely that we are having, or will have, an effect on warming through the higher concentrations of greenhouse gases. But the evidence is not yet clear; there were, for example, periods of warming in the 19th century almost identical to the modest warming we seem to have experienced since 1975. We cannot rely on highly imperfect climate models as a basis for policy initiatives that cost billions and change how we live. An accurate and unbiased temperature record is critical.

Read what James Lovelock, Bjorn Lomborg, Ed Miliband and many other experts have to say about climate change in Prospect’s Copenhagen special

  1. February 24, 2010

    Der

    Quote \I am far from being a climate change denier\

    I on the other hand am a denier, now what does that mean, it has been a label pulled out of the political slime, to label those who do no not subscribe to the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis, in order to stifle debate and censure opposition by associating them to the Holocaust.

    No one I ever met nor know debates the existence of \Climate Change\ it has always changed. What is in question is the hypothesized feedbacks in the climate attributed to increasing CO2, leading to temperatures increases of between 2 and 6 degrees and more importantly the policies e,g, cap and trade to mitigate the effects of said increases. The devastating effects such policies will have on our lifestyles vis a vi to the economy and access to cheap energy on which our way of living is premised, and finally has the unholy stink of fraud emanating from the climate change industry from vested political and financial interests to suppression of data, intimation and spurious conclusions coming from some climate \scientists\.

  2. February 24, 2010

    Martin

    Why on earth shouldn’t we ‘rely on imperfect climate models as a basis for policy initiatives that cost billions and change the way we live?’
    Humans get up to all kinds of things that ‘cost billions’ or ‘rely on imperfect models’ or concievably ‘change the way we live’. Or Not.
    I think we need to see the research that leads to the assertion that ‘we cannot rely on imperfect climate models….’.
    I use imperfect models for policy initiatives that change my life all the time. I thought it was precisely what human individuals, groups, nations etc did.

  3. February 24, 2010

    Grant

    “Research grants have flowed freely, although not, of course, as freely to scientists with contrary views.”
    Considering the monetary support from governments, NGO’s, industries, carbon trading investment firms and several Petroleum companies for AGM and IPCC policy reform, please explain which side of the argument (AGW or Non-AGW) you feel is receiving the bulk of funding.

  4. February 24, 2010

    Andrew Wride

    “It seems perfectly likely that we are having, or will have, an effect on warming through the higher concentrations of greenhouse gases.”

    No it does not.

    The earth’s surface is supposed to absorb energy from “Greenhouse Gases” in the atmosphere. This is impossible since the earth’s surface at a mean temperature of roughly 15 degrees Centigrade cannot receive any energy from the atmosphere at a temperature of roughly minus 20 degrees centigrade. (Second Law of Thermodynamics.)

    Please read -

    “Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics” – International Journal of Modern Physics B”.

    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0707/0707.1161v4.pdf

  5. February 24, 2010

    Stephen Fox

    It may be that the science behind AGW is correct. I do not know. But the political drive to conclude the ‘debate’ (of course there has not been one) and move directly into precipitate and expensive countermeasures stinks to high heaven, especially when the science of GM has been so comprehensively rejected in Europe in favour of a ‘Frankenstein food’ response. When challenged on this, politicians are apt to blame ‘political considerations’, by which they mean that popular feeling is against GM crops. Yet they seem unconcerned by the fact that popular feeling is against the notion that this modest warming is catastrophic and the result of human actions.
    Curiously, the media and intellectual world is quite ready to retail and even amplify scepticism of GM, but prefers to label AGW sceptics as ‘evil denialists’.

  6. February 24, 2010

    Ross Thomas

    Thanks for taking a reasonable tone! If only more of the media could do the same, we might be able to have a sensible discussion about the climate which has, of course, been changing in largely cyclical patterns for billions of years, without human help.

    (By the way, there seems to be an editing error at the end of the piece: the last paragraph is more or less a duplicate of the preceding one.)

  7. February 25, 2010

    Scott

    Humility and courage are nice attributes and the author (and editor for that matter) have shown them here.

    Wonderful article. Hopefully other commentators will follow your lead.

  8. February 25, 2010

    mitchel44

    “The good news is that now, post-climategate, the CRU and the Met Office have released data they had claimed was protected by copyright, or subject to confidentiality agreements.”

    You might go back and ask them about that statement. Yes they released SOME of the data, but what they released is not the raw data, it is the “value added”, ie “adjusted”, and it is still not all of it.

    Bottom line is they cannot release all of the raw data, Dr Jones has already admitted to losing some of the historical raw data, and all he now has is the “value added” data. “It’s 80% of the data rather than a full 100%.” http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/327/5968/934/DC1

    How much, and for what time periods, and for what areas of the globe, and if you can re-collect the same data from the same sources now, I don’t know. And I suspect, neither does Dr Jones.

  9. February 25, 2010

    Vangel

    Let us be very clear about one thing. Most of the research money has gone to the people who have argued in favour of AGW. If they suddenly admit that the raw data shows no measurable warming since the 1950s and that the reported warming comes from adjustments made by undisclosed methods their funding will dry up.

    We need to go beyond promising better data handling in the future and to release all of the original unadjusted data and the algorithms were used to adjust it so that the claimed temperature profile can be independently verified.

  10. February 25, 2010

    Warren

    ‘Skeptics’ have proven more interested in the theatre of attempts to obtain ‘raw’ data than actually doing anything with it once they have it,and I completely object to the suggestion that grants go more freely to ‘pro-AGW’ researchers than to those with so-called contrary views. Money follows where the evidence is leading,a lot being spent on increasing observation and quantification of real change. Money doesn’t buy the multiple lines of converging observations that confirm warming and anthropogenic influence. Theoretical disproofs don’t take huge amounts of money ,they require rigor and physical coherence.So far this is lacking.

    Contrary to your claim satellite and surface temperature records show excellent agreement. Have you offset for different baselines?

    Contrarians have been happy to spread malicious disinformation about the UEA CRU emails. A number of books are on the market based entirely on one sided ill-informed speculation on personal correspondence, written without the simple ethical consideration of consulting the email writers and receivers for their approval,memories,context or opinions on the subjects and events. Burdened by these handicaps,these books cannot be considered useful for establishing the truth.

  11. February 25, 2010

    John

    “It seems perfectly likely that we are having, or will have, an effect on warming through the higher concentrations of greenhouse gases. But the evidence is not yet clear; there were, for example, periods of warming in the 19th century almost identical to the modest warming we seem to have experienced since 1975. We cannot rely on highly imperfect climate models as a basis for policy initiatives that cost billions and change how we live. An accurate and unbiased temperature record is critical.”

    I have been saying exactly this to AGW proponents for the last decade, some of whom are directly involved in the institutions of science which are promoting it. Just about every single one of them has labeled me a “denier” at one point or another. So deny being a denier as much as you feel you need, but…welcome to the club. ;)

  12. February 25, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Warren, thank you for your comment. As the mini-bio says, I am a fund manager, and your comment: “Money doesn’t buy the multiple lines of converging observations that confirm warming and anthropogenic influence.” is an important one.

    My analogy here is perhaps far-fetched, but it’s from my world.

    there’s an interesting blog post at http://www.masterresource.org/2010/02/climategate-7-hard-questions-from-enron/ – as with all these things you have to be aware where the person is coming from, but Enron is an interesting hard case of mass-think.

    One comment on that piece was as follows:

    “Imagine being an accountant at Enron. You have dozens of *independent lines of evidence* supporting the hypothesis that you’re working at a sound and hugely successful company: Rising stock prices, rising profits, fancy headquarters, thousands of very smart coworkers and management that believe in the company, positive press articles, etc. You sit at your computer and see that there are problems in your particular area. Logically, you would conclude that it’s no big deal, or that you’re doing something wrong. You wouldn’t conclude that the whole company is worthless, because there are so many other lines of evidence that say otherwise.

    I do see the same dynamic in the global warming debate. Anyone in climatology is familiar with dozens of *independent lines of evidence* that there is recent and sudden and carbon-induced warming–models, paleoreconstructions, temperature data, receding glaciers, extreme weather events, dying polar bears, etc. You sit at your computer and see data that is ambiguous but seems to go against all the other lines of evidence. You would logically conclude that probably the data is actually consistent with this theory and it’s your analysis that has problems, you’ll re-think the analysis and stop thinking when you get the answer consistent with the AGW hypothesis that everyone knows is right.

    The *independent lines of evidence* mentality is always bad, but it is especially bad when it leads to vicious cycles like this.”

    I don’t agree with all of this, but it’s an interesting line of thought. I think it certainly applies to, for example, extreme weather events.

  13. February 25, 2010

    JAmes P

    “There is no conspiracy here”

    I notice you don’t mention Mann’s substitution of instrument data for those obtained from the tree rings at the end of his graph, when the latter started to show a ‘decline’!

    Either tree rings are a useful proxy, in which case they should have been used throughout, or (more likely) they’re not, and shouldn’t have been used at all…

  14. February 25, 2010

    J Mckenna

    Oh dear, this is poor stuff for Prospect. And I see it has attracted the usual scientifically illiterate comments.

    We can all, I think, agree that science will tell us what is happening to the climate.

    We need to remember then that science is conducted by trained scientists and is recorded in peer-reviewed literature. It does not happen in blogs, on websites or discussion forums or any of the other echo chambers of the internet.

    Now, the science of climate change is a massive, inter-locking set of research carried out by thousands of scientists over many years. That body of work cannot be properly assessed by lay-people, whether they are fund managers, engineers or long-ago biology graduates.

    The evidence for temperature increase is based on a range of direct temperature records (not just UEA’s records) and – what wasn’t mentioned – a wide range of indirect evidence from receding glaciers, retreating ice-caps and rising tree-lines.

    What is never discussed – and I’ve not seen disputed in reputable, knowledgeable circles – is the physics that calculates the planet to have a net energy imbalance of 1.6W per sq metre (plus/minus about 0.8). The bulk of that imbalance is calculated to come from CO2.

    So, how sure do we have to be exactly, Roddy? Are you sure that the theory of quantum mechanics is precisely right? If not, you might not want to jump on that plane with all its solid state electronics. Are you sure that MMR never, ever causes autism? If not, don’t get your young children injected!

    Of course, climate science has uncertainties but the risk seems to me to justify an expenditure of one per cent of global income. And it will have the rather nice side effect of eliminating our reliance on the fossil fuels provided by some of the nastiest regimes on the planet.

    Tell me, Roddy, what percentage of your income do you – or others – spend on insurance? In my case, it’s about 4% – and I think it very unlikely that my house will be razed to the ground in 2010.

    I can understand that you might not grasp the range and depth of climate science, Roddy. I am rather puzzled that – given your job – you don’t appear to have a more nuanced understanding of investment and risk appraisal.

    Dr Jonathan McKenna

  15. February 25, 2010

    Harry Sivertsen

    It is apparent that the climate is changing, we not require science to inform us of this. Recent decades have in general, here in the UK produced mild winters, spring flowers are seen earlier, birds nest a little earlier etc etc. Yet look this year and last winter…Climate fluctuates.

    Some cycles are understood such as the el Nino, and when one looks to the ice core results there always have been fluctuations. The changes have not been caused by CO2, historically this increased only after an increase in temperature. The variations likewise were not created by volcano or as some have suggested, comets and other space debris.

    There can be little doubt that the climatic variations are created primarily by the variable output of the sun. Some investigative work has been accomplished in this direction and satellites are currently looking the sun for further information and hence eventual understanding.

    So on that basis the primary cause is one over which we have no control and if the recent chill weather is associated with a lack of sunspots as trends appear to imply, we can expect further cold winters for a while. However, the fact that greenhouse gasses do affect climate clearly indicates that man made warming is a certainty. We need only look to local records and experiences around the globe to note that change is occurring.

    The question is not is it happening, it clearly is, but how do we deal with it?

  16. February 25, 2010

    John Catley

    Some may argue minor details, but this is one of the more insightful pieces I have read on this topic.
    Nobody knows for sure what is happening.
    It seems unlikely to many that the planet is prone to catastrophic tipping points brought on by rapid and uncontrolled anthropogenic warming, but should it be the case, then everyone would want to know.
    The reservations many of us have held to date would be eliminated completely if the data and code for the models were made totally transparent.
    The issue has been that the established climate scientists have felt this inappropriate for whatever reason and this attitude has resulted in the hostile positions adopted by the extremists on both sides.
    Hopefully we now have the right framework developing to put right the problems of the past and to get a solid and respected climate profile.

  17. February 25, 2010

    Known, Unknowns

    We spent 3 TRILLION dollars on the Iraq war that was based on ‘imperfect intelligence models of Iraq’s WMD’s’ and yet those who claim GW is hoax, somehow never even raised a PEEP warning us about the “bad intelligence”.

  18. February 25, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    reply to Jonathan McKenna – thanks for your comments, debate is good.

    I think you’re reading more into the piece than is there. I’m talking about temperature records, instrumental and paleo, uncertainties therein, and the climate climate, if you’ll excuse the pun, post-Climategate, which is an event of importance (3 independent UK enquiries, Russell, RS, and Parliament, plus PSU into Mann). It wasn’t a science piece, after all I’m a layman. :)

    “We can all, I think, agree that science will tell us what is happening ….” – I’ve taken out your last words on purpose – I have a more generally questioning attitude to establishment science, in general, especially when it links to gvt policy responses, but that’s just me.

    “… science …..does not happen in blogs, on websites or discussion forums ….” – no, but there have been some interesting articles such as this one yesterday by Judith Curry (a ‘warmist’ climate scientist) http://curry.eas.gatech.edu/climate/towards_rebuilding_trust.html on the impact the net has had on climate science.

    “That body of work (climate science) cannot be properly assessed by lay-people, whether they are fund managers, engineers or long-ago biology graduates.” I can’t agree that it’s off limits. I think, for example, paleoclimate scientists need more expert statistical input. The drug testing parallel of double blind tests and so on might apply in some areas. I wouldn’t trust the RPI Index if Alastair Darling was in charge of it – I want it compiled by neutral statisticians, and ditto the temperature data, and then audited.

    “The evidence for temperature increase is based on a range of direct temperature records (not just UEA’s records)” – all three surface records use the same raw data of course, although I quite accept they treat it differently. And I accept increasing temperatures, I only mildly make the point that they have increased (and fallen) before GHGs, as we all know, so anthropogenic fingerprint detection – actually that’s another whole area, I won’t go there.

    “and – what wasn’t mentioned – a wide range of indirect evidence from receding glaciers, retreating ice-caps and rising tree-lines.” – I agree, it’s getting warmer since C18. We need to be sure how much warmer, how fast, and what patterns the world has previously experienced. I’m not sure. I’d like to know, so I know what to vote for.

    You don’t raise this point, but it can be implicit in the ‘many lines of evidence’ conversation – confirmation bias. I think it exists here.

    “So, how sure do we have to be exactly, Roddy?” Well, that’s a huge and complicated question, which I make no attempt to address in the article. Crudely I would like scientists to be in charge of the science of AGW, properly vetted, scientists and statisticans in charge of detection and attribution, scientists statisticians and economists to look at impacts, and economists to be in charge of cost-benefit analysis of policy response, adaptation and mitigation.

    “Are you sure that the theory of quantum mechanics is precisely right? If not, you might not want to jump on that plane.” – I have a million observations that planes are safe, including thousands of first-hand ones, not sure I get your point. The science is settled, when it comes to plane travel. The science of acid rain was not. Put another way, the uncertainty bands.

    “.. the rather nice side effect of eliminating our reliance on the fossil fuels provided by some of the nastiest regimes on the planet….” – I strive to avoid elision between AGW and pollution, environmentalism, energy security, sustainability, and political beliefs, but it ain’t easy. They are, however, quite different.

    “I can understand that you might not grasp the range and depth of climate science, Roddy.” – oy! Where did I claim to? :)

    “I am rather puzzled that – given your job – you don’t appear to have a more nuanced understanding of investment and risk appraisal.” – still alive and trading after 30 years and several crashes!

    All the best ….

  19. February 25, 2010

    MaryAnn

    U assume that most of this research is funded by taxpayer money, hence the data the research produces should be available to anyone. Secondly, what kind of scientist is afraid of anyone looking at his/her data? Isn’t the entire point of science that your data must stand up to scrutiny? And deleting emails–well, it all just boggles the mind.

