Given my recent posts about climate change and the interest (and comments) they have generated, I thought I would reblog this post from Open Mind. It responds to a number of the claims made by skeptics and, in particular, addresses the criticisms of the recently leaked IPCC document. It makes a very convincing argument and makes me think I’ve been a somewhat too willing to consider the views of some of those who are skeptical. I wish I’d seen this before I wrote my posts. I would probably have taken a harder line.

Open Mind

Clearly, David Whitehouse has enough rope. To hang himself.

The WUWT blog has a post by David Whitehouse (of the “Global Warming Policy Foundation”) discussing global temperature data. It features this graph from the leaked copy of the not-yet-completed 5th assessment report (AR5) of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change):

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36 thoughts on “

  1. Interesting, I just finished off commenting on the previous post asking where your urgency comes from and I see you’ve re-blogged Grant Foster. Now I understand.

    • Could you add some context to that comment. I only encountered this blog recently and was impressed by this particular post that seemed to provide a convincing set of examples of where some skeptics appear to have misused or mis-represented the data. I haven’t read much more of what is written on this blog, but you seem to be quite aware of it.

  2. Frankly, I don’t have the time or energy. It’s been nice chatting with you but if you’re unaware of Grant Foster and Stefan Rahmstorf who are about as alarmist as climate scientists as there are then we’re not going to have much progress.

    I don’t know what your area of expertise is but if you have time you can read this magical paper which tries to explain away the recent lack of warming and that climate model projections are actually right on track: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/4/044035/article

    If you ever figure out what they are attempting to do, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Maybe you could then move on to some of their alarming sea level rise papers, with claims well above the IPCC projections.

    I wish you well and may just drop by time to time to see what you’re up to.

    • Fair enough, but here’s the issue I have with your comment. I’ve reblogged a post that attempts to address various claims made by climate skeptics. It does so in quite some detail. For example, a climate skeptic has supposedly claimed that more than half the warming that occurred between 1880 and today occurred before 1940. The post I reblogged suggests that this claim can only be true if they used the difference between the lowest annual average and highest annual average prior to 1940, rather than looking at the variation in the mean (which would have been the correct thing to do). I also, today, downloaded some of the data (the GISTEMP to be precise) and wrote a code to average the data, find trends and to find the error. I can see no issues with the graphs shown in the post I reblogged (although I wrote the code this afternoon and can’t claim that it doesn’t have an error of it’s own).

      I ask if you would clarify your comment, and you don’t have the “time or the energy”. I’m not expecting you to spend hours reanalysing what they’ve done. Just point out where they’ve gone wrong in this post. Why is their criticism of the claims made by some climate skeptics wrong? Pick one and explain why their analysis is wrong (or misguided, or misleading). I’ve read the post, downloaded some data, and I intend to write a post myself about this data analysis once I’m happy that my analysis is correct (although I should be careful about making promises that I may not eventually keep). So I certainly intend to do my own analysis. I only ask that those others who engage in this debate try to do the same, rather than suggesting if I can’t be bothered being aware of some particular climate scientist then they can’t be bothered addressing the issues.

  3. Yeah, the “if you don’t already know X then there’s no hope for you” trope is rude when it comes from alarmists and it’s rude when it comes from skeptics. Let’s not lower ourselves to RC-style argumentation, MikeC.

  4. I think MikeC is alluding to previous instances of dishonesty by both Tamino and Rahmstorf. Whether that means the present example is bogus I don’t know. But supposing their allegation about Whitehouse’s graph is true…

    If you’re so angry about it (to the point of being less willing to consider anything skeptics have to say in the future!) then you must have been positively apoplectic about the Hide the Decline graph, right? Or is it OK for alarmists to doctor graphs, but not skeptics?

    • I don’t know why you think I’m extremely angry. I’m certainly not. I just thought that here was an opportunity to address something directly. For example, quite a lot of the skeptic material I’ve read recently has been related to the temperature figure in the leaked IPCC document. This appears to show that the model temperatures are above those measured. The interpretation in the post I reblogged was that they had lined up the models with a high point in the running mean of the measured surface anomalies. In doing this they had made it appears as though the models predicted larger anomalies than were measured. Given that the running mean of the anomaly indeed has variations of 0.1 degree or so, it make sense to take some care with where you line up the model results and moving the measured values up by 0.1 degree or so (and consequently improving the fit with the model data) seems quite reasonable to me. Is this wrong? Is there a good argument for why the leaked figure is the correct one and that adjusting it in the way suggested is not appropriate?

