Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Daily Embarrassment

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  • Steve Curtis,

    Kracklite, the Deeming report was in the Journal of Scientific Discovery 2005 as I pointed out.

    I have quoted the DIRECT WRITTEN testimoney of Wegman.
    Its says his statistical methods are incorrect and his conclusions cant be supported by his analysis.

    And if you set a very high bar in requiring direct quotes with sources please play by your own rules
    ...Nor has it made any difference to the dozens of OTHER studies that have repeatedly arrived that the same result in the same decade since.
    But you guys never do THAT do you

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth,

    If I might interpose a thought....

    None of this has anything to do with the real science of climate. The chances that the "consensus" view of how the climate system works will somehow change dramatically in the near future are essentially zero. The last vaguely credible working climate scientists who are vocal sceptics (Lindzen, Christie, etc) have been trying for years to find mechanisms that would damp future warming (negative feedbacks). So far, they've failed miserably, and the evidence seems to be stacking up on the side of the climate system reacting faster to current GHG levels than expected - not less. (see Russell's link to the Pew Centre on ice melt).

    Attempts to push "uncertainty" or cracks in the consensus are all about politics, and depend upon having a pliant media - either willing to overtly push a particular line, or inept enough to take press releases like Inhofe's (or the statements of the likes of Bryan Leyland) at face value. The health of the hockey stick is irrelevant - it is enough to repeat (as often as possible) that it is somehow broken.

    For more on that, I'd refer you to the appendix of a book on global warming and NZ, but that would be an outrageous bit of self-interest, so I won't... ;-)

    Bucolic in the backblocks… • Since Jan 2008 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Phillip, Ive done your research for you...

    Nearly a decade later, more than a dozen studies using
    alternative proxy data and reconstruction methods have,
    moreover, independently reaffirmed earlier studies such as
    MBH98, producing millennial or longer hemispheric temperature
    reconstructions which agree with the those reconstructions
    within estimated uncertainties.

    J of Geophysical Research 2007
    http://holocene.meteo.psu.edu/shared/articles/MRWA-JGR07.pdf

    Oh and the authors!!
    Michael E. Mann,1 Scott Rutherford,2 Eugene Wahl,3 and Caspar Ammann.

    Its Mann and his crew some of which he was their PhD Supervisor.

    This is how its done people, the conjuror and his assistants have new rabbits to pull out of the same hat

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I think one thing that can be said is that there's an uptick in debate about climate change in the media. How much that reflects a genuine shift in positions amongst experts is another matter entirely.

    Other reading: the report on Bali by Christopher Monckton. He abuses all and sundry present as "mad" (or "They would have been mad, if they’d had minds at all") and "zombies" and declares Wikipedia to be an "enviro-loony website". He comes across as a deranged egomaniac.

    And there are a few bits of sheer disingenuousness:

    “Well, then,” he said, “how dare you substitute your judgment for that of thousands of climate scientists?” I said that the crucial chapter in the Holy Book attributing rising temperatures to Siotu had been written by only 53 people, not all of whom were scientists, and that – by coincidence – 53% of the comments by 60 reviewers had been rejected by the authors of the chapter. Not exactly the 2,500 scientists claimed by the high priests, and not exactly a consensus either.

    Ho ho. What Monckton doesn't share (but assuredly knows) is that nearly all the rejected comments were made by the Climate Science Coalition's Vincent Gray, a retired chemist who has never published a paper on climate change, and hasn't published any peer-reviewed research in 14 years, and Tom Harris, who is more of a PR guy than a scientist.

    It's this sort of crap that leads me to form an unfavourable view of the sceptics. And Monckton has a history of weird and extreme views. In the late 80s he proposed that all people carrying the HIV virus should be rounded up and incarcerated for life.

    George Monbiot's fisking of Monkcton's grand work for the Sunday is pretty startling too.

    On the other hand, The Pew Centre on Global Climate Change presents an accessible and exhaustively-referenced resource. It's run by one of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which I have found to adhere to very high standards. (They're not a bunch of liberals either --the trusts were formed from the money of a conservative Christian oilman, and another Pew trust still offers scholarships for evangelical Christians.)