  20. February 25, 2010

    jlori

    Dateline December 12, 2010: This year has been an unremarkable actual climate year but a dumbfounding climate change cultist year. At the beginning of the year, Hansen made his usual forecast predicting possibly the hottest year ever, further proving that he has crossed the line form scientific rigor and objectivity to blind advocacy and intellectual rigor mortis. After a quite stunning increase in the lower troposphere temperature anomaly in January, temperatures dropped like a rock the next two months with the normal ups and downs the rest of the year. At years end, about half of the 20th century warming had just disappeared. An obvious cooling that could not be denied, continuing a 16 year trend, marked the end of the year. While weather is not climate, some are becoming concerned, after a third year of unusually bitter winters in most of the northern hemisphere, resulting is serious loss of life and property, that strategies for adaptation and mitigation to a cooling environment might be advisable. It is becoming clear to all that those ‘global warming’ experts and politicians, blinded by ideology and driven by a lust for power, will never admit that almost all of the climate change observed over the last 100 years was natural. It has cost politicians their cushy government jobs, scientists their professional credibility, the IPCC its very existence, and advocates their fragile sanity. What is worse, it has cost the taxpayer billions of dollars wasted on green jobs, green energy, and economic stagnation. We all enter 2011 with the hope that this year we will finally be rid of the warmist cult.

  21. February 25, 2010

    erik sloneker

    Phil Jones, the disgraced former head of the CRU, recently stated in a BBC interview the following:

    -The climate has shown no statistically significant warming since 1995.

    -The temperature records maintained by the CRU are in such a state of disorder that they are not certain that the station LOCATION data is correct.

    The signifigance of these statements appears to be lost on most people in the media. Not only does the “homoginized” and “adjusted” (read manipulated) temperature data show no significant warming in the past 15 years, but the data set is such a mess that no one really has any idea what is going on with our climate. The only way for the climate change industry (yes, it is an industry now) to regain even a shred of credibility is to discover that transparency is a virtue, make all the raw data available to the public, and start the analysis and discussion all over again.

  22. February 25, 2010

    robert n. anderson

    “there is no conspiracy here”. woo hoo, what a laugher. read your own words. if you cannot deduce, even from this article, that there is, in fact, an enormous conspiracy here, put down your pen, bard, your words have no meaning.

    coprolite

  23. February 25, 2010

    Sherlock

    Sad to think, all this money spent, and we could have had evidence, one way or another. Common sense says they were protecting their jobs, because if nothing out of the ordinary was happening, the money would have stopped flowing to them. Creating a crisis, whether hot or cold, would assure the flow of money. Money for nothing and their chicks for free. Just think of the added value of the weather girls and boys giving you your local forecast with the evening news, how their salaries grew to this man made crisis.

  24. February 25, 2010

    Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen

    Well, ok as far as it goes. Measuring water temperatures is even more important than measuring air temperatures over the land surface,and more difficult and likely to be inaccurate. If human emissions of heat are in part responsible for warming, what would we do in response? Decarbonisation would not help much.

    I myself do see a mild conspiracy (or coalition of common interest) – namely to keep critics out of journals and debates, and to select and interpret the available data to support the dangerous, man-made warming hypothesis enshrined, let’s not forget, as truth in international law since 1992. Governments and the green lobby expected science to support this climate treaty and its later Kyoto Protocol.

    The big, political question remains, why this mild conspiracy? By pressure from within the official climate science research lobby, or from the outside, by government funders and the green lobby, both now calling for a green energy revolution and higher energy prices to pay for it.

    Whatever the reason, I have little doubt that UK scientists overstepped the mark between reporting science and its uncertainties, and becoming advocates for ‘policy-relevant’ findings that underpinned desired energy and taxation policies. Science used thus used, some say misused, by certain governments and especially the EU and UN/World Bank, to justify the global ‘decarbonisation’ of energy supply. What other motives may the advocates have had?

    Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen,
    Editor of Energy&Environment (Multi-Science);
    former Senior Research Fellow, Energy Group, SPRU, University of Sussex and co-author (with A, Kellow) of ‘International Environmental Agreements: The failure of the Kyoto process’, Elgar 2002

  25. February 25, 2010

    Carrie

    Congratulations on a reasonable presentation and analysis, just about one of the best so far that I have read anywhere.
    One of the things I fear is that in going overboard for one theory, the scientists who are analysing and predicting a severe cooling period are being ignored. The Russians are studying the real possibility of cooling.
    We all think of ice ages as being in the distant past, but regular severe ice ages are the pattern of the earth every ten thousand years or so and it is more than eleven thousand years since the last one.

    I’d like to hear your analysis of this topic, as your experience of risks as a fund manager could apply here.

  26. February 25, 2010

    INTJ

    Campbell hits the nail on the head when he replies to the sardonic question “are you sure that the theory of quantum mechanics is precisely right? If not, you might not want to jump on that plane,” saying “I have a million observations that planes are safe, including thousands of first-hand ones, not sure I get your point. The science is settled, when it comes to plane travel.”

    That’s what the problem is. So for, the AGW crowd can only offer theories and complex models which have been no more accurate in their predictions than the average local weather forecast. Supporters – using an analogy that assumes they turn out to be correct – are more Bernoulli than Wright brothers. They have a principle which suggests flight may be possible, but are a couple of centuries away from being able to demonstrate that flight is possible.

    The rest of us await that flight, and in the meantime, we remember that scientists are also the ones who tell us that the flight of bumblebees is impossible.

  27. February 25, 2010

    Edward Will

    Excellent article!!! This is the sort of discourse we need on global warming. In particular, we need to avoid the sensationalistic predictions of near-term death and destruction and focus on long-term issues and solutions. We do not need the injection of a political bias of state control and redistribution of wealth. And we do not need dramatic state intervention in the world’s economies when we are still suffering from a global recession. We can save many more people from death and hardship by improving economies and food supplies than from any climate change initiatives.

  28. February 25, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    reply to robert anderson:

    I had to look up ‘coprolite’! I love a new word, thank you.

    I like Sonja’s phrasing above, ‘coalition of common interest’. Examination of that coalition was beyond the scope of the article, but I agree is interesting.

    Phil Jones would be amazed, aghast, if he was characterised as part of a conspiracy, quite rightly. OED says “The action of conspiring; combination of persons for an evil or unlawful purpose.” There is no evidence of that.

    I think you would enjoy this post http://www.masterresource.org/2010/02/climategate-7-hard-questions-from-enron/ – it’s polemical and interesting.

  29. February 25, 2010

    Xdem

    If the IPCC pseudo-scientists were in a real scientific discipline like physics, they would be ostracized for any one of their transgressions.

    Real scientists don’t fudge the data to achieve an desired outcome.

    Real scientists encourage debate, they don’t stifle it.

    Real scientists prove a theory by testing it not by consensus.

    The Global Warming fakirs don’t deserve the fat salaries, grants and expensive toys they have been getting. And they don’t deserve to be called scientists.

  30. February 25, 2010

    Steamboat

    Global warming/climate change/what ever you call it this week = Hoax & chains.

  31. February 25, 2010

    Rick Jones

    This is a very reasonable and informative article.

    Who could argue against more information ?

    What the Al Gore’s of the world have tried to do is to shove down everyone’s throat their version of the truth and debate be damned.

    This is always evidence of some intellectual foul play.

    Maybe now we can all take a breath and begin to sift the evidence and make policy based on science and not religious belief.

  32. February 25, 2010

    maverickIII

    Nothing wrong with being a sceptic, as we are called. But what science is left to support thier claims, all of Al Gores points in his movie dont hold any truth at all.
    Give me some real science that has been vetted and then we might take another look, otherwise it is dead as far as I am concerned.

  33. February 25, 2010

    Dave Minnich

    “A 2005 email from CRU director Phil Jones to Australian sceptic Warwick Hughes highlighted this: “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?” ”

    Yo – memo to Phil Jones: All scientific data and methodology must be independently reviewed and yes, they do try to find things wrong with it. Why? Because that’s how science works, a**hole.

    Unbelievable, the arrogance of these climate “scientists”.

  34. February 25, 2010

    lucklucky

    Roddy i think you should -i know the space problem- have posted that one of the issues with trees(and a very low number of trees restricted to small place) for Hockey Stick is that after a certain period they were returning confirmed false data. It means we can’t be sure that there is a correlation all along since it can be spurious. We have no explanation why the tree data started to diverge from observed data. it is one more example of reality denying models validity.

  35. February 25, 2010

    John D. Froelich

    Who is to blame for the melting of the icecqps of Mars?

  36. February 25, 2010

    Prospector

    “Research grants have flowed freely, although not, of course, as freely to scientists with contrary views.”

    I have to object to this statement. The author makes it as if it were a fact, therefore, he must have the data to support it.

    Well, Mr. Campbell, let’s see your data?

  37. February 25, 2010

    btw

    So now that housing a property have become a giant ‘ponzi scheme’ sub prime derivatives for many people, what next?
    Cap n Trade – Green derivatives !! Thanks and NO THANKS !
    In the end we will be holding a bag full of toxic green derivatives and AGW scamers demanding Govt bail outs in every country . I say need is for RICO laws used against AGW/Cap n Traders.

  38. February 25, 2010

    RealStory

    “What failed at Copenhagen was not just the summit. A subliminal notion of establishing the UN as a sort of world government through the use of climate politics — using far-reaching management methods to influence, first of all, the world’s economy — has also failed.”
    Die Welt
    Its a FRAUD , Bait and switch operation, there is NO AGW

  39. February 25, 2010

    fyi

    Lame-stream media newspaper have spread lie after lie after lie about “climate change”, “global warming”, or whatever ridiculous name AGWscamers want to give it.

    Its clear AGWscamers know really nothing about this subject, about computer models, the mathematics behind the models, the data collection, the assumptions used to build the models, nor do AGWscamers even understand all of the other factors and phenomenon that can not be modeled precisely. Instead of using AGWscamersr common sense, which apparently AGWscamers have none, AGWscamers would have realized long ago that climate change is a scam or are AGWscamers going to tell us that they can naccurately predict the weather for the next day. At least in the weather forecast they get real time data from thousands of sources all over the world both on land, in the sky and in space. They use some of the most sophisticated models ever devised and run these models on some of the most powerful computers available. And in spite of all this, they can barely predict the weather because it is too complex to model. Let me repeat that, IT IS TOO COMPLEX TO MODEL!

    AGWscamers on the other hand want to believe there is climate change because historic data points to it. Historic data that was collected in completely different ways, using completely different methods and recorded completely differently. AGWscamers believe that by using all of this incompatible and in accurate data will actually produce a useful result other than mental masturbation, which obviously AGWscamers must enjoy to the fullest.

    Thank AGWscamers and all the others out there that totally and completely wasted billions of dollars on pure absurdity. All those researchers and academics whose lives depend on publishing or perishing got a undeserved windfall of money and an undeserved spotlight to espouse their stupidity so they could get even more funding and the fame and respect from others they longed for.

    We’ve seen how the financial crisis was caused by nothing more than a giant house of cards, climate science is exactly one and the same and its house of cards is finally being blown away because there is no real science to support it: NO MATTER HOW MUCH AGWscamers WANT THERE TO BE!

  40. February 25, 2010

    Danram

    Hmmmm …. I guess Mr. Campbell must have been on vacation last week when the same Dr. Phil Jones he references in his column, head of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University, conceded under tough questioning last week that “There has been no statistically significant warming in the last 15 years.”

    The “fact” is that the raw data on which the entire climate change scare has been based is so incomplete and corrupted and the software used to analyze it is so full of bugs that it’s totally useless. Professional programmers and statisticians who have reviewed the actual Fortran computer code that was released along with the infamous “Climategate” e-mails have been aghast at just how riddled with errors it is. Methodology this sloppy shouldn’t receive a passing grade as a high school research project, let alone be allowed to serve as the basis for a multi-trillion dollar reallocation of global resources under government control.

    Mr. Campbell also states that there hasn’t been a conspiracy. I must vehmently disagree. For many years now, there has been a deliberate ostracization of dissenting climatologists among their peers and an organized suppression of their views. “Hey, if you want to get your research money next year, you’d better get on board with this.” It’s been “intellectual Stalinism” at its finest.

    And then we have the rather obvious chicanery of Michael Mann and others attempting to employ statistical trickery to conceal the medieval warm period. After all, if temperatures were higher 1,000 years ago than they are now despite the fact that the Vikings weren’t driving SUV’s, then the argument that man’s emissions of CO2 are driving planetary temperatures higher becomes a lot more difficult to make. So, we can’t have that pesky medieval warm period hanging around, now can we?

    Another “fact” is that there is absolutely ZERO plausible evidence that atmospheric CO2 levels actually drive temperature changes. Yes, pure CO2 is certainly capable of capturing and re-radiating solar energy. However, CO2 constitutes less than 4/100ths of 1 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. The actual increase in atmospheric CO2 over the last 150 years … a miniscule 80 parts per million … represents just 8/1000ths of 1 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. Any seventh grader with average intelligence can readily tell you that a change in the composition of the atmosphere this small can not possibly, in and of itself, raise planetary temperatures.

    Furthermore, ice core data have consistently shown that, far from leading changes in planetary temperatures as AGW theory predicts, atmospheric CO2 levels have actually lagged changes in temperature, usually by several centuries.

    Changes in the Earth’s temperature are driven by cyclical fluctuations in the energy output of the sun, perturbations in the Earth’s orbit around the sun, changes in the Earth’s angle of rotation on its axis, and long-term changes in the topography of the Earth’s surface which alter weather patterns. Compared against factors like these, mankind’s burning of fossil fuels for a mere 150 years is laughable in its insignificance.

    Thankfully, today we have the benefit of an alternative media where the tough questions can be asked and the lies and malfeasance, eventually, can be exposed. Thanks to the internet and to some intrepid soul at East Anglia who simply couldn’t bear to be a party to the “Big Lie” any longer, the lid has now been blown off the climate change scam. The lies and exaggerations are being exposed on almost a daily basis now.

    The jig is up. The “global warming” movement, dreamed up by the radical left as a way to effect a massive re-distribution of the world’s resources and all too willingly fanned into mass hysteria by a sycophantic media, is now dead. Dead as a doornail.

  41. February 25, 2010

    Valiente

    I once had to prepare a spreadsheet showing the quantity of water being discharged into the atmosphere by an evaporation cooler. My spreadsheet worked so well that I was able to show that more water was evaporating than was taken in by the cooler. Since certain taxes were based on the data I provided this was an obvious plus. Higher evaporation equaled lower taxes.

    I am certain that some, probably most, of the climate scientists used the same methodology I did. The end justified the means. The problem is that the means usually, to some degree (pun intended), determines the end.

  42. February 25, 2010

    MikeMca

    The problem with climate change research is that most of the funding is directed towards proving that global warming not only exists, but is man caused, rather than simply investigating the earth’s climate changes and reporting the actual, unadulterated facts.

    Most of the research funding comes from individuals, groups, and companies that stand to profit from manufacturing machines and devices that would ostensibly counter man caused global warming. Consequently, the results of much of the research are skewed to \prove\ a particular point.

  43. February 25, 2010

    Chad

    A couple of points:

    First, the hockey stick graph has only grown stronger and longer since its first incarnations in 1998. Additionally, the National Academy of Science did a very thorough review of the original graph, and confirmed that it was correct. Why, exactly, should we wait any longer?

    Second, let us imagine that new data did appear that proved that the Medevial Warm Period WAS slightly warmer than today. Then, I would ask, “So what”? All this would show is that there is some ‘natural’ phenomenon that can dramatically rise temperatures. But this actually INCREASES the risk of man-made warming, because if this magical MWP-causing force were to return, the two would compound each other. The argument that this magical force is causing the observed warming today is largely bunk. If such a magical force were in operation, we would almost certainly have detected it.

    Third, virtually the data is widely and publically available. How about we insist that the deniers do something useful with the 99.9% of the data they have before they insist on getting the last few scraps they don’t. Let’s not pretend that these FOIA requests are being used honestly. They are not. They are clearly being used as harassment tools. A clear example of this can be seen on yesterday’s realclimate.org post.

  44. February 25, 2010

    Ernie Banks

    Ah… but the Goracle would disagree. The inventor of the Internet says that the science is settled – the time for action is now. If we don’t commit economic suicide, the glaciers in the Himalayas will melt by 2035, the sea will rise by 20 ft, and all the polar bears will die.

    Oops – my bad. Turns out that all of these claims are false. Will the Goracle issue a retraction and return his Nobel prize?

    Don’t hold your breath.