      Given that I’m not angry now, there’s no reason to suggest that I should be apoplectic about the Hide the Decline graph. I do find this style of dialogue a little frustrating. You and I are both entitled to make our own interpretations of the science and what is going on around the science. Neither of us, however, really have the right to decide the rules though. Saying “you must be this .. ” doesn’t really help the dialogue. As far as the Hide the Decline controversy goes, it seems that they chose to leave out some data based on tree rings. It seems that the issue is related to removing the tree ring data after 1960. This was, presumably, because it didn’t agree with the measured temperatures. So clearly, the tree ring data was wrong after 1960. Surely, our measured temperatures can’t be what was wrong. This then has implications for the use of tree ring data in the past. However, this isn’t the only proxy. So, yes they left out some data that was clearly wrong, but does this really change the basic picture or was it simply removing something that was going to complicate the graph without really adding anything of value (i.e., the tree ring data after 1960 surely has to be wrong).

  5. “This then has implications for the use of tree ring data in the past.”

    Uh, yeah. It means you can’t use tree ring data (or at least, data from those particular species, e.g. bristlecone pine) to reconstruct temperature. Ever. If you can’t explain why the data is “wrong” after 1960 then you can’t pretend it is “right” in 1260.

    An inconvenient implication indeed.

    Which is presumably why they concealed it.

    It’s bizarre watching you come up with excuses for them.

    Don’t bother. As Dr Paul Dennis (Jones’ CRU colleague) pointed out, it is indefensible.

    As Professor Richard Muller pointed out, this excuse would not survive peer review in any reputable journal. This is not up to our standards. You’re not allowed to do this and still call yourself a scientist.

    As Professor Jonathan Jones said, it brings all of climate science into disrepute. You are not allowed to do this.

    If I did something like this in pharmacological research, I’d go to prison.

    Tell me: why do we let climate scientists get away with dishonest practices no other scientist would be caught dead resorting to?

    • I’m not trying to defend it, I’m trying to understand the significance of this. Reading the various bits of information suggest that the divergence occurs mainly for high-latitude tree ring data. The data from mid-latitude tree ring data is consistent with the instrumental data. Furthermore, the mid- and high-latitude tree ring data is apparently consistent prior to 1960. What does this mean? I don’t really know. I’ve read some paper abstracts and there is clearly a suggestion that the decline in northern latitude tree ring growth is anthropogenic. It also seems like this issue has not been hidden. It’s not as if it was not discussed in the literature. If it is truly significant then one would expect the science to adjust to take this into account and to re-analyse the data and re-interpret the results.

      Something that we haven’t discussed in any real detail is, what I would call, the scientific method. The scientific method is (as I imagine you know) this process of modeling/theory, measurements/observations/experiments and requires that ultimately the theory/models must be confirmed by measurements/observations/experiments. However, it doesn’t apply (as such) to an individual bit of work. As a scientist, finding an error in another bit of research is not sufficient to invalidate their work. What’s required is that the implications of the error are quantified. The research (in whole or in part) has to be redone with the error removed (or with whatever is disputed appropriately changed). The removal of high-latitude tree-ring data may indeed be scientifically questionable, but what does it does really mean? In itself, it doesn’t automatically invalidate the anomaly results unless you can show that it completely rules out the use of tree-ring data as a proxy.

  6. “It also seems like this issue has not been hidden. It’s not as if it was not discussed in the literature.”

    I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough.

    You are not allowed to hide (to use Phil Jones’ own verb!) part of a graph that doesn’t fit your hypothesis. Ever. No ifs ands or buts. The fact that the hidden segment is described in an unspecified article somewhere else in the literature doesn’t mitigate the offence one bit. It remains a crime against science, and the hiders belong in prison.

    Please assure me you don’t take the same morally flexible approach to your own work as you apply to the work of Jones, Mann et al.

    • I’m sorry, but your rhetoric is extreme. The hiders belong in prison. Really? Also, “no ifs no buts”. The idea that there is some set of well-defined rules about how to do science is simplistic. I’m not trying to suggest that what they did was right, I’m just confused about who you think should be judge and jury in a case like this.

      Let me explain a bit more about what I was getting at in my last comment. I agree that leaving out inconvenient data is very poor. I’m not trying to excuse it at all. However, the prime recourse is science itself. Simply pointing out that someone has left something out (or made a mistake, or made an assumption with which you disagree) doesn’t – in itself – prove that their results and interpretation are wrong. It’s not good enough to simply point out an error or a mistake. You have to show (using science) the significance of this. Does it make a difference? How big is the difference? Does it change the interpretation? If it doesn’t change the basic interpretation, that doesn’t necessarily excuse how they carried out their research but it does mean that what they did has not really changed the science.

      It’s quite possible that these are people who I wouldn’t like or wouldn’t respect. You keep saying “focus on the science”. I think you should do the same yourself. Simply highlighting an issue with how they’ve carried out their research isn’t (in my view) enough to, yet, invalidate the results of their research.