    Guess who I am more inclined to regard as credible?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    A couple more articles on GW that have appeared recently

    The first one catalogues the temps of the last year which don't exactly scream GW.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071219/COMMENTARY/10575140

    The comment about hurricanes is obviously of more interest to me as I live here on the Gulf coast. After the big K, according to the GW alarmists Katrina was supposed to presage more large storms due to GW, we were all going to get whacked by bigger storms more frequently. Even the Goracle put a satellite picture of Katrina on the cover of his Michael Moorish load of drivel, "The Inconvenient Truth". The only inconvenient truth for the GW alarmists is that we didn't have to evacuate for a hurricane once over the last 2 seasons. Most unusual.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20070624/EDITORIAL/106240002

    The second one describes a study which correlates changes in temp to an apparently well known sun spot cycle.

    There is more than enough doubt on the subject of GW to caution against rushing headlong into decisions and treaties etc. that would have such profoundly negative consequences.

    Resorting to smearing reasonable people with reasonable questions as "deniers" is another red-light, not a sign of a strong position at all.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    the trusts were formed from the money of a conservative Christian oilman, and another Pew trust still offers scholarships for evangelical Christians.)

    RB, by your normal logic, any trust formed by a holy Trinity of evil, such as conservative, Christian oilmen (how bad can you get!!) would automatically be discredited and anything they say must automatically be wrong.

    What has changed?

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    For most people it is not feasible to form a rational opinion on the global warming debate. Unless you actually are a climatologist, you have only the word of climatologists on the matter. Their opinions conflict. You can try to understand them, but to an outsider they all appear to have plausible stories. You could opt to go with the majority opinion, but even working out what this is, is no easy matter - you really have to be a climatologist to know if someone else really is one. Even then you could just be being sympathetic only to your preexisting beliefs.

    This particular debate is particularly fraught, since the solutions are mostly political. That has made the science itself political. I'm not saying the facts are political - they remain simply facts independent of human thought - but our ability to know the facts is definitely influenced heavily by politics.

    It reminds me of the Copernican revolution. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that Copernicus was on the right track. But at the time he could easily have seemed like someone using a cloak of science to hide an attack on the existing monopoly on truth the Church claimed to hold. I think global warming groups are seen this way, using their science to hide their agenda of opposition to modern trends of resource consumption. Of course existing power structures, in particular those controlling access to fossil fuels, are analogous to the Church, clinging to their beliefs as much from protecting their position as from actually thinking Copernicus was wrong.

    History is kind to Copernicus because he was on the right track. He could have been totally wrong, though, and it is easy to lose sight of that. It's one of those underdog stories we all love, the science that triumphed over power (not that it actually happened during Copernicus' life). But just because it's a story we love doesn't mean the underdog is alway right. The existing scientific orthodoxy was heavily against him.

    Which side of the global warming debate will history be kind to? I like to think it will be the side that is actually right. I don't know which side this actually is, I merely have an opinion. Not being a climatologist, that opinion doesn't count for much, except in so far as it might further political ends a teeny tiny bit. Which makes most of us global warming politicians.

    I not saying debate by non-specialists is pointless. That would be much like saying that political debate is pointless just because it is political. What is at stake is quite huge, it's surely one of the more important debates of our generation. But I don't want to kid myself that my ability to know the truth on this one is much greater than my ability to know truth on any other political debate. Maybe I'm just taking a side. The only real difference with this one is that time will certainly tell.

    Disclaimer: The side I currently take is that global warming definitely is happening. It seems like the majority of scientists credit human factors. As for what we can do about it, or how far it will go if we do nothing, I'm reserving judgement. Certainly the costs of trying will be huge, but it is also possible the cost of not trying would be much huger.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Philip Wilkie,

    Sorry to have to repeat myself, but the link Kracklite gave to the US Academey of Science report is a start:

    http://books.nap.edu/execsumm_pdf/11676.pdf

    As Gareth correctly identifies, these attempts to dismiss AGW as come kind of statistical mistake are mere politics. You are not dealing with the science here Steve. If you sincerely wanted to do that you would take your case to Dr Mann directly or at the least the comments section of RealClimate. Many people do and get cogent responses to their misconceptions. Or if you deem the RealClimate team to be an bunch of ignoramus's unworthy of your time, then you could take on any number of other respected figures in the field and try to prove them wrong.