  45. February 25, 2010

    larolyn

    Warren says:
    February 25, 2010 at 8:14 am
    “‘Skeptics’ have proven more interested in the theatre of attempts to obtain ‘raw’ data than actually doing anything with it once they have it,”

    I would jump at the chance to analyze the original data. I have done what I could with the HadCRUT3 and GISTEMP data I’ve found, but please let me have the real data and let me draw conclusions also.
    NEXT:
    “and I completely object to the suggestion that grants go more freely to ‘pro-AGW’ researchers than to those with so-called contrary views. ”

    Grants go to those who can publish, and we have learned that contrary thought was not released.

  46. February 25, 2010

    Alyson King

    I recommend reading ‘Volcanoes and Climate Forcing of Carolingian Europe AD 750 – AD 950′, by Michael McCormack, Paul Edward Dutton and Paul A Mayewski (downloadable chapter). Volcanoes are the biggest climate change forcers and there are plenty erupting around the globe at the moment. The heat currently rising in the atmosphere, or increasing under the ocean floor, will keep the atmosphere warm until after the eruptions cease or diminish, when there will be less heat stored in the air or close to the surface of the earth. This hypothesis is explored in the recommended chapter above.
    There are ancient maps which show Antarctica without ice, as in Hereford Cathedral. The deserts were once lush, while Northern Europe slumbered under the ice. Migration and adaptation might be better in the short term.
    Pollution is our legacy to the future and currently proposed measures, to combat global warming, are unlikely to lessen that problem. And as for Enron and bankrupt Europe – just keep the money cogs turning steadily, please, and let us workers pay for each other to work, paying the debt back slowly. The parasites who manage the international monetary system are curently indispensible to us all. But it is best to remember that money is just the token we all agree to use for exchange of goods and services – and that this system still works – ish.

  47. February 25, 2010

    SeattleMark952

    There are hundreds of millions of people in abject poverty in many countries around the world that could immediately be benefited by the billions of $$ that are being spent (already) on Climate Change. If Climate Change is either being greatly exaggerated (or is largely a scam), what are we thinking??!!

  48. February 25, 2010

    Michael

    A skeptic has an open mind and will change their point of view should the data warrant. Four years ago I was still denying global warming. But as a genuine skeptic I read as much of the science as I could stomach.

    The “no its not” camp has very little in the way of science on its side, although it is widely reported in the popular press. In fact the popular press is equally friendly to both sides of the “debate.”

    The “no its not” camp sound like the same people who proclaimed their wasn’t enough evidence to prove smoking causes cancer. (No surprise, turns out many of the leaders are the same people.)

    The “no its not” camp, like the creationists, keeps asking for more evidence. Doesn’t matter how much is provided, they continue to claim it isn’t enough. In this thread one writer mentions having enough evidence in a couple of hundred years.

    The “no its not” camp keeps making ludicrous claims about the expertise of climate scientists. “The climate is always changing” is my favorite. Really!? You think someone with a Ph.D. in climatology never ever realized the climate changes naturally? Does your family physician realize that blood carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body? Like someone with no background in the field is going to come up with a major break through over breakfast. Just because it didn’t occur to you until this morning doesn’t mean the experts didn’t think of it.

    The “no its not” camp keeps claiming to understand science when they clearly don’t. Jones’ interview included a fairly soft statement referring to the lack of power of testing for climate trends over a 12 year period. The “no its not” camp is delightedly ignoring this critical statistical issue because they think they have evidence against warming. Nope, just evidence of too little data.

    The “no its not” camp keep repeating false facts. The alleged cooling trend in recent years is the result of cherry picking data. It is even more pronounced if you pick 1998 (very, very much warmer than normal) as the starting point. They are abusing the statistics they claim so fervently to want used correctly.

    I find it ironic that those who decry the poor use of statistics in very complex climate modeling (which takes years of training to master) are so willing to accept at face value such a flagrant statistical error in a trivially easy situation (which should be mastered in a High School level statistics course).

    The upshot is that when I actually took the time to take a critical look at the scientific information I found that there are dozens if not hundreds of converging lines of evidence that lead to only one conclusion: the globe is warming and anthropogenic CO2 is a major contributor.

    There are dozens of poorly supported claims (including outright false claims) and random bits of evidence that suggest otherwise. But taken as a whole they barely hold together and in no way lead to serious questioning of global warming.

    If there is actual good evidence that the globe has stopped warming or that the the original models are seriously in error, then I will once again change my mind.

    So, to those who are convinced that it is all a hoax and claiming to be skeptics: Specify what it would take to change your mind. How much and what kind of evidence are you looking for? How much effort are you personally willing to put in to become scientifically literate enough to make your own evaluation of the evidence?

    If nothing can change your mind, you are not a skeptic, you are a denier. If you are unwilling to put the time in to actually learning enough science to follow the arguments, while claiming that they are bogus, you are not a skeptic, you are a denier.

  49. February 25, 2010

    Maxbert

    Hear, hear! Based on what we now know for certain, AGW could be either real, somewhat real, false, or a complete crock. Shouldn’t we find out before instituting a staggeringly expensive \solution.\ Enough with the computerized speculation and political alarmism! Some actual science, please!

  50. February 25, 2010

    J Mckenna

    Thanks for your reply Roddy. I see from your tone that you’re trying to be balanced and sceptical which is a rational, indeed noble, place to be. :-) And I’m sorry about my SOH, it’s just gone AWOL these past few weeks. :-D

    Anyway, you question how certain the science is thereby adding to the tumult of poorly informed lay-comment that has sprung up over the past few weeks. But you also confess that you are not scientifically qualified.

    All lay-people have to use an unreliable instinct – formed from extremely limited human experience – when judging scientific work. So, injecting chemicals into my baby must be bad because I know a 4-year old who was diagnosed with autism the day after. I know GM food is wrong because it’s messing with nature and I watched a Frankenstein film once. I’m certain quantum mechanics (and all the weirdness that requires) is alright because my computer works and planes don’t crash. And I don’t believe AGW any more because we’ve had a cold winter.

    So you personally cannot I think make a reliable judgement of exactly how uncertain AGW is. Doesn’t that rather undermine the central thesis of your blog? Perhaps it’s a whole lot more certain than you believe? But I do agree that climate science has nowhere the predictive ability of quantum physics :-) (Here’s a proxy for the temperature (hoho) of the scientific consensus – go and count all the institutions and publications that have been around more than, say, 20 years, and see how many support the IPCC. And when you’ve found one that rejects AGW, let me know – I’ve never found one.)

    If I seem a bit agitated by this, it’s because, as a long-term subscriber to Prospect, I care passionately about its reputation for informed, in-depth debate and discussion amongst knowledgeable people. If David G really wants to tackle this issue, I think he should engage someone who is an expert in the issues – or even do one of those great Prospect debate pieces that seem to have disappeared recently.

    I respect your opinion and measured tone, Roddy, but, for me, your blog is just another lay piece that doesn’t really add to the millions of lines that have been written on this subject. Prospect could, and should, do better.

    Now. Can you recommend some stocks to me? :-)

    respectfully yours,
    jonathan

  51. February 25, 2010

    Steven

    I have to admit I’ve got to the “wait and see” point regarding man made global warming.

    And I have to confess part of my former (two years ago) enthusiasm for curbing energy consumption may have been bound up with my anger toward and disgust of the material consumption excesses of the rich world. These excesses cause suffering and deprivation that result in miserable short lives and premature death in the poor world.
    Whether it’s a war for oil, deforestation for beef grazing, drug wars disrupting nations’ or simply the exploitation of cheap politically powerless labour– the poor might benefit in a world less driven by the market constructed rich world “need” to consume excessively without regard for others.

    I had hoped … faintly … that efforts to mitigate AGW might make this a kinder gentler more connected world.

    Go on laugh ………
    (you certainly would if you could see the “captcha” I’m requires to type)

  52. February 25, 2010

    Bill

    I was a young adult in the 1970s and remember vividly the alarm and consternation caused by the “climate scientists” of that era who, with equal solemnity and assurance predicted global cooling and a mini ice age by the year 2000.

    They grimly explained that particulates from cars and industrial facilities were accumulating in the atmosphere in sufficient quantity to block the warmth of the sun. Hence, the EPA, unleaded gasoline and catalytic converters.

    Obviously, all we need to do today is resume refining leaded gasoline, put mufflers back on our cars and take the filters off the smokestacks of our plants and refineries. The technology is well known and understood, would be inexpensive to implement and makes every bit as much sense as windmills, solar panels and curly light bulbs.

    Even more obviously, this generation of “climate scientists” is as clueless as previous generations, but just as prone to create crises over impending disasters. That, after all, remains where the money is.

    In short, what bull!

  53. February 25, 2010

    Steven

    Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen says:

    I myself do see a mild conspiracy (or coalition of common interest) – namely to keep critics out of journals and debates, and to select and interpret the available data to support the dangerous, man-made warming hypothesis …

    Hey Doc isn’t “Professor Bjorn Lomborg
    Associate Professor, Dept. of Political Science, University of Aarhus, Danish Institute for Environmental Assessment, Denmark …. part of your editorial advisory board and doesn’t he get more than his fair share of space in the media?

  54. February 25, 2010

    lejones

    Don’t forget that the number of emperature measuring stations has gone from 6,000 in the late 1980s to less than 1,500 today.

    And, guess what? The missing stations were located in rural, colder locations.

    When will this bullcrap end?

  55. February 25, 2010

    paul

    This is well said. I am a PhD chemist with a background in atmosheric gases. I lean on the side that man made CO2 is not a large problem but I remain open…something most of the community seems reluctant to do. What ever the right answer is, it is far too early to make costly social changes to our way of life and no there is no emergency or cliff we are about to fall off with regard to CO2. If at a later time it is proven that man made CO2 is a problem it can be addressed then. The problem if real can be reversed no matter what you hear.

  56. February 25, 2010

    Kevin Lohse

    “Research grants have flowed freely, although not, of course, as freely to scientists with contrary views”. Can you justify this statement?
    wv “summer experts” Priceless!

  57. February 26, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Jonathan McKenna – good to see the SOH back.

    “..you question how certain the science is..” – only, in this piece, in temperature records and reconstructions (and hence the extent to which post 1950 variations can be said to be defo out of line with natural variation) – so I do query the IPCC ‘highly likely’ that man is the cause of ‘the majority of’ the warming there has been. 90% the majority? It just seems a bit certain.

    “…thereby adding to the tumult of poorly informed lay-comment that has sprung up over the past few weeks.” – agree re tumult generally. I was attempting, and some posts have commended it, to be rational calm sensible and untumultous.

    “But you also confess that you are not scientifically qualified.” – ‘confess’? Oooh, bitch. :)

    “All lay-people have to use an unreliable instinct” – true enough. I think my bullshit detector is highly developed, but could be wrong. I use it all the time. And I am not guilty of any of the type of observations you make in the rest of the para.

    “So you personally cannot I think make a reliable judgement of exactly how uncertain AGW is.” – Did I?

    “Doesn’t that rather undermine the central thesis of your blog?” – no, it was only concerned with issues such as UHI and palaeoclimatology re temp records and reconstructions, with a suggestion, no more, that they are not as certain as they are portrayed.

    “And when you’ve found one that rejects AGW, let me know – I’ve never found one.” – nor I. I don’t reject AGW either.

    The rest is for David G, except your request for stock tips. Sadly the FSA forbid me from giving you any, even in jest, but I have been toying with buying some Game Group for my PEP.

    Pip Pip

    Roddy

  58. February 26, 2010

    Dr. Clifton Chadwick

    Your first sentence contains a serious error!!
    You say,
    “The belief that man is warming the Earth’s climate via greenhouse gas emissions is supported by evidence showing a modest increase in global temperatures over recent decades.”
    But the increase in temperatures does NOT support the idea that the causes are man made. It simply shows that temperatures have increased. You have not demnonstrated a causal link.

  59. February 26, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Reply to Chad:

    There’s been too much written on The Hockey Stick to go over it again. For a variety of reasons I don’t trust it, or its later incarnations, but it would take too long to go into. For the expert sceptic view read AW Montford’s book on it. For the expert statistical view read the Wegman report. For the other view of course go to RealClimate. For the ‘this is all wrong but it doesn’t matter’ view read NAS.

    “… let us imagine that … the Medevial Warm Period WAS slightly warmer than today. “So what”?” – it would cast doubt on the accuracy of palaeoclimatic reconstructions, and hence our knowledge of past natural variation, and hence our ability to detect the anthropogenic fingerprint today, which is the only point I was making.

    Re sceptics, I have no real problem with their self-appointed auditing role. I rather feel it’s about time someone did it. See Judith Curry’s post this week http://curry.eas.gatech.edu/climate/towards_rebuilding_trust.html

    Re realclimate, I read it, of course. The disrespect shown to any view that threatens Gavin I find childish. An example today was his outrageous dissing of a post from Sonja Boehme-Christiansen on the Santer thread. It feels more and more like an advocacy thread to me, they often moderate my posts and my tone is always mild. His attacks on the Guardian for having the temerity to cover Climategate ‘fairly’, ie repeat the allegations that have caused three independent investigations, environment news if ever there was, showed that.

  60. February 26, 2010

    Jim Stagg

    At last, a reasonable man! How rare you are in this present controversy.

    Please keep up the effort to INFORM us, rather than to DENOUNCE us, as we non-scientists try to learn what is the truth, while we slog through the rhetoric!

    Thanks for your “common sense”. Keep up the good work!

  61. February 26, 2010

    Dale

    I am both an historian and a scientist. If you wish to discuss mass ratios, specific implules, Holhmann transfer orbits, and the effects of payload weight changes on final velocity, I am more than happy to do so. If you wish to discuss the effects of altitude on nuclear weapon effects and the questionable utility of very large warheads, I am more than happy to do that as well. I am also more than happy to discuss the effects of weather and technology change on military operations from the time of the Sumerians to the present day, life and crop yields during the medieval period, the effects of the Vikings raids on accelerating the development of the feudal system, and the problems of military supply in the North African Theater in World War 2. I mention this to demonstrate that I am not one of Mr. McKenna’s lay-people have to use an unreliable instinct – formed from extremely limited human experience – when judging scientific work. I am also a very profound skeptic on the issue of AGW. Note, I am not denying climate change of periods of time.

    In about 986, Eric the Red lead a group of several hundred Viking settlers from Iceland to Greenland, with the understanding that conditions in Greenland would be comparable or better than conditions in Iceland. One of the consequences was the Norse cemetary on the island of Herjolfness, off of the southern tip of Greenland. At the time of the initial burials, there was no permafrost within 6 feet of the surface, and tree roots were found growing into the coffins of the earliest burials. Around 1200 or so, conditions worsened, and the burials began to become shallower and shallower because of permafrost. Currently, permafrost exists to within a few inches of the surface of the soil. That would appear to make a prima facie case for a significantly warmer period prior to and following the initial Norse settlement of Greenland, followed by a severe decline in temperatures. The corollary implications for European temperatures are quite direct.

    In World War 2, both the US and Great Britain worked very hard to maintain weather stations on Greenland, in order to gain advance warnings on the weather that would be affecting Europe within a period of a few days. They also, mainly through the efforts of the US Coast Guard and its icebreakers, worked very hard at eliminating the weather stations the Germans attempted to maintain for the same reason, advance weather forecasting. I have discussed this with meteorologists, and a very large part of Europe’s weather originates or passes over Greenland. A warmer Greenland is going to result in a warmer Europe. A colder Greenland is going to result in a colder Europe. From my standpoint as an historian, there is very hard evidence for a warmer period than current climate within the historical record. I have very severe reservations about any computer model that manages to make that warmer period followed by a period of cold disappear. Additionally, there is further evidence of a warmer period during medieval times based on glacier cores taken from Greenland by scientists. I am presently doing further research into the extent of warming that is shown.

    That some warming has taken place since 1800, I am more than willing to admit, based on the evidence provided by the existence of Glacier Bay in Alaska. In 1799, when George Vancouver of the British Royal Navy conducted the first European explorations of the area, Glacier Bay did not exist, as the glaciers extended all the way to the mouth of the present bay. However, the melt back began long before 1900, and really began prior to any significant increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Now, looking at temperature records since 1800 in various sources, what does appear is a sawtooth pattern of warming and cooling periods following in succession. Based on US National Weather Service data, the warmest decade in the past century in the US was the 1930s, the period of the Dust Bowl. What also shows up when looking at yearly data is the consequences of the volcanic eruptions of Tomboro Volcano in Indonesia in 1815, the Krakatoa eruption in 1883, and the Katmai eruption in Alaska in 1911, all of which resulted in a temporary cooling of about One Degree Celsius for a period of a year or two, followed by a return to temperatures similar to those previous to the eruption. The effects of the Tomboro eruption were quite noticable in the New England area of the US, where the year of 1816 was referred to as the Year without a summer and Eighteen Hundred and froze to death, and when snow fell in every month, including July. Now, if your hockey stick shows an increase in temperatures of 0.74 degree Celsius in the past 100 year as dramatic, there should be some fairly deep notches in it from these three eruptions. Also, so far, the increase in temperature has had little effect on the permafrost in Greenland. I am curious as to how long and how warm in would have to get to achieve the lowering of the permafrost layer in Greenland to that which matches the depth at the time of the Norse settlement.