  7. “I’m sorry, but your rhetoric is extreme.”

    Rhetoric?

    “The hiders belong in prison. Really?”

    Yes. This example of graph-doctoring has arguable caused more injury to the world than the average medical-research fraud.

    “Simply highlighting an issue with how they’ve carried out their research isn’t (in my view) enough to, yet, invalidate the results of their research.”

    It’s not just “an issue” though, it’s a deception. Jones has confessed to deceiving the WMO. He hid the decline. What’s worse, according to his email he was just taking a leaf from Mike Mann, who used the same trick to deceive the readers of Nature.

    Let’s not pretend you don’t understand this.

    So: the key players in alarmist climate science are dissimulators by their own admission, and yes, that most certainly does invalidate their work.

    • You’re still not really answering my question. If their deception is such a big deal that it invalidates their research, why can I go and find papers published in the last 12 months that use multiple proxies and that appear to be consistent with their results? I also think you have a rather evangelical view of data. It is entirely reasonable to leave out data if it isn’t relevant or if it suffers from some effect that influences the results. If (as some are suggesting) high-latitude tree rings were influenced by something after 1960 that didn’t affect them before 1960, then leaving them out after 1960 may have been the correct thing to do.

      I’m not trying to excuse what they did, I’m trying to understand how it influences the conclusions we should draw from the results of climate science. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t really have any implications. If it were such a big deal, surely climate scientists would have taken this into account and drawn different conclusions. If they’re choosing to ignore it, then we’re back in conspiracy theory territory.

      • “If their deception is such a big deal that it invalidates their research, why can I go and find papers published in the last 12 months that use multiple proxies and that appear to be consistent with their results?”

        That’s easy. Those papers—assuming you mean the handful of papers that end in a vaguely hockey-stick-like conclusion—use one of a small number of tricks that Mann and Jones have perfected over the years. (You’ll notice that just about all such papers have Mann or Jones as co-authors.) Either (1) they use handpicked bristlecone pine trees, which are bogus proxies of temperature; and/or (2) they use the Tiljander swamp varves, which are also bogus proxies of temperature. Both these proxies were found to be invalid as temperature proxies by their original discoverers, who warned in the literature: do not use this as a temperature proxy! Yet nobody can make a hockey-stick shape without resorting to one of these bogus proxies.

        “If they’re choosing to ignore it, then we’re back in conspiracy theory territory.”

        Yes we are, and this theory—the amazing notion that climate scientists somehow conspire not to talk about the gaping flaws in the high-impact results like Mann’s—just happens to be true. Ample proof of the conspiracy is in their emails, among other things. Read them.

        To avoid any misunderstanding, let me repeat: it’s not a conspiracy of thousands, it’s a conspiracy among a small coterie of like-minded activist scientists. Small enough to fit in each other’s address books. Read the emails. If you choose to look the other way, you’re effectively joining a much broader conspiracy, the conspiracy of ignorance (which involves millions of people, at the very least).

      • See, we’re back to a conspiracy theory. If you really think that it is essentially a conspiracy by some climate scientists, then this discussion is entirely pointless. There may be a chance that you’re correct, but that’s only because nothing is impossible.

      • “Maybe “consensus” is the wrong word to use, but you know what I mean by it.”

        No, I don’t know what you mean (but thanks for subsequently elaborating).

        And yes, it is the wrong word, because it means something else. What you seem to mean is something like “the weight of the evidence,” not “majority opinion.” Words matter.

        Now take out your exercise book and write 100 times:

        Opinion is not evidence!

        “The answer would be obvious. I guess, you think it is but just because do, doesn’t make it so.”

        Tell that to the people who say it’s as settled as gravity or thermodynamics. Tell that to Australian Climate Commissioner Will Steffen, who says that debating it is like debating “is the Earth flat?”

        “Also, you seem to be suggesting that AGW is based on a single result by Mann, Bradley & Hughes.”

        Do I?

        What I would say is that the abolition of the Medieval Warm Period is based on the work of Mann, Bradley and Hughes. Not just on one paper—nor have I suggested that—but on the tricks they’ve spent years developing, and in some cases sharing with others (e.g. with Phil Jones, who was so inspired by their graph-doctoring trick in Nature that he copied it and mentioned Mike by name).

        “A field doesn’t depend on a single (or a few) papers or results.”

        No, but AGW (which I don’t dispute, by the way) isn’t a field, is it?

        It’s a hypothesis. And hypotheses certainly can hang on individual papers.

      • “There may be a chance that you’re correct, but that’s only because nothing is impossible.”

        No, it’s because there is empirical evidence, dare I say proof, that I’m correct.