    Now I have taken the time to extensively read McIntyre's work and attempted to reconcile this with the responses from Mann and others. The simple fact is that non-specialists such as ourselves are not really in a position to judge who is right or wrong, and whether the narrow mathematical issues being debated really matter or not. And tossing up out-of-context links that present selected technical snippets, to a blog audience such as Public Address, does more to confuse than to to clarify. Which is your intent I suspect.

    What remains totally uncontroversial however is the infrared absorbtion spectrum of CO2 (and other GHG's), the energy balance of the planet, the thermodynamics of the atmosphere and the measured increases in CO2 from 270ppm to 390ppm over the Industrial era. From this data in isolation we can predict quite accurately a moderate AGW.

    To get to the alarming AGW scenario's we have to include the notion of "feedbacks". In my professional life I make real life feedback loops work all the time. I deal with simple linear processes that can be usually be readily modelled. The planet turns out to have a myriad of complex poorly understood mechanisms that may or may not be coupled, may or may not be positive or negative, and may or may not be chaotic.

    The temperature proxy reconstructions we are arguing over can be interpreted however you want, but they make one thing obvious... paleoclimate exhibits a high degree of apparently chaotic variability, that we simply do not understand. If I was faced with an automation process that behaved like this my professional reaction would be "don't fuck with it".

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    RB, by your normal logic, any trust formed by a holy Trinity of evil, such as conservative, Christian oilmen (how bad can you get!!) would automatically be discredited and anything they say must automatically be wrong.

    What has changed?

    Nothing has changed. Pew is an excellent organisation with high standards, and I've learned to place trust in it. That's the point.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls,

    Quoting James Bremner:

    There is more than enough doubt on the subject of GW to caution against rushing headlong into decisions and treaties etc. that would have such profoundly negative consequences.

    Let's look at the flip side:

    There is more than enough doubt on the subject of global climate stability to caution against continuing to choose to follow a pattern of behaviour that could have such profoundly negative consequences.

    T

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 325 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls,

    There is more than enough doubt on the subject of global climate stability to caution against continuing to choose to follow a pattern of behaviour that could have such profoundly negative consequences.

    I should add that naturally those making the most effort to discourage us from changing our pattern of behaviour appear to be those (or appear to be funded by those) individuals and organisations which have a significant investment in our continuing on our current path.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 325 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    but they make one thing obvious... paleoclimate exhibits a high degree of apparently chaotic variability, that we simply do not understand. If I was faced with an automation process that behaved like this my professional reaction would be "don't fuck with it".

    Exactly. The idea that we understand how the earth's climate works to a high degree of certainty, and that we can predict it with certainty into the future is so obviously not correct. How many wrong climate predicitions do we need before we accept this?

    And the idea that we should make dramatic policy decisions with huge consequences based on highly uncertain predicitions is just nuts.

    Hopefully the world will get to this general understanding before too much damage has been done.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth,

    __And the idea that we should make dramatic policy decisions with huge consequences based on highly uncertain predicitions is just nuts.__

    Governments regularly act on much worse information than we currently possess about the planet's climate system. The Iraq war springs to mind... and let's not mention economic policy.

    As Philip points out above, for the planet not to warm up with a 36% increase in CO2 over the last 150 years requires the discovery of some new physics - and the current bunch of sceptics are simply not doing that. More CO2 means more warming. How much, and how bad - that's arguable. The fact of warming is not.

    Bucolic in the backblocks… • Since Jan 2008 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    I should add that naturally those making the most effort to discourage us from changing our pattern of behaviour appear to be those (or appear to be funded by those) individuals and organisations which have a significant investment in our continuing on our current path.

    The "Exxon gave them grant money" type of slam needs to end if the debate on GW is going to improve. Exxon and other oil companies give money to all manner of organizations, including a variety of environmental organizations. Is everything these organizations say on any subject automatically discredited? Rubbish.

    You should look at the other side of the coin. How many GW alarmists are funded by grants dependent on fear of GW etc.? The GW gravy train in a multi billion dollar gravy train.

    There are both good and bad intent on both sides of this argument.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Philip Wilkie,

    James, sorry but it isn't like that. By pumping gigatonnes of GHG's into the atmosphere we have ALREADY made a policy decision about impacting the climate. Doing nothing was only an option back at the start of the Industrial revolution.