    Then, of course, you have the BBC interview with Dr. Jone, the former head of the Climate Research Unit, where he states that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995, that the Medieval Warming Period might(!) have existed, and that the hypothesis of AGW was by no means settled.

    Overall, the more research that I do into the subject of AGW, the more skeptical I am becoming.

  62. February 26, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Reply to Dr. Clifton Chadwick:

    “… the increase in temperatures does NOT support the idea that the causes are man made. It simply shows that temperatures have increased. You have not demnonstrated a causal link.”

    I agree, but I said supported by, I did not say evidence for, let alone proof. Consider the counterfactuals – if temperatures had fallen since 1975, that would not support AGW, but it would be perfectly possible for temps to have fallen further absent us. If temps had risen an ‘unprecedented’ 3C since 1975 (which in fact isn’t unprecedented, but is in modern history) that would be strong support.

  63. February 26, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Jonathan – I’ve just noticed this on WUWT.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/26/a-new-paper-comparing-ncdc-rural-and-urban-us-surface-temperature-data/

    Haven’t read the paper yet, synopsis looks a simplistic analysis of US UHI, methodology could be v susceptible to cherry-picking, I haven’t dug yet. I don’t know Long.

    My scepticism, bullshit detector, whatever, will make me read this assuming it is biased in favour of poor UHI adjustment methodology, mainly because of the Monckton connection.

    Sceptic, not denier!

  64. February 26, 2010

    SPearce

    Along with releasing the temp data, let’s see the assumptions built into the models for the effects of solar radiation and water vapor.

    If the models don’t account for solar variation, then we are still getting garbage out.

    Water vapor varies greatly hour to hour, by altitude and by location, how do the models account for the variability of water vapor. Is water vapor the elephant in the room that no one talks about and CO2 a hair on the elephants rear that everyone in fixated on?

  65. February 26, 2010

    Larolyn

    Thanks to Roddy Campbell I found the article he mentioned. Here is some of its conclusion:
    \The analysis concludes that NCDC “…has taken liberty to alter the actual rural measured values”.
    Thus the adjusted rural values are a systematic increase from the raw values, more and more back into time and a decrease for the more current years. At the same time the urban temperatures were little, or not, adjusted from their raw values. The results is an implication of warming that has not occurred in nature, but indeed has occurred in urban surroundings as people gathered more into cities and cities grew in size and became more industrial in nature. So, in recognizing this aspect, one has to say there has been warming due to man, but it is an urban warming. The temperatures due to nature itself, at least within the Contiguous U. S., have increased at a non-significant rate and do not appear to have any correspondence to the presence or lack of presence of carbon dioxide.
    The paper’s summary reads:
    Both raw and adjusted data from the NCDC has been examined for a selected Contiguous U. S. set of rural and urban stations, 48 each or one per State. The raw data provides 0.13 and 0.79 oC/century temperature increase for the rural and urban environments. The adjusted data provides 0.64 and 0.77 oC/century respectively. The rates for the raw data appear to correspond to the historical change of rural and urban U. S. populations and indicate warming is due to urban warming. Comparison of the adjusted data for the rural set to that of the raw data shows a systematic treatment that causes the rural adjusted set’s temperature rate of increase to be 5-fold more than that of the raw data. The adjusted urban data set’s and raw urban data set’s rates of temperature increase are the same. This suggests the consequence of the NCDC’s protocol for adjusting the data is to cause historical data to take on the time-line characteristics of urban data. The consequence intended or not, is to report a false rate of temperature increase for the Contiguous U. S.\

  66. February 26, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Larolyn – be aware that the SPPI, who published the paper, are virulently sceptic, and in principle as likely as Michael Mann to produce results that suit them. Pinch of salt and sceptic hat needed. I have not read it in detail myself.

  67. February 26, 2010

    Larolyn

    Does anyone know of a reliable data set available in excel or text format that covers temperatures from way before the medeval warm period to the present?

    If this doesn’t exist for all of us techinerds to analyze for ourselves, how can we be expected to believe the conclusions of those who belong to a purjered society?

  68. February 26, 2010

    Larolyn

    “perjured” that is.

  69. February 26, 2010

    Larolyn

    You all have a good thing here. No name-calling and no disparaging comments about my genetics. Roddy Campbell, thanks for the cautionary tip.

  70. February 26, 2010

    Larolyn

    Dale you are a pleasure to read. Thank you for the historical view. It has been a wonder how Greenland got its name since it is now under such a white coat of frozen greenhouse gas.

  71. February 27, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    For those of you who would care to read the words of a wise old lady, expert in the politics of science, yes from a sceptic pov, please read this, her submission to the parliamentary committee investigating climategate.

    Aim off for her own pov by all means, but absorb the whole piece. It is, overall, a very subtle and perspicaceous piece, from one person’s point of view, on the politics of climate science over the last 2 or 3 decades, and it will make you think.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc2602.htm

  72. February 27, 2010

    Gregory Norminton

    A perfect example of ‘concern trolling’, Roddy. Climate change research is imperfect but it’s the best we’ve got, and a few loose threads in a tapestry don’t make it less of a tapestry, though vested interests may pull at them all they please.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/21/AR2010022102917.html

    Some on this thread take an ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ attitude. To wait for proof of devastation (which can only take the form of devastation) is the height of folly. Precautionary principle, anyone?

    But let’s take the position of the majority of posters on this thread. Let’s indulge the fantasy that we’re not endangering ourselves with our chemical experiment on the atmosphere. The ‘decarbonisation’ of our society remains imperative for other reasons.

    1. Resource depletion threatens us all.
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/rowenamason/100003663/you-dont-need-to-be-a-mad-max-survivalist-to-take-peak-oil-seriously/

    2. Not even Christopher Monckton and his cronies could dispute (well, they might try, having contempt for facts) the verified, already-real phenomenon of ocean acidification caused by anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.
    http://oceanacidification.wordpress.com/
    Bearing in mind that over a billion people depend on the sea for food and livelihood, we ought to be highly alarmed by the speed and intensity of this process.

    Now mistakes have been made by the CRU and the IPCC (though the likelihood is that, considering it’s had to run the gauntlet of over a hundred governments, the IPCC impacts predictions UNDERSTATE the dangers of global warming).

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/12/21/climategate-met-office-hadley-cru-temperature-record-russian-institute-of-economic-analysis/

    To conclude from these mistakes, however, that a vast conspiracy is afoot is not very rational; though it’s a comforting view, for those who don’t want to look the future in the face. However, it is right that science should be held to higher standards of proof and integrity than the likes of James Dellingpole and Christopher Booker. Therefore we should all applaud this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/25/climate-change-data-science

    It is my unhappy suspicion that most people who have contributed to this thread will not accept the findings of the Met Office, just as they won’t accept the recent exoneration of Michael Mann or indeed, in some cases, the evidence of melting ice caps, prolonged drought and flooded landscapes the world over. There is nothing that can be done for such people. But for the rest of us who won’t put on blinkers, the time for delay and obfuscation is long past.

  73. February 27, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Reply to Gregory N:

    “A perfect example of ‘concern trolling’, Roddy. Climate change research is imperfect but it’s the best we’ve got” – hmmm, the article wasn’t about AGW theory, only temperature records? AGW is based upon models (which we agree are imperfect), and we look for the fingerprint using historic temperature records. Therefore they need to be reliable, which is what the article was about, in the context of Climategate.

    In that context, read http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc3902.htm, the submission of the Institute of Physics this week to the current Parliamentary enquiry. Their first point is:

    “1. The Institute is concerned that, unless the disclosed e-mails are proved to be forgeries or adaptations, worrying implications arise for the integrity of scientific research in this field and for the credibility of the scientific method as practised in this context.”

    The context being the work of CRU in temperature measurement and reconstructions. So are the Institute of Physics ‘concern trolling’? It seems to me they have laid into their fellow scientists pretty roughly (read the whole submission), and perhaps they felt they had reason to?

    ‘Precautionary principle, anyone?’ – a quite separate debate, well outside the scope of my article, and involving not only uncertainty analysis but also much better analysis of the impacts of GW and the cost and effect of various policy responses, generally involving mitigation and adaptation in some cocktail. Personally I think that Kyoto did not qualify under the PP, due to the almost zero mitigation effect it would have had if implemented.

    ‘The ‘decarbonisation’ of our society remains imperative for other reasons.’ – in reply to an earlier post I said that I strive to separate AGW detection, attribution, and the various policy responses from any form of resource depletion, sustainability, peak oil, environmental arguments, or energy security.

    Personally I think that the eliding of these things weakens clarity and understanding of AGW, which is a standalone issue. Elision means that the AGW debate becomes a question of ‘But it’s the right thing to do ANYWAY’, a quite separate debate.

    “Therefore we should all applaud this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/25/climate-change-data-science” – we can all quote Guardian articles, I was most interested in this:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/the-guardian-disappoints/

    where Realclimate, the best known ‘establishment warmist’ site, run by Gavin Schmidt of NASA and co-founded by Michael Mann, savaged the Guardian’s coverage of Climategate. You will agree, judging from your post, with RC’s criticisms. I was more interested in the nature of their reaction.

    Thanks for your comments,

    Roddy

  74. February 27, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Further reply to Gregory N: – I have taken exception to your phrase ‘concern trolling’. :)

    Having re-read the IoP submission, I’d like to post up a couple of their other points, where they refer to issues I touched on in my article.

    Other readers may find them interesting.

    2. The CRU e-mails as published on the internet provide prima facie evidence of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions ……

    – speaks for itself.

    4. The second category relating to proxy reconstructions are the basis for the conclusion that 20th century warming is unprecedented. Published reconstructions may represent only a part of the raw data available and may be sensitive to the choices made and the statistical techniques used. Different choices, omissions or statistical processes may lead to different conclusions. This possibility was evidently the reason behind some of the (rejected) requests for further information.

    – crikey. The IoP say it is ‘evident’ that the refusal to release information was because CRU’s proxy-based conclusions were unreliable? The warming may not be unprecedented?

    5. The e-mails reveal doubts as to the reliability of some of the reconstructions and raise questions as to the way in which they have been represented; for example, the apparent suppression, in graphics widely used by the IPCC, of proxy results for recent decades that do not agree with contemporary instrumental temperature measurements.

    – unreliable? misrepresentation? (Mike’s Nature trick).

    9. Where the nature of the study precludes direct replication by experiment, as in the case of time-dependent field measurements, it is important that the requirements include access to all the original raw data and its provenance, together with the criteria used for, and effects of, any subsequent selections, omissions or adjustments.

    – I take this to refer to the instrumental temperature record, and the adjustment methodology for UHI etc. Essentially the IoP are saying that CRU’s instrumental record is unauditable.

    10. … most of the e-mails were exchanged with researchers in a number of other leading institutions involved in the formulation of the IPCC’s conclusions on climate change. In so far as those scientists were complicit in the alleged scientific malpractices, there is need for a wider inquiry into the integrity of the scientific process in this field.

    – Crikey – the IoP are casting doubt on the IPCC conclusions on climate change in the light of Climategate.

    I do have to say that I feel some pleasure in the IoP submission, since it, in far stronger terms than I dared to use, has raised precisely the same issues that my ‘concern trolling’ piece did.

    You might go so far as to say that the ‘move along please, nothing to see here’ approach of the community, stating, apparently plausibly, that some mildly bad behaviour, provoked by those wicked sceptics, does not make one iota of difference to the thousand lines of evidence and the science (which is of course ‘settled’), has been holed below the waterline by the Institute of Physics.

    Don’t listen to me, Gregory – listen to these scientists.

    And Mr McKenna – I am a layman, absolutely. The IoP is not.

    :)

    I do urge all readers to read the submission in full. It is the first time a reputable establishment body has let rip. Let us assume, until and unless it can be shown otherwise, that they had a scientific reason for doing so.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc3902.htm

  75. February 28, 2010

    J Mckenna

    It’s Dr McKenna, Roddy :-) And my experience – within astrophysics – of gathering and correcting tricky data; worrying about computer algorithms; publishing papers; peer-reviewing journal submissions; watching scientific controversies first-hand as consensus emerges; and of making scientific mistakes (oh yes)- all of that, I suggest, gives me a head-start on most other lay people in assessing the state of climate science. My bull-shit detector may just be a tad better tuned.

    Anyway, I’ll be back later when I’ve taken a look at the IoP report.

  76. February 28, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    And let’s not forget the submission by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc4202.htm

    4. The apparent resistance of researchers from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) to disclose research data has been widely portrayed as an indication of a lack of integrity in scientific research. The true nature of science dictates that research is transparent and robust enough to survive scrutiny. A lack of willingness to disseminate scientific information may infer that the scientific results or methods used are not robust enough to face scrutiny, even if this conjecture is not well-founded.

    13. As has been set out in the review, it is necessary to investigate the email exchanges which were discovered along with other relevant CRU information to establish whether data have been manipulated or suppressed. This is, not only needed in order to identify any unacceptable behaviour, but also to verify the results which have been published. This is vital in clarifying the severity of the acts carried out by those scientists at the CRU involved, i.e. whether it was a misguided protection of their work or a malicious misrepresentation of data.

    JM – sorry about the Dr. I don’t doubt your BS detector, and especially not your greater scientific expertise.

    I’ll be interested to see what you make of the IoP.

    the website for all the submissions is:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/contents.htm

    I also enjoyed Sonja’s, placing where we are in an historical context of the politics of science.

  77. March 1, 2010

    J Mckenna

    Roddy -

    Thanks for pointing out the IoP and RSC submissions – they are an interesting read and one cannot but wholeheartedly support calls for complete transparency in the recording and analysis of temperature records. In fact, I think it is now essential to winning the trust of the public. The behaviour of Jones et al. will be examined by the enquiry and, doubtless, it will take into account the excruciating pressure they were under from external lay-people with dubious motives. But let’s see what the enquiry says before we jump to any conclusions.

    Now, let me tell you about a high profile mistake that I was involved in, albeit peripherally. I conducted pulsar timing studies for my PhD and was lucky to uncover a welter of interesting and – at the time – unique objects. There are 4 Nature papers with my name on between 1988 and 1990. Timing pulsars (rotating neutron stars that are extraordinary astronomical clocks) is very rewarding – it still provides the best test known for post-Newtonian theories of gravity – but it’s complex and rather tricky. You see, you need to allow for the fact that you’re observing pulsars while sitting in a rotating gravitational potential well going around another massive body – the Sun. One has to correct pulse arrival times back to an inertial reference frame – the barycentre of the solar system. This is tedious stuff but typical of the important work that scientists have to do. And I became a bit of an expert at it.

    When I left Jodrell Bank, my place was taken by an MSc student who I don’t think can have read my PhD thesis closely enough. He screwed up the analysis of one pulsar and thought he had discovered the first planet outside the solar system. It was front page news for The Times in 1991. Unfortunately, his superiors got carried away with the excitement and had the paper in Nature too soon. It skipped through peer review because Andrew Lyne was such a respected man in this field. When he discovered the student had fouled up, he had to admit the embarrassing error but did so with exceptional grace and composure – as most decent scientists would.
    You can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extrasolar_planet

    So, in light of my hard-edged experience of real science, allow me the conceit of thinking that my scientific BS detector is probably only matched by a tiny number of the laity. So let’s look at some claptrap…

    Take this chap Dale. He claims he’s a scientist and a historian. Well, I’m immediately suspicious: all the scientists I’ve ever met and worked with – including 2 Nobel prize winners – never have time to do anything other than pursue their specialist field of enquiry. So what are your qualifications, exactly Dale? You can use lots of long words but where are your peer-reviewed papers? More importantly, where is the literature to support the assertions you make in your posting. Until you answer these questions my tuned detector says “probably BS, don’t bother to read”. And yet others, hearing what they want to hear, praise him to the hilt. It’s the same behaviour I’ve seen repeated thousands of times across the internet (on both alarmist and denialist threads). Whatever it is, it’s not scepticism.