        I’ve pointed you to it. The Hide the Decline email, for starters. As I’ve said, it had 5 (five) recipients. All 5 (five) recipients kept their mouths shut. For ten (ten) years, nobody else in the world knew what Phil Jones admitted he’d done.

        There you go. I’ve just cited open-and-shut proof of a case in which some climate scientists have conspired to do something (or to silently allow someone else to do something).

        How can one remain in denial of such evidence?

      • As I mentioned in my previous comment, this discussion has become entirely pointless. Not only are you relying on pedantry and pomposity, but you require a conspiracy amongst a not-insignificant group of influential climate scientists. Even though I clearly can’t prove you wrong, it would be remarkable if it were the case. So there you go. You’ve beaten me down. I can’t be bothered anymore. If you think that makes you right, go ahead (in fact, you almost certainly do think you’re right – nothing I say is going to change that). Hopefully this debate will be won by those with the most convincing and most scientifically credible arguments, rather than by those with the most stamina.

      • “Even though I clearly can’t prove you wrong, it would be remarkable if it were the case.”

        You’re not making sense. What would be “remarkable” about a conspiracy between 5 people?

        I know a bit about sociology and I’d call such a thing “banal” or “commonplace.”

        Or did you have in mind a whole lot more than 5 people? Why?

      • You really are twisting what I’m saying. I’m saying that the field of climate science is large (whatever you may say). If a few people are involved in a conspiracy, other scientists would know or they would be confused about why they couldn’t reproduce their results (or why their research wasn’t consistent with the research of those who are hiding something or involved in this supposed conspiracy). Someone (or a group) would do their own research and if they couldn’t replicate the research of this small group of conspirators, we would know. That’s how science works.

      • You keep saying “that’s how science works” when what you’re referring to is an idealised vision of how it ought to work. Yes. That’s how science *should* work. No arguments here.

        But empirically, that’s *not* how *climate* science *does* work.

        Here is a straightforward and undeniable historical fact for you (and please don’t tell me it’s implausible or unbelievable or remarkable, because I know it is—nevertheless, the following really did happen) …

        In 1998 an unreplicable, methodologically cryptic paper which wouldn’t even be accepted as a student thesis somehow passed peer review and was published in one of the world’s most prestigious science journals. For 5 years, not a single voice in the climate science community was raised in objection to the fact that MBH98 is methodologically indecipherable. No climate scientist who read it could tell where its graph came from, yet not a single one of them cared, or if they did, they kept their misgivings to themselves. It was the most celebrated paper in climate science, so a lot of scientists must have read it—yet they all kept their mouths shut for 5 years, even when the hockey-stick graph of mysterious provenance was chosen as the icon of the IPCC Assessment Report.

        It seems that the only person on the planet who was working on the mystery of how MBH98 got its result was Steven McIntyre.

        Lo and behold, when he finally squeezed the information out of the authors after 5 years—information that no science student, let alone professional scientist, is supposed to leave out of their paper—he discovered that there were major mathematical errors which (yes!) invalidated the result. With these errors corrected, the resulting view of climate history was *not* hockey-stick shaped and the present era was *not* warmer than the MWP.

        (If you read the Climategate emails, you’ll discover that even Mann’s colleagues read McIntyre’s paper and agreed, privately, that it was right and that MBH98 was “shoddy work.”)

        All the above happened. Deal with it.

        Call it a “conspiracy” if you insist. I view it more as a collusion of silence. (And such phenomena occur all over the world all the time on all sorts of different matters—think of the millions of priests who know their God is make-believe but will never say so publicly.)

        You can stop telling me “how science [should] work[s]”—I know how it [should] work[s], but you seem to be using the ideal as an excuse to avoid looking at the real. Look at it. Read the Climategate emails. Otherwise the discussion will indeed become, as you say, “quite pointless.”

      • Okay fine, you know how science works. Let’s just clarify a few things though. Your primary criticism of climate science today appears to relate to a paper published in 1998 and is based on a set of hacked emails that require some interpretation (you may think they don’t, but that doesn’t make you correct). You also require that climate scientist are either ignoring the evidence in these emails or are somehow prevented from addressing the issues these email highlight.

        So Steven McIntyre has published a paper addressing these issues in MBH98. That’s good. Happy that someone has done so. Why, then has this not been completely accepted by the climate science community? Here’s something I read about one of Steven McIntyre’s papers. It’s quite well cited and certainly there is quite a lot of discussion in the literature about how best to analyse multi-proxy data. There’s even an acknowledgement in the literature that it is difficult and that there is still some disagreement about what statistical methods to use. But there’s no general sense that MBH98 has been completely invalidated. Disagreements about analysis methods and assumptions is normal, it doesn’t mean that the science is somehow less valid. It just means it’s complicated.