    What you are really proposing is to simply gamble that the impact of what we are doing will be small. A gamble you are happy to take because you probably haven't considered the possibility of being asked to pay up if you loose the bet. Consider it a form of Russian roulette, only with your grandchildren's lives, not your own.

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls,

    And the idea that we should make dramatic policy decisions with huge consequences based on highly uncertain predicitions is just nuts.

    Of course choosing to do nothing is also a policy decision - one not exempt from huge consequences of its own.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 325 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Russell says :...Pew is an excellent organisation with high standards, and I've learned to place trust in it. That's the point...

    Oh really ?

    Did you check out their credentials of the staff listed. Your meme seems to be if they are not scientists dont trust them

    http://www.pewclimate.org/about/staff

    Well a few have first degrees in science but none are climate scientists, their main specialities are public policy and or economics
    eg

    Heather Holsinger,
    Senior Fellow for Domestic Policy at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
    She holds two Masters Degrees from Duke University with a focus on resource economics and policy and a BA from the University of Virginia with majors in Economics and Environmental Science.

    THis is the best qualified scientist

    Jay Gulledge is the Senior Scientist and Program Manager for Science and Impacts at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
    Dr. Gulledge earned a PhD (1996) in biological sciences from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and M.S. (1991) and B.S. (1988) degrees in biology from the University of Texas at Arlington.

    and NOT forgetting

    Laura Fischer is the Administrative/Accounts Payable Assistant for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
    Ms. Fischer holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History with a minor in Architecture from the University of Virginia

    Sounds like Owen McShane would be right at home here but only 3 days ago you said this

    Owen McShane is also listed as a "prominent scientist"

    For fuck's sake... honestly...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Kracklite, the Deeming report was in the Journal of Scientific Discovery 2005 as I pointed out.

    No, you did not. Deming's paranoid mutterings revealing a conspiracy to 'get rid' of the MWP have no source, attribution or context. Do you want that to be taken seriously as 'testimony'.

    This is how its done people, the conjuror and his assistants have new rabbits to pull out of the same hat

    That's just a childish caricature (as is the 'interesting' NYT quote). Since you've decided that Mann 'and crew' are frauds, any peer-reviewed work has to be ignored and scientific practice is reduced to 'conjuring' from nothing. Science is a savage business, and studies have to be peer reviewed. That is, reviewed, by peers. Look it up. Mann's early work has been - as stated in the 2006 National Academy paper above has been criticised and added to, but in the end supported after a very rigorous process over more than a decade.

    Simply plugging your ears and chanting 'la la la, I can't hear you', smears and name-calling do not an argument make.

    And if you set a very high bar in requiring direct quotes with sources please play by your own rules
    ...
    But you guys never do THAT do you

    Now that is downright dishonest, as is proven by the links to reports given in this and other threads.

    Exxon and other oil companies give money to all manner of organizations, including a variety of environmental organization

    It's called astroturfing colloquially. See also this, this, and so on...

    Sorry to have to repeat myself,

    Philip, you're going to have to, again and again and again...

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Your meme seems to be if they are not scientists dont trust them

    Sloppy use of 'meme' - the correct word would be 'implication'.

    And, as ever, it's a misrepresentation.

    Pew is a polling and policy analysis organisation. See

    here:

    The Pew Center provides research, analysis and recommendations for federal, state, and international policies related to climate change. We bring together stakeholders, business representatives and experts on subjects ranging from technology development to design of sensible climate policy. These efforts influence our research and reports and inform our testimony before Congress.

    They draw on climate scientists and other stakeholders, they do not do their own empirical research - they're not NASA.

    This is something that you must have passed onto the 'about us' page but failed to mention.

    The point is to trust scientists doing research and to trust policy analysts doing policy analysis (and dentists to do dentistry).

    Administrative/Accounts Payable Assistant

    And now that's just silly.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    ... actually, looking at the staff qualifications of Pew is like looking at the qualifications of the editorial board of a journal such as Nature - it would be to completely miss the point. Papers submitted for publication are always sent out for review externally. Referees remain strictly anonymous.

    'Accounts payable assistant'? I'm still giggling over that one. It's a perfect case of 'Load. Fire! Aim.'