    And then we have the Edward Lang paper. Again, my BS detector starts flashing – it’s not peer-reviewed and it’s published by SPPI – so forget it until it’s independently corroborated. Anyway, the problem with US surface weather stations is being dealt with in a peer-reviewed journal here: http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ushcn/v2/monthly/menne-etal2010.pdf
    and, the unfortunate fact is that their result actually increases the degree of warming.

    ****

    Now, you claim you’re not a denier, Roddy, but you make the mistake that I’ve seen deniers make time and time again. They think they know better than the experts. The most egregious but risible example is “of course, it’s nothing to do with CO2 ‘cos water is the biggest greenhouse gas” – as if people who’ve spent a lifetime studying this phenomenon forgot about clouds? Duh! I’ve learnt that this is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    As for your article, well, I’ll leave aside some of unsubstantiated comments you make and simply note that you focus on questioning the temperature record, before going on to indirectly infer that the whole of AGW is too uncertain to proceed with any action. As I said earlier, your article addresses but a small part of the evidence. Still, if that’s want you want to discuss, I acknowledge that gathering temp data is much more complicated than people realise. But, you know what, you’re not qualified in my mind to highlight the difficulties. I want to hear about it from an expert – and that ain’t you Roddy.

    This is not the same thing, btw, as saying you’re wrong. And I’m happy to agree that it’s tricky timing a decision when faced with uncertain knowledge – you and I both know that from our business careers. (I also notice that you didn’t deny that you insured your home ;-) )

    So my beef remains the same. I read Prospect because I have come to expect a more rigorous examination of the difficult issues than I get from the rest of the UK media (barring perhaps the FT). But DG has let himself down on this matter. He says in his editorial that your article opened his eyes. But I’m sorry David, this says more about your grasp of the science rather than the science itself.

    There are lots of good issues in the CC debate that could be aired transparently and coolly in Prospect. So far DG has neglected to do but I reckon the time is right to tackle this head on now – I’d love to read and learn more. But PLEASE – as you have done on other complex matters – please find some specialists to do it.

    Enough from me, I think. I’m in danger of repeating myself!

  78. March 1, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Jonathan –

    Thank you for your very interesting comment.

    The piece was focussed on the issues of temperature records. You say, absolutely correctly, that DG’s editorial says more about his lack of grasp of science than anything else. I agree. I was surprised, months into climategate coverage, that he had little idea what it was all about, and what CRU did. But I draw another conclusion, given DG’s experience – a lot of his readers were in the same position, and his editor’s antennae told him that. And for whatever reason, he asked a layman to explain to laymen. Maybe I’m cheap. (He did have it ‘peer-reviewed’ by three experts as it happens).

    There were a few things to say. Explain what CRU do, why it’s relevant to detection and attribution, what climategate was about, and so on, to an audience of brains but greatly differing experience.

    “But, you know what, you’re not qualified in my mind to highlight the difficulties. I want to hear about it from an expert – and that ain’t you Roddy.” Given your experience, I quite agree.

    What’s the name given to that phenomenon when you read an article about something you know a lot about, and realise the hack knows less than you and has got it wrong, then you turn the page and read what you think is a highly insightful article about Hamas, forgetting that the two journos are equally likely to be wrong, and the latter has impressed because you know little about Hamas?

    Let’s posit an Average Prospect Reader (APR) type. The AGW debate is a hydra. In all my conversations with APR types I have been surprised by the lack of rigour in thinking about AGW. Most people cannot separate at all the issues of measurement, reconstructions, GCM’s, policy responses, global morality, mitigation and adaptation costs, uncertainty and so on. There is difficulty in breaking down the issues into separate components, an absence of logic.

    I spoke with an old friend of mine, Chair of the Parliamentary cross-party something or other on the Environment. I hope he’s not reading this but I was staggered by his Porritt-based views, which in the end came down to ‘but it’s the right thing to do anyway’. If that’s the basis of policy response and debate-stifling God help us. And he’s bright. I hope he isn’t reading this, he’s coming round on Saturday.

    IMHO the whole debate has been stifled – quite why is a huge question, Sonja B-C in her Parliamentary submission, from her pov as any view is, gives some explanation from the politics of science view. (I also like her point that everyone is coming from somewhere, you just have to work out where from.) Ravetz gives a windy post-Marxist one from the PostNormalScience view elsewhere.

    I know I can’t understand each issue as an expert in that area can. I can’t understand the science of swine flu transference mechanisms either, but I can, I’m afraid, have an opinion on swine flu policy response given uncertainty bands AND the politics of the government’s position on it. I suggest you might be in a similar position?

    (There’s a whole article somewhere in here on uncertainty-denial in the debate, which came through very strongly in the IPCC-related climategate emails, pressure to produce clear tidy conclusions for policy-makers, and the pressure to make the document fit the policy summary. the politics of science again).

    It was deliberate to focus on temperature, and try and explain what small (but important) part that plays in the AGW science chain, and get the APR to separate out that one area, in a climategate ‘have the scientists been behaving purely like scientists’ context. And I really do think that the Institute of Physics submission is very interesting, and justifies the article. It also says that IPCC conclusions depend on CRU and their international colleagues’ work in paleo and temperature, which the IoP in effect says are now uncertain, which can be taken as similar to my view expressed in the article. Maybe they already thought that, but were unable to speak out, which is far worse. (is that para fair? Might be too much, but you’ve read the submission yourself).

    I like the politics, and the social politics of the debate. Why do people, intelligent APRs, deliberately elide the issues? Why did the MSM impose a black-out on contrary or mildly sceptical views, even on policy response, to the extent that only swivel-eyed Moncktons Plimers Bookers and Delingpoles, BS detector alert I QUITE agree, could be heard? (See the BBC policy document on balance in the debate). Why did Jones try and get Sonja’ B-C’s Hull credentials withdrawn? (see his email to her boss). Why did Danish scientists try and have Lomborg ‘struck off’ on publication of the Skeptical Environmentalist? How was it that a self-appointed maverick group of internet bloggers have now gained such an ‘audit’ role in the politics of the issue? In the words of Judith Curry (I referred her piece on re-building of trust in an earlier post, and you mentioned trust too) they have ‘brought climate science to its knees’, in good part because of the behaviour of climate scientists. Don’t take my word for it, read her (layman alert :) )

    And this is why climategate matters, and why the article was topical, and why the IoP submission matters. The debate had gone wrong. A PM shouldn’t be calling opponents of Copenhagen flat-earthers, that’s absurd in the context of a policy-response summit.

    Some of your points:

    ‘excruciating pressure they were under from external lay-people with dubious motives’ – I’ll take Curry’s view as a balanced one. If the IoP are even half right they deserved a bit of pressure too. Someone like Mann has to be kept on top of, ditto Hansen, let alone CRU. It’s not the science of fruit flies, it’s the science of Kyoto and Copenhagen. Too important to bleat, sorry. And the politics of this science meant that they were not under sufficient pressure from scientists within the science, which they should have been. As Lyne was.

    Which makes your comment ‘It skipped through peer review because Andrew Lyne was such a respected man in this field. When he discovered the student had fouled up, he had to admit the embarrassing error but did so with exceptional grace and composure – as most decent scientists would.’ very important. It has not been happening here, for quite a while.

    The enquiries – I don’t trust them, because the politics of science will determine their outcomes. Russell/Boulton are not independent enough of the debate (hence my call for more statisticians in the audit process), the Parliamentary committe is by def political, and the RS investigation into the science will not be very useful in all probability. The Met Office’s call for the temperature record to be more insulated, and more audited, is more useful. I think it should be done wholly independently, as the RPI is. Too many scientists and bodies (like the Met Office) have become advocates.

    ‘Take this chap Dale.’ – who is he, I’ve lost track. Too early in the morning.

    ‘And then we have the Edward Lang paper. Again, my BS detector starts flashing’ – ditto, I made that clear I hope. SPPI alert.

    ‘Anyway, the problem with US surface weather stations is being dealt with in a peer-reviewed journal here: http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ushcn/v2/monthly/menne-etal2010.pdf‘ – ah, the politics of science again. I have no comment on this paper, nor on Anthony Watts’s work that forms the basis of it, I’m a layman :) , but it is interesting that NOAA felt unable to work with him, rightly or wrongly, let alone include him as co-author given his years of work into the surface stations. Read Pielke Jr on his University of Colorado blog on the subject. It says something about the state of the politics of temperature science, not the temperature itself. The process is faulty, and conducive to mistrust. Watts would be happy with a warming result (he’s a luke-warmist so far as I can see), so long as the process could be trusted. He’s an auditor first and foremost, and a weather geek, don’t let views on his ‘politics’ cloud that.

    ‘you make the mistake that I’ve seen deniers make time and time again. They think they know better than the experts.’ – I want the experts audited, especially given that it is not fruit flies here.

    ‘The most egregious but risible example is “of course, it’s nothing to do with CO2 ‘cos water is the biggest greenhouse gas”’ – if I ever talk about water vapour shoot me.

    Insurance – I love the analogy, and I didn’t address it before. It’s the PP again. As it happens I self-insure wherever possible. the cost of the insurance system and the return on capital they make makes, say, travel insurance or contents insurance a bad bet, where I can afford the consequences. But yes, I insure my house because I couldn’t afford the consequence, which is your point. BUT, i can measure the consequence very precisely, and the cost of avoiding it. To the penny. I have all information. You acknowledge that I think when you say ‘I’m happy to agree that it’s tricky timing a decision when faced with uncertain knowledge ‘.

    (The parallel runs into more difficulties of course because my house insurance (in climate terms) will be invalid unless the whole street, the whole city, the whole world, also insure correctly. Each person (let’s say country in climate terms) has different costs of insurance, and different costs of fire. Many will benefit from the fire, negative costs, there will be winners from warming. And no country knows what the costs are. Don’t Stern me, please :) )

    ‘I read Prospect because I have come to expect a more rigorous examination of the difficult issues than I get from the rest of the UK media (barring perhaps the FT).’ – interesting. I don’t read it for that at all, I read it to provoke me into going somewhere more specialist and reading more if I’m interested.

    ‘There are lots of good issues in the CC debate that could be aired transparently and coolly in Prospect. So far DG has neglected to do but I reckon the time is right to tackle this head on now’ – Re timing I’m sure DG would agree with you, maybe mine was the first stab. I’ve been talking to him about it, and what might be interesting to the APR – what do you think? I’ve sent him a couple of outlines, but nothing’s grabbed him. We’re due to speak this week to post-mortem this piece and discuss.

    I’m on roddycampbell at gmail dot com if that’s easier.

    I’ve enjoyed this correspondence. Combative, but respectful and civilised.

    I don’t like the suggestion that I cannot participate in the debate as I’m not qualified, as that would bar you from thinking on lower Ganges seasonal water flow as a result of Himalayan precipitation and glacier melting and re-freezing – a good thing too, you would say, and I would agree with you EXCEPT in the context of a climate debate forum that has gone wrong. Now I want to shout ‘show me’ until I can see checks and balances and absence of hysteria, because I know before I read the article that it will be forecasting doom for Bangladeshi farmers. The politics of science requires it. In general extreme weather events is a decent example of this debate bias, as a specific case the ‘African farming yields may decline by up to 50%’ based on a Maghreb study that said, as a whole, no such thing.

    :)

    ‘But (DG) PLEASE – as you have done on other complex matters – please find some specialists to do it.’ – I don’t trust the specialists in this area any more. And here we are full circle back to where we started – Climategate.

    :)

    ‘Enough from me, I think. I’m in danger of repeating myself!’ – me too.

    Crikey, that was too long.

  79. March 1, 2010

    Philip

    My problem with this piece is its failure to understand the context and its confusion of two separate parts of science. The fact that it contains a serious misquotation from the work of the IPCC doesn’t help.
    I hope we can agree that, even if the CRU’s temperature series is shown to be faulty, there is no doubt that there has been global warming, for a certainty since the late seventies. There are other two analyses of ground based thermometer data (and 100% of the raw data for the GISSTEMP series is in the public domain) and two satellite series (again, 100% of the raw data is in the public domain), all of which agree fairly closely with each other, and with the CRU series. Why has no-one managed to produce a re-analysis of that data which is in the public domain (which includes 80% of that used by the CRU) which disagrees with the CRU data series? I suggest it’s because what all these data series do is quantify the naive (i.e., non-scientific) but irrefutable everyday observations of warming – vegetative cycles moving forward, glacier melting, shrinking Arctic sea ice etc.
    I should also point out that it is simply untrue to state, as you did, “in 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put warming over the past 100 years at exactly 0.74°C”. The IPCC’s 2007 summary for policy makers (AR4 SPM) was very clear that it this was the centre of a range, stating: “The updated 100-year linear trend (1906 to 2005) of 0.74°C [0.56°C to 0.92°C] is therefore larger than the corresponding trend for 1901 to 2000 given in the TAR of 0.6°C [0.4°C to 0.8°C]”. Incidentally, the same paragraph goes on to consider something to which you give questionable weight, but is an obsession for sceptics: “Urban heat island effects are real but local, and have a negligible influence (less than 0.006°C per decade over land and zero over the oceans) on these values.” Again, where is the rigourous science that suggests otherwise (please don’t reference Watts and D’Aleo).
    Separately, there is an issue of paleoclimate reconstructions. All serious paleoclimate scientists understand there was a period around a thousand years ago when temperatures were higher, and another around 150 years ago when they were lower (see, for example, this for one prominent paleoclimate scientist speaking to non-scientists: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/data/326/5957/1287-b/DC1/1).
    Where the, shall we say, misapprehension of this piece comes is in its failure to recognise that if there are warmer periods and cooler periods in our climate history, they must have some kind of cause. The current concern over global warming depends on some fairly elementary physics – not much beyond the A level I did 30 years ago. Essentially, there is no explanation of the observed rise in temperature (whether naively, from the vegetative cycle, etc, or from thermometer and satellite data) other than the effect of changes to the composition of the atmosphere – the increased concentration of greenhouse gases. There are any number of armchair theorists, and any number of professional scientists, who could come up with an alternative explanations – and many have tried. None of their attempts have survived scientific scrutiny.
    I can’t leave this subject without a reference to the comments of some of the sceptics at for example, the current hearings of the Commons Science & Technology Committee, or Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen’s truly frightening recent statement on realclimate.org. What test do they require for a scientific statement to be absolutely true? And why should any of their remarks be regarded as anything other than wholly a product of their own ideological biases? If you want to see ideologues tying themselves in knots, look at the publications of those who sought to counter an economist’s finding that there was a link between the ready availability of abortion and a subsequent fall in crime rates. The lesson is to take a hard look at the raw data, and work out what it means, with proper scientific rigour. That’s something that climate change sceptics have consistently failed to do. There is unlimited prestige – and probably a Nobel prize – available to anyone who can shift a paradigm as clear as the scientific consensus on global warming.

  80. March 2, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Philip thank you for your post. I’ll be back.. More pressing matters on hand.

  81. March 2, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Reply to Philip (are you the same Philip I have corresponded with before?)

    “I hope we can agree that, even if the CRU’s temperature series is shown to be faulty, there is no doubt that there has been global warming, for a certainty since the late seventies.” – oh, for much longer.

    “… the naive (i.e., non-scientific) but irrefutable everyday observations of warming – vegetative cycles moving forward, glacier melting, shrinking Arctic sea ice etc.” – since it’s been warming you would expect some signs of warming, no? I’m not sure what your point is.

    “I should also point out that it is simply untrue to state, as you did, “in 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put warming over the past 100 years at exactly 0.74°C”. The IPCC’s 2007 summary for policy makers (AR4 SPM) was very clear that it this was the centre of a range…”" – correction accepted.

    ““Urban heat island effects are real but local, and have a negligible influence (less than 0.006°C per decade over land and zero over the oceans) on these values.” Again, where is the rigourous science that suggests otherwise ” – you’re right that it is an obsession for the weather station geeks, and sceptics in general.

    Let me answer the UHI point as follows, and remember my article was about climategate, that’s the important context.

    – Judith Curry: In responding to climategate, the climate research establishment has appealed to its own authority and failed to understand that climategate is primarily a crisis of trust.

    – IoP: Where the nature of the study precludes direct replication by experiment, as in the case of time-dependent field measurements, it is important that the requirements include access to all the original raw data and its provenance, together with the criteria used for, and effects of, any subsequent selections, omissions or adjustments. The details of any statistical procedures, necessary for the independent testing and replication, should also be included. In parallel, consideration should be given to the requirements for minimum disclosure in relation to computer modelling. (RC – this is a direct reference to instrument temperature records being unauditable.)