      • “Your primary criticism of climate science today appears to relate to a paper published in 1998”

        I was simply naming an example notorious enough for everyone to understand the reference. But I wouldn’t say it’s the “primary” problem with climate science—Dr Tim Ball describes a much more fundamental pathology here (http://drtimball.com/2011/corruption-of-climate-science-has-created-30-lost-years/)—and there are plenty more criticisms where that comes from.

        “and is based on a set of hacked emails that require some interpretation (you may think they don’t, but that doesn’t make you correct).”

        1. what leads you to describe the emails as “hacked”? Ockham’s Razor, plus conventional IT security wisdom, points to a leak by a conscientious insider. I’m not being pedantic, I just want to make sure you don’t lapse into that twilit bizarro world so many alarmists seem to inhabit, in which leaked becomes “hacked” and stolen becomes “leaked” (according to whether they’re talking about the CRU or the Heartland Institute).

        2. the interpretation is not too difficult if you take the time to read enough of the emails to know the context. (And as I’ve said, they weren’t taken “out of context”—as of CG2 we have something like 5,000 emails, more than enough to erase any ambiguity as to the significance of the most damning examples.) Having said that, some sort of gloss or exegesis is indispensable because you’d get lost in the sheer volume otherwise, so I highly recommend you download Dr John Costella’s walkthrough of Climategate 1. I should warn you: it’s quite open in its CAGW skepticism. I’d gladly point you in the direction of a more sympathetic/apologetic guide to the emails but for the fact that, remarkably, the alarmist side has yet to produce one. Which is strange…. it’s almost as if they don’t want you to read the emails, ever….

        “You also require that climate scientist are either ignoring the evidence in these emails or are somehow prevented from addressing the issues these email highlight.”

        So, what steps have they taken to address them?

        “So Steven McIntyre has published a paper addressing these issues in MBH98. That’s good. Happy that someone has done so.”

        I’m happy you’re happy. I congratulate you for not hating on McIntyre for advancing science. (I think you forgot to include a link about one of his papers, by the way.)

        But remember that Michael Mann did everything legally (and illegally) possible to prevent this advance from ever happening, and that the rest of the climate community stood by silently as he fought off requests for key information, which postponed McIntyre’s discovery for 5 years. Don’t you find it extraordinary (and telling) that the essential scientific work of examining and replicating the methods of MBH98, the most important climate science paper to date, was left up to a total outsider? And that that outsider (McIntyre) has received nothing but vitriol and defamation for doing climate scientists’ work for them, all of which he did on his own time and at his own expense? Surely this raises some grave questions in your mind about the state of climate science, and I don’t need to spell those questions out, do I?

  8. And by the way, to focus on how they behaved is precisely to focus on the science, because science is a way of behaving. It’s a practice, a method, a code of conduct. If we allow them to break the rules with impunity, we can no longer claim to respect science. I respect science. Do you?

    • Here, I think you’re choosing to ignore the scientific method. If their data was completely faked (which it was not) they should withdraw their paper. If they’ve chosen to ignore some data (as they appear to have done) they should have made this clear. Someone else can then investigate the implications of this decision, and science can progress. Even if they haven’t made it clear, others are carrying out similar research with different proxies and so would discover an issue if there was one. This isn’t a game with two sides and a set of rules. You don’t win just because someone broke a rule. You win by showing (using science) that there is a problem with their results and with their interpretation. I’m only using the word “win” to be illustrative, not because I think it is a game. There aren’t really two sides. There’s just science which progresses and converges (over time) to some kind of consensus. It may not be an absolute consensus where everyone agrees precisely, it might just be a general consensus where there is agreement in general but disagreement about the specifics.

      • “Here, I think you’re choosing to ignore the scientific method.”

        Actually no, I’m choosing to abbreviate it to “science.”

        “If their data was completely faked (which it was not) they should withdraw their paper.”

        I’m not sure what you mean by “completely faked,” but it was a Frankengraph—two datasets invisibly spliced into graph, without any justification or transparency—and they should withdraw it because you’re not allowed to mislead your readers like that in science.

        It would have been retracted, and grounds for scandal, in any other field of science.

        “Someone else can then investigate the implications of this decision, and science can progress.”

        Correct, but

        1. they kept their “decision” so well hidden that nobody would even know about it if not for the acts of a whistleblower (the CRU email leaker)

        and

        2. the only people who showed the slightest interest in investigating such things were skeptics like Steven McIntyre, who’ve been vilified and libeled for their trouble!

        “Even if they haven’t made it clear, others are carrying out similar research with different proxies and so would discover an issue if there was one.”