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    ... actually, looking at the staff qualifications of Pew is like looking at the qualifications of the editorial board of a journal such as Nature - it would be to completely miss the point. Papers submitted for publication are always sent out for review externally. Referees remain strictly anonymous.

    Actually, almost all the editorial board of Nature have PhDs and are active scientists/academics. Most quality journals have international-quality researchers on their editorial board - adds to the standing of the journal.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/about/editors/index.html

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Actually, almost all the editorial board of Nature have PhDs and are active scientists/academics.

    Yes indeed, but my point was that their qualifications are not necessarily directly pertinent to every paper that they receive, rather their qualifications make them competetent to assess the potential worth and methodology of a paper before handing it on to a reviewer.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A couple more articles on GW that have appeared recently

    The first one catalogues the temps of the last year which don't exactly scream GW.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071219/COMMENTARY/10575140

    The comment about hurricanes is obviously of more interest to me as I live here on the Gulf coast. After the big K, according to the GW alarmists Katrina was supposed to presage more large storms due to GW, we were all going to get whacked by bigger storms more frequently. Even the Goracle put a satellite picture of Katrina on the cover of his Michael Moorish load of drivel, "The Inconvenient Truth". The only inconvenient truth for the GW alarmists is that we didn't have to evacuate for a hurricane once over the last 2 seasons. Most unusual.

    Er, yeah. They weren't so lucky in Jamaica and several other Carribean countries, which suffered billions of dollars worth of damage from two very large hurricanes. From Pew:

    What is in store for the 2007 hurricane season?

    The Climate Prediction Center forecasts much above normal hurricane activity for 2007:

    13-16 named tropical storms
    7-9 hurricanes
    3-5 major hurricanes (category 3 or higher)
    As of November 2, the North Atlantic has seen the following activity:

    14 named tropical storms
    5 total hurricanes
    2 major hurricanes (both category 5)

    Not so far off, really. And there is simply no doubt that, for whatever reason you choose, hurricane activity in the north Atlantic has increased radically since 1996, going far beyond the historical peak in the 1950s. Here's the graph.

    You'll note that it's a rolling 10 year mean, not a single season. And that's why the Washington Times story is a piece o' crap: it does exactly what the NYT story you leaked to first warned against: pronouncing on long-term projections on the basis of short-term observation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    The ever busy Mann has turned his hand to north atlantic hurricanes but this time the trick cyclist has two closely related papers
    Sabbatelli and Mann 2007

    Evidence for a modest undercount bias in early historical Atlantic tropical cyclone counts

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2007/2007JD008385.shtml

    Mann and Sabbatelli 2007

    The influence of climate state variables on Atlantic Tropical Cyclone occurrence rates

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2007/2007GL031781.shtml

    As usual other peoples data are put through complex mathematical routines, not allways making the source available for checking( normal standards at some journals dont apply to Mann)
    and various statistical rabbits are again produced but he ignores Wegmans recommendation to at least get a reputable statistician as co author and instead depends on the stats he learnt from a siesmologist.

    The statistical model captures a substantial fraction R2 = 50% (i.e., half) of the total annual variance in TC counts

    Just in case some missed that 50% is one half

    I suppose he was sorely tempted to use the bristlecone pine chronologys to produce a hockey stick shape

    as for the Hurricane predictions, they were a late in releasing their predictions this year, like the bettor who lays his wager when the horses are part way down the straight
    but another view is Fewest Northern Hemisphere Hurricane Days since 1977. 3rd Lowest since 1958 (behind 1977 and 1973).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Just in case some missed that 50% is one half

    Your point being...?

    (i) 50% is actually a pretty high proportion of variance to be captured by a principal component.
    Depending on how many variables went into the analysis, it might be possible to interpret a PC with only 10% or even 5% of the variance.

    (ii) climate data is complex; there isn't just one cause, and so we should expect several potentially interpretable factors -- and certainly not all the variance to be captured by one factor (even if all the data going in were hypothesised to be explained by one factor).

    PCA is a useful way of extracting the most important contributions from complex data. It's best suited to summarising data that is already hypothesised to have one main cause; that summary dimension should be the first principal component. It is not an exploratory method (it doesn't directly allow you to test hypotheses about the "best possible" factor structure), but it also has certain advantages in that other researchers can replicate the results, and do follow-up analyses, more easily than with other types of factor analysis.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1943 posts Report Reply

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