    – Curry: …a host of concerns about the IPCC that had been festering in the background: involvement of IPCC scientists in explicit climate policy advocacy; tribalism that excluded skeptics; hubris of scientists with regards to a noble (Nobel) cause; alarmism; and inadequate attention to the statistics of uncertainty and the complexity of alternative interpretations.

    – Curry: The jury is still out on the specific fallout from climategate in terms of the historical temperature records.

    – Russell Enquiry: 1. Examine the .. e-mail exchanges … to determine whether there is any evidence of the manipulation or suppression of data which .. may therefore call into question any of the research outcomes.

    – Russell Enquiry – various questions concerning the HadCrut series

    – IoP – The Institute is concerned that …. worrying implications arise for the integrity of scientific research in this field.

    Personally I find 0.006c pd a startlingly low figure, but I am not a scientist. It may be the right figure. But I feel entirely justified in querying whether we can just trust the scientists without independent audits on these issues. As Curry said, there has been plenty of ‘involvement of IPCC scientists in explicit climate policy advocacy’. Nothing wrong with Hansen believing the world is about to end and he needs to save it, that’s his belief, I’d just rather not have him in charge of GISS. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

    I am generally surprised at how tenaciously people adhere to the ‘nothing to see here, move along please.’ It’s important stuff. So important that UEA are having two enquiries, Parliament one, and Penn State one. Regardless of the outcomes, which will be decided more by the politics of science than the science, something happened, and many warmists are in denial about that.

    “All serious paleoclimate scientists understand there was a period around a thousand years ago when temperatures were higher…” – er, sorry? In the piece you reference Mann says “But if you look at the Medieval Period … it compares, in a global sense, at most with the level of warming that we saw in the mid-20th century. It doesn’t reach the levels of warmth that we’ve seen in the most recent decades, at least globally.”

    I could list many questions the Enquiries are asking into paleo, with good reason imho, but you know them, here’s just one:

    – IoP – The second category relating to proxy reconstructions are the basis for the conclusion that 20th century warming is unprecedented. Published reconstructions may represent only a part of the raw data available and may be sensitive to the choices made and the statistical techniques used. Different choices, omissions or statistical processes may lead to different conclusions. This possibility was evidently the reason behind some of the (rejected) requests for further information.

    ” … there are warmer periods and cooler periods ……. they must have some kind of cause. The current concern over global warming depends on some fairly elementary physics – not much beyond the A level I did 30 years ago.” – couldn’t have put it better myself. :)

    “… there is no explanation of the observed rise in temperature…. other than the …. the increased concentration of greenhouse gases.” This is where we will part company. I view that position as sheer hubris. Have the models explained so conclusively the 1860-1880 and 1910-1940 temperature rises that you are really happy with that TINA position, let alone earlier variations? That is a confidence in the models that I find awesome, even without any doubt about historic temperatures. With doubt and uncertainty it’s, well…..

    “Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen’s truly frightening recent statement on realclimate.org.” I found it frightening too, but for different reasons to you I suspect, for what it claimed for the politics of this science. I am found Gavin’s snitty interleaved comments more frightening. More hubris, more move along please. The same treatment Curry got, and Pearce, warmists both. I found S B-C’s submission to Parliament better. Doesn’t mean I agree with all of it, but climate science has a political history and a political context. Don’t pretend it doesn’t. That’s frightening.

    “If you want to see ideologues tying themselves in knots, look at the publications of those who sought to counter an economist’s finding that there was a link between the ready availability of abortion and a subsequent fall in crime rates.” I remember reading that, in Freakonomics? To call it a finding is a little strong, but it was an interesting idea, there was a correlation, which doesn’t make it causal, but it opposed the ‘zero tolerance’ consensus on crime rate falls, which was good, as the causes of the fall were unlikely to be that simple. I don’t remember the PC opposition, but would like to have seen it. I wasn’t so sure about Levitt, I preferred Becker, Levitt seemed good, but derivative to me, catchy subject matter.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Roddy

  82. March 2, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Philip – thank you for the Michael Mann interview reference. I also found this:

    “So the majority of the models used in the most recent IPCC projections, for example, don’t favor the thermostat response – they favor an El Niño-like response to a warming at the surface, like the warming that we’re seeing with increased greenhouse gas concentrations. However, the paleoclimate record of the past thousand years, in our
    analysis, suggests that at least with respect to the response that the climate has exhibited to natural factors, the response appears to be that thermostat response – it appears to be the opposite of what most of the IPCC projection models project.”

    I can’t tell the precise significance of this comment from the context, but he clearly says that the IPCC models don’t fit his paleo records?

    It’s on page 7 of that document you sent me to.

  83. March 3, 2010

    Philip

    I (and I’m the only Philip contributing to this blog) find your attempt to cite “authorities” disturbing. Why should Judith Curry’s opinion of the meaning of “climategate” be preferred to Gavin Schmidt’s? Both are professional climate scientists with an interest in communicating scientific ideas to the public. You may prefer one, and I prefer cheese to chocolate. Neither of our preferences has any bearing on whether global warming poses serious threats requiring co-ordinated global action.
    The Institute of Physics’ submission to the Commons Cttee on Science and Technology was described by John Beddington, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, in today’s Guardian as “premature”. We don’t know who wrote the IoP submission, but I’m prepared to bet John Beddington’s scientific qualifications are just as good. You seem to prefer the IoP to Beddington. I’d like to know why the IoP submission seems to misunderstand that the only paleoclimate data referred to in the “climategate” emails is a tree ring series used by Keith Briffa. Looking at recent paleoclimate research, there’s plenty of other data series suggesting the broad validity of the hockey stick reconstruction, including many that don’t use tree rings at all (see http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/mann2008/mann2008.html)
    Talking of hockey sticks, here’s a question for you. Why do you believe that the data Mann et al use to generate the 2008 versions of the hockey stick don’t justify the conclusions they draw? There’s no need to answer, but I suggest you note that Mann et al (it’s a similar “et al” – the two papers have six authors in common) use the same data in their 2009 Science Magazine paper (the one Mann was talking about in the interview I referred you to), and conclude that current climate models have shortcomings. You seem to agree with this conclusion. If you had examined their methods, and found faults in the 2008 paper, but none in the 2009 paper, that would be a scientifically tenable position. You don’t seem to have examined either, but you certainly seem to think one paper’s conclusion is justified but the other’s is not.
    On Levitt and abortion, you miss my point. I don’t know whether his finding was valid or not. But far too many of those who criticised his finding (yes, that is the right word) did so self-evidently on the basis they were ideologically opposed to abortion, and couldn’t therefore accept that it may have had welcome side effects for society as a whole. The same happened to work comparing AIDS incidence in Kenya among members of geographically adjacent tribes with similar lifestyles – the sole relevant difference was that some tribes cirumcised males and others did not. It found that circumcision protected against HIV infection – but this finding was criticised by ideologues who couldn’t accept that circumcision had any benefits at all. This happens all the time with science – look at public perception of evolution by natural selection. My point is that whether the public trusts science (and it does when it comes to iPhones and aeroplanes) depends on irrational prejudice, and those who are opposed to the policy implications of scientific findings – as with global warming – don’t hesitate to dishonestly exploit that prejudice. Wait and see what happens (and it’s not too many years away) after genetic modification techniques reviled when used to produce food crops turn out to be a cure for cancer.
    Where I agree with the IoP and Lord Lawson is that all the raw data should published, and that the methods used to manipulate it should also be published. And then let’s start using all of the data, present it accurately, and stop making dishonest claims about science to cover up ideologically driven policy preferences. A good start would be replacing the nonsense cherry picked graph of 21st century global mean temperature on the home page of Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation with one showing a sufficient period of time for the trend the IPCC identified (and we both accept is real) to have emerged from the noise of interannual variability.

  84. March 3, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Philip

    Sorry, it was indeed another Philip.

    I prefer Judith’s opinion, and it’s a preference, sure, because she recognises that climategate is important, and Gavin doesn’t, they are both on the same ‘side’, and I think climategate is important, which is why I wrote about it, and why there are so many Enquiries into it. The IoP, The Guardian, Parliament, Penn State, UEA, et al – they all think it’s important too. Maybe it just is?

    It doesn’t change the science, whatever the science is, any more than hanging Galileo by his testicles would have changed Earth’s orbit, but it may (will?) change the process, and has certainly changed attitudes, which are important to acceptance of, belief in, AGW and its impacts, and therefore policy response.

    The IoP submission is similarly important. It was very strongly worded, and possibly reflected a frustration among scientists in different fields that climate science was playing by different rules.

    ‘I’d like to know why the IoP submission seems to misunderstand that the only paleoclimate data referred to in the “climategate” emails is a tree ring series used by Keith Briffa.’ – I don’t see that presumption in their submission. And your reference to a later study by Mann supporting his earlier conclusions takes us nowhere. Stop reading so narrowly? Stand back a bit?

    ‘you certainly seem to think one paper’s conclusion is justified but the other’s is not’ – I didn’t say anything about either paper. I pointed out that the Mann interview you referenced said “… the Medieval Period … doesn’t reach the levels of warmth that we’ve seen in the most recent decades”, in contrast to your ‘All serious paleoclimate scientists understand there was a period around a thousand years ago when temperatures were higher’. Did I misunderstand you or Mann?

    I don’t think I misunderstood him when he said the current IPCC models did not fit his latest paleoclimatic reconstruction. Did I?

    ‘On Levitt and abortion … those who criticised his finding (yes, that is the right word) did so self-evidently on the basis they were ideologically opposed to abortion, and couldn’t therefore accept that it may have had welcome side effects for society as a whole.’ and ‘let’s start using all of the data, present it accurately, and stop making dishonest claims about science to cover up ideologically driven policy preferences.’

    Ideology – I think here we are in agreement. I entirely support the idea of Levitt’s ‘finding’ being plausible, ditto circumcison, GM, etc, ditto the GWPF dishonest graph should go. If I have an ideology it is that ideology is bad.

    But is ideology only on one ‘side’? If I accept there is ideology in many places on the sceptic side, which I do, would you not accept that it exists on the AGW-alarmist side too?

    Which is why I like the S B-C pov – she assumes that it exists, throughout. When I read Peabody Coal’s submission to Parliament, I know it’s from a coal company, when I read Gavin or Hansen I know too. The field is, for whatever reason, crowded with ideologies, with positions, with beliefs, from Pachauri to Hansen to Jones to Milliband. I would like to see some KPMG auditors in there, at least someone with no preconceptions.

    ‘And then let’s start using all of the data, present it accurately, and stop making dishonest claims about science to cover up ideologically driven policy preferences. ‘ There are pots and kettles all over the place, aren’t there? :)

    Here’s a quote from Watts today:

    ‘My position has been that there is no debate that the earth has warmed over the past 100+ years, but that the magnitude of the measured warming and the cause(s) remain in debate. The question of whether such warming is beneficial or detrimental depends on who you ask.’

    That doesn’t, obviously, cover what happens next. But it renders that question difficult to answer from the position of not knowing what has happened or why, with sufficient certainty. And uncertainty-denial is the biggest ideology of them all.

  85. March 3, 2010

    Philip

    I don’t know whether you are deliberately misunderstanding my remarks on paleoclimatology, or I am writing unclearly. I’ll leave it aside. But KPMG audit? Presumably like the Arthur Andersen audits that demonstrated that Enron was a wildly profitable company. You’re a fund manager so you will no doubt be aware that there are some well known figures in your industry who refused to buy Enron because the numbers (audited numbers!) just felt wrong. And you surely know the auditor’s reply to the question from a company chairman “how profitable is my firm?” is “how profitable would you like it to be?”.
    Yes, there are AGW alarmists, and they are as ignorant of the science as the deniers (who are not the same as the sceptics). Then there are people who genuinely understand what the science implies because, like the fund managers who avoided Enron, they have a feel for the facts.
    What is truly frightening is the relativists who claim that science reveals only the truths that the scientist’s ideology permits. I’m afraid science reveals truths. Scientists, being human, make mistakes. If you want to undermine the solid body of science of global warming (which includes paleoclimatology), it is necessary to identify those mistakes. Along the way, but irrelevantly, you can express as many ideological preferences as you like. Eppur si muove, as Galileo may or may not have said.

  86. March 3, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Philip, thanks for reply

    Re auditing, that Enron was a crock doesn’t make all companies crooked or the audit process a waste of time. It’s a system that has stood the test of time, and there is data, in company histories, to show how many times it went wrong. It means that you can more or less trust accounts of more or less all companies more or less all of the time. It fails sometimes, of course, we cannot eliminate self-interest, fraud, and conflicts of interest. We can only try.

    CRU et al operate in a roughly vertically integrated self-regulating industry. They collect tree cores, do the stats, produce the graphs, write and review IPCC, and so on, and the system relies heavily on self-regulation, of which peer review is a part. I would prefer a system that was audited at each level, or could be. Drug companies don’t conduct their own field trials and write up their own stats usually. Mining companies put independent analysis of their resources in prospectuses. And so on.

    Your interesting point is “What is truly frightening is the relativists who claim that science reveals only the truths that the scientist’s ideology permits. I’m afraid science reveals truths.”

    We want to be on the same page here, and Steve McIntyre will be on the same page with us. Your point takes us towards Ravetz and PNS and S B-C. I dislike Ravetz, but have to concede that his PNS argument may be the way the system actually is operating, like it or not, in part if not in whole.

    Are you allowed to produce the truth if your boss doesn’t like it, and you lose your job and your wife shouts at you? I guess that’s what happened to the Gvt drug adviser the other day when his verdict on the dangers of ecstasy, where there is surely enough stat sig data by now, were not approved of, as it were.

    There is context, like it or not. And ideology, belief, self-interest. I aim off for where the person is coming from, eg Hansen. You do the same when you read Roy Spencer.

    The disinterested scientist questing for truth independent of any influences – climategate shows that this is not the case all of the time, the various pressures, beliefs, self-interest, funding, fame, loathing – have you read Romm on Curry or Pielke Jr? What is it about climatology that causes this bile?

    So I don’t think it’s just about the science. I wish it were. But if you want Greenpeace or WWF to fund your research, or Nature to publish you, you had better be careful what results you come up with and how you present them. That’s a part of reality.

    Since Enron has come up, I enjoyed this polemic relating Enron to Climategate, involving North of NAS/AAAS. http://www.masterresource.org/2010/02/climategate-7-hard-questions-from-enron/

    pip pip.

    Roddy

  87. March 3, 2010

    Gregory Norminton

    Roddy, I called you a concern troll with, I think, good reason. The broad gist of your piece, and certainly of some of your early correspondents, has been to question the grounds of global warming science on the basis of a few emails written by a few climatologists. Your repeated use of the Brookerism ‘warmist’ speaks volumes about your engagement with this issue; as does your tactic, shared by plenty of ‘sceptics’, of equating the IoP’s submission to the parliamentary inquiry with a wholesale questioning of the basic assumption of human-induced climate change. Today, as you will know (but have yet to post on this thread), the IoP has released a statement clarifying their position on the Climategate emails. I quote:

    “The institute’s position on climate change is clear: the basic science is well enough understood to be sure that our climate is changing, and that we need to take action now to mitigate that change.”

    Yet you say we should not take ‘drastic action’ until we are sure about the problem. That is rhetoric used all the time by opponents of cap-and-trade, or indeed any legislation to reduce emissions; and it’s an argument explicitly rejected by the Institute of Physics. The IoP goes on to state that its critical comments focus on the CRU’s scientific process; it “should not be interpreted to mean that the institute believes that the science itself is flawed.”

    http://www.iop.org/News/news_40679.html

    Now it is imperative (as the plethora of investigations and scientific reviews now under way demonstrate) that any faults or failings in scientific process be analysed and lessons learned. But to go from this to suggest, as you do, that there are serious reasons to doubt the basic conclusions of climatologists the world over is to contribute to a culture of attacks on science that endanger our ability to put ourselves out of harm’s way. You rightly denounce Monckton and others for their extremism (though I think it unfair to equate them in any way with the likes of Joe Romm and James Hansen, whose statements are at least backed by scientific evidence, and indeed their own scientific training); however I fear your contribution to this debate is still to cloud the waters, only with a superior form of mud.