        No, others who arrived at different answers could never have known *why* they weren’t getting the same answer. You can’t uncover methodological misconduct in a scientific work by simply showing that its conclusion is “wrong” (i.e. different from your own conclusion)—you need access to their method! Therefore, science cannot possibly self-correct (in the sense of retracting methodologically illicit papers) unless there is methodological openness.

        Richard Feynman wrote a great essay about correcting an algebraic mistake in a previous physicist’s work. I wish I could find it. Anyway, he never would have found the error if the previous physicist hadn’t shown his working, and Feynman’s own research (which was premised on the other physicist’s work) would have ground to a halt.

        Also see the famous Millikan oil drop error. Notice how difficult it is to correct an error once it enters into the “canon” of science.

        “…science can progress.”

        This reminds me—can you name one way in which climate science has “progressed” in the last, say, decade? Name one thing we know about the climate which we didn’t know in 2003.

        I’m not sure it’s progressed one inch. It certainly hasn’t progressed enough to explain the tens of billions of dollars we’ve poured into it.

        “This isn’t a game with two sides and a set of rules.”

        No, but it does have a set of rules.

        “You don’t win just because someone broke a rule.”

        Agreed. But the burden is on alarmists to show that there’s a climate problem without breaking the rules. Since they can’t seem to do so, non-alarmism wins by default.

        “There aren’t really two sides. There’s just science which progresses”

        Well said.

        “… and converges (over time) to some kind of consensus.”

        That’s a sociological assertion which is both questionable and irrelevant.

        If a consensus emerges, so be it; if it doesn’t emerge, so be it; science itself couldn’t give a crap one way or the other, because consensus has nothing to do with the purpose of science. When I did my science degree, the word “consensus” was never uttered once—not by my lecturers, not by my supervisors. It isn’t found once in any of my textbooks. Not once.

        Until activist scientists like Oreskes, Doran and Anderegg came along, scientists had never been roped into such juvenile activities as filling out opinion surveys. When the climate movement started using the word “consensus” in every second sentence, I had to look it up in a dictionary. (Honestly.)

        It means “majority opinion.” That’s what it means.

        But opinion is not evidence. So why are you going on about it? You’re a scientist for god’s sake.

      • Oh come on, you sound like a school master. Maybe “consensus” is the wrong word to use, but you know what I mean by it. I mean that over time, science converges so that there is a general agreement about some research area. I don’t mean that everyone agrees completely, but that the scientific evidence has eliminated all (or almost all) alternatives. You also seem to be ignoring that science requires interpretation. Science doesn’t exist without people who do the interpreting. That we’re having this discussion proves this. If it was as easy as you seem to be suggesting, we wouldn’t be talking about this. The answer would be obvious. I guess, you think it is but just because do, doesn’t make it so.

        Also, you seem to be suggesting that AGW is based on a single result by Mann, Bradley & Hughes. Science doesn’t work like this. A field doesn’t depend on a single (or a few) papers or results. If others couldn’t replicate these results, they would question the result. They would do it a different way and get a different answer. If someone doesn’t provide enough information to replicate what they’ve done, others will work out how to do it differently.

  9. ” A field doesn’t depend on a single (or a few) papers or results. If others couldn’t replicate these results, they would question the result. They would do it a different way and get a different answer. If someone doesn’t provide enough information to replicate what they’ve done, others will work out how to do it differently.”

    What Brad is saying (over and over and in many different ways) is that what you have said here is true of science but this is not what happens in climate science. And that’s just the parts we know about. There is clear case of tribalism going on where they are not stepping on each others toes. So there is no “questioning the result” other than in confidential emails. There is no “doing it a different way to get a different answer”.

    You claim the Climategate emails need context. Well read this and then apply it to those emails to get context: http://climateaudit.org/2009/11/22/curry-on-the-credibility-of-climate-research-2/

    My first skepticism arose several when I read this: “We have 25 years or so 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?”

    That was Phil Jones to Warwick Hughes who was trying to replicate Jones’ work and do the good science you were talking about in the first quote I made in this post. There are many other examples of an active hindrance to the progress of good climate science. I was floored when I found out that was one climate scientist talking to another about an issue that affects me (all of us) to a great extent.

    You have to look inwardly and ask yourself why you seem to need to gloss over this and come up with excuses. You don’t sound very objective.

    • You have to look inwardly and ask yourself why you seem to need to gloss over this and come up with excuses. You don’t sound very objective.

      I think you’re misrepresenting what I’ve said. I haven’t at any stage said these emails do not indicate an issue. I’m just unconvinced that they’re quite the smoking gun that you and Brad are making them out to be. Given how you seem to misunderstand what I’ve been saying in some of my comments it’s difficult for me to accept that your interpretation of these emails is necessarily correct. The idea that you know (absolutely) what someone meant by a certain word or phrase is somewhat absurd.

      I do realise what Brad has being saying over and over again. What you and Brad need to realise is that just because you believe something very strongly doesn’t make you right. Just because you repeat it many times and in many different ways, doesn’t mean I’m going to suddenly agree with you. We should be able to have a discussion about this and yet disagree about certain (or many) things.

      The reason I keep bringing up the scientific method is because both you and Brad seem to require that, for some reason, climate science doesn’t fit the normal practice. You yourself say

      what you have said here is true of science but this is not what happens in climate science

      This appears to be based on a set of emails. Again, maybe you’re right, but this doesn’t seem to be strong enough evidence to suggest that climate science is the one area of science that is full of malpractice and deceit. Why are climate scientist somehow different from those who are working on the Large Hadron Collider or those who are working on mapping the human genome?

      Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’ve tried to shove my views down your throat. I’ve written a few posts about this with some of my opinions (I admit) but also with some analysis of the climate data that attempts to address some of the claims that I see made by those who I would regard as skeptics. You’re welcome to comment on this and express your views. This discussion is, however, pointless if you are so absolutely certain about your interpretation of these emails that you will not consider an alternative. Furthermore, your view of what I say seems to also always come back to whether or not I accept your interpretation of these emails and the significant of these emails.

      If you are so absolutely certain that these emails indicate that climate science has a major issue and that the results cannot be trusted at all and that this interpretation cannot be questioned at all, then we’re going nowhere. There’s not much point in having a discussion if you’ve absolutely made up your mind and if you view questioning this as unacceptable (which is certainly what it seems like).

      • “I haven’t at any stage said these emails do not indicate an issue. I’m just unconvinced that they’re quite the smoking gun that you and Brad are making them out to be.”

        And you’ll never know as long as you avoid reading them. Genius!

        “The idea that you know (absolutely) what someone meant by a certain word or phrase is somewhat absurd.”

        Did Mike claim omniscience?

        But yes, thank you for reminding the world that language, in the end, is polysemic. We can now play Clintonian games til the cows come home. It depends what the meaning of the word “is” is! I suppose it does. But who’re you trying to trick, Slick? Oh, what fun!

        Or you could, I dunno, read the frickin’ emails already.

        😉 Here’s the analysis by Costella that I mentioned earlier:

        Climategate

        I’d gladly refer you to a less scathing exegesis except there isn’t one.

        “Just because you repeat it many times and in many different ways, doesn’t mean I’m going to suddenly agree with you.”

        Do you think you could, I dunno, agree gradually? Or would even that be too hard?

        “The reason I keep bringing up the scientific method is because both you and Brad seem to require that, for some reason, climate science doesn’t fit the normal practice.”

        We don’t “require” that. We’ve observed it. It would be pretty hard for anyone who understands the scientific method *not* to notice that some of the highest-profile practitioners of alarmist climatology seem to view the scientific method as optional.

        MikeC’s account of reading the Phil Jones-Warwick Hughes email for the first time would resonate with a lot of recovered believers, I expect.

        And for what it’s worth, that *wasn’t* a Climategate email. I think it was already infamous (because Warwick Hughes publicised it) 4 or 5 years before the CRU leak.

        But my favourite quote from an alarmist “scientist” would have to be the following, openly reported in the Wall St Journal a full 4 years before Climategate:

        ‘Mr. McIntyre thinks there are more errors but says his audit is limited because he still doesn’t know the exact computer code Dr. Mann used to generate the graph. Dr. Mann refuses to release it. “Giving them the algorithm would be giving in to the intimidation tactics that these people are engaged in,” he says.’

        Ah, climate science, where replication equals intimidation!

        “This appears to be based on a set of emails. Again, maybe you’re right, but this doesn’t seem to be strong enough evidence to suggest that climate science is the one area of science that is full of malpractice and deceit.”

        If you have evidence that any other field is as full of malpractice and deceit as climate science, come on then, spit it out.

        “Why are climate scientist somehow different from those who are working on the Large Hadron Collider or those who are working on mapping the human genome?”

        Yeah, I’ve often wondered why they are. Poor parenting?

        “This discussion is, however, pointless if you are so absolutely certain about your interpretation of these emails that you will not consider an alternative.”

        Such as? Oh, right, you can’t suggest an alternative because you haven’t read them.

        🙂

      • I have read some of these emails. Maybe I should have made that clearer. I’m still unconvinced. We don’t have to agree, on any timescale. Here are some of my comments. “Trick”, that could mean “trick of the trade” rather than some kind of major deception. I can’t say for certain, because these are emails and I wouldn’t expect someone to define every term in an email.