  88. March 4, 2010

    Philip

    You write:
    CRU et al operate in a roughly vertically integrated self-regulating industry. They collect tree cores, do the stats, produce the graphs, write and review IPCC, and so on.
    This is the second fallacy of the Wegman report writ large. You do know that the entire basis of modern physics was created by a bunch of people who met at conferences in Solvay and argued the whole thing out between them. Academically, they lived in each others pockets. Lots of them clearly hated the sight of each other, but it didn’t stop them thrashing out an understanding of the basics of physics which is still standing, though fleshed out a bit, seventy years later. The industry was self-regulating because the knowledge hurdle you had to pass before you could understand what was going on was and remains very high. Same is now true for climate science. In the climate blogosphere, McIntyre knows enough maths to be able to follow bits of climate science, but not as much as Tamino. So McIntyre can ask apparently hard questions (though professional scientists can easily answer them). Tamino can start with raw data and verify that the professional scientists have processed it right.
    I leave you with this contribution by Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen to a Times Higher Education blog some six months ago (www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/comments.asp?storycode=407763). It is, if anything, even scarier than her recent contribution to realclimate.org, and demonstrates the appalling difficulties those who care about scientific truth have to waste their time on. It shows she genuinely doesn’t care whether material she publishes in her journal is true, so long as it passes an ideological test – it has to oppose what she thinks is the consensus view. Does that sound scientific to you? Do you see, in climate science, a conspiracy to insert the government into citizen’s private lives? Do you think economic models are “based on the efficient market paradigm”?
    Oh, and if you feel truth is important, you should know the second sentence is tosh. By far the largest proportion of the money spent on climate change research goes on measurement not modelling – launching satellites and weather balloons consumes incredible quantities of cash. To avoid any suggestion of cherry picking, here’s the whole of Ms Boehmer-Christiansen’s frightening contribution:
    “The climate change ‘community’ appealed to by Mark Aunet is surely a bit of a mirage – there are several such communities and they are not friendly to each other. However one of them , the climate modellers well funded primarily in the EU and USA strongly supported by UN bodies, is still very much at top and has been receiving all the grants and fame. This is not surprising, because this official ‘scientific community’ has the support of the green zeitgeist (and hence of many western NGOs and the supporters they fund elsewhere), as well as being more directly useful to a number of political and economic agendas and interests. These include the energy-resource poor states in Europe, the energy wasteful and also import-dependent USA, their military establishments and even the IOCs (international oil companies), not to mention the Chinese government, and other countries seeking aid. Decarbonisation is therefore sought by the ‘West’ for many reasons and climate change is but the ‘scariest’ and most popular justification for what is in fact a huge agenda of government intervention and control at all levels and in all areas of human existence. Green technology and green jobs are not necessarily the way out of recession and economic decline… the matter should be debated not implemented. Before allowing this agenda to advance much further, e.g. at Copenhagen, we ought to be pretty sure that the climate threat is real. Now that our leaders seem to have give up faith in economic models based on the efficient -market paradigm (but only after serious failure/crisis: see the discussion with A Turner in Prospect, August 2009), I expect some similar disenchantment to happen with climate models based on the radiative forcing idea with carbon dioxide and hence carbon fuels – as the primary villain. But here the crisis has not yet happened, and may not happen for some time. Climate itself may have to decide the issue. In the meantime, decarbonisation is widely perceived as a step forward for the ’west’. By the way, E&E is not a science journal and has published IPCC critiques to give a platform critical voices and ‘paradigms’ because of the enormous implications for energy policy, the energy industries and their employees and investors, and for research. We do not claim to be right, but the editor – having researched the subject since the 1980s – believes that climate is too complex to be predicted for policy purposes, and that many voices – scientific communities? – should therefore be allowed to compete for truth. Science does not progress by consensus.”

  89. March 4, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    The troll will be back. Nasty hangover, and it’s my birthday.

  90. March 4, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    GN – just noticed your last line ‘a superior form of mud’. I enjoyed that!

  91. March 4, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Right, hangover cured by birthday breakfast.

    Gregory – you are putting words into my mouth, and reading what I write as what you would like it to mean, roughly that my superior form of mud is just a denier’s Trojan Horse.

    ‘The broad gist of your piece, and certainly of some of your early correspondents, has been to question the grounds of global warming science’. – No. You cannot elide questioning the validity of some of the supporting evidence for warming, such as paleo reconstructions or UHI, and hence the certainty of ‘unprecedented’ and ‘definitively anomalous’, with AGW denial. Equally the extent of past natural variation has important implications for policy response, mitigation and adaptation, as well as attribution. I would like to be surer than I think we are on paleo and temperature records.

    ‘Warmist’ – I use warmist as an affectionate term to cover belief in AGW and the need for policy response, a broad church. It’s short-hand and not pejorative. I am a luke-warmist, equating approximately to belief in warming but being unconvinced as to what proportion of what warming we are causing, detection and attribution issues (and hence cost-benefit of the various policy responses (and their achievability)). Alarmist would be more pejorative, implying as it does the possibility of exaggeration and the habit of seizing on anything as evidence for AGW. I’m roughly where Watts is, as quoted above.

    IoP – nowhere in their submission did they question AGW, nor did I say they did. They would never do that. Their clarification was unnecessary in science, it was a response to media/denier mis-reading of their submission, whether accidental or deliberate. (Similarly, warmists are now portraying the clarification as a retraction.) It’s actually a sign of how appallingly disfunctional the climate debate is, on all sides.

    What they said was clear, it was an attack on the possibility, even probability, of some bad science within climatology. For example: ‘The second category relating to proxy reconstructions are the basis for the conclusion that 20th century warming is unprecedented. Published reconstructions may represent only a part of the raw data available and may be sensitive to the choices made and the statistical techniques used. Different choices, omissions or statistical processes may lead to different conclusions. This possibility was evidently the reason behind some of the (rejected) requests for further information.’ There is only one way of reading that, and it cannot be read as doubting AGW, only the solidity of some of the supporting evidence for it, and the unscientific behaviour of the scientists. It says that these studies are intrinsically susceptible to cherry-picking, and hence intrinsically less reliable unless audited to death. That statement is not controversial, and any scientist would accept it. But it needed saying out loud, and they said it.

    ‘Yet you say we should not take ‘drastic action’ until we are sure about the problem …. an argument explicitly rejected by the Institute of Physics.’ – I stand by what I say, drastic action is wrong (and ineffective as proposed in Kyoto, for example). The IoP did not say we needed drastic action, they said they believed in the need for mitigation. Personally I’m more of a Pielke-ist – the belief that we can tackle AGW mainly through mitigation is ill-founded in reality. It is magical thinking. eg for the UK to meet the requirements of last year’s Climate Change Act we would need to build nuclear power stations at an unfeasible rate starting tomorrow, so it just isn’t going to happen. Setting unrealistic targets does not help, cap and trade is riddled with deficiencies and unintended consequences.

    Everyone is missing the key importance of the IoP submission. The IoP are absolutely warmist. Read their website. They are on ‘your side’. AND YET they have blasted some of the scientific practices and evidence produced by CRU AND their overseas counterparts. They have validated the concerns of climategate, which are bad science, and have done so from within the consensus, without in any way doubting AGW.

    Can you lot get through your heads that doubting/questioning some of the work produced by CRU, and criticising their scientific processes, is NOT the same as an attack on AGW science as a whole. Certainly some of the deniers critics and press are eliding the two, and you are falling for the same mistake. It poisons the debate.

    Philip, I’ll come back on Sonja.

  92. March 4, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Philip – thanks for your reply.

    Your description of how science should work is how it should work. I don’t think it’s working like that. I think the IoP submission is supporting evidence for my position. I think we will agree that the stakes are so large that it really does need to work properly. And there will never be global agreement on policy response unless it is seen to. Your scientists in Solvay didn’t have Al Gore, the IPCC, Greenpeace and WWF, Heartland and Monckton, underwater Maldives cabinet meetings, a hysterical press, Booker after Pachauri, Goldman Sachs wanting carbon trading, Exxon funding deniers, governments using climate change cynically as vote-winner, and Uncle Tom Cobbley on their plate.

    Re Sonja – a general principle is that you don’t have to agree with everything someone says to agree with some things they say. S B-C has enough experience in the science community, including climate, to make what she says worth reading and considering. Her style might politely be described as maverick/eccentric, Gavin’s is belligerent, you just have to read round it. Rather as in my post above to Gregory, some people in this debate will say ‘she’s pro-McIntyre, anti Mann and Santer, she’s the devil, it’s all bollocks’. I don’t suggest that you do btw, you are criticising on merit. She is interested in the politics of science. That matters here, in a way that it doesn’t re fruit flies, or even the Hadron Collider, because this science is being used to propose huge changes in how we live, if for example we move to 50% or 80% lower emissions. (The political differences, using politics in a different sense, between libertarians like Watts and greens like Porritt, is that these changes will require much more government action and controls, because it is the free market that has created the issue. Hence the recent fad for ‘state capitalism’). I’m surprised you resist the notion that the science and what it is used for is at all politicised.

    A quote from your post, which you presumably think is dangerous: “E&E is not a science journal and has published IPCC critiques to give a platform critical voices and ‘paradigms’ because of the enormous implications for energy policy, the energy industries and their employees and investors, and for research. We do not claim to be right, but the editor – having researched the subject since the 1980s – believes that climate is too complex to be predicted for policy purposes, and that many voices – scientific communities? – should therefore be allowed to compete for truth.”

    There is one real statement in there, that climate is too complex to be predicted for policy purposes. I think that’s an interesting point. An awful lot of what I have read on impacts and mitigation comes across as pretty limp, and we will agree that when it comes to policy response there are a lot of special interest groups, winners and losers, and the possibility/probability of a corrupt process, because there is a huge amount of money involved. This means that the policy response may not be decided on correct scientific and economic rationale (read Monbiot’s blasting of the solar pv initiative this week). Developing countries are blackmailing for adaptation cash.

    And if you believe, as Sonja seems to, that we cannot predict climate sufficiently well AND ITS IMPACTS to even decide on the correct policy response in theory, let alone the appalling mess that will be made of implementation ….. I can’t remember which scientist in the emails said we can’t account for the lack of warming, travesty, Wigley? – what he was saying was that if we move to mitigation (let’s say lower emissions and geo-engineering) we will have no idea what effect, if any, it is having, because we can’t account for it.

    I don’t mind that she chose to make E&E a sceptic journal, so long as it’s intelligent. Why not? Her reasons – that the policy implications of the current path are so potentially driven by special interests, and so massive in their implications, that sceptic voices need to be heard as much as possible on all issues from evidence to science to models to detection and attribution to impacts to policy response, and aren’t being – seem quite plausible to me.

    Roddy

  93. March 4, 2010

    mikef2

    Just to say I admire the patience that RD is showing against some very inconsistant logic being shown by some people. I guess this is the whole skeptic arguement really, the inconsistency.

    Ok…its ALL about the hockey stick.

    You cannot have an MWP/LIA and have Michael Manns hockey stick.
    Its either/or.
    Simple (& please..lets not do the “it was just local thing eh?”)

    So…if we can agree that the MWP/LIA did actually exist, then what caused it?
    Answer..we do not know for sure. We assume some kind of natural shift, maybe tsi, who knows.

    But…if we do not know what caused the MWP/LIA….how can we factor CO2 to make our models work now? Because we read CO2 as being flat during MWP/LIA we finger it for warming now yes? Because we cannot think of anything else. And we know radiative physics says GHG causes heat retentention. But we know squat about the earths heat engine, so its a bit of a reach.
    To be comical about it, CO2 could be the poor african american who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

    So then we look to the observational evidence. Go back 10yrs and we were told x/y/z. Very little of this has happened in the real world that we can see. Remove ENSO and as Phil Jones says, there is statistically not alot happening.

    That should be enough for us to say “hang on, physics says x/y/z should happen, but its not, so why isn’t it. What is happening beyond our knowledge”. Thats the skeptic point.

    CRU Gate just makes the problem seem worse.

    But, its all about the MWP/LIA and the Hockey Stick. They cannot exist side by side. One of them is wrong. Which one is it?

  94. March 4, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    It’s not all about any one thing, although, as my piece argued, temperature records and proxy reconstructions are one thing we rely on to assess past natural variability and use to create and test models. So to the extent that the MWP is the poster boy of the proxy debate I agree you could use it as a shorthand. The problem with that usage is it is such a WWI battleground, with trenches, fixed positions, fields of fire, past rancour, that it’s a bit like Palestine, to mix the metaphor. So a focus on the MWP can inhibit rational debate I have found.

    I find the uncertainties of proxy reconstructions a better way of putting it!

    I don’t think my interlocutors are particularly inconsistent. The debate is a hydra-headed monster, and it is endlessly hard to pin it down and stick to one aspect of it, patiently.

  95. March 5, 2010

    Terry Oldberg

    The climate models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are regarded by politicians as a reliable and authoritative guide to the construction of public policy on carbon dioxide emissions. The IPCC represents to these politicians that its periodic assessment reports are based in science. Supposedly, the peer review process of academic publication assures the quality of these reports.

    The philosopher of science Karl Popper established it as the line of demarcation between a scientific and an unscientific model that the former is falsifiable and the latter is not. It has escaped the attention of most politicians that the IPCC models are not falsifiable, thus lying outside science.

  96. March 5, 2010

    mikef2

    Hi Roddy,
    I think you are being very kind.

    The thing is you just cannot have Manns hockey stick and the MWP/LIA existing together, they rule each other out yes? Thats the logical inconsistency I refer to.

    Its a logical inconsistency to suggest that the science of the proxy data is robust (this is for the most part the observational evidence for AGW) yet acknowledge the MWP/LIA…….which is what you yourself are saying by questioning the proxy data…you are giving peeps wriggle room, very diplomatic, but it makes me take a breath when they can’t join the dots! Heh!

    So here it is again….if Briffa, Jones and now Acton seem to suggest that the MWP/LIA are real (and Briffas emails certainly indicate he is of that opinion) then a major question needs to be asked..
    1) Why does the proxy data not show it?

    The answer to that question opens a huge tin of worms. Thats why the IPCC has been so reticent to address this…it leads to questions on the “unprecedented” nature of the warming, the temp record, and the C in CAGW.

    Until this is resolved the skeptic case will grow. I believe Judith Curry is just one of many now starting to see this.

    When we have resolved this issue, and lets face it, the proxy data is pretty much a bust, or at least the Hockey Stick version is, we can then look at the real science behind what radiative physics tells us should happen, and what we can honestly say is happening by observation. At the moment there is not much happening in the real world…we are too wedded to the hockey stick to open our eyes.

    Lets face it, putting CO2 into the atmosphere unaturally can’t be right, thats my gut feeling, but the physics of what should happen is being mitigated by other things…we don’t know what because we are refusing to look in detail at past climate in case it invalidates the ‘unprecedented’ hype.

    Thats why I say it is all about the hockey stick, until this is resolved we cannot move our understanding forward. Climate science needs to admit that the hockey stick is not a good representation of climate history. Until people on the AGW side admit that, they are being..er….well, you decide.

    ta,
    Mike

  97. March 5, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    It’s an interesting specific subject, the Hockey Stick, others have seen it as you do, critical supporting evidence, including the ultra-warmists, you will have read the defences of it on realclimate for example, they would die in the trenches for it. But then they’ll die in the trenches for a lot of stuff. :)

    I’m being diplomatic, yes, my real bug-bear is uncertainty-denial as a whole rather than this one example of it. There is a pov that if you take the right uncertainty bands all the way through from paleo to impacts and then policy costs and benefits you are left with faith and the precautionary principle.

    Environmentalism generally is full of it, faith and uncertainty-denial. Monbiot wrote a blast on UK policy on solar pv (of which he is a supporter, in the right place) and some of the comments said ‘George, you mustn’t say these things, it gives comfort to the enemy, and it’s the right thing to do regardless of cost’ and regardless of truth and alternatives too, presumably.

    ‘We must do something’ and ‘it’s the right thing to do anyway’ and ‘we can’t go on like this’ and ‘oil will run out anyway so let’s do it now’ just confuse the conversation on impacts and policy response. It’s why I’m a Pielke-ist or Lomborg-ite or SonjaBC-ite by instinct, I don’t trust, in a rational sceptic way, the magical thinking of mitigation policy, I want to know what it will achieve, measured, and why it’s being proposed if it has no impact.

    And I like the detail. As an example the stats used in forecasting wind intermittency seem to me very weak. Ireland is the only country that publishes 15 minute interval data on wind output, and the intermittency requirement is way beyond what the simplistic models assumed.