        Another comment. One of the things that is often picked up on is Kevin Trenberth’s email in which he says “we can’t account for the warming”. This is interpreted in the following way

        Rather than draw the obvious conclusions—that their predictions are wrong; that the models that their predictions come from are inadequate—they instead start to question the measured temperatures themselves!

        It is not clear whether Trenberth realizes that, if true, his assertions would absolutely destroy climate science, not save it; for the measured temperature data is the very best and most direct data that we have (albeit almost impossibly intractable to analyse); and if he throws out all of that data, then all that remains is a hopelessly anaemic and ragtag collection of rotting tree stumps and melting ice tubes, without any hope at all of calibrating these souvenirs against real-world temperature measurements.

        If you’d read my post that first drew your attention (which I now suspect you probably didn’t, or at least not in detail) the point I was making in that post was that – in some sense – the fundamental property is energy, not the global surface temperature. To be in equilibrium, the Earth must radiate as much energy back into space as it receives from the Sun (minus whatever it uses for photosynthesis). If it receives more than it radiates, it needs to heat up in order to radiate more back into space. Measuring the global surface temperature is therefore a way of determining how much energy the Earth is radiating.

        If the atmosphere is acting to effectively block some of this radiation, the Earth will heat up until it is emitting enough radiation at wavelengths that can escape through the Earth’s atmosphere. Therefore, if we add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, we might expect the Earth’s surface temperature to increase even if the amount of energy we receive from the Sun remains the same.

        Let’s imagine that a model predicts that we’ve added enough greenhouse gases to block some of the outgoing radiation. The amount of energy we receive should therefore exceed the amount we lose and the Earth should heat up. There is an energy imbalance. It doesn’t, however, happen instantly. It depends very much on what that the energy does. It takes much more energy to heat the oceans than it does the land or the atmosphere. It takes energy to melt ice. Once the ice has melted, or the oceans have absorbed enough energy to start changing their surface temperature we will see a rise in global surface temperature, until we’re back in equilibrium. It’s not necessarily trivial though. The temperature rise can allow more water vapour to be held in the atmosphere. It can release more CO2 or methane and drive further warming.

        The way I interpret Trenberth’s “can’t account for the warming” email is simply that there is a measured energy imbalance (we are getting more energy than we lose). This is a real measurement. This should produce a larger increase in surface temperature than is being measured. This is surprising. The energy must be going somewhere, they just don’t know where. As I mentioned in my post, it’s even possible that the climate models are correctly modelling the influence of the atmosphere on this energy imbalance but are incorrectly modelling where the energy is going. This energy imbalance has to eventually lead to a rise in surface temperatures, the timescale may – however – be wrong. If the energy imbalance exists, the surface temperature has to rise. There is really no alternative unless our understanding of fundamental physics is wrong.

        I feel like I’ve rewritten the whole post, but there is my interpretation of the “can’t account for the warming email”.

        As far as “Hide the Decline” is concerned, this appears to relate to leaving some of Kevin Briffa’s data off the IPCC graph. It does not relate to MBH98, given that they were not using Keith Briffa’s data in that paper. Below is an abstract from a Nature paper by Keith Briffa in 1998

        Tree-ring chronologies that represent annual changes in the density of wood formed during the late summer can provide a proxy for local summertime air temperature. Here we undertake an examination of large-regional-scale wood-density/air-temperature relationships using measurements from hundreds of sites at high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. When averaged over large areas of northern America and Eurasia, tree-ring density series display a strong coherence with summer temperature measurements averaged over the same areas, demonstrating the ability of this proxy to portray mean temperature changes over sub-continents and even the whole Northern Hemisphere. During the second half of the twentieth century, the decadal-scale trends in wood density and summer temperatures have increasingly diverged as wood density has progressively fallen. The cause of this increasing insensitivity of wood density to temperature changes is not known, but if it is not taken into account in dendroclimatic reconstructions, past temperatures could be overestimated. Moreover, the recent reduction in the response of trees to air-temperature changes would mean that estimates of future atmospheric CO2 concentrations, based on carbon-cycle models that are uniformly sensitive to high-latitude warming, could be too low.

        It seems to me that they were well aware of the NH tree ring issue even in 1998. It seems, from this paper, that in the latter half of the twentieth century it was no longer a good proxy for temperature variations. Leaving it out may have been appropriate. I do, think, however, that deciding on whether or not to include a particular set of data in an IPCC report is very different to excluding crucial data from a peer-reviewed paper. Doesn’t make it right, just a different judgement has to be made.

        There’s my comments. I don’t know if my interpretations are correct, but there they are.

    • Works fine for me. Just use html. I was trying to type in the html command, but of course it turns it into a link so you can’t actually see the command.

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