  98. March 5, 2010

    mikef2

    Yeah…pretty much on the same page as me I think. Kinda Lukewarmer but veering Tepidwarmer as more and more science breaks out. Ironic that the vast investment in investigation is turning up some very odd things…we are getting to understand strato water vapour alot more (which does not seem to help the AGW cause I’m afraid) and ENSO understanding has gone up big time.

    Unfortunately the politics of both sides has made the poor honest science unspeakable – both sides have a lot invested.

    From my own pov the ‘windpower’ stuff scares me as its an engineering nightmare to couple up the ebbs & flows pan europe. At the moment europe copes by letting the excess slosh over the euro-net, but if more and more windpower comes on song, its going to get more difficult to manage. I just do not understand how people can ignore the obvious limitations of this policy (unless it is of course just the stalking horse to get nuclear up and running, ha!).
    I’m a bit of an outdoor person and enjoy wind driven sports…have spent years sitting on beaches waiting for the wind. I know it rarely blows in winter or summer (we windsurfers live for Spring/Autumn). During the recent cold snap just check out what percentage of power wind supplied compared to what its installed potential was…….scary bad return.
    Ah well. I’ll leave you in peace. It was a good balanced blog. Be interesting to revisit this in a year and see what the comments look like then perhaps.

  99. March 5, 2010

    Gregory Norminton

    Roddy, though I remain unhappy with your original article I must give you credit for your even-tempered responsiveness on this comments thread. I just want to draw your attention to two news items: one concerning the IoP submission to Parliament and another adding one more frightening piece to the jigsaw of catastrophic environmental change: the kind of change we cannot risk, regardless of uncertainties concerning its exact shape and ramifications.

    First, there is evidence that the IoP submission was, in a sense, hacked in its turn by an energy consultant (conflict of interest!) and noted denialist:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/05/climate-emails-institute-of-physics-submission

    Second, the feedback loops seem to be behaving just as the ‘warmists’ have warned. God help us if this accelerates:

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/03/04/science-nsf-tundra-permafrost-methane-east-siberian-arctic-shelf-venting/

    The focus of your argument seems to be that ‘AGW’ scientists refuse to acknowledge uncertainty in climate modelling. This may be true (those it is in response to a massive campaign of misinformation which exploits any hint of uncertainty in that science) but the essential point, and sorry to hector but it is a moral one, is that we already know enough, and the picture is clear enough, for us to devote our efforts to averting catastrophe. Hardly any climatologists doubt the soundness of the basic scientific conclusion that we are dangerously destabilising the biosphere.

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_ACyqhI8FTfI/S0n-A2EVSMI/AAAAAAAAANY/cNFd6NHsYOo/s1600-h/phpThumb_generated_thumbnail.jpeg

    And whereas it may not be your intention to distract the world from this danger, that is the policy of Big Carbon, especially in the States. Doubtless we’re coming at this from different angles, you as a maths man and policy wonk, me as an activist. But while reasoning and debate are always needed, now is also the time for action. Because if we wait for absolute certainty of catastrophe, it will be (if it isn’t already) too late to avert it.

  100. March 5, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    geek time – there’s one bit of tech which will help re intermittency in my mind, i mean short-term 15/30 minute lapses in wind, not your spring/summer observation.

    I may not get this quite right, but it’s a bit of kit which you have built into your freezer, say. It detects a slight fall in voltage (?) from the mains, indicating demand>supply, and with a random number generating thingy turns itself down, or off, for several minutes, ie using less power. After the random number of minutes it comes back on so your fish fingers don’t get soggy.

    If you have enough of these around, with them all coming back on at different times, it can help local intermittency which otherwise will require oil/gas local generation of a temporary power solution type.

    That’s the idea anyway.

    i like your idea of revisiting in a year.

    some of the more warmist blogs are ad homming like mad against the IoP. they really are crazy types. NO criticism is allowed AT ALL.

    You’ll enjoy this post today by a very funny Czech scientist http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/03/met-office-claims-to-have-found-agw.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LuboMotlsReferenceFrame+%28Lubos+Motl%27s+reference+frame%29

  101. March 5, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Gregory, thanks for the even-tempered compliment. It is terribly easy to end up name-calling, ad hom, side-taking – I’ve said enough on this thread about the disfunctionality of the debate, so thank you for engaging too.

    Your post – The Guardian – am I being unfair when I think that the IoP submission shocked the warmists, and so it seems to me that Adam was trying to smear it? To me he hasn’t succeeded (Gill certainly seems a sceptic maverick, we don’t know what influence he had on the statement), in fact Adam got this quote from the IoP in his piece “The institute supplied a statement from an anonymous member of its science board (RC – note, not the energy lot), which said: “The institute should feel relaxed about the process by which it generated what is, anyway, a statement of the obvious.”" whbich is a pretty strong defence? I think that if the IoP make a controversial statement to Parliament on the hottest potato in town and stand by it we should consider that there may be some reason to the points they make, they should be considered on their merits, especially when they stood by them in the clarification and the quote above?

    the Chemists said this: ‘It may also be necessary to incorporate an independent auditing system into peer review with the ability to demand access to raw data sets to ensure best practices are being adhered to.’, which, in the context of a climategate submission, is not to be ignored either. They also flirted with the IoP pov when they said ‘A lack of willingness to disseminate scientific information may infer that the scientific results or methods used are not robust enough to face scrutiny, even if this conjecture is not well-founded.’ (Is an inference equivalent to a conjecture? A question for language pedants there, I would have thought an inference classier than a conjecture!)

    I went off-piste from the article in moving onto impacts and response, we differ in that you are a ‘catastrophist’ and I’m not, and I’ve described my Pielke-ist (a warmist) stance on ‘magical thinking’ re mitigation, and the need for an overly-sober approach to hints of alarmism in the impact area.

    I haven’t seen the fingerprint of big carbon in my meanderings around scepticism and climate, I see mainly some weird anoraks like McIntyre, Watts, Id, EM Smith, Bishop Hill tilting at the establishment. Like any whistle-blowers, they are a bit odd, not perfect, which is roughly part of the defence of Jones et al in climategate – they’re only human. As you’ve seen, I aim off when it comes to the SPPIs of this world.

    massive campaign of misinformation – this is a bit of a gavin schmidt meme, from where I sit the warmist establishment have had a pretty vice-like grip for the last decade or two on media and information and presentation. The blogs have appeared in the last very few years, but I agree since climategate it’s all gone a bit nuts.

    I find it interesting how Pearce wrote all those pieces, and is, I understand, pretty furious at the claims of Schmidt on realclimate about his shoddy journalism. He had to report climategate, and reported it, very thoroughly. What his personal views/beliefs are we don’t know, but as a ‘warmist’ journalist admired by the AGW community again we should consider whether he had a point(s) when he criticises.

    Thanks for the methane Arctic link – I read the http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=116532&org=NSF&from=news press release. I got confused about whether it’s all warming caused? If it is, should the same thing not have happened during the MWA (the A is a nod to Mann!)?

    You say you’re an activist – in what specialisation, as it were?

    All the best.

  102. March 8, 2010

    richard herriott

    The cost of averting catastrophic climate change are not enormous. They are such that it will delay the world´s expected economic growth by six months by the year 2050. That is to say it will take until July 2050 to reach the level of wealth we expected in January 2050. The strategies needed to reduce the world´s dependency are worth puruing even absent the appalling risks of climate change. Who wants to continue sending money to corrupt middle eastern countries and to Russia? Who wants to continue the destruction required to extract tar sands?
    I´m pretty disappointed Prospect thinks a fund manager is even a worthwhile commentator on this subject. Actually I am close to apopleptic. This debate is too important to leave to the likes of the kind of people who have most to gain from doing nothing to avert a calamity with appalling social and humanitarian consequences. Would you ask tobacco industry representatives to debate the link between smoking and cancer?

  103. March 10, 2010

    Early morning bird

    Right, so have to admit that this is the first time that I have bought “Prospect” as normally a “The Economist” kindda gal but got lured into buying the magazine by the tantalising heading “Why feminism favours men” (thought it was to do with double workload but app all about splitting the bill and having innovative sex!) and went to website with the intent of posting a comment to Jim Pollard’s rather funny piece, which actually got a valid (albeit annoying) point but frankly lost the will to live somewhere between trying to summarise the position on parental leave (well, according to Scandinavian studies it doesn’t really work unless you earmark it) and Laurie Penny asserting that women enjoy sex too (eh, yes and some of us enjoy a sense of humour as well) so decided to give up on the feminist movement, probably not much fun these days any way as any bra burning is clearly out of the question (just think about the emissions caused by a good under wiring and we would probably totally spoil “the Hockey stick” graph so would have to fold the offending item neatly together and place it in an orange recycle bag to be collected on Fridays, which just isn’t quite the same). So gate crashing the “climate change party” instead although since no recent postings the “guests” might already have left the party? Any way seems to me that asking to see the raw data is pretty much what we in my line of work call asking for “further and better particulars” which makes a lot of sense as all parties then have the opportunity to form an informed opinion before arguing their case instead of people just ranting away and introducing new evidence when it suits them. Saves everybody a lot of time and ultimately produces a much better result (as in “just and fair”). The climate change believers clearly got a case to argue (we are probably discussing extent of damage and appropriate remedies on this one) so others input should be welcomed rather than resented.
    Bjørn Lomborg is currently filming his movie “Cool it” (app Al Gore has declined an offer to participate (!) but Rajendra Pachauri and Bill Gates might take part) due out in September so would be nice if meant that more balanced view but probably just further polarisation. Read that Lomborg recently returned mightily depressed from a visit to UK as apparently the children here draws pictures of the Earth consisting entirely of blue water with a couple of dead polar bears and penguins thrown in for good measure Rather depressing to grow up thinking that you will shortly be standing on the last piece of ice holding your teddy! Btw to be fair Lomborg has been financed to the tune of at least 10 million pounds (from 2002 until 2012) by the Danish gov although they probably rather regret that now.
    Kind regards,
    Early morning bird
    Ps re tobacco industry comment. Yes, I know it is a classic ref but not sure what relevance author’s day job have unless you are suggesting that he is “going long” on the Earth surviving?

  104. March 10, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    Richard:

    “This debate is too important to leave to the likes of the kind of people who have most to gain from doing nothing….”

    hmmm. I am a 50 year old father of four, I’m not sure on what basis I have most to gain? I have a house, a job, a family, I benefit in general from the City existing, because it is where I am employed, I’m a cog in the capitalist system; I think an out of work Corus steel-worker might have more to gain given that he has been sacked because of carbon credits, or a Spaniard crowded out of employment by expensive renewable energy (see the Juan Carlos University paper).

    I don’t think the debate should be ‘left to’ any particular set of people, it’s too important for that, and am not sure why the article I wrote would be any more or less relevant or true or false had it been written by a bus-driver. It would likely have been less so if written by Greenpeace. The bus driver and I both have notional independence.

    Your post is a generalised form of the ad hom approach which I have criticised above – no mention of the issues (other than to blur them) or of what I wrote, just a general casting of nasturtiums as to my motives and bias.

    On your specific points, although they were not connected to my article, I think my financial training might make me reasonably competent to comment on Stern, as in your ‘The cost of averting catastrophic climate change are not enormous.’, and a degree in economics and politics specialising in international relations would enable me to at least join in the ‘Who wants to continue sending money to corrupt middle eastern countries and to Russia?’ conversation (I do, otherwise there won’t be any food in Tesco).

    I remind you my article was only about the reliability and uncertainty of historic temperature records and paleo reconstructions, and hence the reliability of current detection and attribution, not about policy response or global morality.

    Do tell, who is allowed to think about and debate this large subject? :)

  105. March 10, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    early morning bird – laughed all the way through. Given my fund manager job I am naturally biased about women enjoying sex, because being richer than most and shockingly bad in bed I prefer it if they want my money, it’s the only way I can keep them. So my views on the female orgasm are not worth hearing, and you should be apoplectic should they ever appear in Prospect.

    x

  106. March 11, 2010

    early morning bird

    Glad you liked my comment as almost made me late for court so had to do a “Usain Bolt” all the way up Kingsway which frankly isn’t easy wearing heels and carrying 5 bundles.

    Ah yes, the good old “demand-supply” theory still holds. So no worries should you ever divorce. Went to fancy smancy gallery dodah yesterday evening and after that for a drink around Chelsea with a friend and I am happy to report that both places would have made Adam Smith do the roly-poly out of the sheer joy of seeing his theory put to good use. Think men have (as a general rule) been smarter on this one though, as have in the past (in vain) tried to explain to girlfriends that if one person got youth and looks and the other person got money and job then frankly some of those assets will be more exchangeable than others (not to mention the rate of deterioration! surely I am not the only woman who finds that after turning 35 ones bum becomes a bit of a Sisyphus job???)

    On the bright side if you have managed to impregnate a woman (women) 4 times then I reckon that you almost certainly got the basics right but should you ever want to broaden your repertoire (not that you probably need it, please see above) then there was a fab documentary on BBC4 Monday on the trail-blazing feminists who discovered the clitoris in the 70’s. Extraordinary archive footage – Germaine Greer was even scarier in her youth.

    Right, back to work. I have a terrible feeling that I am suppose to exchange something with somebody, sometime, today. I will, if I got time, try to find the will to comment on that other opinion.

    Have a nice day.

    Early morning bird

  107. March 11, 2010

    early morning bird

    Just to let you know that your comment from yesterday made me laugh so much that I actually read most of your blog (belated congratulations on your birthday). Well, you may be shockingly bad in bed (I will take your word for it!)but you certainly got a sense of humour. x

  108. March 12, 2010

    Roddy Campbell

    you seem to have a tongue on you too. Alarmed by your liking for The Economist, how could you, and also the Sisypheian comment. Send me a mail at roddycampbell at gmail dot com, as otherwise this thread is drifting dangerously OT.

    Oh, and read Matt Ridley’s review of The Hockey Stick Illusion, on the Prospect website. VG. Complements my piece re detection.

  109. March 15, 2010

    early morning bird

    Dear Mr. Campbell,
    I must confess that your suggestion that we go “off blog” left me reeling as I have frankly always assumed that the only reason men would want my opinion on anything is because of my looks.
    Started reading the book and will email you my initial comments shortly.

  110. April 9, 2010

    Jeremy Poynton

    To any budding sceptic, I highly recommend Peter Taylor’s book “Chill” (available from Amazon or your library), which is a scientific look at AGW, most especially at what has NOT been factored in. Written so that the layman can easily digest it, it is a comprehensive rebuttal of what the cooling denialists claim.

  111. May 28, 2010

    John Hineman

    Jeremy Poynton said:

    “To any budding sceptic, I highly recommend Peter Taylor’s book “Chill” (available from Amazon or your library), which is a scientific look at AGW, most especially at what has NOT been factored in.”

    Jeremy, why is it that Taylor’s book didn’t go through peer review as all normal scientific hypotheses do? why is it that Taylor quotes the completely discredited pseudo scientist Lord Monckton? And why does Taylor not want to advertise the biography he wrote, called Shiva’s Rainbow where he thinks that plutonium is a mystical homeopathic substance and admits to communication with a discarnate guru?

  112. June 1, 2010

    early morning bird

    John,

    I shall most def get Shiva’s rainbow. It sounds most interesting and delightful. Was actually planning to read “The rational optimist” by Matt Ridley next. Anybody read it?

  113. November 21, 2010

    Financial Crisis

    The biggest problem by far with the use of DDT is indiscriminate overuse, which results in resistance to its effect. When I was a boy I remember a dairy farmer telling my father that when he first used DDT the dead flies were so numerous that they used snow shovels to clean up the carcasses.

    It is human nature to overuse anything beneficial, like DDT or antibiotics, for instance. Education is necessary.

    But the pendulum had swung so far in the other direction that lots of people died unnecessarily. And the ban, while not total, still covers most countries; where in the U.S., for example, can you buy DDT?

    There is still no insecticide as effective as DDT for controlling malaria. And the biggest [emotional] reason for its ban was the claim that it made birds’ eggshells so thin that the eggs were crushed by the hens has been falsified. The fact that the DDT ban has led to a massive death toll from malaria isn’t as important to some “environmentalists” as bird eggs. Widespread, judicious use of DDT will again start to save lives. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

  114. November 22, 2010

    access control systems

    That’s an interesting take on DDT. I doubt many people would be willing to listen it. It’s like trying to convince nervous mothers that autism is not contracted through a vaccination. I applaud you for speaking up.

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Roddy Campbell

Roddy Campbell is a fund manager. The text of the climate emails are available at www.eastangliaemails.com 


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